Master Rule 5 is finally upon us and we're about to head into uncharted territory. It's a new frontier where Link Monsters exist, but where the Extra Monster Zone is no longer a requirement for Synchro, Fusion, and Xyz Monsters.
The Master Rule update's going to unleash a huge number of incredibly powerful combos made possible by new cards in Duel Overload. The latest Forbidden & Limited List preempted a few of those, including a potentially insane Lunalight deck that could field a nearly unlimited number of negations. That said, the actual 'infinite negates' part of that strategy is still widely available, and it was never really exclusive to Lunalights in the first place.
Enter: Simorgh, The Bird Of Sovereignty, your new best friend for building a virtually unbreakable field. Sovereignty's End Phase effect lets you Special Summon a Winged Beast from your hand or deck with a Level less than or equal to the open Spell and Trap Zones on the field. There are exactly zero Level 11 or 12 Winged Beasts monsters in the game, so Sovereignty can Summon every Winged Beast in the game that doesn't have some sort of restriction. There are some fantastic monsters to grab, but right now most of the attention is centered on Mist Valley Apex Avian and Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds.
So where does Sovereignty have the most impact in the new format now that Lunalights have taken a hit on the F&L List? There are plenty of Winged Beast themes that would love to run it, including the dedicated Simorgh theme. Of course, Sovereignty's material requirements are easily spoofed by summoning a Winged Beast Extra Deck monster, or with some help from Reprodocus.
This week we'll discuss what Sovereignty delivers for Winged Beasts like Harpies and Blackwings, and how it could end up sliding into other strategies that are looking for bigger Turn 1 plays.
Stormwinds Or Apex Avian? It's An Easy Choice For Harpies
It's much easier to Summon Simorgh, The Bird Of Sovereignty in a deck that's already loaded with Winged Beast monsters. You don't have to find a one-of Winged Beast in your deck to Link Summon it, or reach into your Extra Deck for a Winged Beast Link or Xyz, and you can drop Reprodocus for a more useful Link 2s.
Harpies are a fantastic venue for the new Simorgh Link because the theme's almost entirely Winged Beasts, but the fact that they're also Wind monsters is huge. Sovereignty can Special Summon Harpies all day long while triggering the effect of Harpies' Hunting Ground to destroy your opponent's backrow – or your own – and do so under the protection of Mist Valley Apex Avian and Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds.
Don't sleep on the fact that Sovereignty can Special Summon an un-targetable Barrier Statue from the deck. It's arguably a superior choice in match-ups where your opponent can play through a single Apex Avian, and a better pick overall if you can't Summon Union Carrier. The Union Carrier play's definitely effective: simply equip Mist Valley Thunderbird to a monster before your End Phase and you'll have unlimited fodder for Avian's effect. But the conditions for that set-up are much harder to meet today, and a deck like Harpies is more effective at playing around the Wind Barrier Statue instead.
You only need to stall your opponent for a turn, rob them of their Battle Phase, and then bomb their field with the Harpie clean-up crew to win. The Extra Deck available to this strategy is insane, with stuff like Lightning Chidori and Ice Beast Zerofyne still putting in crazy work now that they aren't locked behind Link Monsters.
Harpies also have another defensive tool to keep Barrier Statue on the board turn after turn: Harpie's Feather Storm. It serves as a backup to Barrier Statue or Apex Avian that can stop your opponent from making the most of Dark Ruler No More. It's an incredible Trap Card attached to a theme that doesn't see a lot of competitive play, but Sovereignty could change that in a hurry by giving the deck a strong Turn 1 set-up – something Harpies have been missing since Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack became irrelevant.
Blackwings And Raidraptors Pick Up A New Win Condition
Harpies aren't the only deck with new win-cons. Blackwings have also wanted for a meaningful Turn 1 ending board, and Sovereignty provides just that by Summoning a free negation body in the End Phase.
Sovereignty's surprisingly useful here on offence by protecting key Blackwing Synchros from targeting effects, making it more likely that your Assault Blackwing - Raikiri the Rain Shower will resolve without interruption. Unfortunately Blackwing Tamer - Obsidian Hawk Joe happens to be a Warrior monster, but its effect is also handy for recovering Apex Avian if your field's broken.
Both Blackwings and Raidraptors gained Raidraptor - Wise Strix in Duel Overload, which will probably end up Summoning Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite in most combos. Wise Strix is an excellent boost for both themes, and there's quite a bit of crossover between the two strategies in terms of their best Turn 1 combos. Summoning Wise Strix inevitably leads to Raidraptor - Force Strix, which in turn grabs another Dark Winged Beast and triggers Wise Strix in the process.
Ultimately you'll find yourself with more than enough materials to Summon Cyber Dragon Infinity with the Rank-Up-Magic Soul Shave Force you searched off Wise Strix, and possibly enough Link Materials to field both Sovereignty and Union Carrier.
Is A Dedicated Simorgh Deck Worth Playing?
I can't help spending some time thinking about Simorghs as a complete strategy with Simorgh of Darkness and Simorgh, Lord of the Storm leading the way. Simorgh Repulsion's an interesting way of clearing your opponent's backrow to keep cranking out high-Level monsters during each End Phase, but it's largely been succeeded by Lightning Storm. Clearing your opponent's spells and traps isn't a huge challenge these days outside of specific match-ups, and resolving Sovereignty in the first place is a harder challenge.
Still, Simorghs offer a decent number of additional Normal Summons through Simorgh, Bird of Beginnings and Elborz, the Sacred Lands of Simorgh, and plenty of Special Summons are available if you can keep your opponent's backrow clear.
Simorghs are another great place to use Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds, but it's hard to make a strong argument for Simorghs over Harpies. Both decks are essentially aiming for the same end goal, but Harpies have a much more effective engine with less reliance on your opponent having low defenses in their Spell and Trap Zones.
Harpie's Feather Storm is insane, and there's simply no equivalent card in the Simorgh arsenal to justify playing it over Harpies. You could make the same argument about Dragunity: while the deck can effectively play under Stormwinds you're much better off playing Harpies in literally every other moment. One-card Crystal Wing Dragons are nice, but Feather Storm's simply better.
For Everything Else, There's Reprodocus
Naturally the game's next big negation set-up is freely available to every deck, not just Winged Beast themes. You'll need a way to get a Winged Beast to the field, but after that you can Summon Mist Valley Apex Avian in just about any strategy. The best venues for Sovereignty will still probably be Wind strategies, though right now there aren't many competitive Wind themes. Decks that are already playing Union Carrier might find Sovereignty redundant if the one-of negation from Apex Avian doesn't provide enough value, but the infinite negations set-up is probably better than the Extra Deck lockout of Dragon Buster Destruction Sword.
Crytron Halqifibrax can Summon a Winged Beast Tuner from the deck, while Raidraptor - Force Strix can search a Dark Winged Beast from the deck like Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite. Of course, you send Zephyros to the graveyard and Special Summon it with its own effect just as easily. There are plenty of ways to get a Winged Beast monster going, and if all else fails you can simply use Reprodocus to change another monster's Type.
It's hard to tell if players will want to run potential bricks like the Mist Valley cards, or whether Sovereignty is worth investing so many cards into when other negation bodies exist. I think we'll see Apex Avian in a handful of competitive strategies this format, but I don't expect it to be a must-play.
Answering Sovereignty Fields
Apex Avian's infinite negations might sound insurmountable without a Kaiju handy, but it's actually much easier than that to dispatch your opponent's field. Dark Ruler No More was designed with this scenario in mind as it totally bypasses a monster-only defensive line-up. Infinite negations mean nothing if you can offline your opponent's monster effects with no response.
When that happens your opponent will lose most of their defensive capabilities unless they can find spell negation that isn't attached to a monster to their final board. That's much easier said than done, but there are themes with dedicated Counter Traps that could potentially pull it off. Harpies don't specifically have one, but Harpie's Feather Storm can stop a blowout even if Dark Ruler No More resolves.
Nibiru, the Primal Being can swiftly crush an emerging set-up of Sovereignty and pals, but some strategies will try to get a negation effect on the board before or on their fifth Summon. Decks with access to Cyber Dragon Infinity or Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon can protect their final boards from Nibiru, and Raid Raptors can field Infinity surprisingly early in their first turn. In that context Dark Ruler No More seems like a safer choice, but it's just one card. You'll want a solid combination of answers to those terrifying boards, including things like Super Polymerization or Cyber Dragon for Chimeratech Megafleet Dragon.
Simorgh, The Bird Of Sovereignty applies pressure to your opponent turn after turn by threatening to Summon another Winged Beast on each End Phase. You don't want to find out that your opponent plays two Apex Avian because you couldn't destroy their Sovereignty. It's a comfortable place to sit if you're the one controlling Sovereignty, and protecting it should be your priority once it hits the field. Dark Ruler No More sets you back significantly, but you'll stay competitive in the game as long as you can keep your Link Monster firmly planted on the field. It's a bigger bonus for decks that already have plenty of Winged Beast monsters, but even running another target like a second Apex Avian or a Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds is helpful.
Don't write off Simorgh, The Bird Of Sovereignty just yet. It's so much more than a bus that drops off Mist Valley Apex Avian, and I think the broader dueling community won't really clue in on it until we start seeing Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds win games at an event. That day could still be a while off, so now's the perfect time to pick up a copy if you're a fan of Winged Beast or Wind themes. For many of these strategies there's never been a better monster to end your turn on.
Until next time then