Let's be honest: no one has fond memories of Wind-Ups except me. Whether it was embodied by a combination of Wind-Up Shark and Wind-Up Magician creating a field dominated by Number 16: Shockmaster, or a cheap excuse to strip a player's whole hand, no one has ever really enjoyed Wind-Up's presence.

Despite everyone else retching at the mention of these toybox horrors, I loved Wind-Ups during their reign and will always continue to do so. Simply put, I love hand loops; I like combos with minimal investment that rob your opponent of their right to start the duel with cards. Why do I have that weird desire to alienate people and make my opponents hate me? You're asking the wrong questions.

You should be asking, "Why wouldn't you want to hand loop your opponents?"

Sadly for me (but good for the game of Yu-Gi-Oh, let me tell you), the infamous Wind-Up loop riding in the wake of Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaighty ended once my fourth favorite Xyz was Limited to one. Eventually, Zenmaighty, Monster Reborn and Pot of Avarice found themselves on the Forbidden side of the semi-annual List, but taking away Zenmaighty was the death blow to my precious hand loop.

Battered, outclassed and abandoned, Wind-Ups are now just waiting for their own Toy Story movie franchise to make them relevant again. I re-acquired the full deck just a few days ago, but I didn't know how I wanted to spin it after Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force spiked in price and gave me even more incentive to go for my favorite version of the deck.

DECKID=100973You won't find the X-Saber loop here, and for once I'm shelving Hieratics, and thus that Gishki variant is hosed. If you were expecting to get a demo on the seven hour Infernity loop, then you're pretty much out of luck.

It's play time.

I Gear My Puns So Doug Will Cringe
It seems weird that Wind-Ups were the first archetype to get an exclusive Xyz. Oh, that's right, back when Leviar the Sea Dragon and Number 39: Utopia were new to the game, the Wind-Up family came to the scene in Generation Force. Granted, we only had cards like Wind-Up Dog and Wind-Up Zenmaister, but the point remains that Wind-Ups have been with us since the beginning. Sure, Wind-Up Magician was also released in that set, but it wasn't until Order of Chaos dropped that the craziness really started to happen.

After solid additions like Wind-Up Zenmaines, Wind Up-Rat and Wind-Up Rabbit, we got the World Premiere Wind-Up Shark that officially made Wind-Up Bee completely and utterly useless. With a Wind-Up Magician and Wind-Up Shark in hand, you could decimate your opponent's hand from the get go with the loop of Wind-Up Zenmaighty, Hunter and Rat. Throw a Pot of Avarice in there and your opponent could end up starting with nothing to their name except a Draw Phase.

But when that strategy became irrelevant after several F&L List changes, Wind-Ups had had to adapt. Good thing that this combo-oriented deck still has a few tricks up its sleeve, in addition to the amazing fields you can generate at the drop of a hat. Unlike other combo decks like Infernities or Hieratics, a simply Vanity's Emptiness isn't automatically game over for you.

Wind-Up Shark's an amazing way to create those types of fields, with it Level manipulation and easy Summoning requirements. Wind-Up Rabbit dodges seemingly any and every threat, and it's a recyclable attack stopper to boot thanks to the reviving powers of Wind-Up Rat. Wind-Up Factory's just plain dumb because you can trigger it to search during either player's turn, and who can forget the infamous Wind-Up Magician?

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The deck thrives from Wind-Up Shark and Wind-Up Warrior's abilities to adapt their Levels for a wide array of Xyz Summons, and I've built the deck to play duplicates or triplicates of nearly every card possible to keep things consistent. Wind-Ups have lost their previous status as a heavy combo deck, but they make up for it with high utility cards, including one of the best search effects in the game. But enough macro-scale talk! Let's get into some combos.

The Not-So-Dreaded Loop
I won't beat around the bush and say that Wind-Ups are the same today as they were before, but you can certainly devastate your opponent early in the game with similar combos. Let's say you start with a Wind-Up Magician, Wind-Up Shark and Soul Charge in your opening hand. If not, bear with me and realize that thanks to Wind-Up Factory this three-card combo isn't really that tough to achieve early in the game, if not on Turn 1.

Normal Summon Magician and Special Summon that Shark from your hand, triggering Magician and using its effect to Special Summon Wind-Up Hunter from your deck. Use Hunter's effect to pop off Magician for one card from your opponent's hand. If you turn Shark into a Level 3, you can stack your remaining two monsters for M-X-Saber Invoker and detach Hunter to Special Summon a Warrior from your deck, then follow that up with Soul Charge!

Use Warrior's effect to make your Hunter a Level 4, triggering Magician to Summon a Wind-Up Rat from your deck. Pop your Magician off again with Hunter to do away with a second card, before stacking both for Photon Papilloperative and using that Xyz Effect to switch your newly- Summoned Rat to attack mode. Finish off your big combo by switching Rat to attack position with Photon Papilloperative and pluck a third card out of your opponent's hand with your final Hunter ability.

If you want to extend your plays even further, you can add in Ayers Rock Sunrise and loop your opponent for even more cards. I opted not to play Sunrise for greater consistency, but it's certainly a fair option. Wind-Up Shark and Magician are relatively easy to get thanks to Wind-Up Factory, and Soul Charge is never a terrible card to see even if you don't open with it. Ayers Rock is more limited in its uses, so it really wasn't doing it for me.

If you don't need to loop your opponent, then try this combo out: if you can stick a Wind-Up Rabbit on the field you can do some crazy shenanigans even without Wind-Up Hunter. Do the Magician and Shark combo again, but this time bring out any Level 3 Wind-Up from your deck with Magician's effect. Continue by banishing your Magician with Rabbit (because you can banish any Wind-Up with Rabbit's ability, not just itself) and stack the Rat and the Rabbit for your Leviar the Sea Dragon to bring Magician back.

Once your Magician hits the field use Shark's effect to trigger Magician's ability: I'll stop myself there so you can let your imagination run wild. Since Wind-Up Shark can turn into a Level 3 or Level 5, you're free to make any Xyz from your Extra Deck. I'm not one to crush your creative juices, and the choice of what you Xyz Summon will depend on your specific situation.

Toybox Terror!
I know I lauded Soul Charge earlier, but it's a really fun card here, keeping playtime going long after it would end otherwise. Even if all you can afford is a Wind-Up Magician and a Wind-Up Rat, well… by my count that quickly turns into four monsters on the field. Wind-Ups have the luxury of spamming crazy set-ups because their effects aren't limited to being played just once per turn – they're limited to once per turn per face-up monster. If the Wind-Up monster leaves the field, you can re-Summon it to use its effect again; that's very different from cards like Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear and Satellarknight Deneb.

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Since Wind-Ups are all pretty weak in the ATK department despite their amazing effects, you'll need to pack quite a bit of defense to keep yourself alive. In addition to the many defensive traps, I like the Artifact cards because they provide you with monsters to use as Xyz Materials while also hindering your opponent's moves on their turns. Trust me – when you're left with only a Wind-Up Shark or Wind-Up Warrior, a well timed Artifact Moralltach is just what the doctor ordered.

And the icing on the cake? Wind-Ups have the luxury of Side DEcking basically whatever the heck they want. Whether it's floodgates like Vanity's Emptiness and Dimensional Fissure or an onslaught of hand traps, the sky's the limit. Just tailor your Side Deck to whatever you think you'll face next.

Just remember, beat your opponent before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson