When Premium Gold dropped on the TCG, we got a lot of new toys to play around with. Dynatherium's kind of a whimsical reincarnation of Gilasaurus, and it has a little potential in decks that want to Tribute Summon or need Level 4s to Synchro and Xyz with. You could even luck out and Mind Control the monster your opponent Special Summons to use it for something. The Extra Deck picked up Dragonecro Nethersoul Dragon and Beelze of the Diabolic Dragons, both of which are tremendous in their own ways – I might write about Dragonecro sometime soon, and I've already covered Beelze, which you can check out here if you haven't seen it yet. If you want something interesting about Dragonecro before I break it down, Doug's newest Low Key has a pretty cool deck that uses it as a beater and card advantage tool, and it's worth reading. Here's a link to that.

Even with all the new stuff, some of the best cards in Premium Gold were reprints of older releases. Competitive headliners like Thunder King Rai-Oh and the Monarchs are in there, along with Plaguespreader Zombie and Mind Control, among others. What I want to talk about today, though, isn't historically thought of as a tournament-smasher. In fact, it hasn't seen much competitive use at all, and that's ascendant from a travesty to completely heartbreaking.

When you consider all of the power it has built in, from raw striking force to huge elements of control, Slifer the Sky Dragon should probably have stormed at least one event by now.

Mouthing Off
It's a God Card after all, right? Turning a blind eye to all the helpful plot devices and Revival Jam-based hax, Slifer's actually incredibly strong. Tragoedia's been considered a powerful beater once it hits the field, and it gains 600 ATK per card in your hand, compared to Slifer's 1000. While it's hard to overstate how much more simple Tragoedia is to put on the field, Slifer's ATK builds a lot faster as a trade-off for the number of cards you have to dump into Summoning it. Then take into account the fact that Slifer's ATK-reducing effect cuts anything 2900 ATK or smaller to a point where you only need one card in your hand to beat it.

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That is, if Slifer doesn't kill the monster outright with that effect before the battle phase even rolls around. Anything with 2000 ATK or less that tries to hit the field in attack position gets blown away, so you won't have many threats. There are a few cards that Slifer won't bother shooting out; let it never be said that it isn't a benevolent god. If your opponent grovels in defense position, Slifer's willing to accept that as submission and let the Summon go. Just because. Talk about Graceful Charity. Unfortunately for your opponent, most boss monsters aren't worth having in defense forever, so there's a huge chance that they won't be Summoned at all. Even if your opponent did want them on the field, putting out material or Tributes for them's practically impossible.

There are some overlapping effects between Slifer and its more muscular cobalt counterpart Obelisk the Tormentor: both of their Normal Summons can't be negated, and anything that activates in the Summon response window can't be used. They both take three Tributes, and both blow up for no good reason at the end of the turn if you Special Summon them. Something that Slifer and Obelisk don't share, however, is one key bit of protection from card effects; Obelisk says it "cannot be targeted by Spells, Traps, or card effects." At first glance, Slifer might seem weaker for not having such an impressive immunity, but it's actually somewhat of a blessing in disguise. Where Obelisk falls to Mirror Force, Dark Hole and those types of global destruction effects, Slifer can be saved by Forbidden Lance, Safe Zone, March of the Monarchs and anything else you can think of to keep it out of your opponent's reach.

Book of Moon in particular is a big deal, since it can let you recalculate Slifer's ATK on being Flip Summoned later. Like Tragoedia, Slifer works rather peculiarly with outside ATK-modifying effects. As it would turn out, if Slifer has its ATK reduced from something temporary, it works pretty similarly to how you might imagine: the ATK goes down for a while, then bounces back to full. Unfortunately, if something more permanent tries to knock Slifer around, like Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind or Black Garden, its ATK stays reduced forever. You might be thinking "well, of course. It's a permanent reduction, so why wouldn't it last forever?" To clarify, if it has 2000 ATK and it gets halved by Gale, it stays 1000 ATK even if you draw more cards. Book of Moon gives you a way to reset its ATK if it gets cut, beyond blocking out things like Mirror Force and Dimensional Prison. However unlikely those ATK-reducing scenarios are, it's good information to keep in mind.

Some of the most impressive Xyz of the format, like Number 101: Silent Honor ARK and Evilswarm Exciton Knight, can't mess with Slifer; what Level 4 monsters are going to live through Slifer's effect to make them in the first place? Even if those monsters do manage to get onto the field, Exciton Knight has to deal with the fact that you lost a bunch of cards getting Slifer out in the first place, and Honor ARK can't take anything that was Normal Summoned. Evilswarm Ophion only stops Special Summoning of Level 5 or higher monsters, any Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack can't successfully Sumon tokens, while Gear Gigant X can't do anything unless you have zero cards in your hand.

Pulling A "Strings"
Thanks to Slifer's inherent resistances it's not hard to keep it on the field, but it can be a nightmare getting it there in the first place. A few years ago, a Frog deck might have been able to roll out three monsters without taking up a Normal Summon, but not anymore. Anyone who played during the Frog formats knows how ridiculous it sounds to say, but that engine's just too slow for serious competition with everything else that's flying around now.

The best bet for Summoning Slifer with the way the game's developing might be Raccoons. No other deck in the game has a card like Obedience Schooled that can put out three monsters and still retain your Normal Summon, effectively reducing the cost of Slifer's Summon to only one spell card. You'll take a -1, but it sure beats the -3 that you'd have to stagger through otherwise. Since Obedience Schooled's already a part of the Raccoon strategy in most cases, Slifer can sneak right in without any other changes to the deck. Between a lack of necessary prerequisites and a manageable cost, this is where you'll have the lowest considerable risk factor.

If you feel like building around Slifer in a more dedicated sense, Super-Nimble Mega Hamster can lead to a one-card Slifer, too. If it flips on your opponent's turn, you can Special Summon Baby Raccoon Tantan, then flip Tantan on your own turn to get Baby Raccoon Ponpoko. Next thing you know, the heavens twist and thunder roars, signaling the coming of this ancient creature, and the dawn of true power.

Other than the sheer terror that Slifer causes, the effect has some considerable synergy with the Raccoon strategy anyway, playing as a support monster for Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu. Sandayu's Kagemusha Raccoon Tokens can usually attack over threats pretty safely, but Sandayu itself has a hard time doing much besides attacking directly – Slifer ripping 2000 ATK off of everything can fix that problem. Paired with Sandayu's immunity to destruction, you can poke, trade and bait out attack-stopping traps, then switch to Slifer as a main damage source once your opponent uses up their defenses.

Disregarding the competitive scene entirely, you could attempt to build something more Slifer-dedicated using D-Boyz as a Tribute source. Frankly, isn't it about time that card saw play in something? It's an immediate three Darks in the graveyard for The Dark Creator, and alright deck thinning, plus you can skip out on the damage using One Day of Peace. After all, once Slifer's on the field, you can afford to wait the single turn to start doing damage. Slifer patrols the field like a rabid nightwatchman with a penchant for eating things alive, so monsters aren't going to be a big problem for you anyway.

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Soul Exchange is another card that you can use to soften the pricey three Tributes Slifer needs, taking a card away from your opponent in the process of Summoning it. More importantly than taking your opponent's monster, it's actually not so hard put out two monsters without Normal Summoning. The third one's tricky, but two's disgustingly not-outlandish, especially with Destiny Hero - Malicious around, Baby Raccoons Tantan and Ponpoko, Call Of The Haunted, and all of the other easy-access Special Summoning cards that are available.

There's probably something you could do with Black Garden involving Soul Exchange or Remove Brainwashing to generate three Tributes pretty hysterically, but that would likely be on the very utmost level of gimmick-based trolling. I don't even want to see the expression on the face of whoever that happens to. If someone does this to you and you think back on this article, I'm truly sorry.

Seeing Red Objectively
There's practically nothing more impactful on your opponent's psyche than trashing them with Slifer the Sky Dragon. The simple joy of using one of Yugi's most iconic monsters and the ridiculous style points for smashing a God onto the field are hard to ignore, without even thinking about all the in-game strengths of the card itself. Factor in the nearly-unfair ATK-reduction effect, the inherent bulk it gets from your hand size and the fact that the Normal Summon will always go through without exception, and Slifer becomes unbelievably satisfying.

If you can get past the actual process of putting it on the field, there are enough cards that can protect it that you can keep it around until you win. Safe Zone, March of the Monarchs, Forbidden Lance, Forbidden Dress, and plenty of others can make Slifer into a true monstrosity. Once Pendulum Summoning hits the TCG, Gadgets might be something to consider to get Slifer onto the field easier, but it's not like it's not possible right now. Overall, it would be a little surprising to see Slifer start ruling the game out of nowhere, but it would be even more surprising if a duelist with the right skill level couldn't obliterate a Regionals with Slifer's help, and it might as well be you.

-Beau