You’ve wondered, you’ve waited, and now we’re ending the anticipation: Part 6 on conquering the toughest, strongest, and fastest apex decks of the dueling jungle. Ever since the beginning of the Synchro era, Yu-Gi-Oh aficionados now expect a new game mechanic released with every new season of the T.V. show. People dueling on motorcycles created the rush for tuners to access the Extra deck, monsters strained through blackholes birthed decks where everyone was a member of the same level club, and then Spell/Monster hybrids who entered Extra deck heaven instead of Graveyard hell made an obsession with perfectly balanced scales. Now, in Yu-Gi-Oh VRains, whatever that means, the show jacks players into a virtual world where they ride hoverboards on information streams, while, in reality, the game attempts to slow down the breakneck speed of summoning introduced by Pendulums with a new mechanic: Link Monsters. They may still be in their infancy, but already Link Monsters have proven themselves a greater threat than John Wick if someone bombed a kennel he inherited from his grandmother. Therefore, before we venture into overcoming the Spyrals, True King-Dracos, Trickstars, and Odd-Eyes, we must first understand what a Link monster is.
Game Map Changes
To understand how Link monsters work, first you must understand how the game map has changed. The days of the Pendulum Zones are gone. If one desires to play a Pendulum monster as a Spell, they go either to your left-most Spell/Trap Zone or your right-most one, potentially limiting the number of Spells/Trap Zones to three if you’re running a Pendulum deck. The Pendulum Zones have now been replaced with two Extra Monster Zones (EMZ). When you summon a monster from the Extra Deck, that monster must go to the Extra Monster Zone. The only way a monster summoned from the Extra deck can grace a Main Monster Zone (you know, the five everyone is familiar with) is with the assistance of a Link Monster. It should also be noted when you Special Summon from the Extra deck to an EMZ, you cannot summon to the other EMZ without a Link Monster pointing to it (Sorry, it’s not going to be that easy to lock-out your opponent). As for the monsters themselves…
The first four things you’ll notice making Link Monsters the new freak of the season are: 1. Their lack of a level 2. The materials listed below the card type 3. the lack defense, and 4. Those arrows printed on the card. Firstly, it doesn’t take a dueling degree (Yes, those exist GX and Arc V), to figure out Link monsters don’t have levels, so, just like Xyzs, cards affecting monsters with levels have no effect on them. Instead, they have Link Ratings, the number supplanting their defense points. This number goes hand-in-hand with the materials necessary to make the card, the materials labeled below the card’s type. A card’s Link Rating safely determines how many monsters you’ll need to form it (A Link monster with LINK-2 takes two monsters to create, one with LINK-3 takes 3, and so on). However, if you want to know what type of monsters you’ll need to form the Link Monster, you’ll need to see the materials. For example, it takes 2+ Effect Monsters to form Decode Talker, meaning you need at least 2 monsters, and none of them can be Normal monsters or tokens (considered normies). Also, Link Ratings can count towards the materials listed for a Link monster. For example, You can either use 3 effect monsters to summon a Decode Talker, or a Link monster with a rating of 2 or higher and an effect monster (LINK 2 + 1 = 3). About that defense… similar to them lacking levels, Link monster lack defense; therefore, they cannot be placed in defense position and no card placing a monster in defense position affects them. Finally, the arrows on the monster, known appropriately as Link Arrows, determine which Main Monster Zones (MMZ) become accessible from the Extra deck. It’s important to note if a Link Arrow from your monster points to an opponent’s MMZ, it doesn’t mean you can now promote your monster behind their lines like chess, but your opponent can now access that MMZ from their Extra deck. Also, an arrow in the EMZ pointing to the right doesn’t mean you now have magical access to the other EMZ either, for the Link Arrows only allow summoning to the MMZs immediately next to them. As a final note, remember materials used for a Link summon are sent to the Graveyard, not tributed or destroyed.
Spyrals: More Daniel Craig than Pierce Brosnan
The Plague: Starting off as your trainee rogue deck for anyone desiring to run their own secret agent agency in card form, the Spyrals quickly became a deck capable of infiltrating with the big wyrms. Like the smooth talking, secret-exploiting spies these monsters take after, the Spyrals gain their effects by guessing what card is on the top of the opponent’s deck. Oh, the writer apologizes. Did he say “guess?” He meant, “After a Spyral Gear-Drone rearranges the top of their opponent’s deck.” The Spyrals’ effect costs might as well be as limiting as the Infernitys', because it slows them down like a Yield sign before a bus with its brake lines cut. Spyral Super Agent can special summon itself and destroys Spell and Traps, Tough destroys any card on the field, Quik Fix searches for Spyral Gear cards (their archetype Spell and Monster support) however its summoned, and Master Plan not only searches for a Spyral Mission card once per turn, but searches for a Spyral monster and Spyral Resort card when she’s sent from the field to the Grave. Sure, these guys dropship their gadgets and buddies enough to make you think UPS owes them a life-debt, but you might be asking yourself what point of it all is? The mean to your deck’s end lies in Spyral Double Helix, the deck’s Link monster who can recycle or Special Summon a Spyral monster from the Deck or Graveyard, and Spyral Sleeper, the deck’s boss who awakens by banishing three Spyral cards from the graveyard, and then can destroy two of its opponent’s cards every turn by destroying a Spyral card, a cost meaning squat, like the rest of the their laughable effect conditions. The Spyrals are fast and consistent with a more than a decent payoff, a strategy that’s an elevator ride ending on a floor made of gold. However, as a wise man once said, “Everything that glitters isn’t always gold.” These flashy “super” agents may be specially trained, riding around in fancy cars preventing battle destruction and wielding mech armors preventing death by effect, but it’s all there to distract you from one simple fact: They’re a federally funded agency. If a decent politician goes senile, or if they make a lucrative lobbyist sneeze the wrong way, the Spyrals will be monitoring their next mission on Commodore 64s, riding Model Ts while navigating by the North Star. It’s time we duelists reminded them their place on the economic/political food chain.
- Target the searchers: As mentioned above, Spyrals love to search by peeking their little noses under your deck. You can slam the cookie jar lid on their hands by either targeting Spyral Quik Fix or Spyral Resort, especially since the Resort’s effect isn’t triggered as soon as it’s played, or by siding Drill & Lock Bird, which will give them one search per turn.
- Burn Notice Super Agent: With all their Mission Plans and Gadgets, the Spyrals are still a deck focusing around infiltrating with their Super Agents. The continuous Spell Prohibition or the monster Psi-Blocker effectively stun the opposing player from ever commissioning a Super Agent, slowing down the deck to snail mail speed.
- Separate the Attributes: A negative about having an organization of multi-skilled individuals is they may not always fly to the same colors. Take advantage of this by siding Gozen Match, a continuous Trap forcing both players to use one attribute, and then watch the Spyrals’ lack of unity tear them apart.
FYI: The Spyrals may have some annoying support cards, but they’re still a deck with an engine of Monster effects. Skill Drain, Breakthrough Skill, Majesty’ Fiend, or any other card halting monster effects puts several iron walls and a force barrier between a Spyral agency and their strategy.
Odd-Eyes: Not Afraid of Heterochromia? You Will Fear Heterochromia.
The Plague: Fiction writers, artists, and most creators in general are always trying to reveal new perspectives to everyday objects or situations, then you have a select group of trolls trying to make us fear what we should feel safe around. The writer believes such a pool of bloody-minded sadists crafted the Odd-Eyes archetype. Originally a cute archetype that splashed with any Pendulum deck wanting to abuse Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon’s ability to search for low level Pendulum monsters, Konami slipped in different forms of the dragons between the circus animals suffering from the same ocular disease, like puzzle pieces of the Winchester House mixed in with a beautiful sunset. Eventually, some brilliantly twisted mind put all dragon pieces together, and so a new age of village burning and gold hoarding began. The Odd-Eyes monsters sans Extra deck, each one serving as a boss for different sets of Performapals, are already intimidating in their own right: Arc Pendulum Dragon Special Summons an Odd-Eyes monster from almost anywhere when an Odd-Eyes card is destroyed, Lancer Dragon isn’t affected by Spells or Traps when it attacks and can trade the destruction of an Odd-Eyes card for another, and Phantom Dragon grants your monsters a 1200 attack boost. As for the Extra deck club… Rune Eyes Pendulum Dragon is unaffected by card effects the turn its summoned and can potentially attack three monsters during each battle phase, Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon negates card effects, Gravity Dragon bounces all Spells and Traps your opponent controls and makes your opponent pay 500 lifepoints to activate card effects, Raging Dragon can detach to destroy all cards your opponent controls to gain 200 attack for each, and this is just the beginning of your Dragon Wars. Considering the massive Spell and Trap support for the archetype and for Performapals rounding out the deck, it appears where Blue-Eyes and Red-Eyes have failed Heterochromia has triumphed to make one of the most threatening, versatile Dragon decks every imagined. But the writer wants you to think about this deck idea for a moment. He means, really think about it. Dragons and circus animals with different colored eyes? Is this supposed to be threatening? Sure, if you’re the type of duelist believing black cats shouldn’t cross your path and if stepping on a crack will break your momma’s back, then he can see why your shuddering in that corner, but let the writer abate your phobias: You’ll feel the same way tomorrow whether that black cat crosses your path or not, your mom will be fine after stepping on that crack, and suffering from an ocular condition making one eye a different color doesn’t make something more dangerous. It’s the same dragons, just a different day, and that day is yours.
- Break up their alliance: Even though most members of the Odd-Eyes club share the Dark-attribute, their higher level, Extra Deck brethren do not. Gozen Match once again proves effective against monsters lacking similar attributes.
- Speaking of high levels: Remember the biggest crux of Dragons decks: that they’re all high level, over-bloated lizards? Using Crimson Blader, a level 8 Synchro making it so your opponent can’t summon level 5 or higher monsters when it destroys a monster by battle, Steelswarm Roach, or Iswarm Ophion (If you can manage a way to side that nowadays) all greatly hinder an Odd-Eyes deck by making it a No-Fly-Zone, because they know better.
- Use dat Pendulum hate: Unwavering Bond, Anti-Spell Fragrance, Twin Twister, Spell Shattering Arrow, and even Dracoverlord monsters all keep these eerie-eyed dragons where they belong: In the banished zone, Extra Deck, or Graveyard. If it hurts Pendulums, then you’ve got a means of turning an Odd-Eye into a No-Eyes.
FYI: Any card returning monsters to the hand or Deck (Pendulum Hole, Drowning Mirror Force, etc.) do little against the Odd-Eyes archetype, considering they Special Summon from the Main Deck just as well as from the Extra. Side out these cards and focus on destroying or banishing their monsters.
Trickstars: Burn Your Heart Out
The Plague: In a world dominated by monsters and censorship, it’s a miracle an archetype of female popstars made it into Yu-Gi-Oh at all, but here we are. The Trickstars made it past the panel of Puritans comprising America’s censorship board by abandoning half-nude art for sexy poses, and have been hitting the top of the meta-charts since their debut. Instead of attacking you with high powered monsters with brutal effects like a normal deck would, the Trickstars deceive by slowly stacking burn damage until their opponent’s lifepoints drop below the point of no return, like that rash you got last night that put in you in the hospital from that girl you met on Craigslist. Trickstar Lycoris burns for 200 damage each time your opponent adds a card to the hand, Candina searches and burns each time your opponent activates a Spell or Trap, Lilybell can attack directly and recycles a Trickstar monster when she does damage, and Holly Angel, a Link monster, burns each time a Trickstar is Special Summoned to a zone it points to. Adding to the show burning brighter than stage lights set to Sun, the Field Spell Trickstar Lightstage burns each time a Trickstar burns the opponent, and then, of course, there’s the hand destruction shenanigans of Trickstar Reincarnation, a Trap not only forcing the opponent to banish their hand and draw the same number of cards, but also can be banished itself to revive a shrieking prima donna from the Grave. Forget heartburn; one will get brain burn trying to keep one’s lifepoints afloat during a Trickstar performance. Well, most people, anyway. As every top model knows, a good make-up team and passive-aggressive tactics will only get you so far in life. An archetype needs to take charge, engage in the battle phase, and destroy like it’s raining meteors on Armageddon to advance in this cruel meta. It’s time to storm the stage, break some set props, and remind the Trickstars we won’t accept a poor man’s Frog FTK anymore, or any form of it. Sorry ladies; show’s over.
- Feel no Burn: Teach the Trickstars your heart isn’t so easily moved by siding cards like Hanewata, a Monster that stops all effect damage that turn, or Damage Diet, Trap card that halves all effect damage you take and can be banished to do the same thing next turn. Spellcaster lovers will want to create Performage Trapeze Magician, while Dragon lovers will opt for Prime Material Dragon.
- Imprison the Light: What’s a superstar performance without a light show, right? Steal away the light from not only their stage lights, but also from the Trickstars themselves with the Light-Imprisoning Mirror, the classic, continuous Trap ending all Light monsters’ effects on the field and from beyond the Grave.
- Disable their Traps: The Trickstars themselves may have the ability to burn your heart out, but it’s the Traps Trickstar Riencarnation and Disturbance Strategy that will create your lifepoint drop. Trap Stun and Royal Decree will protect your hand and prevent Lycoris’s one-turn-solo of pain.
FYI: Be aware of hand management while facing the Trickstars. Unless you use a deck riding the banish-realm, like Ritual Beasts or Metaphys, keep your cards on the field, or you’re strategy will be disrupted quicker than a beach trip during a hurricane.
True Dracos: Take Sitting to the Next Level
The Plague: The Monarchs made their name by being Algol from Soul Calibur IV wunnabes by smashing their thrones on peasants for power; the Kaijus increased the ante by crashing on your monsters to summon themselves, making all protection effects insignificant before them. The True Dracos, with their infinite age of wisdom after graduating from hot-blooded dragons to toothless wyrms, decided to add Spell and Traps to their tribute repertoire, and then frustrate their enemies further by having those Spells and Traps get effects when sent to the Graveyard, on top of the Monsters getting effects if tribute summoned! While Tribute summoned and when your opponent activates a card effect, Ignis Heat searches for an archetype specific Continuous Spell, Majesty Maiden searches for one of their monsters, and their ironically peaceful, slaying king, Master Peace, becomes to immune to whatever card type one used to tribute summon him, and can banish a Continuous Spell or Trap to destroy a card on the field during either player’s turn. As for the Spell and Traps… we have True Draco Heritage which draws and destroys a Spell or Trap when sent to the graveyard, Disciples which recycles and also destroys Spells or Traps, the True Draco Apocalypse, which halves the attack of their enemy’s monsters, and the True King’s Return, which Special Summons a True Draco during either player’s turn from the Grave, both Traps destroying a monster when sent from the field to the Graveyard. With a plethora of Monster and support cards working in perfect tandem to search and destroy, it seems an impossible endeavor to lay siege to Master Peace’s castle of wyrm-faced freaks. Don’t be intimidated. All it takes is a 1 second Google search to discover “Wyrm” is nothing but a fancy word for dragons with canes that have dentures replacing their fangs. These are the same lizard-backs warriors have been slaying for years to save sieged princesses and to gain mountains of gold. Raise those swords, and get ready lay some pain on your great-great-great-granddaddy’s dragons.
- End the Tributing: You’d swear this strategy missed its calling as a Ritual deck… Even though these slimy wyrms have a way out to it, Mask of Restrict or Fog King, both cards preventing the tributing of any card, can at least temporarily have these ancient wyrms starving on concrete.
- Giant Monster Butts: They like sitting on stuff so much, why don’t you pull a Hidan and let them share your pain? Force a wyrm wielder to summon one of their big guns, and then just sit on it with a Kaiju. Or a Volcanic Queen. Or a Winged Dragon of Ra – Sphere Mode. Or a Lava Golem. Whatever floats your boat, just use one of these cards to bypass their immortality tactics altogether.
- Banish them: Unfortunately, a Dimensional Fissure isn’t enough to halt the progress of Master Peace’s slaying advances. You’ll need to stop the effects of the Spells and Traps, too. Macro Cosmos, the continuous Trap banishing Spells, Traps, and Monsters that would be sent to the Grave, prevents their tribute fodder from hitting purgatory, eliminating most of their destruction options.
FYI: There are many ways the True Dracos can get what they want, but the writer believes the Field Spell Dragonic Diagram is one of their most versatile options. Eliminate it with extreme prejudice, like you would if you found a worm dancing in your salad.
Yu-Gi-Oh has gone through a lot of changes recently, and sometimes enthusiasts wonder if they’re for the better. Link monsters were supposed to slow down the game but just introduced new ways to abuse old cards, Konami keeps releasing cards that greatly hinder strategies, resulting in those cards' prices to skyrocket, only for the cards to get limited or banned later, and some archetypes released have more balance than others. If we as players have issues with the direction the game is headed, we have power to band together and demand changes, but more importantly, we have the power to constantly examine our favorite pastime to create strategies and techniques to keep the game balanced. Yu-Gi-Oh started with the duelists, it can end with the duelists, but it can also change by the hands of the duelists. Keep those decks primed, remember to have fun, and happy hunting out there.
© 2018 Zeron87