Is it just me or have we been waiting for Blazing Vortex forever?
I'm extremely biased here. Blazing Vortex introduces new Fabled cards, something I've been waiting over a decade for, and I've literally not shut up about them in the months since they were first announced.
I wrote two articles within days of those reveals, one centered around Fabled Unicore and the other with, uh… "good stuff" added in. But since the cards are all low rarity and beautifully cheap, they don't have the hype to crack today's Top 10. Just because they're what I want, doesn't mean they're what everybody wants.
In fact, the Fableds weren't the only cards I had to leave on the cutting room floor as I tried to whittle this discussion down to just ten all-stars. Blazing Vortex is jam packed with good cards, and I had to leave a bunch of them out to get this article to a reasonable length. That's just what happens when we get such a variety of stuff in the core set, as well as almost two dozen new World Premieres on the back end.
The one card that really feels like it "should" be in this list and isn't, is Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (Starlight Rare). If Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (Starlight Rare) was seeing more play right now, like Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare) and D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare) were when they got Starlight upgrades, it would probably get a spot. But your average player isn't going to want to shell out the big bucks for an upgraded Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (Starlight Rare), at least not right now.
I totally want a copy of Starlight Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (Starlight Rare) in all its beautiful glory, but it's just not quite at the intersection of desirability for everyone. It would feel like a bit of a cop out to include it here just because it's so dang pretty.
Don't let that lull you into a sense of security with the card if you do want it - it'll be heckin' expensive on the secondary market!
Do you ever just read a card and realize you're going to lose to it, and there's nothing you can do to save yourself?
That's how I've felt with nearly every "Polymerization" or "Fusion" card that's worth its hype over the last few years. Brilliant Fusion, Shaddoll Fusion, Red-Eyes Fusion, Super Polymerization…it's not too rare that you scoop up your cards after one of those resolves.
Greater Polymerization isn't reinventing the wheel or anything, but it's building in protection for your Fusion Monsters and making them into OTK machines. It's not quite as searchable as the original Polymerization, nor as lethal as Super Polymerization, but it's pretty close.
Keeper of Dragon Magic and Predaplant Darlingtonia Cobra are two easy ways to search it, and if you build your deck around Fusions, the protection and piercing can be deadly. Furthermore, keep in mind it's a "Polymerization" card, and cards in that vein always draw demand. It's like cards in the "Pot" series - they all garner some level of hype and clamor, even if through no virtue of their own.
You probably don't need to watch out for Greater Polymerization at higher levels of competition, but it's definitely a useful weapon in the arsenal of plays Fusion players now have.
Oh great, more ATK points for your favorite golden boy.
Continuing with the Fusion theme started with Greater Polymerization, I'd be foolish not to include Eldlich the Mad Golden Lord in this Top 10 list. Eldlich the Golden Lord was already obnoxious enough to deal with, given its big body and effect, but now this thing? It's not unbeatable, but for a deck that constantly churns out a boss monster that's routinely a huge pain in the behind, I don't relish the idea of dealing with something even bigger.
I'm honestly surprised to see that this card exists - Fusion Summons were not the route I thought Eldlich would go. I get the revival aspects of the archetype with Zombies as the main forte, but a giant boss-level Fusion that can steal opposing monsters?
It's a little out of left field. But sure, why not?
While there isn't much built-in Fusion support for Eldlichs, this card's ironically amazing in the mirror match. And when I mean amazing, I mean like… just wow. Super Polymerization lethal for the original Eldlich the Golden Lord, and I feel bad for the opposing Eldlich player on the receiving end of it.
Or, maybe, the opponent has their own Super Polymerization? Meaning the first player to activate it loses. Unless… they have another copy… but what if…
…When will the madness stop?!
Anyways, Zach wrote on Eldlich with the new big bad, and he's as excited as I am to beat people up with it. Check out that build if you missed it.
Oh gosh, this theme… let's see if I remember who does what.
I wrote about Live☆Twins mashed up with Artifacts a few weeks ago, but now I'm not so sure you need all the extra frills to make the deck competitive. Previously, you needed to support the Live☆Twins with something else, because a single errant counter could shut down your entire turn and leave you with no follow-up plays. Packing on extra themes was just required for you to keep up.
In short, the more Ki-sikil and Lil-la cards that are released, the less you'll have to rely on extra tricks and other cards outside the theme. Live Twin Lil-la Treat definitely a good-but-not-blow-your-socks-off card, but I expect Live☆Twins to get more support as time goes on, and it all makes the deck more efficient.
Frankly you might as well pick them up when they're cheap. And "cheap" is relative here because Live Twin Lil-la Treat is already pre-selling just shy of $10.
Demand's been in a weird place for Live☆Twins so far. Competitively speaking they aren't cleaning up in tournaments, but people love the cutesy cards enough to keep prices high. The Evil☆Twin Link Monsters are certainly the most expensive cards in the deck, but all the remaining Live☆Twins cards are unlikely to drop in price as we see more and more support.
I wouldn't expect Live Twin Lil-la Treat to get any more affordable in the foreseeable future. Sometimes cards start climbing and never really stop.
Also, there's a shark on this card. I'm glad Lil-la's online persona has a shark, now with a new costume!
Trap cards? In this economy?
Every time I think we've reached the ultimate form of monster effect negation, they surprise me again with some twisted version of "NO!!!!!"
"God says no!" is kind of the original name for Solemn Judgment after all.
Underdog works in a weird way that hinders both players, reminding me of the nonsense that was Chicken Game. On your turn, all of your opponent's monster effects are moot. On the flip side, you can't use your monster effects during your opponent's turn.
If you can find a way to circumvent that disadvantage, it effectively means all the annoying cards that stop you from making plays simply won't be a factor. Underdog being a trap card is a huge drawback that makes it slower than some cards you might compare it to, but if you can ignore the pitfalls and find a way to play around them it's insanely powerful.
It's not on the level of Royal Oppression in the way it controls monsters, but saying "No, thank you," to all face-up monster effects is certainly a powerful effect. Yu-Gi-Oh migrated from interactive plays to shutting down your opponent before they can make a move long ago, and Underdog flips that on its head.
Dare I say this card is… balanced? It's really strong, but I'm not terribly afraid of it warping the format. I just respect it. Negation your opponent's negations, if you will. It's the definition of big brain moves.
"Wow, I can't wait to pick up this underrated deck for cheap!"
*checks pre-sale prices of S-Force cards*
"Oh, cool. Nevermind."
Speaking of control, the S-Force theme is all about controlling the board. Introduced as an antagonist of sorts to PSY-Frames back in the flavor text of PSY-Frame Driver, they're a security team that stops monsters from "cheating" the field.
Time Thief, I:P Masquerena, and PSY-Frames all vaguely manipulate monsters to and from specific zones in unconventional ways, but the S-Force - namely this card, S-Force Justify - are here to put a stop to that.
"Play by the rules, you crazy kids!"
If you want an explanation of the S-Force, look no further than S-Force Justify. With three arrows pointing up, it's there to trap monsters and stick them in the proverbial Time Out Zones. Or I guess, "Future Space Pew Pew Jail" would be an accurate way to put it too.
Zone manipulation, and effects that reward and punish it, hasn't ever really taken off in this game, but maybe that can change with the arrival of the S-Force. The deck has a lot of incidental support and synergy with other themes, but when I was building the deck for myself, I actuaally came to see it as something that can stand on its own two futuristic law-enforcing legs.
It helps that the rest of the S-Force cards work well to prop up S-Force Justify. The deck wouldn't be fun if every card in the Main Deck was dragging its feat trying to keep up with the key Link Monster, but everything works surprisingly well here.
Sometimes I get bored once I've harped on a deck for a while, but I don't see myself losing interest in Springans anytime soon.
Last week I sang their praises when I created a mashup with Machina , but I'm even more excited for the Springans in the next core booster set, Lightning Overdrive. We won't see that release until May, but the only thing it changes with Springans is, like, how much better they get.
By no means am I saying that the current Springans are inadequate - in fact, there's still reason to run at least one copy of every Springan card, even after the new support drops in LIOV. If you have any interest in the deck at all, go pick up the cards from Blazing Vortex as soon as you can; they're good now, and they WILL get better in the future.
This is Yu-Gi-Oh. We've seen plenty of cards for new themes cost pennies when they first come out, only to skyrocket in price later down the road. Most of the Springans cards are low rarities, but Springans Ship - Exblowrer is the exception and it's not one you want to miss out on.
Even if you aren't mildly obsessed with Springans like I am, don't overlook the strategy. Springans Ship - Exblowrer will destroy you and everything you love, and it'll only cost your opponent a measly six dollars to do so.
Also? If you remove Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder from my build, the entire deck's under 30 bucks, including the Extra Deck. Heck, three copies of Springans Ship - Exblowrer takes up most of that 30 dollars, so get it while the getting's good.
I don't have time for this stupid card.
Just when you thought that every hand trap that could exist does exist… well, see my explanation for Underdog. This is Extra Deck negation in monster form, something that isn't interesting when you say it like that. But this card goes above and beyond on your first turn.
Ranking monster negation in hand trap form is a tricky task because all the different options can do something the others don't. That might sound obvious, but it's the thin lines that separate say, Effect Veiler from Infinite Impermanence, and those small differences can literally define useful cards from useless ones on any given day.
While Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora only affects big monsters Special Summoned from the Extra Deck, I don't think anyone in their right mind would say that its range is too narrow. It works on virtually everything that's going to be a big, game-defining problem, apart from baby monsters your opponent Normal Summons.
Not only does Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora keep your opponent from using that monster on summon, it shuts down all monsters with that name while Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora on field. So if your opponent's hoping to bring out a second copy of whatever big bad monster they have, they're gonna be out of luck.
And fielding a monster on the first turn when you're going second? That's some PSY-Framegear Gamma power right there. And instead of dragging along a PSY-Frame Driver that just banishes itself later, Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora stays around for your follow-up plays, like Link Climbing.
Lastly, it's not just a hand trap; if you Special Summon Heavenly Zephyr - Miradora from your hand by other means, it still negates your opponent's monster. That last part isn't as relevant as you might think, but it makes an already powerful card that much more devastating.
Anyone that's looking to get back into the game, shield your eyes from this annoying card! Pretend that Effect Veiler is the only hand trap!
They really went all out, didn't they?
We've had retrains and boosted versions of older cards before, but this Armed Dragon stuff is probably the biggest overhaul in the history of like, forever. That's not an exaggeration - look at the old LV and Armed Dragon cards. Now go look up a deck list for the Armed Dragon Thunder deck.
Do you see any of the old cards in there? Armed Dragon LV10 is probably the only card from the old stuff that might see play moving forward, and the improvement is like, 900 fold, give or take.
My issue with Armed Dragon Thunder is exactly that - we're throwing out all of the old cards to make way for the new. The Blazing Vortex cards are all pretty much mandatory at two or three copies per deck, so if you want to play the strategy, you'll need a lot of cards. But if the deck excites you, you're going to be pleasantly surprised at what it can achieve.
If you look at the strategy through a new set of eyes, ignoring the complicating factors of the old theme, then the deck's actually really fun! I like boss monsters that don't rely on the Extra Deck, and if that's up your alley, then Armed Dragon Thunder is your friend. It just doesn't feel like the old Armed Dragon cards.
But yeah! Have fun blowing up everything your opponent has!
I'm still not convinced this card is real.
While I like the artwork on Underworld Goddess of the Closed World it 100% looks like a fake card to me. And to quote a friend of mine, "That's some anime bs right there."
That said, the artwork doesn't solely make this card what it is because there's so much to it. First of all, it's a Link 5. For your fun fact of the day, there are fewer Link 5 monsters in the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG than this card's Link Rating.
Where do you even start beyond that? While Summoming Underworld Goddess of the Closed World takes a minimum of four effect monsters, one of those can be your opponent's Link 2. You can use any monster, but for ease of play you can technically make this behemoth with three little monsters of yours, and one from your opponent. That alone merits a raised eyebrow.
But then when it's Link Summoned, you basically activate Dark Ruler No More for free? Ok, that's "totally fair", I'm sure, but we're not even finished. With 3000 ATK, the only way Underworld Goddess of the Closed World can be destroyed is by targeted effect or battle, neither of which are easy to pull off at a moment's notice.
Then as a Quick Effect, Underworld Goddess says, "Nah, no thanks," if your opponent tries to Special Summon something. Sure.
Having this card played against you is the perfect reason to reply with, "That wasn't very cash money of you."
This is literally a better Pot of Extravagance.
"But you only get to add one card to your hand," you might say. "Two is less than one!" That's not technically wrong, but keep in mind, I don't think too highly of Pot of Extravagance to begin with. Most of the time, banishing your Extra Deck cards to blindly rip two cards off the top of your Main Deck isn't that good. I know not every deck needs their Extra Deck anyways, in which case Pot of Extravagance is effectively sort of Pot of Greed, but you're crippling your ceiling when you play that sort of strategy. The Extra Deck is one of the most powerful resources in modern Yu-Gi-Oh.
On the other hand you've got Pot of Prosperity. Digging through your deck is more like searching a card over blindly drawing one. Banishing six cards from your Extra Deck to excavate six from your deck may appear to be a steep price, and… ok, it is a steep price, but consider the most simple thing about this game: math.
Let's say you need to start the game with a specific card. In this case let's consider Subterrors, a deck that doesn't use it's Extra Deck like many others. You need to get to Subterror Guru, the one monster that singlehandedly makes the deck work. Obviously, you have three copies of Subterror Guru in your deck, but you also have The Hidden City, as well as Terraforming and Set Rotation to search them. So you effectively have eight chances of seeing Subterror Guru in your opening hand.
That's about a 70% chance, and the odds are a bit higher if you run Upstart Goblin. But if one of your opening cards is Pot of Prosperity, then your chance to see Subterror Guru is much higher - closer to the 90s.
That's not messy math, that's just how statistically likely things are. If you can dig through your deck so much, and have plenty of cards that serve as Subterror Guru, you're going to see what you need over 95% of the time.
Some might argue that the extra draw of Pot of Extravagance is better, but the math's very clear; if you need to start the game with a very specific card, then Pot of Prosperity has a higher chance of getting you what you need.
I'm really, really excited for Blazing Vortex. There isn't much in the core set that doesn't excite me, and even then, the things I'm not as jazzed about are going to be hot ticket items for others. Let me know what your favorites are and if there's anything I missed from your personal Top 10!
Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.