Welcome, students! If you are here in this lecture hall this afternoon, it means you have the drive, devotion, and dedication to dueling that is required to expand your competitive education. Since today’s class is not a required part of your curriculum, it means that you are gracing the school grounds today by virtue of your own choice, and that is a decision that I will be sure to reward . . .
Everyone not here gets detention on Monday!
There. Isn’t that a fine prize for your efforts?
Moving along, today we’re here to discuss a topic that has crossed the lips of many a duelist as of late. Force of the Breaker has garnered a tumultuous amount of attention from the dueling community, and one of the chief reasons for that is the high potential of the Crystal Beast monsters. Crystal Beasts have a unique effect that sets them apart from any monster group before them, and they have a wealth of cards that comprise perhaps the strongest support suite in creation.
But with all that strength and possibility, it can be difficult to decide what to do with it. There are simply too many synergies and strategies to fit into a single deck, and that can be a paralyzing experience to even the most determined of duelists (with the exception of myself). So in the interest of helping the ambitious amongst you along your chosen paths, I would like to take today to show you four of the strongest emerging Crystal Beast archetypes. Without further ado, let us begin!
When one is armed with monsters that don’t necessarily mind being destroyed, Beatdown is a natural fit. Normally, the cost of an aggressive, attack-driven approach is the risk of failure due to cards that punish over-extension. If you commit multiple monsters to the field in a quick fashion at almost every opportunity, effects like those of Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, Lightning Vortex, or even just an attack from Asura Priest can lay your infrastructure to waste. Once those cards are gone, you’ve lost your flexibility and ability to respond to your opponent’s actions, and the problems run even deeper: if your deck is based around big attackers and you lose them, you’ve also lost your primary win condition. The loss of tempo and momentum are also highly significant.
But enter the Crystal Beasts! These monsters are arguably more dangerous when they’ve been destroyed, since the range of effects their crystallized cadavers permit can quickly help you exceed the previous heights you had achieved in the duel. Careful monster management is key, because you want to make sure that your losses are calculated very carefully. If one can succeed in doing so, then tempo and momentum are never subjected to significant setbacks, yet powerful effects continue to keep rolling in.
The game plan? Aggression, tempered by calculated risk and constant, rising pressure. The key cards? Crystal Beast Sapphire Pegasus is of exceptional import, simply because it builds the crystallized ranks while also being the second-largest attacker the Crystal Beasts have available. A Beatdown Crystal Beast build will likely run ten to twelve Crystal Beasts, focusing on big attackers, Crystal Promise, Crystal Beacon, and a single copy of Crystal Beast Ruby Carbuncle. Crystal Raigeki is at its best here, as Rare Value is likely to be the only card costing you spell-form Crystal Beasts.
This will also be the most common build in which to find Monarchs, as the range of special summon effects provide excellent tribute fodder while the aggressive tilt capitalizes on the openings Monarchs can provide.
The Crystal Beasts happen to have a very potent duel-ending card in their arsenal. Most one-turn knockout strategies rely on a two-card win condition that combines an enabling effect with one or more special summons. The enabler clears the way for the special summon and the successive attacks, and is often as simple as Giant Trunade or Heavy Storm. Look at Bazoo/Card Trooper Return: it clears the field through an enabling effect or just clever play, and then goes in for the kill with Dimension Fusion or Return from the Different Dimension. The popular Demise, King of Armageddon decks are similar, using Demise as the field-clearing force and then following up with a combination of special summons, equip spells, or perhaps Metamorphosis to make its domination complete. Each is a two-part system.
The fascinating thing about Crystal Abundance is that it brings both elements of the common OTK to the table in a single card! Its first effect is really a drawback—the tossing of four Crystal Beasts to the graveyard—but its second is an attack OTK enabler: sending all cards on the field to the graveyard. It then special summons a plethora of Crystal Beasts which will usually end the game. You accomplish something that would require a combo in any other deck, and you do it with just one card.
Granted, in return for all this focused power you must achieve a rather grand setup: getting four Crystal Beasts into your spell and trap zone. A deck built around this strategy will want to crystallize as many Beasts as it can as quickly as possible, because the faster Crystal Abundance goes off, the better. Thus, this deck will run more Crystal Beasts than the Beatdown, and will use an emphasis on special summon cards to bring them into play. It will play few to no tributes (because tributing the Crystal Beasts contradicts its central goal), and it may use Magical Merchant or Card Trooper to fuel Crystal Blessing.
Looking overseas for inspirations, Rescue Cat can be a potent addition to the deck. The only Crystal Beast it can special summon from the deck is Crystal Beast Amethyst Cat, but Rescue Cat is searchable via Sangan and Giant Rat, so it’s not hard to get at in the early game. When you bring out the Amethyst Cats, you can attempt to attack with them directly for some extra damage too, because whether your opponent destroys them or not, they’ll always end up in your back row thanks to Rescue Cat’s effect. Free unbridled aggression!
The power of a single card that comprises a complete OTK in and of itself cannot be overstated. Crystal Abundance is an amazing weapon to build around, and many duelists prefer this Crystal Beast variant over all others.
Diamond Dude Crystal
Pairing the Crystal Beasts with Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude creates more than just the sparkliest Crystal Beast variant available. It also makes for some spectacular plays and unpredictable tactics!
Depending on the duelist creating it, the Diamond Dude-enabled Crystal Beast archetype is similar to either a Beatdown or OTK build. The deck’s chief strength comes from all the costed normal spells Crystal Beasts have in their repertoire. The activation requirements of Crystal Beacon, and the “send to graveyard” costs of both Rare Value and Crystal Abundance, can be circumvented if they are flipped off the top of your deck with Diamond Dude’s effect. The sheer number of normal spells the Crystal Beasts demand can make Diamond Dude a tempting choice even before one realizes the possibility of optimizing the deck specifically for his use.
The same Threatening Roar or Waboku that protects Diamond Dude can also keep weaker Crystal Beasts safe. Amethyst Cat becomes rather bothersome when it continues to attack directly each turn, and Crystal Beast Cobalt Eagle returning Sapphire Pegasus to the top of your deck to be re-summoned again and again is nothing short of excellent. Crystal Raigeki is sub-optimal in my opinion, as this particular strategy wants to include as many normal spells as possible, but in relinquishing that trick, the deck strengthens many others.
This is certainly the highest risk Crystal Beast variant conceived thus far—and the most variable when it comes to the number of Crystal Beasts it will want to play—but it also has the potential to be the fastest and deadliest of the four.
Rainbow Ruins Control
Ancient City - Rainbow Ruins is yet another centerpiece-worthy card for a tournament competitive deck. While its first three effects are nominal by comparison to its fourth and fifth, all five effects have their merits. The lynchpin to the strategy, however, is its fourth effect, which allows the control of four crystallized Crystal Beasts to draw an extra card each turn.
The support engine for this deck can be very similar to that of the OTK version. Rescue Cat and Crystal Beast Amethyst Cat become integral to success, quickly moving Rainbow Ruins from stage two to stage four. Once the engine is in place and the draw effect has been achieved, almost nothing can stop you. Giving up one of your monster-form Crystal Beasts can stop any spell or trap that would threaten your back row of crystals, leaving Mobius the Frost Monarch as your opponent’s only real option to disrupt your control.
Crystal Beast Emerald Tortoise shines in this variant, as it keeps to a much slower tempo when it has the option to do so. Every turn in which you can slow your opponent’s battle ambitions is another card you’ll draw, bringing you closer to creating your control situation. In addition, soaking up your opponent’s Smashing Ground with Tortoise leaves you in a good position more often than not, and once Rainbow Ruin is deployed you’ll be able to stop the Soul Exchange and Brain Control cards that are so often the Achilles’ heel of a Crystal Beast duelist.
Crystal Raigeki and Rare Value must be used sparingly in this strategy, as each costs you a spell-form Crystal Beast. A lower number of Rare Value cards is sustainable here, since Rainbow Ruins will give you an extra card each turn anyways. Crystal Blessing can be invaluable, and Magical Merchant provides excellent support by accelerating you towards Rainbow Ruins while getting Crystal Beasts into the graveyard for Blessing.
Despite the vast differences between all four builds, there are several common ties between them that I have found.
Crystal Beast Sapphire Pegasus is simply a must. Of the above four decks, literally every single one will want to run three copies. Though each strategy wants to accrue spell-form Crystal Beasts at a varying speed, they all most certainly want to do it at one time or another, and Pegasus is simply better at it than any other option.
The Rescue Cat/Crystal Beast Amethyst Cat engine is the number one way to speed up your Crystal Beast count. If a deck wants to have three or four Crystal Beasts in the back row by the second turn, this is the easiest way to do it. Managing the engine so that Rescue Cat is drawn before the Amethyst Cats is tricky, but can be accomplished in a number of ways.
Crystal Beasts are vexing for the average opponent when played aggressively, since most will not want to use monster removal on your soon-to-be-spell-form troops. However, this only remains true when the Crystal Beast duelist can lord the threat of retribution over the head of his or her opponent. That means keeping at least two cards in hand, retaining the possibility of Rare Value, Crystal Promise, and Crystal Beacon. In order to play Crystal Beasts effectively, you must understand which cards your opponent fears the most, and then play as if you have them.
Mark my words: the Crystal Beasts can and will make Day 2 at their first Shonen Jump Championship, at Minneapolis on June 2nd. Will you be the first to attain such a glorious achievement? Now that you know your options, the path should be a bit more clear.
Class is dismissed! Thank you for attending. Now go forth, and smite those slackers!
—The Incredibly Pleased Dr. Crellian Vowler, PhD