Every couple of years we arrive at an opportunity such as this. It's one that I relish greatly. For the first time in a long time, the top deck is straight up low rent! If you're a regular around here then you know that I'm TCGplayer's resident budget deck expert. Once a week, I bring you a deck that's new, fun, and/or competitive that you can build for $100 or less. I've been doing this job since the summer of 2012 and it's been an interesting ride.

If you want to let your mind wander that far back with me, then you'll know that the summer of 2012 had a pretty wide berth in terms of generally accepted "top decks." I'm sure you remember watching Wind-Ups, Inzektors, Dino Rabbit, and Chaos Dragons duke it out all summer long at the top tables. Every single one of those decks took massive hits from the fall F&L List a few months later.

Only one of them didn't break the bank. Chaos Dragons were massively powerful and influential, and it's all because the body of the strategy came from a Structure Deck. It was a crazy scenario where $30 for three Structure Decks coupled with a minor investment in certain power cards – like Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning – could get you a genuinely competitive deck. To put it into perspective, this was the same summer where a single Rescue Rabbit could easily set you back a hundred bucks.

Well, history repeats itself again, my friends! As Kozmo Dark Destroyer sits at $75 a pop, you could easily order three copies of Structure Deck: Master of Pendulum and have just about 70% of one of the top decks. At that point, you still haven't even invested half the amount of money it would take to get that Dark Destroyer. It's a crazy time to be alive!

Broken At Last
When Konami first revealed the Pendulum Summoning mechanic the entire playerbase looked around, nodded at one another in comprehension, and decided that it was the most broken game mechanic ever created. …And then nothing happened for over a year. Qliphorts came and established that, yes, Pendulum Summoning's a very powerful idea, but even they weren't enough to throw the game into disarray and get everyone to hop on the bandwagon. Part of that had to do with the deck's crippling reliance on Qliphort Scout, but I digress.

Pendulum Magicians deliver on our collective expectation that Pendulum Summoning was going to be nutzo. The deck can go from zero to OTK faster than you can imagine, and it can grind until there's nothing left of you. After spending quite a bit of time with the deck I think the best comparison I can provide is that it's really, really similar to Dragon Rulers. Believe me, it's more than just their shared penchant for Rank 7's , too. It's their shared, uncanny ability to take two cards and make them into a full field that really makes the comparison so apt.

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Before we go any further let's make sure you're caught up. Mouse over Dragonpit Magician, Dragonpulse Magician, Oafdragon Magician, Wisdom-Eye Magician, and Nobledragon Magician to read their effects and abilities. They've got a lot going on, but a quick recap will help you navigate the discussion.

These new Magicians cover a lot of ground. As you were scrolling over their names, you undoubtedly noticed that they also cover a wide set of Pendulum Scales too, ranging from 1 to 8. These monsters serve as the core of the deck. In the case of Dragonpit Magician and Dragonpulse Magician, they cover your spot removal. I've found Dragonpit to be especially useful. I'd much rather lose one Pendulum Monster from my hand than fall victim to Torrential Tribute, Bottomless Trap Hole, or Solemn Anything. Since it doesn't eat up your Normal Summon in any way, it's even better. Think of it as a better version of Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Gorilla.

Cost-wise, discarding a Pendulum for Dragonpit's effect isn't a big deal. Any time you Summon Oafdragon Magician you can pull any of your discarded Pendulum monsters out of the graveyard and back to your hand anyways. It's a neat little reload trick that keeps your opponent second guessing what to place on the field, because they'll be the taking the biggest losses in the long run. In fact, Oafdragon is just your go-to card for monster recursion in general.

You're obviously running a number of monsters beyond the Magicians, but before I discuss that any further, I really want to show you the deck in its fullest so you can get a good idea of the entire shape of the strategy.

DECKID=103886I elected to skip Performages for a few reasons. First off, it's cheaper to build without them. Even though the Performages themselves are practically free, you have to run a bevvy of expensive Main Deck and Extra Deck cards to make them worthwhile. There's no good reason to break budget when there's a perfectly viable version of the deck that doesn't cost nearly as much. Secondly, I wanted this article to serve as a primer for pure Magicians. Even though the strategy's everywhere, I have no doubt in my mind that there're plenty of us who still haven't caught up, and could use some help making sense of it all.

But even "pure Magicians" is a bit of a misnomer. The deck runs a number of non-Magicians to make the strategy fully functional. Half of the Magicians have effects that involve Performapals and Odd-Eyes monsters, and you're taking advantage of a few of them here – chiefly the best ones. Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon was practically the first Pendulum monster to be released and it's really still one of the best. You're using Odd-Eyes here for its ability to search out half of your Magicians, sure, but you're also using it for its incredible synergy with a number of other cards played here. On the simple side of things, you can search Odd-Eyes with Sky Iris, the new field spell that stops your opponent from targeting your Magician, Performapal, and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Spells.

Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon becomes much more interesting when you couple it with Nobledragon Magician. Nobledragon's effect to Special Summon itself whenever Odd-Eyes hits the field is the gateway to a bunch of killer Extra Deck monsters. Once you've Special Summoned Nobledragon with its effect, you can Synchro Summon for Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon and get the ball rolling. When Meteorburst Dragon's Special Summoned, you can target one card in your Pendulum Zones and Special Summon it to your side of the field. More often than not, you're going to Special Summon Dragonpit Magician so you can go into your Rank 7 Xyz plays. But you can Special Summon any of your Pendulum monsters and build whatever field you like.

My favorite Rank 7 is Odd-Eyes Absolute Dragon, which was also included in the Structure Deck. It's got 2800 ATK and a number of effects that make it a bad day for your opponent. Most importantly, you can detach an Xyz material from Absolute Dragon whenever an attack's declared, to negate the attack and then Special Summon an Odd-Eyes monster from your hand or graveyard. If you made Absolute Dragon with Meteorburst Dragon then you can detach Meteorburst, Special Summon it back to the field, and then use its effect to pull a monster out of your Pendulum Zone and into battle. It's an obnoxious combo that negates one attack and puts you up two monsters.

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The last card I wanted to just touch on briefly is Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin, which is effectively the budget player's Mist Valley Apex Avian… Sort of. I say that with some reluctance because I don't want to you to think that it's just some cheap, inferior replacement. After testing both cards I've found that Kirin's actually better. It just ends up being more useful in more situations and spends less time sitting dead in your hand. Plus it couples so well with Performapal Skullcrobat Joker!

One of Apex Avian's big downfalls is that it's the only Mist Valley card in your deck, so you're going to be bouncing it for tis ability. But since you can bounce any Pendulum monster for Kirin's effect, you can keep Kirin on the field to maintain field presence when needed.

Alright, Buck! Where's The Bang!?
This one's sitting around the $90 mark right now. That could change quickly, though. For instance Xiangke Magician was $4 at the time of my writing, but it was $11 the week before. With a deck this popular, it's hard to predict where it's going.

But the real blessing is that $30 will get you three copies of the Master of Pendulum Structure Deck and a huge percentage of everything that you need! So go out there an start wrecking at the top tables. You've got my support!

-Zach Buckley


Zach is husband to his beloved wife, Emma. He's also a composer who's studying composition and production formally in an attempt to be both happy and poor. You can follow his progress on these goals by checking out his sporadically updated blog at www.wordpress.com/zwbuckleymusic