Changing Times: The Rise of the Xyz

This is quite an exciting time to be a Yu-Gi-Oh player! With Nationals around the corner, Konami has shaken things up a bit and announced some of the new products and cards to be released in the near future. As many of you probably know, the game is about to change with the introduction of Xyz monsters. These new glossy black monster cards can be summoned from the extra deck when 2 or more monsters of the same level are on the field. These monsters are stacked underneath the Xyz monster and can be “detached” (sent to the graveyard) to activate some very powerful effects. Xyz monsters also have a ‘Rank’ instead of a level, as the stars are placed on the left side instead of the right. This means they are immune to card effects that apply to level, including Gravity Bind and Level Limit Area B. But this advantage comes with a price, having no level means they cannot be used for Synchro summoning. Also, they do not have any of their Xyz materials attached if they are special summoned from the graveyard. These monsters are good for more than just kicking out a couple Synchros in your extra deck; they have the capability of changing the metagame completely!

With the release of T.G. Hyper Librarian and Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier, Synchro monsters have obviously cemented themselves as the best monsters to ever grace the game. These monsters require specific decks to maximize their usefulness. This narrowed the scope of competitive decks on the tournament scene, with decks that either embraced Synchro monsters, or set out to beat them. With Xyz monsters, this has become a whole new card game! The only restriction for summoning an Xyz monsters is the requirement of having two monsters with identical levels, specific tuners aren’t necessary as with Synchro monsters. As you’ll see, the new set Generation Force (scheduled to be released on August 16th) will contain much Synchro hate.

With less specificity comes more options, and with more options comes more opportunity. Xyz monsters breathe new life into old favorites, such as Blackwing and HERO decks. Splashable Xyz monsters give decks that couldn’t compete with the speed of Librarian or Plant Synchros a chance to fight back with Steelswarm Roach and Orient Dragon.

Steelswarm Roach | Rank 4/Dark/Fiend/Xyz/1900/0

2 Level 4 monsters
When a Level 5 or higher monster is Special Summoned: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; negate the Special Summon and destroy it.

Orient Dragon | Wind/Dragon/6/Synchro/2300/1800

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
When this card is Synchro Summoned: Target 1 face-up Synchro Monster your opponent controls; banish that target.

As you can see, these monsters provide huge opportunities to shut down huge Synchro plays. Steelswarm Roach prevents the special summoning of monsters that could defeat it through card effects or battle while paying little cost to virtually shut down an opponent’s field. Such a card effectively cripples Synchro decks, leaving them with fewer options.  Orient Dragon helps win back field presence at no cost while being fairly powerful. Xyz monsters are immune to these effects, thus making them much more attractive to competitive duelists.

Other soon-to-be released Xyz’s also present duelists with some new options, such as Worm decks with the release of Wind-Up Zenmaister. This card is a Rank 4 Xyz, and aside from gaining attack for each Xyz monster attached to it, it can detach them to flip a face-up monster into face-down defense position and back into face-up attack position during the end phase. Similar to the all-powerful W Nebula Meteor, this monster gives you an opportunity to re-access those all important Worm flip effects! And because many Worms have 4 stars, there are many ways to special summon this very powerful Xyz monster.

As mentioned before, Blackwing and HERO decks are going to return to the top tiers with the release of Generation Force and the Wave 1 2011 tins. Blackwings, with their amazing swarming abilities, go hand in hand with Xyz monsters. Here’s a first turn example: summon Shura the Blue Flame, special summon Bora the Spear, and get an instant Steelswarm Roach, thus locking out your opponent from special summoning first turn. The summoning power of Zephryos the Elite, Blizzard the Far North, and Gale the Whirlwind give the Blackwings plenty of options when Xyz summoning.

The great thing about Blackwing – Zephyros the Elite is that his stellar ability can be used in any deck, not just Blackwings!

If this card is in the Graveyard, you can return 1 face-up card you control to the hand to Special Summon this card from your Graveyard, and take 400 damage. Each player can only use the effect of "Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite" once per Duel.

His potential in an Xyz focused deck is limitless! Reviving him to summon an Xyz is a smart, low cost play, especially after he has been detached from the Xyz monster summoned using him. Another great card for Xyz is the infamous Reborn Tengu. Tengu was originally released to provide more Xyz support, being able to swarm the field fast and furiously. If you control a Zephyros and summon Tengu, you can Xyz summon for a Rank 4 Xyz. You get another Tengu, use Zephyros’ effect to bounce Tengu back to special summon Zephyros, and get another Tengu to summon a second Rank 4 Xyz! Tengu and Zephyros have seen much success in Synchro-based decks, but they offer even more options in Xyz decks.

Another great monster that was initially released to provide Xyz support is Tour Guide from the Underworld. This 3 star Fiend can summon another 3 star fiend when it is normal summoned, making Rank 3 Xyz monsters much easier to bring out. Including the new Number 17: Leviath Dragon.

Rank 3/Water/Dragon/Xyz/2000/0

2 Level 3 monsters
Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; it gains 500 ATK. While this card has no Xyz Materials: it cannot attack your opponent directly.

With the ability to summon another 3 star fiend, (other tour guides work too) summoning a Tour Guide is equivalent to summon a potentially 3000 ATK monster!  This powerful card has seen extensive play in plant synchro decks and it’s even better in Xyz decks! This card will single-handedly define the meta with the release of the Xyz monsters.

Another great support card for Xyz monsters was released in Duelist Revolution, the spell card Wiseman’s Chalice.

If you control no monsters, Select 1 monster in your opponent's Graveyard. Special Summon it. During the End Phase of this turn, give control of that Special Summoned monster to your opponent. The monster cannot be Tributed, or used as a Synchro Material Monster, while it is face-up on the field.

As you can see, this card has little to no use in the current format. It can’t be used for any purpose except attacking and your opponent gains control of the monster during his/her next turn. Pretty bad right? NO. The reason this card is so good is because it allows you to use your opponent’s monster to special summon an Xyz monster. Being able to pick and choose whatever monster you need to summon a certain Rank Xyz monster gives these even more playability. In addition to helping you summon Xyz’s, you can also keep that monster out of your opponent’s graveyard because it will be attached to your monster, later being detached from your monster to hurt your opponent. Talk about bringing upon a world of hurt in a single card.

HERO builds also get more support in Generation Force. With the debut of the Masked HEROs and Vision HEROs as well as more general fusion HERO monsters, HERO decks are sure to be stronger than ever with more outs than ever before. One of the best and most expensive HERO fusions, Elemental HERO Gaia, has been announced to be reprinted in a 2011 Wave 1 tin, giving players more accessibility to this great card. Also announced to be in the 2011 tin, one of the best, most sought after cards in the past year, Pot of Duality. This card brings stability to every deck it is played in and with such a reprint announced, it gives more players a chance to become even more competitive as well as focus on getting these newer Generation Force cards to round out their decks.

There has never been a better time to be a Yu-Gi-Oh player, whether you’re a veteran or a new player, the meta is changing. It’s an exciting time as no one knows in what direction it will go as new cards are released and previously great cards are becoming more widely available. No matter what happens, it’s undeniable the new Xyz monsters will butt heads with the established Synchro monsters. It’s sure to be exciting as it’s up to you duelists to decide what will come out on top. Generation Force is shaping up to be one of the best sets in the game with soon-to-be staples everyone is sure to be clamoring for. Until next time, look out for the Xyz!

Michael Bachmann

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