How To Play! Your Guide To Magical Musketeers
3/17/2020 11:00:00 AM
If you're stuck in your house for a few days and really want to learn about
card lore, maybe I can persuade you to check out some clips of the German
opera Der Freischutz.
Why? Well, that opera was what inspired the Magical
Musketeers and the names of all their monsters. If you're curious you should be able to find clips and maybe even full recordings on Youtube, but I can
neither confirm nor deny if I'm listening to it in the background while I'm
writing this right now. If clips aren't available in your country let me at least
give you the gist: don't make a deal with the devil for magical bullets
that the devil himself controls.
Basically the story of my life in 2018, but that's a different tale for a
Thankfully, the Magical Musketeers are all pretty straightforward; you
don't need to know German opera to understand the deck's playstyle. The
monsters themselves all let you play on-theme spells and traps straight
from your hand on either player's turn, and each of those cards has an
added bonus whenever you play it in a Magical Musketeer's column. They'll
get you card advantage, fetch cards from your graveyard, and even summon
new monsters at no cost!
Why is that mechanic so good? Well, there's no great way for your opponent
to counter it outside of just removing the Magical Musketeer from the field
before stuff starts up. Since the Magical Musketeers don't need to set any
traps or quick-play spells, Lightning Storm and Twin Twisters are largely
useless and your opponent never really knows how many responses you have in
your hand; it's a total mystery, and that makes you very difficult to
The best way for your opponent to counter the deck is through intimate
knowledge of the Magical Musket cards. Since the Magical Musket spells and
traps are all limited to one use per turn, it's as simple as counting cards
in your opponent's hand and preparing for the worst. It's similar to
playing against a deck that's more than 50% hand traps: brace for the worst
case scenario and go from there. But if your opponent doesn't know the
theme? Well that becomes a lot harder, and it gives you as the Magical
Musketeer duelist a big advantage in a big percentage of your games.
Building the deck'll run you more than a few pennies, but only a handful
cards in the actual Musketeer core command more than chump change on the
secondary market. And with Duel Overload making Magical Musketeer
Caspar and Magical Musketeer Starfire so cheap, assembling the core's about
as affordable as grabbing a few Structure Decks. Nick Burgess got Top 8 at
a Regional Qualifier a couple weeks ago with the build below, and it gives
you a good idea of which Magical Musket cards are must-haves for your own
Remember how I said the deck was cheap? I meant the theme core
specifically, not the add-ons that so often find their way to the Main and
Extra Deck. If you're really excited about the strategy, don't let Evenly
Matched get you down – you can play this deck without it!
It's like Pot of Extravagance now or Pot of Desires in 2017. The deck can
still function without the pricy tech cards, so don't let them be a barrier
to your new favorite deck. We probably won't be going to tournaments for a
few weeks anyways, so now's a great time to get familiar with a new theme
even without the high-value splashables.
It's Like Pinball Wizard, But With The Devil
Feel free to branch out from Burgess' list, but there are definitely some
non-negotiable monsters when it comes to building Magical Musketeers.
Magical Musketeer Caspar, the Magical Musket replacing monster, and Magical
Musketeer Starfire are your biggest stars, providing the necessary fuel to
keep you from running out of cards. If you remember back when dinosaurs
ruled the earth and rainbows were in black and white, Magical Musketeers
operate on a principle that's similar to the one that led Gadgets to
domination in their heyday.
As long as you had more Sakuretsu Armors and Fissures than your opponent,
your Red Gadget, Yellow Gadget, and Green Gadget would accrue damage very,
very quickly by making direct attacks in a simplified game where your
opponent just didn't have any cards. And if you flash forward to today, you
can squint a bit and the decks look almost the same.
Magical Musketeer Starfire and Magical Musketeer Caspar are like Gadgets,
but made for 2020. When you play a Magical Musket card in the right column
you'll net another Magical Musket card in the process - whether it be a
spell or trap card or a monster summoned straight from your deck.
Sure, there's fewer stoplight Machine-types here and more devil opera, but
if your Magical Musket cards are trading resources against your opponent -
whether through targeted destruction or negation - you'll simplify the game
really quickly and win on sheer resources. So seeing those Magical
Musketeers as soon as possible is of the utmost importance; you've gotta
get that grind started early.
I'd argue that most cards in the Extra Deck are flex spots outside the ones
that are there to solve simple problems your Magical Musket cards can't out
on their own; those challenges often exist because each can only be played
once per turn. The Extra Deck monster that ties it all together is Magical
Depending on what your opponent has, Max nets you Magical Musket spells and
traps, or places Magical Musketeer monsters on the field. So whether you're
going first or second, you'll have the option to establish a defense or
come roaring back with aggressive cards!
So… First Or Second?
While it's not optimal to go first, Magical Musketeers can function well
enough on the play because they have a handful of answers they can
establish early. Even subpar hands, something like Magical Musketeer Doc
with a few random Magical Musket cards, can produce a good enough Turn 1 to
Magical Musket - Cross-Domination and Magical Musket - Desperado might be a
big enough catalyst to start you out on the right foot. Should you aim to
go first? Obviously against an FTK deck or a deck that's virtually
guaranteed to setup an impossibly big board, going first is optimal. But
all other things equal, going second should be your regular go-to.
The reason is Magical Musketeer Max, ensuring that some of your most subpar
hands turn into useful ones. I'm not trying to bury the lede, but Max is
the best way to get to specific Magical Musketeers early. As long as you
see at least one Magical Musketeer and one Magical Musket card and your
opponent simply has cards on the field, you can tailor your
response to your own comfort level.
Consider opening with Magical Musketeer Doc and Magical Musket - Dancing
Needle when you're going second. Doc won't have anything to get back from
the graveyard, and Dancing Needle's better suited to function as an
on-theme D.D. Crow, offering disruption. In that case you can still get a
benefit by summoning Magical Musketeer Doc turning it into Magical
Musketeer Max, and if your opponent has multiple spells and traps: boom,
you'll send two free Magical Musketeers to the graveyard! Summon Caspar and
Starfire, and that Magical Needle becomes the catalyst to trigger Caspar's
effect and search another Magical Musket card from your deck!
Searching Magical Musket - Desperado
means popping a card on your
opponent's side of the field and triggering Starfire to summon another
Magical Musket from the deck, then you'll finish with an Apollousa, Bow of
the Goddess. Obviously that's a cookie cutter example barring any nuance
from your opponent's side, but with Magical Musketeer Max
and its ability
to turn “useless” cards into overwhelming advantage, I'd give the deck a
Beyond the obvious implications with Max, think back about my Gadget
example - more cards means more 1-for-1 exchanges, so you'll eventually
have a small army of Magical Musketeers cards while your opponent drops
resources one by one. Adding more cards that directly facilitate that style
of play is the reason the deck can succeed.
Pot of Desires, Cosmic Cyclone, Evenly Matched, Mind Control, Instant
Fusion… Burgess built his deck to go second more often and stocked it with
cards that either bait negation, trade resources in a 1-for-1 Parry, or
exist for the sole purpose of increasing your card economy. It's a blunt
strategy, but it's a time-tested approach that's as old as Yu-Gi-Oh!
We Were On The Verge Of Greatness; We Were This Close
I'll sing Magical Musketeer's praises to high heaven but if you've been
following along with me, you might have noticed two glaring weaknesses to
the deck. The first should be pretty obvious if you're used to seeing hand
Unlike the last time I featured Magical Musketeers with this
, Burgess declined to run any hand traps in his version – there's no Effect
Veiler, no Droll & Lock Bird, not even Infinite Impermanence. If you
play against one of those decks where their first turn takes 20 minutes and
produces a field with 4+ negates, Magical Musketeers will have a hard time
getting over it. Ideally Mind Control, Instant Fusion, Evenly Matched and
other soft counters will float to the top of your deck and appear early,
but that's banking on drawing unsearchable off-theme cards. That's always
Second, any deck that runs Solemn Warning or instant spot removal is going
to be a tough Mountain to climb. Paleozoic, Altergeists, and even
Salamangreats can all nerf the Normal Summon of a Magical Musketeer and
stop your turn right then and there. Again, it'd be swell to always have
some way to ensure your Normal Summon happens, but it's not a guarantee.
Ironically the mirror match is relatively painful, because the almighty
plan of going second can Backfire so easily. It's sort of like playing a
game of chicken when it comes to who plays what card first, but what
exactly can you do if your opponent opens with Magical Musketeer Caspar and
Magical Musket - Desperado? Your Normal Summon will get shot down while
your opponent reloads on another Magical Musket card. Variance becomes a
big factor there and on some levels, it's impossible to mitigate.
Will we see Magical Musketeers more often in competitive play? Yes: the
format truly is the Wild West right now and we've seen lots of different
decks punch their ticket to the Top 8 in various Regional Qualifiers. The
introduction of Master Rule 5 April 1st
will widen that field
even more, and the reprints of Magical Musketeer Caspar
Musketeer Starfire in Duel Overload
make the deck that much easier
to build. There's every reason to think the deck could gain more of a
foothold, especially in this lull period where competition's on hiatus and
people are more likely to try new strategies.
In the meantime, this is a deck that makes your opponents respect
it, threatening them with a barrage of Magical Musket - Desperado and
Magical - Musket Last Stand while they sit in the corner and cry. Magical
Musketeers are no joke, and if you're looking for a new strategy to explore
right now, give this one a shot.
Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.
Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in
5th Congressional District on the platform of “Fabled Link Monsters for
Everyone.” You can find him on
or building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife for
an audience with his ukulele.