YCS Top Denver 32: Jesse Choate’s Invoked Lightsworn

The 60-Card Lightsworn strategy has grown quite a bit in popularity since we first saw it at YCS Seattle.

That Grass Looks Greener is a one-card win condition that can easily turn the game around if it mills well, and because That Grass is so strong it looks like 60 really is the new 40. Infernoids seemed to be the best 60-Card strategy in the first few weeks of Raging Tempest, but as time progressed it looked like more and more people were putting down the deck for something a little more consistent. The biggest issue with Infernoids is that while their spells are extremely powerful, you really don’t want to draw them.

That’s why strategies like Lightsworn have become so popular. When you do draw That Grass Looks Greener, your deck might not use it quite as well as Infernoids, but it’s pretty close. On the flip side, if you draw a bunch of monsters Lightsworn far outpaces the Infernoid deck. Consistency’s king right now, and if you want to play in a longer tournament you can expect to get unlucky at some point.

Because the newer variants of Lightsworn really just try to spam Level 4’s into play, all of your monsters tend to be pretty good at accelerating you. This is probably the best Brilliant Fusion strategy right now too, and while we don’t see Brilliant Fusion as much as we used to, I promise you it’s still just as game breaking.

While Zombie Lightsworn is the typical flavor of Lightsworn we see topping tournaments, Jesse Choate made the Top 32 at YCS Denver with a very different list. He chose to run the Invoked engine along with other cards for some pretty cool combos. Let’s take a look.

Jesse Choate’s Invoked Lightsworn – 60 Cards
YCS Denver, April 9th, 2017

Monsters: 29

AleistertheInvoker-FUEN-EN-SR-1E3 Aleister the Invoker
1 Aurkus, Lightsworn Druid
3 Fairy Tail – Snow
1 Gem-Knight Garnet
1 Goblindbergh
1 Lunalight Black Sheep
1 Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
1 Maxx “C”
2 Performage Trick Clown
2 Photon Thrasher
3 Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn
1 Speedroid Taketomborg
3 Speedroid Terrortop
3 Wulf, Lightsworn Beast
2 Zoodiac Ratpier
1 Zoodiac Whiptail

Spells: 31
1 Book of Moon
3 Brilliant Fusion
2 Charge of the Light Brigade
1 Foolish Burial
2 Fusion Substitute
3 Instant Fusion
2 Invocation
3 Magical Meltdown
1 Raigeki
1 Reinforcement of the Army
3 Solar Recharge
3 That Grass Looks Greener
3 Twin Twisters
3 Zoodiac Barrage

Extra Deck: 15
InvokedMagellanica-FUEN-EN-ScR-1E2 Daigusto Emeral
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Gem-Knight Seraphinite
1 Invoked Magellanica
2 Invoked Mechaba
1 Invoked Raidjin
1 M-X-Saber Invoker
1 Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn
1 Zoodiac Boarbow
2 Zoodiac Broadbull
1 Zoodiac Drident
1 Zoodiac Tigermortar

Side Deck: 15
3 Anti-Spell Fragrance
3 Denko Sekka
1 Dogoran, the Mad Flame Kaiju
1 Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju
1 Imperial Order
2 Interrupted Kaiju Slumber
1 Jizukiru, the Star Destroying Kaiju
1 Kumongous, the Sticky String Kaiju
2 Soul Release

The first thing you need to do when you’re looking at this deck is to figure out is the pros and cons of the Invoked cards against the Zombie engine. Shiranui Solitaire and Uni-Zombie open up a lot of powerful combos, and let you abuse PSY-Framelord Omega in some pretty crazy ways.

Uni-Zombie’s function as a discard outlet is also pretty strong, letting you dump stuff like Fairy Tail – Snow into the grave if you happen to draw it. All of the Zombies are obviously great to mill, and once you get Shiranui Solitaire and Shiranui Spiritmaster into the graveyard, your Fairy Tail – Snow is insane.

fairytailsnow-tdil-en-sp-1eYou can banish both Solitaire and Spiritmaster for Snow, triggering both of their effects; you’ll flip one card down with Snow, destroy a card with Spiritmaster, and Special Summon Spiritmaster thanks to Solitaire. Opening with Brilliant Fusion is always good, but when have a Shiranui Solitaire or Uni-Zombie to go with it the world is your oyster.

All of this is exactly why we see Zombies as the most common choice among Lightsworn Duelists. In terms of power ceilings, Zombies let you extend your combos about as far as you could want. One reason why we’ve seen a decline in Paleozoics lately has to do with strategies like Zombie Lightsworn, which make more problems than the trap strategy can efficiently answer. They do have some downsides but nothing is too glaring.

Drawing redundant combo pieces isn’t the best, but since Uni-Zombie’s a discard outlet you still hav a use for those cards, and Brilliant Fusion grants you more summons to leverage them as well. You typically can’t brick too hard. You’re pretty vulnerable to hand traps like D.D. Crow and Artifact Lancea, but those cards are already good against 60-Card Lightsworn decks regardless of whether you play Zombies or not. All of these factors would suggest that the Invoked engine might not offer more, but may just be something different.

Invoking An Answer
I’ve written on the Invoked engine a couple times before. Invocation can enables combos by putting stuff into the graveyard, and it can disrupt your opponent by banishing key cards. Invoked Raidjin and Invoked Mechaba are great disruption tools that can really help you seal the deal on a game; Raidjin can help you push your effects through negation if you need it to, or shut down an entire turn with its effect if your opponent’s hand is weak; Invoked Mechaba can stop the one power spell your opponent needs to resolve to get off the ground, and can make the difference between a win and a loss. If you’ve seen how powerful Totem Bird can be, you can understand how Invoked Mechaba’s even better.

Aleister the Invoked does a lot for just one card, grabbing you Invocation and setting you up to recycle it and get back Aleister. That said, it does have a glaring downside taking up your Normal Summon, and in something like 60-Card Lightsworn deck your Normal Summon is precious because you’re so focused on combos. You need your Normal Summon because it opens the doors for everything else you do, so using it on an Aleister that doesn’t get you anywhere isn’t workable.

300px-PhotonThrasher-BP02-EN-C-1EHowever, Choate compensated for that by adding more cards to make sure he had extra Level 4 materials to work with. Stuff like Photon Thrasher, Goblindbergh, and Brilliant Fusion helped him get more stuff into play so he could use his Normal Summon on Aleister and still be ahead.

The most basic Zoodiac combo that was hyped when Invoked first came out required Aleister the Invoked along with Photon Thrasher. You can really use any Level 4 Material, but Photon Thrasher’s Light attribute and its acceleration made it ideal. You start by summoning both monsters, grabbing Invocation with Aleister, and then overlaying them for Zoodiac Broadbull. You search Zoodiac Whiptail, stack a couple more Zoodiac Xyz, and make another Broadbull to grab a second Whiptail.

From there you’ve detached Aleister and Thrasher, so you can Invocation for Invoked Mechaba, and that Broadbull can upgrade into Zoodiac Drident. That’s a 2-card combo that’ll end with Zoodiac Drident, Invoked Mechaba, and two copies of Whiptail in hand before you shuffle Invocation back into your deck to retrieve Aleister.

Add the Lunalight Blacksheep Fusion Substitute combo and you can do some pretty cool stuff. Choate only used a single copy of Zoodiac Whiptail, so it’s clear that he’d much rather search Lunalight Blacksheep and combo to draw more cards with Daigusto Emeral and Fusion Substitute. Depending on how many extra cards you can get into play, your combo can get a lot bigger. You can do cute stuff like search Zoodiac Ratpier and then ditch it for Invocation to Fusion Summon Invoked Magellinica, then stack a Zoodiac Tigermortar on top of your Broadbull to get a Ratpier into play for another Zoodiac Xyz.

You’d think that the Invoked engine would offer less graveyard synergy than Zombies, but that’s not really the case. Milling Invocation and Aleister is great because you can banish Aleister with Fairy Tail – Snow and shuffle back Invocation so you can get back that Aleister. Just like milling Zombies, you get more resources if you get the Invoked cards into the grave.

Also, Fusion Substitute’s much better in this deck since you can shuffle back your Invoked Fusion Monsters to draw cards. You obviously don’t want to mill Substitute, but if you aren’t looking for the full draw five combo, getting an extra draw when your opponent takes down one of your Invoked Fusions can help you get back into the game.

Choate’s deck is awesome, but I’m ultimately unsure if it’s better than the Zombie variant. One offers a very high combo ceiling, abusing a bunch of graveyard synergies and the power of PSY-Framelord Omega. The other gives you access to a suite of Invoked Fusion Monsters with powerful disruption effects, which could be the way to go if you expect more combo-centric strategies than control matchups. Which will we see more of in the future? Maximum Crisis is bound to shake things up as Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring gives a very good answer to That Grass Looks Greener, so we’ll have to wait and see.

-Robert Boyajian

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