You'd think Dragon Rulers would die out after 60 percent of the Main Deck that won the WCQ was restricted by the Forbidden and Limited List, but the strategy reigned supreme for another few months afterwards and it's slowly been on the rise ever since, always taking different forms. Dragon Rulers haven't dominated 2014, but I think that the new Dragons of Legend release boosts Dragon Rulers in several ways. Some are obvious, but some may be under the radar.DECKID=100185My article next week will discuss the power of Soul Charge and Kuribandit in Lightsworn, but everything those cards accomplish in Lightsworn pales in comparison to how you can abuse them with Dragons. Dragon Rulers are notorious for not dying - both across formats and throughout a match – and it doesn't make them easier to kill when you have even more ways to Summon them.Anyone Need A Hand?
Oh wait, people do that anyway.
Dragon Rulers draw their power from being recursive behemoths, but the major problem the recent Dragon Ruler builds suffered from was an inability to get the boss monsters in the graveyard and then constantly have food for their Summons. Without the baby Rulers, you have to use lesser cards and off-theme stuff like Dragon Shrine, Kuribandit and Card Trooper to get your yard properly built. With fewer resources late in the game, you'll rely on Miracle Dig and Burial from a Different Dimension to keep your options open. Hey, it's hard work.
What I like best about Dragon Rulers is their ability to beat down backrows, simplify the game and win all on their own as a monster-driven core. Spot removal cards like Mystical Space Typhoon don't really deserve a place in the Dragon Main Deck because they're less consistent at clearing the way for future plays than the Dragon Rulers themselves. Sure, both the Summon of a Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos and Mystical Space Typhoon will eliminate the future threat of a Torrential Tribute, but the monster will always win out in the long run in decks like this. You can Special Summon Dragon Rulers for free; Mystical Space Typhoon costs a card from your hand
Unfortunately, your Dragons won't always be enough in every situation. Sometimes, you really need to clear a backrow card and attack over some monsters for damage, or to at least eliminate a threat so you yourself won't die the following turn. Even worse, you could be staring down a deck like Bujins and find yourself locked down against Kaiser Colosseum. Sure, you can bait out a Bujingi Crane by attacking a Yamato, but their boosted Beast-Warrior will stay on the field while Kaiser keeps your plays down.
That's where Fire Hand and Ice Hand come in. Straight from Dragons of Legend, these handy cards provide the spot removal Dragon Rulers needed without being simple 1-for-1 removal cards that would slow down your deck and create dead hands. I'd much rather open with a hand full of monsters and bleed my opponent for card economy repeatedly, than open with just one Dragon Ruler and five spells and traps.
Fire Hand and Ice Hand are opposite sides of the same coin. When your Fire Hand's destroyed in your possession, you get to blow up a monster and then Special Summon an Ice Hand from your deck. When that dies, you blow up a spell or trap and then summon a Fire Hand, also from your deck. The best comparison we have is Reborn Tengu. However, it's a bit like comparing apples and oranges because Tengu and the Hands serve completely different purposes for completely different play environments.
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Nevertheless, the Hands fill a definite need for the Dragon Rulers, while filling up the graveyard as food for Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls and Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos since they're Water and Fire monsters respectively. Dragons Rulers have trouble with Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, Vanity's Emptiness, Mistake and Gozen Match just to name a few of the floodgate cards that hold them back; Fire Hand and Ice Hand eliminate those problems.
For example, I was dueling a Fire Fist player during my first round of testing with this deck, and he used Solemn Warning to negate the Normal Summon of my Ice Hand. Why? I have no idea, but it allowed me to destroy his set Forbidden Lance and then summon a Fire Hand to match Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear's ATK, so I could crash the two for another Ice Hand. That thinned my deck, eliminated two threats, set up my graveyard for Dragon Rulers and put a time bomb in the form of monster destruction on my field by literally just Summoning one monster.
I deserve a high-five for that, or maybe even two.
Dragon Rulers have a slow early game right now, which is why Dragon Shrine and Kuribandit are so important. But even if you get to one of those cards early, it'll be rare for you to accomplish much on your first turn. Kuribandit triggers in the End Phase and Dragon Shrine is just a glorified Foolish Burial – certainly not bad, but not an immediate game-winning set-up on Turn 1. Often, you'll be forced to take some damage early because you can't make an Xyz or Synchro play on your first turn and you're left briefly defenseless. These new Dragons of Legend cards will really lend you a hand to solve that problem.This Deck Sure Is A Handful
Dragon Shrine's of course even better in this strategy because it's a double Foolish Burial if you toss a Normal Monster to the graveyard first. Throw a Blue-Eyes White Dragon and White Stone of Legend in the graveyard, add a Blue-Eyes White Dragon to hand, and then finish with Soul Charge for an amazing first turn play when you Synchro Summon Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon. With 2000 Life Points gone, you'll have a virtually indestructible monster protecting your Life Points on Turn 1 and then a Blue-Eyes White Dragon on your following turn all while throwing Dragons in your graveyard. This particular play is only available to you in roughly one out of every five opening hands, but keep in mind you aren't using Dragon Shrine and Soul Charge just for that one combo. Even without the miniature Blue-Eyes engine, I bet you'd still play them.
I've heard the sentiment that "Dragons take no skill," probably because people view free recursive cards as evil. Let me assure you, that statement is incredibly inaccurate. Perhaps less skill was needed to win when you had three of each Dragon Ruler plus Super Rejuvenation, but you're a fool if you think that just any player, devoid of experience, can successfully use a Dragon Ruler deck right now. More options with fewer resources means a deck is tougher to play, and punishes bad decisions more frequently; Dragon Rulers as they stand now are a prime example of that. There isn't an exhaustive guidebook of "How to Play Dragons," and to make matters more complicated I've included several different off-theme cards here to extend your plays. It's a rule of thumb that more decisions means more skill required. This isn't a matter of just memorizing combos.
For example, the Mythic Dragons provide a way to make Number 15: Gimmick Puppet Giant Grinder and Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand and broaden the range of boss monsters at your disposal. Eventually, you'll probably have to banish all of your Dragon Rulers with only so many monsters yarded during longer games, which isn't all bad because you search more Dragons from your deck to your hand. Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos and Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms have appropriate search targets if you opt to exclude Mythic Dragons, but the cards that Redox and Tidal can search when banished are slim pickings. Redox can snag Kidmodo Dragon or Tiger Dragon while Tidal's best option is Dragon Ice. Tempest and Blaster have the luxury of searching good tuners like Flamvell Guard, Influence Dragon and Debris Dragon.
Even though you can use Miracle Dig and Burial from a Different Dimension to restock your graveyard once you banish all your monsters, a large part of winning games with Dragons comes down to managing your resources and not playing recklessly. I've been an assistant manager at two stores in my lifetime, and I can confidently say more people can manage a convenience store competently than play Dragon Rulers. Miracle Dig and Burial are good reset buttons, but you won't always have them when you want them and the assistance they give is finite.
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That brings me back to Fire Hand and Ice Hand. They're more than just a stopgap for when you're bereft of plays or food to banish for Tidal and Blaster. Instead of going way out of your way to make a Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack or Scrap Dragon to eliminate a threat and playing right into Maxx "C", just slap your opponent with your hands and deal with the spell, trap or monster problem that way. If that doesn't work, Normal Summon a Fire Hand or Ice Hand to deal with a card that way.
For example, I was testing against Mermails and staring down a Mermail Abyssgaios and Imperial Iron Wall during a rough game. I had the opportunity to discard a Redox and Maxx "C" to revive itself; Normal Summon a Flamvell Guard; and deal with my opponent's Abyssgaios with Scrap Dragon. However, I didn't want to waste my Scrap Dragon and three cards in hand while still ending up locked down with an Iron Wall. It cost me some Life Points, but thanks to Ice Hand I punched his Abyssgaios, popped the Iron Wall and brought out Fire Hand. Again, I took some damage and sacrificed my Fire Hand, but I destroyed my opponent's Abyssgaios, brought out an Ice Hand and dealt 1400 damage in the process. In Main Phase 2 I made a Dracossacck and flew my plane to victory shortly thereafter.
That example wasn't ideal for me, but it certainly got the job done. Fencing Ferret's been a proven Dragon-flavored Side Deck choice against threats like Evilswarm Ophion, because no matter how your opponent destroyed the Ferret, it would trigger and finish off the hindrance. Fire Hand accomplishes that task but also replaces itself with another card.Lending A Helping Hand
I can't take full credit for this deck because it was inspired by my friend Joe at last Sunday's Tinley Park Regional. All day, I watched him simplify games by running through his Extra Deck. After eliminating all of his opponent's most important back row cards, he'd lose 4000 to 5000 Life Points and revive Scrap Dragon; Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree; Stardust Spark Dragon; and anything else he'd want to bring back with Soul Charge. Sadly, Joe was snuffed out of Top 8 by an unfriendly combo of Macro Cosmos and Dimensional Fissure.
It may not fit your playstyle, but this is how I like to play Yu-Gi-Oh! best: eliminating every threat my opponent has while saving my ultimate card to build an insurmountable field. You should always have a handful of options when you're playing this build, and I think some variant of Dragon Rulers is lining up to be the best deck in the format. Maybe things will change with Primal Origin.
Just remember, beat your opponent before they beat you.