Eldlich: Evolution of a Meta Deck
- Sherif Lewis
A competitive theme with only one monster? Even Sky Strikers had more monsters on release! How is it possible for such a strategy to be a meta deck right out of the gate and to inspire so many builds and approaches when it comes to deck building? Consistency, versatility, and a big boss monster are the reasons why.
When the Eldlich theme was first revealed for the OCG in Secret Slayers, most people thought it was simply generic zombie support. That's why early on we saw variants such as Mayakashi Eldlich and general zombie decks featuring Eldlich cards as support. Eventually, it turned out that not only can the deck hold its own, but it actually is one of the best at the moment.
Unfortunately, there are no official events to back this claim due to the current situation, but online tournaments prove it. Since the weekend when Secret Slayers was released in the TCG, the deck has been winning and topping large digital events. Not only that, but it keeps evolving as players come up with new ways to improve it.
But why are the core cards good in the first place? The important on-theme Eldlich support cards are divided into Cursed Eldland — the deck's main searcher and starter — and two main types; Eldlixir and Golden Land cards.
Eldlixir cards summon Eldlich the Golden Lord from your hand, deck or graveyard. Meanwhile, Golden Land trap cards are on-theme trap-monster disruption and negation since they either destroy a face-up card without targeting, banish a card from the opponent's graveyard, or put up a big defensive body on the field. There is also the counter-trap Golden Land Forever! which outright negates an opponent's card at the cost of tributing a zombie monster. With the exception of Cursed Eldland and Golden Land Forever!, the cards are self-replacing, which gives the strategy deck-thinning and recursion capabilities and makes the whole very consisten. Eldlixir cards can banish themselves from the graveyard and replace themselves with Golden Land cards, while Golden Land cards replace themselves with Eldlixir cards in a similar way.
Throughout this article, we will be exploring some of the more successful Eldlich variants and analyzing what makes them competitive. There are two main types of the deck, as follows:
This has been the first successful variant of the deck and it still is for good reason. The Eldlich core amount to 18–20 cards; therefore the other half of the deck is negates and disruptions. It typically consists of using hand-traps such as Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and D.D. Crow supplemented by trap cards including Infinite Impermanence and Solemn Judgment.
Some players even managed to find more ways to establish better boards faster by using Kuribandit. Since the deck does not rely on normal summons, Kuribandit mills five cards from the top of the deck during the End Phase. If any of these cards were Eldlixir or Golden Land Cards, they can be banished immediately to set other cards into the spell/trap zones. Other players might prefer using their normal summon for Inspector Boarder, resulting in a 2000 attack floodgate to limit the opponent's options.
|Sample Decklist: Pure Eldlich|
|Main Deck||Extra Deck||Side Deck|
Advantages of This Variant:
The deck can easily put up between two to three negates/disruptions when going first, in addition to leaving a big monster on the field. Also, the strategy doesn't necessarily rely on the Extra Deck very much. So Pot of Extravagance gives it decent draw power that results in more consistency at the cost of a reduced access to the Extra Deck.
Although these Extra Deck Monsters are not frequently needed, they can outright win games on their own. For example Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Gustav Max can burn your opponent for 2000 life points, making it the perfect monster to end games or to win in time. Meanwhile, Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Juggernaut Liebe is the equivalent of Borrelsword Dragon, with the ability to end games in one battle phase.
Disadvantages of This Variant:
This variant is prone to underwhelming hands, as there is a chance you only draw your Eldlich cards or just the negates and disruption, which means more turns are needed to control the game. Another problem is that the deck typically cannot go over large established boards when going second. Of course there is a chance to water-down these boards by disrupting the opponent's plays with hand-traps. But the deck has a very hard time getting over a field created by an Adamancipator deck, for example, or even something simpler such as a Masked HERO Dark Law.
The deck does not always manage to pack enough punch to finish games early, as it only relies on Eldlich cards and Extra Deck Monsters to deal damage. Yet, Pot of Extravagance being the draw card of choice could result in banishing the Extra Deck Monsters that are needed in any given situation. As a deck, Eldlich is too graveyard-reliant and loses easily if Eldlich the Golden Lord is banished by the opponent's card effects. Once all Golden Lords are banished, the deck can only stall on defensive cards due to lack of offense. Therefore the worst cards to face are D.D. Crow, Called by the Grave, and Huaquero of the Golden Land in the mirror match.
Hybrid Eldlich is divided so far into three main branches: Invoked Eldlich, Magical Musket Eldlich, and Synchro Eldlich. We already established that the strategy does not need its normal summon and the amount of core cards leaves room for innovation. So naturally players have found ways to increase the deck's ceiling by adding different engines to it.
a) Invoked Eldlich
This one does exactly the same as what pure Eldlich does, but with a few tweaks. First of all, the Invoked engine adds either negation in the form of Invoked Mechaba and Invoked Caliga or an aggressive attacker in the form of Invoked Purgatrio, which can end games on its own. Furthermore, since this variant relies more on the Extra Deck, the draw power of choice shifts from Pot of Extravagance to the Spellbook engine and Magicians' Souls. The result is a solid defense, as it allows for more draws and searches compared to the pure variant. It is one of the better versions of the deck that currently exists and is easier to pilot than the next two variants.
b) Magical Musketeer Eldlich
Another variant that made top 4 in the YugiJoe Online Series at the beginning of May is Magical Musketeer Eldlich. One major difference between this version and the Invoked version is that it is not as reliant on the graveyard. Another is that it might have less draw power but can consistently search cards needed for every situation.
The deck uses the Magical Musketeer monsters to search for the Magical Musket spells and traps — creating card advantage that is used as additional interruption along with the Golden Land cards. When this deck goes first, the opponent needs to find a way to get rid of it or else Magical Musket spells and traps will be activated from hand during the next turn. On the flip side, if this deck goes second, the opponent will strive to negate/destroy Magical Musketeer Max as soon as it hits the field. Otherwise, it will add Magical Musket spells/traps to the player's hand up to the number of monsters controlled by the opponent, and then these cards can be activated directly from hand.
c) Synchro Eldlich
The Mayakashi variant should be considered the original Synchro Eldlich. But the better variant is actually the one that uses Tuning, Jet Synchron, and Crystron Halqifibrax to put up two negations with just one normal summon — in the form of Borreload Savage Dragon and Herald of the Arc Light. This version of the deck claimed a top 4 place in the PPG Weekend tournament on May 3, introducing the Synchro hybrid to the world and opening the door for further innovation using the Halqifribrax engine. The two most prominent developments stemming from this innovation are: one that ends with drawing three cards and fielding True King of All Calamities to lock the opponent out of monster effects and summoning; a second that ends with drawing four cards in addition to fielding Borreload Savage Dragon and T.G. Hyper Librarian.
I would argue that these negates are better than the ones put up by Invoked Eldlich, since the end board results in negates that do not require discarding — Mechaba forces a discard of the same card type in order to activate. Also, this variant takes a similar approach to the Kuribandit version of the deck by using Tuning to search Jet Synchron. After the search, Tuning makes the player send the top card of their deck to the graveyard: a chance to find either Eldlich the Golden Lord, Eldlixir spells/traps, or Golden Lord cards. This kicks off the recycling and recursion in addition to the negates that the Halqifibrax combo generates with other cards in hand that can still either be negates or disruptions.
|Sample Decklist: Synchro Eldlich (True King of All Calamities Version)|
|Main Deck||Extra Deck||Side Deck|
Advantages of the Hybrid Versions:
All of the hybrid versions provide attack power and accessible negations, which are things the pure version is not able to do. The result is that matches end faster and turn into less of a grind game. However, these versions can grind if necessary. Furthermore, all three versions have a better chance of breaking big boards if their combos are not interrupted.
Disadvantages of the Hybrid Versions:
The negations and attack power come at the expense of other supplemental cards that the pure version relies on for the grind game. As a result, these hybrids are vulnerable if they brick — especially the Invoked version — which is something that happens a lot more often than with Pure Eldlich. Also, Invoked and Synchro are graveyard-reliant and consequently exposed to the same problems as the pure version. Although they do offer more options to the player.
Synchro versions especially suffer from two additional problems. The first is that most of the Extra Deck is being utilized for one specific and predictable combo. The second problem is that the whole combo is halted once Crystron Halqifibrax is negated.
Overall, Eldlich in general is one of the decks to beat so far this format. However, Eternity Code just dropped recently and gave a big boost to some decks such as Orcust, Madolche, and Plunder Patroll. Also, a scheduled revision to the banlist looms on the horizon and that may touch some cards the deck relies on. However, until another powerful deck emerges or even after such a banlist revision, Eldlich will just adapt again. It will try to carve its way into the top cut, as it has been doing ever since Secret Slayers dropped.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.