It wouldn't be accurate to call Orcusts a newcomer to the competitive scene– Ed Acepcion made the Top 8 of YCS Chicago back in February withDanger Orcusts, and two weeks later Noah Beygelman took 2nd at an ARG Circuit Seriesevent with aSky Striker variant. The theme's competitive potential has never been better, but the deck wasfully capable of pulling off Championship wins well beforeDark Neostorm.

That said, the Orcust strategy from earlier this year had an entirelydifferent win condition that was largely built around Outer Entity Azathot.Orcusts have had to adapt to losing both Summon Sorceress and The PhantomKnights' Rank-Up-Magic Launch, and the resulting strategy relies heavily onthe theme's latest support in Dark Neostorm: Dingirsu, the Orcustof the Evening Star.

Siding for Orcusts isn't particularly difficult – just about any hand trapwill do. Timing your hand traps or other sided cards correctly is a muchharder task, and that's what we'll be focusing on in this article.

A Knightmare Orchestra
The Orcust theme is stacked with monsters that take full advantage ofOrcustrated Babel's effect, and all of the Main and Extra Deck cardsbenefit from becoming Quick Effects.

The deck's core engine of Orcust Harp Horror, Orcust Cymbal Skeleton, andOrcust Knightmare provide enough fodder for Link Summons, and theironce-per-turn restrictions are mitigated by Bable's effect. If youropponent controls Orcustred Babel they can chain the effects of theirOrcusts cards during their turn, and they can also use those same effectsduring your turn. It's an incredibly effective way to build card advantageby activating Orcust effects in back-to-back turns.

The usefulness of Orcustrated Babel extends to the strategy's themed ExtraDeck Monsters. Galatea, the Orcust Automation can search Babel directly andnab another search during the opponent's turn. Longirsu, the OrcustOrchestrator and Orcustration are extremely disruptive if positionedcorrectly alongside Babel, and Dingirsu, the Orcust of the Evening Star isessentially on-demand removal when Summoned from the graveyard with OrcustCymbal Skeleton.

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All of those cards can be played aggressively, and the added interruptivepower thanks to Babel is largely a bonus. It's an important bonus, butultimately Orcusts are perfectly capable of playing a strictly offensivegame if the opponent isn't putting up much resistance.

The graveyard-activated effects of Orcust Main Deck monsters pair upperfectly with the themed recycling attached to the Extra Deck monsters.The deck can grind out card advantage at an astonishing rate, and itsability to make recovery plays is arguably the best in the format. Orcustsare only a fraction of the deck's monster line-up, and while they'reimportant players in the deck's best combos they're hardly the only cardscontributing to the win condition.

That win condition takes the form of negation-heavy Turn 1 boards withPhantom Knights, Borreload Savage Dragon, Time Thief Redoer, and OrcustCrescendo. Failing that, Orcusts can unload an assault of Link Monsters andbreak boards with Orcustration or Topologic Bomber Dragon.

Breaking The Knightmare Combo
Orcust plays start as soon as a copy of Orcust Harp Horror or OrcustKnightmare hits the graveyard. The deck needs at least one Orcust monsteron the field to Link Summon Galatea, and without that crucial step most ofthe deck's best combos are unreachable.

Dingirsu is exclusively Xyz Summoned by using Galatea as Xyz Material, sowithout an Orcust card in play it can be challenging for the Orcust playerto find a non-destruction removal effect. Knightmares pick up some of theslack here, and Knightmare Unicorn's especially useful thanks to its DarkAttribute. It's Knightmare Mermaid that really makes this deck competitive:Mermaid effectively converts almost any pair of monsters into an effectthat can Summon Orcust Knightmare from the deck. Preventing KnightmareMermaid from resolving is a huge first step in winning the match-up.

When your opponent Summons a Link-2 Knightmare they're most likely planningon using it as a material for Knightmare Mermaid. Interrupting that chainof Link Summons is hard to do on the first turn if you're playing second,but it's certainly not impossible. Gnomaterial and Ghost Reaper &Winter Cherries are best used immediately after your opponent Summonseither Knightmare Phoenix or Knightmare Cerberus to lock up their ExtraMonster Zone.

Banishing Mermaid with Ghost Reaper isn't necessarily the best choice, butit does leave your opponent in an awkward position where their Orcustscombos are inaccessible and they're stuck with a Link Monster thatcan't be traded in for The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche.

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If you're playing first you can use just about any chainable removal tokick your opponent's Knightmare off the board before it can be exchangedfor Knightmare Mermaid. If you're playing second and you can'tstop Mermaid from hitting the field you can still activate something likeEffect Veiler, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, or PSY-Framegear Gamma tonegate Mermaid's effect. Failing that, D.D. Crow can potentially snipeOrcust Knightmare out of the graveyard as long as your opponent's FieldSpell isn't active.

I think the best choice for stopping your opponent's Orcust combos isprobably Artifact Lancea. Once Lancea's activated your opponent won't beable to use any of their Main Deck Orcusts cards or the effect of WorldLegacy - "World Wand". If your opponent can't banish Machines they alsowon't be able to resolve any of their Orcust Link monsters, and the deckloses almost all of its potency outside of Knightmare Link plays and thePhantom Knight engine. You can also activate Lancea before OrchestratedBabel resolves, which leaves Called by the Grave your only concern.

The Artifact engine's generally excellent against Orcusts, but Lancea onits own is totally fine. It can also dodge a new tech in someOrcust Sky Striker variants: Sky Striker Mecha - Eagle Booster. It's searchable protection forKnightmare Mermaid, and it makes cards like Infinite Impermanence muchriskier.

That said, Infinite Impermanence is still excellent, and it's easily thehardest hand trap for Orcust to counter directly without a copy of EagleBooster on hand. Negating Mermaid with Impermanence tends to be a bit moresuccessful than Effect Veiler or Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, butextenders can still get Orcust combos up and running.

Answering The Remaining Link Engines
Outside of leaning into a full Artifact engine there are a handful of othersolid picks to address the Link spam from Orcust strategies. FantasticalDragon Phantazmay's a perfect fit given the deck's heavy use of LinkMonsters, but keep in mind that Dingirsu's removal doesn't target. Moreimportantly Phantazmay can help you find a hand trap that actually stopsyour opponent's plays before they can set up multiple negation effects.Phantazmay also digs for aggressive cards to play as you go into your firstturn, like Super Polymerization and Evenly Matched.

Super Polymerization's an excellent going-second card against any Orcustboard, and it lets you easily dispatch Borreload Savage Dragon and anylingering Orcust Link Monster to rip two potential negations off the field.Starving Venom Fusion Dragon contains a lot of destructive power in thismatch-up even if it's a magnet for Phantom Knights' Fog Blade and Dingirsu;if your opponent destroys Starving Venom they'll lose their field, but Iwouldn't expect too much from it outside of baiting another negation orremoval effect. Evenly Matched is also a lightning rod for negation, andit's much harder to force through unless you can somehowopen up with multiple copies.

Abyss Dweller joins Artifact Lancea in shutting down most of youropponent's Orcust-related plays. It's equally a solution to the PhantomKnight engine, and like Lancea no amount of extenders will let youropponent play past its temporary floodgate effect. While Dweller isn'tstrictly a Side Deck card I wanted to mention it here as a strength uniqueto decks that are pumping out Rank 4s. Dweller's incredible in a handful oftop match-ups this format, and it should absolutely be a priority to Summonagainst Orcust if you can make Rank 4s consistently.

If it's your opponent's backrow that you're most worried about then RedReboot's your best choice for a going-second Side Deck choice. PhantomKnights' Fog Blade is often played in multiples on the first turn, so ifyou can bait out Orcust Crescendo first you'll shut down the rest of youropponent's traps in the process. Thanks to those super-low trap counts inmost Orcust builds your opponent might not even have a trap to setfrom their deck, which makes Red Reboot absolutely fantastic in thismatch-up.

A solid mix of hand traps and going-second board-breaking cards will giveyou enough of an edge against Orcusts to swing the match-up in your favorconsistently. Artifact Lancea is probably the best choice, but it's notnecessary if you're running Artifact Sanctum and Artifact Scythe. Thefloodgate effect of Scythe is even more devastating than Lancea, so you cansave a bit of space there if you're planning on running copies of Sanctum.

I'd also steer clear of Evenly Matched and Twin Twisters, and instead useSuper Polymerization and Red Reboot to carve a path to your opponent's LifePoints. You'll still need to close out the game quickly: Orcusts havefantastic recovery power, and only floodgates like Abyss Dweller can keepthem out of the game permanently.

Until next time then

-Kelly