Xyz Monsters have been the most widely-played Extra Deck cards since their debut. It's hard to beat their ease of use and utility, and their synergy with nearly every theme. While Synchros fell slowly out of favor, Xyz have only been getting better with time. Most of their play, however, is restricted to Rank 4's. Higher Ranks are much more difficult to Summon – often to the point where players won't even attempt to do so.

That's too bad, because there's a lot of great, Xyz monsters above Rank 4. Artifacts made Rank 5's available to everyone for a short time, but with Artifact Moralltach Limited it's harder to justify the engine. So what if there was a way to Xyz Summon Rank 5's without actually playing Level 5's? What if there was a card that operated like a Rank-Up Magic spell, yet didn't force you to sacrifice consistency? What if that card was released in Crossed Souls?

Enter Tellarknight Ptolemaeus. If there ever was a 'Swiss army knife' Xyz, this would be it. Ptolemaeus is an extremely versatile, well-designed and well-costed Rank 4 with dozens of potential uses. Its effect – with some help from the Japan-only Cyber Dragon Infinity – is defining OCG metagames even as you read this. There's no corner of the OCG that isn't affected by Ptolemaeus, and that's largely due to the ease with which Rank 4's can hit the field. Cards like Elder Entity Norden and Performage Tricklown (from Clash of Rebellions) create a constant stream of Xyz Summons at a cost of 1000 Life Points per monster.

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The OCG has a good reason to prioritize Rank 4's. Number 16: Shock Master has remained unrestricted in the OCG despite being Forbidden in the TCG since September 2013. Masked HERO strategies are particularly good at getting both Shock Master and Masked HERO Dark Law on the field at the same time. Cyber Dragon Infinity access doesn't hurt either. Clownblade – a deck that uses Performage Tricklown and Heroic Challenger Thousand Blades to produce free Rank 4 Xyz Summons – is still relatively new to the tournament scene, but it's making waves in Nekroz, Qliphorts, Satellarknights, and Atlantean-dominated metagames thanks to Shock Master, Abyss Dweller, and Infinity.

TCG metagames, however, don't have much in common with the OCG. Our vastly different Forbidden & Limited Lists have made Shaddolls almost non-existent outside of the TCG. Harpie's Feather Duster, Elder Entity Norden, and the Japan-exclusive Neptabyss the Atlantean Prince have single-handedly made several deck themes extremely competitive. Mermails aren't winning Championships here, Infernoids are rarely topping Regional Qualifiers, and Masked HEROs are only just starting to solidify themselves in the TCG. In the case of Tellarknight Ptolemaeus, Cyber Dragon Infinity is very likely a year off. Should we dismiss it until next-year's import set? Is it worth playing now? Let's discuss!

Rank-Up Magic - Now In Monster Form!
Tellarknight Ptolemaeus is another Rank 4 Xyz that can be Xyz Summoned with any number of Level 4 monsters. You can Summon it to the field with two, three, four, or five Materials if you'd like, though two of its effects require three and seven Materials respectively. Ptolemaeus' final effect lets you attach a 'Stellarknight' card from your Extra Deck to it as an Xyz Material during the End Phase. Included in the list of 'stuff you can attach' is Stellarknight Delteros, Stellarknight Triverr, Stellarknight Constellar Diamond, and Stellarknight Zefraxciton.

So, onto the first effect: once per turn, during either player's turn, you can detach three Xyz Materials to Rank-Up Ptolemaeus into a non-"Number" Rank 5 Xyz. This quick effect lets Ptolemaeus dodge cards that target it, or Rank-Up into a monster to respond to changes in the duel. When your opponent plays Raigeki just Rank-Up to Tiras, Keeper of Genesis. If they Xyz or Synchro Summon a monster? Rank-Up to Constellar Pleiades and bounce it back. Need to reset their hand? Artifact Durendal has got you covered. Ptolemaeus is incredibly reactive, and its long list of targets makes it an excellent monster to put on the field Turn 1. There are very few situations where Ptolemaeus can't Xyz Summon something useful.

Skipping your opponent's turn is extremely powerful, but there aren't many decks that can make it happen. Most players will probably never use Ptolemaeus' second effect, and that's fine: its other two are the real reason why it's so good. Speaking of which, let's talk about this card's third effect. Attaching a Stellarknight card from the Extra Deck is a big deal; when I first read this card I was put off by its Summoning requirements. Three Level 4 monsters is a tall order for many strategies, even if Satellarknights, Star Seraphs, and Chronomaly make it look easy. You could play it just to get Stellarknight Constellar Diamond on the field, but the rank-up effect is what I really wanted to play. Luckily that last line gives even the most basic Rank 4 strategies the ability to put non-"Number" Rank 5's on the field, and it's largely what makes this card so playable in the first place.

Once you've Summoned Ptolemaeus, entered your End Phase, and attached a Stellarknight Extra Deck monster to it as an Xyz material, you're set to use its Rank-Up effect. That means you'll only need two monsters to use the three-Material effect of Ptolemaeus, although you'll need to wait until the End Phase for your first shot at activating it. During the first turn this is almost entirely irrelevant – you probably won't want to use the effect on your turn anyways. There are situations where this play won't work, particularly when you're in dire need of an aggressive play. Still, the ability to put a Rank 5 on the field at the cost of two Level 4 monsters is stupidly cheap. Just ask yourself how many ways there are to make one-card Rank 4 Xyz Summons. You can probably come up with at least a dozen cards in less than thirty seconds.

With Tellarknight Ptolemaeus, another Stellarknight Xyz, and even just a handful of ways to put Rank 4's on the field, you'll Xyz Summon more monsters than ever before. Ptolemaeus is perhaps the best toolbox Xyz we've ever scene, but its utility and effectiveness depends on the monsters it can Summon. There are some great non-Number Rank 5's out there, and Ptolemaeus can also act as a stepping stone to Rank 6 and 7 monsters.

Rank 5 Toolbox
Unfortunately, Ptolemaeus misses out on some great monsters due to its 'no Numbers' restriction. Number C101: Silent Honor DARK and Number 61: Volcasaurus might have put Ptolemaeus on more player's radars, although for now I think its current line-up is more than enough to justify playing it. Let's start with some of the obvious picks, like Stellarknight Constellar Diamond. The majority of the hype surrounding Ptolemaeus, especially before Cyber Dragon Infinity made its appearance, was due to Diamond becoming accessible to everyone, even on Turn 1! Diamond's effects make it a powerful floodgate against Shaddolls and Burning Abyss, and you can even Xyz Summon it in response to a Shaddoll Fusion, preventing your opponent from sending Fusion Materials from their Main Deck.

Stellarknight Constellar Diamond is useful as a material for Ptolemaeus' second effect, so it has a use even when you're not matched up against a Dark theme. Two copies of Ptolemaeus, one Diamond, and a Stellarknight Delteros take up four slots in the Extra Deck, so you'll need to be picky about which other Rank 5s you end up playing. One of the standouts is Constellar Pleiades: arguably the first must-play Rank 5 to hit the TCG. Like Diamond it's normally restricted to Light materials, but Ptolemaeus doesn't mind.

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Pleiades can send Synchros, Xyz, and Fusions back to the Extra Deck during either player's turn, as well as bounce various other cards to the hand. Summoning it on your opponent's turn in response to an Extra Deck Summon lets you bounce monsters before they can use their effects. There are tons of strategies that can easily abuse Pleiades, but haven't been able to Summon until Ptolemaeus arrived. It'll be interesting to see how quickly players catch on to that, and find new ways to exploit it.

Keeping with the theme of Rank 5's that activate during your opponent's turn, Artifact Durendal represents another great target for Ptolemaeus with its two disruptive effects. Its first effect resets both player's hands; it's awesome for shuffling Star Seraph Sovereignty, Nekroz monsters, or freshly-searched combo pieces back into the deck. Chaining it to Nekroz Mirror or Nekroz Kaledioscope will sometimes leave your opponent without a monster to Ritual Summon. In a pinch you can use it to dodge Mind Crush, return cards back to your own deck, or fix a dead hand.

Durendal's second effect changes the effects of monsters, spell, and traps so that they destroy backrow rather than resolve their usual effect. You'll need to have backrow to destroy, but the trade off is the ability to negate just about anything that comes your way. Durendal is seriously underrated, even if it doesn't stack up well against Cyber Dragon Infinity.

So what if Tellarknight Ptolemaeus is about to bite the dust? Ranking up to Tiras, Keeper of Genesis will let you keep your monster against Dark Hole, Torrential Tribute, or Raigeki. Once you have Tiras on the field you can start making attacks and destroying cards while remaining relatively safe with a monster that can't be destroyed by card effects. It's an excellent pick against Satellarknighs and Volcanics for this reason.

You can use Tellarknight Ptolemaeus proactively if you have enough materials handy. Wind-Up Arsenal Zenmaioh blasts backrow and set monsters, but it's a bit risky to make a Ptolemaeus play while your opponent's sitting on so many cards. Zenmaioh's best played at the end of your opponent's first turn, assuming you get Ptolemaeus on the field during yours. Then, at the start of your Main Phase, you can ruin their defense and resume your usual strategy without the interference of your opponent's traps.

Shark Fortress turns itself, or another high-ATK monster, into a double-attacking nightmare. It can dish out 4800 damage by itself, and its first effect blocks attacks against your other monsters. In terms of pure ATK values, Digvorzhak, King of Heavy Industry is the biggest monster Ptolemaeus can Summon. With 3200 ATK and the ability to destroy up to three cards on the field, Digvorzhak is well worth Summoning...if you have it. Right now it's exclusively available as an out of print prize card, but it did see play at a Garden City regional earlier this month. Inzektor Exa-Stag can also deal major damage with the right card equipped to it, and its non-destruction effect lets it circumvent some destruction-resistant effect. You can also grab cards out of your opponent's graveyard to keep them out of reach.

As I mentioned earlier, some Rank 6 and 7 Xyz monsters can also be Summoned by using a Rank 5. Constellar Ptolemy M7 and Gaia Dragon the Thunder Charger can be overlaid on Stellarknight Constellar Diamond, Constellar Pleiades, or in Gaia Dragon's case: nearly every Rank 5 Xyz in the game. Although you can't use M7 during the turn it's Summoned with its effect, you can use it to make the most of a dead Pleiades and potentially recover a card during your next turn. Gaia Dragon ends games against low-DEF monsters, and creates major opportunities when played with Book of Moon. It's a tough fit, but including these monsters in your Extra Deck will increase the long-term value of your Rank 5's.

Ptolemaeus In The Future
If you somehow missed it: Cyber Dragon Nova happens to work with Tellarknight Ptolemaeus. Nova isn't terribly useful outside of dedicated Cyber Dragon strategies, but it's widely played in the OCG because Cyber Dragon Infinity can be Xyz Summoned over it. Infinity's insane, packing a C101-like effect in addition to card effect negation. It can eat up monsters, use them to negate more cards, and stick around on the field for ages. With Ptolemaeus it's too easy to put it on the field, and I have a feeling we'll see one of these cards end up on the Forbidden & Limited List somewhere down the road.

Tellarknight Ptolemaeus easily fits into Star Seraphs and Satellarknights, but it's by no means exclusive to decks with those cards. Any strategy with enough Level 4 monsters can use Ptolemaeus for Rank 5's, and in many cases only a couple of materials are needed. OCG Nekroz builds played Heroic Challenger - Halberd for a time, so it's definitely possible to tweak builds just to support Ptolemaeus. The TCG's just starting to catch on to how strong this card is, and I think it'll end up seeing major play over the next two months.

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.