Darklords descended on Duel Links in the form of the Lords of Shining Minibox released on April 30th, 2019. At the time, they were a bricky form of control deck, mainly using Darklord Ixchel to draw into combo pieces and set up plays with Darklord Contact. There was also the Darklord Superbia and The Deep Grave combo that appeared quite often as a way to build a lot of pressure on the opponent with large monsters. However, just recently on August 31st, Darklords received their ever-loving search card Banishment of the Darklords and suddenly the deck’s usage has spiked heavily! (also it very rarely bricks now!)
Hello, my name is Mismag - I’m the founder of the Academy of Duel Links (ADL) and I am the leader of the ADL Clan. Having played the TCG from very early on and stopping in 2009 to go away to college, I was pleased when I found Duel Links and have been enjoying the gameplay ever since. I have a penchant for combo and control oriented deck (as I’ve been playing Triamids for like 6 weeks straight) so naturally once I saw Darklord were coming back to the scene, I had to give them another look! They were one of my favorite decks to play in the WCS Yu-Gi-Oh! Games for the Nintendo DS.
The Darklords are a group of high level DARK Fairy monsters (with the only exception being Darklord Ukoback) that special summon themselves mainly from the graveyard through their in-archetypal Spell/Trap cards. The unique element of this archetype is that four of the monsters can copy the effects of their Darklord Spell/Trap cards by paying 1000 LP, and then shuffling the card(s) back into the deck. This is a hard once per turn effect; meaning that multiple copies of the same Darklord do not allow you to use the effect twice in the same turn. Also, you are only copying the effects of the spell/trap that you have chosen. For example, when you copy The Sanctified Darklord with this effect, you do not have to send a monster from the hand/field to the Graveyard. You just get the negation + the LP Boost. This mechanic within the archetype, coupled with renewed consistency + draw power off of Darklord Ixchel has made it a force to be reckoned with in the current meta.
My goal for this guide, is to get you to join in on all the Fallen Angel fun, by having access to tips, tricks, and examples of ways to be successful piloting this archetype.
The most popular skill used is KaibaCorp Bling which allows you to draw (in order) a Prismatic rarity card, a glossy rarity card, and if neither of those remain, the skill just draws cards as regularly. However, due to this being a card rarity based skill, it hinges on your luck (or wallet!) to pull a prismatic or glossy Banishment of the Darklords. Additionally, you also would need to have NOT pulled any other rarity for your Darklord archetype cards other than basic. With the most effective deck using the skill hinges on both of these factors, if you were lucky enough (or spent enough money), you can utilize this deck to its fullest potential. I will outline the basic strategy below based on your rarity of your Banishment of the Darklords, as that’s the centerpiece to the archetype.
If you have a Prismatic Banishment: Great! You’ve been chosen by the gods & goddesses and aside from getting a really dope looking prismatic, you can effectively slide in your copy (or copies) of this card, and then have every one of your necessary tech cards GLOSSY. This will ensure that whenever you side in Games 2 & 3, that after you have drawn your Banishment, your next Skill proc will immediately draw you one of your tech cards! Since you can freely manipulate when your prismatic Banishment would return to the deck, you can maintain drawing tech cards through the skill for as long as you like.
If you have a Glossy Banishment: Good! You’ve been chosen by the spirits to get the second version of this deck, which, while not as strong as the first, still is a force to be reckoned with because you’re guaranteed to draw Banishment after every skill proc. The only major drawback is that you cannot make all of your tech cards glossy, because then there on the same rarity as Banishment and you won’t be guaranteed to draw it anymore. One creative solution that I used during the Meta Championship Series 24 (MCS going forward) was to have a main deck tech card that was prismatic, and if I didn’t need it, I took it out and was able to draw Banishment regularly again.
Destiny Draw: This skill is only once per Duel, and when you lose 2000 LP (which is very easy after two Darklord Quick Effects), you get to draw any card from your deck. With the natural searching through Banishment of the Darklords and deck thinning through Darklord Ixchel, you can grab those tech cards/combo pieces a lot easier. While KaibaCorp Bling allows multiple procs per duel, the big advantage to running Destiny Draw is that it doesn’t care about card rarity so you can freely run certain techs that can’t be glossy or prismatic (such as level up rewards, special campaigns, etc.) which can make for some explosive plays.
Compensation: This skill will send the top card of your deck to the Graveyard and recover 300 of your life points. You can use this skill each time you lose 1000 life points, and it is NOT once per turn! Set up your graveyard with as little interference as possible + get discounted Darklord effects (since you’re gaining 300 with every proc, effectively paying 700 for the effects themselves) sounds like a great skill! Of course, the main drawback would be milling a tech card or a Darklord boss monster (since they can’t be special summoned), so the workaround is either to run 2 Darklord Desire in case you mill 1, or use Darklord Amdusc to recover any Darklord card from the Graveyard. Cosmic Cyclone is also very useful in activating this skill, so maindeck a pair.
Banishment of the Darklords (3x):
This brought the deck out of the Darkness of being a bricky mess. This card lets you search anything you need in the entire archetype (except itself obviously), and can also be copied by your other Darklord monsters for greater effect. Mandatory 3 copies for optimal success.
Darklord Ixchel (3x):
One of the deck’s biggest playmakers: Sets up the Graveyard for an easy copy later on in the same turn + helps you draw into tech cards a lot easier. Prioritize dumping The Sanctified Darklord with this effect (for a really cheap negation) - it’ll make your board a lot stronger. If you have to discard a monster card, try to make it one of these 3 that have the quick effect (Darklord Ixchel, Darklord Nasten, or Darklord Tezcatlipoca) so that you can still make copy follow up plays. Additionally, I recommend that you use Ixchel draw to EXTEND plays, and not start them. Don’t be hasty to search Ixchel off Banishment if you wouldn’t have any follow-up plays (such as Darklord Contact).
Darklord Tezcatlipoca (1-2x):
This is your main source of protection. If any number of Darklord monsters (face-up only) would be destroyed by battle or card effect, you can discard him and they will stay on the field. For this reason, I tend to personally like keeping him in my hand, as it is hard to get him back there once he’s hit the Graveyard. Running 2 is ideal. 3 can prove to be way too bricky, and less than that isn’t enough protection coverage in my opinion which this deck highly benefits from to sidestep cards like Treacherous Trap Hole, however some builds have do run 1. With the popularity of Blackwings as a new Tier 1 Deck, one of the tech cards we use against them is Needle Ceiling so keeping Tez in hand to maintain our board while destroying theirs is quite the power play. Additionally, he possesses the Darklord quick effect, so even reviving him from the Graveyard has value later on after he’s used the handtrap effect. You can also search him with a copied Banishment of the Darklords in response to destruction to save your monsters.
Here’s a quick combo: Opponent uses Treacherous Trap Hole on your 2 face-up Darklord Ixchel. Discard Darklord Tezcatlipoca to bypass the destruction, then if you have a copy of Darklord Contact in your Graveyard, use Ixchel to copy it, revive Tez, and then you can use Tez’s effect to copy another spell/trap from your Graveyard! All in the same turn! It’s madness I tell ya.
Darklord Nasten (1-2x):
This is the third of the quick effect monsters in this archetype. Darklord Nasten has a hefty cost of discarding 2 Darklord cards from your hand to summon but since you want a lot of your Spells/Traps in the Graveyard anyway, this is not the worst thing in the world. He can also immediately copy any S/T that you’ve discarded to summon him to the field. His strength really shines as a finisher since he can be special summoned for an easy cost during the late game. You’ll likely want to run at least 1 to minimize less optimal hands, but some builds run 2 for the extra potential burst damage. Prioritize summoning him to the field if your hand isn’t terribly strong - since he can immediately copy a Spell/Trap, you can gain some value even if you don’t use it while in your hand. Given the banlist changes that limited Sanctified to 1 and Contact to 2, Nasten at 1 or 2 still depends on what other tech cards you plan to run; some decks teching more monsters tend to play 1 Nasten; other decks play 2.
Darklord Ukoback (1x):
You might notice something about this card - he’s a level 3! Which means we can Normal Summon him right?! You can, but it’s rare that you’ll want to. His strength shines in being the Foolish Burial for the archetype - he can dump any Darklord card from the deck to the Graveyard, which immediately sets up your copying plays with Darklord Ixchel / Darklord Tezcatlipoca / Darklord Nasten/Darklord Amdusc. Usually if you have to Normal Summon him, you’ll want to set The Sanctified Darklord on the field directly, so you can tribute him off the field. However, now that Sanctified is limited to 1, yo risk losing it to an opposing Cosmic Cyclone if you try to do this play! Recommended to only do this play if you have no other real options. To get more value out of Ukoback, you can revive him off of Contact when you can to get that mill in there.
Darklord Morningstar (0-1x):
This is one of your boss monsters and he truly lives up to that reputation! It requires two tributes to summon, he cannot be special summoned at all, and he has protection from the opponent’s card effects as long as you have another face-up Darklord out on the field. His effect is pretty fantastic - instantly making up for the work you put into summoning him by calling on his fellow brethren to be summoned from the hand/deck equal to the number of Effect Monsters that your opponent controls. It’s important to note that even if Morningstar is hit by Paleozoic Canadia, Enemy Controller, Floodgate Trap Hole etc. that unless the effect is negated, you’ll get the extra Darklords regardless since it happens on summon. His other effect lets us mill our deck to replenish the Graveyard and our LP. Comes in handy sometimes. We run him at 1 mainly to close out games, however some decks don’t run him at all (or in the side deck) and instead run 2 copies of Darklord Desire.
NOTE: If an opponent chains Floodgate Trap Hole in response to the Special Summon(s) of the monsters via Morningstar’s effect, they will ALL be flipped face-down since they were considered summoned simultaneously.
Darklord Desire (1-2x):
Desire’s effect is pretty helpful, since it’s non destructive removal. His ATK points are 3000, which is also helpful in beating over other monsters. What really shines for him is his ability to be Normal Summoned by tributing a single Fairy monster - which combined with your Darklord Contact is an easy summon that can push for lethal! Coupled with the fact that he’s searchable off Banishment of the Darklords, you’ll have a lingering desire for Desire. He’s a popular target for being floodgated so be wary of that before you commit to summoning him. Running 2 in a deck is a popular strategy now due to ease of tributing compared to Morningstar and also alongside the Compensation skill but it’s definitely still a matter of preference. Just don’t include 2 Desire & 1 Morningstar in the same deck, unless you like bricking A LOT.
Darklord Contact (2x):
One of your central copy targets - this card revives a Darklord monster from your Graveyard in Defense position. Ideally you would want to use this either on your turn to build up board presence and copy more effects, or on the opponent’s end phase, so that you can switch into Attack position during your turn and start going on the offensive. This card was hit by the banlist so max copies per deck is now 2. Run both.
Note: If you’re playing with Darklord Superbia (more on him later), do note that his effect will miss the timing if you attempt to revive him with Contact through another Darklord’s effect.
The Sanctified Darklord (1x):
This is your disruption - you get to negate the effect of any effect monster on the field, and then gain LP equal to its current ATK. This card also does NOT target! Do be wary that the ATK value is factored in after negating effects, so for example, using it on Silent Magician only nets you 1000 LP, no matter how many cards the opponent is holding. To use this from the field, you need to send either a face-up Darklord monster you control, or one from your hand. Usually only do this with Darklord Ukoback, or if negating that effect would be good for your board state. Most of the times, we get this in the Graveyard ASAP with Darklord Ixchel / Darklord Ukoback effect, and then we cycle copying it at 1000 LP a pop so that we can slow the opponent down, while keeping our LP high. This card was also hit by the banlist, so our comeback potential is much lower then when this card was at 3. Be very wary of setting this card in your S/T zone since Cosmic Cyclone is a very popular card now. Losing this card to CC really hurts us in the later stages of the game since it makes it near impossible to recover LP for our effects.
Darklord Superbia (1x):
Given the banlist hits to both Darklord Contact and The Sanctified Darklord, this is definitely a core card now. However, beware of the fact that it misses the timing off of a copy play of Darklord Contact, while offering no access to quick effects himself. Additionally, when playing in the Darklord mirror, be wary of summoing him when the opponent has Sanctified in the Graveyard, since his effect will be negated and slow down your plays. Either way, he heavily benefits from being summoned from the Graveyard, and can arguably function as a pseudo-boss for the deck, but since he doesn’t offer any quick effect access himself, run only 1 copy.
Darklord Amdusc (0-1x):
Amdusc has a great synergy with the Compensation skill to recover boss monsters that might be milled by its effect. I would recommend using this card ONLY if you are using this kind of synergy (also cards such as Into the Void can work), but only at 1 copy. If not, you can safely not include this card at all.
A solution to the backrow weakness, but a costly one. Using it costs you 1000 LP, (read that as: 1 Darklord Quick Effect) so if you’re going this route, you need to manage your board wisely. That being said, it’s still one of the best S/T removals in the game currently.
Forbidden Lance is a quick-play spell that allows you to lower any monsters attack by 800 ATK, however the catch is that the targeted monster will be unaffected by other Spell/Trap effects until the end of the turn. This offers 2 options: Either use it during Damage Step to run over opposing monsters/deny them a S/T effect (such as Concentrating Current), or you can utilize it defensively in response to your opponents Spell/Trap effects, OR even your own! This card works amazing in conjunction with Needle Ceiling which has become a popular tech card lately because of Blackwings.
Offerings to the Doomed:
A tech card that allows you to freely remove any face-up monster from the field in exchange for giving up your Draw Phase. Since Darklord decks have a lot of recycling, the lack of Draw Phase isn’t the worst fate in the world; it also gives the deck another way to remove threats from the board outside of Darklord Desire.
Poisonous Winds is a continuous card that prevents ALL WIND monsters from being special summoned. Additionally, all face-up WIND monsters lose 500 ATK, as an additional penalty. This side card is only relevant for stopping the Ritual Beasts archetype - which is made up of ALL WIND monsters, that have a focus on special summoning and banishing. This card out at the beginning of the duel forces them to play highly passively until they can remove it, which gives you plenty of time to set up. However, beware the Lava Golem and Treacherous Trap Hole that are common cards in the deck after MCS XXIV.
Cash Back is a Counter Trap that negates the effect of any card that your opponent plays that requires them to pay Life Points. This card is excellent in the mirror, since it negates ALL the Darklord quick effects - additionally, it also negates the ever-present Cosmic Cyclone which can protect your other backrow from being banished. Recommended to side 1/2 for the mirror match, depending on tech cards in your main deck. If running it with KaibaCorp Bling, making these glossy will ensure you draw them after your prismatic Banishment.
This card’s effect sends all face-up Fusion monsters back to the Extra Deck when its activated. However, the only catch is that it can only be activated when a Fusion monster is special summoned. Sided mainly for the Invoked matchup, which focuses on fusing monsters over the course of the duel. Since we have The Sanctified Darklord to negate their fusion effects, managing them can only be difficult when they get multiple fusions out in a turn. Beware of the Invoked player’s Cosmic Cyclones.
This card will destroy all face-up monsters currently on the field once its effect resolves. Emerging as a popular tech against Blackwings which love to swarm the field, this card’s hefty requirement is that there MUST be 4 monsters on the field for it to trigger. If you’ve played a couple hundred games with Darklords, you know that there are sadly some unplayable brick hands which make it impossible to play even 1 monster during your first turn. Since this card literally requires you to play a monster to reach the necessary 4 to activate this card’s effect, do what you can in the Blackwing matchup to make that a reality. In the mirror, this card also has some utility at being able to help clear an opposing Darklord board, but beware of Darklord Tezcatlipoca and his protection effect (which you can use to save your own monsters).
This card will destroy a face-up Spell/Trap card on the field. The big bonus of this card is that if you control 0 Spell/Trap cards and your opponent controls 2 or more, you can activate it from the hand! Since majority of our Spell/Trap cards will be either in the deck or the Graveyard, this card is excellent utility to get rid of pesky floodgate cards like Necrovalley & Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, while not costing any Life Points compared to utilizing Cosmic Cyclone.
If you need a way to deal with backrow but don’t have the aforementioned Cosmic Cyclone or Typhoon, then this is an acceptable substitute that can be gotten via tickets and/or gate farming. It only works at the start of the Battle Phase, so your plays during the Main Phase are still vulnerable to disruptions. This card definitely shines in a way against Amano-Iwato once you establish board presence - since they tend to run battle traps in addition to their counter trap lineup.
This is a popular tech card (or even Main Deck) against swarming archetypes. Also available via tickets and/or farming at the gate, this basically removes two opposing threats from the board, and either serves as more damage for your opponent to endure, or you can run it over in DEF with your Darklord monsters. The only plays you are restricted from when using this card are Normal Summoning/Set, so you have a wide variety of options with it! Keep in mind the rarity of this card if you are using it alongside KaibaCorp Bling
- Unlocking Yami Marik grants you a GLOSSY copy, so for Prismatic/Basic, you’ll need to use either a Kuriboh Ticket and/or grind out the gate.
Darklord Edeh Arae:
The revival effect off the Graveyard isn’t on a monster with high enough stats to really matter. Still don’t bother running this card.
Yeah, you gotta also watch out for Lava Golem as a tech card used AGAINST you as well. Due to the rise of Blackwings, Lava Golem tech has become much more popular for the same reasons it’s always been: seamlessly clearing away threats.
This card is a huge hinderance to the Darklord style of play (since we use the Graveyard quite frequently). It’s only really able to be gotten rid of through Cosmic Cyclone and newly added Typhoon in terms of the tech cards listed above. It doesn’t have a particularly common deck its being used in at the moment (outside of literal Gravekeepers) but Blackwings have been proven able to splash it in with little detriment to themselves, while also boasting Ancient Fairy Dragon to easily search it out! MCS XXIIV Champion EmAyy brilliantly showed us the power of this combo during his run straight to the top. Outside of that, expect it to be a likely side card in any deck that doesn’t really rely on the Graveyard much (or at all).
Bad Reaction to Simochi
This turns our The Sanctified Darklord into a very costly negation tool, because we will lose the LP we would normally gain via this effect. If you attempt to negate a monster such as Aleister the Invoker by paying 1000 LP, you’ll be out 2000 LP total! While this card has been less popular lately simply because there’s other tech cards against Darklords that do a whole lot more (coupled with the fact that Sanctified has been limited to 1), it’s still a card to be wary of (and nearly cost me my Top 16 spot in MCS XXIV)! Available at the Card Trader.
This is another counter trap card that specifically deals with the effects of monsters in the hand/Graveyard - for us that means Darklord Ixchel and Darklord Nasten. The result of this counter trap trigerring will banish whatever the target is, however it MUST negate the target where the effect activates, meaning that since Ixchel’s effect to draw cards triggers in hand, but discards itself to the Graveyard as part of cost, Ixchel won’t be banished. However, Nasten remains in the hand while the cost is being paid, so it would get banished. Common card in Amano Stun builds. Can be found at the Card Trader.
This is one of the first “Drain” series cards that has come to Duel Links! Anyone who’s played the TCG knows this mini series of cards well - cards such as Skill Drain and Soul Drain where you pay 1000 LP and effects of monsters in a certain zone(s) are prevented from being activated (or negated). This is another floodgate type of card, and Mind Drain stops monster effects in the hand from being activated. Meaning no Ixchel, no Nasten again. Eliminate this with Cosmic Cyclone if you can - I foresee this being a popular tech post KCC given the applications it has to some other tiered decks at the moment. (i.e. stops Aleister the Invoker boost, stops Blackwing - Simoon the Poison Wind from searching Black Whirlwind from the Deck, etc.)
This card is a pain to our style of play because it immediately turns off all the monster effects we have on the field. Can be easily removed with Cosmic Cyclone & Typhoon. This isn’t as hindering as some other tech cards unless its drawn early in the duel. Late game where you’ve gotten an established board, it’s very possible to play through this card if your opponent is still struggling to push. Remember that Darklord Tezcatlipoca’s effect will NOT be negated by this card. Additionally, with the rise of Blackwings, except this card to be MAIN DECKED a good amount of the time. #CollateralDamage #ThanksBlackwings
The Transmigration Prophecy
This is a card with the effect of targeting 2 cards in the Graveyards (can pick 1 of each player’s, or 2 from one player’s) and shuffles them back into their respective decks. Since Darklord quick effects rely on targetting a spell/trap card to copy, Transmigration removes the attempted target we are trying to copy and makes our effect fizzle. Congrats! You paid 1000 LP to do nothing! This card is nothing short of a pain for Darklords to deal with, and since it’s chainable as long as 2 cards exists combined in the Graveyards, the only real hope is that your opponents don’t draw it early to mess with your strategy.
Darklord Superbia can “miss the timing” when it’s revived by a copy of Darklord Contact created by another Darklord effect, such as Darklord Ixchel’s. The reason for this is that Superbia’s when effect has to be the last thing that happens in the Chain Link. When you attempt to copy Contact to summon him the steps go like this: Ixchel effect activates, you pay 1000 LP and select your target in the Graveyard to copy. Once the effect resolves, Contact brings back Superbia to the field. Then the Contact gets shuffled back into the deck. Superbia was already on the field before the rest of Ixchel’s effect finished resolving, hence the term “miss the timing.” If you revive Superbia by using Contact from your hand, then there is no reshuffle, and his effect will go off as normal.
Regarding the “you can only activate one “(insert Darklord card)” per turn”: Using a copy from your hand counts as the one turn use for that card. However, you can THEN copy the same card you just used with either Darklord Ixchel / Darklord Nasten / Darklord Tezcatlipoca in the exact same turn without any problem.
Regarding the “you can only activate each effect of Darklord Amdusc/Ixchel/Nasten/Tezcatlipoca once per turn”: These are called hard once per turn effects, because they specify the card’s name in the text. That means having extra copies of the same Darklord face-up will not allow you to use the same quick effect (or even summon them) more than once per turn. Mind your resources!
The Sanctified Darklord if activated from the field in your S/T zone: must either send 1 Darklord monster from your hand or face-up from your field to the Graveyard. Important point to note in a meta that’s seeing heavy Floodgate Trap Hole and Paleozoic Canadia usage again.
When using the effect of either Darklord Amdusc, Darklord Ixchel, Darklord Nasten, or Darklord Tezcatlipoca, it’s important to know the windows in which the opponent can respond to you. The first part of the effect is that “you can pay 1000 LP, then target 1 “Darklord” Spell/Trap in your Graveyard;” - These happen simultaneously. Once you’ve selected a target and paid the LP, then your opponent is given the opportunity to respond. If they somehow remove the card that you’re attempting to copy from the Graveyard in any way, such as Fiend Comedian, your effect fizzles and nothing happens. Once this initial window has passed, then the effect resolves, and specifically in the case of The Sanctified Darklord, a decision is made for the resolved effect.
An ideal combo to aim for during your 1st turn:
- Discard Darklord Ixchel, then you get to draw two cards (ideally you should discard Darklord Ukoback or Darklord Superbia).
- Use Darklord Contact on the Superbia to special summon it from the Graveyard and activate its effect. Bring back the Ixchel you just discarded.
- Use Banishment of the Darklords to search Darklord Ukoback.
- Use Ukoback’s effect to send either a Darklord Contact or The Sanctified Darklord to your Graveyard.
Another combo to build some offensive momentum with a somewhat subpar hand - “Doing the Nasten”
- If you’re holding Darklord Nasten, Banishment of the Darklords/another Darklord name (not Desire or Morningstar), and a backrow clearer such as Cosmic Cyclone, pitch your 2 Darklord cards for Nasten.
- Nasten is in ATK mode, so copy Banishment of the Darklords to get a search.
- If you searched Darklord Contact then use it to get some added board presence; if you already had Contact in hand, then you likely searched Darklord Desire.
- Summon Desire with the monster revived by Contact - use the quick effect before you tribute if necessary.
- Use Desire’s effect to remove an opponent’s monster from the board.
- If you have enough damage to OTK and the opponent’s backrow is clear, make the push! If not, you can sit on a relatively decent board state.
“The Ixchel Draw Engine” was a popular way to give certain other rogue decks a boost, however due to the recent banlist and Darklords having 1 card on both the semi-limited and the limited list, the popularity of this engine has declined to where it is no longer relevant.
PlaymakerEY, 4th Place BP! 24, 11/19/19
k0k!, Top 16 MCS XXIV, 11/16/19
This is probably the single worst matchup for Darklords (among other decks), since Amano-Iwato shuts off ALL activated monsters effects from ANYWHERE unless they’re spirit monsters. For us, that means the only unaffected monster is Darklord Tezcatlipoca, since his protection effect from hand is NOT an activated effect. It’s a tough fight to endure, however, when playing against this deck you have two options: A) If they DON’T open Amano: Play carefully around their counter traps and battle traps since even without Amano, they can still create board presence through Rebirth of Parshath summoning Avenging Knight Parshath from the Extra Deck, as well as the Invoked variants carrying Invocation and that entire engine; or B) If they DO open Amano, work towards aggressively creating board presence to eliminate it ASAP. Monster effects can’t be activated, but you’re allowed to use Darklord Contact to freely revive monsters to be tributed for either Darklord Desire or Darklord Morningstar.
This is a matchup that I would say is 60/40 in favor of Blackwings (sadly). Blackwings having no semi-limited or limited cards means they have access to Treacherous Trap Hole, Hey, Trunade! and other banlist goodstuff that adds to the tools in their arsenal. Most notably, they have Blackbird Close which can be activated FROM THE HAND if they control a face-up Blackwing Synchro monster, and is a counter trap that negates the effect of a monster activated that is controlled by the opponent. That means using any quick effects, can easily backfire, and lead you to get clipped by Close. Additionally, Close permits them to special summon Black-Winged Dragon from the extra deck. That being said, the matchup isn’t unwinnable, and we can swarm on par with them if we get a good opening hand. With only 1 copy of The Sanctified Darklord it is important that you save it to negate primarily the synchro monsters, most notably Assault Blackwing - Raikiri the Rain Shower who can destroy cards on your field.
Outside of that, utilize your tech cards such as Needle Ceiling well, and survive their initial few turns, and you should be in a position to reclaim control of the duel in the late game.
This matchup is about 50/50. On one hand, Crystrons run a large volume of cards that can lead to some subpar hands. On the other hand, their new trap Crystron Impact gives them a fair bit of staying power that they didn’t have before and can help them win more matchups against aggressive decks since the trap turns the DEF of opposing monster to 0. That coupled alongside the deck’s natural techs in Cosmic Cyclone and Forbidden Chalice can make it formidable for Darklords to deal with. One of the keys to beating this matchup is again, utilizing The Sanctified Darklord to negate the tuners on field who attempt to synchro summon during your turn. If you are maindecking Floodgate Trap Hole or Paleozoic Canadia those are also good tools to utilize against them. Similar to other matchups, it’s a grindy one, so you must manage your resources well and make sure not to overcommit to the field since Crystrons have a good amount of recovery now.
Additionally, Impact’s Graveyard effect can negate your Darklord Desire effect since it does target, so be wary of that before committing to just having Desire as your main presence on the board.
Darklords (Mirror Match)
Oh boy, the Darklord Mirror. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? This mirror is also about resource management, but since you’re both playing with quick effects, you need to always focus on negating your opponent’s quick effects with The Sanctified Darklord as Chain Link 2. Usually the person to establish a boss monster (either Darklord Morningstar or Darklord Desire) without getting hit by Sanctified can push for lethal quite easily. Side cards such as Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror and Cash Back are godly here, as is Cosmic Cyclone to banish opponents Darklord Spell/Trap cards so that they cannot be recycled.
In this mirror match, I opted for pushing as close as I could to getting my opponent to activate his quick effects, and then negate with Sanctified. I didn’t open the best, so I set Sanctified and passed. Luckily I took out a Night Beam with my Galaxy. My opponent seemingly didn’t open well either since he hard committed to Nasten with 0 cards left in hand. Sanctified negate helped me get Tez out of my hand and in the Graveyard to revive with Contact. At that point, I tried to establish my 2 monster board, but since he also had a facedown Sanctified, I shifted gears to go offensive with Desire since we has out of steam at that point. From there, just rebuild the board, and win.
NOTE: This replay was taken pre-banlist, however I am keeping it on the guide as a good way to make the best out of a bad hand. Do note that I would highly advise AGAINST setting Sanctified in the current meta unless you have no other choice.
This is a matchup that’s quite favorable - even though our primary disruption is arguably less useful here. Their boss monster Fortune Lady Every starts out at 2800 ATK/DEF as soon as she’s summoned and can banish 1 face-up monster on the field (Opponent’s Standby Phase only). If she’s in the Graveyard during our End Phase, she can revive herself quite easily by banishing a spellcaster. However, they aren’t terribly consistent, and can have bad hands that we can take full advantage of. They have recently dropped off the Tier List, however with a Dark Carly event coming back in December, knowing this matchup continues to be relevant knowledge. The key is don’t be passive, and manage resources well; your monsters can swing over just about anything they play, and though some builds are now utilizing Rebirth of Parshath alongside their 1 copy of Bending Destiny and other counter traps, playing intelligently around them and not overcommitting to them straight out the gate can lead you to victory.
I’m going to divide this section into the primary forms of Invoked decks; however I will say that similar to the old Neos Engine, Invocation & Aleister the Invoker combine with monsters of the FIRE, WATER, EARTH, and DARK attributes to create fusions with powerful effects. A general rule of thumb is to use The Sanctified Darklord on an Aleister summon to negate his search for the deck’s wincon: Invocation.
Invoked ElementSabers: This matchup is 50/50 - the Elementsaber crew such as Elementsaber Molehu come with the flexibility of changing their attribute in the Graveyard once per turn. Coupled with effects such as Molehu’s flipping monsters face-down once per turn, and their field spell Palace of the Elemental Lords giving a significant boost to their monsters, and it can easily turn into an uphill battle. Best bet is to manage resources well, especially when Molehu is on board, and destroy the field spell whenever you can to slow down the searching/stat boosts. Expect a lot of Cosmic Cyclone in this matchup, and damage step delays from Concentrating Current.
Invoked Magician Girls: This matchup is very much in our favor - we can avoid a lot of interactions via using Desire to send their monsters like Chocolate Magician Girl & Apple Magician Girl to the Graveyard and avoid their battle phase interactions. Berry Magician Girl triggers whenever its targeted for an attack or an effect, however, since it doesn’t actually negate the effect, the additional monster it summons is usually a minor nuisance.
Invoked Pure: This matchup is more in our favor than Sabers, but less than Magician Girls. The build focuses on using utility monsters such as Tackle Crusader, Flip Flop Frog, Jurrac Ptera and others alongside the Invoked engine to spit out powerful fusions while using effects to control the board state. This deck has a lot of ways to deal with monsters via the various return to hand effects so the best method is again utilizing Darklord Desire to remove the threats before the effects go off. Also beware the Scrap Goblin builds which often have Black Rose Dragon in the Extra Deck to nuke the field, then summon Invoked Magellanica for an OTK.
Invoked Roids: This deck is still somewhat new, as its emergence was only fully realized due to Kiteroid being a reward card in the current Tour Guide Bingo Event! It utilizes Megaroid City to search for a “roid” monster (Drillroid, Rescueroid, or Submarineroid) by destroying a card on their field (usually Aleister) which makes Invocation live instantly. On their own, the roids have a fair bit of utility: Drillroid can destroy defense monsters without damage calc, and Submarineroid can attack directly, then switch back into DEF mode. The specifics of this matchup are still unknown, however since roids have no inherent engine, treat it the same way as the pure build. However, a few variants have run Rebirth of Parshath alongside Emergeroid Call for negate presence + an easy search for any roid monster by banishing it from the Graveyard.
Ritual Beasts are a WIND attribute deck that focus on controling the field through various contact fusions such as Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio and Ritual Beast Ulti-Cannahawk while Spiritual Beast Pettlephin and Spiritual Beast Tamer Winda bounce cards and float into more monsters for the opponent to grind through. To top it all off, some versions use Lava Golem or Destiny HERO - Plasma as boss monsters to fully lockdown the opponent. The best plays against this deck involve making sure that you keep The Sanctified Darklord around as long as possible to negate those key combo enablers. Additionally, be wary of Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror since this deck is all WIND and can easily maindeck it without a second thought. Your Poisonous Winds side deck card will be fantastic here. Note that the two fusions named (Ulti-Apelio & Ulti-Cannahawk) have effects that can activate during either player’s turn so be wary of using effects such as those of Darklord Desire that target, which will be dodged.
Other that that, it’s a slow dance, and Ritual Beasts unfortunately usually lead the way, so just stay focused and grind them out. No matter the skill level of an opponent, the timer is always a factor, sad to say.
This matchup is about as painful as Amano Stun due to the combination of Yosenjus’ Secret Move & Yosenjus’ Sword Sting negating effects and bouncing cards back to hand. Additionally, you have Yosenju Oyam to deal with, should you attempt to attack directly, and Yosenju Kama 2 that can bypass your monsters and attack directly. Finally, thr deck often runs Forbidden Chalice and utilizes the Shadow Game skill which for Darklords means that your LP will erode in a hurry. The key to beating this deck is again, managing resources well, especially LP, but also to not let them completely control the pace of the match. Push hard and push often when you can. Outside of the Oyam, their monsters all return to hand during the end phase that they were normal summoned, so that should give you some relief from the counter trap. Sword Sting isn’t the worse fate unless you’re pushing for lethal.
Drowning Mirror Force is also a hot ticket for this deck since it synergies so well with the lack of monsters during the end phase, so watch out for that.
Special thanks to Mordecai for showing me the height of this matchup during MCS XXIV as my Round 1 opponent! (spoiler: I lost 0-2)
This archetype is definitely still going somewhat strong in the time immediately after the banlist dropped; however since the premiere of Aerial Assault MAIN Box and Blackwings have descended upon the scene, the full weight of these nerfs can be felt a bit harsher. That being said, Darklords with the access to a phenomenal search card, and clearly profiting off the KaibaCorp Bling skill so they can freely run techs that they want still makes them a force to be reckoned with piloted by the right player.
First off, I have to thank my Clan Mates over at ADL - to this day many of them know my first tournament entry deck (read: dumpster fire), and yet they really helped get me squared away to studying meta and also enjoying competitive play in a way that I couldn’t find in many other places - so big love to those guys/gals.
I would like to thank Jadehex for reviewing the guide and helping me format it for the website. He was very open to the idea and delivered feedback in a way that helped improve the quality of this content (which is something important to me as a teacher).
Special thanks also to Tnobes99 from PHX - a fellow expert himself - for reaching out to me and talking shop about new ideas surrounding Darklords.
General thank you to all of you guys in the Darklord channel at DLM who are not afraid to DM me/ping me with questions and replays - I truly enjoy critiquing and helping y’all out!
Dkayed and Duel Links Meta - an excellent gathering place for the community to come together.