Bujin Hirume's a huge problem-solver for the Bujin theme. With 2000 ATK it's the biggest of the Beast-Warrior Bujins, so it combats certain cards that Bujin Yamato and Bujin Mikazuchi would need Bujingi Crane or Bujingi Quilin to press through. Since you banish a Bujin to Special Summon Hirume, it can make Bujincarnation live. Hirume's easy Special Summon effect can also help you field a Bujin when your Normal Summon is denied by a trap card, and it helps you accelerate toward damage or consolidate into Bujintei Susanowo for a compensating +1.
Bujin Hirume hasn't seen a ton of hype and discussion, but it doesn't really need to; it became an instant must-run at two in virtually every top cut Bujin build we've seen since PRIO dropped, and its range of virtues are self-evident. It's a tremendously flexible card and it's likely the biggest reason Bujins continue to be so successful in major competitions. The fact that it unleashes a quick 1-for-1 simplifying ability when it's destroyed, which can help you get cards like Buijngi Turtle into your graveyard, is almost ridiculous.
This thing's amazing and it solves at least half a dozen major problems that have held Bujins back.
Traptrix Dionaea's another obviously tremendous card, turning a fallen Traptrix Myrmeleo into an instant 1-for-1 Rank 4 play plus a free backrow destruction thanks to Myrmeleo's general distaste for spells and traps.
While Dionaea's best drawn in the mid-game when you already have Traptrix Myrmeleo in the graveyard, her own ability makes her a viable target for revival as well, encouraging you to play multiple copies. That effect can ward off attacks, build backrow for cards like Double Cyclone and Scrap Dragon, and as Bobby Kenny pointed out a few days ago it's an awesome combo with the recursive bounce ability of Mist Valley Falcon. The 1700 ATK's just the icing on the cake; one more awesome bonus that makes Dionaea a tremendously flexible card where monsters with similar design have faltered in the past.
Traptrix Myrmeleo saw competitive play before Dionaea was released, granting free +1's and helping you make 1-for-1 Rank 4's. Traptrix Dionaea builds on that imperative, making Myrmeleo even better and expanding the scope of the splashable Traptrix engine. Is there a full Traptrix deck here? Only time will tell, but for now it's easily one of the most powerful and efficient card suites in the game. Reeee-diculous.
My heart dropped when the latest F&L List smashed Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms and Sacred Sword of Seven Stars down to Limited status. Beating down Dragon Rulers was certainly no Tragedy, but while Dragon Rulers survived as a hybridized deck thanks to Mythic Rulers and Blue-Eyes support, the burgeoning Mecha Phantom Beast strategy imploded. The deck had just come off a seminal Regional Top 8 a month before, and the standout build was completely dependent on Tempest and Sacred Sword to create game-winning combos with Mecha Phantom Beast Kalgriffin. With both cards down to one per deck, Mecha Phantom Beasts were over.
Enter one of my favorite hidden gems from Primal Origin, Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion. A Level 2 Tuner for Synchro Summons, it packs an ability that lets you banish it from the graveyard to get an additional Normal Summon for another Mecha Phantom Beast. That means you can play more aggressively for damage, but also lets you turn some classic Mecha Phantom Beast plays that used to take two turns, into one-turn combos. Case in point? The opening of choice used to be Mecha Phantom Beast Megaraptor, with the goal of keeping it alive for one turn so you could Summon Mecha Phantom Beast Tetherwolf; use it to Special Summon a Mecha Phantom Beast Token; trigger Megaraptor's effect to get another Token; and then Tribute one of them off to search a card with Megaraptor's ability. From there you could make a Rank 7 and go off in all sorts of ways.
Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion makes that a one-turn play. In fact, you can do it first turn if you can get O-Lion into the graveyard, which is generally worth doing because it also happens to be a Dandylion for Mecha Phantom Beasts: its last effect nets you a free Mecha Phantom Beast Token any time O-Lion's sent to the graveyard. Pitched it for a discard cost? Free Token. Kicked it to the yard with Foolish Burial? Free Token. Synchro Summoned with it because it's a Tuner? Awesome. This card is so, so good, and Mecha Phantom Beasts could truly be a threat at the WCQ solely because it exists.
Hazy Flame Hydra's no Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion, but it does help troubleshoot a few of the challenges plaguing Hazy Flames. It makes Hazy Flame Peryton a bit better, simply because the plays they unleash together are more worthwhile: namely Hazy Flame Basiltrice. You can use it for Evolzar Solda, too, since it's a Dinosaur; probably for no other reason but someone thought it would be cool to give Hazy Flames the ability to do that. Solda is pretty sweet right now, since it totally shuts down Soul Charge by wiping away everything your opponent brings back… after they pay full Life Points for it.
Is Hazy Flame Hydra enough to make Hazy Flames tournament viable? Probably not. Hydra's pretty useless on its own, and running it just so you can cross your fingers and hope for a Peryton play isn't a competitively wise plan. But it is really cool, and it could become an important piece of a bigger puzzle some time in the future.
It's not bad? The deck's just not there yet.
Know what deck is there? Finally? Madolches.
In the days before Primal Origin, the most competitive Madolche builds were largely all about abusing Madolche Hootcake. The deck wanted to get to that card as quickly as possible and then hope for a combo that would lead into multiple Xyz Summons bolstered by Madolche Chateau and Madolche Ticket. The deck could do lots of different things, but it just so happened that virtually none of them were impressive or consistent save the plays that involved Hootcake. It's a design situation you see pretty frequently, creating one-trick pony strategies that just aren't very good: when they work they're predictable, and when they don't work they implode and beat themselves long before your opponent can really take any credit.
Normally the solution to that is what I'd term "the Noble Knight initiative," wherein the powers that be try to add more worthwhile abilities to the strategy to make it more well-rounded and balanced. Variety's the foundation of legendary strategies like Gladiator Beasts, Dark Armed Dragon Return, and TeleDAD in their respective primes, and more complicated decks with wider ranges of options are more interesting and easier to control should they become overpowered. It's a good design philosophy; don't make anything broken, just keep adding new aspects to a deck until it becomes playable.
…and that's SO NOT what happened here. Don't get me wrong, there are a few different uses for Madolche Anjelly. But in general, this card exists to be Madolche Hootcake Number 4 Through 6. Except it's even better than Hootcake, because Tributing Anjelly places a monster in your graveyard so you can use Hootcake's effect immediately. And by doing that, you open up the option of Leviair the Sea Dragon plays to bring Anjelly back, saving it for a turn or creating Rank 4 possibilities.
This card's almost enragingly simple, but its power level can't be denied. Right now, Madolches are winning big tournaments at the highest levels of competition available and with Anjelly that wouldn't be possible. Will that be enough to carry Madolches through to successful showings at WCQ's this Summer? Time will tell. The deck's fast, consistent, and deadly, but it's still very predictable.
You know how ridiculous those cards that revive a monster from the graveyard so you can make a Rank 3 or Rank 4 off a Normal Summon are? Pilica, Descendant of Gusto is that, but for Wind Synchros. And it's pretty much just balls-to-the-wall insane.
You can bring back a Level 2 like Dragunity Phalanx or Gusto Falco to make Daigusto Gulldos and destroy a monster. The synergy with Dragunity Phalanx breathes new life into the expired Dragunity strategy. Reviving Gusto Gulldo will get you to Daigusto Sphreez or Orient Dragon. Best of all, you can bring back Cockadoodledoo and make freaking Stardust Dragon. This card's got synergy with Mecha Phantom Beasts, Synchrons, Mist Valleys, and more.
…and you don't even have to Normal Summon it! Since Pilica, Descendant of Gusto's effect triggers whenever it's Normal Summoned or Special Summoned, you can abuse it with Call Of The Haunted or Emergency Teleport. You can effectively Teleport straight into whole Synchro Monsters, all without using your Normal Summon. Heck, you can even commit your Normal Summon and go into Mist Wurm for just two cards, wiping up to three off the field.
No wonder Loukas loves it so much.
Gladiator Beast Augustus is an easy-to-Summon Level 8 that can open up Rank 8 plays. Its Special Summon ability can help even out awkward, monster-heavy hands, and creates opportunities for Contact Fusions. And if you happen to draw a copy and can't play it, Summoning another one makes Augustus its own solution: you can Summon one from your deck off a Gladiator Beast effect, drop the copy from your hand, then Special Summon another card from your hand to trigger a valuable effect. With two Augustus on the field you can overlay for a Rank 8, or Contact Fuse for Gladiator Beast Essedarii or Gladiator Beast Heraklinos off a third Summon. With cards like Gladiator Beast Bestiari, Gladiator Beast Equeste, and Gladiator Beast Murmillo in the mix, the free +1's balance out whatever risks you take and the consolidations you commit to.
And it's big! 2600 ATK's tremendously large for a Gladiator Beast Special Summon; Gladiator Beasts of comparable size, like Gladiator Beast Octavius and Gladiator Beast Alexander, were always restricted by being… What's the word I'm looking for here?
Terrible? Unplayable. Hideously restrictive, requiring you to run cards like Gladiator Beast Dimacari, or to take untenable minuses of card presence for no reason whatsoever.
Yeah. All of those. Since Gladiator Beast Augustus has no real restrictions on what it can and can't do, it's a huge cut above previous entries into the higher level range of the Gladiator Beast barracks. This card could actually make a competitive impact, and it's just the beginning since the new Gladiator Beast Fusion Monster in Primal Origin happens to be excellent.
Speaking of "excellent," Ancient Gear Box is awesome! Some mad genius has been sitting around since the GX era, ensuring that a select range of cards across a variety of themes would have precisely 500 ATK or DEF, the Earth attribute, and the Machine-type. And this card was the maddening payoff to the conspiracy, after eight years of this going on. That is a heck of a long game, but boy is it worth it.
The best way to use Ancient Gear Box is to search it or recur it with Gear Gigant X. It's fast, it's easy, and it happens to be the centerpiece of arguably the best deck of the format. When you do, it searches out cards like Geargiano, Karakuri Merchant mdl 177 "Inashichi", Karakuri Strategist mdl 248 "Nishipachi", Geargiano Mk-II, and Geargiarsenal, for free, as a straight +1. Those are all cards you'd often search with Gear Gigant X on its own, but adding Ancient Gear Box as an intermediary thins your deck and gets you a plus when you do. That makes it easier to run stuff like Divine Wrath – which could become a very popular card in the near future – and it opens up plays with Machina Fortress. As Rob Boyajian wrote about a little while ago, searching out two cards for one Gear Gigant X search thanks to Ancient Gear Box's ability gets you the complete discard requirement to revive Fortress. That's big – it could easily bring Machina Fortress back into the competitive fold as a supplement to the slimmed down monster lineup Geargias favor in modern tournaments.
As a Level 4 Ancient Gear Box is ready to pitch in on Rank 4 Xyz Summons, and with 2000 DEF it's another wall for Geargias that can shut out any opponent looking to press you with Ice Hand and Fire Hand. It's easily one of the best non-foils in PRIO, and could easily make a competitive impact this Summer.
Sad truth? Most of the attribute Knights aren't very good. Armageddon Knight set the bar really high: it's stupid-easy to play and sends Dark monsters to the graveyard without restriction, arguably offering the best group of monsters you could possibly choose from. Followups like Altitude Knight, Brushfire Knight, and Dust Knight were all more awkward to play and offered fewer powerful picks.
Dawn Knight's a different story. While it trades the sheer speed of Armageddon Knight for a delayed effect that sort of mirror's Brushfire Knight, Dawn Knight's effect kicks in any time it's sent to the graveyard – not just when it's destroyed. Since Dawn Knight's ability is an "If… you can" effect it can't miss timing, so you can use it for Synchro Summons or Tributes and still get your search. More than that, its second ability lets you stack a Light monster from your graveyard to the top of your deck when Dawn Knight's sent from your deck to the yard, giving you a chance to reuse powerful boss monsters like Judgment Dragon and Archlord Kristya, or simply recycling useful monsters like Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress or Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner.
Needless to say, this card's a potential star in Lightsworn: the deck offers plenty of opportunities to send it to the graveyard, game-breaking targets for recursion, and compatible Tuners like Plaguespreader Zombie, plus more Tuners we should see later this year like Felice, Lightsworn Archer and Raiden, Lightsworn Assailant. It works really nicely to build more graveyard presence with Foolish Burial, making it a good pick for anything running Lightrays as well. Very cool card.
One of the biggest tech picks from Primal Origin, Majesty's Fiend could wind up being a game-shaping new entry into competition. Monster effects reign supreme these days, and Majesty's Fiend does a great job of being a Skill Drain on legs for just one Tribute.
The catch? It stops monster effects that Skill Drain – and cards like it – can't touch. Cards that activate in the graveyard, like Ice Hand, Fire Hand, Bujingi Hare, and Madolches? Skill Drain can't stop them because those effects don't activate on the field. Majesty's Fiend can. Cards that activate from the hand? Kiss Maxx "C", Effect Veiler, and Bujingi Crane goodbye. Dragon Rulers won't revive themselves. Madolches go from being combo-driven speedsters to pint-sized speedbumps. Geargiarmor searches? Nope! Majesty's Fiend is already proving to be a potent Side Deck pick, but Main Decked builds could have potential as well – it's almost enough to make a man consider March of the Monarchs.
Certain cards that help you cheat Tribute costs happen to be especially good right now too, making Majesty's Fiend even better. Any deck packing Soul Exchange, whether you have Majesty's Fiend or something completely different to Tribute for instead, will have an edge against Geargiarmor and the Hand monsters. Call Of The Haunted is huge with cards like Traptrix Myrmeleo and Artifact Moralltach, and both can grab a quick plus off Call before you Tribute them away and shut down monster effects entirely. Note that if you're playing Artifacts, Moralltach has the sheer size to remain useful even when the game's locked up under Majesty Fiend's ability. Meanwhile the card's Fiend-type stamp makes it compatible with Pot of Dichotomy – there aren't many Fiends seeing play right now.
It's a great card and well worth its current price tag. I wouldn't be surprised if it wound up breaking the $20 mark by the time the North American WCQ rolls around.
Speaking of Tribute monsters, Thestalos the Mega Monarch is a fairly divisive card. Since it requires two Tributes, a Tribute cheat like Soul Exchange, or the Tribute of another monster you already Tribute Summoned, it needs to be played in a dedicated strategy. The ability to choose what you discard from your opponent's hand is outstanding, but you're still only robbing them of one card: if you Tribute two monsters to do that you're still -1 in card economy, and your opponent can still wreck you with something as simple as Breakthrough Skill or Fiendish Chain. It's immune to Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare? And that's interesting, but you still need to put in some fancy footwork to break even.
The burn damage Thestalos offers is promising, but given the shape of competition right now you have to expect to be hitting Level 4's in the majority of your match-ups. Traptrix Hand Artifacts, Geargia, and Bujins will rarely offer you anything bigger to discard. That means you'll only be dishing out 800 burn damage. While Tributing a Fire monster would buff that to a very respectable 1800 burn, that'll almost never happen save rare cases where you're lucky enough to Soul Exchange an opposing Fire Hand.
Thestalos the Mega Monarch's not terrible, but it's not great in a vacuum and it's definitely not great in current competition. The card economy's just not there, and none of the compensatory benefits – the burn damage, the precision of the discard – are likely to make up for that.
Rob Boyajian wrote an entire article arguing the competitive worth of Beautunaful Princess in Mermails, and I absolutely agree. The modern Mermail strategy hinges on the ability to search Genex Undine with Mermail Abysspike, and since Beautunaful Princess can Special Summon Abysspike straight from your deck, it's like running as many as three more copies. Abysspike's hugely important to your early game; the ability to search it out with no delay and go straight into the Summon is awesome. Meanwhile the Princess is a free body in the graveyard to fuel Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls, and it can bring your chosen Fish to the field in attack or defense depending on your needs.
It's not just for Abysspike, either! Beautunaful Princess can seek out Fishborg Archer or Mermail Abyssturge, two more cards the Mermail deck usually plays just one copy of. Since you'll be seeing Abysspike more often, the ability to Summon Abyssturge more reliably and combo with it is even more valuable than it might first seem. More niche strategies will benefit from the ability to search cards like Nimble Manta, Nimble Sunfish, and Gishli Abyss, too.
This card's tremendously underrated and could be the saving grace Mermails sorely need. If you're a Mermail duelist you should be testing this card and seeing what it can bring to your strategy.
…And if you're a Penguin duelist, you need to be testing this card and seeing what it can bring to your strategy! Nopenguin is a prime search with The Great Emperor Penguin, rolling straight into a Rank 3 Xyz and then sitting in your graveyard so you can revive it for free off any of your following Penguin effects. Once it hits the field it can sit around to chump block or become Tribute fodder for another Emperor Penguin, and it'll turn the bounce effects of Nightmare Penguin and Penguin Soldier into into a banish effect instead. That means Penguin Soldier becomes an instant +2 when it punts away two monsters.
The damage is pretty solid, too. 1600 ATK is actually quite a lot by Penguin standards, outclassing everything save The Great Emperor Penguin. 1600 ATK can really add up over a couple turns when you're scoring damage for free, and with the Special Summon ability of Puny Penguin it becomes sort of a reverse Rescue Rabbit. Not bad for a deck that could already run regular Rescue Rabbit anyways. Last year's What The Fix?! column on Darren Mullins' Penguin deck was actually one of the most popular articles we've ever run here on TCGplayer, so you better believe I'll be revisiting the theme soon.
Last up for Part 2, another support card for another of my all-time favorite casual decks – Starduston! For those not in the know, the Duston deck wins by crashing House Duston into an opposing monster and Special Summoning four Dustons to each side of the field in attack position. It then attacks with Goblin King for 8000 ATK and an instant win, crashing over one of those opposing Dustons for game.
The tricky part is that while Stygian Security and One for One make that win condition surprisingly achievable, big backrows are a problem. Even Trap Stun can't stop your opponent from shutting you down with something as simple as Book of Moon. Provided you can Summon Starduston before the Battle Phase, you can lock down your opponent's backrow to ensure your OTK. You can also Summon Starduston with just a couple of Dustons to finish off your opponent, or knock them around for a few thousand Life Points before going in for the kill. It lets you create secondary pushes with Soul Charge and makes the strategy a little less one-dimensional. I'm a fan.
That's it for today, and that's it for the effect monsters in the first portion of the core set! Check back tomorrow, when we'll be looking at the Xyz and Synchros that help define Primal Origin as such a wildly varied release.