Welcome to Spotlight! Each week we'll be checking out individual cards from current, past, and occasionally future releases. Crossed Souls has delivered a hundred new cards to the TCG, so there's a lot to talk about. Let's get started by checking out the cover card for Crossed Souls, and discussing why it's relevant to today's Xyz, Fusion, and Ritual-heavy format.

Today's subject is Clear Wing Synchro Dragon. It's one of the latest generic Synchro Monsters, the other being Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing. Clear Wing has much more utility than Chaofeng, whose applications are largely limited to Yang Zing and other Wyrm-heavy strategies. Clear Wing's playable just about everywhere, and it's a perfect fit for Synchro strategies – including Yang Zing.

The game hasn't been friendly to Synchros for a long time, and there are valid reasons why they're so unpopular these days. Clear Wing won't reverse this trend by itself, but it's not the only new card in Crossed Souls that's pushing Synchros. Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing, and Oracle of Zefra are also helping the Synchro revival.

Let's Make Two Things Clear
Both of Clear Wing Synchro Dragon's effects involve Level 5 and higher monsters. Its first effect counters high Level monsters by negating and destroying them when they activate their own effects. Cards like El Shaddoll Construct, Scrap Dragon, Qliphort Disk, Nekroz of Trishula, and Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss can be negated and destroyed by Clear Wing. This effect covers a huge number of cards: Tribute Summoned monsters, most Synchros, Fusions, Rituals, and plenty of high Level, Special Summoned Main Deck monsters like Judgment Dragon and Dark Armed Dragon are vulnerable to Clear Wing.

Of course, that's only if the monster in question activates its effects. For the most part this first effect acts as a deterrent rather than a means of destroying monsters. Your opponent won't Summon Nekroz of Trishula if they can't put a Nekroz of Unicore on the field first. That said, Clear Wing Synchro Dragon isn't restricted to defensive plays. When Clear Wing battles with El Shaddoll Construct, or when U.A. Mighty Slugger or Naturia Beast try to negate one of your cards, Clear Wing's effect will negate and destroy those cards. It's a major threat to other negation bodies like Stardust Dragon or Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En. The ideal play is to Synchro Summon Clear Wing ahead of activating a card which would have been negated by one of these monsters. You'll get to destroy your opponent's monster and your card effect will resolve successfully.

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Unfortunately Clear Wing Synchro Dragon's first effect can't negate monsters that activate off the field. Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness, El Shaddoll graveyard effects, and Nekroz hand effects dodge Clear Wing's destruction entirely. Level 4 and lower monsters are obviously unaffected as well. D.D. Warrior Lady, Bull Blader, and other monsters commonly played as outs to the Djinn lock. The most relevant gap in Clear Wing's coverage includes every Xyz Monster in the game. It's effect only considers Levels, making it useless against cards with only Ranks.

Clear Wing Synchro Dragon's second effect helps fill the gaps in its first by negating monsters that target Level 5 or higher monsters. There are far fewer restrictions here: the Level 5 monster needs to be on the field, but the card you're negating doesn't. Effect Veiler, Farfa, and Peropero Cerperus are fair game as long as they're targeting a high-Level monster. The Level restriction for the activated card is also gone, which means Clear Wing can negate both low-Level monsters and Xyz. There's one restriction here: the targeting effect must exclusively target the Level 5 or higher monster. Scrap Dragon, Diamond Dire Wolf, and Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing target two cards simultaneously, so Clear Wing's second effect can't negate them. Both Scrap Dragon and Yazi are covered by Clear Wing's first effect, but Diamond Dire Wolf slips under both.

The anti-targeting effect has more uses beyond keeping Clear Wing safe from Number 101: Silent Honor ARK; Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer; Lightning Chidori; Stellarknight Delteros; and hundreds of other monsters with targeting effects. You can also use Clear Wing to negate monsters that target other Level 5 or higher monsters you control, or even ones your opponent controls.

For example, when Diagusto Phoenix uses its effect to target a Wind monster your opponent controls you can activate Clear Wing's effect to negate it. When Stardust Spark Dragon targets itself? Negate it. When Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand targets another of your opponent's high-Level monsters? Negate it. There aren't too many examples of Level 5 or higher monsters targeting themselves, but that could change in the future.

Another glaring blind spot in Clear Wing Synchro Dragon's coverage are non-targeting or multi-targeting effects attached to low-Level or Xyz monsters. Stellarknight Triverr, Madolche Queen Tiaramisu, and Orea, the Sylvan High Arbiter have no problem taking Clear Wing off the field. Your opponent could also simply attack it with a Rank 4 like Gagaga Cowboy. Being destroyed by battle, particularly by high-Level monsters whose effects can be activated after Clear Wing is destroyed, are definitely something to watch out for. Supporting it with Fiendish Chain lets you Block Attacks and negate monster effects that Clear Wing can't touch.

Clear Wing Synchro Dragon has one final effect: if it destroys a monster with either its first or second effect, it gains that monster's original ATK until the end of the turn. It's very easy to get it above 4000 ATK on the turn it's Summoned, but more importantly the ATK boost makes baiting its effect a little more difficult. A battle-resistent negation body is tough to take off the field without removal in Spell and Trap form. Raigeki, Dark Hole, Torrential Tribute, and Book of Moon get the job done, but many of these cards aren't searchable. Clear Wing is surprisingly robust, even if its uses are limited in certain match-ups.

Synchro Summon
So how do you go about putting Clear Wing Synchro Dragon on the field in the first place? It's Level 7, generic, Wind, and a Dragon, which means you've got plenty of options to Summon it using one card with the proper graveyard setup.

For starters, there's the currently-Limited Debris Dragon. Clear Wing is easily one of the best Synchro options for this Dragon-exclusive Tuner, and nearly all of its go-to targets match the Level 7 requirements needed here. Lonefire Blossom and Dandylion have been best friends with Debris since 2009, back when Lonefire was Semi-Limited and Debris was unrestricted. Synchro Summoning Black Rose Dragon to blow up the field used to be Debris' best play, but these days field wiping is better accomplished with Evilswarm Excition Knight.

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Debris Dragon hasn't been played much in the last few years outside of Dragon Rulers. That might be changing: Clear Wing Synchro Dragon and Black Rose Moonlight Dragon are both seriously good Level 7 Dragon Synchros. Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier might still be Forbidden, but Debris Dragon's better than it's ever been. It's only being held by back its Limit, and otherwise I expect we'd be seeing much more of it.

If you're looking for more reliable ways to Level 7 Synchro Summons you'll want to play searchable cards. Emergency Teleport grabs not one, but two monsters which can help you put Clear Wing Synchro Dragon on the field: Pilica, Descendant of Gusto and Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit. Pilica's effect recovers any Wind Tuner from the graveyard, including Debris Dragon. With a Level 4 Wind Tuner loaded in the grave, Emergency Teleport's effectively a 1-card Clear Wing that doesn't use your Normal Summon. You're restricted to Wind Special Summons for the rest of the turn, but that's not a problem since Clear Wing is a Wind itself.

Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit won't give you 1-card Synchros, though it will turn Level 4 monsters into Clear Wing Synchro Dragon, Black Rose Dragon, or Black Rose Moonlight Dragon. Its utility as a hand trap is welcome, giving you the ability to destroy your opponent's cards before making a push with Synchro plays. Snow Rabbit happens to be an out to opposing Clear Wings, Moonlight Dragons, and various other cards. Playing it alongside Pilica, or with Re-Cover in Earth themes gives Emergency Teleport multiple targets to fit the situation. Teleport is outstanding even outside Ritual Beasts thanks to its new targets and the latest Extra Deck monsters.

You know what's better than Clear Wing Synchro Dragon? A trap, spell, battle-immune, or 3000 ATK version of the same card! Yang Zing can forgo Synchro Summoning Yazi to put Clear Wing on the board with added effects. As a Synchro theme Yang Zing are one of the most obvious places where Clear Wing will be played, and it's certainly at its best there. However, Shaddolls may have the most practical reasons for Summoning it. Shaddoll Falco and Shaddoll Beast make Level 7 Synchros incredibly easy to Summon. Players have been running Arcanite Magician, Yazi, and Black Rose Moonlight Dragon in their Extra Decks as Level 7 options. Clear Wing is a new monster for Shaddolls to play with that offers defensive effects against strategies where Moonlight Dragon isn't as effective. In the mirror match Moonlight Dragon's still ideal, but outside of that there are plenty of match-ups where Clear Wing shines.

The biggest hurdle for Synchros is the necessity to run sub-par cards to Summon them. Tuners are tough to use and have limited synergy with many current themes. As much as I like Synchros it's impossible to ignore how outclassed they are by every other Extra Deck monster type. Until more powerful Synchros, themes, or Tuners appear, I don't think cards like Clear Wing Synchro Dragon will see a lot of play outside of maybe a couple of strategies that just happen to play Tuners. That's unfortunate, because Clear Wing is an awesome card.

We'll have to wait and see if this trend reverses itself, but in the meantime Clear Wing should give Synchro strategies a boost. Any Extra Deck card that can negate and destroy Nekroz of Trishula is invaluable right now; Clear Wing does that and much, much more.

Until next time then

-Kelly