5/23/2012 10:24:00 AM
In August of last year, I rebuilt my Dragunity deck, dusting it off after it had been lying idle for four months. After picking up Dragunities upon their TCG release, I'd quickly dropped it in favor of Plants, in order to keep up with the ferocious speed of Six Samurai and the strong defense of Tech Genus Stun. Near the end of the format my thoughts turned back to Dragunity, and I rebuilt the deck with the premise that a first turn Stardust Dragon was still good. However, after the format changed in March, Stardust lost its luster, and hasn't really recovered from that stumble. Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite
gave some life to the Dragunity strategy, but it became even less useful after Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
My last article on Dragunity stressed its ability to be successful, even in a format that was saturated by Maxx “C” and Effect Veiler
. Times have changed. The deadly Maxx “C”, which could shut down a Dragunity player's turn without incurring any card loss, has declined in popularity, while Veiler and Fiendish Chain
are now much more common. Thunder King Rai-Oh
- a very powerful card against Dragunity given its ability to keep you from searching out key cards with Dragon Ravine
- is also trending downward, giving Dragunity an opening to make an impact on competitive metagames. More importantly than favorable metagame conditions, is the introduction of new cards from Galactic Overlord
. The Hieratic archetype has created new possibilities and generated numerous new strategies for Dragunity Duelists. In this article, I’ll examine how Dragunity can be played competitively this format, thanks to these new cards.
The Newcomer: Hieratic Dragon King of Atum
I’ll get right to the point: Atum is the ace card, and namesake, of two new Dragunity variants. Atum Dragunity and the Dragunity OTK both rely on this guy to create sweeping plays that apply a huge amount of pressure to the opponent. Often you'll find that successfully summoning Atum is as good as game. Like Hieratics, Dragunity not only benefits from summoning Atum, but can also do so very easily. As a rank six that requires two Dragons, most of the Dragunity Knights fit the description for materials. Dragunity Knight - Vajrayana
and Dragunity Knight - Gae Dearg
are the most common materials. Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit
is a splashable option, but Dragunity Arma - Mystletainn is generally preferred.
| Hieratic Dragon King of Atum
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2400 / 2100
2 Level 6 Dragon-Type monsters // Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; Special Summon 1 Dragon-Type monster from your Deck, and make its ATK and DEF 0. This card cannot attack during the turn you activate this effect.
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So what exactly does one do with Atum? In a pure Dragunity build, there's honestly not much to summon with Atum's effect. Dragunity Phalanx
and Dragunity Aklys
are generally your only targets, and consolidating two level six monsters just to bring either of them to the field generally isn't worthwhile. Instead we’ll have to run Atum’s best partner: Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
. Red-Eyes is a card that works ‘decently’ with a standard Dragunity build, but it can create more inconsistencies than it’s worth. You rarely want to banish a Dragon tuner even if doing so lets you summon a Stardust Dragon from your graveyard with REDMD's ability. The new Fast Effect ruleset doesn't help Red-Eyes, and running it here takes a little getting used to. Still, the combos with Atum are just too good to pass up. Let’s look at an example:
1. Player 1 activates Dragon Ravine
, discarding Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite
to search his deck for Dragunity Phalanx
2. Player 1 then uses the effect of Zephyros to special summon it, by Return
ing Dragon Ravine
to his hand.
These days, this play is almost as common as summoning Dragunity Dux
. It accomplishes two things: first, you can avoid using Dragon Ravine
’s second effect as much as possible, and secondly, this combo lets you put puts both tuners in the graveyard on the first turn. You can even send two copies of Dragunity Phalanx
if you’re worried about Chain Disappearance
. This play establishes a wide range of options early on, and offers resiliency if you need it.
But beyond that, we can now use this setup to create a much stronger field than just a single Stardust Dragon. Normally, this play would continue with the duelist activating Ravine's effect again, then discarding Phalanx to search Aklys, which would be summoned and tuned with Zephyros to make Dragunity Knight - Vajrayana
. From there you synchro summon a level eight monster, generally a Stardust Dragon. But consider this play sequence instead:
3. Player 1 activates Dragon Ravine
's effect for a second time. They discard their newly-added Dragunity Phalanx
to search out Dragunity Dux
4. Player 1 summons Dux and activates its ability, targeting Phalanx.
This is a crucial part of the play, where if the opponent has Effect Veiler
or Maxx “C”, they’ll make it known now. If they don’t have one of those answers, then the real fun begins.
5. Phalanx will equip itself to Dux and begin basic Dragunity combos. The player will special summon Phalanx, tune it with either Dux or Zephyros, and make Vajrayana. Then, re-equip Phalanx and special summon it again. Phalanx and Zephyros make another Vajrayana, which deposits yet another Phalanx on the field.
6. Xyz time! With two Vajrayana on the table (and a Phalanx floating around) the player can summon Atum, detatch a material, and summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
. Red-Eyes special summons the Vajrayana you just detached from Atum, and along with that Phalanx I mentioned earlier, Vajrayana is used to synchro summon Stardust Dragon.
By the end of this combo, you'll end with a field of Stardust Dragon, Hieratic Dragon King Atum (that can't attack this turn), and Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
(with 0 ATK and DEF). Clearly this is a huge step up from the standard ‘Summon Stardust and end’ play that Dragunity is notorious for. Not only are there more monsters helping to control the field, but the opponent is put under incredible pressure to break that setup next turn. If they don’t, Atum will summon another REDMD, or REDMD will grab another Dragon. At which point the card advantage becomes Overwhelm
ing, and your opponent'll simply lose out to the sheer number of monsters you control.
On the other hand, even if your opponent manages to clear your field it's not a huge setback. The biggest draw of this combo is that it only requires three cards: Zephyros and Dux from the hand, and Dragon Ravine
which will be sticking around anyways. The combo finishes with the player holding on to three cards in hand: likely a mixture of defensive traps, high-utility spells, and hand traps. A year ago, facing a field of Stardust with three set cards was often very tough to overcome without Giant Trunade
. Now, players might start seeing something similar, but with two other huge threats on the field. REDMD will not sit there forever, and Atum can easily replace it next turn. The opponent has to break that setup immediately.
Given that this play is possible at any point during the duel, timing is everything. It's very important to bait out monster removal before you attempt this. Of course, we have a bit of a problem concerning the ‘when’ of this play. Maybe you had to use Zephyros earlier in the duel, or you ran into Effect Veiler
or Torrential Tribute
the last time you tried to make the play. In any case, we need more ways to summon rank six Xyz monsters - especially Atum. In the combo above I showed you how to make that play using the Dragunity Knights. There are a few other options that we can explore.
Expanding the Atum Swarm
Dragunity Arma Mystletainn
was originally the
answer to Effect Veiler
for Dragunity. If you tried for a Dux play and your opponent dropped Veiler, you could send Dux to the graveyard, special summon Mystletainn, and continue on with your plays. However, Mystletainn has its own set of inconsistencies that caused it to see much less play than some players predicted. The Dragunity decks that topped YCS events didn't run this card, so people drifted away from using it. Now Mystletainn has a new role: making rank six Xyz monsters in tandem with Dux. By running two Mystletainns, the deck's weakness to Effect Veiler
and Fiendish Chain
is considerably reduced.
However, the strategy is still susceptible to backrow interference, particularly Torrential Tribute
and Bottomless Trap Hole
. Both of those cards lead to further inconsistencies with Mystletainn and often keep it dead in your hand.
helps to solve many of the problems caused by the higher monster count in this build. Lance stops a huge number of cards that are seeing play this format, and punishes players for running Fiendish Chain
instead of Effect Veiler
. Remember that since Mystletainn lets you get around Veiler, you have a way to play around both cards. Forbidden Lance
also lets Dux or Legionnaire get over Thunder King Rai-Oh
in a pinch. Between Lance and Mystletainn, you have outs to basically everything your opponent could throw at you bar D.D. Crow
, Solemns, and Maxx “C”.
I touched upon Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit
before, and it has some synergy with Dragunity that's worth noting. On its own, it acts like a Cyber Dragon that can be searched via Hieratic Seal of Convocation
. While it can't attack right away (thus limiting its use against Rai-Oh) it sets up for an easy level eight Synchro summon that completely ignores Effect Veiler
and D.D. Crow
. There are also times where you can use it to put a Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
on the field. Tefnuit opens up the possibilities of further Hieratic-Dragunity hybrids, though I have yet to see one that can compete with the standard versions of either deck.
Examining The Extra
Now that we’ve discussed some of the main deck options that make this strategy a bit more viable, let’s look at the extra deck. Obviously you have your standard lineup of level five, six, and eight Synchros that Dux and Legionnaire can access. Trident Dragion
is here as well, and it’s actually easier to make in this version than in the standard builds. Without Super-Dreadnought Gun Turret Train - Gustav Max - a key card in the OCG that we don't yet have in the TCG - Dragion is your second turn OTK condition.
The last two cards that deserve some discussion are the two other Xyz monsters that I’ve included: Photon Strike Bounzer
and Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger
. Bounzer is another rank six that you summon in this deck much the same way as you would Atum. Depending on your setup, you can also grab it at the end of the Atum combo. You usually want to do that if you can make the play using Dux and Mystletainn, while having Zephyros in the graveyard. Here’s the expanded play.
1. Summon Dux and equip Phalanx. Special summon Phalanx, then send it to the graveyard for Mystletainn. Re-equip, and special summon Phalanx again. Synchro summon Vajrayana, and you’re at the same point as step five on the combo listed before. This time, however, you might have a Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite
in your graveyard.
2. Summon Atum using Mystletainn and Vajrayana, then use its effect to summon Red-Eyes. Grab whatever you detached, then Return
REDMD to the hand to summon Zephyros. Banish Atum to get REDMD back on the field, and use its effect to special summon the second material that was previously attached to Atum. You now have a field of Red-Eyes (at 2800 ATK), Zephyros and Phalanx (which equates to a level 6 or 8 Synchro monster) and a pair of level six dragons (Vajrayana and Mystletainn) that can be used to make Photon Strike Bounzer
. Stardust, Bounzer, and REDMD equal exactly 8000 damage, leaving you with an amazing field and usually an OTK.
Gaia Dragon exists almost entirely to facilitate OTKs and leverage dead Atums into damage. If you’re running double Atum and can make both, Gaia Dragon will give you the last bit of ATK power you need to finish the duel. It’s not too important if you aren’t running a more dedicated OTK build, but it’s a nice card to have in the Extra deck.
Speaking of the OTK, there are builds that allow you to summon Atum and win on the spot. Of course you’re probably wondering why I haven’t covered that already! The reason is very simple: OTK builds of Dragunity are inconsistent. In order to run the combo you need to run cards like Mist Valley Baby Roc
and a full playset of REDMD and Zephyros. The potential for dead draws is huge and the combo leaves you defenseless. Further, a single card can completely disrupt your play and not only end your turn early, but probably cost you the entire duel. I'm personally not a fan of such dive-bomb strategies that hinge on a single play. You can certainly try it out and see for yourself, but I find something like the following is just far more consistent:
This is a rough sketch of Atum Dragunity. It plays almost exactly like the standard builds of Dragunity from last year, but has stronger, more explosive plays to swarm the field and establish a better defense. Vulnerabilities to Effect Veiler
and set backrow cards have been minimized thanks to Forbidden Lance
and Mystletainn, while at the same time the deck is Fine
-tuned to allow more rank six Xyz summons. It's important to remember that while the Atum combo is great, you can
win without it . Knowing what to summon in Dragunity can be difficult, because it's nearly impossible to turn around a misplay. The deck simply isn't forgiving if you make a mistake. Still, good reads will go far and Night Beam
might be more your style if you're exceedingly good at predicting your opponent's cards.
In most big matchups right now, Stardust won’t be sticking around for long. Inzektors can use Inzektor Exa-Stag
to steal Stardust out of the graveyard and beat you down with a 3300 attacker (on that note, Inzektor Exa-Beetle
is an interesting, generic rank six that you can run in Dragunities yourself). Dino Rabbit has Forbidden Lance
and Evolzar Dolkka
to deal with your setup, and is a great example of why the Atum combo is so good. Even if they get past one of your monsters, they’ll still have two more to deal with. The rise in play of Compulsory Evacuation Device
hurts Stardust’s playability even further. But, hey, this is Dragunity: there are several other level eights that you can make. Though Ruler Archfiend can negate a huge number of spells and traps being played right now, and generally can attack over most monsters. Scrap Dragon
is absurd when combined with Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
, though that’s not a combo I would bet on seeing often.
Dragunity remains versatile enough to deal with most threats, but it's also so simplified that tech choices serving a specific role are often more live over the course of a Duel than you might expect. Establishing field control in the early game is hugely important, and the Atum combo allows players to do that in a way that's better than ever before, without sacrificing too much consistency.
Will we see Dragunity topping YCS events? Probably not any time soon, at least not until a greater number of people actually start playing the deck. Dragunity continues to top in the OCG, but how much of that success is due to a larger following is impossible to know. It's still a difficult deck to pilot in this format, but it's also very rewarding and fun. I continue to suggest the deck to newcomers who are looking for something that they can quickly understand and start to master. The new Xyz plays that are now possible have definitely rekindled the interest of Duelists who dropped the deck previously, and they're continuing to attract newcomers to the theme. If you’re looking for something you can build on a budget, go ahead and give Dragunity a shot.
Until Next Time,