Decktech: Dragon Link FTK
- Sherif Lewis
Dragon Link decks got a major boost recently that culminated in four top-cut finishes in the Luxury Championship Series 4 online tournament. The strategy gained new cards that added to its consistency and some versions even morphed into an FTK deck, which is what we are covering today.
In the beginning, the deck started off with a heavy line-up of Rokket cards and slowly evolved from there. A 3-Axis version, piloted by Matteo Bertulezzi, came second at YCS Utrecht in February 2020. One of the most notable duelists who sees regular success with the deck is Shunping Xu, who took down UDS Tulsa and topped many online tournaments recently using the same strategy, including this latest LCS. But what caused the deck's sudden surge?
Once upon a time, there was Earthbound Immortal Aslla piscu sitting there in players' binders and bulk collections, gathering dust. One day, Konami released Toon Chaos and made Chaos Space available to players. Its applicability in a lot of decks is quite intriguing; however, some players thought: Wait a second … can't this card search Black Dragon Collapserpent and White Dragon Wyverburster and even Chaos Dragon Levianeer? Thus, Dragon Link decks got a new toy.
Tristan Pugh and Gabriel Netz decided that it wasn't enough for the deck to be better; it had to have a new primary win condition: a First Turn Kill (FTK). Suddenly Aslla piscu found itself in a 60-card deck and put in a lot of work in combination with Exploderokket Dragon. Tristan ended up winning the tournament while Gabriel secured a top 16 spot.
How Does the FTK Work?
The main idea is to use either Chaos Space or one of the starter cards such as Black Metal Dragon or Starliege Seyfert to go into Striker Dragon. The combo slightly deviates based on which starter you use: Seyfert allows you to search for Black Dragon Collapserpent while Black Metal Dragon searches Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. In any case, you will use two dragons from the field to link summon Dragunity Knight - Romulus and Striker Dragon will search for a Boot Sector Launch, while Romulus will search for Dragunity Divine Lance. Lance is then activated, equipping itself to Romulus before tutoring Dragunity Phalanx as an equip spell card. Phalanx then summons itself to the field via its own effect.
Romulus is then used as material to summon Linkross which will give you two tokens. From there you use Phalanx and a token to go into Martial Metal Marcher, which will revive Phalanx. After that, Marcher and Linkross will get you to Crystron Halqifibrax, which will trigger to special summon Red Rose Dragon which is a level three monster. Then you tune it with the remaining token to synchro summon Herald of the Arc Light which can protect you from hand-traps. (Although it will be too late to protect you from a Nibiru, the Primal Being if your opponent plays it right.) Red Rose then triggers in the grave to special summon White Rose Dragon.
From here on, either of Palanx or White Rose are used to summon Guardragon Elpy, while the other gets you to another Striker Dragon. You have to make sure that either of those two is pointing toward a zone that Halqifibrax is also pointing to. Elpy then triggers to summon Omni Dragon Brotaur from deck. On summon, you can discard a card to add Rokket Tracer to hand. Both Link-1 dragons are subsequently used to link summon Dillingerous Dragon. Boot Sector Launch can then be activated, allowing you to special summon the Rokket Tracer you searched earlier. Tune it to Brotaur to summon Garden Rose Maiden which will search you the first part of your FTK: Black Garden, which you then activate.
Now you can use Maiden and Dilingerous to link summon Union Carrier, which triggers Black Garden to give your opponent a token. Afterward, Maiden can be banished from the grave to summon either White Rose or Red Rose. From here on, your opponent will get a further token with every summon. Guardragon Pisty can be summoned using the Rose Dragon. It will revive Tracer, triggering Dilingerous in the grave to summon itself to your field. Use it along with Pisty and Halqifibrax for a Borrelsword Dragon or even a Borreload Dragon. Union Carrier will then target the Borrelsword and equip Earthbound Immortal Aslla piscu to it since they both have the same attribute.
Tracer then destroys Carrier to summon Exploderokket Dragon. Now your FTK is ready to be served! Use Borrelsword to target Exploderrokket, which will trigger it to destroy itself and inflict 2000 damage to both players. During the End Phase, its second effect will trigger to summon any Rokket from deck. At the start of your opponent's turn, use Tracer's effect to destroy Aslla piscu to summon another Exploderokket to the field. Triggering its effect on destruction, Aslla piscu will destroy all monsters your opponent controls and inflict 800 damage for each of them. At this point, your opponent will have five tokens, making that 4000 damage. What about the remaining 2000 life points? Just repeat the same thing you did with Borrelsword during your turn, maybe with a broad smile.
How Consistent Is the FTK?
The FTK is very consistent for many reasons. First of all, you run a lot of starter cards other than Seyfert and Black Metal Dragon — and all of them are played at three — giving you a decent chance of opening one of them, such as Dragon Shrine and Quick Launch. Those last two cards, however, need other cards supporting them to achieve the same plays as Seyfert and Black Metal Dragon. Also, the deck is full of extenders such as World Legacy Guardragon and Noctovision Dragon. The latter is a particularly interesting card as it can special summon itself to the field at no cost, and can even replace itself with a draw when used as Link material. Chaos Space can act as a kind of extender by recycling your banished cards to give you more options.
Even if you do get interrupted by Nibiru, you can usually continue playing normally as long as you manage to summon a tuner afterward. Take into consideration that the entire play shown above was done with one card in addition to a discard fodder. It means that you have three other cards that will just sit in your hand if your opponent doesn't interrupt you.
Can the Deck Do Anything Else?
The non-FTK version of the deck will have more negates ready to be summoned from the Extra Deck and could put up stronger boards going first. However, in our version here, if you are unable to FTK your opponent, you should try to fit Borreload Savage Dragon into your Extra Deck. (Admittedly, it is somewhat difficult due to the amount of Extra Deck Monsters needed for the FTK.) Additionally, Levianeer can shuffle a random card from your opponent's hand back into the deck, or you could lock your opponent out of special summoning from the Extra Deck using Dragon Buster Destruction Sword. Going second especially, the deck can put up enough damage on the board to win in one turn. Also, the advantage of the 60-card variant is that you can play a lot of hand traps, including Phantazmay, which is a dragon that can further extend your combos in addition to fixing your hand.
Isn't Old Red-Eyes Getting Errata?
Yes, it is! Legendary Duelists: Season 1 is coming with an errata that limits its effect to summon dragons to once per turn only. Apparently, it has no effect on the consistency or playability of the FTK. You may notice that we only used the card in a singular version due to opening Black Metal Dragon and even then, Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon was only used once.
As for the non-FTK version, this should hurt the deck a little. But Chaos Space fills the gap very well and can search and recycle the White and Black dragons, allowing you to summon them up to three times.
How Can I Protect Myself?
In this case, hand traps are your friends, especially when going second. I would recommend Artifact Lancea as it will stop the White and Black dragons from resolving — well, one of them most of the time since you cannot stop the first one unless your opponent searches it. Lancea also stops the graveyard effect of Garden Rose Maiden. However, it might not be enough if your opponent has enough extenders. Dimension Shifter would completely stop your opponent as he will be unable to send his dragons to the graveyard.
Another interesting option when going second is Typhoon, which you can use to target Black Garden. But first you have to bait out Herald of the Arc Light and make sure that there is another spell/trap on your opponent's side of the field. The deck may struggle a little going second against established strong boards.
Going first though, you have a lot of options. They range from setting a strong board backed by something like There Can Be Only One — if your deck can support playing it of course — to Summon Limit or El Shaddoll Winda to limit your opponent's plays. The Eldlich traps are somewhat problematic and sometimes the deck fails to find answers to establish Adamancipator boards.
However, if you are really looking to stop the deck completely; there are three choke points specifically. If you interrupt the combos during either of those scenarios, the deck should — in theory — come to a complete halt. Two of the choke points involve Martial Metal Marcher. The first one is if you have Nibiru in hand, you should wait until Marcher resolves and summons its target to the field. Resolving Nibiru leaves your opponent with more or less nothing. The second scenario is to somehow prevent Marcher from being summoned in the first place. The third scenario is to stop Maiden from ever searching Black Garden, this will ensure that the FTK doesn't happen. The loophole here is that your opponent might have drawn it already.
It appears that Dragon Link — FTK version or not — is shaping up to become one of the stronger decks of the format. Expect to see it often as more players learn the deck and try to evolve it even further.
May Hanewata be with you!
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