There's been a lot of buzz in the Yu-Gi-Oh! community over the last week or so, and it seems like pretty soon the face of the game is going to change in such a way that it won't ever be the same. The Dragons of Legend booster set coming out next Friday's reminiscent of Invasion of Chaos, Cybernetic Revolution and Phantom Darkness in terms of power creep. Over the course of a few formats, the average power level of cards goes up a little, like when the 1900 ATK Gemini Elf replaced 1800 ATK Normal Monsters.
That's not a new or shocking concept for anyone that's been in the game for a while, or has previous TCG experience. The cards those boosters brought out defied the rules of traditional power-creep and jumped into the territory of a true power-spike, unleashing Dark Magician of Chaos, Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, Cyber Dragon and Dark Armed Dragon.
DRLG has cards that rival that kind of tremendous power-spike, so you can expect me to discuss several of them soon While I'm charging up for that, this week I wanted to take some time out to talk about a card that I initially overlooked, and I feel like a lot of other people missed too. It's easy to get into a mindset where you breeze over new archetypes as inferior, especially when they come out during a time like we've been having where Dragon Rulers, Fire Fists, Mermails and Geargia haven't let up on the competitive circuit.
Those four decks have been the most commanding forces in competitive play since Mermails started flooding tournament tops in early 2013. Having had those strategies setting the general baseline for anything released, Ghostrick Alucard managed to slip under my radar almost completely.
A Hard Look At Alucard
When I first read the Ghostrick cards, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of being underwhelmed. Dragon Rulers, Fire Fists, Mermails and plenty of cards in the Extra Deck have the destructive force to rip through a field of set monsters no matter how gimmicky they are once they flip, so the entire theme looked and felt unreliable. Between Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos; Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear; Atlantean Marksman; Black Rose Dragon; Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack and a handful of others, what use are face-down monsters?
Being under that impression, I made the Mistake of lumping Ghostrick Alucard in with the rest of the Ghostricks, on the assumption that it was a theme-stamped Xyz. I thought you needed to overlay Ghostricks to make it. A while later, I noticed Alucard popping up in Extra Decks where the associated Main Deck had no Ghostricks, so I read it again to straighten myself out and see what was going on. Turns out it's a generic Rank 3 with built in destruction for set backrow. That's pretty good, considering it's easy to make and has not-awful ATK.
1800 ATK's pretty middling right now with the format the way it is, but Alucard can run over Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Gorilla or Bear with a single Fire Formation on the field. Several Geargia monsters fall to it in battle as well should they be left on the field, and there's always the rogue element to consider. Decks packing monsters with 1700 ATK or less are all over the place, even if they're not necessarily picking up YCS tops, so it's pretty realistic to expect that Alucard's going to kill something in battle from time to time. That means you could hypothetically snag two free cards from your opponent with Alucard in a single turn.
But then I get hit with the M. Night Shyamalan twist: Alucard doesn't blow up backrow, it blows up any set card. That means it can brush aside Geargiarmor without flipping it up, as well as put in work against rogue decks like Gravekeepers. Even in the Ghostrick match-up, Alucard absolutely massacres its own archetype. If Lightsworn get popular soon, which they very plausibly might with upcoming releases, you could safely Disarm Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter. There are a few other less popular monsters that get thrown face-down too, but Geargiarmor's more than enough justification by itself to put Alucard into your Extra Deck.
For a lot of strategies, Geargia just have too much efficiency in the resource game. Even when they're losing monsters they're gaining more, and those monsters recruit more monsters. Then there's Geargiagear to throw around 1-card Gear Gigant X plays. It's completely insane, but it all starts with Geargiarmor searching cards to make those plays in the first place, and Alucard's a strong way to dismantle that opening.
The versatility of Alucard against Geargia is stunning for how incredibly simple it is. You could be staring down your opponent's three backrow and a set monster, and Alucard would have a field day. If you have a Mystical Space Typhoon ready, you can fire away at the Geargiarmor without fear of Fiendish Chain; if you have Effect Veiler, you can start picking apart their backrow and ignore their Geargiarmor until later. While MST and Veiler are important, even without them you have the option to start shooting at cards and try to keep Alucard alive with your own traps. You have to play the situation differently based on the rest of your hand, but Alucard might as well get its named errata'd to "Ghostrick Lots of Options."
On The Haunt
It's not like Alucard's hard to put onto the field. Most popularly in tournament play right now, Geargia are using it as a trump-card in the mirror match since they have Geargiano Mk-II to make it with one card. With so much search power from Geargiagear and Geargiarmor, it's not like Geargiano Mk-II's ever too far off, and putting a swift end to your opponent in a mirror like that one where resources are so important is clutch. Having the luxury to Geargiagear your way into a Gear Gigant X and then Normal Summon MK-II to make a 1-card Alucard isn't even comparable to anything. Putting that kind of hard-stop on your opponent while you're committing hardly anything and refunding yourself for your trouble is the kind of nightmare that most duelists cross their fingers and hope to avoid.
Mermails can do the same thing, but almost more effectively. Since they have Atlantean Marksman to shoot out backrow, Alucard's free to come in and wipe away monsters without concern for Bottomless Trap Hole, Torrential Tribute or Fiendish Chain. It's an interesting point to make that the order in which you use Alucard and Marksman is important. Alucard needs to sit on the field safely for a brief second before it can fire off any destruction, compared to Atlantean Marksman which pops cards from the graveyard. Since Marksman doesn't care about virtually any backrow, shooting them first with Marksman and then using Alucard against whatever's left is a way safer play that can leave you in a much more favorable position.
Even Fire Fists have a 1-card Alucard with Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Spirit. Whether you're using Bujin that Side Deck into a full Fire Fist strategy like Hooman Farahbakhsh's YCS Las Vegas Top 16 deck or you're going with a true Fire Fist build, Spirit's searchable with Fire Formation - Tenki and lets you make Alucard with Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Rooster. I'm no Stephen Hawking, but using Tenki to search for Spirit, Spirit to Special Summon Rooster, both of Rooster's effects, and Alucard to blow up a Set card is somewhere between +1 and +Win.
Chain Beat can use Wind-Up Rabbits to push Alucard onto the field, and then there's Tour Guide From the Underworld. There are so many rogue strategies that are viable on a local and Regional level that it would be impossible to go over every deck that Alucard can settle into in one article, especially considering how many different variations of each strategy there are, and the splashability of Tour Guide. Rank 3's are pretty easy to make across the board, and Alucard can go literally anywhere that's a possibility.
Anything But Dead
I don't think I'm alone in having fallen into that habit of shrugging off new cards that aren't as obviously powerful as whatever's the most dominant at the time, and I know for sure I'm not the only one who's misread a card. As a generic Xyz with a solid effect, Alucard's too good for people to not know about on all levels of play, and as an excellent tool against Geargia, it really should be omnipresent in competition today. Not only do you benefit from playing it, but you actively benefit everyone else in the sense that Geargia get somewhat weaker the more people are using cards that happen to slaughter them.
It's hard to say if Geargia and the other top decks right now are going to stay on top once we've gotten DRLG, Primal Origin and the new Pendulum Summon mechanic, but it's a certainty that blowing up cards for free is going to be good forever, and people probably won't stop setting cards any time soon. Expect Ghostrick Alucard to be strong as long as those two factors are part of the game, and definitely try to find room for it in your Extra Deck.