In the realms of the Traditional Format, there is but a single type of deck which, without a doubt, spawns the most interest and curiosity, but also, unfortunately (for it must be said), attracts the most abhorrence. I am talking, of course, about the First-Turn-Knockout deck, a strategy which aims at claiming victory on the very first turn taken by the pilot, and is considered by many to be unskilled and a detriment to the game; furthermore and in direct relation, the deck is also considered to be the ultimate, unbeatable strategy in the Traditional Format. People who hold true to such views are, to put it plainly, incorrect on both counts. While I myself am indeed the very first person to jump into the intellectual thicket in defence of the potential Battle-based decks have in the Traditional Format, it is also my distinct belief that First-Turn-Knockout strategies play a crucial role in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh! by displaying, first and foremost, the stark differences between it and other Trading Card Games. The First-Turn-Knockout deck can never (and should never, for that matter) be separated from the game, and any in-depth exploration of the Traditional Format, such as I am continuing, would be grossly incomplete without examining them. In this essay, I will be presenting what is perhaps the most famous one of such decks here in the TCG regions: and that is Magical Scientist.
The original Magical Scientist deck, which was first played in 2006, before the banning of the eponymous card, was centred on a combo involving the use of Catapult Turtle; its effect allowed the pilot to Tribute Fusion Monsters Special Summoned by the Scientist, in this manner inflicting Direct Damage to the opponent’s Life Points, eventually enough to bring them to zero. However, times have changed, and a new combo has been born, this time enlisting the aid of the Synchro Monster Dark Strike Fighter: one Summons, by any means, one’s copy of Magical Scientist along with a Level 2 Tuner Monster; thence, one will use the Scientist’s effect to Special Summon a Level 5 Fusion Monster from the Extra Deck (leaving oneself on 7000 Life Points), subsequently Synchro Summoning Dark Strike Fighter; one then pays an additional 6000 Life Points (leaving oneself on 1000) in order to Summon six Level 6 Fusion Monsters in succession, Tributing them for Dark Strike Fighter’s effect to deal 7200 damage to the opponent (6*x200=1200x6=7200), leaving them with 800 Life Points; one then, to conclude the combo, the turn and the game, Tributes the Dark Strike Fighter itself for its own effect, dealing the final Damage. The deck, of course, is founded on achieving this win condition, and only this win condition, in every single game, and doing so as consistently as possible.
The Monsters: 15
3 Royal Magical Library
3 Broww, Huntsman of Dark World
3 Destiny Hero – Dogma
2 Destiny Hero – Plasma
1 Destiny Hero – Disk Commander
1 Dark Magician of Chaos
1 Magical Scientist
1 Plaguespreader Zombie
For the purposes of this particular study of the Magical Scientist deck, I have decided to make use of two distinct drawing engines, one obvious, and the other not so much. To begin with, I will discuss the less clear of the two, and back up my conclusion with the necessary sound reasoning: it is the Royal Magical Library engine, an engine which is based on the simple use of a plethora of Spell Cards (in this case, a total of twenty-five) in order to build up enough Spell Counters to draw extra cards upon their removal from the Monster Card. With the high number of Spells that the First-Turn-Knockout deck invariably includes, there is little sweat produced when considering the use of Royal Magical Library; furthermore, the overall consistency, which was to no doubt be created here, would, in fact, in its way, both contribute to and feed off of the engine. I am sure many players would have overlooked the idea, considering it to be comparatively inferior and opting instead for a Trap-based Makyura the Destructor engine, but I stand my decision, for the above reasons.
The second aforementioned drawing engine has been, throughout the history of the game, the most potent (and, therefore, the most popular) way of sifting through a deck to find key cards. The quite simply awesome potential of the Destiny Hero engine can never be overstated, and the group of cards has powered deck after deck, player after player, to either championship titles or very high standings in premier level events. Here, a very uncomplicated assortment of Destiny Hero Monster Cards has been included to accommodate the utilization of the three available drawing Spells: firstly, a full set of Destiny Hero – Dogma finds its way into the list, being a Destiny Hero, a Level 8 and of the DARK Attribute; secondly, Destiny Hero – Plasma is also included for the same reasons, although only at two copies; and, finally, the single allowed copy of Destiny Hero – Disk Commander rounds out the suite as being both a Destiny Hero and a DARK. It must be said that each Monster, however, also brings something else to the strategy: the latter has the distinct ability to draw two more cards when Special Summoned from the Graveyard, a fact that makes it as useful, if not more so, here than on any other deck; and the two former allow one clear one’s field, should one have clogged it with other Monsters – one needs a total of three open Monster spaces to execute the combo, and if one was forced to Summon a Library, the Disk Commander and Dark Magician of Chaos, one will have only two, at which point the summon of Plasma or Dogma will open the field.
From there, a full set of Broww, Huntsman of Dark World are included to accompany the set of Dark World Dealings that it was, right from the beginning, obvious that I was to run. The two cards, when combined together, allow the further drawing of two cards. The effect of Broww, Huntsman of Dark World can also be triggered through the effects of both Card Destruction and Graceful Charity, and, once again, it was a very simple judgment that these two Spells were to be included here. Dark Magician of Chaos, which has already been mentioned, also finds amazing power, as it almost always does, by retrieving a Spell Card from the Graveyard upon its revival. It can easily be discarded in order to facilitate the use of this effect, which can then be used to salvage either a draw cad pr a combo piece.
To complete the list of Monster Cards, I have opted to include the smallest possible group of combo cards necessary to achieve the win condition: simply the Magical Scientist, paired with the single allowed copy of Plaguespreader Zombie. I have done this to avoid the distinct possibility of the drawing of combo pieces while one is still within the setting up phase of the turn, at which point these individual cards are dead. I have come across decklists playing many other Level 2 Tuner Monsters, including Krebons alongside Emergency Teleport, or The Fabled Cerburrel for use with the various discard effects, among others, but I have found that such extensive line-ups of combo pieces fail to give the consistency needed to compete in the modern Traditional Format. The Magical Scientist itself, combined with the lone Plaguespreader Zombie, is the perfect group.
The Spells: 25
3 Dark World Dealings
3 Into the Void
3 Hand Destruction
2 Destiny Draw
2 Spell Power Grasp
1 Pot of Greed
1 Graceful Charity
1 Allure of Darkness
1 Card Destruction
1 Painful Choice
1 One for One
1 Monster Reborn
1 Premature Burial
1 Harpie’s Feather Duster
As one would no doubt have expected, the Spell Card line-up is constructed, in concert with the recurring theme of the deck (and the overall premise of the Traditional Format in general), for speed and consistency. A surplus of drawing Spells, backed up by appropriate discard targets when needed, combine with the set of Royal Magical Library to create the fastest possible movement through the deck, and the quickest possible access to the win condition. While it is the place of many battle-based strategies to achieve a similar goal, the First-Turn-Knockout deck differs from such Turbo strategies in that it seeks, above anything else, to claim victory through the single technique only. Of course, this can be a blessing, and a deficit: the former because it will be far more consistent than a battle-based strategy; and the latter because it contains little, if any, resiliency to an opponent’s plays and counters. This is something to consider when playing in this format.
The list begins with a collection of theme-specific drawing and draw-enabling cards. With six Monster Cards suitable to discard for its cost, Trade-in is a simple inclusion here; furthermore, with one of those Monsters being the ever-useful Dark Magician of Chaos, it is even simpler to make this decision. From there, in keeping with the theme-specific draw cards, a full set of Dark World Dealings has been included, and is justified by not only the simple act of drawing a single card, but also the partnership with Broww, Huntsman of Dark World and the ability place another Spell Counter onto Royal Magical Library. Next, a pair of Destiny Draw has also been included in order to make best use out of the Destiny Hero Monsters, drawing yet another two cards. Thence, the single allowed copy of Allure of Darkness becomes a simple addition, what with playing so many DARK Attribute Monsters here. Spell Power Grasp, admittedly a somewhat strange choice, is used to place two Spell Counters onto one’s Royal Magical Library (one for the Spell Card’s effect, and then another for the Library’s effect), and, in this way, helps to further the strategy through simplified card drawing. Finally, Premature Burial and Monster Reborn find a way into this deck due to their ability to revive either Destiny Hero – Disk Commander or Dark Magician of Chaos, in so doing triggering their highly important effects.
With these cards cemented in their place, a group of generic draw cards is then included. This section requires little explanation and justification, being found here for the obvious reason of furthering the strategy without requiring any special means to accomplish their ends. Full sets of both Into the Void and Hand Destruction are accompanied by Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity and Card Destruction. Painful Choice, while not a drawing card, should also be mentioned here, for it thins the deck by five cards, allows better draws by clearing dead cards from one’s path, and possibly placing combo pieces (such as the Plaguespreader Zombie, the Destiny Hero – Disk Commander, etc.) into the Graveyard for future use. As is almost always the case, Painful Choice recognises its incredible potential in a fast, combo-oriented deck such as this.
Finally, to round out not only the Spell Card list but also the Main Deck list, one will find two final cards, the last combo piece and a tech card. To begin with, I have included the single allowed copy of One for One as the final piece to the combo; with the Normal Summon almost always being used on a Royal Magical Library, and the Monster Reborn and the Premature Burial both almost always being used on Dark Magician of Chaos and Destiny Hero – Disk Commander, there was a need to discover another way to summon the Scientist, leading to said inclusion. To end with, I have made the decision, as I always do when constructing First-Turn-Knockout decks, to run Harpie’s Feather Duster, which allows, should one discover oneself playing second in the first game, the removal of any threats to one’s win condition in Spell or Trap form (which are, in the first game, the most possible).
The Extra Deck: 15
3 Dark Blade the Dragon Knight
3 Dark Flare Knight
1 Dark Balter the Terrible
1 Thousand-Eyes Restrict
1 Dark Strike Fighter
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Dark End Dragon
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Black Rose Dragon
To speak with complete honesty, the necessary Fusion Monsters to achieve the combo (that is, the six Level 6 Fusions, and the single Level 5) can be any such card so desired, as long as it can be Special Summoned. In actual fact, the list of possibilities is quite extensive, and the Monsters are, for all intensive purposes, completely useless outside of the central combo. As for myself, however, I prefer to remain with my DARK School roots, running full sets of both Dark Blade the Dragon Knight and Dark Flare Knight in the Level 6 slots, and Dark Balter the Terrible as the Level 5. Conversely, although there is a large discrepancy in regards to this set of Monsters, I have completed the Fusion toolbox by making possibly the only essential choice; any opportunity to unleash Thousand-Eyes Restrict upon an opponent, even if only for the single turn allowed by Magical Scientist, should never be passed up. While I will admit that it is an obvious rarity that this will ever happen, it is far the better option to have the possibility than the reverse.
The same overall discussion can be used for the remainder of the Monsters I have added to the Extra Deck. The only necessity here included is the copy of Dark Strike Fighter, but I have fleshed out the residual space by running a further suite of Synchro Monsters under the concept of ‘just in case’. The legroom to do so exists, and I see little reason to neglect it. I will not, however, enter into any discussion pertaining to these cards, due to the fact that they have no influence over the specific strategy – nay, I shall only state that they have all been decided upon by the criteria of flexibility across their individual effects, and an ability to summon them through avenues available solely to the deck itself.
While there is a vast chasm of differing opinions within the player-base in regards to the skill-set necessary to pilot a First-Turn-Knockout deck, the possible dominance of these strategies, and the overall worth they present to the game in general, there should be no such confusion pertaining to their existence. These decks do exist, and I have done my part to document them so they will not be lost to the sands of time (as I fear will no doubt happen to the Traditional Format in general, but I digress). It is, therefore, up to the remainder of the Duelling world as to what they should make of the value of the strategies; they are by no means without their necessary skill required to pilot successfully, and moreover are not without their possible countermeasures. What only needs to further be said is that, without an acceptance of these statements as true (without the recognition that the First-Turn-Knockout is not simply a cheap, unskilful, format-breaking deck), the Traditional Format will never prosper and the brilliance it allows will be lost forever. It should sadden me terrible if such a repugnant occurrence ever became true, for incredible strategies such as this bring the most unique aspects of Yu-Gi-Oh! to the forefront of competition – ultimate forms of speed, power and consistency. Without these, this great game ceases to be what it is.