Two week ago Loukas Peterson showed us his Noble Knight deck, and while the debate on Royal Decree rages on I've decided that it's about time I discussed how to Side Deck for this strategy. Nobles have made several Regional Top 8's throughout the last format and I'll attribute part of their success to a lack of preparedness amongst their opponents. This deck's very easy to side against and it's vulnerable to plenty of commonly-played tech choices. The fragile Noble Kngiht strategy is the result of a dependency on Equip Spells, cards with functional flaws that make them subpar in modern dueling. Actually, it's more accurate to say that Equip Spells have been neglected since the beginning of the game due to their mechanics.

But Noble Arms aren't your usual breed of Equips, and Noble Knights take advantage of them in ways that make them much more effective. This deck isn't a pushover; it'll be tough for some strategies to overcome its powerful Xyz. There's a lot to be said of these legendary Knights, so let's dive right in and examine how they work together to form a competitive theme.

"I Ask Of You: Are You My Master?"
Noble Knights consist of a long-running series of World Premiere cards that have been slowly released over the last year and a half. However, it wasn't until recently that they were worth playing at Regional and Championship-level events. Shadow Specters gave the archetype a serious set of teeth with Sacred Noble Knight of King Artorigus, and Legacy of the Valiant's Gwenhwyfar, Queen of Noble Arms added much-needed consistency. Among other small, incremental bits of support, Nobles are finally a deck worth siding for.

The Noble Knights are a mix of Light and Dark Warriors that are supported by Noble Arms Equip Spells. Most of the Knights gain effects when they're equipped with a Noble Arms, and many are almost useless without one. After all, a knight without his weapon is little more than an observer on the battlefield. With sword in hand Noble Knight Drystan can destroy a card on the field, and Noble Knight Gwalchavad can recover fallen allies. The importance of the Noble Arms can't be overstated, and the strategy's largely based around manipulating those cards.

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The Noble Arms are much more resilient than other Equips. Most of them can re-equip to a face-up target when they're destroyed, turning your opponent's Mystical Space Typhoons into straight -1's. Even if the re-equip happens only once per turn, it's more than enough to deter opponents from relying on spell removal to deal with them. Additionally, any Noble Knight that's destroyed while equipped can pass on its weapons to another Knight on the field. That allows the Noble Arms to circumvent another mechanical problem facing Equip Spells: they're gone as soon as the equipped monster leaves the field. It's a small part of each Noble Arms' effect, but it's a massive boost to their playability.

This deck's strongest monsters, Artorigus, King of Noble Knights and Sacred Noble Knight of King Artorigus, are easily summoned thanks to Noble Knight Medraut. Medraut's the best Main Deck monster available to Nobles and makes strong first-turn plays. As long as you have Medraut and a Noble Arms that can re-equip itself, you can put a Rank 5 Xyz on the field at no cost. The typical play is to use Medraut's effect to Summon Noble Knight Borz, then use Broz's effect to grab another Noble Arms card. With both monsters at Level 5 you can Xyz Summon King Artorigus and equip up to three Noble Arms to it from the graveyard.

As a result of the Noble Arms dependency most builds play very few traps and will rarely commit more than a single monster to the field. The reason's simple: Equip Spells take up space. There just aren't enough spell and trap zones to meet this strategy's needs. An Artorigus equipped with three Noble Arms leaves just two open spaces for other spells or traps in your backrow. If another one of those spots is taken by Royal Decree or Kaiser Colosseum, then only one slot remains. Summoning another Noble Knight usually doesn't do much because, as you might expect, there aren't enough zones to give it a meaningful amount of Noble Arms. This focus on protecting a single monster is very similar to how Bujins play, and many of the same card that work against them are just as effective in the Noble Knight match-up.

Defeating The King Of Knights
The best cards to side for this match-up exploit the weaknesses of Equip Spells, moreso than the Noble Knights themselves. Noble Arm of Destiny and Noble Arms – Excaliburn protect Noble Knights from destruction and targeting effects, but non-targeting effects are another story. Ghostrick Jackfrost, for instance, flips an attacking monster-face down without targeting it. Most Noble Knight decks lack direct counters to Jackfrost's effect, making it the perfect way to deal with Artorigus. Again, Destiny and Excaliburn won't protect the equipped monster from Jackfrost's effect, and they'll instead go to the graveyard. If your opponent doesn't have another face-up Warrior those Equip spells won't even return to the field.

Swords of Concealing Light provides another means of detaching Noble Arms from face-up Noble Knights. While Swords can be answered by Forbidden Lance and Typhoon, it has the added benefit of setting all face-up Knights your opponent controls. That prevents them from re-equipping lost Noble Arms to another face-up monster. It also keeps those monsters face-down for two turns, preventing further plays if your opponent doesn't have another Knight available. Even then, the affected monsters are useless for Xyz or Synchro Summons during Sword's duration.

Because Noble Knights rely so heavily on Summoning and protecting a single Xyz, cards that switch their controller are incredibly effective. Creature Swap takes an Artorigus, or any other monster, right out from under your opponent. It's especially devastating if the card you take happens to be equipped with several Noble Arms. Those Equip Spells become your opponent's problem to deal with, and they'll have to remove it with several of their spell and trap zones now occupied. Better yet, you might be able to Swap an Artorigus that still has materials left to fuel its removal effect.

Memory of an Adversary's a vastly superior choice over Dimensional Prison here, but you'll have to keep an eye on your Life Poins. Adversary's yet another non-targeting means of dealing with a monster protected by Destiny and Excaliburn, and it has the advantage of bringing that monster to your side of the field a couple of turns later. Of course, as a Battle Phase trap it's unlikely to last long enough to trigger against King Artorigus. It's a tricky card to play, especially when you can end up in situations where you can't activate it because your Life Points are too low.

DNA Surgery, Light-Imprisoning Mirror, and Skill Drain disrupt the Noble Knight strategy by limiting the types of effects that can be activated. Calling anything besides 'Warrior' with DNA Surgery prevents Noble Arms other than Excaliburn and Gwenhwyfar from being equipped to monsters. Light-Imprisoning Mirror shuts off the effects of Drystan, Gwalchavad, both King and Sacred Artorigus, and Gwenhwfar when she's in the graveyard. Lastly, Skill Drain turns off...pretty much everything. The deck reverts to an ancient strategy of using Equip Spells to increase the ATK of monsters before making an attack. The Noble Arms give this deck a means to fight back while under Skill Drain, but they can't do much more than stall for time until a Typhoon or Decree is drawn.

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For dealing with Xyz Monsters, Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare (or Knightmare) negates Artorigus' effect and destroys it before it can equip Noble Arms of Destiny. Black Horn of Heaven negates the Summon outright, but it's actually better to use Traptrix Trap Hole in this case. When your opponent summons their King or Sacred Artorigus they'll have the opportunity to equip any 'detatched' Noble Arms. Generally those are the cards that were equipped to the Xyz Materials. When they do so they'll often equip that card to the freshly-Summoned monster, rather than another face-up Noble Knight. Because Black Horn of Heaven activates before Artorigus is successfully Summoned, it gives your opponent the opportunity to pick a new target for their Noble Arms. Traptrix Trap Hole, on the other hand, negates and destroys the Summoned monster before a Noble Arms can resolve. It's also searchable, but its biggest downside is that it can be chained to by Forbidden Lance.

Closing Thoughts
A couple of popular Xyz – namely Evilswarm Exciton Knight and Ice Beast Zerofyne – are devastating in this match-up and routinely circumvent the powerful set-ups Noble Knights are known for. Unfortunately these heroic Warriors are a bit too susceptible to easily-sided tech choices, and I imagine they'll decline in popularity quickly unless new support's released in Primal Origin. Until then you're still likely to see this deck at the local or Regional level, and if it's worth siding for in your metagames I highly recommend playing either Ghostrick Jackfrost or Creature Swap. They're both strong cards right now with a lot of utility – especially against Bujin. Otherwise, check out Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare, Black Horn of Heaven, and D.D. Warrior Lady.

Until next time then.

-Kelly