With the first core set containing Pendulum monsters only days away, the entire continent is making huge efforts to utilize the new game mechanic. Like other card types in their early stages, Pendulum cards have yet to offer a real archetype or a powerful engine to compete with the meta. However, the release of Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon is breathing life into the otherwise mediocre Magicians of Starter Deck: Space-Time Showdown. Despite the power and consistency the card brings to this Pendulum duo, there is another suit of Pendulum monsters introduced in Duelist Alliance that seems to be totally ignored.
The A. Forces
Unlike Timegazer Magician, Flash Knight is a Level 4 Monster, allowing for some of the best Xyz summons should the situation call for it, while being easier to summon under a smaller Pendulum scale. It also wields a respectable 1800 ATK. His Pendulum scale is 7 instead of 8, but this is an irrelevant drawback since he can combo with any other Pendulum monster, not just two specific ones. So now that you can’t use Stargazer Magician in your other Pendulum zone, what do you use?
Duelist Alliance provides us with yet another great option to replace the now-unusable magician. Foucault’s Cannon shares the most significant stats with Stargazer Magician; he is a Level 5 monster that you can Pendulum summon under your scale and keep the same options for Xyz summons. He is a DARK Spellcaster-type just like Stargazer Magician. Again, having a Pendulum scale of 2 is fine when you can use him with any other Pendulum monster, or Pendulum summon him with 1000 ATK more than its alternative.
This leaves us with a little bit more search power than just Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. Summoner’s Art and the newly semi-limited Reinforcement of the Army search our combo pieces: the Pendulum monsters. To reiterate, we now have two searchable cards whose Pendulum scale allows for Pendulum summoning of levels 3-6, meaning that both our Pendulum monsters can be summoned every turn. This leaves us scrabbling for one more Pendulum monster, one that can be summoned under our Pendulum scale, while creating a Pendulum scale where all our Pendulum monsters can be special summoned.
Enter Dragon Horn Hunter. Our own TCG-Exclusive fits the bill perfectly. Being searchable with a card we already run, Summoner’s Art, is just icing on the cake. It is also worth noting that being a DARK Warrior-type normal monster gives him resiliency against the likes of Gozen Match, Rivarly of the Warlords, and Fiendish Chain. The Level 6 also opens up more Xyz options. So after assembling a Pendulum monster line-up that is searchable, how do we use it?
Continuously Pendulum summoning turn after turn can quickly break the opponent’s back and run them out of responses. With the Pendulum scale set up, you can get a Soul Charge-esque effect every turn, only without losing life points or skipping the battle phase. It also becomes harder to respond to the summons since they now come from a game mechanic, instead of a card effect. With the right choices, you can summon cards that always threaten a powerful Xyz to follow. That means once you start Pendulum summoning multiple monsters each turn, the game is yours. But how easy will it be to assemble enough cards to build your Pendulum scale and use it to summon multiple monsters before dying?
This Is What Ghosts Are for
While there are hand traps out there that can save you from dying in the battle phase or even outright end it, those cards often have to be wasted from your hand, meaning your next turn’s draw phase only replaces the card you just lost, while all your opponent’s draw phases are increasing their total cards. We have seen the Ghostrick cards used previously in Madolche decks, where their main purpose was placing an extra Rank 3 Xyz on the field. The purpose served here is slightly different; while we can still search Ghostrick Jiangshi with Ghostrick Mary (and vice-versa), Jianghi can also search Ghostrick Specter just when he is dying, allowing you to summon the searched Specter and draw a card with his effect. This means that starting with Ghostrick Mary will let you take some damage from one attack, which is fine since most players use lower-attack monsters first, then you can block up to two attacks while replacing the initial Mary with a draw from Specter. This makes your draw phases more meaningful, as you now thin your deck, dig further through it, and maintain your cards, all while making sure you survive. If your opponent can’t destroy all your monsters in one battle phase, that means you could end up with an attack blocker for next turn or a search for Mary instead of Specter to keep the ball rolling next turn. The ability to stay alive while thinning your deck, increasing your consistency, and keeping the same amount of cards makes the Ghostrick engine perfect for Pendulum summoning.
Notably, starting with one Ghostrick card will likely end with at least seven out of the nine we run in the graveyard. Allowing us to run a super Pot of Greed, also known as The Beginning of the End. This card is a +2 and needs little to no investment in this deck. It is probably one of the best cards to stock your hand with the needed Pendulum cards to start clogging the field. Two of our three Pendulum Monsters of choice are also DARK, should that ever be relevant.
Before going any further, let’s take a look at a sample deck list resulting from this discussion
- x3 Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive
- x3 Dragon Horn Hunter
- x3 Flash Knight
- x3 Foucault’s Cannon
- x3 Ghostrick Jiangshi
- x3 Ghostrick Mary
- x3 Ghostrick Specter
- x1 Book of Moon
- x1 Dark Factory of Mass Production
- x2 Reinforcement of the Army
- x3 Summoner’s Art
- x2 The Beginning of the End
- x3 Upstart Goblin
- x1 Abyss Dweller
- x1 Cairngorgon Antiluminescent Knight
- x1 Constellar Ptolemy M7
- x1 Daigusto Emeral
- x1 Diamond Dire Wolf
- x1 Ghostrick Alucard
- x1 Ghostrick Dullahan
- x1 Inzektor Exa-Beetle
- x1 Number 101: Silent Honor Ark
- x1 Number 19: Freezadon
- x1 Number 61: Volcasaurus
- x1 Number 82: Heartlandraco
- x1 Shark Fortress
- x1 Tiras, Keeper of Genesis
- x1 Wind-up Zenmaines
Every Draw is a Win
It is easy to see just how important it is to draw the right cards, and how important it is to draw enough of them. Cards like Upstart Goblin, Reckless Greed, and Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive aid your Ghostrick Cards in exactly that. There are several monsters like that can perform the same job as Dekoichi, or even have better stats depending on what else you are trying to do with them. Overall, Dekoichi seemed like the best choice as he is a DARK for The Beginning of the End, and being a Level 4 can be a saving grace at times.
The last few spots in the deck are now left for protection. It gets tricky to choose an appropriate Trap line-up when you want your opponents to attack you, so you can activate your Ghostrick cards, yet you still want to be able to get rid of their turns-worth field for your Pendulums to do anything. Anything whose only purpose is to stop summons or activate in the battle phase is quickly marked off as a risky dead draw. This leaves us with only a few cards that can deal with already-setup threats. Compulsory Evacuation Device is the perfect card for this purpose, while Book of Moon can do everything Fiendish Chain and Compulsory can do, as well as some more, without being vulnerable to Trap Stun, Wiretap, and the likes. Torrential Tribute is the closest to a card that can get rid of monsters after their first turn on the field, without being susceptible to destruction like battle phase traps can. You can activate it off an expendable normal summon since you can just Pendulum summon straight after, or you can trigger it with some of your Ghostrick effects. Although Fiendish Chain could be argued to have similar capabilities since it can stop attacks or negate key effects, especially in a monster-heavy format, the infinite resource of Pendulum summoning makes stopping attacks far from a priority; therefore, Breakthrough Skill’s double negation wins out as the more viable option.
Ultimately, most opponents can create invincible fields, given the time this deck allows them. It may take a few turns for your Pendulum monsters to eventually get at their life points, or they may have a monster that is just bigger than your non-effect Pendulum Monsters. If you aren’t quite able to start Pendulum summoning even one monster to put pressure on the opponent, you may need to purchase extra turns with your trap cards, and not have them for when you can actually Pendulum summon. This makes the extra deck an important factor here, and when detached, Pendulum monsters will go to the real graveyard. With the need to recycle your Pendulum monsters from your graveyard, a single Dark Factory of Mass Production can come in handy when the emergency bell rings. Along with other extra deck monsters that can recycle your Xyz materials, you can create a constant stream of Xyz monsters.
All the Love, for All the Backrow
You may be wondering, “Not one out to any backrow?” The lack of response to traps when playing such an explosive deck can be surprising at first glance. No Trap Stun; no Wiretap; not even Mystical Space Typhoon. How about Forbidden Lance? Fortunately, none of these cards are needed. The idea that monsters will always overcome traps is nothing new, and has been utilized in many successful decks before, including last year’s North American World Championship Qualifier. Your opponent should quickly run out of defences against your endless stream of regenerating monsters, so these precious main deck slots are better spent elsewhere. There will sure be some annoying floodgates that MST can be good against; however, you can easily out most of them with your Xyz monsters. Even Vanity’s Emptiness, the biggest card that will stop your extra deck summons, can be dealt with by simply destroying a monster in battle or with a card effect. Worst case scenario, Foucault’s Cannon can destroy a floodgate or a generally useful card, like Supply Squad or Spellbook Tower of Prophecy, at the end of the turn it was placed in a Pendulum zone.
The Extra Deck
One Ghostrick Dullahan will likely be the best Rank 1 in any situation as it makes your monsters bigger in a sense, and it recycles your Ghostricks for more survivability and more draws. It will often be possible because of a leftover Ghostrick Specter. Ghostrick Alucard comes with largely the same benefits, while Wind-up Zenmaines can act as a big wall or even an out to certain cards in some situations. Over a third of the extra deck is Rank 4 monsters although our only Level 4 Pendulum monster is the least searchable and the one required, regardless of which of the other two you have, to set up the Pendulum scale. For one, we also have Dekoichi as a Level 4, and it is the easiest to Pendulum summon from the hand with our current scale possibilities. Whether or not this is enough is debatable, but Rank 4 Xyz monsters still give the best options and the broadest range of uses, so it is fine to include multiple of them when each will be used differently. The crazy card advantage Pendulum summoning creates is the bane of Evilswarm Exciton Knight’s existence in this extra deck. In addition, it is counterproductive to use the Pendulum cards to make an Exciton and destroy them.
Over in the Rank 5 department, Number 61: Volcasaurus and Tiras, Keeper of Genesis excel at destroying cards, while Shark Fortress can help you make big pushes or outright end the game. Number 19: Freezadon is an underused card that can be good in lots of situations. Perhaps the difficulty of getting a Rank 5 along with another Xyz for whom this card is useful has kept him away from extra decks for months, but this deck should have no problem Pendulum summoning into two or three Xyz monster. This card can make the likes of Ghostrick Alucard and Number 101: Silent Honor Ark into huge swings of momentum, while making must answer threats out of them. In a pinch, it will give Ghostrick Alucard twice as much fuel should your opponent choose not to prioritize destroying it, but it is Honor Ark that becomes an absolute blowout when it can detach an Xyz material from Freezadon to have two materials in total after using its effect, then detaching another material to protect itself from destruction on the opponent’s turn, meaning it still has two more materials of in total (assuming Freezadon pitches in another) to steal another opponent’s Monster. Freezadon can also add huge value to the effects of Cairngorgon Antiluminescent Knight and Abyss Dweller, while giving Pendulum recyclers like Daigusto Emeral, Constellar Ptolemy M7, and Inzektor Exa-Beetle a lot more fuel. It is especially nice with Exa-Beetle since it can make continuous removal out of it. Not to exaggerate this card, but it may as well be at the heart of this deck, and it has definitely gotten much better with the introduction of Pendulum summoning and the cards in Duelist Alliance that make it work.
We already discussed the reasons for choosing searchable Pendulum monsters from Duelist Alliance, as opposed to those of the Starter deck, as well as the reasons for avoiding certain battle stoppers and common traps. The draw cards at work here may seem controversial, but realistically, they are the best ones. Cardcar D is only great in the very first turn, but as soon as you start Pendulum summoning every turn in an attempt to create some field presence, Cardcar D becomes a dead draw with its special summon restriction. The same can be said for Pot of Duality, it conflicts with the basic principles of the deck. Allure of Darkness could be used, but the banish is too harsh when trying to assemble a combo with Pendulum monsters or filling the graveyard for The Beginning of the End, whose +2 was superior to Allure’s +0 every time. Simple removal like Dark Armed Dragon, Dark hole, or even Dark Mambele was inefficient when trying to assemble combos. Sure, some of them can be good in rare situations, but without a follow-up play, it is a huge waste, especially if you are going to wait for the opponent to play into your Ghostricks again. Other revival cards like Soul Charge or Call of the Haunted seemed out of the question. Although they could act as recyclers for Pendulum cards used as Xyz materials, they don’t fit the overall general plan of returning Pendulum Monsters to the extra deck while banishing Ghostricks for The Beginning of the End. They also aren’t really needed when you can summon a slew of Monsters every turn anyway.
Over in the extra deck, there were tons of good options, but in the end, 15 cards simply isn’t enough to include all of them. Rank 4 has some good options for specific Xyz monsters, but it can already be hard enough to put together a Rank 4 at times, let alone making one with specific requirements too. The duo, Number 13: Embodiment of Crime and Number 31: Embodiment of Punishment can create massive locks of their own if you choose to accumulate all your Ghostrick Specters and drop them at once, but this isn’t the right choice in the first place, since you need to start dropping some Pendulum monsters as soon as you can. Rank 6 monsters offered some good options in Photon Strike Bounzer and Gauntlet Launcher, along with some other ones, but the space was better used for the ones that can dig up Pendulum monsters from the graveyard. Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger is still a viable option to place on top of a used up Tiras, Freezadon, or even Exa-Beetle. It just seemed like an overall “win more” card that is not an actual out to anything your other Xyz monsters would have trouble with.
Side Deck and Counters
Right off the bat, Blanket Banishing effects give the deck a hard time. Like most decks, you will have nothing to summon every turn if all your Pendulum monsters get banished. Foucault’s Cannon can deal with one of these cards so you can set up a board to deal with any more to come, but it would still be a good idea to side for these cards. While Mystical Space Typhoon can make short work of Macro Cosmos, Dimensional Fissure, and other backrow cards, a Banisher of the Radiance backed up by some Traps can cause serious trouble. Sure, you can side simple monster removal cards, but a good player will be ready to protect his Banisher from those too. Similarly, blanket search stoppers can spell doom as it will create dead draws while making it harder for your Ghostricks to keep you alive. Keep in mind these cards also carry an inherent risk as every copy drawn in the mid or late game is dead, where the banishing effects can come in handy at almost any point. Once again Mystical Space Typhoon can quickly destroy Mistake, but a protected Thunder King Rai-oh can be trickier to deal with. In such situations, cards that neither target nor destroy are your best friends. These cards generally deserve appreciation as they can be an out to almost any situation; this is perhaps what sets Madolche apart from any other deck that makes similar plays. This is not to say there are no generic cards that have the same talent. Depending on what you expect to be up against, you can play Memory of an Adversary, Volcanic Queen, D.D. Warrior Lady, or Creature Swap to name a few. Creature Swap could be particularly useful despite the -1 when you are giving them an easy-to run over Ghostrick in attack position and then making an Xyz summon with their Banisher or Thunder King; it can also be good against pillar decks like Bujin, Noble Knights, or Evilswarm. On another note, running D.D. Warrior Lady against certain decks means you can search it with a card you already run.
Other cards that could hurt this deck a little include special summon stoppers like Vanity’s Fiend or Archlord Kristya, but they are nothing our current side deck cannot address. Majesty’s Fiend, a card that seems to be rising in popularity despite how un-synergistic it is with nearly every deck, can also be a problem. Some of the cards mentioned above will not work against its effect, but they could be better choices against some of the other problem cards mentioned, depending on your metagame.
Finally, the deck can have a bad match-up against non-interactive (solitaire) decks, such as Exodia, Chain/Nurse/Quiz Burn, and others. These decks make your Ghostrick cards less effective, and can make Ghostrick Specter straight up dead. Sure, that means you can just draw into your Pendulum pieces through your draw phases, but it also means they have more time to draw their cards, and constantly stop your attacks with them if you manage to start Pendulum summoning before they win. I have been a big fan of Jinzo since it totally shuts them down, and your Traps are not very important in that match-up, especially seeing that the most consistent variant of Exodia, and about the only one that ever performs well in high level tournaments, is the Trap variant. Royal Decree can do the job sometimes, but they will have a lot more outs for Decree than they will for Jinzo, and these match-ups allow plenty of tribute fodder to sit on your field. Other cards like Prohibition, Mind Crush, Prime Material Dragon, and Dragged Down into the Grave can be effective against some of these match-ups, but their overall worth as a side deck card where you may only play one of these decks once, if you do at all, is questionable.
The deck harkens back to the days of Ravine Rulers, or can even be thought of as an incarnation of today’s Mythic Ruler and Lightsworn Ruler decks. It takes a few turns to set up, then it explodes with lots of monsters and extra deck summons, and can continue to make big pushes every turn while maintaining a wide variety of options in the extra deck. It beats these decks in both consistency and resiliency to OTKs, and arguably has more fuel than these decks, as Pendulum summoning is infinite. Do you agree that Pendulum Ghostricks have the potential to become the new meta? Please drop a comment on your way out.