Eight new themes debuted in Duelist Alliance, and among them were three nearly complete themes: Shaddolls, Yang Zings, and Satellarknights. Each of these themes uses a Summoning mechanic from an older era of Yu-Gi-Oh, and for that reasonSatellarknights – an Xyz-centric strategy – feels the most familiar. While Yang Zings have been supplanted by Burning Abyss on the competitive scene, Shaddoll and Satellarknights are easily two of the best decks in the game right now. Despite their relatively short time in the game, these strategies have already bested last format's most successful decks: Traptrix Hand Artifacts and Geargia.

I discussed Satellarknights in last week's article in the context of identifying trends in the format and exploring the potential of rogue strategies. This week we'll be looking at Satellarknights again, but this time we're taking a more direct approach examining how the deck functions and what weaknesses it faces. Siding for Satellarknights is a bit easier than siding for Burning Abyss or Shaddolls, and that's largely thanks to a lack of on-theme proactive removal; there are fewer cards to dodge in this match-up once you've resolved your card. The trick, however, is resolving those cards in the first place.

The Summer Triangle
Satellarknight Deneb is the focal point of the Satellarknight strategy; it carries this theme's deck-searching effect. Deneb has the usual 'when this card is Summoned in some way, grab another monster from the theme' that we've seen dozens of times now. For the most part it's no different from Elemental HERO - Stratos, Spellbook Magician of Prophecy, Madolche Magileine, Geargiarmor, or Batteryman 9-Volt: it searches another Satellarknight monster and gets the deck up and running. What makes Deneb so noteworthy is that its ability activates whenever it's Summoned. Like Stratos and 9-Volt, it'll activate when it's Normal, Flip, or Special Summoned. On its own that wouldn't be too exciting, until you consider the sheer number of ways Satellarknights can Special Summon Deneb from the graveyard.

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The most typical Satellarknight play involves Satellarknight Altair and Deneb. Deneb searches Altair, and in turn, Altair can Summon Deneb from the graveyard. When Deneb hits the field its effect activates again and grabs another Altair out of the deck. The interaction between these two cards lets you make a Rank 4 Xyz each turn while gaining a +1 of card economy in the process. Repeatedly making this play can quickly push lesser strategies to their limit; if they can't keep up with the tempo of Satellarknights they'll inevitably run out of cards. Altair's effect does have one drawback: if it's effect is activated, only "tellarknight" monsters can attack for the rest of the turn. It's a serious limitation – the only tellarknight Xyz currently available is Stellarknight Delteros, and it requires three Xyz Materials to Summon.

That's where Satellarknight Vega comes in. Vega, like Constellar Algiedi, Summons a Satellarknight from your hand. Adding Vega to the mix opens up a number of new ways to put monsters on the field, and it makes Summoning Delteros much, much easier. A typical combo with Vega and Altair in hand plus any Satellar in the graveyard will leave you controlling three Level 4 monsters, and potentially a search if the yarded Satellarknight happened to be Deneb. You can rearrange these cards in a couple of different ways. For example: Summoning Altair to bring back Vega from the graveyard will let you Summon another Satellarknight from your hand. Thanks to Deneb's effect it's relatively easy to set up plays like that, and with a Call Of The Haunted and Soul Charge thrown into the mix there's no shortage of ways to put a Rank 4 on the field.

Stellarknight Delteros itself is a beast: it requires three Xyz Materials, but the investment pays off in a big way. While Delteros is face-up your opponent can't respond to the Summon of your monsters. That means Effect Veiler, Bottomless Trap Hole, Breakthrough Skill, Torrential Tribute, and Fiendish Chain become much more difficult to activate...if not impossible. Delteros can destroy cards on the field by detaching a material, and also Summons a Satellarknight monster from the hand or deck when it's sent to the graveyard. Even after the first copy falls to a card effect or is destroyed by battle a second copy's usually on its way.

Delteros is a great card, but it's not necessarily the best monster in the Satellarknight Extra Deck. Castel the Skyblaster Musketeer and Number 101: Silent Honor ARK are amazing problem-solvers and will often be able to deal with cards that Delteros can't destroy. Reliable access to Abyss Dweller is also a big deal; a handful of key match-ups including Burning Abyss, Shaddolls, and Mermails can be decided by Dweller's effect.

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Satellarknights are a trap-heavy strategy that make tremendous use of their themed Counter Trap: Stellarnova Alpha. Themed traps that negate spells, traps, and monster effects are becoming increasingly common – Alpha's the second such card to be released this year following Necrovalley' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley">Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley. Comparing Alpha to Tombs really doesn't do it justice; Alpha's a vastly superior card. Unlike Tombs or Infernity Barrier you can activate multiple copies of Alpha per turn. Sure, Nova requires you to send a tellarknight to the graveyard, but once you resolve it, it'll replace that monster with a draw. Losing monsters to the graveyard is inconsequential: you can send Deneb to negate an opponent's card then use Call Of The Haunted to revive it and trigger its effect again. Stellarnova Alpha's a scary card, and it's often very difficult to play around.

The most difficult part of the Satellarknight match-up is its incredible consistency. More than any other deck in the format, Satellarknights will nearly always have a solid starting hand. Pot of Duality, Reinforcement of the Army, and Deneb's search effect make poor openings a rarity, and a lack of Tribute monsters goes a long way towards reducing brick hands. Satellarknight Unukalhai is a great early game card that thins the deck, sets up recursion effects, and has enough ATK to hold its own in battle. This strategy has an incredible amount of synergy between its key cards, but it's certainly not unbeatable.

All The Lights In Heavens Are Our Enemies
Light-Imprisoning Mirror is arguably the most popular Side Deck pick against Satellarknights, and that's largely the result of its incredible effectiveness. Preventing the activation of key cards like Deneb, Altair, and Vega will cripple the deck's ability to make plays. Rank 4's become much more difficult to Summon outside of Call Of The Haunted or Soul Charge, but even after Castel shuffles Mirror into the deck your opponent might not have a followup. Satellarknights can quickly run out of monsters if Deneb isn't pulling cards out of the deck, and without a steady stream of Reinforcements Stellarnova Alpha's cost becomes much steeper.

One of the advantages Light-Imprisoning Mirror has over other Side Deck cards is its effectiveness against Stellarknight Delteros. For the most part Delteros is the deck's only on-theme answer to face-up Continuous Traps. Assuming Mirror isn't negated by Alpha, and your opponent doesn't have Mystical Space Typhoon immediately on-hand, a face-up Delteros won't be able to take it out. The same can't be said for Royal Decree, Vanity's Emptiness, And the Band Played On, or Stygian Dirge.

We've had formats in the past that have been dominated by strategies using both Light and Dark Main Deck monsters, but this format's a bit different: two of the top three decks play a mixture of both attributes. El Shaddoll Construct is an important part of the Shaddoll Extra Deck, and Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss is just as crucial for Burning Abyss players. Those Light Monsters make Light-Imprisoning Mirror tough to side. Still, that doesn't mean Shaddolls and Burning Abyss should never side it; builds with few Lights can certainly get away with siding at least two. Usually, however, those decks will be siding something else entirely.

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A couple of weeks ago I talked about how Stygian Dirge and Mischief of the Yokai counter Satellarknights and Burning Abyss, so this week I'd like to focus on two other cards: Flying "C" and And the Band Played On. I'm of the opinion that if you can't play Light-Imprisoning Mirror, Flying "C" should be your first pick against Satellarknights. I've had plenty of discussions about this card, and I really can't recommend it enough. Plenty of cards can shut down Xyz Summons, but they're all vulnerable to various forms of removal. Since Flying "C" is Summoned to your opponent's side of the field it's immune to Breakthrough Skill and untouchable by battle. That said, it's not invincible. Forbidden Chalice, Book of Moon, and Fiendish Chain can shut off its effect and allow your opponent to Xyz Summon once more.

And The Band Played On is another really cool anti-Xyz card that has the added benefit of preventing Altair from Summoning Deneb from the graveyard. You can chain Band to Altair or Vega's effect just like you'd usually play Vanity's Emptiness. On the one hand you're not going to stop a Soul Charge from putting a Rank 4 on the field, but on the other hand you can still make your own plays while Band is face-up. This card's usefulness depends entirely on the deck it's sided into, although it tends to work best when played in strategies that have Level-changing effects. Sylvans can still put Rank 7 and Rank 8 monsters on the field thanks to Sylvan Princessprout, and Noble Knight plays are still functional thanks to their own Level Modulation.

A Side Deck that's focused on stopping your opponent's plays works well for slower strategies, but what if you're simply looking to resolve a game-ending combo? A Special Summon-heavy theme that's hinged on key card effects is going to have trouble against the Satellarknight trap line-up, and particularly Stellarnova Alpha. Grind games aren't favorable for Infernities or Sylvans, so what options do they have? For the most part, anti-trap tech is the best way to deal with Satellarknight backrow. Wiretap's particularly effective: shuffling back Alpha is a +1 that weakens your opponent's defenses and robs them of a monster.

With the biggest decks in the format playing large trap line-ups, it's definitely worth considering Royal Decree for a number of match-ups. It's a great long-term solution that lets you make aggressive plays over the course of a few turns rather than just one. It's chainable to removal in the form of Raigeki Break and Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, and ultimately has more staying power than Trap Stun. The trade-off is that it's a gigantic Typhoon magnet, but that's only relevant if your opponent chains Typhoon to its activation. If not, then Decree essentially becomes a Trap Stun that costs your opponent a card.

I'm sure Satellarknights will be sticking around for the remainder of the year, but it'll be interesting to see if they can keep up with Burning Abyss and Shaddolls. These decks are constantly evolving, and duelists are coming up with more reliable builds each week. There's so much room for both strategies to grow, yet Satellarknights are likely to remain stagnant. Like past "+1" strategies, there's not much to explore; the deck's good, but it might be reaching its limit. We'll find out where Satellarknights stand after next month's updates to the Forbidden and Limited List, and where the strategy can go from here.

Until next time then

-Kelly