Ahead of the Curve: Zombie Lightsworns

Doug Zeeff


I know people like to talk about how Atlantean Mermails and Burning Abyss are some of the most timeless decks, but I feel Lightsworns are the true kings of relevance. They were competitive from day one when they debuted in 2008, and they've continued to pop up at tournaments for nine years since.

More importantly, Lightsworn is the one deck that always seems to survive the introduction of new core mechanics. When they first came out, Judgment Dragon was a powerful and accessible boss monster. When Synchros arrived, Plaguespreader Zombie coupled nicely with your milling effects. Xyz Summoning didn't help Lightsworn immediately, but eventually they got Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn as a new boss monster.

Not only can Lightsworns survive the early months of Link Summoning, I believe they're one of the few decks that can get away without Zoodiacs, Dragonic Diagram, or many expensive staples. For me, it all started with realizing how many free monsters Lightsworns throw on the board. Cards like Performage Trick Clown, Gem-Knight Seraphinite, and Wulf, Lightsworn Beast are great for Link Material.

Then there's the obvious benefit of running Synchro Monsters like PSY-Framelord Omega and Stardust Dragon. As you probably know by now, monsters like those have to go to the Extra Monster Zone when they're first summoned. However, if they leave the field and then return, you get to put them in your Main Monster Zone. Both of those Synchros have built-in revival effects to dodge the restrictions of Link Summons, making them prime choices for current competition.

 Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn (Super Rare)
Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn (Super Rare)106208
Set Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series Prize Cards
Number YCSW-EN008
Level 4
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Fairy
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 2000 / 800
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

2 Level 4 monsters
You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; send the top 3 cards of your Deck to the Graveyard, then draw cards equal to the number of "Lightsworn" cards sent to the Graveyard by this effect. If this card is destroyed by battle, or if this card in its owner's possession is destroyed by an opponent’s card effect: You can send the top 3 cards of your Deck to the Graveyard, then you can destroy cards on the field up to the number of "Lightsworn" cards sent to the Graveyard by this effect. You can only use each effect of "Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn" once per turn.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
A YGO Black Market Limited - Damaged 1 $400.00
BestDealsForCards Limited - Near Mint 1 $544.99
A YGO Black Market Limited - Near Mint 1 $545.00
Rivercitygamez Limited - Near Mint 1 $575.00

I've already covered a few of the ways that you can use current Lightsworn staples to accommodate Link Summoning, but to really make the most of things I want to add even more cards that do one of two things: cards that combo with Link Monsters, or put pressure on your opponent without using your Extra Deck.

It all starts with Judgment Dragon. A lot the Minerva Lightsworn lists we saw this past year didn't use it at all, because spamming Rank 4's was a lot more consistent. But now Lightsworns need a way to threaten big monsters without digging into your Extra Deck. Judgment Dragon also has the added benefit of dealing with annoying cards like Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King if you can bait out its destruction effect; 3000 ATK is bigger than almost anything your opponent will throw at you.

From there, Eclipse Wyvern's an interesting way to get to Judgment Dragon, as well as a potential combo with Fairy Tail - Snow. You can send Eclipse Wyvern to the graveyard off of Brilliant Fusion, but you'll probably be crossing your fingers to hit it with one of your random milling effects like Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn, Charge of the Light Brigade, Solar Recharge, or That Grass Looks Greener. You can also pitch it from your hand with Uni-Zombie if you need to.

Perhaps my favorite addition that I made was Black Dragon Collapserpent and White Dragon Wyverburster. Those two Level 4's do so much for your strategy, both with new and old cards. Banishing Eclipse Wyvern's just the beginning: you can use those cards to Link Summon or Synchro Summon without losing card economy, because they replace themselves. Or you could use them to set up a Lumina, Twilightsworn Shaman effect. They require a bit more setup than Photon Thrasher or Goblindbergh, but the payoff's worth it.

Now that I've laid the groundwork for Link Summoning Zombie Lightsworns, let's take a look at the list:

    Zombie Lightsworn Doug Zeeff    
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 Black Dragon Collapserpent
2 Eclipse Wyvern
3 Fairy Tail - Snow
1 Felis, Lightsworn Archer
1 Gem-Knight Garnet
2 Judgment Dragon
1 Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner
1 Lumina, Twilightsworn Shaman
1 Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
1 Maxx "C"
3 Mezuki
1 Minerva, Lightsworn Maiden
1 Performage Trick Clown
1 Punishment Dragon
2 Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn
1 Shiranui Smith
3 Shiranui Solitaire
2 Shiranui Spiritmaster
2 Uni-Zombie
1 White Dragon Wyverburster
3 Wulf, Lightsworn Beast
Monsters [35]
3 Brilliant Fusion
2 Charge of the Light Brigade
1 Foolish Burial
2 March of the Dark Brigade
1 Raigeki
3 Solar Recharge
1 Soul Charge
1 That Grass Looks Greener
Spells [14]
1 Shiranui Style Swallow's Slash
Traps [1]
Deck Total [50]


1 Abyss Dweller
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight
1 Daigusto Emeral
1 Decode Talker
1 Gem-Knight Seraphinite
1 Ib the World Chalice Priestess
1 Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn
1 Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
2 PSY-Framelord Omega
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Tornado Dragon
Extra Deck [15]

The Shiranui engine's probably bigger than you've seen in past Lightsworn decks. Shiranui Solitaire's a straightforward three-of, and you'll occasionally see one copy of Shiranui Spiritmaster, too. I've bumped Spiritmaster up to two copies and I'm also running Shiranui Smith and Shiranui Style Swallow's Slash. Smith is really cool: if you use it for a Synchro Summon you get to search a Shiranui card from your deck.

The obvious pick is Shiranui Solitaire, setting you up for a second turn play or possibly a continuation of your combo if you opened with Brilliant Fusion. But what I like to do is get Shiranui Style Swallow's Slash, which is a strictly better version of Icarus Attack for Zombies. By Tributing a Zombie you get to blow up two cards, and then you get to banish a Shiranui from the deck. Shiranui Spiritmaster blows up a third card if you need defense, otherwise Shiranui Solitaire can Special Summon a Shiranui for offense.

Because we're running Judgment Dragon I had to play a few more Lightsworns than just Wulf, Lightsworn Beast and Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn. All the major players are here as one-of's, giving you not only the best chance to summon Judgment Dragon, but also a great shot at hitting big off of both the effects of Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn. Then there's Punishment Dragon, another Eclipse Wyvern option that benefits from the late game after you've banished all your Lightsworns with Fairy Tail - Snow.

March of the Dark Brigade is truly what brings this deck together. It gets back whatever Lightsworn you need and then banishes cards off the top of your deck, hopefully nabbing a slick Shiranui effect in the process. It's a fantastic recovery card that bonds your two main themes together, so I naturally ran two copies.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that you could easily make this 50 card deck into 60 cards if you wanted to. A small Zoodiac engine would be a decent starting point, although Extra Deck space might be a bit tight. There's only two important Link Monsters there, with Ib the World Chalice Priestess subbing in for Proxy Dragon until we get it, so you might have some difficulties finding room for more than just a single Broadbull and Drident. That would open up the possibility of that epic Bujin combo, too.

 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 .

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
dkpaladin 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $12.59
Gamer's Gauntlet YGO 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $12.60
TheCardWard 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $12.95
Alter Reality Games 1st Edition - Near Mint 6 $12.99
CardCraze Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 4 $12.99
Your Yugioh Cards 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $13.00
xplayGames 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $13.00
Gaming Goat Joliet 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $13.12
OmegaGaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $13.13
TeamGuyaneseGamer 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $13.46

If you don't want to run Zoodiacs, I'd consider PSY-Framegear Gamma. It's an excellent counter to hand traps like Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and Maxx “C”, letting your Brilliant Fusion, Charge of the Light Brigade, and Solar Recharge go off uninterrupted. The added benefit is that you don't have to make any room in your Extra Deck because you're already playing two PSY-Framelord Omega!

Lightsworns might not be the competitive powerhouse they once were, but I feel they're the best rogue deck in competition right now. When we eventually get a new Forbidden & Limited List I expect them to go untouched, especially with this Zoodiac-less list. If you want to make crazy boards on your first turn and get some sacky mills, this is the deck for you!

-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 Yu-Gi-Oh! 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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