That's not to say that Kristya's the only win condition Darklords have. In fact, one of the earliest Darklord Regional tops came from Jonathan Thomas who avoid Kristya altogether. Instead, he sided three Vanity's Fiend when going first against Special Summon-heavy themes. During Game 1 he used the aggressive Summoning tricks of the Darklord theme to push through his opponent's setups.
OTK's in Game 1 were slightly more likely without a non-combo card like Kristya clogging his hand. Instead, Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju acted as a stand-in Level 8, Trade-In target, and potential Rank 8 Xyz fodder. Gameciel was far more useful while going second, and could be easily switched with Chaos Hunter or Vanity's Fiend in Game 2.
North Alton's Darklords from the Winnipeg Canada Regional earlier this month weren't quite as dedicated to breaking Turn 1 set-ups during Game 1. The third Gameciel and Speedroid from Thomas' build is missing here, and Archlord Kristya's taken their place. Kristya's a full stop to nearly every competitive strategy this format, and Summoning it on the first turn is devastating. Interestingly, Alton played both Twin Twisters and Raigeki in his Main Deck while Thomas did not.
Darklords are a flexible theme that can be played as an aggressive beatdown strategy, a lockdown deck, or even as a control strategy by prioritizing different monsters and supporting spells and traps. It's one of the few decks in the game that excels at playing first and second, but it's largely ignored in favor of Toadally Awesome-fueled strategies, ABCs, and Metalfoes. Few players are siding for Darklords directly, which gives Darklord players a distinct advantage heading into competitive events.
Should you side against Darklords? Asking a question like that is, admittedly, a bit odd in an article that's meant to discuss siding strategies for Darklords. Awesome Heroes, Lightsworns, and Mermails are far more represented in our deck archive. As always you'll want to take note of nearby tournaments and use that information to estimate the makeup of the event you're entering.
If the answer to that question is "Yeah, I'm probably going to play against Darklords" then stick around, we've got a lot to talk about. If not, I have plenty of other Side Deck topics to read up on.
Still with me? Great, let's talk about siding for Darklords.Crippling The Engine
Without heavy draw power this deck would quickly stumble out of the gate. Consistency is king in Yu-Gi-Oh! and Darklords have plenty of ways to kickstart their engine. Between Darklord Ixchel, Allure of Darkness, Trade-In, Pot of Desires, Maxx "C", and Upstart Goblin there are as many as fifteen draw cards you can cram into the Main Deck. Draw effects dig towards Banishment of the Darklords which in turn searches more copies of Ixchel and other Darklord cards.
It's tempting to play cards like Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror and Necrovalley to shut down the most common effects in the Darklord deck. Unfortunately those cards are prime targets for Twin Twisters, and the overwhelming amount of draw power Darklords possess makes it unlikely that either card will survive for a turn. Neither Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror nor Necrovalley turn off that crucial draw engine.
Anti-Spell Fragrance is a much stronger floodgate for the match-up because it delays all of the deck's key spells. Your opponent can't draw into a Twin Twisters later in the turn to knock out Anti-Spell Fragrance as they could with another floodgate. Fragrance's durability is tied to its ability to delay most spell and trap removal, but Darklords have a searchable piece of generic removal: Darklord Rebellion. Fragrance will almost certainly be destroyed by Rebellion if you're going second, so keep that in mind as you're headed into Games 2 and 3.
Floodgate monsters won't get blown out by Twin Twisters, so as a whole they have slightly more survivability. But Kaijus will devour any monster that isn't universally blocking Special Summons. Barrier Statues, Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo, and Vanity's Fiend work wonders here, especially if you can protect them from destruction effects. You're mostly gambling against Raigeki or Dark Hole, but your opponent can wait a turn to set and activate Darklord Rebellion. Other options like Consecrated Light and Koa'ki Meiru Drago will probably be absorbed by Kaijus. They're far riskier to play here, so I'd probably avoid them.
Effect Veiler breaks up combos and can often bring your opponent's turn to an end. The first Darklord to hit the field is hugely important to the deck: it's there to use Darklord Contact or Banishment of the Darklords a second time. It's entirely possible that your opponent will run out of plays if their Superbia's negated. It's probably the best card to draw off Maxx "C" and at worst can keep one more monster from hitting the field. Effect Veiler saves you from OTK's, breaks up plays, and generally performs well as a disruptive hand trap.Managing Archlord Kristya
First we have to come up with ways to deal with a Turn 1 Archlord Kristya. Kaijus won't work here, so everyone's favorite solution to Cyber Dragon Infinity, Masked HERO Dark Law, and Toadally Awesome is best left sided out for this match-up. Destruction effects like Dark Hole and Raigeki are much better here, and send Kristya spinning back to the top of your opponent's deck. There's two ways to look at this: on the one hand, Kristya could be coming back next turn if your opponent can manipulate their graveyard. On the other hand, you just put a potentially dead card on top of their deck. You know what they're drawing into next turn and you can use that information to plan your next steps.
Breakthrough Skill and Forbidden Chalice are excellent in this match-up for many of the same reasons as Effect Veiler. Unlike Veiler, however, both Breakthrough and Chalice can be played to proactively negate Archlord Kristya on your turn. Chalice will raise Kristya's ATK to 3200, but opening up your Special Summons should give you access to plenty of monster removal effects.
Proactive negation's also an excellent counter to Darklord effects when they activate on your turn. Darklord Rebellion and Darklord Enchantment are incredibly disruptive, so combo-centric decks have a great reason to side Forbidden Chalice going second. You don't want your monsters to be destroyed or taken control of as you're making your way through an important play. You can also chain Chalice from the hand to stop a Draw Phase Darklord effect, and activate it during the Damage Step to attack over an opponent's monster.
Darklords rarely use the Extra Deck so Dimensional Barrier's an easy card to side out for this match-up. Main Deck Kaijus can rotate out for negation or destruction-based removal. Counter siding is important for match-up if Psi-Blocker or Denko Sekka come into play. Remember that Darklords can dedicate their Normal Summon to sided monsters, so if your deck loses to Psi-Blocker or Denko Sekka I'd recommend siding against those cards too if you can. Effect negation is once again very strong here, especially Effect Veiler.
Next week another Dark theme enters the fray. Different Dimension Demons will be fully unleashed following the release of the Pendulum Domination Structure Deck and give us yet another deck to side for. There's plenty of crossover between the two Dark-heavy themes, but there aren't many great anti-Dark cards that aren't immediately answered with Kaijus or Twin Twisters. Anti-Special Summon floodgates will be excellent for both match-ups though, so expect to see a whole lot more from Vanity's Fiend this year.
Until next time then
Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student. In addition to writing on TCGplayer, Kelly writes personal blog covering Yugioh, Destiny, and other hobbies. You can follow him on Twitter and check out his Youtube channel. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.