I've featured plenty of Frog, Spellbook, Shaddoll and Hieratic decks in my years of writing, but there's one strategy I've barely touched: Karakuri. Pasquale kindly pointed out I'm not a huge fan of reading cards, but that's probably because English wasn't my first language. Also, reading is hard, and card's with freakishly long names or effects are daunting. I still haven't made it through Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon almost three years later. Do you know how many words are on that card? (Hint: lots.)
In spite of that, I absolutely adore Karakuris and always have… it's just that getting around to reading their extremely hard names and typing them nearly bores me to death. They're fun, versatile and explosive, just like me. Even if you just play a handful of Karakuri Tuner monsters, you can turn most any Machine deck into a high-octane OTK powerhouse. The two Karakuri Synchros, Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido" and Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" churn out Karakuris from the deck for lethal damage. With little to fall back on outside of Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand, the deck's largely a glass cannon; if you don't finish off your opponent quickly, you can kiss victory goodbye.
When the Master of Pendulum Structure Deck dropped, a lot of duelists were focused on the Pendulum-flavored Magicians and Pendulum Call, and we've seen why people have been so focused on the newer cards: they're extremely busted. I remember thinking Kozmos were going to be hard to beat, but Pendulum Magician variants are just too strong. If you deal with their Extra Deck forces, you'll have to wade through chump Blockers and Performage Plushfires with the fear of Performage Damage Juggler stymieing your plays!
My friend Chris and I have been toying around with a lot of Synchro-centric decks; no matter what route we chose – whether it's Gigavise, Morphtronics, or a dozen other strategies, the plan was always the same.
Step 1: Something something something lots of monsters.
Step 2: OTK with Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon.
That sounds banal, but there's merit in the simple steps. Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon's the generic Level 7 that's a blanket version of Armades, Keeper of Boundaries. Your opponent's monsters in their possession can't activate effects during the Battle Phase. Possession relates to cards in their hand, graveyard, on their field, up their nose… a.k.a. absolutely everywhere.
Not only will it shut down annoying cards like Performage Plushfire or Performage Damage Juggler, but it's awesome against rogue strategies. It cripples Yang Zings, and the Kozmo Spaceships won't cycle when they're destroyed. The downside's that your opponent can still counter with deadly spells and traps, but the "no monster effects" means you're in the green to rip through most competitive decks. All that being said, take a look at my Karakuri variant below…
DECKID=104045I think my love for the deck stems from the Ultimate Rare copies of Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido" and Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" I own; I'd suggest trying to find some pictures of those cards if you aren't convinced.
Don't worry about familiarizing yourself with which Karakuri monsters switch Battle positions if you're new to the deck - just make sure you know the effects of Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 "Ninishi" and Karakuri Strategist mdl 248 "Nishipachi".
No "Pspeedroids" This Time
The first time I wrote about Karakuris I highlighted the brilliance of Speedroid Terrortop as the strategy's lynchpin; a single Terrortop produces over 10,000 damage and can draw three to six cards unless you've drawn extremely poorly and can't fuel your combo with in-deck Karakuris.
I'm shifting gears from Terrortop for two reasons - first, that build can't consistently make Natura Beast, a must-have in today's game. Secondly, the main Speedroid combos pull the deck's focus away from making Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido" and force you to commit your Normal Summons to conflicting monsters. Karakuri Cash Cache, Karakuri Anatomy, Solar Wind Jammer and Karakuri Merchant mdl 177 Inashichi push the deck in a different direction. I won't slander Speedroid Terrortop, but a Level 3 Machine that requires a clear field will get in the way of the other under the radar cards. Too much of a good thing, ya know?
The deck's heavily reliant on combos; they're aren't many all-star standalone wonders here. Karakuri Cash Cache is a psuedo-Reinforcement of the Army but it works best when Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 "Ninishi"'s already on the field. Karakuri Anatomy's awful unless you have the right combination of dedicated cards, but you can double your return on investment to draw into Instant Fusion, Machina Fortress or Emergency Teleport. #####CARDID=17478#####
I often favor cards like Upstart Goblin in decks that combo monsters from your deck, and Anatomy will work in a similar delayed fashion; you can delay your drawing if you purge your deck of cards you don't want to draw, and then play your draw spells to boost your odds of drawing the aforementioned powerhouses.
But the intricacies go deeper than just drawing and searching. As I mentioned in my wonderful two-step combo above, your goal is to put damage on board and finish your opponent off with an Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon. If you're cashing in all your cards, it's totally ok to exhaust your hand completely; you're not building this glass cannon to last. That's why I included cards like Machine Duplication, Iron Call and Machina Fortress. You really don't care about conserving resources because you're playing like there's no next turn.
It's All About Math! (Everyone Groans)
When I say "exhaust your hand," I really mean it. Despite the Karakuri Synchros producing so many "free" monsters, it takes in-hand cards to churn out your big beaters. Fortunately you have about 10,000 ways to actually make your first Karakuri Synchro and then roll from there. Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido" and Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" have different secondary effects, but the Level 8 and the Level 7 both summon any Karakuri from your deck when Synchro Summoned, meaning pretty much any combination of cards will net good end results as long as you can make your first Synchro.
Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 "Ninishi" is often seen as the backbone of your turn since it gives you an extra Normal Summon. Start with Ninishi and Karakuri Cash Cache and you've got yourself a cheap Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" and subsequently any Karakuri from your deck. If you make a Karakuri Synchro without using Ninishi's ability, use your Synchro to bring out Ninishi retroactively and get its extra Normal Summon on a delayed clock. Either way, you'll be pumping out an extra Karakuri from your hand for a later Synchro Summon.
Obviously, you won't always start with Ninishi and sometimes you'll be forced to get its effect later. It's pointless to describe literally every different two or three card combination to start your Synchro chain, but it's very important to realize all the strange ways you can actually start the ball rolling. One simple way is to start with Karakuri Muso mdl 818 "Haipa", Emergency Teleport, and any other Karakuri in hand. You can make your Level 7 Burei, summon Ninishi from the deck, Extra Normal Summon your other in-hand Karakuri and bam: two Synchros with plenty of options left in hand. In the first game testing this deck, I made a weird series of plays that, well, worked.
My opening hand was Karakuri Watchdog mdl 313 "Saizan", Machina Fortress, Instant Fusion, Karakuri Soldier mdl "Nisamu", and two Karakuri Cash Cache. At that time the Cash Caches were pretty useless, so I had to make do with my other cards.
I started by Normal Summoning Karakuri Watchdog mdl 313 "Saizan" and Special Summoned Machina Fortress by pitching Karakuri Soldier mdl "Nisamu". Then I used Instant Fusion for Elder Entity Norden and revived the yarded Nisamu. I followed up and Tuned my two Karakuris into the Level 8 Bureido, summoning the Level 3 Ninishi from my deck. At that point my field was Fortress, Norden, Ninishi and Bureido - math told me that was 7800 ATK with a Meteorburst or over 10,000 if I made more Karakuri forces. With two Cash Cache in hand I technically had other options, but most smatterings of opening hands can make gigantic fields.
And you have a lot of options beyond that. Machine Duplication, for example, accelerates your plays but proved more situational than De-Synchro, both of which had merit in Karakuri. Machine Duplication has four compatible monsters here, one being the incredibly amazing Solar Wind Jammer, and I think that's what tipped the scale for me.
Solar Wind Jammer, Ninishi, any Level 4 or lower Karakuri plus Machine Duplication equates to roughly eleventeen hundred bajillion damage or something, after drawing you three cards. In fact, starting off with Solar Wind Jammer, any Level 3 Tuner and another Karakuri monster can produce nearly lethal damage. You'll have immediate access to the Level 8 Bureido and subsequently a Ninishi from your deck if you didn't start with it. Machine Duplication just gives you more chances to win.
Can't Have A Deck Without Hieratics!
The last monster I want to highlight is Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis. Despite its hefty summoning requirements of two Level 8 monsters, Helios is one of the better ways to clear any remaining Blockers your opponent has left before going in for the kill. Despite my praise for this deck and its insane ability to put big boss monsters on the field, a lone defender could brickwall your path to lethal victory. What about two set monsters? Your Karakuri forces won't do much damage if they have to weed through pesky extra monsters.
With 3000 ATK, Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis stands as a potent threat, but there's more to it than raw attack points. Unlike cards like Scrap Dragon, Heliopolis can use cards in your hand to pop threats. After all, you'll most likely enter your Battle Phase with several monsters in hand. Honestly, they're pretty much inert because after you dig through so much of your Extra Deck you won't have much to capitalize on even if you survive the next few turns. You might as well get the most out of them while you can, you know? An added bonus of Heliopolis is its non-targeting destruction effect, so you can even plow through a Kozmo Dark Destroyer and kill your opponent that way.
I rarely put spell and trap destruction in OTK decks unless you can get an extreme return on investment, but I think there's room here for Twin Twisters - the double Mystical Space Typhoon from Breakers of Shadow. By pitching a card from your hand, you can blow up two cards on the field. Normally, it'd be a hefty cost to merely blow up two cards, but discarding from your hand can fuel Instant Fusion and Iron Call to ensure they're not dead. More importantly, it blows up cards like the new Solemn Strike - an unbelievably busted card that kills your costly Synchros for a mere 1500 Life Points. I debated on Twin Twisters, and then I played against Strike once - I instantly changed my mind.
Testing the deck's hard to do because people tend to get frustrated very quickly - either your opponent could blow you out with some random Solemn Warning or you'll beat them after one turn. On the bright side, this deck doesn't fear Maxx "C" at all because no hand trap can stop, or even get in the way, of your attacks. Gorz, Emissary of Darkness and Performage Damage Juggler are powerless!
Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.
Loukas Peterson moved back to the cold and desolate North to fulfill his dream as a popsicle in Madison, Wisconsin. When he's not playing Spellbooks, his days are spent shaking his fist in the direction of Konami's North American headquarters requesting new Fabled support. In his spare time, Loukas enjoys cooking Minute Rice in 57 seconds, painting with all the colors of the wind and pretending his Etsy account is something to write home about. His favorite joke is "I play Evilswarm because I want to have fun!"
Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you love creating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send the following to email@example.com to have your deck featured in the "Re-Routing" deck fix column!
-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap; screencapped deck lists will be filed and then burned in the furnace accordingly… and your deck should be TCG legal).
-Your name and city.
-Remember, please use full card names! Abbrevs and mis-sipllngs make Loukas' life sad. Try your darndest to get the TCG name on there.
-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses. "Winning" is not a strategy per se, and neither is "beating your opponents before they beat you."
-Your favorite card from the build and why – make me fall in love with the deck!
The cooler your strategy the more I'll want to fix it, and if you throw in funny jokes, that'll surely get my attention too; be warned, unfunny jokes will push your deck to the back of the stack. Don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! -LJP