How To Play! Your Guide To Dragon Link
3/11/2020 11:01:00 AM
Dragon Link took the game by storm last month, and players flocked to the
strategy at both YCS events in February.
I wrote about it two weeks ago
, but since then even more players have scored big wins with Dragon Link
variants. It's quickly become one of the best Link-spam decks in the
format, and a worthy competitor to other favorites like SPYRAL, Altergeists
This week we're trying something new: instead of spotlighting a single
build of Dragon Link we're going to talk about how to actually build and
play the deck, discussing individual cards, combos and match-ups. Maybe
you've seen deck lists floating around online or Dragon Link's popped up in
your tournaments, but you don't know enough about the deck to try it
yourself? You're in luck! Today we'll cover the fundamentals and a bit of
Theory-Oh to build your understanding. By the time we're finished you'll be
able to grab a deck list and start playing.
Sound good? Then let's get into it.
What Does Dragon Link Look Like?
The first 2020 build of Dragon Links
showed up in our deck archive in early February, topping a Regional in
Quito, Ecuador. Since then we've added seven more lists, including Shunping
Xu's 1st Place build from the UDS Invitational in Oklahoma,
which I wrote about here. Xu would go on to score a Top 8 finish at YCS Las Vegas with this updated
While most players followed Xu's example, Matteo Bertulezzi finished 2nd at
YCS Utrecht with a Level 3-focused build that prioritized Cherubini, Ebon
Angel of the Burning Abyss. His unique approach had largely the same win
condition, but different combos and a significantly larger Main Deck.
The core elements of Dragon Link can be squeezed into just about any
Dragon-heavy theme, or even decks with very few Dragons at all. Christos
Georgiou's build that won the main event at a recent Regional in Cyprus
then went on to win a post-event Top 4 playoff as well, and it's a really
cool example of that technique adopting Dragon Link as an engine: Georgiou
used Dragonmaids to fuel Guardragon combos that are actually pretty similar
to the mainstream Dragon Link decks.
Regardless of what variant of Dragon Link you're playing, a lot of the
cards are going to function in the same ways. Even if you're playing a more
off-the-wall variant like the Dragonmaid deck you'll need to know how the
core cards for the engine function, how they relate to one another and
which cards are comparable or redundant. To get you there, let's break down
the card pool and talk about where everything fits in some common terms.
Nearly all Dragon Link combos start with getting Striker Dragon on the
field. Guardragon combos need a supply of low-Level Dragons to make their
initial Link Summons and set up Guardragon Elpy or Guardragon Pisty's
effects. The Rokket engine, and particularly Boot Sector Launch,
effortlessly floods the field with Dragons without a massive initial
What you're looking for is a Rokket monster and a monster that can be
Special Summoned. Either combination works, so if your Rokket monster is your Special Summon you're equally ready to go. Quick Launch is
one of the best openers in the strategy thanks to its ability to Summon
Rokket Tracer straight from the deck.
Rokket Tracer's a fantastic combo piece for a variety of reasons, including
the fact that it's a Tuner. It's your most important Rokket in the deck and
the one monster you'll absolutely want to find at some point in the duel.
Your other Rokkets aren't irrelevant, especially considering how easy it is
to trigger their effects with Striker Dragon; Silverrokket Dragon and
Magnarokket Dragon are among the most popular. But theoretically you could
tailor your Rokket line-up to answer your likely match-ups.
's another key Summon in this deck thanks to its ability
to search Rokkets and the smaller chaos dragons: White Dragon Wyverburster
and Black Dragon Collapserpent
. You'll be Link Summoning and
destroying your own monsters with Striker Dragon
, so self-replacing
monsters will keep your combos rolling without forcing you to dump every
card in your hand. Meanwhile, alternative builds are banking their Normal
Summons on on-theme Dragons like Dragonmaids, or Level 3s to reach
Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss
The mid-combo cards in the Dragon Link deck give it an insane level of
flexibility, and that comes in handy since the effect that searches Rokket
monsters is more complicated than activating a Field Spell.
Absorouter Dragon doubles as a search effect and an extender for Summoning
Links, and it's the reason why Dragon Ravine's so important. There are
other cards you'll find yourself dumping with Ravine too, like Destrudo the
Lost Dragon's Frisson and Galactic Spiral Dragon. Dragon Shrine also stands
in as an alternative to Dragon Ravine, and it can sometimes free up
Dragunity Knight - Romulus to search Dragunity Divine Lance instead.
Lance's effect equips a Dragunity Phalanx from your deck to Romulus, and
you can immediately Summon Phalanx to use it as a Link Material.
World Legacy Guardragon is, of course, a must-play in Dragon Link as an
extender and a Guardragon-fixer. Its Special Summon can trigger Omni Dragon
Brotaur's ability, or return Rokket Tracer back to the field and
act as a potential target for Tracer's effect.
End Combo Monsters
Borreload Savage Dragon's incredibly easy to Summon in Dragon Links thanks
to the frequency with which you'll be seeing Rokket Tracer. It's hardly the
only end monster you'll be using: Unchained Abomination and Borrelsword
Dragon are powerful defensive and aggressive options to keep your board
safe once you've finished your Guardragon combos.
Both Abomination and Borrelsword can trigger your Main Deck Rokket monsters
like Silverrokket Dragon, but more importantly they put a huge amount of
pressure on your opponent. Abomination destroys more cards the longer it
stays on the field, and it pairs perfectly with the typical siding strategy
in Dragon Link that uses Anti-Spell Fragrance to stall spell-heavy
3-Axis builds can end on a much scarier combination of Borreload Savage
Dragon, Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess
, and Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon
Titanic Galaxy. Either way, virtually all of your combos make space for
Chaos Dragon Levianeer
, which leaves your opponent with one less card to
work with or two fewer cards on their field. Draco Masters of the Tenyi
another interesting offensive option that saw play in 3-Axis Dragon Link,
adding even more removal options to the Dragon Link arsenal.
We're about to get technical, so remember, if you need to see card text
just hover over any card name to view a spoiler (or click through if you're
on mobile). Your typical Dragon Link combo unfolds like this:
1. Activate Quick Launch, Special Summon Rokket Tracer from the deck
2. Link Summon Striker Dragon using Rokket Tracer, activate Striker's
effect to search Boot Sector Launch from the deck to the hand
3. Normal or Special Summon another monster, especially one that can
replace itself immediately
4. Activate Striker Dragon, destroying your new monster to get Rokket
Tracer from the graveyard to your hand
5. Link Summon Dragunity Knight - Romulus using Striker Dragon and another
Dragon or Winged Beast monster. Activate its effect to search Dragon
Ravine, or Dragunity Divine Lance if you already have Ravine in hand.
6. Activate Dragon Ravine and use its second effect to send Absorouter
Dragon from the deck to the graveyard. Activate Absorouter to search
another Rokket monster
7. Activate Boot Sector Launch and Special Summon two Rokkets from your
With a Link 2 in your Extra Monster Zone and low-Level Dragons on your
field you're perfectly positioned to Link Summon Guardragon Elpy and
Guardragon Pisty. After that you'll Summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
from your deck, then begin working towards Borreload Savage Dragon and some
combination of Unchained Abomination or Borrelsword Dragon.
There are many variants of this combo using any number of
alternative cards to both start the plays, and to extend them based on what
you have available. Starliege Seyfert's an excellent target for Rokket
Tracer, Omni Dragon Brotaur can search Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
instead, and Absorouter Dragon's a potential extender at nearly any point
in the combo.
Like most combo decks, the Dragon Link strategy lives and dies by the
opponent's ability to interrupt its plays. An uninterrupted Dragon Link
combo can end with a board of multiple negation bodies and an interruption
effect or two. You'll often end your turn holding one or more hand traps
since Dragon Link combos require very little initial investment. For
example, the 3-Axis build reliably ends its first turn with three cards in
hand, and any number of them could be hand traps to help protect the final
So what exactly is Dragon Link afraid of? Effect negation isn't a huge
concern unless it's especially well timed - if your Striker Dragon's
negated you might be stuck with a bunch of Rokkets in your hand. Most
players are fairly cautious about negating your combo starters or extenders
because they're easily replaceable. On the other hand your once-per-turn
Extra Deck monsters aren't as safe. That said, you can always hold cards
like Called by the Grave or Red Reboot for those specific instances, and
there are plenty of ways to play out of a bad situation when a Dragon Link
monster's effect is negated.
Monster removal's harder to play out of. Losing a Link, especially if its
effect was negated, means you've lost important pieces of your Guardragon
set-up. If your Dragunity Knight - Romulus
is nuked by Ghost Ogre &
Snow Rabbit you're forced to reinvest cards into a Link 2, ultimately
wasting precious resources that were probably better spent on extending
into a third or fourth Extra Deck monster. Nibiru the Primal Being is
totally devastating, and as far as I can tell there are no combos that can
field effect negation before the 5th Special Summon.
Going second against decks with interruption is a mixed bag. You have
enough extenders to push through most effect negation, but if you're facing
Quick Effects that can take your Links off the board you'll have a tougher
time actually completing your combos. Luckily, many popular hand traps are
significantly less useful against Dragon Links than other decks this
format. Droll & Lock Bird's typically irrelevant in the match-up, and
D.D. Crow can be played around even if Rokket Tracer's banished.
Dragon Link represents the current iteration of a strategy we've seen for a
decade now: take all the best Special Summoning power in the format and mix
a variety of themes into a single cohesive strategy. In this case it's
astonishingly consistent thanks to the Rokkets' synergies with Dragon
Ravine, Romulus, and the Guardragons. Luckily Rokket Tracer just so happens
to allow Guardragon Elpy and Pisty to be Summoned even after activating its
effect. The 3-Axis builds have even more flexibility because their combos
won't use Rokket Tracer until much later in the turn.
Even if you're not playing Dragon Link itself, I think the Rokket engine
will probably end up finding its way into other strategies. Dragonmaid's
just one example of the Rokket hybrids that could exist, and I'm sure
players are already finding others. A lot of strategies can get pretty dry
by the time they've been around the Top Cut block a few times, but the
flexibility of the Rokket engine means the door's wide open for exciting
new stuff in the future!
Until next time then
Kelly Locke's a West Michigan
gamer and writer. You can follow him on Twitter for more updates and check out his Youtube channel. He also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.