(Thanks for Fuyuki’s translation and bring this article to English society)
I played this deck to Platinum 1 during Season 4 of Master Duel. This article is a brief analysis and review of said deck.
First off, Nekroz is an archetype that is noticeably weaker than the ones popular in the current meta. That this deck was able to achieve 14- and 7-win streaks in Platinum at the beginning of the month does not negate this fact. Personally, I am only playing this deck because of personal nostalgia and the MD meta. From a pragmatic point of view, Nekroz is a fairly poor deck choice – and moreover, my build being reviewed is hardly pragmatic.
As of April, the Master Duel ladder has not yet opened ranks beyond Platinum. This prevents effective stratification of player skill levels. In fact, with a reasonable level of skill and commitment, most archetypes can attain Platinum 1 – there is no need to stick to high tier decks. This is what attracted me to try a few weaker but more interesting decks (at least to me); for March it was Traptrix, for April, Nekroz.
This deck review is the natural extension of my notes on the matter. After some consideration, I decided to share the fruits of my research into this now-unpopular archetype. I do so not to recommend that anyone should pick up Nekroz before giving it some serious thought, but to encourage all of you – especially those of you new to Master Duel – to try the decks of your dreams.
Thanks to @吃独食的吉吉, who has discussed the deck with me all this time.
Many of the ideas in the build come from our talks.I am much obliged to @中二的泷泷 and @绀野木棉季 as well, two players still invested in exploring Nekroz to this day. Their work has inspired me a great deal.
Considering players new to Master Duel, all of the card names will be included in full. However, effects will not be included – please use Neuron or Yugipedia.
Table of Contents
Nekroz: Design and Playstyle
Strategy and Combos
Dogmatikas: A Brief How-To
Cards Not Played, and Why
Nekroz: Design and Playstyle
Nekroz is a very niche archetype nowadays, so let me give it a brief introduction. Though it has long lost its place on any reasonable tier list, Nekroz once dominated the metagame as a revolutionary Ritual archetype. At the time, ‘ritual summoning with Extra Deck cards’, ‘two-card Ritual’, and ‘summoning multiple Rituals with a single Spell’ were all unique characteristics that defied older convention. Taking the OCG by storm at the end of 2014 / beginning of 2015, Nekroz painted the whole metagame a distinct shade of blue. Nekroz of Unicore, Nekroz of Brionac, Nekroz Cycle, and Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz have all done their time in the Limit Regulation; Ritual support cards such as Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands, Senju of the Thousand Hands, and Preparation of Rites were affected at the time as well.
However, as Yu-Gi-Oh! further developed, the characteristics that once made Nekroz so special were no longer particularly worthwhile. The deck could make no waves even after the whole archetype was unlimited. In addition to this, Nekroz has multiple flaws when judged by the standards of modern Yu-Gi-Oh, such as:
• Lack of in-archetype card advantage: The design at the time was to break even, but since everyone gets free pluses now, breaking even is not good enough
• Lack of boss monsters: In the modern game, Nekroz of Unicore barely suffices. Some criticism will ensue later of Nekroz of Areadbhair and why it’s not very good.
• Bad action economy: You can only activate each Ritual Spell once per turn
• Poor resilience: Far cry from any remotely modern deck in this regard
• Bulky archetypal engine: Takes up a lot of slots in both the main and Extra
It is obvious that Nekroz cannot win in a direct confrontation against any modern deck. Therefore, other avenues to victory must be explored that emphasize the advantages Nekroz has:
• A plethora of searchers: Its consistency is the only thing that has somewhat kept up
• Counters certain meta decks: Mostly via the power of Nekroz of Unicore
• Powerful trades: Nekroz of Trishula is still a card
• Low reliance on Extra Deck: Various modern cards that spend the Extra can be used
• New Ritual support: The newcomers Diviner of the Herald (2020), and Cyber Angel Benten (2016)
To put it bluntly, all of the above can only be called the deck’s quirks, rather than advantages, in the modern metagame. Thankfully Master Duel lacks siding, so most decks do not really have the flexibility to react to unexpected situations. This is an opportunity for us to take advantage of.
Based on the above, we should clearly build a greedy deck that aims to fight other decks on uneven ground. Of course, though our strategy is risky, we should execute this strategy as consistently as possible in order to avoid any undesirable accidents. I mentioned a similar philosophy in the Traptrix deck review: “When you play a weak deck that intends to win against stronger ones, you must accept that there are some games you cannot win; but you should also do your utmost to secure those you can.”
The Main Deck
Cards mandatory to modern Yu-Gi-Oh, such as Ash Blossom and Joyous Spring and Maxx ‘C’ must be included as an entry fee. An effort should also be made to slim down the engine in order to include other cards. Finally, in order to maximize the probability of drawing these cards, the deck size cannot go beyond 40
Our first order of business is slimming down the engine, clarifying in the process which cards are absolutely necessary to play.
3 Nekroz of Brionac
3 Nekroz of Unicore
1 Nekroz of Clausolas
1 Nekroz of Trishula
1 Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz
2 Nekroz Kaleidoscope
1 Nekroz Mirror
1 Nekroz Cycle
Archetypal monsters are kept at a minimum (9).
The reason why cards like Nekroz of Gungnir are not played to protect Nekroz of Unicore will be discussed later.
Ritual Spells are kept to 4, as playing more will not actually help with resilience or recovery. Drawing multiple copies of the same Spell will lead to clogged hands; the best one to draw is Nekroz Kaleidoscope.
That’s the 13-card Nekroz engine.
3 Diviner of the Herald
1 Cyber Angel Benten
3 Preparation of Rites
3 Pot of Prosperity
Ten support cards.
Diviner of the Herald is a key starter, and can be accessed via Nekroz Kaleidoscope -> Herald of the Arc Light -> Cyber Angel Benten. Preparation of Rites and Pot of Prosperity need no explanation.
3 Ash Blossom and Joyous Spring
3 Maxx ‘C’
1 Disciple of the Nadir
1 Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous
1 Dogmatika Maximus
1 Dogmatika Fleurdelis, the Knighted
Ten other necessities. Six necessary handtraps, and four cards that serve as the basis of a Dogmatika mini-engine.
The final choices for the remaining 7:
A handtrap that can be searched by Cyber Angel Benten. Can decide the game against certain meta decks such as Tri-Brigade.
Lightning Storm / Nibiru, the Primal Being
Cards that bait out counters when going second and simplify the board state. Meta picks.
Archlord Kristya / Ret-time Reviver Emit-ter
Combo pieces that can be included while minimizing clogged hands. Archlord Kristya can sometimes still be played when topdecked into, and Emit-ter also has the ability to force a negate. Compared to other choices, they are the least likely to cause unfortunate accidents. How they are used will be discussed later.
A further inclusion to the Dogmatika mini-engine. An excellent disruption that can sometimes function as a starter as well.
Foolish Mass Burial
Can be used flexibly when going first or second. It is not expected to draw or use two.
The Extra Deck
The cards mandatory to the integrity of the deck are as follows.
3 Herald of the Arc Light
1 Elder Entity N’tss
1 Titaniklad the Ash Dragon
1 Toadally Awesome
The basic necessities for Nekroz and Dogmatika send-to-grave effects.
1 Crystron Halqifibrax
1 Formula Synchron
1 Geonator Transverser
1 Baronne de Fleur
1 Adamancipator Risen – Dragite
1 PSY-Framelord Omega
There are many choices for the remaining three slots, but they will not be often used. Most of the time they will be used to feed Pot of Prosperity. The following choices are my own, though I will list a few more possibilities later.
1 Bahamut Shark: Xyz option.
1 Ultimaya Tzolkin: A level 12 food for Nekroz Kaleidoscope that can actually see play sometimes.
1 Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon: Along with Ultimaya Tzolkin, has been only actually used once.
The Full Build
Strategy and Combos
When going first, the main plan is to floodgate the opponent out of playing Yu-Gi-Oh. This depends on the quality of your hand, and you have Plans A, B, and C. They are: [Kristya Floodgate], [Kind-of Swordsoul], and [Kaleido Unicore Pass]. The real way you combo off is with Diviner of the Herald, Crystron Halqifibrax, Baronne de Fleur and other such power cards to force the issue. Even then, you need to spend 2-3 cards to achieve an acceptable board state – a tremendous difference from meta decks. In fact, for Master Duel True King of All Calamities is a better monster to end on (which is why I said this build is far from pragmatic, earlier), but I am very tired of the Crystron Halqifibrax -> Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon line that exists in countless decks already.
Going second, the plan is to [simplify the board state and then summon Trishula]. Using certain cards from the hand to bait out negates, or resolving Lightning Storm to simplify the board and clean up unwanted monsters, is a necessary prerequisite. Considering current meta decks’ combo potential, Nekroz of Trishula hardly poses a credible threat alone, and it is hard to win even if you do resolve its effect.
Next, we will detail the combos going first. Some card names will be abbreviated here.
Plan A: Kristya Floodgate
The core of this plan is Archlord Kristya. It is very potent in a BO1 format like Master Duel. This board cannot be broken by Lightning Storm and similar, and short of Forbidden Droplet (or Dark Ruler No More) will result in victory.
If the board is broken, you will be at a significant disadvantage; you are pretty much going all in.
3-card Combo: Diviner + Brionac/Clausolas/Unicore/Kaleidoscope/Cycle/PoR (any 2) = Kristya + Baronne + Brionac
1. Diviner collects both pieces of Kaleidoscope + Unicore (either one missing). Kaleido + Unicore gets Cycle + Benten.
2. Unicore + Diviner -> Baronne de Fleur with Brionac in GY. Cycle Tributes Benten for Brionac.
3. Benten searches Kristya, which you then SS with its own effect (GY: Diviner, Arc, Arc, Benten), recycling
This is the most powerful combo you can do. Kristya protected by Baronne is very hard to deal with. You also have 3000+2800+2300=8100 on board, which is enough to kill the opponent if your board lives.
2-card Combo: Diviner + Brionac/Benten/PoR (any 1) = Kristya + Geonator
1. Diviner collects Benten + Cycle + Brionac in GY.
2. Tribute Benten to Cycle Brionac from GY, Benten searches Kristya.
3. Diviner + Brionac -> Crystron Halqifibrax, SS Ret-time Reviver Emit-ter. Halq + Emit-ter -> Geonator Transverser.
4. SS Kristya, recycling Diviner.
Geonator Transverser can protect Kristya from being destroyed by Lightning Storm and the like.
This can often win the game as well, but Infinite Impermanence and other cards will easily break this board. Depending on your hand, you may decide to go into [Kind-of Swordsoul] combo instead.
Clearly, this plan requires Diviner of the Herald to work, but without counting Pot of Prosperity there is only a 33.76% of opening with Diviner in your starting hand. Without it, we move to [Kind-of Swordsoul] as a Plan B.
Plan B: Kind-of Swordsoul
With Adamancipator Risen – Dragite and Baronne de Fleur as the core, this combo employs boss monsters outside the archetype to pressure the opponent.
The name comes from Mr. Pain’s sharp criticism of the combo: “Nekroz Deck, really? Isn’t this Swordsoul?”
3-Card Combo: Brionac/Clausolas/Unicore/Kaleido/Cycle/Benten/PoR (any 3) = Dragite + Halq + (Diviner search)
1. Find Kaleido + Unicore, then play them to find Cycle + Benten.
2. (With Brionac in GY) Tribute Benten to Cycle Brionac, searching
3. Diviner searches a follow-up. Unicore + Diviner -> Halqifibrax SS Emit-ter.
4. Emit-ter + Brionac -> Dragite.
Halqifibrax on enemy turn can go into Formula Synchron. Formula + Dragite = Baronne, which is two negates (kind of) and a draw.
Three cards for a board like this is quite weak. It is not generally enough to win. Against decks that are good at breaking boards, you have to rely on Dogmatika cards or hand traps to hold on until you can Summon Nekroz of Trishula to hit your opponent’s resources.
Since the combo uses Benten to search Diviner, of course you can combo off with Diviner in your opener as well.
2-Card Combo: Diviner + Brionac/Clausolas/Unicore/Kaleido/PoR (any 1) = Dragite + Halq
1. Diviner finds Kaleido + Unicore. Tribute Diviner to Cycle Brionac (dump Brionac to GY before this).
2. Diviner SS Emit-ter from Deck. Unicore + Emit-ter -> Halq SS
3. Diviner + Brionac -> Dragite.
So, if you have Diviner available for either 2-card combo, it is important to decide whether you want to go into [Kind-of Swordsoul] (Adamancipator Risen – Dragite + Crystron Halqifibrax) or [Kristya Floodgate] (Archlord Kristya + Geonator Transverser).
In an extreme case where you draw no Nekroz cards, Diviner can still make an 8-star Synchro with a single card. If you have enough hand traps or Dogmatika cards, you still have a small chance at victory.
1-Card: Diviner = Dragite
1. Diviner finds Cycle (Brionac in GY).
2. Cycle Brionac Tributing Diviner, SS Emit-ter.
3. Emit-ter + Brionac -> Dragite.
Aside from being a target for Diviner when Tributed by Nekroz Cycle, Ret-time Reviver Emit-ter can also reset Baronne’s second effect.
Plan C: Kaleido Unicore Pass
Your hand sucks and you only have 2 Nekroz cards. You could search Nekroz of Trishula to hand here, in order to possibly counter Infinite Impermanence.
Nekroz of Unicore can floodgate some meta decks, but will not be able to keep them fully under control.
Victory is heavily dependent on other cards in your hand, or what you topdeck.
The Dogmatika mini-engine’s cards are used to shore up weaknesses or further extend. They are not necessary to the main combos of the deck. However, they are much more important in the midgame, as will be explained shortly
Dogmatikas: A Brief How-To
Using your Dogmatikas is not complicated at all. There are two main uses: [Making a Better Board Going First] and [Generating Resources and Bodies in Midgame].
Dogmatika disruptions don’t need to be mentioned, of course: Dogmatika Fleurdelis, the Knighted and Dogmatika Punishment.
There’s not too much fancy going on. Disciple of the Nadir results in two disruptions, but multiple Dogmatikas in the opener still results in two only.
In the [Kind-of Swordsoul] strategy, Dogmatika Fleurdelis, the Knighted or Dogmatika Maximus can be used to Synchro out Baronne de Fleur alongside the Formula Synchron from Crystron Halqifibrax.
Dogmatika Maximus can provide, once only, the resources needed for a Ritual Summon (Herald of the Arc Light + Toadally Awesome). There are other choices of course, like PSY-Framelord Omega and Titaniklad the Ash Dragon. It can also be used to tweak the number of Fairies in the GY for Archlord Kristya.
Dogmatika Fleurdelis, the Knighted and any other Dogmatika can provide 5k damage, which is quite key.
The following five Dogmatika cards are played at one each. I have tried expanding the engine with poor results.
Disciple of the Nadir
Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous
Dogmatika Fleurdelis, the Knighted
The Nekroz engine is as small as it can be already. Increasing the number of Dogmatikas will only take up room for non-Nekroz cards. However, it is not particularly advantageous to draw multiple Dogmatikas compared to other non-Nekroz cards such as Maxx ‘C’. Furthermore, the 4 Dogmatika cards aside from Dogmatika Fleurdelis, the Knighted can all be used as starters to fetch the other cards, so one copy of a starter is ideally enough.
Under the current setup, the chance of drawing exactly one starter is 35.81%, and one-plus is 42.71%. Alongside Pot of Prosperity, I think this is the best that the deck can do.
In fact, there is a way to fetch Dogmatika cards with the Nekroz engine.
3-Card Combo: Kaleido + Unicore + Unicore (fetch into these) = Bahamut Shark + Toadally Awesome + (Ecclesia search)
1. Kaleido dumps Titaniklad to SS two Unicore, Xyz Bahamut Shark.
2. Bahamut Shark SS Toadally Awesome, End Phase Titaniklad SS Ecclesia and search.
This is a three-card combo that can be stopped by single cards such as Infinite Impermanence, so it is rarely used in practice due to its high risk. It should only be employed if you have a good read on your opponent’s hand.
Cards Not Played, and Why
Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon, True King of All Calamities
The natural extension to Crystron Halqifibrax, it is a more reliable combo route and ender than the current one, but I am too tired of it.
Nekroz of Areadbhair
The newest addition to the Nekroz archetype. It has a Quick Effect negation that negates monster effects. It has a lot of flaws, like the fact that its second effect Tributes as a cost, which means it will not trigger Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz and the like. Even if it were an effect, though, I would still give it a low rating because Tributing one card to negate one card is a one-for-one fundamentally speaking. This is a fatal flaw, because Nekroz already has a resource problem by going mostly one-for-one all the time.
Nekroz of Areadbhair is best played in decks that employ True King of All Calamities. It can be summoned before you combo off to prevent hand traps such as Nibiru, the Primal Being or PSY-Framegear Gamma.
In addition, including Ariel, Priestess of the Nekroz will make this card easier to summon.
Nekroz of Gungnir, Nekroz of Valkyrus, Nekroz of Decisive Armor
These are all mainly for protecting Nekroz of Unicore.
However, the Master Duel metagame is too unpredictable. Lightning Storm, Infinite Impermanence, and Dinowrestler Pankratops are all commonly seen cards. It is not a good choice to devote deck slots and resources to protect Nekroz of Unicore, because this is akin to boxing at shadows much of the time.
Worth mentioning that Nekroz of Decisive Armor is better than Nekroz of Valkyrus at protecting Unicore from battle destruction, because the former will not be hit by Called by the Grave.
Powerful hand trap when going second, and Nekroz has an easy time baiting enemy hand traps while keeping Gamma live when going first.
Unfortunately, Nekroz does not have the luxury of playing Garnets.
Drawing into PSY-Frame Driver will massively affect winrate, and the likelihood of doing so is 12.5%.
Triple Tactical Talents
It’s a good card usually, with the card draw effect the priority.
However, it is frequently the case that you cannot draw after using Pot of Prosperity, hence this card was cut from the deck.
Other Unused Extra Deck Monsters
Some other options for the Extra are listed here. They rarely get played just like the three I did pick. Including but not limited to:
Geomathmech Final Sigma: 12-star food for Kaleidoscope. Can be summoned.
Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal: Option for [Kristya Floodgate], replaced by Geonator Transverser.
Artemis, the Magistus Moon Maiden / Borreload Savage Dragon: Allows the summoning of Borreload Savage Dragon in [Kind-of Swordsoul] plan, by Linking Nekroz of Unicore into Artemis, the Magistus Moon Maiden.
Salamangreat Almiraj: Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous can Link into this card. It can also protect Nekroz of Unicore.
Desert Locusts: An alternative to Formula Synchron, can be used to Synchro with Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous to make Baronne de Fleur.
Fossil Warrior Skull Knight / Fossil Machine Skull Wagon: GY effects, allows Kaleidoscope into Brionac.
Wind Pegasus @Ignister: GY effect. Allows Kaleidoscope into Unicore + Clausolas.
Nowadays, Nekroz is not an attractive deck, so I appreciate all of you who have read thus far. Though I said at the beginning that I do not recommend any of you choose Nekroz without serious deliberation, I would be very happy if this article has piqued your interest in the deck.
More importantly, however, I hope to encourage everyone – especially the players who started playing with Master Duel or came from Duel Links – to play the decks you are interested in. Don’t be satisfied with copying the meta decks and playing ladder. With the current MD metagame, you have plenty of room to play what you like and innovate if you put in the effort.