However, it is far from a "solved" deck. While the build below has seen some success, there is still plenty of controversy regarding Ben Kei's optimal build and strategy. I want to start with a breakdown of the deck as it sits right now, and then discuss some of the potential fixes that can make Ben Kei even more formidable.
Ben Kei OTK in Goat Format - The Build
|Ben-Kei OTK (Format Library Build)|
|Monsters||Armed Samurai - Ben Kei x3|
Cyber Jar x1
D.D. Warrior Lady x1
Exiled Force x1
Iron Blacksmith Kotetsu x3
Morphing Jar x1
Tribe-Infecting Virus x1
|Spells||Axe of Despair x2|
Big Bang Shot x2
Delinquent Duo x1
Enemy Controller x2
Giant Trunade x3
Graceful Charity x1
Heavy Storm x1
Lightning Vortex x1
Mage Power x1
Nobleman of Crossout x2
Pot of Greed x1
Premature Burial x1
Reinforcement of the Army x2
Snatch Steal x1
United We Stand x1
|Traps||Call of the Haunted x1|
Mirror Force x1
Ring of Destruction x1
Torrential Tribute x1
Ben Kei OTK in Goat Format - Monsters
Armed Samurai is the boss monster of the deck. Drop him, plus a host of Equip Spells, against an open field and win the game. The rest of the deck is built to help make that happen more quickly and more consistently.
Cyber Jar is used to dig deeper into the deck and gives you quality information about the gamestate. Ben Kei will often win after a successful Jar play. Its ability to put other monsters on board, such as D.D. Warrior Lady, Exiled Force, and Iron Blacksmith Kotetsu, makes it an extremely powerful enabler for the deck.
D.D. Warrior Lady and Exiled Force are mainly for spot removal. They are also additional targets for Reinforcement of the Army, which is played at two because of Armed Samurai - Ben Kei. Their inclusion allows the deck to handle a variety of different threats and gives Reinforcement more targets, making it more effective.
Iron Blacksmith Kotetsu searches Equip Spells on flip. It's a great pull off of Cyber Jar and it can also search Snatch Steal and Premature Burial. The main issue with Blacksmith is the that, as a Flip monster, it is susceptible to Nobleman of Crossout. However, being able to thin the deck and dig for your OTK pieces is too good not to include.
Morphing Jar is a good way to fix bad hands or to dig for more cards, especially if you're sitting on a Giant Trunade. Setting your spells, flipping Jar, reloading, and then flipping Trunade is a killer play that often seals the game for the Ben Kei player. Like with any other deck using Morphing Jar, you need to be careful as to when you set or activate it.
Sangan digs for literally any monster you need, minus Tribe-Infecting Virus. Speaking of, Tribe is great spot removal. They're pretty much the only monsters we see in most every other deck in the format.
Ben Kei OTK in Goat Format - Spells
Ben Kei's Spell lineup is a crucial balance of power cards and Equip Spells. Power cards keep you in the game, while your Equips allow you take the game. Because Ben Kei is a win-or-go-home, one-shot-takes-the-game kind of a deck, the Spell lineup is often the most important aspect of the deck as a whole.
I'm going to split this section up into two sections: Equip Spells and Power Spells. This way, we can see how each section functions separately and then discuss how they work together to win games.
Equip Spells of Ben Kei OTK
All of the Equip Spells of Ben Kei OTK, minus Snatch Steal and Premature Burial, are designed to increase Ben Kei's attack to lethal levels or to help pierce through defensive walls.
Axe of Despair is the most simple Equip Spell - add 1000 ATK to Ben Kei and give him an additional attack. It is particularly deadly alongside Mage Power, but even two copies plus a Big Bang Shot puts Ben Kei at 2900 ATK with four attacks per battle phase.
Big Bang Shot is perhaps the most important Equip Spell in the deck, as it gives Ben Kei the ability to pierce through defensive monsters. This negates any defense monsters or Scapegoat tokens give the opponent. It can also double as spot removal when combined with Giant Trunade - equip Big Bang Shot to an opponent's monster, play Trunade, and then laugh as your opponent's monster is banished with Big Bang Shot's effect.
Mage Power and United we Stand are the most powerful of the Equips in the Ben Kei arsenal, particularly Mage Power. Consider this: Mage Power+Big Bang Shot+Axe of Despair, on a Ben Kei, gives the samurai 2900 extra ATK points, putting him at 3400 ATK with the ability to swing four times. Four times! Mage Power is often the game-sealing Equip Spell for Ben Kei.
Lastly, Premature Burial can give Ben Kei an additional attack if you use it to pull the samurai from grave. This gives the deck what is essentially an additional copy of Ben Kei. However, losing Ben Kei to grave is something players try to avoid if they can, because Premature doesn't boost his ATK in any way.
Non-Equip Spells of Ben Kei OTK
Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity, and Delinquent Duo are staples in almost every deck, including this one.
Enemy Controller is an interesting choice; it is versatile in that it can switch an opponent's monster's battle position, or it can tribute a monster to take an opponent's monster.
However, Enemy Controller is strictly worse than Book of Moon or Compulsory Evacuation Device when facing Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Thousand-Eyes is one of the deck's biggest weaknesses, especially considering Ben Kei only has a handful of ways to out it. Of all the Spells in the Ben Kei lineup, Enemy Controller seems to be out of place.
Giant Trunade is the main OTK-enabler of the deck, and is played at three for this reason. This is also why the deck plays Heavy Storm.
Lightning Vortex is used to clear an opponent's field. This allows us to attack for game if we don't have a Big Bang Shot in our hand to punish Scapegoat tokens. Like Trunade, Vortex is almost always used to enable the OTK.
Nobleman of Crossout gets rid of pesky face-down cards and, again, can help enable OTK's. Nobleman is a staple in the format in most every deck.
Reinforcement of the Army is to search for Ben Kei. If the deck could play three copies, it would. It is also useful to dig for D.D. Warrior Lady and Exiled Force if you already have the samurai in hand.
Lastly, Scapegoat helps to keep your LP high while you're building your hand to OTK. It also gives Ben Kei 4000 extra ATK points if you drop United We Stand on him with tokens on board.
Traps of Ben Kei OTK
Let's face it: Traps are slow. Because Ben Kei is a fast deck by design, it wants to drop its OTK as quickly as possible. Therefore, every Trap drawn puts you one more turn away from that goal.
However, they're still useful, especially in Goat Format, which is definitely one of the slower ones. This is why Ben Kei runs four traps. Since we need space for Equips and other pieces of the OTK, Traps are usually the first to go.
Call of the Haunted stays because it gets Ben Kei back if it hits grave. It can also combo well with Exiled Force, Tribe-Infecting Virus, and other spot removal monsters.
Mirror Force and Torrential Tribute help deal with problems the rest of the deck cannot. They can also protect a fragile field after resolving Cyber Jar.
Ring of Destruction is great spot removal and pushes the opponent closer to lethal damage, which would by extension require less Equip Spells for Ben Kei.
I'll be talking about other traps the deck can run in later sections. However, traps definitely slow the deck down. They can also inhibit your ability to equip multiple Equip spells to Ben Kei, so it's important to test thoroughly if you decide to change the trap lineup.
Ben Kei OTK - Basic Strategy
The strategy is pretty simple - play Giant Trunade to return all Spell and Trap cards to the hand, play Armed Samurai - Ben Kei, equip a bunch of spells to him, and attack multiple times for game. That's how 99% of games with the deck are won.
Winning with Ben Kei, though, is easier said than done. The deck is prone to brick hands, and if you can't assemble your pieces fast enough you stand a good chance of losing. Careful resource management and timing is crucial to securing victory.
Ben Kei, however, is fairly forgiving of misplays, as the deck can put so much damage on board so long as you're able to clear out backrow. This is a big positive for the deck, and while it's still important you play correctly, its sheer power allows the deck to compensate for lesser-skilled players.
When playing Ben Kei you need to be careful of Thousand-Eyes Restrict. This is why the deck plays Exiled Force, by the way - it's one of the most perfect outs to Thousand-Eyes and is accessible via Reinforcement of the Army. This is also why I'd advocate removing Enemy Controller for Compulsory Evacuation Device or Book of Moon, both of which are better against an opposing Thousand-Eyes.
We can also use Big Bang Shot as a soft out to Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Equip Big Bang Shot to Thousand-Eyes and then play Trunade to return it to hand while also banishing Thousand-Eyes. This is an underutilized concept of the deck - spot removal via Big Bang Shot. However, Book of Moon will save Thousand-Eyes while also sending Big Bang Shot to the Graveyard, so care must be taken to not lose your only chance at piercing through monsters or Goat tokens.
Post-side strategies will likely be similar to pre-side strategies. The core win condition of the deck doesn't change, but you will have to prepare for cards like Threatening Roar, Legendary Jujitsu Master, and Trap Dustshoot. These are the most likely cards to be sided into your opponent's deck.
Threatening Roar is the standard anti-OTK card. The ability to lock an opponent out of the battle phase is an important aspect of stopping OTK decks. If you play Trunade and they play Threatening Roar, the last thing you'll want to do is drop Ben Kei and a ton of equips, after all.
Any decent opponent will attempt to save Dustshoot until such a time that it will have the most impact. As such, playing around Dustshoot may be something you'll have to do post-side. Something to think about is potentially siding in Dust Tornado to catch Dustshoot, though this is iffy at best.
Legendary Jujitsu Master is an interesting choice. It has a good matchup against a number of decks, including Ben Kei. Against Ben Kei, not only will the samurai go back to the top of the deck, but all the Equips attached to him will go to the graveyard. This can single-handedly lose the game for the Ben Kei player, so it's important to keep cards like Nobleman of Crossout in hand until you know you have a game shot ready to go.
A solid side deck choice for the Ben Kei player is Royal Decree. Though I do advocate keeping the Trap lineup to a minimum, Decree can prevent cards like Dustshoot and Roar from going off even when you play Trunade.
Optimizing Ben Kei OTK
As mentioned, there's no consensus right now about which Ben Kei build is the best. The deck has seen no tops at any major online tournament in years - and that's across all online metagames. So most people have kind of written the deck off as gimmicky and focused their efforts on other, more consistent decks.
Almost the entire lineup, minus Ben Kei, his equips, and Trunade, is up for debate. Cards such as Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive and Mystic Tomato seem to be better in this deck than others, as they give the deck more flexibility. Upstart Goblin could theoretically be good in the deck as well, as the idea is to get to your OTK pieces as soon as possible. Ben Kei also tends to mitigate the 1000 LP Upstart gives the opponent, as he will often swing for over 10,000 damage in one battle phase.
Mystic Swordsman LV2 is a potentially good addition to the deck as well. More experienced players will try to avoid an easy OTK by setting monsters more often than not, and the Swordsman can counter cards such as Magician of Faith or Morphing Jar. It is also a Warrior, which fits well in the monster lineup as it stands now.
One could also argue that cards such as United we Stand and Scapegoat are too gimmicky. If we include Mystic Tomato and Dekoichi in the build, Scapegoat - especially without Metamorphosis or Tsukuyomi - seems almost redundant. This is also true for United we Stand, as Ben Kei tends to be your only monster on the field when you prepare to win the game.
There are many ways you can go about optimizing Ben Kei. I may do a followup article in the future if we start seeing Ben Kei creep into competitive play.
Though it has yet to be truly optimized, the mere fact that a subpar build can win games and compete tells us Ben Kei is a force to be reckoned with. In the hands of a skilled player, I have no doubt that Ben Kei can turn heads, win matches, and compete alongside some of the other OTK decks of the format.
It is not the best OTK deck of Goat Format. But it's pretty fun to play and it's something that you're going to want to prepare for if you're not playing it. On the whole, standard anti-OTK side-decking strategy will go far, but Ben Kei has the unique ability to play through some of them, especially if someone is playing a more optimized version of the build.
That's it for this time. As always, you can contact me any time at [email protected]. You can also find me in the YGOPRODeck Discord Server. And make sure to read about the latest Yu-Gi-Oh! news, strategies, decks, and more, right here on YGOPRODeck.com.