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 Beatdown which gives all your lvl 5+ monsters 300 ATK x the number of lvl 5+ monsters you control till the End Phase of the round. Seeing as every monster except for one is actually above lvl 4, this makes it an easy choice of skill to get over bigger monsters on your own turn, while sitting on your beefy defenders/reviving with Darklord Contact on your own turn.
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.
Sealed Tombs: If you use this skill in combination with this deck, it's one of your sided skills for Tournament Play (since it can make some bad matchups easier). All it does practically within Darklords is stop Darklord Contact plays for the duration of the skill; you can still copy other S/T from your Graveyard to reshuffle back into the deck.
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 either 1 or 0. 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.
Darklord Ukoback (0-1x):
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. 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. Also probably the most varied card across the archetype in terms of how many to include - experiment and see what fits your playstyle. Personally, I don’t like a weak Normal Summon so I only run 1.
Darklord Morningstar (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.
Darklord Desire (1x):
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.
Darklord Contact (3x):
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. There’s definitely no reason to run less than 3.
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 (2-3x):
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. Run 2 or 3.
After a full week of tournaments and events, Amdusc has clearly shown (me especially) why it should not be forgotten. As demonstarted by the MCS winning deck - Amdusc has a great synergy with Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress to recover boss monsters that might be milled by her effect. I would recommend using this card if you are using this kind of synergy (Into the Void also as an honorable mention); in the builds without Lyla, Amdusc isn't exactly needed, but can be experimented with as a late-game card.
Some people like this card because it allows special summoning in ATK position and more offensive pressure coupled with Nasten; some people don’t because it misses the timing off of a copy play of Darklord Contact, while offering no access to quick effects himself. Either way, he heavily benefits from being summoned from the Graveyard, and can arguably function as a pseudo-boss for the deck, so either run 1 or none.
Jinzo is more than likely gonna be the more common side card that you'll be using since many of the cards that people tech against this deck are trap cards. At only one tribute, it's not hard to find the fodder to commit your normal summon to this card. Additionally, it fuels the Beatdown skill, so it's a perfect fit for this role.
Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
Lyla made her debut in the MCS winning decklist, as both a backrow pop card, Graveyard setup, additional Normal Summon, and great synergy with Darklord Amdusc. It's highly advised that you run the two of them together so that you can recover any 1-of Darklord cards that she may mill with her effect.
Again, another 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.
Trunade making a comeback as another answer to the deck’s weakness of dealing with backrow. Note that it only bounces set cards so some common backrow techs used against Darklords (Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror, Bad Reaction to Simochi) will be flipped up in response to Trunade, and not be sent back to hand.
World Legacy Clash:
This is a tech that is definitely picking up in use due to both the effective "spot-dodge" nature of the card (since you must banish immediately for cost whether or not it resolves), and due to the fact that it instantly cripples statlines of monsters since Darklords have huge stats (sorry Ukoback!) and can setup nice lethal opportunities. I would say this is probably one of the best techs for ladder environments because of the versatility.
Treacherous Trap Hole:
This card is great for nuking your opponent’s monsters as they set up a combo of their own, or attempt to stall until they’ve built up an offense. Since you can reshuffle The Sanctified Darklord into your Graveyard at basically any time, there’s less conflict with the card’s only restriction for activation.
This card is a good f2p alternative to Hey, Trunade! - though it only works at the start of the Battle Phase; your opponent will be able to respond/disrupt your plays in the Main Phase. However, battle traps such as Wall of Disruption and Dimensional Prison are a big hurdle for Darklords to overcome, so Anti-Magic Arrows easily combats that classification of trap cards.
Unfortunately, there's not much alternative for budget cards in this deck because of so many archetypal cards required. Luckily they're in a mini-box, so getting them shouldn't be too challenging. Good luck snagging the 3x of Banishment of the Darklords though!
Darklord Edeh Arae:
The revival effect off the Graveyard isn't on a monster with high enough stats to really matter. Don't even bother running this card.
Lava Golem is a good disruption option against this deck since we usually like to sit on at least 2 quick effect monsters and combat the opponent from there till we're ready to push for lethal. Golem steps in and ruins this idea by sending those monsters to the Graveyard as tributes for his summon. Additionally, he carries a burn damage penalty of 1000 LP per Standby Phase for wielding this fiery beast. A lot of times, you'll just get your board disrupted by Golem, and the opponent may try to further capitalize by playing it in DEF mode, and then running over it with Elemental HERO Brave Neos to search another Neos Fusion for example. The only restriction on playing Golem is that you cannot Normal Summon/Set in the same turn; you could even conceivably use Golem in the Darklord Mirror and special summon Nasten from your hand to clear. Since it's another f2p card, expect it to be commonplace.
Another fun little tech card against the Fallen Ones coming from Master of Destiny Desperado. This card has a 50/50 chance (100% chance if they haven't used all 3 heads guaranteed by the skill) to either banish your entire graveyard immediately, or mill cards from the top of their deck to their Graveyard EQUAL to the number of cards in yours. I say equal because if it's late game and they don't have equal or more cards in their deck than you have in your Graveyard, they WILL NOT be able to activate this card, even if the skill would still give them heads. Commonly, a player will wait till you've committed to paying for a quick effect, and then chain comedian before the effect resolves, that way you end up 1000 LP less than before, since the effect fizzles without the targeted card in the Graveyard. Other than that, there's not much you can do about this card except hope they don't draw it, or if you're running Cosmic, that you banish it before they get a chance to use it. Jinzo would be fantastic here.
NOTE: This card is also a great tech card (and is commonly being maindecked now) because the outcome of the coinflip is either greatly beneficial (banish opponent's Graveyard) or mildly beneficial (milling our own deck to further copying plays) so be mindful of that as well!
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 in terms of the tech cards listed above. Commonly seen in Master of Destiny Desperado decks, due to their skill turning Cup of Ace into a Pot of Greed, and allowing them to draw into techs faster.
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 Desperado Barrel Dragon by paying 1000 LP, if this card is flipped in response, you'll quickly be out 3800 LP altogether, which spells certain doom. Removable by Cosmic Cyclone & Galaxy Cyclone. Note: This is a Card Trader card, so expect this to be a generally more common side card than some of the others listed here.
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 & Galaxy Cyclone. 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.
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 - (courtesy of Bacon):
- 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.
Not using Darklord Superbia? Try this instead:
On Step 2 use Darklord Contact on Darklord Ixchel and hopefully pair it with a Darklord Nasten or Darklord Tezcatlipoca. Then use the Ixchel effect to copy Contact and revive Nasten / Tezcatlipoca. That monster should copy a Banishment of the Darklords to search Darklord Ukoback or either Darklord Contact / The Sanctified Darklord depending on your Graveyard/Hand.
Another combo to build some offensive momentum with a somewhat subpar hand - "Doing the Nasten"
- If you're holding Darklord Nasten, either Darklord Contact / Banishment of the Darklords, and a backrow clearer such as Hey, Trunade!, pitch your 2 Darklord cards for Nasten - one of which should be Contact.
- Nasten is in ATK mode, so copy Contact from your Graveyard to summon another Darklord.
- Use Banishment to search 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.
- Beatdown boost both monsters to a total of 5800 ATK and push!
"The Ixchel Draw Engine" is popping up in various decks (most noticably on ladder/KCC) where other decks such as Buster Blader are using it to turbo to their own combo pieces, while also having negation/beaters to fall back on. The core of the engine is of course 3x Darklord Ixchel, however the rest of it tends to vary based on whatever other deck you're using it in. Always gotta be wary of draw engines because they can bring consistency to things they weren't meant to. Here's the basic idea:
Darklord Ixchel (3x) - main source of the draw engine
Darklord Tezcatlipoca (1x) - 2nd Darklord name for two quick effects per turn + protection while in hand
Banishment of the Darklords (2-3x) - searches Ixchel from deck or another Darklord card to discard for cost
Darklord Contact (2x) - usually a hard two copies just to have that revival and cycling going throughout the duel
The Sanctified Darklord (1-2x) - Used to negate opposing effect monsters + also generate LP; played at 1 or 2 based on the deck its being comboed with
WZ Taro, 1st MCS 22, 09/07/19
Moberri, 1st PCT #47 09/06/19
Rus95, 1st Damage Step #2, 09/06/19
This is a very favorable matchup. We hardly run backrow for them to pop with their Galaxy Cyclone, plus we can use The Sanctified Darklord to negate Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon at the start of the Battle Phase and earn a chill 3000 LP. Reactor is also the only monster in their deck that can run over any of ours, and we can recover much quicker. Cosmic Cyclone tech card is amazing here.
In the replay, I went immediate for a Superbia Combo, by discarding Ixchel/Superbia, and then following up by using Contact on Superbia, to then revive Ixchel. Then set my trap since I didn't care if it got popped or not by a Galaxy/Double Cyclone. I was sitting in a good position due to the 2 Tezcatlipoca in my hand. He did indeed destroy my trap with Galaxy, and attemped to destroy his own Geartown with Deep Sweeper. By negating the effect as soon as it was summoned, I was able to deny him the pop effect, even though he was no longer on the field - the effect remains negated. You could also substitute Breaker the Magical Warrior in that situation and it would had the same result. His misplay was the Double Cyclone + Geartown on Chain Link 2 (which causes Geartown to miss timing) but he probably figured that he was out of resources and basically surrendered. Nevertheless, remains a favorable matchup.
Also a very favorable matchup. We can negate their Cosmo Brain so that they don’t have an easy way to bring out Blue-Eyes White Dragon from their hand. We can also negate Snipe Hunter’s attempts to pop our board - however, they can still empty their hand with Snipe because discarding is a cost (which can’t be negated) so be wary of that if they try to pitch The White Stone of Ancients to the Graveyard. Once we have a strong enough field presence, we Beatdown over their monsters easily. If they are running the Sealed Tombs variant, their strongest monsters cap at 3100 ATK Cosmo Brain & Giganticastle - both of which can have their ATK boost stripped by negation, and we can grind out the game, even through the Tombs usage.
This matchup is in our favor. Elemental HERO Brave Neos is not much of a threat since we can sit on our Darklord Ixchel with 2900 DEF. The Cyberdark player will attempt to pressure us by Cyberdark Edge which can attack directly and is equipped with either Leng Ling (allowing it to attack twice per turn) or Cyberdark Cannon which fuels the Graveyard with additional effects such as Tackle Crusader, Bacon Saver, etc. but one negation from The Sanctified Darklord renders edge to be a low ATK monster that can't poke directly for that turn. Also to note, they may main deck (or side deck) Lava Golem which can be hard to recover from if we don’t have a Darklord Contact in hand ready to re-establish our board. Beating this matchup is all about resource management - get those Sanctifieds lined up and ready for repeated use as you charge up your LP and hinder their main plays to outgrind these guys.
In the replay, I started off with my Ixchel draw - pitching Sanctified since I had a second copy to send Uko to the Graveyard with. Normal Summoned Uko to give me a Superbia mill, and set myself up for a Superbia Combo by searching Contact with Banishment of the Darklords. I was able to end on a 3 monster board with 2 negates set up. Once he committed to Blast Spider, I made sure to tribute off Ukoback so that I could make room for a possible contact play in a following turn.
I then brought it back to setup my Graveyard by dumping a copy of Banishment. At that point, my opponent brought out a second Blast Spider, and proceeded to try popping my Ixchel. Rather than waste another negate from my Graveyard, and then have nothing left to answer Desperado with, I opted to copy my Banishment to search Darklord Tezcatlipoca, for protection. Since he was added to my hand as Chain Link 2, I can discard him in response to the spider effect. This accomplished the goal of giving me a better contact target (since you can only use Ixchel's effect once per turn - having two different Darklords face-up is most optimal) while at the same time gave me value for the round. Desperado comes out, and does pop my remaining monsters, but since he can't attack, it gave me the turn to draw into literally anything to get an Ixchel draw (my only 2 tech cards were set at this point). From that point on in the duel once I re-established my board, I got Tez on the offensive and chipped away at what was left. Once I only saw the lone Cyberdark Edge, I decided to make my push for lethal by way of End Phase Contact to revive Ixchel, and a Banishment search for Desire for a powerhouse trio to win the duel. Additionally, Desire's effect doesn't destroy, so the condition for Desperado Barrel Dragon is not met.
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 Bad Reaction to Simochi are godly here, as is Jinzo to stop them on behalf of your opponent’s side deck as well.
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.
For most, this probably seems like an easy matchup on paper cause you just negate Desperado Barrel Dragon with The Sanctified Darklord and his 2800 ATK can’t beat over your Darklord Ixchel at 2900 DEF. However, the BM-4 Blast Spider and Twin-Barrel Dragon monsters also offer compelling reasons to negate their effects, and pretty soon you’ll either be out of resources or your copies of Sanctified will be shuffled away in the deck. They also run a hearty amount of backrow, which is to be cautious of. To top it off, they run Cup of Ace which thanks to their skill means they can draw into tech cards about as fast as you can. Nevertheless the matchup is not impossible, and is very much winnable if you mind your resources. Be aware that this deck cannot OTK at all, so sometimes passing first turn so that you don't commit anything to being targeted by Blast Spider is a wise choice.
Winning this matchup is usually a battle of attrition, while not leaving ourselves open to direct attacks from Desperado (since he can’t pop monsters if he decides to attack and vice versa). Focus on keeping heavy board presence, since we can revive about as fast as they can attempt to pop monsters. Watch the backrow, and try to commit to Darklord Morningstar when it’s clear enough for lethal.
In both replays, my priority was to save my copies of Sanctified for Blast Spider, since it's the main way Desperado ends up on the board. From that point, I opted to use my copies of Darklord Desire (I was testing 2) to remove the machines from the field without penalty. I also rarely left monsters in Attack mode so that my opponent couldn't Crash-perado onto the field.
In the first replay, I had to play around clash a lot, while making sure my monsters unaffected by it were not destroyed. As long as I could maintain 1 quick effect on the board, I had ways to recover. Using Sanctified as both a negation tool + a LP buffer really helped. My opponent did kinda misplay by not bouncing Spider with the 2nd clash and crippling Ixchel's DEF. At that point, I did what I could to establish Desire, and start removing the monsters 1 by one without destroying them if I could. Eventuslly I had to commit to sacking Desire to save my board from Desperado but it proved worth it when I was able to topdeck Banishment and again re-establish the Desire on board. The big brain play here was letting him destroy Ixchel and commit to using my Sanctified to reset my Desire's ATK points, which gave me lethal next round.
In the second replay, I started out with the Superbia combo to get that board presence + searched an extra copy of Sanctified just in case I needed it. I also set Banishment as a bluff (don't recommend with the Cyclone usage these days) just to make him think I might've had something else back there. Once again, focus was on Desire removing monsters so I don't trigger Desperado, and attacking where I can till I can push hard for lethal.
Unless they open up with Flower Cardian Pine they’re gonna have a rough time of it. Removing Pine slows them down considerably, but the catch is that pine has to be off the field completely. Their other monsters can tribute over a face-down pine, such as Flower Cardian Maple with Deer and Flower Cardian Clover with Boar which pop S/T and monsters respectively. Recardination gives them more staying power by being able to bypass summoning conditions, and Flower Stacking literally lets them stack the deck to their liking. Aside from removing Pine, your focus should be on holding Darklord Tezcatlipoca in hand in case they get Boar out (don’t need to worry about Deer too much since we hardly play backrow). Aside from that, just chip away at their board, and be mindful of your The Sanctified Darklord negates.
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. Similar to playing against Spellbooks, 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 Silent Magician you have answers for that in the form of Darklord Desire. Keep in mind that against Fortune Ladies is probably the closest we would get to an "OTK" style of play, because of Sanctified crippling their ATK/DEF points, but still remember to mind your resources. These ladies have quite the synchro toolbox.
This matchup is fairly favorable. Save your The Sanctified Darklord trap for boss monsters Berserkion the Electromagna Warrior and Block Dragon which are their key playmakers. Also watch out for World Legacy Clash and Enemy Controller which can get around your established board. Triamid Pulse can be mitigated by having Darklord Tezcatlipoca. Try to leave as many face-up Delta The Magnet Warrior on the opponent’s field as possible (since they aren’t easy to remove by either boss monster) until you’re ready to clear for lethal.
This matchup is fairly favorable - despite all of the annoying backrow in the form of World Legacy Clash and Six Style - Dual Wield. Six Samurais have lost a bit of consistency now that Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi got hit to 2 alongside Shien's Dojo so many decks simply run 1 of each card. Supplementing the former 2nd Enish slot is sometimes The Six Samurai - Zanji since he can also function as removal. This can definitely turn into a grind game, but you have the advantage since Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En cannot negate monster effects. Focus on getting copies of Sanctified in the Graveyard ASAP so they can be at your disposal for the Shi En/Enishi duo.
Additionally, while playing around a suspected Dual Wield when you wanna maintain 2+ monsters is challenging, being able to sit on Ixchel with 2900 DEF is a great way to manage the board through your Graveyard copying, while also not outright losing to this card. Enemy Controller in the side deck can also assist, since the conditions for Dual Wield are slightly specific. Many of the Samurai players are opting to use Beatdown now to get over larger monsters, so just be aware of that. (Though 1 Beatdown boost on Shi En leaves him 100 ATK short of dealing with Ixchel's 2900 DEF)
In the replay, Rezileen prioritized getting her resources in the Graveyard for easy copying, and putting at least 2+ quick effect monsters on the board when she deemed there wasn't a threat of a Dual Wield.
This matchup I would say is favorable mainly due to the swarm potential and the fact that we have monsters with large statlines. While Silent Magician (SM) can be a pain with the free negate, if you can establish a Darklord Nasten on board (since he can be special summoned from the hand), you can easily copy whatever spell SM negated. From there, simply focus on pumping out monsters through Darklord Contact, and copying contact to overwhelm the board. Spellbook of Fate can only banish 1 card every round, so if you pound on the pressure, you’ll have them starved for resources. If for some reason, Silent Magician LV8 makes an appearance, you can stall her out by using The Sanctified Darklord to gain a whopping 3500 LP, while you search for Darklord Desire which will remove her without fear. Alternatively, you can use your copies of World Legacy Clash on her after she’s had her effect negated to cripple her stats and run over her.
Do note that negating SM with Sanctified will only net you 1000 LP because that’s the original ATK value of the card (the increase is an effect – which is being negated). Additionally, while Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer enhanced by Spellbook of Power might give a bit of trouble, stay the course and focus on managing your resources, especially since that boost only lasts till the end of the round.
This matchup is slightly favorable. Subterrors, while not as strong as they were with the old Masked Tribute skill, are still a force to be reckoned with in the hands of some duelists. The biggest thing to watch out for is Subterror Final Battle a very versatile trap card that can change their monster’s positions to activate their FLIP effects, boost their stats to high amounts, and now (thanks to The Sanctified Darklord being popular) the 4th effect of preventing Subterror monsters from being negated is viable as well. The skill of choice for them is Labyrinth Builder and they often have the Neos Fusion package to send Subterror Nemesis Warrior to the Graveyard for easy access. Subterror Behemoth Umastryx banishes a monster you control once per turn, and Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken can destroy Set cards equal to the number of face-up Subterror monsters.
The easiest way to cut through Subterrors with what we have is by using our boss monsters Darklord Morningstar and Darklord Desire. The former has protection from being targeted by the card effects from the opponent, and the latter can remove any monster from the opponent’s field for 1000 ATK in exchange. Once the behemoths are in the Graveyard, they have little to fall back on except Elemental HERO Brave Neos, Nemesis, and Final Battle. They often run Floodgate Trap Hole and Enemy Controller so be wary when making pushes for lethal.
This matchup is quite favorable. Triamids also have quick effects like Darklords, to swap their fields in/out, but their monsters aren't big like ours which means we're playing through backrow! Triamid Pulse especially because it can can pop key combo pieces on your side of the field unless you’re holding Darklord Tezcatlipoca to discard. Best way to win this war is through attrition - they’ll have to boost at least 2 turns with Triamid Dancer + have Triamid Kingolem up to get over most of your monsters despite their mode. Deny their field if you can - Cosmic Cyclone again is fantastic here - then mind their backrow and pick them off one at a time. Since you rarely set backrow of your own, Triamid Master is less threatening, and Triamid Hunter is really used to help them swarm. One last tip: Removing their field spell once they’ve committed to Normal Summoning Hunter Turn 1 denies them the extra summon - it’s a great way to swing a bit of extra momentum!
This is a pretty difficult matchup. Vendread Battlelord shuts off all monster effects during their turn + coupled with Vendread Houndhorde and Vendread Revenants and their effects if they get tributed from the field for a Ritual summon can banish your S/T and special summoned monsters quite easily. The deck also typically runs Beatdown so they can easily get over your monsters in DEF. The key to this matchup often times is The Sanctified Darklord because it’ll negate the effect of the Ritual, and then it’ll “forget” that it was summoned with those materials.
This archetype is definitely stronger now that it got its searcher card Banishment of the Darklords and has such a versatile amount of options that even its worse matchups are moreso individual tech cards rather than whole archetypes. It’s also very easy to lose track of resources when learning this deck so keeping a side note of what’s in your Graveyard before you activate Darklord effects isn't a bad idea. It’s a super fun and flexible style of play; they also have some interesting lore behind their card names in mythology.
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).
Thanks also to zPlusG, Hood, Bacon, and others that were chatting me up in the Darklord channel and inspired me to write my first guide!
Dkayed and Duel Links Meta - an excellent gathering place for the community to come together.