One of the benefits of playing a popular deck is that there are thousands of competitors testing out their ideas. If the deck's popular and competitive there's likely to be a variety of Top Cut lists from Regional Qualifiers and YCS events to look at, and you can modify your deck based off those results. But right now, there's no consensus right now about a "best build" for Pendulums. Cards like Performage Damage Juggler, Wisdom-Eye Magician, and Wavering Eyes are pretty standard across the board, but outside of those there's a ton of different one-ofs and tech choices that competitors are trying to try and get an edge.

Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin isn't the most powerful card in the Pendulum arsenal, but it's the heart of an incredibly interesting situation at the moment – people are really unsure about whether it's worth playing. On one hand some duelists are avoiding it entirely, in favor of the bigger Mist Valley Apex Avian. Still, I've seen Kirin played at one, two, and three copies in Regional Top 8 lists, and some are even running Majespecter Raccoon - Bunbuko to search it out. Clearly some players think Kirin's invaluable while others think it's not worthwhile.

Today I'd like to break everything down to see where Kirin excels, where it falters, and if there's a definite answer to the question: how many should you play?

Not Just For Majespecters
Ironically, Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin's pretty awful in an actual Majespecter deck. The Majespecters themselves are all Scale 2 and Scale 5, restricting your Pendulum Summons to Level 3's and 4's. Kirin sits at an awkward Level 6, so you'd either have to Tribute Summon it in dedicated Majespecters, or run Archfiend Eccentrick and hope to see it at the right time. As we've seen over the past couple weeks, pure Majespecter decks struggle in competitive environments, and I think it's safe to say throwing Tribute Summons into the mix isn't going to help.

But the new Dragonpit Magician is Scale 8, letting you Pendulum Summon a much wider variety of monsters. Kirin's effect is extremely powerful against slower decks, letting you return a Pendulum Monster from your field to your hand, to bounce an opponent's monster back to theirs. This is in addition to the generic protection from being targeted or destroyed by card effects that all Majespecters carry. On the surface, Kirin seems like a slightly watered down version of Apex Avian, with both monsters bouncing themselves to lock your opponent out of plays. But since Apex Avian can negate spells and traps, why would you play Kirin instead?

#####CARDID= 19105 #####

The answer isn't that simple, but one of the biggest reasons duelists have tried Kirin is that it's a Pendulum Scale 2. That means if your hand is subpar you can easily set up one half of your Pendulum Scale, whereas Apex Avian demands a complete Scale. I've seen Magician players get screwed with hands full of multiple Mist Valley Apex Avian only to have their Pendulum Scale broken by a Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer, and that sort of thing just doesn't happen with Kirin.

Being a Level 6 Spellcaster is also neat because you can overlay into Rank 6's with Oafdragon Magician. One of the best options is Norito the Moral Leader, a monster that's ridiculously helpful in the mirror match, or against any Pendulum strategy. Conventional Magician decks don't really have a great way of making use of a Pendulum Summoned Oafdragon, so in that regard playing Kirin gives you added versatility that wouldn't have been there otherwise.

Probably my favorite way to abuse Kirin, though, is bouncing things that aren't itself. While Mist Valley Apex Avian is restricted to returning Mist Valley cards, Kirin just needs to return a Pendulum Monster. The obvious benefit is the ability to recycle your Pendulum Monster effects, namely Performapal Skullcrobat Joker. As I'm sure you know, Joker gets you almost anything you could want when it's Normal Summoned, grabbing a Performapal, Odd-Eyes, or Magician card from your deck for free. That effect only works when it's Normal Summoned, so you can't search again and again just by Pendulum Summoning it from your Extra Deck. Bouncing it back with Kirin's a fantastic way to leverage a stream of free searches while slowing down your opponent. It's a really cool combo and it only gets better as more searchable cards are released.

Punishing Slow Strategies And Extra Decks
With Shaddoll Construct Forbidden and Nekroz of Unicore basically out of sight, duelists have been having a blast experimenting with all the crazy Extra Deck monsters they're now free to use without fear of punishment. Cards like Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer and Performage Trapeze Magician are so powerful they define metagames, creating both aggressive pushes and defense you can turtle up behind. Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin deals with both threats and defenders, bouncing them back to the Extra Deck immediately when they're summoned, or the turn after when your opponent's using them as walls.

Even staple Extra Deck monsters have a hard time dealing with Kirin. Stuff like Number 52: Diamond Crab King; Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer; and Diamond Dire Wolf all get blasted back to the Extra Deck. And Kirin's blanket protection from card effects makes it impossible to eliminate through normal means like Breakthrough Skill, Fiendish Chain, Raigeki, and Torrential Tribute.

Speaking of, slower decks have the most trouble with Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin. If your strategy's limited to one summon per turn and you hope to defend yourself with traps, Kirin's going to rip you apart. As I mentioned, most traps are ineffective against Kirin, and if you're only summoning once a turn then your monster's just going to get bumped to the hand in the End Phase over and over. It reminds me of Neo-Spacian Grand Mole back when it saw widespread play. The little mole's still Limited today for a reason!

#####CARDID= 8007 #####

So what are the downsides of Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin? The obvious answer is that it's tiny: 2000 ATK isn't exactly something to write home about, and it's trumped by Apex Avian's massive 2700 ATK. Drawing multiple copies, while not as bad as drawing more than one Apex Avian, isn't ideal either.

Like all the Majespecter monsters, Kirin doesn't have a Pendulum effect, so you're only using it as a Scale 2 if you're forced to activate it as a spell. In most scenarios you'd rather have Dragonvein Magician or Oafdragon Magician as your low Scale; Kirin's a Last Resort. You can only bounce one monster per turn no matter how many copies you control, too, so if you're facing down a huge board you'll need to find other solutions.

Regardless, I definitely think it's worth playing at least one copy of Kirin in your Magician deck, and possibly more if you're not playing Apex Avian. While you might get more powerful plays out of Apex Avian I see it as a high risk, high reward type of card. Kirin's a lot more middle-of-the-road and over the course of a long tournament I'm always looking for consistency. If you're playing Magicians, have you given Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin a try? How's it working out for you? Let me know in the comments!

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered semi-Yu-Gi-Oh! related content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, visiting Loukas Peterson in Wisconsin, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh.