Welcome back! With the effect monsters from the Primal Origin core set now in the bag – that means the cards that were in the original OCG printing – we'll turn our attention today to the Xyz and Synchros. There are three big, splashable Rank 4's in PRIO that all serve very different purposes. There are also some support Xyz for esoteric strategies, and some stellar theme support for more popular decks. It's a good mix! There's nothing here on the level of Evilswarm Exciton Knight or Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, but it's a nice spread of cards that often lean towards the subtle more than the obviously overpowered.

Let's start with a card that was basically made for me, and maybe Zach Buckley.

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Number 62: Galaxy-Eyes Prime Photon Dragon is big. Really big. At 4000 ATK for just two Level 8 Xyz Materials, it packs a whallop anywhere you can Summon it. But it's at its best in a dedicated Galaxy-Eyes deck, where you can ignore its drawback of dealing halved battle damage to your opponent.

With Lillybot making the Galaxy-Eyes strategy so much more consistent, especially helping you reuse fallen copies of Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon, this card's actually not difficult to play at full strength. Detaching one of its Xyz Materials boosts its ATK by at least another 1600 attack points off its own 8 Ranks, and that's pure damage. Then when Prime Photon Dragon's destroyed with Galaxy-Eyes still as a Material, it comes back two Standby Phases later to swing for a halved 8000 ATK and brickwall opposing attacks.

Prime Photon Dragon's huge, and it finally gives the Galaxy-Eyes deck a boss monster that makes the deck feel worthwhile. Going through a bunch of trouble to drop Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis or Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon? Consolidating two 2500+ ATK monsters into one 3000 ATK beater with a conditional effect was rarely a good idea. But a 4000 ATK threat that can spike to 5600 ATK and revive itself at a vicious 8000 attack? Now all the pieces are finally in place. It's an awesome addition that could finally launch the casual Galaxy-Eyes strategy into at least local level tournaments.

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Speaking of Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon, Primal Origin brings us its Chaos Xyz equivalent, Number C107: Neo Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon! This card's awesome because it's so easy to Summon. While legitimately Ranking Up something like Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon would be too difficult to be worthwhile, you can Summon Number 107 for free with Rank-Up-Magic – The Seventh One. Nate Forte just played it that way to win this weekend's ARG Circuit Series in Washington DC.

When you Summon Number C107 it hits the field with 4500 ATK and an ability that that negates the effect of all other face-up cards in play, and keeps your opponent from activating cards or effects on the field. And since The Seventh One Summons Number C107 with Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon as an Xyz Material, you also get its secondary ability to Tribute two monsters and attack up to three monsters in one Battle Phase. Its lockdown effect makes it incredibly tough to stop and lets you win games against a monster-free field. If your opponent does control monsters? Then Number C107 swings through up to three of them, dealing a ton of damage along the way.

This card and Number C101: Silent Honor DARK are your go-to Xyz for Rank-Up-Magic – The Seventh One. C107's one of two cards that will make The Seventh One into a flexible auto-win a great portion of the time you resolve it, and now that it's seen tournament success I expect it to see more and more play leading into the WCQ. Very cool.

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Number 103: Ragnazero's the first of the three splashable Rank 4's in this set, and largely the most relevant to competition right now. With a very solid 2400 ATK, Ragnazero punishes any deck that runs constant ATK boosts by letting you destroy monsters and draw for doing so – an instant +2. And while something like Number 101: Silent Honor ARK has higher utility and can generally hit a wider range of monsters, Ragnazero's repeatable, because its effect only requires you to detach one Xyz Material. It works on your opponent's turn, chainable at Spell Speed 2.

Needless to say, that's crazy for the match-ups where it's relevant. Madolches keep winning stuff, and they boost their monsters on a regular basis with Madolche Chateau. Bujins have a constant ATK boost due to Fire Formation – Tenki, a factor that's just going to make it even tougher for Fire Fists to make any sort of comeback in the current environment. It works wonders against self-boosting monsters like Abyss Dweller, too. At the same time, Doug demonstrated last week that you can build an entire strategy around this card by applying ATK debuffs instead of relying on your opponent, by playing cards like Burden of the Mighty.

When the coverage team for YCS Philly hit the tournament floor to ask competitors what they felt was the most underrated card from Primal Origin, Number 103: Ragnazero was the most common answer. It's steadily seeing more play, but plenty of high-finishing competitors aren't running it. In my mind it's a must; it gives you a substantial advantage in two of the biggest matchups of the format.

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Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk is the second splashable Rank 4 in PRIO, and it's seeing even less play than Ragnazero. The wording on this card's a little tricky, but the gist is that you Summon Rhapsody in Berserk, banish two cards from your opponent's graveyard, then strap it to another Xyz to boost that monster by 1200 ATK. You're effectively trading your two Xyz Materials for a double D.D. Crow effect, and against strategies like Bujins and Mythic Rulers that can be enough to create wins. Effects that let you drop a Rank 4 as a 1-for-1 instead of a minus can make it vastly more approachable, giving you twice the impact of D.D. Crow at half the cost.

Don't underestimate that 1200 ATK boost, too. It only applies to Xyz Monsters, but securing something like Abyss Dweller or Leviair the Sea Dragon against attacks – cards that can offer significant advantages over time if you can just protect them – is huge. Setting up something like that is not easy, but if you can manage it you'll often leave your opponent with no options. Just make sure you've got a backup plan to handle the format's wealth of monster removal effects… or make sure you're winning the game then and there with your boosted attack.

Again, Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk is already making Top 8 Regional finishes. But few have realized how good it is, and some competitors don't even know it exists. You definitely want to be aware of it and consider playing it for its key match-ups.

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I actually kinda dig Number 43: Manipulator of Souls. Its "when you gain Life Points…" ability seems largely irrelevant, albeit a very cool new addition to the Bad Reaction to Simochi / Nurse Reficule concept. That burn damage happens to coincide neatly with at least one of the Level 2's you'd use to Summon this thing – more on that later.

For now, Manipulator of Souls plays a lot like a Gachi Gachi Gantetsu that's harder to Summon, but impossible to take down through regular destruction (instead of being just kiiiiiind of tough to take down with regular Card Destruction). In return it forces your opponent to waste Mystical Space Typhoons and Artifact Ignitions to get through it, destroying the Number monsters you equip for protection. Both Gachi Gachi and Manipulator of Souls will fail against Compulsory Evacuation Device or effect negation, But Manipulator specializes in making your opponent waste cards, provided you play a deck that can Summon it and yard a Number monster quickly enough to make your set-up.

There are a lot of cheap ways to bring Number 43: Manipulator of Souls to the field as a -1, too. Inmato' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Cherry Inmato">Cherry Inmato and Giant Germ can both chump block an attack and then get you two thirds of the way to your Summon. Malicevorus Spoon does it as well, while D.D. Scout Planes can be as good as free in the right strategy. Level 2 Ghostricks are all Dark, and it's pretty cool that this card arrives in the same set as Ghostrick Doll. The Doll's a Rank 2 factory, and it's a great way to compensate for the three-material cost.

It's too bad Number 43: Manipulator of Souls requires three Materials instead of just two. It really could've been viable otherwise.

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Speaking of Ghostrick Doll and Rank 2's, the Doll's an easy 1-for-1 straight into the latest Ghostrick Xyz Monster, Ghostrick Socuteboss. Which is totally not a succubus, a mythical demoness that sucks the life out of men by having sex with them. It's totally a socuteboss, a mythical demoness that sucks the life out of a pan-gender demographic by being kawaii.

There's a difference. It's not at all made up.

Like Ghostrick Alucard, Ghostrick Socuteboss has that "human shield" ability that forces your opponent to attack your other Ghostricks before hitting this one. It's got a cool removal effect that combos with higher ATK Ghostrick cards like Ghostrick Mummy and Ghostrick Stein to blow away just about anything. As a bonus, it Ground Collapses the monster zone that was occupied by whatever it destroyed, actually creating a compelling lock scenario against decks that field multiple monsters if you can take control over a couple of turns. It'd be really tough to lock your opponent so hard that they wouldn't be able to make single Xyz Summons, but keeping them to just two Monster Zones kills stuff like Soul Charge, and keeps your opponent from fielding more than two threats at a time.

The removal ability's awesome because it enables your direct attacks in a new way, making it easier for Madolches to win. At the same time, the lock trick's a nice bonus that can put pressure on your opponent and reward you for surviving the long game – something Madolches have always been good at doing, but that brought little reward. With Ghostrick Socuteboss in the mix, as well as the burn damage power of Ghostrick Warwolf, Ghostrick duelists now have two big ways to capitalize on their longevity. Super-cool.

…Totally not a succubus you guys.

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Back on the splashable side of things, Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight is the last generic Rank 4 of the set. Again, like Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk Cairngorgon's seen some Top 8 success, but remains a niche pick due in part to lack of awareness. While its utility against popular cards like Fire Hand are limited, both by the number of proper targets you could field and a restriction that keeps Cairngorgon's effect from working in the damage step, it's awesome against stuff like Mystical Space Typhoon and Artifact Ignition; cards you can turn back on your opponent.

It's great defense if your deck depends on a Field Spell or something like Royal Decree, and it's stellar if you side in a particular Continuous card to get an edge in Games 2 and 3. It beats Compulsory Evacuation Device and Fiendish Chain into the ground if your opponent controls a monster, too, and bosses with targeted removal tricks like Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning and Dark Armed Dragon just hate it.

Remember, a handful of notable cards played in tournament strategies today don't target, Artifact Moralltach and Madolche Queen Tiaramisu chief amongst them. Playing Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight takes some know-how to understand, and some practice and finesse to make it work the way you want it to. But it's got a ton of potential, it's already topping tournaments, and it could wind up being a sleeper pick that helps you edge out your opponents in upcoming Championships and WCQ's, where a handful of popular decks will be extremely common.

Phantom Fortress Enterblathnir's actually surprisingly accessible in the re-emerging Mecha Phantom Beast strategy. If you've got two Mecha Phantom Beast Tokens on the field to give your Mecha Phantom Beasts a Level 6 boost, then two Level 3 Mecha Phantom Beasts like Mecha Phantom Beast Hamstrat easily make this thing. That's not a tall order, since one Hamstrat alone can Special Summon the two Mecha Phantom Beast Tokens you'd need. Another Hamstrat in hand unleashes a 2900 ATK Black Luster Soldier From Hell – a monster with superior ATK that can banish any card from the field, instead of just monsters; rip a card out of your opponent's hand; screw with their graveyard; and still attack when it does.

You won't play this card very often, but having the option can be devastating.

Back on the more practical side of things, Artifact Durendal's become a must-run in all Artifact variants, including the Traptrix Hand Artifact deck. Coming in off two Artifacts, or one Artifact plus something like Cyber Dragon or Constellar Kaus, Durendal's first ability can blank the effect of a monster, spell, or trap card to trigger a set Artifact card. That's a hugely powerful effect that can keep your opponent from doing whatever they're trying to accomplish, and as a bonus it can punish them by triggering your ridiculously overpowered Artifact tricks.

Its second ability is way more powerful than you might first think, messing up your opponent's well-groomed hand and robbing them of the fruits of their search effects. If your opponent's been assembling combos for a few turns you can drop Durendal and stick them with a random pile of jank. But since Durendal's effect works on either player's turn, you can even play it in the Spell Speed 2 activation window when your opponent's just resolved a search effect to waste that search entirely.

I think Durendal's really underrated right now, despite the fact that most Artifact duelists are running it. The hand disruption seems underappreciated, and when you're playing against precise, veteran competitors in events like a WCQ, that kind of effect is huge.

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Orea, the Sylvan High Arbiter is so good, and such an awesome fit for the competitive landscape right now. Coming in off of the easy-to-Summon Sylvan Sagequoia and Sylvan Princessprout, it packs a beefy 2800 ATK and an effect that helps you stack the top of your deck by giving up cards you might have had no real use for anyways… which in turn just sets up more plays with Miracle Fertilizer and Soul Charge.

From there its multi-card bounce effect doesn't target, and you can use it to eliminate opposing Xyz and Synchros, bump away cards like Ice Hand and Fire Hand that would penalize you for destroying them, and recycle your own face-up spells and traps – cards like Miracle Fertilizer and Mount Sylvania. All while having the chance to trigger your excavated Sylvan's effects.

Primal Origin gave the Sylvan theme a total facelift, adding more speed and consistency with Sagequoia and Sylvan Charity, and offering a powerful new boss monster that can be played in lots of different ways with this thing. At the same time, these cards make existing plays and combos more powerful, like the synergy here with Miracle Fertilizer. Orea's amazing, and along with Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand it's one half of the forward thrust Sylvans now depend on to score Regional Top 8's.

This strategy's very real. Ignore it at your own risk.

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The last Xyz of the Primal Origin core set, Bujinki Amaterasu's a three-Material Rank 4 that's technically splashable, with generic Material requirements and non-themed effects. That said, it's pretty clearly made for Bujins, since… well, since it's a Bujin, and it does things largely related to the Bujin theme. Not only are its effects keyed towards Bujins, but it's easier to Summon in Bujins where you can assemble two of its Xyz Materials for one card with Bujincarnation.

Bujinki Amaterasu's Special Summon ability helps you make Bujin Yamato and Bujin Mikazuchi set-ups, while granting you a free immediate +1. That means that if you Bujincarnation into this thing and add a third monster to the mix to Xyz Summon it as a minus, you break even as soon as it hits the table. Whatever you bring back is likely to either load your graveyard or get you an immediate plus as well, putting you into positive territory.

The second ability lets you bring back stuff like Bujingi Hare or Bujingi Quilin, but it also creates more dramatic combos with Bujin Hirume. Since you can Special Summon Hirume by banishing a Bujin from your graveyard, you can Bujincarnation for two monsters, remove a used Bujingi Crane to Summon Hirume, and overlay for Amaterasu. From that point forward any opponent looking to attack Amaterasu knows they're going to get Craned right in the face off Amaterasu's second ability. And if they don't force you to use the effect, you'll just play it in their End Phase to get back something else for free.

It's a brutal card. It takes some set-up and won't be useful until the mid-game, but it's so good when it hits the table that it definitely warrants play. Needless to say, Amaterasu's already seeing Regional Top 8 and Championship success.

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Finally, the last Extra Deck monster in the core set is a unique Synchro. Phonon Pulse Dragon is the first-ever Level 4 Tuner Synchro. With a respectable 1900 ATK, it serves as a bridge to Shooting Quasar Dragon in situations where Quasar wouldn't be possible otherwise. It also puts a Light Dragon into your graveyard for free when you play it as an extra step in applicable play sequences, and it's an interim Synchro Summon that can help you grift an extra draw off of T.G. Hyper Librarian in certain situations. This is one for the hardcore Synchro strategies.

It also has a handy Level-changing effect that lets you make it Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 so long as your next Synchro Summon with Phonon Pulse Dragon is the last Special Summon you want to make for the turn. If that's not the case, you can still use it as a Level 4 Tuner with no such restriction. It's a really cool card that can help you get to important, high-impact monsters like Black Rose Dragon or Scrap Dragon with fields that wouldn't allow those Summons otherwise. It's a hidden gem with limitless possibilities.

That's it for the core set Extra Deck cards, and that's it for today! Check back next time as we profile the new spell and trap cards: the spell and trap pool in Primal Origin is surprisingly powerful and spans a wide range of themes, plus a couple splashable cards riding the cutting edge of competition, so don't miss it.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer