Archetype Analysis: Drytron

Last updated: 16.10.2021

Ritual Summoning was frowned at for quite a while in Yugioh’s history. It was available pretty much from the start in the realms of the TCG, but summoning effect-less monsters for questionable amounts of resources only really served as cards to fill the trading folder with. The mechanic got upgraded over time, with “Gishki” introducing hand-melting summon loops and “Nekroz” being strong enough to actually become the deck to beat during its time. The next step was taken in 2020 with “Drytron”, an archetype that re-invented some of the rules in Ritual Summoning and then slowly growing into the competitively viable force we know the deck as today. They also happen to be the subject of this Archetype Analysis, so strap in for some space dragons.

Disclaimer: None of the information given by me is set in stone. Having an open mind in deck building and including creative ideas is always helpful, if only to further understand the playstyle and strategy of the deck you are about to build. There are probably choices that I list which can be labled as debatable, but no platform I know of gives a broad overview over both the archetypes and all the card choices, so I aimed to do just that. I will try to keep this page (as well as the other ones, once they are made) up-to-date, so if any reader feels like I skipped some amazing tech choice or a crucial card, just drop me a note and I will add the missing information if necessary. Furthermore, I use a number of sources for ideas and information, so a list with links that I deem useful is attached to the end of the page and credit is given whenever I can point to a source to do so.

“Drytron” is a fairly unconventional archetype using Ritual Summoning. The archetypal monsters are all Light Machine monsters, with the non-Ritual monsters all being Level 1 and the Ritual monsters being Level 12. Now, if you have any idea how Ritual Summoning works, you will now ask yourself how you are ever getting those Level 12 monsters onto the board, since the tribute cannot be paid regardless of your board. This is where the curveball comes into play: They Ritual Summon with a focus on ATK stats, not levels, meaning that you have to match certain stats to make the summon possible. Other than that, they are highly consistent and search-heavy to allow your Ritual-based plays in various scenarios without being completely starved of resources after one summon. There is more to “Drytron”, but I think it is best if we look at the cards in detail.

Small reminder: As with every combo deck that I list in “Archetype Analysis”, please be aware that there are a myriad of little details, combo routes, play and search options, and techs to be considered in playing “Drytron”. I will not be able to list every single thing simply due to not playing this deck full-time and this article’s word count growing way above the number it is already at. However, if you think I missed some incredibly useful or crucial tech, feel free to leave a comment and help both me and other readers gaining a more complete picture.

Archetype:

DrytronAlphaThuban-GEIM-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Alpha Thuban
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 2000/0
Attribute/Type: Light Machine

We start our journey into weird Ritual schenanigans with “Drytron Alpha Thuban”, a Level 1 Light Machine monster with 2000/0 as its stats. In fact, every Main Deck non-Ritual “Drytron” monster has exactly this combination of Attribute, Typing, and stats; and trust me when I say that most of that info will become relevant over the course of this Archetype Analysis. “Alpha Thuban” cannot be Normal Summoned or Set at all, and must be Special Summoned with the effect of a “Drytron” card. However, you can tribute one other “Drytron” monster, or one Ritual monster, from your hand or field to Special Summon “Drytron Alpha Thuban” from your hand or graveyard, and then add one Ritual monster from your deck to your hand. However, you cannot Special Summon monsters for the rest of the turn, except for monsters that cannot be Normal Summoned or Set; also, you can only use this last effect of “Drytron Alpha Thuban” once per turn. To be honest, at first reading if you have no idea what the rest of the archetype looks like, this set of effects seems weird. Yes, the revival allows you to tribute from hand, which is bound to be used for silly stuff, and a generic Ritual monster search does not sound that bad, but only being able to be summoned via “Drytron” cards seems … prohibitive. Let me tell you straightaway that this is not going to be a problem, since the archetype not only has a very powerful “Unexpected Dai“-esque card in “Drytron Nova“, but you also find that tribute effect on every Main Deck non-Ritual “Drytron” monster, allowing them to start their plays with literally any combination of two of the “Drytron” monsters as well as one “Drytron” and a tributable Ritual monster. As for “Alpha Thuban” specifically, the Ritual monster search makes it a valuable tool both for gaining card advantage as well as setting things up for other plays down the road, giving you options like searching “Cyber Angel Benten” for further searches or “Herald of Ultimateness” for negation and therefore making it an excellent card to play.

Recommended copies: 3
“Drytron Alpha Thuban” provides everything you need in “Drytron”, being an easy monster to summon as well as having a very good search on top. Run three copies.

DrytronBetaRastaban-GEIM-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Beta Rastaban
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 2000/0
Attribute/Type: Light Machine

Next up is “Drytron Beta Rastaban”, the next monster that has the “Drytron” profile of being Light Attribute, Machine Type, Level 1, and having 2000 ATK. Just as “Drytron Alpha Thuban“, “Drytron Beta Rastaban” cannot be Normal Summoned or Set, and must be Special Summoned with the effect of a “Drytron” card. Furthermore, you can tribute one other “Dryton” monster or one Ritual monster from your hand or field to Special Summon “Drytron Beta Rastaban” from either your hand or your graveyard in defense position, and then you can return one of your banished “Drytron” monster to the graveyard. However, “Drytron Beta Rastaban” also comes with the same drawback of disallowing you to Special Summon monsters during the turn you activate this effect, except for monsters that cannot be Normal Summoned or Set, and you can only use the Special Summon effect of “Drytron Beta Rastaban”. “Beta Rastaban” has its own little niche in “Drytron”, mainly that it can recover “Drytron” monsters for resummons from the graveyard after they were either banished by the opponent due to the effect of “Dimension Shifter” and others, or because you used the effect of “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” to send opposing cards to the graveyard. However, this niche is certainly small, since there is no way this card does anything turn one, has to compete with various better effects in the archetype, and the “Drytrons” not even featuring enough banishing to make this effect somewhat relevant. True, it can probably still serve as a tech option in certain matchups, but normally has to make way for its brethren.

Recommended copies: 0
With “Drytron” non-Ritual Main Deck monsters being so similar, it really comes down to the effect on summon; and sadly, “Drytron Beta Rastaban” does not provide an effect that makes it worthwhile. I would skip the card in deckbuilding.

Name: “Drytron Delta Altais
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 2000/0
Attribute/Type: Light Machine

Moving on, we have “Drytron Delta Altais” to talk about. “Delta Altais” has the usual “Drytron” profile, cannot be Normal Summoned or Set, and must be Special Summon with the effect of a “Drytron” card. It also comes with the usual summoning effect, which allows you to tribute one other “Drytron” monster or one Ritual monster from your hand or field in order to Special Summon “Drytron Delta Altais” from your hand or graveyard in defense position; also, you can then reveal either one Ritual monster or Ritual Spell card in your hand, and if you do you draw one card. However, the usual restrictions also take place, meaning that you cannot Special Summon monsters during the turn you activated the Special Summon effect, unless that monster cannot be Normal Summoned or Set; also, you can only use that effect of “Drytron Delta Altais” once per turn. Not nearly as good as “Drytron Alpha Thuban” due to less consistency, but better than “Drytron Beta Rastaban” due to being universally more useful, “Delta Altais” finds itself in the middle ground of playability of the “Drytron” archetype. It can certainly provide more cards in hand and therefore card advantage, but due to being less controlable it will probably be the first card to drop if you need extra deck space.

Recommended copies: 1
“Drytron Delta Altais” is an okayish card for the archetype it is part of. I would suggest running one copy to have the option, search and/or summon it if necessary, and having another “Drytron” name in the deck if all other “Drytron” effects are already triggered. But ultimately, you decide how valuable you deem the card draw option of the “Drytron” archetype.

DrytronGammaEltanin-GEIM-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Gamma Eltanin
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 2000/0
Attribute/Type: Light Machine

Number four of the “Drytron” non-Ritual Main Deck monster is “Drytron Gamma Eltanin”. It also comes with the usual “Drytron” profile, cannot be Normal Summoned or Set, and must be Special Summoned with the effect of a “Drytron” card. As usual, you can tribute one other “Drytron” monster or one Ritual monster from your hand or field to Special Summon “Drytron Gamma Eltanin” from your hand or graveyard in defense position, and then you can Special Summon one “Drytron” monster with 2000 ATK from your graveyard, except for “Drytron Gamma Eltanin”. Also, you cannot Special Summon monsters the turn you activate this effect, unless those monsters cannot be Normal Summoned or Set; and you can only use this effect of “Drytron Gamma Eltanin” once per turn. “Gamma Eltanin” is another really good “Drytron” monster: It provides the material for the archetypal Xyz monster “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir” pretty much on its own, it can give monsters that you already used the Special Summon effect of during that turn another spin, and it sets up various Ritual Summons perfectly since “Meteonis Drytron” only looks for statlines and all non-Ritual Main Deck “Drytrons” come with 2000 ATK, which can give you a lot of nasty Ritual options. Finally, if nothing else, it simply provides another Link material to go for bigger Control options like “Underworld Goddess of the Closed World“.

Recommended copies: 3
“Drytron Gamma Eltanin” is one of the better “Drytrons” and can kickstart and amplify a huge number of plays by not only providing easy summoning for itself, but also bringing other friends to the party. I would suggest running a full package, so three copies.

Name: “Drytron Zeta Aldhibah
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 2000/0
Attribute/Type: Light Machine

The last non-Ritual Main Deck “Drytron” monster is “Drytron Zeta Aldhibah”. Just like all the other “Drytron” monsters we have seen so far, it comes with the “Drytron” profile, cannot be Normal Summoned or Set, and must be Special Summoned with the effect of a “Drytron” card. You can also tribute one other “Drytron” monster or one Ritual monster from your hand or field to Special Summon “Drytron Zeta Aldhibah” from either your hand or your graveyard in defense position, and then search your deck for a Ritual Spell card and add it to your hand. However, you cannot Special Summon monsters during the turn you activate this effect, except for monsters that cannot be Normal Summoned or Set; also, you can only use the summoning effect of “Drytron Zeta Aldhibah” once per turn. Attentive readers will notice that this is basically “Drytron Alpha Thuban” but for Ritual Spell instead of Ritual monsters; nonetheless, this is still a fantastic effect to have. There is really not that much to say other than Ritual decks requiring Ritual Spells to work at full capacity, the searchable Ritual Spell in form of “Meteonis Drytron” being absolutely amazing, and “Zeta Aldhibah” therefore increasing the deck’s consistency by quite some margin.

Recommended copies: 3
“Drytron Zeta Aldhibah” is definitely a three-off for pretty much the same reasons why “Drytron Alpha Thuban” is in the deck at three. Searching specific cards means more consistency and also thins the deck by a little, and that on top of the solid summoning effect that the “Drytrons” come with is enough reason to go with the maximum number possible.

MeteonisDrytron-GEIM-EN-UR-1E.png

Name: “Meteonis Drytron
Type: Ritual Spell

Normally when talking about Ritual archetype, it makes sense to talk about the Ritual Spell(s) as the first card(s) in the analysis since a lot of cards make little sense without the knowledge; however, “Drytron” is a little bit different, which is why I needed to talk about the Main Deck monsters first. So, here is “Meteonis Drytron”, the only “Drytron” Ritual Spell in existence at the moment. “Meteonis Drytron” can be used to Ritual Summon any Ritual monster from your hand or graveyard, but you must also tribute Machine monster from your hand or field whose total ATK equal or exceed the ATK of the Ritual monster you want to Ritual Summon. Furthermore, if “Meteonis Drytron” is in your graveyard, you can target one “Drytron” monster you control, it loses exactly 1000 ATK until the end of the opposing turn, and if it does, you can add “Meteonis Drytron” back to your hand; but you can only use this effect of “Meteonis Drytron” once per turn. The restriction regarding only being able to use Machine Type monsters hardly matters, since the bulk of your monsters will be “Drytrons” anyway, and since they come with rather high ATK values you can easily summon a number of helpful options for little cost, for example “Herald of Ultimateness” which only requires one “Drytron” as tribute since it has exactly 2000 ATK. Reducing the ATK of your monsters is almost no cost at all, since you will have various monsters available in defense position or even simply reduce their ATK knowing that they will become Link material, Xyz material or Ritual tribute fodder down the line, making this a non-issue in most cases but one hell of a consistency tool to have in a Ritual-based deck.

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Meteonis Drytron” is a very good Ritual Spell. I listed that one could play three copies, but in all honesty two are probably enough since you can search it as well as recycle it via its own effect.

DrytronMeteonisDraconids-GEIM-EN-UR-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Meteonis Draconids
Level/Rank: 12
ATK/DEF: 4000/4000
Attribute/Type: Light Machine

So, after we now know what the Ritual Spell does, what exactly can we summon with it? Well, since the effect allows us to pretty much summon anything that does not specifically say otherwise there is a number of options, but in “Drytron” one choice could be “Drytron Meteonis Draconids”, a Level 12 Light Machine monster with 4000/4000. “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” states that is can be Ritual Summoned with “Meteonis Drytron“, and has no further restrictions. The opponent cannot target “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” with monster effects, and if the total level of monsters used for the Ritual Summon of this monster are 2 or less, it can attack all Special Summoned monsters your opponent controls once each. Furthermore, during your opponent’s turn, as a Quick Effect, you can banish monster from your graveyard whose combined ATK equals exactly either 2000 or 4000, then target one face-up card your opponent controls for every 2000 ATK and send that/those card(s) to the graveyard. You can only use that last effect of “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” once per turn. So, this is one huge beatstick with various effects. The banish effect is rather nice since it not only gets rid of problem cards on reaction due to being a Quick Effect, but also only sends cards to the graveyard which does not trigger destruction effects. Furthermore, due to the Quick Effect only listing the ATK values, you can not only use your “Drytron” Main Deck monsters for the effect, which you probably want to reuse in future turns, but can also resort to pay with cards like “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir“, another copy of “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” or “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids“, or even cards like “Herald of Ultimateness“. Since the finished board of the currently played “Drytron” decks goes more into a Control direction, you rarely even need to go into “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” since it costs two tributes and is therefore somewhat costly, but there is nothing wrong with the card per se since it is a solid boss monster with helpful effects against various different strategies.

Recommended copies: 0-1
“Drytron Meteonis Draconids” is an impressive monster in its own right, but not particularly necessary in every “Drytron” build. The finished “Drytron” board can work absolutely fine without this monster around, but since it is easily searchable and quite powerful in a number of scenarios you can opt to play one copy.

DrytronMeteonisQuadrantids-GEIM-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids
Level/Rank: 12
ATK/DEF: 4000/4000
Attribute/Type: Light Machine

Ritual boss monster number two comes in form of “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids”, yet another Level 12 Light Machine monster with 4000/4000. Like “Drytron Meteonis Draconids“, you can Ritual Summon “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids” by using “Meteonis Drytron” with no further restrictions attached. “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids” cannot be targeted by the opposing Spell/Trap cards and effects. If the total levels of monsters used to Ritual Summon this card were 2 or less, you can destroy all Spells and Traps the opponent controls. Furthermore, if a Ritual Summoned “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids” is destroyed, you can Special Summon “Drytron” monster from your graveyard, except other copies of “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids”, whose combined ATK equals 4000; but both the backrow removal as well as the floating effect of “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids” are only usable once per turn. “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids” is undoubtably worse than its cousin, with monster effects currently being much more relevant than effects of Spell/Trap cards that could target. I like the idea of a “Harpie’s Feather Duster” as an effect, but actually the Quick Effect of “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” can still take care of problematic backrow, while being preferable in almost any other situation, and splitting itself into two “Drytron” Main Deck monsters is cute, but does not do that much during the opposing turn unless you build your board with exactly that thought in mind and therefore being reliant on the opponent and certainly telegraphing some of your plays. Overall, “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids” is still a solid card, but not necessarily one that “Drytron” needs.

Recommended copies: 0
“Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids” is still a monster card that various other archetypes would kill for, but in “Drytron” there are better options to play and various other cards that can support the “go first”-Control playstyle better. You can run one copy if you desperately want, but I would opt to skip this card.

DrytronMuBetaFafnir-LIOV-EN-ScR-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 2000/0
Attribute/Type: Light Machine

The only Extra Deck monster the “Drytron” archetype currently has on offer is “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir”, a Rank 1 Xyz monster. To summon it, you need to overlay two or more Level 1 monsters, which do not have to be “Drytron” monsters by the way. “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir’s” effects are as follows: When you Ritual Summon, you can detach a material from this card as monster(s) required for the Ritual Summon. If “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir” is Xyz Summoned, you can send one “Drytron” card from your deck to the graveyard. Furthermore, when your opponent activates a Spell or Trap card, while you control a Machine Ritial monster, as a Quick Effect, you can detach one material from “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir”, negate the activation of that card, and if you do destroy it. Lastly, both the “Foolish Burial“/”Foolish Burial Goods” effect and the negation of “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir” are only usable once per turn. So, there is quite a lot going on here: Ditching any “Drytron” card allows you to setup any of the “Drytron” Main Deck monsters for Special Summoning, while also giving you the option of throwing “Meteonis Drytron” into the graveyard and retrieve it via its own effect. The effect that allows you to pay the Ritual Summon tribute with Xyz materials is not mind-blowing, but it allows you to gain any overall plus in card economy due to having more space on the board to work with, still having the two monsters you used for the Xyz Summon as tribute and therefore leaving your Summon capabilities unchanged, while still gaining another body on the field after detaching both materials which also provided further setup and the possibility of negating opposing card. Said effect is slightly restrictive since the need for a Ritual Machine monster means that you need to go into “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” to even use the effect, but the option is still there. Overall, a solid tool to help you build a board with.

Recommended copies: 1
“Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir” provides a number of quality-of-life improvements for your board building process, and is therefore a fine card to play at one copy.

DrytronAsterism-GEIM-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Asterism
Type: Quick Spell

The first “Drytron” Spell card to look at is “Drytron Asterism”. This Quick Spell can be activated during the Main Phase, and targets both one “Drytron” or Ritual monster you control and one face-up monster the opponent controls. Your targeted monster loses exactly 1000 ATK until the end of the opponent’s turn, and if it does destroy the targeted monster on the opposing side. You can only activate one “Drytron Asterism” per turn. Straightaway, I have not seen any lists using this card, which is due to the destruction effect needing another card instead of being provided by something you can play into during your combo. Now, that does not mean that “Drytron Asterism” is bad, it is simply not necessary for the more competitively-oriented “Drytron” decks. It is still a searchable disruption effect with the low cost of lowering the ATK of one of your monsters, which makes it potentially playable.

Recommended copies: 0
“Drytron Asterism” is okay for what it does. Currently, the “Drytron” builds with Control focus do not really need this card, which is why you do not see it in builds; and I would also opt for zero copies for that reason. However, if you want to play the card, go ahead since there is definitely use for searchable disruption in destruction form.

DrytronEclipse-GEIM-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Eclipse
Type: Normal Spell

Reading through the next card, “Drytron Eclipse”, made two things blatantly clear: First, it is a card that thematically follows the effects that “Drytrons” work with; and secondly, why no one plays this card. But let us start at the beginning: “Drytron Eclipse” allows you to target one “Drytron” monster in your graveyard and add it to your hand. Furthermore, during your Main Phase, except during the turn this card was sent to the graveyard, you can banish “Drytron Eclipse” from your graveyard, target one “Drytron” monster you control, and make it gain 2000 ATK until the end of the opponent’s turn. Also you can only use each effect of “Drytron Eclipse” once per turn. I am aware of the fact that you can recycle the “Drytron” Ritual monsters “Drytron Meteonis Draconids” and “Drytron Meteonis Quadrantids” as well as returning “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir” from your graveyard to the Extra Deck with the first effect, but that is normally not a scenario you should really bother with in “Drytron”. On top of that, the five non-Ritual Main Deck “Drytron” monsters are absolutely fine in the graveyard since you can Special Summon them from there, which technically means that the only thing “Drytron Eclipse” provides for them is returning them to the hand in order to use them a tribute for another one, nothing more. There is also the stat gain, but while the delay is already quite a blow to the playability of this card, and running “Foolish Burial Goods” is out of question due to little payoff and also forcing the delay, you do not even need the extra 2000 ATK in most cases.

Recommended copies: 0
“Drytron Eclipse” is clearly a card that works with the effects and overall strategy given by the “Drytron” archetype, but it provides no bonus that would justify playing it in my opinion. I would skip this one.

DrytronFafnir-GEIM-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Fafnir
Type: Equip Spell

Let us talk about the “Drytron” Field Spell, “Drytron Fafnir”. Upon activation, you can add one “Drytron” Spell/Trap card from your deck to your hand, except for another copy of “Drytron Fafnir”. The activation and the activated effects of Ritual Spell cards cannot be negated. Furthermore, once per turn, if a monster is Normal or Special Summoned face-up while you control a “Drytron” monster (except during the Damage Step), you can reduce that monster’s level by 1 per 1000 of its current ATK, but minimum Level 1, for the rest of the turn. You can only activate one “Drytron Fafnir” per turn. Now, that is quite a package: The search effect not only means that playing this card is a straight +1, but also normally fetches cards that create further card advantage such as “Drytron Nova” or sets up your Ritual plays by searching “Meteonis Drytron“. In fact, many people simply treat a single copy of “Drytron Fafnir” as a fourth “Drytron Nova“, since it searches that Spell card upon activation. This makes it similar to, for example, the “Fur Hire” scenario of searching “Beat, Bladesman Fur Hire” with the single copy of “Reinforcement of the Army“. Moving on, the Ritual Summon and effect protection is pretty much the Ritual version of the second effect of “Magical Meltdown“, and therefore a situational but certainly handy effect. The level manipulation is interesting, since Xyz- and Synchro-oriented decks can be blocked by using this at the right moment, but again, this is a rather situational effect that might not even be applicable in that many games. In conclusion, “Drytron Fafnir” is an interesting card that opens up a lot of fringe options in-game; but the main reason to play it is still the search effect.

Recommended copies: 1
“Drytron Fafnir” is without a question a versatile card, but you would not want to see it in your hand that badly. It therefore mostly serves as an alternate way to get “Drytron Nova” into your hand, which is why “Drytron” decks normally play one copy of “Drytron Fafnir”.

DrytronNova-GEIM-EN-UR-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Nova
Type: Normal Spell

After a number of rather situational Spell cards, here is the pièce de résistance in “Drytron”: “Drytron Nova”. This Normal Spell allows you to Special Summon one “Drytron” monster from your deck, but it is destroyed during the End Phase, you cannot Special Summon monster the turn you activate this card, unless those monsters cannot be Normal Summoned or Set, and you can only activate one “Drytron Nova” per turn. The “Drytron” version of “Emergency Teleport” is an absolute must-have in any deck working with the archetype for various reasons. First of all, you get to summon a monster straight from the deck, which is incredibly powerful. It can get a Level 1 “Drytron” monster started without using its own Special Summon effect, meaning you can still use that effect later down the line. It serves as setup due to fetching whatever “Drytron” monster you need and therefore giving you control over what you can search later on. It can serve as an alternate playstarter if the opponent actually manages to banish your first “Drytron” due to some effect. And the drawback also never matters, since your summoned “Drytron” monster will serve as tribute, Xyz material for “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir“, or simply leave the field due to some other reason and reappearing via its own summoning effect. No wonder this card is expensive since it does provide that extra layer of consistency and swarming for pretty much nothing.

Recommended copies: 3
“Drytron Nova” is a crazy summoning tool and should be played at three copies, period.

UrsarcticDrytron-BODE-JP-C.png

Name: “Ursarctic Drytron
Type: Normal Spell

Before we go into the Trap section, there is one rather “Down the Rabbit Hole”-esque scenario that I need to address. See, “Drytron” is a perfectly functional archetype on its own, but sometimes Konami combines certain archetypes with one another due to lore reasons or similar playstyles; and weirdly enough, “Drytron” is one of the archetypes to be paired with another, at least in theory. The lucky partner? “Ursarctic”. Yep, I do not know either, but here is the card to celebrate that weird combination named “Ursarctic Drytron“. Fasten your seatbelts, because this is going to be a wild ride: “Ursarctic Drytron” allows you to banish both a copy of “Ursarctic Big Dipper” as well as a copy of “Drytron Fafnir” from your hand and/or your field, even if those cards are face-down, to then Special Summon one “Ursatron, the Celestial Polar Illuminaship” from your Extra Deck. If either “Ursarctic Polari” or “Drytron Alpha Thuban” are one the field, you can instead banish one of the Field Spells from your deck. Furthermore, if you would tribute a monster for the effect of an “Ursarctic” or a “Drytron” monster, you can instead banish this card from the graveyard. Also, you can only activate one copy of “Ursarctic Drytron” per turn. Now, looking at this card alone does not help us at all, so I will go straight into the monster that results from this Field Spell Fusion.

“Ursatron, the Celestial Polar Illuminaship” is a Level 7 Water Machine monster with 2000/700 as its stats and comes with the following effects. First off, this card is always treated as both an “Ursarctic” card as well as a “Drytron” card. There went some beneficial design into this card to help both archetypes, but the main thing to get from the base info is that “Ursatron” can be easily used as tribute for “Drytron” effects since it comes with 2000 ATK. “Ursatron, the Celestial Polar Illuminaship” must be Special Summoned with “Ursarctic Drytron”. Once per turn, if another effect monster(s) is Special Summoned to your field, except during the Damage Step, you can add one “Ursarctic” or “Drytron” monster from your deck to your hand. Furthermore, once per turn, you can target one of your banished “Ursarctic” or “Drytron” monsters, and add it to your hand. Now, regardless of how complicated this thing is to summon (I will come to that in a moment), it certainly provides more resources. Yes, you need to Special Summon another effect monster to trigger the search, but that is easily done in “Drytron”, especially if you ditched some “Drytron” monster for the summon of “Drytron Alpha Thuban” before. The banishment effect is not as powerful in “Drytron”, but since it is a small step up from “Drytron Beta Rastaban“, there might still be some usage to get out of it.

So, the main question is what you need to invest to make this card combo run. At the current moment, you need to run at least one copy of “Ursarctic Big Dipper“, one copy of “Drytron Fafnir“, one copy of “Ursarctic Drytron”, and one copy of “Ursatron, the Celestial Polar Illuminaship”. “Ursarctic Big Dipper” has absolutely no effect for “Drytrons”, so you run at least one Garnet no matter what; unless you decide to run some additional “Ursarctics” in the deck, which I would not recommend. The card combo does hint towards playing “Ursarctic Polari“, but to summon that little guy you would need to have monsters with exactly one level difference, which is not the case with “Drytrons” alone due to the policy of sticking to Level 1 and Level 2, and only breaks you board in thousand pieces if you use a Level 1 “Drytron” with the Level 2 “Diviner of the Herald“. The easiest way as far as I am informed is using “Drytron Alpha Thuban“, which could look as follows: Summon “Drytron Alpha Thuban“, play “Drytron Fafnir” which allows you to search for “Ursarctic Drytron”, play “Ursarctic Drytron” using the “Drytron Fafnir” on your field and, due to “Drytron Alpha Thuban” being available, the “Ursarctic Big Dipper” from your deck to summon “Ursatron, the Celestial Polar Illuminaship”. This will give you one additional search when Special Summoning a monster, which you should be able to do since you probably Special Summoned “Drytron Alpha Thuban” via its effect by tributing another “Drytron” monster in your hand; and you do not even have to have another tribute available for the “Drytron” monster in the graveyard, since you can banish “Ursarctic Drytron” from your graveyard to pay for the tribute cost. Are all the effects of “Ursatron” and the other cards of the engine worth playing over the cards that you would normally go with in “Drytron”? That is for smarter and more competitive-savvy people to decide than me. However, the option exists, and while it might have it shortcomings it is definitely a creative idea in card design.

Recommended copies: 0-1 “Ursarctic Drytron”/”Ursatron, the Celestial Polar Illuminaship”
The combination of “Ursarctic Drytron” and “Ursatron, the Celestial Polar Illuminaship” is certainly interesting and provides both ups and downs for further deckbuilding discussion. At the current moment, I would say that you either skip the package or run the bare minimum necessary, but that could very well change when the cards arrive in the TCG.

DrytronMeteorShower-GEIM-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Drytron Meteor Shower
Type: Counter Trap 

For the only Trap card in “Drytron” and final card in the archetype overall, we have “Drytron Meteor Shower”. This Counter Trap can be activated when your opponent either Normal or Special Summons one or more monsters while you control a Ritual monster, in which case you negate the summon, and if you do shuffle that monster into the deck. You can only activate one copy of “Drytron Meteor Shower” per turn. “Drytron Meteor Shower” is another one of those cards that is not bad per se, but simply not necessary if you think about the board you are going to end with in “Drytron” currently. As such, it might become a solid option for some other more casual-oriented Ritual decks, since the card does not specify “Drytron” anywhere in the card text, but the archetype itself does not really need to make space for it.

Recommended copies: 0
“Drytron Meteor Shower” is a solid Counter Trap that simply does not provide enough to be picked over various other cards in the deck. As such, “Drytron” decks run zero copies of it.

Recommended Engines:

“Cyber Angel”:
The “Cyber Angel” archetype has found popularity in newer Ritual decks due to one card specifically: “Cyber Angel Benten“. Whether it is “Nekroz” or “Drytron”, chances are that you are going to tribute monsters, and have enough searchers to gain access to “Cyber Angel Benten“. This in turn allows you to search whatever Fairy monster you might want to have, whether it is “Diviner of the Herald“, “Herald of Ultimateness“, “Eva“, “Vanity’s Ruler“, other “Cyber Angel” monsters like “Cyber Angel Natasha“, or even options like “Herald of Orange Light“. If there is a Fairy monster you want to have access to in your deck, chances are that you can fetch it easily by using “Cyber Angel Benten“. However, since I already mentioned another “Cyber Angel” monster, let us take a look at other options aswell. The aforementioned “Cyber Angel Natasha” can still be Ritual Summoned with one tribute by “Meteonis Drytron” due to only having 1000 ATK and can break certain boards by simply stealing one of the opposing monsters after hitting the graveyard; which is easy to achieve since the “Drytrons” can use her as tribute from the hand. “Cyber Angel Idaten” can also serve as yet another Ritual Spell searcher (or retriever, if you want to copy of the Ritual Spell from the graveyard), with one major drawback and one helpful detail: The unfortunate fact is that she only searches the Ritual Spell upon being Ritual Summoned, which requires one Ritual Spell before you can search the next; however, due to a Level 6 monster, she can serve as one Xyz material for “Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal” and therefore has further usage down the line.

“Megalith”:
You can summon the “Megalith” monster using “Meteonis Drytron“, so why not include a small engine to gain more cards to work with? “Megalith Phul” can recycle Ritual monsters in your graveyard, with cards like “Cyber Angel Benten” being a thankful candidate. Also, the Ritual Summon effect from “Megalith Phul” allows you to Ritual Summon “Megalith Ophiel” straight from the deck, which will allow you to add another “Megalith Phul” to the hand for more recycling shenanigans.

Further useful cards:

Main Deck monsters:

Diviner of the Herald“:
Basically the better version of “Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands“. Since you can ditch a Fairy monster straight from the Main Deck or Extra Deck, there are various options you can pick, but the most prominent two cards to use this way are “Herald of the Arc Light“, which will allow you to search for a Ritual monster or Ritual Spell, or “Elder Entity N’tss” for the destruction effect. She is also necessary for the Xyz Summon of “Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal“, since she will change her level to 6 via her effect. Lastly, she could still be used as tribute fodder for a very desperate summon of two “Herald of Orange Light” into a Link Summon, although that is hardly ever going to come up.

Eva“:
The number one method to fetch negate fodder for “Herald of Ultimateness“. You fill the graveyard with plenty Fairy monsters anyway and every option that finds its way into your hand will work for the effect of “Herald of Ultimateness” and therefore provide an omni-negate. There is a reason why this card is limited after all.

Herald of Ultimateness“:
Negates pretty much anything for the cost of sending Fairy monsters from your hand to the graveyard. On top of that, “Herald of Ultimateness” is fairly easy to search in “Drytron” and easily summonable by “Meteonis Drytron” due to only needing one tribute to match its 2000 ATK.

Vanity’s Ruler“:
The previous contender for the Normal Summon. “Vanity’s Ruler” was a good option to end your board on since it prohibited the opponent from Special Summoning monsters while you were able to build the entire board. With “Diviner of the Herald“, you really have better things to spend your Normal Summon on, but the option is still valid and searchable via “Cyber Angel Benten“, etc.

White Knight of Dogmatika“:
It might be a stretch saying that “White Knight of Dogmatika” is another solid option, but I personally like the idea. Now, the Extra Deck blocking means that you should play this card after every Extra Deck play was done, but for that you gain a monster that can ditch “Elder Entity N’tss” on reaction when the opponent does basically anything, which might be worth considering for the finished board.

Spell cards:

Cyber Emergency“:
“Cyber Emergency” provides a solid searcher for the “Drytron” monsters in your deck that is not even affected by negation that much since you can reuse it pretty much immediately due to its effect. What do you want to hear? More searching means more consistency, and since you can start pretty much any play with two “Drytron” Level 1 monsters this is a solid option to run.

Foolish Burial“:
Since all of your Level 1 “Drytron” monster happily get summoned from the graveyard as well as the hand, it does not really matter in which zone they end up. Therefore, “Foolish Burial” can work as a playstarter in “Drytron”, ditching one “Drytron” monster that did not have its effect activated early during the turn and then go crazy with that, giving you another way into your combos.

Instant Fusion“:
If you want some protection against handtraps, you can use “Instant Fusion” to get “Millennium-Eyes Restrict” onto your field as the first action of your turn. Granted, I did not find that many lists with that option

Preparation of Rites“:
“Preparation of Rites” might seem like an odd pick in an archetype that only features Level 12 Ritual monsters and therefore provides no searchable targets, but the other options are good enough to make this a pick. For example, the single copy of “Cyber Angel Benten” is definitely a card that you want to see in your hand as quickly as possible, and “Preparation of Rites” can help fetch her. Another good target is “Megalith Phul” if you run that card, since it will also kickstart a number of plays and is a legal target for the search of this Spell card.

Trap cards:

None currently.

Extra Deck monsters:

Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal“:
“Beatrice” might seem like an odd choice to include into the deck, but the fact that you can make quite a lot out of ditching any card from your deck to the graveyard makes this a solid option to work with. It is also pretty easy to include “Beatrice” into your combo line, since you will end up with two Level 6 monsters by using “Diviner of the Herald” and “Megalith Phul” anyway.

Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS – Sky Thunder“:
Here is the field nuke that you can currently find in a large number of competitive decks. “Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS – Sky Thunder” is a very good card and can be easily made with “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir” or, if you play the card and so desire, “Lyrilusc – Assembled Nightingale“. Many decks also include a copy of “Downerd Magician“, since you can simply put her onto of whatever Xyz monster you have available first, then overlay in “Divine Arsenal AA_ZEUS – Sky Thunder”.

Herald of the Arc Light“:
Your option to send to the graveyard via “Diviner of the Herald” and therefore an enabler for a very powerful search effect. You cannot actually Synchro Summon the thing, but being able to search for a Ritual monster or Ritual Spell while having another Fairy monster to banish for “Eva” is quite nice.

Kikinagashi Fucho“:
This is basically “Lyrilusc – Assembled Nightingale“, but the defensive option. Instead of being able to attack directly, “Kikinagashi Fucho” is unaffected by other card’s effects, meaning you can block pretty much any progress in forms of opposing aggression for one turn by detaching two materials from this bird. Not an option you would normally go into, but this little fellow can potentially give you to breathing room to rebuild your board during the next turn.

Linkuriboh“:
“Linkuriboh” is not really in the deck for its effect, but rather for being able to put one “Drytron” monster in the graveyard due to using it as Link material. However, it can still stop some enemy advance or be used as Link material for bigger monsters itself, so it definitely is not the worst option to have in the Extra Deck at one copy. One side info: “Relinquished Anima” can do the same job, but is more fitting for going second, which is not what most “Drytron” decks currently want.

Lyrilusc – Assembled Nightingale“:
Here is a rather odd option that can still show promise in-game. “Assembled Nightingale” can use any Level 1 monsters as material, so the “Drytrons” can summon her out for some direct damage. With three materials, “Assembled Nightingale” has 600 ATK, and can attack directly three times for a total of 1800 damage, which might be enough to finish some close games. She also works as protection, since she can detach material to keep herself protected from destruction effects while preventing battle damage you would take for the rest of the turn. Oh, and in some iffy situations, you could still use her as a springboard in “Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS – Sky Thunder“.

Playstyle/Combos:

If you have read this far, you might have wondered about the fact that I referred to “Drytron” as both a Combo as well as a Control deck; and while there are probably players that have a problem with this definition, I very much stand by it: “Drytron” is a Hybrid deck. Technically, you can build “Drytron” in whichever way you like, since the deck will provide the necessary base for pretty much any build you can imagine. It is probably possible to build a “Drytron” Aggro deck, since the archetype features high ATK Machine monsters with access to a boss monster that can easily match “Ultimate Conductor Tyranno” in kicking power, while the entire archetype becomes OTK-able as soon as you play three copies of “Limiter Removal“. I am not saying that this is a build that I would suggest playing, however, it is definitely possible and still performs against a number of decks on a semi-competitive level. The deck also has access to disruption and negates, while also making certain floodgates like “Rivalry of Warlords” and “Gozen Match” playable since you only have Light Machine monsters in “Drytron”. Again, those cards are currently not listed in the “Further useful cards”-section for a reason, but they would undoubtably work. The build most players go for is a Combo deck with lots of easy and interchangable starters, malleable combo lines, and various potential end boards to go for.

“Drytron” can serve as a deck skeleton with massive consistency due to the number of playstarters that allows you to go full combo. Having one of the Level 1 “Drytron” monster in your hand alongside another Level 1 “Drytron” monster (preferably with a different name), “Drytron Nova“, “Foolish Burial“, “Drytron Fafnir“, or “Cyber Emergency“. With that many option and only two monsters needed to go into your combo, you can fill a sizeable amount of deck slots with cards that support the strategy otherwise. This can be whatever handtraps or other counter option you might fancy; or need to survive certain matchups. “Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring“, “Droll & Lock Bird“, “Artifact Lancea“, “Effect Veiler“, “Called by the Grave“, “Forbidden Droplet” and many other options can fill the space that is still left empty in your deck. Combined with Ritual goodstuff like “Cyber Angel Benten” opening a large toolbox of helpful cards to choose from or “Megalith Phul” being used as a building stone into various plays, they can make solid boards with various outcomes while also leaving room for surprises and different builds if wanted. But since this is a combo deck, I can talk until I am blue in the face about potential plays, or I list some of the possibilities with the cards in question. Therefore, here are a few combos with their sources that showcase what “Drytron” can do.

Here is one “foundation” combo for “Drytron” from a video on the MST.TV Youtube channel, which should a be a solid start both to give you an idea what “Drytron” is capable of doing while also getting used to seeing what some of the cards in the deck will do and at what place in the combo they belong. Obviously, this is just one route and Tombox mentions multiple times that there are malleable combo lines and different search options depending on what the board looks like, what you go against or what resources you already have access to. Let us take a look at it, with a starting hand of “Drytron Alpha Thuban” and “Drytron Zeta Aldhibah“:

This is a fairly long starter combo already, and even this first example does not stay critique-free. The Youtube comments for Tombox’s video list multiple times that they would rather change the decklist and therefore combo route by using “Cyber Angel Idaten” instead of the entire “Megalith” engine to lower the amount of bricks in the deck. Another user wrongfully accuses most “Drytron” combos as “short minded” [sic!]; however, they are right in saying that “Diviner of the Herald” is a Tuner monster and could therefore open up the option for Synchro plays, since she even fixes her level to whatever you might need. The idea of “Black Rose Dragon” when going first seems stupid, while the suggested “Borreload Savage Dragon” would need an entirely different combo path to get a Link monster into the graveyard, but in essence the comment is right in saying that there is further potential in Synchros. However, I still think that the combo showcases what one has to or can work with in terms of “Drytron”.

Another combo from MST.TV (sorry for the lack of variety) comes in the rather click-baity “AUTOWIN Combo I never showed, META Drytron Post Oct 2021” video. I personally do not like terms like “autowin”, “undefeated”, “the best”, or “perfect”, since they are pretty much always lies to get you to click the video in question; however, the combo in question is interesting and therefore worth going over for a different approach. Tombox called this one the “backwards combo”, since the first action is to play the “Herald of Ultimateness“, and then building the rest of the board instead of the other way around. What I personally like about this is that he works with bluffing, since you might not even have a Fairy monster available to negate with at the start but force the opponent to believe that you do since the play order would not make sense to them otherwise. However, the combo does need fairly specific cards at the start of the combo, since you cannot simply build up your board from two “Drytrons” or the various slots that also lead to full combo. Here is how he does it with a hand of “Red-Eyes Black Dragon“, “Drytron Delta Altais“, “Drytron Alpha Thuban“, “Meteonis Drytron“, “Herald of Ultimateness“:

I chose this second combo to show that “Drytron” is rather flexible in combo routes. Yes, you have to be aware of certain bottlenecks during your combos and there will be hands that you cannot work with at all, but “Drytron” combos require a certain amount knowledge in terms of how you can deviate from the normal lines, while also needing a small pinch of creativity to see routes that are not as common but might be still available to your during the game. They can produce a negate-heavy board with incredible consistency, but knowing how to work around counters and building boards with less optimal hands is a skill that is definitely required, but not something one could hope to teach via text or video; that is down to testing, playing games, and doing your own research.

Weaknesses/Counters:

“Drytron” might be very consistent and end up with negate-heavy boards, but they still can be countered by throwing a wrench into their build-up. One such proverbial wrench can be “Droll & Lock Bird“, which stops any searches from “Drytron Alpha Thuban“, “Drytron Zeta Aldhibah“, “Cyber Angel Benten“, and many other cards that make the deck so functional, leaving the “Drytron” player only with the cards in their hand for board-building. “Dimension Shifter” is also one powerful option against “Drytron”, since they like working with the graveyard for various reasons. They frequently revive “Drytron” monsters via their own effect or the summon effect of “Drytron Gamma Eltanin“. “Drytron” recycles cards like “Cyber Angel Benten“, “Meteonis Drytron“, or even “Eva” constantly, which is not possible when they hit the banishment instead of going to the graveyard. And even certain setup cards like “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir“, “Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal“, or “Foolish Burial” stop working correctly since they simply make cards unobtainable for the deck. For the same reason “Ally of Justice Cycle Reader” is a solid counter against the deck, since there are plenty of Light Attribute targets in the “Drytron” graveyard that will hurt when banished.

Effect negation can also be very helpful, but you cannot simply use any option against “Drytron”. With more and more “Drytron” decks deciding to hit “Herald of Orange Light“, you would possibly be countered when using “Effect Veiler” or other monster effects to stop their plays. However, “Infinite Impermanence” is a solid card to go with since it cannot be stopped by “Herald of Orange Light” due to being a Trap card. The Youtuber “YATA” provided the solid information that a good bottleneck to throw the negate into is when the “Drytron” player decides to Normal Summon “Diviner of the Herald“, which stops further graveyard setup, disallows her from changing her level which in turn makes it more difficult for the “Drytron” player to summon “Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal” later down the line, and also stops the Normal Summon of which the “Drytrons” have only one unlike the various “Drytron” Level 1 Main Deck monster that can technically pop up multiple times per turn. Furthermore, he also recommends “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir” as a solid negation target, since this also stops graveyard setup, but more importantly turns the tribute effect off, meaning that the “Drytron” player used two of their potential tributes to make a monster that cannot provide the resources it is normally meant to.

A less straightforward and certainly more risky strategy to counter “Drytron” is to take care of their Ritual Spell “Meteonis Drytron” specifically. Yes, various cards that banish will do that job for you, but there are other cards that also allow you to hamper the deck due to the fact that there are “Drytron” players that only run one copy of the Spell since they apparently do not need to run more. “Prohibition” against “Meteonis Drytron” is certainly iffy, but stops the deck from functioning to a certain degree, while “Imperial Order” just stops the card from functioning. Those are both cards that only work when going first though, which is the turn in which “Drytron” is already significantly weaker, but both cards come with more uses due to being able to name other cards for “Prohibition” if necessary, while “Imperial Order” also takes care of “Drytron Nova“, the copy of “Drytron Fafnir” to search a “Drytron Nova“, or cards like “Cyber Emergency” or “Foolish Burial“.

Some other options that I also found in various places to counter “Drytron” were as follows: The Youtube user “Kai Lee” asked in the Youtube comments of the MST.TV video that I used as the first combo example whether “Super Polymerization” in combination with “Mudragon of the Swamp” would be a valid counter, and I would have to agree. “Super Polymerization” cannot be negated, meaning that the “Drytron” 5+ negate boards you can find so often on Youtube cannot do anything against it, while “Mudragon of the Swamp” can be summoned using two Light monsters with different Types, like a “Drytron Mu Beta Fafnir” being a Light Machine and a “Herald of Ultimateness” being Light Fairy. Also, while I cannot direct to a source with this info, I read that some “Kaijus” can help against the deck. Simply switching “Herald of Ultimateness” or whatever else causes problems against a similarly big monster stat-wise with no negate effects is definitely worth it and decreases the number of negates quite severely right from the start.

Links:

Videos:

MST.TV’s “AUTOWIN Combo I never showed, META Drytron” (October 2021):
This is the video that I referred to for the second combo I listed in the “Playstyle/Combos” section. Despite the clickbaity title, there is a decklist at the beginning of the video with short explanations for why the choices were made before featuring two combo routes for “Drytron”. In my opinion, this is a video worth watching if you want to know more about “Drytron”.

MST.TV’s “HIGH TIER DRYTRON LIOV – Combo Fundamentals Explained” (June 2021):
And here is the video for combo number one in the “Playstyle/Combos” section. No decklist at the start, but more combos and explanations to work with, making this another good watch for “Drytron” players.

Articles:

Eric Meadows’ “Drytron: Your Guide to the Ritual Monster Galaxy” (November 2020):
For anyone that wants to take a glimpse at past “Drytron”, here is an article that theorizes about the archetype before its arrival at the competitive stage in the TCG. Various cards that are named in the article actually make for interesting ideas in deck-building, despite not being the preferable way to run the deck on the competitive stage, so here is some brain fodder if you want a different angle at “Drytron” deckbuilding.

Yugipedia “Drytron” article:
As usual, the card pictures in this article come from Yugipedia. The article on their side also gives a short overview of the cards and their functions, but sadly leaves out the various combo options that are available to the deck.

Sample Decklist (October 2021):

This is my take at “Drytron”. Actually, not quite: I used quite a lot of the ideas of other people, like the aforementioned MST.TV channel to give me an idea for ratios that are not as clear as the three-offs in form of “Drytron Nova” and others. Nonetheless, if you want a start to work and tinker with, this list above could serve as a starter that you are very much invited to use if you want.

Hellbent – Empty hand, many problems

Here is another round of me ranting about the (mis-)use of Magic the Gathering keywords on a design level. Today, we go to Ravnica, a plane that was very much a fan-favorite until WotC reused the realm so often that some people could not stand seeing the place anymore. However, the entire concept of a plane being pretty much one gigantic city and the ten guilds all having their very own section of government but still vying for more power was an incredibly good idea. Talking about those guilds, every single one of them introduced a new keyword to the game for every set they appeared in; and in this article, I want to take a look at Rakdos and their first contribution to the game, which was “Hellbent”.

First of all, a short explanation of “Hellbent” for those of you that have not heard of the keyword before. “Hellbent” is a keyword that improves permanents as well as instants and sorceries as long as the controlling player of the spell/permanent has no cards in their hand. A permanent with a “Hellbent” effect normally gains a bonus effect, while non-permanents are boosted by instead resolving with a better version of the effect that they would normally have. The “Hellbent” keyword differs from the “Tribute” and the “Sunburst” keyword in both having solid cards in its roster while also having a decent standing on the Storm Scale with a rating of 5 during the time Mark Rosewater wrote the in-death article about the keywords in Ravnica. The reason for its standing are fairly easy to grasp: “Hellbent” is a keyword that triggers after the discard effects emptied the player’s hand. The entire mechanic synergies with various other keywords by simply triggering when the rest did their thing, like playing cards for less mana via “Madness” or setting up cards with “Flashback” by discarding them. A deck with “Hellbent” can also simply go for discard effects that force both players to discard such as “Delirium Skeins“, which provides yet another deck concept before I have even showed any of the cards. But I talk about this keyword for a reason and if there was nothing wrong with it this article could end here and now.

Nihilistic Glee (DIS)
“Nihilistic Glee” fascinates me until this day; but that does not mean that I have any idea what strategy it is for.

So, let us talk about some actual cardboard: “Hellbent” as an effect can only be found on red or black cards, except for one land that still produces red mana; otherwise, it can be found on pretty much any card type, except for Artifacts (due to the lack of colored artifacts in the sets that featured “Hellbent”) and Planeswalkers (due to Planeswalkers not having keywords). The fact that “Hellbent” only works with an empty hand also obviously forces the player to get rid of cards in the hand to reap the most benefits from the keyword; which is where my criticism starts. Now, I already mentioned both “Madness” and “Flashback” as fine supporting elements for a “Hellbent”-thematic deck, since they both turn the loss of cards in your hand into further resources to work with. In fact, any card that can use an alternate source of cards is fine with “Hellbent” in theory, from filling the graveyard to casting directly from the library; unfortunately, this is not the way that WotC went, as you can see with the following quote:

“Players like having cards in their hand, so a mechanic that tells them they have to get rid of all their cards didn’t do all that well popularity-wise.”

Mark Rosewater

Again, I think Mr Rosewater is missing the point with the popularity statement. Obviously, players do not like to play without any cards in hand since that starves them of options and gives them nothing to work or even bluff with. However, the solution to that problem is not giving the “Hellbent” player some options to empty their hand with temporarily like “Ignorant Bliss“, terrible card draw options while in “Hellbent” like “Ragamuffyn” or killing anything play potential by using “One with Nothing“. The base idea is simply flawed: If the mechanic in question is supposed to trigger when no cards are in the hand of the player, why would the solution be to draw a single card to turn it off again? “Nihilistic Glee” does that in order to fuel the first effect that asks for a card to be discarded, but the card shows that even WotC did not stick to the “power up” idea all the time; so why should it be impossible to make a few cards that go in a very different direction than something like “Cackling Flames” with its 3 damage for four mana, but powered up to 5 damage when the hand is empty? There is definitely potential here, but to give you an idea of what already exists, here is my personal Good/Mediocre/Bad list of “Hellbent” cards:

Terrible image meets terrible card. There are definitely lots of better black flyers than this one…

The Good:

  • Infernal Tutor“:Infernal Tutor” is one of the cards that are doing the power-up right, in my opinion. For two mana, searching one copy of a card in your hand does not need to be bad, especially if you can go for more counters or more removal, but the “Hellbent” effect of simply searching any card is absolutely solid.
  • Keldon Megaliths“: A land card that only produces one type of mana and still enters the battlefield tapped no matter what might seem terrible at first, but the fact that you can burn with a card that is part of your mana base is very good, since it allows you to go for the game even if no other card is available; a problem that can often occur in burn decks. Definitely a good card and also a good idea for the “Hellbent” inclusion.
  • Rakdos Pit Dragon“: For four mana, “Rakdos Pit Dragon” sits on the lower end of the mana cost scale for Dragon cards; and it therefore does not provide a lot at first with only being a 3/3 walker. But if you have mana to spare, this can easily become the card to win you the game due to already kicking for ten damage with evasion if you have no cards in hand, making it a good creature card and one of the most powerful “Hellbent” options.

The Mediocre:

  • Anthem of Rakdos“: The fact that “Anthem of Rakdos” can hurt a lot is nothing that I would question. However, getting “Anthem of Rakdos” running with enough damage on board to even matter at all might be a different issue. The card is okayish, but you would need to run a deck around it and there are other options that can do the same trick but better such as simply playing “Furnace of Rath” or playing one of the cards that give you multiple battle such as “Savage Beating” and the like.
  • Bladeback Sliver“: I could see how one could build a Sliver deck that includes “Bladeback Sliver” as an additional way to burn the opponent; but in all honesty, there are so many options with Slivers that this is hardly an achievement. Not the craziest tool the Slivers have available due to still needing no hand cards to even make use of it, but still an option to consider.
  • Demonfire“: One of countless “Pay X and burn” cards in the game. “Demonfire” does come with the bonus of being uncounterable und unpreventable when played with no cards in hand, but is otherwise pretty much the same as various other cards with X as cost on a burn card.
  • Gibbering Descent“: Future Sight brought a lot of crazy ideas to the game and while “Gibbering Descent” is not necessarily a good card, it shows that the idea of printing both “Hellbent” and “Madness” on one card is perfectly possible.
  • Gobhobbler Rats“: Granted, these critters are only 2/2 without an effect when you have cards in your hand, but 3/2 with regeneration for one black mana is pretty good for a common and a solid choice that I have seen working before in the right decks.
  • Jagged Poppet“: I feel like this card can actually be good in a deck that wants to discard card due to having some sort of benefit from it while also running cards that can give creatures “Shadow”. “Jagged Poppet” is still far from good, but the concept is interesting enough for me to keep it out of the bad cards.
  • Slithering Shade“: Being a Defender that can buffed into oblivion is not necessarily bad, especially since “Slithering Shade” does only cost one black mana and is therefore fairly cheap; and having no cards in hand allows it to attack, which can be pretty good if you have some black mana-ramping deck with “Cabal Coffers” and the like.
  • Taste for Mayhem“: Sure, +2 or even +4 in front might not seem that impressive due to only affecting one creature after all, but this card can provide early aggression and even turn quite useful when combined with cards like “Spikeshot Goblin” for a very budget-friendly burn option.
  • Tragic Fall“: I remember mentioning that I had a good time running “Last Gasp” in some of the older decks I have built, so I do have a soft spot for a card that I would call the direct upgrade by doing exactly the same but having a window of opportunity in which the card becomes way better and manages to provide an easy out to “Darksteel Colossus“, “Blightsteel Colossus” and pretty much any other massive threat that seems unkillable at first.

The Bad:

  • Cackling Flames“: Three damage for four mana, but upgraded to five damage for four mana when the hand is empty. In my opinion, there are so many other burn spells that might come with a restriction but are overall better than this card that there is really no reason to run “Cackling Flames“.
  • Cutthroat il-Dal“: 4/1 for without an additional effect at first is pretty abysmal, and while gaining the “Shadow” keyword with cards in hand means that you rarely have to worry about the retaliation from blockers, there are still better unblockable creatures available in black without the “Hellbent” restriction.
  • Demon’s Jester“: Really, a 2/1 Flyer for four mana that only grows to 4/3 when no cards are in your hand? That is pretty bad and definitely not worth running due to various cards giving better payoff without an added restriction.
  • Gathan Raiders“: Five mana for a 3/3 creature that grows to 5/5 when you have no cards in hand; and therefore improves to below par for actually terrible. Sure, it does have “Morph”, so you can play it as a 2/2 for three mana first and then surprise the opponent with a 5/5 at max when turning it face-up for one card from your hand, but this is still a terrible card nonetheless.
  • Headless Specter“: If you are aware of the fact that “Hypnotic Specter” exists since Alpha and that there are countless reprints of that card, you might have an idea why simply locking the effect behind a restriction is a terrible idea.
  • Necromancer’s Familiar“: This card does a lot of things and still manages to feel underwhelming in my opinion. 3/1 Flying for four mana is not really that good, triggering “Hellbent” gives it lifesteal but still leaves it in a position to be easily killed, and there is an option to indestrucible for the remainder of the turn, but only by discarding a card, which would be impossible to do if you want to still have the lifesteal active. This is a prime example for confused card design in my opinion.
  • Nihilistic Glee“: Another card with an effect that could support the “Hellbent” playstyle that then goes stupid and provides a meaningless draw effect. The combination of both effects is way too costly to really matter, making this a rather bad card.
  • Ragamuffyn“: More confused card design. Too low in stats, needs to be tapped in order to trigger the draw effect, still asks for sacrifices in order to do so, and only has the terrible effect during “Hellbent”, which is quite silly since you draw just one card and kill your “Hellbent” status for it.
  • Slaughterhouse Bouncer“: Cool, a 3/3 creature for five mana that can cast “Last Gasp” upon its demise and therefore becomes almost cost-effective when you have no cards in hand. Needless to say, this is a rather bad “Hellbent” option to play.
  • Twinstrike“: Hitting two creatures with a “Shock” but for five mana would be bad enough, but while it upgrades to destroying the creatures instead when in “Hellbent”, you cannot target players or put the damage on one target to make the card more useful.
Weird concept. Also a giant waste of resources and the fastest way to turn “Hellbent” off again.

In my opinion, the idea should have been and actually still would be to give “Hellbent” some cards that create resources without using the hand at all. There is absolutely no reason why there cannot be a cheap “Hellbent” revival spell, it should be absolutely possible to make a card that can target a permanent and give it a counter that unlocks “Hellbent” for as long as the counter is staying on the card. And there is more: Why is “Hellbent” mostly used as a power-up keyword? One simple option could be making “Hellbent”-only cards, which have good effects for their mana when in “Hellbent” mode and cannot be played otherwise, similar to “Evermind“. Make an effect like “Ignorant Bliss“, but allow the player to still use the cards in exile with some restriction that disallows the card from being used (and abused) by non-“Hellbent” decks. Make creatures that completely change in tone when in “Hellbent”, which is something that was hinted at with “Slithering Shade“: Something like a 2/7 Defender with Deathtouch that turns into a 7/2 Intimidate/Trample creature while in “Hellbent” mode. I mean, the keyword is mostly “Rakdos”-themed anyway, so there should be no problem making crazy Devils or Elementals that completely change in playstyle when in “Hellbent”. I think that the idea of making such a keyword was a very good one, but WotC did not even scratch the surface of what is possible with it; which is why I would like to see them giving it another chance in the future.

Archetype Analysis: Ghostrick

Last updated: 02.10.2021

Halloween seems to come early this year, since Konami revealed support for one of the fan-favorite archetypes in the game: “Ghostrick”. The cutesy horror-trope group, that started appearing in 2013’s Shadow Specters, rose to fame not due to its playstyle but its art design and humor. They were never competitively viable, but that does not matter since they manage to combine cool cards with an unorthodox playstyle of “peek-a-booing” out of face-down defense position, doing some mischief, and then hiding again in the safety of being face-down on the field. They are certainly different than many other archetypes in the game, but that is just all the more reason to take a look at them. By the way, shoutouts to Discord user “~Demented~King~”, who helped providing information for this article.

Disclaimer: None of the information given by me is set in stone. Having an open mind in deck building and including creative ideas is always helpful, if only to further understand the playstyle and strategy of the deck you are about to build. There are probably choices that I list which can be labled as debatable, but no platform I know of gives a broad overview over both the archetypes and all the card choices, so I aimed to do just that. I will try to keep this page (as well as the other ones, once they are made) up-to-date, so if any reader feels like I skipped some amazing tech choice or a crucial card, just drop me a note and I will add the missing information if necessary. Furthermore, I use a number of sources for ideas and information, so a list with links that I deem useful is attached to the end of the page and credit is given whenever I can point to a source to do so.

“Ghostrick” is a Dark Attribute archetype with four primary monster types, grouping the archetype as follows:

  • The Level 1/Rank 1 monsters, which are all Fiend monsters.
  • The Level 2/Rank 2 monsters, which are all Spellcaster monsters.
  • The Level 3/Rank 3 monsters, which are all Zombie monsters.
  • The Level 4/Rank 4 monsters, which are all Fairy monsters.

The “Ghostrick” strategy works around flipping monsters face-up and face-down, gaining bonuses when flipping your monsters face-up while also trying to disallow the opponent from attacking by putting certain monsters or even the entire field in face-down defense position. The deck then tries to slowly lower the opposing life points or use alternate methods of winning the game, but they often struggle to do so in modern Yugioh since they lack speed and have a glaring weakness against Link monsters. Still, let us take a look at these cute and spooky horror monsters:

Archetype:

GhostrickFestival-BACH-JP-OP.png

Name: “Ghostrick Festival
Level/Rank: Link-1
ATK/DEF: 0
Attribute/Type: Dark Spellcaster

Before we talk about any of the Main Deck monsters the “Ghostricks” have to offer, we definitely need to take a look at one of their newest members and their only Link monster: “Ghostrick Festival”. You see, “Ghostricks” suffered from being unusable as Link material (due to being face-down for most of the time) and having rather restrictive in the win condition department for the longest time. Now, “Ghostrick Festival” does not solve all their issues, but the card is certainly a step in the right direction. To summon “Ghostrick Festival”, you need to use one “non”-Link “Ghostrick monster as material, however, “Ghostrick Festival” has an effect that allows it to use face-down “Ghostrick” monsters as material. It also allows all your “Ghostrick” monsters to attack directly while a “Ghostrick” Field Spell is in a Field Zone. Lastly, when an opposing monster declares an attack, you can tribute this card to Special Summon one “Ghostrick” monster from your deck in face-down defense position; but you can only use this effect of “Ghostrick Festival” once per turn. “Ghostrick Festival” is a solid package: Being able to use face-down defense position monsters is exactly what was needed to make this card playable in the deck, since you could now even summon it right after a Normal Summon due to the “Ghostrick” restriction of only being able to enter the field in a Set position if there is no other “Ghostrick” monster around. Allowing your monsters to attack directly certainly helps, especially since you would need a “Ghostrick” Field Spell anyway to make this effect go live, using the good parts of cards like “Ghostrick Museum” while gaining a bit more than the opponent. Also, the last effect can be used to save yourself from taking massive damage due to the 0 ATK of “Ghostrick Festival”, but there is nothing keeping you from triggering the effect during any opposing attack and simply fetch yourself a searcher like “Ghostrick Fairy” or “Ghostrick Jiangshi“.

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Ghostrick Festival” is one of those all-round playenablers like “Traptrix Sera“: Cheap, easy to access, very helpful for the board building and other plays. I would suggest making space for two to three copies of “Festival” in the Extra Deck.

File:GhostrickJackfrost-AC18-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Jackfrost
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 800/100
Attribute/Type: Dark Fiend

Back on track with the normal order of how cards are looked at in my “Archetype Analysis” articles, we take a look at “Ghostrick Jackfrost”. “Jackfrost” introduces us to a few common effects pretty much all the Main Deck “Ghostricks” are sporting: Effect number one is that “Jackfrost” cannot be Normal Summoned unless you control a “Ghostrick” monster, meaning that you can either Special Summon “Jackfrost” to bypass this effect or Set it face-down if you have no face-up “Ghostrick” monster available. Effect number two is that “Jackfrost” can be flipped face-down once per turn via its effect, which works well with the overall strategy of the archetype. Like I said, both of those effects can be found on every Main Deck “Ghostrick”. The unique part of “Ghostrick Jackfrost’s” effect can be triggered if an opposing monster declares a direct attack: You can flip the attacking monster face-down and Special Summon “Ghostrick Jackfrost” from your hand in face-down defense position. The direct attacking part seems weirdly specific at first, but the “Ghostrick” archetype does have thematic Field Spells that allow both players to attack directly while also having various other effects, so you should be able to trigger this effect quite often. “Jackfrost” find itself in a rather weird spot, since it does not stop Link monsters from attacking due to those not being bothered by being flipped face-down and a solution for that exists in the “Ghostrick” archetype in form of “Ghostrick Lantern“, making the addition of “Ghostrick Jackfrost” a personal decision that comes down to how much you like the card.

Recommended copies: 0-3
“Ghostrick Jackfrost” works fine in the deck, but has to compete with the next card we will look at. If you need a lot of defense via handtraps, feel free to run the card by preference. However, if you do not need that many of those effects, simply skip “Jackfrost” and go for the “Ghostrick Lantern“.

File:GhostrickLantern-MP14-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Lantern
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 800/0
Attribute/Type: Dark Fiend

A very similar card to “Ghostrick Jackfrost” comes in form of “Ghostrick Lantern”. “Lantern” has the same Level, Type and Attribute (obviously), and even sports the same ATK stat, as well as having the archetypal Normal Summon restriction and the effect of being able to flip itself face-down once per turn. It even summons itself from the hand in face-down defense position when an opposing monster declares a direct attack. The only real difference is that “Lantern” can also be Special Summoned from the hand when a “Ghostrick” monster you control is attacked, not only during direct attacks like “Ghostrick Jackfrost“, but it negates the attack instead of flipping the opposing monster face-down. Now, this last part was technically weaker than the effect of “Jackfrost” for a long time since flipping the monster face-down automatically stops the attack but potentially leaves the monster defending itself with the worse DEF stat while also forcing interaction with certain floodgates in the “Ghostrick” archetype. But then Link monsters happened: Flipping a Link monster face-down is impossible, since they cannot be put into defense position and there is no face-down attack position (anymore; we will always remember you “Darkness Approaches“), so “Jackfrost” cannot save you from being attacked by those blue bastards while “Lantern” can. At the moment, this makes “Ghostrick Lantern” a solid choice to defend yourself with while its snowy friend is a more situational pick.

Recommended copies: 0-3
“Ghostrick Lantern” stops attacks from happening while also providing more monsters on the field. The card is absolutely fine and should find itself in any “Ghostrick” deck at up to three copies, meaning add copies at your leisure. However, if I had to make a pick between “Jackfrost” and “Lantern”, I would probably prioritize “Lantern”.

File:GhostrickMary-MP14-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Mary
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 100/1600
Attribute/Type: Dark Fiend

“Ghostrick Mary” is the next candidate to talk about. She has almost no ATK while being somewhat better in the DEF department, but neither stats really matter once you read her effect. Aside from being Normal Summon restricted like the rest of her brethren and being able to flip herself face-down, she can be discarded from your hand when you take damage to Special Summon one “Ghostrick” monster from your deck to the field in face-down defense position. This is actually a very good effect: You might be put off by the idea of taking damage in order to make this work, but one of the Field Spells that allows players to directly attack also halves the damage either player takes (aka “Ghostrick Mansion“), so damage in small increments happens quite regularly, which gives room for “Mary” to get her effect off. There are also various useful targets in the archetype: Whether you need another monster for an Xyz Summon or want to use searchers like “Ghostrick Jiangshi“, “Mary” can provide quite a few plays with her effect.

Recommended copies: 3
“Ghostrick Mary” will rarely enter the field, but her search effect is top-notch, helping both with building a solid board as well as fetching defense options in a pinch. I would recommend playing three copies.

File:GhostrickSpecter-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Specter
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 600/0
Attribute/Type: Dark Fiend

This goofy looking fellow is “Ghostrick Specter”. “Specter” has the same Normal Summoning and flip face-down effect all the Main Deck “Ghostricks” have, but it also takes part in the Special Summon schenanigans “Jackfrost” and “Lantern” were involved with. However, it takes a slightly different approach: When a “Ghostrick” monster is destroyed by card effect or by a battle with an attacking monster (so you cannot ram your own “Ghostricks” into the opposing monsters to trigger this effect) you can Special Summon “Specter” from your hand to the field in face-down defense position, and if you do that, you also draw one card. “Specter” is more of a monster insurance really: You can still use it to block opposing attacks or get some leverage out of losing monster(s) you control to removal effects, but there is the chance that you hinder “Specter” in actually working properly via your Field Spells and Floodgates, making it dead in the hand. The effect is not that bad, but you have to keep in mind that it is rather situational.

Recommended copies: 0-3
“Ghostrick Specter” is yet another Special Summonable monster with added card draw, but a questionable trigger effect. This card’s usefulness really depends on the deck, which makes this card one to run by preference.

File:GhostrickDoll-PRIO-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Doll
Level/Rank: 2
ATK/DEF: 300/1200
Attribute/Type: Dark Spellcaster

Moving on, we have the Level 2 Spellcaster monsters which start with “Ghostrick Doll”. “Doll” cannot be Normal Summoned unless you control a “Ghostrick” monster, also she can flip herself face-down once per turn. In addition to that, when “Ghostrick Doll” is flipped face-up, you trigger an effect that activates during the End Phase which allows you to change as many face-up monsters on the field to face-down defense position and then Special Summons one “Ghostrick” monster from your deck in face-down defense position with a Level that is less or equal to the number of monsters you flipped face-down using this effect. So basically, if you managed to flip four or more monsters face-down with this effect, you can summon any “Ghostrick” monster from your deck; however, there are various good targets that you can already get with two. This is another situational effect, since it does nothing against Link monsters, but you can flip your monsters face-up beforehand to increase the amount of monsters the effect can work with. Also, if you manage to flip “Ghostrick Doll” face-up during the opposing turn, the opponent will have a face-down board during your turn, which gives you various options to work with from running through due to your Field Spells or locking them into position via “Swords of Concealing Light” or “Ghostrick Night“.

Recommended copies: 0-3
“Ghostrick Doll” has an interesting, if inconsistent effect. She can be completely irrelevant when playing against Link-heavy decks, although you might be able to trigger her effect during the opposing turn to flip the potential Link materials face-down. “Doll” is yet another card that I would deem a preference choice.

File:GhostrickFairy-IGAS-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Fairy
Level/Rank: 2
ATK/DEF: 900/1000
Attribute/Type: Dark Spellcaster

One of the newer members of the “Ghostrick” archetype is “Ghostrick Fairy”. “Fairy” comes with the usual set of effects, meaning that she cannot be Normal Summoned unless another face-up “Ghostrick” monster is available and, once per turn, she can change her battle position to face-down defense position. Her unique effect is that, when “Fairy” is flipped face-up, you can target one “Ghostrick” card in your graveyard and Set that card to the field (however, that card will be banished when it leaves the field again), and then change face-up monsters your opponent control to face-down defense position up to the number of Set cards you control. Keep in mind, neither the graveyard fetch effect nor the flipping effect ask for face-down monster card specifically, giving you the ability of recovering “Ghostrick” Spell and Trap cards, while also setting up the flipping effect by putting cards into your backrow beforehand. “Fairy” is pretty helpful due to giving you back your copies of “Ghostrick Scare” to flip cards face-down again, your destroyed copies of “Ghostrick Night” to annoy the opponent with, or even cards like “Ghostrick Shot” as further setup; all while providing another mass-flip-effect like that of “Ghostrick Doll“.

Recommended copies: 1-3
“Ghostrick Fairy” feels like a card that is required since “Ghostricks” will inevitably go into the grind game and can use the recovery well. However, whether you run one copy to search for her when needed or go for up to three since you deem her important enough to do so is up to you.

File:GhostrickNekomusume-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Nekomusume
Level/Rank: 2
ATK/DEF: 400/900
Attribute/Type: Dark Spellcaster

Moving on, we have “Ghostrick Nekomusume”, another Level 2 Spellcaster monster. Her effect, apart from the usual “Cannot be Normal Summoned, unless you control a “Ghostrick” monster” and “Once per turn: You can change this card to face-down defense position.” is as follows: When one or more Level 4 or higher monsters are Normal or Special Summoned, change those monsters to face-down defense position. However, there has to be another “Ghostrick” monster on the field to both activate and resolve this effect. “Nekomusume” is a tricky case, since she is a solid floodgate against a number of decks. Fusion decks cannot function correctly if their Fusion materials are flipped face-down right upon being summoned, and there are quite a lot of decks with Level 4 or higher monster that could be stopped by this effect. Also, both Synchro and Ritual decks, as well as archetypes like “Blue-Eyes” or “Dark Magician” that summon out bigger monsters are not happy about it. On the flipside, there are decks to which “Nekomusume” is completely irrelevant: Xyz Summons and Link Summons do not mind the card at all, while low-level monsters just fly under the radar. Also, “Nekomusume” needs another “Ghostrick” face-up to even work, which means that she has to stay face-up with her statline of 400/900 while also forcing one of the other monsters on the field to do the same. Fortunately, it was never easier providing another face-up “Ghostrick” monster, since “Ghostrick Festival” is a thing, but the hassle of providing all that to be blown out of the water by one removal seems questionable at best.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Nekomusume” can be a solid counter against certain decks and probably works well as a sideboard-card. However, I would advise against playing her in the Main Deck since she is just not consistent enough to make the cut.

File:GhostrickWitch-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Witch
Level/Rank: 2
ATK/DEF: 1200/200
Attribute/Type: Dark Spellcaster

Next up is “Ghostrick Witch”. Aside from the usual Normal Summon restriction and the ability to flip herself face-down once per turn, she can simply, once per turn, target one of the opposing face-up monsters on the field and change it into face-down defense position. There is really not that much to say about “Witch”: True, she can simply “Book of Moon” one of the opposing monsters and then flip herself down afterwards. However, she does not have a Quick Effect, which means she would only work during your turn, and there are better options available in the archetype. Plus, she is yet another monster that does not offer a solution against the Link problem.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Witch” was rarely played when the archetype first came out and there was no major change to raise “Witch” into the higher echelons of playability. I would suggest skipping her entirely.

File:GhostrickYukionna-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Yuki-Onna
Level/Rank: 2
ATK/DEF: 1000/800
Attribute/Type: Dark Spellcaster

After the letdown in form of “Witch”, we continue with subpar effects in form of “Ghostrick Yuki-Onna”. She has the same two effects every Main Deck “Ghostrick” monster has, meaning a Normal Summon restriction and an effect to change herself into face-down defense position, but her unique effect reads as follows: When this card is destroyed by battle and sent to the graveyard, you can change the position of the monster that destroyed “Ghostrick Yuki-Onna” into face-down defense position, and if you do that that monster cannot change its battle position anymore. The “cannot change its battle position” line of effect would be a solid thing to work with in “Ghostrick”, but certainly not like this. “Yuki-Onna” needs to be destroyed by battle, which is already pretty limiting and situational, she then needs to hit the graveyard, which makes the effect potentially worthless against certain decks that tend to banish monsters (“Macro Cosmos” comes to mind), and if all those stars happen to be aligned, you cannot actually activate this effect if the opponent was smart enough to run “Yuki-Onna” over with a Link monster. Sadly, she is just a pretty bad card.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Yuki-Onna” is ladened with an outdated and fairly weak effect and should therefore be skipped entirely.

File:GhostrickGhoul-MP14-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Ghoul
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 1100/1200
Attribute/Type: Dark Zombie

The first Level 3 Zombie monster we are going to talk about is “Ghostrick Ghoul”. “Ghoul” obviously continues the trend of not being Normal Summonable unless you control a face-up “Ghostrick” monster, and is as able to flip itself face-down as the rest of the troupe. Its other effect is actually pretty unique though, since it supports a beatdown option in this control-oriented archetype: Once per turn, during your Main Phase 1, you can target one “Ghostrick” monster you control, make its ATK become the ATK total (using the original ATK) of all “Ghostrick” monsters on the field until the end of the opponent’s next turn but only that monster can attack for the turn you activated this effect. If you have seen how big the ATK stats of “Ghostrick” monsters normally get, you can imagine that there is the need for quite a few monsters on the field to make the entire thing worth it. Furthermore, if you flip the boosted monster face-down for whatever reason, it will lose any of the bonuses you have given to it. “Ghostricks” can attack directly with various options, however, I am not sure if producing one beatstick with 3000-ish ATK is the way to go if the card in question cannot provide anything else for the strategy.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Ghoul” is a gimmick. You can certainly build a “Ghostrick”-beatdown deck and have fun with it, but since it cannot do anything besides attacking I would rather skip him and work on more functional win options.

File:GhostrickJiangshi-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Jiangshi
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 400/1800
Attribute/Type: Dark Zombie

More Zombie, but with an eastern touch, comes with “Ghostrick Jiangshi”. This Level 3 “Ghostrick” monster cannot be Normal Summoned, unless you control a “Ghostrick” monster already, and can, once per turn, change its battle position to face-down defense position; so business as usual. However, the unique effect of “Ghostrick Jiangshi” states that when it is flipped face-up, you can add one “Ghostrick” monster from your deck to your hand whose level is equal or lower than the number of “Ghostrick” monsters you control; but this effect of “Ghostrick Jiangshi” can only be used once per turn. You might be thinking that we already have ways to Special Summon monsters from the deck like “Ghostrick Mary” or “Ghostrick Doll“, so “Jiangshi” seems weaker, right? Well, not quite: The fact that “Jiangshi” can only add to the hand is actually more beneficial to its role, since it can always search for cards like “Ghostrick Lantern” or “Ghostrick Jackfrost” when flipped face-up, since it revealed number of “Ghostrick” monsters would be at least one due to having a face-up “Jiangshi”. It triggers when attacked, when using “Ghostrick Scare“, you can simply gain plus one card by flipping it face-up during your turn and then just use its effect to turn it face-down again. Despite it having seriously stiff arms, it does solid work searching your deck for helpful monsters and keeping the strategy alive.

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Ghostrick Jiangshi” is one of the main searchers of the “Ghostrick” archetype and should find itself at two to three copies, no matter what the deck actually aims for.

File:GhostrickMummy-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Mummy
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 1500/0
Attribute/Type: Dark Zombie

Staying with the undead of various cultures, we have “Ghostrick Mummy” next. “Mummy” also cannot be Normal Summoned without a “Ghostrick” monster being present and can also flip itself face-down like the rest of the archetype. However, it does provide a rather decent 1500 ATK points and while being face-up on the field allows the player to Normal Summon one “Ghostrick” monster in addition to the Normal Summon you are allowed per turn, but you can only gain that effect once. Lastly, you cannot Special Summon any monsters, except Dark monsters. The Special Summon restriction at the end is also never going to matter, since the monsters you are using are all Dark Attribute monsters anyway. However, there is still an issue with “Mummy, mainly the fact that the additional Normal Summon is hardly going to matter. With “Ghostrick Shot” being a way to work around to awkward summon restriction all the “Ghostricks” come with and a Link monster that can easily get something on the field in the moment of danger, there is really not that much reason to set more monsters on the field. Also, and probably more imporantly, “Mummy” needs to be face-up to even work, which can be tricky during your first turn and matters little going forward since you are going to get into a higher count of monsters eventually if the opponent is not going to blast them constantly. “Mummy” provides a commodity that various other decks would like to have, but “Ghostricks” do not really need anymore.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Mummy” might provide another summon for cards like “Ghostrick Siren“, but that is not really what the archetype requires. As such, I would play the card at zero copies.

File:GhostrickSkeleton-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Skeleton
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 1200/1100
Attribute/Type: Dark Zombie

Another Level 3 monster, and actually another win option, comes with “Ghostrick Skeleton”. “Skeleton” shares the same Normal Summon restrictions and flipping face-down effect as the other Main Deck monsters in the archetype, but decided to do something completely different as its own effect: When “Skeleton” is flipped face-up, you banish cards from the top of the opponent’s deck face-down up to the number of “Ghostrick” monsters you control; also, you can only use this effect of “Ghostrick Skeleton” once per turn. So, “Skeleton” gives “Ghostricks” the option of winning via mill instead of going for the opposing life points. Simply flip every monster on your side face-up before flipping “Skeleton”, and watch the opposing deck dwindle. Depending on your build, this is not the worst options to take: “Pot of Desires” and other draw options are highly popular, and a lot of decks either setup their graveyards or search cards, which all take from the resource you are going to attack in a “Ghostrick” Mill-build. Furthermore, there are not only various cards that allow you to turtle for the strategy, but also one very useful Field Spell in form of “Ghostrick Parade” that gives you the maximum amount of searches and therefore more spamming.

Recommended copies: 0 (3 in a “Ghostrick Mill” build)
Whether to play “Ghostrick Skeleton” really depends on the strategy you want to go for: It adds nothing to a build that wants to win via direct attacks, but is the main win condition if you want to mill, so fit the card accordingly.

File:GhostrickStein-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Stein
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 1600/0
Attribute/Type: Dark Zombie

Yet another horror trope the “Ghostricks” wanted to feature comes with “Ghostrick Stein”. This Level 3 monster with 1600 ATK, a sizeable amount for the “Ghostrick” archetype, has the same two effect as every “Ghostrick” Main Deck monster, meaning a Normal Summon restriction and a flip-down-effect. However, “Stein” also comes with its own unique effect: When “Stein” inflicts battle damage to the opponent, you can add one “Ghostrick” Spell/Trap from your deck to the hand; but you can only use this effect of “Ghostrick Stein” once per turn. Now, searching backrow is certainly nice, but the need to inflict battle damage in order to do so has some problems attached. First off, you need to run through or fight a monster with less ATK than 1600, which is possible with the direct attacking cards of the “Ghostrick” archetype, but certainly more work than necessary. Furthermore, searching this late into the turn means that every move that had to with board-building already happened, making this search somewhat less relevant. And finally, “Stein” does not add anything else to the archetype, meaning that the card works in a similar way to “Ghostrick Ghoul“, making it more of a gimmick card than a real contender for the deck.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Stein” does provide searches, but his effect to do so is too restrictive to really matter. I would therefore run zero copies of the card.

File:GhostrickWarwolf-PRIO-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Warwolf
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 1400/1500
Attribute/Type: Dark Zombie

Yet another alternate winning option comes in form of “Ghostrick Warwolf”. Obviously, it has the same Normal Summoning restriction and flipping face-down effects as the rest of the Main Deck monsters in the archetype. But “Warwolf” also comes with the following effect: When “Warwolf” is flipped face-up, inflict 100 damage to your opponent for every Set card on the field; also, you can only use this effect of “Ghostrick Warwolf” once per turn. “Warwolf” is therefore the burn option of the deck, but unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. 100 damage is tiny, and even if there is a sizeable amount of Set cards on the board the damage will not reach crazy amounts. Even with every flip of “Warwolf” inflicting 1000 damage, you would still need a sizeable amount of turns, while the cards always has to compete with “Ghostrick Skeleton“, which not only works against a resources that will deplete itself rather quickly but also does not need to rely on the opposing board. Splashing other burn cards into the mix like “Secret Barrel” or “Des Koala” is certainly possible, but this is fast reaching gimmick territories again.

Recommended copies: 0
More gimmicks, less consistency. “Ghostrick Warwolf” might give the deck another way to inflict damage alongside direct attacks, but is not really worth the deck space due to being that slow. Run zero.

File:GhostrickYeti-AC18-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Yeti
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 300/2000
Attribute/Type: Dark Zombie

The last Level 3 monster to talk about is “Ghostrick Yeti”. You already know the drill, only Normal Summonable with another “Ghostrick” on the field and able to change itself to face-down defense position once per turn. The unique effect is as always the potentially more interesting part: When “Ghostrick Yeti” is flipped face-up, you can target one “Ghostrick” monster on the field, which then cannot be destroyed by battle or card effects for the rest of the turn you activated this effect. That is … pretty mediocre, especially since “Yeti” could potentially target itself but is a terrible attacker with its 300 ATK points. Flipping your “Ghostrick” monsters during the opposing turn is technically possible, but first off not worth the effort for “Yeti’s” effect and secondly not easy enough to make some consistent loop out of. In fact, none of the “Ghostrick” cards is important enough to stay on the field indefinitely if you have enough options ready, giving “Yeti” no niche to fill.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Yeti” is a pretty bad card and should be run at zero copies.

GhostrickSiren-BACH-JP-OP.png

Name: “Ghostrick Siren
Level/Rank: 4
ATK/DEF: 800/1500
Attribute/Type: Dark Fairy

The last Main Deck monster in the “Ghostrick” archetype is somewhat odd, since it is the only Level 4 monster that the “Ghostricks” currently have. Nevertheless, here is “Ghostrick Siren”. Unsurprisingly, “Siren” cannot be Normal Summoned unless you control a “Ghostrick” monster and comes with an effect that allows her to flip face-down once per turn. Furthermore, when “Siren” is Normal Summoned or flipped face-up, send the top two cards of your deck to the graveyard, then if there was a “Ghostrick” card among the cards you have sent, you can activate one of the following effect: Either search your deck for a “Ghostrick” Spell/Trap card and add it to your hand, or change the battle position of one effect monster the opponent controls to face-down defense position. So, there is quite a lot going on here: The self-mill effect can work as graveyard setup for “Ghostrick Shot“, “Ghostrick Renovation“, or to fetch cards via “Ghostrick Fairy“, while the search and the disruption effect are pretty much self-explanatory. The problem is that she is not really necessary at the moment: The only Rank 4 monster the “Ghostricks” have, “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief“, can summon herself by simply putting herself on top of another “Ghostrick” Xyz monster, so “Siren” will probably only see use as Link material. She still has a failure chance in her effect, since you might be milling two non-“Ghostrick” cards and therefore cannot gain anything else out of the activation. And even then, you still have “Ghostrick” backrow searching in “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief“, while the second effect was already declared underpowered when I talked about “Ghostrick Witch“, since “Book of Moon” does the same, but better.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Siren” might be cute, but unless there is desperate need for a Level 4 monster with her effect set in the near future, I would deem her a zero-copy-card.

File:GhostrickDullahan-MP14-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Dullahan
Level/Rank: 1
ATK/DEF: 1000/0
Attribute/Type: Dark Fiend

This brings us to the Xyz department of the “Ghostrick” archetype, starting with “Ghostrick Dullahan”. “Dullahan” needs two generic Level 1 monster as material to be summoned and comes with the following effects: First of all, “Dullahan” gain 200 ATK for each “Ghostrick” card you control, which means that it might start with 1000 ATK, but can get to higher statlines rather quickly. Furthermore, once per turn, during either player’s turn, you can detach one Xyz material from “Dullahan”, then target one face-up monster on the field and halve the ATK of that monster until the end of the turn. Lastly, if “Dullahan” is sent to the graveyard, you can target one other “Ghostrick” card in your graveyard and add it to your hand. “Dullahan” is quite useful actually, since you not only have an option to handle high ATK values on the opposing field with this card, but also can save some of your monsters or life points by lowering the value significantly. It also happens to be solid springboard for “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief” and can be used with various other cards like the second effect of “Ghostrick Socuteboss” or being overlayed by cards like “Downerd Magician“. “Dullahan” is a proper trooper, despite its low Rank, and can provide further plays by using the Level 1 monster that are not that important on the field in the first place.

Recommended copies: 1-2
“Ghostrick Dullahan” is a good card, both for its own effects and the interaction in its archetype. I would suggest running one to two copies of it, since it does manage to pull its weight.

File:GhostrickSocuteboss-PRIO-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Socuteboss
Level/Rank: 2
ATK/DEF: 1400/1200
Attribute/Type: Dark Spellcaster

Next up is “Ghostrick Socuteboss”, the Rank 2 option in the deck. “Socuteboss” can be summoned with two generic Level 2 monsters, and while you control another “Ghostrick” monster, your opponent cannot target “Socuteboss” as an attack target. Furthermore, once per turn, you can detach one Xyz material from “Socuteboss”, then target one face-up monster on the field with less or equal ATK to the combined ATK stat of all “Ghostrick” monsters on the field, destroy that target, and if you do that Monster Card Zone the destroyed monster was in cannot be used as long as you control a “Ghostrick” monster. “Socuteboss” is sadly not as useful as “Ghostrick Dullahan“: The protection effect is nice, but flawed since you normally flip your monsters face-down again, which turns her protection off. Furthermore, the destruction effect might seem a bit “Ojama”-like, and while it can be useful, it suffers from the same “no face-up “Ghostrick” monster available” fact that the protection effect is ladened with. She, however, still works as a “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief” starter.

Recommended copies: 0-1
“Ghostrick Socuteboss” is sadly not as powerful as the other “Ghostrick” Xyz options. If you want to run her for the destruction effect, I would suggest going with one, but I feel like you can also simply skip her if the Extra Deck space is tight.

File:GhostrickAlucard-WIRA-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Alucard
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 1800/1600
Attribute/Type: Dark Zombie

For Rank 3, we have “Ghostrick Alucard”. “Alucard” need two generic Level 3 monsters as material to be summoned, and comes with the reverse effect of “Ghostrick Socuteboss” in that “Alucard” disallows the opponent from picking face-down defense position monsters or “Ghostrick” monsters as attack targets when he is around. Furthermore, you can detach one Xyz material from “Alucard”, then target one Set card your opponent controls and destroy it; but this effect of “Ghostrick Alucard” can only be used once per turn. Lastly, if “Alucard” is sent to the graveyard, you can target one other “Ghostrick” card in your graveyard and add that target to your hand. This guy manages to be quite interesting again: Pulling the aggro can be helpful due to making the attacks of your opponent even more complicated and manages to protect more squishy members of the archetype. Also, the destruction effect is nice to have, and makes use of the fact that you will try to turn cards face-down the entire time. Also, “Alucard” is another good starter into “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief“, which is certainly helpful.

Recommended copies: 1-2
“Ghostrick Alucard” is another good Xyz monster for the “Ghostrick” archetype and should be run at one to two copies.

File:GhostrickAngelofMischief-WSUP-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief
Level/Rank: 4
ATK/DEF: 2000/1500
Attribute/Type: Dark Fairy

I mentioned her often enough already, so let us cut to the chase and take a look at “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief”. She is a Rank 4 Xyz monster that can use two generic Level 4 monster as material, but will honestly never do since she can also be Xyz Summoned by using a “Ghostrick” Xyz monster you control as the Xyz material, and the materials on that Xyz monster are transferred to “Angel of Mischief” aswell. This is actually important, since “Angel of Mischief” comes with yet another alternate win condition: When the number of Xyz materials on “Angel of Mischief” becomes ten, you win the duel. Furthermore, you can, once per turn, detach one Xyz material from “Angel of Mischief” to add one “Ghostrick” Spell/Trap card from your deck to the hand. And lastly, once per turn, you can attach one “Ghostrick” card from your hand to “Angel of Mischief” as an Xyz material. So, let us start with the easy part: “Angel of Mischief” is able to search “Ghostrick” backrow, and since you can place her on any “Ghostrick” Xyz monster she is a versatile and easy-to-summon consistency tool. Well, and then she has the instant win-effect. If you think that you can pull this off easily, think again: Even if you summon her without using any material of the Xyz monster under her, she still only has three materials. You can add one from your hand, and there is “Ghostrick” support that tries to fix that issue like the graveyard effect of “Ghostrick Shot“, but you are still miles away from pulling this stunt off and the opponent will be acutely aware of what your gameplan is, which makes “Angel of Mischief” the prime target for any form of removal. The point is, “Angel of Mischief” is a good card, but for her search effect not the alternate win condition; which by the way only has a soft “once per turn”-clause, so you could potentially summon two and therefore use the search twice.

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Ghostrick Angel of Mischief” is a worthy boss monster for the “Ghostrick” archetype: Good stats, easy to summon, and provides more searching power. That is also the reason why she should see play at two to three copies. Only try to go for the ten Xyz materials in casual games or if you are feeling particularly lucky.

File:GhostrickMansion-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Mansion
Type: Field Spell 

Moving into the Spell/Trap section, we do have quite a few Field Spells to talk about. Let us start with “Ghostrick Mansion”: Its effect states that monsters cannot attack face-down defense position monsters, but they can instead attack directly if the opponent only controls face-down defense position monsters. Furthermore, all effect damage and battle damage inflicted by non”-Ghostrick” monsters is halved. The “Ghostrick” Field actually all work in a similar way, having floodgate effects that the “Ghostricks” are not as restricted by as the opposing deck. “Ghostrick Mansion” is somewhat boring, but works fine since it keeps your board safe, lowers the opposing damage output and puts the opponent into a position where you can use “Ghostrick Jackfrost“, “Ghostrick Lantern“, and various other options to hinder the advance.

Recommended copies: 0-3
“Ghostrick Mansion” activates “Ghostrick Festival” and keeps you alive for long enough to give you a fighting chance at winning. However, whether “Ghostrick Mansion” is the optimal card to work is depends on the deck, so run the card by preference.

File:GhostrickMuseum-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Museum
Type: Field Spell

Field Spell number two is “Ghostrick Museum”. This card says that monster you control cannot attack, except for “Ghostrick” monster. Also, monsters cannot attack face-down defense position monsters, but they can attack directly if all monsters the opponent controls are face-down defense position monsters. Lastly, at the end of the Damage Step, change any monster that inflicted battle damage to a player during this battle to face-down defense position. This card to me seems to be the most vanilla of the “Ghostrick” Field Spells, since it has the most lax restrictions but does not offer as much. However, that does not mean that it is useless: If you want to make use of the direct attacking-effect of “Ghostrick Festival“, this is the Field Spell to play, since you do not really care about your cards going into face-down defense position, but the opponent probably will. Granted, unlike “Ghostrick Mansion” this card is not as helpful against Link monsters, but it might prove helpful nonetheless.

Recommended copies: 0-3
“Ghostrick Museum” is another floodgate-y Field Spell. You will probably run one or multiple of them, but whether “Ghostrick Museum” is part of those cards and at what copy count is up to preference and the build in question.

File:GhostrickParade-PRIO-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Parade
Type: Field Spell

The third Field Spell that “Ghostricks” have to offer is “Ghostrick Parade”. It states that monsters cannot attack face-down defense position monsters, but that they can instead attack directly if the opponent only controls face-down defense position monsters. Furthermore, “Ghostrick Parade” prevents any damage that would be inflicted to your opponent, but when an opposing monster declares a direct attack, you can add one “Ghostrick” card from your deck to the hand. Now, since this card disallows you from damaging your opponent, it is not suited for any build that tries to win via direct attack. However, this card is the perfect fit for a mill-build, using “Ghostrick Skeleton” as your main win condition, since you do not care about damaging the opponent anyway while gaining options against the aggressor whenever your opponent attacks you.

Recommended copies: 0 (2-3 in a “Ghostrick Mill” build)
“Ghostrick Parade” has no business being in any build that tries to do damage to the opponent, but the added searching power makes it a perfect fit for a mill-build, in which I would recommend two to three copies.

GhostrickShot-BACH-JP-OP.png

Name: “Ghostrick Shot
Type: Normal Spell

This brings us to the only Spell card in the “Ghostrick” archetype that is not a Field Spell. “Ghostrick Shot” is a Normal Spell that Special Summons a “Ghostrick” monster from your hand or your graveyard, then you can change the position of one face-down “Ghostrick” monster you control to face-up attack position. Furthermore, you can banish “Ghostrick Shot” from your graveyard, then target one “Ghostrick” Xyz monster that you control, and attach one “Ghostrick” card from your graveyard to it as Xyz material. You can only use each effect of “Ghostrick Shot” once per turn. So, after ages of “Ghostricks” being forced to Set one “Ghostrick” monster and pass, they did not only get a Link monster to work around that issue, but also a “Ghostrick” version of a card combining “Double Summon“/”Monster Reborn“/”Book of Taiyou” to make further plays happen. And depending on the cards in your hand, you might be able to make something good happen: Normal Summon “Ghostrick Jiangshi“, play “Ghostrick Shot”, Special Summon another “Ghostrick” monster, flip “Jiangshi” face-up, then search for a Level 1 or Level 2 “Ghostrick” monster due to the effect of “Jiangshi“, which could include cards like “Ghostrick Mary” for more searching or “Ghostrick Lantern” to keep an attacker at bay. This is only one option, the same can be done with “Ghostrick Siren“, “Ghostrick Fairy“, “Ghostrick Doll” during the second turn, and many more options that setup your field nicely. The secondary effect of “Ghostrick Shot” is also helpful, since it not only fuels the effects of your Xyz monsters for longer, but also gives any madman trying to make “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief’s” alternate win condition working an effect to work with.

Recommended copies: 3
“Ghostrick Shot” is fantastic support, not only working around the Normal Summon restriction-issue, but also providing lots of other useful effects and setting up plays. This feels like a card that should be played at three copies.

File:GhostrickBreak-WSUP-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Break
Type: Normal Trap

The first of many Trap cards in “Ghostricks” is “Ghostrick Break”. This Normal Trap can be activated when exactly one face-up “Ghostrick” monster you control (and no other cards) is destroyed and sent to the graveyard, in which case you can target two “Ghostrick” monsters in your graveyard with different names than the destroyed monster, and Special Summon them in face-down defense position. This card is pretty awful: It only triggers when one “Ghostrick” monster is destroyed, meaning any effect that destroys more than one, or does not destroy at all but instead banishes or bounces does not trigger the card. The destroyed monster needs to hit the graveyard, meaning that “Dimensional Fissure” or “Macro Cosmos” simply turn this card off. Also, you need to have two other “Ghostrick” monsters ready in the graveyard, which might need some setup to even be available. And in the end, you only gain two monsters, which in my opinion is not worth the effort and inconsistency the card adds to the deck.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Break” is a rather bricky and inconsistent summoning option, which is why I would run the card at zero copies.

File:GhostrickGoRound-MP14-EN-R-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Go-Round
Type: Continuous Trap

Another adorable card comes with “Ghostrick-Go-Round”. This Continuous Trap card can, once per turn, during the Battle Phase, activate one of the following effects: Either target one “Ghostrick” monster you control, change that target to face-down defense position, and if you do, also change one face-down defense position monster your opponent controls to face-up attack position; or target one face-down defense position monster you control, change that target to face-up attack position, and if the flipped monster is a “Ghostrick” monster, also change one of the opposing face-up monsters your opponent controls to face-down defense position. The idea behind this card is pretty clear: Allow one of your monsters like “Ghostrick Dullahan” to run something over that the opponent put in defense position before, or flip one of your monsters face-up, triggering potential effects and then get rid of one of the opposing monsters during the Battle Phase by flipping it face-down. Unfortunately, there are already better options available in the archetype that do not require the waiting time for a Trap card and can also be used outside the Battle Phase, which makes “Ghostrick-Go-Round” kind off unnecessary.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick-Go-Round” is too slow and does too little to really matter. If you want similar effects, “Ghostrick Scare” is almost always better; therefore, I would run zero copies of this card.

File:GhostrickNight-PRIO-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Night
Type: Continuous Trap

If you asked yourself for the entire time how the deck is supposed to keep the opposing monsters in check when they can simply be flipped face-up again, then look no further, because I have the answer right here. “Ghostrick Night” is a Continuous Trap card that disallows the opponent from Flip Summoning monster while a “Ghostrick” monster is on the field. Furthermore, when “Ghostrick Night” in your possession is destroyed by your opponent’s card and sent to the graveyard, they cannot declare attacks for the rest of the turn. This is the lockdown option in “Ghostrick”; and you cannot comprehend how annoying this card can be if you have never played against it. The fact that you cannot flip your monsters face-up again means that you only waste resources on filling the board with useless cardboard, and as long as you do not opt to destroy “Ghostrick Night” or go into Link Summons in some way, you are going to stall yourself more and more. And you cannot even attack the turn you get rid of the card, meaning that, in the worst-case-scenario, you destroy “Ghostrick Night” with some backrow removal only to find the “Ghostrick” player adding it back to their hand for the next turn. This is one of the cards that “Cosmic Cyclone” exists for, and it is definitely one that can keep the “Ghostricks” alive for a long time.

Recommended copies: 1-3
“Ghostrick Night” is a fantastic card if you want to turtle. True, it cannot do anything against Link monsters, but if you have options like “Ghostrick Doll” or “Ghostrick Scare” available, this card will keep pretty much everything else in check. I would recommend running this card, but the ratios are up to preference again.

GhostrickorTreat-BACH-JP-OP.png

Name: “Ghostrick or Treat
Type: Normal Trap

The newest Trap the “Ghostricks” received is “Ghostrick or Treat”, to keep the puns strong and the opposing monsters under control. This Normal Trap can be activated if you control either a “Ghostrick” Link monster or a “Ghostrick” Field Spell, in which case you target one face-up monster your opponent controls, make that monster unable to attack and negate its effects until the end of the turn, and also flip it in face-down defense position during the End Phase. Also, the opponent can pay 2000 life points to make the effect of “Ghostrick or Treat” become “Set this card face-down instead of sending it to the graveyard”. Also, you can only activate one copy of “Ghostrick or Treat” per turn. “Ghostrick or Treat” is modern support that fits the “Ghostrick” archetype, since it sacrifices parts of usefulness in order to become flavorful. The fact that the opponent can decide to pay 2000 life points to basically annul this card is something that a lot of players will make use of since getting your plays through is worth way more than a quarter of your life points. But the card is still nice, do not get me wrong: Since it is a “Ghostrick” Trap card, it is searchable by both in-archetypal cards like “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief” and more generic options like “Trap Trick“, it does actually have an effect on Link monsters which is nice, and the 2000 life point effect might even cause the opponent to become too negate-happy and pay enough to defeat them via direct attacks during the next turn. It is nowhere near crazy, but having more solid options is certainly not a bad thing for the “Ghostrick” archetype.

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Ghostrick or Treat” is another disruption/stall option, and one that actually does work against the nemesis of “Ghostrick”, namely Link monsters. I would play two to three copies, since I think that the card is good enough for those ratios.

File:GhostrickRenovation-EXFO-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Renovation
Type: Normal Trap

“Ghostrick Renovation” is next in line, and it does provide some oddball support. The first effect allows you to target one “Ghostrick” Field Spell in your Field Zone, return it to the hand, then you can activate one Field Spell from your hand or your deck. Furthermore, you can banish “Ghostrick Renovation” from your graveyard to target one “Ghostrick” Xyz monster that you control, and Special Summon one “Ghostrick” Xyz monster from your Extra Deck with a different name than the targeted Xyz monster, using that Xyz monster as material and transferring the previous materials to the new monster; also, this last effect of “Ghostrick Renovation” can only be used once per turn. “Ghostrick Renovation” is not really a searcher since you already need to have a Field Spell available, but it allows you to dodge backrow removal that could destroyed said Field Spell and the “search” effect does not mention that the new card needs to be a “Ghostrick” Field Spell, which allows you to search for “Mystic Mine” or whatever else you might fancy. The second effect is interesting, as it allows you to freely switch between the “Ghostrick” Xyz monsters on the field and can be used to even put something different onto “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief“, which is normally not possible. However, as a matter of fact this is not a card that you want to see in most “Ghostrick” decks, since you normally do not have non-“Ghostrick” Field Spells in the deck, nor a need for “Foolish Burial Goods” to kickstart the graveyard effect of “Renovation”.

Recommended copies: 0
“Ghostrick Renovation” might be helpful in a strategy that tries to get “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief” to ten materials as fast as possible, but any normal build does not need to weird Field Spell switching, while the second effect alone does not suffice to make “Renovation” a playable choice. Run zero.

File:GhostrickScare-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Scare
Type: Normal Trap

The original “Ghostrick” field flipper comes with “Ghostrick Scare”, and this is actually a card that has stories to tell. The fact that Konami seems to be rather hesitant to print good Flip card support made this card a playable option for some time in “Krawlers”, since there are little to no good alternatives if you want to flip multiple monsters face-up. Let us go over the effect: “Ghostrick Scare” targets any number of face-down defense position monster your control, which are then changed to face-up attack position, then you count the number of “Ghostrick” monsters among the flipped monsters and change up to that many monsters, but at least one, your opponent controls into face-down defense position. “Ghostrick Scare” does a lot of good for the “Ghostricks”: Flipping your monsters face-up means that you trigger effects like that of “Ghostrick Jiangshi“, giving you further resources to work with. Flipping that many monsters face-down on the opposing side means that you can stop a major attack, certain Extra Decks summons, various effects with just one Trap, that you can not only easily recycle via “Ghostrick Fairy“, but that also happens to interact with various other cards I have mentioned, like “Trap Trick” for further searching or “Ghostrick Night” to stop the opponent for an even longer period of time.

Recommended copies: 3
“Ghostrick Scare” is of paramount importance for the defense of any “Ghostrick” deck, and does even provide effect triggers on top of that. I would go with three copies of this card.

File:GhostrickVanish-MP14-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Ghostrick Vanish
Type: Normal Trap

The last Trap card, and card in general actually, is “Ghostrick Vanish”. This Normal Trap asks you to reveal one “Ghostrick” monster in your hand as cost; for that, during the turn you activated “Ghostrick Vanish”, any “Ghostrick” cards you control and face-down defense position monsters you control cannot be targeted by, or destroyed by card effects. Revealing a “Ghostrick” monster is hardly a problem, since you should have enough searching power to fetch yourself one of the Level 1 “Ghostricks” that stay in the hand anyway. I am not sure that the card is necessary in the Main Deck, since it can be kind of cloggy, but “Ghostrick Vanish” sure is a good Side Deck card to have.

Recommended copies: 0 (Up to 3 in the Side Deck)
“Ghostrick Vanish” provides card effect protection for your entire board, which is nice but not always necessary. I would decide against running the card, but putting a few copies in a Side Deck sure does not seem like a bad idea.

Recommended Engines:

“Ghostricks” are not particularly xenophobic, but they do have a high number of cards that only interact with the archetype as well as using an unconventional strategy that not that many archetypes can even make use of. There is potentially space for Flip archetypes to be included into a “Ghostrick” build, but I would honestly always prefer running a pure version, since that seems to work best.

Further useful cards:

Main Deck monsters:

King of the Sky Prison“:
This card provides a lot of helpful effects for the “Ghostricks”. Preventing the destruction of any of your Set cards means that you can run this card instead of “Ghostrick Vanish” and still be in the plus due to the other effects “King of the Sky Prison” provides. Then, if a Set Spell/Trap card is activated, of which you should have a few, “King of the Sky Prison” Special Summons itself, and if it was revealed during the time the Special Summon triggered, you can even search your deck for a Spell/Trap card and Set it to your field, but that card is banished during the End Phase of the next turn. This means that you have access to a 3000 ATK beatstick (as long as no “Ghostrick” Field Spell is around), protection for your field and generic backrow searching that simply Special Summons itself when you do things that you would also do in any other scenario. Let us just hope that the card is not going to be extremely expensive.

Nibiru, the Primal Being“:
Since “Ghostricks” are pretty good searching-wise, but do need to have some way of getting rid of opposing (Link) monsters, why not put “Nibiru” in your Main Deck? The “Ghostrick” cards should be able to fetch all the necessary stuff even if one card in hand is a non-“Ghostrick” card, it does safe you from a lot of trouble if you can trigger it, and the “Primal Being Token” it produces can be flipped face-down without any issues, making it more controllable than the dark blue menace.

Tour Guide from the Underworld“:
The monster spam option during times when “Ghostricks” did not have any tools to make summoning faster. “Tour Guide from the Underworld” can still be used to turbo out “Ghostrick Alucard“, and therefore also “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief“, so if you feel like you need access to that play more often, maybe this is the solution.

Spell cards:

Book of Lunar Eclipse“:
“Book of Lunar Eclipse” is for “Book of Moon” what “Twin Twisters” is for “Mystical Space Typhoon“. Discarding one card from your hand and then flipping two monsters face-down is not necessarily something that you need all the time, but it still works nicely in the deck.

Book of Moon“:
The original card to flip things face-down on reaction. “Book of Moon” was limited for the longest time, since it is a versatile tool to run despite having not that much card text, and it is a natural fit in “Ghostricks”. It certainly is not necessary in every “Ghostrick” build, but it provides yet another way to get things face-down, meaning you can get your monsters that got negated back into a safer face-down position as well as stopping the opposing attacks and/or lock monsters via “Ghostrick Night“.

Swords of Concealing Light“:
The less optimal Spell version of “Ghostrick Night“. It was seen quite often in “Ghostrick” builds in the past, and while I do not necessarily see the reason to still run the card over other options, it does provide position changing to face-down defense position and locks the monsters in that state.

Terraforming“:
Since “Ghostricks” work with Field Spells, I might aswell list the Field Spell searchers here. You might not need “Terraforming” due to either running enough Field Spells to have one available if you need it or having enough searches to get it anyway, but the option still exists.

Trap cards:

Dogmatika Punishment“:
A removal option that works kinda well in the deck. It is searchable via “Trap Trick“, giving that little bit of extra consistency. It goes destroy cards, which is something the “Ghostrick” archetype is normally lacking. And it can trigger the last effects of cards like “Ghostrick Dullahan” or “Ghostrick Alucard“. Lastly, it allows you to fit one copy of “Elder Entity N’tss” in your Extra Deck if you have the space and need that extra bit of removal.

Drowning Mirror Force“:
Since both you and your opponent are going to constantly attack directly anyways, why not make something out of that fact? “Drowning Mirror Force” is without a doubt one of the “Mirror Force“-variants that hurts the most, since your resources disappear into the deck; and since you can trigger it often enough, just let some monster run through and enjoy the spectacle.

Gozen Match“:
Every “Ghostrick” monster is Dark Attribute, so you have no drawback playing “Gozen Match”, while the opponent might struggle to get a board assembled.

Lost Wind“:
“Lost Wind” is both a good and budget-friendly effect negation option for any deck that does not have a problem playing Trap cards. It does keep the opposing plays in check, it is searchable via “Trap Trick“, and it is even playable a second time.

Metaverse“:
The Trap card Field Spell searcher. The card is by no means a staple for “Ghostricks”, but it can be funny to drop a “Ghostrick Mansion” during the opponent’s turn, and it gives that little bit of extra consistency if you need it regarding your Field Spells. I would like to add though that “Metaverse” is really only an option if you have no Field Spell available, since “Ghostrick Renovation” is clearly superior in every way as soon as any “Ghostrick” Field Spell is around.

Needle Ceiling“:
This is basically the board wipe that I have only ever seen being played in “Ghostrick”. Since you place the opposing monsters into a state of uselessness, it is highly likely that the opponent is going to play more monsters to keep the game going, and flip whatever you turned face-down into face-up attack position again. Cue “Needle Ceiling”: Four monsters is what is needed to basically imitate the effect of “Raigeki” on reaction to the opponent’s action. Not the best card ever printed, but it does take opponents by surprise and is searchable via “Trap Trick“.

Trap Trick“:
Since the “Ghostrick” strategy features a good amount of Trap card usage, why not fit a tool that gives you easier access to the various options on offer. “Trap Trick” allows you to search Traps out of your deck, making the card a proxy for basically any Normal Trap in the deck, if you are willing to play at least two copies of said Trap(s). A good card overall.

Extra Deck monsters:

Downerd Magician“:
This might seem like a weird option, but if you have some Extra Deck space “Downerd Magician” could still be worth it. Like “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief“, you can place “Downerd Magician” on “Ghostrick Dullahan“, “Ghostrick Socuteboss“, and “Ghostrick Alucard“. She does provide little on the effect side, but with at least 2300 ATK she might be big enough to keep you from taking damage, while her piercing damage can finish off weakened opponents. The biggest argument against “Downerd Magician” is certainly that she can only be summoned during Main Phase 2 if you use the overlay option, which means that you cannot simply weaken a monster with “Ghostrick Dullahan’s” effect and then overlay into “Downerd Magician” for sizeable damage.

Linkuriboh“:
Not only is “Linkuriboh” helpful in the defense department of “Ghostricks”, you can also get it back from the graveyard by using one of the various Level 1 monsters the archetype has to offer.

Playstyle/Combos:

“Ghostricks”, as you might have noticed when going through the archetypal cards, is a Control-based archetype. The monsters all come with relatively low stats, but due to the Field Spells and “Ghostrick Festival” can attack to slowly bring the opposing life points to zero. They also have alternate ways of winning the game, with burn, mill, and an alternate win condition in form of “Ghostrick Angel of Mischief” being the most prominent options. Now, the major challenge in every game that you are going to play is getting enough options onto the board to keep the flow of the game at a low speed. “Ghostricks” cannot do fast games, so what you want to do instead is force the opponent to slow down and take control of the board by flipping monsters face-down. “Ghostrick Doll” and “Ghostrick Scare” are two solid options to get the opposing board into a face-down state, while “Ghostrick Night” (if you play the card) can keep them in that position.

“Ghostricks” are a first turn deck. They do need to have their setup ready at the time the opponent starts playing, similar to other Control decks like for example “Traptrix”. The high amount of Trap cards does only work going first, and losing your monsters to opposing negates is going to cripple you for the rest of the game. Starting with either a combination of two monsters using “Ghostrick Shot” or simply setting up “Ghostrick Festival” for the opposing turn is the normal start in most games. There are a few issues there already, since certain cards in the archetype require you to have a face-up “Ghostrick” monster, which is only ever going to be a good choice when playing “Ghostrick Festival“. However, “Ghostrick Festival” can only leave the field and tag out against something else from the deck if the opponent enters the Battle Phase, meaning that any removal effect during the Main Phase might prove to be deadly. And it cannot even be protected by “King of the Sky Prison“, while “Ghostrick Vanish” is rather bricky and will often leave you wishing for some other card.

I would argue that that is actually the main appeal to playing “Ghostricks” from a card effect-standpoint: Using your resources correctly, hindering the opposing plays that actually matter, making the most out of the cards you are given. “Ghostricks” are a major challenge not only because of the opponent you might play against, but also because you need to put some thought into using your cards and thinking ahead far enough to not run out of steam too soon. When “Ghostricks” work, they can turn the game speed into “walking through molasses”-levels of slow, since there is nothing happening anymore except for the “Ghostrick” player doing their thing. If things go wrong, you might be blown out of the water in one turn due to your opponent breaking whatever board you assembled to stop them. If that sounds appealing to you, “Ghostricks” might be your thing; if you rather see fancy combos and fast-moving gameplay, god will you be bored by this archetype.

Weaknesses/Counters:

I want to make very clear that the most glaring weakness of “Ghostricks” comes in form of a Extra Deck monster type. Two words: Link monsters.

Link monsters are the bane of the existence of the “Ghostrick” archetype. Granted, the archetype was not top-tier material before Link came out, but they at least managed to flip whatever the opponent put on the board face-down. That all changed with Link monsters. Since the dark blue cards have no defense value, they cannot be put into defense. Since there is no face-down attack position, you cannot flip them at all. This inevitably means that any opponent could simply fill the board with Link monsters, if they have that option, and completely counter a large portion of your deck’s control and removal options, since you cannot keep them in check with flipping them face-down. The list of cards that lose their functionality that way is pretty long: “Ghostrick Jackfrost” cannot stop Link monsters, “Ghostrick Doll” cannot change their battle position hence less summoning for you, not flipping via “Ghostrick Witch“, or “Ghostrick Nekomusume” (which does not function anyway since Link monsters do not have levels), or “Ghostrick Siren“, “Ghostrick Scare” only works with your board, “Book of Moon” as well as “Book of Lunar Eclipse” are useless, etc. The choice therefore comes down to ignoring Link monsters completely in your build and basically having no out when the matchup occurs, or having some cards specifically for Links that you probably would not play in “Ghostricks” if they were not such an issue. There are options to consider, like maining “Raigeki” or similar board clear-options, clearing the field with “Nibiru, the Primal Being” before the Link monsters become dangerous, running “Mirror Force“-variants to at least catch them when they attack, or put effect negation into the deck in the hope that the effects of the Link monsters were the deciding factor, not the fact that they can still kick you face unimpeded.

“Ghostricks” also happen to be weak against any card that can stop their battle position-changing. Whether it is something unpopular such as “Light of Intervention” or actual threats like “Dark Simorgh“, the deck needs to flip monsters face-up and face-down again to work. Stopping either of those steps therefore counters the “Ghostricks”. Obviously, since you want to change the position of the opposing monsters aswell, those cards can be twice as bad since they can also stop you from keeping the opposing board under control. Also, since the “Ghostrick” monsters are all Dark Attribute, you might find yourself countered “Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror” or similar anti-Dark cards. “Skill Drain“, “Effect Veiler“, or various other options that negate the effects of monsters can also be problematic, since using monster effects is a rather big part of the “Ghostrick” strategy, and potentially leaves you with less defense or, in the worst case scenario, without a win condition if the opponent manages to keep “Ghostrick Skeleton” effect-less in the Mill-build. Certain decks and/or archetypes that work with clearing the board on a regular basis can also be tricky for the “Ghostricks” to handle: Being blown apart by “Fire Kings” or “Neos”-builds over and over again might deplete the “Ghostrick” resources much more than those of the opponent, leaving you with little to defend yourself; unless you run “Ghostrick Vanish” to keep your board alive. “Ghostricks” also dislike backrow removal, since major parts of their strategy require Spells and Traps. Particularly bad are options like “Cosmic Cyclone“, which even works around the graveyard effects and disallows cards like “Ghostrick Alucard” or “Ghostrick Fairy” from getting them back.

Links:

Videos:

El Exordio del Duelista’s “GHOSTRICK Deck + Analysis” (September 2021):
Another solid video from “El Exordio del Duelista”. This “Ghostrick” build even uses some of the cards that I decided against, mainly “Ghostrick Siren” and “Ghostrick Mummy“, so if you want to see those cards in action feel free to click it. The rating for “Ghostricks” overall in the video is pretty bad, but that was to be expected and should not keep you from building the deck since “Ghostricks” are clearly a more casual-centered archetype.

Articles:

Renren’s “The Ghostrick Festival Commences!” (September 2021):
A closer look at the new “Ghostrick” cards with a few decklists attached to give inspiration for some spooky deck building.

Yugipedia “Ghostrick” article:
As always, “Yugipedia” was where I got the card pictures you can see in this article. The “Ghostrick” article itself is sadly outdated, but the Weaknesses section is still solid.

Sample Decklist (October 2021):

This is what a “Ghostrick” deck could potentially look like. I am gotta be honest, I am not entirely happy with the build so far, since it had some fairly bricky hands with no “Ghostrick” monsters. However, it gives a solid idea where the entire thing should go: Control options to keep the opponent in check, then using the direct attack options like “Ghostrick Festival” or the “Ghostrick” Field Spells to attack directly, which is actually going to do some solid damage when using the “Ghostrick” Xyz monsters.

The Videogame Corner: Borderlands 3

So, here we are again. After all the games the “Borderlands” franchise had to offer, there is really only one title (currently) left for me to write about: “Borderlands 3”. Now, I played none of the “Borderlands” games right when they came out since I do not see a reason to pay the full price from them when I can pick them up for way less in the foreseeable future (by the way, I do purchase games for the full price, but “Borderlands” is not one of those titles). The same was true for “Borderlands 3”, but while I went with my budget approach of simply picking it up for cheap at a later stage, there were a lot of other players that also decided to wait a little while longer, albeit for vastly different reasons. The case of “Borderlands 3” was certainly one of drama and controversy. Now, my name is not “Keemstar” and I do not want to go on a “DramaAlert”-level for longer than I need to, so I’ll keep it brief: Randy Pitchford, Chief Executive Officer of Gearbox Software, alienated quite a bit of the community by making a deal with Epic Games and allowing them to be the only distribution platform to get “Borderlands 3” on for the first six months. There were quite a few people boycotting this deal and simply refusing to buy the game from the Epic Game Store, who also spend the newly gained “Borderlands”-free time to review-bomb the other “Borderlands” games to voice their disdain. Also, there was something about an USB drive that belonged to Randy Pitchford being left in a restaurant that apparently had Gearbox-sensitive documents as well as pornographic material that Mr Pitchford said he kept on the drive due to the fact that the actress performing what seemed to be a “magic trick” that he wanted to study further. Worse even, that content was apparently also deemed to be child pornography during some point of the discussion, even though that was more or less deemed to be untrue; I mean, you all know how fast faulty information can travel on the internet. Add to this mess that there was an assault on David Eddings by Randy Pitchford, and the fact that Eddings was fired later down the line after the incident and therefore is not in a position to do the voice acting for Claptrap anymore; which apparently was something that he did not received any payment from Gearbox for anyway. As you can see, there was quite a lot going on with the figurehead of Gearbox Software, which then reflected badly onto their flagship franchise. But like I said, I am not writing this article for the drama. If you are interested to find out more about the things I have hinted at, feel free to give it a google search, but while Mr Pitchford seems to be a rather unpleasant person from what you can find online, I would like to take a “Death of the Author”-approach to “Borderlands 3” and write about it for what it is: A videogame. I am aware that Pitchford is not the sole producer, writer and programmer of the game, but I feel like it is only fair to not judge the game as an end-product for stuff that happened during its development. So, let us do just that.

The “Children of the Vault” are recruiting bandits in high numbers and develop more and more into a cult of personality for its founders Tyreen and Troy, aka the Calypso Twins.

The story of “Borderlands 3” takes us back to the planet of Pandora, the desert hellhole of a planet with its inhabitants and fauna seemingly vying for the title of “most deadly creature”. Handsome Jack is a thing of the past since the Vault Hunters took care of him in “Borderlands 2”, so there should be as much piece and quiet as is possible on a dustball inhabited by lunatics, right? Well, not quite: There are some new kids on the block that cause all sorts of troubles. Their names? Tyreen Calypso and Troy Calypso, often referred to as the Calypso Twins, are the founders of a new bandit gang that calls itself the “Children of the Vault”, of “COV” for short. Normally, the emergence of a new gang would be lukewarm news at best, since there are enough bandits on the planet that form loose groups all the time. But this time it is different, because the twins have a way to gain traction with the masses: Streaming. The Calypso Twins are basically evil Twitch streamers, and they invite every bandit in the solar system into the fanclub that is the “Children of the Vault”; and much like internet crazes are sometimes mysteriously popular without anyone really understanding why, the two holo-media presenters managed to gain a cult-following in all the Psychos, Bandits and other low-lifes the universe has to offer. And it is not too much to say that all that fame went to their heads, since they like being worshipped as god-like beings, they use religious motivs in their organisation and they started their own crusade to discover every vault in the universe with the army they have amassed.

No big deal though, right? The Crimson Raiders from Sanctuary managed to fight Handsome Jack and the entire Hyperion empire while shooting the bandits, so what are those two streaming clowns supposed to do against them? Well, for whatever reason the Crimson Raiders and therefore almost all of the previous Vault Hunters are very much absent from Pandora during the time of the meteoric rise of the Calypso Twins, leaving only Lilith, Ellie, Tannis and Claptrap as the forces of the once mighty faction that managed to stop Handsome Jack; and out of those options only Lilith is able to keep herself alive if push comes to shove. So, Lilith started another recruitment drive, which is supposedly a promising idea since people know of the riches the vaults have in store for them. Except, do they? All those vaults had in store so far were tentacle monsters and death in various ways; oh, and Iridium, but that was not something only the lucky Vault Hunter that opened the bloody thing could profit from if the bloody mineral appears in the entire galaxy afterwards, eh? But, lo and behold, some pamphlets seemed to be enough to get some fool-hardy gunslingers into action to help the dying Crimson Raiders. Which is where the intro scene sets in.

Powerful Connections

I have to give kudos to Gearbox: They do know how to make an intro. Good music choice, nice action scenes, explaining what the characters do without the use of speech or text; this is a solid start into “Borderlands 3”. Another round of steering the lesser evil in form of the lunatics that you are able to play shooting at the opposition of the more evil lunatics that do bad stuff. I said in earlier articles that the “Borderlands” universe takes inspiration from Spaghetti Westerns, and the third main series installment is definitely going with that approach. We as the players command a mass-murderous killing machine with no regard for human life and, in the most cases, either money or the urge to kill as the driving force. I am not judging the game for that, since I do shoot my twin flamethrowers at the opposition with a certain amount of glee on a regular basis, but one needs to be aware of the fact that in “Borderlands”, the concept of a “good” character does not really exist. I will certainly pick this thought up again, but for now we have a few new faces to start our murdering spree with.

New game, more characters – turns out there is an endless and steady supply of foolhardy gunslingers that are willing to put their lives on the line for the (empty) promise of finding a vault. (Source: https://saviorgaming.blog/2019/09/16/borderlands-3-first-impressions/)

Since every Borderlands game so far introduced a completely new set of playable characters, why should Borderlands 3 be any different? This time, we have the choice between four different characters: Amara is the playable Siren of “Borderlands 3” and her power allows her to shape arms out of energy to smack the opposition in the face, hold them in place or support her “in your face”-style of fighting in other ways. Zane Flynt the Operative is the brother of the Baron Flynt, one of the late-game bosses from the first “Borderlands”, and Captain Flynt, the first real boss fight in “Borderlands 2”, and is a supportive jack-of-all-trades character that can use two action skills instead of just one for the cost of not having grenades available, with those skills including projecting doublegangers like the playable Jack from “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel”, a small flying drone like that from Wilhelm from the “Pre-Sequel” or a deployable barrier that can block shots in one direction and allows him and allies to fire through for increased damage into the other, which is at least similar to the the shield of Roland’s Scorpio turret from “Borderlands”. Moze is the game’s Soldier class and comes with her very own battle-mech called “Iron Bear” as her action skill, which can be equipped with a variety of weapons like a railgun, a minigun, a flamethrower or a grenade launcher; and it does come with two weapon slots, so feel free to experiment to find out what combination causes the most havoc. The last playable character is FL4K, who I would assume is inspired by the mysterious stranger from the “Tales from the Borderlands” episodes, since he is clearly a robot as is visible if you look at him closer while it is also stated in one of tapes that can be found early in the game. Unlike other many robots, FL4K is found of nature and wildlife and this is represented in his skills, giving him an animal companion like a Spiderant or a Skag that listens to his commands and can be upgraded for various effects, but still works as a NPC during battle, attacking enemies out of its own volition.

Welcome to “Sanctuary III”, your new home among the stars.

No matter who you choose as your character, the background motivation will inevitably cause them to join the Crimson Raiders and therefore support Lilith. And she does put your support to good use right away: Your first mission is to obtain a star map, a crucial piece of equipment if you want to dabble in interstellar travel; which is what Lilith is planning to do. Meet Vaughn from “Tales from the Borderlands” and the last DLC of “Borderlands 2”, who manages to be even more annoying as before, and the evil Calypso Twins; afterwards, you get the map and try to escape the planet, but get stopped by the evil twins and watch about two and a half minutes of cutscene showing Lilith losing a fight against the two and getting her powers stolen. I am playing through the game with three other people in my party, and we all sat there and thought that it is rather odd that we could outnumber and clubber those two media phenomenons but our characters rather decided to watch the things unfold and our employer almost getting killed by being reckless. But, oh well, I guess it would be bad for the story to wander in and kick the asses of the bosses prematurely. So, we rescue the drained Lilith and flee into the spaceship “Sanctuary III”, which conviently also inhabits the regulars like Marcus, Moxxi and Crazy Earl and will serve as the HQ for the rest of the game.

The map gave us a hint at the next destination: Promethea. So, we make our way there, shoot the local wildlife, get acquainted with the forces of weapons manufacturer Maliwan which are currently taking over, and then meet up with the Atlas forces trying to stop them from doing so. Our first contact is with resistence member Lorelei, but we are soon introduced to yet another “Tales from the Borderlands” character in form of Rhys, who canonically took the papers of ownership over the Atlas cooperation with him back when the Helios Moonbase made impact with the Planet of Pandora. Rhys rebuilt the Atlas coorperation from scratch, but now finds himself in the unfavorable position of being forced to give control of the cooperation to Katagawa Jr., the current head of Maliwan after that sly bastard killed every single one of the siblings that would have been in front of him in the line of succession. Fortunately for Rhys, you are a sucker for quests and therefore more than willing to help him, which involves killing the Maliwan forces to some degree. Turns out, Maliwan is not only causing problems on Promethea, but also on a planet named Athenas, where we fill our “look, a character from an earlier game”-quota by meeting Maya, the Siren from “Borderlands 2”. She is quite busy kicking Maliwan butts and is happy for any help she can get. Athenas also happens to be the planet on which the player has the fateful meeting with Ava, a teenage girl that is trained by Maya to become a Siren and, inevitably, a Vault Hunter; and is just the sole focus of hatred of major parts of the “Borderlands” community.

A screenshot from the one scene that enraged a sizeable part of the “Borderlands” community.

See, Ava is the character solely responsible for Maya’s death and she does not learn anything from that and instead blames Lilith for what happened. I am not going to include that much of my opinion here, since most discussions about Ava drift off completely and instead talk about the far superior character that is Tiny Tina (yeah, right…), but the problem with this very scene is also largely the problem with the story of “Borderlands 3” overall: It does not go anywhere. Character-wise, I can get behind the writing of Ava as a troubled child in her teenager phase, resenting all forms of authority or rules, which leads to her foster mother being killed and Ava not knowing how to cope with that and instead shifting blame on the next best target. Story-wise, this could, and quite frankly should have been the start of Ava’s character arc, reflecting on her actions, taking responsibility for her mistakes, slowly acknowledging that she is the one that caused Maya’s death but then growing into a dependable and valuable character for the Crimson Raiders and the game’s plot as a whole. The scenario that I just described does not happen though, with her getting little more screentime and instead being the quite frankly annoying character she starts out as and not reflecting at all. The scenario Gearbox has chosen is closer to reality in my opinion since people rarely own up to serious mistakes unless they have to, but for the story it would have been better to let that experience shape her into a more grounded and responsible person and taking one step towards adulthood. Interestingly enough, the exact idea I have described can be found in the cut content (which unfortunately is only accessable via the “Director’s Cut” DLC), where it becomes very obvious that both a different scene on the ship after Maya’s death as well as a funeral on Athenas were meant as strong character development tools, but ended up being skipped for god knows what reason. I can only urge you to give video about this subject from EruptionFang a go, which goes into further detail and also shows the skipped material.

While this explains the most drastic screw-up regarding the story, there are various other examples I can provide that do not really speak of quality. Like I said, the problem with parts of the story are that they do not go anywhere and that it cannot really decide what it wants to do. Not being able to intercept in any way when minutes of cutscenes happen in which Lilith gets robbed of her powers or Maya is being drained to death while the player characters are in the very same room and should be perfectly able to interfere feels bad and seems silly. Another example comes with the other major antagonist besides the Calpyso Twins: Maliwan and its leader Katagawa Jr. shape up to be pretty solid in the antagonist role up until the leader himself decides to fight the player(s) without any support of his soldiers. Do not get me wrong, that can be a character trait even with evil characters, fighting against a larger force or on their own due to some personal codex or belief system. However, Katagawa Jr. is not a character that works with any sort of honor code and is shown to be more than happy to pick the easy, albeit dirty solution when it occurs. And yet, he decides to melee the player for god knows what reason, dies with little more than a whimper and therefore ends the entire “Maliwan is one major antagonist” plot in the middle of the game in the most stupid way I can imagine. I expected much more: Lorelei mentions fairly quickly after meeting the player(s) that Maliwan has no qualms shooting civilians on the planet, which is quite heavy subject matter; followed by a mission in which Lorelei needs a caffeine fix and orders you to kill some enemy for no better reason than taking his mug. It is perfectly possible that I am the only person thinking that way, but I cannot help but being confused about the message the game wants to send me: The evil guys are so evil that they even murder civilians without hesitation, but sending a murder squat out to get some drinking vessel is a-okay, probably because the evil guys were evil before. I mentioned this before, but in my opinion you should not make the mistake of thinking that the player characters represent the morally good option, since they do commit enough atrocities over the course of the game to make this very much untrue. But this is also what makes the scenes in which I am asked to be sad rather weird: Roland died in “Borderlands 2” because he was shot in the back? Well, with the lifestyle he was living I can only wonder why no one managed to kill him sooner. Maya is siphoned to death due to attack by the evil bad twins? Well, pretty unfortunate to pick a fight with more powerful beings, kinda like with pretty much any enemy in “Borderlands 2” when she wiped the floor with them. I simply cannot be invested in the deaths of the characters, since they are murderers without any redeeming quality if you think about for two seconds.

However, that is only a critique of a part of the game, since gameplay-wise I happily shoot anything with a red health bar above the head if the game asks me to do so. And honestly, there are many players that liked both Roland and Maya, which are upset about their demise and even more so when it serves no purpose for the game and its storytelling. The mistake, at least in my opinion, is that the game puts in some tear-jerker moments that are supposed to force me into feeling sorrow over the death of a character that killed thousands before and would probably kill thousands more if they had not died in some cutscene. If you want to feel sad for a character, please build a framework in which that would even make sense. Aerith dying in Final Fantasy VII might invoke sadness since she is the innocent healer character with a pure soul, which makes killing her a morally unjust action; and feel free to include whatever example from a videogame you deem fitting here if you dislike the Final Fantasy example. Some “villain” killing a character that could very much be a villain themselves due to kill count and/or motivation does not really bring a tear to my eye, but instead leads my finger to click this video link here.

Wainwright Jakobs, current owner of the Jakobs company and Sir Hammerlocks lover. He is one of the characters that I would deem “good”, both morally and from a design perspective.

I am drifting off, and this is certainly not the platform to discuss the sense (or senselessness) of Maya’s death. Instead, there is more story to go through. The Calypsos actually got two very valueable resources from the encounter with Ava and Maya: Troy managed to obtain all of the powers Maya previous had, which means that he is now able to use Phaselock however he wishes, and Tyreen absorbed the remaining life energy of the Vault guardian you had to fight before the cutscene with Maya’s untimely demise. But, all is not lost since there are more vaults to plunder and therefore a new planet to visit: Next stop, Eden-6. This time, we enter a jungle world with prehistoric wildlife, but instead of making the best out of the “Jurassic Park”-esque and taking a breather, even here the threat of the “Children of the Vault” is undeniable. Thankfully, we have allies here: Wainwright Jakobs is the current owner of the Jakobs weapon manufacturing company, less because he wanted the power but more to keep others from abusing it, and he has an urgent task for us to take care off: Free Sir Hammerlock, who we already know from “Borderlands 2” as the wildlife specialist and shrewd big-game hunter. The “Children of the Vault” managed to capture him and now take him as leverage to gain control over the Jakobs company, which leaves Wainwright between a rock and a hard place decision-wise. Luckily, you have no qualms in freeing him from his cell, and even manage to contact Brick, Mordecai and Tiny Tina while doing so. But the deja vus do not end here: Lady Aurelia Hammerlock, the sister of Sir Hammerlock and playable character from “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel” is in cahoots with the Calypsos and is not only the main reason why the “Children of the Vault” are aiming to take over Jakobs in the first place but also does the mistake of standing in the way of the Vault Hunters and therefore dying as like so many boss characters before her. Afterwards, we go vault key-hunting again, but to prevent the “Tyreen absorbs the Vault guardian’s power”-situation that eventually lead to Maya’s death, Tannis comes up with the idea of absorbing the power before the twins get any chance to do so. We therefore wake the Vault guardian on Eden-6, which is some sort of a ruin/nature amalgamation and dies in the blink of an eye for reasons and cannot quite understand. Tannis absorbs the power, everyone is happy, Tyreen and Troy babble some bullshit to play along, then phaselock Tannis via Maya’s stolen abilities and teleport her out with the teleportation power stolen from Lilith.

We go on a wild-goose-chase to rescue Tannis, which inevitably leads to us fighting the two characters behind the Calypso Twin-pledge drive named “Pain and Terror”, a homage of sorts to the magican duo “Penn and Teller” (of which Penn Jilette even gives his voice to the in-game character). There are obviously lots of other things to do before we can enter their murder dome known as the Carnivora, but all events lead to us saving Tannis; or better yet somehow her saving herself since it turns out that she was a siren all along, due to some (bullshit) explanation of getting her powers from the deceased “Angel” back in “Borderlands 2” and only her and Lilith knowing and not telling you since that would endanger Tannis’ safety. Excuse me, what? One more character that is able to fight against the mess that the Calpysos are causing, and you rather decide for her to take the sidelines and stay under the radar for the entire game? Like back on Pandora at the start of the game when “COV” followers were swarming her camp to obtain the map by any means possible. Furthermore, when Tannis revealed her powers, it was to further destroy an opponent that was already taken care of by the player, which seemed to be the least appropriate situation to reveal her status as a siren. I already said that the story has some major holes that cannot be logically filled and therefore simply stay standing as incongruities. This is also something that the last few hours of “Borderlands 3” do not fix, since we are instead traveling to the mystical planet of “Nekrotafeyo”, home planet of the Eridians and the meeting point with the first Vault Hunter, Typhon DeLeon. If you read this name for the first time here, rejoice, because you are hearing it hundreds of times during the game due to him leaving information “pillars” everywhere that are linked to a locked chest somewhere in the level which only opens if you heard all of his stories on one specific planet; and Tannis will point out when one is nearby, trust me. Turns out that Typhon DeLeon is not only the object of affection of Tannis, who wants you to bring her a lock of hair from him, but also the father of the two Calypso Twins. This is pretty much shoe-horned in, since that reveal comes from Tyreen Calpyso, and leads to Lilith asking why he did not tell us that fact himself; to which I can answer, why should he, we have known him for less than an hour at the time of meeting him, and it does not matter anyway since he is not the one who is responsible from them going megalomaniac. The inevitable happens, you get an early boss fight against Troy Calypso way before even meeting Typhon DeLeon, and one last story bossfight against a mutated version of Tyreen Calypso at the end of it all; no one expecting anything else, but the way of getting the story across could have certainly been better; especially since Lilith sacrifices herself in the end spouting some of the non-sense that Ava said when she blamed Lilith for Maya’s death (this does come up fairly often during the game). The Vault is under control, the balance is restored, and the Crimson Raiders are now even less well-organised or powerful due to losing yet more fighting power while gaining Ava as the new chief-in-command. The only thing to hope for is that they do not derail the entire plot further should “Borderlands 4” come around.

The Guns of Reliance

Clearing the sector of any vermin with the help of my trusty “Iron Bear”.

That was a lot of story, but “Borderlands 3” is a long game with about 40 hours of playtime only for the main campaign. However, this is certainly not a game that you play for the story, it is more of a “nice to have one” kind of deal. What keeps you entertained and therefore playing is the gameplay, because on the gameplay front, there are not only quite a few new features, but a lot of really good roleplaying shooter action. Let us start with the weapons: Since we are still playing a looter-shooter, there are still tons of firearms to find in the game, but “Borderlands 3” ups the ante by adding more ideas and concepts to the already ridiculous amount of weapons is the game. One of the major differences in “Borderlands 3” is that some weapons do not only fire whatever you load into them, but can have alternate firing modes. This can be something mundane such as switching from single-round fire to full-auto, but there are also crazier options such as having a rifle with homing projectiles that has a targeting beacon as a secondary firing mode and can therefore basically magnetize the opponent, a rocket launcher that can fire a cluster of rockets which can be changed into firing one massive rocket for equally big damage, a machine gun that can switch between two different types of elemental damage, or even weirder stuff like a sniper rifle with a rocket launcher attachment. Of course, this is all bonus on top of the myriad of weapons you can already use; and there were some really crazy powerful bullet dispensers we found over the course of the game. Submachine guns that auto-load bullets into the magazine whenever you hit something with a critical hit, which means that you can fire an endless stream of death if your aim is good enough. A rocket launcher that can use eight rockets worth of ammunition to fire one slow-travelling ball of death. Pistols and machine guns that do not simply fire a normal projectile, but instead plunk an explosive device into the unfortunate target, which naturally does little damage on impact but huge damage when the explosion triggers. Grenade mods that spread into multiple lightning beacons that can split up into further grenades and keep an entire area under control even when the item level should already be twenty levels higher. There are tons of different weapons to find and a big part of the fun in “Borderlands” is to try out new-found death toys; and “Borderlands 3” manages to please that looting and trying-out urge.

And weapons are not the only thing that received changes: If you duck while sprinting in “Borderlands 3”, you can now slide forwards, which is highly useful as a movement option due to losing no speed but making your hitbox smaller. Certain weapons also acknowledge the existence of this new movement option and can improve it by increasing the slide speed or building some elemental attack mechanic into the slide like producing a snowball projectile that rolls over the ground or creating a flame puddle upon impact with an enemy. While high enough in the air, you know have a ground pound attack like in “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel”, but without the need of an Oz kit, which I personally rarely used but is still appreciated as an attack option. Class mods still exist, but I feel like they went that tiny bit crazier in “Borderlands 3”, since some of those mods have crazy good effects and can be reason alone to change your equipment to facilitate one specific build. The same is true for artifacts, which can give some impressive bonuses to pretty much anything your character might want to do. One of the best new features, however, does not deal any damage but instead conveys information: By pressing X on the keyboard, or up on the directional pad of a controller, you can mark anything that you happen to find in the game world and ping it for your colleagues to see. Found a loot chest? Simply ping it and everybody sees its location. Do you want your teammates to focus fire on one specific dangerous enemy without describing said enemy and their position first? Ping that enemy and everybody as a marker to shoot at. Do you often get lost while travelling the large maps? Tell your folks to mark the way “Hänsel and Gretel”-style and simply follow their markers. This is certainly not the most revolutionary invention Gearbox could introduce into the game, but it is nonetheless a very welcome one.

The new “Cyclone” vehicles and all the various tyres you can equip it with.

Another major update comes in form of vehicles. Now, driving motorized movement options in a “Borderlands” game has been a thing since the very first title, but now you do not simply start with two weapon loadouts and some colors for the vehicles anymore. Instead, you start with only one loadout, but you can hijack opposing vehicles and drive them back to a digi-struct station to get all the gear on it that you did not have before. This gives you various weapons, armor types, boost variants and lots of other things you can finetune to make your vehicle as comfortable to play with as possible. Instead of only having a machine gun as the driver’s firing option for the buggy, why not unlock a tesla coil and quite literally shock the opposition? Are you tired of firing the same old rocket launcher while sitting in the gunner’s seat? How about a rocket battery instead? Boosting is nice, but simply moving faster does not cut it for you anymore? How about you transform the booster option into a weapon by creating some energy-blade wings for your vehicle instead? And on top of having the buggy, called the Outrider, and the bigger vehicle in form of the Technical, there is one completely new vehicle named the Cyclone, which is basically a type of bike but only consists of one giant wheel; and comes with two machine gun arms attached.

Overall, the base game of “Borderlands 3” provides the best gun-play yet, since the weaponry is creative and fun to use and the targeting and shooting is precise and simply feels good. The new characters all provide various insane abilities and make experimentation and build-crafting a fun min-maxing exercise, and the droprate for rare loots seems to be increased meaning that you can get more of the orange goodness you want to see. While I am not as excited about more vehicular combat, it does certainly work and with the size of the maps we are working in “Borderlands 3” they are certainly necessary. All those are good points and solid reasons to play the game, just do yourself the favor and treat the story like I did it in “Tales from the Borderlands”, since it is incredibly easy to find plotholes, weird character motivations and subpar writing if you really want to find those. However, “Borderlands 3” does not end here, since it is pretty much custom nowadays to provide the titles of this franchise with more DLC content; and I do have something to say about those aswell.

DLC: Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot

Before I fill this article with even more words, why not let the late “Handsome Jack” describe his resort for me. Here is a little taste of what to expect:

I have to admit: Even after his death Handsome Jack still manages to steal the show. Seeing the villain of “Borderlands 2” in action again made me realise why I had a hard time liking the Calypsos as the villains: It is hard to top something that is very close to perfection. So, a gigantic casino in space; and Moxxi wants to have it. And not just the loot in the casino vault like in scenarios as the “Dead Money” DLC of “Fallout: New Vegas”; no, she wants the entire place. And who else is going to help her achieve this very goal than the trusty team of vault hunters, which seem to put up with everything that is asked of them. But, oh well, since it is a casino, there is probably lots of cash involved so at least the motivational part is taken care off. “Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot” has a different tone than the base game, since it starts off in a less serious direction: There is no bigger evil at work here and we do not need to save a planet from imminent demise, there is just a luxury space station with unbelieveable riches floating in space that you are asked to gain control off. For Moxxi, this is not just about the money: Back in the day, Handsome Jack was one of her many lovers, and they talked about the great idea of building a casino resort in space. Well, Handsome Jack liked the idea even after they broke up and pretty much used all her ideas just as she imagined them to build the place; and her taking control of it is her way of getting even with Handsome Jack even after his demise. Good for her.

In the “Borderlands 3” manier that we know and love from the base game, we get to meet some old characters: Timothy, the playable Handsome Jack doubleganger from “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel” struggles to keep himself alive in a place where anything that looks like Jack is shot on sight at that point in time, while also being of extreme importance to the characters since he can open the many locks that keep you from progressing in the “Handsome Jackpot” since he has such clearance as a Jack double. So, you decide to work with him and help him flee the station and therefore the many people that are out for his life. There are quite a few dangers to get past though, since a short man named Prettyboy offers anyone who can capture Timothy wealth beyond believe, and that naturally means that there are quite a few bandits willing to take the risk of being shot at by the vault hunters. Another of the dangers in the casino are the staff in form of the robotic cleaning personel and bouncers, which are programmed to get rid of any abnormality, being it due to causing dirt or simply not being allowed into an area. Also, since this is a Hyperion-lead organisation, the Loader-Bot and its various different load-outs can be encountered aswell, with old enemies such as the EXP-Loader, the RIOT-Loader with a storm shield, the GUN-Loader with normal firearms and even elemental variants with fire, shock and ice.

However, while originally introduced as some mobster with more money than common sense, Prettyboy does have the total control over the Casino. Due to the story developing that way, feel free to forget anything I said about this DLC not featuring some world-saving scenario, since there is a giant army of loader-bots in the guts of the facility, waiting to be launched for yet another Hyperion-lead takeover. We all know that loads of loader-bots are not what will win you a war against the vault hunters, since that plan failed for Handsome Jack before and he was way smarter and immensely better prepared for battle. Nonetheless, Moxxi says that we need to stop it all in order to prevent a potential disaster from happening. To do that “heist”, we get a crew of random people, like the mayor of the town of “Trashlantis”, which was founded in the waste disposal of the resort, Ember, a varieté dancer who likes fire, and Freddie, a mechanic with lacking fashion sense and a problem regarding loyalty.

The main entrance to the “Handsome Jackpot” is adorned by a likeness of Mr. Handsome Jack himself. Get used to that, you will see his face quite often over the course of the DLC.

Overall, “Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot” is nice. There are no vehicles since there is no need for them plotwise and not enough space to use them gameplay-wise, but this allows you to get into more on-foot fire fights which are really good. Since it is a casino we are talking about here, you have lots of money to gain and can easily buy a number of backpack and ammunition extensions back on the “Sanctuary III” after a brief stay in the “Handsome Jackpot”. The story is lacking again and the end boss does leave a lot to be desired, but like in the base game I can live with those shortcomings since I still get to play action-rich fire fights with a ludicrous arsenal of weapons against crazy enemies; and the environment is certainly interesting enough to keep the ball rolling.

DLC: Guns, Love, and Tentacles

With the cazino craziness behind us and the danger of covering Pandora with even more destroyed Loader-Bots avoided, why not go for a shift in tone and a trip to a frozen wasteland? Why should we go there? Well, because there is a knot to tie:

Yes, Gearbox portrays this gay marriage like any other marriage would, and I would like to personally shake the hand of the writers for going with that idea since it is a good and right one. Some of the Eden-6 love bird talk bordered on the verge of cringyness, but at no point in time does “Borderlands 3” condemn two men loving each other; so thumbs up for that. When Aurelia, Hammerlock’s sister and arch-nemesis, was introduced to the story as a villain to fit against, I already feared the worst, since I remember dialogues from “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel” where she could not stop laughing and snorting due to the size of Moxxi’s chest area. Needless to say that I expected her to be a condescending and queer-bashing b**** with the writer’s excuse being that this is her character and does not stand for the opinions of the staff; thankfully, none of that happened and she instead focussed on obtaining more money and murdering people for it rather than discriminating against queers. However, when I said that they “normalized” the relationship, I obviously only meant the behavior between the characters, not everything else around them going on; because the “Cthulhu Mythos”-referrals are pretty much everywhere.

But let us start at the beginning: You are invited to the Wedding of Wainwright Jakobs and Alastair Hammerlock, who decided that the perfect party venue would be the remote world of Xylourgos, a frozen waste with wolf monsters and evil cult worshippers in abundance. You land on this hellhole and are greeted with the arbitrary character deja-vu in form of Gaige and her Deathtrap, one of the DLC characters from “Borderlands 2”. Turns out, she is the wedding planer and wants everything to be just perfect; and perfection is also what Wainwright wants to be sure about, so he asks you to accompany him to the party hall in the city. Your party becomes a group of uninvited guests to a very different sort of communion and Wainwright gets a nice new wedding ring as a present from the cult leader for being the new vessel for some demonic god. This does turn the wedding plans upside-down though, since you cannot have one of the pair spouting demonic nonsense and already having the ring finger occupied with someone else’s jewelry, so you go on the hunt for clues on how to end the demonic possession.

The DLC itself is … interesting, I guess? I like the idea of Wainwright and Hammerlock marrying and all coming down to some crazy “Borderlands” scenario, but at the point where the player(s) have to fight against the “Empowered Grawn”, a boring boss fight that consists of an enemy being invincible while Gaige tries to reach some word-count record babbling some horseshit, I kind of lost interest in the happenings and wished for it to end. The villainess Eleanor was a former Dahl scientist and lost her husband due to the influences of the “Cthulhu”-stuff that is constantly present everywhere. That is basically all you need to know resembling a story here: You go into a huge library to find echo-logs telling you about Eleanor’s past, with plenty of shooty bits in-between. You prove that you are worthy to a clan of warriors in order to progress to the Dahl spaceship, then you enter the spaceship to find out more, but oh no, Deathtrap gets overloaded and Gaige is sad due to losing her only friend (not my words, she constantly mentions that fact over the course of the mission); which, by the way, is complete bollocks since she build Deathtrap and should therefore be perfectly capable of repairing it. This is another decision on a writer’s level that I simply cannot understand: Were we meant to feel sorry for the murderbot that is incapable of speech and/or emotions? Was it not obvious that it comes right back up after a short pause due to lying on the ground fully intact instead of being blown to pieces of finding demise in some other irreparable way? The only thing I can say is that I was not the only person getting annoyed by the stream of nonsense that Gaige spouted in my speakers, which might be an indicator for her dialogue being a little bit over the top… in many ways.

The first DLC had its flaws, sure, but the scenario was different and somewhat refreshing with casino-themed sillyness around every corner. The scenario of “Guns, Love and Tentacles” is a frozen ball of nothingness, on which we are forced to follow some woman around while shooting cultists. I am sure that there are enough players that liked the second DLC better than the first, but during “Handsome Jackpot” I felt entertained enough to keep going, while I increasingly got more bored and uninterested the longer the slog lasted.

DLC: Bounty of Blood

It seems that Gearbox got the message regarding the usage of forced and cringy humor, so they decided to go with a more serious tone for the next DLC. “Bounty of Blood” mixes the wild west and all its tropes with dinosaurs and an asian-inspired setting. That sure sounds like an adventurous take to world-building, but as always I give you the trailer to set the mood:

In fact, “Bounty of Blood” is a fresh breeze regarding what “Borderlands 3” has to offer so far. The setting is a planet named Gehenna, which already sets the mood as an unholy land due to the bible reference. I do not want to go into too much detail, but worshipping Moloch and sacrificing children does not necessarily make a place holy; hence, good naming. And this train of though does not stop there: The main opposition in the DLC is called the “Devil Riders”, since the aforementioned dinosaurs are called “Devils”, giving the entire DLC a steer towards the Vault Hunters being the redeemers of the land. Fitting, since the entire title of the DLC is “Bounty of Blood: A Fistful of Redemption”. The best description for the rest of the world-building elements that I have seen is “weeb western”: There are tropes like a saloon being the main hub in the city, an old sheriff trying to keep the peace, the usual gun draw scene from pretty much an western in existence, or even just the overall style in clothing. This is married together with pagodas, a bathhouse level, asian-themed writing, and other small details to form a unique scenario.

One definite plus point for the DLC is that they do not force a character from an older “Borderlands” title into the mix. The new characters in form of the old sheriff, the ex-“Devil Rider” Juno, the deputy Titus, or the main antagonist Rose all work well in the roles they have taken. None of those characters got interesting enough for me to hope that they return in a later installment, but they all do their job and carry to story. Talking about the story, there is actually a small difference in how it is told in “Bounty of Blood”, since instead of you simply running from mission to mission to get all the necessary information, there is a narrator who calls himself “The Liar”. This narrator is another double-edged sword: On one hand, I like the idea of getting the story told to me somewhat more naturally than just getting quest dialogue, but on the other hand I am not necessarily a fan of him telling me information that could not have been available otherwise, since that seems like a “Tales from the Borderlands”-style thing to do.

Unfortunately, while the scenario is pretty strong and the delivery works, the gameplay leaves lots to be desired. One emphasis in the DLC is the introduction of beneficiary plant life, which comes in a number of varieties: There are plants that can propel you through the air, which is exactly the same function as that of a jumppad, there are plants that explode when shot, which is more or less the same function as barrels, and there is a sort of plant that can send out spores to make an enemy switch sides for a brief moment, which is a new feature but not one that is either particularly useful nor available that often. There is a new vehicle in form of the Jetbeast, but while this hovercraft vehicle might be new, it is simply meant to be a mode of transport in the DLC, nothing more. And while the enemy variety, the weapon drops and the boss fights are all acceptable as they are, the length of the DLC is not. Our group managed to get through the entire content of the DLC in about five hours, including all the side missions, which is simply a bit too short. It also seemed very rushed during the final stages of its story, since you go from a literal bomb pretty much straight to the endboss fight.

If you like playing “Borderlands 3”, then playing this DLC is an absolute no-brainer. The story is still leagues better than that of the main game and you still get enough enemies to shoot and weapons to loot to make this a solid experience. However, it is definitely not my favorite.

DLC: Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck

And here is the last of the “normal” DLCs, since storywise “Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck” is anything but normal. Well, what do you expect to get when you enter the mind of a psychopatic murder machine. But let Tannis explain the details to you:

In all honesty: I had no expectations going into the DLC, since I expected them to go with the usual “Borderlands” funny meme madness that seems to be all the rage. You find some sillyness in the scenario, but surprisingly enough the journey to get to know the character Krieg, a playable Psycho from “Borderlands 2, on a different level is pretty good in my opinion. There are Psycho enemies on firework rockets, you have to fight a train as a boss, at some point in the DLC you shoot the moon out of the sky to use it as a boulder for a catapult, but aside from those splotches of sillyness there is substance underneath. Turns out, Krieg has a split personality of a sane and an insane character and he starts of saying that he would rather live in another vessel than sharing the same body with the insane parts of his personality. However, the exploration of his mind not only shows the crazier parts you see right at the beginning of the story, but deeper thoughts like the companionship of the Crimson Raiders, or his love for Maya who became a character that kept him going. On a darker note, it also shows what happened to him after he was captured by Hyperion, how the Psycho personality took shape in his mind, and what cruel experiments he had to endure. This is still “Borderlands”, so the writers did not fully manage to keep things serious and had Tannis blab some nonsense in-between, but Krieg showed solid development that made him a genuinely interesting character that I would like to see again.

Unfortunately, I always seem to find something to criticize: Most of the side missions are simply dialogue, in which you either need to shot a minimal amount of times or just wander another three meters to something activatable to finish the mission. It is perfectly possible that a lot of thought went into making those dialogues interesting and engaging, but from a gameplay perspective it does not quite work. Also, just like “Bounty of Blood”, this is a fairly short DLC with about three to four hours of playtime if you do all the side missions; which is unfortunate since I liked this DLC more than “Bounty of Blood” or the more tedious “Guns, Love and Tentacles”. Also, I found the entire “Vaulthalla”-thing to be incredibly forced: Why not simply get a request from Tannis to explore the mind of Krieg for some scientific reason that is not related to a vault? I know that we are talking about “Borderlands” so there needs to be some Vault-related reasoning to all actions, but the end boss being a vault guardian that protects a giant loot chamber was rather weak after the exposition of Krieg’s mind. If I had to decide for two DLCs out of the four to play, I would suggest “Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot” and “Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck”.

An Arms Race (?)

There are more DLCs, but I will not talk about them at length since I do not see a reason to buy them. There are various cosmetics DLCs which cost 9,99€ per add-on, which is ridiculously expense and something that Gearbox got quite some flag for from the community. In addition to those, there is the DLC number 5, which introduces the “Arms Race” mode, in which the players are dropped in an arena of sorts without any equipment and need to fetch the necessary weaponry in the area to defeat the opponents. Basically, Gearbox made a Battle Royale mode that no one asked for and that does not provide enough depth to really work with. DLC number 6 also exists and tells a sort of afterstory in which Ava solves murder mysteries for her podcast. While that DLC provides at least some semblences of a plot to follow again, there is really not that much to it and for 15€ I find better games to buy and play.

One thing that I still want to mention at the end are the bugs and issues you might encounter during the game. There are occasional crashes with a long error message; not as many as in games such as “Fallout: New Vegas”, but still enough to be noticeable. The more pressing issue are the sound problems: It does occasionally happen that sounds play with a delay or not at all, and while I would normally say that this is an issue that only my hardware is causing, there is evidence against that theory in form of everyone else in my party having those problems. Some weapons had problems with additional ammunition and reload animations, since they sometimes refused to reload or work at all; but that only happened very rarely. A constant problem that I had with my character, Moze, has that her mech “Iron Bear” is oftentimes too big to enter rooms or get through passages, which might be intentional (and is obviously only a problem for one of the four characters) but seems like a weird way to balance the class.

Overall, “Borderlands 3” is a solid looter-shooter. The roleplaying game-elements were tweaked to give you a roster of solid characters with various build paths and certainly powerful abilities. Shooting enemies in “Borderlands 3” feels extremely good, and since that is what the game is about Gearbox did well to put emphasis on that factor. The story, as you might have noticed, also exists. Look, I talked about the shortcomings of the story at length and there are hundreds of hours of material available online which tears the story apart for its inconsistencies and its shortcomings, but at the end of the day it is just a vehicle to get the player to move from point A to point B in such games. If you played the other “Borderlands” titles and liked them, you find more to play here. The game still costs 59,99€ on Steam, but it regularly goes on sale even without any event like the Summer Sale, so you can get it for 50% – 66% off. I also bought the “Borderlands 3: Season Pass”, which includes all of the story DLCs (meaning the first four); but obviously I also waited for that thing to be reduced in price, since you would have to pay another 50€ to obtain in under normal circumstances, which I am not willing to pay. It is the most recent “Borderlands” title and therefore still the most expensive one, but whether you are willing to pay the money for it is up to you; just keep in mind that they have a few offers on the market that are meant to make money to the where they seem like a scam.

Archetype Analysis: Dual Avatar

Last updated: 18.09.2021

The ever-growing number of archetypes in Yugioh does have all the stories of success and failure: Some archetypes are made to be powerful, some have hidden potential that first needs to be discovered and there are also groups of cards that are cast to the wayside almost immediately due to being immensely underpowered, or inconsistent, or whatever else adjective you might want to include here. But one group is does not get that much limelight: The archetypes that appear, fail to make an impact and then quietly disappear again without much noise. Today’s topic, “Dual Avatar”, is an archetype that I would put into that last group, since people are still aware that they exist since they are not that old, but there is not that much material online, people are hardly mentioning it and I for one did not even know what exactly they can do before I decided to dedicate an article to the archetype’s existence.

Disclaimer: None of the information given by me is set in stone. Having an open mind in deck building and including creative ideas is always helpful, if only to further understand the playstyle and strategy of the deck you are about to build. There are probably choices that I list which can be labled as debatable, but no platform I know of gives a broad overview over both the archetypes and all the card choices, so I aimed to do just that. I will try to keep this page (as well as the other ones, once they are made) up-to-date, so if any reader feels like I skipped some amazing tech choice or a crucial card, just drop me a note and I will add the missing information if necessary. Furthermore, I use a number of sources for ideas and information, so a list with links that I deem useful is attached to the end of the page and credit is given whenever I can point to a source to do so.

“Dual Avatar” is an archetype that consists entirely of Light Warrior monsters. The archetype actually uses Fusion monsters quite extensively, and pretty much every board they try to build will feature them in some way. Aside from that, they use two game mechanics to make things work: Destroying their own cards in order to trigger effects to gain advantage, and summoning so-called “Dual Avatar Spirit Tokens” that work as the main Fusion material force. They do have some issues that Konami still has to iron out via support, but you will get a better picture of that when we take a look at the cards the archetype has to offer:

Archetype:

DualAvatarInvitation-PHRA-EN-ScR-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Invitation
Type: Normal Spell

This is one of those archetypes in which I have to introduce a certain Spell card before talking about anything else to make sense of it all. So, here is “Dual Avatar Invitation”, a Normal Spell card with quite a lot of text, but really just two basic effect ideas. When activated, you need to discard one card from your hand, and if you do you Special Summon as many “Dual Avatar Spirit Tokens” (Level 2 Light Warrior monster with 0/0) to your side of the field, also you cannot Special Summon monsters from your Extra Deck for the rest of the turn, except for Fusion monsters, and the tokens you control cannot be tributed and are automatically destroyed during the End Phase; that includes tokens that were generated by any other effect. Effect number two triggers directly after summoning the tokens, and allows you to Fusion Summon one “Dual Avatar” Fusion monster from your Extra Deck by using monsters from your hand or your field as Fusion material; also, you are allowed to use this effect up to twice. Lastly, you can only activate one “Dual Avatar Invitation” per turn, disallowing some really major monster spamming. This is the card that actually accrues enough material for the rest of the deck to work. I will go into the monster section shortly and tell you all about what they can do, but keep in mind that this is the fastest and easiest way to Fusion Summon in “Dual Avatar”, since the card does provide both the necessary material as well as the Fusion Spell to do so.

Recommended copies: 3
“Dual Avatar Invitation” is of paramount importance to the “Dual Avatar” archetype and should be played at three copies no matter what.

DualAvatarFeetKokoku-PHRA-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku
Level/Rank: 3
ATK/DEF: 800/2000
Attribute/Type: Light Warrior

After this little detour, let us continue in the normal fashion by talking about “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku”. He is a Level 3 Light Warrior monster with 800/2000 and comes with quite a few effects. Firstly, if “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” is Normal or Special Summoned, you can search your deck for a “Dual Avatar” Trap card and add it to your hand. This effect has a search pool of three cards, namely “Dual Avatar Ascendance“, “Dual Avatar Compact” and “Dual Avatar Return“, which I will talk about in more detail later. The effect text continues by stating that, during your opponent’s turn, if one or multiple face-up “Dual Avatar” monsters (except “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku”) are destroyed by battle or card effect, you can Special Summon “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” from your hand, and then you can furthermore destroy one of your “Dual Avatar” monsters to Special Summon one “Dual Avatar” Fusion monster from your Extra Deck. Lastly, you can only use each effect of “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” once per turn. So, as one of only two Main Deck monsters this archetype has to offer, it is pretty much a three-off regardless of the effect, however “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” is still pretty helpful. Being able to search Trap cards on any summon means that it searches when you use it as the Normal Summon for the turn and is able to search a Trap card if the opponent triggered his Special Summon ability. It also serves as another way to Fusion Summon monsters and can use left-over tokens (which requires you to not have played “Dual Avatar Invitation” in the last turn) to tap into your Extra Deck, which is neat. The Fusion monsters that will come later also gain additional effects when using “Dual Avatar” effect monsters, so even if you did not like this effect set so far Konami is still kinda forcing your hand in deckbuilding decisions here.

Recommended copies: 3
“Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” is very much necessary to make the “Dual Avatar” strategy run at all, so three copies are definitely recommended.

DualAvatarFistsYuhi-PHRA-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi
Level/Rank: 4
ATK/DEF: 1800/1000
Attribute/Type: Light Warrior

The other Main Deck monster in “Dual Avatar” is “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi”. This Level 4 Light Warrior monster with 1800/1000 can target one “Dual Avatar” monster you control (including himself), destroy that monster and then add one “Dual Avatar” Spell from your deck to your hand. Furthermore, if one or multiple face-up “Dual Avatar” Fusion monsters you control, that were Fusion Summoned using an Effect monster as material, are destroyed by battle or an opponent’s card effect while “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” is in the graveyard, you can add this card to your hand. And, as usual, each effect of “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” is only usable once per turn. Unlike “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku“, “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” only has two targets to search in the deck, namely “Dual Avatar Invitation” and “Dual Avatar Defeating Evil“, since the Field Spell “Perfect Sync – A-Un” does not have the “Dual Avatar” moniker in the name. However, that is not that bad, since “Dual Avatar Invitation” is the one card you want to have in your hand and getting it more consistently with the help of “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” is very much appreciated. And since I already mentioned the Field Spell: It does help “Yuhi” by being searched and providing a token to destroy, making it another important puzzle piece. The second effect is also nice, since you will normally end your board on two Fusion monsters and can therefore rebuild that board during the next turn when the opponent starts to disassemble it, making “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” another highly important card for the archetype.

Recommended copies: 3
“Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” is yet another three-off. The fact that this card can search “Dual Avatar Invitation” is good enough as a reason alone, but the fact that it is also recurring makes it very much necessary.

DualAvatarFeetArmoredUnGyo-PHRA-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Feet – Armored Un-Gyo
Level/Rank: 5
ATK/DEF: 1700/2100
Attribute/Type: Light Warrior

Which brings us straight to the first Fusion monster the “Dual Avatar” archetype has to offer. This is “Dual Avatar Feet – Armored Un-Gyo”, a Level 5 Light Warrior monster with 1700/2100 that asks for any two “Dual Avatar” monsters to be summoned and has no further restrictions in summoning method. Effect-wise, “Armored Un-Gyo” can save “Dual Avatar” Fusion monsters from destruction by destroying any other “Dual Avatar” monster instead, and during the Main Phase, if you also control a “Dual Avatar” Fusion monster that was Fusion Summoned using an Effect monster as material, you can as a Quick Effect target one face-up monster that was Special Summoned from the Extra Deck and negate its effects until the end of that turn. Also, each effect “Dual Avatar Feet – Armored Un-Gyo” can only be used once per turn. “Armored Un-Gyo” is quite underwhelming in my opinion. Granted, you normally fill the entire board with token via “Dual Avatar Invitation“, so “Armored Un-Gyo” will have another Fusion monster accompanying it to the board, but to use the destruction redirection you need to have another monster on the field that you would like to destroy instead, which is probably not going to be a “Dual Avatar Spirit Token” since those destroyed themselves when the End Phase came around after playing “Dual Avatar Invitation”. This means you either have a copy of “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” or “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” lingering around for no good reason, or there is nothing you can target otherwise which makes the effect null and void. The second effect has to be unlocked by having another “Dual Avatar” Fusion monster, preferably one of the boss monsters since those specifically ask for the Main Deck Effect monsters as material, but while this is often not that much of a hurdle to overcome, the effect of “Armored Un-Gyo” is mediocre at best, since it just blocks the effect; not permanently, and it does not destroy anything, just effect negation. This card is another candidate that is saved by the archetype only having a small number of options to begin with, making “Armored Un-Gyo” a summonable card.

Recommended copies: 1-2
“Dual Avatar Feet – Armored Un-Gyo” is a mediocre Fusion monster that can be summoned alongside another “Dual Avatar” Fusion monster via “Dual Avatar Invitation“. Since it is easy to summon that way and interacts with certain other cards we will talk about, I would suggest running one to two copies.

DualAvatarFistsArmoredAhGyo-PHRA-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Fists – Armored Ah-Gyo
Level/Rank: 6
ATK/DEF: 2100/1500
Attribute/Type: Light Warrior

Next up is “Dual Avatar Fists – Armored Ah-Gyo”. This Level 6 Light Warrior monster has 2100/1500 as its stats, and just like “Dual Avatar Feet – Armored Un-Gyo” this monster needs two “Dual Avatar” monsters to be Fusion Summoned. In terms of effects, “Armored Ah-Gyo” can destroy one attack position monster your opponent controls when Special Summoned, but “Armored Ah-Gyo” cannot attack directly during the turn this effect was activated and you can only use this effect of “Dual Avatar Fists – Armored Ah-Gyo” once per turn. The second effect only goes live if you control another “Dual Avatar” Fusion monster which was summoned by using an Effect monster as Fusion material, in which case all “Dual Avatar” Fusion monsters you control gain 300 ATK and DEF. So, another monster that feels lacking overall: The stat-line is not particularly impressive, the destruction effect is nice but is already restricted to attack position monsters so why the need for the additional drawback in not being able to attack directly, and the stat boost honestly feels like a bad joke. This is “Dual Avatar” we are talking about though, and “Dual Avatar Invitation” makes it very easy to summon “Armored Ah-Gyo”, which is one of the main reasons why you should still run this card.

Recommended copies: 1-2
“Dual Avatar Fists – Armored Ah-Gyo” is part two of the lower level Fusion monsters in “Dual Avatar”. It does not set me alight, but it definitely is a card you want to play in order to have decent and easily accessable removal. In my opinion, one to two copies should suffice.

DualAvatarEmpoweredMitsuJaku-BLVO-EN-UR-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku
Level/Rank: 7
ATK/DEF: 2000/3000
Attribute/Type: Light Warrior

This brings us straight to the boss monster duo, starting with “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku”. This Level 7 Light Warrior Fusion monster with 2000/3000 does need two “Dual Avatar” monsters and specifically “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” as Fusion material. For the three monsters you need to use in order to get to “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku”, you get the following effects: First off, the first time each “Dual Avatar” Fusion monster you control would be destroyed by battle each turn, it is not destroyed. Then, once per turn, during you Main Phase, you can return all Spells and Trap your opponent controls to the hand. And finally, when a monster effect is activated on the opposing field while you control two or more Fusion monsters, you can use this Quick Effect to destroy the monster; this last effect does comes with a hard “once per turn”-restriction. So, this is certainly better than the smaller Fusion monsters, although I feel there is still much to be desired. The one-off battle immunity is cute, but can be easily countered by any removal effect hitting “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku” before the Battle Phase starts. The “Giant Trunade” effect is certainly helpful, just keep in mind that this effect is irrelevant when you are forced to go first and “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku” does not provide any meaningful protection to ensure staying around. The destruction is easily the best effect of the bunch, but even here I have to criticize the fact that the card only destroys, it does not negate the effect that triggered the destruction, meaning that the opponent might be okay with losing the monster since they still get something out of the exchange. All in all, “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku” does more than the previous Fusion monsters while asking for more resources to be summoned in the first place.

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku” is a solid Fusion monster for the “Dual Avatar” archetype. I would suggest running two to three copies, since you want to see him on the field quite often.

DualAvatarEmpoweredKonGyo-PHRA-EN-UR-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo
Level/Rank: 8
ATK/DEF: 3000/1700
Attribute/Type: Light Warrior

And here is the other half of the boss monster duo, “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo”. He is a Level 8 Light Warrior Fusion monster with 3000/1700 and asks for two “Dual Avatar” monster alongside specifically “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” as Fusion materials. In this case, the three monsters give you a beatstick that disallows your opponent from activating cards and effects until the end of the Damage Step whenever “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo” battles. In addition to that effect, when “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo” attacks, you can return one monster your opponent controls to their hand after damage calculation. And lastly, when your opponent activates a Spell card, a Trap card or an effect of a Spell/Trap that targets “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo” on the field, while you control two or more Fusion monster, you can as a Quick Effect negate the activation of the card in question; also, this effect of “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo” can only be used once per turn. Just like “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku“, this is a better Fusion monster than the small versions but it had better been since it also asks for more material. This is basically an “Ancient Gear Golem” that can bounce when attacking but only after the battle is over, meaning that this effect cannot trigger if you lose “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo” during the battle and that the effect is completely irrelevant if the opponent has no monster left to bounce, which also happens to bring highly specific protection that only negates the activated card but refuses to destroy it. We end up with the same result: In other decks, I would consider no running a card like this at all, but in “Dual Avatar” we are somewhat forced to run it.

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo” is the archetypal beatstick, but while the text box is filled with lots of words, it actually does not do that much after all. I would still consider running two to three copies due to it being fairly easy to summon and the archetype leaving you almost no other choices.

DualAvatarDefeatingEvil-PHRA-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Defeating Evil
Type: Quick Spell

This is not the first Spell card since we already covered “Dual Avatar Invitation“, but it is nonetheless more backrow support that we should talk about. “Dual Avatar Defeating Evil” is, aside being a weirdly named card, a Quick Spell that targets both one “Dual Avatar” monster you control and one card the opponent controls and allows you to destroy them both. If you destroyed a “Dual Avatar” Fusion monster using this effect, you can also decide to draw one card or to banish one card from the opposing graveyard as an added bonus. Finally, you can only activate one “Dual Avatar Defeating Evil” per turn. First off, this card is a Quick Spell omni-destruction, which is kinda neat. The fact that you can simply kill one of your “Dual Avatar Spirit Tokens” to get rid of any opposing card can be fairly helpful and is actually a way to get around pesky cards like “Mystic Mine“. Unfortunately, the cost is quite steep, with you needing to use two cards in order to get rid of one; but this is where the second part of the effect comes in, either allowing you to make this card a +0 in card economy or banishing a card from the opposing graveyard to disrupt certain plays they could attempt to make. I thought the card was pretty bad when I first read it, but now I made my peace with it and deem it a decent option for the archetype it is part of due to being searchable and potentially allowing you to make plays via destroying your own monsters.

Recommended copies: 1-2
“Dual Avatar Defeating Evil” is the appropriate “Dual Avatar” removal option. It can be searched via “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” if needed and even imitated by “Dual Avatar Compact“, which means you should be able to get some leverage out of it. I would suggest one to two copies.

PerfectSyncAUn-PHRA-EN-SR-1E.png

Name: “Perfect Sync – A-Un
Type: Field Spell

The last Spell card in “Dual Avatar” also happens to be the Field Spell: “Perfect Sync – A-Un”. This is one very straightforward card, despite the wall of text: When activated, you can add one “Dual Avatar” monster from your deck to your hand. Furthermore, if you control a “Dual Avatar” Effect monster, you can Special Summon one “Dual Avatar Spirit Token” (Level 2 Light Warrior with 0/0), but you cannot Special Summon monsters from the Extra Deck for the rest of the turn, except for Fusion monster; also you can only use the token producing effect of “Perfect Sync – A-Un” once per turn and you can only activate one copy of “Perfect Sync – A-Un” per turn. This is really just the bandaid to keep the archetype together: Play the Field Spell, then search for “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi“, Normal Summon it, use effect number two of “Perfect Sync – A-Un” to generate a token, then destroy it for the effect of “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” in order to fetch “Dual Avatar Invitation“, which will then start the two Fusion monster assembly. Yes, you can also search “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” and search a “Dual Avatar” Trap card via his effect, or you can fetch “Dual Avatar Defeating Evil” by using the previously described scenario, but that is it really. “Perfect Sync – A-Un” is very much necessary in order to keep the archetype together, but I would be lying if I said that this is a well-designed card.

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Perfect Sync – A-Un” is a necessary piece for the search chain you want to go down in order to increase the archetype’s consistency. As such, I would either recommend running three copies of the Field Spell, or alternatively play two copies plus one copy of “Terraforming“.

DualAvatarAscendance-BLVO-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Ascendance
Type: Normal Trap

In the Trap section, the first card to take a closer look at is “Dual Avatar Ascendance”. This Normal Trap card targets one “Dual Avatar” monster you control, destroys it, and then allows you to Special Summon one “Dual Avatar” monster from your deck or Extra Deck with an original level either one level higher or one level lower than the monster you destroyed. Also, during your Main Phase, except during the turn this card was sent to the graveyard, you can banish “Dual Avatar Ascendance” from your graveyard, then target one “Dual Avatar” monster in your graveyar and add it to your hand. Each effect of “Dual Avatar Ascendance” can only be used once per turn. I have to admit that this ladder summoning effect can be quite helpful: In the lower level ranges, the ability to switch “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku” and “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” can lead to either a “Dual Avatar” Trap card or a “Dual Avatar” Spell card search, but using “Dual Avatar Ascendance” in that way should not be a thing when no other option is available. Way more interesting is switching “Dual Avatar Feet – Armored Un-Gyo” against “Dual Avatar Fists – Armored Ah-Gyo” for a semi-disruptive destruction effect or switching either “Dual Avatar Fists – Armored Ah-Gyo” or “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo” against “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku” to negate some Extra Deck monster that could otherwise prove to be problematic; also, you can use “Dual Avatar Ascendance” with any Fusion monster to dodge opposing (targeting) effects, since keeping another Fusion monster is sometimes better than flatout losing one but keeping the Trap intact. The recurrence effect by banishing “Dual Avatar Ascendance” from your graveyard is also decent enough; it would have been better if it summoned the Main Deck monsters instead, but seeing how this archetype handles things it could also have no other effect at all, so I take the bonus.

Recommended copies: 0-3
“Dual Avatar Ascendance” is completely up for preference if you ask me. Sure, the card has multiple applications and does make use of a sizeable amount of the archetype, but I am fairly certain that you could skip the card entirely and then simply find something else to fill the slots. As such, if you deem it useful, feel free to play it, otherwise simply skip the card.

DualAvatarCompact-PHRA-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Compact
Type: Normal Trap

Moving on, we have “Dual Avatar Compact”. This is a surprisingly versatile card in “Dual Avatar”, as you will see in a second. “Dual Avatar Compact” is a Normal Trap that you can only activate during your Main Phase to banish one “Dual Avatar” Spell or Trap card from your graveyard, except another copy of “Dual Avatar Compact”, to make the effect of the activated “Dual Avatar Compact” the effect of the card that you banished for the activation. You can only activate one “Dual Avatar Compact” per turn. So, we cannot copy the effects of “Perfect Sync – A-Un” since that would be silly and it does not have the “Dual Avatar” moniker in the name. We also cannot copy another “Dual Avatar Compact” since the card prohibits this in the effect text. That leaves us with four cards that “Dual Avatar Compact” can imitate during either player’s Main Phase: “Dual Avatar Invitation“, a solid pick during your turn to build a board but even better during the opposing one since you can surprise the opponent with certain Fusion monsters effects when they least expected it; “Dual Avatar Defeating Evil” can be helpful if you need the destruction effect and have no other copy of it or other option available; “Dual Avatar Ascendance“, which does everything I describe in the text of that card when imitated by “Dual Avatar Compact”, but does rob you of the recurrence effect since you have to banish the card to imitate the effect; and lastly “Dual Avatar Return“, which we will talk about in a second but can prove helpful if you need a body on the field against the opposing attack. Overall, “Dual Avatar Compact” is a solid card that is only held back by the fact that you need to have a copy of the card you want to copy in your graveyard, which means that it does little at the very start of the game (unless you play “Foolish Burial Goods” for no other reason than to get this card live).

Recommended copies: 2-3
“Dual Avatar Compact” can serve as more copies of certain backrow card than you would normally be allowed to play. It is a tad slow, but makes up for it in versatility and is therefore worth running at two to three copies in my book.

DualAvatarReturn-PHRA-EN-C-1E.png

Name: “Dual Avatar Return
Type: Normal Trap

The last Trap card and card overall in the “Dual Avatar” archetype is “Dual Avatar Return”. This Normal Trap targets one “Dual Avatar” monster in your graveyard and Special Summons it. However, if the level of the summoned monster is 4 or lower, you can then also Special Summon of “Dual Avatar Spirit Token” (Level 2 Light Warrior monster with 0/0). Also, you can only activate one “Dual Avatar Return” per turn. This is “Monster Reborn” with Trap speed if you target one of the Fusion monsters, or “Monster Reborn” plus if you go with a Main Deck “Dual Avatar” monster. That’s it. You can use this to resummon “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi“, get the necessary token for his destruction effect that searches “Dual Avatar Invitation“, and lo and behold, you are back at two Fusion monsters. You can also use this card to revive a Fusion monster in order to make the effects of other “Dual Avatar” Fusion monsters go live again, and you get the option of making your monsters battle-immune for one battle per turn via reviving “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku“, except that is not that powerful and very telegraphed like most plays in “Dual Avatar”.

Recommended copies: 0-2
“Dual Avatar Return” is the revival option of the archetype. It does get monsters back on the field and can serve as setup for plays via reviving “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” as described above, but it does not get much more fancy than that. Play a few copies if you deem the effect useful enough and want more copy targets for “Dual Avatar Compact“, but I personally could also see a “Dual Avatar” deck with no copies of this card whatsoever.

Recommended Engines:

Engines are an interesting subject in “Dual Avatar”, since they do not really welcome cards from other archetypes into their ranks without the union feeling weird and forced. The four archetypes I encounted in theory deckbuilding while doing the research for this article were “Zoodiac”, “Eldlich”, “Dogmatika” and “Shaddoll”, and I am going to discard the archetypes one to three for being weird excuses of making “Dual Avatar” stronger by including meta-archetypes into the mix. You are probably better of playing all of those archetypes by themselves or by combining them with something that is not “Dual Avatar”, since that is going to weaken them overall. I excluded “Shaddoll” since I can see how that thought process might work: After all, “Shaddoll” does not mind being forced into Fusion Summons and potentially helps the “Dual Avatar” archetype to finish on more than just two “Dual Avatar” Fusion monsters. I would still not recommend combining the two archetypes and playing the “Dual Avatars” pure; I am fully aware that they are lackluster on their own, but killing the deck’s consistency in order to have a chance of a better board does not necessarily sound better in my ears.

Further useful cards:

Main Deck monsters:

Nibiru, the Primal Being“:
“Dual Avatar” is not really capable of stopping decks once they go completely bananas, so why not employ a friend that can keep the opponent in check? “Nibiru” is certainly not the most creative card to run in “Dual Avatar”, since it only really does what it normally does, but not being blown out of the water by 80% of the decks in the game rightaway sounds like a solid enough reason to give this rock a go.

Silent Swordsman“:
I found this card in the “Recommended cards” section of the “Dual Avatar” article over at Yugipedia, and I do like the idea of it. Instead of simply throwing your “Dual Avatar Spirit Token” from “Perfect Sync – A-Un” into a Fusion Summon, you could also opt to summon “Silent Swordsman” from your hand, which will provide one Spell negate and, upon its inevitable demise, can search the single copy of “Silent Swordsman LV7” from the deck. The inclusion has some problems though, mainly that you cannot really afford to tribute any of the Main Deck Effect monsters, that you might draw into the bricky “Silent Swordsman LV7” that has no business being in your hand other than being discarded for “Dual Avatar Invitation” and that the “Dual Avatar Spirit Tokens” cannot be tributed for the summon of “Silent Swordsman” after “Dual Avatar Invitation” was activated. Still, it might be worth running and is therefore worth listing in my opinion.

Spell cards:

Fusion Deployment“:
“Fusion Deployment” is a pretty powerful card in “Dual Avatar”. By revealing “Dual Avatar – Empowered Mitsu-Jaku“, you can Special Summon “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku“, which will automatically give you a Trap search. Or you can reveal “Dual Avatar – Empowered Kon-Gyo” to fetch “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi“, who does not search rightaway but can give you to playstarter you need by destroying some other setup; and keep in mind that you still have your Normal Summon available afterwards. The drawback of “Fusion Deployment” is completely irrelevant for “Dual Avatar”, since most of their important cards lock you into Fusion Summons anyway, making this a solid piece of cardboard to support the strategy.

Reinforcement of the Army“:
The Warrior-type searcher. This card can both be a fourth “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi” and a fourth “Dual Avatar Feet – Kokoku“, which makes it worth running in my book for consistency reasons.

Supply Squad“:
A card that is scoffed at as a draw option for being rather situational, but due to how often the deck either destroys its own monsters or is getting destroyed during the opposing turn, I would at least want to mention it as a possible option.

The Law of the Normal“:
Embrace the meme. I would not consider this for any serious builds, but you get five Level 2 Normal monsters when activating “Dual Avatar Invitation“, which therefore gives you exactly what you need in order to activate “The Law of the Normal”. This does leave you with an Extra Deck ban for the rest of the turn, five 0/0 tokens that blow themselves up during the End Phase, and therefore an empty board during the opponent’s first try to rebuild their resources via top decking. Terrible idea if you want the deck to function at least semi-consistently but probably hilarious to pull of in casual matches.

Trap cards:

Gozen Match“:
All of your monsters are Light Attribute, so you might be able to screw the opponent with this card while being completely unaffected by it.

Rivalry of Warlords“:
Same logic as with “Gozen Match“. Your entire deck consists of Warrior-type monsters, which means that you have absolutely no drawback from “Rivalry of Warlords” while the opponent might struggle to assemble a board.

Trap Trick“:
“Trap Trick” can help the deck with further consistency by searching the exact Trap card that you need in any given situation. With “Dual Avatar Compact” being searchable by this card, you can even kind of search your Spell cards in a slightly more complicated and costly way.

Extra Deck monsters:

None currently.

Playstyle/Combos:

Today’s deck is “Dual Avatar”, and if I’m being honest it only does one thing: Two Fusions with one conditional Quick Effect. It’s too consistent to brick, has no malleable lines, and therefore every game is the exact same debilitating loss.

– MBT, Quote from his “Dual Avatar – Ten Minute Testing” video

The quote above might seem harsh, but it is not completely unjustified. MBT mentions in the same video that the entire archetype feels like it was made by an AI, and I can certainly see what he means by that. “Dual Avatar” is just playing one scenario out in every single game. Sure, you might be using different cards to get to the finished board, but overall the deck is streamlined to the point of boredom and telegraphs pretty much any plan to the opponent.

Let me give you some examples though, since this section is called “Playstyle” not “Rant”. The main goal, and probably best board, consists of two “Dual Avatar” Fusion monsters with some backrow support to back them up. For that, you normally want “Dual Avatar Invitation“: As we are now aware, the card can produce up to five tokens, but it also is your main Fusion Spells since it allows you to Fusion Summon right after usage. So, we do play three of those in the deck. For consistency reasons, it would be nice to have a searcher available; and we do have one in form of “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi“. This Main Deck monster in turn can be searched for by “Perfect Sync – A-Un“, which also provides the token you need to destroy in order to search with “Dual Avatar Fists – Yuhi“. Now you might say that “Trickstars” or “Invoked” have very similar search chains, so that can hardly be an argument against “Dual Avatar”.

And that is not the argument against “Dual Avatar”. The problem does not lie in the consistency of the searches but rather in the end result: You will end up with “Dual Avatar Invitation” and you will summon two underwhelming Fusion monsters, and that will be the end of your turn since you are now locked out of most summoning methods while also sitting in an archetype that does not provide enough generic search power or draw options to reinforce the board in some other way. If you are happy with the two Fusion board, then congratulations, this is the archetype for you. If you like to mix strategies, get creative, use different ratios of cards, or like to be part of any other creative deckbuilding and playing process, then this is an archetype that will bore you sooner or later. The main combo is simply checking if you have “Dual Avatar Invitation“, and if the answer is no, you simply go through the options that can gather cards that can fetch “Dual Avatar Invitation“. Two monsters with weak disruption effects in an archetype that struggles to build a board that goes over 6000 damage per turn is simply not good enough for modern Yugioh. The variant to fix this issue in my opinion is to go full control and stop the opponent from playing anything while you only need to resolve one “Dual Avatar Invitation” to be golden; but even that plan has severely holes that would be fixing.

Weaknesses/Counters:

I gave the “Dual Avatar” archetype a hard time in the “Playstyle” section, but that has nothing to do with the weaknesses an archetype might have; linear and uninspired playstyle is a design flaw, not a weakness. But “Dual Avatar” still has a number of cards that serve as checks against their strategy. Since they do need to Special Summon, cards that stop Special Summons can prove difficult to handle, making the usual suspects of “Archlord Kristya“, “Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo“, “Vanity’s Ruler” and many more cards a decent check against “Dual Avatar”. They definitely need to get monster effects through, which makes cards like “Skill Drain” a solid option to run against them. Since they do have a few Spell cards that are absolutely paramount to the strategy, you can also try to block those via cards like “Spell Canceller” or “Imperial Order“.

The “Dual Avatar” archetype does not have enough resources to keep the head over water in resource-intensive battles, so archetypes and strategies that wipe the field constantly might burn them out. They do have a hard time against monsters with destruction protection and in some cases need to get creative to even get around massive statlines, since they have no stat-manipulation, position switching or “Moon Mirror Shield“-esque effects to get those monsters under control. And lastly, they are extremely prone against handtraps, e.g. “Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring” is able to keep a large number of archetypal cards in check and “Dual Avatar” is not particularly good with plan B approaches to games.

Links:

Videos:

Duel Evolution’s “Dual Avatar Post Blazing Vortex” (January 2021):
If you want an idea of how “Dual Avatar” games are going down, here is a good compilation of games to start with. There is really not that much I can add to that, if you want to see the deck and the combos in action, this video should do the trick.

Articles:

Yugipedia “Dual Avatar” article:
The Yugipedia article about the “Dual Avatar” archetype does have some starting info if you want to get an idea about the archetype, but due to the lack of interesting things to tell about “Dual Avatar”, there is little more. However, I also got the pictures in this article from their site.

Sample Decklist (August 2021):

This is my take at building a “Dual Avatar” deck. We have the usual suspects from the archetype, but I decided to give the entire thing a little bit budget-friendly support in form of “Torrential Tribute” and “Lost Wind“, which should help with the lack or removal, effect negation and high-stat monsters. “Trap Trick” is also there and can benefit from the bigger pool of options to choose from. Other than that, the deck works in the standard way. A small side note: The two copies of “Elder Entity N’tss” are neither summonable nor is there anything to send them to the graveyard with. There are probably matchups in which you are still able to get the effect of, but feel free to exchange them if you need the Extra Deck space.

The Videogame Corner: Fallout: New Vegas

Before I talk about the actual main series “Fallout” titles with numbers attached to them, let us talk about the odd one out; and, at the same time, about the best “Fallout” game in existence if you ask me: “Fallout: New Vegas”. It is strange to me that I hold the game in such high regard since I did not play it until years after it came out and was originally not that impressed with the way certain things function in the game, like armor making certain enemies near unkillable and therefore incredibly deadly and seemingly unfair if unprepared. However, the stellar quality of the writing, the interesting characters, the creative perk system, and the fact that the game works with such an interesting scenario despite taking place in an actual desert kept me interested for long enough to get hooked. “Fallout: New Vegas” can be a hard sell at the beginning, not unlike “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind”, but if you manage to get past the flaws you have dozen hours of entertainment ahead of you. So, let me tell you a little bit about a diamond in the rough.

We get shot before the game even begins? Well, “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head“?

Heartache by the Number

The game introduces our player character as a courier for the Mojave Express, a delivery company that carries letters and packages throughout the territory of the New Californian Republic. The current task is to deliver a small Platinum Chip to the New Vegas Strip, but what seems to be just a normal delivery job turns out to be a deadly trap: Two members of the tribe of the Khans, as well as one of the leaders of the “The Tops” casino on the New Vegas Strip, intercept said delivery, taking the chip for themselves and leaving a bullet in your head as the parting gift before burying you in a shallow grave. It would have been the perfect crime if it was not for a strange robotic helper digging you out and carrying you to the doctor of the local village of Goodsprings, who manages to restore the spark of life in you. Now, your purpose is clear: Get back that Platinum Chip, but whether you want revenge on those who wronged you or simply want the job done correctly is up to you and part of the story that you write in “Fallout: New Vegas”.

Let us just get this out of the way: “Fallout: New Vegas” is incredibly strong in its storytelling and worldbuilding; and it does even offer an open-world setting in which both of those things are included brilliantly. Starting in the small village of Goodsprings, you have one overarching goal, but the way to tackle the task is completely up to you. The people of Goodsprings can give you some helpful tips and hints regarding the world and surviving in it, as well as factions and places one should know. Turns out that New Vegas is not even that far from your current position, which makes sense since you wanted to bring a package over there originally, but the Deathclaws and Cazadors blocking the roads can bring swift death to any under-leveled character. That does not mean that it is impossible to get past those enemies, “Fallout: New Vegas” does give you that option, it is simply not something that I would recommend doing if you play the game for the first time. Instead, there is the long road you can take to follow the thieves, getting through various locations, learning more about the thread of the Legion and the struggle of the NCR to keep them under control, while gaining experience, equipment, and knowledge about the game.

Quite a few factions are vying for power in “Fallout: New Vegas”: The aforementioned “New Californian Republic” tries to you its military to re-install democracy and other old world values, but struggles with its rapid expansionism making the control over the Mojave Wasteland rather shaky. One of the factions that actively opposes the NCR are the “Powder Gangers”, ex-convicts that were given dynamite to make railway lines through the wastes, and happened to stage a coup that ended in them blowing up the wardens with the very tools they received from them. However, the far bigger threat for the NCR and the Mojave as a whole comes in form of the Legion, an army that was shaped out of military ideals from Roman times lead by its very own Caesar and threatening to overrun the civilized world and enslave all that oppose or do not fit their ideals. Another major power is the Strip and the families that run the casinos, all under the control of the mysterious Mr. House who only communicates with the outside world via his security bots. And there are many more factions to meet: The aforementioned Khans, a warrior tribe that is constantly shoved around by the major powers in the Mojave, the reclusive “Boomers” who blow everything that wants to get to them to smithereens by using heavy artillery, the single families of the Strip that all work on their own schemes to gain more power and to get out of the control of Mr. House, the “Freeside” community around New Vegas, the “Followers of the Apocalypse”, the various settlements you traverse through, and many more.

The entire motley crew of companions that will accompany you on your travels. (Source: https://fallout.fandom.com/wiki/Fallout:_New_Vegas_companions)

The Mojave Wasteland is fairly big though, so it might be lonely and/or dangerous to wander those lands on your own. Well, “Fallout: New Vegas” has you covered on that end, since you are allowed to take companions with you. If the first thought that comes to your head is “Skyrim’s” pack mule Lydia with little to no character but an inventory to fill, think again. While you can use the inventory space of your companions to let them carry some of your burdens, they are full-fledged characters with a past, affiliations, stories to tell, and of course, weapons to use. There are eight characters in total that you can meet during your travels that are willing to accompany you permanently, with six of them counting as humanoid followers while the other two are treated as pets that you take with you in addition to a humanoid due to taking an extra follower slot. Let us meet the characters: Arcade Gannon is a scientist that works for the “Followers of the Apocalypse” and has ties to the extinct faction named the “Enclave” due to growing up in their ranks. He supports helping those in need and hates Caesar’s Legion and every ideal they stand for. Craig Boone is a retired NCR sniper who asks you for help finding the person that sold his wife into slavery when you first meet him and will travel with you if you manage to collect the evidence proving the guilt of that Novac citizen. He is a very taciturn and down-to-earth guy, but despite his lack of emotion his sniper skills are top-notch. Rose of Sharon Cassidy, also know as Cass, is a former caravan owner, but due to an attack by the Fiends, she lost what little was left of that enterprise and now sits in an NCR outpost drinking her worries away. She comes with a sharp tongue, a loaded rifle, and a penchant for Whiskey, which brought her the nickname “Whiskey Rose”. Veronica Santangelo is a member of the Brotherhood of Steel, but different from the rest of her order in that she is more open with her emotions and questions the decisions made by her superiors. She knows how to fight though and shoves her “Power Fist” into the face of anything that opposes her or the Courier.

So much for the human followers; but I used the word “humanoid” for a reason since Obsidian allowed the players the work with a little more variety in companion choice. Lily Bowen is a supermutant of the nightkin variety, who thinks that she is an old granny due to side-effects of excessive “Stealth Boy”-usage. However, only her mental state is that of an old woman, since she swings a rotor-blade in battle without breaking into a sweat. The last of the humanoid followers is “Raul”, a ghoul from Mexico, who works as a mechanic and constantly bickers about his age and the maladies that come from it, while also making snarky remarks about the things the Courier asks him to do. But I do not want to be unfair to “Raul”, since he has been around since the bombs dropped and certainly has seen his fair share of misery. The two pet companions are Rex and ED-E. Rex is a cyber dog with a serious problem: The biogel in the compartment on his head that holds his brain cannot keep said brain in pristine condition, meaning that he will slowly die if no one is found who can perform brain surgery on dogs. To help his dog, the King, Elvis impersonator and leader of Freeside’s local “The King’s School of Impersonation”, lends you his dog to find a cure. ED-E is a small floating robot that is broken at first but can be repaired as soon as you acquire enough proficiency and/or collect enough materials to fix the issue. With enhanced sensors and a laser beam, ED-E is a solid companion to have at your side, and a deeper delve into its data shows that it might be more than some tech-savvy’s garage project.

With a Big Iron on his Hip

Talking about a role-playing game without mentioning the arsenal you are allowed to use against your opponent would come close to a crime; especially if the game in question offers so many different tools to work with. With the “Gun” skill, you can fire anything that uses projectiles as ammunition, which includes but is not limited to various pistols, shotguns, sub-machine guns, automatic rifles up to mini-guns. With “Explosives”, you have various approaches open up for you: From setting mines into the patrol paths of the enemy, throwing grenades, to grenade rifles and rocket launchers. Using “Energy Weapons” basically gives you a choice between the accurate laser weapons and the high-damaging plasma varieties, but there are a few special weapons to find that fit neither category. Do you want to get more close and personal with the opponent? No problem, “Fallout: New Vegas” got you covered: Use “Melee Weapons” for anything from a switchblade or a tire-iron up to burning swords or photon axes. And for those who want to get even more intimate with the enemy, there is the unarmed category, which includes knuckledusters as well as the various versions of the “Power Fist”.

But this is a role-playing game. We do not simply shoot a gun and deal damage, we want character customization and skill trees; so how do we determine our success in killing the opposition. Simple: With S.P.E.C.I.A.L., meaning strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck. Each of those can be tinkered with during character creation, and those base values are the first step towards transforming some bum off the street into an exquisite killing machine. But there is more since we can have perks. You gain those perks whenever you reach an even level and those can help you further modify your character by adding a variety of abilities and passives. There are very straightforward perks like “Toughness“, which gives you a bonus to your damage threshold, more situational ones like “Rad Child“, which heals you when irradiated, or even straight-up weird one like “Miss Fortune“, which can spawn an NPC that is fighting for you with a weapon that triggers any explosives on the target and frequently shoves shot enemies across the map due to incredible pushback.

And you will need all the support you can get, since regaining the Platinum Chip from those who have wronged you is only half of the story. After you set the record straight, you will be thrown head-first in the power struggle that is currently going on in the region; and you will be able to choose which faction comes to power with your help? Do you want the civil but slightly incompetent army of the NCR taking over everything? Do you give the old ways a chance and simply enslave and kill everything that opposes you with the help of Ceasar and his Legion? Or, maybe, there is a way to keep the power in the right hands without giving it to the big players, and just maybe you can be the ace that is needed to make everything fall into place. The choice is up to you and you have plenty of opportunities to get to know the parties involved and make your move on this chessboard of power in the Mojave Wasteland; with everything culminating at Hoover Dam, the border between the free and the enslaved world and both storage space for enormous amounts of water and producing sizeable amounts of energy. However, before you go on the last mission at Hoover Dam after playing the game for tens of hours, there are still some other places to see, since “Fallout: New Vegas” has ample more content in form of DLCs:

Dead Money

The “Sierra Madre”, keep of unimaginable riches, lost in time, enshrouded in red fog, and protected by ghostly apparitions.

The first DLC “Fallout New Vegas” has to offer takes us to the Sierra Madre, a casino resort for the rich and famous near the Grand Canyon. It was an ambitious project, of which its creator Frederick Sinclair claimed that it was made to help people “begin again“. Unfortunately, the bombs dropped before the opening ceremony even started and, as is so often the case in “Fallout” games, the worst-case scenario happened: The state-of-the-art hologram security system started seeing the inhabitants and guests as intruders and slaughtered them all, leaving no living being in the Sierra Madre. Decades later, it still manages to wake the interest of daring adventurers, since the casino vault was never opened and is therefore bound to have immense treasure in store for the one that can get past the various dangers. One of those adventures is the courier you play, who follows a radio signal to an abandoned “Brotherhood of Steel” bunker, only to step into a trap, being knocked out by gas and waking up in the Sierra Madre with your equipment missing and a new beeping collar around your neck.

In my opinion, “Dead Money” is a double-edged sword. The scenario is definitely interesting: You are hired (read: forced) by a certain Father Elijah to open the Sierra Madre Vault, with the promise that you are free to go as soon as you managed to finish that task. However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind: First of all, if you disobey Elijah’s orders, your bomb collar will trigger and spread everything above your shoulders in the general vicinity. Furthermore, you cannot solve this task alone and are therefore forced to team up with three other captives; oh, and if they happen to shuffle off the mortal coil, your collar is wired to trigger. And finally, the Sierra Madre underwent some changes over the decades, with eerie ghost people killing anything on sight while a rust-colored smoke happens to be fatal to the living after mere seconds. Add all this to the fact that you need to scavenge for resources and weapons since you start with absolutely nothing and you find yourself being part of one of the biggest heists in history; even if you are taking part involuntarily.

The first half-hour of “Dead Money” was brilliant: Every single step forward was another struggle to survive. Not seeing the mine underneath my feet could cost valuable life points that I simply cannot afford to lose. I am forced to heal with food items since Stimpaks are incredibly rare at this point of the DLC, so any damage that I carelessly take could cost my life down the road. The first Ghost person I encountered was a truly challenging fight against an erratic and creepy enemy and taught me to fear them and avoid contact at all costs. I took every item I found with me in the hope that I can make something helpful with old tin cans, duct tape, and scrap metal; and with some of that junk, you actually can. The start of the DLC and my path to the first companion Dean Domino were incredible both in atmosphere and gameplay. After avoiding mines, tripwires, ghost people, and poisonous fog, I take a seat right beside my new frenemy Dean Domino, a ghoul that was a singer back before the war and is now obsessed with getting the spoils of the casino vault for himself. This is also one of the strong points of “Dead Money”: The characters are absolutely fantastic. Dean Domino is an asshole that would try backstabbing you at the first chance but is forced to cooperate since his own life depends on it. Christine, a mute since an Auto-Doc removed her vocal cords, stays a mystery for the longest time during your stay in the Sierra Madre but becomes an interesting story element since you need to figure out what she wants to tell you via what she is miming. And then there is the supermutant “Dog/God”, a split personality with “God” being the reasonable one that struggles to keep the beast named “Dog” under control. All of them are well-written characters with motivations, fears, and goals, never feeling forced or illogical; a true feat for a video game character in my opinion.

Unfortunately, “Dead Money” is not going to be all praise, since there are various things that range from minor annoyances to major flaws. After the Dean Domino section, Obsidian decided to introduce yet another gameplay mechanic: The collar can also be activated by radio waves that are emitted by certain machines standing around or hanging at the walls. Some of those you can disable, others are indestructible and therefore permanently annoying. Whenever you encounter one of those things or your collar starts beeping, this means that you either have to slowly test out where the blind spot for those blasted things is, or you decide to run like hell into the next room with the hope of not ending up in front of a locked door that you can only open with a specific key, because that means you will literally lose your head. I do not know who got the incredible idea of making a DLC that could have been a slow-paced but well-designed struggle for survival into a stressful and tedious platformer, but that is what happened. These things are completely absent from the entire Dean Domino section, but haunt you for the entire rest of the DLC, which forced me to save in fifteen-second intervals to prevent losing all the progress I made due to running too slowly or not managing to jump onto a platform in time.

The ghost people you encounter during your stay in the Sierra Madre. They might seem sluggish at first, but they turn surprisingly nimble and aggressive as soon as they can enter melee range.

The aforementioned ghost people also happen to have an annoying little quirk to them: They will revive themselves after a short while unless you chop off their limbs and heads. This causes silly scenarios like fighting against a group of ghost people and then having to dive into the fray like a madman to chop a “corpse” to pieces while you are clobbered by the rest of the opposition, taking unnecessary damage to finally kill your opponents. I was in the solid position of using melee weapons and therefore dealing solid damage while in close-combat while also being able to use the various melee weapons the DLC offers that deal increased limb damage; however, if you skilled guns and are possibly close to the level the developers suggested for the DLC, this can border on unfairness. The developers were aware of that power struggle at least to some degree since the new weapons in the DLC are designed to give you a fighting chance against this undead menace: The knife-spear is a broomstick with various knives taped to one end and comes both in a melee and a throwing variety. The “Cosmic knife” does appear on advertising posters in the Sierra Madre and is a kitchen knife that seems to be incredibly sharp; and one that can be further enhanced by cleaning or super-heating it (Obsidian creating “1000 degree knife” memes before they were cool). There are mines and grenades as explosive options, but you can also obtain so-called “Gas bombs” from the ghost people, which can be thrown and explode on contact but can also serve as a landmine-like explosive if simply thrown to the ground. For unarmed fighters, there is the Beartrap fist, which explains everything you need to know with its name, the energy weapon users can fire the Holorifle that is given to you right from the start, a new one-handed firearm exists with the Police pistol, a six-shot revolver that is a variant of the standard .357 revolver from the base game, and more automatic firepower comes with the automatic rifle, a powerful option that you will most likely not have enough ammunition for the entire DLC. Overall, there are some interesting new ideas for weaponry in “Dead Money”, but nothing completely bonkers due to the scenario not allowing such options.

Back to criticism again, you can also add the only other enemy in the game to the list of incredibly stupid ideas: The aforementioned holograms still roam the Sierra Madre, and those are not only completely immune to damage but also deal incredibly high damage and are bound to trap you in a dead-end at least once or twice. You can find the projector that spawns them and disable it via repair for an immediate shutdown or shoot it for a delayed one, but those things are well-hidden and often in spots that would force you to engage the holograms that you desperately try to avoid in the first place. In a way, they are well-designed this way, since the holograms are definitely functioning as a security measure and are hard to disable, but sneaking around those still was not a fun thing to do in my opinion. All these negative factors are unfortunate because the atmosphere of “Dead Money” is fantastic, the characters are very interesting and well-written, and the glimpse at what could have been that I saw the start of the DLC left me wishing for more sneaky survival management instead of the frantic mess some of the areas were. Was it worth playing? Yes, definitely. The Sierra Madre and its ghosts were a survival horror experience that I would describe as unforgettable. However, you will have to take the good with the bad, and the horrible platforming sections, labyrinthian map design, and the number of instant-kills against my character that I would not exactly describe as fair drag it down. “Dead Money” was an experience, but not one that I would ever wish to play again.

Honest Hearts

“Honest Hearts” really has environments that could also serve as postcard motives.

The second “Fallout New Vegas” DLC is “Honest Hearts”. To understand what is happening here, the player needs to have paid at least some attention to the events before the game started. Long story short, the upcoming battle at Hoover Dam is the second time the Legion tries to take control over the dam; the first time was an absolute failure, and Caesar made an example of Joshua Graham, his man in charge back in those days. He was set alight and tossed down a cliff, showing the Legion’s troops that no one is exempt from punishment, no matter what rank that person might hold. However, there were always rumors that Joshua Graham did not die that day and some folklore speaks of him as the “Burned Man”. Words of that “Burned Man” spread even to the Legion and Caesar forbade anyone to speak of him, and even made mentioning of the “Burned Man” punishable by death.

So much for the lore, but what about the role of the player in all of this? Well, the “Happy Trails Caravan Company” searches for willing participants in an expedition to Utah, in search of the city of New Canaan. The courier is welcomed with open arms and even paid for the trip, although you cannot take all of your tools of destruction with you, since the DLC inflicts a 75-pound weight limit (which can be negotiated up to 100) onto you due to the length of the trip and the terrain you will need to pass through. But as soon as you declare to be ready, the three-week-long journey to Utah begins; don’t worry, that part you do not have to play. After the scene transition, we are informed that we almost reached our goal but any sense of accomplishment is pushed aside by adrenalin when the “White Leg” tribesmen ambush your expedition and kill your colleagues. You fight your way out of it, get support by a “Dead Horse” tribesman named “Follows-Chalk” and are informed that Joshua Graham wants to speak to you. It seems that your expedition is not the only target the “White Leg” tribe chose to attack, and you will soon learn that the “Burned Man” himself needs your help to deal with them.

The scenario overall stands in stark contrast to “Dead Money”. Instead of the cramped urban canyons, you wander through a wide mesa. Nothing is obstructing the view since you are in nature, but this also changes how to move and fight: While you were able to place traps in form of mines against the ghost people of “Dead Money” or were able to use pillars and/or pieces of debris as a crowd control measure, “Honest Hearts” has wide and open areas that are more helpful to snipers than to melee fighters. In fact, and that is my personal opinion, I feel like “Honest Hearts” is pretty rough terrain for melee combat: Animals have giant versions, and a “Giant Yao Guai” was able to not only kill me with four strikes from full health but also had so much push-back that I had to choice of running into certain doom again or whip out a ranged weapon to deal with them. To my surprise, the regional variant of the geckos, the “Green Gecko”, did kill me once by going into some frenzy/tantrum state and depleting my health like nothing else ever did before. And the tribesman might look like they wear no armor, but they do have enough longevity to keep you occupied in melee while their friends shoot you down. I certainly thought that the difficulty was challenging, and I played on normal and entered the area at around level 30. But the challenge is first and foremost a good thing and “Honest Hearts” certainly offered one.

Joshua Graham, the best reason to spend time in the “Honest Hearts” DLC.

Character-wise, there is Joshua Graham as the definite number one character of the DLC: The former Legion Legate that spews Bible quotes like nobody’s business and offers to simply exterminate the entire “White Leg” tribe to be done with it is certainly memorable. I have seen video clips of him before and was hyped to play the DLC for the reason of hearing and seeing more of this character alone. Unfortunately, there is not that much more to offer in that regard. Daniel, another Canaanite, is head of the “Sorrows” tribe and would prefer to flee the valley instead of fighting the “White Legs”. And the rest are tribals: Some of them do have special names, functions, and dialogue, like the aforementioned “Follows-Chalk”, “Waking Cloud” or “White Bird”, but they did not get much more interesting than any tribesman stereotype I could imagine from elsewhere; which is a shame, since I do think that Obsidian is doing a really good job writing characters otherwise.

There are possibly lots of people that disagree with me, but I found “Honest Hearts” to be a little … empty. There are places to see on the map, there are new weapons, armor, items, etc., there are quests, there are new enemies; and yet, I felt like something is missing. Part of it is certainly my fault due to character building: One of the big features of “Honest Hearts” was the idea of using the Survival skill to make various things, but since that skill does not exceed 30 on my character there is little for me to do with it. And while I know that there are helpful things to cook and brew, it is just something that I decided not to use in this playthrough of “Fallout New Vegas”. However, there are also a few things that the DLC could have done better in my opinion. As soon as the main quest was fetching five lunchboxes, I felt my enthusiasm drop significantly. If I had to describe my stay in “Honest Hearts”, I would sum it up as follows: I arrived, got shot at, talked to Joshua Graham, talked to Daniel, got some things, fled the valley. That might seem unfair, but I struggled to build up interest for the DLC after I visited the third camping ground with nothing going on. There is a ranger station, that might be interesting, right? No, it’s just the point where you find walkie-talkies for the quest? What about that school bus that dropped down the cliff that I discovered on my way to Joshua Graham? Yeah, there is a compass there that you need to get for the quest; and lunchboxes, but not the quest ones, just the regular type. Also, since I spoilered that much already, I was quite shocked that Joshua Graham was that accepting of the choice to flee. I thought that this would split the two Canaanites up and that this would have some consequence later on; but nothing happened, he just helped me pull off that maneuver and the DLC ended. All in all, if you have not played this DLC (or “Fallout New Vegas” in general), this is a solid investment of your playtime for the nice area, some background info, and potentially some of the new items, like Joshua’s gun; but not much more than that.

Old World Blues

DLC number three is “Old World Blues” and, quite surprisingly, Obsidian went for a change in tone, making this one way more humourous and dare I say lighthearted than the two DLCs before it. You wake up on top of a balcony in a patient’s gown, not knowing how you got there, but with the strange feeling that something is different. Upon entering the building and taking to the strange robots in the main hall, you realize why this is the case: You got lobotomized; except not really, since it is much worse than that. The robots took out your brain, heart, and spine and replaced them with mechanical and cybernetic alternatives. Worse yet, you could not even reverse this state of being despite the technology being available to do so, since they lost your brain in the process by flushing it straight to the evil Dr. Mobius in the so-called “Forbidden Zone”. However, since all your body functions seem to operate more or less normally, you offer to cooperate with the robotic geniuses known as the “Think Tank” to get your brain back into your head.

The “Big MT”. Stands for “Big Mountain” and is often mispronounced as the “Big Empty”. This dome serves as your home base throughout “Old World Blues”.

As I said, Obsidian decided to go with a different tone overall. Every single one of the encounters with the members of the “Think Tank” is genuinely funny and shows what happens to a group of smart people confined in one space with their brains being preserved by biogel for a couple of hundred years. The characters are all shrewd, but likable, showing again that Obsidian knows how to write characters. Even the “evil” Dr. Mobius is genuinely likable, and that is saying something since he tries to kill you with his robot-scorpion army for most of the DLC. And it does not stop with the main characters, the side characters are also weird and quirky: The “Sink Central Intelligence Unit” has the personality of a butler and serves you both with solid advice and by being a merchant, the actual “Sink” is a clean-freak and therefore despises all forms of dirt, the “Book Chute” clears books of undesirable content to protect people from “seditious content”, “Blind Diode Jefferson” is a jukebox that is unable to play music, the “Biological Research Station” is an innuendo-flinger par excellence and can make plants grow faster, the “Toaster” dreams of drowning the world in nuclear fire (again), a fun-sized version of the Securitron model called “Muggy” wants to have mugs to destroy them like he would like to destroy his hated creator, and even the two light switches have their own personality, which causes them to not like each other very much and pretty much accusing you of cheating on them if you do as much as talk to the other light source.

The enemies in “Old World Blues” are not nearly as talkative as the characters, but they certainly offer a challenge: The Lobotomites are other humans that the five “Think Tank” robots worked on, but with less success than in your case since it left those unfortunate beings as frenzied idiots roaming the “Big MT”. The so-called “Trauma Suits” are corpses that only move due to the suit they wear, but that does not keep them from aiming their arsenal of weapons straight at you. A few well-known enemies from the Mojave wasteland, like the “Cazadors” and the “Nightstalkers”, also make an appearance and you can even gain damage bonuses against them from research material or by simply fighting them in the DLC. And then there are the robots, lots of them: Improved Protectrons and Robobrains, upgraded versions of Mr. Gutsy and the Sentry Bot, a more dangerous version of the Mr. Handy model called the “Mr. Orderly”, various models of the Securitrons you might know from the Vegas Strip in the base game, and even Cyberdogs like your companion “Rex” make a regular appearance. Overall, the enemy variety is colorful and forces the player to adapt on the fly, else face a gruesome death.

Fortunately, Obsidian also provides a large number of new murder toys in “Old World Blues”. Do you have a problem with the robots roaming everywhere? Then get yourself a “Proton Axe” to deal with the mechanic menace; also available in a throwing variant. But you can also simply tear off the “X-2 Antenna” and clobber the mechanic opposition with that. If you like your melee battles even closer to the enemy, why not snatch a “Saturnite fist”, which is a “Power Fist” with increased attack speed that you can even super-heat like the “Cosmic knives” from the “Dead Money” DLC. For unarmed combat, there are also various gloves like the “Scientist glove”, but since you are allowed to use your normal equipment this might be an underwhelming option to use. The “Sonic Emitter” is the first weapon you can use for ranged attacks, and it can not only nullify energy barriers after being upgraded but can also load different “noises” for various effects like knockback or a burn dot. The LAER (which stands for “Laser-Assisted Electrical Rifle”) serves as the Laser Rifle version, except that it is quite a bit more effective. And for anyone who likes to shoot lead instead of energy beams, there is the K9000 cyberdog gun, a Minigun with a dog brain, which means that the gun barks and snarls and even has little metallic ears and other silly details to make this man’s best friend in gun-form.

I am currently talking to a toaster with world domination plans. Behold the wonders of technology!

Obviously, I cannot simply praise something without also criticizing something: The quests in “Old World Blues” are mostly either fetch quests or simply require you to exhaust the dialogue with one of the “Think Tanks”; however, since both the map you move in and the dialogues are genuinely interesting, this is not something that bothered me as much. This also shows that it ultimately comes down to the individuum that plays the game: I am sure that someone else would praise “Honest Hearts” and scoff at “Old World Blues” by simply reversing my statement, and that is a perfectly fine thing to do. However, in my opinion, “Old World Blues” is the best “Fallout New Vegas” DLC. I would say that it has it all: A variety of enemies that you need to tackle with different strategies for full efficiency, good and funny characters, lots of weapons to try out, and a storyline that is actually short, but different enough to be engaging.

Lonesome Road

And then we have the fourth and last DLC that can extend your time in “Fallout New Vegas”: “Lonesome Road”. In every one of the three other DLCs (and even in the base game), there were hints that some other courier is looking for you, but why this is the case is unknown to you. Well, that changes in “Lonesome Road”, because not only did this courier found a way to contact you via your friendly companion bot ED-E, but you also have to wander down the literal road of destruction you have caused in the past. The other courier calls himself “Ulysses” and worked for the Legion back in the past before choosing history itself as the faction to side with. But he is going to give you ample opportunity to ask him questions since you have a long road ahead of you.

This is “Ulysses’ Temple”, a place where destruction might not be worshipped; but those warheads are definitely not just there for decorative purposes.

Straight up, there are not that many characters to talk about, since you only encounter two: ED-E gives glimpses into its origin story by playing audio logs from the past, which you can comment on to get happy, sad, or other sorts of beeping as an answer. The only other character is the antagonist Ulysses, but with this guy as a major plot point, you do not need that much more characters around. There are lots of video analyses about Ulysses and his intentions online and he seems to fascinate players. I am not going into long debates about him, but note that he previously aligned with the legion and does not seem to be free of sin either, since he led the “White Legs” against New Canaan and destroyed anything worth getting rid of in the eyes of Caesar. I am not saying that the player character is in a position to talk about ethics, but Ulysses is not a blank sheet of paper either.

But how do you fill those long pauses between Ulysses’ speeches that we know as gameplay? Simple: With fighting some damn difficult enemies in the ruins of the Divide. You will encounter a few turrets and Sentry Bots in the beginning, but those are not that widespread in the DLC and make space for other, more dangerous enemies. Animal-wise, there are Mole Rats, but those often flee and only scavenge for scraps that the bigger creatures leave behind. The Divide houses many Deathclaws, but the variant you encounter here is even more dangerous than the Mojave one, so be careful around them or wield enough firepower to get them under control quickly. But even the Deathclaws find a match in the Tunnelers you encounter in the underground sections of the DLC: They hunt in groups, hit like a truck (both damage-wise and by inflicting knockback) and some are even able to poison their foes. They are such formidable foes that the game gives you tools like flashbangs or flare guns, both causing them to flee temporarily due to not being used to bright light. While all of those challenges have to be kept in mind, there is one other group that will seriously test your fighting ability: “Marked Men” are ghoulified humans, but they are different from other ghouls you might have encountered in the Mojave Wastelands. Due to the happenings in the Divide, they do not mutate in the way ghouls normally do, but instead, look like they were skinned. Also, they wear strange mixes of both NCR armor and Legion apparel, showing that their past affiliations do not matter anymore since they found a new master to serve: hatred. They are only held alive by the radiation in the area and “live” in constant agony, which is something that they are willing to share with passersby.

The “Marked Men” are truly dangerous opponents. They fight without ideals and just to destroy trespassers, they wield impressive weapons and they use varied strategies against their opponents.

The “Marked Men” also have a crazy arsenal of equipment at their disposal: “Arc Welders” function similarly to flamers but fire an electric beam. “Nail Guns” are basically the tool misused as a weapon. The first time you will encounter a “Marked Man” wielding a “Red Glare” is going to be quite a traumatic experience due to everything around you exploding. They even use various weapons from the base game: From normal “Laser Rifles” over “Tri-Beam Laser Rifles” to “Gatling Lasers”, normal “Sniper Rifles” to “Anti-Materiel Rifles”, “Miniguns”, “Plasma Casters”, “Heavy Incinerators”, “Rocket Launchers”, “Assault Carbines”, “Brush Guns”, etc. And those are just ranged weapons: In melee, they can start their assault with “Super Sledges”, “Thermic Lances”, a homage to Legate Lanius’ signature weapon “Blade of the East” in form of the “Blade of the West”, “Fire Axes”, and many more. They do also know how to use grenades and wield a variety of different types to make your life more difficult and “Marked Man Scouts” even know how to use “Stealth Boys” and can go into melee range almost unnoticed. All this means that the “Marked Men” are a seriously dangerous group of foes, but this is only amplified by the fact that they can use the terrain to their advantage: Whether sitting atop a building, using debris as a cover, or throwing grenades through a window, they will force you to concentrate or risk dying a stupid death.

“Lonesome Road”, unlike various last DLCs in other games, does feel like an end. It wants to deliver the premise of the one last journey you have to partake in and manages to do so brilliantly. The area of the Divide stands in stark contrast to the “Old World Blues” DLC before it since it has an even more bleak idea of the future than the Mojave Wasteland already conveys. While you as the courier are not the one who ordered the end of the area now known as the Divide, you are still partly responsible for your past actions in enabling what happened. That is why the game lets you walk past all those lands that you have doomed, only to meet up with Ulysses, one of the many people you have wronged. He does not want to kill you for what you did, however, as he makes clear multiple times, but he does want you to see the error of your ways, to realize what your actions eventually snowballed into; hence his words: “War never changes. Men do.

The House Always Wins

There is so much more that I could talk about in “Fallout: New Vegas”, but the article is already fairly long and sometimes it is better to simply experience things than just being a listener/watcher. I will give two warnings about the game though: First of all, “Fallout: New Vegas” is pretty violent and it is not that uncommon to see heads explode, blood splatter and limbs detach from bodies. If you are squeamish or simply dislike such content, then I would suggest skipping this game (and the videos further down in the article). Warning number two is about the game’s performance: I really like “Fallout: New Vegas” so I put up with its hiccups, but at some point in time it felt like the number of crashes was equal to the number of hours I have put into the game, and in my opinion that is not a good tracking record to have. It was not caused by mod usage or incredibly old hardware either, this is simply a Bethesda game so bugs and crashes are part of what you get.

If you are still unsure whether you want to go on a journey through “New Vegas”, here is some footage of the game by people that decided to choose the murderous approach to problems. UberDanger might be a name some people recognize and he delivered the perfect video to watch about “Fallout: New Vegas” if you have three and a half hours to kill and like your content more … Youtube-audience-targeted. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable video in my opinion, and can give you an idea about what there is to do in “Fallout: New Vegas”. Another video that goes more into a “narrated gameplay”-direction comes from RussianBadger, which I also found highly enjoyable, but is also only about 40 minutes long due to skipping the DLCs. The scenario also inspired people to create their own content, one example being the “Fallout: Red Star” video that you find underneath that tells its very own story in the material that was given with the “New Vegas” scenario.

If you found what you have read here interesting, I can only urge you to give “Fallout: New Vegas” a go. The game is available on Steam, where I bought it to replay it to write this article. The entire set of the base game plus all four DLCs is probably fairly expensive, so I would suggest that you wait until the Steam Sale and snatch the entire thing for about 10€. Also, if you have one of the older consoles, you should be able to play it on those and still just pay a pittance since the game is over ten years old at the time of writing. But playing it in some way is definitely the “ring-a-ding” move to do.

Clicker Games – From Satire to Success

When we say that we play video games, this is normally taken as an acceptable answer to the question “What do you do in your free time?” or other varieties of asking for hobbies. However, have you ever wondered why this is rarely followed up with a question like “What kind of games do you play?” or something along those lines? When you are part of a band or make music in some other way and name that as your answer, people normally ask for a genre or instrument. And if you watch a lot of series or movies, you can normally expect some discourse after mentioning that hobby. Now, I am aware that it has not been that long since gaming underwent the transformation from a fringe hobby for freaks to a mainstream pastime, but playing videogames is neither limited to killing people with firearms nor stacking blocks in “Tetris”. Today, I want to take a look at one specific genre of videogames that might elude the “core gamer” while also potentially not being grouped into “classic” videogames by people that have less to do with the hobby, so prepare your computer mice and mobile screens for some clicking and tapping.

Clicker games, also known as incremental games or idle games (although I would say that the latter one also includes titles that would not necessarily fit the genre described in this article) are oftentimes simply games that only feature clicking the screen to gain some sort of resource; and that is it. Watching the numbers grow bigger and into more ridiculous regions of countless zeroes is the entire point of these games; and while the entire idea of a clicker game was more or less a parody on the monotonous grind that could be found in MMORPGs of that time, it grew into its own gaming niche simply because it gave people the dopamine fix of reaching another goal that is ultimately insignificant in the bigger picture and will be forgotten as soon as the next reachable challenge rears its ugly head. But while I sound rather negative in regards to the genre (and will explain why this is the case in a short while) I cannot deny that it is popular and spawned many different concepts of which some are genuinely creative and well-designed. So, let us take a tour through the realms of clicking and idling.

If we are to believe Wikipedia, which quotes a presentation from Anthony Pecorella who worked at Kongregate at that time and was a producer of the game “Adventure Capitalist”, the first real clicker game to exist was “Progress Quest” from 2002. “Progress Quest” was developed by Eric Fredricksen and as I have mentioned was supposed to be a parody about the grinding in online games like “Everquest”. You design a character by picking options from the game window and give your creation a name, but you are not the one to do the actions in the game; instead, the progress bar at the bottom of the screen fills slowly and features some sentence about what is currently occurring in the game that you cannot see because it does not really exist. This is also called a “zero-player”-game, since after starting it, technically no human is needed to play anymore since the numbers happily grow on their own without any outside intervention. And that could have been the end of it: One game that makes fun of the monotony of farming and the players writing bots and scripts to skip the farming session, simply taking it one step further by being autonomous and telling the player that they are no longer needed.

Creating cookies to the point where you can transmute gold or even reality itself into cookies and have to fight against the hivemind of grannies which previously were working for you.

Other games used the barebones principle of making a game that creates a loop and the player simply being an option to speed up the process, but a real breakthrough came in 2013 with the release of “Cookie Clicker“. “Cookie Clicker” is very simple: You need to produce cookies. It is never explained why you need those cookies and even very early into the game when you build farms to grow cookies you will question the reason for doing so, but the game demands growing cookie numbers. And it rewards you for doing so: First of all, there is a big counter at the side telling you how many cookies you currently have. Those cookies can be used as a resource to buy more grannies, cookie farms, cookie banks, and many more buildings to gain more cookies; or to buy upgrades that can increase the rate at which those units and buildings produce cookies. Producing enough cookies will also give you achievements and fill the sidebar with milk, which changes its flavor depending on how many achievements you got for your cookie farming. Eventually, you will travel back in time to get cookies from the past, use magic to make more cookies, warp reality itself into cookies, and eventually create the granny hivemind to make them more useful in the cookie production process due to them thinking as one entity that only follows one goal: Creating more cookies. And when the cookie production process gets too slow to bear, you can simply erase the universe to continue in another realm, starting from the beginning, but gaining yet another resource that allows you to unlock even crazier production bonuses which then result in you producing more cookies to unlock more things, which eventually slows down again, kills the universe, more extra resources, more speed, more cookies, efficiency, cookies, speed, reset, and so on. It is hard to believe for people that did not get hooked by such a game before, but the endless loop of getting the signal that you are accomplishing something is incredibly appealing to a large number of players. However, while this game potentially wastes your time clicking a large cookie in a browser window, it does not do much more harm than that. The developer, Julien “Orteil” Thiennot, built the game without any transactions that require real money in the game and only links to his Patreon if you like the game enough to support him; this is not necessarily true for some of the other candidates in this article.

Behold, my businesses on planet Mars. The “Duononagintillion” at the top refers to “a unit of quantity equal to 10279 (1 followed by 279 zeros)”, and therefore a value higher than I can even imagine.

Let us continue with another big player in the clicker game genre: “Adventure Capitalist“. While the premise is not entirely the same as in “Cookie Clicker”, there are certain similarities one can find with relative ease. You are an entrepreneur that wants to become rich, but you start with nothing but a single lemonade stand. Well, better get working then: Click the lemon symbol to start one selling process. Repeat that process until you can afford a second lemonade selling business, so you gain double the money from clicking the lemon symbol. After a short while, you can expand into other branches and also work with newspaper delivery. Now you have two fields that you can click for money. Upgrade those by buying more businesses and you will soon unlock the Car Wash, Pizza Delivery, Donut Shop, Shrimp Boat, Hockey Team, Movie Studio, Bank, and Oil Company businesses by paying increasingly more insane amounts of money, but which will also permanently increase the income you gain. Upgrade entire business branches by buying static passives that simply triple the amount of money you gain and then hire managers, which will do the clicking for you so you do not have to waste your time playing the game anymore; except for when you do. There are also some sort of super bucks that can permanently increase the money for all the business you have on Planet Earth, and if business slows down, you can end it all to gain some literal “Angel Investors” which will also passively increase the amount of money you gain overall. And if Earth is not enough anymore, why not open businesses on Moon or Mars, since it turns out that the inhabitants of those stellar objects still have money that does not belong to you … yet. The process, once described, is very similar to “Cookie Clicker”, but uses a different coat of paint; however, there is one new feature that “Cookie Clicker” did not introduce: Monetary transactions. Do you feel that the game takes too long despite all the bonuses it gives you? Well, why do you not spend some money on the game to speed up the process? You can spend real money to improve anything you want in the game to see those numbers rise quicker since the dopamine triggers get more stretched out but your brain asks for more happy stuff and not just the monotonous slog in-between. The Steam version, which I happen to have completed with all achievements, gives you some of the resources you can buy with game as rewards for clearing certain things, so patience will allow you to reach the end without ever paying for the game; but then again, I am not as hooked by clicker games as some other people seem to be and simply left the game for about a year only to return to enough cash to buy whatever I wanted. The game certainly did not include the monetization option out of evil intent, but afterward monetization was a valid choice for any game of this genre.

You might be thinking: That is still a rather niche genre I am describing here, isn’t it? Well, if we just go by the number of games that exist, I would say that we do have a major player here since the amount of “Idle Games” is staggering. If you like your clicker games to have more depth and strategy involved, feel free to try out “Realm Grinder“. It comes with the same resource farming, building erecting, achievement hunting base concept as other clicker games, but becomes incredibly more complicated due to the option of choosing fantasy races to align with, which play in different ways, unlock spells and new upgrades, and in general ask for more min-maxing as in other clicker games. Some of these games just use an already existing IP, like “Ragnarok Clicker” which uses already existing sprites from the game “Ragnarok Online” to build a clicker game with. “Pick Crafter” has a very similar idea, using assets from the game “Minecraft” like walls of blocks that you have to destroy with your pickaxe to move on. And then there are games such as “Cell to Singularity“, which combines the idea of a clicker game with an educational game by allowing the player to unlock the various evolutions and inventions over the lifetime of Planet Earth. And “Harvest Seasons” is one example of how clicker games can co-exist with the city builder-genre, using the idea of resource gathering in form of wood, stone, food, etc. to build a thriving nation.

With the aforementioned examples, I am only scratching the surface of one giant sub-category of gaming that still manages to survive and do quite well, even though its creation is deeply rooted in the parody of the very gameplay mechanics it uses. Using platforms like the Google Play Store will give you numerous other examples for games of the “Clicker Genre” and it should also be mentioned that the mobile market is another fertile ground for idle games: You always carry the medium around with you to check your progress, you do not need to invest half an hour into the game to reach to next save point or be hindered by some other gameplay mechanic that forces you to progress, and the games in question barely put any stress on the hardware meaning that you can still check social media or message applications. But if you are interested in trying a clicker game for yourself but dread the idea of installing something on your mobile phone or your computer, try out one of the many browser games that are on offer. The aforementioned “Cookie Clicker“, despite now being available on Steam, is very much playable in browser, and if you want something else you can try out “Megami Quest 2“, in which you take your anime party members through a fantasy world, or try out “A Dark Room” to build your own little colony; I attached links to all those mentions, so if you want to try them, you can start right away.

Now, a lot of idle games have to be taken with a pinch of salt, since the micro-transaction trend is pretty much normal nowadays. And why shouldn’t it? People should be able to use their money for whatever they want, so if spending 2€ gives you the resources of waiting eight hours, that might be 2€ well-spent for some people. However, as soon as these games hook someone to the point that their normal life is negatively impacted, it is time to take a step back and do something else. This is not just the case for clicker games though, since even step counters can cause such reaction in people, with reports saying that someone’s wife woke up at 1 am to walk up and down the staircase to see the numbers rise, since she did not manage to get enough steps over the day. And while clicker games do have a certain danger of becoming an obsession, there are far worse offenders nowadays with loot boxes and gacha systems and milk you dry if you are not careful. As always, everything in moderation; this is also true for idle game-time and money-spending for slight improvements.

Cute sprite work, nice music, and solid artwork packed into one small jewel of a game. Let us hope that we see more of this in a non-“clickery” game.

One honorable mention I want to include in this article is “The Adventure of NAYU“, which uses a clicker approach to the gameplay but is pretty much the exact opposite of a classic clicker game in every other sense. Unlike any other I featured, “The Adventure of Nayu” is not free-to-play, but instead costs 2,59€ on Steam; which might seem counter-intuitive if you want to make the entry barrier into the game as low as possible. However, this is the only money you will ever pay for this game since there are absolutely no microtransactions whatsoever. The game is more of a proof-of-concept model to test the waters of the gaming market, but for your money, you get well-made cutesy graphics and artwork attached to a clicker game that is only one hour long, since your rewards and experience gain scale so hard with the enemies you fight that you can 100% the game is under 60 minutes. I can understand if people say that this is not enough content and question the purpose of making such a game to begin with, but the artwork and the characters are enough to justify the purchase and hope that the developer does something bigger and more complex with the characters and ideas introduced here.

As mentioned before, this is an entire genre of games, so I can only really scratch the surface of what is on offer, but I can ensure you that there are a lot more clicker games than you would think there are. If you have no interest in such games, that is completely fine; we are just talking about one sliver of the gaming hobby here. Disliking clicker games is like disliking horror movies since you are still free to play/watch whatever else is on offer. However, in my opinion, you should have clicked at least a few times to disregard the genre entirely. Whether you choose cookies, monsters, or something completely different to click on is not of importance, but understanding what makes clicker games work can certainly help as much as hurt. Or simply pass the time on the bus, if necessary.