Exchanging Spirits with Ishizu’s Retrains

Introduction

Very recently, Duelist Pack: Duelists of Pyroxene has released actual support cards for the character Ishizu Ishtar. Her strategy revolved completely around the card Exchange of the Spirit, which is a gimmicky trap that swaps both players’ decks with the GY. This strategy can either be very beneficial to your opponent, or punish them from holding their resources in their deck too long! The only issue was, the requirements to trigger Exchange of the Spirit was to wait for both players to have 15 cards in their GYs. Even if you managed to top up your GY, it was hard to encourage your opponent to do the same. To summarize, all of Ishizu’s cards were either very gimmicky or pointless. And she lost the only duel she ever had on screen.

However, KONAMI has given a great buff to all seven of her cards. In fact, these retrains are so powerful, they are currently considered the best out of the three archetypes within the set. How does a jumble of cards revolving around a gimmicky trap suddenly become the strongest? With the Millennium Necklace’s vision, let us take in the vision.

There is a lot of cards to cover, so feel free to skip ahead to the decklists!

Me, when my friends asked why haven’t I topped yet

Ishizu’s Ancient Fairies

Ishizu’s monsters are mainly made up of Egyptian-themed fairies. Their original formes had no synergy or notable effects, so I will not be covering them at all. Her apparent strategy was just to stall until Exchange of the Spirit was live, then swap everything so that her opponent would suddenly find themselves close to deck out. Now, the retrains will make this way easier to achieve.

As a side note, this general bunch of cards are often referred to as Gravekeeper cards” or Ishizu cards” – no one has coined a proper universal term for them yet.

Keldo the Possessed Statue

To be honest, I had no inkling of what Keldo was supposed to be until they announced it was simply a possessed statue.

Keldo the Possessed Statue

Keldo the Possessed Statue
Earth/Fairy/Effect
Level 4 ATK/ 1200 DEF/ 1600

  • You can discard 1 other EARTH Fairy monster; Special Summon this card from your hand, then add 1 “Exchange of the Spirit” or 1 card that mentions it from your Deck to your hand.
  • (Quick Effect): You can banish this card from your field or GY, then target up to 5 cards in any GY(s); shuffle them into the Deck. If “Exchange of the Spirit” is not on your field or in your GY at activation, you can only target up to 3 cards.
  • You can only use each effect of “Keldo the Possessed Statue” once per turn.

Keldo the Possessed Statue and Mudora the Cestus Oracle will possess similar effects. Both will discard another Earth Fairy to special summon themselves, then search something else. In this case, Keldo is able to retrieve any of the new Ishizu cards.

Its secondary quick effect to recycle cards from the GY can be especially devastating at particular timings, especially against decks with an emphasis on GY effects. Or you could recycle your own cards after usage, but drawing into them thereafter may be a different issue later one.

This monster, and all other new retrains will noticeably include the requirement of “Exchange of the Spirit in your GY”. This is a very simple condition to achieve, as I will explain later on.

Mudora the Cestus Oracle

The masked Mudora from the past used to power up little by little from his fallen allies. Now, all he does is rely on exchanging spirits.

Mudora the Cestus Oracle

Mudora the Cestus Oracle
Earth/Fairy/Effect
Level 4 ATK/ 1500 DEF/ 1800

  • You can discard 1 other EARTH Fairy monster; Special Summon this card from your hand, then you can place 1 “Gravekeeper’s Trap” from your Deck face-up in your Spell & Trap Zone.
  • (Quick Effect): You can banish this card from your field or GY, then target up to 5 cards in any GY(s); shuffle them into the Deck. If “Exchange of the Spirit” is not on your field or in your GY at activation, you can only target up to 3 cards.
  • You can only use each effect of “Mudora the Cestus Oracle” once per turn.

Mudora the Cestus Oracle has the exact same effects as Keldo the Possessed Statue. The only difference is in the first effect; where Keldo would add a card to hand, Mudora would immediately place the new trap “Gravekeeper’s Trap” on board. This trap, which I will cover later, is a very important card for this archetype, so being able to tutor it is quite impressive.

Otherwise, having both Mudora and Keldo in the GY can serve both as GY disruptions against your opponent, or just recycling cards for yourself.

Kelbek the Ancient Vanguard

Out of all of Ishizu’s monsters, Kelbek probably played the largest role in stalling turns. Now with its retrain, it will continue proving its worth by reflecting the opposition.

Kelbek the Ancient Vanguard

Kelbek the Ancient Vanguard
Earth/Fairy/Effect
Level 4 ATK/ 1500 DEF/ 1800

  • If a card(s) is sent from the hand and/or Deck to your opponent’s GY (except during the Damage Step): You can target 1 opponent’s Special Summoned monster; Special Summon this card from your hand, then return the targeted monster to the hand.
  • If this card is sent from the hand or Deck to the GY: You can send the top 5 cards of each player’s Deck to the GY, then, if “Exchange of the Spirit” is in your GY, you can Set 1 Trap from your GY.
  • You can only use each effect of “Kelbek the Ancient Vanguard” once per turn.

Just like Mudora the Cestus Oracle and Keldo the Possessed Statue being similar, Kelbek the Ancient Vanguard and Agido the Ancient Sentry are similar in effects as well. Kelbek has a nifty disruption effect to bounce one of your opponent’s monsters back, similar to its past self.

The second effect however, is its greatest asset. Upon touching the grave, it aggressively mills 5 cards from both players! This is further backed up with the ability to set any trap back from the GY, so you do not need to be worried about any important traps getting milled off.

Ideally, you would want to trigger Kelbek’s milling effect as much as possible, in order to fulfill the requirements for Exchange of the Spirit. Or you could just try to deck your opponent out, either way works.

Agido the Ancient Sentry

Previously, Agido needed a dice to determine if your fallen fairies were coming back. Now, it simply pulls it back without question AND aggressively mills your opponent. What’s up with that?

Agido the Ancient Sentry

Agido the Ancient Sentry
Earth/Fairy/Effect
Level 4 ATK/ 1500 DEF/ 1300

  • If a card(s) is sent from the hand and/or Deck to your opponent’s GY (except during the Damage Step): You can Special Summon this card from your hand, then you can Special Summon 1 Level 4 EARTH Fairy monster from your GY, except “Agido the Ancient Sentry“.
  • If this card is sent from the hand or Deck to the GY: You can send the top 5 cards of each player’s Deck to the GY, then, if “Exchange of the Spirit” is in your GY, you can send the top 5 cards of either player’s Deck to the GY.
  • You can only use each effect of “Agido the Ancient Sentry” once per turn.

Agido the Ancient Sentry can help revive your other Ishizu monsters from the GY, which could allow you to tap into rank 4 plays. Having access to two monsters on board without normal summoning is always a very strong effect.

However, Agido the Ancient Sentry’s true value comes from its secondary effect. Just like Kelbek the Ancient Vanguard, it mills 5 upon touching the GY. Then, you can mill a further 5 more copies! Along with Kelbek’s mill, you can potentially mill 10 + 5 cards total from both sides! This conveniently meets the harsh requirements for Exchange of the Spirit. Or you can continue trying to aggressively mill your opponent out of cards.

Zolga the Prophet

As the first retrain, Zolga was not not created with the other four monsters in mind, so it does not have any specific synergy with Exchange of the Spirit. Nevertheless, it is still one of Ishizu’s lackeys, so it is worth looking over.

Zolga the Prophet

Zolga the Prophet
Earth/Fairy/Effect
Level 4 ATK/ 1700 DEF/ 1200

  • If you control an EARTH Fairy monster, except “Zolga the Prophet“: You can Special Summon this card from your hand, then look at up to 5 cards from the top of each player’s Deck.
  • When a monster that was Normal Summoned by Tributing this card declares an attack: You can banish this card from your GY; destroy that monster, and if you do, inflict 2000 damage to your opponent.
  • You can only use each effect of “Zolga the Prophet” once per turn.

Bluntly put, this card is horrible and does not contribute to any sort of gameplan whatsoever. However, the first effect might be somewhat helpful in other Earth Fairy decks like Vernalizers. Otherwise, this card has a pretty underwhelming effect.

Interestingly enough, the glow in the center of Zolga is a throwback to the anime. If Kaiba used Ishizu’s Zolga to tribute summon Obelisk, this bomb would then be transferred into Obelisk, which would cause Kaiba to lose!

Ishizu’s tricks and traps

If you bothered to read any of Ishizu’s older card effects, you would have wondered how exactly did she manage to scrape past turns with such feeble effects. Of course, the answer lies in her backrow. Naturally, these are also retrains of existing cards she has used in the anime.

Exchange of the Heart

A snarky retrain of Exchange of the Spirit and Soul Exchange, this card is a direct reference to Kaiba’s usage of Soul Exchange.

Exchange of the Heart

Exchange of the Heart
Normal Trap

  • If you control 3 or more EARTH Fairy monsters: Send as many monsters on the field as possible to the GY, then each player can Special Summon to their field a number of monsters from their opponent’s GY, up to the number of monsters that were sent to their opponent’s GY by this effect, then, if “Exchange of the Spirit” is in your GY, you can Set 1 Trap directly from your Deck. It can be activated this turn.
  • You can only activate 1 “Exchange of the Heart” per turn.

As long as you control 3 Earth Fairies, you can flip this card, and trade your monsters for all of theirs! As none of the Ishizu monsters have any relevant effects on the field, you can safely trade them over for even more impressive monsters from your opponent’s side. And this condition is quite easy to achieve as well, given Agido the Ancient Sentry’s ability to summon itself and another Earth Fairy without using a normal summon.

And the cherry on top – Exchange of the Heart can tutor any trap from your deck, and you can activate it immediately! This sort of effect is generally very strong, especially given how easy it is to activate this card already. By swapping your opponent’s reliable monsters off their board, and you setting an additional trap from your deck, you can be very sure that your opponent will not be making any sort of comeback that turn.

Blast Held by Fate

Ishizu’s original trump card, Blast Held by a Tribute, was bested when Kaiba sacrificed God in order to summon his signature Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Now with a better retrain, this trap will not let Ishizu make the same mistake of underestimating fate again.

Blast Held by Fate

Blast Held by Fate
Normal Trap

  • When an opponent’s monster declares an attack: Destroy the 1 monster your opponent controls with the highest ATK (your choice, if tied), and if you do, inflict damage to your opponent equal to the destroyed monster’s original ATK, then, if “Exchange of the Spirit” is not in your GY, you take damage equal to the damage your opponent took.
  • If this card is sent from the hand or Deck to the GY: You can target 1 Level 4 EARTH Fairy monster in your GY; add it to your hand.
  • You can only use each effect of “Blast Held by Fate” once per turn.

The first effect is a battle trap-like effect that simply destroys and deals damage. Because unlike in the anime, where our games are actually 8000 life points more, this sort of damage dealing effect becomes way more subpar.

However, the second effect is useful if you happen to mill or discard this card, since it allows you to retrieve any one of Ishizu’s fairies back from the GY.

All things considered, this is not exactly the best card to be playing, especially when your general game plan is to mill the opponent, and there are always better battle traps in existence. However, this card is searchable as it mentions Exchange of the Spirit, so it could be worth considering.

Gravekeeper’s Trap

The final piece of support is this card, which represents Ishizu’s tenacity to battle fate and destiny – as well as lose the single duel she had on camera. Nevertheless, this is a very strong card.

Gravekeeper's Trap

Gravekeeper’s Trap
Continuous Trap

  • While “Exchange of the Spirit” is in your GY, your opponent cannot activate card effects in the GY or Special Summon monsters from the GY.
  • You can only use each of the following effects of “Gravekeeper’s Trap” once per turn.
  • During the Main Phase: You can discard 1 card; add 1 “Gravekeeper’s” monster or 1 EARTH Fairy monster from your Deck to your hand.
  • During your opponent’s Draw Phase, before they draw, if this card is already face-up on the field: Declare 1 card name; look at the card your opponent draws for their normal draw, and if it is the declared card, send it to the GY.

You can directly place this face-up from the effect of Mudora the Cestus Oracle. This is the archetype’s greatest card, as it can tutor your Ishizu cards from your deck every turn. As it discards for cost, this also helps trigger your Kelbek the Ancient Vanguard or Agido the Ancient Sentry from hand.

To back up your aggressive milling, Gravekeeper’s Trap also conveniently prevents your opponent from poking into their GY to activate or summon. Who said milling the opponent was helping them? Since the GY is a very valuable resource for many decks in the game, shutting access from it will definitely help in the long run.

The final effect is more of a gimmick if anything. However, you can guarantee it with Zolga the Prophet’s deck viewing abilities, which could potentially prevent any sort of miracle top decks. Or at the very least, you have the knowledge of what they top decked.

As a trap card, this card can be recycled with Kelbek, so do not worry about milling it right off the bat!

That about wraps up all of the new support Ishizu Ishtar has recieved since… the Battle City arc. If you managed to piece anything together, these cards encourage aggressive milling from Kelbek and Agido, while manipulating GY numbers with Mudora and Keldo. Surprisingly, these cards work and flow very nicely together! What do I mean? Here are some lists to further understand Ishizu’s role within the game.

Decklists

Pure Ishizu Mill

The first thing to do whenever you include Ishizu cards into any deck is to drop Exchange of the Spirit into the GY. Afterwards, all of your other cards will shine brighter.

In this list, we will pursue a mill strategy using Kelbek the Ancient Vanguard and Agido the Ancient Sentry, making use of both effects to mill at least 10 to 15 cards from the opponent every turn! It is very possible for one to mill the other, which constantly creates a chain reaction. You can expect the opponent to be down minimal cards by the fourth turn.

The spirits have been exchanged!

Herald of the Orange Light is a very naughty inclusion to the list: If you drop Kelbek or Agido with it, they can actually trigger and start milling! Theoretically, you could mill them 15 cards before you even begin your first draw phase!

Outside of the mill strategy, Mudora the Cestus Oracle and Keldo the Possessed Statue can summon themselves easily, so you can rely on strong extra deck monsters like Bagooska and even Baronne to push for game. This game can easily adapt to different strategies and deal with them, all while potentially milling their key resources, and locking them out of the GY.

Ishizu Tearalaments

Ishizu Tearalaments is expected to be the next best deck in the OCG after their July 2022 Limit Regulation. As two archetypes dedicated to aggressive yet random milling, they complement each other perfectly.

Tearalaments is an archetype that relies on sending their monsters into the GY, to trigger their effects and perform a fusion summon. Adding Ishizu cards to the mix will allow this archetype to constantly mill at least 2 to 4 of these main deck monsters, and perform multiple fusion monsters to overwhelm the opponent. Mudora the Cestus Oracle, Keldo the Possessed Statue and Gravekeeper’s Trap serves as additional disruption in case your opponent wanted to benefit from the shared milling as well. With the Orange Light trick I mentioned earlier, this deck can potentially spit out multiple fusions even before you start your first turn!

Of course, these Ishizu cards are so versatile that they can be added to any other GY reliant decks. This could include a Grass Looks Greener Variant, Vernalizer, even probably Mysterune if you’re looking for raw mill!

Millennium Thoughts and Conclusion

How did these cards suddenly become so relevant? Violent milling and a one sided GY lock down with little investment. These cards are perfect for many other decks right now, and will definitely see more experimentations in the future. Originally, I let the large walls of text mislead me into ignoring them. But now that they are a part of the metagame, it is necessary to read up on these cards. I personally enjoy how these cards will contribute to the good old traditional self-milling strategies, and I cannot wait to see what others will come up with. I am very impressed by the direction these retrains have taken just to accommodate Exchange of the Spirit. Now, we can continue expecting good things from these Element Duelist Packs in the future – Pyro support next?

If you are familiar with the Chinese Language, this is a very informative video about the impact of Ishizu’s cards in the metagame.

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Therarely

OCG-based writer. My favorite card is Ma'at, and I don't know where my last profile description went. Follow my hot takes on twitter! @akogarre Member of OzoneTCG


2 thoughts on “Exchanging Spirits with Ishizu’s Retrains


  • Avatar
    June 19, 2022 at 5:53 pm

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    nutty

  • Avatar
    June 22, 2022 at 11:47 pm

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    I guess they’ll be called “Ishizu cards” forever. Anyway i can see potential for sure, Tearlaments Ishizu sounds incredable & scary to some degree; cant wait for these cards in the TCG

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