Welcome to Part 2! Yesterday we look at fifteen of my favorite effect monsters from the first half of Legacy of the Valiant, including two new themes debuting in the set: the Gorgonics and the promising Sylvans. Today we'll finish out our look at the Effect monsters in the core set, as it was first released in Japan, profiling new Ghostricks, new Bujins, and some clutch support cards that are going to elevate a number of casual strategies to new heights. Those one-shot cards for decks that were once purely casual are some of my favorite in the set, so pay special attention to them towards the end of today's discussion.

Let's get right to it!

#####CARDID=14206#####

Another addition to the Ghostrick Piper deck I mentioned in Part 1, Ghostrick Jackfrost is an alternative or a complement to Ghostrick Lantern: while it can't protect your monsters, it shields your Life Points by stopping an attack, and then Special Summons itself. The big difference is that while Ghostrick Lantern left your opponent's monster face-up and untouched, Ghostrick Jackfrost flips the offending attacker face-down and into Defense Position, where most monsters are far more vulnerable.

Jackfrost shuts off Continuous effects, blocks Xyz and Synchro plays planned for Main Phase 2, and makes ATK-boosting cards like Fire Formation – Tensen or themed support that require certain monsters – think Spellbook of Fate – totally irrelevant. It's an awesome, awesome card that you can play in a number of different strategies, bringing another useful hand trap into the game. The fact that Ghostricks now have a Rank 1 Xyz that acts as a sort of boss monster makes Jackfrost extremely valuable, too.

Oh, and just like how Kuriboh' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Rainbow Kuriboh">Rainbow Kuriboh was a Light monster? Ghostrick Jackfrost's a Dark, so it's more Chaos fodder. Sweet card! I'd love to see this get a foil treatment some day.

#####CARDID=14207#####

While Ghostrick Lantern and Ghostrick Jackfrost are geared to save you from damage, Ghostrick Mary lets you accept damage and then Special Summon any Ghostrick you want, from your deck, in face-down defense so you can use its ability on your next turn. That's nuts.

Ghostrick Jiangshi is the bread and butter of the Ghostrick strategy, searching a free card from your deck every turn so you can control the game, lock down opposing monsters, replace cards you lose, and eventually create wins. Every turn you keep Jiangshi on the field, the closer to victory you'll be. But getting to Jiangshi in the pre-LVAL days wasn't easy; you largely had to luck into it. Now you've got Mary to search it out whenever your opponent attacks you, punishing their aggression, setting you up with a free +1 right off the bat, and feeding you all the cards you need to claim victory.

It's so very, very good.

#####CARDID=14208#####

Impeding your opponent's attacks, as well as their Synchro and Xyz Summons, Ghostrick Nekomusume sits on the field forcing Level 4 and higher monsters into face-down defense when they hit the field. It's a frustrating monster if you don't have an answer to it, but you never want to depend on it as your one and only line of defense; it's best used as part of a layered gameplan, where you won't be totally screwed if your opponent destroys it.

Will Nekomusume see play? I'm not honestly sure. That deck really doesn't have a lot of room, especially for a monster with a passive ability like this one.

#####CARDID=14209#####

Ghostrick Skeleton is, to the best of my knowledge, awful. However it does have a very rare mechanic that I wish we'd see more of: it banishes cards face-down.

Banishing cards face-down means that effects which trigger upon banishing won't activate, and that cards you could normally Special Summon or retrieve won't be usable. It's a sweet mechanic that counters things like Leviair the Sea Dragon and D.D.R. – Different Dimension Reincarnation; it removes cards from the game in a very absolute way. I wish we'd see more of that, since every time a banish-costed card or an effect that grabs cards from the removed zone is released, banished cards get one step closer to becoming a third hand (after your actual hand and your graveyard).

So yeah. Ghostrick Skeleton? Probably not that huge; there are better ways to deck your opponent out. But it's worth a nod for the intriguing dialogue about design that it sparks.

#####CARDID=14210#####

The chief win condition of the standard Ghostrick deck is to build up a field of monsters, let them all attack directly with Ghostrick Mansion, and then go to town for a couple turns smashing your opponent's face. The problem?

That's a slow-ass plan. Ghostrick Mummy speeds it up by letting you make an additional Normal Summon, putting more damage on the table in a shorter span of time. That takes more cards, but thanks to Ghostrick Mary you're going to get to Ghostrick Jiangshi earlier in the game and see more free +1's anyways; you'll have more cards to play with, and Ghostrick Mummy lets you put them to work instead of leaving them stranded in your hand. If the standard Ghostrick deck is ever to be competitive, I feel like Ghostrick Mummy's going to be the difference-maker that lets them break out of the purely casual scene.

Also? Solid ATK, with 0 DEF and the Dark attribute for continued abuse of Recurring Nightmare. Awesome.

#####CARDID=14211#####

Let's not beat around the bush: at this very moment, Bujins are a bad choice for competitive tournaments. There's nothing wrong with the deck itself; thanks to new cards in Legacy of the Valiant Bujins have never been stronger. But the problem is the shape of competition, and the impact that's had on Side Decks. Players are running a ton of cards right now that happen to devastate Bujins, many of which aren't even being played for the Bujin matchup. Light-Imprisoning Mirror's bad enough. But add in Mistake, Soul Drain, DNA Surgery, Mind Drain, Macro Cosmos, Dimensional Fissure, Mind Crush and all the rest, and it's a really uphill battle for the Bujin player.

Part of that difficulty stems from the deck's linear playstyle: get Bujin Yamato to the field, grind out pluses, and don't let anything destroy your monster. Attack attack attack. That doesn't apply to all Bujin games, and I still believe Bujintei Kagutsuchi is a tremendous help that allows you to tilt the playing field in a different direction. But as game plans go, most Bujin duels are fairly predictable, and that's why I like Bujin Arasuda so much.

Arasuda has lower ATK than Bujin Yamato and Bujin Mikazuchi. Like Mikazuchi, its search effect is dependent on combos – it won't just grab you a free card on its own like Bujin Yamato. But what it lacks in independent power, it makes up in versatility. Its Special Summon effect makes Xyz Summoning Bujintei Susanowo or Bujintei Kagutsuchi much easier; a big step in the right direction, given how difficult it can be to make those Xyz in certain matchups. It's another Beast-Warrior to keep cards like Bujingi Crane and Bujingi Centipede live, and another valid Xyz Material for your Bujintei cards or Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Tiger King.

And the search effect? It's combo-driven, but it's still very good, since it can work with Fire Formation – Tenki. You can play that effect by Summoning Arasuda and Yamato together, often playing out Yamato first and then pressing your advantage with Arasuda, or doing the reverse: you can Summon Arasuda, activate Fire Formation – Tenki to get Yamato, and then reap the rewards of Arasuda's ability. That's the kind of non-linear play sequencing that Bujins have been missing, and Arasuda may go a long way toward fixing that problem.

…Or at least it might, once every Extra Deck isn't ten cards of anti-Bujin tech.

#####CARDID=14212#####

While Peacock' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Bujingi Peacock">Bujingi Peacock's effect is deeply restrictive, I feel like it's got a lot of potential. It's one of the most heatedly debated cards from Legacy of the Valiant. On one hand, it's a searcher in a strategy that wins or loses depending on whether or not it can get to Bujin Yamato; Peacock' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Bujingi Peacock">Bujingi Peacock can and will get you to Bujin Yamato, and if you already have your Yamato going it can fetch you whatever Bujingi you need to strengthen your set-up. It's got a solid 1800 ATK, and while Beast-Warrior status would certainly have been nice!, the fact that it's another Winged Beast can take Bujin variants in some interesting new directions. There are a lot of players who feel this is a must-run at two per deck.

On the other hand, you can't activate Peacock's effect on Turn 1 when you go first, since you don't have a Battle Phase on Turn 1 and that means you don't have a Main Phase 2 either. At the same time, it precludes you from using draw acceleration like Pot of Duality, or a number of cards commonly paired with an aggressive Bujin set-up like Forbidden Lance or Mystical Space Typhoon. You can even hit late game scenarios where you have nothing worth searching.

My opinion on Peacock' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Bujingi Peacock">Bujingi Peacock? I'm bullish, but I don't feel any inclination to commit to one camp or the other at this time. I think the worth of the card's largely dependent on the speed of the metagame you play it in, and right now competitive metagames are so hostile toward Bujins that I don't even get as far as the Peacock question when I think about the deck. I'll wrack my brain over this one when Side Deck trends don't make the entire strategy unplayable to begin with.

Also? This is in my, "I wish that was a foil" club. That art's kinda gorgeous.

#####CARDID=14213#####

The Bujin deck generally presses one damaging attack per turn, since it fields just one monster at a time in many games. Bujingi Swallow speeds things up by a turn, giving you an opportunity to make a second direct attack your opponent won't see coming. It's in a rough class: on one hand, winning faster is great. On the other, it won't help you recover in games where you've fallen behind, and it won't help you control the duel – it just ends it when you've already got control.

I think Bujingi Swallow might be a bit more powerful than people give it credit for, but again, it's going to come down to the shape of the metagame you're competing in. It's not quite a "win more" card, per se: those are always easy to disregard. But "win faster" in a very measured, paced deck is a different thing, and that's tough to pass judgment over. I'm interested to see how this card fares once Bujins aren't the inadvertent target of a ton of hate cards.

#####CARDID=14215#####

Bujingi Hare's probably the most important of the new Bujin Effect monsters in Legacy of the Valiant. While Peacock' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Bujingi Peacock">Bujingi Peacock and Bujingi Swallow are the topics of ongoing discussion, I think everybody agrees that Hare rocks out loud. While Bujingi Turtle protects your on-field Bujin from targeted effects, and Bujingi Crane shields it from attackers by letting it win battles, Bujingi Hare's your last line of defense protecting your Bujin from everything else you can imagine.

Cards that the Bujin deck had difficulty answering before – stuff like World of Prophecy, Black Rose Dragon, and Dark Hole – are now much easier to deal with. Evilswarm Exciton Knight can be a big issue for Bujins, since they plus easily in the early game and Turtle can't protect your monsters from Exciton Knight's non-targeted effect. But while Hare can't protect your backrow, it can protect whatever you're relying on to stand between you and the monsters that want to beat you until you can't remember your own name. Since Hare's a banish-costed effect and not a discard-costed effect your opponent can see when it's coming, and you have to do a little legwork to get it into place, but they have to play through it once it's locked and loaded.

Bujingi Hare even makes Bujincarnation more useful, since its effect is so relevant and so easy to activate. If you ever had to sit with a dead Bujincarnation, waiting around to banish a Bujingi Centipede or a Bujingi Turtle that your opponent never let you use until it was too late, you know what I'm talking about. The sheer impact of Bujingi Hare could justify an article all its own.

#####CARDID=14216#####

Gravekeeper's Nobleman is so impressive. While you've got Gravekeeper's Recruiter to search virtually everything but Gravekeeper's Spy, Nobleman will Special Summon the Spy itself, bringing it out face-down in its preferred defense position so you can use its effect next turn for a quick +1.

Think about the versatility that offers. Before we even get into specifics, a single Gravekeeper's Nobleman is going to block up to three attacks: one itself, one with the Gravekeeper's Spy it Special Summons, and another with whatever the Spy brings from your deck. If the card you Summon with Spy is Gravekeeper's Recruiter you won't even lose card economy in that transaction, and the Recruiter will let you go grab another Nobleman to keep the frustrating defense loop going.

Get Gravekeeper's Descendant and you can Tribute the Spy for a simplifying 1-for-1, which is always sweet after you just got a free and easy +1. Remember: card advantage is almost always good, but a +1 situation is worth more when your opponent has two cards to your three, rather than say, five cards to your six. The smaller the game, the more situations your opponent can't handle.

Search out Gravekeeper's Assailant as your free plus if your opponent's got a weak defense position monster out, or Gravekeeper's Heretic if you need something that's immune to card effects; go ahead, Dark Hole or Torrential Tribute the whole field. You got that Gravekeeper's Spy for free, after all. Alternatively, if you just want removal power against a an opposing Xyz or Synchro Monster, you don't even have to go into Spy off Nobleman! Gravekeeper's Guard is still a perfectly valid card, and the ability to run just one and still get full use out of it thanks to Nobleman is pretty awesome.

Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley is a stellar card, but I really think Gravekeeper's Nobleman is the biggest new addition to the Gravekeeper theme. Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear, Atlantean Heavy Infantry, and Spellbook of Fate can put a lot of pressure on you, but it's still a strong option even considering those threats.

#####CARDID=14217#####

It's very possible that the new Gravekeeper decks simply won't have room for Gravekeeper's Ambusher, but it does bring a tempting lot of abilities to the table. A 2200 ATK beater with Necrovalley's boost, Ambusher can retrieve a Necrovalley from your graveyard… or Necrovalley' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley">Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley for more negation power… or Necrovalley' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Hidden Temples of Necrovalley">Hidden Temples of Necrovalley to lock in your control over the game when your opponent kicks out. The Ambusher's flip-like effect is a nice way to rid the game of cards like Inzektor Hornet and Bujingi Turtle; targets for the recursive abilities of Wolfbark' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Coach Soldier Wolfbark">Coach Soldier Wolfbark and Mermail Abyssgunde; or cards that might be used for a banish cost, for something like Chaos Sorcerer or Spellbook of Fate.

Handy? Definitely. Will it see play? Unclear. There's a lot of face-down monster hate right now, and while it's worth risking in the case of Gravekeeper's Nobleman because that card's just so fundamentally strong, Gravekeeper's Ambusher is a much more specific card. It won't be equally useful in all match-ups, and that makes it a tossup. Still, it's a good card to have in your range of options, and it is quite large by Gravekeeper standards.

…Plus it's another 0 DEF Dark monster. My love for Recurring Nightmare continues to grow.

#####CARDID=14218#####

Gravekeeper's Shaman might not be relevant to a number of matchups right now, but it's certainly not a bad card. The ability to completely shut out decks like Mermails is impressive in the right metagames, and while it might not be highly important today, it could be some time in the future. With Gravekeeper's Spy feeding you fodder for a Tribute Summon, and Gravekeeper's Nobleman there to Special Summon Shaman directly from your deck, it's easier to play than those six Level stars might suggest.

The ability to completely deny your opponent their Field Spells is stellar too. Shutting out The Grand Spellbook Tower's a huge advantage against Spellbooks, and protecting Necrovalley from simple removal as well as sided Field cards like Zombie World – which have seen a small number of Regional Top 8 finishes the past month – is tremendous. Like Gravekeeper's Ambusher I don't think this is necessarily an auto-in, though the tremendous popularity of Mystical Space Typhoon, Atlantean Heavy Infantry, and Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Gorilla may see Shaman hit the ground running. At worst, it's a powerful option for when you need it.

#####CARDID=14219#####

Gravekeeper's Oracle does a lot of stuff, and the fact that you can Tribute Summon it for just one Gravekeeper Tribute makes it viable. You can Special Summon Gravekeeper's Recruiter as a +1 off Gravekeeper's Spy, then Tribute it off for this card and 1-for-1 into the search of your choice. The Tribute cost will often be totally free when you Summon this thing.

That play unlocks one of the Oracle's three effects, whichever you choose, and there are some promising options. If you need a beatstick, the Oracle hits the field at a decent 2300 or 2400 ATK; that doesn't seem huge until you realize it'll go to 2800 or 2900 ATK with Necrovalley on the table. Not too shabby. Alternatively you can blow away your opponent's set defenders (Geargiarmor hates it), or if your opponent has face-up monsters you can reduce them all by 2000 ATK and DEF, Shrinking would-be attackers to worthless piles of cardboard.

Again, like Gravekeeper's Ambusher and Gravekeeper's Shaman, I think this card's useful in some very specific matchups but not worth playing in your Main Deck. With so few decks setting monsters right now, it's likely not worthwhile. But it could be good in the future, and in the mean time the deck's free to focus on Gravekeeper's Nobleman and Necrovalley' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley">Imperial Tombs of Necrovalley. I'd go so far as to say that none of the new Gravekeeper cards are bad, but there's just so many of them that you only have Main Deck room for the cream of the crop.

#####CARDID=14221#####

Flip Baby Raccoon Tantan, destroy a card for free, make a Rank 2.

Raccoon decks just got real, son.

#####CARDID=14222#####

Nikitama's great, for all the reasons described in Doug Zeeff's Low Key and his Yu-Gi-Oh! Day tournament report earlier this week. To be clear, the play sequence here is to Normal Summon Nikitama; use its effect to Normal Summon Aratama; search another card with Aratama's effect; then overlay for a Rank 4 as a 1-for-1. From there, if you detach Nikitama as an Xyz Material while you control another Spirit – like the one you conveniently searched – you'll draw another card with Nikitama's effect.

Add in the option of setting Aratama and flipping it without using your Normal Summon, and you have even more opportunities for bigger plays. In that case you can search Nikitama, Summon it, and then use Nikitama's effect to Summon a third Spirit. Overlay Nikitama and one of the other Spirits for a Rank 4, detach, and you'll get that +1 draw immediately.

As Doug demonstrated, there's a tournament-viable strategy here. How will it fare at the Regional or YCS level? We don't know quite yet, but we're going to find out because Doug's already stated that he plans to run Spirits all format, and that he'll be traveling to events. I can't wait to see what he and players like him manage to accomplish with this card. Spirits definitely have potential.

#####CARDID=14223#####

Uhh. Dinosaur deck? Sure. Black Brachios could shift high-ATK monsters with low-DEF to defense position so that Jurrac Guaiba and Hydrogeddon can brutalize them and make free Special Summons. You can even just throw it onto the field as a one-shot answer to a bigger beatstick, subverting battle tricks like Fire Formation – Tensen. You can even shift the battle positions of your own monsters, if… that's a thing? That you'd want to do? Maybe, I dunno.

Is this card relevant to competition? Nope. Not as far as I can tell. But somewhere there are some happy Dinosaur duelists. Maybe even some happy Ninja fans.

#####CARDID=14224#####

One of the biggest recruiters in the game, Chirubime, Princess of Autumn Leaves can Special Summon Plant monsters from Spore to Tytannial. It can also protect your monsters and your Life Points with its 2800 DEF, which won't always be useful but can be downright frustrating when your opponent's locked you with Tytannial and a couple of Fluff Tokens.

I'm told there are dedicated Flower Princess decks out there that aren't bad. I'm eager to see one, and I believe at least one writer here on TCGPlayer's going to tackle that challenge some time in the next week.

#####CARDID=13793#####

Mobius the Mega Monarch's pretty much everything we wanted Granmarg the Mega Monarch to be. While you had to Tribute at least one Earth monster to get Mega-Granmarg's additional draw, unlocking Mega-Mobius' ability is as easy as Tributing Treeborn Frog; something you were probably planning to do anyways.

When you do, you'll destroy up to three spell or trap cards, and your opponent loses the ability to chain them. That addresses the concern of Torrential Tribute, Bottomless Trap Hole, Compulsory Evacuation Device, and themed cards like Spellbook of Fate, Geargiagear and Abyss-sphere. This card's really pretty brutal, and combined with new Monarch support plus Obedience Schooled for instant Tribute fodder, Mobius the Mega Monarch's a definite sleeper pick. I'm really keen to spend some time with it over the coming weeks.

#####CARDID=14226#####

Xyz Avenger has gotta be some kind of record. For like, the longest text ever printed on a card that does nothing.

I think the goal here is to set this card when your opponent controls a Rank 7 or Rank 8, and then let them run it over. Twice, somehow. So they won't have an Extra Deck left. You can always be proactive and ram Xyz Avenger into your opponent's monster yourself, but then you're taking a whack-ton of damage. And even if that plan works you'd still be -2 in card economy and down two Normal Summons. Ouch.

It doesn't work against Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack or Number 11: Big Eye since those cards can just destroy or steal Xyz Avenger anyways. Same goes for Heliopolis. And even if that plan works you'd still be -2 in card economy and down two Normal Summons.

I really want to see someone get this card off twice in one game, though. Some part of my life would feel complete if that ever happened.

#####CARDID=14227#####

I wish Tackle Crusader had better effects. The idea of a monster with passable stats, and effects that trigger off of Foolish Burial, Rock Bombardment, and Catapult Zone's really cool, especially since it's a Level 4 to help you make Rank 4 Xyz. Unfortunately I'm reasonably certain the effects you trigger when you make those combos aren't useful. If there's an amazing combo here that I'm missing, and a dedicated Rock duelst would like to fill me in I'd be thrilled, but I don't think that's the case.

Its an example of promising design with no real follow through. The poor little guy has "missed opportunity" written all over it.

#####CARDID=14228#####

I think the thought with Majiosheldon was to create a secondary Treeborn Frog, so you could pay for two-Tribute monsters effectively for free. But to make that happen you've gotta set Majiosheldon and hope its 2000 DEF keeps it on the field, and then have Treeborn Frog around as well. It's putting the cart before the horse, and it's a tricky set of demands since Treeborn requires a cleared backrow; you can't defend Majiosheldon in a pinch. And then if you draw more copies it's dead, and you have to run multiples because unlike Treeborn you can't just Foolish Burial this thing to your graveyard in the first place.

I feel like there might be some potential here, but this is a high-risk card offering only questionable rewards at best. If you can activate Foolish on Turn 1 to load Treeborn Frog, then set Majiosheldon and have it survive to Turn 2, then yeah; suddenly you can drop a high-Level monster like a Mega Monarch every turn. But if you don't have that Tribute monster in hand you've got nothing. And if you don't have Foolish you've got nothing. And if you have a two-Tribute but your opponent attacks over this thing, or hits it with a simple removal card, you're done.

Soul Exchange just seems so much better. This is another card where I'd love to hear dissenting opinions about it, so feel free to tell me how you're using it down in the Comments if you've had some success.

#####CARDID=14229#####

For what might be the first time ever, we get to end a Giant Card Review segment with a look at a Ritual Monster! Paladin of Photon Dragon is a blast from the past that echoes one of my favorite oldschool casual picks, Paladin of White Dragon. The Ritual card you use to Summon it is really cool, but we'll talk about that later in Part 4.

For now, Paladin of Photon Dragon's a 1900 ATK beatstick that you can play in two different ways: you can whack an opposing monster with it to draw a free card, compensating for the cost of its Ritual Summon and scoring an immediate +1 by destroying a monster in battle. Or, you can Tribute it off to bring out Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon from your hand or deck. That's big for Photons: they can do some amazing stuff if they can get two Level 8's to the field in one turn, but up until now it was always really tough to get that second Photon Dragon onto the table. Paladin of Photon Dragon lets you do it without using a Normal Summon, and that's going to open up a lot of cool possibilities.

Again, this is another card for a casual deck, but I'm really enthused about the possibilities it creates. Even the jank in Legacy of the Valiant's pretty amazing.

That's it for today! With the end of Part 2, we've now looked at all of the coolest effect monsters in the first half of the new set. Come back tomorrow, because we're going to be discussing one of the richest parts of LVAL, when we profile the Extra Deck monsters. We haven't seen a splashable Rank 4 since last King of the Feral Imps last May, but LVAL brings us two incredible generic options. We've got a lot to cover, so be sure to join us for Part 3.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer