Hello vonce again Alter Veality Gamers! I have been possessed vy ze powerful spirit of an ancient Vampire! And with that painful intro out of the way, your friendly neighborhood Head of Press Staff is back to talk about one of his favorite types of monsters! Zombies have always been my favorite Monster-type and I have found a way to successfully play them in every single format since I have been back in this game. For the first time in a long time, Zombies have finally got some new, fleshed out support in the Shadow Specters set! In fact, Zombies got legacy support for one of the first Archetypes ever made in Vampires. [ccProd]Vampire Lord[/ccProd] came out in the Dark Crisis set way back in 2003 and since then, we have gotten little bits and pieces of support for his Archetype. Cards like [ccProd]Vampire Dragon[/ccProd] from Extreme Victory, an entire Structure Deck based around Vampire Lord and [ccProd]Vampire Genesis[/ccProd] and even cards that were originally from the manga like Overpowering Eye (even though it isn't a direct support card for the Archetype) have all come out over time to slowly give Vampires support.
Enter Shadow Specters. Not only did this set give us Ghostricks, additional Bujin support and some very powerful rank 8 XYZ monsters, the set gave us 8 new Vampire cards. While several of the cards are subpar at best, most of them actually give the Archetype some actual viability. I was excited about the cards initially, however I felt they wouldn't make a noticeable impact on the game. One card has changed my mind completely on the Archetype and I actually have high hopes for them after the turn of the format. -Insert big dramatic entrance with traditional vampire "Blagh!" here-, Vampire Duke came out as a TCG exclusive and has the following effect;
When this card is Normal Summoned: You can target 1 DARK "Vampire" monster in your Graveyard; Special Summon that target in face-up Defense Position. When this card is Special Summoned: You can declare 1 card type (Monster, Spell, or Trap); your opponent sends 1 card of that type from their Deck to the Graveyard. You can only use this effect of "Vampire Duke" once per turn. This card cannot be used as an Xyz Material for an Xyz Summon, except for the Xyz Summon of a DARK monster.
Vampire Duke changes EVERYTHING about the Vampire strategy and fixes the number one problem that Vampire Shadow and [ccProd]Crimson Knight Vampire Bram[/ccProd] share: he does not force only 1 monster to attack in a given turn. Vampire Duke also has the fantastic ability to proc the effect of [ccProd]Vampire Kingdom[/ccProd] when he is Special Summoned. This last part is very important because it means that Transmodify and [ccProd]Vampire Takeover[/ccProd] get double utility in the deck. Let me give a sample play here:
Field: [ccProd]Goblin Zombie[/ccProd], Vampire Kingdom
Graveyard: Lvl 5 Vampire (We will say Lord for this example)
Play: Use Transmodify on Goblin Zombie so that he transforms into Vampire Duke. Goblin Zombie's effect to search for another Vampire Duke will go on chain link 1 while the on field Duke's effect activates at chain link 2 to send an opponent's card from their deck to the graveyard. After the chain resolves you can use the effect of Vampire Kingdom to target a card your opponent controls and then send a [ccProd]Vampire Sorcerer[/ccProd] from your deck to the grave to destroy that card.
Field: Vampire Duke, Vampire Kingdom
Graveyard: Vampire Sorcerer, Goblin Zombie, Transmodify, Vampire Lord
Hand: Vampire Duke
Play: Continue your turn by banishing Vampire Sorcerer from your graveyard to normal summon Vampire Duke without Tribute. Vampire Duke then activates his effect to special summon Vampire Lord from the Graveyard in defense position. Overlay a Vampire Duke and Vampire Lord into a [ccProd]Shark Fortress[/ccProd] in attack position. Detach an XYZ material from Shark Fortress to target the Vampire Duke on the field so he can attack twice this turn. Against a hopefully empty field this puts 7400 damage on the field, which means that if there has been ANY damage put on the board really then you have just taken the game. Explosive plays like this may seem like they take a lot of setup, but I can assure you this is not the case. Let me dive into the deck list I have built and will be working with in the future.[ccDeck="Transylvanian Twist"]3 Vampire Duke:3 Goblin Zombie:3 Vampire Sorcerer:2 Shadow Vampire:2 Mezuki:2 Zombie Master:2 Plaguespreader Zombie:1 Vampire Lord:1 Vampire Grace:1 Il Blud:1 Bone Crusher:1 Spirit Reaper:1 Endless Decay:3 Mystical Space Typhoon:3 Vampire Kingdom:3 Transmodify:1 Foolish Burial:1 Book of Moon:1 Dark Hole:1 Book of Life:2 Mirror Force:1 Compulsory Evacuation Device:1 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast:1 Vampire Takeover[/ccDeck] [ccDeck="Extra"]2 Adreus Keeper of Armageddon:2 Crimson Knight Vampire Bram:1 Lavalval Chain:1 Shark Fortress:1 Revived King Ha Des:1 HTS Psyhemuth:1 Ally of Justice Catastor:1 Ancient Fairy Dragon:1 Black Rose Dragon:1 Scrap Dragon:1 Stardust Spark Dragon:1 Gagaga Cowboy:1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn[/ccDeck]
Let me preface this by saying this deck is not set in stone in just about anyway as it is still very early in the testing phase, but let's go ahead and talk card choices and what they bring to the table!
Only 2 Shadow Vampire
Shadow Vampire is a very powerful card, but its drawbacks often outweigh its benefits. Being unable to attack with a monster other than the one that was summoned is huge when it comes to the deck's ability to quickly put damage on the board, and this drawback is worsened when you factor in the idea of using the monster as a material for a Syncro or XYZ summon. Another downside is the fact that relying on [ccProd]Vampire Kingdom[/ccProd] so much in the deck can deplete the number of Vampires available in your main deck very quickly, giving only a handful of targets in the mid to late game. Shadow does do several very important things for the strategy though and I feel I should state how I have been using him. Shadow can grab any Vampire from the deck and each one has its own uses:[ccProd]Vampire Duke[/ccProd]: Grab this one when [ccProd]Vampire Kingdom[/ccProd] is on the field so you can proc its effect to get rid of a problem card on the field. You can then either attack and then overlay into [ccProd]Crimson Knight Vampire Bram[/ccProd] or overlay right away in to Adreus and destroy a second problem card on the field that is face up that a 2500 beater couldn't get over. [ccProd]Vampire Lord[/ccProd]: If Vampire Kingdom is not on the field already and you need to make a Rank 5 play like Bram or Adreus immediately then pop out Vampire Lord, this way you don't waste any of your Dukes needlessly and still can get a big monster out. Plus, if you are playing against a strategy like Fire Kings that thrives on blowing monsters up, then Vampire Lord becomes a recurring Beater or Defender that you can take advantage of at the beginning of each of your turns. [ccProd]Vampire Sorcerer[/ccProd]: During the really early or really late game, using Shadow Vampire to bring out this guy can be game changing. Running out of options in your hand and have no lvl 5 Vampire left in the deck? Bring out Sorcerer and send him wantonly into your opponent's monsters so he gets destroyed and you can add [ccProd]Vampire Takeover[/ccProd] to your hand so you can stop them mid play on the next turn, or just let him sit there as an added Attack Deterrent during your opponent's turn. Going first and have a way to get Shadow Vampire normal summoned to the field? Pop out Sorcerer so he can help get your plays rolling since you can't attack this turn anyways! [ccProd]Vampire Grace[/ccProd]: Grace is another great target for pretty much anytime of the game. You are unable to XYZ using Grace, but you are able to basically guarantee a once per turn use of Vampire Kingdom. Her special summon ability is good to boot as well!
3 Vampire Dukes... Do I need that many?
For this particular variant, I'd run 6 of these guys if I could. When focusing on the Field Spell, Vampire Kingdom, you need to make sure you are able to send cards from your opponent's deck to their graveyard essentially on a whim. Vampire Duke allows you to do that given how many ways there are to special summon him. Utilizing Vampire Kingdom as frequently as you will in this deck it is also important to be able to pull the monsters from the graveyard instead of your deck so you have more opportunities to use Vampire Kingdom's powerful destruction effect.
All of the Other Monsters
Il Blud: If you have at least been playing since around 2009 like I have then you should remember how terrifying and powerful Il Blud used to be. This little sack of monsters has the potential to make his triumphant return in the Transmodify Vampire deck. Just like Vampire Grace, Il Blud is a level 6 dark Zombie, which means you can Transmodify a useless Vampire on the field into him if you haven't already used up your normal summon and roll back to an era of Zombies where they reigned supreme. He can revive a Vampire Duke or Grace to get a use out of Vampire Kingdom, bring back a Zombie Master to make a huge spam play, or simply bring back a Plaguespreader for a good old fashioned Level 8 Syncro summon. Being 2100 also has the added benefit of making Il Blud a 2600 beater under Vampire Kingdom, which almost completely negates the issue that has kept Il Blud out of modern Zombie decks almost altogether. Thanks to Transmodify and Vampire Kingdom, this lovable monster bag can hopefully return to the limelight and give usage to those Secrets from Tac-Ev that have been sitting there lifelessly (no pun intended) for several formats now.
Plaguespreader Zombie: Similarly to Il Blud, Plague has fallen off of a lot of Zombie player's radars. Even with his Semi-Limiting, Plague has yet to make a definitive impact on many meta games. However, Vampires may be just what the doctor ordered for this little goat legged weirdo. Plague, like many of the cards in the deck, runs double duty in the deck in that he is a tuner and pseudo recurring tribute fodder. There are many plays to be made with this guy, and while most of them are old legacy plays with [ccProd]Zombie Master[/ccProd] or Il Blud there are a handful of new things you can do with him to take advantage of all of the cards you run. For one, being a level 2 dark Zombie makes it so you can Transmodify Plague into [ccProd]Spirit Reaper[/ccProd] for an impromptu defense or assault on your opponent's hand advantage. You can then set a card on the top of your deck to special Plague and use your Reaper for a Level 5 Syncro summon if you so desire. As fun as these are though, Plague's spotlight is still his ability to be one of the most reliable tuners in the game. In the deck you can make level 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 syncro plays with relative ease. With my particular build I have decided to take advantage specifically of the ability to make 6, 7 and 8s, but you can easily tweak with the deck to come to your ideal extra deck based on what you go against in your local meta game.
Endless Decay: I feel like [ccProd]Endless Decay[/ccProd] is fairly self explanatory, but some people still question his involvement in the deck. He is a 4000 beater in the early game and is one of the biggest momentum swingers in the game. Being level 5 is also key in that you can Transmodify a Goblin Zombie or Zombie Master into him to make a big attack push or simply put out an XYZ play.
Bone Crusher: This is one of my favorite Zombie cards and he helps the strategy with something that has always hurt the Zombie engine. [ccProd]Bone Crusher[/ccProd] is one of the best S/T removal cards a Zombie deck can run and that is his sole purpose in this deck aside from being used to pump out a Rank 4 XYZ with Zombie Master.
Spirit Reaper: Sometimes you just need a wall. Plain and simple.
Spells and Traps
The spell lineup is fairly straightforward and I feel it doesn't need much explaining. However, the Trap lineup is a bit different than what most players have seen. I decided to play actual traps (Mirror Force, Compulsory and Phoenix Wing) to do my best to clear strong field presence if the deck's combos are stopped. Since I am running no hand traps there is nothing to dissuade a deck like Karakuri or Dragunity from flooding the field and overpowering me quicker than I can set up, and throwing a [ccProd]Royal Decree[/ccProd] up on the field will only make it all the easier for them. By running some real traps, you can use them defensively in those situations or offensively to shut down combo plays or to open up a possible otk on the field.
This is honestly the area that isn't so clear cut for me. There are a ton of options and the extra can quickly get too broad, something I am already falling slightly prey to. There is a lot more experimentation to be had here and I will probably make another article entirely on the options that you have when building this particular extra deck and it will open up even more options when Legacy of the Valiant launches. Either way, take the extra deck with a grain of salt and build what works best for you.
I can't really stress enough how much potential the Vampire strategy has, but at the same time you have to practice with this deck more than most. This is a very combo oriented deck, and taking full advantage of its intricacies requires a lot of investment. Still, the deck has a lot going for it and in the future it can be a very devastating deck assuming the right cards (namely more Dark Rank 5 XYZ monsters) are released in the future. Either way, I hope to see you all at this weekend's ARG Circuit Series in St. Louis, Missouri on December 14-15! Feel free to come by the Feature Match area and say hi. If time permits, we may even be able to fit a duel in if you'd like! I hope this article finds you all well and as always, Play Hard or Go Home!