Product Review: Ancient Guardians
Yu-Gi-Oh's latest deck building set saw its release six days ago and is already getting sold out in both local and international markets; a stark contrast to the overwhelmingly negative reviews which ANGU got when it was first announced. In this week's review, we'll be taking an in depth look at this booster and explain exactly why Ancient Guardians is setting itself up to be one of the most promising meta strategies for the latter half of 2021! Before we get to the minute details, let's take a look at this set's makeup. As stated by Konami, the complete Ancient Guardians booster set contains 60-cards: 10 Ultra Rares, 15 Super Rares and 35 Rares, with 7 cards (6 rares + 1 foil) per booster pack. 15 cards in the set are also available as Collector's Rares, and these are still being ID'd at the time of writing.
The set introduces 3 new archetypes into the game, these being Ogdoadics (Egyptian Snakes), Ursarctics (Mecha Polar Bears from Space) and Solfachords (Pendulum Waifus) all of which share a common theme of giving anyone who tries to pronounce them a stroke. Jokes aside, it's wise to treat these monstrous decks with due respect as Ogdoadics have already started stealing spots in locals and Solfachords currently have a 6 negate board at their disposal. Reprints are another stellar aspect of Ancient Guardians, with cards like Snake Rain, Skull Meister, Trade In and Dinowrestler Pankratops all finding easily accessible Rare reprints in the set for everyone to finally get their copy of these previously elusive cards. One way or the other, Ancient Guardians is primed to change the face of YuGiOh forever.
Let's consider the snakes first, since they're the most likely meta contender from this box. Originally translated as "Abhyss" from their Japanese name, this archetype saw a radical (but more appropriate!) shift in nomenclature to "Ogdoadic", accentuating their reference to ancient serpentine deities. This is perhaps the most awaited archetype of the year, especially in light of the massive hype which Snake Rain drew earlier this year as a massive non-OPT Foolish Burial for reptiles. And what did Konami do in response, you ask? Make a GY-centric Reptile deck.
Eager to be sent to the GY, the Ogdoadics function as recursive resources from the GY which can find room in any Chaos or Rank 8 deck. The deck currently consists of four level 4 monsters, four level 8 monsters and one level 10 monster supported by a less than stellar Spell/Trap lineup, of which the most promising contender at the time of writing is the Normal Spell Ogdoadic Water Lily; this card doubles as a Foolish Burial and Monster Reborn for the archetype, which is exactly what the deck needs to remain consistent. Future support is promised in upcoming sets like Dawn of Majesty, so this deck is far from its full potential right now.
Even so, the Ogdoadics have already made a name for themselves in tandem with the ever so ubiquitous Invoked archetype and you can see one highly successful build below:
Happy to burrow deep into the recesses of a player's GY, the Ogdoadics go against the norm of mediocrity set by reptile decks of the past, and are all too happy to rise from the grave to exert powerful control effects which punish your opponent and bolster your field with more slithering counterparts to wreak more necrotic havoc upon your opponent. Currently, the most anticipated addition to this deck is the second level 10 snake. With the current boss of the deck offering a non-targetting, non-destruction removal, it remains to be seen just how absurdly overpowered the updates to this deck will look like!
Moving on to our Space Polar Bears, the Usarctics are a Synchro Strategy like no other and have gained wide acclaim for introducing the first level 1 Synchro monster to the game. These arctic beasts consist of a main deck lineup of only lv 7 or 8 monsters, which can special summon themselves from the hand at the cost of tributing a lv 7 or higher monster from your hand; if you do so, however, the deck restricts you to playing only monsters which have a level for the rest of the turn, meaning that Link and Xyz summoning are immediately off the table. While this cost may seem steep and does limit the ease with which this deck can pump out rank 7 & 8 behemoths (you'll have to wait a full turn to be able to engage those methods of summoning), note that these bears all summon themselves as a quick effect, meaning that these restrictions can be easily bypassed with careful strategising.
The main deck bears have different types of effects based on their levels. The level 7s always provide you with some sort of card economy to offset the -2 that's needed to summon them, whether it be searching another one from the deck, recurring a fallen one from the GY to hand or special summoning yet another one from your hand. The level 8s are a force to be reckoned with as these allow for instant disruption effects on summon (provided that another bear is on the field to give them company), such popping a S/T, a book of moon or a D.D. Crow effect- all of which have huge potential when paried up with their quick effect summons. When paired up with their 2400+ ATK, these beasts pack quite a punch for the unsuspecting opponent!
Now let's get to the real juicy bit: the synchros! There are 3 to cover, and all 3 bring a lot to the table. We'll cover the gist of it here, but before we do, let's not forget to mention something very interesting here; all these monsters come with the following clause: "Cannot be Synchro Summoned. Must be Special Summoned (from your Extra Deck) by sending 1 Tuner [of a specific level range] and 1 non-Tuner [of a specific level range] you control to the GY, whose difference in Levels equals [a specific number matching the level of the Synchro monster]." This marks the first time an Extra Deck monster has had an effect that stops it from being Special Summoned by its own mechanic! Definitely interesting! Each of the 3 synchros released till date have their own effects, but here we'll be covering the effect of the biggest bear of them all: Ursarctic Septentrion!
Boasting a formidable 3000ATK, this monster flat out negates the effects of all Extra Deck monster without a level, meaning that your opponent's Link and Xyz monsters are rendered useless. To further accentuate its utility, this monster (as a HOPT) grants you a free archetypal search (monster, Spell or Trap!) when your opponent special summons, meaning that you can rapidly replenish your hand for more crazy bear plays on the next turn! With almost all decks in the game currently relying to some degree on link summons, Ursarctics are set to cause some catastrophic lockdowns and rage quits if maneuvered properly!
Last, but certainly not least, we come to the obligatory waifus of every deck building set, this time being the Solfachords (changed from "Doremichords" in the OCG). Finally re-acknowledging the existence of pendulum monsters after almost a year of ignoring them, Konami has designed a pendulum archetype to show us some love! The Solfachords are a very interesting strategy in this regard, since they focus almost exclusively on a highly defensive playstyle, which make their plays impossible to negate!
All low-Level/high-Scale "Solfachord" monsters share the Pendulum Effect of preventing negation of "Solfachord" Pendulum Monsters' Pendulum Summons, while the high-Level/low-Scale members prevent the opponent from responding to them with monster effects and Spell/Trap Cards. In addition, all even-numbered Level/odd-numbered Scale "Solfachord" monsters have an effect that requires the player to have an odd-numbered Scale in their Pendulum Zone, whereas all odd-numbered Level/even-numbered Scale ones have an effect that requires the player to have an even-numbered Scale in their Pendulum Zone.
As can be expected, the well known pendulum maniac Yugitiber Trif Gaming has already cooked up an absurdly powerful strategy centered around these fairies; you can check out his decklist below:
That just about wraps up our Product Review of Ancient Guardians folks! Could we possibly see 3 meta decks emerge from one deck-building set this time? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: Ancient Guardians are more than set to topple today's meta contenders!