I don’t know if you noticed, but a few months ago, there were some changes made to the game of Yu-Gi-Oh! These crazy new thingamajigs called “Link Monsters” showed up, carrying with them the ghoulish “Master Rule Four,” every extra deck-heavy strategy’s worst nightmare.
To hear the community tell it, these Link Monsters, upon release, went door-to-door across the land, murdering everyone’s favorite decks in a massacre that kicked off the Dark Age known as “Link Format.” There was weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As things started to settle though, players have started to realize that there are some Link Monsters that are generic enough to be included in many different decks, not just “Link decks” like World Chalice and SPYRAL. With a little ingenuity, these generic Link Monsters are able to revitalize old strategies and help them win games, even under Master Rule Four. Between July and August 2017, the first wave of Links was released in Starter Deck: Link Strike and Code of the Duelist, and we covered some of the generic uses of those cards in a previous article.
With the recent release of Circuit Break in the TCG and a couple more impending releases that are on everyone’s minds, let’s take a look at our second wave of generic Link Monsters.
This Link 2 waifu can be made with two monsters of the same Type, except for tokens. Its first use is obvious: bouncing cards. When Akashic Magician is summoned, it returns all monsters it points to, to the hand. This effect is situational at best as a removal option–I mean, if you’re opponent doesn’t see this card coming at all and puts one of their best guys in the zone that’s in the same column as the Extra Monster Zone, then you’re in business. Where this really shines, though, is returning your own monsters in your opponent’s possession to the hand. Summon a Kaiju to your opponent’s field, removing a major threat, then bounce the Kaiju back with Akashic and use it again. It’s the old Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin trick all over again!
There is one more use for Akashic’s bounce effect that has been seeing a lot of play in the OCG: Grinder Golem. With the help of generic Links with bounce effects like Akashic and the OCG-exclusive Security Dragon, Grinder Golem can generate a stream of free tokens that can lead to insane Link spam plays. Simply summon Grinder Golem to the opponent’s field in the Main Monster Zone in the same column as an Extra Monster Zone, get your two tokens, use them to summon two copies of Link Spider, make Akashic, and bounce the Golem back to hand, where it can be summoned again for two more tokens. Even without Security Dragon, with just Golem, a player can summon a Link 4 thanks to Akashic. For this reason, Akashic will doubtless be seen in many combo decks in the future.
Bu hey! Did you know that Akashic Magician has a second effect? Once per turn, you can add up the total Link Ratings of the Link Monsters co-linked to the card, and declare one card name. Akashic mills cards from the top of your deck, and if the card in question is there, you can add it to your hand. There are a few ways to abuse this at the moment. Decks like Infernoid, Lightsworn and Burning Abyss that would benefit from this mill currently have a hard time generating enough Link material to mill more than a card or two from the effect. I could see combo builds emerging that could take advantage of this effect, however, abusing cards like Level Eater and Grinder Golem, and future releases, may make this effect more applicable. It’s definitely something to keep in mind when working on creative builds, because setting up the grave and hand at the same time is very good.
Holy smokes, this guy is nuts! Borreload Dragon is the biggest and baddest Link Monster released so far, and he is seeing play in every Link deck for good reason. With a massive 3000 Attack and targeting protection, he hearkens back to the days when a certain black spaceship was at the top of everybody’s threat list. His attack modification Quick Effect makes him even harder to run over, dropping a monster by 500 Attack, and it cannot be responded to. He has great arrows, even if summoned into a Main Monster Zone.
All of this pales in comparison to its other effect, though. When the big guy attacks a monster, before damage calculation, you have the option to take control of that monster and place it in one of the zones Borreload points to. At that point, you can turn the opponent’s own monster against them, and you get to keep it until the next End Phase, at which point it is sent to the Graveyard. Non-targeting, non-destruction removal: one of the rarest and best forms of removal in the game, and Borreload has it. Even better is the fact that you get the monster on loan from the opponent before the removal occurs. Wowee.
While Borreload’s summoning requirements (3+ Effect Monsters) seem difficult to fulfill at first glance, smaller Link Monsters like Link Spider, Proxy Dragon, and Linkuriboh enable the use of tokens. He is easily made by any deck running Blackwing – Gofu the Vague Shadow or Scapegoat. It’s easy to foresee Borreload Dragon remaining a Link Monster staple for several formats to come.
While Trigate Wizard is the most generic Link Monster on this list by summoning requirements alone, it has perhaps the most niche use. This card is used primarily by decks that spam Link Monsters, like SPYRAL and World Chalice. Your average deck with a splashed Link engine like Gofu or Scapegoat will probably not use Trigate, because his power is directly connected to the number of monsters he has co-linked to him. Let’s look at each effect individually, but while we do, keep in mind that the effects stack. A Trigate Wizard with three co-links will have all three of these effects.
1+ monsters co-linked: Monsters that this card points to inflict doubled battle damage. The weakest effect is still a fairly good OTK-enabler. A Link spam strategy should have no problem putting large monsters on the board like Firewall Dragon, Ningirsu the World Chalice Warrior, and Borreload Dragon, and doubling these beaters’ damage output can mean doom for the opponent.
2+ monsters co-linked: Once-per-turn, targeted banish. The second effect is a solid removal effect. Banishing removal is better than destruction in most cases, and while Quick Effect removal is the standard in today’s game, that might just make Trigate too good. The removal effects in the Link Monster repertoire are fairly limited at this point, so having this option available to clear out threats is nice. Between this, Ningirsu, and Firewall, a Link strategy should have enough removal options to clear an opponent’s entire board.
3+ monsters co-linked: Once-per-turn negate-and-banish of anything. THIS is what you play Trigate Wizard for. Link strategies have been notoriously weak to removal up to this point. There’s nothing worse than solitairing for five minutes to end on a sick board, only for the opponent to rip Raigeki, Dark Hole, or Interrupted Kaiju Slumber and blast it all away. For this reason, some players included copies of Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju and Kyoutou Waterfront in World Chalice and some early SPYRAL builds. If the opponent has something to threaten your board, the negate can be used to save it. If they don’t, you just added an extra layer of disruption to your field.
If your deck has no trouble putting arrows on the board, Trigate Wizard is an easy card to include, because any archetype can make it, although few can use it to good effect.
The much-anticipated Linkuriboh unlocks potential in a lot of cards. This little guy can be summoned using any Level 1 monster, including tokens. He has two very good effects too. First, you can tribute Linkuriboh to reduce an opponent’s monster to 0 when they attack, deterring them from attacking and protecting your important monsters. Second, by tributing a Level 1 monster on your field, you can summon Linkuriboh from the Graveyard as a Quick Effect. His downward-pointing arrow is also very good, allowing the decks that use him to continue using an Extra Monster Zone and making co-link/Extra Link plays more secure.
There are many splashable Level 1 monsters decks can use to make use of Linkuriboh. Eater of Millions is a very good card that provides non-targeting, facedown-banishing monster removal and he is easily summonable for decks that aren’t reliant on their extra deck. After using him to “eat” an opponent’s monster, you can use him to summon Linkuriboh to disrupt your opponent’s Battle Phase and protect your board. Instant Fusion can be used to summon Thousand-Eyes Restrict to “suck up” an opponent’s monster, then you can use the TER to summon a Linkuriboh, ignoring the drawbacks of both Instant Fusion and TER. Naturally, the old standbys–Gofu, Scapegoat, and Grinder Golem–can also easily summon Linkuriboh, and the remaining tokens can be used as tributes to resummon him if you so desire.
Linkuriboh has also found his way into the combos of decks like D/D/D and SPYRAL, whose archetypes already include one or more Level 1 monsters. Look forward to seeing a lot of this little critter over the next few formats.
…And that’s it–for now! Extreme Force and the Link VRAINS Pack already promise to bring new, exciting Link Monsters to the game that are powerful and generic, including some of the best Links we’ve seen yet. We’ll definitely be reviewing those in a future article when they are closer to release. The game is at a very interesting, exciting point right now, and we can’t wait to see where it goes as the Link mechanic continues to develop. Until next time, keep adapting and innovating!
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