All in all it's a strong mix across the board with really only one outlier; better than we're used to from this portion of most core sets, and indicative of the better-than-usual card quality across the breadth of this release. Let's take a look at the latest crop of blue, purple, black, and white monsters, starting with a quick look at the set's lone Ritual.
Armed with a one-sided Giant Trunade that can't be chained to, Odd-Eyes Gravity Dragon is a deceptively useful OTK enabler that can lock down your opponent with incremental LP loss.
It doesn't look like much on the surface, but once you see Odd-Eyes Advent the card looks a lot more viable. We'll discuss it in further depth once we look at the spell cards. For now, note that it's searchable with Performapal Skullcrobat Joker in addition to all the usual Ritual-searching suspects. Can Odd-Eyes Gravity Dragon keep the Odd-Eyes theme relevant in tournament play? That answer hinges on the strength of the Ritual Spell. Fans of the deck archive know that Odd-Eyes have been surprisingly successful in Regional competition, but it's definitely up in the air as to whether that can continue.
Following up on the recursive effect of Hi-Speedroid Kendama, Hi-Speedroid Hagoita won't restrict your Normal Summon, and instead limits your Special Summons to Wind monsters only.
That means you can Speedroid Terrortop into Speedroid Red-Eyed Dice for Hagoita, and when it's destroyed, you can Terrortop again for another Tuner, play it, bring Hagoita back and from there make a variety of plays for more Wind Synchros. You can go into Hi-Speedroid Chanbara or Hi-Speedroid Kendama, sure, but with the Level boosting effect of Hagoita you can also reach Level 8 Wind Synchros and bigger. Think Stardust Dragon and Cloudcastle, or roll the Level 5 Hagoita into the mix for Mist Wurm.
Since Hi-Speedroid Hagoita's ability affects all monsters on the field, and can be activated on your opponent's turn, its most powerful use may be disrupting your opponent's attempts at Xyz and Synchro Summons. If you know you're opponent's only running Rank 4's and no Rank 5's, you can keep them off their Xyz for a turn by tributing Hagoita, then bring it back later. And if your opponent's going for a Level 7 or Level 8 Synchro, odds are good they won't have a Level 9 or Level 10 to take the place of their intended Summon.
The Speedroids have largely just been played for fast access to aggressive Synchro Summons so far, but Hi-Speedroid Hagoita forwards that while adding a potent element of disruption. It could be a sleeper hit against Pendulum variants. At the very least, it certainly widens the impact of the Speedroid engine.
While Performapals have surged ahead as the Pendulum engine of choice thanks to Performapal Monkeyboard and Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer, Magicians get a quiet little boost in the form of Enlightenment Paladin. Summoned as a generic Level 8 Synchro it packs 2500 ATK and an ability that's similar to Flare Wingman, burning your opponent for damage when it wins a battle. But Summoned with a Magician Pendulum Monster – something as simple as Dragonpit Magician or Xiangke Magician with a Level 1 Tuner – it becomes Dark Magician of Chaos, retrieving a spell card from your graveyard.
In conventional competition that can mean an extra Twin Twisters, Wavering Eyes, or Instant Fusion right when you most need it. In crazy combo decks looking to abuse particular spell cards? It could create something else entirely. Enlightenment Paladin's underrated for its immediate competitive impact on one of the most powerful Pendulum engines in the game, and could do some interesting stuff in elaborate combo decks. It's definitely one to keep an eye on.
Just as Enlightenment Paladin makes the Pendulum Magician suite more powerful, Dinoster Power, the Mighty Dracoslayer bolsters the Draco engine, newly fuelled by Master Pendulum, the Dracoslayer and Draco Face-Off. While Dinoster Power's a Fusion Monster, you Special Summon it by simply Tributing a Dracoslayer Pendulum - Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer or Master Pendulum – and any one other Pendulum Monster. Since both monsters are Pendulums they'll go to your Extra Deck instead of your graveyard, setting up a big Pendulum Summon as early as the same turn.
Overlay those monsters for a Rank 4 and detach the Dracoslayer Pendulum for an effect, and you can revive it immediately with Dinoster Power's next ability; a straight +1 that fields three monsters if you've established your Pendulum Scale. If you use Performapal Skullcrobat Joker as the other half of your sorta-Fusion Summon you'll get another plus out of the exchange, and one half of your Pendulum Scale.
And while any Xyz Summons you make are vulnerable to conventional destruction and disruption, Dinoster Power protects your Pendulum Spells and Pendulum Monsters, shielding whatever you revive. Which is great, but not nearly as important as protecting your Pendulum Spells. Rob Boyajian wrote a great article discussing the new Draco cards, highlighting Dinoster Power's ability to fend off Wavering Eyes in the mirror match. It's a huge deal, in part because it's just so freaking easy; you don't sacrifice any card economy setting up Dinoster Power, and from there your immunity to an opposing Wavering Eyes is a tremendous advantage.
We'll discuss some specific plays with Dinoster Power, the Mighty Dracoslayer later on, when we examine Draco Face-Off in detail. It's an impressive card that seems set to catch a lot of players off guard in the next couple of weeks.
Moving along! We've already discussed Buster Dragon quite a bit, but now we get to really delve into the nitty gritty. Integral to the new Buster Blader Destruction Sword theme, Buster Dragon's a generic Synchro but is most easily Summoned with Buster Blade, the Destruction Swordmaster and Buster Whelp of the Destruction Swordsman. First, Normal Summon Buster Whelp and Tribute it to Special Summon Destruction Swordmaster. Next turn, pitch any Destruction Sword card from your hand to revive Buster Whelp and Tune it with Destruction Swordmaster for Buster Dragon.
Once you do, Buster Dragon's effect can immediately revive Buster Blader, the Destruction Swordsman. Its Continuous Effect turns all opposing monsters into Dragons, and on your opponent's turn it can equip Buster Whelp to Destruction Swordsman, setting you up to destroy all of your opponent's monsters with Destruction Swordsman's effect. Your opponent has to take out Buster Dragon and Destruction Swordsman simultaneously, or knock out Buster Dragon first, because if they just destroy Destruction Swordsman you'll simply revive it next turn for free.
A more loaded graveyard makes Buster Dragon's equip effect into a vicious threat in the right match-up: equip it with Dragon Buster Destruction Sword to keep a Pendulum player from Special Summoning from their Extra Deck, or ward off the graveyard triggers of Kozmos and Atlanteans with Wizard Buster Destruction Sword. As a bonus, you can yard Wizard Buster with its ability on your following turn to trade it for another Destruction Sword monster from your graveyard, adding that card to your hand.
Functioning sort of like a Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon for Buster Bladers, you essentially make Buster Dragon for free whenever you Summon Buster Blader, the Destruction Swordsman in the most likely way. It's a 2800 DEF wall on its own, runs interference for Destruction Swordsman, and helps you make the most of key support cards. Like the Shiranui, there's a clear effort here to try and match the ridiculously strong card economy of the Pendulum themes.
If Buster Blader, the Destruction Swordsman is Phase 1 of that strategy, and the pairing of Buster Dragon and Destruction Swordsman represents Phase 2, then this is clearly the final stop on the Buster Blader pub crawl. You Fusion Summon Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman, by fusing any Buster Blader plus any Dragon. You can use Buster Dragon as a Fusion Material, but Dragon Destroyer Swordsman's effects really incentivize keeping it around. It's much better to use Buster Whelp of the Destruction Swordsman or Dragon Buster Destruction Sword, which is why they both have recursive effects.
Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman gains 1000 ATK and DEF for each Dragon your opponent controls, and while it can't make direct attacks, it changes all your opponent's Dragons to defense mode and prohibits them from activating effects. Then it deals piercing damage when it attacks a defense position monster. So the goal is to turn all your opponent's monsters into Dragons by controlling Buster Dragon, and then pierce through them one by one with Dragon Destroyer Swordsman. Locking down activated monster abilities can help ensure you have the time to win that way.
The Quick-Play fusion spell Destruction Swordsman Fusion lets you fuse monsters from either side of the field, so that can help nab you a Dragon under the right conditions as well. And since it's a Quick-Play, you can make multiple attacks and steal games with a Fusion Summon in the middle of the Battle Phase. Destruction Swordsman Fusion has some good card economy going for it that we'll discuss when we get to that card, and another Quick-Play – Karma of the Destruction Swordsman – can help buff a Buster Blader or Destruction Sword monster to hurry your victory along.
While the revamped Buster Blader theme is still a bit on the unwieldy side, it's interesting to see a theme like this built with current competitive match-ups in mind. The strategy has a lot more depth than the Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier cards from Dimension of Chaos.
We saw two new Goyo monsters in High-Speed Riders, Goyo Chaser and Goyo Predator, and we get three new Goyo monsters in Breakers of Shadow, too. In short, Goyo Defender's probably the only reason any of those cards are interesting. It's a little tricky in the wording, but the gist is that once you place one on the field, you'll Special Summon the other two for free at a rate of one per turn; that works if you control any of the Goyo monsters, or even a niche Synchro like Drill Warrior or Junk Archer. Since Goyo Defender's an Earth Warrior Synchro itself, one copy can bring out more all on its own over successive turns.
While Goyo Defender only swings for 1000 damage on offense, it almost always has at least 2000 ATK on defense, since it won't hit the field without at least one Earth Warrior Synchro to boost its attack. Once you get the ball rolling they become even tougher to attack, or you can cash them in to make a Rank 3 Xyz. They can be handy as fodder for further Synchro Summons, too – a Level 3 Tuner will make a free Goyo Guardian, but even a Level 2 Tuner can nab you a 1-for-1 play into Goyo Chaser.
Goyo Defender's largely important because once it lands in the graveyard, it's free Fusion Material for Miracle Synchro Fusion. That feeds the new Goyo boss monster, Goyo Emperor.
With two Goyo monsters in the graveyard, ideally two Goyo Defenders, you can Miracle Synchro Fusion this handsome fellow. Goyo Emperor's got a whopping 3300 ATK, steals your opponent's monsters, and turns everything you pilfer into honorary Goyos themselves. Note that the monsters you revive with Goyo Emperor's effect don't have to come out in defense mode like Goyo Guardian, nor do they have restrictions on how much damage they can do like Goyo Chaser or Goyo Predator. You can throw it down, swing over your opponent's biggest monster, take it, and then swing again and again on down the line until you have everything.
And while Goyo Emperor interrupts Goyo Defender's effect since it's a Fusion Monster, it gives you the option to cash in Earth Warrior Synchros whenever your opponent Special Summons a monster, and take control of it. There's no limit on how many times you can do that per turn, and if multiple monsters were Special Summoned simultaneously, you take all of them. If Goyo Emperor leaves the field you have to give back control of everything you borrowed, but it probably wins the game before your opponent gets much of a chance to fight back anyways.
And even if it didn't, you Summoned it for free off Miracle Synchro Fusion anyways, so it's tough to complain. The trick is just making that first Goyo Defender.
While Goyo Defender won't count itself to buff its stats, Goyo King will; it's a 3200 ATK monster when it's attacking a monster alone, and if you've got even one Goyo Defender to posse up it's 3600 ATK. Like Goyo Emperor, there's no restriction on the Special Summon when Goyo King destroys a monster and revives it. You can bring that destroyed monster to your side in attack mode and make an immediate push, or place it in defense if that's better. The big added bonus to this Goyo is that when it destroys one monster, you can forego reviving it and steal control of another face-up monster of your choice. That makes every successful attack against a two-monster field or bigger into an instant +3, since your opponent loses two monsters and you gain one.
Granted, it's going to take a very specific set of conditions to allow that, and you'll usually be investing another Tuner to upgrade one of your existing non-Tuner Synchros into Goyo King. But you can also Tune a Level 2 Tuner with a pair of Goyo Defenders should fortune smile on you, and beyond that, Goyo King's just a nice option to have. It won't always be optimal, but when it is, it opens up plays that don't really require much set-up and wins games you might not take without it.
To me, the coolest thing about the Goyo monsters is that they fit into any deck that can make efficient and frequent Synchro Summons, and can specifically Synchro for the Level 3 Goyo Defender. As long as you have room for a couple Miracle Synchro Fusions, plus room in your Extra Deck, that's really all you need to play these cards to their fullest. Yang Zings and Speedroids lead the pack, but if you can make Level 6 Synchro Summons consistently then you can at least consider the Goyos. While a lot of modern competition revolves around the combination of splashable themed engines, this might be the first time we've seen a splashable Extra Deck engine. It's pretty cool.
Superheavy Samurai Beast Kyubi's arguably the least desirable of the Superheavy Samurai Synchros; it's far less aggressive than Superheavy Samurai Warlord Susanowo and the rest, and while it has the same DEF as Shutendoji' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Superheavy Samurai Ogre Shutendoji">Superheavy Samurai Ogre Shutendoji, it lacks Shutendoji's backrow destruction. Its ATK boost only works under fairly specific conditions, won't help when you're trying to deal direct damage, and it really needs supporting cards to have the same potential to close out games.
But none of that really matters, because it's another Superheavy Samurai Synchro that helps extend the range of Superheavy Samurai Battleball. While you could previously Battleball an opposing Level 4 or a Level 8, you can now yard an opposing Level 7 as well, making an instant +1 and fielding an immediate threat. While it's unfortunate that Battleball's ability targets, keeping it from swiping Kozmo Forerunner, it still works nicely against a smattering of monsters, including Mermail Abyssmegalo.
Aegaion the Sea Castrum isn't very good. Its ATK-boosting effect is highly unlikely to land it with more ATK than Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand or Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis, and can wind up sticking it with laughably low attack points. Meanwhile, the odds of banishing something that matches the Type or any monster your opponent controls, let alone something you want to destroy, are slim as well.
It's cool that Aegaion can eat your opponent's whole Extra Deck, but it takes its sweet time doing so and the game's too fast for that to matter. It's also fun that you can activate that banishing effect at any time on your opponent's turn since it's a Quick Effect, so if your opponent attacks Aegaion you have the option of activating its effect in response and potentially winning the battle on a lucky banish. But the card really relies on luck, and if you have two Level 8 monsters to overlay for a Rank 8 you've got far better options that are more reliable.
Revisiting the Shiranui, you can 1-for-1 into Shiranui Samuraisaga by Normal Summoning Shiranui Spiritmaster to revive Shiranui Spectralsword. Alternatively it's often better to just banish Spectralsword for its effect along with a Level 4, Special Summoning Samuraisaga for free and potentially getting a card with Shiranui Samurai, or destroying something with Spiritmaster in the process.
However you Summon it, Shiranui Samuraisaga wields 2500 ATK and an effect that can shift all your opponent's monsters to defense position, even in your opponent's Battle Phase, provided you have the right graveyard. And if you banish Shiranui Samuraisaga – which you definitely will – you can reduce an opposing monster's ATK by 500. This card's exceptionally easy to Summon and once it hits the graveyard it combos with Shiranui Spectralsword to unleash the Shiranui theme's finisher.
Shiranui Shogunsaga's the theme's big boss monster, and you can Summon it for free by banishing Spectralsword and Samuraisaga from your graveyard. Since its effect works whenever it's Special Summoned, not just when it's Synchro Summoned, you can easily boost it to 4800 ATK by banishing Shiranui Samurai no matter how it hits the field. Or, if you happened to have a second Samuraisaga or you Tuned with it properly on the field, banish that instead to buff Shogunsaga to a ridiculous 5500 ATK. You'll debuff an opposing monster for 500 ATK as a bonus, thanks to Samuraisaga's effect.
When Shogunsaga's destroyed you can return one of your banished Shiranuis to your graveyard, which makes it easy to set up another one; just return Samuraisaga or Spectralsword as needed. While you can't use Spectralsword's effect the same turn it's sent to the graveyard, that won't matter if Shogunsaga's destroyed on your opponent's turn. Combined with Plaguespreader Zombie and Mezuki, both of the Shiranui Synchros are really easy to Summon, and it only takes a turn or two to steal that 'W'.
And that's it! An admirable crop of Extra Deck monsters and a praiseworthy Ritual Monster to boot, continuing the strong design in Breakers of Shadow. Tomorrow we'll look at the spells and traps in Part 4, where things get a little more varied and the set hits what I consider to be it's only segments of big ups and downs. See how it all pans out, in our next installment of the BOSH Giant Set Review.
See you then!