Competitive Corner: Johnny Nguyen’s 50-Card Lightsworns

Doug Zeeff

9/21/2016 11:02:00 AM

Johnny Nguyen has had a fantastic September.

If you've been playing in events over the past couple weeks you might have noticed an increase in the number of “Minerva Turbo” Lightsworn decks. Sure, Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn's prize card status gives it a crazy price tag, and yes, it's almost mandatory to have two copies in a successful Lightsworn variant. Despite those two factors, duelists all over the place are scrambling to throw this strategy together.

Don't get me wrong: Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn is an incredible card with multiple game-changing effects. It's just astounding because we haven't really seen people this committed to building a deck around a prize card in a very long time. Number 106: Giant Hand was a great card, but nobody was playing decks designed to turbo it onto the field as their main win condition.

But Minerva's Different
Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn is a generic Rank 4 with 2000 ATK and two effects. The first lets you detach a material to mill three cards, and then draw one card for each Lightsworn you sent to the graveyard. If Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss has taught us anything, it's that milling three cards is incredible. But potentially drawing three on top of that is actually just absurd. Imagine milling two Wulf, Lightsworn Beasts and a Felis, Lightsworn Archer. That'd be a straight +6 of card economy out of a single Rank 4.

Of course, it really doesn't matter if you hit all Lightsworns with that effect. Performage Trick Clown and Fairy Tail - Snow are equally good, even if you're not getting free draws. In a world where Minerva only has that first effect it would be a great card that would generate aggressive card advantage, but her second effect is what really rounds things out: when Minerva's destroyed while in your possession, you can mill up to three cards again, and then destroy cards on the field up to the number that you milled.

In other words, if you destroy a Minerva, your field could be totally wiped out. It's a risky Gamble, but one that you have to take because leaving Minerva on the field for two turns only leads to more trouble. All of that milling sets you up for cards like Judgment Dragon, Elder Entity Norden, Monster Reincarnation, and the aforementioned Fairy Tail - Snow. It's not a question of if Lightsworns work in current competition, it's a matter of how they work. Without further ado, let's break down Nguyen's deck list from his second Regional top at the Lenexa Regional Qualifer:

    50-Card Lightsworn Johnny Nguyen    
  Location:  Regional 2016-09-10 Lenexa Kansas - 5th - 8th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Chocolate Magician Girl
1 Ehren, Lightsworn Monk
3 Fairy Tail - Snow
2 Felis, Lightsworn Archer
1 Garoth, Lightsworn Warrior
2 Gem-Knight Garnet
2 Goblindbergh
1 Jain, Lightsworn Paladin
3 Judgment Dragon
3 Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner
2 Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
1 Minerva, Lightsworn Maiden
2 Performage Trick Clown
3 Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn
3 Wulf, Lightsworn Beast
Monsters [30]
3 Brilliant Fusion
2 Charge of the Light Brigade
1 Foolish Burial
2 Instant Fusion
1 Metalfoes Fusion
3 Monster Reincarnation
3 Pot of Desires
1 Reinforcement of the Army
3 Solar Recharge
1 Soul Charge
Spells [20]
Deck Total [50]
2 Anti-Spell Fragrance
2 Breakthrough Skill
1 Cosmic Cyclone
1 Dark Hole
2 Denko Sekka
2 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
2 Maxx "C"
1 Raigeki
2 Twin Twisters
Side Deck [15]


1 Abyss Dweller
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Daigusto Emeral
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Gem-Knight Seraphinite
1 Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn
2 Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn (Ultra Rare)
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
1 Performage Trapeze Magician
2 PSY-Framelord Omega
1 Scarlight Red Dragon Archfiend
1 Scrap Dragon
Extra Deck [15]

Nguyen carefully chose to play 30 monster and 20 spells, a decision that seems perfect for this type of deck. Lightsworns have always had the balancing act of playing powerful cards that you want to mill and powerful cards that you want to draw: often they're not the same. For example, milling Performage Trick Clown, Wulf, Lightsworn Beast, and Felis, Lightsworn Archer is great, but drawing them isn't very helpful. Conversely, you want to draw cards like Brilliant Fusion, Charge of the Light Brigade, and Solar Recharge, but they're useless if they're milled to the graveyard.

What prioritizes the monsters over the spells is that there's easier ways to deal with drawing the bad monsters. Goblindbergh is one of the most important Normal Summons in the deck for this reason, able to go into Minerva as a -1 by getting rid of the least important Level 4 in your hand. As previously mentioned, as long as you can get to the first Minerva you jump start your entire deck, so it's crucial that you make it on the very first turn.

Monster Reincarnation's a strong tech choice for Nguyen. Sometimes you'll mill the monster you really need, whether it be Goblindbergh, Judgment Dragon, or Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn. In those cases you can simply pitch another dead card in your hand to get a more useful one. It's a -1, but this deck can churn out so much advantage you'll hardly notice it.

Chocolate Magician Girl was another really awesome choice, discarding a Spellcaster to draw a card. That can ditch a lot of options like Trick Clown, Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress, Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner, and Fairy Tail - Snow. It carries a neat battle trick effect that helps you survive huge attacks too, but sending Snow to the graveyard is probably the most important aspect of not only Chocolate Magician Girl, but the entire strategy.

 Chocolate Magician Girl
Chocolate Magician Girl120954
Set The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack
Number MVP1-EN052
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Spellcaster
Attribute WATER 
A / D 1600 / 1000
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Once per turn: You can discard 1 Spellcaster-Type monster; draw 1 card. Once per turn, if this card is targeted for an attack: You can target 1 Spellcaster-Type monster in your Graveyard, except "Chocolate Magician Girl"; Special Summon it, then change the attack target to it, and if you do, the attacking monster's ATK becomes half its current ATK.

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As many times as you want per turn, you can banish seven cards from your hand, field, or graveyard to Special Summon Snow from your grave. Then, you can flip a monster your opponent controls face-down. Snow provides nearly infinite Rank 4 fodder, and can be used as a defensive tool for stopping your opponent's Xyz and Synchro Summons. It's actually one of the most incredible cards out of TDIL and it's finding its way into a variety of themes.

The Elephant In The Room
I'm sure you're wondering: why 50-Cards? Deck size is more hotly debated right now than it has been in years, and that's all thanks to Pot of Desires. The biggest question for a long time has been whether you should play three Upstart Goblins or just play 40 “real” cards, but now we're seeing lots of 44, 46, 48, and even 50 card decks demolish the competition at premier events.

The validity of Pot of Desires isn't really up for debate anymore because virtually everyone that can afford it is playing it successfully. But is it better to play 40 cards and have a better chance of seeing it, or is it better to run more than 40 to prevent yourself from banishing all of your good cards? Nguyen chose the latter path, which I absolutely agree with.

 Pot of Desires
Pot of Desires121323
Set The Dark Illusion
Number TDIL-EN066
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Banish 10 cards from the top of your Deck, face-down; draw 2 cards. You can only activate 1 "Pot of Desires" per turn.

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Lightsworns have a ridiculous number of high impact cards. Brilliant Fusion, Soul Charge, Solar Recharge, Judgment Dragon, Charge of the Light Brigade, Instant Fusion, Monster Reincarnation, and Foolish Burial all come to mind immediately, but really any combination that throws two Level 4's on the field is going to get you pretty far. Even if you banished the ten best cards in your entire deck, there'd still be plenty left over for you to draw. That's incredible, and it's part of the reason Nguyen chose to play more than 40 cards. By playing a bigger deck he made sure that Pot of Desires would never have a chance of decking him out - a very real possibility if you played a 40-card Lightsworn deck.

Nguyen realized that virtually any combination of cards is going to get him to the fields he wants. There honestly isn't any one combo card you're looking to see in your opening hand, so does it really matter if you play more than 40? Remember: this isn't just a one-time fluke. Nguyen has now had three successful weekends in a row with basically the same strategy, and that was enough to get my attention. Feel free to check out the link on the deck list of his video explaining his card choices, as well as his Youtube channel for the other profiles!

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered semi-Yu-Gi-Oh! related content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, Overwatch, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh. Click here to follow him and his adventures on Facebook!

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