Duel Links has kind of fallen out of favor in my phone app priority list for some time now.
It’s not that I don’t still love the game. I do. But Konami has a tendency to… Power creep a little faster than I’m comfortable with as a free-to-play user.
By power creep, I mean they add a new box of cards about once every two-to-three weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why that’s the decision they’ve made. New boxes mean a host of new cards that redefine the Player vs. Player metagame and keep the community thriving with new strategies.
It makes sense and is arguably a good business decision.
But because I don’t pay to buy the new boxes out, I wind up still stuck using a slowly accumulating set of gems to buy out older boxes while people are kicking everyone around with the newest stuff. While I still love the game for the computer-driven content that’s also constantly being added in, having myself be stuck in place on the PvP ladder because I can’t get past the newest, strongest card combinations without dumb luck is frustrating.
The PvP is half the draw of Duel Links, as it’s the real place to test out decks and earn good rewards. So it’s a shame that being so frustrated with it has taken away some of the fun of the game for me right now.
However, in the face of that frustration, I’ve decided to take a different approach than just giving up.
On April 26, the character level cap for every Legendary Duelist in the game was increased from 40 to 45. This meant a number of things for the game, but most notably: More gems and a new character-specific card for each duelist.
Many of the new level-up cards are just okay at best in my opinion. But two of them specifically stood out. Yami Yugi and Arkana both received a new support card for the Dark Magician archetype.
Seeing those two additional cards and remembering how much fun I used to have playing my Dark Magician/Dark Magician Girl combo deck inspired me to try to play a fun, nostalgic deck again rather than a purely meta-driven one.
Thus, my ‘Dark Magic Destruction’ deck was born.
It’s not the best deck in the world, but it has a bunch of super fun combo pieces that I’ve been enjoying playing more than most everything else since counter-fairies got a short-lived buff a few months back.
Because I’ve been having so much fun with the old DM, I wanted to bring back something from the days of old on my blog: Deck profiles.
I only did one about a year ago for a Bakura-driven fiend monster deck that I used during the 2017 World Championships. Seems fitting to have that format return now that I’m hitting the 2018 World Championship Qualifiers with a brand new, classic deck.
I’m looking to write a lot over the summer, and I’m going to try new things with this post in particular using the knowledge of formatting I’ve accumulated via Fire Emblem posts and using my newfound video powers.
So perhaps deck profiles are something that can see a return more frequently with new decks I try out over the next few months. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing!
For now, with that prologue about my current Duel Links journey out-of-the-way, let’s jump in.
Welcome to the dark carnival, everyone.
Obviously this isn’t your daddy’s Dark Magician. No no, this is the special red Dark Magician, utilized by Arkana the Rare Hunter during Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Battle City arc in the original anime.
For all intents and purposes, red Dark Magician is exactly the same as the original Dark Magician. Same stats, same description, same level, everything. The red guy is basically an angsty, cool teenage reprint of the classic monster.
A cool reprint with probably one of the best play mats in the game. Just saying.
So why use him instead of the classic, iconic DM?
Well… This version of the card has a special animation when summoned by Arkana specifically. And we’re using Arkana today, not Yugi.
See Arkana has a special skill called ‘Master of Magicians’ that helps grease the combo wheels of this particular deck. It allows him to draw one of three cards from outside of the deck (Dark Magic Attack, Thousand Knives and Dark Magic Expanded) after losing half his life points.
As you’ll see, it works perfectly with Dark Magic Curtain, one of his signature cards.
Now that you understand the skill helping drive the deck, let’s break down the actual cards making up that deck.
How could I start with anyone else?
Dark Magician is a normal monster that typically requires two monster tributes to summon. However, given the fact that it became the de facto mascot for Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole through its use by the original protagonist Yugi Muto, the card has received a heaping helping of support throughout the years that makes it a still viable boss monster to bring out.
In Duel Links, that support has slowly come out through things like the level-up rewards for Yami Yugi and Arkana, as I mentioned before, as well as in part through support via Tea Gardner and Yugi Muto.
Most of the strategies he uses involve cycling through spells that both allow for easier summoning, for drawing cards and for dealing with the opponent’s board.
My deck is something of a mix of all three.
Skilled Dark Magician is one of the newer cards added for Dark Magician through Arkana level-up rewards.
He’s an effect monster that can be immediately summoned with a fairly chunky 1900 attack and 1700 defense point spread that allows players to tribute him off when three spell counters are placed on the card (via separate spell cards being used while he’s on the field) to summon DM from the hand, deck or graveyard.
It’s the ‘deck or graveyard’ part of that statement that makes our skilled friend here so special. In a deck that utilizes combining and chaining spells for large plays, it’s rather easy to build up those three counters in the right circumstances, which means you can have a powerful unit early duel that has utility and revival capabilities late in the game.
Trust me, when I explain how the spells work together, you’ll see why he’s such a good card. I do wish there were three available, but two is a solid amount for now.
Now THIS is the real combo-maker of the deck. Magician’s Rod is a fairly unique support monster for the Dark Magician deck that facilitates a lot of different things because it has a number of effects — more than making up for the somewhat slim 1600 attack and downright disgraceful 100 defense.
First and foremost, summoning the Rod allows players to pull a spell or trap from the deck that lists ‘Dark Magician’ in some capacity. In my deck specifically there are three spells that do so, and each are important at different points in the duel.
In other words, this is the card you want in your opening hand to start working a bunch of different combos, but when late game comes he becomes more of a liability due to that low attack.
The secondary effect is less useful, but it has potential to help. When Magician’s Rod is in the graveyard, if a spell or trap is used during the opponent’s turn (except during the damage step), the player can tribute one of their monsters to add the Rod back into their hand.
There’s some synergy to this effect in conjunction with the next card on my list, Blue Dragon Summoner. However, more often than not one use of the Magician’s Rod will lead to the exhaustion of most of its combo-making cards, so there isn’t a whole lot of point adding it back to your hand when there are no more cards to draw with it.
In other words, don’t be dumb like me and accidentally tribute your Dark Magician during your opponent’s turn to leave yourself open for the kill. Bad idea.
As I mentioned before, Blue Dragon here has some synergy with Magician’s Rod because of its primary effect: allowing players to add a normal monster (Dragon, Warrior or Spellcaster) from the deck to the hand when it’s sent from the field to the graveyard.
Obviously Dark Magician is the target for this effect. Being able to add that sucker to the hand is more often than not a benefit because it gives you a boss monster to summon and thins out the deck — or gives you cards not during your draw phase, thus making it more likely to draw other cards during said draw phase.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game of statistics, man.
What makes Blue Dragon special is that the drawing aspect works for both battle destruction and card effect destruction. Thus you can get a Dark Magician by using the Summoner as bait for an attack just as easily as you can get one by making him tribute fodder for something like Mgician’s Rod.
Theoretically Legion the Fiend Jester could also be an apt card to fill this slot over Blue Dragon, as he has the same draw effect and an extra assistance effect for tribute summoning.
But I have a soft spot for Blue Dragon, he’s an old favorite of mine. Plus his 1500 attack allows for a little more battle utility than Legion’s 1300.
In this Dark Magician deck, there are three spell cards that are useful specifically for the Magician himself, those that can be drawn out by Magician’s Rod. I’m going to go over those first in the order that I’d argue they’re useful to have throughout the duel.
Another Arkana level-up exclusive card, Dark Magic Curtain is a magical (pun slightly intended?) playmaker to have in your opening hand for a duel.
By paying half of their life points, a player is able to summon Dark Magician from the deck. However, for the rest of that turn, no other summons can be conducted — though monsters can be set.
If it’s turn one and this card is available, not only can you thin your deck one card by pulling out a Dark Magician, you can instantly summon it and start the duel with a 2500 attack monster on deck.
On top of that, this card is the primary reason to run the Arkana-varient of the Dark Magician deck. The average 2000 life point cost (half of the 4000 starting point) is just enough to activate his ‘Master of Magicians’ skill, which instantly adds an extra card into one’s hand.
As amazing as all of this sounds — and frankly is through proper execution — there are downsides. For one, if all of your Dark Magicians are already in the hand or on the field, Curtain becomes an instantly dead card unless somehow the boss monster gets shuffled back into the deck.
On top of that, not being able to summon for the rest of the turn kind of sucks. It means players need to choose between using the Curtain or playing a number of other combinations at once. Though Blue Dragon is a good card to set, to be fair.
Long story short: If you have this card starting out or can use Magician’s Rod to grab it right away, you’re golden. If it’s stuck at the bottom of the deck until its time has passed, it’s worth nothing.
This card is the newest Yami Yugi level-up reward that essentially inspired me to make this whole deck in the first place.
With Dark Magic Inheritance, players can banish two spell cards from the graveyard to add a ‘Dark Magician’ or ‘Dark Magician Girl’ centered spell or trap from the deck to the hand.
Because of how many spells are in this deck, it’s not hard to get two of them in the graveyard. Until you manage to do so it’s a dead card, but the second it isn’t a dead card it becomes a great way to thin the deck given that it’s a quick play spell, allowing one to activate it easily during whichever phase of the battle they prefer.
In my experience, the best practice with Dark Magic Inheritance is to summon DM using Curtain, then either activate the spell Arkana draws through ‘Master of Magicians’ or use an Enemy Controller, and afterward you’ll be able to draw out Dark Magic Attack from the deck for more deck thinning and the chance to wipe out the opponent’s field.
Unfortunately, the window to use Inheritance is a bit small considering there’s only two other cards in the deck it can draw, but that’s more on my personal decisions for what to include than on the card itself.
If you want to add more DM cards into the deck, it becomes wildly more useful. Nice returns on investment.
Honestly there isn’t much to say about this card. When you control Dark Magician, you can wipe out your opponent’s back row of cards. Every spell and trap they control.
Simple. Clean. Effective.
So effective, in fact, that I decided to use this instead of the similar monster-based equivalent, Thousand Knives. That spell allows you to destroy one monster on the field, which has much less utility in the long-run than a board wipe in my opinion.
Sure there are cases where the opponent can still activate their spells and traps in response to this wipe and mess with your turn, like using an enemy controller to stop you from attacking. But in my opinion, forcing those kinds of plays rather than letting them utilize the cards at an opportune moment is always preferential.
Now we’re into the spells that aren’t necessarily Dark Magician-specific.
Even if for the purposes of this deck, Ancient Rules may as well be.
Level-up rewards from Seto Kaiba’s younger brother Mokuba, Ancient Rules simply allows the player to special summon a level five or higher normal monster from the hand. Have a Dark Magician in hand? Well now it’s on the field. Plus you can normal summon that Skilled Dark Magician you’re holding onto for a totally fatal knockout.
Again, simple. While it may be another card that’s ‘dead’ with no Magician in hand, the deck has enough drawing power in my experience to make up for that.
Though I will admit at this point in the profile that a lot of the deck’s contents can be considered dead cards. Which is a seemingly unfortunate reality of playing around a single big boss monster.
So this card is here to help mitigate the risk:
I’ve talked about Enemy Controller a few times now, and that’s because it’s essentially the staple card that can be placed on any and all decks in Duel Links.
Few other cards offer as much utility as this. Change your opponent’s card to defense or attack position when desired. Tribute your own monster to steal an opponent’s monster. Complete either task during basically any part of the battle due to the quick play aspect of this spell.
It’s just endlessly useful for protection and offensive strategies. Always a good choice when thinking of something to add into a deck.
Champion’s Vigilance is another card that’s essentially dead when not used in conjunction with Dark Magician… But I love it so much that I couldn’t not include it.
When you have a level seven or higher normal monster on the field, anything your opponent does can be negated once.
They summon a monster? Negate and destroy it.
Activate a protecting spell card? Negate and destroy it.
Try to lower your attack with a trap card? Negate and destroy it.
I’ve had so many clutch moments where a field wipe with Dark Magic Attack leads to an immediate victory because you know the first thing they do next turn, likely summoning a monster, will just be a waste.
I do understand how unfortunately limited the card’s utility is, however. Not only is it a dead draw without Dark Magician available, but even if he’s available you still need a turn of placed face-down waiting before being able to activate it.
That’s why I only included one, to mitigate the risk of starting with three Champion’s Vigilance in an opening hand.
The last card on my list here is another solid, generic defensive card.
When Wall of Disruption is activated, every face-up attack position monster your opponent controls loses 800 attack points for each monster they control on the field.
Though that means defense position monsters are safe, anything not in defense position can lose up to 2400 attack, which will neuter essentially everything in the game. That includes any monster that would negate directly targeting cards, since the Wall is non-targeting.
So take that White Night Dragon.
I mostly just have one of these here since Dark Magician being the strongest thing on the board is a risky thing more often than not.
Gosh, that was a slog to write out. Hopefully it’s just informative and explanatory enough to help anyone who doesn’t regularly play the game, though!
As I briefly mentioned way up at the top of this mountain of words, part of the reason I went through with this small project was discovering the ability to upload videos to YouTube for my own personal use here.
But not just that. In this case, I also figured out a way to record what’s happening on my phone screen.
As a result, please enjoy this sizable duel that I recorded as an example of the Dark Magic deck succeeding:
Though I didn’t have the opportunity to utilize my 1-2 combo of Dark Magic Inheritance in this match-up, I was able to pull off the Skilled Dark Magician tribute, which is a much more rare occurrence in my book.
Plus it’s a good example of Enemy Controller coming in clutch and saving the day.
Of course the magic of editing and selection means you all don’t have to see the many, many loses I accumulated before getting this successful match-up. As I noted throughout this post, many of the Dark Magician-specific cards are dead draws if their combo pieces aren’t available.
Despite those loses, I still think the deck is a lot of fun. And boy is it fantastic when you happen to draw just the right opening hand to demolish an opponent.
For example, this other duel I happened to save:
On the one hand I feel bad about how quickly I was able to demoralize this Bonz.
But on the other hand… God what a satisfying victory.
Also, side note, amazing how both videos wound up with the same thumbnail image. Totally didn’t plan that out or anything.
With that said, I suppose that wraps up my thoughts and advice on using an Arkana Dark Magician deck in Duel Links. Hopefully someone out there found this interesting and helpful, and if you did please let me know in the comments down below!
At the same time I’m interested in doing some more of these, so if there are any decks or cards anyone out there wants to see utilized in some way, shape or form, I’d love to take a crack at it. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated!
… So long as I actually have those cards, of course. But I’m sure you knew that.
If you made it this far, thanks so much for sticking with me! Hope you have a great rest of the day.