Pendulums have a common reputation of being the “best deck.” Even if it’s a joke, it had its moments in the spotlight as a meta deck. Pendulum has been a polarizing mechanic since its release. It’s the only mechanic that has the power to summon multiple monsters at once. Today, I want to take a look at the history of Pendulums. I will go through the successful Pendulum Decks in the meta and see what each Deck offered. This will help us see how much the Pendulum mechanic took over the meta. Were they the powerhouse they had the potential to be, or did Konami truly balance the mechanic?
Table of Contents
How the Mechanic Works
There are two different phases of the Pendulum mechanic and how it works. When it was introduced in Master Rule 3, you had no limitations for this new mechanic. You had two special zones for Pendulum Scales and you could freely summon as many monsters as possible from the Extra Deck. You could also summon from the hand, and nothing changed with the rule change. In Master Rule 4 or Master Rule 2020, the Pendulum Scales moved to your Spell and Trap Zones. You were also locked to summoning Pendulums to the Extra Monster Zone or zones your Link Monsters point to. Even after they freed up Xyzs, Synchros, and Fusions from Master Rule 4’s change, Pendulums stayed the same.
Why did they not change the rule for Pendulums after Master Rule 4 and free them up like the other mechanics? It’s because of how unfair it is to summon so many monsters at once for free every turn. Most of the successful Pendulum Decks were before Master Rule 4. After the change in 2017, they needed their own Link Monster to really have the power boost to be a force. They’re still playable in the new Master Rule, but the Pendulum-focused Link really put Pendulums on another level. With that said, let’s look at all the Decks and see how good the mechanic did before and after the Master Rule change.
The Pendulum mechanic debuted in the Space-Time Showdown Starter Deck. This only gave us 2 Pendulum Monsters with Timegazer Magician and Stargazer Magician. The mechanic was expanded upon in the Duelist Alliance booster set. In this set, we mostly got some of the Performapal monsters and Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. There were also a few Normal Pendulum Monsters sprinkled in. The mechanic didn’t take off until The New Challengers, giving us the first competitive Pendulum archetype. With that, the Pendulum mechanic was off to the races for its first year. Once the first Pendulum Deck was hit, we were given a few more to replace it and keep the mechanic competitive. Overall, this part will go through the first year and a half of the Pendulum Mechanic and some of the Decks we saw. There weren’t many, but quality certainly favored over quantity here.
Qliphorts (Nov 2014-Nov 2016)
One of the first successful Pendulum archetypes was the Qliphort archetype. This archetype is focused on continuing to use your Pendulum Summon to be able to continuously Tribute Summon. Outside the Pendulum Summon, all your Qliphorts could be Normal Summoned as Level 4s with 1800 ATK. This is key considering all the main Qlis are Level 5 or higher. The key card is Qliphort Scout, a Normal Monster with a Pendulum Effect that pays 800 LP to search any Qli card. With Scout, you can get to your best Qli cards. You got your tribute fodder with Qliphort Helix and Qliphort Carrier. You also got the best tribute monsters being Qliphort Shell, Qliphort Disk, and Qliphort Stealth. All of the monsters you obtain build up to getting to Apoqliphort Towers in some variants.
The Deck was fairly consistent, especially since Scout could be searched off of Summoner’s Art. Outside Scout, you could also get Qliphort Monolith. Monolith rewards your Tribute Summons with End Phase draws, which you could get two of with Laser Qlip. You also had Saqlifice for more consistency since you’re likely tributing whatever you equip Saqlifice with, sending it to grave. You also had the archetypes own floodgate in Re-qliate, as well with recovery in Qlimate Change. The Deck sometimes even used Performapal Trampolynx to return Scout to hand after the Pendulum Summon to reactivate and search again. Wavering Eyes later came along to put Qlis in the Extra Deck to get to Scout, meaning you could search with Scout and load the Extra Deck with monsters to Pendulum Summon.
Qlis had two ways to play: floodgates and Towers Turbo. The floodgate variants used cards like Skill Drain and Vanity’s Emptiness to control the opponent. Skill Drain ensured the monsters you Normal Summon get their regular ATK instead of changing to 1800. Vanity’s was easy to abuse since Pendulum Monsters are hard to send to the grave. Towers Turbo was a variant that relied on as many consistency cards to summon Apoqliphort Towers as soon as possible. Towers had a massive amount of protection, making it hard for many Decks to get rid of. The Deck was hit early with Qliphort Scout going to 2 and Saqlifice going to 1. Both variants did well until you finally had Scout and Saqlifice to 1 and Towers banned, and even after, it had sparse success.
Pure Majespecters (Nov 2015-Mar 2017)
One of the next successful Pendulum archetypes came a year after Qliphort with the release of Majespecter. Majespecter focuses on Level 3-4 WIND Spellcasters that each get you a card. Majespecter Racoon – Bunbuku searches your monsters, while Crow – Yata gets your Spells and Fox – Kyubi gets your Traps. You also got Cat – Nekomata that gets any Majespecter card during the End Phase and Toad – Ogama to instantly set any Spell/Trap in the archetype. Their main boss is the Level 6 Unicorn – Kirin, one of the most powerful Pendulum Monsters in the game. Kirin can bounce your Pendulum Monster alongside an opponent’s monster as a Quick Effect. This got unfair when you added the fact Kirin, like the other Majespecters, couldn’t be targeted or destroyed by effects.
Majespecters could access Kirin via searching it with Bunbuku or tributing a Majespecter with Majesty’s Pegasus to summon it from Deck. Bunbuku searching Kirin was one reason Majespecter cards were popular in other Pendulum strategies. The other reason was the easy monster removal Majespecters provided. You had the simple spot removal with Majespecter Cyclone, Majespecter Storm, and Majespecter Tornado. You also can add some negation with Majespecter Tempest. All the Spells and Traps had a tribute cost, but that was fine since you could Pendulum Summon your monsters and search again. Majespecters were fairly consistent, and later adding Ties of the Brethren was a big boost to pure versions. Majespecters were a good Pendululm engine, but also solid as a pure strategy.
Performage Pendulums (Nov 2015-Jan 2016)
Early on, we saw signs of one of the best Pendulum Decks in the game in its earliest form. Performage Pendulums abused the most powerful card interactions at the time. That interaction involved Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer in one scale destroying a Performage Plushfire in the other. This not only netted you a 2nd Plushfire in hand, but also another Performage from Deck. It was extra consistent with Performage Damage Juggler being able to search for Plushfire. You also had the ever-so-powerful Wavering Eyes to destroy your scales, mainly Plushfire, for a likely Pendulum search and summon off Plushfire. Another way to destroy Plushfire was with Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer. This allowed you to return a card to the opponent’s Deck while also triggering Plushfire. You also had the added bonus of Ignister summoning a Dracoslayer from Deck.
The Deck Practice
The Deck saw a few experimental ideas tested within it. For one, it was one of the earliest Decks to use the Brilliant Fusion engine to get Gem-Knight Seraphinite. The interaction worked well in this Deck to send Performage Trick Clown, who would then revive himself. You also saw X-Saber Palomuro ran in the Deck for Naturia Beast access. Palomuro was the Tuner of choice due to its searchability with King of the Feral Imps, a card already ran to search Jigabyte. This was also an early Pendulum Deck to try a Majespecter variant as well.
With all that said, the goal always remained the same. The Deck spammed Rank 4s crazy fast. If it was a good Rank 4 at the time, it was likely used in this Deck. The only reason this Deck died off was because it evolved into a better variant, which we will get to in due time. Despite that, this was a very interesting variation of using the Performages.
The mechanic had a decent first year. We only had 1 competitive archetype in that year, but it held its own and evolved during that time. After that Deck slowed down at the end, we were given more Pendulums to enter the meta. We saw one of the more splashable archetypes and the early form of one of the best Decks in the game’s history. It wasn’t a jam-packed first year with only 3 real archetypes, but they all did leave a mark on the game. Next time, we’ll really get into the best Pendulum Deck we ever received and its evolution.
- Pendulum Evolution Part 5: Electrumite and Friends - May 8, 2021
- Pendulum Evolution Part 4: End of Master Rule 3 Era - May 6, 2021
- Pendulum Evolution Part 3: Heavymetal Pendulums - May 4, 2021