Rank-8 Dragon Link – or ‘How Blue-Eyes White Dragon led me to build Dragon Link instead’

Deck Information
Deck Type: Meta Decks
Deck Master: Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss
Submission Date: October 25th 2021
Author: unionforever
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Return to the Source: How Blue-Eyes White Dragon led me to build Dragon Link

Like many returning millennial YuGiOh players who put the game down when they were in middle school, my re-entry point was the ultimate creature of destruction: Blue-Eyes White Dragon. I knew the game had changed so much since I last played in roughly 2003 and after extensively reading about the existing BEWD support--including copious warnings and admonitions from seasoned players that such a deck was inconsistent, often bricked and generally could not compete. I believed them for the most part, but I also wasn't sure how much I would like YuGiOh as a game itself. If I was going to start playing again and learn the game, I wasn't going to invest in some more or less unknown archetypal deck recognized as being competitive. Frankly I had no concept of what 'competitive' meant in present-day YuGiOh six months or so ago. I wanted something familiar, interesting and extensive enough to really sink my teeth into learning. That was Blue-Eyes White Dragon.

As it turns out, it couldn't have happened any other way. Because of fairly regular support releases for the archetype, building Blue-Eyes nearly hits all the major summoning mechanics of YuGiOh--and if it doesn't hit them, it's at least adjacent to them. Looking at both the Fusion and Ritual Blue-Eyes deck builds, I decided I preferred fusion and set to work building as strong a deck as I could. I studied card text and combo plays, building and testing new versions of my deck to casually duel at my neighborhood card store on Saturdays. Another player, now a good friend of mine, offered to teach me the game and patiently walked me through the present-day game mechanics and trouble-shot my deck with me. Whether I won or lost--and at the start, I almost always lost--I found that thoughtfully summating the games and matches didn't just help me improve my deck build; before long, I started to grasp the basic theory at work in YuGiOh.

Blue-Eyes Dragon Link: When the most-competitive-build-possible still can't compete

As the theory came into focus, I began to understand why my BEWD deck couldn't compete against certain archetypes--that being an article for another time. Now I had the foundation to look at the top meta-performing decks and think about them critically by way of comparison to my own. Naturally the closest analog to what I had started playing was Dragon Link, which unbeknownst to me at the time had just taken a serious body blow on the forbidden and limited list: Guardragon Elpy, a ridiculous card I never got to play with but badly wish I had, was banned and Striker Dragon was limited to x1. Some of the more competitive Blue-Eyes players had already tread the path of creatively applying the BEWD engine to Dragon Link, and even with the deck taking a hit, it still seemed capable of building the kind of boards that Dragon Link is known for building.

It meant moving away from the Blue-Eyes extra deck monsters--first scaling down the fusions to two or three like Blue-Eyes Alternative Ultimate Dragon; then down to just Blue-Eyes Twin Burst Dragon, which can be contact summoned, and excising the fusion engine completely; then swapping the Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon / Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon synchro package for the off-brand but far more powerful Chaos Ruler / Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss. That last change forced the most extensive reworking of my deck yet, forcing me to introduce several level-7 dragons in order to build into Hot Red Abyss and make use of his incredible omni-negate. There's absolutely nothing in BEWD that accomplishes this on its own so before long, I was running a small Rokket engine. It quickly became a bigger Rokket engine when I understood through practice just how much more power and consistency cards like Quick Launch and Rokket Tracer give Dragon Link as a deck.

When local tournaments resumed in my area, I started competing on Saturdays. Generally I would win 2 matches and lose 2 matches--never getting blown out turn-1 in the 2 losses but certainly unable to play through the statistically certain occurrence of bricking the opening hand. The last straw came in game-1 of a recent tournament, in which my opening hand consisted of Blue-Eyes White Dragon x3 and Sage with Eyes of Blue x2. I could normal summon Sage and add a tuner to my hand, but with no BEWDs left in the deck, I couldn't even pop Sage with Sage to bring out a Blue-Eyes monster from my deck. It was such an uncannily bad hand that it led me into the world of hypergeometric probability. As it turns out, the chances of drawing all three unredeemable bricks in the opening hand is about 1 in 1000, meaning this was a very particular freak-circumstance unlikely to repeat soon. More disturbing, however, was learning that a 40-card deck running 3x copies of Blue-Eyes White Dragon--a level-8 normal monster with nothing to its name but 3000 ATK / 2500 DEF--will draw into at least one of those blue bricks in about 33% of opening 5-card hands.

At present in the TCG, Blue-Eyes Dragon Link is without a doubt the most competitive build for the archetype. It actually integrates the 3 vanilla BEWDs into the Dragon Link resource system to generate card advantage and eventually make major rank-8 plays for the end-board--and when it works, it works about as well as the Rokket engine does. But no amount of creative integration can change the simple fact that the deck still runs 3 copies of a normal monster that, ordinarily, cannot be normal summoned.

Brick Theory and Resource Systems in YuGiOh

YuGiOh's resource system is the deck itself and the amount of cards the player has access to using at any given time. Hand-traps and even single disruptions are so powerful because even slight deficits in card advantage can quickly become game losses if the affected player cannot continue to extend their position. Bricking is a different problem with the same outcome. The disruption comes from the deck itself when the opening hand fails to provide enough starters to establish your position on the board. But within the category of 'bricking', there are two different types of bricks.

A player bricks if their opening hand consists of superior extenders without the necessary starters. This forces either suboptimal plays or ends the player's turn entirely. If they can survive into the next draw phase, however, they may draw into a starter that would suddenly make those dead extenders in-hand become live. This is a relative brick since the cards bricking the hand in one moment can easily become live with the addition of a starter. Just about every deck can brick in this way, even the most competitive decks in the meta-game--though it should be said that the most competitive decks are built to lower the probability of this bricked-out game state.

Drawing into cards like Blue-Eyes White Dragon is different, even if the principle at work is similar. By itself, BEWD is absolutely not, nor has it ever been, a starter since it cannot be normal summoned without tributing and does not have any effect in-hand, on-board or in-graveyard. In early YuGiOh, the card's high attack strength could compensate for its lack of effect and difficult summon condition, making it an additional (secondary/tertiary) extender into a player's win condition. But outside of the most casual of settings in the year of our Lord 2021, Blue-Eyes White Dragon cannot even be classed as an additional extender. Starters and extenders, both superior and additional, can make use of the monster, like Melody of Awakening Dragon (starter) or Blue-Eyes Alternative Dragon (extender) but the card itself doesn't advance the player's game position. It is a dead-in-the-hand absolute brick--and unfortunately decks built around Blue-Eyes pretty much have to run x3 copies.

Compare it to the two Dragon Link field spells: Dragon Ravine or Boot Sector Launch. These are cards a player never wants to see in the opening hand (or God forbid, both) because they are easily and incidentally searched in the process of any basic Dragon Link combo board unfolding. They are relative bricks in that they represent an added restriction on the player's resources, namely the opportunity cost of drawing a card you would have eventually added to hand instead of a starter or extender. Both can be played from the hand anyway, however, and potentially act as starters or extenders depending on the rest of the cards in-hand.

Blue-Eyes White Dragon, a card that has a ~33% chance of showing up in the opening hand of someone playing a 40-card deck, is not a relative brick, even though it too can be easily and incidentally searched and added to hand. At present, it is an absolute brick that can neither start nor extend plays on its own.

I look forward to the forthcoming Blue-Eyes support in the Battle of Chaos set scheduled for release in the USA in February 2022. Who knows how much the new fusion cards will help the archetype and open new possibilities for playing the deck? Practice is the only criterion of truth so time will tell. It's no exaggeration to say the deck archetype itself allowed me to learn and enjoy modern YuGiOh. Dialectically, however, that's exactly why I've discarded the build for competitive play.

Finally, on the deck itself:

Dragon Link is a powerful deck format that can accommodate several different types of engines, but social practice has demonstrated that the Rokket engine is second-to-none in generating consistency and power for the deck. Read enough deck profiles and you'll realize that Dragon Link decks are not the most creative builds you'll come across, this one included. In fact, the only twist worth noting is the Number 97: Draglubion Xyz Dragon package in the Extra Deck, which I've held over from previous decks as an OTK win condition in lieu of the ludicrously expensive Accesscode Talker. Naturally this requires more access to making rank-8 plays than the Rokket engine generally delivers so I run Galactic Spiral Dragon at x2, which easily summons itself from the hand or graveyard and can make all monsters you control level-8 for one turn, and--less out of the ordinary--Chaos Dragon Levianeer at x2. In general, I want to make Number 38: Hope Harbinger by itself first, rather than through Number 97: Draglubion. While Draglubion can bring out Hope Harbinger too, neither Number 92: Heart-eartH Dragon nor Number 100: Numeron Dragon can be optimally summoned by other means in this deck, effectively rendering them dead in the Extra Deck.

In most cases, I'll only make one or the other: Number 92 or 100. The general principle is that you never want to make Number 100 going first since it has no ATK without detaching its one and only material and cannot attack on the first turn anyway. Only very rarely will I make Draglubion at all going first--better to save your options for extending or rebuilding towards an OTK on turn-2--but if it's game 2 of a match and I know I'm going to face a restrictive board on my opponent's turn, the only acceptable Draglubion summoning target is Number 92. For the most part, though, these are plays to make if I lose the coin toss and get forced into going second or to power through a turn-2 or 3 OTK.

The side deck here is a generic toolbox consisting of a suite of hand-traps and tech-removal spells and traps.

Toggle Deck List
MonsterAsh Blossom & Joyous Spring x3
Rokket Tracer x3
Starliege Seyfert x3
Absorouter Dragon x2
Chaos Dragon Levianeer x2
Galactic Spiral Dragon x2
Rokket Synchron x2
Black Dragon Collapserpent x1
Black Metal Dragon x1
Chamber Dragonmaid x1
Effect Veiler x1
Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay x1
Noctovision Dragon x1
Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon x1
Rokket Recharger x1
White Dragon Wyverburster x1
SpellsChaos Space x3
Quick Launch x3
World Legacy Guardragon x2
Boot Sector Launch x1
Called by the Grave x1
Dragon Ravine x1
TrapsDragonmaid Tidying x2
Infinite Impermanence x1
ExtraBorreload Savage Dragon x1
Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon x1
Hot Red Dragon Archfiend Abyss x1
Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess x1
Borrelsword Dragon x1
Crystron Halqifibrax x1
Dragunity Knight - Romulus x1
Guardragon Pisty x1
Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres x1
Saryuja Skull Dread x1
Striker Dragon x1
Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy x1
Number 92: Heart-eartH Dragon x1
Number 97: Draglubion x1
Number 100: Numeron Dragon x1
SideArtifact Lancea x3
Dark Ruler No More x3
Droll & Lock Bird x3
Infinite Impermanence x2
Harpie's Feather Duster x1
Red Reboot x1
Solemn Judgment x1
Triple Tactics Talent x1

One thought on “Rank-8 Dragon Link – or ‘How Blue-Eyes White Dragon led me to build Dragon Link instead’

  • Avatar
    October 26, 2021 at 7:06 am



    Looking at this and your earlier deck post, this is one of the coolest and funniest stories about personal development regarding YU-Gi-OH! I’ve ever read.

    This is a very cool deck description and deck profile! 

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