The TCG Meta Snapshot is a project by some of the writers at YGOPRODeck that aims to encapsulate the state of the meta during a specific format. The TCG Meta Snapshot also aims to rank decks in a somewhat looser tier system than the one used on Pojo. The tiers that we will use are as follows:
Tier 1: Highly Competitive Meta Decks. 10% or more of tops, as ranked by Pojo. This will roughly correspond to Pojo’s Tier 1, with some overlap into Pojo’s Tier 2.
Tier 2: Semi-Competitive Meta Decks. Less than 10% of tops, as ranked by Pojo. Corresponds to the rest of Pojo’s Tier 2, Pojo’s Tier 3, and Rogue.
Tier 3: Semi-Competitive non-Meta/Rogue decks. 1-2 tops. Specifically includes decks that only top small events or get lower rankings at medium events. Can also include decks that can potentially top but have not yet in a given format.
Tier 4: Casually Competitive non-Meta decks. Decks that can compete at the locals level, but cannot top an event.
Table of Contents
What can possibly be said about Gem-Knight FTK other than a long, deep sigh and a reluctant “game 2?”
While first-turn-kill strategies are usually incredibly fragile, die-roll reliant, and lack a competent backup plan, Gem-Knight FTK is different. It is redundant, has reliable “plan B’s,” and has comparable win-rates going first or second.
This deck aims to gain massive advantage with cards like Rescue Rabbit, Brilliant Fusion and Block Dragon. It then uses its massive resources to activate the effect of Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli and Gem-Knight Master Diamond several times in one turn. When interrupted, it can easily pump out two Gem-Knight Master Diamond and overlay for True King of All Calamities. When going second, its high-attack monsters make finding lethal a lot easier.
Despite being consistent and explosive, the prevalence of hand traps and interactive first-turn boards has condemned Gem-Knight FTK to the bottom of Tier 2.
This is Michael Cem Halıcıoğlu’s 1st place list from the March 2018 regional in Instanbul. Due to reporting errors, the sideboard is incomplete. This is one of the most resilient lists available. The suite of Predaplant Ophrys Scorpio and Predaplant Darlingtonia Cobra almost guarantee you’ll be able to find one of your many Brilliant Fusions. After that, there are a multitude of ways with Saryuja Skull Dread tricks and Gem-Knight Seraphinite shenanigans that you’ll be able to assemble your combo.
This is Andrew Irvine’s 7th place list from the March 2018 regional in Largs, Scotland. This list has traded resiliency for redundancy, opting for a playset of Gem-Armadillos, Block Dragons, and Unexpected Dai. In a deck tech, Andrew explains that he sideboarded VERY conservatively in an attempt to interfere with his engine as little as possible. Of note are the 3 Dragged Down into the Grave, the only lip service this list gives to handtraps. It’s anything but reciprocal, since more draws and Gem-Knights in the GY is exactly what you want.
The above lists represent almost all variance in builds for this archetype.
The main deckbuilding decision you’ll have to make is how often you want to see Brilliant Fusion. If you’re all in on the strategy, you become much more fragile to Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring. If that doesn’t bother you, you can play around with Predaplants or Left Arm Offering in order to find it faster.
When it comes to sideboarding, I wish I could defend playing 12 handtraps, but the deck is so resource-dependent that boarding more than a few cards seriously drops your win percentage. One option for rarely sideboarding is to include extra deck cards in your board. A copy of Gem-Knight Prismaura or a Gem-Knight Garnet and a Gem-Knight Ruby can take you a long way when going second. The sideboard is also a nice place for potential Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries packages against very specific decks, so you don’t need to devote more than 1 extra deck slot to it at a time.
Finally, while it hadn’t yet been released during the above tournaments, Called by the Grave is a no-brainer for this strategy.
The near-undisputed best deck, build variety in Pendulum Magicians has made it partially weak to Gem-Knight FTK. The deck has begun to transition to handtrap-less builds, opting to clear boards instead of disrupting them. That’s great news.
Winning the die-roll is critical in this matchup, but even if you don’t, it’s very possible you can grind through their negates with repeated recursion of Block Dragon. You’ll obviously have a harder time versus Number S0: Utopic Zexal variants. Plan for handtraps to make an appearance in games 2 and 3.
True Draco is an abysmal matchup. Most versions of the deck still include handtraps. Almost all versions of the deck include some form of monster effect negation. Even without those, a well-timed True Draco Apocalypse or True King’s Return can sour our day. You’re also not afforded the leeway you would be with Magicians or other special summon-reliant decks, where making one or two Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli is occasionally enough to steal games.
Make sure you’re making reads about what True Draco traps your opponent has set when going second. Forcing an early trap tribute can be the difference between a loss and a win with an FTK as robust as Gem-Knights’.
You are not likely to land the FTK against Trickstar. With only 13 Trickstars, they have the space to play the handtraps that prey on vulnerable FTK players like ourselves. If they open more than one or snag an important 1-of with a Trickstar Reincarnation, it’s often game over.
Despite this grim news, this is one specific matchup in which our backup plans are incredible. Trickstar has trouble with high-attack monsters, especially if they can’t use monster effects to out them, so making True King of All Calamities is usually an FTK as well. Bait your opponent into thinking you’re committing to the FTK line early, then end your turn on an unkillable boss monster with monster negation attached.
Surprisingly, Mekk-Knight Invoked isn’t nearly as terrible as you would expect. When going first, you’ll have to compete with a very large handtrap suite, of course. Going second, though, your opponent is likely to be pigeonholed into using a relevant handtrap for an Invoked Mechaba summon or keeping its sizeable body off the field.
One piece of great news for you is that Mekk-Knight Invoked routinely gains advantage by use of cards like Mind Control. Thankfully, you’ll live or die long before they have the chance to use those tools, so a significant portion of their deck will be completely dead until sideboarding.
As a final note, we’ll go over the most common 1.5-card FTK, using a copy of Brilliant Fusion and any Gem-Knight.
- Activate Brilliant Fusion, sending any vanilla Gem-Knight and Block Dragon to the GY and summoning Gem-Knight Zirconia.
- Normal summon another “Gem” card from your hand, and link summon Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz.
- Activate the effect of Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz, adding a Gem-Knight Fusion to your hand.
- Banish the normal summoned “Gem” monster, the vanilla Gem-Knight, and Gem-Knight Zirconia from your GY to special summon Block Dragon.
- Activate the other effect of Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz, returning all 3 to the deck to summon Gem-Knight Lady Brilliant Diamond.
- Use the effect of Gem-Knight Lady Brilliant Diamond to special summon Gem-Knight Master Diamond.
- Link summon Missus Radiant to the opposite extra monster zone using Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz and Block Dragon.
- Activate the effect of Block Dragon, adding Gem-Knight Obsidian, Gem-Knight Lapis, and Crystal Rose to your hand.
- Activate Gem-Knight Fusion to summon Gem-Knight Zirconia using Crystal Rose and Gem-Knight Lapis.
- Activate the effect of Crystal Rose, banishing Gem-Knight Lady Brilliant Diamond.
- Activate the other effect of Crystal Rose, sending Gem-Knight Lazuli to the GY.
- Activate the effect of Gem-Knight Lazuli to add Gem-Knight Lapis back to your hand.
- Activate the effect of Gem-Knight Fusion, banishing Gem-Knight Lazuli to add itself back to your hand.
- Activate Gem-Knight Fusion to summon Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli using Gem-Knight Obsidian and Gem-Knight Lapis.
- Activate the effect of Gem-Knight Obsidian to special summon Gem-Knight Lapis.
- Activate the effect of Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli to send any Gem-Knight from your deck to the GY, then deal 3000 points of damage.
- Activate the effect of Gem-Knight Fusion, banishing Gem-Knight Phantom Quartz from your GY to add itself back to your hand.
- Activate Gem-Knight Fusion to summon Gem-Knight Master Diamond using Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli, Crystal Rose, and Gem-Knight Zirconia.
- Banish any 3 Gem-Knights EXCEPT Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli from your GY to special summon Block Dragon.
- Activate the effect of Gem-Knight Master Diamond, banishing Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli.
- Activate the other effect of Gem-Knight Master Diamond, sending a copy for Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli from your extra deck to the GY to deal 2500 points of damage.
- Activate the effect of your remaining Gem-Knight Master Diamond, banishing Gem-Knight Lady Lapis Lazuli.
- Activate the other effect of your remaining Gem-Knight Master Diamond, sending any Gem-Knight to the GY in order to deal 2500 points of damage.
An FTK like no other, Gem-Knight FTK certainly deserves to be taken seriously. While it may struggle against multiple handtraps, the rise of some anti-handtrap tools and the removal of handtraps entirely from many top decks spells good news for this rock-solid strategy.