The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche is back and Limited after spending just over a year on the Forbidden List. The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche incredible power in Orcusts–while not being an Orcust card itself–made it an easy target for the a ban. Since then Orcusts have taken much bigger losses, including a Limit to Orcust Harp Horror.
Orcusts are a shadow of their former selves, and The Phantom Knights' Rank-Up-Magic Launch isn't as dangerous anymore without Outer Entity Azathot around. But The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche return is much more than a footnote: the Phantom Knights engine is still incredibly strong, and there are plenty of strategies that are already making use of it.
There are lots of ways to play The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche and the Phantom Knight package; it's one of the most flexible engines in the game and it delivers insane value in the form of Phantom Knights traps. The Phantom Knight monsters help you build field presence, search interruption, and they give reliable access to Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss. Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss has new importance in this format since Burning Abyss received some love on the latest F&L List, but you can also play Cherubini in a variety of other strategies.
Back in 2014 and 2015 there were stretches of time where Burning Abyss was the deck to beat, or at least close to it. Six years later we're still talking about competitive variants of Burning Abyss and Shaddoll–two themes that made their debut in Duelist Alliance.
Both themes are enjoying the return of The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche, but Burning Abyss already has a long track record with Phantom Knights. The synergy between the Level 3 Phantom Knights and Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss is impossible to ignore: the Phantom Knight package itself simply does more for Burning Abyss than for any other strategy.
The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche also delivers another uniquely important benefit to certain strategies–Burning Abyss included. That benefit is searchable interruption and monster negation, which might not seem like a big deal until you realize that the Burning Abyss theme doesn't actually have its own negation bodies. Even Quick Effects are suspiciously absent from the theme, and it's really only thanks to Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal and her ability to send Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from the deck to the graveyard that Burning Abyss has any kind of themed interruption. The deck was simply born at a different time–even Shaddolls lacked a negation effect at their initial release, though El Shaddoll Winda remains one of the best floodgates in the game.
With The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche in tow players can now search Phantom Knights' Fog Blade reliably, and the difference is immediately noticeable. Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss is a stepping stone to The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche, and from there Burning Abyss players can load up on disruptive traps while simultaneously setting off their key combo cards, including Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. Between Tour Guide from the Underworld return to 3-per-deck, and the return of Sangan, there are many more opportunities for Burning Abyss players to build field presence, start up the core engine with Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and find disruption with The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche.
Burning Abyss might be in the best state it's ever been. This exact deck in 2014 would have been unstoppable, but in today's game there's a long list of disruption effects, negation bodies, and new floodgates that can make short work of Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss and company. In fact Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss itself isn't nearly as dangerous as it was six years ago. There's no shortage of non-destruction effects that can either banish it or send it back to the Extra Deck. If you're checking out Burning Abyss for the first time since 2015 you'll want to brace yourself for some seriouus changes in how the deck functions.
You're probably not surprised to hear that The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche happens to be a great fit for Shaddolls, but do Shaddolls even need it? There are some fun 1-card combos that can end in absurd boards thanks to the combination of The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche, Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss, and of course everyone's favorite assortment of Crystron Halqifibrax combos.
Proxy F Magician lends a helping hand too by turning Shaddoll Falco, summoned by Crystron Halqifibrax, and a Linkross token into El Shaddoll Construct. The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche itself exists only to add further interruption to final boards, so it might be overkill if you're not looking to add more defensive options to your Shaddoll deck.
Of course, there's no real downside to running The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche, Phantom Knights' Fog Blade, and a couple copies of The Phantom Knights of Silent Boots. That's true for any number of Dark themes, and it's even true for a handful of decks that can afford to play a Normal Summon like Tour Guide from the Underworld or Armageddon Knight. Backing up El Shaddoll Winda with Phantom Knights' Fog Blade isn't a bad idea, and sending The Phantom Knights of Silent Boots with Shaddoll Fusion will net you a Rank 4 extender in the form of The Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine.
It's a small investment in your Main Deck and Extra Deck that pays off with just a couple of potential bricks.
The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche used to be an essential part of the Orcust strategy, but players moved on to the Scrap engine late last year after Scrap Wyvern was released. The Earth-focused Scrap theme tends to prefer to summon Crystron Halqifibrax over The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche–at least early on in their combos.
However, Orcusts can eventually leverage their mass of Dark monsters to summon The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche and search for Phantom Knights' Fog Blade and The Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine for more defense, plus more Synchro and Xyz options.
Are Orcusts really competitive without Orcust Harp Horror? Unlike the other strategies we've talked about Orcusts have seriously felt the impact of the ban on Jet Synchron and Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion. Orcust Harp Horror absence hasn't been fully patched up by Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight, and it's hard to imagine that The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche will stand in for Orcust Harp Horror and the loss of key Tuners used in a variety of modern Orcust combos.
Crystron Rosenix is a partial replacement, but it's no Jet Synchron. What this could mean is that future Orcust builds might have less reliance on Crystron Halqifibrax in the future, which is exactly what our next deck is already doing.
This one's a bit of a stretch, but I think it does a good job of summarizing a lot of the elements that make The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche splashable in so many strategies.
Plunder Patrolls are already interested in summoning Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss to send Goldenhair, the Newest Plunder Patroll to the graveyard via Fiendish Rhino Warrior. Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss itself is basically impossible to summon using just Plunder Patroll cards–all of the Main Deck monsters are Level 4–so Tour Guide from the Underworld and Sangan have to step in to get the ball rolling. Running Tour Guide from the Underworld and Sangan is actually useful in another way: Sangan can search a Plunder Patroll monster to use as discard fodder for Goldenhair, the Newest Plunder Patroll effect, or the Quick Effect of a Plunder Patrol Extra Deck monster.
You won't always need to send Goldenhair to the graveyard with Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss and Fiendish Rhino Warrior since you're already playing a bunch of ways to add it to your hand or summon it. In that case you can send a Dark extender or a copy of Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss to the graveyard with Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss to land another Dark on the field, and then Link Summon The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche. Phantom Knights' Fog Blade are a welcome addition to the Plunder Patroll defensive line-up, and Brigandine pairs nicely with the Level 8 Synchros the deck's already playing.
The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche is a great add to any deck that traditionally loses to cards like Forbidden Droplet or Dark Ruler No More. That's definitely the case with Plunder Patrolls, but they're not alone. Most strategies have shifted all of their spell and trap hate to monsters, and it's easy to see why; it's almost always faster and more consistent to summon a negation body from the Extra Deck instead of somehow searching a card like Solemn Judgment.
Phantom Knights' Fog Blade doesn't counter Forbidden Droplet or Dark Ruler No More directly, but it can keep you in the game for another turn. The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche is no slouch going second either: The Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine an excellent extender that pairs up nicely with The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche destruction effect when you make a Rank 4. It's also worth noting that both Plunder Patroll and Burning Abyss can repeatedly trigger The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche by summoning Dark Xyz on either player's turn.
The return of The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche is a huge boon to Dark strategies, sure, but it's also a major upgrade for any deck that already has a reason to summon Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss or other Dark Links. I highly recommend checking out Tour Guide from the Underworld and Sangan in this format. There aren't many Normal Summons that let you search a hand trap and send any Level 3 or Fiend of your choosing to the graveyard.
I think in the immediate future we'll be seeing Crystron Halqifibrax overshadow The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche, at least outside of decks that aren't angling to summon D/D/D Duo-Dawn King Kali Yuga with The Phantom Knights' Rank-Up-Magic Launch. But in a post-Crystron Halqifibrax world I fully expect to see The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche everywhere again. For now it's an excellent addition to decks that can summon both in a turn, and it's especially useful in decks that have a hard time playing Crystron Halqifibrax in the first place. I'm looking at you, Plunder Patrolls.
Until next time then