Spellcasters have been one of the most supported types from the beginning of the game, due to Yugi running a Spellcaster, Dark Magician, as his ace monster. Also, the type has received 2 themed Structure decks, in tandem with tons of awesome support in Starter Decks. Now after tons of support has piled up, the scene is set for the older Spellcaster focus to reign! And no, we’re not talking about Village Lockdown, introducing Spell Counter Spellcasters!
So what makes Spell Counter decks viable now when it wasn’t before? The theme has been ridiculed in the past for its terrible support, reliance on counters, susceptibility to Effect Veiler, and lack of a main boss, yet one by one, each of the above has slowly been removed, and now, the deck has even more combos than ever to retain and gain advantage! With Apprentice Magician opening up a core lineup of miniature Spellcasters with powerful effects and Magician of Faith to recover any used Spell that you need back, almost any monster your opponent attacks will have replaced or will replace itself in advantage. Throw in backrow control that rivals the Harpies, and you got yourself a recipe for success. But as I’m sure you’re asking, how has the strategy evolved to the point where it is viable once again, because quite frankly, it has been quite terrible. It all boils down to access to the true boss monster of Spell Counter decks through this one tuner: Minerva, Lightsworn Maiden.
So yeah, if you are focusing on her first effect, adding a LIGHT Dragon you are missing the point. If you are focusing on the End Phase mill, you again are missing the point. What makes Minerva powerful amazing and everything a spell counter deck ever wanted is that she is a Level 3 Spellcaster tuner that also happens to help setup and act as fodder for Chaos Summons! Before now, the only other Level 3 Spellcaster tuner that could actually Synchro Summon normally is Geomancer of the Ice Barrier, which didn’t have much utility outside of being a tuner. As a result, Spell Counter decks were forced into using Night’s End Sorcerer, a good tuner in its own right, but it falls flat when making the boss of Spell Counter decks, Arcanite Magician, since decks would have to run cards to easily get Spellcaster non-tuners such as Oracle of the Sun or Instant Fusion.
Quite frankly, this level 7 Synchro is the only reason you should ever consider a Spell Counter deck. He is literally able to nuke every card on the field if your Magical Citadel of Endymion has enough counters, or just combine him with Magical Exemplar who has insane counter production ability. This makes a Spell Counter deck a destruction machine. And then, when the poor guy hits the Graveyard, he serves as the essential component to asserting your dominance with Supreme Arcanite Magician, only a Miracle Synchro Fusion away.
Last but not least, I definitely want to highlight the draw power of a Spell Counter deck. First off, Wonder Wand is literally a Godsend for a deck like this, turning one of your Veilered monsters or spent flip monsters into 2 draws. It loves being paired with Arcanite Magician early, nuking 2 cards with his inherent counters, then wanding the synchro away for 2 draws. Thats an overall +1 in card enonomy, sacrificing the Synchro materials and wand itself for 2 destructions and 2 draws. Or how about pairing it with Breaker the Magical Warrior to destroy a facedown for +1 then drawing 2 cards! It all becomes a simple game of card economy you will win, especially when you start factoring in the other main draw card for the theme, Arcane Barrier.
The debate spans centuries, from the release of the spell to today upon writing this guide. Spellcaster users simply cannot reach a consensus with this highly debated tech option. On one side of the court, the potential +2 without factoring in the monster you are sending is mighty appealing, especially cause the spell card has additional uses as a fuel source for our boss monster, Arcanite Magician. On the other hand, some argue that it is simply too difficult to pull off. In my opinion, there should be no difficulty in getting 3 or 4 counters to warrant using the draw ability now compared to the past before the release of Magical Undertaker. With the ability to Special Summon Apprentice from the Grave, which adds a counter itself, in addition to filling the field with another Spellcaster that when destroyed grants a counter to Arcane, I strongly feel as though the deck, when played in a passive manner, benefits from playing the mass draw option. Also, a Spell Counter deck can espcially make great use of these draws.
If you get Magical Exemplar, every spell you draw is another 2 counters to unlocking a higher leveled Special Summon, such as another Exemplar to continue spamming after 2 Spells. Or maybe that high probability of drawing a Chaos monster off of the 3-4 draws cashes in, granting you the extra Special Summon potential to overwhelm and OTK the opponent. The Spell Counter deck has many options and forms at your disposal, and I am a strong believer that Arcane Barrier, with the help of recent support, has finally joined the ranks of a must-be-used option; however, this is my opinion because it works perfectly with my playstyle as a duelist. If you are a duelist that prefers playing aggressively, jumping on every chance to hurt your opponent, then Barrier just might not be the correct tech option for you. But let me give warning; Spell Counters are not a hyper aggressive deck until they are set up to be. Do not attempt to Arcanite bomb if they can just regain all the advantage on a whim!
Core Lineup for a Spell Counter Deck:
2|3 indicates that 2 or 3 copies should be considered.
3 Apprentice Magician
2|3 Magical Undertaker
0|1 Magician of Faith
0|1 Old Vindictive Magician
2|3 Magical Exemplar
2 Minerva, Lightsworn Maiden
1|2|3 Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress*
1|2|3 Breaker the Magical Warrior*
2 Chaos Sorcerer
1 Black Luster Soldier, Envoy of the Beginning
2 Effect Veiler
3 Upstart Goblin
2 Magical Citadel of Endymion
2|3 Miracle Synchro Fusion
3 Wonder Wand
1|2 Arcane Barrier**
*Maximum of 4 between the s/t destruction monsters, should be factored which you need more of, LIGHT or DARK.
**Please read the section directly above the Core Lineup in order to see an extensive explanation into Theory and practicality of using Arcane Barrier
I am fully aware this core lineup is jam packed, but it is for the reason that deckspace is extremely tight for Spell Counter variants, especially because there are just so many amazing things you really should try and fit in! I want to take the time to highlight a few choices I haven’t spoken about already, and that is Magical Undertaker and Effect Veiler. Undertaker enables plays, simple as that. He combos extremely well when stalling with an Apprentice Magician, but he also allows for you to recover Exemplar, Minerva, Lyla, or even a Veiler for plays on your next turn. He opens up possibilities, and can be straight +1’s if he survives until your turn! Effect Veiler is the second Spellcaster tuner i would ever consider in here, simply due to the fact that it is a great followup to sorcerer. Summon Chaos Sorcerer, banish an opponent’s monster. If your opponent negates it with Veiler or Fiendish Chain, you still got a +1 in card economy, setting up perfectly for you to summon Veiler, Synchro Arcanite, and bomb 2 more cards! If they don’t negate it, you’ve still eliminated 3 threats from their field! These little advantage combos literally make the deck tick, crushing your opponent methodically one turn at a time.
Cards you NEED to Avoid!
As with any older archtype that has gotten support spanning long periods of time, there are TONS of support cards you need to avoid when constructing your deck. This is more important than the tech options section especially for a Spell Counter variant, because there are a lot of pitfall cards that look good but are bad choices that need to be avoided!
Anti-Spell: Yes, I would have to agree with you that a 1 for 1 spell negation counter trap would be good. But the cost of 2 counters is literally making it a 3 for 1 in this deck, as every counter you build up is to fuel a future Arcanite nuke! Also, it is situational, because you are not going to be getting Citadel every duel on Game 1, therefore you will not have a consistent source from which plucking 2 Spell Counters is easy.
Crusader of Endymion: A monster that produces a Spell Counter every turn can’t be THAT bad right? I mean, he also jumps to 2500 when doing so…. And then you factor in that he is a Gemini monster, requiring at least 1 additional summon. Even though he a is LIGHT Spellcaster, avoid him. Gemini counter decks DO NOT WORK, even if you pair him with Dark Valkyria.
Defender the Magical Knight: Oh boy, the little brother of Breaker just didn’t get any of the good genes from the family. He doesn’t gain an attack boost from his counter, he doesn’t +1 using his counter, limited situational protection is not worth running over literally ANYTHING else in the deck.
Endymion the Master Magician: And we finally reached the ‘Official Spell Counter Boss’ using Citadel to fuel free summons from the Grave or Hand, then recycling a Spell. The 1 for 1 destruction is nice, but again, he is not worth spending counters on in the long run. Use the true boss monster in Arcanite to win the duel, I beg you.
Magical Plant Mandragola: Please, whatever potential you think this card has, please throw it out the realm of possibility. Even if you summon this guy off of Apprentice Magician, you would need to have more than 1 card that can accept Spell Counters in order to make it more efficient than summoning Magical Undertaker, and reviving the Apprentice that was destroyed with his effect. And then Apprentice can be used further after his Counter generation effect.
Mega Ton Magical Cannon: Destiny HERO Diamond Dude is this card’s only hope. Even if all 10 of your opponents backrow and monster zones are filled the would have to have a Field Spell for this spell to destroy more for your 10 counters than Arcanite Magician.
Pitch-Black Power Stone: Let’s go original support cards! This little trap lets you move a Spell Counter from it to any other card you have that can hold one, resulting in an influx of 3 counters of 3 turns where they are needed. Or you could just use Apprentice to fulfill that need, or actually ACTIVATE spell cards…
Spell Power Grasp: If you for a second thought that this card would not appear on this list, you are dead wrong. Breaking it down, it is a counter generator that adds another Power Grasp from the deck to the hand. It doesn’t lose or gain you any advantage, only a Spell Counter. BUT you can only activate one of these per turn. You see, you’re trading 1 Spell counter for a dead card for the rest of your turn. It is a good card in concept to use with Endymion, because you can add the counter then discard the new copy to destroy a card, but everything else, Upstart does better. On something like Exemplar or even Citadel, Upstart grants them their tokens for a Spell activation and replaces it with a live card that could very well help your combos that turn or helps them achieve an OTK. Spell Counter decks have been extremely linear in the past, and that is why they have fallen flat to date. Now that there is a ton more options, it’s time to expand the combinations and power of various engines running in tandem, as that is going to be the only way you will even manage to crush your opponents with oodles and oodles of counters!
Other Tech Options!
Despite the fact that there are so many bad options when deciding what to use in a deck, there are always other ‘gems in the rough’ that can be considered.
Raiden, Lightsworn Assailant and Lumina Lightsworn Summoner: Combined with the 2 lightsworn that are mandatory, you can create an effect variant centric around Lightsworn, using their speed to run through the deck. Also, it is nice that these two can combine to form an Arcanite Magician when needed. However, it should be noted that it is not the best feeling in the world to mill all of those spells.
Night’s End Sorcerer: While I did briefly touch upon this tuner before, don’t assume that he has been completely overshadowed. The merits and pure OTK power of Tempest Magician are enough to warrant running a single copy of this tuner, who unlocks Level 6 Synchros. Another awesome thing about him is that you only need 1 Spell activation to be able to summon him with Exemplar! Also, he is a Level 2 DARK, so he fuels chaos monsters AND he can be tutored from the deck via Apprentice Magician!
Spellbook and Prophecy Engine: I am not going to go into detail, because there is more than another article’s worth of discussion on this type of Spell Counter deck, but this is a valid option due to Spellbook Star Hall. It generates counters just like Endymion, except it is searchable. Also, the Spellbook spell loops allow you to gain lots of counters every turn. This sort of variant is better with Tempest Magician turbo rather than the Arcanite nuke strategy, as they already can do that with World of Prophecy, but I must admit that it is a valid and possibly successful alternate strategy if built correctly.
Summoner Monk: While it does have a hefty cost, Monk is an effective method to summoning Exemplar or Lyla straight from the deck. You should have way more than enough Spell cards to use his effect, just he turns an opponent’s negation card into an even trade of advantage, unlike many other cards in this deck. Just something to be aware of.
Crystal Seer: My only gripe with this awesome Level 1 Spellcaster is that it is a WATER monster. It is a +1 on flip that lets you choose 1 of 2 cards to add to your hand that can be Special Summoned from the deck with Apprentice Magician. Another downside to this monster is that it serves a similar role to Magician of Faith, except Seer doesn’t require a spell in grave to make the most of the effect.
Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer and Jowgen the Spiritualist: Great Spellcasters with powerful effects, just they have literally no synergy with any Spell Counter cards, Wonder Wand or Arcane Barrier. Well, the latter has slight synergy with wand after destroying multiple Special Summoned monsters… There are definitely better options than these two, but if you want to use the cards that ruled during Spellbook of Judgment‘s prime, be my guest.
Completed Example Deck:
For those who have survived arcane disruption of my guide on a modern take to the Spell Counter problem, you have received your key to the citadel. Knowledge and power awaits you, all you have to do is take the leap of faith that the deck will serve you well.
The link below is a screenshot of my personal Spell Counter build. It may not be the best build for them, but it can serve as a baseline for your deck construction in the future: http://i.imgur.com/w84uxe6.png .