Link VRAINS Packlaunched in the OCG all the way back in November 2017, but it's taken untilApril of 2019 for some of the set's contents to finally make their way tothe TCG.

Of the twenty Link Monsters in the original LVP1 set there were still sixwe were missing prior to Duel Power. Most of the LVP1 releasesmade their debut last year starting in Extreme Force when cardslike Heavymetalfoes Electrumite, Zefra Metaltron, and Isolde, Two Tales ofthe Noble Knights hit the TCG. Three more were included inDuel Power alongside cards from the OCGLink VRAINS Pack 2, but that left three more still waiting on aTCG release:Cherubini, Black Angel of the Burning Abyss,Mermail Abyssalacia, and the infamousCystron Needlefiber.

I won't weep over another missed opportunity to release Needlefiber in theTCG, and ultimately I think Duel Power's attempt to bring in ahandful of cards from LVP1, LVP2, and the20th Anniversary Duelist Boxhas been largely successful. There are some great new cards here for bothcompetitive and casual players, and this week we'll take a quick look at afew of the best cards from the set.

LVP1 Leftovers Finally Arrive
Half of the remaining LVP1 imports are finally available inDuel Power: Aromaseraphy Jasmine, Crowley, the First Propheseer,and Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres. They're each significantlypowerful upgrades for their respective themes and excellent tech choicesfor Plant, Spellcaster, and Dragon-heavy strategies.

So many LVP1 Links ended up in decks outside of their respective theme thatcalling them 'themed' is almost a misstatement. Aromaseraphy Jasmine's anexcellent addition to the Aroma theme, but it's almost certainly going tosee more play in decks that run zero Aroma cards. Cyrstron Needlefiber's astaple Link in the OCG, and anyone who was playing competitively in the TCGlast year will remember how Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights wasteched into just about every deck that could support a Warrior engine.

Aromaseraphy Jasmine was one of the most competitive Links out of LVP1 inthe OCG when it launched, but it's a more questionable pick now. It's afundamentally strong Link Monster that can Special Summon more monstersfrom the deck – exactly what most players are looking for incombo-extending Link-2s. The Special Summon comes at a cost, but tributingany monster is totally doable in an age of virtually free extenders in theform of Dangers.

The payoff is often better than Summon Sorceress: not only can Jasmineaccess almost every Plant in the game, but it can even get Lonefire Blossomloaded into the graveyard. That's huge for decks like Sylvans that canleverage themed recursion effects to Summon Lonefire back from thegraveyard.

Jasmine's best target outside of Plant themes is probably Glow-Up Bulb foreither Synchro plays or further Link Summons. Bulb's Special Summon effectoffsets the tribute cost from Jasmine while giving you access to a numberof Synchro options. You can even Synchro Summon twice in a turn, or SummonNaturia Beast or Naturia Barkion against spell or trap-heavy themes.

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It plays nicely with the Predaplant engine too: Predaplant Ophrys Scorpioand Predaplant Darlingtonia Cobra give you immediate access to Jasmine anda Fusion spell like Super Polymerization or Instant Fusion. Just add aLevel 4 Earth Fusion to your Extra Deck and Jasmine becomes your ticket toa Turn 1 Naturia Synchro.

Crowley, the First Propheseer probably won't be reviving Spellbooks anytimesoon, but it's an amazing addition to Spellcaster themes where theSpellbook engine's worth playing. Its search effect gives you a relativelyconsistent way to search Spellbook of Knowledge even if you didn't openSpellbook Magician of Prophecy. Luckily you don't need to run differentSpellbook spells – any Spellbook cards with different names is enough forCrowley's first effect, and that includes Spellbook Magician of Prophecy.While resolving Crowley you can reveal Magician, Spellbook of Secrets, andSpellbook of Knowledge to guarantee reaching Knowledge, and that's amassive change in how the Spellbook engine operated previously.

Unfortunately the Spellbook engine's fallen out of style lately, and it'shard to tell if Crowley's enough to convince players to pick it up again.More importantly, what themes would want to play Crowley in the firstplace?

Witchcrafters lack a themed Link Monster, and Crowley's second effect makestheir higher Level Witchcrafter monsters even easier to get to the field.Altergeists and Dark Magician decks might take a second look at theSpellbook engine, and there's aStructure Deckon its way next week that brings new Spellcaster monsters and Spellbookreprints. There's definitely room for Crowley in the Endymion deck, but atthe moment it's hard to tell if the strategy has any real competitiveprospects.

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Finally, Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres is a fantastic Link Monsterthat's arriving at just the right time to give Guardragons, Blue-Eyes, andof course Hieratics a well-deserved boost. Dragons are already seeing a lotof playing in Thunder Dragon variants, but Heavenly Spheres doesn't helpthat particular strategy much.

Outside of Hieratics it's a much more passive Link Monster that's built tointerrupt your opponent during their turn with its first effect. Kicking acard back to your opponent's hand is definitely worth the cost of tributinga monster, and it's especially worthwhile when the monster you're tributingis Heavenly Spheres itself. You can bounce a monster and Special Summon anAmorphage Goliath early into your opponent's turn to totally throw offtheir strategy. That's a lot of value packed into a Link-2 withastonishingly simple Summoning conditions.

The card's incredibly powerful in Hieratics, but the deck's innateconsistency issues are worrisome. Dragons have picked up a handful ofexcellent support cards over the last year and half, and monsters likeDestrudo, the Lost Dragon's Frisson and Black Dragon Collapserpent arealready contributing to the success Chaos Thunder Dragons.

If there was ever a time to pick up Hieratics again that time hasdefinitely arrived. You can easily Summon two Heavenly Spheres in a turnand use one to extend your plays while saving the other for disruption onyour opponent's turn. I'm cautiously optimistic about Hieratics as we goforward into 2019, but don't sleep on Heavenly Spheres in otherDragon-heavy strategies: it won't break your opponent's field, but it willhelp you stop them from establishing a massive set-up.

LVP2 Sneak Preview
Most of the cards in Link VRAINS Pack 2 are probably a long waysoff still – at least if the release schedule for LVP1 is anything to go by.

The OCG pack includes three Link Monsters the TCG received first just lastyear: Gullveig of the Nordic Ascendant, The Phantom Knights of RustyBardiche, and Xtra HERO Dread Decimator. The rest of the Link line-up istotally new for the TCG, and if you've been following my writing for awhile you can imagine how excited I am that LVP2 contains a Dragunity Link.Duel Power unfortunately brought just a single card from LVP2, butit's well-timed in an era of intense Thunder Dragon play.

Thunder Dragon Thunderstormech is a massive Link-4 with questionableviability given the modern look of Thunder Dragons. It's a card that'sprobably better suited for a future in which Thunder Dragons aren't loadedwith Dangers and Dragons, or when other Link-4s are sub-optimal or simplynon-existent due to the Forbidden & Limited List.

Right now it's incredibly difficult to justify against cards like SaryujaSkull Dread. It's excellent protection for your field though, and there'sno telling if Thunder Dragons will at some point want to land on a Link 4with incredibly strong defensive effects. It's not at all suited fortoday's Thunder Dragon decks – at least the ones seeing the most tournamentsuccess – but Thunder Dragon Colossus and Thunder Dragon Thunderstormech isa terrifying combination that's only missing coverage againstnon-destruction effects.

More Promos Make Their Way To The TCG
The other new Links in Duel Power were sourced from OCGpromotional releases. Cyberse Enchanter, Backup Supervisor, and SecurityDragon were all found in the 20th Anniversary Duelist Box whichlaunched late last year in the OCG. Security Dragon saw its first reprintin that set, and it's actually been around since 2017. It's been waiting anextraordinarily long time to make its way to the TCG, and now that it'shere it's a questionable choice: like Akashic Magician it's really onlyuseful when paired with Grinder Golem.

Now that Grinder Golem's Forbidden there's not much incentive to play itover other Link-2s with similar Link Arrows, but there's still a chance youcould leverage its effect in some niche situations. For example, if youSummoned a monster to your opponent's field with Summon Sorceress or ifyour opponent leaves a Link Monster on the field with a forward-facing LinkArrow in their Extra Monster Zone.

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Cyberse Enchanter and Backup Supervisor have an interesting gimmick thatmakes them play a bit like Synchros. You'll want to use a specific materialfor their Link Summon to get their best effects, and those monsters willprobably only exist in your deck for the singular purpose of pulling offthat Link Summon. Cyberse Enchanter has by far the best ability: aQuick-Effect negation that doesn't work on Link Monsters. Unfortunately italso has the worst Link Material of the two. Cyberse Wizard lacks abuilt-in Special Summon, and it's totally unplayable from a competitiveperspective.

The OCG Link VRAINS Box introduced a new Trickstar Link as well,and a late piece of Rokket support. Trickstar Foxglove Witch has a one-timeburn ability on Summon as its sole reason for existing, but it's a solidburn that could close out duels following a string of attacks in the BattlePhase. Meanwhile, Booster Dragon's nearly a must-play in Rokkets as it'sarguably the easiest way to trigger your Rokket effects. It's about a yearlate to the party, but like other Dragon themes Rokkets benefit fromGuardragon support and Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres. It's not abad time to investigate Rokkets again, but there's no denying that thetheme needs more support to be competitive.

Finally, Beat Cop from the Underworld's a fantastic Link-2 that can you canslot into any deck for its favorable Link Arrows. From a utilityperspective it's a straight upgrade from LANphorhynchus: Beat Cop's effectcan protect a key card from destruction long after it's left the field.That's a potentially game-winning effect if you can keep a floodgate on thetable indefinitely.

Imagine protecting a card like Amorphage Goliath, Imperial Order, There CanBe Only One, or Summon Limit against the myriad of removal options beingplayed right now. Avoiding just one destruction effect could easily be thedifference between controlling a floodgate that outright wins you the duel,or simply letting your opponent play the game because they drew one of theremoval effects.

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Platinum Gadget's shockingly new in the OCG and a welcome change of pacefrom the extremely late LVP1 imports. It's from a new breed of 'balanced'Link Monsters like The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche that stop you fromcannibalizing your Links to make more Link Summons, and it's definitely notas busted as some other Links as a result.

I'm looking at you, Needlefiber.

That said Platinum Gadget's an awesome addition to Deskbots, Trains,Ancient Gears, and ABCs. There are so many Machine themes that benefit froman extra Special Summon from the hand that I could spend all day listingoff combos and interactions. Platinum's second effect is useful, but it'slargely an afterthought compared to the Summoning power its first effectprovides.

I think Beat Cop, Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres, Platinum Gadget,and Aromaseraphy Jasmine are the best of the crop as far as new Links areconcerned. Luckily they're all incredibly affordable at the moment, and thetiming of their release in Duel Power's very convenient. There area lot of great cards to pick up right now, and with any luck we won't bestuck waiting for next year's iteration of Duel Power to get thelast chunk of LVP1, or a small portion of LVP2.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​​​​gamer and writer. You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​ ​​​​​​Twitter​​​​​​for more updates ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​. He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University