>Welcome to Tech Support! Metagame shifts tend to follow large overarching trends, but a lot of these trends start as interesting tech card choices by successful players – cards that innovative competitors decide to play in their decks, even if they don't fit with the current status quo. In this column, I'm here to help keep you on top of what's happening in terms of tech cards, or even to try and get a head start with some insight on the future! Each week we'll take an in-depth look at either a strong tech card that's seeing play in the competitive scene; an upcoming tech card that I predict could see play in the near future; or an otherwise interesting card that I believe merits play, even if I'm not completely sure what it would work in yet.

Ever since the Forbidden & Limited lists in the OCG and TCG first became separated, many people have started to disregard trends in the OCG when looking forward for competitive play in the TCG. Claims that the game in each these territories is completely different are not untrue, but the OCG still gets access to nearly all of the card pool before the TCG. Because of this, it's still easy to look at the OCG to get a good idea of what could be the next big thing. Today we'll take a page out of that book and look at a surprisingly flexible piece of tech that has taken the OCG metagame by storm: Tackle Crusader.

What The Heck's A Tackle Crusader?
Now, I'm willing to bet that a good number of you are asking this question . You likely have no idea what Tackle Crusader is, what it does, and what its applications are. And I don't blame you. Tackle Crusader was released almost exactly one year ago in Legacy of the Valiant, a set that was filled with Extra Deck greats like Evilswarm Exciton Knight and Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, but relatively lacking in powerhouse commons. With no theme stamped on it, awkward Rock typing, mediocre stats, and an effect that seems lackluster on the surface, Tackle Crusader's not exactly the type of card that would jump out at most players as "good." But it does have a few properties that make it shine.

If you read over Tackle Crusader, there are two things that should immediately stand out. First is that there are bullet points. Whenever you see bullet points on a card, it usually means there are multiple effects to choose from. Even if each option isn't very powerful on its own, simply having several options automatically gives additional value. Secondly, the first line on the card states "If this card is sent to the graveyard:" as its activation timing.

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If you haven't been living under a rock for the past five months, you probably know how powerful Burning Abyss monsters are. The bulk of that power comes from having effects that trigger no matter how they are sent to the graveyard, making them incredibly easy to trigger. Dandylion before them was even Limited to a single copy per deck for its ability to trigger so easily. While both options for Tackle Crusader seem low-impact, the flexibility of the two effects side-by-side paired with the ease of triggering make Tackle Crusader a surprisingly powerful card.

Tackling Problem Monsters
Tackle Crusader's first effect is to flip an opponent's face-up monster face-down. That's going to be its primary use in most matchups. Looking at the big decks of the format, it's pretty easy to see applications for that effect. Against Shaddolls, you can flip down El Shaddoll Winda and Denko Sekka right off the bat. That can free up the remainder of your Summons or free your backrow, while putting both monsters into a vulnerable position that you can easily run over. You can even flip down boss monsters like Dark Armed Dragon if you have nothing that can get over them normally.

Nearly everyone's greatest fear when playing against Burning Abyss is getting blown out by Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss. However, the Burning Abyss player's often forced to flip Fire Lake immediately when faced with an effect like Tackle Crusader's, since not only does Fire Lake require the monsters it sends to be face-up, but all of the Malebranches are destroyed when sitting alongside face-down monsters! That means triggering Tackle Crusader frees up the entirety of your remaining turn to play as normal, without having to worry about Fire Lake.

Tackle Crusader's flipping effect even has uses against Qliphorts, flipping down any Level 4 Qliphort with a Saqlifice equipped to it, destroying it and potentially opening up OTK possibilities. All of the Big Three decks can play Vanity's Fiend, as well. The powerful floodgate monster is often difficult to take down without the help of a spell like Raigeki or Snatch Steal, and Tackle Crusader turns off its effect, letting you Summon a monster that can clear it in battle.

However, Tackle Crusader's biggest strength isn't even notable in today's game, though it will be soon. Tackle Crusader's one of the easiest ways to deal with Ritual Monsters Summoned by Tributing Djinn Releaser of Rituals. Ritual strategies haven't been a truly competitive threat since the days of Demise OTK (which revolved around Advanced Ritual Art and Demise, King of Armageddon). Decks like Herald of Perfection, Gishki loops and OTK's, and even Saffira Chaos have seen fringe success over the years, but Rituals have always been on the outside looking in. That's almost certainly going to change with Secrets of Eternity. Burning Abyss now have their own Ritual Monster in Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss, and the Ritual-focused Nekroz deck is on the horizon too, redefining Ritual Summons as we know them.

The card that makes these Ritual Monsters truly scary is Djinn Releaser of Rituals. Capable of being banished from the graveyard as part of a Ritual's Tribute, and conveniently a Level 3 Fiend for Tour Guide and the whole Burning Abyss crew, Djinn Releaser shuts out all Special Summoning for your opponent. Unlike other Summon-stopping cards like Vanity's Emptiness, Vanity's Fiend, and El Shaddoll Winda, the floodgate is completely one-sided; if your opponent drops a Djinn-Released Ritual on you, there's no stalling to trap them under their own effect while you dig for an answer.

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On top of that, the way the Djinn works doesn't even affect the monster. It's not an ability that you can negate with the likes of Effect Veiler, Breakthrough Skill, or Skill Drain, and even taking control of your opponent's Ritual with a card like Enemy Controller or Snatch Steal won't free you from the shackles of the Djinn: it affects the opponent of whoever performed the Ritual Summon. As long as that Ritual Summoned monster is on the field, you're in a really tough position.

Luckily, Tackle Crusader's here to save the day! Flipping a monster face-down causes the game to "forget" precisely how that monster was Summoned. The Ritual Summoned monster is still considered to be Special Summoned, and even considered to have been Summoned properly, but the details of the Ritual Summon are lost the instant the monster's flipped, freeing you from the lock of the Djinn. Outside of hard removal, there are few ways to clear the threat of a Djinn-Summoned Ritual Monser, so the ease of Tackle Crusader's effect is a huge asset. It's likely the reason Tackle Crusader sees so much play in the OCG today.

Rebounding Backrow
Tackle Crusader's second effect won't be used nearly as much as the first, but it does have some utility. Your other option is to return a face-up spell or trap your opponent controls to their hand. It also prevents your opponent from activating copies of that card for the rest of the turn. Similar to the flipping effect, one of the primary uses for this ability is to disable floodgate cards. While it obviously won't do anything against Dimensional Fissure and its trap counterparts, trap cards like Skill Drain and Vanity's Emptiness are easily bounced back to the hand, freeing up your turn for further plays down the line. In Games 2 and 3, this effect can also Rebound away problematic Side Deck cards like Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror and Royal Command.

Qliphorts present some of the coolest applications for this effect. In addition to clearing floodgates like Skill Drain and Emptiness, Tackle Crusader can bump Saqlifice to the hand to help clear a monster without enabling the search that flipping the monster face-down would allow. While it does let your opponent hold onto the powerful Equip Spell, that extra turn they need to use it can make a huge difference.

When paired with a way to send it to the graveyard on the opponent's turn, you can even bounce away your opponent's Pendulum Scales, and keep them from re-activating those cards that turn. That's especially powerful against Qliphort Scout. While directly answering the Scout with a Mystical Space Typhoon or other removal card can get one out of the way, it's not uncommon for your opponent to immediately drop a second copy of the card you destroyed. By bouncing the first copy of Scout with Tackle Crusader the instant it hits the field, you prevent your opponent from using Scout that turn entirely.

Even in the event that a Scout has resolved previously, you can still bounce it to your opponent's hand and briefly lock them out of Scouts by sending a Tackle Crusader to the graveyard before their Main Phase. Even one turn without action can be devastating to the fast-but-linear Qliphort strategy, and Tackle Crusader opens up a window of opportunity that wouldn't normally exist.

The Supporting Line
Now, obviously leveraging Tackle Crusader's utility requires you to send it to the graveyard precisely when you need to, so any deck that wants to play it needs to do that reliably. In the OCG, the most common method of triggering Tackle Crusader when it's needed is Mathematician. Already powerful in Shaddolls on its own, Mathematician pairs with Tackle Crusader to break down locks that prevent the aggressive deck from swarming with Fusions and other boss monsters. Similarly, Burning Abyss can effectively play Mathematician with the rest of their strategy and tech Tackle Crusader for extra options, though the release of Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss may fill Tackle Crusader's role effectively enough there.

Nekroz can also play Mathematician effectively, since it can send Djinn Releaser of Rituals to the graveyard, as well as load up other Nekroz monsters to banish with Necroz Exomirror. All of these decks can take advantage of Mathematician for effects beyond Tackle Crusader, while still having the powerful Book of Moon style ability and floodgate removal at their fingertips whenever Mathematician's in the picture.

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Fusion Summoning El Shaddoll Shekhinaga's another easy method of triggering Tackle Crusader, even Summoning it from the deck with Shaddoll Fusion, or on your opponent's turn with El Shaddoll Fusion. The latter's especially powerful for clearing away Qliphort Scout, slowing down the tough Qliphort matchup. Burning Abyss can mill Tackle Crusader with Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, as well as the multitude of discard-costed traps that are commonly played. (Although with trap cards slowly decreasing in popularity anyways, the appeal of that option is slowly Shrinking as well.)

Nekroz can use their Ritual Summons to send Tackle Crusader to the graveyard, enabling its effect while establishing their board. The deck commonly Summons Rank 4 Xyz with Nekroz of Unicore too, letting you hold Tackle Crusader as an Xyz Material, disrupting a push when the Xyz is destroyed, or otherwise granting the Xyz more utility while using its effects.

Even when you don't have another way to actively trigger its effect when you need to, there's always the option of simply Summoning or setting it to the field. If you need to get a floodgate card out of the way, simply crashing it into an opposing monster is often enough to fix the problem and then set up in Main Phase 2; setting it to be run over is a great way to answer floodgate monsters like Vanity's Fiend the following turn. While it might not be the most stylish way to use Tackle Crusader, it can still be very effective.

Rocking All Your Troubles Away
Tackle Crusader might not look like much at first glance, but is a powerful utility card that can answer a wide variety of threats and put you back in the game when you're staring down a wide variety of otherwise game-crippling floodgate cards. Nearly any time you're in a bind and you can't answer the situation with your normal cards, Tackle Crusader can help you escape, so try it out for yourself! If it winds up being even half as good here as it is in the OCG, you won't be sorry.

-Bobby Kenny

PS – And just because I love this card, I'll leave you with a bonus fun deck that actually takes advantage of Tackle Crusader's Rock-Type: Catapult Rock Stun. With Catapult Zone helping to protect your monsters from battle, you can dump Tackle Crusader straight to your graveyard and flip down another monster, all while keeping control with Koa'ki Meiru monsters, including the new Koa'ki Meiru Overload!