The latest core booster release occupies a really weird space. Largely regarded as somewhere between irrelevant and bad, DOCS still puts forward at least two major contributions to the competitive scene, bolstered in part by the new F&L List. Kozmos and Majespecters are expected to lead competition in the coming weeks: without Dimension of Chaos Kozmos would have nowhere near their new level of power, and Majespecters wouldn't exist.
At the same time there's a ton of weird and unfortunate things happening in this set. For the first time ever, the entire lineup of OCG imports are dedicated to one theme: the Different Dimension Demons and their Dark Contracts, which the Yugiverse has largely decided to ignore. A number of cards are dedicated to themes we've seen before, but have never been competitive, like Fluffals and Superheavy Samurai. New themes seem narrow at a glance, like the Graydles and the new Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier deck. And a number of cards that could have driven player interest were inexplicably printed as commons instead of foils, leading a lot of players to skip packs in favor of the secondary market.
On top of all those oddities and disadvantages, Konami gave us some early sneak peaks at Breakers of Shadow and a lot of people are now holding their dueling dollars for that release. There's a lot of headscratching to be had here.
That said, it raises the question: beneath all the strange decisions and behind the obviously competitive new cards for Kozmos and Majespecters, is Dimension of Chaos actually as bad as many seem to believe? I think at the end of the day the answer is a mix of yes and no. The set's first half is weaker than we're used to, while the second half is stronger than people seem to realize. In writing this Set Review I was surprised at the number of great cards that are being ignored, or at least receiving lukewarm responses. With so much to discover I think you might be surprised at some of the stuff going on in the background. This is actually the longest Set Review I've ever written, because there's so much to discuss.
So let's get started! In Part 1 and Part 2 we'll look at the effect monsters in the first half of the release, and in Part 3 we'll cover the Rituals, Xyz, Fusions, and Synchro Monsters. Parts 4 and 5 will cover spells and traps respectively, and in Part 6 we'll look at the World Premiere cards and the D/D/D's. So where do we start today?
With Performapals! Which is no longer something I say while wincing.
Crossed Souls introduced us to the all-new monster theme called "Performapals That Don't Suck." That strategy's continued here with more Performapals that wind up being far better than the bulk of their progenitors, starting with Performapal Secondonkey.
Clocking in at Level 4 with 2000 DEF and an ability that's either an Armageddon Knight for Performapals or a straight +1 search effect, Secondonkey almost exists solely to prove how crazy the Performage / Performapal deck is going to become. Despite some niche combos that could be relevant, the strategy usually doesn't play this card, and the fact that it just doesn't need a searcher of this caliber hints at the terror that's to come once the Master of Pendulum Structure Deck brings us Performapal Skullcrobat Joker.
Since Skullcrobat Joker searches Performapals, Pendulum Magicians, and Odd-Eyes monsters with no conditions like Secondonkey's, and since it's an 1800 ATK beatstick Pendulum with a Scale of 8, this thing's largely just outclassed. But since Skullcrobat Joker won't be arriving in the TCG for another month, Performapal fans have Performapal Secondonkey to tinker around with in the interim.
We've gone from Performapals being an absolute laughingstock, to a situation where Performapals get so much better with each successive release that they're actively outclassing themselves from the future. Understand: this is still blowing my mind.
For a largely non-competitive card that appears to be an elephant made out of a shower curtain, Performapal Splashmammoth is really pretty cool.
I don't think Splashmammoth would even be worth acknowledging if it weren't for Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, which is a totally amazing card I've been waiting ages for. You Fusion Summon Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon by fusing any Dark Dragon and any Beast, but you can also Special Summon it just by Tributing those materials, no Fusion Spell needed. If you Special Summon it, it's a 3000 ATK beater that you can make with simple, profitable combos like Kinka-Byo reviving Dark Metal Dragon. If you Fusion Summon it, then its secondary effect will deal damage to your opponent equal to the original ATK of the Beast Material you used, every time Beast-Eyes destroys a monster in battle.
Splashmammoth's cool for how it interacts with those specifics. As a Beast itself, you can Tribute it or fuse it for Beast-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. If you Fuse it properly, then Beast-Eyes' effect will dish out 1900 burn damage every time it takes something down. And since Performapals tend to hang out with Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon you have easy access to a Dark Dragon to Fuse or Tribute. However you choose to unleash Beast-Eyes, both of your Materials will jump to the Extra Deck because they're both Pendulum Monsters. Pretty slick.
But it gets better, because Splashmammoth's Pendulum Effect revives that Odd-Eyes you just used or fused, putting a total of 5500 ATK on the field, even if you already used your Pendulum Summon for the turn just to put together your Dark Dragon and your Beast. That effect triggers when a Fusion Monster is Special Summoned, not just Fusion Summoned, so it works no matter how you choose to deploy Beast-Eyes. And since Fusion Summoning Beast-Eyes is ideal, but running Fusion Spells isn't, Performapal Splashmammoth's monster effect lets you make your ideal Summon without wasting cards. You'll have to Pendulum Summon the Splashmammoth since it's Level 6, but that shouldn't be too much of a stretch.
There's a lot more to this card than you might see at first glance, and while it's not the basis for a serious competitive deck, the right casual build could definitely turn some heads. It's also going to come up again later on in Part 3 when we discuss another Fusion Monster, but I'll leave that discussion until then. For now, know that the Little Dude puts in surprising work.
An on-theme and thus searchable Level 4 with a Special Summon effect that helps you set up Xyz and Synchro Summons? Why not!? Performapal Helpprincess might not be on-message for the upcoming builds of Performage and Performapal strategies we're anticipating with the release of the Master of Pendulum Structure Deck, but the card has a clear niche that gives it potential, even if it doesn't fit most player's goals right this minute.
It's another solid card that can do some cool stuff and open up your options, in a deck that's about to get so crazy that "being solid" isn't enough. Still, it's a good addition to the arsenal long term.
Guh-huhuhuhuhuhuh. Slobber noises. Excuse me as I shudder with delight. As a Superheavy Samurai fan, Superheavy Samurai Thief is exactly what this deck has needed to finally be worth building.
Ever since the Superheavy Samurai theme started to angle toward a spell and trap-free concept, the biggest problem has been opposing backrow cards. The deck's really good at fielding a single big beater and then using one or two combo cards to make a game-winning attack. But when your opponent has simple removal or Fiendish Chain to stop your push, you usually just lose. That's an even bigger problem in the new format, where bigger trap lineups are likely to become increasingly common amongst some of the top strategies. Archfiend Eccentrick was a huge boon, giving the Superheavy Samurai both backrow and monster removal. But it wasn't enough; we've still never seen anything resembling a decent tournament showing from the theme.
Enter Superheavy Samurai Thief! Not only is it backrow disruption on a 1-for-1 basis like Eccentrick, it's an instant plus that can swipe cards and add a layer of defense to your strategy that you wouldn't have otherwise. There are some awesome specifics here: neither of the effects target, so if your opponent has a big backrow and activates one of their traps or quick-plays in response to Thief's effect, you can just pick another one if you want to eliminate two cards in one go. Alternatively you can choose any card that was chained to it, and even if that card's face-up you'll still destroy it and add to your field.
Superheavy Samurai Thief's also valuable just for being a Special Summon: it's an easy 1000 damage, which can actually mean game in some of the Superheavy Samurai OTK's that are now possible, and it's a worthwhile three-of that makes Tributing Summoning for Superheavy Samurai Big Benkei that much easier. I've also been tempted to run it with The Calculator; combining the two together you get a total of 4000 ATK thanks to Thief's insanely high Level. I assume that was a measure to keep it from being used as Synchro Material, though it's much cooler than just giving it effect text that says you can't Tune with it.
It's interesting to note that in conjunction with Archfiend Eccentrick, this card would've been capable of creating valuable Pendulum Scales by taking certain Qliphorts. Qliphorts are likely dead and gone now, but the shape of the incoming format makes Pendulums so much more relevant, that the option to take a Pendulum Spell from your opponent to break their Scale… without sending that Pendulum card to their Extra Deck… is so much better now than it was before that it's probably a wash.
Superheavy Samurai Thief's amazing and the main reason anyone can justify being interested in this deck right now. It makes so many older cards finally viable; cool cards that do cool things, which I'm looking forward to building with.
Giving your opponent cards is always a scary proposition and can often leave you feeling like you're playing from behind, even if you get immediate replacements for those cards like the draws provided by Superheavy Samurai Transporter. The pros and cons here are easy to see: there are specific cards in the Superheavy Samurai oeuvre that work best when they're in your graveyard, and the ability to give them to your opponent and then attack them can help you forward your position. At the same time, 1200 damage off a Special Summon can be valuable, it's free Tribute Fodder, and you can Tune with Transporter to make key Synchro Summons.
The problem is that you're still giving your opponent free cards, which while not a minus of card economy for you, remains a plus for them. If you can't attack those monsters to wipe them out your opponent keeps them, and the fact that you have to attack them can slow you down. The fact that you give them the monsters in defense mode keeps you from exploiting them for damage, and the fact that you might fail to draw those cards with Transporter in the first place is a fundamental problem.
This card would be distressing if Superheavy Samurais didn't get several great new cards in this set. But they did, so niche entries like this one are alright.
Superheavy Samurai Drum's likely the best, or at least easiest combo with Superheavy Samurai Transporter, giving you a chance to revive a win condition sized beatstick. It's also a Level 1 Tuner, which may be the only reason to run it over all the other easy ways to unleash your biggest and best Superheavy Samurai. It's more versatile than it may first appear, but it's tough to tell if it'll be worth running.
As a chump Blocker the Drum can really turn the tables on your opponent with the right monsters in the graveyard, and you can always just ram it yourself if that leads to a game-winning play. Its ability works even when it's destroyed by effects, so it's a flexible entry into a fairly conditional category of monster.
One of the more interesting things about Superheavy Samurai Drum is that it doesn't carry the "If you have no Spell/Trap Cards in your Graveyard" clause, which makes it solid support for the non-spell and trap free build, if that's something you're interested in.
Superheavy Samurai Soulclaw's another equip monster for the theme, giving a small stat bonus and protection from battle. I think it's hedging its bets between aggression and defense, and it turns out to be pretty unimpressive in both categories as a result.
It's not a bad card, but I just don't think there's room for it in the packed Superheavy Samurai deck at present. This theme's now 25 cards deep, and some of those cards are actually pretty outstanding, so there's kind of a Performapal effect going on here where decent cards aren't really good enough.
…Especially when you've got cards like Superheavy Samurai Soulhorns! With Superheavy Samurai Warlord Susanowo, Superheavy Samurai Big Benkei, and even Shutendoji' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Superheavy Samurai Ogre Shutendoji">Superheavy Samurai Ogre Shutendoji all getting to 4000 DEF or higher – remember, those monsters attack from defense mode using their DEF instead of ATK – the ability to turn any one of them into Double Attackers opens up a wealth of simple OTK's that just didn't exist before.
There's not much to say about Soulhorns. I expect it to become a staple in Superheavy Samurai, and combined with the added removal power of Superheavy Samurai Thief the deck's going to have a much easier time scoring wins. The future's bright for this offbeat little strategy.
Fluffals were always king of awkward. Toy Vendor was obviously supposed to be a fundamental part of the strategy, but its functions were so specific that it was never really reasonable for competition. Sitting on the field on its own, it was an immediate commitment of one card. From there you'd ditch another card for the chance to draw and make a Special Summon, but with a not inconsiderable risk of losing the card you draw. There were ways to mitigate those problems through the discard of recursive monsters, but the risks still outweighed the benefits. Worse yet, Toy Vendor did basically nothing in a simplified game where you were low on cards.
If it was sent to the graveyard it would search a useful card from your deck, but making that happen ranged from tricky to impossible. The second effect was so often useless that it was practically non-existent.
Fluffal Wings is engineered to fix all that. If you control Toy Vendor and have at least one other Fluffal in your graveyard, which is easily achieved, you score two draws and a free search with Toy Vendor. Since you have the chance to pitch Fluffal Wings for Toy Vendor in the first place for a successful draw, and since many of your Fluffals search cards on their way to the graveyard anyways, there's a lot of potential card advantage to be earned here, while thinning your deck at the same time.
Will it be enough to make Toy Vendor viable? That's up in the air. But it's a strong bid to make a heretofore unplayable card more attractive, which is always a good thing in my books.
Raidraptor – Wild Vulture is relatively difficult to Summon, and was designed to work with the new…
…Raidraptor – Skull Eagle. The problem is that Skull Eagle plays to a Rank 3 angle that's never existed in the Raidraptor strategy before, starting with the new Raidraptor –Fiend Eagle, and currently it's just not worth pursuing. If there's future support to make these cards better we've yet to see any indication of it. It's unfortunate: Raidraptors were actually getting a few worthwhile cards there for a bit, and they get a nice spell card in Dimension of Chaos.
We'll have to see what the future holds for the Rank 3 side of the strategy.
The D/D/D theme, AKA the Different Dimension Demons, are a complicated group of cards that revolve around spells and traps called Dark Contracts. The theme focuses chiefly on destruction abilities and Special Summoning, but it involves a lot of drawback effects that destroy your own monsters and deal damage to you. While there were previously just three D/D/D monsters in the TCG – two from Clash of Rebellions and one from the Dark Legion Starter Deck – we get a slew of new cards in Dimension of Chaos. Literally every OCG import in the release is tied to the theme, which is one of the biggest complaints people have about the set.
So how do they work? D/D Swirl Slime's a good starting point if you're looking to answer that complicated question. Together with D/D Necro Slime, Swirl Slime's the basis for a powerful Fusion Summoning engine. There are four D/D/D Fusions in the OCG today, but right now we only have two of them: we're missing D/D/D Flame King Genghis and D/D/D Cruel Dragon King Beowulf in the TCG.
We do have D/D/D Oracle King d'Arc, a fusion of any two D/D monsters, and the new D/D/D/ Wave Oblivion King Caesar Ragnarok, which fuses two of the bigger D/D/D's. You can use D/D Swirl Slime as one half of D/D/D Oracle King d'Arc, pairing it with another D/D or D/D/D to unleash a 2800 ATK beater that turns your burn drawbacks into Life Point gain.
That's an important fundamental move, because it quickly fields a big threat that neutralizes the pseudo-costs of all your Dark Contracts. It also loads Swirl Slime to the graveyard where you can banish it to Special Summon any D/D from your hand, useful with the big boss monsters on following turns. We'll talk more about those later in Part 5, when we look at the OCG Imports. Suffice to say they're really big, really good, and Swirl Slime makes them happen.
D/D/ Necro Slime carries Swirl Slime's work forward, banishing itself and another D/D to make another D/D/D Oracle King d'Arc. To recap, drawing Swirl Slime and Necro Slime together lets you pitch both and then banish them to throw 5600 ATK on the table, with two effects that convert burn damage into LP gain. Or you can Summon one King d'Arc with Swirl Slime, banish the Swirl Slime to Special Summon a monster from your hand, and then leave Necro Slime chilling in the graveyard for a follow-up play later.
If you're not lucky enough to draw the two Slimes together, the D/D/D theme offers several ways to discard them for valuable effects. They're also searchable with two of the D/D/D support cards, the easy-to-play Dark Contract with the Gate and the more difficult D/D/D Human Resources.
The Slimes make for a killer early game that you can play a few different ways, centered on a fast D/D/D Oracle King d'Arc. For all the intricacies of the theme, the plays here are relatively simple and powerful.
Clash of Rebellions gave us D/D/D Marksman King Tell, a 2300 ATK beatstick with an interesting burn effect triggered when you take effect damage, as well as a compensatory Foolish Burial effect you claim when it's sent to the graveyard. That effect has obvious uses with Swirl Slime and Necro Slime, and while Marksman King Tell was a Rank 5 demanding two Level 5's as its regular Xyz Materials, you could also just slap it down over a Rank 4 D/D/D Xyz.
The problem? There was no Rank 4 D/D/D at the time. But Dimension of Chaos delivers the Rank 4 D/D/D Wave King Caesar, made with two Level 4 Fiends.
Enter Berfomet' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=D/D Berfomet">D/D Berfomet, a theme-stamped Level 4 Fiend that can level shift any other D/D monster you control to any Level from 1 to 8. Doing so limits you to D/D Special Summons for the rest of the turn, but opens up easy plays to turn a matching D/D into a Level 4 so you can overlay for Wave King Caesar and if desired, make D/D/D Marksman King Tell. Since the D/D/D theme dabbles in Pendulum Summoning as well, there's the potential to make higher Ranked Xyz Summons in the future if the theme winds up offering them.
Berfomet, Swirl Slime, and Necro Slime are sort of the frontline groundcrew of the Different Dimension Demon army. We'll talk more about where the strategy heads from that starting point later on, as we encounter those cards later in the Giant Set Review. Thankfully our next card's not nearly as complicated as D/D/D's.
Performage Plushfire's one of the most-hyped cards in the set, and I imagine it's only a common because at some point, some aspect of the Performage and Performapal theme was on the chopping block for a potential restriction on the F&L List. Understanding this card's power level means accepting some pretty weird logic about how it works.
Plushfire has two effects: it has a Pendulum Effect that works only when it's played as a Pendulum Spell, and a Monster Effect that seems to work only when it's Summoned as a monster. But that's not actually the case. When Plushfire's played as a Pendulum Spell and destroyed in your Pendulum Zone, you'll actually trigger its Monster Effect, Special Summoning another Performage from your hand or deck. There's been no real explanation of why that's the case, but the accepted consensus – shaky as it may be – is something like this: when a Pendulum Spell's destroyed it effectively reverts to a monster card at some point between its destruction and the Extra Deck, giving an opportunity for destruction-based Monster Effects to activate.
Sound counterintuitive? It is, but that's how the card was ruled in the OCG and there's no indication it'll be ruled any other way in our TCG. Plushfire's early game combo potential and search-based destruction effects that can destroy it have created one of the OCG's deadliest strategies, which we'll come to know as the Performage Performapal deck. We're still missing a couple key cards from the upcoming Master of Pendulum Structure Deck, but the kind of combos we're expecting are largely variations of stuff like this:
-Activate Performage Plushfire and Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer as Pendulum Spells.
-Activate Luster Pendulum's ability to destroy Plushfire and search another from your deck. Destroying Plushfire sends it to the Extra Deck and triggers its effect, Special Summoning another Performage. Grab Performage Trick Clown.
-Activate the new Plushfire, then play Wavering Eyes to destroy the Plushfire and Luster Pendulum, sending both to your Extra Deck. Search another Luster Pendulum with Wavering Eyes' effect, and Special Summon Performage Damage Juggler with the second Plushfire's ability.
-Overlay Damage Juggler and Trick Clown for King of the Feral Imps, and search Performapal Partnaga by detaching Damage Juggler. Banish Damage Juggler to search your third Plushfire.
-Activate Partnaga and the third Plushfire as Pendulum Spells. Pendulum Summon the two Plushfires and Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer from your Extra Deck, plus the Luster Pendulum you searched with Wavering Eyes. Now you control 8000 ATK across five monsters. You can overlay the two Plushfires for another Rank 4 – still game damage if your Xyz of choice has more than 2000 ATK – and either keep the Luster Pendulums on the field at 1850 ATK each, or consolidate into the new Majester Paladin, the Ascending Dracoslayer.
That's just one spin on the basic combo, and you haven't even used Performage Trick Clown's effect yet. As more cards are released in the future – chiefly new Performapals in Breakers of Shadow in January – stuff gets even crazier. And I'm not sure when we'll see Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer, but once it's released you can search that with Wavering Eyes instead to destroy the two Plushfires you Pendulum Summon, triggering more Special Summon effects and extending the reach of the combo to crazy lengths.
Expect this to be a problem.
Good news! All Level 4 Performages are now even more relevant due to Performage Plushfire. Performage Mirror Conductor fills that Scale 3 position to complement Plushfire at Scale 5, and its effect has extra combo potential with some more off-the-wall Performage plays since it's an easy source of self-inflicted damage.
Its little hands are creepy, and it fits into certain combos we may or may not see in the near future depending on upcoming card releases.
And that's it for Part 1! That was a lot of discussion that at the very least, I found worthwile. But depending on your perspective it might've just been an introduction to Performage Plushfire and not much else; Dimension of Chaos is a divisive release like that. Check back tomorrow for Part 2, where we'll discuss the Majespecters, the new Igknights, and some legacy gems for recent themes like Deskbots and the Prediction Princesses, plus casual fair like the new Graydle and Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier themes.
Hang in there, because the set does get better.