Last week Konami released the highly anticipated Albaz Strike Structure Deck in the TCG. Release Events will be held until the 24th in North America. This is the perfect opportunity to get into the physical Card Game if you haven't yet. Structure Decks are a ready to play set of over 40 cards themed around an Archetype and staple cards that help you tackle the current meta. Unlike Booster packs, theres no luck involved when buying this sealed product. You get what you pay for!
To start off, we'll be looking at the exclusive new releases found in Albaz Strike. If Fusion Monsters strike your fancy Branded Fusion and Lubellion the Searing Dragon can help you kickstart your plays! If that's not your style then there's still a plethora of generic staples like Effect Veiler or Pot of Extravagance to look out for. Lastly, we will also share some details on supporting cards outside the Structure Deck that can help bolster your Albaz arsenal.
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Powerful New Fusion Support
Fusion Summoning by straight up using the materials from the Deck has been prevalent ever since Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon was printed. It was accepted to run 2 bricks if it allowed Predaplant Verte Anaconda to plop out a Red-Eyes Fusion. Now we have Branded Fusion, which only requires a single Fallen of Albaz that even has some utility when drawn. It can't be overstated how many possibilities open up when the second material can be more or less freely chosen. Future Fusion was problematic before the errata for that exact reason.
Not to get too excited, Branded Fusion still has its limitations, let's look at the possible Fusion materials that can be sent from Deck to GY:
- 1 LIGHT monster (Albion the Branded Dragon)
- 1 DARK monster (Lubellion the Searing Dragon)
- 1 Level 8 or higher Monster (Brigrand the Glory Dragon)
- 1 monster with 2500 or more ATK (Titaniklad the Ash Dragon)
- 1 Dragon monster (Alba-Lenatus the Abyss Dragon, not yet released until May 20th)
Even looking at this in a vacuum there's quite a bit of potential. Albion the Branded Dragon and Lubellion the Searing Dragon can advance your plays by Fusing again once they are summoned. Meaning a single Branded Fusion can swiftly lead into two more Fusion Summons. One downside is that Verte Anaconda won't allow any additional Summons. So if that's part of the plan, the Fusion Spell can't be cast from the Deck.
As another cherry on top, Albion makes sure to float into a Spell/Trap once it hits the GY in any shape or form. This effect has the perfect target in [YuGiOh Card (Branded Condemnation) Not Found], their new Counter Trap. Unfortunately the requirements are quite steep, but it makes up for it by returning any other Branded Spell/Trap waiting in the GY. You could even recover Branded Fusion and do it all over again! The grind game is quite strong in that regard. The other small Fusions can fill a similar role by searching/summoning specific monsters. Or just Albaz. Albaz is also fine.
If your already convinced and don't plan on going to locals, consider ordering Albaz Strike instead.
The Supporting Cast
Enough talk about cataclysmic dragons, how about something cute for a change of pace? Tri-Brigade Mercourier is the Archetype's very own handtrap, whereas Springans Kitt is a highly efficient searcher. Though it doesn't gain actual card advantage in true Tri-Brigade fashion. They do suffer from attachment issues however. Granted, Kitt can be a playstarter regardless of Special Summon, but opening too many Mercourier feels more devastating than if it were Effect Veiler for example. Where Mercourier truly shines is in Tri-Brigade. The banish effect can be put to more use and increases the Beast Deck's potential.
Did we say we're done with Dragons? Well, kind of. We saved the biggest for last. Mirrorjade the Iceblade Dragon is a menace. And also not actually a Dragon. A non-targeting quick effect banish can at times hurt the opponent more than good ol' negate + destroy. The "cost" of sending another Fusion is hardly a loss, as mentioned before. For a last resort it also wipes out all opposing monsters the End Phase following its removal.
But don't let those shiny scales distract from its shortcomings. Firstly, the banish can only be used every other turn, a rarely used restriction. On the other hand, the required Extra Deck material is two-sided. It gives Fallen of Albaz all the targets it could ask for, but in turn needs an extra step when summoned on turn 1. The last part might seem not so detrimental: Only being able to control one Mirrorjade. But do note that this also stops you from using a Mirrorjade on field as a material for the Summon of another. Otherwise this would be a way to get around the restriction on the banishing effect.
Surprisingly Good Reprints
The amount of popular staples in Albaz Strike makes it a selling point on its own. Though the prices weren't astronomically high on any of these, having them all in one place is still makes for a great deal. Theres a decent baseline for Side Deck options and also replacements for some higher value filler cards in the Main Deck. Let's go over the prominent ones.
Effect Veiler & Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit It doesn't get much better than these two. Effect Veiler is a classic by now, and has seen lots of low rarity reprints. But that doesn't make it any less useful. Meanwhile, Ghost Ogre is a Common for the first time and only recently gained relevancy as a way to disrupt the ubiquitous Adventure Engine. It's able to destroy Fateful Adventure upon effect activation, something Effect Veiler is powerless against. Regardless of up- and downsides, it's a safe bet to run 3 of each whenever possible. Called by the Grave is an auto-include for a simmiliar reason albeit its limit to 1.
Pot of Extravagance and There Can Be Only One (TCBOO) are the backbone of slower controlling Deck strategies. Extravagance is best used in decks that don't rely on a versatile, or any Extra Deck at all. Not much else to add to a "Draw 2 cards" effect. TCBOO is a peculiar choice in a Deck full of Dragon Types. It should still impede the opponents plays more than your own if you plan accordingly. Another turn ending Trap is Dimensional Barrier. It's mostly a card for sidedecking, but with the success of Destiny HERO - Destroyer Phoenix Enforcer we could see it ran in the Main as well.
The following cards fall into the category "Nice to have". They come and go as the meta sees fit and can put up results on a local level at the very least. Starliege Seyfert belongs to Dragon Link as a combo starter, but in Albaz its best use is the GY recycling effect. It's a great rarity downgrade regardless. The same goes for Chaos Dragon Levianeer.
Artifact Scythe and Dogmatika Fleurdelis, the Knighted are further cases of misplaced great cards. Scythe is sure to stay relevant at least until the next Banlist comes around. Likewise, Dark Ruler No More makes a second Stucture Deck appearance, but currently doesn't do enough to take care of high level combo decks ending on Scythe. It's still a fine option for the Side Deck.
You gave the new cards a try and want to improve on them? You're in luck. The Despia are a closely related Archetype, as their Field Spell Despia, Theater of the Branded might already suggest.
The Archetype premiered in Dawn of Majesty, including a card like Dramaturge of Despia which is a fitting addition to your lineup of first turn disruptions. Unfortunately, Aluber the Jester of Despia is a hard to come by Secret Rare. At least until its reprint in "Ghosts From the Past: The 2nd Haunting" on May 5th. Despians were already a formidable Archetype before Albaz and Branded got this new support, as Duelists were experimenting with effective supplements, such as the Frightfur Archetype or Guardian Chimera.
One last thing to keep in mind is that Branded and Fallen of Albaz have been around all the way since the "Rise of the Duelist" Booster Set in 2020. The Archetype itself has more to offer than what was able to fit in the Structure Deck and will see continued support down the line. Not all of them are gems and sometimes just references to Lore but it might be worth a look.
Are you excited for the Albaz Strike release event? If not, you can buy them online instead. Share your own ideas for the new Cards in the comments below!