I receive dozens of emails every week with deck submissions for this column, so saying it's a hard choice deciding which deck to write about is an understatement. I typically go with the most unique deck, but that barely narrows down the pickings. Some ideas look interesting on paper, but I run into roadblocks when I really set to work on it. I can't always "revise" a submission in good conscience because I'll often want to change just a handful of cards, or transversely more than thirty! I know the column's called "Rerouting," but a 180 degree turn is a little extreme if the only cards the stay in are Dark Hole and Mystical Space Typhoon.

Decks like Burning Abyss are so easily splashed as "engines" into other strategies; one of the most arbitrary terms in the game, like "meta" and "tier." In short, a few Burning Abyss monsters coupled with Tour Guide From the Underworld act as fodder for other plays and exist solely to fill a niche roll. The cost of Phoenix Wing Wind Blast and Dark Smog turn into plusses for you while also giving you a recursive Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss and Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss loop for (at the very least) defense every turn.

Other times, heaven forbid, you have to do more than just shoehorn another theme into a your central strategy. Three copies of Tour Guide, two Scarm and a Cir is a tight bundle of considerable power, but adding in Spellbooks or, uh… say, a Bujin "engine" is cumbersome and hardly fluid. The only reason you can combine the cumbersome Shaddoll deck with Spellbooks is because they both have so many cards that work well together. "Engines" are never the forte of your deck, rather they quickly and efficiently accomplish one task.

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Justin D. from Mobile, Alabama writes…

I hate Ke$ha a lot, and I've seen your Facebook and know how much you love her. Anyway, here's my deck. My friend used it against me and beat me with it, so I beat him. With my fists. It's really annoying, but it's amazing because I can destroy the whole field with Garunix every turn and then attack with my Gladiator Beasts. I want to change the deck because I don't like the Fire King stuff that's in there, but I'm not sure what to change. I wanted to transition into a burn deck, but maybe that's a bad idea.

Not entirely sure what I should do - I wanted to put in Gladiator Beast Augustus for Rank 8 plays, but I'd rather fight a whale before I did that. I hate Gladiator Beast Augustus more than I hate Ke$ha, but I like your articles and wanted a third component of the deck. Please help me out, you're my only hope. I'd greatly appreciate anything you could do to change the strategy. Basically, I want something different. What can I do?

Thanks,

Justin

Ok, first of all, excuse you. Second of all, she dropped the "$" a while ago. Get with the times.

Third of all, that's… that's quite a violent streak you have there. Fourth of all, Fire King… Gladiator Beasts? Sure, I'll bite. The obvious synergy, as Justin indicated, hinges on High Avatar Garunix ruining your opponent's hopes and dreams by incinerating the field to pave the way for your Gladiator Beast assault. I'd love to have a few extra copies of Dark Hole, right?

Let's look at the deck.

DECKID=101623Who doesn't like Fire Kings!?

Probably lots of people. But who doesn't like Gladiator Beasts!?

Probably even more people. I have two distinct memories of Gladiator Beasts which both involve crying, but that's a story for another day. Let's get to work on the deck!

No Love For The Fire Queens?
In most decks, you'll have the focal cards which actually win you games, and the supporting cast that enables those cards, like I discussed above. Take Spellbooks for example. What are the good cards? High Priestess of Prophecy, a few other high Level Prophecy monsters, and Spellbook of Fate. Every other card's pretty mediocre because they don't actually produce anything. Sure, boundless searching is great, but with one Spellbook of Fate the redundant searching only nets you so much actual advantage. You could have fifteen searches a turn, but the effectiveness of all that search power tapers off pretty quickly as you run out of powerful things to search. After you've acquired Spellbook of Fate and The Grand Spellbook of Tower, well, nothing else matters that much.

Fire Kings are by and large similar to Spellbooks in that manner. The Fire King Avatar monsters on their own are well below average, doing very little aside from blowing each other up and…. I guess Barong searches a few cards. Fire King Avatar Garunix, Yaksha' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Fire King Avatar Yaksha">Fire King Avatar Yaksha and Fire King Avatar Barong have to die in order to be useful. Similar monsters like Fire Hand and Ice Hand destroy your opponent's cards and produce more monsters upon death, and the Yang Zing family has ways to profit off their destruction. What do the Fire Kings do?

It all comes down to Fire King High Avatar Garunix - you know, Mega Fire Chicken. When it's destroyed by a card effect, Mega Fire Chicken rests in the graveyard before coming back in a blaze of glory during your next standby phase to destroy other monsters on the field. Loop two of these things together to have them trigger each others' effect every standby phase, and you basically get a free Dark Hole every turn. Without High Avatar Garunix, the Fire King strategy… what's the word? Sucks.

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Don't get me wrong, you typically need the Fire King support to make a fire King deck work. But this isn't pure Fire Kings. You don't really have room for some of the best non-themed Fire King support cards because they don't work well with Gladiator Beasts. Generation Shift, Supply Squad and Rekindling not only conflict with Gladiator Beasts, but work against you. The first thing I'd like to do is drastically trim the Fire King support.

Without dedicating the majority of the deck, I'm cutting all copies of Barong and two copies of Yaksha. Since Yaksha's searchable via Fire Formation - Tenki, I'm comfortable with keeping in a sole copy of Yaksha for the rare times you actually draw Fire King High Avatar. I wanted to keep Circle of the Fire Kings, but Forbidden Lance proved to be a lot better, especially after I took out the other Fire King monsters.

Fire Out, Fire InIn my last and only Gladiator Beast article, I contemplated combining the strategy with Fire Kings but went the route of abusing Icarus Attack with Gladiator Beast Gyzarus, Gladiator Beast Equeste and Call Of The Haunted instead. You can actually sort of see evidence of that, reflected in the triple Onslaughts. I think that strategy has more merit thanks to Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer and Coach Soldier Wolfbark, but that's another deck altogether. Justin's strategy has some good things going for it, but when we make a mash-up like this we generally want something both more effective, and more interesting – Gladiator Beasts with a random Garunix isn't really that novel, and with the low monster count I think a few more might be in order.

Since Fire Formation - Tenki searches out most of your deck, a few Fire Fists can provide vital lifeblood to the deck. Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Gorilla and Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear aren't the best cards against some of the bigger match-ups of today, but having searchable ways to destroy spells, traps and monsters can bail you out of numerous situations; I added enough to work, but didn't saturate the deck to the point of its own detriment. However, having Gorilla and Bear is a great excuse to put in other Fire Formation spells.

Fire Formation - Gyokkou is a themed and searchable Night Beam, a very popular card to lock down floodgates and traps like Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss. Whenever Gorilla kills a monster in battle or whenever Bear deals damage, you get to search one for free. Alternatively you can grab Tenki, or my favorite Fire Formation: Fire Formation - Tensu. While Tensu's very simple – it's basically just a Fire Formation Double Summon – it's incredibly versatile and makes a lot of your plays here. Not only will it give you quick access to Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Tiger King Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Cardinal, but it works in Gladiator Beasts to make Gladiator Beast Gyzarus and Rank 4's without dealing damage.

The card I love most here, by far, is Onslaught of the Fire Kings. Worst case scenario when you have Onslaught, I guess your opponent has a Vanity's Emptiness to stop it? Oh no? Obviously, it brings out Fire King High Avatar Garunix to start the recursive destruction effect, but Onslaught works well with both Gladiator Beasts and Fire Fists to make Extra Deck monsters otherwise difficult to make. Coach Soldier Wolfbark works wonders for generic Xyz, but boss monsters like Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Cardinal Commander and Gladiator Beast Gyzarus have stricter requirements.

Ending With A Blaze of Glory
The deck's biggest weakness is defense, and that's true to some extent whether you're playing Fire Kings, Fire Fists or Gladiator Beasts. There isn't a definitive boss monster you can keep on the field to staunch your opponent's plays. You can't end your turn with an El Shaddoll Winda or Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand, and your best option is the hard-to-Summon Fusion, Gladiator Beast Heraklinos.

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I tailored the defensive cards in the same manner without overloading the deck with cards you may not need. You know what I found to be ridiculously helpful? Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, man. Anywho, here are the changes:

-1 Coach Soldier Wolfbark
-3 Fire King Avatar Barong
-2 Yaksha' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Fire King Avatar Yaksha">Fire King Avatar Yaksha
-3 Circle of the Fire Kings
-1 Rekindling
-2 Generation Shift
-1 Gladiator Beast War Chariot

-1 Gladiator Beast Gyzarus
-1 Gladiator Beast Heraklinos

+2 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear
+1 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Gorilla
+1 Gladiator Beast Equeste
+1 Book of Moon
+2 Fire Formation - Gyokkou
+1 Fire Formation - Tensu
+1 Bottomless Trap Hole
+1 Compulsory Evacuation Device

+1 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Cardinal
+1 Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Tiger King

And here's the final deck!

DECKID=101624The more I played with the deck, the more I found hidden synergies: Bujintei Kagutsuchi saves itself against High Avatar Garunix, and Fire Formation - Tensu makes Rank 4 monsters under Winda!

Justin, I hope you like the new changes; the Fire Fist monsters add some kick to the deck to provide answers against opposing threats. What I'm most surprised about the final list is the retention of Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror in the Main Deck – that's a difference-maker, and it really pays off.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson






Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you love creating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send the following to rerouting.tcgplayer@gmail.com to have your deck featured in the "Re-Routing" deck fix column!

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap; screencapped deck lists will be filed and then burned in the furnace accordingly… and your deck should be TCG legal).

-Your name and city.

-Remember, please use full card names! Abbrevs and mis-sipllngs make Loukas' life sad. Try your darndest to get the TCG name on there.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses. "Winning" is not a strategy per se, and neither is "beating your opponents before they beat you."

-Your favorite card from the build and why – make me fall in love with the deck!

The cooler your strategy the more I'll want to fix it, and if you throw in funny jokes, that'll surely get my attention too; be warned, unfunny jokes will push your deck to the back of the stack. Don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! -LJP