Photon Shockwave Set Review - Part 1

Jason Grabher-Meyer

11/17/2011 10:30:00 AM
 Comments

Welcome! Photon Shockwave is officially legal for tournament competition, so it's time to break it all down and look at the coolest, most competitive, and most entertaining cards from the set! This week we'll take on the Effect Monsters and Xyz Monsters from the core booster, and next week we'll look at the spells, traps, and additional cards not present in the original Japanese release. PhotonShockwave introduces the Rabbit Laggia deck to competition; brings us the new Evolsaur theme; and comes packed with cool theme support for legacy decks and Duel Terminal archetypes. It's got a lot of really fun, unique cards, so there's lots to talk about. Let's kick it off with the obvious starting point!

Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon

High
Mid
Low
 Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon
$17.95
$10.85
$7.59
Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN011
Level 8
Type Effect Monster
Monster Dragon
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 3000 / 2500
Rarity Ghost Rare
Card Text

You can Special Summon this card (from your hand) by Tributing 2 monster with 2000 or more ATK. During either player's Battle Step, when this card battles an opponent's monster: You can target the monster this card is battling; banish both it and this card, then any monster banished by this effect returns to the field at the end of the Battle Phase. If the monster banished by this effect was an Xyz Monster, this card gains 500 ATK for each Material the Xyz Monster had when it was banished.


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We're starting big, kicking off our set review with the pack-front monster! I'm not sure people fully appreciate Photon Dragon. Personally, I think a lot of folks trip over the “You can Special Summon this card by Tributing 2 monsters with 2000 or more ATK” line, not registering on some level that there are lots of other ways to cheat this card into play. Metal Dragon' rel="/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon">Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon can Special Summon it for free; you can Tribute The White Stone of Legend and Totem Dragon for Dragonic Tactics, and 1-for-1 Photon Dragon into play straight from your deck; and in the future when Order of Chaos is released, Ninja Duelists will be able to Special Summon it from the deck while taking down an opposing monster, thanks to Ninjitsu Art of Super Transformation.

The whole “2000 ATK” thing is a cool bonus, but there's a lot more going on here. Photon Dragon's second effect, which lets it outplay cards like Dimensional Prison and Mirror Force, is great. I feel like if this thing was named “Dimensional Prison Dodging Dragon,” it would be getting some more praise. As it stands, it's a very cool card for Dragon decks, and it'll do extremely well in Ninja strategies early next year.

Evoltile Gephyro / Evoltile Westlo / Evoltile Odonto

High
Mid
Low
 Evoltile Westlo
$9.95
$4.39
$3.33
Evoltile Westlo
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN017
Level 3
Type Effect Monster
Monster Reptile
Attribute FIRE 
A / D 700 / 1900
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

FLIP: Special Summon 1 "Evolsaur" monster from your Deck.


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The Photon Shockwave set does more for Dinosaurs than any core booster set before it, and it does it with two separate families of monsters that work together. The Evoltiles are Reptile-types that serve as support cards for the Dinosaur-type Evolsaurs. Evoltiles exist solely to Special Summon Evolsaurs: you can Normal Summon Evolsaurs just Fine, but they get special effects and bonuses when they're Special Summoned by Evoltiles.

Each of the three Evoltiles Special Summons Evolsaurs in different ways, and from different places. Evoltile Odonto is the simplest: when you Normal Summon it, you can Special Summon an Evolsaur from your hand. When Evoltile Gephyro is destroyed by battle, it Special Summons an Evolsaur from your graveyard. Both Gephyro and Odonto have mediocre stats, making Evoltile Westlo the clear winner of the three: with 1900 DEF and a Flip Effect that Special Summons an Evolsaur from your deck, it's the most flexible and resilient of the Evoltiles. With the number of combos that emerge from its ability, it functions as a superior Super-Nimble Mega Hamster for the theme.

Evolsaur Vulcano / Evolsaur Diplo / Evolsaur Cerato

High
Mid
Low
 Evolsaur Cerato
$7.95
$3.42
$1.55
Evolsaur Cerato
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN020
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Dinosaur
Attribute FIRE 
A / D 1900 / 1400
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

When this card is Special Summoned by the effect of an "Evoltile" monster: It gains 200 ATK. If this card was Special Summoned by the effect of an "Evoltile" monster, each time this card destroys an opponent's monster by battle: You can add 1 "Evoltile" monster from your Deck to your hand.


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So, what do you get for your Evoltile efforts? Evolsaur Diplo is a 1600 ATK Level 4, that when Special Summoned by an Evoltile, blows away an opposing spell or trap card. That's not shabby, but it's outclassed by the other two Evolsaurs in the core set. Evolsaur Vulcano only has 1200 ATK, but when an Evoltile brings it out, Vulcano lets you Special Summon another Evolsaur from your Graveyard. The Evolsaur you Special Summon can't attack, but it can be overlayed with Vulcano to make a Rank 4 Xyz, including an Evolsaur Laggia or Evolsaur Dolkka. If Evoltile Westlo survives an attack and flips to bring out Vulcano, you can literally just make a Rank 4 Xyz for free.

The 1900 ATK Evolsaur Cerato rounds out the lineup, gaining 200 ATK if it's Special Summoned by an Evoltile. It's a sturdy beatstick, and it gets more than just an ATK boost when an Evoltile brings it outt: Cerato will also let you add an Evoltile monster from your deck to your hand any time it destroys a monster in battle, provided it was brought out by an Evoltile itself in the first place. Flip Westlo; Special Summon Cerato; attack, and get another Westlo. It's a nice little play sequence that can make an impact.

Wind-Up Warrior

High
Mid
Low
 Wind-Up Warrior
$0.80
$0.16
$0.08
Wind-Up Warrior
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN022
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 1200 / 1800
Rarity Common
Card Text

You can target 1 face-up "Wind-Up" monster you control; until the End Phase, increase its Level by 1 and its ATK by 600. This effect can only be used once while this card is face-up on the field.


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Wind-Ups get a lot of new support in this set, a trend that'll continue through Order of Chaos. Wind-Up Warrior is one of the best of the new crop, functioning as just a slightly less impressive Wind-Up Soldier. Like Wind-Up Soldier and Wind-Up Dog, Warrior can boost itself to Level 5 and get its attack numbers up to something respectable with its one-shot ability. It doesn't reach the 2200 ATK of Soldier, instead topping out at 1800 ATK, but its ATK and Level bonus can be applied to any monster on the field, not just itself. That's rarely important, but what counts is that this is another Wind-Up with respectable power in battle, that has an easy-to-activate ability. That makes it easier to trigger Wind-Up Factory and Wind-Up Magician's effects, making the deck more consistent. This is the kind of redundancy that's usually lacking from major deck themes in Yu-Gi-Oh, and it's a big help for Wind-Ups.

Wind-Up Hunter

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Mid
Low
 Wind-Up Hunter
$2.20
$0.44
$0.23
Wind-Up Hunter
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN024
Level 3
Type Effect Monster
Monster Beast-Warrior
Attribute DARK 
A / D 1600 / 500
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

You can Tribute 1 face-up "Wind-Up" monster, except "Wind-Up Hunter"; send 1 random card from your opponent's hand to the Graveyard. This effect can only be used once while this card is face-up on the field.


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Wind-Up Hunter is another big highlight, bringing hand disruption to the Wind-Up theme. Activating Wind-Up Hunter's effect will let you Tribute a Wind-Up to send a random card from your opponent's hand to the Graveyard. If you play it when you control Wind-Up Factory or Wind-Up Magician, you get a free card from your deck as a result. Since the card you search balances the card you Tributed, it's a straight +1 that limits your opponent's options. And since you “send” the card to the graveyard, instead of discarding it, most Dark World monster effects won't trigger. It works really well with Wind-Up Rabbit, which we'll discuss later in our set review. There's also a nasty combo with cards from Order of Chaos that'll let you dump a string of cards from your opponent's hand all at once, so keep an eye on this one in the future.

Wind-Up Kitten

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Mid
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 Wind-Up Kitten
$8.49
$3.94
$2.87
Wind-Up Kitten
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN026
Level 2
Type Effect Monster
Monster Beast
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 800 / 500
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

You can target 1 monster your opponent controls; return that target to the hand. This effect can only be used once while this card is face-up on the field.


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The monster-bouncing Wind-Up Kitten is pretty great too, eliminating opposing Synchro and Xyz Monsters. This card gets more important as stuff like Wind-Up Zenmaines and Evolzar Laggia get more popular, so expect it to see some play.

Wind-Up Knight

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Mid
Low
 Wind-Up Knight
$0.80
$0.16
$0.08
Wind-Up Knight
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN023
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 1800 / 1200
Rarity Rare
Card Text

When a face-up "Wind-Up" monster you control is targeted for an attack: You can negate the attack. This effect can only be used once while this card is face-up on the field.


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Though Hunter, Warrior, and Kitten are the immediate highlights of the new Wind-Ups, Wind-Up Knight is no slouch. With 1800 ATK it's a solid attacker, and its effect can negate an attack that would've cost you a -1 in terms of card presence. Recycling it with Wind-Up Rabbit's effect can make it a solid defensive wall.

D.D. Telepon

High
Mid
Low
 D.D. Telepon
$0.85
$0.17
$0.09
D.D. Telepon
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN027
Level 2
Type Effect Monster
Monster Psychic
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 500 / 1800
Rarity Rare
Card Text

If this face-up card you control is banished: You can banish 1 Psychic-Type monster with 1500 or less ATK from your Deck. Then, during your next Standby Phase, if this card is still banished: Special Summon that monster banished by this effect.


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This card may look difficult to activate, but it's actually pretty easy - Future Visions and Time Escaper both get the job done, providing ample direction for a deck centered on this card. Remove Esper Girl to get a Tuner into play and set yourself up to score a free +1: you can go straight into Armory Arm, or throw another monster into the mix to make something bigger.

Watt King Cobra

High
Mid
Low
 Wattcobra
$1.05
$0.21
$0.08
Wattcobra
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN028
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Thunder
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 1000 / 500
Rarity Common
Card Text

This card can attack your opponent directly. When this card inflicts Battle Damage to your opponent by a direct attack: Add 1 "Watt" monster from your Deck to your hand.


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Are Watts good yet? The answer may still be unclear, but Wattcobra definitely nudges things in the right direction! With 1000 ATK and the ability to attack directly, the Cobra can be surprisingly forceful if it's backed by Wattcube. But when it deals damage with a direct attack, you get to score a free “Watt” monster from your deck, adding it to your hand; that makes Wattcobra a must-run for Watt Duelists. You can even get another Cobra, so there may be a worthwhile deck here.

Naturia Marron

High
Mid
Low
 Naturia Marron
$0.85
$0.17
$0.08
Naturia Marron
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN029
Level 3
Type Effect Monster
Monster Plant
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 1200 / 700
Rarity Common
Card Text

When this card is Normal Summoned: You can send 1 "Naturia" monster from your Deck to the Graveyard. Once per turn: You can target 2 "Naturia" monster in your Graveyard; shuffle both those targets into the Deck, then draw 1 card.


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If you've been reading the TCGplayer facebook feed, you already know that I love this card because it's adorable. However, I'm also fond of it because it reminds me of another card I always liked: Recycler' rel="/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Scrap Recycler">Scrap Recycler. It's basically the exact same card, but for a different deck theme; I can't help but think that Naturia Marrron's ATK matching the DEF of Recycler is a subtle nod towards its heritage.

Anyway, all flavor speculation aside, this card's pretty good. One of the big things Naturias have wanted to do over the past year or two, is Recycle the defensive cards they wind up feeding to the graveyard - think Naturia Cliff. The chestnut's ability lets you send Cliffs back to the deck in order to keep your defenses up (and your Creature Swaps flowing), and it scores you a draw to replace itself in the mean time. Pair it with the right Tuners, and it can be used for easy Naturia Beasts and Naturia Barkions, too.

Prior of the Ice Barrier

High
Mid
Low
 Prior of the Ice Barrier
$0.75
$0.15
$0.07
Prior of the Ice Barrier
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN030
Level 2
Type Effect Monster
Monster Aqua
Attribute WATER 
A / D 1000 / 400
Rarity Common
Card Text

If you control a face-up "Ice Barrier" monster, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand). You cannot Special Summon any Level 5 or higher monster the turn you use this effect. You can Tribute this card to target 1 "Ice Barrier" monster in your Graveyard, except "Prior of the Ice Barrier"; Special Summon that target.


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Prior's a great card because it works on a lot of different levels. On one hand, it's an awesome reverse toolboxer, giving you access to useful monsters like Dance Princess of the Ice Barrier; Strategiest of the Ice Barrier; and Tuners. If it's in the graveyard, Prior lets you reuse it. At the same time, since you can Special Summon Prior when you control another Ice Barrier, it's also a very good enabler for some of the best Ice Barrier monsters, which require a second monster on the field for their effects to work.

But the best thing about Prior may not be obvious when you first read the card: Prior can also let you Special Summon big, high-level Ice Barrier monsters like General Gantala of the Ice Barrier. Prior's condition, which keeps you from Special Summoning Level 5 or higher monsters, is only applied if you Special Summoned Prior with its own ability. If you Normal Summon it, you can use Prior to Special Summon whatever you want, making it an instant +1 with Gantala's End Phase effect. This is the best thing to happen to Ice Barriers in a long, long time.

Tribe-Shocking Virus

High
Mid
Low
 Tribe-Shocking Virus
$1.10
$0.22
$0.09
Tribe-Shocking Virus
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN034
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Thunder
Attribute WATER 
A / D 1700 / 0
Rarity Rare
Card Text

Once per turn: You can banish 1 monster from your hand; destroy all face-up monsters on the field with the same Type as that monster.


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This new take on Tribe-Infecting Virus is an intriguing redux on a classic monster. Because the card you banish determines what you destroy, its chief use is going to be for side deck tech in mirror matches. It's obviously at its best against type-themed decks like Agents, Tech Genus, Karakuris, and perhaps Dark World, while it's less effective against decks that play lots of different monster types like Plant Synchro. I'm not sure this is the right format for this card, but it definitely has potential.

Rescue Rabbit

High
Mid
Low
 Rescue Rabbit
$10.27
$8.16
$6.57
Rescue Rabbit
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN037
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Beast
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 300 / 100
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

This card cannot be Special Summoned from the Deck. You can banish this face-up card you control; Special Summon 2 Level 4 or lower Normal Monsters with the same name from your Deck. Destroy them during the End Phase. The effect of "Rescue Rabbit" can only be activated once per turn.


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Oh, Rescue Rabbit. What can we say about you that hasn't already been said? Rescue Rabbit is the basis of the new Rabbit Laggia deck, which plays it to Special Summon the Dinosaur-type Normal Monsters Sabersaurus and Kabazauls. By Summoning a pair of either, it allows a Duelist to unleash Evolzar Laggia or Evolzar Dolkka, both powerful, aggressive control cards. The Rabbit Laggia deck is arguably the most aggressive wrecking ball in competition today, a fact that we've discussed pretty extensively here on TCGPlayer.

What's interesting is how that single strategy has overshadowed a lot of other cool uses for Rescue Rabbit. Don't get me wrong - the Rabbit Laggia deck definitely seems to be the most competitive Rabbit build at this time. But there are still some alternate strategies that are competitive, and a few more that are just huge fun. It's well-acknowledged that Gladiator Beasts can play Rabbit to make impressive plays with Gladiator Beast Andal and Test Tiger. What's less acknowledged is the potential for Rescue Rabbit to create new versions of everything from Enchanted Fitting Room decks; to Elemental HERO strategies that benefit from dumping HERO cards to the Graveyard as Xyz Materials; to a surprisingly vicious Generation Fish variant starring Airorca. It's a shame that one deck has launched this thing into the secondary market stratosphere, because it really is a fun card that can accomplish a lot of neat stuff.

Baby Tiragon

High
Mid
Low
 Baby Tiragon
$0.95
$0.19
$0.08
Baby Tiragon
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN038
Level 1
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Dragon
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 900 / 900
Rarity Rare
Card Text

3 Level 1 monsters // During your Main Phase 1: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card to target 1 face-up Level 1 monster you control; it can attack your opponent directly.


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This card makes the cut almost entirely because it's adorable, but the fact that it can also let your Tragoedia become a direct attacker is pretty cool. You can combo it with Skull Servants' rel="/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=King of the Skull Servants">King of the Skull Servants as well: stack three Skull Servants to Xyz Summon Baby Tiragon; burn all the attached Skull Servants off in the same turn to get them back into the yard fueling the King; then swing directly for big damage. Fun, and completely adorbs!

Number 83: Galaxy Queen

High
Mid
Low
 Number 83: Galaxy Queen
$4.50
$0.90
$0.48
Number 83: Galaxy Queen
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN039
Level 1
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Spellcaster
Attribute DARK 
A / D 500 / 500
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

3 Level 1 monsters // Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; until the opponent's next End Phase, the monsters you currently control cannot be destroyed by battle, and if they attack a Defense Position monster, inflict piercing Battle Damage to your opponent.


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This one sits squarely in the column of “cool new stuff to do with Skull Servants.” Since Galaxy Queen can sit in defense position blocking attacks for three turns, she can serve as valuable stall power for a casual and local-level strategy that's largely combo driven and loves getting to see just one more draw to pull everything together. How do you get three Skull Servants together to Xyz Summon her? We'll talk about that next week in the latter half of this set review.

Number 10: Illumiknight

High
Mid
Low
 Number 10: Illumiknight
$2.80
$0.56
$0.34
Number 10: Illumiknight
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN041
Level 4
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 2400 / 2400
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

3 Level 4 monsters // Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; send 1 card from your hand to the Graveyard and draw 1 card.


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Requiring three Level 4 Xyz Materials, Illumiknight is tough to Summon. It's a natural fit for Ultimate Offering Gadgets, where you can Xyz Summon it without taking a minus in card presence. It's nice there because it can load your Graveyard with Glow-Up Bulb, and help you dig for cards to make a win - two things Utopia can't accomplish. I've also seen people experiment with it in decks playing Gravekeeper's Spy and cards like Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress and Breaker the Magical Warrior, aiming to score a free plus off each of those monsters to cushion the heavy Xyz Materials.

But in truth, the best place for this card is the upcoming Ninja deck. Normal Summoning Gold Ninja with two traps in-hand lets you build a field of two Gold Ninjas with Ninja Master Hanzo. Hanzo'll get you another Ninja from your deck to cushion the card loss, and then you can go into Illumiknight as a simple -1. Why would you want to? The Ninja deck packs a lot of big Dragons, aiming to Special Summon them with Ninjitsu Art of Super Transformation. If you draw any of those cards, they're useless. But pitching one of those cards for Illumiknight, to bring it back with Reborn or Call Of The Haunted, creates win scenarios that wouldn't be possible otherwise. That's made Illumiknight invaluable in my experience with the Ninja strategy.

Number 20: Giga-Brilliant

High
Mid
Low
 Number 20: Giga-Brilliant
$2.60
$0.52
$0.38
Number 20: Giga-Brilliant
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN042
Level 3
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Insect
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 1800 / 1800
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

2 Level 3 monsters // Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; all face-up monsters you currently control gain 300 ATK.


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Behold, the only LIGHT Rank 3 Xyz Monster in the TCG! Now, you can get all your Black Luster Soldier needs with a single Tour Guide, without having to wait around for your opponent to attack your Sangan. Brilliant probably won't be stealing Number 17: Leviathan Dragon's seat any time soon, but if you have room for it, and you run Black Luster Soldier, it'll put in a surprising amount of work. I've been shocked at how often this thing's been useful for me.

Evolzar Laggia

High
Mid
Low
 Evolzar Laggia
$2.34
$0.89
$0.36
Evolzar Laggia
Set Photon Shockwave
Number PHSW-EN043
Level 4
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Dragon
Attribute FIRE 
A / D 2400 / 2000
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

2 Level 4 Dinosaur-Type monsters // When a monster(s) would be Normal or Special Summoned, OR a Spell/Trap Card is activated: You can detach 2 Xyz Materials from this card; negate the Summon or activation, and destroy that card.


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This card kind of occupies the same space as Rescue Rabbit, sitting in an elite group of Stuff You Definitely Already Know About. But just in case!... Evolzar Laggia can be made with Rescue Rabbit, Jurrac Guaiba, or Evolsar Vulcano as a powerful 1-for-1, which almost always grants you an immediate +1 thanks to its negation effect. Once you've used it for a free negation, you get to keep the 2400 ATK packaging, so you can beat your opponent to death with it. Laggia's a brutal card, made even more threatening by the addition of its world premier cohort, Evolzar Dolkka. While Laggia can negate spells and traps, plus Normal Summons and inherent Special Summons, it can't stop Flip Summons; Special Summons that are the result of a monster effect; or monster effects in general. Dolkka can stop monster effects, so it makes the strategies centered on Laggia even tougher to play around. This is one of the marquee highlights of the set, and it'll be a defining force over the coming months.

That's it for this week, but head on back next week as we tackle the latter half of Photon Shockwave! We'll be looking at the best spells, traps, OCG imports, and world premier cards, the latter of which are extremely strong. See you then!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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