Hey everybody. The pendulum structure deck was recently released, which gave us the new Magician cards. These cards seem to bring more of a coherent strategy to the pendulum deck, as they are actually an archetype rather than a collection of cards that work well together. In order to turn them into a tournament-winning strategy we need to do more than just a superficial analysis of the deck. This week I want to look at what could go wrong with the Magicians and see how they could be improved upon.
Whenever you’re playing a pendulum mirror match, both with and without your opponent playing Magicians, any time you’re forced into going first you are risking outright losing the game. The issue comes from not have a play that cannot be heavily punished. As we discussed in my last article, having defensive cards in general is not optimal in any pendulum deck because you need two scales to be able to pendulum summon and using a third card as a defensive card leaves you with only two cards to pendulum summon. This means that you’ll usually not play many defensive cards in your deck.
Assuming that we don’t have a defensive card in our hand, surviving the first turn is seriously a problem. We can make a pendulum play, but in doing so we risk being blown out by Wavering Eyes. Alternatively we can do something like set Plushfire or summon Skull Crobat. This makes you not automatically being blown out by Wavering Eyes, but it’s a pretty fair play. If your opponent opens Luster Pendulum then there’s a good chance they’ll be able to kill you here. This seems very contradictory as both plays outright lose to different cards that are both three ofs. Playing around one makes you lose to the other.
Magicians do help fix this problem because Pendulum Call makes it so your scales can’t be destroyed. This means you’re somewhat free to make your first turn play without outright losing the game to Wavering Eyes. This protection from your Magician scales being destroyed is somewhat a false security. Even if they can’t immediately activate Wavering Eyes for four to blow you out, they are free to make whatever first turn play they want unopposed and then set Wavering Eyes. As soon as you draw they can hit you with Wavering Eyes for four. While you survived the first turn, you’ll almost certainly lose the game at this point, so Pendulum Call only does so much in the way of actually fixing the problem.
A strong play for Magicians is double Wisdom-Eye Magician, either through straight drawing two or drawing one with Skull Crobat. These cards basically act as one-card Igknights and are seemingly exactly what you would want in a Pendulum. While these cards help make up for the original loss in advantage of playing scales, and they do so in a more effective way than pretty much any other Pendulum in the game.
The problem is that when you overlap this seemingly strong play with an already exposed weakness in the contradiction between Wavering Eyes and Luster Pendulum blowing you out, this play stops seeming so strong. It becomes evident that this seemingly strong play loses to the exact same thing you were already losing to. Making a double Wisdom-Eye play and penduluming them back doesn’t actually solve the entire problem of playing scales the first turn. You will still get blown out by Wavering Eyes.
While Wisdom-Eye and Pendulum Call certainly help you get out of the early part of the game, many of the Magician cards don’t actually help fix your hands. Cards like Dragonpulse Magician and Dragonpit Magician may help you out problem cards, but drawing these cards rarely makes your hands better. They are scales, but they don’t really help you advance your game state. These cards take cards away from your opponent rather than giving you extra cards. If you straight draw these cards without going Wisdom-Eye into them, then you will have a hard time getting out of the early game.
Wavering Eyes also contributes to brick hands when playing a matchup that isn’t the mirror. This card can certainly be powerful independent of matchup, but for this card to be good outside of the mirror match you need a much more specific hand. You need a hand full of pendulum monsters, as only having one or two won’t make Wavering Eyes anything but a brick. Still the dominant presence of the mirror match is likely reason enough to deal with the bricks it causes and keep a full three copies in the main deck.
In my last article I discussed the underlying problems the Pendulum mechanic has with using XYZs. When you overlay two Pendulums they then go to the graveyard, which won’t allow you to get value out of them like you would be able to do if they had gone to the extra deck. I suggested that Synchros would better allow Pendulums to get my value by enabling them to go to the extra deck.
Magicians open up this possibility of a slightly more Synchro-oriented version of the Pendulum mechanic, but do so in a limited way. The Magician cards give us the game’s second Pendulum Tuner; Nobledragon Magician. Nobledragon certainly expands upon the options we previously had in being a searchable Pendulum Tuner, but the restriction that only allows us to make Dragon Synchro monsters is quite debilitating. Additionally Nobledragon only has an effect if you also play Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. This card is largely inferior to most options as it has a subpar scale, delayed effect, and no way to generate advantage on the field. Being able to churn out massive damage alone rarely justifies a card’s use. This means that if you want to take advantage of Nobledragon Magician you’re going to have to choose between running an inferior engine in the form of Odd-Eyes and adding another brick to the deck that does not actually contribute to the game plan in Nobledragon Magician, as you won’t be getting its effect if you don’t run Odd-Eyes.
These qualities may be weaknesses for the Magician deck, but I believe that they are solvable. Tune in next week to see how I attempted to solve these problems as I explain the card choices behind the Magician deck I piloted to an 8th Championship 1st place, at the ARG Circuit Series in Las Vegas earlier this month! Until next time, play hard or go home!