While I can't boast the record for "most articles about a single theme," combining my love for Fableds, Hieratics and Spellbooks surmounts Doug's love for Volcanics and Madolches. Perhaps, my affinity surpasses Kelly's love for Dragunity, Pasquale's for Ultimate Athletes and Deskbots, and Zach's for… Frogs? Zombies? Super-Heavy Samurai? I'm not sure on that last one.

Coffee? I know he's a barista.

Point is, I can't resist touching Hieratic decks when they come my way. Anything and everything I can do to pretend that Hieratics will dominate Yu-Gi-Oh! again gives me hope for a bigger and brighter future. That means I currently live in the shadows, scowling and crying; if I have time, wailing.

But for what it's worth, Magician Pendulum decks are incredibly versatile yet boring. They remind me of the Performage or Plant engines - they allow for extreme innovation but so often succumb to redundancy. It's hard right now, focusing on a deck that can't capitalize on those cards. I was pondering the validity and use of a particular spell last week when the familiar "blargh" signaled I had a new e-mail. Mathieu P. from Harrisburg, PA writes…

Greetings from the South of the North (that's Pennsylvania, for you Midwestern folks). I've stopped playing Pendulums for a bit to focus on some of my favorite strategies. Ultimaya Tzolkin was always hard to justify dropping green on, but now with the reprint I just can't say no. The main purpose of any Tzolkin deck is to summon your Dragon and ride it to victory. I think it's safe to say Hieratics are one of the decks with the best chance to consistently summon big ol' T without blazing through your cards.

You mentioned in an article back in October about using a T.G. Librarian and Accel Synchron, but come on… that's so hard. (Loukas' Note: Math says you're wrong! But ok.) A simple two-card combo with any of the Hieratics nets you Ultimaya Tzolkin. I've packed the Extra Deck with plenty of sick Synchros, but can you help me out here? I'd really like to play a non-Pendulum deck.

-Mathieu P. ~ Harrisburg, PA

If you're wondering what's going through my head right now, it's "Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes!" Also, I really hope that Jubilee gets killed off in X-Men: Apocalypse. That being said, here's the decklist…

DECKID=103922Normally I have a variety of questions after reading someone's decklist, but this seems pretty straightforward. Mathieu has a one-track mind to Summon Tzolkin! I like a man that knows what he wants, and it looks like he has the Hieratics and other Dragons needed to make this a force to be reckoned with.

Now let's see what we can do to spice it up!

Here's To Hoping We Get More Hieratics
Hieratics have gone through a lot of change since their initial release in Galactic Overlord so many years ago. For a while, their singular goal in life was to OTK on, like, Turn 2. Some control variants surfaced here and there, often running Super Rejuvenation and Enemy Controller, and then the Dragon Rulers buffed up Hieratic decks to new heights. Eventually, the "best" version of the theme – Hieratic Monarchs – arrived to the scene, but things have been rough for Hieratics in 2015.

The consensus now is that Ultimaya Tzokin's the best way to go. Simply get a Hieratic on the field and tribute it for another Hieratic to summon Labradorite Dragon from your deck, then send both to the graveyard for the raddest Level 12 Synchro this side of the Mississippi. Every time you set a spell or trap you get a free Dragon from your Extra Deck, so a free Stardust Dragon, Scrap Dragon and many more are just seconds away. Even better, if you Tribute Summon a Tongue Twister you'll get all the card advantage with Twister's "draw two" ability! With one consistent low-cost combo, you're setting up for future turns and throwing down a couple of lean, mean Dragons.

But with high Levels and awkward restrictions on summoning, you're also at the mercy of the cards your deck spits out in the first few turns. Does that present a minor problem? No. Does that present a major problem? Unfortunately yes! Any sense of longevity is crippled by your lack of speed and resources. Simply put, you won't always get a Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit and Hieratic Dragon of Su on Turn 1, and even if you do they can be long forgotten in mere moments. Some people try to combat the resource problem with cards like Call Of The Haunted, but setting a trap and waiting a whole turn is often unworkable. What if your first play gets stopped? I don't have a full turn to wait for round two. Naturally, Tzolkin decks will play a ton of cards to set as defense, but I'm looking for something more proactive.

#####CARDID=18279#####

If you control no monsters, then Shuffle Reborn's the card for you! While it requires a clear field and negates the face-up monster's effect, it's the perfect tool to revive your Hieratics and get off more Tongue Twisters and Ultimaya Tzolkins. Heck, it even meshes well when you have awkward Hieratic combinations in hand that keep you from going off. It's really frustrating when your opponent stops your plays dead with a Solemn Warning or Torrential Tribute when you throw down your Tefnuit or Hieratic Dragon of Eset, but have no fear - Shuffle Reborn is here.

With more tributes, I added Caius the Shadow Monarch too. Granted it won't remove the big Kozmo spaceships, but banishing a Pendulum Scale, Satellarknight Deneb or Kozmotown can be extremely powerful. It's a compact suite that'll help keep you in a longer duel with spot removal, and hey – sometimes eliminating threats can be more useful than drawing cards off Tongue Twister, right?

Set Yourself Up For Success
Ultimaya Tzolkin's boasts a unique effect - it's about as niche as Darkness Approaches setting a monster in face-down attack. Despite the convention, its restrictions are a meager set card – for all Tzolkin cares you can set an Upstart Goblin and get the free Dragon from your Extra Deck.

But to protect your Dragon(s), I'd suggest setting more than just Upstarts. Storming Mirror Force, Bottomless Trap Hole, Solemn Warning… All those cards can cripple the heck out of most strategies. That said I think effect negation is surprisingly powerful right now. At first I was testing Effect Veiler here, but with Tzolkin's ability, Fiendish Chain and Breakthrough Skill work better in a lot of different situations. Furthermore, I can't get over Time Space Trap Hole as a phenomenal counter to all things meta.

I'm also a huge proponent of A Wingbeat of Giant Dragon, now 107% easier to play thanks to Shuffle Reborn. Even though Pendulum Call will save your opponent's Magicians for one turn, Wingbeat can be a blow-out card that a lot of decks simply can't recover from. Use Shuffle Reborn to revive a Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit, bounce it back to your hand with Wingbeat and then cash in on your big Synchros.

Speaking of the Extra Deck, I think that's the biggest weakness in Mathieu's original build. After adding Shuffle Reborn, I realized that all I wanted to summon was Ultimaya Tzolkin; I never, ever performed an Xyz Summon. I can't believe I'm actually vouching for the removal of Hieratic Dragon of Atum, but I'm going for a pure Synchro route. Goodies like Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon and Red Dragon Archfiend' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend">Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend are just too good to pass up. Even more, Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer.

Since Ignister Prominence can pop your opponent's Pendulum cards to activate its effect, you don't need to waste your own cards - simply kill two birds with one stone and swing the Pendulum matchup so far in your favor that you won't have to worry about getting OTK'd for a few turns. The Level 8 Dragon's so pivotal that I'd vouch for two in the Extra Deck. Below you'll mind the moderate list of changes I made to get this thing up to speed.

-1 Galaxy Serpent
-3 Hieratic Dragon of Nebthet
-3 Mirror Force
-1 Storming Mirror Force
-1 Breakthrough Skill
-3 Reckless Greed

-1 Number 72: Shogi Rook
-1 Constellar Ptolemy M7
-1 Photon Strike Bounzer
-1 Gauntlet Launcher
-2 Hieratic Dragon King of Atum
-1 Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger

+2 Caius the Shadow Monarch
+3 A Wingbeat of Giant Dragon
+3 Shuffle Reborn
+2 Fiendish Chain
+2 Time-Space Trap Hole

+1 Beelze of the Diabolic Dragons
+1 Clear Wing Synchro Dragon
+2 Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer
+1 Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn
+1 Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon
+1 Ultimaya Tzolkin

I tried to keep from absolutely gutting the deck, and below you'll see what it turned into. As I said, I felt dirty removing Atum, but change has to start somewhere, right? I almost never regretted Atum's departure.

DECKID=103923Shuffle Reborn flew under everyone's radar, but I don't think it's strong enough to merit a Spotlight column all on its own - it's no Speedoid Terrortop or Brilliant Fusion. That said, it does have uses in any deck where you can Rank Up a discarded Xyz for free like Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss into Downerd Magician, or Ghostrick Alucard into Ghostrick Angel of MIschief. But until we get better Ghostrick cards, I'll have to shelve that project.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


Loukas Peterson moved back to the cold and desolate North to fulfill his dream as a popsicle in Madison, Wisconsin. When he's not playing Spellbooks, his days are spent shaking his fist in the direction of Konami's North American headquarters requesting new Fabled support. In his spare time, Loukas enjoys cooking Minute Rice in 57 seconds, painting with all the colors of the wind and pretending his Etsy account is something to write home about. His favorite joke is "I play Evilswarm because I want to have fun!"


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