Finally, a new Forbidden and Limited List is upon us. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I don't think anyone has ever been 100% satisfied after the list hit our shores. Considering the TCG and OCG have had separate lists for a year, I don't think the shore metaphor really follows, but it's an expression ingrained into my writing and speech. I have a lot to say about this list, but now isn't the time to complain or rejoice.

The beginning of a format's always the best time to try new archetypes, strategies and the craziest ideas you've been keeping in your head for the past four months. Experimentation is at its peak whenever a new set's released or a new F&L list drops, so it's time to get your innovation and crazy on! Historically speaking there's a strong precedent for success, even for strategies that might seem like total underdogs.

For example, there was a two year span where Flamvell decks would top a ton of Regional Qualifiers at the beginning of each new format because the deck could always abuse a few cards thanks to the changes that were made. Unsuspecting duelists tended to fall quickly to Flamvell Firedog and Rekindling. Once the dust settles those rogue strategies often disappear from competition, but don't be afraid to try anything once.

DECKID=101201I've grown to like Pendulum Monsters, much in the same way I grew to like my five year old sister: first I kind of ignored her for a while, but eventually conceded the point and played Candyland with here seven times in a row (Side Note: I officially hate that game, especially the Gumdrop Forrest). And like Pendulums, I know that Katy's only going to get cooler.

Right now it's all Barbies and Princesses, but I'm warming her up to the idea of Nerf and Power Rangers.

Pendulum? More Like Pendudumbs!
At least that was my initial thought on the game mechanic when I first heard of it; I was confused and furious, similar to my sister when I told her it was Santa that ate all of her ice cream when it was actually her older brother. After all, I had just gotten over the mechanic of Xyz Summons and got hit with the Pendulum curveball. ("What do you mean you put monsters on top of each other?")

Raise your hand if you know how Pendulums work. Alright, since only like three of you have your hands in the air, I'll go over the mechanic in brief. If you hate reading, skip ahead a bit and watch this video. It's actually really informative and answers literally every question you have about them; or, you can check out Kelly Locke's article here and get a good feel for the Pendulum Mechanic as a whole.

In short, you have a Pendulum Zone on the left and right of your field where you can place Pendulum monsters, making them spells and applying their Pendulum effects. Like Union monsters or equip monsters, they're officially considered spells while they're on the field; pretty simple, right? Once per turn, you Special Summon as many monsters as you want from your hand and Extra Deck, provided their Levels fit between the numbers of your Pendulum Scale. It's an inherent once-per-turn thing, similar but not congruent to a Normal Summon. A Pendulum Summon counts as a Special Summon, but all the monsters hit the field at once. In short, Black Horn of Heaven is a good counter measure while Maxx "C" is not.

Since your Pendulum cards are considered spell cards when they're in your Pendulum Zones, they're prone to destruction by cards like Mystical Space Typhoon and Dust Tornado. Their saving grace is their resilience. When they leave the field as either a monster or a spell, they go to the Extra Deck where they become… like… an extension of your hand?... from which you can Pendulum Summon them again. That's why I maxed out on my Pendulum Monsters – they just won't die! Get two Pendulum Monsters into your Pendulum Zones and the rest become spam fodder you can bring back turn after turn.

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The only Pendulum monsters I played here are Flash Knight at Pendulum Rank 7 and Foucault's Cannon, Pendulum Rank 2. Virtually every monster in this deck fits between these Pendulum Ranks, so you can throw down every monster you draw, sans the Chaos monsters. Hopefully you've caught on to the strategy after looking at the deck list: you want to hit hard, hit fast, and Pendulum Summon everything you can get your hands on.

While the overall strategy may be clear, you've probably given me some weird looks in your head by now over all of the weird choices here. Don't feel bad if you aren't familiar with half o the monster list; I used the official Yu-Gi-Oh! card database to find the perfect cards for this build. I'll quickly describe what roll each of them play to bring you up to speed:

Flash Knight – Searchable via Reinforcment of the Army, it has a Pendulum Rank higher than 5 (7).

Foucalt's Cannon – Searchable with Summoner's Art, its Pendulum Rank is lower than 4 (3); it's also Level 5 for Xyz Summons.

Silent Swordsman LV5 – Level 5 Light Warrior; the fact that it's unaffected by Spells can be useful.

Succubus Knight – searchable with Summoner's Art, it's a Level 5 Dark Warrior.

Now that we've got that out of the way, I can actually talk about the deck as a whole and how you can go about playing it.

Pendulum and Xyz Summon!
With Reinforcement of the Army, Summoner's Art and Reckless Greed, getting to at least one copy each of Foucault's Cannon and Flash Knight is mathematically in your favor. Barring a Torrential Tribute or Black Horn of Heaven, you want to throw down as many Succubus Knights, Star Drawings and Silent Swordsmen LV 5 as you can, stack them for Xyz Summons and then try to knock your opponent off in one turn.

More often than not, you can put lethal damage on board almost every turn you perform a big Pendulum Summon… especially since any of your dead Cannons and Flash Knights can be brought back from the Extra Deck post mortem. Throw in Instant Fusion and Feast of the Wild LV5 (the only reason you need Level 5 Warriors, I might add) and the ability to unleash three or four Rank 5 Xyz is just a step away.

Even though Pendulum Summoning isn't a game changing mechanic quite yet, it's a sleeper strategy that can turn the tables on an unsuspecting opponent, especially when you pack your Extra Deck with game-ending cards like Number 61: Volcasaurus. This deck isn't exclusively a Volcasaurus turbo deck, but there's no reason not to abuse that Rank 5 Xyz when so many decks leave big monsters on the field for you to destroy.

Monsters like Artifact Durendal, Constellar Pleiades and Tiras, Keeper of Genesis are powerful tools with aggressive and defensive utility, but nothing can end games as quickly as Volcasauras can (remember that time I tied with a guy that had three Volcasaurus in his Extra Deck at YCS Toronto?). With a simple Pendulum Summon or a Feast of the Wild LV5, Volcasaurus can take out thousands of Life Points in a one swoop before you stack it with a Gaia Knight the Thunder Charger for 2600 more damage. Typically, duelists will view their Life Points not so much as a specific number but fitting within a range, saying "oh I can survive two attacks," or "they'll need more than a Tour Guide From the Underworld to beat me this turn."

With such easy access to Volcasaurus, your opponent is within range of defeat almost 100% of the time. A single Volcasaurus is lethal if they've used a Soul Charge or Solemn Warning, or if you've gotten in at least one direct attack prior to the dinosaur party. If you swiftly beat your opponent down in a matter of turns, say "Don't hate the player, hate the game" as you moonwalk away.

This will effectively make them hate you even more.

We ShouD sPell AlL ouR WoRds likE this
I've always wanted to try out Number 53: Heart-eartH, but its Summoning conditions have always been ridiculously obscene. Outside of… no, I can't even try this one. There isn't a deck that can swarm the field with three or more Level 5 monsters with anything resembling consistency. Artifact players can be heard crying in the distance as I write this.

Enter Pendulums, of course! Thanks to the half dozen Level 5 monsters played here on top of Star Drawing, Feast of the Wild LV5 and Instant Fusion are a recipe for success. Meeting the requirements to Xyz Summon Number 53: Heart-eartH is ridiculously easy, but you shouldn't commit every three monster field to Heart-eartH. Its effect is neat, serving as a wall that's impervious to attacks and destruction up to three times. But you're not using Number 53 for its effect. You need to bring out Number 92: Heart-eartH Dragon.

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Heart-eartH Dragon is just so freaking cool to me. It can't be destroyed by battle and your opponent takes all the damage you would from attacks, so you can freely ram it into everything for massive damage. When Number 53 finally bites the dust, you get the Dragon upgrade for free with 53 attached as a material. That leaves you with a choice for your Dragon's effect; you have to choose between massive banishment or instantaneous revival. Whatever your choice, you can still ram the Dragon into your opponent's big monsters so they take the fall. Worst case scenario, it sets you up for an even easier kill shot with Volcasaurus.

Win or lose, this deck's a lot of fun. I'm not a fan of trolling people for the pure sake of aggravation like a stall deck or something, but this strategy's incredibly frustrating to play against and won't be making you friends anytime soon. You'll either wipe the field quickly with Volcasaurus, or you can play more defensively and make Tiras, Keeper of Genesis and Artifact Durendal to hamper your opponent's turns. Try not to get too upset when someone pays you back the favor.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson