The first ten of these cards are World Premieres – new cards never released anywhere else before, created especially for our version of SECE. The remaining ten cards were usually created as promo cards in Asia, plucked from manga, game guides, special limited boosters, and toys. This time around they're actually cards that premiered in Japan's Duelist Pack: Yuma 2. We get all the new cards without having to pick through chaffy reprints.
These are always some of the best and worst cards in the set, and this time around is no exception. Let's get started!
#####CARDID= 17750 #####
There was a time when I really, really felt the Sneak Peek Normal Pendulum Monsters were a giant waste of time. As the months have passed, and thanks to some wackiness from our own Loukas Peterson, I've come to recognize some potential and I've really wanted to see this group of monsters go places. Eminently searchable thanks to Summoner's Art, the "how" was always clear. The "why" was what we were lacking, because as much as you could build a Normal Pendulum deck, the question of why you should still had no real answer.
Enter Dragoons of Draconia! Matching Flash Knight at Level 4 with a solid 1800 ATK, Dragoons serves as your low-Scale Pendulum Spell, a role previously occupied by Dragon Horn Hunter at an inconvenient Level 6, and Foucault's Cannon at an equally inconvenient Level 5. While both monsters had middling effects that could be useful under the right conditions, both were dead draws without an established Pendulum Scale and neither could match the ATK of Lancephorhynchus. Or most of the big monsters you'd want to attack over once any of the big decks really gets going.
Dragoons might have even weaker ATK, but you can at least Normal Summon it as a backup plan. More importantly its effect finally gives you a reason to care about these cards: once a turn, when you swing over an opposing monster with a Normal Monster you can search a Level 4 or higher Normal Monster from your deck. You'll likely want to grab a Level 6 since you can Pendulum Summon it with a Scale of Dragoons plus Flash Knight or Lancephorhynchus; while extra copies of Lancephorhynchus itself will be one of your default pulls due to its 2500 ATK – bested only by Trance the Magic Swordsman at 2600 ATK (dude just came from outer space and he's raring to take names) – the monsters you choose to run may be selected for type or attribute to create different strategies.
A Scale 9 Normal Pendulum would really blow this concept open wide, allowing for nutty stuff like a Pendulum Dark Magician or Pendulum Blue-Eyes deck, but until we get there, we can at least start to see decks taking shape. Dragoons of Draconia is actually one of my favorite sleeper picks from the set and I'm looking forward to putting in some major time figuring it out.
#####CARDID= 17856 #####
Mischief of the Gnomes is like Mischief of the Yokai, but way more flexible. You can use it to screw with your opponent's Xyz and Synchro plays, but you can also use it to lower the Levels of your own monsters to cheat your way around Tribute costs or tweak your own Xyz and Synchros. And you can do it twice, either manipulating everything by one Level for two separate turns, or stacking both effects to really swerve the duel for one big turn.
Because yes, like Void Seer Mischief of the Gnomes isn't restricted to two separate turns: while it looks a lot like Mischief of the Yokai, you can double up and use both effects in one shot. It's a really cool card, the art's great, and I'm eager to see it get some table time. If it doesn't happen now as an answer to Burning Abyss, I'm sure it'll happen some time in the future.
Also, I bet we see the Gnomes and the gothy Snow White figure in future cards. And hopefully in cosplay. I want to see one person cosplay Snow, and another person cosplay all seven gnomes.
Make it happen, people.
#####CARDID= 17760 #####
I think it's fair to say that the new Malebranche monsters in Secrets of Eternity are largely just better than the ones introduced in New Challengers. Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss is by far the most talked-about and arguably the most powerful, addressing a similar range of threats as Alich, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss did but removing the offending card from the field entirely.
Since the theme debuted, the big challenge for Burning Abyss was getting your opponent's monsters off the field so you could make attacks. Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force and Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning were the first stopgap measures toward that end, while Virgil, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss gave the theme an actual boss monster with synergy and a stellar removal effect. Farfa keeps the solutions coming, temporarily moving blockers to the side just long enough to break free of harsh Continuous Effects and letting you swing in for damage.
Note that Farfa's another Malebranche that works with Recurring Nightmare, too. With a few successful showings from Dark Eruption teched builds last format, there might be something there now. Sad that Calcab and Alich – now largely outclassed –are the other two Nightmare-compatible monsters.
Remember, all of the Malebranches have some base value regardless of their effect, just by being different names. Since you can only activate one effect of each named Malebranche per turn, and since it's easier to Summon different ones to fuel Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss and make Xyz and Synchro Summons, variety is clutch. Since all three new Malebranches are worth playing, that philosophy is now much easier to fulfill.
#####CARDID= 17753 #####
Cagna, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss exists in large part to send Good & Evil in the Burning Abyss to the graveyard. Non-Ritual builds of Burning Abyss are playing one Good & Evil so they can Cagna for it, then banish it and fetch Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss.
That might not sound like much, but it's radically changing how players approach the deck. By searching Fire Lake and then reusing it with Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss' recursion ability, the deck has more space, can run literally only one trap card if desired, and focus on maxing out on monsters to make big fields for fast, reliable pushes. We're absolutely going to see the results of this quiet little revolution at YCS Charleston. Cagna will doubtless be a star player at that event.
#####CARDID= 17768 #####
Which brings us to Libic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. While Cagna and Farfa are so obviously powerful, Libic is the odd man out in the eyes of many competitors. Personally I think it's a great card: while you have lots of other Special Summon effects that are less costly, Libic negates the abilities of the Burning Abyss monster you Summon with it. That means it can survive on the field alongside Tour Guide from the Underworld or Mathematician, instead of destroying itself because those monsters aren't Burning Abyss. And you won't use the Special Summoned Malebranche's effect, leaving you free to activate its graveyard trigger.
Got nailed with Effect Veiler or Breakthrough Skill on your Tour Guide? Drop Libic with an effect, Special Summon another Malebranche, and overlay to go into Dante. You'll trigger the Malebranche's graveyard trigger when you detach it for Dante's ability. Got Mathematician and a mismatched hand? Mathematician Libic to the graveyard to Special Summon another Malebranche and overlay it for the same Dante play to get things moving.
Libic turns around a lot of awkward scenarios to help you swiftly recover and get back on the offensive. As Burning Abyss decks become increasingly monster-heavy it becomes more and more important, helping you make the most of certain subpar monster hands. To me all three of these are a must-run, at least in non-Ritual builds.
#####CARDID= 17770 #####
Speaking of Ritual builds, this is the card responsible for all the speculation and debate: Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss! While Good & Evil in the Burning Abyss is worth playing even without a Ritual Monster, Malacoda's the biggest beater yet in the Burning Abyss tribe. Its stat reduction effect can steal games by turning strong monsters into marks for damage-dealing attacks, but the real asset is the ability to just chuck a Burning Abyss monster to the graveyard whenever you want, triggering the pitched monster's graveyard ability. That degree of ease is unparalleled.
That said, I think the best versions of the strategy will come to revolve around Djinn Releaser of Rituals, locking down opposing decks and keeping them from Special Summoning. From Mathematician and Tour Guide to Dante and potentially Foolish Burial, you have tons of ways to load Releaser to the field or graveyard so you can use it for your Ritual Summon. Once you do, you lock in a vicious control effect tied to a 2700 ATK behemoth that specializes in winning battles, and that you can protect with Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss.
And when Malacoda does go down? It takes something – anything – down with it. Whether it's the monster that destroyed it, a backrow you can't read, or a problematic floodgate, Malacoda blows it out of the way. That's pretty amazing, since you'll usually Summon Malacoda as a 1-for-1 anyways. It's easy to see why Burning Abyss players are so keen to explore the new Ritual variants, despite the differences between these new builds and the previous norm.
#####CARDID= 17762 #####
At this point I feel like I've said everything there is to say about Good & Evil in the Burning Abyss. Not only is it the gateway to an awesome Ritual Monster packing strong synergy with the Burning Abyss theme, you don't even have to Tribute 6 Levels precisely for your Ritual Summon. You probably will, since virtually all of your imaginable monsters are Level 3 anyways, but yeah – it's that flexible.
When Good & Evil in the Burning Abyss was first leaked through unofficial before Secrets of Eternity was released, blurry translations led many to believe that its graveyard effect would only search "Burning Abyss" monsters. When the card was actually released and turned out to search a "Burning Abyss" card, anyone who realized how good that was went through the roof. Again, it's giving competitive players reason to question the common wisdom about how traps should work in Burning Abyss, and paving the way for low trap builds with a single searchable Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss.
Whether or not that's going to stick is up in the air, but regardless, I think Good & Evil in the Burning Abyss is going to prove to be a staple in both Ritual and non-Ritual versions of the deck. The opportunity to search out one of the best trap cards ever printed is just too good to ignore.
#####CARDID= 17795 #####
Pasquale showed off the OTK potential of Ultimate Athletes weeks ago back in November, so if you read that article you're probably familiar with this deck's gameplan: control the field with your defensive monsters' effects, then explode with U.A. Stadium and U.A. Powered Jersey.
With that goal in mind, a Quick-Play Spell that lets you Summon monsters from your Deck but then prevents them from making attacks might seem a bit disappointing. In addition, any card that lets your opponent swap whatever monsters they have on the field for a choice of whatever they want from their deck seems even worse. But hold up: there's more to U.A. Turnover Tactics than you might catch at first glance.
Cards like these are often good because they can wreck your opponent's most invested monsters, especially ones that were Special Summoned from the Extra Deck: your opponent generally can't get those monsters back, since cards like these tend to be printed with the core idea of shuffling monsters back into the Main Deck, so more monsters can come back out from the same place. But look closer and Turnover's actually even better: those monsters go back to your opponent's Extra Deck, and Turnover only lets them Special Summon as many monsters as they shuffled into their Main. So a field of Xyz, Synchros, or Fusions will just wipe. Your opponent won't get anything, and not even destruction-stopping or target-dodging effects can save them.
More than that, Turnover Tactics helps you manage a wide range of effects to mess with your opponent. The new U.A. Blockbacker hampers Special Summons; U.A. Goalkeeper brickwalls by protecting a monster from destruction; and U.A. Perfect Ace lets you discard to negate and destroy stuff. By switching out your monsters for ones with the ideal control abilities, you can shut down your opponent in mid-play and stomp on their plans. And while activating Turnover Tactics on your turn can help you chain to your opponent's cards and beat stuff like simple removal and targeted effects, the real magic happens when you use it on your opponent's turn. Do that, and the attack restriction won't matter since you weren't attacking on that turn anyways.
Will it see play? I don't know. It would be easy to say no, because on the surface this card won't help you OTK. But if your opponent's running an Xyz or Fusion-heavy deck, it certainly could. This is going to be a very specific metagame-driven call that will require serious testing, in a deck no one is taking seriously nor testing to begin with. Awkward.
#####CARDID= 17797 #####
The U.A. defensive line continues to grow! With U.A. Goalkeeper covering destruction effects and U.A. Perfect Ace providing simple negation at the cost of card economy, U.A. Blockbacker disrupts Special Summons to steal tempo.
While the defensive value of that effect may seem questionable compared to Goalkeeper, that'll often come down to your match-ups, and Blockbacker has the advantage of working on your turn as well as your opponent's. That has limited usefulness, but it's still good to be aware of.
#####CARDID= 17796 #####
I think U.A. Playmaker fares better, offering sheer muscle that's unparalleled for the Ultimate Athletes. With 2600 ATK it bests U.A. Mighty Slugger at 2300 attack points, and while that might not seem like much it's important to consider the other cards you'll be running with it. U.A. Stadium's +500 ATK boost pushes it to a huge 3100 ATK, letting it attack over a bigger range of monsters. And that extra 300 ATK becomes 600 more damage when the damage you deal is doubled by U.A. Powered Jersey. When Playmaker attacks a second time off Powered Jersey's effect you deal even more damage thank to that extra 300 attack.
Its effect seems really niche, helping smaller monsters wipe out bigger attackers. Then again, if you use it to loan ATK to a Powered Jersey monster you manage to double that bonus or better, by attacking twice and doubling battle damage pressed over monsters. There's more to this card than there might seem.
#####CARDID= 17857 #####
Back in the New Challengers Giant Set Review I mentioned how Gogogo Goram really wanted Gogogo Golem – Golden Form, and made the pretty obvious prediction that we'd see Golden Form in this set. And we did!
So, what does that mean? It means you can Summon Gogogo Goram, essentially ignore its position-changing drawback, and Tribute it off for Gogogo Golem – Golden Form to load Goram to the graveyard for revival later. Doing so boosts Golden Form to 4600 ATK, which is just enough to negate three monster effects with its ability.
Gogogo Golem – Golden Form isn't the most practical of cards, since its effect is mandatory, it's a dead draw on its own, and its protective abilities seem out of place in the aggression-minded Gogogo deck. But it's fun, and it completes a neat little combo we were waiting three months for. It's a great little casual card for those kitchen table days.
#####CARDID= 17755 #####
Dododo Witch fares much better, delivering another card that ties into that SECE trend of fixing troubled themes with a single card. Special Summon Dododo Driver to Xyz Summon a Rank 3, Rank 4, or Rank 5. Bring down Dododo Bot to swing through trap cards for 1800 damage, then make a Rank 4. Dododo Warrior hits the field with its 2300 ATK intact, negating any card effect that would trigger in the graveyard – tremendously useful against stuff like Burning Abyss, recruiters, and Mathematician. You can even Set Dododo Swordsman without Tributing, scoring an opportunity to destroy two monsters and Flip Summon the Swordsman with 3500 ATK.
Since the Witch is a simple Level 4 Warrior you can seek it out with Reinforcement of the Army, making the Dododo strategy vastly more consistent than it would be otherwise. Not only are Dododo decks now finally possible, but Onomatopaira gets way better.
#####CARDID= 17754 #####
Speaking of Swordsman, we don't have to wait another three months for it! This card's effects give it such impact that if you set it, your opponent has to answer it. Attacking over it is nearly impossible at 3000 DEF, so that won't be a big issue; even if your opponent manages to attack it once it's set, they're going to lose at least one monster to that nasty trigger effect.
If your opponent can't get rid of it, Dododo Swordsman Flip Summons at 3500 ATK and it's suddenly big enough to run down virtually anything barring effect negation to kick it back to 0 ATK. It's certainly a risky card since it's difficult to Tribute Summon even if you were to run The Monarchs Stormforth, but having effectively six copies of Dododo Witch thanks to Reinforcement of the Army makes it much better than it appears. Effect negation is the bane of your existence, stopping Swordsman's ATK boost or the Witch effect that would set it in the first place, but there's finally a playable deck here for local level competition. The Dododo theme finally has a reason for existing.
#####CARDID= 17758 #####
That is not what a possum looks like. That is a tapir, sir. The Spaniards have it right on this one.
#####CARDID= 17860 #####
Wow do I ever love Swordsman of Revealing Light! A new spin on familiar concepts, this is a hand trap like we've never seen before. One part Gorz the Emissary of Darkness and one part Battle Fader, Swordsman can block attacks and serve as a big on-field Material monster for Synchros or Xyz. There are tons of monsters making attacks these days with ATK lower than 2400 attack points, so Swordsman can rake in a lot of +1's over the course of a single match.
Even without its Xyz Material effect this thing would have massive promise, but if you run it in a deck packing Level 8's and regularly making Rank 8's, it protects whatever you Summon from being destroyed in battle. So while it's playable in all sorts of strategies, it's even better in stuff like Sylvans, Photons, or anything else that makes Rank 8's already, and wants to make more of them.
This card's awesome. I'm already working with several decks that play three copies.
#####CARDID= 17767 #####
I like to imagine the magician on Level Lifter's art flourishing his hands, snapping his head toward his audience, and boldly yelling with great pride, "Watch! As I make this Xyz Summon as a stunning -3!" It's that bad.
I don't know. I guess you could tech something like Thunder Dragon into Burning Abyss and… still do pretty much exactly what Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force already does, with fewer card slots and arguably better card economy.
It's that bad.
#####CARDID= 17783 #####
I want to win a game with a brutal Soul Strike Megamorph combo. Just once. Is there a word that means, "terrible, but hilarious?" Maybe in German?
Secrets of Eternity is a very different set from Duelist Alliance and New Challengers. While it packs some competitive stuff for the top decks, it feels more focused on creating killer one-card revamps for old, largely unplayed themes. It solves a ton of problems for a bunch of strategies that just weren't cohesive enough, and it does us the courtesy of extending that to Satellarknights too, patching things up with Satellarknight Constellar Diamond.
While Secrets of Eternity is plagued with cards that just aren't useful until Secret Forces hits, the new set drops on February 13th, and with the entire set seemingly underrated for the moment, now's the time to grab those cards that are likely going to become more expensive as the weeks pass. For mainstream competitive decks SECE might not do as much as DUEA or NECH, but that's clearly because it has very different goals. I'll be interested to see if the overall set design philosophy carries over to future sets, or if this is a one-time experiment or one-time solution to some internal schedule quirks.
All I know for sure is that right now, I'm building and playing more casual decks all at once than I ran all year in 2014. If the grind of Shaddolls, Burning Abyss, and Qliphorts is starting to wear on you, this might be your opportunity to take a step back from those strategies and just start building. Secrets of Eternity is just too much fun to pass up on.