That starts to change here at the midpoint of our Giant Set Review, as we examine the Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monsters. Let's start with one of the most supported cards in the release: Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier.
The Black Luster Soldier theme that emerges in this set is kind of a fascinating train wreck, studded with lots of highs and lows. While some of the support surrounding Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier is questionable at best, the core cards involved are really pretty solid. Clocking in at Level 8, you unleash Super Soldier with Super Soldier Ritual, and you can pay for half of its Tribute with the Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands you probably used to search one of the two Ritual cards involved.
Tribute off Beginning Knight or Evening Twilight Knight as the other half and you unleash a powerful multi-staged threat with some strong abilities, courtesy of the Knight you Tributed. Super Soldier has 3000 ATK and if your opponent destroys it, you get a Gaia The Fierce Knight monster from your deck, hand, or graveyard – likely the new Gaia The Fierce Knight' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight">Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight, since it's the best of the bunch.
That means on a base level, Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier generally demands three cards and delivers two in return. If you searched one of them with Manju it becomes a 2-for-2, and the banishing effect of Beginning Knight or Evening Twilight Knight turns it into a +1 the first turn it hits the field. Each Knight grants a secondary effect that can deliver a plus of card economy as well, albeit one that requires a successful attack or only delivers temporary card advantage. Regardless, a +1 off a simple combo strapped to a 3000 ATK self-replacing body's far from bad.
But as solid as your first Super Soldier may be, it's the successive copies that are the most interesting. Once you've played Super Soldier Ritual you can banish it along with a Dark and a Light monster from your graveyard to Special Summon another Black Luster Soldier Ritual – probably another Super Soldier, since the original Black Luster Soldier's not really worth playing. Banishing Beginning Knight will get you a free Ritual Spell from your deck, too, while Evening Twilight Knight gets you a Ritual Monster.
That creates a solid flow where your first Super Soldier hits the field with at least one Knight effect for a potential +1 or better over time. Then your second copy arrives without any bonus effects, but still provides a 3000 ATK body with the possibility of burn, and then you get free combo pieces to make your third. That 1-2-3 punch is a pretty obvious play pattern, backed by the free Gaia The Fierce Knight' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight">Charging Gaia The Fierce Knight each Super Soldier revives.
That strategy's weak to non-destruction removal that would keep Super Soldier from hitting the graveyard, and the burn effect won't work against Pendulum Monsters, but overall the strategy's a bit stronger than it looks once you shift your focus to the fundamentals; just ignore the chaffy Level 1's and weak support cards. ("Black Luster? More like, "Lack Luster," am I right?... Guys?")
As much as I was bagging on this theme back in Part 1, the stripped down engine really is pretty cool. Sadly the yard stick for Ritual Summons is now Nekroz, and this theme lacks the consistency that made Nekroz so attractive.
Demanding two D/D/D monsters as its Fusion Materials, D/D/D Wave Oblivion King Caesar Ragnarok is much tougher to Summon than D/D/D Oracle King d'Arc. Since it can't use D/D monsters as Fusion Materials you can't Fusion Summon it with D/D Swirl Slime or D/D Necro Slime, leaving you to rely on Dark Contract with the Swamp King, which is fine because it's a great card that you were probably going to run anyways. It's not actually that tough to Summon Caesar Ragnarok in the mid-game, since Dark Contract with the Swamp King lets you use Materials from your graveyard and those are going to stack up pretty fast as long as you didn't get totally mauled in your early turns.
Once Caesar Ragnarok hits the field it's legitimately impressive. With an ability that clears the field, boosts its own ATK, and helps you manage your Dark Contracts to prevent damage and obfuscate your opponent's removal decisions, it wins games very quickly. And even if your opponent manages to destroy it, you did make it for free by banishing stuff from your graveyard anyways. That's important, because it's big, but has no protection effects. Frankly this card would've been worth playing even if it was only slightly better than Oracle King d'Arc, simply because you run out of King d'Arcs as the game wears on. The fact that it happens to be a tremendous game-ender is a sweet bonus.
Personally I feel like the entire D/D/D theme's undersold. There's good stuff there amongst all the irrelevant cards and overly lengthy effect text, especially now that there's no Evilswarm Exciton Knight to blow away your loaded field and rob you of all your Dark Contracts. We'll revisit this discussion in the conclusion to our Giant Set Review and you'll see what I mean.
Frightfur Sabre-Tooth's actually quite similar, acting as a mid-game finisher that builds off the use of a previous Fusion Monster as Material. In this case it looks for a Frightfur Fusion Monster. Hitting the field off the spell card Frightfur Fusion, Sabre-Tooth scales depending on where you're at in the duel. You can bring it out as a 2800 ATK beater alone if you have just one Frightfur in your graveyard, boosting its own ATK. If you have two Frightfurs you can revive one of them along the way, and on a parallel axis you can banish a third card for your Fusion Summon to make Sabre-Tooth immune to destruction.
That's a lot of options, and a lot of different ways to play Sabre-Tooth depending on where you are in the game and what you need to reserve cards in your graveyard for. Remember too that the Frightfurs this thing can Special Summon are all pretty great. At a bare minimum you'll get 2000 ATK out of a Frightfur Wolf or Frightfur Sheep, with the latter being a tenacious self-reviver. Frightfur Tiger only packs a printed 1900 ATK, but it boosts all your Frightfurs by 300 ATK for every Frightfur and Fluffal you control; with a field of Sabre-Tooth and Tiger that's a minimum of 600 ATK for each, putting Sabre-Tooth to 3400 ATK and boosting Tiger to 2900.
I really felt like the Fluffal deck had promise over the past year, but it was pinned down by the overwhelming adaptability and higher power level of the biggest strategies. With those cards gone, and Frightfur Sabre-Tooth lending more power in the mid-game, Fluffals could score some upsets in the new format.
Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon plays a lot like Gladiator Beast Heraklinos for Pendulum decks. Hitting the table and immediately bouncing a face-up attack position monster off your opponent's field, it can negate and destroy a card on either player's turn at the cost of a face-up Pendulum card sent from your Extra Deck, back into your Main Deck. While Vortex Dragon's best played in the mid-game once you've had time to stack a few Pendulums to your Extra Deck, it can still be an easy push in the early game since it can give quick card advantage, fast control over the field, and swoops in for solid damage.
It helps that Vortex Dragon's really easy to Summon. Performapal Splashmammoth can fuse itself with any Odd-Eyes monster to unleash it as a -1 that then bumps a monster from the field and comes locked and loaded for two negations. Dragon's Mirror might not seem as useful as it normally would be, since your Materials won't accumulate in the the graveyard right off the bat and you don't generally play the Mirror for a hard minus, but certain moves will land those Materials in the yard anyways.
The new Odd-Eyes Fusion steps in to help with that, making Vortex Dragon a force to be reckoned with. We'll discuss it more in Part 4, because there are some intricacies I'd rather spend real time on instead of blowing through them here. For now, know that it makes Vortex Dragon really easy to bring out.
In a set filled with complicated cards, Red Dragon Archfiend' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend">Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend's a breath of fresh air – it's much simpler than the name might suggest. As a generic Level 8, it wipes the field of Special Summoned Effect Monsters with 3000 ATK or less and then burns your opponent for each monster destroyed. It's powerful, offers more choice and flexibility than the original Red Dragon Archfiend, and seems all the more appealing now, with Evilswarm Exciton Knight out of the picture.
Since Scarlight's name counts as "Red Dragon Archfiend" while it's on the field there are lots of theme-y casual gimmicks with it, but I think the only combo that really matters is just "Scarlight + A Bunch Of Yang Zings." Since the Yang Zings all replace themselves when they're destroyed, you can use Scarlight to clear the field, burn your opponent for all the monsters you destroyed, dealing extra damage for your own cards without actually losing anything in the process. The Yang Zing Synchro-boosting effects will make it tougher for your opponent to get Red Dragon Archfiend' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend">Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend off the field, and its 3000 ATK plus repeated burn damage will end games in something like two turns; faster if you got in a few early shots and make the most of your Yang Zings.
It's almost strange that Scarlight's effect doesn't come with an attack restriction. It's a tremendously powerful card that's wildly accessible, and while a Pendulum strategy may just Pendulum Summon back everything it loses to blunt that ability, you're still dealing a ton of damage if your opponent pushes and can't get Scarlight off the field.
If Dimension of Chaos had more cards like this one, the Yugiverse would have a higher opinion of the set as a whole.
Dimension of Chaos offers some strange options in the field of Blackwing Synchro Summons; there aren't many cases where you'd want to treat Assault Blackwing – Raikiri the Rain Shower as a Tuner monster. Luckily its destruction effect is crazy-good, making it a solid play any time you can muster a field of a few Blackwings. Raikiri the Rain Shower's destruction effect isn't limited to just monsters, so the ability to clear away your opponent's Pendulum Spells can be tremendous in the right match-ups. It's still a great card everywhere else too, taking out backrows and monsters alike.
Raikiri the Rain Shower will likely become an early game priority for Blackwing players too, because it fills a hole the deck really needed to fill; it's an amazing target for Blackwing Tamer – Obsidian Hawk Joe's revival ability. Synchro Summoning Raikiri the Rain Shower on its own is good enough when you've got a couple smaller Blackwings around, but once you Summon your first copy, you can redirect future Level 7 Synchro Summons to Obsidian Hawk Joe instead. That revives Raikiri the Rain Shower with at least one card of free removal, making your 2-for-1 play into Obsidian Hawk Joe an immediate +1 at the least, fielding 5200 ATK.
We've seen a lot of pretty lame Blackwing monsters released over the last couple years, but this could be the one that finally brings the deck back into competition as a competitive sleeper pick. Assault Blackwing – Raikiri the Rain Shower makes key Blackwings more powerful, and offers a strong edge in the Pendulum era.
With the big influx of D/D/D cards introduced in Dimension of Chaos, you'd think they'd all be playable by now. And yet, D/D/D Duo-Dawn King Kali Yuga suggests otherwise.
King Kali Yuga requires two Level 8 D/D's as Xyz Materials, but currently in the TCG, we only have one Level 8 D/D monster – the new boss monster D/D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok, which we'll discuss later on in Part 5. While it's vaguely possible to field two Abyss Ragnaroks at once, its status as a Pendulum Monster actually makes it more difficult than one might assume, keeping it out of the graveyard from whence copies could be easily revived. While it's searchable and can be Special Summoned with effects like D/D Swirl Slime, it's still a ton of hoops to jump through to Summon two copies and consolidate them into one Xyz.
You could try to Summon Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok, Berfomet' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=D/D Berfomet">D/D Berfomet, and then something else to tweak up to Level 8 with Berfomet's effect, but I really think you've got better stuff to do with that kind of investment. Let alone the fact that Extra Deck space is tight, and King Kali Yuga just won't be relevant enough to justify its use.
D/D/D Duo-Dawn King Kali Yuga will be more worthwhile once we see more Level 8 D/D's in upcoming releases. For now, I think it's a non-factor.
Also irrelevant for the moment: Raidraptor – Fiend Eagle. The Raidraptor theme's revolved around Level 4's since its inception, and while the deck's newest monsters are gearing toward Rank 3's, the cards just aren't there yet to make that competitive.
The fact that Raidraptor – Fiend Eagle's burn effect is of variable worth across a spread of match-ups, and that it only commands 1000 attack points, are just two more final nails in its coffin. We need to see more cards to make this thing work, and realistically, what we really needed were more Level 4's for a strategy that's never been workable anyways. Raidraptor – Necro Vulture from the OCG's Wing Raiders Special Booster would be a start, but it's still going to take a lot more than that.
We talked about Graydle Dragon back in Part 2, since it's inextricably linked to Graydle Slime. To give you a refresher, the play there is to control two Graydle cards at once and destroy them to Special Summon Graydle Slime, a Level 5 Tuner. Its ability then revives a Graydle from your graveyard, and since the rest of the Graydle tribe are all Level 3's that leads straight into a Synchro Summon for Graydle Dragon, powered by two Water monsters.
That's important, because Graydle Dragon destroys opposing cards up to the number of Water monsters used for its Synchro Summon. In theory that could open up some utility in other Water decks that happen to have Aqua Tuners, but the card's obviously at its best in Graydles. With 3000 ATK and a two-card destruction trick, Graydle Dragon costs effectively three cards to Synchro Summon - two Graydles to Special Summon Graydle Slime, and the Slime itself – and then breaks even with a +2 effect plus its own field presence.
If Graydle Dragon's ever destroyed it replaces itself with another Water monster from your graveyard, but it negates that card's effect. Also, Graydle Slime can be revived from your graveyard once you get it into play, again destroying two cards to Special Summon it, so the card economy gets better and better the longer you survive. You have this situation where it's kind of difficult to get everything off the ground, but once you do your plays become more repeatable and more efficient in terms of card economy.
All in all, the more disruption your opponent plays the tougher it'll be to make this strategy work; if you never get thing started because you can never stick two Graydles at once for Graydle Slime, everything collapses. But if you're up against a deck with less disruption, Graydle Dragon's got big ATK, an effect that can rend your opponent's monsters and Pendulum Scales alike, and it all becomes repeatable as long as your opponent doesn't start banishing, spinning, or bouncing your cards.
At the end of the day this strategy's viability will come down to metagame composition, and while I don't like its chances for high-level tournaments there's definitely some potential.
I mentioned Deskbot Jet in brief earlier on, and highlighted the fact that it synergizes really well with Deskbot 005 and Deskbot 006. Both are Pendulum Monsters, and that makes them unique in their interactions with this card.
First, Deskbot Jet's not exactly easy to Summon, since it's a Level 10 Synchro. That's a lot of cards to give up when your only Tuner is the Level 1 Deskbot 001. You could delve into hybridized builds that offer easier Synchro Summons and monsters of higher Levels – stuff like Machinas and Karakuris – but if you want to stay purely on theme then the Pendulum Deskbots will be integral to your efforts. Pairing Deskbot 001 with 005 or 006 means you'll only have to give up one more Deskbot for your Synchro Summon, so it can be as easy as fielding Deskbot 001 followed by Deskbot 003 to Special Summon Deskbot 006 from your deck. When you Tune with Deskbot 006 it heads to your Extra Deck, where it fuels future copies of 005 and 006 and can feature in Pendulum Summons later. You're really only taking a -1 to make that play happen, and you can recover the investment later on.
Next up, both of Deskbot Jet's abilities destroy a face-up Deskbot card you control, to either Special Summon another Deskbot from your deck, or destroy another face-up card on the field. Deskbots love to swarm and your Normal Summon's often important to the strategy, so the best way to use those abilities is to destroy a Deskbot from your Pendulum Zone.
You can actually destroy a Deskbot Pendulum Spell to place it in your Extra Deck, then Special Summon another copy of the same card from your Main Deck with Deskbot to give it an ATK boost with the Pendulum you just popped. The same trick over several turns can help make your 005's and 006's very, very big, even if it just means cycling one from your Monster Zones again and again. Remember, destroying Deskbot 005 or Deskbot 006 from your Pendulum Zone activates their Pendulum Effects, giving you more searches and Special Summons. You start stacking up free cards really fast.
Meanwhile you can destroy Deskbot monsters in a pinch, too, including Deskbot Jet itself. That's not as good as far as card economy's concerned, but if it wins you the game by bringing out a mass buff like Deskbot 002 it's obviously worthwhile. There's huge flexibility in this thing; you just need to be careful consolidating, because the wrong move could leave you with no Deskbot Jet and a pool of mismatched cards.
Summoning Majester Paladin, the Ascending Dracoslayer means overlaying two Level 4 Pendulum Monsters. That tells you where it's likely to see play: Igknights, Majespecters, Performage Performapals, and the upcoming Pendulum Magicians can all run it, and they'll all want to do so to varying degrees.
While Majester Paladin usually won't offer much more ATK than the two Pendulums you overlay for it, its effects can be hugely valuable. Searching a free Pendulum monster effectively makes Majester Paladin a 1-for-1, so as long as you can resolve that effect reliably the card's a no-brainer. Second, it's the only Xyz Monster you can Summon with Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer, and Luster Pendulum's the only Dracoslayer it can currently Special Summon from your Extra Deck with Majester's second effect.
So if you take a minus to Xyz Summon this thing, you'll automatically break even in the End Phase when you search another card. But if you play Luster Pendulum, then Majester becomes a +1 when you use it to Special Summon Luster Pendulum from your Extra Deck. If it survives a turn it can do that again, getting you another plus.
I'm not sure this is worth running in Pendulum decks that don't run Luster Pendulum, but if you're playing it then Majester Paladin, the Ascending Dracoslayer's an obviously good choice that multiplies your card presence in very active ways. Searching cards, thinning your deck, and effectively fielding 1850 ATK for free are all great ways to advance your position and pressure your opponent. It's a great card now, and it's only going to get better as we see more Dracoslayers and more Level 4 Pendulum strategies in the future.
And that's it! Those are all the Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monsters in the Dimension of Chaos core set, dissected for your reading pleasure. Join us again tomorrow when we start our look at the spells and traps – one of the highlights of the release.