Thursday, December 1, 2011

Deck Essay #19: TeleMonk

It is not very often that we, as Traditional Format players, are given a Limited List in which something has changed to significantly, if at all, affect our game-play; for example, the constant jumping to and fro of cards between Forbidden status and Limited status (such as, just lately, Heavy Storm and Dark Hole have been doing) has no bearing whatsoever in this aspect of the game, and the Limiting of cards like Book of Moon is very much the equivalent. This is quite sad, for, while there are indeed an enormous amount of possibilities within the card pool already present, there are some decks which, should they be only given slightly eased restrictions on one or two cards, would prosper, adding an even greater range of options for deck strategies. I am glad to say, though, that this latest Limited List (that is, for all those reading this essay at a later date, September 2011) has provided for Traditional, giving several decks another chance of competing in this amazing format. For the subject of this discussion, I will be exploring one such deck which, owing to the newly Semi-Limited status of two essential cards, is now playable once again in the Top Tier: I am talking about the Synchro-based strategy known as TeleMonk.

The win condition of the TeleMonk deck can be clearly defined through the unravelling of its name: such is an amalgamation of the two primary Synchro generating engines utilized therein, those being Psychics (with Emergency Teleport) and Summoner Monk. Running, as is most often the case in the vast DARK Synchro sub-archetype, upon a Destiny Hero backbone, the TeleMonk deck uses the aforementioned engines to create a game-ending swarm of Synchro Monsters as quickly as possible, most often by the pilot’s first or second turn. The strategy was a natural progression of the infamous Emergency Teleport Dark Armed Dragon deck, better known by its own portmanteau, TeleDAD, after rolling changes to the March 2009 Forbidden and Limited Lists all but knocked it out of contention. While TeleMonk hasn’t been seen in the Advanced Format since this time, the increased card pool of the Traditional Format, as well as the newly Semi-Limited status of Summoner Monk and Destiny Draw, sheds light on its potential as a top contender in competitive play.

The Monsters: 19

2 Summoner Monk
2 Guldfaxe of the Nordic Beasts
2 Krebons
2 Destiny Hero – Malicious
1 Destiny Hero – Disk Commander
1 Destiny Hero – Diamond Dude
1 Elemental Hero Stratos
1 Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End
1 Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning
1 Dark Armed Dragon
1 Dark Magician of Chaos
1 Plaguespreader Zombie
1 Mind Master
1 Cyber Jar
1 Dark Grepher

I will concede that the above list of Monster Cards appears somewhat random and is, to be perfectly honest, rather ugly to behold. While I would never attempt to hide the fact that the deck can, on the occasion, draw a completely useless opening hand, underlying the unsightliness of the decklist is a strategy of immense power, speed and versatility. To put this into perspective, it must be acknowledged that every deck is capable of drawing dead hands, and that such usually correct themselves within a couple of draws. Some special considerations have also been made to help correct these instances.

To begin with, I shall expound upon the three individual engines being run here. The first is the Destiny Heroes, which will function as both a draw engine and a non-Tuner generator: the pair of Destiny Hero – Malicious cards fulfil the latter, with their six Levels combining with the Psychic engine to create Level Seven and Level Eight Synchro Monsters; while Destiny Hero – Disk Commander and Destiny Hero – Diamond Dude both fulfil the former, with each one being able to sift through extra cards. Diamond Dude is one of the special inclusions I have made here, as opposed to Destiny Hero – Fear Monger, Destiny Hero – Plasma or Destiny Hero – Dasher (all of which would be viable choices), for it gives the player an option during a dead hand situation. Furthermore (and, of course, to mention the central reason for their use), each of these Monsters is also compatible with Destiny Draw, the four Destiny Heroes (along with Elemental Hero Stratos and Reinforcement of the Army to search for them) making the perfect ratio of discard targets to the two allowed copies of the Spell Card.

Next, we come to the two Synchro generation engines, the strategy’s namesake cards. Firstly, to the Psychics: two copies of Krebons, along with the single allowed copy of Mind Master, have been included. By pairing these Tuners with any other Monster Card herein, one will be able to access anything from a Level Two to a Level Nine Synchro Monster, thus creating the most versatile toolbox of effects and power cards imaginable. The decision to include Mind Master, a card not commonly associated with a mere Psychic engine, grants access here to not only Formula Synchron (and the extra draw it provides), but also a LIGHT Attribute for the Chaos Monsters. Secondly, the two allowed copies of Summoner Monk, accompanied by their corresponding two copies of Guldfaxe of the Nordic Beasts, round out the engines by giving quick and easy access to Level Eight and, with some help, Level Nine, Synchro Monsters, which are of course the most powerful. Again, the strange, or rather uncommon, choice of Guldfaxe over Rose, Warrior of Revenge has been made in order to accommodate Chaos; these changes are so minimal and synergistic, and Chaos so obviously powerful, that these were simple decisions to make.

From there the Monster line-up is fleshed out by a plethora of cards to either assist in the setting up of combos, or assist in the overall large attacking turn. Cyber Jar, Dark Grepher and Dark Magician of Chaos fall into the first category by sifting through extra cards, by Special Summoning, in at least some fashion, more Monsters to the field with which to perform a Synchro Summon, or by setting up or reusing the Graveyard. The second category is made up of Plaguespreader Zombie, which acts as another, highly synergistic Level Two Tuner, both Chaos Monsters, Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End and Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, as well as Dark Armed Dragon. Each card of these two categories present the pilot with the versatile options necessary when running a slightly inconsistent combo-based deck, doing so much to alleviate dead hands and either facilitate the creation of the central win condition, or stand in for it altogether.

I will just take a moment, if I may, to mention one factor essential to the proper playing of TeleMonk. Due to the large number of cards which can, in some or most instances, require one’s Normal Summon, one must prioritize the use of this single mechanic as carefully as possible. Realistically, one might find it necessary, in order to accomplish appropriate moves depending on the opening hand, to Normal Summon Elemental Hero Stratos, Dark Grepher, Cyber Jar, a copy of Summoner Monk, or any one of the many Tuners herein. This is something to be careful of, for there is very little, if any, margin for error in the Traditional Format.

The Spells: 18

2 Destiny Draw
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Card Destruction
1 Painful Choice
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Monster Reborn
1 Premature Burial
1 Dimension Fusion
1 Emergency Teleport
1 Last Will
1 Change of Heart
1 Snatch Steal
1 Brain Control
1 Harpie’s Feather Duster
1 Raigeki

While it is very common for decks in the Traditional Format to run a plethora of Spell Cards, the TeleMonk deck finds such to be a necessity, for, not only does it require the ability to sift through itself as any other strategy would, it also needs the ability to discard extra Spell Cards for Summoner Monk. For this reason, several options have been included that are, while not interfering with the basic functioning of the deck, redundant (and, therefore, not needed) in some situations. A prime example is the three Monster theft cards, as opposed to only one or two.

I shall begin the discussion of the Spell Cards by completing the engines, or, rather, the two engines that have specific cards here. The Destiny Hero engine is rounded out by the inclusion of the two copies of Destiny Draw, along with the single allowed copies of both Allure of Darkness and Reinforcement of the Army. With this suite of cards in place, one has access to the fastest possible movement through the deck while still, at the same time, maintaining consistency and versatility. This is the reason Destiny Heroes see so much play in the DARK School, and why I, personally, am such an advocate of them being Top Tier in the Traditional Format. Finally, the single allowed copy of Emergency Teleport finishes the Psychic engine by allowing the Special Summon of any of the three Psychics, at any given time. While most people would argue that having only a single Emergency Teleport discounts the card from being mentioned in the deck’s name, I would counter by saying that it is an integral part to the strategy, and thus is warranted; with the Normal Summon more often than not going to Elemental Hero Stratos, Dark Grepher or Summoner Monk, the ability of Emergency Teleport to Special Summon a Tuner is extremely important.

Thence, the remainder of the Spell Cards, some staple and some otherwise, are split into three categories: the first being gaining more cards; the second being Special Summoning Monsters with which to Synchro; and the third being controlling the opponent. To begin with, the first category contains Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity, Card Destruction and Painful Choice, with each one either drawing cards or setting up the Graveyard for combos – Graceful Charity and Card Destruction achieving both at the same time. Next, the second category contains not only the usual suspects of Monster Reborn, Premature Burial and Dimension Fusion, but also the oft-overlooked Last Will, which recognises an amazing potential is Synchro-based strategies by Special Summoning, after one has sent a Monster to the Graveyard, such as in a Synchro Summon, either a Tuner or a non-Tuner with which to perform another. One will most often find, in this case, a copy of Summoner Monk being one’s target, for it can act as both at the same time. Lastly, the final category contains five of the most powerful field control cards ever printed: Change of Heart, Snatch Steal, Brain Control, Harpie’s Feather Duster and Raigeki. The latter two are, for the most part, obvious, but the former three have been chosen specifically, instead of other options (namely Heavy Storm and Dark Hole), for their ability to control the opponent’s field while also creating a Monster with which to Synchro – an almost unfair advantage.

The Traps: 3

1 Imperial Order
1 Crush Card Virus
1 Ring of Destruction

There is ultimately very little room to include Trap Cards, and, to be honest, very few options I would ever consider playing, anyway. The three cards included here, however, make their way into the deck for being inarguably the most powerful control-based Traps in the game, and so special consideration is made for them. Imperial Order, Crush Card Virus and Ring of Destruction all have the most wide-reaching effects possible, and require little justification, save possibly Crush Card Virus, which is allowable due to the high number of suitable tributes for its cost (seven in total).

The Extra Deck: 15

1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Mist Wurm
2 Stardust Dragon
1 Colossal Fighter
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Dark End Dragon
1 Dark Strike Fighter
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Goyo Guardian
1 Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 T.G. Hyper Librarian
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Armory Arm
1 Formula Synchron

With the deck having almost unparalleled access to any Level of Sycnrho Monster imaginable, the Extra Deck has been built accordingly. The most powerful and versatile options from all level ranges have been included here, making almost any situation that may present itself during a game a winnable one. For the Level Nines, I have decided to include both Mist Wurm and Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier, as opposed to only the latter, for the added versatility through a range of game positions. In the way of Level Eights, we have Stardust Dragon, included at two copies, for its ability to negate destruction (which is an all too common occurrence in the Traditional Format); Colossal Fighter for its sheer size when attempting to go for game; and both Scrap Dragon for the costed destruction of any card, along with Dark End Dragon for the free removal of any Monster, again diversifying options. For the Level Sevens, we have Dark Strike Fighter for its capacity to burn away the last few Life Points one could not attack through; and Black Rose Dragon to reset the field should the opponent gain the upper hand.

Continuing, we have, in the way of Level Six Synchro Monsters, the ever important Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier to clear an opponent’s board, if only temporarily, and also for the distinct ability to create Special Summon loops with Premature Burial (for the Monster attached to Premature Burial, when the Spell Card is bounced to the hand, is not destroyed); and Goyo Guardian for high ATK points and its Monster theft effect. For Level Fives, I have included T.G. Hyper Librarian, which can draw more cards upon the repeated Synchro Summons the deck is capable of; and Ally of Justice Catastor as a lynchpin against non-DARK strategies. Finally, the Level 4 Armory Arm most often functions as a go-between, a Monster summoned in order to facilitate the further summoning of bigger Monsters, but can, on occasion, be used itself; and Formula Synchron, which can be made through Destiny Hero – Disk Commander and Mind Master, allows the drawing of an extra card, and subsequently another Tuner. These explanations of the extra deck are quite short and concise, but little else is required; every card here is, to put it simply, the most powerful options possible.

Having discussed the reasoning behind every card included in my build in TeleMonk, as well as giving some insight into how the deck should be played, I now find myself in need of a conclusion. I am very thankful that this deck is again playable in competition, for, with the speed and myriad options at its disposal, it has a fantastic potential in the modern Traditional Format, and I have spent a large amount of time studying its intricacies in order to come up with this particular build, and many others along the way – some without Chaos, others more control oriented with Necro Gardna, etc., but I believe this version to be the best. Through a Destiny Hero draw engine and a surplus of Special Summon effects, the deck is able to create a full field of Synchro Monsters, backed up by a Chaos Monster or Dark Armed Dragon, by the end of the very first turn and still have cards left in the hand to spare. While TeleMonk, by its very core idea of combining three engines, two of them being Synchro generators, can present some inconsistency, perhaps more so than other decks from the DARK School (or, more specifically, the DARK Synchro sub-archetype), it should not be discounted, I feel, for this small shortcoming. It is still highly consistent, and a few tweaks, no doubt, could make it even more so. I only hope, possibly in vain, that future Limited Lists are more lenient.

3 comments:

  1. Yo Jamie might I ask what you would put that Extra Copy of Emergency Teleport in this list now that it is at 2? I cut a Snatch Steal since Emergency Teleport does not require an opponents field.

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    1. I would agree with you, Shax, in the removal of one card from the Monster theft suite to allow the inclusion of the second Emergency Teleport, but I would disagree with the final choice; instead, I would drop the Brain Control, for it is, no doubt (at least to my mind), the least powerful of the three.

      -Jamie

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  2. My reasoning on dropping the Snatch Steal was not because it is less or more powerful than Brain Control, but because Brain Control synergizes with the deck better in the long term for testing. Destiny Hero Diamond Dude can flip a Brain Control over and not take a -800 life points, and then get a free steal the next turn.

    Of course a Snatch Steal is blatantly stronger in regards to one time activations. It can even steal facedown guys! So it gets a thumbs up but during my testing I have actually got a lucky Brain Control to flip over from Diamond Dude, so I think it has a use or two.

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