Once Primal Origin's released for the TCG in May, we'll finally have a Sylvan deck that can stand on its own roots and function as a cohesive, all-inclusive strategy. In the meantime, the Pretty Princess Patrol will make one final cameo to out-dazzle your opponent in nature's backyard. Eventually, we'll have too many awesome cards to cram into a single 40-card Plant deck, but today I'll show you my latest mash-up creation, playing both the Sylvan and Princess archetypes.

Outside of their effects, I discussed one of the biggest strengths of Princesses in an article a few weeks back. They all have high ATK and can press for major damage thanks to monster effects, spells, and traps that bring them out from the deck and graveyard for almost no cost. And in case you hadn't heard, the Pretty Princess Patrol met to discuss the vitality and strength of the group, and Talaya, Princess of Cherry Blossoms was fired from the squad. The other Princesses agreed that Talaya was the weakest member of the group and the weakest link needed to be eliminated.

Tytannial, Princess of Camellias protects your cards from being targeted; Chirubime, Princess of Autumn Leaves replaces itself post mortem; and Marina, Princess of Sunflowers makes all your Plants into ticking time bombs. Talaya just wasn't living up to its potential and is off waving a paper fan in one of my card binders. Good riddance, Princess of the winter months; see you in November.

DECKID=99965I tend to shy away from new strategies not out of disinterest, but because of new game mechanics; I'm more focused on improving preexisting decks instead of abandoning them for the newest cards. Sometimes I'll ask myself aloud, "Am I out of touch?" But I always come back to the conclusion "No, it's the children who are wrong."

Sylvans introduced the game mechanic "Excavate," which is not quite the same as sending a card from the top, bottom or any part of your deck to the graveyard. Excavating involves taking cards from your deck and sending them to the graveyard after you've already looked at them, which is a very important distinction. The spell card Reasoning, for example, excavates cards from your deck because it checks certain features about them, like whether your revealed cards are monsters. On the other hand, Card Trooper blindly throws the top cards from your deck to the graveyard with no discretion.

You can find a full list of current cards that excavate here.

Winter Wrap-Up, Winter Wrap-Up! Let's Finish Our Holiday Cheer!
It's only fitting that I write about a Plant deck to usher in the spring season! If you're anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line in America, then you're probably not welcoming spring in unless "welcoming spring" constitutes playing in the snow at the end of March.

Kelly Locke has spent the greater part of 2014 trying to convince Doug "Swiggle Piggle" Zeeff and me that Sylvan Decks are worthy of competition. Due partially to overstuffed card text and partially to a general disdain of this new archetype, I paid Kelly no heed in his proclamatory love for Sylvans. It wasn't until I came inches from death at the hands of a dueling botanist that Sylvans even crept up on my radar.

Once Sylvans start going, it's very hard to stop the onslaught of Special Summons and destruction that their massive excavation power creates. Currently, we have nine Sylvan Effect Monsters in the TCG, and their effects range from reincarnation to stacking the order of your deck, all very powerful in their own right. However, I limited my Sylvan pool to cards that destroyed, Special Summoned monsters from the graveyard, and drew cards. I wanted to maximize the output of my excavated Sylvans yet limit my options to create consistency. If Mermails and Atlanteans taught us anything, it's that destroying cards and making Special Summons from the graveyard for free are always good.

To maximize how often I'd be triggering my Sylvans' effects, I turned to Mount Sylvania. This Field Spell allows you to be a deck demigod and rearrange your topdeck so you can trigger your Sylvan effects via excavation. At the cost of one Plant from your hand or field, you stack any Sylvan to the top of your deck. During the End Phase of your opponent's turn, Sylvania then excavates the top card of your deck and triggers the effect of whatever Sylvan you put there during your turn! Keep in mind, you don't have to use Mount Sylvania on your turn to trigger it during your opponent's End Phase. You can always go in blind and hope for the best without manually rearranging anything, because Mount Sylvanian yards any and all Plants.

Sylvan Marshalleaf destroys a monster when you excavate it, Sylvan Peaskeeper Special Summons a Level 4 or lower Plant from your graveyard, and Sylvan Komushroomo destroys a spell or trap on the field. As I said before, the Sylvan deck right now isn't a powerhouse and needs to incorporate other strategies to dominate the playing field. Marshalleaf, Peaskeeper and Komoshroomo act as support cards to clear the way for your bigger Xyz and Princess plays, while also filling up the graveyard with Plants. I'll get to why this is insanely important later on.

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Additionally, these three Sylvans also have the power to excavate just like Mount Sylvania. Peaskeeper excavates one card when Normal or Special Summoned, while Marshalleaf excavates one or two when Normal Summoned. Those numbers aren't bad, but they pale in comparison to Komushroomo, which excavates an astounding five cards when flipped face up! Any and all Plants get sent to the graveyard, exactly where you want them. While Komushroomo's excavation effect isn't as ideal as Marshalleaf's, I played three copies anyways because checking the top five cards of your deck to excavate them can make a huge swing in momentum. You may not always get lucky with Marshalleaf or Peaskeeper, but Komushroomo is bound to hit one or two Plants.

It Ain't Easy Being BreezyIt's great that your Sylvan monsters destroy spells and traps and Summon weenies from the graveyard, but you'll be up the creek without a paddle if you don't have the Plant core of your deck intact to deal lethal damage. Where would Plants be without the infamous Spore, Lonefire Blossom and Dandylion trio? Lonefire Blossom got bumped up to Semi-Limited on the January 2014 F&L list and I couldn't be happier. Simply Tribute off any Plant to Summon any other Plant from your deck with Lonefire. It's the primary target for your Sylvan Peaskeeper, and I'll share a quick combo that proves how well Sylvans interact with the preexisting Plant cards.

First, Normal Summon Lonefire Blossom and Special Summon Sylvan Hermitree from your deck by Tributing the Lonefire. The Level 8 Sylvan rearranges the top of your deck when excavated, but that's not the interesting part. Follow up your Hermitree Summon with Mount Sylvania to stack a Sylvan Peaskeeper on top your deck and immediately excavate it with Hermitree's effect to trigger two more abilities at once: Hermitree's second effect and Peaskeeper's revival. You get to draw a card in additiontobringing back Lonefire Blossom from your graveyard, earning back the card you ditched with Mount Sylvania.

Follow up that string of Special Summons by bringing out any of members of the Pretty Princess Patrol from your deck; if you're facing an open field, you'll deal up to 5500 damage with your Level 8 monstrosities. Finish the barrage with the amazing Rank 8 Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand, which can negate effects and protect monsters. This nifty combo simply required Mount Sylvania, Lonefire Blossom and one card in hand while netting you a Rank 8 Felgrand, and you got to keep your Sylvania while replenishing your card in hand with Hermitree.

I shouldn't have to say it, but it's painfully clear that Lonefire Blossom is the keystone card for this deck. Whether you use it in conjunction Sylvan Hermitree, with Spore, or simply to Summon a Tytannial, Princess of Camellias, it's the best card in the Main Deck hands down. I want to maximize the usage of Lonefire Blossom, so I stocked this build with three copies of Call Of The Haunted and two Miracle Fertilizers so you can use Lonefire until your Plants are all in the yard. Call Of The Haunted's more versatile, has more targets to bring back, and can be used on your opponent's turn to stymie their strategy; Miracle Fertilizer is brittle and restricts your Normal Summons, but both can get you to Lonefire easily. Of course, both can also resurrect your Plant hordes to push for massive damage, too. That's one of the best things about the Princesses: they have impressive, bulky ATK for hard and fast damage.

I've yet to touch on my favorite combo. Without Monster Reborn and Redox you can't access one of the best dragons so easily, but with a turn of preparations you can make your opponent weep with fear. Use your Lonefire Blossom to bring out Dandylion and then revive your Lonefire to tribute Dandylion for Spore, which nets you two Fluff Tokens. Synchro Summon Formula Synchron and get a free draw. Banish your Dandylion for Spore and Tune the fluffy and adorable Spore with Lonefire Blossom and the remaining Fluff Token into Stardust Dragon. Finish off by combining both your Synchro Monsters into Shooting Star Dragon, the 3300 ATK behemoth that protects itself from destruction!

If you can't make Shooting Star Dragon, use Spore's effect to boost to Level 9 and tune with a Fluff Token into Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree. I explained in my Obedient Fabled deck a few weeks ago just how devastating Leo can be. In fact, Spore's a dangerous card for your opponent thanks to the incredible Synchro monsters sleeping in your Extra Deck.

Cause Tomorrow Spring Is Here!I've talked about how useful the Sylvans can be and home to abuse Lonefire in a few ways, but those lists are not completely inclusive of every possible option you have with your overgrown forces. I included two copies of Phoenixian Cluster Amaryllis as the sleeper strategy for this deck. Amaryllis can't be Special Summoned except via Phoenixian Seed or its own effect, meaning Lonefire Blossom, Call Of The Haunted and Miracle Fertilizer are off the table. If it's destroyed and sent to the graveyard, then during your End Phase, you can banish any Plant from your graveyard to bring back Amaryllis in defense. With 0 DEF I first thought Amaryllis would simply be a weak wall to save myself from damage, but looking further, it's actually a very useful card.

Worst case scenario, your opponent uproots your creepy looking spawn-of-Satan Plant, and you'll take no damage, stopping your opponent from triggering effects like Atlantean Marksman and Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear. If your opponent does destroy your Amaryllis by battle or card effect, they take 800 damage. Surprisingly, that damage adds up quickly and will kill your opponent in ten turns. Thanks to your excavating Sylvans, you'll always have a bundle of Plants in the graveyard to banish for Cluster's effect.

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If your opponent doesn't attack into 800 points of damage, you'll keep your Level 8 monster around for an Xyz Summon or tribute fodder for an in-hand Princess if you're without a Trade-In (which actually gets a boost from the use of Amaryllis and Hermitree). If you can keep an Amaryllis around with a Marina, Princess of Sunflowers on the field, it combos with Amaryllis because Marina destroys a card whenever another Plant bites the dust.

In the end, I'm really happy how the whole deck melds together into one crazy strategy; I was actually surprised at just how well it turned out. I thought the Sylvans wouldn't pack enough flower power on their own, but they support the Princesses perfectly and clear a path for your overpowered royalty.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson

Article Aftermath #17