Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay's one of the hottest new releases inSavage Strike and already a top tech choice for serioustournamentgoers.

It was a major player at YCS Chicago and saw both Main Deck and Side Deckaction all the way up to the finals. In a way, Phantazmay is a replacementfor Maxx "C" in the TCG, and another counter to intense Special Summoningalongside Maxx "C" in the OCG. It's a unique hand trap unlike anythingwe've seen before, filling many roles and fitting into decks that wouldn'tplay many hand traps otherwise. Its utility is insane, even if it mighthave an even better fit in other recent formats.

Fixing Hands And Finding Teched Cards
As a hand trap Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay delivers value in two ways.First, it scores you a +1 of card economy regardless of the number of LinkMonsters your opponent controls.

That's already better than most hand traps, and the draw power makes it abetter fit for combo strategies that would rather not simplify the duel byburning cards and creating minuses on both sides of the table. If you'rehaving a hard time putting together combos when you open with multiple handtraps you might find more value in Phantazmay instead. In fact,Phantazmay's biggest selling point might be the fact that it can help youfind more hand traps with its draw effect.

At a minimum you'll draw two cards with Phantazmay's effect and return onecard from your hand to the deck. That's immediately useful for correctinghands by trading unwanted cards for more desirable combo pieces or match-upspecific tech choices. Seeing more cards is just added consistency,straight up, and a better-than-free partial mulligan is very hard to passon. Unless Phantazmay is eating up a hand trap slot you're simplybenefiting by playing it, and the only potential downside is that it can benegated by Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring. Aside from that there's verylittle your opponent can do to counter Phantazmay: Effect Veiler,PSY-Framegear Gamma, and Infinite Impermanence are largely useless againstit.

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There are plenty of great cards you can draw into with Phantazmay's effectthat are useable while your opponent's still playing. Drawing more handtraps is ideal, and that's especially true when your opponent is Summoningmultiple Link Monsters just before resolving an important effect. TheGuardragon engine needs at least two Link Monsters on the field beforeresolving any Guardragon monster, which presents the perfect opportunity todrop Phantazmay and look for a copy of Effect Veiler or Ash Blossom.

Phantazmay makes Effect Veiler significantly more useful since InfiniteImpermanence and PSY-Framegear can't be activated while you control amonster. Ash Blossom can't negate Guardragon Agarpain or Saryuja SkullDread, but it can negate Guardragon Elpy.

A major challenge with playing Phantazmay is finding opportunities whereSummoning it doesn't come too late; Summoning it to draw four or more cardsagainst a massive field of Link Monsters might not help you make muchheadway on the following turn. Most duels are decided by shutout thesedays, but with cards like Outer Entity Azathot seeing play it's entirelylikely that Phantazmay won't contribute much to your first turn.

That said, in the case of Azathot there's almost nothing that will save yououtside of Infinite Impermanence, Forbidden Chalice, and Gamma anyways.Ultimately with Phantazmay's draw effect I don't think there are many timesyou'll regret playing it, unless you've cut other hand traps to save spaceor increase synergy.

Phantazmay Really Stops Targeting Effects
Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay doesn't stop your opponent from building aTurn 1 board like Maxx "C" or another hand trap that negates an effect ordestroys a card immediately. You'll still end up staring down a field ofLink Monsters, or a pair of Thunder Dragon Colossus, or an entrenched SkyStriker or Salamangreat board whether you Summon Phantazmay or not.Assuming you don't draw into another hand trap you're simply left with thePhantazmay's Quick Effect on the field, but that doesn't take away fromPhantazmay's value. In fact, its ability to negate targeting effects ispart of the reason why it's such a highly desired card.

You'll probably want to negate an effect that targets one of your monstersduring your own turn. That's when hand traps like Effect Veiler andInfinite Impermanence are the biggest threats to your plays, and othertargeting effects including Thunder Dragon Titan, Dinowrestler Pankratops,Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor, Phantom Knights' Fog Blade, andAltergeist Silquitous are fully in play.

Interruption with targeting effects is practically a staple of competitiveplay, so much so that monsters that can't be targeted are highly desiredfor their resilience against interruption. Magical Mid-Breaker Field was apopular tech pick last year for the same reason. Phantazmay offersprotection as you head into your first turn while playing second, and thatexcellent positioning makes it well worth considering for combo strategies.

Decks like Crusadia, Orcust, and other combo-heavy strategies can leveragePhantazmay as a Link Material, but they'll get even more value out of it asa counter to interruption. It won't negate Ash Blossom & Joyous Springnor a floodgate effect like Artifact Lancea, but there are plenty ofmatch-ups where its ability to counter targeting effects is essential.Decks where the first line of defense is a targeting effect, like SkyStrikers, are especially vulnerable to Phantazmay's negation. Any deckrunning The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche that isn't gunning for aRank-Up play is probably searching Phantom Knights' Fog Blade at somepoint, which presents both the condition to Summon Phantazmay and animmediate use for its effect at the start of your turn.

Having a discard outlet is useful in a number of strategies, and sincePhantazmay resolves as a +1 you should have plenty of cards to pay the costof its negation effect. Again, a deck like Orcust wants to land its cardsin the graveyard anyways, and Danger! monsters already benefit from beingdiscarded. Phantazmay can protect itself on the turn it's Summoned, andit's especially difficult to deal with during the first turn of the duel.If your opponent doesn't have a Battle Phase there's not much they can dotake Phantazmay off the field.

You can apply that thinking to Evenly Matched too, which makes Phantazmay adecent recovery card even if you'd rather have Red Reboot for that specificuse.

Building A Side Deck Around Phantazmay
There are a handful of cards that Phantazmay just doesn't play nice with:Evenly Matched, PSY-Framegear Gamma, and Infinite Impermanence are obviousexamples, but there are even more cards that Phantazmay has excellentsynergy with.

With 2400 ATK it's big enough to swing over a Gameciel, the Sea TurtleKaiju with no effort, and when boosted by Saryuja Skull Dread it steps overthe 2500 ATK requirement of Eradicator Epidemic Virus. Phantazmay alsoupgrades a monster stolen with Mind Control without burning your NormalSummon, and acts as Link fodder towards any number of generic LinkMonsters. You can even use it to Link Summon Guardragon Agarpain – anexcellent interaction since it can also be Special Summoned from thegraveyard with Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon.

Phantazmay's designed to be played in a going-second strategy in a deckthat can leverage card advantage to break set-ups without relying too muchon Evenly Matched. Just having access to more relevant cards gives youextra opportunities to play through disruption on top of Phantazmay's ownnegation effect, putting you significantly ahead in the battle ofinterruption.

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You can even replace Called by the Grave with Phantazmay if it's a betterpick for your strategy: Kenneth McCarthy did exactly that withhis Top 32 Guardragon Crusadiasat YCS Chicago. Crusadias are a classic example of a theme that practicallydemands Called by the Grave, and McCarthy's success is a testament toPhantazmay's playability in OTK strategies.

You can get away with running Phantazmay in the main Deck, but it trulyshines in the Side Deck by replacing going-first cards. Siding it alongsidehand traps and offensive Side Deck tech will give you the best results, andQuick-Play Spells are especially effective when paired with Phantazmay.Twin Twisters and Forbidden Chalice give you options to disruptfreshly-activated floodgates and Quick Effects – both of which areinvaluable in situations where you would otherwise be shut out of the duel.

Just seeing a few more cards before the start of the second turn of theduel is huge. You can find removal for floodgates, draw into Red Rebootbefore a trap is activated early in your turn, or simply trade out one techpick for another depending on your opponent's end field. Again, Phantazmaydoes all of this essentially for free provided you're playing against adeck that will regularly Link Summon. It's a potentially questionablechoice against Alergeist, but even Thunder Dragons will be Link Summoningoften enough to make Phantazmay relevant at least once during the duel.

It's a card that's built for going second, yet it's strong enough to keeppaying dividends throughout the mid-game as a powerful counter to Link-spamstrategies. I expect it to continue seeing serious competitive play for aslong as Link Summoning is the premiere Extra Deck Summoning method.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​​​​gamer and writer. You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​ ​​​​​​Twitter​​​​​​for more updates ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​. He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University