1st Place at the NYC OTS with Ritual Beasts

Pasquale Crociata

3/9/2015 11:00:00 AM

On February 28th all across North America, many stores held OTS Championship tournaments for players to get their invites to the NAWCQ. The top 4 finishers would earn an invite and the winner would receive the Shaddoll play mat given to the Top 8 players at Regionals. I knew I'd be attending mine, because I only went to one regional back in October and ultimately left without an invite.

For that tournament, I decided to play Monarchs following the release of Burning Abyss and Shaddolls. I was really pleased with my choice for that specific event, because I beat the best strategies all day. My losses were to Shaddolls, Constellar Artifacts and Lightsworn Rulers in the final round. Because of that heartbreaking loss, I finished with a mediocre 6-3 record and around 55th place; narrowly missing the Top 48 cut for invites.

Since that tournament, I've only been able to attend a handful of large locals. I've missed each YCS and every Regional in my area. Thankfully, I've been able to keep up with the trends through the use of online play and chatting amongst the TCGplayer writers.

As most of you know, I'm a huge fan of Ritual Beasts and was pretty sure that was the deck I was going to take to the OTS. I started heavily testing two weeks before the tournament and I went to a staggering eight local tournaments. My first two tournaments were only a few days after the release of The Secret Forces; so many people were unaware as to what my deck did. If you coupled that with a few incomplete Nekroz decks and people still attempting to pilot Shaddolls; the tournament wasn't too difficult. I finished in the Top 4 and we split our prizes.

A few days later I went to a different shop and won that tournament with ease. I continued to go to locals capturing Top 4 or 1st at each with Ritual Beasts. I dueled everything from Nekroz to Yosenju to Madolche to Burning Abyss at these events and felt beyond confident in what I had come up with.

For the final week of testing, I opted to give the Yosenju strategy a try, just to ensure I wasn't missing out on anything. I played in two local tournaments; both contained zero Nekroz decks, which made winning each rather easy. Despite the success, I despised the strategy and because I didn't get a chance to test against the most popular decks of the format, I decided to switch back to Ritual Beasts.

Before we go any further, let's take a look at what I played.

    Ritual Beasts Pasquale Crociata    
  Location:  OTS Championships - 2015-02-28 - 1st Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
3 Ritual Beast Tamer Elder
2 Ritual Beast Tamer Lara
2 Ritual Beast Tamer Wen
2 Spiritual Beast Apelio
3 Spiritual Beast Cannahawk
1 Spiritual Beast Pettlephin
3 Spiritual Beast Rampengu
Monsters [16]
1 Book of Moon
1 Dimensional Fissure
3 Emergency Teleport
1 Foolish Burial
1 Gold Sarcophagus
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Raigeki
1 Ritual Beast's Bond
1 Snatch Steal
Spells [13]
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Macro Cosmos
3 Mind Crush
3 Ritual Beast Ambush
3 Ritual Beast Steeds
Traps [11]
Deck Total [40]
3 Artifact Lancea
2 Effect Veiler
1 Fairy Wind
2 Flying "C"
3 Maxx "C"
1 Solemn Warning
3 Twister (UTR)
Side Deck [15]


1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Daigusto Phoenix
1 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
1 Lavalval Chain
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 Lightning Chidori (UTR)
3 Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio
3 Ritual Beast Ulti-Cannahawk
2 Ritual Beast Ulti-Pettlephin
1 Sky Cavalry Centaurea
Extra Deck [15]

Pasquale took 1st Place at Kings Games, in Brooklyn New York!

It's important to go into any tournament with an expectation of what you intend to play against. That's why I often feel Side Decks are so irrelevant, because they truly depend on that specific tournament. Once you decide on what your expectation is for the event, you can adjust your Main Deck to contain cards to combat what you perceive to be the most popular strategies.

If your locals doesn't have many people piloting the top strategies, then I would steer your Main Deck to combat the rogue decks and use your Side Deck for the popular ones.

For instance, if your deck is terrible against Nekroz, but only one guy at your store is using Nekroz, I wouldn't main any cards to specifically beat that strategy. If Dark World is popular, even if your deck is good against Dark World, I'd Main Deck cards like Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, D.D. Crow and Dust Tornado to help demolish that strategy. Doing so means you won't have to Side Deck for Dark Worlds, but on the off chance you play against that one guy using Nekroz, you'll side heavily for that matchup. I'm talking Shared Ride, Mistake, Artifact Lancea, Mirror of the Ice Barrier and even Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer. Those cards are pretty matchup specific and work wonders against Nekroz.

Tinkering you Main Deck to beat decks you expect to play more of in a tournament will boost your chances of making it further. It's important not to go overboard, because you don't want to have terrible Game 1's against other decks, but it's truly important to play your deck to beat the most popular deck and not the best deck.

Once you've built your Main Deck and decided what you expect to be the most popular, you can Side Deck for the rest and only include an additional one or two cards for the most popular deck.

What Did I Expect?
New York City is a really fast moving place to live. It's expensive and nobody likes to waste his or her time. People are constantly hustling around the streets, weaving around others who aren't walking quickly enough. I am the guiltiest of this. I don't have time for slow people.

It's a dog eat dog world and in a city of millions, you have to strive to be the best at what you're doing, otherwise you could live somewhere else, doing the same thing and not pay nearly as much to do it. The reward is really high in New York if you're good at what you do, but it's tough and not for everyone.

 Ritual Beast Ulti-Cannahawk
Ritual Beast Ulti-Cannahawk96099
Set The Secret Forces
Number THSF-EN030
Level 6
Type Fusion/Effect Monster
Monster Thunder
Attribute WIND 
A / D 1400 / 1600
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

1 "Ritual Beast Tamer" monster + 1 "Spiritual Beast" monster
Must be Special Summoned (from your Extra Deck) by banishing the above cards you control, and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways. (You do not use "Polymerization".) Once per turn: You can target 2 of your banished "Ritual Beast" cards; return them to the Graveyard, and if you do, add 1 "Ritual Beast" card from your Deck to your hand. During either player's turn: You can return this card to the Extra Deck, then target 1 of your banished "Ritual Beast Tamer" monsters and 1 of your banished "Spiritual Beast" monsters; Special Summon them in Defense Position.

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I preface this paragraph with that sentiment, because nearly every tournament I attend hosts the best decks, because everybody in this city is trying to be the best and survive. If it's true for your every day life, it's true for your hobbies. Sure, there are a handful of people at tournaments in NYC that are there to have fun and play weird things or simply can't afford the best decks, but a vast majority of players can and do. If they're taking their entire day to come play Yu-Gi-Oh, they're in it to win it and second best is not an option.

So that was my expectation. I expected a smaller tournament, around 50-100 people, because the reward for this type of tournament isn't too high. It's an invite, some packs and a mat for the winner. While that's pretty fantastic if you don't have any of those things, for most, it's not worth the time. Time is money and if first place got a mat and a Nekroz of Brionac, I would have thought there to be about 150-200 people.

Anyway. Despite expecting a smaller turnout, I did anticipate mostly Nekroz and Qliphorts: arguably the best and most consistent two decks right now. It's that reason alone that I chose to use Ritual Beasts at the OTS. I was confident that my Ritual Beasts could tackle either deck pretty seamlessly. I wanted my Main Deck to include options that were good against both, and would worry about any other deck when I faced them.

Transitioning My Main Deck To Fit My Expectations
Macro Cosmos and Dimensional Fissure are obvious Main Deck picks in a strategy centered on the removed zone. However, Macro Cosmos is still a relatively slow card and doesn't help your combos go off. If I had been at a different tournament and expecting less Nekroz, I probably would have pushed this card to the Side Deck, but chose to use it for it's near “auto-win” status against Nekroz. Dimensional Fissure is really fantastic with Ritual Beast Rampengu and helps ward off opposing Effect Veilers or Maxx C's on Turn 1, so I considered this to be more of a staple than Macro.

Mystical Space Typhoon's obviously weaker against Nekroz, since they play no traps in their Main Deck. It's strong against Qliphort, because of Skill Drain, Vanity's Emptiness and the Pendulum Scales, but running a full 3 copies may not have happened if I didn't expect a lot of Qliphort. Two is a much more acceptable number in many cases, but I didn't want to auto-lose to random floodgates.

Mind Crush's utility fluctuates, but it's currently an incredible option for rogue strategies, because it's good against Nekroz and Qliphorts. It's got the added utility of being great against Burning Abyss and Satellarknights as well. I opted to run three in the Main Deck for that reason alone.

Snatch Steal's one of the most powerful cards ever printed, but in a deck centered around opening well on Turn 1, it's a card that you could easily Side Deck and only bring in against strategies that continually summon large monsters like Qliphort. It doesn't out the Djinn lock and is only mildly good against Nekroz in general. I opted to Main Deck the card on the off chance it stole a game I would have lost otherwise.

Emergency Teleport is another spell many Ritual Beast players only use two of. While I understand the thought process behind that, if I opened a Spiritual Beast I wanted to Contact Fusion as soon as possible and Emergency Teleport gives you that flexibility. I was unwilling to sacrifice consistency for a few more tech options.

The same could be said for Foolish Burial without Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms. As the game progresses, the spell becomes significantly worse, because you'll typically have all of your combo pieces in the banished zone or graveyard already. I, however, wanted to increase my chances of getting lucky and opening Ritual Beast Tamer Lara with Foolish or Ritual Beast Tamer Elder and Spiritual Beast Apelio. Sometimes including cards to boost your luck, despite how lackluster they can be at future points in the game, is a good thing.

Defeating Nekroz
It's beyond important to have a rational reason for including certain cards in your rogue strategy, because your deck is already underappreciated, but it's even more important to have a very specific game plan when going up against the more popular strategies.

Before we get into a round by round analysis, I want to give you a quick insight as to what my mindset was when playing against Nekroz and Qliphorts.

Nekroz is a daunting task at first glance. The deck seems to do everything, because each card searches another or protects a monster. The Ritual Spells can banish themselves, along with a Nekroz Monster, to add a new one from your deck to your hand, even another of the same spell that you banished. Nekroz of Unicore recycles Monsters from the graveyard, while Nekroz of Brionac fetches Monsters from your Main Deck. To add insult to injury, both can add Nekroz of Valkyrus to your hand, a Swift Scarecrow-like card, or Nekroz of Clausolas, which can net you any Nekroz Ritual Spell.

 Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio
Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio96098
Set The Secret Forces
Number THSF-EN028
Level 6
Type Fusion/Effect Monster
Monster Pyro
Attribute WIND 
A / D 2600 / 400
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

1 "Ritual Beast Tamer" monster + 1 "Spiritual Beast" monster
Must be Special Summoned (from your Extra Deck) by banishing the above cards you control, and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways. (You do not use "Polymerization".) If this card attacks, it is unaffected by other cards' effects until the end of the Damage Step. During either player's turn: You can return this card you control to the Extra Deck, then target 2 of your banished monsters (1 "Ritual Beast Tamer" monster and 1 "Spiritual Beast" monster); Special Summon them in Defense Position.

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Then there's all of the off-themed support like Preparation of Rites, which can search out any of the aforementioned Ritual Monsters except Valkyrus, but Brionac can add that... so it's essentially like adding Valkyrus anyway. You'll almost always have the perfect combination of cards if you're piloting Nekroz and that's why it's so popular. But how do you beat it?

I had three main points in my mind when I was playing against the deck. The first and most obvious was to always have an answer to the Djinn Releaser of Rituals lock. I played Book of Moon, Raigeki, Spiritual Beast Pettelphin and three Ritual Beast Steeds. If I was going first, Mind Crush could also help stop that play before it happened. I felt confident that having those 6-9 cards would be enough and I didn't feel the need to Side Deck anything else to curb that problem. The Nekroz deck invests a solid amount of cards into that lock, so if you can break it quickly and finish them off not too long after that, you'll win really easily.

The next step to beating Nekroz was to avoid Nekroz of Trishula. In order for Nekroz of Trishula to resolve, you need to have a card for it to banish on the field, a card in hand and in your graveyard. As long as one of those spots is clear, you'll avoid that effect. While it can be tricky for most decks to do that, it's pretty easy for Ritual Beasts. I only ran sixteen monsters and Ritual Beast Tamer Elder can get a second one out of my hand. There's also Spiritual Beast Pettlephin to accomplish a similar task.

The rest were spells and traps and I never left a spell card in my hand…ever. Despite wanting to conserve Raigeki or Snatch Steal in the face of Mystical Space Typhoon, I'd much rather not lose them to Trishula. In more situations than not, it's so much more beneficial to place your spells on the field, because Trishula's only ever a Nekroz of Brionac away. In the early game, Spiritual Beast Apelio can help keep your graveyard clear too, letting you hold onto your precious spells.

The final piece to the puzzle is two-fold, but lumping them together makes sense. I never let my opponent have an empty field after Turn 1, because you have to avoid Nekroz of Valkyrus. While that may seem like two separate points, trust me, it's not. If your opponent controls a monster, they can't add any Nekroz Ritual Spells from their deck to their hand with their graveyard effects. Anytime I'd resolve Ritual Beast Steeds, I almost always left one monster on their side of the field; typically the weakest one. By keeping the Nekroz Ritual Spells turned off, I kept my opponent from a ton of free +1's and they'd have a “useless” Nekroz of Valkyrus in their hand.

That card's a huge problem and there's no point to clearing their field if you don't have an answer to it. All you're going to do is attack, forcing out Valkyrus and then your Battle Phase is over. On your opponents turn, they'll banish all of their mirrors and add more Ritual Spells. By that point, you've probably lost.

Instead, you keep your opponent at bay with Ritual Beast Steeds. If your opponent tries to Ritual Summon Nekroz of Valkyrus to tribute their monsters off the field to turn on their mirrors, it's your goal to stop it. Use Steeds, Bottomless or Book of Moon on the Valkyrus. Then kill it.

Nekroz of Valkyrus, despite not targeting, has to negate the attack to end the Battle Phase. If you can stop the attack, or remove the monster from the game so it doesn't finish its attack, you'll dodge Valkyrus. The best way to do this is with the following attack sequence:

Declare an attack with Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio. Since it's unaffected by card effects until the end of the Damage Step, you'll get in for 2600 points of damage. Then, declare an attack with your weakest monster. If your opponent uses Valkyrus, chain Ritual Beast's Bond, banishing the monster you just tried to attack with and your Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio that already attacked. You'll Special Summon another Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio and continue your battle phase.

I found that if I followed those points, I'd rarely lose to Nekroz unless I opened unplayable hands or they opened perfectly and had answers to every move I made.

Taking Down Qliphorts
The Qliphort match-up's much simpler than Nekroz, because that deck is way more linear in what it tries to accomplish.

What you need to realize right away is that Qliphort Scout is irrelevant. I never use Mystical Space Typhoon on it when I'm piloting Ritual Beast, unless I know they desperately need to resolve the effect. Now, you may be thinking that sounds crazy, but I assure you it's beyond smart.

Most Qliphort decks play three Vanity's Emptiness and three Skill Drain: two cards that can really hinder you. If you save your Mystical Space Typhoon's and Twisters for one of those two cards, you're going to be able to play Yu-Gi-Oh! and most likely win the match.

Another reason to avoid using your destruction on Scout is that the deck seems to always have another one. Between Summoner's Art, Saqlifice and the tech'd Qlimate Change, they have so many ways to find a new Scout. So I decided a long time ago to just let that card go unless it's late game and I know they need to search and/or can't afford the LP cost.

 Ritual Beast Ulti-Pettlephin
Ritual Beast Ulti-Pettlephin96097
Set The Secret Forces
Number THSF-EN029
Level 6
Type Fusion/Effect Monster
Monster Aqua
Attribute WIND 
A / D 200 / 2800
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

1 "Ritual Beast Tamer" monster + 1 "Spiritual Beast" monster
Must be Special Summoned (from your Extra Deck) by banishing the above cards you control, and cannot be Special Summoned by other ways. (You do not use "Polymerization".) Cannot be destroyed by card effects. During either player's turn: You can return this card to the Extra Deck, then target 1 of your banished "Ritual Beast Tamer" monsters and 1 of your banished "Spiritual Beast" monsters; Special Summon them in Defense Position.

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Because you play Ritual Beasts, you can let your opponent Pendulum Summon all day long, because they won't be able to outplay your Ritual Beast Steeds. The moment they use their Normal Summon or Pendulum Summon, I blast away their monsters with Steeds. Having that searchable Raigeki on your opponent's turn is the sole reason you can afford to hold the Mystical Space Typhoon for Vanity's Emptiness and Skill Drain. Not to mention you can OTK at lightning speed or put so much damage on board, that your opponent won't be able to search again with Qliphort Scout.

When I'm ready to OTK, I'll simply let my opponent kill my monsters and then in the End Phase use Ritual Beast Ambush to revive two of them. I'll follow that up with Steeds to blow away their monsters and proceed to win. That's typically how that game ends since the revival and destruction occur in the End Phase and if they search with Saqlifice, it won't change anything.

It's also important to note that you can use Ritual Beast Ulti-Cannahawk under Skill Drain. By activating its effect and targeting two Ritual Beast Cards to put into your graveyard, you can chain its second effect to de-fuse itself. It's a cost to put it into the Extra Deck, so you'll Special Summon your two Ritual Beast monsters, and then it's first effect will resolve, because it's no longer face-up on the field for Skill Drain to negate.

By keeping all of that in mind, you should have a good chance against every Qliphort deck you duel. The only time I lose is if my opponent opens with multiple floodgate traps and I don't have the answers. It's a sad day when that happens.

Tournament Overview
Now that our game plan has been established, it's time to see how it played out for me. The tournament had 50 people and roughly half, maybe a little more, were comprised of Nekroz and Qliphort. The rest were a mix of Burning Abyss, Shaddoll, Ritual Beast and 1 Tellaknight.

Round 1: Satellarknights
Game 1: I won the die roll, opting to go first. I opened Ritual Beast Tamer Elder and Spiritual Beast Cannahawk, ending with Ulti-Cannahawk in defense mode. I had two Steeds, Mind Crush and Ambush set. My opponent started with Satellarknight Deneb searching for Satellarknight Altair, setting three backrow and passing. On his End Phase I used Ambush and my Ulti-Cannahawk's De-Fusion ability. My opponent waited for me to attempt my first search on my turn and after de-fusing, he used Vanity's Emptiness. I simply let it resolve, searching out Ritual Beast Tamer Wen and then activated Steeds to blow away Deneb and his Emptiness. I proceeded to play on for the OTK and he scooped.

Game 2: My opponent opened Vanity's, Deneb and Alpha Nova. After getting hit with Stellarnova Alpha and Emptiness, I scooped.

Game 3: I opened Cannahawk and Emergency Teleport, ending again with Ulti-Cannahawk, Steeds, Ambush and Bottomless. My opponent set one Backrow and used Deneb to get Altair. During his End Phase I used Ambush and Steeds. I drew Spiritual Beast Pettelphin and Normal Summoned it to bounce away his lone backrow, which caused him to pick up his cards.

 Emergency Teleport
Emergency Teleport27551
Set The Duelist Genesis
Number TDGS-EN053
Type Quick-Play Spell
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Special Summon 1 Level 3 or lower Psychic-Type monster from your hand or your Deck. The monster Special Summoned this way is removed from play at the end of the turn.

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Round 2: Nekroz
Game 1: I won the die roll and opted to go first. I opened really well again: Elder, Cannahawk and Dimensional Fissure. I searched three times on Turn 1 thanks to Rampengu. Despite having the MST for Dimensional Fissure, my opponent couldn't outplay the 2 Steeds and couldn't resolve Nekroz of Trishula, since I had no cards in my hand. I OTK'd him with Ritual Beast's Bond on my second turn.

Game 2: I decided to take a Gamble and side out all of my Mystical Space Typhoons and it didn't pay off. I bricked hard and he had Vanity's Emptiness on Turn 1. I scooped right away due to having no Steeds or real plays.

Game 3: I brought back in two MST and chose to go second. To my surprise, my opponent began with Tour Guide From the Underworld to Special Summon Djinn Releaser of Rituals. He Xyz Summoned Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss and used its effect to detach the Djinn and mill three cards. He followed that up with some searching and the Ritual Summon of Nekroz of Clausolas using the Djinn; locking me out of all Special Summons. I bricked pretty hard, but had two Ritual Beast Steeds, Rampengu, Artifact Lancea, Bottomless and Apelio.

I decided to slow play the Steeds and not out his board right away; I used Rampengu to get a Cannahawk in the graveyard. On his turn, he attempted to Trishula, but I responded with Artifact Lancea and chained Bottomless to remove it from the game. After a few turns of him passing with no plays, his next Ritual Summon fell to one of my Steeds. Once I felt confident I could handle his board, I destroyed Nekroz of Clausolas, but left Dante on his field. He couldn't banish any Nekroz Ritual Spells and my monsters were always in defense position, so he couldn't ram his Dante. I slowly racked up card advantage and OTK'd through his Nekroz of Valkyrus with Bond.

Round 3: Qliphorts
Game 1: I lost the die roll and went second. My opponent opened pretty slowly with Stealth, Saqlifice and two backrow. I opened with Mystical Space Typhoon, Elder, Apelio and Foolish Burial. After I started my combo, he attempted to Vanity's, but I had the MST. I searched Steeds and Ambush and simply passed. Without a Scout, he was forced to tribute his Stealth for Helix to trigger Saqlifice. He setup his scale, ran over my Ulti-Cannahawk and in his End Phase, lost both of his monsters to Ambush and Steeds. On my next turn I OTK'd him.

Game 2: He chose to go first again, but this time he opened Qliphort Scout with no floodgate traps. I opened Cannahawk and Emergency Teleport with a Twister. The game played out much like the last game, except I used Twister on his Scout during his turn since he didn't stop my combo on my turn. Since he didn't have another scout, he simply summoned Helix and equipped it with Saqlifice and ran over my Cannahawk. In his End Phase, I used Ambush and Steeds to wipe away his Helix and he was swiftly OTK'd.

Round 4: Nekroz
Game 1: I lost the die roll and went first. I bricked really badly, but thankfully so did my opponent. We both drew and passed for three full turns without making a single move or committing anything to the field. Unfortunately for him, on my third turn, I had all of my combo pieces. I had enough cards to OTK through his Valkyrus with Bond, but because he didn't search anything with Brionac or Clausolas, he didn't have a Nekroz card to banish for it in his graveyard, making my OTK a lot easier.

Game 2: We both opened pretty well, and I decided to wait one more turn before pushing for game. Unfortunately, he ripped a Denko Sekka off the top of his deck and followed that up with Nekroz of Gungnir. With Gungnir's powerful quick-effect, I was never able to get two monsters on the field and was defeated. Had I went off the turn before with Emergency Teleport, I would have been in an incredible position and potentially won the game.

Game 3: I decided to go second and my opponent went for the Turn 1 Djinn lock. Thankfully, I had Macro Cosmos, two Steeds and Spiritual Beast Apelio, but I didn't have a combo.

After two turns of waiting him out under Macro Cosmos and stopping his push with Steeds, he made a Lavalval Chain to stack Denko Sekka. I destroyed the Clausolas on my turn and searched a handful of times with Ulti-Cannahawk, gaining a lot of ground. On his turn, despite having Denko Sekka, he had no good plays left due to Macro Cosmos and he couldn't kill me. Since he wasn't able to finish me off, when he passed turn, I ran over his Denko Sekka with Apelio and used Steeds to wipe out the rest of his Rituals ending the game.

 Denko Sekka
Denko Sekka94557
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN041
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Thunder
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 1700 / 1000
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Cannot be Special Summoned. While you control no Set Spell/Trap Cards, neither player can Set Spell/Trap Cards nor activate Spell/Trap Cards that are Set on the field.

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Round 5: Ritual Beasts
Game 1: My opponent's Main Deck was overly teched out for Nekroz. He had two Shared Ride, plus two copies of Maxx “C” and Traptrix Trap Hole Nightmare. For the space, he didn't use MST in the Main Deck and only ran two Emergency Teleport, sacrificing some of his matchups in the process.

I won the die roll, went first and opened Elder, Rampengu, Teleport, Mind Crush and Typhoon, aka REALLY FREAKING WELL. After searching two Steeds and Ambush, I set five and he scooped.

Game 2: He went first and opened Cannahawk, Gold Sarcophagus and set a spell or trap. I opened MST, Elder, Raigeki, Maxx “C” and Lancea. I blind MST'd his backrow, used Raigeki, Summoned Elder, attacked and passed. On his next turn, he Normal Summoned Lara, used its effect and was met with Maxx “C”. I was able to hold him off and forced him into awkward plays due to the Maxx “C” and Lancea. My Elder was on the field for the entire game and when I finally drew into Rampengu, I went off and won shortly after.

Round 6: Nekroz
Game 1: Long story, short: he opened really weak and I opened Elder, Rampengu and OTK'd him on Turn 2.

Game 2 and 3: We both opened poorly, and despite having some of my Side Deck cards, I didn't see many monsters and in neither game do I ever see a Spiritual Beast.

After Swiss, I was in 2nd place and moved on to Top 8!

Top 8 Ritual Beasts
Game 1: I lost the die roll and my opponent went first. He opened Apelio and set three backrow. I opened Raigeki, Cannahawk, Steeds, Ambush, Book of Moon and Rampengu.

I Raigeki'd his Apelio to turn off Steeds, and Summoned Cannahawk. I used its effect to banish Elder and set everything. He summoned Rampengu, used the effect and attempts to attack. In the Battle Phase, I used Book of Moon, he chained Steeds and I chained Steeds. As the chain resolved his Rampengu was destroyed and my Cannahawk lived, forcing him to scoop after that interaction.

Game 2: We both opened with multiple sided cards and no combos, but he had more Maxx “C” and used his Steeds really wisely. He resolved Elder and Cannahawk mid-game, and there wasn't much I can do despite slowing him down with Artifact Lancea.

Game 3: After another slow opening on both sides I made an Ulti-Cannahawk, which got him with Effect Veiler. I attempted to attack into his two backrow and he activated Steeds with no monsters on the field. Realizing he had a Teleport, I let it go and he chained Emergency Teleport, which I promptly Solemn Warning'd, and after his weak Draw Phase he offered the handshake.

Top 4: Nekroz
Game 1: I won the die roll, opting to go second. My opponent opened with the Djinn lock and searched for Gungnir. I unfortunately had Elder, Rampengu and two Ambush with no out to the lock. On his next turn he used Kaleidoscope to summon two Rituals and I scooped.

Game 2: I went second and didn't get Djinn locked! I had Elder and Rampengu again, which netted me some serious advantage. His opening turn was to simply set a monster; I read that as Fire Hand and decided to not attack, and go for game on my next turn instead. On his turn he flipped up his Ice Hand and I activated Ambush and chained Steeds to cause his Ice Hand to miss timing at Chain Link 2. He scooped.

Game 3: He made me go first, which was his downfall as I opened Macro Cosmos and Rampengu. I used Rampengu's effect, set two and passed. On his turn he summoned Senju, which prompted me to use Macro Cosmos. He simply ended after adding Brionac. On my turn I drew an Emergency Teleport, summoned Wen to Special Summon Cannahawk and OTK'd him.

 Spiritual Beast Rampengu
Spiritual Beast Rampengu95534
Set Secrets of Eternity
Number SECE-EN029
Level 4
Type Effect
Attribute WIND 
A / D 1600 / 400
Rarity Common
Card Text

Once per turn: You can banish 1 "Ritual Beast" monster from your Extra Deck and send 1 "Ritual Beast" monster with the same Type as that monster from your Deck to the Graveyard. You can only Special Summon "Spiritual Beast Rampengu(s)" once per turn.

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Finals: Qliphorts
Game 1: I opened Elder, Cannahawk and was in total control of the game. I had the MST for his Vanity's Emptiness and kept the pressure on. But I got really greedy on his turn and went for Ambush, and De-Fusioned my Ulti-Apelio to finish with five monsters on the field. In my Draw Phase he flipped another Vanity's Emptiness and I had no out, because at that point I had burned two Ritual Beast Steeds and two MST's. He mounted his comeback fueled by that dreadful card and I somehow lost.

Game 2: I went second and had the MST yet again for his Emptiness. I had Rampengu and Emergency Teleport to get something going. After he ran over my Ulti-Cannahawk, I used an End Phase Steeds and Ambush play to OTK him on my second turn.

Game 3: My final hand of the tournament was pretty awful. My opponent opened poorly too, simply summoning Qliphort Helix with two backrow. No Scout or Saqlifice. I had Elder, Lara, Emergency Teleport, Ambush and two Twister. I opted to Normal Summon Elder and extra Normal Summon Lara. I then used Emergency Teleport to Special Summon another copy of Elder. I Xyz Summoned Sky Calvary Centaurea. I ran over his Helix with Centaurea and attacked for 100 damage with Lara.

On his turn, my opponent Normal Summoned Qliphort Stealth and I promptly activated Steeds to ensure he couldn't use Saqlifice if he drew it. He set one card and passed. I switched Lara to defense mode and attacked for 2000. He ripped Scout, but that was promptly Twistered. I then drew and Normal Summoned Apelio.

My opponent activated Emptiness and I pressed on, attacking for 3900 to drop him to 700 LP. In my Main Phase 2, I used my second Twister to destroy Emptiness and Contact Fused for Ulti-Cannahawk. I put Lara and Apelio into my graveyard to search Steeds. On his turn he drew The Monarchs Stormforth, but thanks to Steeds and Centaurea. He couldn't out my field. He had Helix and Vanity's Fiend to go along with the Stormforth, but Centaurea proved to be too good.

Sample Side Decking
Here's a quick overview of how I Side Decked for the tournament:

-1 Snatch Steal
-1 Mystical Space Typhoon
-2 Mind Crush
-1 Ritual Beast Ambush

+3 Artifact Lancea
+2 Effect Veiler
+1 Solemn Warning

Mind Crush, while fantastic in Game 1 was removed to ward off Denko Sekka with Effect Veiler and Solemn Warning.

-1 Dimensional Fissure
-1 Macro Cosmos
-1 Mind Crush
-1 Book of Moon
-1 Ritual Beast Ambush / -1 Mind Crush

+3 Twister
+1 Fairy Wind
+1 Solemn Warning

Ritual Beasts
-1 Snatch Steal
-1 Macro Cosmos
-1 Dimensional Fissure
-1 Bottomless Trap Hole
-1 Book of Moon
-1 Mind Crush

+3 Maxx “C”
+3 Artifact Lancea

-3 Mind Crush
-1 Ritual Beast Ambush
-1 Foolish Burial
-1 Book of Moon

+2 Flying “C”
+2 Maxx “C”
+2 Twister

To wrap things up, I'd like to continue to stress how great this strategy is right now. You've got strong matchups against the top decks and eat most rogue strategies alive thanks to Ritual Beast Steeds. The trap, while seemingly mediocre at first glance, is the true heart and soul of the deck.

Looking ahead, the deck will get even more incredible support. Ritual Beast Ulti-Gaiapelio is on the way and that lion is ridiculous. Clocking in at 3200 ATK, you can banish any Ritual Beast card in your hand to negate a spell, trap or monster effect. He's devastatingly strong and relatively easy to summon.

There are also two more Tamers on the way so you can continue your flurry of Special Summons!

I'd wholeheartedly continue to play this deck at any upcoming tournament and am totally considering it for YCS Chicago. But the upcoming F&L list will play a large role in what strategy I bring with me.

Any further questions about Ritual Beasts I'd love to answer in the comments below! Also, are you excited about the new Premium Gold set? Anything you're hoping to get the bling treatment?

-Pasquale Crociata


Pasquale is from Long Island, New York, but has lived in New York City for eight years where he earned a BFA in Musical Theater from Pace University. Outside of the Yu-Gi-Oh community, he's a working Actor, Model and Singer. Those interested in keeping up with his Acting career can check out his website www.PasqualeCrociata.com and ‘Like' his Facebook Page! If you want more of Pasquale's Yu-Gi-Oh content, check out and Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

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