Ahead of the Curve: Zombie Phantom Knights

Doug Zeeff

9/26/2016 11:02:00 AM

In the past month and a half, dozens of decks have claimed top spots at competitive events. While Blue-Eyes and Burning Abyss variants are leading the pack, so far we've seen that this format is anyone's game. A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to play in the UDS Summer Invitational in Chicago with a strategy near and dear to me, and today I want to take a look at what I played because I think it could be a real contender going forward.

For context, I've been interested in combining Zombies and Phantom Knights for a while. Back in March I managed to crack Top 16 at ARG Detroit with an unconventional build of Phantom Knights running three Uni-Zombie and Mezuki. That was the first big tournament where early builds of Burning Phantom Knights showed up, but I chose a different route. I'd been testing with Phantom Knights for weeks, and I adored the interaction that PSY-Framelord Omega had with them.

Omega's one of my all-time favorite Synchro Monsters. It advances your strategy by recycling banished cards while providing constant disruption, messing with your opponent's hand. Similar to this format, a lot of decks were one card away from bricking back in March. Omega could supply pressure by putting Mezuki or any of the Phantom Knights back into your graveyard, and then it could take a card out of your opponent's hand. That kind of momentum was too much for a lot of decks to handle and it's still the case today.

 PSY-Framelord Omega
PSY-Framelord Omega106032
Set High-Speed Riders
Number HSRD-EN035
Level 8
Type Synchro/Effect Monster
Monster Psychic
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 2800 / 2200
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
Once per Turn , During Either player's Main Phase : You can Banish both this face-up card on the field and 1 random card in your opponent's hand until your next Standby Phase . During your opponent's Standby phase: You can target 1 Banished card; Return it to the Graveyard . If this card is in your Graveyard: You can target 1 Other card in any Graveyard; shuffle both that card and this card into the Deck .

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The main difference is that I had a lot more tools at my disposal this time around. Back then, the goal was to open with Speedroid Terrortop and Uni-Zombie, which would lead to PSY-Framelord Omega and Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss. That might not sound super threatening, but at the time it was a force to be reckoned with if it was backed up by Solemn Strike or Phantom Knights' Fog Blade.

Shiranui Solitaire changes the plan completely, because it gives Phantom Knights a consistent one-card Omega with no drawback, and threatens a second Omega on the following turn. You can simply use Solitaire to dig for Uni-Zombie, mill Mezuki, and then revive the Solitaire to perform your Synchro Summon. Obviously that combo's even better when you have a Terrortop or a combination of Phantom Knights, but the simplicity makes the entire strategy a lot more consistent.

Speaking of consistency, I now had six “Draw 2” spells as well. Allure of Darkness and Pot of Desires are actually just insane, and they set up a ton of powerful interactions. Alluring into Uni-Zombie let me Terrortop into Leviair the Sea Dragon, halfway to Omega without using my Normal Summon. Pot of Desires had virtually no drawback in my deck either, because almost every card was a three-of and you didn't really care what you banished. Even if you did banish important combo pieces you could always put them back in the graveyard with PSY-Framelord Omega, but realistically that happens less than you would think.

In an undefined metagame, decks that require minimal interaction from the opponent are going to reign supreme. Phantom Knights with Zombies can create ridiculous first turn boards complete with aggressive monsters, disruption, and elements of inevitability allowing for more combos on the following turn. I wanted to emphasis all of those unique attributes to make the most well-rounded strategy possible, so here's what I came up with.

    Zombie Phantom Knights Doug Zeeff    
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Fairy Tail - Snow
2 Gem-Knight Garnet
2 Mezuki
1 Performage Trick Clown
3 Shiranui Solitaire
1 Speedroid Taketomborg
3 Speedroid Terrortop
3 The Phantom Knights of Ancient Cloak
3 The Phantom Knights of Ragged Gloves
3 The Phantom Knights of Silent Boots
2 Uni-Zombie
Monsters [24]
3 Allure of Darkness
3 Brilliant Fusion
2 D.D.R. - Different Dimension Reincarnation
1 Foolish Burial
3 Pot of Desires
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Soul Charge
2 Twin Twisters
Spells [16]
3 Phantom Knights' Fog Blade
3 Solemn Strike
Traps [6]
Deck Total [46]


1 Abyss Dweller
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
2 Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss
1 Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon
1 Gem-Knight Seraphinite
3 Leviair the Sea Dragon
1 Number F0: Utopic Future
2 PSY-Framelord Omega
3 The Phantom Knights of Break Sword
Extra Deck [15]

Brilliant Fusion's a hotly debated card in decks with Pot of Desires, but it's truly what broke open the potential for this strategy. I accidentally discovered that a hand of any Phantom Knight, The Phantom Knight of Silent Boots, Shiranui Solitaire, and Brilliant Fusion leaves you with two PSY-Framelord Omega, Abyss Dweller, Leviair the Sea Dragon, Phantom Knights' Fog Blade, and multiple banished cards to recycle with Omega. I won't go through that combo step-by-step, but feel free to check out this video I made where I go through each move.

Crazy four-card combos aside, Brilliant Fusion helps out even the most average of hands. You do so much searching with the Phantom Knights that Brilliant Fusion can usually throw out enough damage to kill your opponent, especially when you consider the sheer aggression of three Leviair the Sea Dragon and The Phantom Knights of Break Sword. You can throw a near endless stream of monsters at your opponent's field until they just run out of ways to stop them, and from there you can attack for game.

In an ideal world you'd draw Brilliant Fusion before you needed to activate Pot of Desires, but that's not always the case. That led me to run two Gem-Knight Garnets and two different Light monsters: Fairy Tail - Snow and Performage Trick Clown. Snow's usually just a better card than Trick Clown, but if it's Turn 1 then you need to be able to summon a Level 4 monster and you usually won't have enough cards to banish to bring out Snow. Both cards have their place.

Plays For Days
As I've mentioned, the recursion this type of deck offers is pretty stupid. You're constantly banishing cards to put monsters on the field, only to make Leviair the Sea Dragon and bring back whatever you banished. That's most notable with Uni-Zombie and Mezuki, where you can bring back Uni-Zombie to make Leviair, and then detach it to bring back Mezuki. You can then make a Rank 4 or Level 8 Synchro and put the Mezuki back in the graveyard, which can revive the Uni-Zombie for a second time.

D.D.R. - Different Dimension Reincarnation applies a similar concept, but takes fewer resources. Making Leviair the Sea Dragon isn't always an option when you're going second against several backrow, but luckily D.D.R. can help you out in that situation. A particularly useful interaction Allure of Darkness drawing two cards and banishing a Phantom Knight. You can use D.D.R. to discard The Phantom Knights of Ancient Cloak, Special Summoning what you banished off of Allure. From there you can search Silent Boots and Special Summon it, making Leviair to bring back Ancient Cloak. Without using your Normal Summon you've made Leviair the Sea Dragon and another Level 3 monster, which makes your next combos that much easier.

The other thing that sticks out with this list is that it's 46 cards. I haven't played a deck with more than 40 cards in at least two years, but Pot of Desires changes things. I suppose you could play a 40-card deck without Desires or Allure, but I feel like that messes with the overall power of the strategy. Allure of Darkness and Pot of Desires further your card advantage, set up combos, and even out awkward hands.

 Shiranui Solitaire
Shiranui Solitaire121288
Set The Dark Illusion
Number TDIL-EN031
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Zombie
Attribute FIRE 
A / D 500 / 0
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

You can Tribute 1 Zombie-Type monster; Special Summon 1 Zombie-Type Tuner with 0 DEF from your Deck. If this card is banished: You can target 1 of your banished "Shiranui" monsters, except "Shiranui Solitaire", or up to 2 instead if "Shiranui Style Synthesis" is on the field; Special Summon them. You can only use each effect of "Shiranui Solitaire" once per turn.

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There's definitely a downside, of course, specifically after Side Decking. Going second, it can be difficult to draw into your hand traps turn one. Regardless, there's no plenty of evidence that championships are being won by 40+ card decks, and I think as long as Pot of Desires is unlimited it's an option worth discussing.

In reality, I blame my subpar performance at the UDS on my inexperience in the Blue-Eyes match-up. I was uncomfortable Side Decking against it going first, and was unaware of some of the more complicated interactions that the deck could present. Against the rest of the metagame my deck dominated, and I think with some new tech it could easily deal with Blue-Eyes. This strategy takes many of my favorite elements and combines them into one crazy deck, and that's half the fun!

-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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