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What’s In a Name?

March 11th, 2015

Here’s something to think about: When is a card “for” your Deck?

For many Duelists, the answer is “When it shares the same theme name as the rest of the cards in my Deck.” That certainly is the most common answer, and looking for theme names does make it much easier to identify cards that definitely will work with your strategy of choice. But what it won’t do, is help you to discover and develop new strategies, nor will it even come close to catching all the cards that can help out your current strategy. To demonstrate my point, ask yourself this question: “What is the most recent card released for Mecha Phantom Beasts?”

Go ahead and click over to the Card Database if you want to do a little research, then come back here and read on after you have your answer.


There’s a very high chance that the answer you’ve come up with is Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion. O-Lion is a very good card and is the most recently released card with “Mecha Phantom Beast” in its name, but it’s not the most recently released card for Mecha Phantom Beasts. In fact, the most recently released cards for Mecha Phantom Beasts are Mask Change II, Masked HERO Divine Wind, and Masked HERO Dark Law, and they all came out in the HERO Strike Structure Deck. Before that, it was Void Expansion from Secrets of Eternity. And before that it was Draw Muscle from The New Challengers. None of those cards have “Mecha Phantom Beast” in their name or anywhere in their text, but they’re fantastic cards in Mecha Phantom Beast Decks. And that’s my point – if all you’re looking for is names, you’re missing out on cool cards that can really help you!

Some of the challenges that Mecha Phantom Beasts face include:

  • Difficulty in starting the turn with at least one Token available.
  • Most of your Special Summons are 0 DEF Tokens. Most enemy Special Summons are huge Effect Monsters that will run over your Tokens and then your monster.
  • The only on-theme disruption card requires you to Tribute all your Tokens, leaving your monsters vulnerable to everything.
  • Minimal ability to draw or search out extra cards. It’s Megaraptor or bust, and Megaraptor has a hard time helping unless you can start your turn with a Token.


All of these have been addressed over the past few months. Draw Muscle gets you one card deeper into your Deck while simultaneously protecting one of your Tokens from being run down in battle. In turn, that keeps your Mecha Phantom Beasts safe for the turn and skyrockets your chance to begin your own turn with at least 1 Token available to Tribute, vastly increasing your range of possible plays.


Void Expansion gives you a free Token to work with at the start of each of your turns, and it’s one that won’t mess with the Levels of your monsters. That means you’re free to set up Rank 4 Xyz Summons while keeping your monsters protected, and it generally just makes it easier to use Mecha Phantom Beast Megaraptor, the Token doubling monster searching workhorse of the strategy. There’s no cost whatsoever to keeping Void Expansion around either, and as a Field Spell it’s easy to search out of your Deck.


Finally, there’s Mask Change II and the Masked HEROes from the HERO Strike Structure Deck. Read Mask Change II very carefully, and you’ll see that it can work successfully on Tokens. That means you can definitely Summon Masked HERO Divine Wind, which is a huge Special Summon that draws you extra cards and restricts your opponent’s Battle Phase so that they can’t just run over all your Tokens. And if you’re already using older Token Summoning cards like Fiend’s Sanctuary or Fires of Doomsday, you’ll notice that they’re DARK Tokens, which means you can change them into Masked HERO Dark Law, another big Special Summon that shuts down searching and Graveyard-reliant strategies.

You might not have realized it until today, but the last 365 days have been pretty good to Mecha Phantom Beast fans!

Another thing to consider is that it’s always possible for an older card to suddenly become “for” your Deck. In fact, that’s going to happen for Sylvan players when Premium Gold: Return of the Bling launches on the 20th. Check out this article from Jason that went up last week and see if you can figure out what card it is, then scroll down.











The old card that is now “for” your heavily Plant-based Sylvan Deck is none other than Reinforcement of the Army. Strange, but true. Here’s why:


Lonefire Blossom is one of the most important cards in the Sylvan Deck for its ability to Summon any Plant from your Deck. Currently you’re only allowed to play 2 copies of it. But with Rose Paladin, your access to that ability more than doubles! Paladin can take down monsters like Senju of the Thousand Hands and Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands, then Tribute itself to Summon a Plant from your hand or Deck in Defense Position. You can use that to directly Summon the Plant you desire from your hand or Deck, or you can use it to bring out Lonefire Blossom itself and then Tribute it to get the Plant you want. Alternatively, you can just use the Reinforcement of the Army to grab Rose Paladin and then immediately send it to the Graveyard to grab a high-Level Plant that you intend to Special Summon, like Sylvan Sagequoia. And if everything is already going your way, or you need to ensure you don’t get blasted by a Mirror Force or locked out by a Fiendish Chain, you can use Reinforcement of the Army to grab Rose Archer to protect your Plants.

Keep in mind that many players were willing to play with Super Solar Nutrient just to get Lonefire Blossom. Given the choice between pinning my hopes on having a two-card combo of Super Solar Nutrient + a Level 2 or lower Plant-Type monster or just running Reinforcement of the Army, I’ll take the latter.

So how do you even find these cards? You need to know two things. The first thing to know is what would actually benefit your Deck. Oftentimes you can figure this out by determining what your Deck does not do well, or what it’s easily exploitable weaknesses are. The second thing you need to know is what cards actually exist and what they do. It’s this second requirement that most frequently leads to the development of new Decks and strategies. Of course, it also means actually reading all of the cards.

One thing I see all the time is players relying solely on other players to form their opinions of cards. They’ll ask someone “Hey, what’s good from Secrets of Eternity?” instead of actually going on the Card Database, reading the cards from Secrets of Eternity, and crafting their own opinions on the subject. As a general rule, players that are not you do not have your own interests in mind. Only you can truly decide what’s important to you and your strategy and which cards can help you out, and that’s why it is absolutely essential for you to read the cards. All of them. This goes back my original point about deciding which cards are for you based on their names. If you’re only looking for cards with certain words in their name, you’ll miss the vast majority of all cards that exist, including ones that can really help you out.

I bring all of this up now as we’re beginning to enter the portion of the Dueling season where Duelists begin preparing for their World Championship Qualifiers. Between now and then, Premium Gold: Return of the Bling, World Superstars, and Crossed Souls all release, all of which will challenge your Deck-building abilities to their fullest. The cards are powerful, the combinations innumerable, and the potential is limitless. Last year’s North American WCQ was won not by a single theme like Lightsworn, Geargia, or Sylvans, but by a combination of seemingly unrelated themed cards along with a few powerful cards that can go in any Deck. Reading cards and understanding what they do is the first step towards seeing the invisible connections between cards and effects that allow such strategies to be born.