This deck is super-cool, and we're going to make it even cooler.

Anyone who read Part 4 of our Giant LVAL Set Review last month knows that I was bullish about Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force, largely for its ability to turn easy-to-Summon Rank 3's into a wealth of Rank 5's – some of which are ruddy obscure and virtually impossible to Summon otherwise. I also saw a lot of potential in the fact that once you get to Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force once, you can reuse it again any time you want, since it can replace your regular draw in your Draw Phase. The concept of leveraging Rank 3 Xyz into bigger plays was really appealing because even in a worst-case situation where your draws don't come together and your strategy only works halfway, you'd still be left with a strong core of Rank 3's: not exactly a full-fail nightmare scenario.

I actually received numerous Astral Force deck submissions for What The Fix, but very few of them focused on the Rank 3 to Rank 5 gameplan. Most were using Gadgets or other simple Rank 4 engines to make Rank 6's, which has some sweet possibilities but doesn't offer nearly so robust a backup plan when things go wrong – it's just tougher to make Rank 4's efficiently. At the same time, my favorite move with Astral Force… which again, will be familiar to anyone who read the Set Review… happens to be a Rank 5 play, not a Rank 6, so I was biased towards today's deck submitter. The fact that he was playing a bunch of Constellar cards that I'd only read once and thus had to look up to even know what they did just enticed me even more.

Those Level 3 Constellars? The ones nobody plays or even talks about? You're running those? Sold.

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The use of Constellars plus The All-Mighty Queen Of All Rank 3's, Tour Guide From the Underworld, means that there are Light and Dark monsters side by side in the same strategy. So you know where that tends to go; it usually means at least one powerful boss monster as a bonus to all your more central plays. When everything stacks up and powerful moves just start popping out of the woodwork, you know there's strong potential for things to go very, very right. Here's what our contributor this week had to say about his creation…


Dear Jason,

I love Gadgets. I've been playing some version or another since I started with the game back in 2006. So, I have a very weird obsession with making decks that play just like the classic Gadget builds.

The strategy I'm submitting today plays a lot like Tin Goldfish Gadgets, right down to having their own Kagetokage in the form of Kagemusha Knight. The main body consists of the three Constellar monsters with the best plays focusing around Leonis and Sheratan. The deck also has the added benefit of Crane Crane to keep pressure on the opponent. Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force is the key to dropping powerful monsters, but without it I'm often overwhelmed.

-Freeman P.


So Freeman's got this Rank 3 deck concept that can spin out game-breaking Rank 5's and Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning. It may look like a sort of narrow strategy, but it's actually more flexible than it looks and it derives a lot of versatility from the sheer range of Rank 3, then Rank 5 Xyz it can generate. Check it out.

DECKID=99710The deck as Freeman submitted it plays a whopping eighteen Level 3's. Of those eighteen monsters, fifteen of them have effects that help you put together a Rank 3 Xyz Summon in one turn, while six – Tour Guide and Crane Crane – can make 1-for-1 Rank 3 plays, plus Constellar Sheratan which holds the unique position of creating 1-for-1's when it's played after Constellar Leonis or before Kagemucha Knight.

Efficiency's key here, because this deck has to Xyz Summon to push any kind of offence: if you can't Xyz Symmon you won't be attacking. Or living very long, or doing very much of anything whatsoever, actually. You have no choice but to Xyz Summon and you plan on doing it quite frequently. The more Xyz plays you can make as 1-for-1's instead of minuses, the more you can do overall; you're working with finite resources, and eventually you just run out of cards. In addition, as easy as it may be to recycle Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force with its effect, and as quick as that card might make Rank 5 plays that would be difficult otherwise, activating Astral Force is still a minus in and of itself. Even if you 1-for-1 into your Rank 3 and then Astral Force into a Rank 5, you wind up down a card before you ever get to put that Rank 5 into action. If you had to minus into the Rank 3 to begin with that becomes a -2, which puts a ton of pressure on you to make recover your card economy. It's impossible to keep doing that across the long term, so maximizing the efficiency of the base Rank 3 plays is my first priority.

My second priority is something Freeman keyed off of in his letter: Rank 3's are great, but the real goal here is to make those crazy-free Rank 5's. And if you can't get to Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force, those plays can't happen. I want to get to Astral Force as quickly as possible – for free if possible – and if you've been reading What The Fix over the last few weeks you miiiiiiight just see where I'm going with that. At the same time, I also want to make sure that I can protect my fundamental plays, as well as protect the big monsters they create. Freeman's already running Forbidden Lance, but I want to do him one better by playing what's fast-becoming one of my favorite cards from Legacy of the Valiant as well.

Efficiency in making Rank 3's. Accuracy in getting to Astral Force. Protection of key plays. Those are the three objectives of today's fix.

Tough Cuts
There's actually not a lot of wiggle room in this deck, and I largely like the decisions Freeman made. That said, I want to drop three different kinds of cards: redundant choices that don't mesh with the goal of efficiency; risky cards that can be dead draws; and cards that have superior alternatives.

Kagemucha Knight's cool because it's a Dark monster and it can combo with Constellar Sheratan to make a 1-for-1 play. But with anything else, it's largely unnecessary or it forces those -1 Rank 3 consolidations I talked about wanting to avoid. We're going to be adding more Dark monsters to this deck later in the fix, and that makes Kagemucha Knight an obvious drop. With Kagemucha Knight no longer here, Reinforcement of the Army gets dropped as well.

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Pot of Dichotomy's an awesome, very underrated card, but it's also tough to play in the opening turns of the game, and the fact that it makes you skip your Battle Phase is often manageable only when you let it dictate your Rank 3 or Rank 5 plays (it forces you to Summon defense-oriented monsters when you might not want to). I love the card, but for all my enthusiasm towards it I don't love it in this deck in particular. To me it's another easy pair of drops.

I like Mirror Force here, but I don't like it as much as hitting key plays more consistently. I want those card slots for draw acceleration instead. And lastly, this deck runs Bottomless Trap Hole over Solemn Warning for some reason. I'm not sure why that is. But it's not gonna run Bottomless Trap Hole over Solemn Warning by the time I'm finished, so Bottomless is gone.

And That's It!
I'm just dropping nine cards from this deck, and honestly, even that feels like a lot when I just consider the sheer number. I'm not really stripping much out of the strategy's base range of abilities; I'm just refocusing it and shifting things around.

So Freeman's not losing much, but he's going to be gaining a lot, including a very slimmed down Summoner Monk Archfiend's Oath engine. Remember that? The play is Summoner Monk; pitch a Spell for Monk's ability; Special Summon Armageddon Knight; kick Archfiend's Heiress to the graveyard; search Archfiend's Oath; make Lavalval Chain to stack the monster of your choice to the top of your deck; and then Archfiend's Oath to add it to your hand. That play can let you seek out Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, but more importantly you can ignore Lavalval Chain's deck-stacking ability and use it instead to kick Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force to your graveyard… so you can draw it with its effect. In that case the Oath just gives you a blind but educated shot at a free topdeck every turn if you can run the numbers, while setting you up with Astral Force to put everything in motion.

Because we're playing Summoner Monk largely for the "send Astral Force to the yard" play, and not for Archfiend's Oath specifically, we can afford to run just one each of Armageddon Knight, Archfiend's Heiress, and Oath. If you draw any of those cards it can alter or ruin the combo entirely, but you'll still have the option of making Lavalval Chain to set up your graveyard and take the combo in different directions. It's a compromise that opens up a necessary combo to boost efficiency, but it can also pay off under the right circumstances with free cards and free searches. It's really cool.

But let's be honest: it's a hard time to be Summoner Monk, with Effect Veiler so popular. And Tour Guide From the Underworld has similar issues. And Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear, Atlantean Heavy Infantry, and Karakuri monsters that shift your powerful heavy-hitters to the wrong position are all things that see play in every tournament. To protect those fundamental Xyz plays and the monsters they create, I want two copies of Skill Prisoner. The Prisoner pulls double-duty with its activate-me-twice trick, and it helps ensure that all of your plays work the way you want them to… and that your opponent wastes cards and opportunities. It's a must-run right now in anything that plays Summoner Monk at the very least, not to mention Tour Guide and Crane Crane.

I'm going to add one Upstart Goblin in place of the straggling Mirror Forces. I don't think there's anything I want to drop for a second or third one, but I do want to see Tour Guide, Crane Crane, Astral Force, and Summoner Monk more frequently, so that's ample reason to run one Upstart. And yeah, to finish out the fix I want that Solemn Warning. Anything to stop Number 101: Silent Honor ARK, Black Rose Dragon, and anything else that can one-shot an otherwise-invincible heavy-hitter.

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…like we're going to be adding to the Extra Deck! I have plans for that Extra Deck; big plans. But first I need room. Fortune Tune, Number 17: Leviathan Dragon, and Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction don't really contribute a lot here. I like Mechquipped Angineer but not enough to run two copies, and I can't justify the space for Tiras, Keeper of Genesis as useful as it certainly can be. I also don't want more than one Downerd Magician. I mean, I do, but I'd want a thirty-card Extra Deck to fit it into, and sadly I can't have that.

Why do I need all the room? Because we're adding two Chronomaly Crystal Chrononaut and two Number C:69 Heraldry Crest of Horror! Yes, for just a single minus you can Summon a monster with 4000 ATK that your opponent will never, ever attack. Ever. Crest of Horror is so big that it puts other giant beatsticks to shame, outclassing any card that sees common play in modern competition. It won't blow away cards like Number 61: Volcasaurus, nor will it provide a recurring threat like Crimson Knight Vampire Bram, but it also won't be destroyed nearly as often as Bram would, and it swings a stick nearly twice the size. Maybe I'm succumbing to a sense of classic Yugi-nerdness, but sometimes I just want to drop the biggest monster imaginable out of nowhere.

That leaves two more slots in the Extra Deck, which I'll use for Lavalval Chain for the Summoner Monk combo, and Evilswarm Exciton Knight because we only have one slot; it should go to a Rank 4; and that one's amazing. That brings the final list of changes to...

-3 Kagemucha Knight
-2 Pot of Dichotomy
-2 Mirror Force
-1 Bottomless Trap Hole
-1 Reinforcement of the Army

+2 Summoner Monk
+1 Armageddon Knight
+1 Archfiend Heiress
+1 Upstart Goblin
+1 Archfiend's Oath
+1 Solemn Warning
+2 Skill Prisoner

-1 Mechquipped Angineer
-1 Number 49: Fortune Tune
-1 Number 17: Leviathan Dragon
-1 Downerd Magician
-1 Tiras, Keeper of Genesis
-1 Number 30: Acid Golem
+2 Chronomaly Crystal Chrononaut
+2 Number C69: Heraldry Crest of Horror
+1 Lavalval Chain
+1 Evilswarm Exciton Knight

The final revised build is as follows:

DECKID=99711I think we've hit all the marks! Freeman's deck is now more efficient, more accurate at getting to its key cards, and does a better job of protecting both its fundamental set-up plays and its giant boss monsters. But for all those details we've already discussed, there's a lot more going on that you'll figure out only when you start playing it.

For instance, Archfiend Heiress happens to work with Tour Guide From the Underworld; if you wanted to build on that, you could find space in the Extra Deck for Wind-Up Zenmaines, which allows Heiress' effect to resolve when you detach it as an Xyz Material for Zenmaines' ability. Upstart Goblin actually makes it easier to draw spells for Summoner Monk on your opening turn, and Xyz Reborn makes an impenetrable wall when played to recur Number C69: Heraldry Crest of Horror. There are so many cool little synergies here that show up once you really start digging around.

This deck's a blast to play. A Regional Qualifier invite waiting to happen?! Probably not. But man, does it ever have moves. It's a head-turning hot-rod of a strategy for local level competition, and it's just way too much fun. If you have the cards kicking around for the Extra Deck, the Main Deck's pretty easy to put together; if you're looking for something slick to spend some time with in this sunset phase of the format, give it a shot!

Big thanks to Freeman for sending it in, and thanks to you guys for reading about it.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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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