There's still plenty of discussion going on right now about the changes in our latest Forbidden & Limited List, but the most attention-grabbing details for me were the things that didn't change. I'm not just talking about Dragon Ravine either – you might have noticed that Instant Fusion remains Unlimited here in the TCG, despite its growing presence on the competitive scene. Elder Entity Norden's solely responsible for making Instant Fusion a new powerhouse, and Norden itself is now Forbidden in the OCG as a result. Instant Fusion was Limited at the start of this year to answer the very same degeneracy the TCG is likely to experience, and returned to Unlimited in October only after they removed Norden from the Advanced format entirely.

This week we're spotlighting one of the most important cards on the tournament scene: Elder Entity Norden. Relatively straightforward card with an easily understood effect, its uses are much more varied than just pumping out one-card Rank 4 Xyz. It's great for that too of course, but let's take a look at some of the places where Norden's being played, and why you should give it a shot outside of Xyz strategies.

Free Monster Reborns!
Elder Entity Norden's effect triggers immediately after it hits the field, Special Summoning a Level 4 or lower monster from your graveyard as a reward for Summoning Norden itself. That reward might not be worth it considering Norden's strange Fusion Summoning requirements, which list any combination of a Synchro and Xyz Monster. It's hardly impossible, but not very realistic either. There aren't many instances where you'll want to turn your Extra Deck cards into two Level 4 monsters, especially considering what it took to get those cards on the field in the first place.

Actually Fusion Summoning Norden's out of the question, but luckily that isn't necessary. Much like Herald of the Arc Light, you can still access Norden's effect without using the proper Summoning mechanic per its card type. You can simply activate Instant Fusion and Special Summon it from your Extra Deck, circumventing its card design altogether. Then again, we were probably never supposed to Summon it without Instant Fusion. The card investment would be too high to justify playing it with Polymerization.

#####CARDID= 9249 #####

Special Summoning monsters from the graveyard is hardly something to get excited about. There are dozens of cards that can do that, like Soul Charge or Call Of The Haunted, neither of which negate the effects of the monsters they Special Summon. Still, Instant Fusion has a lower cost than Soul Charge, and it's much faster than Call Of The Haunted. You're usually playing Norden for different reasons than Soul Charge, namely to make cheap Xyz or Synchro Summons

rather than trigger additional on-Summon effects. Soul Charge, conversely, is a position-builder, turning even poor hands into nearly-unbreakable Turn 1 set-ups.

What both cards have in common is their ability to Salvage monsters in an effort to keep up your momentum. Lost a Tuner, material, or Pendulum monster? Norden can get it back to the field. It's an awesome backup plan when your opponent attempts to interrupt a play. I've used it many times to continue on after a monster was negated by Effect Veiler or Breakthrough Skill. For example, if Dragunity Dux, Ritual Beast Tamer Lara, or Traptrix Dionaea are negated, Norden can Special Summon the monster they were targeting. It's even better in decks where you're playing Pendulums. Losing your Pendulums to Summon negation from Solemn Warning or Grand Horn of Heaven leaves them in the graveyard and often out of reach. Norden puts those monsters back into play, although it's still not something you'd want to run in a pure Pendulum build.

Instant Fusion and Norden offer two tributes for some of the best high-Level Effect Monsters in the game, like Light and Darkness Dragon and the Mega Monarchs. It also opens up the possibility of playing alternatives to popular Side Deck cards, such as Spell Canceller and Vanity's Fiend. Mechanical Hound is a one-sided Spell Canceller while you don't have any cards in your hand, and Vanity's Ruler is similarly a one-sided Vanity's Fiend. Two-tribute monsters are much more playable these days thanks to Norden and Pendulum Summoning, so we might see more heavy-hitters showing up later into this format – including some cards that have been absent from the competitive scene for years.

Synchro strategies are having a blast with Norden. The newly-released Assault Blackwing - Raikiri the Rain Shower adds much needed card removal to the Blackwing theme. Luckily Raikiri is just an Instant Fusion away while Blackwing - Pinaki the Waxing Moon is in your graveyard. Using Pinaki for a Synchro Summon will trigger its deck-searching effect during the End Phase, so each copy of Instant Fusion in a Blackwing deck can ultimately net a +1. It's a no-brainer here. Karakuri variants of Geargias, Yang Zings, Synchrons, Infernoids, and and other Synchro themes are also using Norden for either one-card Synchro Summons or simply as a component of larger Synchro plays.

Norden's Time To Shine
Elder Entity Norden hasn't seen a ridiculous amount of play since its release. It's still absolutely present, popping up in numerous Regional and YCS Top Cut decks. But considering the hype leading up to the Mega Tins, you'd think Instant Fusion and Norden would be ubiquitous, and that hasn't been the case. It's a curious trend in player behavior, but one that's explained by looking at the OCG competitive environment during their previous format.

Performage and Pals has remained the dominant deck in the OCG for months now, even before Breakers of Shadow was released there. Norden helped fuel the insane Rank 4 strategy by recurring Performages for Synchro and Xyz Summons. Nearly every monster in the deck is Level 4 in an effort to squeeze as many cards as possible into the 3-5 Pendulum Scale used by Performages. Norden's perfectly at home in this strategy, and it's even more suitable than it might look at first glance since it fetches fallen Pendulum Monsters and brings them back into play.

#####CARDID= 18724 #####

Compare that to the TCG and the differences are obvious: our last format had Nekroz, Qliphorts, and Burning Abyss – three decks where Instant Fusion and Norden were hard or impossible to justify. Dedicated Pendulum themes don't have any use for Norden's effect because they're rarely putting cards in the graveyard to begin with. Burning Abyss doesn't have any use for it, and Nekroz only receive a marginal benefit from it unless they're playing – you guessed it – Performages.

As a Performage-dominated landscape looms for the TCG, Elder Entity Norden's rising to meet the ubiquitous status it was expected to meet. There's almost no reason not to play multiple Instant Fusion, except maybe for some Life Point concerns. Performage Trick Clown and Instant Fusion can chip off quite a few Life Points, leaving you vulnerable to the huge damage output of Kozmos. The benefits greatly outweigh the costs in this case, since your own damage output and Summoning power are tied to Instant Fusion. If you're playing Performages next format, or even early next year, expect Instant Fusion to take up a minimum of two spots in your Main Deck.

Extra Deck space isn't free, so what's the right ratio of Instant Fusions and Nordens? A good starting point is to assume you won't see at least one of your Instant Fusions per duel, no matter how many you run. Obviously if you're only playing a single Instant Fusion you're only going to play a single Norden. With two Instants one Norden will again suffice, especially if you're running Daigusto Emeral. Three Instant Fusions demands at least two Fusions in the Extra Deck, although that doesn't necessarily mean two Nordens.

Norden's a game-changer, and probably more powerful than it deserves to be. I don't know how long Instant Fusion will remain Unlimited, or if Norden will end up Forbidden before then, but in the meantime it's an amazing card that's worth playing just about everywhere. Like Soul Charge, Norden helps dozens of older strategies remain competitive this format. Decks that could only just squeak by before have a better chance of winning against dedicated Pendulum themes, thanks mostly to Norden's utility. There's no better time than the beginning of a format to look back at older strategies, work Instant Fusion into them, and see what happens. It's not

going to drag decks out of the abyss, but it might just push a fringe strategy from local-level competition to Regional-level.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student with too much free time on his hands. Besides playing Yugioh, Kelly posts Let's Play videos of Minecraft on his Youtube channel and plays a possibly unhealthy amount of Destiny. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.