As with all sets since they were introduced, Abyss Rising contains new cards to help with Xyz summons and new Xyz monsters to summon.
Grandram: Level 4 0/1400 Earth Rock
If your opponent controls a face-up Xyz Monster, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand) in face-up Attack Position.
Grandram is the Xyz version of Guldfaxe, in that he allows you to set up your own quick Xyz summon to counter your opponent’s, much like how Guldfaxe allows with Synchros. Unfortunately though, Grandram has much weaker stats, meaning he’s not going to be much use for anything but Xyz summons. Whereas Guldfaxe can at least hit things. I suppose this might be because any deck can run Xyz monsters, so it’s much more likely you’ll be facing them, whatever deck your opponent plays, compared to Synchros when Guldfaxe was created. Honestly I think there are probably better options out there for quick Rank 4 monsters.
Solar Wind Jammer: Level 5 800/2400 Light Machine
If you control no monsters, you can Special Summon this card (from your hand), but its original ATK and DEF become halved. During each of your Standby Phases: Increase the Level of this card by 1. There can only be 1 face-up “Solar Wind Jammer” on the field.
Solar Wind Jammer is another way to aid in Xyz summons, except this time for higher ranked monsters. It’s probably more likely he’ll be used to help make Rank 5 cards, because if you special summon him, his stats will be too weak to last until the next turn. If you want to use Solar Wind Jammer to create higher Ranked monsters, you’ll probably need to rely on tribute setting him and having the opponent attack him instead. You’ll then just have to sit behind him and hope your opponent can’t kill him before he reaches the desired level.
One issue with Solar Wind Jammer is that the level increase happens every single turn. This could mean that if you don’t draw the correct cards in time that he’ll become useless for Xyz summons, since his level will become too large to match with any of your other monsters.
As such I think you’ll probably end of up using Solar Wind Jammer for Rank 5s most of the time, or when desperate for Tribute summons. Due to its low attack power you might also use it in conjunction with Tannhäuser Gate, which as you’ll see later features this card in the artwork.
Number C32: Shark Drake Veiss: Rank 4 2800/2100 Water Sea Serpent
4 Level 4 WATER monsters
You can also Xyz Summon this card by using a “Number 32: Shark Drake” you control as the Xyz Material. (Xyz Materials attached to that monster also become Xyz Materials on this card.) During either player’s turn, if your Life Points are 1000 or less: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card and banish 1 monster from your Graveyard to target 1 face-up monster on the field; that target’s ATK and DEF become 0 until the End Phase.
C32 is our second Chaos Number, and has one of the most difficult to achieve summoning requirements in the game. Getting 4 monsters on the field can be a struggle for some decks, let alone ones of the same level, that also happen to all be water. However I find it unlikely that you’ll play a deck where you only plan on summoning the Chaos Number version of Shark Drake. In this case you can easily just upgrade the normal version of Shark Drake instead, which only requires 3 Level 4s and the attribute does’t matter.
Once summoned C32 only becomes useful once you get below 1000 Life Points, otherwise he’s just a beatstick, and at only 2800 you’d be better off just keeping all of the Level 4s instead. Once you do get below 1000 though, it means you can start punching holes in your opponent’s field. During your turn you can weaken any wall or boss monster your opponent has, allowing C32 or another of your monsters to cause a huge amount of damage, whilst also dodging Gorz. Under the right circumstances you might even be able to kill your opponent in one fell swoop, by dropping all of their monsters to 0 and running them all over. I do question how often you’ll be able to pull this off though, considering you’ll have already put 3 monsters into C32.
Since the effect can also be used in your opponent’s turn it means you can protect C32 and your other monsters from attacks, by stopping any threat coming after them. This will be especially important for you, since at less than 1000 Life Points you need to do whatever you can to protect yourself from taking damage.
One potential use you could have for C32 is using him as a way to upgrade your opponent’s Shark Drake, instead of giving it back to them. Unfortunately, unlike with C39 I don’t really see this happening, since very few people run the original anyway.
One-Eyed Skill Gainer: Level 4 2500/2600 Light Warrior
3 Level 4 monsters
You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card to target 1 face-up Xyz Monster your opponent controls; this card’s name and original effect become the same as that monster. This effect can only be used once while this card is face-up on the field.
Our next new Xyz monster also requires a big investement of 3 Level 4 monsters, which means he has to compete for extra deck space against game changing cards like Shock Master. As you might have guessed from his name, this card is all about gaining other Xyz monster’s effects. This unfortunately means that One-Eyed Skill Gainer will only ever be as strong as the best Xyz your opponent has to offer at the time. This means you can’t always guarantee he’ll have anything to steal when you want to make him.
There are two general scenarios under which you might summon One-Eyed Skill Gainer, and that’s assuming you don’t choose a different Xyz monster instead. In the first scenario the opponent has an Xyz monster smaller than One-Eyed Skill Gainer. This means you’ll be summoning him in order to steal an effect, rather than to aid in defeating the monster. This could be quite useful when facing monsters like Gachi Gachi Gantetsu or Wind-Up Zenmaines, since their protection effects become even deadlier when attached to a monster with 2500 attack.
In the second scenario the opponent has a monster that is more powerful than One-Eyed Skill Gainer. In which case you’ll be summoning him in order to turn their own effect against themselves. For example you could copy Number 11: Big Eye, and then steal the monster itself. A play like this could lead to a massive shift in momentum, but it would usually be questionable how you’d manage to get 3 Level 4s onto the field when staring down some of your opponent’s most powerful monsters.
A potential other use for One-Eyed Skill Gainer is to act as a deterrent against your opponent summoning certain monsters. If they cannot deal with One-Eyed Skill Gainer they may refrain from summoning certain monsters that might normally prolong the game, since they know the effect will just be turned against them. However I’d be wary of investing 3 cards into a monster based solely on this, especially since there will be plenty of other ways to deal with him.
Number 9: Dyson Sphere: Rank 9 2800/3000 Light Machine
2 Level 9 monsters
Once per Battle Step, during your opponent’s turn, if this card with Xyz Material is attacked: Negate the attack (this is a Quick Effect). When this card is targeted for an attack, while it has no Xyz Materials: You can target 2 monsters in your Graveyard; attach those targets to this card as Xyz Materials. During your Main Phase 1: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card; this card can attack your opponent directly this turn. Your opponent must control a monster with higher ATK than this card for you to activate and to resolve this effect.
Dyson Sphere is a very annoying monster to face, but is thankfully fairly difficult to summon outside of decks designed for that specific purpose.
To summon Dyson Sphere you need two Level 9 monsters, which is one of the least used Levels in the game. Thankfully though there are cards which allow you to get around this problem. Cards like Tannhauser Gate, which we’ll see later, or Lemuria, which we saw in a previous article, can be used to increase the Levels of your monsters to higher than normal, meaning you don’t actually need to play any Level 9s. If you do however play a Level 9 and manage to summon it, then Galaxy Queen’s Light can be used to turn all your other monsters into Level 9s, giving you instant access to Dyson Sphere.
Once summoned Dyson Sphere can be quite a handful to deal with. Not only are its attack and defense more than most decks can handle, if they do manage to summon something larger, or otherwise threatening, Dyson Sphere can just negate the attack. On top of this, once the opponent musters a monster more powerful than Dyson Sphere, it then gains the ability to attack directly, meaning Dyson Sphere will be able finish the opponent off even faster than before.
What’s more, Dyson Sphere can keep on resupplying itself with materials every time it gets attacked once it runs out. They don’t even have to be the same materials, so you could reuse cards that get their effects when sent to the Graveyard. This could leave the opponent with a quandry. By sticking to smaller monsters, Dyson Sphere can keep on picking them off. By summoning something larger, they still can’t stop Dyson Sphere and they’ll be taking direct hits instead. However if you refuse to attack Dyson Sphere, it will eventually run out of materials, and you’ll be forced into a standoff until one of you draws some removal. The user of Dyson Spere could try using cards like Battle Mania though to get around this, forcing the opponent’s monsters to attack.
The easiest way around Dyson Sphere for most decks would be to simply get rid of it via removal like Dark Hole or Torrential Tribute, just as you would with any large monster. If you were building around Dyson Sphere though, you would probably be using countermeasures to cards like this. Another strategy for decks which can summons cards larger than Dyson Sphere, would be to try and incorporate Macro Cosmos somehow. Eventually it would run out of materials and go down in battle.
Gagagigo the Risen: Rank 4 2950/2800 Water Reptile
3 Level 4 monsters
Gagagigo the Risen is a continuation of the Gagagigo storyline, showing his redemption from his crazed cyborg form in Gogiga Gagagigo. (Check name). He’s simply a massive vanilla Xyz monster, so there’s not too much that can be said about him. If you desperately need a monster with 2950 attack you might opt to summon him, but usually you’d be better off keeping the 3 monsters, or making something with an actual effect instead.
Tannhauser Gate: Normal Spell Card
Target 2 monsters you control of the same Type with 1000 or less ATK; both monsters’ Levels become the combined Level of those 2 monsters.
Tannhauser gate is a new Spell card that aids in summoning powerful Xyz monsters that decks wouldn’t normally have access to. Due to the restrictions on using the card, you can’t just fit it into any old deck. You need monsters that are the same type, and have less than 1000 attack, which immediately locks out decks that mix Types and rely on big monsters. I would assume this is meant as a balancing mechanism for the card, since otherwise it would allow decks already capable of summoning powerful Xyz to summon even more powerful ones.
Decks which mainly focus on small monsters can often be locked out of Xyz monsters of Rank 4 and above, and this could give them access to those monsters. It will also be useful when levels are mismatched, since it allows you to Xyz summon by combining monsters that normally could never join forces. So for example you could combine low and high level cards to make an even higher Ranked Xyz monster, as depicted on the card itself. As the card shows, you could combine Planet Pathfinder (Level 4) with Solar Wind Jammer (Level 5) you could make a Rank 9 such as Dyson Sphere. Given the whole space theme going on, I can only assume that this is more or less what a character in the Anime did.
Tannhauser Gate will also find uses with cards that revive another card upon being summoned, such as Debris Dragon or Black Salvo. This will at least partly make up for the fact that using Tannhauser Gate for an Xyz summon is inherently more costly than just performing an Xyz summon on its own.
Final Gesture: Normal Spell Card
Target 1 face-up Level 3 monster you control; Special Summon 1 monster with the same name as that monster from your hand or Graveyard. Its effects are negated. During the End Phase of this turn, destroy the face-up monster that was targeted by this card.
Final gesture is yet another card intended to aid in summoning Rank 3 Xyz monsters, but requires quite a lot more commitment compared to far easier options, like Tour Guide from the Underworld. I suppose it could also be useful for summoning monsters which require 2 tributes, but once again there are much better options for this. It could also be combined with Proto Cyber Dragon to aid in fusion summoning the larger Cyber cards.
Since the summoned card has its effects negated, and you lose the original copy at the end of the turn, you’ll essentially be left with deadweight afterwards unless you perform one of the above actions, since Level 3s aren’t exactly known for their astounding stats. Although something like Photon Sabre Tiger may benefit from this.
Xyz Xtreme !!: Normal Trap Card
When an Xyz Monster you control is destroyed by battle: Pay 1000 Life Points; you reveal 1 Xyz Monster from the Extra Deck with a Rank less than or equal to that destroyed monster’s, and so can your opponent (simultaneously). The player who revealed the monster with lower ATK takes damage equal to the difference between the the revealed monsters’ ATK’s. If the opponent doesn’t reveal a monster, inflict damage to your opponent equal to the ATK of your revealed monster.
The final Xyz related card is Xyz Xtreme !!, which punishes the opponent for destroying your Xyz monsters in battle, whilst also giving both of you informartion about each others Extra decks. However this extra information is probably largely unimportant, since most of the time you’ll be able to make a reasonable guess about what each other is using.
For many ordinary decks this card won’t be much good, since the opponent will probably just be able to reveal their own copy of the same card. For example for Rank 4 and 3s you’ll both probably be reaching for Acid Golem. If you make use of smaller Rank 1 or 2 monsters, your opponent often won’t, so you could get some damage in this way, although to be honest it’s not worth it compared to just running a burn card instead. You’ll only leave yourself 100 better off with Rank 1s and 600 better off with Rank 2s.
If you use a deck with higher ranked monsters you could get access to monsters your opponent can’t possibly match, there’s just the slight problem of how the origianl Xyz monster is going to die in battle, considering your opponent usually won’t have anything bigger than it. If we just assume that you need to beat the baseline of Acid Golem, then add on the 1000 Life Points it cost to use the card, you’ll need to reveal something with over 4000 attack just to break even. Even Superdimensional Robot Galaxy Destroyer will only leave you 1000 better off, and if your opponent just killed another copy of that card, or Gustav Max, in battle you’re probably about to lose anyway. Honestly it’s just far easier to use cards like Just Desserts or Secret Barrel to cause burn damage.
I’ll be back next time looking at the remaining cards from the original set, before looking at the World Exclusives and the OCG imports.