It's weird when the design team accidentally names an archetype with an inadvertently accurate description. Gimmick Puppets may just be the most gimmicky strategy I've played in months. It carries inherent inconsistencies, unavoidable dead draws, and a hell of a lot of subpar cards with not enough good cards to function properly. I've sought out help from the likes of Cordero Spencer and Jeff Jones in an attempt to make this deck better, but at the end of the day there isn't really a way to make Gimmick Puppets good.

However, they do crank out some pretty impressive fields every once in a while, and no deck is quite as good at churning out some of the bigger CXyz Monsters. There are definitely ways to make Gimmick Puppets suck less, but to do that you've got to sacrifice some of the more explosive combos. I've already settled on the conclusion that Gimmick Puppets are relatively unusable on a variety of levels, so I figured if I'm going to build it, I might as well go big or go home.

DECKID=100134 What originally deterred me from testing Gimmick Puppets was all the reading I had to do to play the deck. It might sound silly, but there's so much card text and so many Xyz Monsters. It was too much, honestly.

I finally set aside three hours of my time and dedicated it completely to figuring out just how Gimmick Puppets operate, and that helped a lot. Luckily for you I'm going to break it down in the simplest way possible, saving you from having to figure out all the interactions yourself..

Meet the Main Deck
Gimmick Puppet Dreary Doll is probably the one Gimmick Puppet everyone recognizes. Once per turn you can banish another Gimmick Puppet in your graveyard and Special Summon Dreary Doll to the field. The only real drawback is that you're locked into only making Gimmick Puppet Xyz Monsters with it, but that's not the worst thing in the world. Getting it to the graveyard's fairly easy, and is mainly done by either Normal Summoning Gimmick Puppet Scissor Arms or discarding it with Trade-In.

As for stuff you want in your hand instead of the graveyard, Gimmick Puppet Magnet Doll Special Summons itself as long as you only control Gimmick Puppets and your opponent controls a monster. It's pretty good, and helps get you out of some awkward situations. Gimmick Puppet Humpty Dumpty is sort of the Marauding Captain of the deck, bringing another Gimmick Puppet to the table whenever it's Normal or Special Summoned.

As for the last two monsters, Gimmick Puppet Shadow Feeler is kind of terrible but you have to run it, and Gimmick Puppet Gear Changer is your own Gagaga Magician. Shadow Feeler can technically save you from damage, but most of the time you'll just use it for Dreary fodder. It's easily the least useful in the bunch. Gear Changer's decent in theory, copying a Level 4 or 8 to form the corresponding Xyz Monster, but in practice it's just not the best. Out of the four monsters you can Normal Summon, Gear Changer puts in the least work on its own, which is why we're only playing the one copy.

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The rest of the deck's actually pretty straightforward. It's all combo enablers like Machine Duplication, Trap Stun, and Junk Puppet, or draw power like Reckless Greed and Cardcar D. You're going to need better than perfect conditions to pull off OTK's so we're using everything available. The complicated part now is the variety of Rank 8 and Rank 9 monsters in the Extra Deck, but don't worry, we're going to break them down individually.

Ranking Up
The easiest way to explain how this deck approaches Xyz Summoning is to divide it all into two phases. The first phase gives you the choice of two Rank 8's, both of which are only just "okay." What you really want to hit is the second phase, which offers three different Rank 9's, hitting the field with the help of Rank-Up-Magic - Argent Chaos Force. This particular Rank-Up card isn't complicated: you place a CXyz or Number C monster from your Extra Deck on top of a Rank 8 you currently control. In addition, once per duel you can add Argent Chaos Force from your graveyard to your hand after you Xyz Summon a Rank 5 or higher monster. Your main combos are going to require Rank-Up-Magic - Argent Chaos Force and four Level 8's on board, ending in two huge Rank 9's that'll hopefully end the game.

Number 40: Gimmick Puppet of Strings is the lesser of the two Rank 8's. You detach a material to place String Counters on every face-up monster except itself. From there though, Argent Chaos Force pushes you into Number C40: Gimmick Puppet of Dark Strings, which blows up every monster with String Counters and lets you draw a card. It's like a harder to make, but overall better Dark Hole. Wiping the board clean is awesome, but realistically this is the weakest Rank-Up you'll do.

Let's talk Number 15: Gimmick Puppet Giant Grinder. This dude's actually pretty swell. You can detach a material to pop a Special Summoned monster, and if it was an Xyz your opponent takes damage equal to that monster's ATK. What's even cooler, though, is that you can use Giant Grinder's effect twice per turn. Often times a Giant Grinder can do the work of Number C40: Gimmick Puppet of Dark Strings and do some serious damage.

What's awesome, though, is Number C15: Gimmick Puppet Giant Hunter. Once per turn you can blow up anything your opponent has, and if it's a monster they take damage equal to its ATK. Finally! A good card in the Gimmick Puppet arsenal. Giant Hunter sort of makes this deck worthwhile, in my opinion, but the last Rank 9 is good too, just in a different way. CXyz Coach Lord Ultimatrainer lets you detach a material to draw a card and reveal it, possibly inflicting 800 damage to the other player. Not only that, but Ultimatrainer clocks in at a hefty 3800 ATK. Every turn it survives is another +1, but keeping it alive is definitely a challenge.

Jumping Through Hoops
So yeah, this deck doesn't seem that bad, right? I feel like I'd be lying if I told you guys that this deck is more powerful than it really is, so let's get the facts out there. Gimmick Puppets have some serious problems. For starters, almost every single card in your deck requires other cards to work. The closest thing to a standalone card is Cardcar D, and that's not a good thing. You could potentially play Black Salvo, but in the end that's a medium card in a deck full of highs and lows. If you're planning on picking up Gimmick Puppets you should probably sign a contract acknowledging that half of your hands will be completely unplayable.

…and there's no way of avoiding that, which totally sucks. You have to play stuff like Dreary Doll, a Level 8 that wants to be in the graveyard, and Magnet Doll, a Level 8 that wants to be in the hand. Mismatched openings with Trap Stuns and Rank-Up-Magics but no Gimmick Puppets are a real thing, as is the opposite but equally awful side of the coin where you draw only Gimmick Puppets.

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The biggest issue though, is that Gimmick Puppets only do good things at the very end of their combos. Not at the beginning, not halfway through, only at the very end. Realistically you have to put at least two, but hopefully four, Level 8's on board behind a Trap Stun and an Argent Chaos Force. But even then you won't be able to win unless your opponent has monsters on board to destroy with Giant Hunter. In short, you need a perfect hand against your opponent's useless back row but abundance of monsters, but the monsters need to be able to be destroyed and have to high ATK.

Like, seriously, what the hell?

All of that being said, this still is a fun casual deck for locals. Sometimes you'll just decimate entire fields and burn through every card your opponent has, and those games are freaking awesome. Throughout a longer tournament you're bound to see more and more unplayable hands, and that's why I definitely wouldn't play Gimmick Puppets in anything longer than four or five rounds. Of course, maybe you've found some crazy way to break this archetype. If you think your build is better, please post in the Comment section below! I know there are a ton of different ways to go about building Gimmick Puppets, and I'm interested to see what people have come up with.

-Doug Zeeff

Article Aftermath #46