This is the 24th Mini Box and was released on March 24th, 2020. Fortress of Gears introduces adds support for Machina, HERO, and Aromage decks.
This Box is not that good but it could get better with the addition of more HERO fusions
Only time will tell with Aromages once people perfect the build but I believe this deck could be Tier 3 because it could offer some annoying disruption
Machina, Red Dragon Archfiend, and Black Luster Soldier are memes
In short, if you’re strapped for cash I would wait for the next Main BOX.
Aromage will now have their own way of destroying monsters (with targetting, so Invoked Cocytus and Lunalight Sabre Dancer are still hard to deal with) and also a way to banish monsters from grave thanks to Aromage Marjoram, which might be a problem especially for Shiranui, but also for Blue-Eyes and Invoked. They still lack a way of dealing with backrow, so Cosmic Cyclone might be used here, although Hey, Trunade! could also be used since there is no semi-limited card here. However, as Humid Winds and Dried Winds are continuous trap cards, this deck might prefer running Treacherous Trap Hole over Hey Trunade. Cosmic Cyclone would also be good against the Dark Magician matchup. Plants have received their own Mirror Force in Wall of Thorns, so maybe Treacherous will be replaced by Enemy Controller. Aroma can have acess to many powerful synchros like Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier, Armades, Keeper of Boundaries, Black Rose Dragon, PSY-Framelord Zeta, etc. This deck could reach at least Tier 3 I believe.
Heroes have also received a lot of support here. Vision HERO Faris can be searched with Elemental HERO Stratos and then be Special Summoned. The play that comes to mind is: Stratos searches Faris, discard 1 HERO, Special Summons Faris, put Vision HERO Increase on S/T, tribute Faris and Special Summon Increase then Special Summon Vision HERO Vyon from deck and you’ve got a Vision HERO Trinity by simply opening Stratos + 1 HERO. We will mostly like see Masked HERO Anki return as well, due to the fact that the new HEROs are all DARK attribute. Heroes will be able to use Hey, Trunade!, so be sure to add a new deck to the list of decks that can OTK you.
We also have Black Luster Soldier, but since the original ritual card is so old, and therefore most players might have 0 or 1 copies, it’s hard to expect it to be used by many people. Putting that aside, you can have Super Soldier Soul get up to 4500 ATK by discarding Black Luster Soldier and Envoy of Chaos. Even with only 1 copy of BLS, it can be searched with Gateway to Chaos. BLS’ old ritual spell allows you to Ritual Summon him from GY, so discarding it for Soul wouldn’t be that bad. Super Soldier Shield is great, since it can recycle itself one time and be used with Soul after discarding a BLS.
Machina are coming a little late, and without the reprint of Machina Peacekeeper, this deck suffers from the same problem as BLS. It has come a bit too late and there are better Machine decks to run, like Desperado with the recent Black Salvo.
One last thing: Ballista Squad may see some play due to how everyone is using Floodgate Trap Hole. The deck that could better use it is Shiranui, by tributing a floodgated Shiranui Spectralsword or a floodgated Synchro like Shiranui Samuraisaga. It can be used to get rid of cards like Elementsaber Molehu, Dark Magical Circle, and the new Dried Winds, but unfortunately it targets so Invoked Cocytus and Lunalight Sabre Dancer are still a problem, and Blackwing Tamer - Obsidian Hawk Joe can dodge it.
HEROs are not going to be that broken with this box but we still have to wait the main box that has Elemental HERO Stratos and Masked HERO support. From what I know in the TCG and how I play them, 3 Vision HERO Faris 2 Vision HERO Increase are the core Faris is one of the best HEROs to start spamming Special Summons. The combo is simple: Faris discard Destiny HERO - Malicious to special summon it, when it is summoned put Vision HERO Increase in your S/T zone, banish Malicious summon another from deck, tribute Malicious with Increase summon Vision HERO Vyon search for Polymerization and go into a HERO fusion. That’s a simple combo just from 2 Monsters. HEROs are going to be one of the best Fusion decks with Mask Change of course Faris + Increase is an easy combo to spam Special Summons. We now have everything - once we get more Extra Deck Monsters its gonna be Top Tiered deck
Black Luster Soldier is not that good on Turn but still good for Turn 2 and OTK.
Aromage is still inconsistant and weak since we didnt get Aromaseraphy Sweet Marjoram but it’s playable
Red Dragon Archfiend is the main deck that I think is going to be good to spam Synchros. They are very good but we’re still missing Resonator Call to make it more consistent.
Machina can be a fun deck to play, I dont think it will be Tiered but Machina Fortress is very good at bricking your oppenent. Discarding your opponent’s cards not once per turn is nuts, but he has to be protected to use this effect multiple times.
Aside from the new HERO support that might have some potential, the support cards for Aromages/Plant are a bit underwhelming. The same goes for the splash of Machina and RDA support.
At first glance, the BLS are also not very impressive. It’s hard to believe that it can be a strong deck since there still hasn’t been any real boss monster or strong win condition even with the addition of the new cards.
Ballista Squad looks like a card that might be useful in some decks that want or don’t care about their monsters being tributed (Dark Magician, Cyber Dragon, and Blue Eyes comes to mind). However, I hardly think that the box is worth digging into only for this card. It could be a nice tech, but still feels lacking compared to some of the better staple traps.
Overall, this mini box seems mediocre.
Ballista Squad is the best new card of the mini box. It gives great added support to decks already on the Tier List. For Blue-Eyes if you open sage with Raigeki Break and Ballista Squad that can give you a double pop. For Invoked you can summon Aleister the Invoker search Invocation and use Ballista to tribute Invoker to pop a card. For shiranui you can get your Shiranui Spectralsword in the grave. For Dark Magician you can tribute your Dark Magician and use Magician of Dark Illusion to bring him right back or wait if you already used Dark Magical Circle effect that turn. Also you can tribute Magician’s Rod to pop any backrow card or pesky monster. For Cyber Dragon will now you get a double pop as Ballista can tribute a monster to pop and overflow to use the same monster that went to the grave to get another pop. Also it can clear any Floodgate Trap Hole’d monster or clear out those pesky Lava Golems. Lastly, Ballista Squad can save you from a Lunalight OTK. IMO Ballista Squad is a great tool for any deck that can benefit from its effect as more often than not as it can either disrupt your opponent or prevent your opponent from disrupting you while furthering your combos and pushing for game.
Machina as archetype seems underwhelming, but as an engine, I feel it shows some potential; Machina Fortress being able to discard itself and any other Machine-type monster as part of it’s cost when activated from the hand allows it to easily special summon itself, that plus Machina Gearframe being able to search it makes a very compact 6 card engine that can fit into most machine decks alongside having synergy with Orcust Harp Horror and Crystrons by dumping their key cards into the grave, and Scrap Recycler sending it from the deck to the grave (it should be noted it cannot pay it’s own cost while in the grave) - However, as of right now, Transcendent Crystals can do that better for Crystrons, so we will have to wait and see whether people chose to experiment and add Fortress into their builds.
Aromages, the go-to free to play deck for most new players, and the new support has surprised me to be honest. While I don’t think it will see competitive relevance, someone galaxy-brained enough may be able to pull it off - the combo of Humid Winds + Dried Winds is a decent enough Turn 1 disruption plays that also allows you to search your deck for any Aroma monster, and Aroma Gardening is a fantastic card combined with Humid Winds that allows you to search your deck for Aromage Marjoram and special summon an Aromaseraphy Angelica from the deck for a next turn Synchro and grave disruption (provided the opponent attacks). However, currently the correct Skill and ratios for this deck are up for debate, in playtesting many people have eschewed Dried Winds for Blessed Winds and vice-versa, Aromage Laurel versus Angelica, LP Boost Alpha versus Grit versus Bring it! versus Draw Sense: FIRE, Aromage Marjoram versus Aromage Bergamot etc. Another issue for Aromage is that their Spells and Traps are continuous, so if your opponent chains a Cosmic Cyclone to them they will not get their effects, the prevalence and accessibility of Cosmic over other removal like Night Beam and Galaxy Cyclone will be another huge hurdle for this deck to overcome.
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