Writing this article was freaking hard. I can't even put enough emphasis on that. Usually, I can whip up a relatively solid, well-tested deck and its accompanying article within a week. As I sit here writing this, it's deadline day and I have yet to finish this week's column for you guys because I CAN'T STOP playing with this deck. Seriously! I keep finding myself saying, "Oh, well I should probably do another test match. To, you know, be safe." Which has really just been an incredibly bogus way of me saying, can I just play now and write later?

Luckily for all parties involved, it's more of a testament to the wonders of this strategy than it is to my own negligence. I've wanted to cover this deck for all of my cost efficient friends out there since Shadow Specters dropped last year, but until recently it wasn't quite affordable enough. Melaie of the Trees is the lynchpin of this strategy and up until very recently it was out of the price range of our budgetary explorations.

But like all good things, Meliae of the Trees has become more approachable with the passing of time! This decks simply must have the little tree-lady-thing to really take root before it can see real success, and now that she's good and affordable, your dueling life can blossom into a field full of large, imposing women.

Dreams do come true, friends! Meet your new family:

DECKID=100072So now that you've got a picture of what the deck looks like, we can better discuss the all-important role of Meliae of the Trees. If you notice, nearly every single monster in the deck that isn't a Plant is there for the sole purpose of helping you get Meliae onto the field as quickly as possible. You'd think that building a strategy around a Rank 3 that requires two Earth monsters as Xyz Materials would be an awkward and cumbersome feat, but in all actuality, there've been several cards released in the past year that make it a pretty easy prospect.

Madolche Hootcake is a powerhouse in a standard Madolche strategy and it's excellent here as well. In a standard Madolche deck, Hootcake is all about building up your field to make your power plays live, and it serves a very similar purpose in this deck. Hootcake makes Meliae as a 1-for-1 by pulling Madolche Mewfeuille out of your deck. Some may disagree with me, but I've found that running a ratio of three Hootcake to two Mewfeuille gets the best results. Sure, you won't be able to use all three Hootcake effects, but considering the fact that you only have three Meliae, it isn't such a big deal. You never want to draw Madolche Mewfeuille.

There are times where you're going to end up with Mewfeuille in your hand anyways though, and for times like that you've got a pair of Instant Fusion to cover your butt. Mewfeuille may not even be the problem: you could also wind up with Dandylion or Card Trooper without any immediate use for them. Instant Fusion's here to really give you an opportunity to capitalize on those situations and get the ball rolling as early as your first turn. Opening with Card Trooper and Instant Fusion can yield some great results depending on Trooper's mills, since you can Instant Fusion the Level 3 Earth monster Fusionist to complete your Xyz Summon.

Once you've got your graveyard set up, you can start making Rank 3's with Crane Crane. Easily one of the best Normal Summons in the game, Crane Crane gives you full access to all of the Rank 3's in your Extra Deck and delivers them with ruthless precision. If you've played Wind-Ups at any point in the past then you can liken Crane Crane to Wind-Up Rat: it's the straw that can really break the camel's back in the late game.

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Once you can get Meliae of the Trees onto the field the real fun begins. Your premier Xyz has two effects: it can either send a Plant monster from your deck to the graveyard, or Special Summon a Plant from your graveyard to the field in face-up defense position. When you pair Meliae with Lonefire Blossom it's remarkably easy to pump out your Princesses and really pressure your opponent. In essence, your little Plants grow into larger, far more fearsome Plants.

ALL THE PRINCESSES!!!
Let's talk some numbers here. I think it's safe to say that there isn't anything close to a general consensus amongst Plant Princess Enthusiasts as to which Princesses should be run, and in what numbers. It's an understandable conundrum: here you've got four incredibly powerful Level 8 Plants that each have relatively unique effects – sometimes sorting through these things can be rather difficult.

Let's start with some common ground. Most duelists I've seen agree that a pair of Chirubime, Princess of Autumn Leaves is ideal. Chirubime serves as your defensive wall, slowing down the tempo of the game to your preferred pace. The 2800 DEF Blocker forces your opponent to attack through her before they can swing at anything else on your field. If you have two Chirubime on the table your opponent can't attack at all. As her denouement, when Chirubime's destroyed by your opponent and sent to the graveyard her effect will Special Summon another Plant from your deck to the field. She's a ruthless lady.

Let's talk next about Talaya, Princess of Cherry Blossoms. In choosing to run only one, I'm definitely going against the grain. Sure, running two has its benefits: like Chirubime, having two copies of Talaya on the field creates a soft lock that stops your opponent from destroying your monsters. While Chirubime protects you from battle, Talaya eliminates the worry of destruction by card effects. So why avoid this soft lock? Well, with cards like Dimensional Prison and Memory of an Adversary running rampant right now, destruction's only a part of the equation. To handle the shape of things today, you need a few more tricks than that.

…which brings us to the final two Princesses: Marina, Princess of Sunflowers and Tytannial, Princess of Camellias. Up until very recently, I considered both of these Princesses 100% throwaway material. I saw no use in Marina and considered Tytannial's usefulness a notion of the past. But you can chalk that up to ignorance on my part,. Most people read cards, but very few people actually read the cards, you know? That was the case with these two. I read them over but didn't really consider how to apply them in a real life dueling situations. Originally I was running just two copies each of Chirubime and Talaya and nothing more. After realizing that expansion was needed for consistency, I threw in one-off copies of the other two and after further testing, reached the numbers presented in today's deck.

So why double Marina, Princess of Sunflowers? She's pretty much that one really large, imposing kid that beats up on anyone who messes with her friends. You'd be surprised at how much synergy Marina carries with the strategy. Your opponent is going to be hard-pressed to remove anything from the field before taking her out, or else they'll take a hit. Marina's especially effective when coupled with the two Princesses that draw attention to themselves; regardless of if it's Chirubime or Talaya, your opponent's going to be left in a situation not unto their liking.

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Tytannial's the oldest and wisest of our Princesses and still one of the strongest. I think if many duelists were honest, they'd admit to never realizing that Tytannial can stop all cards that target anything on the field, as opposed to effects that just target only specific cards – I know I didn't. What's even better is that you can activate Tytannial's effect multiple times in the same chain, and when you're dealing with strategies like Fire Kings and Bujins, that's a valuable asset. I actually can't really overstate enough how rewarding it is to play Tytannial despite the inherent difficulties that come with her usage. All four Princesses are absolutely necessary to a successful Princess deck as far as I'm concerned.

A Quick Q&A
I'm sure there're a number of questions that have popped up while you've been reading all this, and I'll address the ones that seem obvious to me right now. So why aren't Spore or Debris Dragon anywhere to be found? Well, Debris Dragon's an easy answer: after funds were set aside for Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand, there wasn't really any money left to justify a Black Rose Dragon. So I mean, if you can afford one then go for it! Find the room!

As for Spore? There was literally never a time where I didn't wish it was something else whenever I drew into it. And an honorable mention goes to Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders for never being there when I wanted it, and never being as good as I wanted it to be when it was around. So it got cut hard and I've never looked back. You may feel different and that's okay.

Also, the Extra Deck's incomplete because the Extra Deck isn't a huge necessity. Sure, you need your two Fusionists and three Meliae of the Trees, but beyond that I never used anything else except Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis. So I figured, it'd be better to have an incomplete Extra Deck and have a really killer Rank 8 in the form of Felgrand over a bunch of situational monsters and no Felgrand due to budget reasons. You may have a different personal opinion and that's okay!

Alright, Buck. Where's The Bang?
This one caps out at a solid $100. It's worth it, though. Not all the strategies here in More Bang are competitively viable, but this one genuinely is. I would feel incredibly confident in the ability of this strategy to top a Regional at the very least; it can pump out massively unforgiving fields in a relatively short amount of time. Check it out, give it a shot, and find out for yourself!

-Zach Buckley
Team Nofatchx