Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deck Essay #10: Chaos Return

With the Traditional Format spanning each individual format since the creation of this great game, and many of the power cards which subjugated certain formats now Forbidden in the Advanced Format, the Top Tier in the Traditional Format is most often a corpus of some of the most powerful decks from our history. If one were to proceed to put forth the question, asking players which strategy they would consider to be the most dominant of all time, many a player would answer in agreement that the Chaos deck would occupy that honour. However, I myself, after looking into the attempts of many recent people to construct a build of Chaos suitable for the modern Traditional Format, have found that the generally accepted architecture of the deck (that is, the build commonly referred to as ‘Cookie Cutter Chaos’) is simply incongruous with the overall speed and power present in these times. For this reason, I have, in my quest for ultimate knowledge of the Traditional Format, studied, disassembled and reconstructed the Chaos deck in an attempt to create a faster, more consistent and much more potent build of this strategy.

The central purpose of the Chaos deck is, by simple definition of its title alone, aimed at filling one’s Graveyard with LIGHT Attribute and DARK Attribute Monsters in order to summon the Chaos Monster Cards, inarguably some of the most powerful Monsters the game has ever seen, to the field as quickly as possible; Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End and Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning are, in and of themselves, the chief win conditions, although, due to the ambiguous nature of the overall strategy, individual decklists can be highly disparate and contain other, synergistic ways to claim victory (thus creating an extensive catalogue of possible variations on the otherwise general theme). For the purpose of this particular exploration of Chaos, I have chosen to go with Chaos alone, revisiting the Chaos Return deck popular during the year 2006 while also drawing some necessary inspiration from more modern ideas and trends, namely that of the Dark Armed Dragon deck from early and middle 2008. The result, I think, is very impressive, and well worth considering when playing in this format.

The Monsters: 16

3 Armageddon Knight
3 Cyber Dragon
2 Chaos Sorcerer
1 Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End
1 Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning
1 Dark Magician of Chaos
1 Elemental Hero Stratos
1 Destiny Hero – Fear Monger
1 Destiny Hero – Disk Commander
1 Necro Gardna
1 Magician of Faith

The Traditional Format, it is true, contains an unmistakable penchant for speed. It was, therefore, my very first concern when constructing this deck to implement a suitable draw engine to power the strategy along; keeping up with other decks would, of course, be essential to its success. Indeed, the obvious agents of speed would be included (that is, Pot of Greed and Graceful Charity), but I felt that more was necessary and, due to the aforementioned ambiguity of the Chaos theme, would be easily integrated. I therefore set off about this task, but quickly decided that using a Destiny Draw or Trade-in engine would only introduce unwanted and superfluous Monsters. I then recalled a draw engine which was utilized to some success during the Dark Armed Dragon format of 2008, an engine which centred on a multitude of cards to abuse of the effect of Destiny Hero – Disk Commander. After doing some research and testing, I came to the conclusion that this engine would be more than sufficient for the purpose I required it to serve.

I will now discuss the engine in terms of the above Monster Card list. Firstly, in order to send Destiny Hero – Disk Commander to the Graveyard (whither it needs to be to use its effect), a full three copies of Armageddon Knight have been included. One might argue that playing it in triplicate will create dead draws, but I was more than willing to sacrifice a small portion of overall consistency in order to increase consistency in this one area; getting Disk Commander into the Graveyard is essential to the deck’s success, so this is a decision I stand by. Of course, Armageddon Knight also has other uses, which I will note later. Thence, I also included a single copy of Destiny Hero – Fear Monger, a Monster which has the distinct ability to Special Summon Destiny Hero – Disk Commander from the Graveyard, thus activating its effect to draw two cards. I dearly would have liked to include a second Fear Monger, but space was simply too tight and, to be honest, it would most likely also create too much reliance on the opponent. Finally, the single allowed copy of Elemental Hero Stratos has been included for its ability to search for any of the Destiny Heroes at any needed time.

Leaving the draw engine behind, three copies of Cyber Dragon function as the primary source of LIGHT Attribute Monsters for the deck; they also provide raw power in terms of ATK points and the ease with which they can be Summoned to the field. Magician of Faith has also been included not only for its status as one of the two appropriate Attributes, but also for its effect: retrieving a Spell Card from the Graveyard (and especially doing so within the Traditional Format, a format notoriously ruled by Spell Cards) is too good of an effect to pass up when given the opportunity to play it.

From there, two other Monster Cards have been included with the intention of generating a more flexible range of options for the three copies of Armageddon Knight: the single allowed copies of both Necro Gardna and Dark Magician of Chaos. Through the addition of these two Monsters, drawing a second copy of Armageddon Knight, or even not having a revival card when drawing the first (during which situation sending Destiny Hero – Disk Commander to the Graveyard would be contraindicated), is no longer a losing situation, for said Armageddon Knight will have some other purpose, albeit an admittedly somewhat trifling one, but a purpose nonetheless.

Finally, in addition to the obvious inclusions of Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End and Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning (again, the strategy’s primary win conditions), Chaos Sorcerer, now thankfully playable in twos, is also incorporated. Not only does the smaller Chaos Monster extend the theme of the deck beyond solely the two aforementioned evidently powerful Cards, it also adds another aspect of utility to the strategy by simply and easily removing opposing threats. In addition to this, it serves as an extra means to send Monsters to the Removed from Play Pile, bolstering the second aspect to the deck. The two copies of Chaos Sorcerer are a welcome inclusion here.

Please note, if you will, before I move on to the discussion of the Spell Cards, the absence of Dark Armed Dragon. While it may seem to many people an offense to omit Dark Armed Dragon from any deck within the DARK School, my reasoning behind this decision is simple: because the Deck as it stands is designed to load both LIGHT and DARK Attribute Monsters into the Graveyard (and contains a relatively high LIGHT Monster count), it is rare that one will indeed have the three necessary DARK Attribute Monsters for the Summoning of Dark Armed Dragon, and even rarer that one will achieve such quickly enough. It was a difficult decision, but one that needed to be made for the greater good.

The Spells: 15

1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Painful Choice
1 Monster Reborn
1 Premature Burial
1 Harpie’s Feather Duster
1 Heavy Storm
1 Raigeki
1 Dark Hole
1 Snatch Steal
1 Change of Heart
1 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Dimension Fusion
1 Card of Safe Return

There was very little trouble when constructing this Spell Card line-up: many cards included herein were obvious picks, with only but a couple holding a special place in this particular strategy. Firstly, Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity and Painful Choice have been included for their usefulness in every deck, with both Pot of Greed and Graceful Charity granting the ability to draw cards and both Graceful Charity and Painful Choice granting the ability to send needed cards to the Graveyard. As is almost always the case, Painful Choice has a plethora of possible targets: Destiny Hero – Disk Commander, Dark Magician of Chaos, Necro Gardna, Cyber Dragons, and extra copies of Armageddon Knight. I have also made the addition of the single allowed copy of Allure of Darkness, for, with the high amount of DARK Attribute Monster present, it would see no problem in being activated; furthermore, it gives yet another use to extra copies of Armageddon Knight.

Continuing on, Monster Reborn and Premature Burial stand out as ways to instantly Special Summon Destiny Hero – Disk Commander from the Graveyard, thus beginning the draw engine. Of course, these cards also have other uses, namely being able to Special Summon Dark Magician of Chaos for the retrieval of a needed Spell Card or Special Summoning a fallen Chaos Monster. Due to the draw engine being based around bringing a Monster back from the Graveyard, Card of Safe Return was, to my mind, a clear choice: with the ability to Special Summon Destiny – Disk Commander a maximum of nine times (the remainder of Special Summon cards will be discussed later), the Spell Card will rarely be dead. Finally, Reinforcement of the Army rounds out the Spell-oriented section of the draw engine, being included to search for either of the two Destiny Heroes individually or Elemental Hero Stratos, which will then search for another Hero.

From there, the next six slots have been devoted to all-round staple cards; the deck had the room to play them, so I saw no reason that they should not be included: Heavy Storm and Harpie’s Feather Duster are used to destroy any defences the opponent may have been planning on using; Raigeki and Dark Hole are used to destroy any Monsters the opponent may have on the field; and Snatch Steal and Change of Heart find their usefulness of acting not only as spot-removal of any one Monster, but also in creating a Monster Card for oneself at the same time, most often finishing a large attacking turn to claim victory.

Lastly, with so many cards present that either Remove other cards from Play of get Removed from Play themselves after they leave the field (five total: two Chaos Sorcerer, one Chaos Emperor Dragon – Envoy of the End, one Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, and one Dark Magician of Chaos), Dimension Fusion is without a doubt the ultimate finisher. Here, the deck sees influence from both the Chaos Return and Dark Armed Dragon decks noted in the introduction, two strategies that led to many a conclusion when designing this list. The idea remains the same: swarm the field with as many Monsters as possible in order to claim victory. It is not uncommon to draw half the deck, Summon a Chaos Monster or two, and then activate Dimension Fusion (or Return from the Different Dimension, which will also be included) before attacking for game, all on just the second turn of the Duel.

The Traps: 9

3 Limit Reverse
2 Graceful Revival
1 Call of the Haunted
1 Crush Card Virus
1 Return from the Different Dimension
1 Imperial Order

I will say before I begin discussing the Trap Card line-up that I had great difficulty in this particular section of the deck; space was very tight here, and a couple of options sadly needed to be omitted to make room for other cards that were more appropriate. Ring of Destruction, especially, was a tough subtraction. However, I nevertheless stand by my decisions, and present the above list of Trap Cards.

Firstly, continuing with the draw engine, an additional six Traps were included to Special Summon one’s Destiny Hero – Disk Commander: three copies of Limit Reverse, two copies of Graceful Revival, and the single copy of Call of the Haunted. Limit Reverse is clearly the most potent of the set, for, when activated during the opponent’s End Phase, one is subsequently able to shift Disk Commander to Defence Position, thereby destroying it and sending it back to the Graveyard for further revival. The two copies of Graceful Revival fill a mostly similar purpose (although they unfortunately lack the ability to send the Summoned Monster back to the Graveyard, but this is far from being a problem), and the Call of the Haunted, while primarily used for Special Summoning Disk Commander, also sees the additional use of reviving either Dark Magician of Chaos or a fallen Chaos Monster (alike to Monster Reborn and Premature Burial in the Spell Card list).

Next, with such quick and consistent access to a DARK Attribute Monster with less than one-thousand ATK points, Crush Card Virus was a simple addition (and, in my mind, a better one than the aforementioned Ring of Destruction due to its ability to destroy multiple cards over the course of its three turn duration). Imperial Order, considered by myself personally to be the most powerful Trap Card ever printed, also sees play: the Traditional Format is, quite simply, dominated by Spell Cards, and thus being able to shut them down for a turn will more often than not shut down the opponent’s entire turn. The inclusion of these two defensive cards balances the pilot’s opening turn, which can be, admittedly, rather slow and unimpressive, allowing the deck to survive until the next turn in which it can explode.

Finally, the single allowed copy of Return from the Different Dimension is included for the same purpose as Dimension Fusion in the Spell line-up. One must be careful, though, when using this Trap Card: paying half of one’s Life Points, only to have one’s big attacking turn prevented and one’s Monster Cards Removed from Play again, is an extremely dangerous situation to be in. It would be prudent to make sure one has either correct reads on the opponent’s cards or a backup plan should things go sour.

So there it is! In this essay I have portrayed a Chaos deck which not only retains its status as a Chaos deck, but is also designed to function within the high range of standards necessary to compete in the modern Traditional Format. While some might argue that a build based around a full Destiny Hero engine or a Trade-in engine would be far the better option (and indeed I will look into such at a later date), decks constructed in this way tend to include an unwanted aspect of inconsistency, although I will admit that they are much more explosive and much more potent overall. However, having said that the build I have presented herein is by no means something to be discredited or scoffed at for its relatively simple nature; it is quite capable of staying abreast of the competition, with a highly consistent draw engine and a straightforward yet powerful suite of win condition cards. While I do personally enjoy constructing and playing complicated strategies, often times the most effective way to approach the game of Yu-Gi-Oh! is with quiet simplicity; Cookie Cutter Chaos did just that, and this modern version of Chaos maintains that convention.


  1. About the monster lineup... have you considered:
    - 1 Chaos Sorcerer
    + 1 Plaguespreader Zombie

    I believe PSZ is the better choice because it allows for Synchro Summons with an additional Lv. thanks to DH-Disk Commander. It also removes itself from play due to its effect, which works nicely with Dimension Fusion and Return From the Different Dimension. The latter is notheworthy because of the ability to send monsters back to the Graveyard due to Syncrho Summoning; it works as a backup plan to keep monsters on the field in case your OTK is prevented - and you might get to recycle the effects of PSZ, Necro Gardna and get LIGHT monsters in the Graveyard for the summoning of another Chaos monster. And its drawback of placing a card on top of your Deck isn't so bad when you consider Card of Safe Return.

    On the other hand, having a second Chaos Sorcerer doesn't seem like a good idea for me. I usually find it to be a dead draw when you only have 5 LIGHT monsters in the deck; and the only reliable way to send them to the Graveyard is through Painful Choice or by summoning them to the field. Besides, Chaos Sorcerer is easily outshined by its 2 counterparts; therefore I think it's better to leave it at one.

    I'm new to playing the Traditional Format, so if you disagree with anything I said please explain. I would like to know about it.

  2. Yes, Plaguespreader Zombie is by far one of the most splashable cards in the game right now, and the thought did indeed cross my mind to include it here. However, I was at a loss for being able to send it to the Graveyard easily enough in order to make best use out of its effect: Painful Choice and Graceful Charity both clearly stand out as ways to do so, but no deck architect worth listening to would ever be stupid enough to declare these cards drawn in every game, nor drawn in every game at the correct time; also, with the Normal Summon going to Armageddon Knight, and the Knight's effect being used to send either Disk Commander or Necro Gardna to the Graveyard, depending on the situation (during neither of which Plaquespreader Zombie would be indicated), simply Summoning Plaguespreader Zombie from the hand is out of the question.

    I myself never found the two copies of Chaos Sorcerer to create dead draws. In a relatively slower deck such as this, it is highly unlikely one will ever draw many Chaos Monsters in a single game; if this ever happens, however, it is more than likely one has reached a late game, in which one's Graveyard infrastructure should be built up substantailly.

    I would like to end by saying that I do agree, at least somewhat, with everything you said; I welcome disagreement and discussion, because without that knowledge will never move forward. Thank you for posting here (and posting so eloquently, might I add), and bringing a little bit of sunshine to my day.

    I would also like to say that the decklists posted here are by no means absolute nor perfect. They are intended for the most part as skeleton builds with which interested parties can then take and change for themselves if necessary.


  3. I figured you liked discussion; that´s why I brought up this issue in my post - and also to seek more knowledge to my benefit.

    At this time I have read through most of your Deck Essays to this date. I must say I really like the way your write your articles; they have awakened an interest in me towards playing the Traditional Format. I have been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! for about 2 years in Advanced Format only; I believe I will have a better understanding of the game if I play Traditional as well - sadly, I don't know many interested players in my area.

    Finally, I would like to add that I have been playtesting with some of the other decks you've written about. There is one in particular that I really enjoy because it's so different to the playstyle I'm used to with my Advanced Format build - but I will post about that where appropriate.

  4. I am indeed glad I have sparked such interest - that was one of the driving forces behind starting this blog in the first place.


  5. First of all I would like to say that this is the best Chaos Deck I have seen and it helped me decide the most broken Monster in the game (Disk Commander).
    Second I have read all your deck essays and I have to say that your ideas are brilliant and your way of writing. I would really like to read a blog such as yours about the Advanced Format but until now I have found none as interesting as yours.

    Sorry for my awful English.

  6. Thank you so much for those kind words. It means everything to me that my work is appreciated.


  7. Awesome deck!

    I have built it, but hasn't been tested yet.
    I use a beat down cookie-cutter Chaos deck that just demolishes my bud with otks, and ftks.
    So, far the score is me(6), friend(1). He uses a hand destruction/Yata-lock deck. So, it's not very fair.
    To my point, aren't the two Chaos Sorcerers a little too much? I was thinking of trying to replace them. Just need your opinion on my suggestions.

    DH Mali x2

  8. I have to say that when i went online to find a better Chaos deck then the current Beatdown Chaos deck i have been running for a long time now that i didn't think id find one this well put together.I will put this deck together and give it a try but not have mirror force or Jinzo will be something new for me.It's always great to see that someone still plays Traditional Format & likes it asmuch as i do.

    ~Jeff From Orlando

  9. If i may ask a question,why use Necro Gardna? If you wanted a card for that effect wouldn't Kuriboh be a better choice because you still get a similer effect and still get to use Kuriboh for it's DARK Attribute to summon a Chaos card while with Necro Gardnav you do not.

  10. Jeff: thank you so much for those kind words. It means everything to me that my work is appreciated.

    Anonymous: yes, Kuriboh does do something similar to Necro Gardna, but the latter has more synergy with the engine, being a suitable (or, in some cases, exceptional) target for effects like Armageddon Kight, Graceful Charity or Painful Choice.


  11. After tested the deck with alot of other cards i found that foolish burial was a better choice than Reinforcement of the Army
    because it not only gets Disk Commander in the grave when needed but can put a light monster in the grave for a Chaos monster to be summoned faster.