History lesson time!

A year ago back in March of 2013, the Thunder Family / Hunder deck made its big breakthrough. Scoring two Top 8 finishes in quick succession, first in Honolulu Hawaii and then a week later in Danvers Massachusetts, the deck proved to be a resilient pick against Fire Fists and had easy access to Crimson Blader in the Mermail matchup. It continued to be a popular niche pick with a modest cult following, until a ruling at YCS Meadowlands created an unfavorable interpretation of Sishunder's effect which caused the deck to slide from favor.

A few months later that ruling was clarified and changed at the North American WCQ: Sishunder was returned to full strength, but by then the game had changed and it was tough to play anything but Dragon Rulers or Spellbooks. Other strategies were simply better at doing what Hunders did at the time, namely abusing Number 16: Shock Master.

Fast-forward to December that same year. With Spellbooks and Dragon Rulers both reined in Thunder Family decks started to appear in notable tournaments again, including a late-format showing at the ARG Metro Series in Montreal in the hands of one Dave Trepanier (who you might remember as having Top 32'd YCS Toronto in 2011 with Nordics). Just days later as the new January 2014 format kicked off, Trepanier made Top 8 at a Montreal Regional with another Hunder build, this time packing a drastically different trap lineup. Two weeks later the deck topped YCS Sydney played by Tom Kralj. After a promising start in the format, the deck then slid off the radar once again.

But the game's changed, and new opportunities are waiting to be claimed. And as I've been fond of noting over the past few months, any decks that can churn out easy Rank 4's seem to be viable, largely on the tipping-point strength of Number 101: Silent Honor ARK and Evilswarm Exciton Knight. Those cards are one of the biggest reasons we're now seeing Regional Top 8's from decks like Spirits and Heraldic Beasts. What's interesting is that while Hunders are so good at making Rank 4's, all of the builds discussed above actually played to a balance of Xyz and Synchros: they all ran Vylon Prism to take advantage of shared attributes, types, and synergy with Thunder Sea Horse. None of them actually played a devoted Rank 4 game.

At the time that was the smart way to go; a lot of those decks existed at points in the game where the Synchros they ran were, like Crimson Blader, clutch for their respective metagames. But now, with Rank 4's so powerful, the door's wide open for new variants. New variants like that submitted to me by today's contributor!

Hi Jason! I'm a returning player that grew up on the game, and I wanted to get back to my old style of play. I created this strategy which seems really good at getting card advantage and Summoning Xyz Monsters. Thunder's my favorite monster type, so I think you may have an idea what monsters I'm using.

The deck's tested very well so far, but I'm not sure what may need tweaking and whether other cards should be played instead. Also, being out of the game for so long I've missed a lot of releases, so I may have missed cards which would be helpful here.

Many thanks Jason,

-Darren K. ~ Rainham, Kent, United Kingdom

Instead of pairing the Thunder Family with Vylon Prism, Darren's combined them with Batteryman Cards, largely on the strength of Batteryman AAA. Its ability makes it a sort of Tour Guide From the Underworld for Rank 4's, and together a bunch of the cards work with both Thunder Sea Horse and the spell card Recycling Batteries (which has always been a Hunder staple, even without the Batterymen to match it).

With Batteryman AAA in the mix, Darren can string his Pahunder and Mahunder combos straight into a Batteryman revival effect and make multiple Rank 4's with ease. Its effect is reliant on you having another copy in the graveyard or hand, but that's easy to set up with an early Xyz Summon. From there your next AAA's are 1-for-1 Rank 4's, and those plays become repeatable off Recycling Batteries.

Darren's leveraged those plans into a deeper commitment to the Batteryman theme, playing Batteryman D for its attack-stopping ability; Batteryman Micro-Cell for its search power; and Batteryman Industrial Strength for more power in the mid and late game. Here's what his deck looks like:

DECKID=100070I think Darren's got some good ideas here, and I believe a focused Rank 4 deck could really do some damage with the right support cards. That said, there are too many quirky themed cards here for the strategy to be effective and not enough disruption cards to keep opponents under control.

We're going to cut some cards I feel to be inconsistent and too risky for the rewards they offer, and replacing them with some basic competitive defense to hold everything together. We know that fast Rank 4's can win tournaments. But for that to happen, you need a strong defense to keep your opponent from unleashing a big bag of crazy all over your face.

I Like My Face To Be Crazy-Free
Right off the bat, I'm not sure why Batteryman D's here. I guess Darren ran it just to have more Batterymen to search with Micro-Cell and banish for Industrial Strength, but since it's a brutally unaggressive Level 1 that fails to synergize for Rank 4 Summons, I've got no interest in it. It doesn't even do the Marauding Captain / Watthopper trick when you control two copies: when you've got a wall of Batteryman D going, your opponent can attack both of them freely. That's awful. Just, really a big bowl of suck.

So those guys are headed for the unemployment line. Next up, a perhaps controversial cut: Sishunder. I've loved this card in the past and advocated for it as a two-turn set-up in the early game: it's a staple for most Hunder decks. The trick is to Thunder Sea Horse for two copies, Summon Sishunder, banish the Sea Horse with Sishunder's effect and then get it back at the end of the turn. Do that and you'll leave Turn 1 with eight cards. You'll draw a ninth for your next Draw Phase, then Thunder Sea Horse for another two cards and then Sishunder again. Sounds pretty great, huh? Especially in a strategy where the entire point is to get a bunch of Mahunders and Pahunders going and then drop them all in one shot.

The problem? Sishunder's completely combo-reliant, without creating any combos itself. It's underwhelming any time beyond the early game, and it's not very good if you didn't happen to draw Thunder Sea Horse in the first place. We need to make some cuts to fit the Batteryman Cards, and this is the obvious drop despite how counterintuitive it may seem.

Makiu, the Magical Mist keeps you from attacking and requires specific situations and matchups to be useful. It doesn't stop a set Geargiarmor nor a Bujin or Bujintei protected by Bujingi Hare. It's a situational -1 and there are dozens of better cards for this strategy. Spirit Converter might be even worse, having no use in the early game; an activated effect of questionable worth; and a trigger effect that's tough to play. Three copies?! More like "no copies."

Xyz Reborn is great but not if you draw it dead. Black Horn of Heaven's great but not if it's in a matchup where it's useless. I like both cards, but I'd prefer to run two instead of three to mitigate the risks attached to each.

And That's Eleven Easy Cuts!
With space made, we can now add some strong defense to ward off attackers and opposing monster effects. Honest is a must: everything here is Light, so Honest is one part defensive trump and one part damage-wielding aggressor. It's awesome for its ability to best Bujingi Crane amongst so many other threats. Also on the hand trap side of things, double Effect Veiler will ward off monster effects that would threaten your Xyz or your backrow, while triple Fiendish Chain will block abilities and attacks.

Another Mystical Space Typhoon will help clear the way for big, committed Xyz Summons, with the remaining two Xyz Reborns covering you when things go awry. Book of Moon's a topnotch Bujin-buster, forcing Bujingi Turtle or otherwise shutting down Bujingi Crane and Bujingi Hare. It stops Xyz Summons and Synchros in Geargia, keeps Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear from messing with your monsters… it's just one of the most versatile cards ever printed. To not play it here would be a waste.


Finally, Bottomless Trap Hole, Solemn Warning, and one Memory of an Adversary round out the trap lineup – all three are predictable picks, with Memory being the one potentially unfamiliar card. Like I said last week, Memory's amazing in the escalating Bujin matchup and packs strong fundamentals against almost any strategy. A Mirror Force-esque +1 that can't be trumped by destruction-resistant monsters, and won't require your opponent to derp more than one monster to the field to get you card advantage? Sign me up – the Life Points hardly matter.

Over in the Extra Deck I want to drop a Constellar Omega and a Starliege Paladynamo, since I never needed three of each in testing. With Batteryman D gone, Slacker Magician's much tougher to Summon and I'd rather be beating my opponent than huddling behind a Rank 1 hoping for the best. Those cuts make room for a Constellar Ptolemy M7 to reuse cards off a Constellar Omega play; Abyss Dweller for Mermails; and two Gagaga Cowboy. This deck's very good at Summoning two Rank 4's in one turn, so why not turn that into a game-finishing double Cowboy combo?

Here are the changes we've made…

-2 Batteryman D
-3 Sishunder
-1 Makiu, the Magical Mist
-3 Spirit Converter
-1 Xyz Reborn
-1 Black Horn of Heaven

+1 Honest
+2 Effect Veiler
+1 Mystical Space Typhoon
+1 Book of Moon
+1 Bottomless Trap Hole
+1 Solemn Warning
+1 Memory of an Adversary
+3 Fiendish Chain

-1 Constellar Omega
-1 Starliege Paladynamo
-2 Slacker Magician
+1 Constellar Ptolemy M7
+1 Abyss Dweller
+2 Gagaga Cowboy

…and here's the final deck list!

DECKID=100071I really like where this deck is right now. I think there's room for more refinement, but as it stands it's a blast to play; I've got a real soft spot for Hunders, and while I loved the old Synchro builds I've really found the versatility and speed of this version to be appealing. While previous builds depended on early game Thunder Sea Horse and Cardcar D effects to build up a big hand and outlast opponents, this deck burns brighter and faster. That said don't be fooled: those Xyz Reborns give it more longevity than you might expect.

This early into a new format, versatility's a tremendous asset and anything playing a Rank 4 toolbox can do even better than we've seen over the last couple months. Answers are worth their weight in gold when the Yugiverse is filled with so many questions, and that gives a strategy like this good positioning. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Hunders Top 8'ing Regional Qualifiers again, and a build like this, with a proper Side Deck plan and some metagame-specific tweaking in the wake of the YCS, could probably manage it. On top of that, Hunders and Batterymen can both take tremendous advantage of the newly-revealed Soul Charge and Guarded Treasure, two crazy cards from Dragons of Legend. There's nowhere for this deck to go but up.

We'll just have to see what the future reveals hold. Until then, thanks for reading and thanks to Darren for sending in his submission!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer







Want a deck fix from yours truly, and see your strategy featured in a "What The Fix?" here on TCGPlayer? Just send the following to fixmydeckjason (at) gmail (dot) com to be considered:

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap.) Remember, your deck should be TCG legal!

-Your name and city.

-Remember - please use full card names! Abbreviations and mis-spellings make Jason's life sad.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses.

And don't forget, the cooler your deck is the more I'll want to fix it, so don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! -JDG