Not gonna lie: this started off as an article about competitive trends emerging from YCS Prague. Triple Kozmojo? Triple Performapal Silver Claw? Pendulum Rising and Kozmo Soartroopers? There was some cool stuff going on and all the big strategies saw major developments.
Bad news, though! None of it was anywhere near as cool as Raidraptors topping a Regional.
It’s no secret that Raidraptors were unplayable for a very long time. The theme debuted in a bit of a strange fashion over a year ago in Secrets of Eternity, releasing with just four cards: Raidraptor – Vanishing Lanius and nothing to use it with; a purposeless Raidraptor – Rise Falcon; the excellent Continuous Spell Raidraptor – Nest, which was basically impossible to play at the time; and Raidraptor – Readiness, which was bad at the time and arguably bad today.
In an era of card releases where so many new themes hit the game ready-to-play at the tournament level, Raidraptors felt like a throwback to the bad old days; everybody remembers the terror of Wind-Ups, but we tend to glaze over how long it took for those cards to be playable. That’s just not how stuff works anymore. Trickling into the game over the course of a year, the Raidraptors were missing a key card that was printed over a year ago in the OCG, plus new cards released in Japan back in November.
The good news is that our version of the Wing Raiders included those cards from the Japanese version of the set, as well as the missing material from previous releases that we just never got. And the result is a sleeper hit strategy that made waves two weeks ago in Rainham England. Here’s the build Alex Robertson took to that Top 8:
Alex Robertson’s Top 8 Raidraptors – 40 Cards
Rainham England Regional, February 20th 2016
3 Raidraptor – Fuzzy Lanius
3 Raidraptor – Mimicry Lanius
3 Raidraptor – Tribute Lanius
3 Raidraptor – Vanishing Lanius
1 Raidraptor – Sharp Lanius
1 Raidraptor – Last Strix
2 Summoner Monk
2 Maxx “C”
1 Foolish Burial
1 Forbidden Chalice
2 Instant Fusion
1 Raidraptor – Call
1 Raidraptor – Nest
1 Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force
1 Rank-Up-Magic Raid Force
2 Rank-Up-Magic Soul Shave Force
2 Twin Twisters
3 Anti-Spell Fragrance
1 Bottomless Trap Hole
3 Solemn Strike
1 Solemn Warning
1 Time-Space Trap Hole
1 Vanity’s Emptiness
Extra Deck: 15
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Daigusto Emeral
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Evilswarm Nightmare
1 Number 66: Master Key Beetle
1 Traptrix Rafflesia
1 Cyber Dragon Infinity
3 Raidraptor – Force Strix
1 Raidraptor – Blaze Falcon
1 Raidraptor – Revolution Falcon
1 Raidraptor – Satellite Cannon Falcon
Side Deck: 15
1 Chimeratech Fortress Dragon
1 Cyber Dragon Drei
1 Deep Dark Trap Hole
2 Effect Veiler
3 Gozen Match
2 Imperial Iron Wall
2 Spell Shattering Arrow
2 Xyz Universe
If your initial reaction to this deck list is “I have no idea what Raidraptor cards do,” you’re probably in good company. Since Raidraptors took so long to become viable, it was really easy to just ignore them for a very long time. The strategy largely revolves around cost-efficient Rank 4’s, made with Level 4 Raidraptors that gain effects any time they’re Normal Summoned or Special Summoned. You can 1-for-1 into Rank 4’s pretty easily, claiming free cards before or after you make your Xyz Summons depending on which cards are involved.
From there you can use different Rank-Up-Magics to turn big plays into even bigger ones; the higher Ranked Raidraptor cards all specialize in pushing damage by making multiple attacks, reducing the ATK of opposing monsters, or destroying them and dealing bonus damage in the process. Several powerful search and recursion effects help you find and reuse the right cards at the right time, and the result’s actually a robust and aggressive strategy.
To understand how the deck accomplishes all that, we really need to go card by card. Let’s give you a crash course.
Let’s Start With The Monsters
The Main Decked Raidraptors are the building blocks of the strategy. Most of them are Level 4’s and they’re all Dark Winged Beasts, so you piece together Ranks 4’s really easily and you can specialize with Xyz that require specific Materials, like Evilswarm Nightmare.
Raidraptor – Vanishing Lanius is a good starting point for the conversation. Whenever it’s Normal or Special Summoned, you can Special Summon a Level 4 or lower Raidraptor from your hand. Vanishin Lanius is the least complicated of the bunch, with no secondary effect and the simple purpose of helping you field two Raidraptors in one turn for an Xyz Summon.
Raidraptor – Fuzzy Lanius is similar, helping you put more Raidraptors on the field in one shot: if you control another Raidraptor monster you can Special Summon Fuzzy Lanius from your hand, no strings attached. It’s got a secondary effect as well, where if it’s sent to the graveyard you can search your deck for another Fuzzy Lanius. That effect works no matter where you send Fuzzy Lanius from, and the only catch is that you can’t Special Summon monsters other than Raidraptors on any turn where you use its effects.
So you’ve got two Special Summon enablers, one of which nets you a free card after the fact. From there you’ve also got Raidraptor – Mimicry Lanius, which can increase the Levels of all your Raidraptors by 1 on the turn it’s Normal or Special Summoned. That’s mildly useful, giving you access to Rank 5’s including one of the Raidraptor Xyz.
More importantly, you can banish Mimicry Lanius from your graveyard during your Main Phase, on any turn Mimicry Lanius is sent to the graveyard, to search another Raidraptor card from your deck. That’s another free plus to turn your -1 Xyz Summons into 1-for-1’s. It also searches whatever Raidraptor stuff you need at any given time, including spells and traps.
With two key Raidraptors that offer a free card with a banish-from-graveyard effect, the new Raidraptor – Tribute Lanius from Wing Raiders lets you send a Raidraptor card from your deck to your graveyard the turn it’s Normal or Special Summoned. With 1800 ATK, it also searches you a Rank-Up-Magic Quick-Play in Main Phase 2 if it destroyed a monster by battle on the current turn, then restricts you to Special Summoning Raidraptors for the rest of that turn. So you Summon it, send Mimicry Lanius or Fuzzy Lanius to the graveyard to get a +1, and then you get a chance to make an attack and score a free Rank-Up-Magic. Tribute Lanius was one of the big difference-makers from Wing Raiders that’s made the deck Top 8 material.
Robertson also ran one copy each of Raidraptor – Sharp Lanius and Raidraptor – Last Strix. Sharp Lanius is another Level 4, and its effect shifts an attack mode monster to defense. With 1700 ATK it’s kind of like Tribute Lanius; if it attacks it revives a Raidraptor of your choice from your graveyard in Main Phase 2. But Sharp Lanius doesn’t need to destroy a monster to use its effect. A direct attack or a failed push into a defender will still get you the Special Summon.
Last Strix is another new addition from Wing Raiders. You can Special Summon it during Damage Calculation when one of your Raidraptors battles, gaining 100 LP for each spell or trap that you control, and in your graveyard. That can be a sort of desperate defensive play, or you can use it to get Last Strix onto the field for its second effect: that ability Special Summons a Raidraptor Xyz from your Extra Deck with no effect and no Materials, shields your opponent from battle damage for the remainder of the turn, and returns the Xyz to your Extra Deck in the End Phase. It’s most commonly used to give you something to Rank-Up.
From there Robertson also played two Maxx “C” plus two Summoner Monks to search whichever Raidraptors he needed, turning on their effects by Special Summoning them. Summoner Monk is more search power to get you the Raidraptors you need, and it’s a great outlet for extra spell cards. One of the problems with Rank-Up-Magics is that if you don’t have the right monster to Rank-Up they don’t do anything. The option to pitch a dead Rank-Up-Magic and make a different play is really valuable, especially since the deck has several ways to get back Rank-Up-Magics later on.
From there we can take a quick look at the deck’s two Raidraptor spell cards. Robertson ran one copy each of Raidraptor – Call and Raidraptor Nest, searching them as needed with Mimicry Lanius. Nest gets you a free Raidraptor monster from your deck each turn if you control two or more Raidraptor monsters, balancing its own card economy the first time you use it and then granting you a free plus on each successive turn. Call targets a Raidraptor you control and Special Summons another copy from your deck, restricting you to Raidraptor Special Summons for the turn. It looks like a basic 1-for-1, but combined with some of the free plus effects of the Raidraptors it often lands you with card advantage in the long run.
Those Are The Basics
So far there’s nothing too confusing, but the deck gets more complicated when you start looking at the Raidraptor Xyz and the Rank-Up-Magics that Special Summon them. Honestly, nothing here is half as complicated as it looks; even cards like Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force – historically a complicated card played for a lot of different combos – are pretty narrow here. Let’s start by looking at the four Raidraptor Xyz so you get an idea of where this is going, and then we’ll discuss the Rank-Up-Magics and what each one does.
Raidraptor – Force Strix was one of two new Xyz from Wing Raiders, and it almost feels a year late; it’s handsdown one of the deck’s most important cards and it was released much earlier in Japan. You can make it off any two Level 4’s, and from there it detaches one Material per turn to search a Level 4 Dark Winged Beast from your deck. It gets you any Raidraptor but Last Strix, and makes Force Strix a 1-for-1 or better in card economy.
Gaining 500 ATK and DEF for each Winged Beast you control, Force Strix can deal a lot of damage with proper support, and the low-or-no investment to Summon it makes it the perfect monster for your Rank-Up-Magic tricks. While Robertson played just one copy of the other Raidraptor Xyz this is a must-run at three.
Clocking in at Rank 5, Raidraptor – Blaze Falcon’s accessible through Rank-Up-Magics or as a more questionable three-Material Xyz via the Level boost ability of Raidraptor – Mimicry Lanius. It’s a direct attacker that can ignore your opponent’s monsters, and it destroys a monster when it hits their Life Points. Once per turn you can also detach a Material from it to destroy all your opponent’s Special Summoned monsters and deal 500 burn damage for each. That can mean a good amount of burn against a stalled out field of Pendulum Summons or Burning Abyss monsters. It’s a bit niche, but it opens up win scenarios that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Raidraptor – Revolution Falcon’s more deadly at Rank 6, packing an effect that again punishes your opponent for controlling Special Summoned monsters: with 2000 ATK it can detach a Material to attack all of your opponent’s monsters once each, and it reduces the ATK and DEF of any Special Summoned monster it attacks to 0. So you can swing on a bunch of monsters in sequence and effectively be making a direct attack through each one.
Revolution Falcon also packs an effect that Ring of Destructions an opposing monster of your choice, blowing it up regardless of position or how it was Summoned and then dealing half its ATK as burn damage to your opponent. Revolution Falcon’s your most common play with Rank-Up-Magic Soul Shave Force, and it can end games in two different ways.
Finally, Raidraptor – Satellite Cannon’s a big boss that doesn’t see play every game, requiring more time and set-up to hit the field. You effectively have to make the Rank 6 Revolution Falcon first and then overlay it with one of two specific Rank-Up-Magics. That said, when Satellite Cannon does come into play it hits your opponent with a Harpie’s Feather Duster they can’t chain to. It packs 3000 ATK, and a Quick Effect that works on either’s player’s turn to reduce an opposing monster’s ATK, usually to nothing. You can use that to push more damage with an attack sort of like Revolution Falcon, or deter your opponent from attacking you, knowing you’ll shrink their ATK if they try.
How do you Summon those Xyz? Raidraptor – Force Strix is easy, since it’s a generic Rank 4, but the other three usually need Rank-Up-Magics.
Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force is the simplest Rank-Up-Magic in the deck, overlaying the highest-Ranked Xyz Monster you control with another Xyz 2 Ranks higher, of matching type and attribute. That means it turns the Rank 4 Force Strix into the Rank 6 Revolution Falcon, or Revolution Falcon into the Rank 8 Satellite Cannon Falcon. Since you can trade your normal draw to get Astral Force back from your graveyard, you can play out that three-card chain over two turns if Revolution Falcon survives.
Rank-Up-Magic Raid Force is a bit more flexible. It Ranks-Up any Xyz you control into a Raidraptor Xyz 1 Rank higher, turning any Rank 4 into the Rank 5 Raidraptor – Blaze Falcon. It can also Rank-Up one Raidraptor into a bigger one, turning Force Strix into Blaze Falcon and Blaze Falcon into Revolution Falcon. Note that since there’s currently no Rank 7 Raidraptor Xyz, it can’t get you to Satellite Cannon Falcon.
But that’s not all! You can also banish Raid Force from your graveyard with any one Raidraptor card from your hand, to get back one of the other two Rank-Up-Magics from your graveyard. There’s no one-effect-per-turn limit there, so you can Rank-Up an Xyz with Raid Force, then get back another Rank-Up-Magic and immediately Rank-Up again.
Rank-Up-Magic Soul Shave Force is great for that, and it’s the only Rank-Up-Magic Robertson played two of. At the cost of half your Life Points, it revives a Raidraptor Xyz from your graveyard and then overlays it with any Xyz 2 Ranks higher. It gets back Raidraptor – Force Strix to make Raidraptor – Revolution Falcon or Cyber Dragon Infinity. It also turns a fallen Revolution Falcon into a live Raidraptor – Satellite Cannon Falcon.
So you’ve got a strong Rank 4 toolbox that makes 1-for-1 plays with cards that search more free Xyz Materials, reinforced with Summoner Monk for search and redundancy, plus Instant Fusion and Elder Entity Norden for more power along the same lines. Remember, reviving Raidraptor – Fuzzy Lanius with Norden will set you up to abuse Fuzzy Lanius’ effect again, Special Summoning another Fuzzy Lanius as long as there’s one left in your deck. And since you have six monsters that nab a free card from the graveyard, you can make especially good use of Twin Twisters.
The trap lineup’s pretty standard, foregoing the two Raidraptor traps for more effective removal and floodgates. Anti-Spell Fragrance shuts down Draco Pals, while Vanity’s Emptiness fends off all manner of Special Summons. Solemn Strike and Solemn Warning speak for themselves, while Bottomless Trap Hole and Time-Space Trap Hole are ammo for Traptrix Rafflesia. Nothing there is new; it’s all tried-and-tested stuff designed to help this deck win ASAP when you flood the field with Xyz. Since Raidraptor – Revolution Falcon works so well to punish big fields of Special Summoned monsters, chiefly Pendulum Summons, I do see some potential in Raidraptor – Readiness. But as defense goes its chief advantage might be as a “win more” card, so that’s a tough call.
This deck wins in much the same way as the recent Top Cut Phantom Knight builds, leveraging Rank 4’s instead of Rank 3’s to solve problems, create an attack opportunity and then go off. While Draco Pals, Kozmos, and Monarchs will often win in three turns, an explosive strategy like this can frequently outspeed those decks. The cool part here is that if those more proven themes do go off with big hands early on, the Raidraptor Xyz gives you removal and damage effects that can punish them anyways, giving you a shot at a comeback. Soul Shave Force is an impressive recovery if your opponent wipes you off the board but can’t finish you.
With reasonable answers to the majority of the threats you’d expect to see in any big tournament, this thing’s definitely viable. It also packs a big surprise factor right now, because very few people are aware that it topped and even fewer know what the cards do. The little nuances between the Raidraptor Xyz make them difficult to play against, and many opponents won’t realize the full range of problems you can present until you’re already signing the match slip. Note too that it plays an excellent floodgate game with easy access to Number 66: Master Key Beetle. You can hang back early on, or play a control strategy with a floodgate reinforced with Key Beetle or Cyber Dragon Infinity depending on your hand.
What do you think? Could we see more tops from Raidraptors in the coming weeks? And could Robertson’s strategy be improved upon. Let me know your thoughts down in the Comments.