A few weeks ago, I was talking about how easily accessible the graveyard is right now, and how the game's at a point where it's less an actual graveyard per se and more like a second hand. For a big portion of competitive play, once a card's in your graveyard you can still use it in one way or another as some sort of resource. That's nothing new, and I'd venture to say nearly everyone that plays even on just a local level understands that point about the game pretty well. It's been a valid point for years, but the Dragon Ruler era last year really codified it.

It used to be that if you didn't really want to deal with that kind of strategy, or if you were trying to put something together to counter graveyard-oriented decks, you could pop three Dimensional Fissures and three Macro Cosmos into your deck and have yourself a good ol' time. But the Forbidden and Limited List put an end to that. Even then, with Xyz Materials only being banished under Macro Cosmos and not Dimensional Fissure, those graveyard decks had workarounds and tricks to let them play through your floodgates.

Thanks to that, the only real and clear way to disassemble a graveyard-based strategy is to attack cards that are sitting idly in the graveyard, before they're recycled or used for something else – we've seen Crevice Into the Different Dimension and The Transmigration Prophecy played that way over the years, and D.D. Crow is an on-and-off resident of the competitive circuit, but all those cards are single use options that don't necessarily do much for your card economy. There is one option, though, that's somehow still a sleeper hit, and it seems like numerous players are still skipping over it completely; Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk.

Sound Check
The first time I read Rhapsody, I skimmed right by it because of its low ATK and the need to commit two monsters to Xyz Summon it. Since there are options like Crevice and Transmigration that are chainable, Rhapsody had to do more than just sit around like a pretty face when it was done banishing cards. When you consider all the other options you could be spending your limited Extra Deck space on, it's sort of a big commitment to give away one of those precious fifteen slots to something that isn't going to be universally applicable.

But when you think about how often you Summon the least-frequently used Xyz Monster in your Extra Deck, you might be surprised. Sometimes there are ideas that look great on paper and just don't pan out, or the exact opposite can happen – understated ideas often outperform your expectations. Wasting a slot on Rhapsody can look like a downright Mistake on paper, but once you get out in the field and start bashing through graveyards, the results can be rather persuasive.

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Committing two cards into Rhapsody's Xyz Summon is a -1 if you don't factor in other card effects, but luckily the game's in a place where Special Summoning Level 4 monsters is exceptionally commonplace. Satellarknights and Shaddolls both have the recent YCS circuit locked down, and even local and Regional scenes have to deal with them in droves. With Call Of The Haunted running around as a three-of staple in Satellarknights, Satellarknight Altair and Satellarknight Vega both bringing a friend to the field for easy Xyz Summoning, and Black Dragon Collapserpent and White Dragon Wyverburster giving Shaddolls extra Summoning power, the two most dominant decks of the format can push out Rank 4's with a level of ease that probably shouldn't be allowed.

There aren't many Extra Decks packing Rhapsody along for the ride to YCS success, looking over the Top cuts from Madrid and Toronto, but a few did manage to squeak in there. For any deck that can make it, it's automatically a tremendous answer to Satellarknights. Removing targets for the Altairs in your opponent's hand, particularly any Satellarknight Deneb in the graveyard, automatically reduces the deck to something akin to lack-luster Hunder build or a low-ATK beatdown deck. There's the risk of Call Of The Haunted being chained to Rhapsody's effect, but any time you decide to account for your opponent's hypothetical backrow, you should account for yours, and Mystical Space Typhoon, Trap Stun, and Wiretap are all cards. There are answers on both sides, but in a sweeping and general sense, shutting Altair off with Rhapsody boosts your chances of a win by leaps and bounds.

Shaddolls might seem to suffer a lower impact, but that's actually not true. With Satellarknights, hitting Deneb is crucial, and that's about the extent of it. Taking Patrick Hoban's 1st Place deck list from Toronto as an example (which you can find right here), there are plenty of weaknesses through graveyard dependencies. At any stage in the game, you could banish your opponent's used up Shaddoll Fusions, removing banish-fodder for Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning; Chaos Sorcerer; Wyverburster or Collapserpent, ripping away their only Shaddoll Falco or Shaddoll Hedgehog, or generally taking problematic Falco targets out of the equation. The deck seems like it's less reliant on its graveyard since its aggression is largely based around Fusion Summoning, but the actual reliance on Xyz Summoning through the Dragons and Chaos monsters is huge.

Then there are rogue match-ups all over the place. If you've played any big competitive events or even just a few Regionals, you know that the first three rounds of most big tournaments are kind of a minefield of expected decks, and weird degenerate stuff like Hope for Escape Exodia or Sixty-Card Dark World Inzektor Shaddoll OTK or something. It's way too common to go into Round 2 and haphazardly get smashed by some ridiculous thing only one person in the room is playing that happens to hard-counter you somehow, or that you just don't have answers for. Left over from earlier in the format, Lightsworn and Bujins are both swimming through the tables all the time, and those decks are hit hard when you tear apart their graveyards. Banishing the extra names a Lightsworn player needs to drop Judgment Dragon or removing their Dragon Rulers so they can't banish Eclipse Wyvern is like writing out a death certificate. By the same token, Bujin Yamato and that crew aren't nearly as scary without Bujingis in the graveyard as backup. Sylvans lose out on key monsters, Burning Abyss lose some of their sustainability when Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss can't Special Summon anything, and you even have the option to tear away Spellbooks if you feel like it.

I mean, they can still just chain Spellbook of Fate to Rhapsody, but at least you're triggering it on your terms? Maybe the Fate was used up and you're banishing that, hoping they don't have a Spellbook of Eternity? There's probably a reason somewhere. I can feel it.

Striking A Chord
Interestingly, the decks that get hit by Rhapsody the hardest right now, Bujin; Shaddolls; and Satellarknights, are the decks that have the best time Xyz Summoning it. Well, in a mainstream sense. Hunders and decks that generally use a lot of Rank 4's like Fire Fists and Geargia could drop it pretty easily, too, if you happen to be playing something like that. Satellarknights have a ton of plays to go into Rank 4's, even behind simply Normal Summoning Altair and Special Summoning any other Satellarknight. You have Normal Summoned Vega and Call Of The Haunted to bring back either to trigger their effects a second time.

With Deneb in the Graveyard and the right set-up, you can even drop two Rank 4's at the same time to make Rhapsody's ATK-boosting effect worthwhile. A 3200 ATK Number 101: Silent Honor ARK is terrifying; a 2900 ATK Abyss Dweller isn't anything to joke about; and I'm pretty sure you could eventually bring out Rhapsody and Stellarknight Delteros together at some point to really wreak havoc on somebody's life.

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Nearly everything in the Shaddoll monster line's ready to drop Rhapsody against the mirror match and the Satellarknights match-up, from Wyverburster and Collapserpent to Falco bringing back a Level 4 that lives through the turn. With Sinister Shadow Games to flip up Shaddoll Dragon or Shaddoll Squamata and answer your opponent's monsters before you get run over in battle, it's not so outlandish that you could drop a Rank 4 on the following turn. If you throw Lyla in the mix, you even take a free card from your opponent's backrow for your trouble.

When I mention Bujins having a fair time dropping Rhapsody, I speak from personal experience, and also from the stance that they'll be running a single Bujin Arasuda. Bujins are so rogue now that I don't think anyone would argue Arasuda's place anyway, but just come along on a journey with me.

There are so many opportunities with a single monster on the field in Bujins to drop a Level 4, Xyz Summon Bujintei Susanowo and use its effect to search for either Arasuda or Bujin Hirume, depending on which you're missing at the time, that you could probably expect to do it nearly every game. Banish for Hirume's Special Summon, Arasuda drops, Rhapsody comes out to crush the graveyard and jumps onto Susanowo to make a 3600 multi-attacker with possible Bujingi support. It's a true nightmare to stare down, and actually punishes Satellarknights for using Call Of The Haunted; more monsters, more damage, and Susanowo can hit all of them before they're really of any use anyway.

Furious Crescendo
The ATK boost from Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk is pretty substantial when it actually comes into play, but the realistic odds of it working aren't so great unless you have backrow to protect it, or a previously established field. That can make Rhapsody feel like a "win more" card sometimes. Despite that, if you're playing Bujins or Satellarknights and find the chance to make two Xyz Monsters at a time, having one be Rhapsody creates a huge swing in momentum.

Getting to play a double D.D. Crow and still come out with at least something to block a hit or power up an Xyz is way stronger than eating the -2 to use two actual D.D. Crows, and making a Rank 4 Xyz Summon is way more reliable than hoping to draw into Crevice or Transmigration.

Does Rhapsody fit into your Extra Deck right now, or would it take some cuts to push one in there? Are you even playing a deck that supports Rank 4's in the first place? I'd be super interested to hear how you're using it, if you are. One thing's for sure: if Satellarknights and Shaddolls keep up their current reputation as pack leaders in competitive play, there's a strong chance you should consider Rhapsody.

-Beau