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? Well it’s cause 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.
We are approaching the end of Master Rule 3, where Pendulums were at full force. The rules are about to change and move your scales to your backrow, plus limit Pendulum Summons. Before that, there were still a few more lingering Decks that weren’t covered that have seen success. Today, I’m going to go through the final Decks of the Master Rule 3 era and see how good they were. We’ve already hit the best of the best, but there are still some goodies left over.
Performapal Odd-Eyes Pendulum Magician (Oct 2016-Dec 2016)
Performapal Odd-Eyes Pendulum Magician didn’t see much play in master rule 4, mostly because pure Pendulum Magician became better. This Deck was perfect considering how easy it was to bring the three archetypes together. The fact that Performapal Skullcrobat Joker searched all three archetypes was very strong. You also got some Performapal cards that were Odd-Eyes cards, meaning Sky Iris was an option for them as well as something like Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer. Also being able to use Pendulum Magicians was very good, mainly Wisdom-Eye Magician. These cards were great for helping completing scales.
Whether Performapal Odd-Eyes, Odd-Eyes Magicians, or all 3, The Odd-Eyes cards were probably some of the best for access to Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon and the Rank 7 package. Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon also searches your weaker Pendulums, and you got a good scale 8 with Odd-Eyes Mirage Dragon.
Magicians were pretty consistent outside Wisdom-Eye Magician with their powerful searcher, Pendulum Call. It was good to search Dragonpit Magician and Dragonpulse Magician for destruction options. Also despite not having Performapal Monkeyboard, Performapals added some consistency. You could continue with the Performapal Guitartle and Performapal Lizardraw combo. Performapal Odd-Eyes Unicorn and Performapal Odd-Eyes Light Phoenix are great scales. Overall, the three archetypes were a good mix and worked well in various mixes.
Zefra Yang Zing (Nov 2015-Jun 2016)
A long standing Pendulum archetype to stick around in the meta due to how it evolved. While the second wave of support was only seen post Master Rule 4, Zefras were played in Master Rule 3, mainly with Yang Zings. This is mainly because Yang Zing Zefras are the best Zefra deck. Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing is good to make any of your Yang Zings or Zefras become a Tuner for Synchro. Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing was a good searcher for your Zefra/Yang Zing Spells and Traps if destroyed or Pendulum Summoned. The Deck could potentially complete its scales as well, especially if you add more Zefras. You saw Satellarknight Zefrathuban and Stellarknight Zefraxciton as the other Zefras. This was because the Tellarknight Zefras were the second best Zefras for their removal.
Zefras were pretty consistent, even before the second wave of support, not just due to Zefraniu, but also Oracle of Zefra. Oracle searched any Zefra from the Deck on activation to complete your scales. It also let you stack your Deck with any monster after you Synchro Summon, setting up next turn plays. It helped that Oracle was searchable off of Zerfraniu. What Zerfraniu could also search was Zefra Divine Strike, which could remove your Zefras in the Extra Deck for negation. The only good Yang Zing Spell/Trap to search early on when Zefra Yang Zings were successful was Yang Zing Path, basically an archetypal Pot of Avarice.
Yang Zing Roles
The best part of the Yang Zings was their floating abilities. Any of them being destroyed by any means let you float into another Yang Zing. This could get you to the Yang Zing you want to use as Synchro Material, or a Zefra you want to have. All the Yang Zing non-Tuners were good at adding bonus effects to your Synchros, as well as letting you Synchro Summon on the opponent’s turn. You also had good Yang Zing Synchros to access like Yazi, Baxia, or Chaofeng at this point. Jiaotu was good for getting an immediate Synchro Summon, but required Yang Zings in hand to discard. Overall, everything came together to make Zefra Yang Zing a good Synchro Deck.
D/D/D (Dec 2015-Apr 2017)
One of the final Pendulum archetypes to see success before Master Rule 4 is interesting, since it didn’t use Pendulum too much in the final variant. You had decent consistency at first. D/D Savant Kepler was a good searcher for your Dark Contract cards. You could quickly get to Dark Contract with the Gate to act as a searcher for your D/D cards. Another good option is Dark Contract with the Swamp King for Fusion Summons. The third option was Dark Contract with the Witch for Quick Effect removal. With that said, Dark Contract with Errors is a fine Side Deck card for Trap negation.
Gate is good to search cards like D/D Swirl Slime to also set up a Fusion Summon, which D/D Necro Slime could also do in the grave. D/D/D Rebel King Leonidas was good in early versions to prevent your Dark Contracts from burning you. You had access to a good amount of revival, whether in the Main or Extra Deck. D/D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok is good to put in the Pendulum Scale to revive a D/D when you summon another one. It also did a similar role on summon for a Rank 8, only for D/D/Ds instead of D/Ds. Same goes for D/D/D Flame King Genghis and D/D/D Gust King Alexander to do the same, only in Fusion and Synchro form respectively. D/D Savant Thomas was also a great card to get your Kepler back from the Extra Deck to the hand.
Before the Structure Deck, the main goal of D/D was to put out several boss monsters. First off, D/D/D Wave Oblivion King Caesar Ragnarok is a pretty strong boss Fusion for the archetype to take care of opponent’s monsters. If the burn was getting to be too much, D/D/D Oracle King d’Arc is a perfect Fusion to heal you instead. D/D/D Wave King Caesar is a fine Rank 4 to revive monsters your opponent destroys in battle, as well as recover your Dark Contracts. Xyzs were pretty easy with D/D Berfomet so you can access the Rank you need. The best Rank to access was 8 for D/D/D Duo-Dawn King Kali Yuga for its Quick Effect Heavy Storm and its blanket ability to stop all other card effects on the field that turn its summoned.
Once we got the new Structure Deck after a long wait, the goal of D/D was to put as many interruptions on the board at once. D/D Lamia was a great Tuner for the archetype to revive itself. It sent your Dark Contracts or D/Ds to the grave, which could help setup more plays or remove dead cards. You were also given D/D Savant Copernicus to setup your graveyard for plays as well. D/D’s Extra Deck evolved as well with new options. D/D/D Dragonbane King Beowulf is a good Fusion to give your D/Ds some piercing. It was also a Heavy Storm in the Standby Phase if needed. The main new card was D/D/D Cursed King Siegfried to negate the effects of a face-up Spell/Trap on the field.
The Deck also went outside the archetype to find interruptions. Being good at putting Level 8s meant some good Rank 8s were useful. This was in the form of Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand or Number 38. Gust King Alexander plus Lamia was also instant access to Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon. You even saw access to Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier for its powerful removal. It was even possible on the opponent’s turn with Formula Synchron, which also let you draw a card. More draw power was accessible when the Deck used T.G. Hyper Librarian as well. The Structure Deck gave D/D the power it was waiting for to be a tier 1 threat, it just didn’t last long sadly due to Zoodiacs being released shortly after. The OCG at least got to play with this Deck a bit longer, basically the same way the TCG tried to. It didn’t use Pendulum Summons too much, but some cards being Pendulums did help.
These were personally some of my favorite Decks to use the Pendulum mechanic. I did like the concept of Performapals, Odd-Eyes, and Pendulum Magicians working together. I like Synchros, so seeing Zefra Yang Zing work was nice. Finally, D/D is a fun archetype that can do impressive things. D/D was probably the only tier 1 Deck out of these, and it didn’t last before Zoodiac made a tier 0 meta. Either way, these were fun strategies, and two of them still worked well in Master Rule 4 and Master Rule 2020. In the next and final part, we’ll look at the updated versions of Zefra and D/D in a new Master Rule, along with more Metalfoes. We’ll also see more Pendulum Decks successful in the updated Master Rules, thanks to Heavymetalfoes Electrumite.