Hello boys and girls, It’s T-Time. Let’s go back a few years to a very different format. Synchros and Tuners were only a rumor of what may soon to be. Some people called this the “Gladiator Beast” format, but really it was made up of 3 decks: Dark Armed Return, Lightsworn, and Gladiator Beasts. This was considered to be one of the most expensive formats of all time since in order to play any of these decks you need the extremely expensive secret rare boss monsters. Each of the said boss monsters dominated the format and the summoning of which generally resulted in a certain victory. These monsters are still around today and are often ignored. However, when they hit the field they bring back the fear that they once struck in the eyes of opponents. The problem is that then and even now, people tend to summon them fool heartedly. In order to maximize their efficiency, players need to focus on the state of the game. Let’s take a second to go back in time and remember why these cards were once worth over $150 each.
Gladiator Beast Heraklinos: The boss of Gladiator Beasts. Gigantic 3000 attack with 2800 defense making book of moon weak. That is assuming it didn’t already fall to its multi-trigger effect. Stopping any spell or trap (excluding spell speed 3 cards of course) was, and still is, an incredibly devastating effect. In the day, his summoning was as close to a synchro summon as you could get, a contact fusion of any 2 Gladiator Beasts, plus Gladiator Beast Laquari. Cards like Gladiator Beast Darius and Gladiator Beast Secutor make this an easy matter. Unfortunately people tend to not realize that in this current format, he is not usually the best monster to summon in most situations. Once you are dominating the match, sure he is a great nail in the coffin to put away a game. However, making him just because is a horrible idea. Right now, people main deck a lot of cards (mainly monster effects) to stop Legendary Six Samurai- Shi En. These same cards can crush Herk just as well. Summoning Heraklinos is still very good, it just requires a lot of set up. If you set up with a Gladiator Beast War Chariot, you are pretty much golden. Herk+Chariot Loop=Game in almost any situation. This is MATH here people! Be careful not to fall into a Solemn Warning, which can be deadly. Also, be sure to not start charging Secutors into facedown monsters willy-nilly. That is a recipe for disaster that generally results in a dead Secutor and a weak position for the Gladiator Beast player. Honestly, in most cases having 3 monsters on the field is better than summoning Heraklinos, but he is a great way to lock a game up.
Judgment Dragon: Judgment Dragon is a little bit different than the other boss monsters. In a Lightsworn deck there is pretty much no way to deny how amazing this card is. Once summoned, he is at worst going to blow up the entire field. At best, he is going to be a 3000 attacker that mills 4 cards at the end of your turn. Oh, and can blow the field away AGAIN in the next turn. His summoning requirement is very easy for a Lightsworn player to meet. Just be careful to not put yourself at such a big disadvantage by dropping Lightsworns in the graveyard just to summon him into a field with 2-3 set spell/traps. If you lose advantage to summon him and then get hit with a Royal Oppression, Solemn Judgment, or Solemn Warning, you are in big trouble. Judgment Dragon should come easily out of the hand without too much fear, but don’t be too eager to summon him quickly. The more your opponent commits to the field, the more damage he is going to do.
Dark Armed Dragon: The monster that dominated the game for longer than any other card in recent memory. I have seen Dark Armed Dragon played more poorly than just about any other card in the game. Yes, he is an easy to summon 2800 attack beatstick that can clear away 3 or more cards, one card at a time. However, there is a time to summon him and there is a time not to summon him. For example, summoning Dark Armed Dragon just to leave him on the field and push for damage is generally a terrible idea. He should be forcing a +1 on his summon in almost all cases. Yes he can be Solemned or Oppressioned, but generally he is going to get to use priority. That means in order to destroy Dark Armed, they have to lose 1 card to his effect, and then another card to destroy the monster himself. Dark Armed Dragon is a card that helps shift momentum, not to use when you are already controlling the game (unless you can win the game right then and there as a direct result of his summon). The other reason people tend to misplay him is because of his stiff summoning condition of EXACTLY 3 Darks. As soon as people see DAD in their hand, they start thinking of how they are going to get to summon him. Never try to summon him based on the sheer reasoning that he is your boss monster. Sometimes, it is more important to maintain a handle on the game and send too many darks to your graveyard, never summoning DAD at all. Don’t try to play cards that don’t fit a situation just to create the ability to summon Dark Armed Dragon. He should be summoned when the monsters you need in order to summon him hit the graveyard naturally. When you try to force the grave to be a certain way, you are putting all of your eggs in one basket. If he doesn’t make it to the field somehow, you are in deep trouble. Make sure you take your time things through before summoning this monster. He is still one of the best boss monsters for a reason.
The boss monsters of the past can still be just as good as they were in their prime. Reprinting a card does not make the card worse by any means. They can all be great momentum shifters and game sealers. Whatever you do, don’t get overwhelmed with the idea of being able to summon them just because they are bosses. They should flow with your deck’s natural synergy, not upset your game play. A smart player always knows that even the best cards have their time and place to shine. Take all of this advice in with a grain of salt, since in some instances it is better to get greedy and push for game. When that time comes, I hope you are ready to make those reads. Until then, deuces gooses.