Welcome back! In Parts 1 and Part 2 we looked at all the basic Effect Monsters in the "core" of Secrets of Eternity; the portion of the set that was printed in both our TCG, and Asia's OCG. Today in Part 3 we're going to examine the Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monsters in the core set, before moving onto the spells and traps in Part 4. From there we'll finish out the release by looking at the bonus cards in Part 5 – ten World Premieres that are currently exclusive to the TCG, and ten more cards that were imported from the OCG.

The mid-portion of each major booster is usually a highlight reel of some of the most powerful and important themed cards in the set, but the spread of Rituals, Fusions, Synchros, and Xyz in Secrets of Eternity is kind of different. There are some great cards here, but it's a subtle spread that doesn't feel like it's as big of a deal as usual.

You'll see what I mean.

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For instance? Nekroz of Gungnir is a hugely hyped card that's going to be useful for Nekroz, but you can't play the deck for weeks. Once you can, Gungnir probably won't be all that important: while its Bujingi Hare-like effect is certainly valuable, it's easy to search and potentially reusable, so it's likely to be a one-of at best. The Nekroz deck's really tight on space and while Gungnir's from-the-hand effect is valuable, it's not really the main thrust of your strategy.

While its destruction effect looks good on paper and options are always welcome, I think we'll find that you won't actually want to Summon Gungnir very often; it's played chiefly for that protection ability.

Nekroz of Gungnir seems to be a staple at one in the OCG, while here in the TCG I've seen lots of players who don't even plan to run it at all. Whether that extreme decision is the best idea is up in the air, but regardless, Gungnir's clearly a niche card with a very defined purpose. Part of this card's viability comes down to specific calls about the metagames you compete in.

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How great are Dragon-type Fusion Monsters? Dragon's Mirror continues to be one of the coolest, most efficient cards of all time, churning out some of the game's sweetest Fusions as 1-for-1 plays off a loaded graveyard. And Rune-Eyes Pendulum Dragon? It's pretty sweet. Clocking in at 3000 ATK it's big enough to take down almost anything, and thanks to its bulleted effects it can turn into a quick, damage-pushing +1 or +2 by wiping your opponent's field.

And that's cool, don't get me wrong: Dragon's Mirror's a great card and you'd probably want to play at least one copy in any deck running Rune-Eyes. But at the same time, the real attraction to Rune-Eyes Pendulum Dragon is its interaction with Pendulum Monsters. Since Pendulum Summoned monsters return to the Extra Deck when used as Fusion Materials you can perform conventional Fusion Summons using real, on-field cards instead of just fusing from your graveyard, and still Summon this thing as a 1-for-1. When you Summon it that way, it hits the field with temporary protection from your opponent's effects.

It was obviously built to be played with Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon, Timegazer Magician, and Stargazer Magician, but it's pretty cool with the new Performapal Trump Witch too. Its Pendulum Spell effect acts as a free Polymerization and coincides with Rune-Eyes' want for on-field Fusion Materials. Trump Witch and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon are both Scale 4, so when you have Trump Witch covering the short end of your Scale you're free to use Odd-Eyes as a Fusion Material. Trump Witch is a Spellcaster for the other half of the Fusion Summon too, and if Trump Witch happens to wind up in the graveyard it's just fodder for Dragon's Mirror.

There's no immediate way to play Rune-Eyes Pendulum Dragon in real competition, but the possibilities on the casual level are numerous. It's a very cool continuation of the Stargazer and Timegazer suite, and it has some neat interactions with all sorts of Spellcasters that could make for exciting deck building.

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Gem-Knight fans rejoice! Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli is a solid beatstick with a game-ending burn effect that can kick out thousands of damage in a single activation. Gem-Knights are largely played as an OTK strategy swarming the field with Gem-Knight Fusions, so the ability to flood the field with Special Summoned attackers and then burn your opponent out for that little bit of extra damage you need to win is stellar.

Even just the pseudo-cost of Lapis Lazuli's ability is really useful: like Uni-Zombie and other cards in SECE that kick cards from your deck to the graveyard for their effects, Lapis Lazuli can yard useful stuff to fuel routine moves that are central to the strategy. Chiefly, you can send Gem-Knights to the graveyard to banish them for the retrieval effect of Gem-Knight Fusion. That's huge: it makes it easier to flood the field with Fusion Monsters and turns what would be strictly a game-ending finisher into a mid-game card that extends your plays and helps you field threats when you're jockeying for tempo.

Being more specific, you can also send Gem-Knight Lazuli to the graveyard to trigger its ability for another free plus, or bury another Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli so you can mimic its effect with Gem-Knight Master Diamond later. The damage adds up shockingly fast.

Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli makes your basic plays easier; boosts the strategy's longevity; and lets you turn near-victory scenarios into genuine wins turns earlier than would have been possible before. It takes a casual fan-favorite that just wasn't quite there yet, and bumps it into a different echelon of competition altogether. I don't expect to see Gem-Knights topping a YCS any time soon, but I certainly wouldn't blink if someone said they were going to use them to get their invite at a Regional.

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I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that El Shaddoll Wendigo's not very good. I'd love for there to be some reason to play this card, but nothing comes to mind especially now that Super Polymerization's Forbidden; the fact that Wendigo's a Wind attribute doesn't really count for anything anymore.

Since there are very few Wind monsters you'd likely see anywhere near a Shaddoll deck - Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer? – there aren't many ways to get this thing into play. Shaddoll Core and Nephe Shaddoll Fusion can do it, but even when that's possible it's not very probable. You just wouldn't want to Summon this in most situations. People didn't run El Shaddoll Grysta, let alone this thing.

2800 DEF is a pretty big backside, but it's still not as big as El Shaddoll Shekhinaga, and El Shaddoll Construct matches it with ATK instead of defense points. As a wall against battle with Special Summoned monsters it's… okay, I guess? And if you want to go to a ton of effort, you could use Wendigo's effect to protect a better monster. That makes El Shaddoll Wendigo a meatshield at best. This thing's just too specific, nearly impossible to Summon, and outclassed by literally all comparable cards in the El Shaddoll family. It's like it was made just to appease people who hate Shaddolls and didn't want to see them get another playable card.

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I discussed Superheavy Samurai Warlord Susanowo kind of extensively back in Part 1 when we talked about the new Superheavy Samurai monsters, but to recap, it's essentially the same card as Superheavy Samurai Big Benkei. I don't think it was meant as a replacement for Benkei nor an upgrade – it's just another high-impact card that follows the same formula, but that you can Special Summon under different conditions.

That adds much-needed redundancy to the strategy, making it more reliable and more competitive. With so few copies of Big Benkei in pre-SECE builds, and relatively limited ways to get it to the field, just having more opportunities to get your strategy into motion can be tremendously helpful. Since you can unleash Warlord Susanowo with a Normal Summoned Superheavy Samurai Trumpeter and a Superheavy Samurai Scales Special Summoned with its effect that revives another Level 4, there are quick ways to get into this card without resorting to a Trumpeter plus Big Benkei consolidation.

That kind of move would usually be kind of pointless, but the Trumpeter plus Scales play just didn't exist before, so you wind up having more ways to create win scenarios. Whether or not the new "no spell and trap" build of Superheavy Samurais is even possible to build may be up in the air, but the value of Superheavy Samurai Warlord Susanowo as a simple backup plan's certainly undeniable.

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Metaphys Horus is a generic and splashable oasis in a lineup of monsters that are all tremendously specialized otherwise. A generic Level 6 Synchro, it offers a modestly useful effect whether your non-Tuner Material is an effect monster or a normal monster. With a solid 2300 ATK and a toolbox ability that helps you either press through attacks or blank problem-cards, it's definitely got potential at a Level range of Synchro Summoning that's still low on options.

But as splashable as Metaphys Horus is, its Pendulum effect is what really makes it cool. An instant +2, stealing an opposing monster is a great effect all on its own. But since Pendulum Monsters are inevitably normal monsters or effect monsters as well, Metaphys winds up stacking at least two effects for one Synchro Summon when you Tune with a Pendulum Non-Tuner. The strategy you play will determine what Metaphys Horus ends up doing, but with two of its three abilities in action and at least one Synchro Material returning to your Extra Deck instead of costing you a hard minus, it's a pretty amazing card.

Again, there's no obviously competitive place to run it yet since we still don't have many successful Pendulum strategies. But the potential's enormous, and in the mean time we still have a viable, generic Level 6 Synchro. That's the approachable card design I think we all wish we saw more of in SECE.

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Back on the "We can't play this yet" side of the fence, Raidraptor – Rise Falcon will probably be a far better card once we have more Raidraptors to run. As it stands, assembling three copies of Raidraptor – Vanishing Lanius is nearly impossible, since it's pointless running Raidraptor – Nest just to search literally only one card from your deck one time. Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite can help, but that's still a ton of effort for a monster that isn't game-breaking in the first place.

That said, Hysteric Party does make it a possibility in Harpies, and cushions the massive investment of overlaying three Level 4 Winged Beasts by turning Rise Falcon into a 1-for-1. But if you're activating Hysteric Party and your opponent controls multiple monsters you want to eliminate, you may be better off with stuff like Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer and Number 101: Silent Honor ARK – cards that involve less risk and higher utility when they're taking up an Extra Deck slot. This might be worthwhile once there are more monsters to plus into with Nest, and since the Continuous Spell is perfect fodder for Zephyros there could be something there. But for now, we'll have to wait and see.

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Satellarknights have been on the outside looking in for the majority of the last four months of competitive play – arguably longer. Outspeeded and outmuscled by Shaddolls and Burning Abyss, Satellarknights were usually a competitive third choice when they dropped in DUEA, and despite a promising surge in play right when NECH released, they were swiftly supplanted by Qliphorts and then left in the dust when Shaddolls re-entered the fray.

So Satellarknights have three big problem match-ups. The good news? Stellarknight Constellar Diamond fixes two of them. Accessible in Main Phase 1 with Satellarknight Capella, and much easier to Summon in Main Phase 2 with its own effect if you don't mind the wait, Diamond stops the two big Dark decks from doing all sorts of things. By stopping both duelists from sending decked cards to the graveyard, you shut down Mathematician, Foolish Burial, and Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss. It even stops Cagna, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss from setting up plays with Good & Evil in the Burning Abyss. Over in the Shaddoll match-up, Shaddoll Squamata can no longer help your opponent in the early game, and El Shaddoll Construct will hit the field without yarding anything.

By threatening to banish cards, you stop Dante from retrieving Burning Abyss cards; crucial now that so many duelists are playing just a single Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss. You also stop the recursion effects of every El Shaddoll monster, plus Shaddoll Core and even the under-appreciated but still-played Shaddoll Hound. While Diamond's deck-to-graveyard ban hampers Burning Abyss and Shaddolls in the early game, this second ability cuts off options in the mid-game and alienates your opponent from moves that grant them a longer life in the duel.

And the best is yet to come: whenever your opponent activates a Dark monster's effect, Diamond negates it and destroys the monster by detaching an Xyz Material. Brutal. Shaddoll Flip Effects? Not happening. Tour Guide from the Underworld? No thanks! And it's got 2700 ATK. And it works in Constellars. And it demolishes Lightsworn, as well as anything relying on combos with Lavalval Chain.

If any other theme got this card, people would be outraged. As it stands it's a great addition to Satellarknights that will likely rocket them back into competition as the only trap-heavy deck in an era where traps are getting less and less popular. Very cool.

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Finally we get to talk about one of my favorite sleeper picks from SECE, Sky Cavalry Centaurea! I'm a big Ojama fan, and I'm an even bigger mark for Raccoons – two of the biggest Level 2 strategies in the game. Just like Number 64: Ronin Raccoon Sandayu, Centaurea has an ability that keeps it from being destroyed. While Ronin Raccoon protects itself from destruction by battle and card effects, Centaurea only dodges battle. But while beating Ronin Raccoon's ability is often as easy as running over one Kagemusha Raccoon Token, Centaurea keeps dodging attacks until it runs out of Xyz Materials – it's often much tougher to play through.

And while Ronin Raccoon eliminated big threats by creating matching-sized Tokens to crash into your opponent's monster (often leaving Ronin Raccoon vulnerable to attacks), Centaurea can bounce monsters that wouldn't fall in battle, and it can do so with its second Xyz Material intact to keep it alive. Its 2000 ATK is nothing to sneeze at too, mixing powerful problem-solving with unprecedented raw attack power at Rank 2. Not much beyond Daigusto Phoenix can really kick out more damage, and Centeaurea trades security and better positioning for that remaining 1000 damage.

Anything running a sufficient number of Level 2's should consider playing this card: we haven't seen a truly great Rank 2 in a very long time, and this one's topnotch. I've been loving it in all sorts of off-the-radar strategies.

And that's it! It's a small but quirky crop of monsters here in the center of the set, offering legacy support to some previous themes; future support to decks unrealized; and a couple big competitive hits. There's not as much to talk about here as there was in DUEA and NECH, but the best of the bunch involve some really new design concepts and some cool new moves for fan-favorite deckss. Join us in Part 4, where we'll move from monsters into spells and traps!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer