Finally, another Forbidden and Limited List is in the record books, and now we here in the TCG will be playing with Goyo Guardian once again after a hiatus I thought would never end! A few minor changes went into effect, and if you just can't get enough of Mirror Force, you can rejoice and play a full three copies. However if you're Loukas Peterson, then you're probably just excited about Formula Synchron and think nothing else in the world matters.

If anyone wants to send me a Premium Gold German copy of Formula Synchron, I'd be eternally indebted to you.

But enough about that, let's talk another cool deck. If you kept up the last weekend's North American World Championship Qualifier, then I don't need to tell you that Lightsworn Rulers proved they were, well, a real deck. We'll see how they progress, but my favorite outspoken card from the Lightsworn deck is Lightray Diabolos. It's a boss monster that's pretty hard to get out, but I've always had a thing for the Lightrays and lately I've been determined to fit Diabolos into another deck.

DECKID=100622I've always had this strange affinity for the Lightray cards, and I can't tell you why. Giant boss monsters that pop one card at a time are right up my alley, and nearly every Lightray card fits that description. The Summoning conditions can be a little steep but the heavy hitters, but they're so cool! Like mega cool.

I think we can all agree that cards like Judgment Dragon and Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End make enemies across the table, but when have you ever seen someone flip a table because his opponent dropped a Lightray Sorcerer on them?

I Swore Not To Put Them In Here
To borrow a phrase from the strangely shaped Doug Zeeff, Lightsworns "mill, derp and herp" to victory. They went from all-powerful in 2009 to rogue these past few years, to king of the hill today. I bet people want to see Lightsworn variants as much as they like seeing cookie cutter decks with Ice Hand and Fire Hand thrown in.

Besides, when testing a focus on Lightray monsters, it was virtually impossible to ever get Lightray Sorcerer on the field and doing my dirty work for me. Diabolos is Level 7 and can be searched by Eclipse Wyvern, but Lightray Sorcerer was an oddball: a ridiculously off-putting oddball at that. Thanks to Beckoning Light, you already have access to 26 Judgment Dragons in Lightsworns, and the field pairing of Lightray Sorcerer and Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner just seems off. All this is to say, if I was going to put in my Lightray favorites, Lightsworn is both a boring and suboptimal choice.

And thus, enter the Hieratic family. Looking solely at my two favorite Lightray monsters, Diabolos and Sorcerer, you can already see that there's synergy with the Hieratic Ruler deck at the very least. The Dragon Rulers can always be used as Xyz fodder with Diabolos, and my buddy Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit pairs with Sorcerer like Kelly Locke pairs with Dragunity in 2013.

Too soon?

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So let's go over these fabled Lightray monsters. Diabolos is the only Lightray that's made a splash on the competitive scene whatsover, and that's because it's so easy to cram into a Lightsworn deck. You'll be milling Eclipse Wyverns and setting up the Summoning conditions for your Dragon, and probably finish with a Rank 7 Xyz if your opponent's still miraculously alive. Diabolos needs five different Light monsters in your graveyard even hit the field.

Lightray Sorcerer is actually as opposite as you can get from Diabolos, but the two form somewhat of a symbiotic relationship as you'll see later. Sorcerer needs you to banish Light monsters to activate its effect, and it's pretty handy that Diabolos will be banishing them with its own ability. You can pop set cards and monsters all over the place once you get set up properly. To use both effectively, you'll need enough food in your graveyard for Diabolos and then enough food that's banished for your Sorcerer.

My Sister Asked What A Hairy Attic Was
If you're out of touch with the Hieratics, let me give you a quick rundown. All Hieratic monsters are Light Dragons, and they have ways of Tributing themselves and each other to Special Summon Normal Dragons from your hand, deck or Graveyard. You can Special Summon Tefnuit from your hand and then Special Summon Hieratic Dragon of Su by Tributing Tefnuit, Special Summon something like a Wattaildragon, and then continue from there. Keep in mind that Hieratic Dragon of Eset is almost exactly like Tefnuit but it consumes your Normal Summon.

Looking at the Hieratic monsters, it's quite clear that with Wattaildragon we immediately satisfy the requirements for Diabolos. In the traditional "Hieratic Ruler" deck, Hieratic Dragon of Nebthet is omitted because it's hardly useful for Rank 6 monsters whatsoever. But since we have a lot more combos working for us here, I thought I'd include the moon dragon. After two or three Xyz moves with your Hieratics, you should be able to drop Diabolos.

And since we've seen the success of Hieratics splashed with Dragon Rulers, I couldn't justify leaving them out. Not only are they nearly invincible, but they combo well with Diabolos for Rank 7 plays and assist in the pretty baller opening of a Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack. If you do the above Tefnuit and Su combo, you can stack the Dragons for Hieratic King Dragon of Atum and Special Summon a Ruler from your deck. If you have a Ruler in hand or graveyard at that point, you can overlook Atum's side effect by using the Special Summoned Ruler to make make a Dracossack or something that way.

Did I mention that all the Hieratics are Dragons? (Hint: yes.) You'll need that Ruler food to come from somewhere, and once you've exhausted all your resources (and hopefully your opponent's counters), my buddy Lightray Sorcerer is a miniature boss monster in and of itself. Diabolos and the Rulers should give you access to Sorcerer virtually any time that you draw it; all you have to do is return a banished Light monster to your deck. You could always return Hieratic monsters for later, but why not just return a Lightray Sorcerer or Diabolos you banished? As you can see, this deck starts off as a combo strategy but thrives towards the late game because you'll have a variety of heavy hitters that cost you almost nothing.

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Don't get me wrong - heavy hitters like Judgment Dragon are better, but the Lightsworn family is only so big. If you want to use field wipes like that, then you have to commit way too much of your deck to satisfy the requirements for your boss monsters. With Diabolos and Sorcerer, you're not forced to run a fifteen card engine. After all, the card that brings all these cards together organically is Hieratic Seal of the Ashes. It refills your graveyard from both the banished pile and your deck, while the Dragon Rulers and Diabolos fill up your banished pile. Lightray Sorcerer puts them back to the Main Deck. It's like magic, right?

Too Many Combos!
So where do you really begin with this strategy? It's not a pure deck by any sense because of all the random cards littering it, so I won't pretend like there's a real central beginning. At the very least though, the best cards to resolve early on in the game revolve around Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit and Dragon Shrine. The earlier you get to those pieces, the earlier you can start your major combos and then load up your graveyard for later.

Dragon Shrine simply puts a Dragon in the graveyard, but its effect is doubled if the first monster you yarded was a Normal Monster. Obviously you'll want to establish either Wattaildragon or Hieratic Seal of the Dragon King as early as possible, but the options open up from there depending on what your hand looks like. You can also yard The White Stone of Legend if you have a Trade-In to combo with it, or you can get ahead of the curve and put a Dragon Ruler in the graveyard.

And I'll admit, the pairing of Blue-Eyes White Dragon and The White Stone of Legend seems little more than Dragon fodder at first glance, but I see them for another purpose. Not only does that suite of cards give you an avenue for the Rank 8 Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand, but White Stone of Legend's a Tuner. Thanks to Call Of The Haunted and the self-reviving abilities here, the Level 1 Tuner opens up your Extra Deck to include Black Rose Dragon and Scrap Dragon. And if you know me well enough, you know we're not finished with the crazy combos yet.

I think one of my favorite monsters of all time has to be Junk Synchron. Not only can it pull its own weight for a 1-card Synchro Summon, but with the Level 1 White Stone of Legend it gives you two Tuners for two Synchro Summons. For example, Special Summon Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit while you control no monsters, then Normal Summon your Junk Synchron to revive White Stone of Legend. Combine your White Stone with Tefnuit for Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn and banish whatever card's in your way on the field! You can then attack for 3900 damage, and in Main Phase 2 make the indomitable Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree. If you have a Dragon Ruler at your disposal, you could keep your Michael around and still finish with a Leo.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson