Tier 1: Highly Competitive Meta Decks. 10% or more of tops, as ranked by Pojo. This will roughly correspond to Pojo’s Tier 1, with some overlap into Pojo’s Tier 2.
Tier 2: Semi-Competitive Meta Decks. Less than 10% of tops, as ranked by Pojo. Corresponds to the rest of Pojo’s Tier 2, Pojo’s Tier 3, and Rogue.
Tier 3: Semi-Competitive non-Meta/Rogue decks. 1-2 tops. Specifically includes decks that only top small events or get lower rankings at medium events. Can also include decks that can potentially top but have not yet in a given format.
Tier 4: Casually Competitive non-Meta decks. Decks that can compete at the locals level, but cannot top an event.
Gouki Knightmare is a combo based Link focused deck. The main focus of the deck is on utilizing Gouki monsters in combination with Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights in order to create very large Link boards. The end goal is to either summon a Tri-Gate Wizard with a negate or Extra Link the opponent.
As the May 2018 format has shaped up, Gouki has demonstrated its staying power. Although nowhere near as dominant in the meta as it was before Dark Saviors, Gouki is still a top contender. The deck occupies the low spot in tier 1, but will likely maintain its position through consistent tops at major events and regionals.
There are three main builds we're going to go over: hand trap Gouki, Sky Striker Gouki, and DARK Gouki.
Florian Gonner 2nd Place Austrian Nationals
The first build we're going to look at is Florian Gonner's 2nd place Gouki list from the Austrian National Championship. Decklist is courtesy of Austrian Card Gaming on Facebook.
As far as Gonner's monster ratios go, they're relatively standard. The goal of the deck is to turbo out Isolde and running max copies of Marauding Captain/Junk Forward helps with that. Other than that, Gonner runs a very large count of Hand Traps including Ghost Belle and Haunted Mansion. Although it's the new "Ghost Girl" hand trap, Ghost Belle has seen far less overall popularity compared to hand traps from previous years. However, it serves as a good call in the current meta. It can help stop Sky Striker by denying Sky Striker Ace Kagari's recursion as well as stop various different searching effects in both the Gouki mirror match and the SPYRAL matchup.
The specific hand traps Gonner chose to run also have further synergy with the deck by all being level 3. This means that excess hand traps can double as combo starters when combined with Junk Forward, Marauding Captain, or Instant Fusion to make M-X-Saber Invoker. This is especially important for Gouki as many combo decks that require a large number of resoruces often can't fit quite as many non-combo generic cards in.
The other big tech that can be seen in Gonner's main deck is 3 copies of Instant Fusion. This helps both in turboing out Isolde as well as more consistently getting the 2 level 3 monsters needed for M-X-Saber Invoker. Instant Fusion also has the benefit of allowing the deck to play through a hand trap used on Gouki Suprex or Marauding Captain.
The final interesting inclusion in Gonner's list is the doubling up on copies of Knightmare Mermaid, Knightmare Goblin, and Knightmare Phoenix. Running extra copies of some of these monsters is relatively standard considering this is an EU Gouki list, meaning Linkuriboh is not legal. However, running double copies of 3 of these is likely to both help get Extra Links as well as to extend the deck's grind game. This is especially relevant considering how often Sky Striker matchups can drag out.
Hani Jawhari Top 8 YCS Secaucus
The next profile we'll be looking at is Hani Jawhari's Gouki Sky Striker deck that got Top 8 at YCS Secaucus. Decklist is courtesy of aznpersuasion2008.
The main difference between this build and the more standard Gouki builds is the use of a Sky Striker engine to enable Isolde play. This is instead of more generic Warrior cards such as Junk Forward or Marauding Captain. The main idea behind the engine is to use Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! to search out Sky Striker Mecha - Hornet Drones. Hornet Drones can function very similarly to Instant Fusion in that it gives a Warrior for free without utilizing a Normal Summon and with little room to be disrupted by hand traps. Jawhari chose to run Instant Fusion as well since it can extend plays while being immune to hand traps.
The other big point of interest in Jawhari's build are the different Gouki ratios. Traditionally, Riscorpio has been run at 1. However, with Sky Strikers, Riscorpio can be tribute summoned over Kagari. This is in addition to Riscorpio having more synergy than most Gouki monsters with Overdone Burial.
Overdone Burial seems to have generally seen more popular use in Gouki builds at YCS Secaucus. This is likely due to its ability to extend plays when drawn into unlike more battle oriented Equip Spells such as Moon Mirror Shield or Axe of Fools.
Blake Funderburke Top 16 ARGCS Hartford
The last profile we will be looking at is Blake Funderburke's DARK Gouki deck that got top 16 at ARGCS Hartford. Courtesy of Facebook group ARG Circuit Series.
This profile is largely similar to the Hand Trap variant with discussed earlier but with a few tech changes. The most important of these is the inclusion of a DARK engine. This engine consists of 3 copies each of Armageddon Knight and Destiny HERO Malicious. The goal of the engine is to open with Armageddon Knight and dump Malicious for a 1 card Isolde that can climb in 1 additional Link material using the 3rd Malicious. This is definitely a strong combo considering all of the other stock Isolde combos require 2 cards in hand to pull off.
The obvious trade-off here, however, is the need to include Destiny HERO Malicious in the deck. Being level 6 means that it will almost always be a dead card in hand when drawn into. However, if plays can still be made, then Malicious can be sent to the Graveyard anyways by pitching it with a Knightmare monster.
The other main tech choices in Funderburke's build are the main deck inclusion of Gameciel and Black Luster Soldier. Gameciel is a good meta call considering the event this deck was played at was before the release of Dark Saviors. This means the dominant decks were largely focused on board-building. BLS, on the other hand, gives the deck a good follow-up OTK potential. However, it can clog as it does little to nothing to actually extend the deck's core combos.
The last notable choice was the exclusion of Called by the Grave from the main deck. This seems mostly to just be a poor meta call since Gouki is known to be extremely weak to hand traps, making stopping them high priority.
Gouki is definitely maturing as a deck in the current format and so are its tech choices.
One of the newly up and coming techs for Gouki is Overdone Burial. The use of 2 different Equip Spells to prevent the loss of Isolde's Special Summon effect has been common practice since the deck's inception. However, the previously common 2nd Equip Spell choices were either Moon Mirror Shield or Axe of Fools. While each card has its distinct advantages, they are mainly useful for going 2nd against boards made up of monsters. With the rise of Sky Striker in the meta, this is becoming less and less common, making an extender Equip Spell much more appealing.
SPYRAL Super Agent is another tech choice. Although it was much more common early in the deck's life cycle, it has slowly been getting phased out. This is likely because of the random chance element the card introduces. However, with the increasing dominance of Sky Striker, the card becomes more reliable as calling Spell will often be correct. SPYRAL Super Agent also helps out with the deck with going second as it can help dismantle the opponent's backrow before attempting to make a combo play. This is especially important against decks like Sky Striker and Altergeist that play a lot of backrow.
The final tech is a bit less conventional and competitive: Shien's Squire. The card can be summoned out by using Isolde's effect and subsequently be used with Gouki Suprex to make Naturia Beast. Although this doesn't really fit in with the deck's standard combo plays, it does have the distinct advantage of being much more resilient to Droll & Lock Bird than the deck would be otherwise. Naturia Beast is also a very powerful card against any deck trying to rely on Sky Striker.
The Gouki mirror match is very inherently swingy and die roll dependent. Since both are combo decks, starting with multiple hand traps is crucial at stopping the opponent from building a board. This will become more difficult as more and more Gouki decks gravitate towards starters that are immune to hand traps. Because of this, hand traps that stop the opponent from extending into a board are crucial. These include Infinite Impermanence, Droll & Lock Bird, and Ghost Reaper to take out Isolde.
Good side deck choices include cards such as The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode and Evenly Matched. Sphere Mode has become much more accessible as a side deck option as the deck moves away from being Normal Summon reliant to bring out Isolde.
The Trickstar matchup definitely splits itself between Pure and Sky Striker. Against Sky Striker Trickstar, the opponent's backrow will be more crucial. They will often have a live Widow Anchor and Trickstar Reincarnation going first. The main boon of this matchup is the Sky Striker variant's much lower hand trap count. This often means that when going first 1 Called by the Grave can help guarantee a board.
Pure Trickstar is arguably a much harder matchup for Gouki due to the colossal number of hand traps the deck runs. The only real way to survive this matchup is to try and play around hand traps as best you can. Holding a follow-up play for the next turn is also a good idea. This is because pure Trickstars lacks the aggressive cards to win in a single turn most of the time. The second Isolde becomes very crucial in this matchup.
Against both decks Twin Twisters is a good choice when going second. Red Reboot is very powerful against pure Trickstars, but is far less useful against the Spell heavy Sky Striker variant. A big boon against both variants when going first is using Knightmare Gryphon to set Imperial Order from the deck. This helps shut down all of the very powerful search spells that the deck uses.
The theme of setting a board up being crucial definitely extends to the pure Sky Striker matchup. As I said with Sky Striker Trickstar, the Imperial Order combo is easily game winning here. Anti-Spell Fragrance can also be a decent side deck option for this matchup.
Siding for going second with cards like Twin Twisters and Evenly Matched can be very helpful here. Trying to push in for an OTK is also a very good idea as pure Sky Striker decks very often take more than one turn to generate the advantage they need to pull themselves ahead.
Altergeist can be one of the most difficult matchups for Gouki if played recklessly. When going second, the main things to watch out for are the bounce from Silquitous and Protocol. Unlike all of the other matchups we've discussed, the standard hand traps are far less useful in this matchup. Instead the main cards to focus on are Instant Fusion and the Sky Striker engine. Raidjin can be very useful at baiting out a Silquitous that's already on the board. The Sky Striker engine can also help to extend into a second Isolde if the first one gets removed before summoning from the deck.
The best side options here, much like in the pure Trickstar matchup, are Twin Twisters and Red Reboot. Evenly Matched is also very powerful here when going second. The good thing about this matchup is that the general ineffective nature of common hand traps makes things like Droll & Lock Bird or Infinite Impermanence easy side outs.