Rogue Report: A Guide to Crystal Beast Boarder
One of the all-time fan favorite archetypes of Yu-Gi-Oh! is that of the Crystal Beasts, being popular ever since their debut in GX. That said, there’s never really been a point in the game’s history where these colorful characters have been, well, good. Given this, Konami’s newest product, Structure Deck: Legend of the Crystal Beasts, is ludicrously pushed. The individual power of the cards contained within this product are beyond anything most other archetypes could dream of, and as you’ll see with the decklist at the end of this article, I think that we might have a diamond in the rough waiting for us.
The core of this new support centers around the use of Bridge of the Heart, whose three effects all push Crystal Beast towards rogue contention. First, it provides an additional Normal Summon for your Crystal Beasts, and given none of the core monsters have HOPT effects (meaning you can use them as many times as you want each turn) you can reliably loop the effect of Crystal Beast Sapphire Pegasus once your engine gets going. Next, it allows you to cycle a Crystal Beast for one of their Spell/Traps, which can be used in a variety of ways, from searching Crystal Bond to access your Rank 4 engine, to Crystal Conclave in a situation where you’re in a stalled-out gamestate, or Crystal Miracle on your first turn, to have negation at the ready. Finally, and most crucially, Bridge allows you to bounce itself & an opponents’ card when a Crystal Beast hits your Spell & Trap Zone, such as via the effect of Sapphire Pegasus. Each of these effects points you towards wanting to play for a longer game, and with the tools they now have, Crystal Beast can do that with ease.
The next key piece of this puzzle is Bridge of Salvation, which does something that has consistently proven to be unfair: Generically access Field Spells. In concert with Foolish Burial Goods, which is reasonable with cards that aren’t just Bridge, you can easily set up a Sapphire Pegasus alongside one of the three dangerous Field Spells this format, being Mystic Mine, Necrovalley, and Secret Village of the Spellcasters. Bridge of Salvation used to be unsearchable, making it difficult to include as readily, but with the new card, Awakening of the Crystal Lord, you can simply plant it in the Graveyard once you reveal your Rainbow Dragon in hand. Awakening can do more than just this, but now we have 6 ways to get Bridge into the Graveyard, making it something we can consistently build around.
One of the other big pieces of Crystal Beast that was received prior to this wave was Crystal Beast Rainbow Dragon, who is just head & shoulders above the rest of his kin. Not only does he protect your field from attacks, as a 3000 ATK body, he also transforms into another Crystal Beast easily, searching the necessary Rainbow Dragon to activate Awakening of the Crystal Lord. The sheer amount of searching that Crystal Beast have access to now is, and I cannot stress this enough, overkill. Yet, due to this, nearly any piece of modern Crystal Beast support can filter into any other piece, making the strategy readily slide into the role of a toolbox deck with the nonlinearity of some combo decks. Despite most lists looking like a pile of 1-of copies, the fact that each of them becomes the other ensures your consistency over the course of a game.
Knowing all of this, during my search for a viable Crystal Beast deck, I was led to a tried-and-true strategy for control decks that need a lot of Spell/Trap effects live, but not that many monster effects. Pairing the beloved Beasts with the Fun Police incarnate, Inspector Boarder, has proven itself to be cruel and unusual for opponents unprepared for the stun this combo provides. With Bridge of the Heart giving us another Normal Summon for Crystal Beasts, we can begin the game with Boarder, before going into one of our two best Crystal Beasts. In the case of Carbuncle, we destroy it to grab Awakening or Miracle (placing it in the Spell & Trap Zone is not an activated effect, thankfully), but with Pegasus, we can simply burn our 1 Monster Effect to place a Carbuncle, return it to the hand to bounce an opponent’s card, and then destroy a Crystal Beast to search, netting additional advantage. In a slow deck that wants to win long games, Boarder is simply the best Normal Summon available, and with an extra one at our disposal, it slots in perfectly.
With the combined power of Inspector Boarder and brutal stun Field Spells, this variant of Crystal Beasts is downright mean, playing within the confines of its own rules, and laughing at opposing attempts to navigate the various locks it places the opponent under. That said, the clear weaknesses to cards like Droll & Lock Bird, and Lightning Storm mean that there are ways to play around it. The key, however, is that none of the cards that specifically target this list are currently in vogue, in terms of meta play, so slipping past your worst case scenarios at a tournament could be doable! A few of the individual choices for the Extra Deck include Clara & Ruska, the Ventriloduo, Wynn, and Lyna, which all serve a similar purpose: Turning on your Secret Village of the Spellcasters in matchups where it’s simply unwinnable for your opponent otherwise. The wincon of choice is Number 39: Utopia Double, which can even win under Inspector Boarder, due to being able to flex itself during the opponent’s End Phase, and the actual Utopia effect on your turn. Pot of Prosperity is also a natural inclusion, to find your key pieces of Stun, and fill in the gaps for any toolboxing needs you have.
While I am someone who builds decks to be as competitive as they can be, there is some part of me that hopes another variant of Crystal Beast pops up which doesn’t go as aggressively stun as this build. Beyond the new cards I discussed in this article, we’re receiving the entire Advanced Crystal Beast lineup, and a few more Spell/Traps that just didn’t make the cut. There is some inclination to build a version that uses all the names, and all of the fun toys, but if you do so, I wouldn’t consider bringing it to anything higher leveled than a Local. Still, if anything of competitive merit can come of the new Structure Deck, out in less than a week, this variant of Boarder Beast certainly stands a shot at it!
The path that Crystal Beast has taken over the course of its life in Yu-Gi-Oh! is certainly interesting; it was one of the first major archetypes to receive Pendulum Support where it once had none, it saw a ton of play in the GX Anime, and players from across all eras of the game know it as a fun, albeit toothless strategy. I can’t say whether builds like this will shape the perception of the archetype going forward, but with all the tools now at its disposal, Crystal Beast isn’t nearly as worthless as it once was.
So that’s that! Thank you so much for reading my guide to playing Crystal Beasts after the release of their support in Structure Deck: Legend of the Crystal Beasts! I’m certainly excited to see if anything comes of these new cards, given their individual power is so high; I’d love to hear what you think down in the comments below!