Let's start with one of the most advertised suites of cards in the set – the contentious mix of support that constitutes the new Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier strategy.
Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight is an intriguing form of support for the Super Soldier theme. I'm not tremendously excited about the Super Soldier cards myself, but I like what's going on with the design in this particular card.
If you're Tributing Charging Gaia away you're probably pitching it along with a Level 1 to Ritual Summon the Super Soldier. The search effect can then grab you Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning from your deck, which is really a very solid follow-up given the attribute skew in any likely build. Then when Super Soldier hits the graveyard, you can revive Charging Gaia and it can become banish fodder later, for stuff like Envoy of the Beginning or the new Ritual Spell.
But what I like about it is the way it taps into the Gaia Knight theme's Normal Summon mechanic, giving you the option to just Normal it as a 1900 ATK beater if you draw it and don't want to Tribute it. It ensures that Charging Gaia has utility when you can't assemble a combo, but keeps it useful as a full-powered revive target later in the game. That's clever. I don't know if it's clever enough to make me want to build a Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier deck, but it's good design and that's nice to see.
Super Soldier Soul is another sort of fallback card for the Super Soldier theme, giving you something to do with a Black Luster Soldier when you can't Summon it. The card economy's not great here, but it's worth noting that a yarded Black Luster Soldier can still be useful in the graveyard, and Super Soldier Soul's a Level 1 to match the Level 7 Tribute of Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight.
The ability to search a Beginning Knight or Evening Twilight Knight is solid, but kind of just serves as a reminder that playing this theme ties you to a bunch of bulky combo cards that force your play sequences in directions you might not necessarily want them to go. If I was building a Super Soldier deck this probably wouldn't make the cut.
Sphere Kuriboh might be a bit better, shielding you from an attack and then stepping in as the Level 1 to match Gaia The Fierce Knight' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight">Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight. That said, there's a contradicting pair of synergies here, creating conflict between the options of making your Ritual Summon with a Level 1 and a Level 7, or making it with two Level 4's. When you make that comparison the Level 4's are going to win out every time with superior card economy and better effects.
Let's look at those Level 4's so you can see why the Level 1's are probably not the way to go.
Evening Twilight Knight and Beginning Knight have a few differences, and a lot in common. Their stats are the same, making them mid-sized chump Blockers in a pinch. They're both Level 4, so when you're Tribute Summoning a Level 8 you can use the two of them together, or just uses one with another Level 4. Like say, that Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands you probably have on the field. Both cards grant a free monster banishing effect to your Super Soldier, and since those two effects are considered to be different abilities, Tributing both Knights will let you banish up to two monsters in a go.
Evening Twilight Knight grants a hand disruption effect that can deprive your opponent of one card once per turn, without actually creating a permanent minus of card economy. The effect's better than it looks, since that temporary card advantage becomes a hard plus if you control the game and your opponent's down a card for the rest of the duel. Like PSY-Framelord Omega, peeking at that temporarily banished card can also make Mind Crush more useful too.
Banish Evening Twilight Knight for the Special Summon of Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning or the graveyard effect of Super Soldier Ritual, and you'll get a free Ritual Monster from your deck. Note that since Twilight Knight's a Dark, it combos for those banishing moves with Gaia The Fierce Knight' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight">Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight, a Light monster.
Beginning Knight is a Little Different, offering your Ritual Monster an effect that mimics Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning's Double Attack and searching a Ritual Spell when it's banished.
As a Light monster itself it may not fit your long term banishing plans quite as easily as Twilight Knight, since you'll generally run far more Lights than Darks – especially if you're playing Honest and Manju. But the difference is fairly negligible as long as you're aware of it; both cards are worth running if you're going to build a dedicated Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier deck.
Vector Pendulum, The Dracoverlord is an interesting concept. Essentially it's a floodgate for Pendulum effects, letting your opponent keep their Scale but depriving them of stuff like Igknight searches. Unfortunately Qliphorts are gone, Majespecters don't have Pendulum effects to begin with, and Performage Plushfire's key ability when played as a Pendulum Spell is actually still a monster effect.
It's eminently searchable as a Normal Pendulum, and it might be more worthwhile when the Master of Pendulum Structure Deck arrives, but for now Vector Pendulum largely just occupies a niche that fails to be competitively relevant; unfortunately a bit of a common pitfall in Dimension of Chaos.
Majespecters are awesome, and will likely be competitively relevant the moment they go tournament legal this weekend. If they don't make an impact at YCS San Jose, they almost certainly will once all the top decks are killed off the Monday following. The four core Majespecters all have powerful search effects and are all Pendulum Monsters building a Scale that lets you Pendulum Summon Level 3's and Level 4's, so the deck explodes with a ton of free cards. It then controls the game with powerful spells and traps, many of which have Tribute costs but are effectively free since you can just Pendulum Summon back whatever you Tribute.
All the Main Deck Majespecters share an ability that keeps them from being targeted or destroyed by your opponent's card effects. That means that whatever search effect you look to activate, you're opponent can't stop it with Breakthrough Skill, Fiendish Chain, or Effect Veiler. And if you build a big field of Majespecter monsters you've got two different layers of protection: immunity to mass monster removal, and the general assurance that if your opponent clears your field by battle your monsters are coming back next turn off a Pendulum Summon… searching even more cards in the process.
Majespecter Cat – Nekotama's a Level 3 Rank 2, and it searches any "Majespecter" card from your deck in the End Phase when it was Normal or Special Summoned. Monsters, spells, and traps are all fair game. Note that it's the only Majespecter searcher that works on a time delay, and its low ATK combined with high DEF makes it a prime candidate for a defense mode Pendulum Summon followed by a Tribute effect on your opponent's turn. While all the Majespecters are strong, the time delay on Nekotama's effect makes it the weakest of the bunch and the first to be slimmed down when you need deck space.
Majespecter Raccoon – Bunbuku searches instantly when it's Normal or Special Summoned, getting you a Majespecter monster. It has slightly better stats than Nekotama, clocking in at 1200 ATK. Bunbuku's integral to your early game since it quickly grabs whatever Pendulum Monster you need to establish your scale, and it retains value throughout the game as it can search Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin.
Each Level pair of Majespecters comprises a full Pendulum Scale: Nekotama and Bunbuku are Scales 2 and 5 respectively, while the next pair share the same 2/5 split.
Majespecter Crow – Yata fetches a Majespecter spell card, grabbing you the Quick-Play monster destruction card Majespecter Cyclone, or the similar Majespecter Storm.
The Majespecter traps are more impressive than the spells, and some players may wind up skipping Majespecter Storm entirely. But Yata's ability to search the flexible Majespecter Cyclone makes it a priority and a powerful part of the strategyd. While Yata's ATK is inferior to Bunbuku's, it's still a Level 4 for notably better Xyz Summons. Choosing when to pull the trigger on your Xyz gameplan is a big part of this strategy, and Yata's tremendously important as a result. Since two of the four core Majespecters are Level 4 and all of them are Wind, you get to play a normal Rank 4 toolbox plus the uber-powerful Lightning Chidori.
Finally, Majespecter Fox – Kyubi seeks out Majespecter Tornado and the deck's clutch control card, Majespecter Tempest. With the highest ATK of the four basic Majespecters and an effect that searches the deck's version of Solemn Warning, it's tremendously important.
Which isn't to say the other Majespecter spell and traps are not. In fact, it's rare to see a strategy where the central cards are all so uniformly good. It's one of the signs a strategy's going to be competitive from the get-go.
Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin's sort of a boss monster for the Majespecters, packing 2000 ATK and a Level that makes it too big for you to Pendulum Summon. Tribute Summoning it is practically free though, and it lets you reuse key effects while mimicking Compulsory Evacuation Device. Play your cards right, and you can actually play Archfiend Eccentrick as the upper end of your Scale and Xyz Summons Kirin anyways.
The kind of field-clearing Kirin offers is really valuable when none of your Main Decked monsters have battle-worthy attack points, and opposing monsters can be so difficult to deal with. While Rank 4's are often very good at clearing the way for a push, that kind of consolidation can drain your Extra Deck of Pendulum Monsters, while Tributing for Kirin's practically free. The fact that it can't be targeted or destroyed by opposing effects is icing on the cake, pressuring your opponent to make big Summons straight into all your theme-stamped removal.
And while that might not be a boss monster on the level of say, Judgment Dragon or Infernoid Onuncu, Kirin's so easily searched with Majespecter Raccoon – Bunbunku that it doesn't need to be overpowered to win games. It just has to be wildly consistent; a strength of the Majespecter theme through and through.
Igknight Veteran and Igknight Cavalier complete Level pairings that were left unfinished in Clash of Rebellions, giving you a Level 6 Igknight to go with Igknight Gallant and a Level 5 for Igknight Margrave; cards that hit harder and make more interesting Xyz Summons than the Level 3 Igknights, creating more redundancy and variety in your Igknight build.
Previously these cards would've been at a bit of a disadvantage, unsearchable by Reinforcement of the Army due to their higher Level. But now that ROTA's Limited instead of an instant three-of, the silver lining is that these cards are easier to justify. While Igknight Veteran's not an amazing beatstick on its own, Igknight Cavalier certainly is, lending the deck some utility and maneuverability when you don't want to consolidate into an Xyz.
The Graydles are intriguing. They don't look like much at first, and they're a bit narrow due a complicated central mechanic and an insufficient number of cards so far, but there's some unique stuff going on. The theme currently stands as a Level 8 Synchro, three Level 3 non-Tuners, and a Level 5 Tuner – the gentleman above, Graydle Slime. If you squint it kinda looks like he's flipping you off, and while the deck isn't entirely consistent, it can certainly deliver experiences to your opponent that can make that a fitting impression.
You can Special Summon Graydle Slime from your hand, or better yet revive it from your graveyard, by destroying two of your Graydle cards on the field: monsters, spells, or traps. Since the Graydles have a really powerful Continuous Spell and a very solid Continuous Trap, that flexibility's important; it's tough to actually keep two Graydle monsters on the field long enough to destroy them for Graydle Slime. Getting to the Slime itself isn't tough, since both Continuous cards search it under different conditions and you can keep playing the same copy from your yard. But sticking two Graydles to the field is tricky and you'd really rather get your strategy into motion without destroying your spells and traps.
When you do manage to Summon Graydle Slime that way, it immediately revives another Graydle so you can go into a Synchro Summon. You don't have to make Graydle Dragon, but it's a 3000 ATK monster that usually destroys up to two cards on the field, so it's a great option if you can get everything going. The Dragon even replaces itself with a weaker monster should it be destroyed, and since it can revive a Graydle, that can help you get the two cards you need to bring back Graydle Slime and start all over again.
In the interest of helping you assemble your field of Graydle monsters and preserving your support cards, each of the three Level 3 Graydles has a deterrent effect that can keep your opponent from destroying it. If a Level 3 Graydle's destroyed in battle it equips itself to an opposing monster of your choice, giving you control of that monster. And while effects like these usually return control of the monster to your opponent if your card's destroyed, the pilfered monster actually just explodes if your Graydle's eliminated. Not bad.
Each Graydle has an additional trigger for its ability: Graydle Alligator can trigger when it's destroyed by a spell effect; Graydle Cobra takes an opposing monster when it's whacked by a trap; and Graydle Eagle triggers off monster effects. The Eagle's ability may be the least useful, but it has a solid 1500 ATK to compensate.
The keen part of all this is that the Graydle effects work even if you ram the Graydle into your opponent's monster, or destroy it yourself. So if there's no Graydle Slime combo in sight, you can always just try and trade some Life Points to take another monster instead. It's not a bad gameplan, but it tends to struggle quite a bit with big backrows; outside of the kamikaze plan and the chance to make Level 8 Synchro Summons in vulnerable conditions the strategy just doesn't do much. It has potential though, and I'm eager to see where it winds up over time. For now, it's another set of cards in the "Not Yet" Dimension of Chaos bucket.
The Legendary Fisherman III is such a weird card. When people asked for more legacy cards, I'm not sure The Legendary Fisherman support was exactly what they had in mind.
Banishing all your opponent's monsters from the field gives instant compensation for the trouble you'll have to go through to Summon and then Tribute away The Legendary Fisherman. While A legendary Ocean makes The Legendary Fisherman easy to Normal Summon, neither card is easy to search: you'll generally have to draw into The Legendary Fisherman III to get to it, and the only real way to search the original Legendary Fisherman is to Transmodify a Water Warrior. Since Elemental Hero Bubbleman and Elemental Hero Ocean both fit the bill there's definitely an angle there for you to work, but it's firmly rooted in the casual realm of "decks you'd try to build just to see it work once."
If you do manage to field The Legendary Fisherman III it's pretty difficult for some decks to get rid of. Like similar monsters before it, it's really only weak to non-destruction monster effects, so you'd need something like Constellar Pleiades, Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer, or Number 101: Silent Honor ARK to get it off the field. Granted, since those are all easy-access Xyz Monsters, the task is far from impossible. This thing's a blast from the past, but it's obviously not competitive.
Assault Blackwing – Kunai the Drizzle is clearly meant to help you recalibrate your field when you control a Synchro monster, but if you have an extra Blackwing to Tribute, a spare Synchro kicking around, and this thing in your hand, I imagine you're probably going to win the game anyways. It's difficult to conceive of a generic Synchro monster that would be worth giving up three cards for in the first place.
Kunai feels like a costly Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier or an awkward Ultimaya Tzolkin at best. Thankfully Blackwings get a far better card with a ton of competitive promise, which we'll discuss in Part 3.
Skilled Red Magician feels a little underpowered, sitting at 1600 ATK and 1600 DEF. Going strictly off stats, it's inferior to Skilled White Magician, Skilled Black Magician, and Skilled Blue Magician. But then you look at the actual range of cards Red Magician can Special Summon and the compromise begins to make sense: it can Summon nearly 30 different cards.
Granted, the odds of you finding a compelling reason to Summon something like Archfiend Marmot of Nefariousness are slim. But I've long been intrigued by the idea of a dedicated Archfiend deck and I haven't forgotten that we actually saw a couple impressive showings from the deck in big events, around the time Judgment of the Light released. The ability to search and Summon Archfiend Emperor, the First Lord of Horror without any drawbacks is huge. Archfiend Empress has tremendous synergy with the Emperor as well, and stuff like Archfiend Commander and Red-Eyes Archfiend of Lightning can be worthwhile. Archfiend Cavalry, Archfiend Heiress, and Archfiend Eccentrick are all strong picks in their own ways too.
In fact, Archfiend Eccentrick might be the key piece of the puzzle here, giving you one half of a Pendulum Scale that covers all but your biggest Archfiends. The theme's not inherently heavy on spells even if you choose to run Falling Down, but if you Normal Summon Skilled Red Magician and then play two Pendulum Spells you're one card away from your free Special Summon. I'm not convinced there's really a strategy here, but if there is, it seems to want Pendulums as the foundation of a variety of synergies. The fact that a fallen Skilled Red can power up an on-field copy is interesting too.
Slowly but surely, Wyrms are getting more and more interesting. While Tribute Summoning Giant Pairfish would be a pain, just like waiting around to draw into it would be, it's an excellent pull with Unmasked Dragon. With 2000 ATK it's not going to leave the field without a fight, and there are some solid choices for its effect.
Magma Dragon can revive another Wyrm to give a quick 2-for-1 and field some delayed damage (whatever it Special Summons comes out in defense mode). Dragon Dowser remains perennially promising, and even Mystery Shell Dragon's an alright beatstick when you're getting it for free – especially on top of a Magma Dragon. Even Lindbloom has some potential.
Giant Pairfish is another tough card to comment on because like so many cards from DOCS, it fills obvious roles in strategies that just aren't finished yet. At some point Giant Pairfish may very well become an important card. For now it's a curiosity; a Summoning engine for monsters that don't really exist at just this moment.
Toon Barrel Dragon continues the recent tradition of Toon Monsters That Look Worse Than They Actually Are Because They Don't Implode When Your Opponent Destroys Toon Kingdom. Toon Cyber Dragon was massively underrated because a lot of people either didn't notice that it has no self-destruct clause, or just undervalued its worth anyways. Unfortunately Barrel Dragon' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Toon Barrel Dragon">Toon Barrel Dragon suffers from the same problem as Ancient Gear Golem' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Toon Ancient Gear Golem">Toon Ancient Gear Golem: a Tribute cost that's simply too high.
Toons remain a difficult strategy to design for, currently underpowered but constantly teetering on the brink of tremendous power if they only received some support to solve their core challenges. That's the problem with a deck that has strong support cards and a core mechanic of "ignore your opponent's monsters entirely" – the moment you make the monster cards consistently viable, the general mechanics threaten to get out of hand quite quickly.
Toon Barrel Dragon won't change that. What we need are more Level 3 and Level 4 Toons like this one, with immunity to Toon Kingdom's destruction but without a Tribute cost.
In a set that's so often about putting cards aside and hoping they're viable in the future, Pot of The Forbidden brings a past strategy to life: Prediction Princesses!
Mimicking the effects of Pot of Greed, Giant Trunade, Raigeki, or The Forceful Sentry, you can Special Summon Pot of The Forbidden with Prediction Princess Coinorma's Flip Effect. If you can set her and block an attack, replacing her with Pot of The Forbidden guarantees a +2 at minimum when its effect resolves and you choose to draw two cards. The Pot isn't fragile either, with a strong 2000 ATK and even beefier 3000 DEF that makes for an unexpected follow-up to an already powerful set of abilities.
Since Pot of The Forbidden's Level 9, it's a one-shot Tribute for the Ritual Summon of Prediction Princes Tarotrei, too. Because Tarotrei Special Summons a Flip Effect Monster from your hand or graveyard in face-down defense in each of your End Phases, you can flip Pot of The Forbidden for its effect, Tribute it off, and then bring it back face-down again in the same turn. Tarotrei's flip-flopping effects then take over, giving you a chance to unleash any of its abilities on your opponent's turn. She can then continue making Special Summons on successive turns, and keeps on flipping your first Pot of The Forbidden up and down as long as both cards can survive.
We saw some interesting hybrid builds of the Prediction Princess theme when the cards first debuted in DRL2, but now you can actually put together a dedicated deck. Pot of The Forbidden even works with Burst Rebirth, giving the Princesses another new trick that can benefit key cards you were already playing. You'll be seeing some articles on Prediction Princess decks some time in the near future here on TCGplayer, so stay tuned.
Dr. Frankenderp is a cute idea with a handful of Psychic synergies and no real practical application. Moving on.
Suddenly, Deskbots are a Pendulum strategy!
Clash of Rebellions gave us the first-ever Deskbot Pendulum Monster in Deskbot 005, but with a Pendulum Scale of 10, an effect that limited you to only Pendulum Summoning Deskbots, and no on-theme card offering a lower Scale, it failed to make big changes to the theme.
Now, with Deskbot 006 sitting comfortably at Scale 1, Pendulum Summoning can become a full-fledged cornerstone of the theme. Since several Deskbots power up your field with ATK boosts and get exponentially more dangerous when you field several at once, that's a big deal; the more ways you can deploy your Deskbots the more ways you can craft OTK's. Both Deskbot 005 and Deskbot 006 work a bit differently, instead gaining ATK for each face-up Deskbot in your Extra Deck, but the tone's still very similar. Note too that 005 and 006 both have effects that get you free cards when they're destroyed as Pendulum Spells: 005 revives a Deskbot from your graveyard, while 006 fetches one back to your hand.
All those new abilities dovetail with the new Deskbot boss monster, Deskbot Jet, which we'll discuss at length tomorrow in Part 3. But for now, just know that the Jet gains ATK for every Deskbot on the field – including Pendulum Spells – and destroys Deskbot cards to generate effects. That helps stack your Extra deck to beef up 005 and 006, and it can trigger their destruction abilities.
That's it for today! The Effect Monsters in the first half of Dimension of Chaos are the roughest part of the set; it's an awkward mix of near-misses, not-yets, and some genuinely powerful cards. If you made it this far it's all down hill from here. Tomorrow we'll look at the Ritual, Fusion, Xyz, and Synchro Monsters, many of which are noteworthy, and then we'll proceed to Parts 4 and 5 to examine the uncharacteristically good spell and trap cards. Get ready for a tell-all look at some of the set's biggest hidden gems.