For The New Format: Gem-Knight Tellarknights

Tellarknights might be better positioned than some players realize.

The moment the latest F&L List was announced and we learned that Nekroz, Burning Abyss, Shaddolls, and Qliphorts were all taking big hits, Tellarknights became a hot topic. While the deck never performed on the level of those four strategies, it was still reliably topping Regionals and YCS events all year, and it’s been a contender since Duelist Alliance dropped back in August of 2014. When Tellarknights won the 2015 World Championship in Kyoto it was a stark reminder that with just one or two of the game’s craziest decks out of the way, Tellarknights’ speed, aggression, and easy access to Tellarknight Ptolemaeus can win tournaments out of nowhere.

TellarknightPtolemaeus-CROS-EN-UR-1ESo it’s only natural that the deck would turn some heads when it emerged largely unscathed from the latest format changes. While the loss of Evilswarm Exciton Knight is noteworthy, it’s not a tremendous problem for a deck that’s been known to run nearly twenty trap cards. That change had to happen if Pendulum Summoning was going to really matter in competition moving forward. Instead, the biggest stopping point is the newly Limited status of Reinforcement of the Army; setting up with Satellarknight Deneb and Satellarknight Altair is obviously fundamental to the deck’s early game.

Satellarknight Skybridge or the new Painful Escape could fill that gap, but both cards are a bit slow in their own ways; Skybridge effectively eats your Normal Summon by kicking a ‘tellarknight back to your deck, while Escape is a trap card and needs to be set before you can activate it. Neither option is bad, but neither of themis Reinforcement of the Army. The conventional Satellarknight deck and its offshoot Star Seraph variants are both slower today than they were in the previous format.

In a game where speed so often determines who wins and loses, that’s a problem. The good news?

Someone Came Up With A Brilliant Solution
One of the coolest trends in recent competition is the splashing of Brilliant Fusion – a Gem-Knight support card – into decks that really have nothing to do with Gem-Knights. Brilliant Fusion’s a Continuous Spell that Fusion Summons a Gem-Knight Fusion from your Extra Deck by sending monsters from your deck to your graveyard as Fusion Materials. Whatever you Fusion Summon hits the field with 0 ATK and 0 DEF, and when Brilliant Fusion leaves the field you destroy that monster, but you have the option to discard a spell and boost that monster to its printed stats until the end of your next turn Better yet, the Fusion Monster’s abilities remains intact; even if you don’t have a spell to pitch, you can unleash some dangerous effects.

Why does that matter in anything beyond Gem-Knights? There are eleven Gem-Knight Fusions printed so far, and five of them call for any one Gem-Knight plus one monster of a specified attribute or type as their Fusion Materials. Gem-Knight Amethyst fuses Gem-Knight and an Aqua-type; Gem-Knight Citrine, a Pyro-type; Gem-Knight Prismaura takes a Thunder; Gem-Knight Zirconia a Rock; and Gem-Knight Seraphinite a Light.

That means if you add a couple Gem-Knights to your deck with three copies of Brilliant Fusion, you can use it as a deck-thinning double Foolish Burial that sends an Aqua, a Pyro, a Thunder, a Rock, or a Light monster from your deck to your graveyard, while Fusion Summoning a potentially useful Gem-Knight. And since the Gem-Knights are all Earth monsters themselves, that’s another attribute that may come in handy loading up your graveyard.

We first saw that technique in late August, when a handful of players used Brilliant Fusion with Gem-Knight Prismaura to yard Spiritual Beast Cannahawk, setting up Ritual Beast combos more consistently than more conventional builds. That technique quickly blossomed to include Gem-Knight Seraphinite too, which could yard Performage Trick Clown as a Light monster and then revive it from the graveyard with its effect. Soon we were seeing Brilliant Fusion in stuff like Madolches and Volcanics, setting up combos while fielding big monsters that had valuable effects of their own.

So it was impressive, but not surprising when Canadian Victor Lam topped a Regional Qualifier just outside of Toronto with this deck, an updated spin on Satellarknights that plays Brilliant Fusion to the hilt.

BrilliantFusion-CORE-EN-SR-1EVictor Lam’s Gem-Knight Tellarknights – 40 Cards
Top 8 Oshawa Regional Qualifier, October 11th 2015
Monsters: 16

1 Archlord Kristya
2 Gem-Knight Garnet
1 Performage Trick Clown
3 Satellarknight Altair
3 Satellarknight Deneb
1 Satellarknight Rigel
3 Satellarknight Unukalhai
2 Satellarknight Vega

Spells: 9
3 Brilliant Fusion
1 Foolish Burial
1 Raigeki
3 Reinforcement of the Army
1 Soul Charge

Traps: 15
2 Breakthrough Skill
3 Call of the Haunted
3 Fiendish Chain
3 Oasis of Dragon Souls
1 Torrential Tribute
2 Trap Stun
1 Vanity’s Emptiness

Side Deck: 15
2 Fairy Wind
2 Imperial Iron Wall
3 Maxx “C”
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
3 Retaliating “C”
3 Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror
1 Trap Stun

Extra Deck: 15
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Bujintei Tsukuyomi
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Constellar Pleiades
2 Daigusto Emeral
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
2 Gem-Knight Seraphinite
1 Stellarknight Constellar Diamond
1 Stellarknight Delteros
2 Stellarknight Triverr
1 Tellarknight Ptolemaeus

Tellarknight players have long relied on Call of the Haunted, Soul Charge, and sometimes Oasis of Dragon Souls to make the most of their monsters. Reviving a Satellarknight triggers its effect, often fielding the monster for free or better in terms of card economy. Better yet, if you can time your activation carefully you can dodge the drawbacks of Satellarknight Altair, which revives a ‘tellarknight in defense mode so it can’t attack, and then states that only ‘tellarknights can attack for the duration of the turn.

Activated on your turn, that forces you to make a ‘tellarknight Xyz. But activated on your opponent’s turn, you’re free to shift the revived monster to attack mode by the time your Battle Phase rolls around, or overlay it for a Rank 4 of your choosing. Precise play can make it easier to activate Stellarnova Alpha, or push monsters to the field when your opponent can’t flip freshly set trap cards in response. Call and Oasis are both tremendously important cards to the Tellarknight theme, for a variety of reasons.

But in Victor Lam’s Gem-Knight Tellarknights they’re even better. A set Call, a set Oasis, or an in-hand Soul Charge turns Brilliant Fusion into a better search card than Reinforcement of the Army; instead of getting you the Satellarknight you need and making you Normal Summon it, you Fusion Summon by sending Gem-Knight Garnet and the Satellarknight of your choice to the graveyard, then revive it. You get to Special Summon the Satellarknight and reserve your Normal Summon for something else.

You’ll also get a second Normal Summon in the process, because you’ll be fusing for Gem-Knight Seraphinite and its ability grants you a second Normal Summon. If you can Special Summon one Satellarknight with Call, Oasis, or Charge; revive another with Altair; Normal Summon two more; and Special Summon with Satellarknight Vega, you can actually drop the deck’s completel lineup of five Satellarknights in one turn, so long as you do some Xyz Summoning along the way to clear Monster Zones. Lam played triple Reinforcement of the Army on top of Brilliant Fusion, but with three Brilliant and one Reinforcement of the Army you’re still up one search card compared to a normal build with triple ROTA.

And That’s Just The Beginning
Lam built his deck to use Brilliant Fusion for more than just Satellarknights. Because you make Seraphinite with any Light monster he could leverage that Performage Trick Clown play we mentioned earlier. Kick it to the graveyard and you can revive it instantly for 1000 Life Points, no Call of the Haunted needed. That’s a valuable play if you don’t have the right cards for an Altair combo, you’ve already used Altair for the turn, or you simply want to attack with a Rank 4 Xyz that’s not a ‘tellarknight.

That said, Archlord Kristya’s the real head turner, and one of my favorite reasons to revise this deck for the new format. Brilliant Fusion fields Gem-Knight Seraphinite, and a single revival card Summons Kristya. Pitch a spell for Brilliant Fusion and Seraphinite goes to 2300 ATK, with Kristya’s 2800 attack points on the field and two Normal Summons at the ready. At that point almost any combination of two Satellarknights becomes an OTK, and if you can’t make game then Archlord Kristya bans your opponent from making any Special Summons anyways. If they manage to destroy Kristya with an effect, then reviving Satellarknight Altair or making another Brilliant Fusion gives you two Tributes to put Kristya back on the field.

300px-ArchlordKristya-CT08-EN-SR-LEThat’s huge in a format where Pendulum Summons seem poised to be the next big thing, and the biggest non-Pendulum strategy relies on Kozmo Farmgirl. Since Kristya has 2800 ATK Juragedo won’t get Farmgirl over it, putting pressure on your opponent to have Honest. Kozmo Goodwitch can at least turn Kristya face-down, but none of the Psyshic Kozmos have enough attack power to get through Kristya’s 2300 DEF on their own. Sliprider’s 2300 ATK won’t do it either, leaving Kozmo Forerunner and Dark Destroyer as the only options.

That can happen, and trap cards can help ease the situation too, but it’s not an easy card for Kozmos to deal with. It costs the Tellarknight player nothing in card economy to bring Archlord Kristya to the field, while the Kozmo player has to burn specific answers they might not have in the first place. When Kristya does go down, they still have to deal with your entire Tellarknight deck.

Brilliant Fusion makes your revival cards even better, offering more opportunities to revive Satellarknights and giving you a shot at Archlord Kristya. That let Lam commit with his build, running a full seven revival cards plus Foolish Burial to set things into motion. It granted his deck a ton of synergy, and even let him play so aggressively that he was Main Decking Trap Stuns.

There’s lots of room to adapt this idea for the new format. Two Reinforcement of the Army need to go, but those two slots can become Satellarknight Skybridge or Painful Escape if you want more search power. They can also be Storming Mirror Forces, Book of Moon, or double Mystical Space Typhoon. You could run Pot of Duality or Upstart Goblin for speed, or add two copies of Stellarnova Alpha – you might’ve noticed that Lam didn’t play any. The deck’s not married to Satellarknight Rigel, and if we wind up in a format where five monster negation cards aren’t necessary, Breakthrough Skill’s an easy swap. Don’t want to run Trap Stun? Replace them with whatever you want – the world is your oyster.

This build of Satellarknights can be more explosive and more consistent than previous versions, and it can control the game with Archlord Kristya and make surprising combos with Performage Trick Clown. I think there’s a lot of potential here, and the combination of speed, resiliency, and control could make it a great fit for the early days of a new format. What do you think? Does an updated build have potential, and if so what changes would you make? Let me know your thoughts down below.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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