Hi all! I apologize for my recent inactivity of late. Since the writing of my last article, the only true ‘free time’ I’ve managed to get over the last month or so ended up being spent at YCS Paris. We’re halfway through this ‘mini-format’ of sorts that has been brought on by the release of Dragons of Legend. The release of [ccProd]Kuribandit[/ccProd] and pals has provided the TCG playerbase with a handful of really good cards that have already begun to make an impact on the meta (compare YCS Paris standing with ARG Richmond standings for example, to get a feel of just how much[ccProd]Soul Charge[/ccProd] has impacted the meta).
I’ve been wanting to write an article on Noble Knights for quite some time now, but I had yet to find the need or desire to do so. As it so happens, the next core set for the TCG: Primal Origin, is due to be released in little over a week, and with it comes four more Noble Knight cards. Depending on which side you are on, Noble Knights are on the most popular or infamous archetypes currently in the game. Having taken just under 2 years to assemble the Round Table, Noble Knights seem to be an archetype without any sort of end game at the minute, as support (which doesn’t seem to be stopping) continues to come with every new core set. A little over a week ago, the first of four Noble Knight cards to be included in Primal Origin was spoiled, and with it, my interest in the deck was completely reinvigorated. In this article, I’ll talk about the new cards, what they do, and where I see them fitting into the grand scheme of the deck.
Noble Knight Brothers
This card can only attack while you control exactly 3 "Noble Knight" monsters (and no other monsters). When this card is Normal Summoned: You can Special Summon up to 2 "Noble Knight" monsters from your hand, but cannot Special Summon monsters for the rest of this turn, except "Noble Knight" monsters. Once per turn: You can target 3 "Noble Knight" and/or "Noble Arms" cards in your Graveyard; shuffle all 3 into the Deck, then draw 1 card
The first card to be revealed became an instant favorite, and filled fans of Noble Knights with a renewed sense of optimism in the archetype. Acting as a themed [ccProd]Maurauding Captain[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Daigusto Emeral[/ccProd] in one card, Brothers has a unique position within the deck, in that it serves a purpose in both the early and late game. In addition, Brothers shies away from the Noble Knight tradition of needing a Noble Arms in order to activate its effect. The restriction on its ability to attack is hardly noteworthy, as it is unlikely that Brothers will get over anything with its paltry 1200 attack. Of course, there is the option of boosting it with a Noble Arms, but these are best reserved for the likes of Medraut, Borz, Drystan et al. What is noteworthy besides its effect however (and what will probably confirm its inclusion in many Battle Pack sets to come), is the gargantuan 2400 defense that the card possesses. Players of the archetype will be all too familiar with games where the only option is to stall for turns upon end until you can assemble the cards required to make a play. In that regard, Brothers joins [ccProd]Noble Knight Gwalchavad[/ccProd], [ccProd]Noble Knight Artorigus[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Lady of the Lake[/ccProd] on the list monsters within the archetype that have a respectable defense that could see out a turn or two.
Perhaps the biggest negative to Noble Knight Brothers is the inability to make non-Noble Knight XYZ monsters for the rest of the turn in which its effect is used. Admittedly, whilst it is probably this restriction that will keep the card off the Forbidden and Limited list, there is something to be said for just how underwhelming a first turn, Rank 4 King Artorigus is without any equip cards. In conjunction with its attack restriction, it’s clear that Konami intended for this card to help Noble Knights keep up with other decks that can flood the field, without being able to consistently OTK off the bat. Noble Knight Brothers’ myriad of effects provides the archetype with an excellent utility card that can shine at all stages of the game, and my initial thoughts are that it should be ran in a playset. Figures it had to be secret…
Noble Knight Eachtar
You can banish 2 "Noble Knight" monsters from your Graveyard; Special Summon this card from your hand or Graveyard. You can only use this effect of "Noble Knight Eachtar" once per turn. A Synchro or Xyz Summon of a "Noble Knight" monster using this card as a Material cannot be negated, also your opponent cannot activate cards or effects when that monster is Special Summoned
The Noble Knight Dragon Ruler. When rumor of this card broke, to say I was underwhelmed with the card would be an understatement. The reality is that Noble Knight Brothers set the bar so high for the Noble Knights in Primal Origin, anything else would seem lackluster in comparison. Taking a moment to sit back and see how he fits into the archetype, Eachtar seems like a good card. Outside of Lady of the Lake and the rare occasion you manage to get Gwalchavad’s effect off, Noble Knights have never really relied much on graveyard interaction to make their plays. Any Noble Knight sent to the graveyard is likely to remain there for the rest of the game, at least before the advent of Soul Charge anyway. Whilst he is borderline ineffective in the early game, Eachtar can help navigate the mid to late game sections of the duel. With the use of Gwenhyfar, Eachtar can turn a top-decked Medraut or Borz into a Rank 5 Artorigus (plus three equips) pretty easily. In addition, he can make Ignoble Knight of High Laundsallyn without any sort of hand investment so long as a Lady of the Lake resides in the graveyard.
In comparison to other decks, these sorts of plays seem underwhelming on the face of it, as it requires heavy graveyard investment to be able to produce one extra deck monster. The point of it is that Eachtar helps to remedy the natural inconsistency that the deck is prone to: Drawing a Knight with no Arms, or an Arms with no Knight. I have lost plenty of games in the mid game by drawing an arms with no knight, drawing any knight other than Medraut , or getting my Medraut play shut down by [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]. In all three situations, I could have made a play had Eachtar been in my hand or my graveyard, and for that reason alone I would consider him as an auto-include at one in the deck. On the other hand, there still remains the curious case of how to effectively get him into your graveyard, which brings me to the next Noble Knight exclusive in the set (I would talk about the second part of Eachtar’s effect, but [ccProd]Black Horn of Heaven[/ccProd] is a thing at the minute, so I don’t really need to highlight the importance of his anti-response effect.)
Noble Knights of the Round Table
During your End Phase: You can activate each of these effects up to once per turn, depending on the total number of "Noble Knight" cards with different names in your Graveyard and/or you control.
● 3 or more: Send 1 "Noble Knight" card from your Deck to the Graveyard.
● 6 or more: Special Summon 1 "Noble Knight" monster from your hand, then you can equip 1 "Noble Arms" Equip Spell Card from your hand to that monster.
● 9 or more: Target 1 "Noble Knight" monster in your Graveyard; add that target to your hand.
● 12: Draw 1 card.
They say reading is tech, and the phrase has never been so applicable to when I first read this card. 4 separate effects which could act as a foolish burial and a pseudo [ccProd]Reinforcement of the Army[/ccProd], as well as letting you draw an extra card seemed far too good to be true, and it was…when I re-read the card. The Noble Knight archetype is slowly amassing a set of cards that, whilst being powerful, intriguing and (in many cases) unique, are seemingly undermined by Konami airing on the side of caution when it comes to balancing out the cards. Upon release, Lady of the Lake was viewed with disdain by the majority of the playerbase, largely due to how clumsy her effect(s) were. The reality of the situation was that Lady of the Lake was a legitimately balanced card which also interacted well with the archetype. The problem was though, with cards such as [ccProd]Madolche Hootcake[/ccProd], [ccProd]Crane Crane[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Spirit[/ccProd] running around in the metagame, Lady of the Lake seemed far too overbalanced. It is this overbalancing concept that I feel Noble Knights of the Round Table falls victim to and whilst the Round Table allows to player to tailor both their hand and graveyard at the same time, there are two key pieces of text within the card that takes a massive shine off it, those being the “During your End Phase” and “…cards with different names” portions of the card text.
Activating during the end phase makes an already slow card even slower. Despite being able to set up your graveyard, the card does not allow you to react to your current hand in the same way that Dragons can with [ccProd]Dragon Ravine[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Dragon Shrine[/ccProd]. For example, with a Lady of the Lake in hand and no Artorigus in the graveyard, you have to wait until your end phase in order to send Artorigus, then survive another opponent’s turn before you can get full use out of the play you initiated in your previous turn. Meanwhile, your opponent seeing Artorigus hitting the graveyard allows him to better prepare for the incoming [ccProd]Ignoble Knight of High Laundsallyn[/ccProd] on your next turn. Obviously this is just one example, but many others exist due to the many permutations you have when activating the effects of the Round Table. The take home message of this is that with it activating in the end phase, you see no immediate benefit from the card, whilst allowing your opponent to keep up with you by revealing your plays before they happen.
The second bit of problematic card text revolves around the card granting you different effects depending on the number of Noble Knights with different names in your graveyard. In total, there are 15 cards with the text “Noble Knight” in their name, 14 if you exclude the honorary Noble Knight, Noble Knight Joan from the list. That means in order to get maximum benefit out of this card, you can only omit a further two Knights from your decklist, which is crazy considering that the core of the deck usually includes triplicates of at least Medraut, Borz, and Gawayn. Obviously, there are three other great effects included in the card, and it can be argued that drawing one card during your end phase isn’t desperately needed. However, it does put forth the proposition that card effects should at least be somewhat realistic in their activation requirements. As with every card that has come out of this archetype, I’m reluctant to completely dismiss the Round Table without trying it. The ability to dump cards which function better in the grave such as Noble Knight Artorigus and Noble Knight Eachtar is invaluable, no matter what point it is throughout the game. I don’t care much for the other effects of the card (I like the [ccProd]Warrior Returning Alive[/ccProd] effect, but Soul Charge is a card at the minute), so for that reason I’ll probably begin testing with 2 copies, and see where that takes me.
Target 5 "Noble Knight" monsters in your Graveyard, including at least 1 "Artorigus" monster and 1 "Laundsallyn" monster; banish those targets, and if you do, destroy all cards on the field.
I did say above that I’m reluctant to dismiss any Noble Knight card before I give it a fair chance in testing. I think that Avalon is the exception to that rule. I just can’t see how Avalon is useful, given the three other cards that we’ve been given in Primal Origin. Whilst Brothers, Eachtar and Round Table all require you to have cards in your graveyard to meet activation requirements, Avalon’s requirement involves banishing 5 Noble Knights in your graveyard, which totally conflicts with the aforementioned cards. Blowing up the field is a pretty amazing effect in itself, but when you consider that [ccProd]Black Rose Dragon[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Evilswarm Exciton Knight[/ccProd] exist, it makes it rather redundant. This is all the more poignant when you consider that Exciton Knight is readily available to Noble Knight players, and his effect is probably a lot easier to get off than Avalon’s. On the other hand, there is something about Avalon’s effect that makes me wonder whether there is more support to come, support that could potentially revolve around the banish pile. Avalon becomes the 4th card after Lady of the Lake, Noble Arms Excaliburn and Noble Knight Eachtar that involves sending cards to the banished area. It would be an interesting development in the archetype if Konami released a card which could exploit this. It isn’t all bad for Avalon though, if anything, it has one of the best artworks in the game. It’s just a shame the card doesn’t do it justice.
Noble Knight Brothers and Noble Knight Eachtar both help to increase the deck’s flexibility whilst Noble Knights of the Round Table and Avalon lie somewhere between confusing and infuriating. The support from Primal Origin hasn’t broken the deck like many suspected it would, but I don’t quite think it’s the end of the line for Noble Knight support just yet. This is largely infuriating, as you have to feel that the never-ending charm of Noble Knights is beginning to wear thin on people, especially those that have no interest in the archetype. Without a definitive conclusion to the archetype, it’s hard to ever feel like you are playing the deck to the best of its ability. Releasing the cards in the manner that Konami has always leaves you wanting more from the archetype, and it’s probably one of the primary drivers for the many ‘Noble Knight create a card’ threads on the internet.
However, I find Noble Knights to be a very rewarding deck, mainly because they’re one of the few archetypes that don’t just come pre-assembled like many other meta decks. Whilst everyone will run 3 Medraut and 3 Borz, beyond that you will see a lot of variation in everyone’s deck list, partly because no one has yet found a single, dominant build, but also because there are a lot of mini-engines within the archetype that are included or omitted at the discretion of every player. Lady of the Lake for example, is a card which continues to divide opinion, but requires a lot of card dedication in builds that choose to run her. With that in mind, this is what my preliminary ‘post-PRIO’ deck list will look like. This isn’t how I feel the deck should be built; rather it’s me trying to squeeze the new support into my current build:[ccDeck="Main Deck"]3 Noble Knight Medraut
3 Noble Knight Borz
3 Noble Knight Brothers
3 Noble Knight Gawayn
2 Noble Knight Artorigus
1 Noble Knight Eachtar
3 Lady of the Lake
2 Gwenhwyfar, Queen of Noble Arms
2 Noble Knights of the Round Table
2 Noble Arms Excaliburn
2 Noble Arms of Destiny
2 Noble Arms Gallatin
1 Noble Arms Caliburn
2 Soul Charge
1 Foolish Burial
1 Reinforcement of the Army
2 Divine Wrath
2 Trap Stun
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Solemn Warning
1 Torrential Tribute[/ccDeck]
Pre PRIO, my ratio of cards sat at 17/16/7, but with the inclusion of Noble Knight Brothers and Noble Knight Eachtar, I felt that I had to increase my monster count slightly in order to have the best chance at keeping their effects live throughout the game. [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Noble Arms - Arfeudutyr[/ccProd] are gone due to the release of Artifacts, but I could see them returning if Noble Knights of the Round Table doesn’t perform as expected or Artifacts don’t end up being as prevalent in the TCG as they are in Japan. My trap lineup has stuck with me for the past 5 months or so, with the only change being the addition of Divine Wrath in place of [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] due to the rise of Mythic Dragons. I’m reluctant to make the switch to [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd] until I have assessed just how popular Artifacts become. Other than that, my build is unlikely to change for the next 2-3 weeks. I enjoy the large majority of the Noble Knight community, mainly because it is never short on deck ideas and everyone has their own preferred ratios for their Knights and Arms, which I always find fascinating. Hopefully, this article will serve as a reference point for those new to the deck, or those struggling to fit every single Noble Knight and Arms into a 40 card space (building Noble Knights is the most stressful deck building exercise I have encountered in this game thus far). If anyone has any suggestions for the deck, or if you feel I may have missed something, I’d be welcome to hear your input.
Meanwhile, with ARGCS: Washington, D.C. just around the corner on May 31st - June 1st (click the picture of the dragon below for the details), I’m dying to see Noble Knights finally make the step up from regional event tops to premier event tops. Remember, you can keep up to date with everything that goes on during ARG Circuit Series weekends by going to http://www.twitch.tv/arglive/