The writers here at TCGplayer are quite the unique bunch. While some of us strive to be tournament-topping cool kids, ALL of us really get our jollies off on great concepts. We love to see cool combos or innovative deck ideas at work. For us, the process of creation and execution is the ultimate high. My goal has always been to bring something new and inexpensive to the table. Doug's column is called Low Key for a reason. Jason repairs crazy and unheard of decks, and Kelly's always trying to find you new ways to beat whatever's commonplace. Beau highlights weird things us mortals could never imagine and Judge Joe explains obscure rulings for those of us playing with weird cards.

Today however, we're talking about Loukas. Allow me to start off by quoting his most recent article:

"If you've read any of my articles or heard me talk about card games in real life, then you probably know of my weird affinity for decks that shouldn't make sense on paper. Someone can mention in passing two entirely separate archetypes or strategies, and the wheels will start turning in my head: confusing, oblong Yu-Gi-Oh! wheels. If I ever actually figure out how to make the deck work, you'll be graced with my Ninja Mermail conglomeration in the near future."

Well, This One's For You, My Mermail AbyssMegabro
That's right, my dear friends, today I will be showing you Ninja Mermails. The concept's pretty simple: use Ninja Grandmaster Hanzo to bring out very large fish. School your opponent with LOTS of very large fish. Laugh at your aquatic prosperity.

Rinse. Repeat.

Glorious, really! After I read that passage in Loukas's article, I simply couldn't help the wheels from turning in my head. I quickly decided that I wanted to share the build that I'd been constructing with Loukas and I figured this would be as good a way as any. The idea's fantastic! Let's dive right in, shall we?

DECKID=99302Everyone's familiar with the Mermail strategy; it decimated competition before Dragon Rulers showed up and even began to show signs of resurgence towards the end of the September 2013 Format. In your circles of discussion, I'm sure you and your friends are well aware of the opportunity Mermails have for a return to dominance in the new format – in fact, it's expected. Many of you, however, probably know little to nothing about Ninjas. This fascinating theme was revamped to much acclaim and fanfare with Order of Chaos, and for a long time, people felt very confident in its ability to make a competitive impact… and then it did nothing at all. To my knowledge this strategy has made no notable top finishes and it's just been a wellspring of unrealized potential. Well, today my lovely friends, is that day! It's Ninja Fish day!

The Ninja theme rotates around one pivotal monster: Ninja Grandmaster Hanzo. This 1800 ATK Level 4 Warrior-Type monster can search out any Ninjitsu Art when it is Normal Summoned and in this case we're going to be searching out Ninjitsu Art of Super-Transformation. It's a neat little continuous trap. Here's it's text:

#####CARDID=9636#####

With a trap like this on their side, it's pretty easy to see why Ninjas had the hype machine working full force. So how does this little combo apply to Mermails? It's all about getting to your Level 7's as quickly as possible. Essentially, Ninjitsu Art of Super-Transformation is Abyss-spheres number four through six – which is pretty scary when you look at it in that context.

That said, Super-Transformation has a few things going for it that Abyss-sphere doesn't. First, Super-Transformation serves as quick and painless monster removal when you have no other way out. Getting that Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear off of the field's usually preferable to trying to navigate a big backrow, since your opponent could easily have a Fire Formation – Tensen that they're waiting for you to walk right into, destroying your monster and triggering Bear's effect. Secondly, Super-Transformation can rip Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls right out of your deck and onto the field – an important factor to consider now that Tidal's newly Limited and therefore much harder to get into play.

Jumping The Gun(de)
So how do the rest of the Mermails play into this? A lot of that theme's effects center around discarding other monsters to Special Summon themselves, and in turn the monsters you discard will often trigger their own effects. My absolute favorite Mermail – and the one that I want to talk about next – is Mermail Abyssgunde. As you can see, this deck has numerous ways to get your big guns on the field, but what about recursion? Are they all dead once they hit the graveyard? Nope! Whenever you have a new outlet to discard a monster, ditch Gunde and bring back one of your big guns. Abyssgunde makes for easy Rank 7's and in case you were wondering, Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack is still really, really good.

You're also running a single copy of Gunde's mer-sister, Mermail Abyssdine. When you couple the sisters together with Abysspike, you can create instant Bahamut Shark plays and a lot of different combos with Rank 3's and 4's. You're also running the obligatory five-card Atlantean engine to search, pop and be general all around discard fodder.

Tech For Tech
In a deck like this one, where you have so many unique combos and play situations, you can find yourself making the best of a lot of interesting tech picks. Cards that might otherwise seem lackluster can wind up being truly incredible in the correct situation.

Sometimes you run tech cards just for the sake of better numbers, and that's the case here for your first tech highlight. During my testing I found a ratio of three Hanzo to three Ninjitsu Art of Super-Transformations sometimes resulted in dead draws and cards just not lining up every now and then. You'll often see Hanzo paired with Upstart Golden Ninja to create the foundation for a Chaos Ninja engine, and the number issue doesn't really become a problem. Upstart Golden Ninja would just be inappropriate here, so instead I chose to tech a single Aqua Armor Ninja – the results have been great! You've got another Ninja for your Ninjitsu Art, an extra Water monster for your discard outlets, and when it's in the graveyard with another Ninja, you can banish Aqua Armor Ninja to negate an attack. You could even run another copy if you could find the room.

#####CARDID=6549#####

Your best piece of tech, hands down, is Magic Planter. You're running nothing but continuous traps for your back row. Interestingly enough, several of those continuous traps will often end up sitting on the field after they've been used up. Magic Planter allows you to capitalize on your spent traps and turn them into Pot of Greed through the transitive property of Yu-Gi-Oh.

…And That's Ninja Mermails!
I hope you enjoyed my gift to you! Let me know what you think! I want to hear from everyone else, not just Loukas! His idea was fantastic and allowed me the opportunity to build without a budget.

Believe me when I say it was a wonderful reprieve from the norm. I'd genuinely consider taking this to a Regional if I could. This variation of the Mermail strategy throws your opponents a lot of swerves, forcing them to think very differently about how they approach your strategy and how they side against you. It also helps to ease some of the massive dependence Mermails usually have on their graveyard. Neat stuff, indeed

-Zach Buckley
Team Nofatchx