Pendulums have a common reputation of being the “best deck.” Even if it’s a joke, it’s had its moments in the spotlight as a meta deck. Pendulum has been a polarizing mechanic since its release. That’s due to the power this summoning mechanic can have on paper. 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 well balance the mechanic?
Table of Contents
How the Mechanic Works
There are two different phases of the Pendulum mechanic and how it worked. 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.
Now 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.
At this point, the mechanic is only a year old. We’ve seen the first competitive Pendulum strategy early on. When that died down, we got a few more. Now, it’s about time for the first Pendulum-related Structure Deck to come out. This Structure Deck would make an impact, but only for a short time as we impended Breakers of Shadow. That’s where the entire landscape changed and Pendulums were the lone force in the meta.
Master Rule 3 Pendulum Magician (Dec 2015-Dec 2016)
The first Structure Deck for Pendulums supported the Pendulum Magicians from the anime. We didn’t have the more insane cards we know well today, but there were still some powerhouses. First off, we were given Wisdom-Eye Magician to tutor any Pendulum Magician from Deck. Your main targets were Dragonpit Magician and Dragonpulse Magician for their removal. Oafdragon Magician was also useful to get other Magicians back to your hand. You could also throw in Nobledragon Magician with Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon for Level 7 Synchro access. You also couldn’t forget the archetypal searcher on Normal Summon: Performapal Skullcrobat Joker, or the double searching Pendulum Call.
The Deck had easy access to Fusions, Synchros, and Xyzs. The Level 7 Synchro pool was open, mainly Odd-Eyes’ own Synchro. Odd-Eyes Meteorburst Dragon was a good Synchro to shut down monster effects in the Battle Phase, as well as summon one of your scales on Synchro Summon. Odd-Eyes Fusion helped access the powerful Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon, who could negate an effect by returning a Pendulum from your Extra Deck to your Deck. You even had Rank 7 access, meaning Number 11: Big Eye or Odd-Eyes Absolute Dragon. Absolute Dragon had a good attack negation effect that also revived an Odd-Eyes monster. It could also float upon destruction for an Odd-Eyes in the Extra Deck. It made for quick access to Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon or Odd-Eyes Rebellion Dragon for another Pendulum.
Rank 4s and Level 8 Synchros were also possible. This way you could get to the Rank 4 toolbox and Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer. The Performage package was good in the Deck when it was legal, as well as the Majespecters. Pendulum Magicians had good scales to help Pendulum Summon Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin. Don’t forget the ability to continuously Pendulum Summon the powerful Mist Valley Apex Avian for negations. The Deck had some nice options at its access, and it was a viable strategy when we weren’t in a tier 0 format.
Performages & Pals (Jan 2016-Feb 2016)
Now for one of the most dominant Decks in the game’s history. Performages & Pals, or Pepe for short, had a short run, but it’s one with many horror stories. The Deck took the the combo with Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer and Performage Plushfire and added 100 time more consistency. Now we added the Performapal cards. We already had Skullcrobat Joker, which searches Performapals alongside Pendulum Magicians. Performapal Monkeyboard was another free search once it was in your scale. The best search was with Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer, since it could pop your cards and get Performapals. Add this with Plushfire and you could get a Performage on field and Performapal in hand.
The Deck had an easily searchable Pot of Greed combo as well. You just needed Performapal Guitartle in one scale and place Performapal Lizardraw in another scale. It’s a draw 2 in a Deck with a lot of search power already. It made a lot of Rank 4s easily. On top of that, you could easily put Ignister Prominence alongside Dinoster Power, the Mighty Dracoslayer for some protection on your Pendulum cards. The Rank 4s you typically saw depended on what format you were in when you played against this Deck. The Dracoslayer cards in Deck were easy to get to via Draco Face-Off, almost ensuring you get to your Luster Pendulum one way or another.
TCG and OCG Differences
For one, the TCG had the powerful Tellarknight Ptolemaeus. The OCG banned this in the middle of the Deck’s run, but TCG had it the entire month the Deck was legal. Ptolemaeus could summon Constellar Pleiades or Cyber Dragon Nova. Nova was used to access to Cyber Dragon Infinity. You also had Traptrix Rafflesia available. OCG also had exclusive access to Lavalval Chain to send Blackwing – Zephyros the Elite from Deck to grave, if not sending Performage Trick Clown. You could also do the Clownblade combo of Heroic Challenger – Thousand Blades with Trick Clown. This was a combo the TCG never got since Lavalval Chain was banned before Trick Clown was released.
The main problem the OCG had was access to Number 16: Shock Master. While the TCG banned Shock Master in September of 2013, the OCG had it around for about 2 more years. This way, you could lock the opponent out from playing the game. The TCG had their own bit of exclusivity. The TCG had access to Elder Entity Norden in their Extra Deck. This meant the opponent could Instant Fusion to make another easy Rank 4. The Deck had the consistency and power to make it the most dominant Deck during its time.
This Deck was the lone force to bring the first and only Adjusted Forbidden and Limited List in the game’s history. This list banned Tellarknight Ptolemaeus, Performage Damage Juggler, and Performage Plushifre. This basically killed off the use of the Performages in this Deck and Cyber Dragon Infinity access. Not only that, but they went for the Performapal and Dracoslayer consistency as well. Luster Pendulum, Performapal Skullcrobat Joker, and Performapal Monkeyboard were all limited. The Deck had a short run, but it was a lethal Deck if you played during this time, as it dominated top cuts at YCS and other events.
If you wanted to drop the Performages, you could try a Guiding Ariadne version. This version let you destroy Guiding Ariadne via Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer. This let you search for some Counter Traps. You were likely going for Solemn cards. The TCG never had access to Solemn Judgment in their version. With that said, you still had Solemn Strike, Solemn Scolding, and Solemn Warning. Ariadne improved the Counter Traps as well by nullifying their cost if it was in a Pendulum Scale. It was different, but a fun version. It was sometimes added into the Performapal and Performage version, but it was separated without Performages as well.
Dracopals (Feb 2016-Oct 2016)
Once we lost the Performages and Performapals got nerfed, the Deck evolved to stay relevant. Now, we started using various more Performapals. Performapal Secondonkey could search a Performapal if your scales are full. Performapal Silver Claw was also useful for another Pendulum and Level 4. Then, you got Performapal Helpprincess for a free Special Summon after summoning a Performapal. You also started seeing Rescue Rabbit to summon Master Pendulum, the Dracoslayer and Vector Pendulum, the Dracoverlord. You could also search them via Painful Decision. This helped set up Masked Chameleon for Level 8 Synchro access. Summoning Ignister Prominence and Dinoster Power was better once Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy was released.
The Deck started to adopt Majespecters with the loss of Performages. You also saw a Dark package threw in, mainly Armageddon Knight and Blackwing – Zephyros the Elite. Shaddoll Dragon was also useful for Spell/Trap removal. Guiding Ariadne also found a slot in this Deck for Solemns. Glow-Up Bulb was useful for Naturia Beast access. Eventually, we got more searchable Performapals for easy Scale access. This was done via Performapal Odd-Eyes Light Phoenix and Performapal Odd-Eyes Unicorn. Both being Odd-Eyes monsters let you use Sky Iris. It also meant you could more easily use Odd-Eyes Fusion into Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon. It was a nice adaptation that was hit with Draco Face-Off and Ignister to 1 while Monkeyboard was banned alongside Wavering Eyes. At the end of the day, the Deck helped make Performapals leave a massive impact on the game.
2016 was a banner year for the Performapal archetype. Coming off the powerful Performage cards we got in 2015, the Performage and Pal Deck had a strong start in 2016. It didn’t last long due to high results bringing an emergency F/L List update. Despite the setbacks, the Deck still adapted through the adversity Konami threw at it. They were finally able to bring it to a halt, but Performapals will still be remembered as one of the best Pendulum archetypes ever, alongside Performages and Dracoslayers. Next time, we start to get a little heavy metal.
- 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