Over the last couple of weeks I've talked about the history of the game, and the relevancy of core concepts like card economy and card advantage, and that's going to come through again today. All things considered, it's hard not to talk about card economy; it's one of the most defining facets of a card's design more often than not. For a really solid example of what I mean by that, check out my article last week on Shaddoll Fusion.

Like last week, we're diving back into the Duelist Alliance card pool for this one, since there's no shortage of interesting stuff to talk about in the new set. Shaddolls are absolutely unreal, but there are plenty of other things going on in DUEA that shouldn't be overlooked: the Ultra Athletes are around, and you may or may not hear about that from me at some point; Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon hit the TCG; and another Mega Monarch dropped on our heads.

What we're talking about this time though is a support card for one of the two flagship archetypes from the set: Infernity Barrier.

Erm, Stellarnova Alpha.

The Star
Counter traps are nothing new; they've been around since the very beginning of the game. Magic Jammer, Solemn Judgment, Seven Tools of the Bandit and Horn of Heaven all came out in Metal Raiders back in 2004. Essentially, there was one for spells, one for traps, one for monsters and one that did all three because honestly, why not? It's not like the game had any fast-paced OTK's at the time or legendary beaters, so negation wasn't such a big deal. Also, the ones that stopped a single thing each had moderate costs, and the one that stopped anything had a huge cost. Half of your Life Points in a format where Change of Heart and Raigeki were a thing was a ton to pay, even if no deck was very fast at the time.

Throughout the course of the game we saw Counter Traps change and shift to become less heavily costed; it happened as as early on as Pharoah's Servant, with stuff like Magic Drain. Instead of ripping into your Life Points or costing you cards, Magic Drain kept card economy in check by effectively forcing a 1-for-1 no matter what; you drop a spell to negate it and it's still more or less done it's job to stop a spell. You don't come out ahead in the transaction at all, but you haven't fallen behind either, and the shift in tempo used to be strong enough to carry you for a couple turns.

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After that, all kinds of silly stuff came around, like Musakani Magatama and Gladiator Beast War Chariot. Not only was there no cost to those cards, but the spectrum of negation was a great deal wider. Musakani could hit any destruction card, regardless of what type of card it was, and War Chariot smashed through any monster in any phase. Didn't matter where they activated or anything - they were getting run down. What made those two cards different was that they were archetype-specific versions of previously existing cards: Destruction Jammer and Divine Wrath, specifically. In exchange for picking up an archetype affiliation, they lost their costs and became easier to play.

Not to be outdone, Solemn Warning broke onto the scene with a marginal Life Point cost, both common and lax activation conditions, and the vengeance and hate of a betrayed god. Summoning monsters is pretty standard in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh, as you may have suspected if you've played long enough to be reading about the game in the first place. Since its release, and even up to today, Solemn Warning is played in the majority of decks because it's so absurd. Even then, it only has a one-part effect; you negate something and you're done. Cut and dry, simple as that.

Stellarnova Alpha, on the other hand, doesn't care about any of that. The unholy chimera of Gemini Spark, Dark Bribe and Divine Wrath, Stellarnova mashes into any spell or trap, no matter what they would do, or any monster effect. It hits the full spectrum of cards in the game right now for little cost and huge return. You may lose a single Satellarknight, but you don't sacrifice your card economy in the process since Stellarnova's a self-replacer, snagging you a card from the top of your deck. As a 1-for-1 that stops any and all things in the game save for inherent Summons, it's practically the spine of the Stellarknight deck.

Shining Bright
Stellarnova Alpha's not just a control element for Satellarknights, since you get to dig into your deck with it - it's actually a consistency augmentation, and a strong complement to the already nuts deck thinning of Satellarknight Deneb. It's not even like the monster you send away is going to be gone for long, since Satellarknight Altair is an on-theme Debris Dragon. Both Altair and Deneb are +1's on their respective Summons, and that gives you free monsters to bail on with Stellarnova.

Considering the whole point of the Satellarknight deck is to run though Stellarknight Delteros, it would be hugely counter-productive to push it off the field in the process of stopping a single card, even if you do recover the sheer number of cards you had previously. Luckily, Delteros has a self-replacement effect under its belt, that activates if it's sent to the graveyard. Paired off with Delteros destroying a card every time it survives a turn, you'll end up getting ahead of your opponent in card economy pretty fast.

Then there are the little Satellarknights, all of which trigger to do something ridiculous when they're Summoned. Here's the rundown, similar to how I broke down Shaddolls last week. Keep in mind that each of them can only be triggered once per turn.

-Satellarknight Alsahm burns for 1000 LP.

-Satellarknight Altair is a Debris Dragon.

-Satellarknight Deneb is a Reinforcement of the Army.

-Satellarknight Vega is Legendary Six Samurai - Kageki.

-Satellarknight Unukalhai is a free Foolish Burial to set up Altair.

With Deneb and Altair keeping your hand and field full, Stellarnova trades off as a 1-for-1 after you've gone +1 or more already, effectively letting it ride the coattails of your previous plays all the way to the bank. Using Altair to Special Summon Vega, then Vega to drop Deneb and search for another Satellarknight, you actually break even on the Xyz Summon of Delteros. After which you're free to 1-for-1 with Stellarnova and then grab another Satellarknight from the graveyard. Depending what Delteros Special Summons and what you negated with your Stellarnova, you could go upwards of +3 for your trouble, for no reason other than offhandedly feeling like it.

Under Twelve Parsecs
While it's not nearly as splashable as some other counter traps, Stellarnova Alpha does about a million times more, negating in such a way that you get to replenish your hand, dig through your deck, trigger your Stellarknight Delteros effect on your own terms, and burn away your opponent's resources all at the same time. After using Delteros to destroy cards and Altair and Deneb to score a sickening number of free cards. It's hardly going to be dead either, since you can negate monster effects, spells, or traps, instead of just one of the three.

Counter traps have come a long way since a decade ago when they made their first booster appearance, and Stellarnova Alpha's the single greatest example of that. It's basically the backbone of the entire Satellarknight archetype, giving them something to do other than push out and Xyz and hope for the best.

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Considering the decks that are already prominent in competitive play, and the simultaneous release of Shaddolls, it's hard to say whether or not Satellarknights are position to get overshadowed by other decks just on sheer popularity. They do have a wide range of effects that all work toward furthering your card economy and deck thinning, plus the strategy can run Honest. Thanks to Stellarnova Alpha sitting in the Satellarknights' back pocket, they have a fair time against every other deck going, so that could end up being the deciding factor in how popular they get over the coming weeks.

Are you building, or maybe have you finished building, Satellarknights? Sticking to Shaddolls? Or are you playing something not at all from DUEA, and you just plan to fight through the swarms for the rest of the format? If you're not playing them yourself, what are you planning on siding against them, and how are you planning on handling Stellarnova Alpha when you run across it? Other than Wiretap the options seem pretty slim, so it'll be interesting to hear what you're using, and to see how it pans out in competitive play. Make sure you keep an eye on this one for the rest of the format!

-Beau