Building on a Budget: ABC


When Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba came out in late 2016, the entire world was relieved to see it wasn't the 43rd wave of Blue-Eyes support but actually brought a new archetype to the table: the ABC monsters, which were a modern take on Kaiba's XYZ archetype. Even today, these cards pack a punch!

abc-dragon buster

A - An Introduction

Right off the bat, interest in the ABC deck was massive. In fact, the deck was so popular that many stores ended up with a huge surplus Structure Deck: Yugi left over, as the decks came packaged together. Structure decks that have competitive viability always attract a large audience, since they are cheap and easy to build.

Contrary to structure decks like Shaddoll and Monarchs, where almost everything you need comes in three of these boxes, ABCs required quite a few extra cards. After all, besides the ABC cards, the deck was stuffed with Kaiba cards. Since the year wasn't 2004, teching copies of Vampire Lord or Enemy Controller just wasn't that great.

But, the deck core was there. First off, there are your three pieces, A-Assault Core, B-Buster Drake and C-Crush Wyvern. All of these are Light Union monsters that can equip to any Light Machine, and make them immune to monster effects, spell effects, and trap effects respectively. Union monsters can "take one for the team," being destroyed whenever their equipped monster would be destroyed. That’s when the magic starts. When they are sent from the field to the graveyard, A lets you get a Union monster back from the graveyard, B lets you search your deck for a Union monster, and C lets you special summon a Union monster from your hand.

A-Assault Core B-Buster Drake C-Crush Wyvern
Color-coded protection for your convenience

The ABC pieces can only combine in a trio, rather than duos of the previous union eras. Their boss monster, ABC-Dragon Buster is, in exchange, way easier to summon, as it lets you banish the parts from your field and/or graveyard in order to bring it forth. Dragon Buster even mimics the old Fusions' effect: you can discard a card to banish any card on the field, and you can do so during either players' turn. On top of that, ABC can tag out during the opponent's turn to summon back the three banished pieces.

Gathering all the pieces was simple thanks to Union Hangar, which not only searches a piece on activation, but will also equip a Union to a piece whenever it is summoned. The trap card Union Scramble acts as a Return from the Different Dimension, special summoning up to three banished Union Monsters as well as providing some recycling on the next turn. Heavy Mech Support Armor acted as a sort of revival tool, equipping a monster from the graveyard to him when he's summoned, but wasn't commonly used back in the day.

Union Hangar Union Scramble Heavy Mech Support Armor
The deck came packed with great support

B - Building in 2021

The deck had a wide variety of lines of play, thanks to cards like Transmodify into Galaxy Soldier, Brilliant Fusion for Gem-Knight Seraphinite, Instant Fusion for Elder Entity Norden and xyz monsters like Bujintei Tsukuyomi and Gear Gigant X. Over time, some of the deck's best plays became hard to pull off thanks to master rule changes and new forbidden & limited lists, where some of the deck's best cards were hit due to other decks performing questionable stunts with them. At least Firewall Dragon is now forbidden for his crimes and won't be coming off the list until he has been errata'd into a good boy.

It should come as no surprise that we'll be playing a lot of the deck's core cards. In fact, all of the deck's cards that we discussed in the introduction actually make it into the build. We're only playing one copy of Support Armor and two of Union Scramble. You'll see later why we play two copies specifically. Let's just say we have additional ways of accessing them. Speaking of consistency boosting, we're playing the mandatory Terraforming. Union Hangar is too good not to open, and by playing a fourth copy, we're boosting our odds from 34% to 43%.

Next up are a couple of new toys. Union Driver can be equipped to any of your pieces and can banish itself to equip another appropriate target to the monster. This bypasses Union Hangar's restriction that you can't un-equip the monster your equipped with its effect.

Unauthorized Reactivation came in the more recent Machina structure deck, but fits perfectly in our strategy as well. It's basically a quick-play version of Hangar's effect. The fact that it's a quick-play can help you protect your monsters. If your opponent activates something like Nibiru, the Primal Being, you can chain Reactivation to equip an A-Assault Core, making your monster unaffected by monster effects. While you're not able to un-equip that monster, if you equip an ABC piece that will still trigger if the equipped monster goes to the graveyard when used for a link or xyz summon.

Union Driver Unauthorized Reactivation
It's almost as if these cards were made for the deck

Speaking of that, there's a few extra deck monsters that I want to pay special attention to. Bujinki Ahashima is an excellent support card for the strategy. When it is link summoned, it will special summon a monster from your hand and graveyard of the same level, and you can immediately xyz summon with those. This is a slightly more potent version of Platinum Gadget, which we are still playing. Additionally, when you xyz summon in one of the zones Ahashima points to, you get to destroy a spell or trap! I:P Masquerena is also essential for the deck, seeing as an AC that tags out generates a ton of materials to use, and allows an extra interruption thanks to being able to go into Knightmare Unicorn, Mekk-Knight Crusadia Avramax or the brand new Underworld Goddess of the Closed World. The rest of the extra deck can be filled up to your liking or budget, but you'll find some of my budget-friendly ideas in the decklist below.

Bujinki Ahashima Underworld Goddess of the Closed World Platinum Gadget

While we now have a full extra deck, the main deck wasn't finished yet! Engine-wise, I'd suggest adding one copy each of Silver Gadget and Gold Gadget. Not only are Gadgets one of the best archetypes to ever grace the game's history, they allow you to start making plays without Union Hangar. In the worst-case scenario, you'll be going for Abyss Dweller before calling it a turn.

We'll be adding some interruption in the form of spell cards, namely Cosmic Cyclone and Called by the Grave, and a handful of budget-friendly hand traps. Droll & Lock Bird and Skull Meister are surprisingly strong this format! If you're expecting to play in an environment where these would not be amazing, you can swap them out for other cards like Effect Veiler, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, or D.D. Crow. You could even be sneaky and include an Ally of Justice Cycle Reader to grab with Gear Gigant X if you're expecting Light-based matchups.

Called by the Grave Droll & Lock Bird Skull Meister
Staples and hand traps are never a bad thing to pick up

The eight remaining main deck spots will be trap cards! I had hinted before that we'll have extra ways to access Union Scramble, and that is Trap Trick. This card allows you to access any normal trap in your deck, as long as you can banish a spare copy from your deck. Some of the game's most excellent normal trap cards, Ice Dragon's Prison and Infinite Impermanence fall outside "budget friendly," but there's quite a few low-rarity traps as well. Torrential Tribute, Compulsory Evacuation Device, and Paleozoic Dinomischus are all common cards that allow you to remove monsters from the board, and can all be tutored with Trap Trick.

C - Cost and Conclusion

While the Shopping Wizard is currently under reduced capacity to ensure website stability, I had it calculate the main and extra deck separately. They counted for some €35 and €55 respectively, Underworld Goddess takes up about a quarter of the total. That makes her the most expensive card in the deck but she's also easy to replace. Most of the main deck cards were available in structure decks; even the hand traps have common printings.

I believe the strength of investing in a deck like this as a new player is the fact that plenty of cards used can also find a place in other decks. Not only that, but for someone who's setting their first steps into the world of Yu-Gi-Oh, I think having access to a versatile deck they'll be able to tinker around with for a few months and learn a lot about the game from is great.

ABC is a deck that has more or less withstood the test of time, thanks to a powerful boss monsters and cards that let you manage your resources without too much hassle. The deck often profits from new releases that support Lights, Machines, or Unions. This means it might stick around for a while longer … unless Firewall Dragon somehow ends up getting the deck slaughtered on the limited list again.

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