Remote Duel Invitational: Lithium's Monarch Deck
- Ryan Atlus
The current format is filled with a bunch of strong decks, but sometimes playing something completely off the wall might give you the edge over your opponent. This is what Lithium did at the Remote Duel Invitational, bringing Domain Monarchs. He was definitely an underdog, but he made it all the way to the finals!
A Long-Standing Monarchy
The Monarch archetype is one of the earliest popular archetypes. Zaborg the Thunder Monarch was introduced in Ancient Sanctuary, released over fifteen years ago. The deck rose and fell in popularity a few times since. Eventually the monsters got retrains in the form of Mega Monarchs, and spell and trap support was added as well.
In 2016 the entire strategy got revamped thanks to Structure Deck: Emperor of Darkness, one of the most impactful Structure Decks of its time. The field spell Domain of the True Monarchs led to the birth of the Domain Monarch deck. This proved amazing for all sorts of players. For one thing, not requiring an extra deck made the strategy incredibly cheap. Three Structure Decks actually got you almost all the cards you needed. Sadly, the strategy fell out of favor when some of its key cards got limited to one copy per deck. Until a few weeks ago, that is, when the deck finally became "full power" again.
Royal Weapons and How to Access Them
The Monarchs are not the sole rulers of their Domain. The powerful cards Vanity's Fiend and Majesty's Fiend have always been quite devastating, so sticking them onto the board on the first turn should spell trouble for your opponent. They are single tribute monsters that lock both players out of special summons or monster effects respectively, and Majesty's Fiend coincidentally has the 2400/1000 stats that are required for some of the Monarch support cards.
These two fiends, along with Ehther the Heavenly Monarch and Erebus the Underworld Monarch formed the backbone of Lithium's deck. These two double tribute Monarchs have effects that trigger by sending two Monarch spells or traps to the graveyard when they are summoned. Ehther lets you summon a Monarch from the deck, and Erebus lets you shuffle a card from the opponent's hand, field, or graveyard back into the deck. Seeing as cards like Pantheism of the Monarchs and The Prime Monarch don't mind being in the graveyard, it's a win-win!
Ehther also has an ability that lets you tribute summon him during the opponent's turn. Typically, you'll want to use The Monarchs Stormforth alongside it, so you can tribute an opponent's monster, and using Ehther's effect to bring out Kuraz the Light Monarch. Kuraz then triggers, destroying up to two cards on the field and letting the owners draw a card in return.
One of the many issues the Monarch deck has faced throughout its lifespan is that to tribute summon you actually need monsters to tribute. This issue was addressed in the revamping of the Monarch strategy as well thanks to the Squires. Not all Squires are equally useful, but it would only makes sense that the personal Squires of Ehther and Erebus would be the most useful. Edea the Heavenly Squire and Eidos the Underworld Squire have effects that provide you with tribute fodder, as well as tricks to keep your card advantage game up and running.
In addition to the Squires, Lithium also made use of The Prime Monarch and Super Quantum Red Layer to provide extra tribute materials. It's almost a shame he did not opt to play a rank 5 Xyz toolbox like Brilliant Monarchs used to do back in the day, but that would lock him out of some of the key cards of his strategy.
Having great cards at your disposal is one thing, but you also need ways to access them consistently. Pantheism of the Monarchs going back to three copies per deck was the biggest haymaker here, but Tenacity of the Monarchs is also not to be underestimated. Besides that, Lithium kept his deck as compact as possible, running only "39 cards" thanks to Upstart Goblin.
A Look at the List
Let's see how all of this was incorporated into the decklist:
|Lithium's Domain Monarchs|
|Monsters (19)||Spells (18)||Traps (3)|
Unfortunately, the deck can be a bit of a glass cannon at times. Things are all fine when you manage to win the die roll and get to go first, setting up your interruptions. When you are made to go second, things do go south quite a bit. The Monarch strategy can play through one of two interruptions without too many issues, but the current format decks tend to put at least three of them on board.
Lithium tried to combat this by including full playsets of Evenly Matched and Nibiru, the Primal Being in his side deck, but unfortunately those are not always good enough to stop the opponent from executing their plans. Sadly, incorporating high numbers of hand traps could hinder the fragile consistency of the deck.
The rest of his side deck were more going-first tools for the all-important third games. It contained two more copies of Majesty's Fiend, an extra copy of March of the Monarchs as additional protection, an Escalation of the Monarchs, and a sneaky Jinzo for possible surprise matchups like Eldlich. Last but not least, he opted to sideboard a set of Twin Twisters as well for a similar purpose.
Is It 2016 Again?
While one of our favorite YugiTubers had an excellent run this event, the question that we should be asking ourselves is: how viable is the Monarch strategy going forward? As previously mentioned, the deck has severe issues going second. While there are some excellent cards to clear threats like The Monarchs Stormforth, being able to resolve those is not always possible. One way of mitigating those powerful negation effects would be the choice to incorporate a few high-impact hand traps, like Gnomaterial or Droll & Lock Bird, at the risk of not having enough "combo" pieces when you draw one or two of those.
The other way of playing through fields with multiple negations would be cards such as Dark Ruler No More or Forbidden Droplet, both of which then allow you to play as if you were going first. Stormforth should allow you to clear whatever could possibly have more ATK than your big guys, and the battle phase should allow you to get rid of the rest. After that, you could be the controller of a board that includes a powerful floodgate to help you control the rest of the duel.
What this tournament did prove is the potential that this easily accessible deck has in capable hands. With many locals going small and casual these days, you might as well give your old Monarch deck core that you still have lying around another spin? After all, sometimes a delicious opening hand "must be nice"!
I'd like to thank Lithium for providing me with his decklist and thoughts about how he constructed it!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.