Never in a million years did I think I'd end up saying that El Shaddoll Grysta's the best playable Shaddoll Fusion, and yet here we are.

It's no secret that Shaddolls took some of the biggest hits on the most recent Forbidden & Limited List, losing two copies of El Shaddoll Fusion, two Reinforcement of the Army, and all three El Shaddoll Constructs. In short, Shaddolls as a standalone theme were basically demolished, and you were forced to combine them with other engines if you wanted to continue playing them. Shaddolls have a dedicated fan base and almost immediately after the November F&L List went into effect, duelists were scrambling to create new ways to pilot the strategy they've loved for over a year.

The problem? I think almost every list I saw was centered around El Shaddoll Shekhinaga. Don't get me wrong: Shekhinaga's pretty annoying for some decks to deal with. And there are plenty of good Earth monsters, too. Traptrix Myrmeleo and Traptrix Dionaea were common picks, setting up a defensive wall while providing the necessary Earth monsters for Fusion Materials.

Still, all too often I watched Shaddoll players sit on a Shekhinaga in defense mode for turns on end, only to have their opponent build up resources until they could throw more monsters on the board than the Shaddoll player could deal with. Pendulum Summoning made that way too easy, and thus most Shaddoll duelists have found themselves at the lower tables at Regionals over the past couple weeks.

The Solution
El Shaddoll Grysta was designed to be a perfect counter to Pendulum Summoning. As long as you have a Shaddoll in your hand you can negate the Special Summon of one or more monsters, and then destroy whatever's summoned. Obviously that only stops inherent Special Summons, but that's really not that big of downside. Grysta's essentially a Solemn Warning every single turn with no Life Point cost, and considering how heavy competitive metagames are on Pendulums right now it's no surprise that you can do pretty well if you're running a deck to counter that mechanic. The biggest perceived downside of Grysta is that it requires Fire monsters as Fusion Materials, and there aren't a lot of fantastic choices.

…Luckily there's a theme that I'm super familiar with and love dearly that just happens to be all Fire monsters. Volcanics!

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I know Loukas loves to make fun of my loyalty to this strategy, but I seriously can't get enough of the little guys. If you don't know, Volcanics aim to bury your opponent with card advantage gained off Blaze Accelerator Reload; it lets you discard a Volcanic to draw a card. Volcanic Shell is your first choice, searching another copy for 500 Life Points when it's in the graveyard. If you need to blow up your opponent's monsters you can send Volcanic Scattershot to the graveyard instead, which yards two more copies to destroy all your opponent's monsters and burn them for 1500 damage. If Blaze Accelerator Reload's in your graveyard you can also banish it to mill a Volcanic from your deck, granting some extra longevity you wouldn't have otherwise.

Volcanic Rocket's your go-to searcher, grabbing a copy of Blaze Accelerator Reload from your deck or graveyard whenever it's summoned, and it packs a beefy 1900 ATK. Royal Firestorm Guards brings it all together, shuffling back four Pyros to draw you two cards. It recycles your engine and digs you deeper into your deck at the same time, and it carries a respectable 1700 ATK to boot.

I think the biggest difference when we compare the Earth monster engine and the Fire monster engine is that the Fire cards actively dig for your combo pieces. Searching Trap Hole cards is neat, but it doesn't solve the biggest issue with Shaddolls right now: consistency. El Shaddoll Construct could yard whatever Shaddoll you needed whenever it was Fusion Summoned, getting you to whichever effect you wanted, whenever you wanted it. But losing that ability as well as two copies of El Shaddoll Fusion really messes up your hands, so the draw power of Volcanics is ridiculously helpful; it ensures that you'll see your Fusion Spells as soon as possible.

Anyway, let's take a look at what I came up with over the past couple weeks of testing:

DECKID=103929The four card Reinforcement of the Army engine isn't nearly as powerful as it was when ROTA was Unlimited, but it's still good nonetheless. You can grab Elemental HERO Blazeman, Armageddon Knight, or Photon Thrasher, all of which address different problems with simple effects.

For example, Blazeman not only gets you out of awkward hands without a Fusion Spell, but it's also a Fire monster for El Shaddoll Grysta. Armageddon Knight's even more important now because you've lost El Shaddoll Construct, and its pinpoint ability to send a card to the graveyard is more valuable than Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn's blind milling. I also wanted to fit Mathematician in here, but couldn't find the space. While it's a great standalone card it's a Level 3 and thus doesn't have much synergy with the rest of the deck. That said, it's far from a bad choice if you want to include it in your version.

Photon Thrasher deals with threats on a more active front, setting you up for quick Rank 4's. Abyss Dweller's incredibly useful when backed by Volcanic Scattershot against Kozmos, destroying Kozmo spaceships and preventing them from replacing themselves, too. Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer's awesome at eliminating Pendulum Scales without destroying them, and avoids sending them to the Extra Deck. Tellarknight Ptolemaeus isn't quite as crazy as it's going to be in just a few weeks with Cyber Dragon Infinity, but it's quite good right now because you can attach a Stellarknight Constellar Diamond to it during your End Phase and then make Constellar Pleiades when your opponent's turn begins.

The competitive scene is about to flip on its head when Breakers of Shadow hits shelves in just a few short weeks, but one thing's for certain: Pendulum Summoning's in for good. El Shaddoll Grysta's completely unexpected right now and you're sure to catch a ton of your opponents off guard with a first turn Shaddoll Fusion after they've Pendulum Summoned. Some adjustments will have to be made going forward, depending on how the post-BOSH landscape shapes up, but for right now I'm pretty satisfied with this list. What do you think about Volcanic Shaddolls and El Shaddoll Grysta? Would you give this deck a shot? Let me know in the comments!

-Doug Zeeff


Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered semi-Yu-Gi-Oh! related content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, wondering how magnets work, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh.