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Monday Night Matchup: Gravekeepers VS Formula Monarchs

November 29th, 2010

Thanks to the release of Starstrike Blast, a lot of new Decks emerged on the scene at YCS Atlanta. One of those is the Formula Monarch Deck. Based around the Frog Monarch Deck of last summer, Formula Monarchs can be built in various ways, but they all share the same basic building blocks: Treeborn Frog and Fishborg Blaster.

Originally released in Pharaonic Guardian back in 2003, the Gravekeeper monsters have been a part of the game for years now, most notably, Gravekeeper’s Spy. Unfortunately, Gravekeepers as a complete strategy had never really managed to shine at the top of the premier tournament level, until now! Thanks to Gravekeeper’s Recruiter, a new exclusive from Starstrike Blast, and frequent use of Royal Tribute, three Gravekeeper Decks took the top three spots in YCS Atlanta.

It’s Gravekeepers and Monarchs, two old Decks that learned incredible new tricks, head to head, in this week’s Monday Night Matchup!

How They Work

The Formula Monarch Deck is an evolution of Frog Monarchs that still uses a lot of the same tricks. Using Swap Frog to send Treeborn Frog to the Graveyard is still one of the key plays in your arsenal, and it’s the foundation of your strategy. A Treeborn Frog in the Graveyard foreshadows a flurry of Monarchs in the near future. That’s the old trick.

The Formula Monarch Deck has a couple of new tricks, however. you can send Fishborg Blaster from your hand to the Graveyard to Special Summon that very same Swap Frog. Next, you can send Treeborn Frog to your Graveyard as usual with its effect. On your next turn, you can Special Summon your Frog and your Blaster and immediately Synchro Summon Formula Synchron to draw a card. Then, if you happen to have summoned a Monarch on an earlier turn, you can Synchro Summon Stardust Dragon, something that the old Frog Monarch Deck would never do!

Then, if your Stardust Dragon makes it to next turn (it probably will), Special Summon Treeborn Frog, Special Summon Fishborg Blaster, and Synchro Summon Formula Synchron once again. Then you can Synchro Summon Shooting Star Dragon… on either player’s turn! It’s a truly powerful combo that is not only netting you free cards every turn, but creates a powerful on-field presence in the form of Stardust Dragon or Shooting Star Dragon. Combine this all with the fact that Formula Monarchs can still use all the same tricks that Frog Monarchs are known for (minus Substitoad) and you have one potent and powerful Deck that’s sure to make a mark on the tournament scene very soon.

The Gravekeeper Deck is filled with a lot of cards that are tailor made for decimating the current popular Decks. Necrovalley, in particular, is the bane of a lot of top Decks. By negating key cards such as Monster Reborn and Debris Dragon, Gravekeepers are able to immediately force a lot of plays that many players simply do not like to make, and since you’re forcing them out, you’ll know exactly how to deal with them when they happen. This allows the Gravekeeper Duelist to control the pace of the game, and with effects like Gravekeeper’s Spy and Gravekeeper’s Stele that give you free monsters, you can whittle down the opponent’s monsters until they have nothing left to defend themselves with while you attack with pumped up Gravekeepers.

Then there’s Royal Tribute. A Spell you can play on the first turn to force your opponent to discard every monster in his hand. This is obviously useful, especially if you can Set Gravekeeper’s Spy before you play it so that you don’t lose anything to your own Spell.

Combine all of this with newer cards like Pot of Duality and Solemn Warning, and you have a very consistent deck that is capable of completely shutting down all of your opponent’s moves. With the addition of Gravekeeper’s Recruiter, a lot of new options are also available to the Gravekeeper Duelist. By Special Summoning the Recruiter with Spy, you can summon a Gravekeeper’s Descendant and tribute Recruiter in order to destroy a card AND search another Gravekeeper to your hand.

You could also Tribute Summon Caius the Shadow Monarch or even summon a Tuner and Synchro Summon a monster of your choice. Whatever your choice, you get to add another card from your Deck to your hand, which is the foundation of many top Decks from the past. Since you can also search Gravekeeper’s Commandant and then use it to search for Necrovalley, these new Gravekeeper Decks will almost always have Necrovalley in play early.

How to Win

If you’re playing Formula Monarchs…

An inexperienced Formula Monarch Duelist may, at first glance, think that Necrovalley ruins a lot of their strategies. In reality, neither Treeborn Frog nor Fishborg Blaster are negated by the effects of Necrovalley since they are both only affecting themselves. This is very important because this allows you to still use all of your normal strategies without being hindered.

If you manage to get Stardust Dragon or Shooting Star Dragon out against a Gravekeeper Deck, there isn’t a whole lot they can do. Since a lot of Gravekeeper Duelists choose not to run Caius the Shadow Monarch or any Tuner Monsters, your opponent will have to rely on Book of Moon and Solemn Warning or a very early Royal Tribute to stop you from cruising to victory.

It isn’t quite that simple, however. You’ll still have an onslaught of Solemn Warnings, Royal Oppression, Solemn Judgment, Book of Moons, and other possible threats to deal with in order to get your Dragon to the field. Due to all of this, it’s important to pay attention to what your opponent has used so far, and to try and eliminate the threats entirely. Great cards to help you with this are Giant Trunade, Cold Wave, Mystical Space Typhoon, and even Royal Decree.

Thankfully for you, Monarchs themselves are very good against Gravekeepers. If you can use Caius the Shadow Monarch on your opponent’s face down Gravekeeper’s Spy or use Mobius the Frost Monarch to clear their Spells and Traps you can completely eliminate their huge plays, and you’ll almost surely be on your way to victory.

A frog's best friend.

A frog's best friend.

If you’re playing Gravekeepers…

Royal Tribute. These two words sum up your express path to victory against Formula Monarchs. The Formula Monarch Deck can sometimes run close to 30 monsters in its 40 card Deck line-up. If you can get a monster on the field, activate Necrovalley, and follow up with Royal Tribute, you could possibly discard your opponent’s entire hand on turn 1. Unless they happened to have a Treeborn Frog in that opening hand, there’s a good chance they won’t be coming back. Since you are probably using Allure of Darkness as well as multiple copies of Pot of Duality, it’s really important to use them as soon as possible so you can get Necrovalley and Royal Tribute to your hand as quickly as you can.

Fortunately for you, your advantages don’t end there. With two to three copies of Solemn Warning to protect you from Monarchs as well as other key cards such as Royal Oppression around to protect you from the looming threat of Shooting Star Dragon, you won’t be making it an easy match for your opponent. If you side in Pulling the Rug during the later Duels in your Match, you’ll be golden unless something really unexpected happens.

With the help of Gravekeeper’s Stele you’ll be able to reuse your monsters over and over again, constantly putting on the pressure and forcing your opponent to commit cards they aren’t really happy to use in an attempt to slow you down. Despite all of these advantages it’s very important not to let your guard down, because one moment of weakness could be all your opponent needs to eliminate your strategy and beat you.
No matter what side of the table you find yourself on, your Deck, your Side Deck, your skill and your determination will all be deciding factors in how your match goes. Either way, I think it’s fair to say we’ll be seeing a lot of both of these Decks in the near future.