Master Duel has thrown Dragon Link players quite a curveball with the upcoming January 10th, 2024 Forbidden and Limited list. While the passing of the extremely powerful Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon was completely expected, the other hit was not. White Dragon Wyverburster has been banned, which has a lot of ramifications. Alongside the previous banlist semi-limiting both Chaos Space and Quick Launch, will this be the end of the deck as we know it? Let's talk about it.
Chaos Ruler's ban was a long time coming, but it also means that the Rokkets are no longer as strong as they used to be. Both Tracer and Quick Launch being 1-card Rulers lead to some absurd value for very little cost. This also means both Rokket Synchron and Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss are no longer viable choices in the deck. Luckily with Bystial Dis Pater's release in MD, Rokket Caliber becomes a much more appealing option. Both cards slot handily into the Main and Extra Deck, respectively. While nothing can truly replicate Ruler's strength, the deck was arguably too much with it legal.
The other more pressing matter is the banning of Wyverburster, acting as a crippling blow to the deck. Black Dragon Collapserpent is now unusable, cutting you off a lot of playmakers and extenders that you normally had access to. Chaos Space (also semi-limited from the list before) is no longer a starter that lets you freely make Striker Dragon and Dragunity Knight - Romulus and neither can Starliege Seyfert either. While you can still get to your Link plays, you lose the leverage and all the benefits both the Level 4s provided.
Seyfert is still useful of course for its synergy with the Bystials, but your lines of play are much more limited than before. For example, Seyfert + Rokket Tracer was a powerful 2-card combo that used the baby Chaos Dragons in conjunction with The Bystial Lubellion placing Branded Regained to great effect.
Is the deck gone for good? I don't think so. Despite all of its culminated hits, I believe the deck will continue to thrive as a solid option in Master Duel. That being said, we need to look at the alternatives to fill in the void left behind. Luckily, there are a lot of options to consider.
Unlock the Potential
Black Metal Dragon needs no introduction and has been with the deck for quite some time. Most people know it as a solid Normal Summon that's a 1-card Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres or Romulus, and is great into Droll & Lock Bird. But what if I told you it can do much more than that if you're willing to commit? Because BMD's effect to search isn't once per turn, you can run a second viable search target, Red-Eyes Black Meteor Dragon!
Since PSY-Framegear Gamma is semi-limited in MD, it's more appealing to run the card alongside PSY-Frame Driver which just so happens to be the perfect Normal Monster to summon out Meteor, Because of this, even just a single BMD can get you to the formidable setup of Spheres + Borreload Savage Dragon which is fairly tough to crack. But what if it could do more?
For those who want to maximize the power of BMD, I present Samsara Dragon! While unassuming at first glance and seen as a worse version of Seyfert, the extra Tribute Summon it provides is the key to unlocking everything. Let me explain.
Normal Summon BMD and link it off into Striker Dragon. Add Boot Sector Launch and Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon from your deck to your hand. Banish Striker Dragon to summon out REDMD and use its effect to revive BMD. Link into Romulus and grab both Dragon Ravine and Meteor. Summon Heavenly Spheres and use Ravine, discarding a card and sending Samsara to the GY. Use its GY effect to add back Meteor to your hand, and immediately tribute Spheres to summon it.
Spheres' mandatory effect activates, allowing you to summon ANY Dragon from your deck but its ATK and DEF become 0. Normally this effect is used during the opponent's turn for follow-up, but now we're going to use it to combo. Special Summon Bystial Saronir from your deck. Notice how Meteor is level 6 as it wasn't summoned by its effect. Overlay both of them to make Hieratic Dragon King of Atum. Atum then detaches Saronir to summon another Dragon monster from the deck, Seyfert! Send The Bystial Lubellion from your Deck to the GY off Saronir's effect.
From here, you now have both Tracer and Lubellion access. Use Seyfert's effect to send itself and add Tracer to your hand then banish it to add Lubellion from your GY to the hand as well. Lubellion searches Magnamhut, Summon Magnamhut, and use its effect to search during the End Phase, Bring out Tracer with Boot, and use it to summon Caliber from the deck. Synchro Summon Bystial Dis Pater and use its effect to revive the banished Seyfert and make Borreload Savage Dragon. To wrap things up, summon Lubellion and place Regained, then link both Atum and Lubellion into I:P Masquerena! During the End Phase, you can add either Bystial Baldrake or Bystial Druiswurm to your hand.
(Ignoring the extenders in hand, as I wanted to showcase just how far 1 BMD gets you. Dis Pater is in the GY, waiting to be revived off Branded Regained to wreak havoc on the opponent's turn.)
One for One acts as 4th copy of BMD and the cost is offset by the fact you can discard Boot off Ravine, as you can simply normal summon the Tracer instead. The result is an extremely formidable board off one card, with most of the mainstays you usually spend multiple cards to get to. If one is missing Spheres, any other Dragon body alongside BMD gets you to it, and most also get a Regained Draw + recycle to boot. Safer lines that play better into Nibiru can also be done if you have an extender to back BMD up. Spheres + Savage + Dis Pater setups are great for this.
Thankfully, the Samsara combo package has uses outside of this one line. Meteor is a great extender that helps unbrick Bystials in hand and can help get you to Borrelend Dragon pushes, or become a Level 6 if summoned off Romulus. Samsara Dragon has the unique property of being able to recycle level 6 Bystials to hand, letting you end on 2 guaranteed Bystials in hand, with one of them being Magnamhut. One for One is now stronger than Chaos Space in this version of the deck and also plays nicely with PSY-Framegear Gamma.
Once S:P Little Knight is released in Master Duel, the solo BMD combo gets a significant boost. You can link off Lubellion and Atum to make S:P and cash and trigger Regained by banishing a LIGHT or DARK monster in your GY. S:P's synergy with the Continous Spell and Dis Pater is nothing to scoff at either.
Do note that this list isn't 100% optimal, but it shows the blueprint of what you need if you opt to play the Samsara version. 1 or 2 Spheres depend on preference, as one could argue you can just recycle it with Regained. Accesscode Talker and 2nd Striker Dragon are possible inclusions as well over Atum if you opt out of the full Samsara combo as BMD with Meteor still gets you pretty far. Seyfert was bumped down to 2 copies as BMD lines can get to it, and it's not as strong of a Normal Summon without Wyverburster.
Keep an eye out for both Droll & Lock Bird and Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit as they'll be extremely useful to help deal with the threat of Superheavy Samurai later this month. Feel free to adjust the ratios however you wish!
Other Cards to Consider
If one isn't a fan of Meteor and/or Samsara's all-in combo lines, here are some other tech options to look into that work well with Dragon Link.
Noctovision Dragon is an incredible extender that replaces itself with a draw and helps get you to your key Link monsters such as Romulus or Spheres. It also enables Seyfert + Absorouter to combo off which otherwise doesn't, which is a huge plus.
Chaos Emperor, the Dragon of Armageddon gives you another valid DARK target off Chaos Space and has a handy array of effects. Being able to add banished Dragons to your hand and also act as a solid extender makes it an appealing option.
Having a more midrange approach with a heavier Lubellion S/T lineup backed up by a multitude of Hand traps is also a valid option. Either Branded Beast or a second copy of Branded Regained works well in this regard. The trade-off between quick spot removal and immediate re-establishing of Regained depends on what you value more. Etude is nice in theory but is often unnecessary and ends up being a tad bit worse than the other two options.
All in all, Dragon Link is a timeless deck that will never truly disappear. The plethora of Dragon support across the years has given them an incredible pool of cards they can fall back on should their key playmakers end up in the Forbidden and Limited list.
I hope this article has helped you find some footing on what to do with the deck after the back-to-back MD banlist hits. No matter how you approach building the deck, there should be something for everyone here. Until next time folks, Renren out!