So here we have a great example of something that started as a cheesy one-off, got a retrain so popular that new players didn’t even know it was a retrain, and a few support pieces later became an archetype.
The original Black Luster Soldier was a vanilla ritual that saw its debut in the “Yugi Evolution” starter deck and episode 30 of the show where Yami Yugi used him to vanquish Mai Valentine’s “Harpie’s Pet Dragon”. Fun fact: she surrendered that duel after BLS dispatched her dragon because she didn’t want to see BLS slaughter her Harpies. True story – watch the show.
Meant as Yugi’s answer to Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes, it wasn’t until later that Konami started expanding on BLS. Invasion of Chaos introduced the best known and what would go on to be a splashable staple in many decks …
Envoy of Beginning was the first retrain and a very good one at that. Having lost the ritual status meant no cumbersome ritual spells and the light/dark banish requirements were hardly a problem. This guy came packing two powerful effects: banish a monster on the field (once per turn at the cost of his turn attacking) or attack twice.
Envoy of Beginning became an easy out to boss monsters, a beatstick win condition, and a fearsome threat that (because of his silly requirements) could lurk in virtually every other deck. Envoy of Beginning has been reprinted 7 times in the TCG and 10 times in the OCG.
As chaos decks became more mainstream (and better support became available) Envoy of Beginning became a powerhouse you needed to plan for. And every other player had one. A mega-star overnight, this was a shining example of how right Konami gets it (sometimes).
In my humble opinion, Astral Pack 8’s was something of a miss. Now full disclosure the artwork is spectacular. The split is visually awesome, the monster behind the paint is a different story.
Twilight upholds the family stat line, no complaints there, but the requirements get out of hand quickly. Requiring the user to banish all light or dark (in their entirety, no less) is exorbitant at best and unworkably specific at worst. Now you can go cheap and play him really early, but then he’s at risk and exposed. Wait too long and he could really present a problem.
His dual light/dark attribute is fitting – but not crazy good. Also the determination between a light and dark effect isn’t nearly as good as the choices presented by Envoy of Beginning. Banishing from their hand is good but its temporary.. All and all, a little bit of a let down… But I still like one in my BLS deck, just in case there’s that one weird situation where he can help. And he is still a big beastie. And there’s tutoring to help him along, but more about that later.
Now we’re talking! Back to basics… Sort of. So Super Soldier went back to its ritual summon roots this time round and also picked up some nasty effects along the way.
Now burn is a funny thing. For the most part, I like burn decks. I like effect damage in decks but I will admit it’s out of place sometimes. I mean, no one really expects that Blue-Eyes player to bust out Burst Steam of Destruction with Skull Invitation. Yes it’s there, but it doesn’t really jive with the rest of the deck.
So Burn Luster Soldier seems a little odd but not out of place. The fact his burn is the ATK of a monster he destroys in battle is pretty good. It is a relevant value and maintains his status as a brawler and not a supporting monster.
His next effect is destroyed by battle or your opponent’s card effect: special summon a “Gaia The Fierce Knight” monster from your hand, deck, or graveyard. Some players might think this is a little weird but the fact is that there’s a very good reason (besides nostalgia).
Gaia is the Black Luster Soldier. According to the manga and lore (within manga) he underwent the Black Luster Ritual to become the Black Luster Soldier.
So in a sense, defeating his Super Soldier form will revert him back to his normal self.
That leads us to our supporting cast – let’s start at the beginning? Yeah. Awful.
Beginning Knight and Evening Twilight Knight are yin and yang, they’re opposite attribute, they’re opposite in appearance, and they have a variance in terms of effect.
Both are Lv.4 Warriors with identical stats. Each allow for one of two effects to be bestoed on a BLS monster ritual summoned with them. The effects are once per turn and the first option is the ability to target and banish a monster. The second effect is based on each Knight’s inspiration – Beginning Knight can add a second attack when you destroy a monster (like Envoy of Beginning) and Evening Twilight Knight can add banish a card face down from your opponent’s hand (until the opponent’s next end phase, like Envoy of Evening Twilight).
These two can either deck out your vanilla Black Luster Soldier with a pair of good effects or take a Black Luster Soldier – Super Soldier to a whole new level.
Also both have a final effect to add either a ritual monster or spell (Evening Twilight Knight or Beginning Knight, respectively) when they are banished from your graveyard.
Super Soldier Soul is an odd little card. It allows you to normal summon this 0/0 Lv. 1 monster and send a BLS from your hand to the grave and this card’s ATK becomes 3000 and its name becomes “Black Luster Soldier”. You can also banish this card from the graveyard to add either of the previous two monsters (Evening Twilight Knight or Beginning Knight) from your deck to your hand. Sounds like it could be good…ish… Most BLS players will overlook it’s gimmicky nature and stick to a more straightforward style of beatdown.
This leaves only two Gaia monsters that are included within the archetype,
Again it was Gaia who underwent the ritual and passing through chaos became the Black Luster Soldier, so it’s only fitting that we have a couple of Gaia monsters show up. Arisen Gaia has a Cyber Dragon-like effect in hand, a tribute effect to bring out more Black Luster Soldiers, and the ability to ritual summon a Black Luster Soldier by banishing Arisen Gaia from the grave as materials. 2300 isn’t the gamebreaking force it was once upon a time, but it’s enough to be a nuisance and if you clean house it can be a pretty big direct hit. The graveyard effect can be very helpful in a pinch and using him as fuel for the Super Soldier Ritual (futher down) can help build board presence. I like him at 1.
The other Gaia is Charging Gaia. Charging has the effect to summon without a tribute but it shaves his attack to 1900. Decent effect because sometimes you just need something on the field. His secondary effect is less impressive – when tributed: add a BLS monster from your deck to your hand. Searching is great, don’t get me wrong, but off a tribute is slow and it’s awfully limited. A little broader would’ve been good but at least you can get Envoy of Beginnings. The tribute is also compatible with the Super Soldier Ritual.
So now that we’ve covered the monsters – let’s look at spells,
The card that started it all – nothing fancy, this just gets you Black Luster Soldier. It does specify “Tribute” of course so this does pick-up synergy with the Gaias.
Primal Seed is a normal spell that works for both Envoy of the Beginning and Envoy of the End. Add two banished cards back to your hand while either is on the field. Not bad, but slow and this hit or miss deck doesn’t suffer worse from a lack of resources. It technically belongs but he’s easily forgotten.
Chaos Form – this extended ritual coverage for Yugi enthusiasts by allowing this to support both Black Luster Soldier and Dark Magician of Chaos. Specifically by limiting summoning targets to members of those reflective families. You have hand or field to tribute from but you also get the option to banish from graveyard as well. Now this was painfully limited as you can only banish marquee monsters (Yugi’s Dark Magician and Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes).
Gateway to Chaos is our obligatory field spell. When you activate it you can add a “Black Luster Soldier” or “Gaia the Fierce Knight” from your deck to your hand. That’s pretty decent, it can be a bit one-dimensional since the little knights are completely overlooked by this effect. But pinpoint searching is still a good effect. It’s next effect is counters – everytime a monster leaves the field for the graveyard you add a counter. So it maxes out at 6 total, anything after that is wasted. Once per turn you can remove three counters to add a ritual spell from your deck to your hand. This is a good casual effect for rituals. And of course Gateway to Chaos can only be played once per turn.
On that note, there are two ritual spells remaining.
This is wonderfully generic in that it’s not specific to the Super Soldier, also if the archetype is expanded further it will still support any new rituals that keep with the BLS naming convention. The ritual requirements themselves are pretty mundane, but this card does get a graveyard effect. By banishing this card plus a light and a dark monster, you can special summon a BLS monster from your hand, ignoring summoning conditions. So you get two goes out of it – good deal.
The last spell (and fittingly) is another ritual spell: Super Soldier Synthesis
Similar to the previous ritual this one is also archetype spanning plus it can summon rituals from hand OR grave (nicely done). But it’s very unique in that you must send one light and one dark monster – one from hand and the other from the deck. While this makes it more versatile, it lacks a secondary effect entirely and is limited to once per turn.
We round out the article with three traps.
A typical catch-all, anti-targeting effect while a BLS is on the field. It does have a recycling effect to set itself from grave once at the cost of a counter (Gateway to Chaos) and is banished when it leaves the field. Useful, more so if you run the field spell, but I’d make sure to keep one or two of these handy.
So I’m not crazy about this one. You can basically sac one BLS to the grave to special summon another BLS (with a different name). Then when this card is in the grave (but not the same turn when it landed there) you can banish this card to add a BLS from grave to hand. It’s ok, but you’ve got other (read: better) cards that could take up that valuable deck space.
Lastly, we have this:
Deck thinning. This becomes tricky because if you run Gaia, it’s not very many. So there isn’t much to do with it late game. It’s a sorta-searcher that puts stuff in grave. I don’t run this at all personally, but that’s just my preference.
Black Luster Soldier is a fun, casual, friends-locals kinda deck. It’s a little gimmicky at times and to be fair it is susceptible to bricks, but it’s also fun. Super Soldier summoned with the knights can cause pandemonium with banishing multiple times before attacking with 3K plus your in-archetype version of Honest to push that farther.
There have been some underwhelming, hack job archetypes (just watch Rank10Ygo’s “Legacy of the Worthless” series). This may not be tier 0 / uber-meta, but it’s never going to be that bad. And it’s a fairly budget deck, so try it out on the cheap!
So that’s all for now – it took me a few days to cobble enough time to put it together and I have to see what’s next. Until next time!