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.
So we are finally at the Master Rule 4 update of 2017. This is where we can only Pendulum Summon to either an Extra Monster Zone or zones your Link Monsters point to. This was needed, because basically having a Soul Charge for 5 each turn for free is broken. You also had to put your Pendulum Scales in the regular Spell/Trap Zones. They no longer had their own dedicated spots. This means you can only have 3 regular Spells and Traps alongside 2 Pendulum Scales, or no scales and 5 Spells and Traps.
It seems like this is a massive nerf to Pendulum, but the mechanic still survived. First off, a Pendulum Summon is pretty good at providing Link fodder. It also improved a card like Odd-Eyes Absolute Dragon. You can use it as Link Material and get a free Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon for negation.
Not just that, but Pendulums got one of the most powerful Link-2s in the game: Heavymetalfoes Electrumite. Electrumite is a powerful card that helps generate so much advantage for Pendulums, and buffs several cards. The fact it can put any Pendulum in your Extra Deck from the Deck is great. It also lets you pop one of your cards to get any Pendulum from the Extra Deck. If that isn’t enough to generate advantage, you also got a free draw for losing a Pendulum Scale.
Master Rule 2020
Now I can’t neglect Master Rule 2020’s update as well. This update let you Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Summon freely to any zone like you could before Master Rule 4. Despite those three changing, Pendulums still worked the way they did in Master Rule 4. We weren’t ready for Pendulums to be what they were in Master Rule 3. This was still a nice buff to Pendulums, as it let them do Extra Deck plays anywhere and leave the proper zones open for a Pendulum Summon. Now that we understand the rule updates, we’ll get to the Pendulum Decks.
Pendulum Magician w/ Electurmite and Astrograph (Sept 2017-Jan 2020)
Let’s start with one of the best Pendulum Decks post Master Rule 4. Magicians return, but this time with a different lineup. We still had Wisdom-Eye Magician and Performapal Skullcrobat Joker, but with new friends instead. Double Iris Magician was a great monster whose destruction let you get to a Pendulumgraph. This let you get Time Pendulumgraph for removal or Star Pendulumgraph for more searching. Purple Poison Magician is great for serving as more removal when destroyed, likely off Time Pendulumgraph.
You could revive any of your Magicians as well with the destruction of Black Fang Magician. Harmonizing Magician was a great Level 4 Tuner whose Pendulum Summon let you get one of your Magicians from Deck. Finally, you had Astrograph Sorcerer, who could be summoned when a card of yours was destroyed and searched a same copy of the destroyed card from the Deck. This was the best card to synergize with Heavymetalfoes Electrumite, cause it generated a ton of advantage.
Pendulum F/L List Hits
The Deck was powerful, but not immune to the Forbidden and Limited List. Upon the release of Electrumite, we lost Skullcrobat Joker and Double Iris Magician. This killed a lot of consistency and made the Pendulumgraphs not as appealing. The Deck held out longer, even after Electrumite went to 1 and Astrograph eventually got banned. This is mainly because Chronograph Sorcerer became a solid replacement to extend plays. The only way to really finish the Deck off was the ban of Heavymetalfoes Electrumite.
The main goal of the Deck, besides generating as much advantage as possible, was to put up as many interruptions as possible. Mist Valley Apex Avian could be played since it was easy to Pendulum Summon. The Deck also made use of the Absolute Dragon being linked away to summon Vortex Dragon combo. You could simply send Absolute Dragon to grave with a used Electrumite to summon Zefra Metaltron, a decent Link-3 for Pendulums. It was easy to put out Level 7s, especially if you ran Supreme King Dragon Darkwurm. Darkwurm’s summon could search Supreme King Gate Zero for either a low scale or Level 7. You could also access some decent Xyzs like Evilswarm Nightmare or Norito the Moral Leader.
The Deck even had access to an FTK for a bit. All you needed was to get Lyrilusc – Independent Nightingale into the grave after summoning it with Instant Fusion. It was easy to do with Link Summons. This means you can have it in the graveyard for Supreme King Dragon Starving Venom. You needed to summon 2, which was feasible after you summoned enough of your Magicians. This way, they can copy the effect of Nightingale in the grave and burn the opponent enough for an FTK. This was handled as soon as possible with Starving Venom’s ban, but it was a successful FTK at the time. The Deck had a lot going for it, which is why it was the best Pendulum strategy in Master Rule 4.
Metalfoes (Feb 2018)
When you look at Heavymetalfoes Electrumite, you might think Metalfoes quickly. It is a Metalfoe monster, if anything. Luckily, Metalfoes had some success with their Link-2. They were able to work well with Astrograph Sorcerer alongside Electrumite and their vanilla Pendulums. It was easy to generate the advantage off any Metalfoe with Astrograph. You also tried to put out a decent board with cards like Fullmetalfoes Alkahest and Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon. You could also try to abuse Metalfoes Combination with some True Draco cards. It helped you also put out another powerful monster in Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King. Metalfoes didn’t do much in the new Master Rule, but it got some results.
Zefra (Feb 2018-Feb 2020)
Zefras return, but now they can be ran pure. The Yang Zing variant is still viable, despite the TCG not being lucky to use Denglong in their variants. With that said, Zefra still had some nice support before the Master Rule update. Zefraath is a great new boss to put a Zefra in your Extra Deck and change its scale.
You also get more added consistency outside Oracle of Zefra with the newly added Zefra Providence. Providence can search any of your Zefra cards as well as protect your Zefra Pendulums. Finally you had Zefra War to act as removal in a Scrap Dragon-like way. It could even be used from the hand if you have two Zefras in your scales. Zefra has a ton of good consistency and potential, especially pure now. It could also make use of Pendulum good stuff to add more utility. It should also be mentioned that it could punish players using Oracle of Zefra as their Set Rotation brick over Gateway to Chaos. It’s not like OCG, since they have Denglong, but it still works in the TCG.
Endymion Pendulum (May 2019-Feb 2020)
Spell Counters are perfect for anything using a lot of Spells. Thankfully, Pendulums can be treated as Spells in the scales. This was experimented with when we got the Mythical Beast archetype. That didn’t take off much besides Mythical Beast Master Cerberus and Mythical Beast Jackal King in other Pendulum Decks. Thankfully Endymion came along and finally made Spell Counters relevant.
First off, we got a great new boss monster in Endymion, the Mighty Master of Magic. It was easy to summon by using up Spell Counters and it became a nice Spell/Trap negation by bouncing your cards with Spell Counters. You could get it from the Deck with Servant of Endymion once it gets 3 Spell Counters in the scale. It was also searchable via Spell Power Mastery. Endymion were pretty good cards in other Pendulum Decks, as seen in some Pendulum Magician Decks. The Spell Counter generation made an FTK possible with Tempest Magician as well, when it was legal. With that said, it was able to see some success pure for the interruptions it could put up alongside the Mythcial Beasts. It’s weakened with the limit to Servant of Endymion, but still viable.
D/D/D (Apr 2020)
We finally end on a Deck that was hurt with Master Rule 4, but came back in 2020. D/D/D had an unlucky start coming just before Zoodiac. Then you finally get rid of the tier 0 format and the Master Rule change destroys your playstyle. While it was still possible in Master Rule 4, it was harder to achieve. Master Rule 2020 at least brought back the free spamming of Fusions, Synchros, and Xyzs. The Pendulum nerfs didn’t matter since the Deck didn’t Pendulum Summon that much or need much backrow. The game update now means D/D/D can put up negates, especially with the new Borreload Savage Dragon.
The Deck also could make more use of Pendulums with their new Link-2: D/D/D Abyss King Gilgamesh helping complete your scales. It locked you to D/D monsters, but it made using more D/D monsters more consistent. Plus you had good cards to end on still like Kali Yuga or Cursed King Siegfried. Plus it helped put big monsters on the field, whether the previous D/Ds or new cards they got since the rule change. D/D/D Flame High King Genghis was a good, stronger version of the original Flame King Genghis the Deck used. The rule change and new cards helped give the Deck more life, even if it only resulted in 1 top.
The rule updat hurt Pendulums somewhat, but new support and the inherit power of the mechanic kept it alive. It’s pretty interesting compared to other mechanics since it’s the only one that debuted since 2008 that wasn’t generic. It still created a rich history since 2014, probably more than Rituals and arguably Fusions. Links have a nice history as well, despite being shorter than Pendulums, and Synchros/Xyzs have a long history. They all might be addressed one day, but for now we can see how good Pendulums were over the years. They’re hurt without Electrumite in the TCG, though Grandoremichord Musesea might be an okay replacement, but I’m sure we’ll see Pendulums have a rise once more someday.