(Editors note: This article has been updated to reflect the October 14th TCG Forbidden and Limited List)
On July 1st, 2019 the new OCG Limit Regulation came into effect, making Knightmare Mermaid Forbidden in Asia. On October 14, the TCG eventually followed suit. Mermaid was a vital piece of the way Orcust decks were being played in the metagame. This is because it allowed consistent access to a powerful combo with almost any two monsters. While the deck’s time in the spotlight may be coming to a close, dedicated fans will find a similar power level can be found with a little creativity. Let’s look at a few ways you can play Orcust without Knightmare Mermaid.
In case you’re not familiar with the combo, let me outline our goal here. After the ban of The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche, Orcust has a few different options for end boards. A common example is Longirsu, the Orcust Orchestrator pointing to Dingirsu, the Orcust of the Evening Star, with Orcust Crescendo set. This usually means summoning Galatea, the Orcust Automaton and one extra material, without using the once per turn effect of Orcust Cymbal Skeleton. This way, you can summon Longirsu, and Cymbal can revive Galatea. The combo then continues from there.
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The Old Orcust without Knightmare
Orcust Knightmare, the reason Mermaid was such an enabler, was released one main set after most of the deck’s other cards. Early adopters have always had to play Orcust without Knightmare. So how did they do it? Well, there are a couple of starters that can get you to exactly the same combo the deck succeeds with now! All that Knightmare brought was making it an easy series of one-card combos, whereas these require two.
There are two main starters, and they have one main thing in common. Both start by summoning something that can send an Orcust Monster from your Deck to the Graveyard. Thankfully, Orcust are the perfect cards to do this to! They’re DARK for our slightly criminal friend Armageddon Knight, Machine-type for Scrap Recycler, or you can go old-school with Mathematician. What they’ll send depends on the other card in your hand, so let’s look at the differences between the combos.
If you have Orcust Knightmare or Harp Horror in your hand, it’s not a brick like it is right now. In fact, you’re actually in luck. The Orcust monster you’ll be sending to the Graveyard is none other than Brass Bombard. Don’t laugh! While this tiny trumpet may not have been useful in old builds of the deck, it’s a simple starter here. Use Bombard’s effect to summon the Orcust from your hand, then Link Summon Galatea. If you had Knightmare, it can send Harp now, and either way from there Harp will summon Cymbal Skeleton. Cymbal Links with Galatea to make Longirsu, and then revives her – we’ve reached our goal.
Brass Bombard may be somewhat of an undesirable Garnet, but this combo has a lot of appeal as a more “pure” variant. A deck focusing on this combo will likely play 3 each of Harp Horror and Knightmare, which can make options like Orcustrated Return a lot more reliable. There’s also a lot of room for flexibility if you’re trying to get to a combo from a weird game state.
If you don’t have another Orcust in your hand, you need to find an extender – some way to Special Summon another DARK monster to the field. The most obvious candidate is to fill your deck with Danger! monsters, but there are plenty of alternative options. You can use revival cards like Monster Reborn after summoning Galatea. In a pinch, you can use an Instant Fusion you’d otherwise save for El Shaddoll Winda. My favourite spicy tech in this category is World Legacy – “World Crown”. You can Special Summon it to Galatea’s zone, or if you don’t need it for the combo it can serve as a negate later.
Once you’ve got your extender, all you need to do is summon Galatea! The card you send to the graveyard will be Harp Horror (or Knightmare if you want to have more banished), which will summon Cymbal Skeleton the same way as above. Just summon the extender after Link Summoning Galatea, then use them both to make Longirsu. Revive Galatea with Cymbal Skeleton and you’re on track to victory.
New Options for Orcust without Knightmare
So we can play the deck Orcust without Knightmare. But what if that’s not good enough? What if I’m totally wrong and the deck as a whole just doesn’t cut it – but you gotta find a use for that Ultimate Rare Galatea. Can we play just a few Orcust cards without Knightmare? Well, I wouldn’t have brought it up unless I thought the answer was yes!
I haven’t been able to test the concept, but I believe that Orcust should be viable as a small, splashable engine aiming to add Orcust Crescendo as an extra negate to already established combo boards. All you need is one spare monster on the field and a way to slip Harp Horror into the graveyard. From there, Harp Horror can summon another Orcust, which will make Galatea along with the spare monster. From there, she can shuffle Harp and set Crescendo.
There are a couple of different examples of decks this immediately seems potentially useful in. Burning Abyss is not exactly at its highest point right now, but Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal is as flexible as ever, and Harp Horror is one of many cards it can send. For bonus synergy, Crescendo can search Orbital Hydralander! Another deck is Danger! Thunder Dragon, which could easily find a spare Harp Horror off Saryuja and discard it.
Orcust is a deck that was propelled very suddenly into the metagame by powerful new support. However, it existed before that support and was very playable at a casual level. Now, even without one of the lynchpins of their current strategy, they still have both their old playability and the new support they got. I believe this makes Orcust still a very potent deck, if no longer the metagame dominator, at least as a rogue contender.