The Hype Train: Building Red-Eyes

Zach Buckley

11/23/2016 11:00:00 AM

Is it just me, or is R&D over at Konami on a big nostalgia trip this year?

It seems like every release in 2016 has paid heavy fan service to the first few seasons of the anime, and the earliest releases in the game. I'm definitely not talking about the kind of one-off legacy support that gets doled out all the time, in an effort to keep us satisfied and to make old cards relevant. That's just good maintenance.

This, on the other hand, is almost some weird effort to “Make Yu-Gi-Oh! Great Again” by reliving the game's halcyon days.

And I don't think anybody's complaining! Blue-Eyes, Dark Magician, Red-Eyes and now Union monsters have all been huge this year, and one thing that nearly all duelists agree upon is the glory of the original cards. Many of us have been playing this game for years, and as a result we get to hold onto a wondrous piece of our childhood that still brings us joy. Nostalgia's an incredible part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! experience at this point.

The Most Incredible Part Of All?
These new, updated themes kick major butt. It's actually amazing. Check the deck archive over the last few months and you'll see Blue-Eyes and Magicians taking Top Cut finishes in a ton of Regionals and YCS tournaments. ABC's have been the most recent throwback deck to grace the competitive pantheon, and they've been a major talking point in the OCG.

And amongst all that success, Red-Eyes has been the odd duck out. Try as it might, the deck hasn't found its way onto the top tables just yet. It's not hurting for popularity – it's got plenty of that, as evidenced by the huge demand for the new cards in Market Watch over the past weeks. In fact, it might have the most vocal fan base out of all of these throwback decks. So what gives?

If I had to diagnose the problem with broad strokes, I'd say that in the past, the failure of the Red-Eyes deck always came down to a lack of speed and power. When your deck comes up short on those two fronts then it's pretty much dead in the water. That was due to a lack of substantial support, but the powers that be just fixed that in a big way.

Invasion: Vengeance was a powerhouse of a set that introduced a lot of new cards and themes into the game. Tucked away amidst all that fresh hotness was a number of meaningful support cards for Red-Eyes that could finally make the deck competitive. Those new cards address those two historic challenges, raising the Red-Eyes power ceiling and speeding up the strategy.

 Meteor Black Comet Dragon
Meteor Black Comet Dragon124739
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN041
Level 8
Type Fusion/Effect Monster
Monster Dragon
Attribute DARK 
A / D 3500 / 2000
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

1 Level 7 "Red-Eyes" monster + 1 Level 6 Dragon-Type monster
If this card is Fusion Summoned: You can send 1 "Red-Eyes" monster from your hand or Deck to the Graveyard, and if you do, inflict damage to your opponent equal to half the original ATK of that monster. If this card is sent from the Monster Zone to the Graveyard: You can target 1 Normal Monster in your Graveyard; Special Summon it.

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Meteor Black Comet Dragon's the newest solution to the power problem. Red-Eyes monsters are synonymous with 2400 ATK, which has never been enough attack power to make an impact. It's an inferiority complex developed out of the comparison to Blue-Eyes White Dragon, which has always had 3000 ATK across many of its forms – a 600 point difference that's a massive difference-maker.

Meteor Black Comet Dragon reverses that trend with a commanding 3500 ATK. When it's Fusion Summoned, you can send a Red-Eyes monster from your hand or deck to the graveyard and burn your opponent for half its attack. Then, as life insurance, you can Special Summon a Normal Monster if Meteor Black Comet Dragon is sent from the field to the graveyard. The big bad Fusion Monster follows in the footstep of Archfiend Black Skull Dragon and gives the deck a second option to drop into with the insanely powerful Red-Eyes Fusion.

The second new standout from Invasion: Vengeance is the chart-topping Red-Eyes Insight. Much of the recent hubbub over Red-Eyes is owed to this one card. Insight's a spell that dumps a Red-Eyes monster from your hand or deck into the graveyard to search another Red-Eyes spell or trap from your deck. It's simple, effectively, and lets you run your deck as if it were 37 cards.

The graveyard's often the best place for your Red-Eyes monsters anyways, and having Insight to set that up for you while netting you a free search is incredible. You can fetch Red-Eyes Spirit and set yourself up for a play on the following turn, or get Red-Eyes Fusion and go HAM on your opponent right then and there. It's a must run at three and it's the hype-est card in the deck for good reason.

Speaking of the deck – here! Let me show you the build and then wrap this up on the other side.

    Red-Eyes Zach Buckley    
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 Maxx "C"
1 Meteor Dragon Red-Eyes Impact
3 Paladin of Dark Dragon
1 Red-Eyes Archfiend of Lightning
3 Red-Eyes B. Dragon
3 Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon
1 Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
3 The Black Stone of Legend
Monsters [17]
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Cards of the Red Stone
3 Dark Dragon Ritual
3 Pre-Preparation of Rites
1 Raigeki
2 Red-Eyes Fusion
3 Red-Eyes Insight
3 Return of the Dragon Lords
2 Twin Twisters
Spells [19]
2 Red-Eyes Spirit
1 Return of the Red-Eyes
1 Solemn Warning
Traps [4]
Deck Total [40]


1 Archfiend Black Skull Dragon
1 Constellar Pleiades
1 Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger
2 Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack
1 Meteor Black Comet Dragon
3 Number 11: Big Eye
1 Number 24: Dragulas the Vampiric Dragon
1 Number 39: Utopia Beyond
1 Number 74: Master of Blades
3 Red-Eyes Flare Metal Dragon
Extra Deck [15]

The most telling thing about this strategy is that after you make just a few conscious build choices, the rest of the deck practically builds itself. That's indicative of how many incredible, must-run cards there are in Red-Eyes now – and that goes beyond stuff like Red-Eyes Insight. For example, as far as I'm concerned Return of the Dragon Lords is non-negotiable. It's a literal Monster Reborn with the added bonus of life insurance. You can't go wrong.

So what're the “conscious build choices” I made that informed the shape of this deck?

The biggest choice was Paladin of Dark Dragon. Following almost identically in the footsteps of the other Ritual Paladins, there're a few factors that made it such a worthwhile choice in my mind. First off: Pre-Preparation of Rites. It's one of the best cards in the game and it can search out both Paladin and the Dark Dragon Ritual necessary to Special Summon it.

Second, the Ritual card itself. Dark Dragon Ritual's text is pretty standard but there're two important points to note. First, you don't need monsters adding up to exactly 4 Levels to Ritual Summon Paladin, and you can banish it from your graveyard on subsequent turns to search a Red-Eyes spell or trap card.

Finally, you don't have to Special Summon Red-Eyes B. Dragon when you Tribute Paladin. You can bring out any Red-Eyes monster.

 Red-Eyes Insight
Red-Eyes Insight124762
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN060
Type Normal Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Rare
Card Text

Send 1 "Red-Eyes" monster from your hand or Deck to the Graveyard; add 1 "Red-Eyes" Spell/Trap Card from your Deck to your hand, except "Red-Eyes Insight". You can only activate 1 "Red-Eyes Insight" per turn.

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That means you can drop right into Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon and start wrecking face. If you start your turn with Pre-Preparation of Rites and any monsters Level 4 or higher, you can finish your turn with Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon and Paladin without using up your Normal Summon.

Is It Finally Time?
I think it's fair to say that Red-Eyes is at least capable of getting you your invite to the WCQ. That's a big line in the sand for most decks. Anything past that is on you. But for the first time ever, the Red-Eyes strategy has the speed, the power and the versatility necessary to really compete, and that's genuinely incredible.

It's an amazing time for those of us who've been around long enough to remember the release of the first Yu-Gi-Oh! Starter Decks. Who would've thought over a decade later you'd still be unleashing the Brooklyn rage on your opponent with Red-Eyes B. Dragon?

-Zach Buckley

Zach Buckley is a junior at Illinois State University where he studies Arts Technology. When he isn't doing his best to meet deadlines for homework and articles, he can often be found trying to strike up a conversation about politics, theology, electric cars, music and videogames with literally anybody who'll listen. The poor soul who is most often subjugated to these talks is his loving wife, Emma.

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