Decks to look out for: Karakuri


7/12/2011 10:28:00 AM

Extreme Victory brought a lot of great cards and strategies to the TCG. Reborn Tengu has become practically a monster staple, TGs seem to mix and match all over and six samurai are more versatile than ever. But there is a deck that has hit its highest point in EXVC as well which hasn't received hardly any attention. That deck is Karakuri, and most specifically the pure karakuri decks.

A Karakuri Story

Karakuri monsters all have a few shared effects. The non-synchros all have the effect of ‘this card must attack if able' which can be quite the downer when you consider that only a few of them clock in at above 1000 ATK points. Luckily the deck has a few built in protections to ensure that you don't send your monsters on a crash course into a larger monster. First of all, the deck is an efficient synchro engine, so more often than not, your monsters will be used in a synchro summon before the battle phase begins. They are also masters of changing their own battle positions, and many of them support pretty decent sized Defense points for their levels. Which is especially useful since they all change battle positions when they are selected as attack targets. A few of the older Karakuri monsters only change when they are in attack mode, but nearly all of the newer models change regardless of the starting position. Neither of these effects helps the deck competitively. What really gives the deck power is the common effect that the Karakuri synchros share. They both summon another karakuri monster from your deck. Any level, Any Position, no restrictions. This makes them cost no card advantage to summon (assuming you use only 2 materials to summon them) and they set themselves up for another synchro summon. This gives the deck swarm power and can turn any field of tuners or non-tuners into a field of massive synchro monsters.

When Karakuris debuted in Starstrike Blast, this arrival was not missed on the competitive scene. Karakuri Shogun Burei was a lethal combination of swarm power, wonderful attack points, and a solid effect to boot. Karakuris didn't have quite enough support to do anything but throw around attack points, so the synchro spam needed to start from elsewhere, and Black Salvo decks were a well equipped engine. Combined with a single Machine Duplication and a few karakuris in deck, the deck had access to an incredibly easy OTK. But decks that are meant just to OTK tend to have flaws, especially considering that to be a machine duplication target, you're also a Chain Disappearance target.

Then came Storm of Ragnarok and with it came Karakuri Steel Shogun Bureido. Bureido has the same swarming power of his little brother but he brought draw power to the table as well. This is what pushed the deck to compete at the biggest events. Being able to gain card advantage off huge synchro summons helped the deck compete at advantage grinding and also helps you draw into more cards to perform more synchro summons. Other solid Level 4 monsters like Kuick, Haipa, and Watchdog came in the pack as well and the deck was ready to take on the metagame. Clever duelists combined these monsters with the best machine support and the best synchro engine to create the ingeniously-named Karakuri-Machina-Plant, or “KMP” deck.

Now Extreme Victory is here, and the biggest karakuri player in the pack isn't a new synchro, but a monster that makes them on command – Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 “Ninishi”. Ninishi allows you to put multiple monsters on the field at once and is a Level 3 tuner in a nice neat little package. Its 1900 Defense isn't even something to laugh at. Synchro summoning some of the best synchro monsters in the game has never been easier. Ninishi allows for a monster lineup full of karakuri monsters which gives you access to all of the other karakuri support, and some of it is very good. And don't glance over the fact that this entire archetype has the EARTH attribute and has easier access to the Naturia synchro monsters than possibly even the Naturia archetype itself. Let me give you the inside look into my Karakuri synchro deck and walk you through why this is a deck you should look out for or consider building yourself.

    Karakuri BarkwhipSmash    
Main Deck
Side Deck
3 Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 "Ninishi"
3 Karakuri Merchant mdl 177 "Inashichi"
2 Karakuri Muso mdl 818 "Haipa"
1 Karakuri Ninja mdl 339 "Sazank"
1 Karakuri Ninja mdl 919 "Kuick"
3 Karakuri Soldier mdl 236 "Nisamu"
2 Karakuri Strategist mdl 248 "Nishipachi"
1 Karakuri Watchdog mdl 313 "Saizan"
Monsters [16]
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
1 Giant Trunade
1 Instant Fusion
2 Karakuri Anatomy
3 Karakuri Cash Cache
1 Limiter Removal
1 Mind Control
1 Monster Reborn
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Pot of Avarice
1 Pot of Duality
Spells [17]
1 Call of the Haunted
1 Dark Bribe
1 Mirror Force
1 Seven Tools of the Bandit
1 Solemn Judgment
2 Solemn Warning
Traps [7]
Deck Total [40]
1 ?
2 Cyber Dragon
3 Dimensional Fissure
2 Gozen Match
2 Nobleman of Crossout
3 Puppet Plant
1 Royal Oppression
1 Seven Tools of the Bandit
Side Deck [15]


1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Cyber Saurus
2 Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei"
2 Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido"
1 Naturia Barkion
1 Naturia Beast
1 Naturia Landoise
1 Scrap Archfiend
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
Extra Deck [15]

Chimeratech Fortress Dragon is the missing Sidedeck card.

(Chimeratech Fortress Dragon is the missing Sidedeck card.)

Unlike the past karakuri decks, this build does not aim to OTK. In fact, the deck plays surprisingly similar to the Six Samurai deck. The deck has a ton of searching power and can synchro summon into powerful monsters with mini-lockdown effects. Not to say that the deck can't OTK with the right hand, but they won't come to you all that often.

The Soldiers in the Army

As mentioned, Ninishi is the real kicker in the deck allowing for synchro summons on command and grants access to every synchro in your extra deck. But unlike her cousin Kageki, the summon is an additional normal summon. The difference seems negligible, but when you consider the searching power you can get when combining it with Merchant, it becomes a big deal. The effect is also continuous and can be activated at any time during your turn, which is great if you're using Ninishi as your target for Karakuri Cash Cache to get your choice of non-tuner and consequently your choice of synchro monster. This flexibility gives the card everything the deck needs to respond to almost any situation whenever it needs it.

Ninishi may be what makes the deck powerful, but Merchant and Soldier are what give karakuris incredible consistency. Soldier is the karakuri-themed XX-Saber Emmersblade searching out every monster in your main deck and maintaining field presence for the next turn which usually leads to an easier or bigger play. Merchant usually gets compared to Elemental Hero stratos, but in actuality he more resembles Infernity Archfiend being able to search out any karakuri CARD in the deck. This means that your main target will often be Karakuri Cash Cache which you can immediately use to search out any monster and turn merchant into defense mode so he doesn't become suicidal and attack into larger monsters. This simple play thins you deck down by 2. Did I mention that Merchant also has a rather respectable defense of 1500 (for a level 2 monster)? Being Level 2 also means that combined off a Ninishi summon you have instant access to Naturia Beast without losing any card advantage, and summoning a turn 1 Naturia Beast with some protection is deadly against some decks like Six Samurai.

2 Strategist and a Watchdog round off your tuner lineup. Strategist has the easiest access to battle position manipulation, which is very useful when you're trying to use the draw effects of Bureido and Karakuri Anatomy. Strategist also acts as another LV3 tuner target for Instant Fusion and can even stop attacks when summoned off of Soldier in the battle phase. Watchdog helps make those bigger synchro plays end in a Stardust Dragon to protect your investment. Neither monster is particularly great monsters to topdeck, but both have key situations where they can win games and the high tuner lineup helps cards like Mind Control never be dead.

The final 4 monsters are a bit mix-and-match. Haipa at 2 can be unneeded at times but there are a few matchups where the 2100 attack puts in serious work. He helps prevent Heroes and Gravekeepers from completely out-sizing you and gives you something else for them to worry about besides your synchro monsters. Where he really shines though is dealing with specific trouble cards like Thunder King Rai-Oh, King Tiger Wangu, Skill Drain, and the soon-to-come Steelswarm Roach. Kuick's 1700 attack is on the low end for monsters that need to attack, but when summoned off of a Burei, you should have plenty of opportunities to squeeze out another synchro monster in Main Phase 2 to protect you like Naturia Landoise or Stardust Dragon (depending on what tuners you have in grave). Sazank's effect is nice in a slower meta, but right now his main use is in his Level 3 status. With Ninishi, Sazank opens up easy opportunities to drop Naturia Barkion and Brionac which are both game winning synchros that are otherwise very tricky to summon when they are needed.

The Support Engine

Karakuri Cash Cache is a ROTA that only requires a monster on field first to activate. If you have ninishi on field then you still have the opportunity to drop that monster (and synchro summon), and the battle position change can be very useful even if it's just to put a monster in Defense mode that you don't want to be forced to attack. Karakuri Anatomy may not be quite as spam-able as Six Samurai United, but you shouldn't have many worries activating it early game. Any combination of Strategist, Burei, Cash Cache, or Merchant (to search cash cache) can activate it immediately, and even the karakuri's natural effect to change positions can activate it quickly. Karakuri Anatomy combines with Pot of Avarice and Karakuri bureido's effect to give you a rather strong draw engine to support your heavy synchro summons and helps you draw into those traps to create an unbreakable field.

Most of the trap lineup is pretty staple in the meta other than the single Seven Tools of the Bandit and Dark Bribe. Negating key counter traps is very important, especially since this deck wins off its summons. Karakuris can synchro summon efficiently enough so that you can bait most of the solemns instead of negating them, but there's usually still at least 1 big card that you really need to stop, and between bribe, tools and judgment, you should have that answer. With Frog based decks still pretty popular and a few too many power spells in the game, I feel strongly that Dark Bribe deserves a spot over the second tools, and in testing it has never really let me down.

Surprising the Meta

some of the biggest weapons of the deck aren't in the main deck at all. This deck has some of the most powerful side deck options available to it and gives it a great chance to catch many meta players off guard for easy wins.

While this deck can play like Samurais in Game 1, it can also side like them too, especially against graveyard-reliant decks. Without hardly any reliance on the graveyard, you can easily side in Dimensional Fissure and combined with Gozen Match you can pretty easily completely disable Plant and Frog decks. Royal Oppression helps keep any position you make nearly impenetrable and Nobleman of Crossouts keep the likes of Ryko from popping those key backrows away. The naturia synchros (except Naturai Beast) also help protect this lockdowns and they become even more important in Game 2/3. Dimensional Fissure even has the bonus effect of preventing your opponent from creating Chimeratech Fortress Dragon on you!

Against Samurai you can easily side into triple Puppet Plant with little worry that they will put in Dimensional Fissure since it does so little to you. Those LV5 monsters they spam just meet so conveniently with your Level 3 tuners. An extra Seven Tools of the Bandit helps when you need to negate those pesky traps without getting bogged down by Shi En's negations. The Cyber Dragons and Chimeratech are useful when you need a bit more muscle power in the more controlling matchups like Heroes, Glads, and Gravekeepers. Chimeratech isn't all that needed, but other machine decks are out there and he can make the matchup a breeze, and it really stinks to be caught without it when the situation arises.

The Future

The game is at a turning point right now. After the North American WCQ, most duelist will be looking for the changes that XYZ monsters and the September Banlist will bring to the game.

Now no one knows what the banlist will hit this format, but it is unlikely that much, if any, cards from this deck will get hit, while other synchro decks like plants and tengu are quite likely to get weakened. XYZ monsters may not help the deck tremendously, but the deck already packs lots of LV4 monsters and Mind Control, so a Steelswarm Roach can still be quite easy to summon. Rank 3 monsters can help you deal with those all tuner hands, andEmpty Space Sea Serpent Levaiel works wonders with Dimensional Fissure in the side. Fitting them in would be the hard part, but Scrap Archfiend and maybe a Bureido could be put aside.

Karakuris are a fierce and powerful deck capable of playing for huge pushes and partial lockdowns with efficient and easy synchro summons. It's a deck that you should look out for, at US Nats and in the future.

- BarkwhipSmash

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