Fine Wine: Xyz Monsters! (2011-2013)

It’s been a while since we last looked at Xyz Monsters, but now we’re back! Make sure to check out the prologue of the Fine Wine series if you haven’t, as it tackled banned cards. Since there have been so many great ones that aged well in today’s modern landscape, we’ll be dividing the article into three parts/eras. Part 1 is going to cover the initial wave of them!

And while AA-Zeus is a massive payoff for all Xyz monsters, a lot of these cards are good on their own even without relying on it! Special thanks to the r/yugioh Discord server for their help on this article’s research!

Dinosaurs’ Divine Judgment

Let’s kick things off with the (in)famous Evolzar duo, Evolzar Dolkka and Evolzar Laggia! Did you know these things came out in 2011 of all things? Both of them were ahead of their time and rightfully so. They were the faces of Dino Rabbit back in the early Zexal era which found great success!

After that stint, they stayed dormant for years on end, as there were no good Dinosaur decks to work with. However, with the advent of the Dinosaur Structure Deck and with cards like Giant Rex, it became quite easy to make either of them.

Evolzar Dolkka’s raw power is hard to come by, essentially being double Divine Wrath on legs! A comparison would be something like the combination of Eva + Orange Light! Not only that, it’s neither once per turn nor chain, making it really hard to play around should your opponent not have an answer. It remains a great option and often an endboard piece in Dinosaurs, even if they are a little hindered with the Misc limit.

Laggia isn’t made as often in game 1, but it’s still definitely a powerhouse in its own right. While only having one negate is a little rough, the fact that it’s basically Solemn Judgment is nothing to scoff at. Being able to stop potential blowout Spells / Traps or summons from ruining your strategy is always great to have! It can come up a lot more in games 2 and 3 for this reason.

The last thing to note is that both monsters being Dragons is an upside as it gives you Double Evolution Pill fodder.

These two are without a doubt some of the finest Xyz monsters created in the early periods of the game. It’s honestly surprising how well designed they were.

RANK 10 TRAINS

Continuing on with our discussion, we come Skypalace Gangaridai and Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Gustav Max. Affectionally referred to as Rank 10 Trains, these cards have still been kicking it in the modern era! They’re easily accessible in the decks that can make them and provide powerful payoffs to boot. Pure Eldlich actually enjoys a couple of these a lot and brought some nice competitive success to the group. Not only that, actual Trains and Earth Machine (MIT) benefit nicely from them.

Gustav Max is a massive threat, bringing a large body and a sick effect to boot. Cleaving off 2000 LP is no joke when the ATK values that are flying around are quite high, and it’s often used to end the game one way or another. This is done by either finishing them off with it or laddering into Liebe for the kill.

Skypalace Gangaridai is a nice second option, albeit less popular than Gustav. It trades 1k burn for the ability to pop a card and not being able to attack. That last part doesn’t tend to matter due to Liebe cleaning up shop.

Both options are valid and it depends on the board state on what you go for. Should you need to remove a threat to push for lethal, you may prefer Gangaridai. Otherwise, Gustav is a lot cleaner.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the two work incredibly well with both Bullet Train and Derricrane. Both offer strong removal and recursion, respectively.

Super Dora’s release was delayed in the TCG and thus we’ll be looking over it in Part 2!

Stellar Constellations

This fine Constellar duo is up next! Both have been making a couple of waves in tournament play lately. Pleiades is up first, and its effect is quite short and sweet. Having the ability to bounce any card on the field as a Quick Effect is versatile and hard to stop. You can answer a multitude of things because of it, and Rank 5 also offers a nice body to boot. Not being generic makes you think its usage would be limited, but trust me it’s been around a lot.

For most of Tellarknight Ptolemaeus‘ lifespan, it was the best thing to summon and gave a ton of pressure against opponents. Extra Deck Monarch turned their Prime Monarchs into a must-answer threat that interacted with the opponent.

More recently, both Cyber Dragon and Eldlich are able to use it to great effect! For the latter, it even helps put the Golden Lands in the GY to get your engine rolling, and it gives you a backup plan should they get rid of your Eldlich.

It goes to show that even a couple of the meta decks of the current format would dread to stare down Pleiades, as so many of them require their NS to stick.

Its brethren M7 has been around for a long time and has a timeless effect to top it off. The main purpose of it was to recycle cards, and the cards you recycled depended on the deck. Gishkill enjoyed recycling back their Hieratics for looping when that was a popular strategy. Extra Deck Monarch loved getting back Ehther to drop on the opponent’s turn.

M7’s sighting in the modern era comes in the form of Virtual World! Thanks to their handy access to Rank 6s, this card is used in all VW Extra Decks. Near generic recycling is an absurd tool that any deck would kill for, and VW gets to abuse it hard.

The main target tends to be Jiji, as Lulu is already recovered by Jiji itself and gives you 2 names for your next turn to work with, 3 with Qinglong. Not only that, you can even recycle hand traps that you might’ve already used against your opponent. They may know that you have it, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with in the slightest.

Ruler of the Empty Space

Leviair is possibly the second finest member on the list, existing for over a decade and never being power crept. Its timeless ability to recur back banished resources is unlike any other and there have been several decks over the years that have taken advantage of this trait.

Early decks that had R3 access (via Tour Guide or not) made great use of Leviair, including decks like Dino Rabbit, Wind-Ups, Chaos Dragons (Lumina!), and so on. Infernity via 2 Necromancers could go into it. The important interaction was between Hundred Eyes Dragon and Infernity Mirage. HED would copy Mirage’s effect by banishing it, then you can Leviair back Mirage and perform some silly combos, thanks to it not being a hard once per turn. Mermail in particular loved having Leviair as they could Allure away Genex Controller and get back their banished resources after being used to summon Tidal.

Later down the line, it showed up heavily in Kozmo to create loop shenanigans with Kozmo Soartroopers. As it turns out, its revival effect was not a hard OPT either. Leviair recycling stuff and performing loops is kind of its claim to fame, and nothing else does its job as well.

Burning Abyss in most if not all of its iterations over the years (Trap Heavy, PK Fire, Block/Sekka) has also enjoyed extensive Leviair usage. Barbar can banish the BAs to burn the opponent to then bring back with Leviar! You can even steal monsters that you would hit with Farfa, in some circumstances. Block BA and PK Fire appreciated its presence.

And well, what do you know! In modern times it’s still out here kicking in modern Phantom Knight lists, being an absolute staple in the deck. Thanks to its ability to get back your PKs, Leviair gives you more extension and heavy follow-up. Making use of Utopic Draco Future, you even go into a second one! As a result, you’ve got a nasty setup and some insane plan B options on later turns.

All in all, this fine Xyz has earned a spot in the hall of fame for sure.

Honorable Mentions

Before we move on to the disputed number 1 of this era, let’s take a look at some fine honorable mentions. We won’t be able to cover them all in-depth, as we’d be here forever!

Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Tiger King had some sightings in Lunalight in 2020 as it was an incredible option that got you a free Tenki and could mass negate the entire field. It’s been showing up in Ancient Warrior Tri-Brigade variants as a solid pick.

Madolche Queen Tiaramisu provides absurd removal for the deck, not something many can boast. Especially from an Xyz made in 2012 of all things. Madolche is performing decently as a sleeper pick that shows up every now and then.

Bahamut Shark’s design makes it so it only gets better as time goes on! And lo and behold, the release of Toadally Awesome has shifted it to relevance time and time again. With Stealth Kragen looming on the horizon, the future looks fine for this fishy summoner.

Evilswarm Nightmare has a potentially powerful effect and has had some appearances here and there, especially in Lunalight before that deck got axed.

Hieratic Dragon King of Atum is notable for being “boomer” Elpy. Having such a powerful effect is nothing to scoff at either as the downsides are irrelevant. While you won’t see it often, it’s potent in a vacuum.

Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack finds a comfortable home in Infernoble Knight in recent times, as it is able to retrigger Coltwing and even pop Balmung! It also helps that two Power Tool Dragons make it.

Gagaga Cowboy has been dormant for a long time, but by design, it’s bound to see play yet again. This especially matters in timed events or just as a way to end the game.

Bujintei Kagutsuchi has a crazy on-summon effect tied to it but it doesn’t see much play due to the lack of decks able to use it. AW Eldlich fits it in nicely like a glove though!

Dweller of Aeons

Here we are, I present one of the strongest and arguably the best legal Xyz monsters of all time, Abyss Dweller. Released back in Abyss Rising as a TCG Exclusive in 2012, it’s been shredding ever since. A decade of success and accolades is nothing to scoff at, as Dweller has the results and tops to prove it too. No other Xyz monster comes even close to its impact.

Immediately upon its release, this Xyz has been making waves and shutting down GY-reliant decks left and right. It destroyed Mermail without remorse and others such as Dark World and Chaos Dragons weren’t spared either. After that, it continued to shred year after year, only ever slowing down for brief periods where GY-focused decks weren’t too popular, say something like the few Pendulum stints here and there.

Even to this day, Dweller is still a menace, able to shut down most of the popular decks in the format. Both meta and rogue alike dread running into it, as it locks up a lot of plays all by its own. Prank-Kids, Tri-Brigade, Shaddoll (Invoked Dogmatika), Drytron, the list goes on. Even decks that aren’t instantly FTKd by it such as Dragon Link can also be in trouble.

The only reason you don’t see it much is not too many decks can easily go into R4s as of now. However, the ones that are able to can always rely on it. Salamangreat in particular loves going into it, as Dweller + Wolf with HTs is a fine play most of the time.

A little while ago, FP Adamancipator would often end on Dweller alongside their usual end board. Even if the opponent had Dark Rulered them, the GY lock that it brought to the table was devastating to play against. That’s also a good part of what makes Dweller so good. Very rarely is it truly alone, as other disruption backs it up regularly. Dweller + Hand traps tends to be a good spot to hold your ground and survive until the next turn.

The 500 ATK boost doesn’t come up all that much, but it is a nice bonus should you get to it. Dweller being at 2200 makes it harder to run over and even gives the potential to lock the opponent yet again.

As long as modern decks continue to rely on GY effects, Dweller will find its place in the metagame and thrive one way or another. Receiving an Ulti printing in OTS 13 was 100% deserved. A lot of this might sound like hyperbole, but it truly is that good. The future looks bright for it as well, with Stealth Kragen arriving soon. That deck can handily make use of Dweller well and even make the ATK boost live!

Right now it’s enjoying spots in the Extra Decks of Prank-Kids and Salamangreat, respectively. In conclusion, it’s perhaps the finest Xyz monster to have aged so well in high-level play. No matter how much the landscape changes, Dweller will find a place and flourish in it.

Conclusion

And that wraps up our look into the early Xyz monsters that aged well! Which one is your favorite overall? Did I miss out on anything here? Whatever it is, make sure to leave a comment down below and tell us your thoughts. Until next time folks, Renren out! See you in future installments of the Fine Wine series!

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Renren

Article Writer and Tournament Meta Deck Archiver Renren. A big fan of Nero, Okita and Mekk-Knights!


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