Welcome to the next installment of my CDS articles, this time focused on an archetype that is infamous for it’s ‘1-card OTK’. That’s right, we’re going to be talking about the Atlantean monsters, specifically what happens when you build a Atlantean-centric strategy. Let’s dive headfirst into the depths of the sunken city, all further puns intended.
While most duelists have heard of the Atlantean archetype, very few have actually tried to build it on its own two legs. The theme originally premiered with Atlantean Pikeman, the Level 2 Normal monster, but it wasn’t until receiving an entire Structure Deck dedicated to introducing the strategy was the deck actually an archetype. Alongside the Structure, Konami released another powerful new WATER archetype called the Mermail in the main booster set, Abyss Rising. What happened next was quite expected: the Mermail monsters abused the Atlanteans as discard fodder, since the Atlanteans activate when sent to the Graveyard as a cost to activate any WATER monster’s effect. Before you could blink an eye, the two separate archetypes were considered as one strategy, and this deck rose through the ranks to become one of the strongest OTK decks with sheer search power and disruption. It even still exists today, as the deck has weathered many format changes by only slightly adjusting its deckbuilds. So it isn’t much surprise that despite further support to the Atlantean side of the this hybrid, duelists never succeeded at creating a pure Atlantean deck of the same caliber. Until now.
Atlantean monsters have always existed to serve any and all WATER monsters, including its in-theme boss monster, Poseidra the Atlantean Dragon. The basic premise behind their existence is simple: use them as fodder to activate WATER effects, then you get additional card advantage for doing so after the effect resolves. When contemplating the Atlantean archetype, the question most deckbuilders ask is: What does a pure Atlantean variant bring to the table that a Mermail/Atlantean hybrid cannot? But the question I prefer to ask is: What can a pure Atlantean deck add to the OTK-based strategy of the Mermail/Atlantean hybrid? Let’s face the facts, this WATER conglomeration has 1-card OTKs, it has access to powerful Synchro monsters, Xyz monster toolboxes, and it even can wipe out the opponent’s hand with Moulinglacia, the Elemental Lord. What the deck lacks is a strong lategame, because once you have used up your resources in repeated attempts at OTK’ing, your hand and options have pretty much run dry. Now let me be pragmatic and practical, there is actually no need to completely sacrifice the OTK power – all it takes is still running a Mermail Abyssmegalo and you can still have that. It’s true that we are focusing more on the Atlantean side, but it would be downright foolish to ignore the insane synergy the Sea Serpents have with each other. It is a powerful option that you always want to have available to end the duel in a rush. But what we can do is eliminate all the rest of the Mermail engine, cards such as Abyss-Sphere or Mermail Abysslinde, who simply aren’t needed if you are relying upon the Atlantean monsters to give you your win. For a quick recap – by choosing to build a more-pure Atlantean variant, you don’t sacrifice the OTK power, but you simply enhance the mid and late game power of your deck.
For those of you who do not know the Atlantean monsters very well, there is one key player that makes the entire deck a million times better, and that is Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince, the latest addition to the archetype. With his first effect, not only does he search any Atlantean card from the deck, but he also triggers one of your other Atlantean monster effects in the process. So by using this effect, you straight up gain +2 in card advantage, which is amazing. He is also responsible for the 1-card OTK: Simply send Atlantean Dragoons to add Atlantean Marksman from the deck to the hand, then the first’s effect triggers to add Mermail Abyssmegalo to your hand. Discard Marksman and any other WATER to Special Summon Megalo from the hand, destroy a Set card with Marksman, then use Megalo’s 2nd effect, tributing Prince. Prince then activates, Special Summoning Marksman back from the Graveyard. Once Marksman attacks, its effect will activate, Special Summoning your second Atlantean Dragoons from the deck. So 2400+2400+1800+1400 = 8000 exact damage for an OTK. While there are variations to expand this OTK further into more monsters and more damage depending on the opponent’s field, this is a very real threat to any opponent if you open with Prince. But what happens if we don’t draw Prince? For Mermail/Atlantean hybrids, they simply use their other Mermail monsters to generate advantage and apply pressure, but we need a solution if we choose to forgo the majority of Mermail monsters.
To me, the solution to our conundrum could not be clearer – we need to turn to another engine that offers more than just OTK pushes. So much for pure Atlanteans eh? We need to turn to an engine that can be flexible enough to stall for time, but also be able to apply significant pressure of its own to the opponent, because we don’t want our Atlantean deck to be a one-trick OTK pony. That was the entire point of dropping the Mermails in the first place. So let’s fly in a couple of pilots to do the job, specifically the Super Quantum monsters! The Super Quant archetype is comprised of 4 Main Deck monsters and 4 Extra Deck monsters, but like most decks that run the engine, we will only be focusing on 3 of them. Super Quantum Blue Layer is first up, and it actually provides most of the synergy with the Atlantean monsters. When it is Normal or Special Summoned, you get to add a Super Quant card from your Deck to the hand, and for this specific deck, you will always be adding our second Effect Monster, Super Quantum Red Layer. When Red Layer is Normal or Special Summoned, you get to add any Super Quant card from your Graveyard to the hand. See the loop yet? But it even gets better, since each also has an effect when it is sent to the Graveyard as well. Blue shuffles up to 3 Super Quant cards back into the deck, and Red Special Summons another Super Quant monster from your Graveyard. The final Super Quant to round out our engine will be Super Quantal Mech Beast Grampulse. Not only does it just provide more Spell or Trap destruction, but it also is a WATER monster that just happens to trigger your Atlantean Marksman’s effect when it is detached. The best part is that you can use its effect on your opponent’s turn, if it has Blue Layer has an Xyz Material.
So how do these two archetypes fit together? Besides Grampulse’s utility for the deck, there is actually a bit more crossover than you might expect. Since Blue Layer is a Level 3 WATER monster, it can also help to fuel the Special Summon of Poseidra with its effect. Also, who doesn’t love being able to use Emergency Teleport! If you decide to run a couple of Psychic-type tuners as well, that could actually give you even more options than most Mermail hybrids as you also are able to unlock the power of WATER Synchro monsters as well! This is especially important with the upcoming Coral Dragon, but you can also use the tuners to summon out Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier. Both of these Synchro monsters will trigger your Atlanteans while destroying card(s), so that’s just one more option on the table to give your deck a bit more versatility. The other benefit is that the Atlanteans are pretty much shut down by cards that stop monsters from being sent to the Graveyard. The Super Quant can give you time to be able to handle the floodgate and move on towards victory.
The last piece of good news is that if you are running an Atlantean-centric strategy, you actually have some deck space to work in cool tech options. You don’t need to be running as many WATER monsters as possible; you don’t need to just include cards for the OTK. Thus, you have space to run the final piece of Atlantean support, the card that gives an Atlantean-centric variant its mid and endgame power: Call of the Atlanteans. This Quickplay Spell gives you three free baby Sea Serpents from your Graveyard, as long as you don’t Special Summon monsters during the turn you use it. Not too bad for the theme’s searchable Monster Reborn. The best part is that this opens up so many options. Bring back Neptabyss, and apply even more pressure to the opponent. Bring out Diva and 2 Atlanteans, and threaten Synchro Summons. Heck, you can even just bring back 3 Atlanteans to tribute for the effect of Poseidra. Most Mermail decks cannot afford to run this card, but you definitely can and should in this sort of strategy. Just remember to use it during your opponent’s End Phase for best results! The second card I suggest trying would be High Tide on Fire Island. While it is fairly slow as a Trap card, it definitely can pay off for itself AND MORE if you have it set before attempting any major big plays. If you have Poseidra, Megalo, Gungnir, or Trishula out on your field, flip the Trap to Special Summon back as many WATER monsters sent to the Graveyard to activate WATER monster’s effects during the turn. That means if you tribute 3 monsters to Summon Poseidra, and your opponent chains Bottomless, simply flip the Trap, summon back your 3 tributes and put Poseidra back into the Graveyard for another summon. AND another round of Atlantean effects. As I said before, this is sadly a Trap card so will not be live the moment you draw it, but the potential applications make this card swing a duel solidly into your favor. Either way, I’ve covered the theory behind the strategy, so let’s get into the key cards!
- Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince
- Powerful search monster, key to the 1-card OTK, pretty much amazing to the deck in every sense of the word. Unless your opponent manages to negate his summon or prevent his effect from activating, you are in a pretty good spot whenever you get him to do his thing.
- Atlantean Dragoons
- The other key searcher of the archetype, except this one also searches out other Sea Serpents as well such as Deep Sea Diva and Mermail Abyssmegalo.
- Atlantean Marksman & Atlantean Heavy Infantry
- These two are the Atlanteans that provide additional destruction, therefore they are the main cost fodder. Additionally, Infantry helps you spam the field to make Poseidra live and Marksman adds even more pressure on the opponent, because if its attack gets through, that’s even more free advantage.
- Poseidra the Atlantean Dragon
- The boss monster for a pure Atlantean deck, clears the way for your bigger plays while simultaneously triggering up to 3 Atlantean effects. Also is the main Xyz fodder for Rank 7 Xyz monsters.
- Legendary Atlantean Tridon
- If you run Poseidra, it is always a good idea to run the direct tutor for it. This guy combos with Heavy Infantry and Marksman extremely well, and also stops your opponent from responding to your Poseidra with Bottomless Trap Hole.
- Deep Sea Diva
- Key tuner for the deck, also it serves as another copy of Neptabyss. Searchable by Dragoons and is limited for a reason.
- Mermail Abyssmegalo
- You need an effective, searchable way to trigger Atlantean effects from the hand. Best part is, Megalo doesn’t even waste your Normal Summon to do so. I’ve been over this before, being stubborn and refusing to run this just for the sake of building a pure Atlantean deck is pretty foolish if you are building to win.
- Call of the Atlanteans
- Searchable recovery card, great for the mid and late game.
- Salvage & Surface
- Less advantage-amazing recovery cards, but they provide even more resources for the deck to utilize. Surface is great specifically for bringing back a Neptabyss that your opponent just tried to destroy.
- Super Quantum Blue Layer, Super Quantum Red Layer, Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, & Emergency Teleport
- These four cards make up the Super Quant engine, and provide the deck with much needed alternative options when you don’t open up a duel with the Prince.
- High Tide on Fire Island
- The benefits and downsides were already described before, but I believe in the potential of this card in the case that the plays you poured tons of resources into go south. It has worked out great for me throughout my testing when working on this article.
Additional Tech Options to Consider:
Many of the following Tech Options are WATER monsters that trigger Atlanteans and that’s really their only job. Other cards just work on building the OTK. Remember, you have a ton of options with Atlantean decks just due to the nature of their effects.
- Fishborg Archer – Level 3 tuner, gives access to the main Synchros such as Coral Dragon or Dewloren, Tiger King of the Ice Barrier. It also serves as another required WATER monster that discards as a cost, while also doubling as a tribute for Poseidra or a discard for Megalo.
- Fishborg Launcher – Useful only in the early game before your other non-WATER Synchro or Xyz monsters get into the Graveyard. The Level 1 tuner option that also happens to function well with Red Layer to form Synchro Summons without wasting a Normal Summon.
- Abyss Warrior – WATER that functions well against Graveyard-dependent decks, and it triggers Atlantean effects.
- Mermail Abysspike – WATER monster that searches out another WATER monster while triggering an Atlantean in the process. Remember, these two archetypes work together well and were designed to do so!
- Moulinglacia the Elemental Lord – With so many recovery options, you can control your Graveyard exceptionally well. Well enough that Moulinglacia is not just considered a first-turn combo play.
- Genex Undine & Genex Controller – The Genex engine is infamous for how well it works with the Atlantean monsters. The other benefit, specifically in here, is that you do have a couple of ways to get Synchro material onto the field to work with Controller.
- Abyss Soldier – Especially good at dealing with monsters Special Summoned from the Extra Deck, it performs well in certain metagames.
- Aquarium Stage – While the other Aqua Actress support Spells really can’t help the Atlanteans, Stage can match well with Prince by forcing them to get around Neptabyss in interesting ways. But if you draw Neptabyss, you should already be in a good spot for the duel.
- Bubble Bringer – Since you are running so many low-level WATER monsters, this card can combo into Poseidra rather well. Sadly, Call of the Atlanteans outclasses it due to versatility in activation timing, but this trap does have the protection from direct attacks.
- Moray of Greed – Generic draw card for WATER decks, great in the early stages of the game, but can easily be a dead draw later on.
Check out my sample decklist hidden in the spoiler below:
As always, the above list is just my personal build. The Atlantean archetype really has a bunch of potential, especially once you break free from the stereotype that they must be used in Mermail decks and nothing more. Feel free to tinker and improve on it however you can. Until the next time, keep innovating and building creative decks! Most of all, just enjoy dueling for the fun that it can be!
Reminder, I also take suggestions for future CDS articles! While I will not run out of cool ideas, I do want to be writing articles about strategies you are interested in. So if you desperately wish to see a CDS article about the archetype, theme, or strategy you love, feel free to private message me on the YGOrg Discord server with your ideas to keep under consideration: my username is Quincymccoy.