Competitive Corner: Top 8 Satellarknights

Jason Grabher-Meyer

1/6/2017 11:02:00 AM

Earlier today we looked at a couple of innovative Metalfoes decks that I wanted to highlight to try and keep them from slipping through the competitive cracks. Now, I want to look at something entirely different; another Top Cut strategy that I think has potential in 2017… as long as people remember it exists.

That strategy's Satellarknights, as played by Johnny “aznpersuasion2008” Nguyen at the Denver Colorado Regional back in December. As one of the most prolific and respected Yugitubers out there, Nguyen made his reputation for several years as a booster as well as a successful Regional-level competitor. But 2016 was his biggest year yet, scoring at least eight Top Cut finishes we've logged in his personal deck archive, first making two Regional Top 8's with Kozmos, and then five more Regional tops with Lightsworn. He even topped at least one ARG tournament somewhere along the way.

Was it two? I've literally lost track.

While plenty of players have found success with Lightsworn this year, largely thanks to Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn, no single duelist's name is synonymous with the strategy like Nguyen's. The first time he topped with a 50-card Lightsworn build it almost felt like a fluke. And then it just kept happening, quickly establishing Lightsworn as a real strategy for those who could afford Minervas, and making Nguyen a legend of the 2016 season.

And that's why it was all the more surprising when Nguyen made his last Regional Top 8 of the year with Satellarknights instead of his signature Lightsworn. Check this out.

    Satellarknights Johnny Nguyen    
  Location:  Regional - 2016-12-10 Denver Colorado - 5th - 8th Place
Main Deck
Side Deck
3 Satellarknight Altair
3 Satellarknight Deneb
3 Satellarknight Unukalhai
2 Satellarknight Vega
Monsters [11]
3 Card of Demise
2 Pot of Desires
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Upstart Goblin
Spells [7]
3 Anti-Spell Fragrance
3 Call of the Haunted
3 Dimensional Barrier
1 Oasis of Dragon Souls
2 Phantom Knights' Fog Blade
2 Quaking Mirror Force
3 Solemn Strike
1 Solemn Warning
3 Stellarnova Alpha
1 Vanity's Emptiness
Traps [22]
Deck Total [40]
1 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Maxx "C"
1 Raigeki
1 Ring of Destruction
1 Soul Drain
2 Swords of Concealing Light
2 System Down
1 Tellarknight Genesis
1 Thunder King Rai-Oh
1 Torrential Tribute
2 Twin Twisters
Side Deck [15]


1 Bujintei Tsukuyomi
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Daigusto Emeral
3 Darktellarknight Batlamyus
1 Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn (Ultra Rare)
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
1 Stellarknight Constellar Diamond
2 Stellarknight Delteros
3 Stellarknight Triverr
Extra Deck [15]

I know, right? Satellarknights did next to nothing all year long, and then pow, one last surprise top to finish out the year. How'd it happen?

It's actually not much of a mystery, which might make Nguyen's ability to see the deck's potential even more impressive. A series of new releases, both generic and theme-stamped, have made Satellarknights a better deck. And while Nguyen couldn't resist running Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn, it's not actually important here.

Darktellarknight Batlamyus was the real game-changer. Stellarknight Triverr's the crowning jewel of the Satellarknight strategy, Giant Trunade-ing the entire field including monsters. You Summon it, bounce everything, carve a card out of your opponent's hand, and then push as much as you can to either OTK then and there, or deal enough damage to make a win next turn. It's a strong card in a deck that's largely invested in incremental moves and heavy backrow – a pace of play that's usually tough to condone these days.

But for ages, the sheer cost of Stellarknight Triverr's Xyz Summon held the deck back: you can't always get three Tellarknight monsters onto the field, and even if you can, that level of consolidation can ruin you if your opponent has an answer.

Enter Darktellarknight Batlamyus; you make it with two Tellarknights, and then you can discard any card you want to upgrade it into a Light Tellarknight Xyz. Even Stellarknight Triverr. And while that's still a three-card consolidation, it's much more flexible and requires way less effort to put together. Remember, as soon as you field Trivver you'll recover that discard anyways with its hand disruption ability.

Batlamyus was so good that Nguyen ran three copies. One of his post-event remarks really summed it up: “This card makes the deck good.”

 Darktellarknight Batlamyus
Darktellarknight Batlamyus124749
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN051
Level 4
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute DARK 
A / D 2600 / 550
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

2 Level 4 "tellarknight" monsters
All face-up monsters on the field become DARK. You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card and discard 1 card; Special Summon from your Extra Deck, 1 LIGHT "tellarknight" Xyz Monster by using this face-up card you control as the Xyz Material, also you cannot Xyz Summon other monsters for the rest of this turn. (This is treated as an Xyz Summon. Xyz Materials attached to this card also become Xyz Materials on the Summoned monster.) This effect can be activated during either player's turn, if you have 7 or more "tellarknight" monsters with different names in your Graveyard.

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Bouncing the whole field more easily is great, but that new status quo has an even bigger ripple effect across the whole strategy. Suddenly Satellarknight Vega's more viable; instead of being the worst card in the deck, it's now an instant Triverr with any other Satellarknight. Nguyen ran two copies with no trouble. It also made Swords of Concealing Light a must-run in the Side Deck; since Nguyen knew he could Triverr more frequently, he knew he could bounce Swords to free up the field, attack, and then lock everything down again later if he needed, using the same card multiple times.

Meanwhile he sided a single Tellarknight Genesis over what would've been his third Twin Twisters, again bolstered in part by the second copy of Satellarknight Vega. It was a fun choice, but it's important to note the value of Stellarknight Delteros, which offers backrow hate in Game 1 for the matchups where it's needed, without clogging up the Main Deck like dedicated removal would.

Boosted access to Stellarknight Triverr made Quaking Mirror Force amazing, blocking dang near any threat and leaving it stuck on the field, just to be bounced away by Triverr once Nguyen was ready to go for a win. It was a relatively new addition and combined with the even newer Dimensional Barrier Nguyen could play a very different backrow than past Satellarknight decks.

But It Wasn't Just New Stuff
As much as Darktellarknight Batlamyus takes the spotlight in this build, Nguyen made clever use of some older cards as well.

Anti-Spell Fragrance gave him an edge against everything but Paleozoic Frogs, a metagame call that many wouldn't attempt, but that clearly paid off in Denver. Since the deck runs so many redundant cards he could play Pot of Desires with impunity, and the all-in nature of the strategy makes Card of Demise a must-run. The sheer card advantage offered by those two spells makes a potentially dead draw like Anti-Spell Fragrance a little more tenable in Game 1, since you've got more cards to work with anyways. Mained Fragrance is a tricky call right now, but it's safer here where you have that cushion of extra cards.

Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn won't draw or destroy anything here since you don't have any Lightsworns to mill. But it still feeds as many as nine cards to the graveyard, fueling Satellarknight Altair, Call Of The Haunted, and Oasis of Dragon Souls, offering lots of set-up on Turn 1. It's probably not necessary, but it's a nice touch if you happen to have a Minerva kicking around.

Cricket noises.

More approachable, Nguyen actually ran Phantom Knights' Fog Blade instead of Fiendish Chain. We normally see Fiendish Chain in Satellarknights because you can flip it, lock something down, and then reuse it with Stellarknight Triverr. But Fog Blade's basically the same card as long as you can Triverr it away when you need to get at your opponent's Life Points, and then it has a kind of hilarious defensive potential: Nguyen remarked that he survived at least one game with a dead Satellarknight Vega, Fog Bladed so that it couldn't be destroyed in battle, walling up against attacks as he drew out of a bad hand. That's ridiculous, but you really can't argue with results.

 Phantom Knights' Fog Blade
Phantom Knights' Fog Blade111859
Set Wing Raiders
Number WIRA-EN009
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Activate this card by targeting 1 Effect Monster on the field; negate that face-up monster's effects, that face-up monster cannot attack, also monsters cannot target that face-up monster for attacks. When it leaves the field, destroy this card. You can banish this card from your Graveyard, then target 1 "The Phantom Knights" monster in your Graveyard; Special Summon it, but banish it when it leaves the field. You can only use this effect of "Phantom Knights' Fog Blade" once per turn.

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In an era where ABC-Dragon Buster has to main Twin Twisters, and Paleozoic Frogs and Metalfoes avoid maining it like the plague, a smartly constructed trap-heavy deck can do really well… if it has good card economy, explosive plays, and a consistent game plan. Satellarknights have all of that thanks to Darktellarknight Batlamyus, and Johnny Nguyen did a great job recognizing that and running with it.

This deck does a great job of addressing strategies with heavy back row, but it doesn't need to handicap itself one way or the other in Game 1 by making a choice between dedicated backrow removal or more free card slots. The Satellarknight theme comes with so much field clearing power it's beyond that. It's a surprisingly good fit for competition, out-carding rogue decks and outpacing Paleozoic Frogs, while creating powerful Turn 1 setups with Stellarnova Alpha that even the biggest strategies can struggle with.

Two-turn win conditions are pretty uncommon these days, but Satellarknights hit a sweet spot that seems to work despite the speed of current competition. It's food for thought as we move into the first Regional weekend of the new year. Big congrats to Nguyen for figuring it out! He's definitely one of the biggest players to watch out for in 2017.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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