Exploring the Format – Satellarknights

As different formats have come and gone, we’ve seen quite a few control strategies become the number one “deck to beat” of their eras. The +1 Fire Fist deck and Geargia variants of past formats are great examples: they both used effects that gain you a ton of card economy, while playing efficient reactive cards to keep the game. The scariest part about these types of strategies though is how consistent they are: if you happened to draw a poor hand facing down an average draw from +1 Fire Fist or Geargia in their prime, then you were pretty much done for. What’s even crazier is that probably the best Rank 4 control theme of all time has arrived, and it was the least hyped theme in Duelist Alliance before the set’s release.

That’s right, we’re talking about Satellarknights.

With a ton of good performances at events this past weekend, Satellarknights may be the new deck to beat for the current format. Satellarknight Deneb’s an ideal Turn 1 play that instantly gets the ball rolling. Deneb’s a lot like [ccProd]Bujin Yamato[/ccProd] in Bujins, but Satellarknights don’t have to play a ton of subpar monsters like the Bujingis. That Turn 1 Deneb will let you search any “tellarknight” from your deck and the vast majority of the time you’ll get [ccProd]Satellarknight Altair[/ccProd]. What’s so scary is that as soon as Altair hits the board to revive Deneb for a Rank 4 play, you’ll also be searching another Altair off Deneb’s ability. That allows you to put a constant stream of threats on the table every turn without costing you cards. If your opponent can’t stop that it’s pretty easy to win from there.

Running out of Altairs may seem like a problem, but because the Satellarknight deck is geared to be as consistent as possible it runs a ton of recursion from the get-go. A full playset of [ccProd]Soul Charges[/ccProd] complements a full playset of [ccProd]Call of the Haunteds[/ccProd] to guarantee that you can always field a threat. Running that many recursion cards means a couple things: first, it makes the deck less reliant on Deneb in the early game. [ccProd]Satellarknight Unukalhai[/ccProd] acts as a pseudo Deneb by simply sending it to your graveyard, so if you already have [ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd], [ccProd]Soul Charge[/ccProd], or an Altair you can start going off as soon as possible. That ultimately saves you from bricking as often as many other decks would, so you only rarely suffer a mediocre opening hand.

Secondly, having so many recursion cards guarantees that your pushes will go through. If your opponent does happen to stop your Altair, you can always use Call or [ccProd]Soul Charge[/ccProd] to keep the pressure going. [ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd] also lets you do tricks during your opponent’s turn so you can get multiple Satellarknight effects; you can do stuff like use Call to revive Altair, and then resolve Altair’s effect to revive Deneb and search another Altair during your opponent’s End Phase. That gives you an Altair in hand with two Satellarknights in play, leaving you ready to Xyz Summon at the start of your next turn. And you haven’t even used an Altair effect yet.

Let’s take a look at the list Aaron Furman used to win the ARGCS in Atlantic City last weekend:

Aaron Furman’s Satellarknights – 41 Cards
ARGCS Atlantic City, August 24 2014
Monsters: 11
3 [ccProd]Satellarknight Deneb[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Satellarknight Altair[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Satellarknight Unukalhai[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Satellarknight Vega[/ccProd]

Spells: 10
3 [ccProd]Pot of Duality[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Soul Charge[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Reinforcement of the Army[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd]

Traps: 20
3 [ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Vanitys Emptiness[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Breakthrough Skill[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Stellarnova Alpha[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Wiretap[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Dimensional Prison[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Battleguard Howling[/ccProd]

Extra Deck: 15
1 [ccProd]Evilswarm Exciton Knight[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 106: Giant Hand[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Stellarknight Delteros[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Daigusto Emeral[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Number 101: Silent Honor ARK[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Abyss Dweller[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Diamond Dire Wolf[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Starliege Paladynamo[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Constellar Omega[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Gagaga Cowboy[/ccProd]

Side Deck: 15
3 [ccProd]Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror[/ccProd]
3 [ccProd]Stygian Dirge[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Maxx C[/ccProd]
2 [ccProd]Needle Ceiling[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Chain Disappearance[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Dimensional Fissure[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Full House[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Soul Drain[/ccProd]
1 [ccProd]Thunder King Rai-Oh[/ccProd]

Because Satellarknights try to be as consistent as possible, you don’t see too much variation between decks outside of what kind of protection or removal they use. What’s interesting about Furman’s list is that he chose to commit to 41 cards and didn’t run [ccProd]Upstart Goblin[/ccProd]. Ultimately having 37 cards may increase the likelihood of you opening with [ccProd]Satellarknight Deneb[/ccProd], or at least some way to get to it the following turn, but that also deprives you of deck space that could be used for other important tools. If the deck has enough ways to get the ball rolling without needing [ccProd]Upstart Goblins[/ccProd], then what Furman did could very well be the correct decision.

A full playset of [ccProd]Vanitys Emptiness[/ccProd] really puts this new format in perspective for you, too. [ccProd]Vanitys Emptiness[/ccProd] is quickly going to become the most important card in the format since [ccProd]Shaddoll Fusion[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Satellarknight Altair[/ccProd] are so strong. Anytime you flip Emptiness in response to one of those cards you’re going to break even in the exchange, so even if your Emptiness is destroyed afterwards because another card hits the graveyard, you’re still basically breaking even. Making sure that the Shaddoll player doesn’t get to trigger monster effects off of [ccProd]Shaddoll Fusions[/ccProd], or that the Satellarknight opponent can’t get that Deneb search when they’re trying to revive it with Altair, can give you the opening you need to win a game you couldn’t have won otherwise.

Looking at Furman’s build you can also see two [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoons[/ccProd], two [ccProd]Wiretaps[/ccProd], and a full set of [ccProd]Stellarnova Alphas[/ccProd]. If Vanity’s Emptiness becomes as popular as I think it’ll be, Main Decking a couple copies of [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] could be the way to fight it. [ccProd]Wiretap[/ccProd] also does something very similar, but its status as a Counter Trap is super important if [ccProd]Stellarnova Alpha[/ccProd] is seeing so much play. Alpha’s another Satellarknight card that basically deals with any problem that might arise, and because you get to a draw a card off of it even though you lose an onboard Satellarknight, it’s still efficient card economy. It does, however, sacrifices a bit of tempo by costing you field presence. Any opening involving a Satellarknight becomes so scary because of [ccProd]Stellarnova Alpha[/ccProd]. Suddenly your opponent can’t resolve their Deneb simply because you went first and were able to set up your Stellarnova on Turn 1; that’s a huge deal.

The last card I want to bring up is [ccProd]Battleguard Howling[/ccProd], one of my favorite cards out of Duelist Alliance. Even though Satellarknights take on the role of a control deck against similar types of strategies, it can be so aggressive so efficiently that you’ll often find success assuming the role of a beatdown strategy in certain matchups. That’s where I really like [ccProd]Battleguard Howling[/ccProd], because it basically rolls [ccProd]Magic Cylinder[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Compulsory Evacuation Device[/ccProd] into one card. It also carries the additional upside of responding to monster effects. Bouncing an opponent’s monster to their hand and dealing damage while you’re ahead on the field, trading efficiently in the exchange, is huge if you’re constantly attacking with Satellarknights. [ccProd]Battleguard Howling[/ccProd] basically takes a slot that you’d use for [ccProd]Dimensional Prison[/ccProd] otherwise, but it provides a lot of advantages that can be game changing. Suddenly your opponent’s scared of attacking with their largest monster because they can outright lose the game to [ccProd]Battleguard Howling[/ccProd], so simply the possibility that it might be in your deck is huge.

Satellarknights are slowly redefining the traditional role of the “+1 control deck.” The strategy’s so efficient, and gets rewarded for both Summoning monsters and basically being as aggressive as possible. You’re constantly following through with your ideal game plan even if it’s risky to do so, because you don’t really lose anything by attempting those plays. While only time can tell at this point, we could easily see Satellarknights as the top dog over Shaddolls. What do you think will end up being the deck to beat? I want to hear your opinions on the Satellarknight archetype down in the comments!

-Robert Boyajian

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