As Doug "Herp Derp" Zeeff always told me, "It's good to have a fun deck to fall back on." Doug's always going to have his Crystal Beasts to play when everything else seems stale, and I know he's not the only one with a default deck. Your pride and joy may not be destined for greatness, but it holds a special place in your collection. Despite this wisdom, Doug isn't the wisest all the time, so I wouldn't always trust him. He almost wrecked my car once because he doesn't know how to use a gear shift, and I still can't leave a box of Cheerios on my counter if he's in the tri-county area.

I'm not as crazy about Gem Knights as Franco Ferrara is, but their backstory, lore, art and effects are, as the kids say these days, "off the hook." I'm still holding out for more support every stinking day and night. I have standards though: it's got to be strong, and it has to come fast, and it has to put up a fight.

Call me selfish, but I won't be satisfied if we get another boring Normal Monster or Gemini Monster; I want something amazing.

DECKID=100653Back before Pendulum monsters, Synchro Summons and Xyz behemoths, Fusion Monsters were top dog. Well, Metamophosis, Cyber Stein and Magical Scientist played huge roles in making Fusion Monsters, but they're all currently Forbidden. Elemental Hero Absolute Zero and Gladiator Beast Gyzarus are great, but Gem-Knights are a deck that thrive around Fusion Summons.

Gem-Knights Will Stay Up Cashing In Your Bad Luck
Let's go ahead and get the elephant out of the room and talk about the core card for Gem-Knights that hold them all together like some sort of crystalline glue. Gem-Knight Fusion is effectively a Polymerization, but instead of sitting like a bump on a log in your graveyard, Gem-Knight Fusion recycles itself at a very low price. By banishing any Gem-Knight monster from your graveyard, you get your Gem-Knight Fusion back to your hand. If only it was generic for all archetypes, like Elemental Heroes.

The card you banish can be a Gem-Knight boss monster you made previously, or any of your low Level minions, and you can do it as many times per turn if you have fuel in the graveyard. You may think your supply of banish fodder's infinite, but you'll run out of Extra Deck and graveyard targets before too long. You're more than welcome to be as reckless as you want, but Gem-Knights are capable of making big pushes for damage that consume a lot of resources. Just make sure that you've put a big enough dent in your opponent before you burn through everything you have on the first few turns. I'll go ahead and say that the most important part of playing Gem-Knights effectively is to know when to pull the trigger.

In short, the deck revolves around Gem-Knight Fusion but you won't die without it. Of course not every turn starts with activating this keystone spell, but having access to Gem-Knight Fusion is huge. Last week I talked about the importance of resolving Dragon Shrine as soon as possible, and it's similar for this deck, in the same way Spellbooks need The Grand Spellbook Tower and Geargia needs Geargiarmor. You just have to get to your best card consistently, simple as that.

That's why Lavalval Chain's so important to this strategy. It yards Gem-Knight Fusion so you can get it back, and it's pretty easy to make (it also loads up Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders if you were curious). Whether you use Summoner Monk, Rescue Rabbit or Soul Charge, it doesn't matter; just stack two Level 4's and you're good to go. After all, I stepped up the ante here and decided to focus on sending cards from your deck to the graveyard with Kuribandit and Needlebug Nest. You heard that right: Kuribandit and Needlebug Nest, even though I'm not testing out Lightsworns.

Not only do those cards directly yard Breakthrough Skill and Gem-Knight Fusion, but they also trigger two important monster effects: Gem-Knight Lazuli and Gem-Knight Obsidian. When those cards are sent from to the graveyard with any effect, you get a Gem-Knight back as a replacement so your Fusions aren't as costly to make. If you fused with a Lazuli, then you get another Gem-Knight back to your hand for more Fusions either immediately or later on. If your Kuribandit excavated an Obsidian, then you Special Summon a Gem-Knight from the graveyard to make more Fusion Summons or just for sheer brute force, placing another attacker on the field.

If you've never played around with Polymerization-esque cards before, then you probably don't know just how real the struggle is. Typically, Fusion Summons exhaust three cards from your resource base, but I hope you're starting to see that Gem-Knights reward, or at least replenish, your depleted card base – that's what keeps an errant Bottomless Trap Hole from gutting you for all your cards. Gem-Knight Fusion keeps your alchemic spell around for days while Gem-Knight Obsidian, Gem-Knight Lazuli and Dark Factory of Mass Production give you enough monsters for all the Fusion Summons you could want.

Sapphires, and Emeralds, And Talc, Oh My!
Actually, scratch that. Good thing there's no Gem-Knight Talc. That would be the most boring Fusion Monster to ever exist. It would probably just break and crumble as soon as you put it on the field, and it's not really a precious stone by any lengths. If you want the 411 on the Gem-Knight cards, let me refer you to this beautiful article right here. Actually, Franco has several articles about the Gem-Knights, so go read up on all of them right now!

The three Gem-Knight Fusion Monsters I chose to run in today's deck are the easiest to make. Gem-Knight Zirconia needs a Rock-type and any Gem-Knight, so with the infamous Gem-Armadillo, a 2900 ATK beater's only a step away. Additionally, Lazuli and Obsidian are Rock monsters as well, so Zirconia's probably the easiest to Special Summon. Since Volcanic Shell and Gem-Knight Fusion are recursive threats, you can spam multiple Gem-Knight Citrines at once and push through annoying cards like Dimensional Prison and Fire Hand, controlling the Damage Step with Citrine's ability. However, my favorite of all the Fusions is Gem-Knight Prismaura.

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Not only is Prismaura easy to make with Tourmaline (or Thunder Dragon if you're gutsy), but its effect meshes perfectly with Gem-Knight Fusion's recycling ability. Once per turn, pitch your spell to pop a face-up card on the field and then attack with an impressive 2450 ATK. If your Prismaura lives to fight another day, you can reuse the Gem-Knight Fusion and blow up another card. Since it's a Level 7, Redox combines perfectly with your Level 7 Prismaura to make either Number 11: Big Eye or Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack.

Love it or leave it, but Soul Charge works perfectly here as well. You know how Soul Charge works perfectly in something like Dragon Rulers to make a huge field of Xyz and Synchros for just 3000 or 4000 Life Points? It's the same in Gem-Knights, but you'll get a field of Xyz and Fusion Monsters instead. With your Level 8 Zirconia along with your Level 7 Citrine and Prismaura, who needs all four Dragon Rulers to make an indomitable field? Not Gem Knights, that's for sure.

Just remember, beat your opponent before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson