The “Stromberg”/”Fairy Tale” archetype made its first appearance in Duel Links in March 2019 in the Dimension of Wizards Mini-Box. The deck focuses on the Field Spell Golden Castle of Stromberg and has two distinct engines built in it: one focusing on Prinzessin and its direct attacking effect and another, more combo-centric, focused on Iron Hans and Iron Knight. Upon release, the Prinzessin version of the deck was quickly dismissed as gimmicky burn/stall strategy, while the Iron Hans/Knight version, although receiving some attention due to its synergy with Silent Swordsman, didn’t feel powerful enough to be worth playing. Recently, however, the Prinzessin version of the deck, which will be the main focus of this guide, has slowly but surely shown itself as competent Anti-Meta strategy, abusing the capability of the deck to “avoid” and play over the win-conditions of other decks, while at the same time being able to fit in tech cards for the metagames it finds itself in.
Heya! The guide you are about to read is a collective effort of some very passionate players of the Stromberg deck. I’m NormalNinja and, in conjunction with Frøst, doxJJ, GoldenEye, Hexie and OstrichChild, we are some of the original members of the self-titled Big Dick Club. On the DuelLinksMeta Discord channel’s Stromberg discussion tab, we actively discuss and optimize strategies for the deck, help other players that show interest in the deck and come up with new concepts to test on the deck as new cards and Skills get added to the game (and the doors are always open to anyone who wants to join the Big Dick Club). If, in a tournament’s deck breakdown graph you find 1 to 2 or even 3 Stromberg decks, they’re likely some of us (without wanting to take away any merit of any other person that also plays the deck in tournament settings, of course). Some of our biggest achievements with Stromberg include GoldenEye’s Rank 25 NA in this year’s WCQ event, Hexie’s victory on HHC’s Single Elimination Tournament and Frøst’s victory in Meta Weekly #89, as well as various top 32 and 16’s among us in various tournaments.
The Prinzessin version of the Stromberg deck is an Anti-Meta Control strategy that uses the Special Summoning effect of the Golden Castle of Stromberg to put in motion a one-card direct-attacking and protection setup that allows you to avoid direct confrontation with your opponent’s big monsters, like Elemental HERO Brave Neos or the entire suite of Darklord monsters, during either player’s turn. Unfortunately, this one-card setup comes at the cost of giving up your Normal Summon and having to banish the top 10 cards of your deck face-down during your Standby Phases. Despite that, there are various ways to mitigate these downsides, either through the tech cards the deck plays or through the Skills that the deck can play.
This guide’s objective will be to present to you where the deck excels at, how adaptive it can be and to hopefully convince you to give it a shot and join the discussion on the deck.
The Tie that Binds:
One of the Skills that best suits this deck. Any ATK boost is welcome in any strategy focused on attacking directly and your one card setup ensures that your Prinzessin will usually have an additional 200 ATK. Due to the particular attacks values verified in the deck, The Tie that Binds also enables a large number of OTKs that would leave your opponent short of lethal without it (at 300 to 100 LP left) or that would depend on additional ATK boosting cards.
The meta-specific Skill with the most usage in the entire game, Sealed Tombs locks your opponent’s GY for two turns, preventing them from using cards like Spellbook of Fate, Triamid Pulse, Darklord Contact and Bacon Saver in GY.
Cyber Style: Depending of the amount of Tuners and Black Rose Dragons that you play in your deck, Cyber Style is a Skill that you may want to consider. Best used after nuking the field with BRDs effect, Cyber Style can help you reestablish the lost board presence while giving you something to attack your opponent directly with. It can be very deadly if played with Photon Booster.
Arcana Force XII - The Hangman can be ran in some more casual builds but it requires this Skill to ensure you get its Tails effect.
Golden Castle of Stromberg (3x):
Your deck lives and dies by this Field Spell and its two main effects that provide you acess to your deck’s main monsters and “battle protection”. The first effect lets you, once per turn and at the cost of your ability to Normal Summon for that turn, Special Summon from your deck any monster from your deck that lists Golden Castle of Stromberg in its card text, which includes the rest of your direct-attacking and protection setup in the forms of Prinzessin and Pumpkin Carriage and backrow removal in the form of Glife the Phantom Bird. Its second effect destroys any of your opponent’s monsters that declares an attack on you or your monsters, while also burning them for half of that monster’s ATK on the field. The price to pay for these amazing effects? You must banish the top 10 cards of your deck face-down during each of your Standby Phases, which isn’t optional, or Golden Castle of Stromberg is destroyed. While this sounds like a very heavy drawback, the deck only needs to pull off its one-card setup once to achieve its win-condition. On top of that, the higher card count the deck usually has is played with the purpose to circumvent that heavy cost to some degree.
This is the deck main beatstick and an example of how appearances can be deceiving. This small 300 ATK monster boosts itself to 1300 when, through its own effect, it equips itself with Glass Slippers after bringing out a direct-attack enabling Pumpkin Carriage. Add Golden Castle of Stromberg’s protection to the equation and you got yourself a surprisingly pesky monster to deal with. And if that weren’t enough, a successful direct attack from this monster can move Glass Slippers around through the monsters on the field, either putting an handicap or them or buffing them, if they happen to be Fairy monsters (you know, like your other Prinzessins).
Pumpkin Carriage (1-2x):
Normally, carriages are carried around by some animal, like horses. But this Carriage is different in the way that it is it who carries the whole deck on its back. This deck would have zero viability if it weren’t for the myriad of things this card does for the deck: it protects Stromberg from destruction and targeting effects, it gives Prinzessin the ability to attack directly and access to Slippers, it is the main enabler of Synchro plays in the deck - as it can be summoned by Debris Dragon and it is Level 3, fulfilling the special summoning requirement of Psychic Wheeleder - and it even makes Rose Archer a viable tech choice in the deck. It isn’t a Garnet, as Prinzessin can also bring it out from the hand, which justifies playing at less than 3 copies (also remember that you only need to pull your one-card setup once to enable your win condition).
Glife the Phantom Bird (3x):
After Pumpkin Carriage, this card may be the second most relevant reason as to why the deck has any viability. Acting as the pseudo three extra copies of Golden Castle of Stromberg by discarding it from your hand, this card helps with the deck’s inherent issue of having to run more than 20 cards to not lose to its own cards. And as if that weren’t enough to make it a 3-of staple card in the deck, Konami was generous enough to give it a simple, but effective, extra effect that allows it to pop one of your opponent’s backrow if Normal or Special Summoned, which also further adds to Golden Castle of Stromberg’s overall utility (notice, however, that the specific wording in Glife’s text means that it cannot destroy Field Spells, as those are placed in the Field Spell Zone and not in the Spell & Trap Zone). Having 1500 ATK also makes it a decent beater, especially if boosted by The Tie that Binds or if attacking monsters debuffed by Glass Slippers.
Glass Slippers (2-3x):
This Equip Spell is the final piece of your one-card setup. After using Prinzessin’s effect to bring out a Pumpkin Carriage, you can also equip Glass Slippers to the Prinzessin as long as Stromberg is also face-up on the field to give it an extra 1000 ATK, since it is a Fairy. But its extra effects also add to deck’s power as an Anti-Meta strategy: firstly, when equipped to a non-Fairy monster it reduces that monster’s ATK by 1000 while also stopping it from declaring attacks altogether - add Prinzessin’s ability to swap Glass Slippers around the field after a direct attack and you get a pretty annoying set of effects to deal with, as it can either cripple your opponent’s monsters or further boost any other Prinzessin’s you may have on your field. Secondly, it can re-equip itself to a Prinzessin if the monster it was previously equipped to is destroyed by any means, which further improves the deck’s resilience. With this effect, you can equip Glass Slippers to an opponent’s monster, destroy it in battle with another monster like Glife and get back the Glass Slippers on your Prinzessin for a 1300 ATK direct attack.
Lava Golem (1-3x):
A staple in most Anti-Meta strategies and on decks that don’t need the Normal Summon to execute their gameplan, Lava Golem is your main way to dispose of monsters that refuse to stay quiet when faced with Golden Castle of Stromberg and its one-card setup, like Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En, Elemental HERO Brave Neos with a Neos Fusion in the graveyard or the Vendread Ritual monsters with extra effects with Revendread Origin in the GY while also aiding your direct attacking strategy with its 1000 burn damage. Most recently, it’s utility was improved with the addition of Darklords to the meta, a deck that aims to consistently put multiple monsters on the field to overwhelm the opponent with the repeated usage of their Spells and Traps’ effects. You can also equip it with Glass Slippers to stop it from attacking altogether or to reduce its ATK enough to be destroyed by Psychic Wheeleder in a follow-up Synchro play, not only clearing the field but also giving you the chance to re-equip Glass Slippers back onto a Prinzessin. Also, be sure to check if you can kill your opponent by summoning the Lava Golem in Attack position for a Econ-take play.
Gren Maju Da Eiza (1-3x):
Given to the players through a Pick-A-Gift Campaign, Gren Maju Da Eiza was just a tech until the 2nd and 3rd copies of it were given to the players through a second Pick-A-Gift Campaign and the KC Cup’s SR Tickets. Too bad for you that chose 50 Gems over this now staple card! After paying the maintenance cost for Stromberg once, this monster becomes a Normal Summonable 4000 ATK and DEF beater that can be even stronger if you were hit by cards like Cosmic Cyclone, Spellbook of Fate, Fortune Lady Every or the Vendreads’ banishing effects. It’s also a Level 3 monster which, in a pinch, can enable some Synchro plays with Psychic Wheeleder.
Synchro plays are the deck’s secondary gameplan. Ran from any ratio from 1 to 3, Psychic Wheeleder is your key Tuner monster, being able to Special Summon itself onto the field while you have a Pumpkin Carriage on the field and giving you the chance to destroy a monster on the field with lower ATK than the Synchro Summoned monster. It mainly gives you access to Black Rose Dragon in conjunction with Prinzessin and to the Level 6 Synchro pool when used with Pumpkin Carriage. In a pinch, it can also be used with both Prinzessin and Carriage to make Ally Of Justice Decisive Armor. Debris Dragon is also worth considering as an instant Black Rose Dragon if it revives a Pumpkin Carriage, although its utility has more relevance in Cyber Style builds that have more follow-ups after a BRD nuke.
A generic searcher that, upon being sent from the field to the GY, can search Glife the Phantom Bird for Golden Castle of Stromberg plays during your next turn. It can also search Psychic Wheeleder and even be used with it for a Level 6 Synchro play.
There are many Synchro monsters that can go into this deck’s Extra Deck. The main Synchros this deck can take advantage of are Black Rose Dragon (BRD), White Aura Dolphin (Dolphin) and Ally of Justice Decisive Armor (AJDA). As of now, BRD is arguably the best generic Synchro in the game with its board clearing effect, which makes it the only Synchro in the deck worth playing at more than 1 copy. If made while Pumpkin Carriage is on the field, Golden Castle of Stromberg will not be destroyed, which can potentially recover your board presence if you still have targets left for the Special Summoning effect in your deck. It’s also deadly if you are able to summon a Gren Maju Da Eiza after the board wipe for a clean lethal hit. Dolphin is currently the most useful Level 6 Synchro in the game, being able to reduce the opponent’s monsters’ ATK to half of its original ATK, although the extra 200 ATK that Gaia Knight, the Force of Earth has over Dolphin by default may prove more useful for popping monsters with Psychic Wheeleder’s effect . AJDA is made with Psychic Wheeleder + Pumpkin Carriage + a Level 4 monster and serves as a sort of meta call: it’s anti-LIGHT-monsters effects can win you games against decks like Blue-Eyes and Metaphys while also being a fat 3300 ATK monster. The rest of the Extra Deck can be filled with whatever Synchros you may need/have: other Level 6 Synchros should be considered like HTS Psyhemuth, Hyper Psychic Riser and Stardust Charge Warrior, the latter one being able to make Yubel - Terror Incarnate miss timing with Wheeleder’s effect. The deck has some niche Level 9 Synchro plays with 2 Pumpkin Carriages or a Level 6 Synchro + Psychic Wheeleder which can justify the inclusion of Vermillion Dragon Mech in the Extra Deck.
The only archetypal non-engine card worth considering running in the deck, Iron Cage removes any monster on the field without destroying or targeting it, although Golden Castle of Stromberg needs to be face-up on the field to be able to send an opponent’s monster with its effect. As an added bonus, during your Standby Phases, you Special Summon to your field the monster that was sent to the GY by this effect. It can be especially devastating if the monster sent to then be revived on your side of the field was a powerful boss monster like Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En, Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon or Desperado Barrel Dragon. If used on a Glife the Phantom Bird you control, you can also destroy a backrow card again. But be careful as the rules of the summoning conditions still apply here - for example, Neos Fusion isn’t a Fusion Summon, but a Special Summon that ignores summoning conditions, which means that if you send an Elemental HERO Brave Neos to the GY with Iron Cage, you won’t be able to Special Summon it during your Standby Phase, as it states that it “must be Fusion Summoned”, which it was not.
While Glife the Phantom Bird’s backrow clearing is very useful on its own, Cosmic Cyclone’s utility as a Quick-Play Spell is very appreciated by this deck that does not enjoy facing cards like Floodgate Trap Hole, Wall of Disruption or Treacherous Trap Hole. It’s also the best card to use against Triamids’ Field Spells, Triamid Pulse, Geartown and Ancient Gear Fortress. It can also be used on a Neos Fusion to prevent it from hitting the GY and providing its protection or on a Darklord Spell/Trap to prevent it’s repeated usage.
ATK Boosting Spells:
While the one-card setup is reliable on its own, there’s nothing wrong with having an even stronger direct-attacking monster. Mage Power has notable utility in decks that use Field Spells, adding an extra 500 ATK to the boost it gives. On top of that, the Glass Slippers from your one-card setup also add another 500 ATK to Mage Power’s boost. Power of the Guardians is currently one of the most powerful Equip Spells in the game due to the potential ATK/DEF values the equipped monster can reach on top of the destruction protection it also gives. Back-Up Rider’s boost, although temporary, does not clog your backrow that already has a Glass Slippers occupying one spot.
Treacherous Trap Hole and Enemy Controller:
Why even explain, you already know what they do. The best tech cards in the game. Enemy Controller is especially useful when taking a Lava Golem you gave to your opponent in Attack position after attacking directly with Prinzessin equipped with Glass Slippers.
Floodgate Trap Hole:
A great generic Trap card that can stop problematic monsters like Elemental HERO Brave Neos, Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon, Desperado Barrel Dragon, etc., stop the gameplans of decks like Spellbooks by hitting Silent Magician or Desperado by hitting BM-4 Blast Spider, or secure Tributes for the summon of Lava Golem.
Noteworthy Tech Cards:
Frøst, Meta Weekly #89 1st Place
The main Stromberg engine doesn’t exactly counter any deck in specific. In a way, the deck counters all and counters none, as although it avoids the threats established by the other decks, it doesn’t exactly deal or remove them from the field - you have to get their LP to 0 before they manage to break your setup. The deck’s countering potential is located almost entirely in its non-engine cards and how hard it gets countered depends on how the opponent chooses to use the countering tools it currently has at its disposal.
As an Anti-Meta strategy, Stromberg hops in and out of the various metagames by avoiding the various obstacles and threats set-up by the opponents. Although it has to run an higher-than-normal card count, its fairly condensed engine not only allows for experimentation with various meta-checking tech cards, but it also allows the deck to change between its various win conditions, like Prinzessin, Synchro plays or Maju, as the game progresses, making it a versatile and threatening strategy.
Big thanks to everyone that gave the deck a fair shot and contributed to its discussion and improvement
Big appreciation to everyone in the community that hosts/hosted tournaments for providing us with competitive settings where we can/could experiment with deck and optimize it.
Jadehex - for setting us up with the formatting guide for this article
Dkayed and Duel Links Meta - for providing everyone with the best hub for competitive discussion