Welcome to another Deck strategy article, but this time I am going to be writing on something a lot more competitive than those covered in my normal Casual Deck Strategy articles. This TCG-premiere archtype has seen many packs go by with many cards of various power levels, each introducing a brand new ‘gimmick’ into the game. But most of all, it is the most competitive Equip-Spell driven archtype this game has seen! Of course I’m talking about the Noble Knights, but more specifically, let’s take a more indepth view of the deck as a whole following the new support from PRIO.
The following article does take a fairly unique look at the competitive-ness of the Noble Knight deck. That being said, you are probably not going to agree with literally everything I talk about, as general opinion is against this form of Noble Knights. My request is that you take the majority of this article for what its worth, and try to see my side of the arguments I am presenting. I realize I may not be right 100% of the time, so feel free to present counterarguments in the comments!
History of our Noble Knights:
The Noble Knights are an archtype of Warrior-type monsters designed to follow in the footsteps of the tales and fables of King Arthur and his infamous Knights of the Round Table. These Knights are not only derived in name, but also by the general theme of their effects. For example, let’s consider the backstory to Noble Knight Medraut. He begins as a normal Level 4 LIGHT Noble Knight, one of the ‘good guys’, until he is equipped and changes to the Dark Side. As the story goes, Mordred is one of the traitors who seized the throne while King Arthur was on a military campaign. Upon Arthur’s return, he tried to reclaim his throne, yet fell in battle with the traitor before being taken to Avalon for his final resting place. Yes, that new card has a piece in the lore as well. I’ve included a short section on background and lore for each of the new cards for those who are interested, because I find it fascinating how intertwined Arthurian lore and the Noble Knights happen to be.
You see, the Noble Knight archtype wasn’t just Konami delivering with a new Warrior-type archtype, but it was mainly an exploratory archtype: TCG-Exclusive and featuring a more Magic the Gathering-esque art style in tandem with a heavy lore background similar to the Duel Terminal series, released in the TCG through the Hidden Arsenal packs. Not to go too off-topic, but I guess this test archtype was a success, because a new ‘Dante’s Inferno’ archtype has been advertised to begin with the next set. This heralds that the end is near for our Noble Knights, but quite a few new cards have been released in Primal Origin, and that is the focus of this article, because 3 out of the 4 new cards can really have an impact. But before we can talk about the new, we have to talk about how the archtype functioned prior to this set.
In the beginning, the archtype began with an 1000 ATK-boosting equip, a kagetokage, and a Normal Monster. It never really became a true ‘competitive’ option until the release of Noble Knight Borz and Noble Arms – Excaliburn in Shadow Specters. Alongside the new Xyz boss monster, Sacred Noble Knight of King Artorigus, the future seemed bright for the Noble Knights. They now had an Xyz monster that eliminated other monsters that also regained equip spells from the Graveyard, they could make their boss monsters untargettable or switch between the two with the new equip, they could thin their deck with Borz… And yet, the deck was consider by many as a one-trick pony. Summon Medraut, use its effect to special Borz, add 1 equip to the hand and 2 to the grave, equip the new equip to med, Xyz Rank 5, before finally equipping the 3 spells back, resulting in a brand new indestructible boss monster! With the addition of Gwenhwyfar, Queen of Noble Arms to the Noble lineup, this strategy was solidified as the main competitive option for a duelist wishing to use Noble Knights.
Now, I believe that everything has changed. We’ve been given 3 new amazing cards in Primal Origins, and these three cards offer a brand new strategy to a deck that has been well-defined previously. The so-called ‘Situational Field Spell’, the ‘Noble Knight Dragon Ruler’, and the ‘Pot of Avarice Marauding Captain’ each offer the deck longevity in their own way, so let’s dive into a discussion on each of these new archtype cards!
The Noble Bros:
Introducing the first of the new Noble cards to be revealed, Noble Knight Brothers has a ton of things going for them. Based off of the trio of Sir Agravain, Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris, this card is proof that Konami is finally ready to wrap up the Arthurian saga. Not only do they have the highest DEF of a level 4 or lower monster without a downside or restriction, but they also have quite a few nifty effects. First off, you can spam the field with Noble Knights if you so desire when you Normal Summon Brothers. Most importantly, this effect does not have a level restriction. Therefore, if you happen to draw 2 of your level 5 monsters… you still have a method of using them. We’ll get to why you shouldn’t ever draw them, but let’s focus on the other effect of Brothers, the recycling effect!
Returning cards to the deck for a draw is a decent effect to have for any archtype, but it is exceptionally potent in Noble Knights, due to the archtype having an absurd amount of deck thinning. Borz, Round Table, Medraut, Ignoble Knight of Black Laundsallyn… Just to name a few, this is already a strong list of cards that consistently add cards to the hand or Graveyard. Combine Brothers with any of these to literally return back what you are about to thin back out, for a free draw. If you happen to combine Brothers with Borz: return 3 Noble Arms, draw a card, reveal the 3 Noble Arms, add one of them randomly to your hand. Due to Brothers refueling your deck, that becomes a +2 in card advantage.
I hope I’ve convinced you that Brothers has its place in the right situations at any point of the duel. If not, let’s go over the full list of upsides. If you open the card on turn 1, their only use is the first effect. But if you draw the card later in the duel, their only use is the second effect. Or you could always rely upon Brothers as a way of getting a Noble Knight onto the field without worrying about Bottomless Trap Hole! During the midgame, Brothers can be used to form Artorigus, King of the Noble Knights as a worst case scenario in the case that you cannot make an Xyz combo with any of your other cards. Last but not least, that 2400 DEF can actually come into play. There is a surprisingly low number of cards in this metagame that can easily get over a Brothers in battle. Geargias have to spend an Xyz Summon to bring out Blackship of Corn. Mermail have to rely upon Tidal or one of their Atlantean effects. Handtrapfacts have to rely upon an Xyz Summon or on Moralltach after Brothers has been already attacked.
But the truth is, Brothers is situational, just like how Medraut is situational. You need to be in one of these situations for Brothers to be better than anything else in your arsenal, just like you need to have an equip spell to make Medraut hit full potential. What I’m trying to say is that Brothers may be a tool for specific situations, but that does not mean that you should avoid running them due to their inability to perform in any situation. When everything boils down, the Noble Knight archtype is a perfect example of a combo strategy at its finest. For any decent play with the Nobles, you need a Noble Knight and a Noble Arms. And yet, Brothers is an exception to this, the only other that I can think of is Lady of the Lake. If you are fearing to run a copy or two of a ‘situational’ card in Noble Knights, you should truly re-evaluate your decision to run the deck. While Brothers really carves out their niche as being a tool for various situations, the next new card is a lot more limited but for a greater reward!
The Noble Explorer:
Based off of Sir Hector de Maris in Arthurian legend, Noble Knight Eachtar really fits the lore link. Hector was one of the many knights who were unworthy of achieving the holy grail, which is a start to explaining the DARK and Level 5 aspect of Eachtar! But even more is added to the background, as Hector was the half-brother of Sir Lancelot, which explains why Ignoble Knight of Black Laundsallyn appears in Eachtar’s artwork – he is the purple shadow figure looming over his shoulder. One final piece of trivia for this lovely card is that Hector was last knight to join his brother at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hermitage, dying there when the others left on crusade. This fits in perfectly with him being in one of the last sets of Noble Knights being released. And I can say that based on the next card, but we’ll get there soon enough.
So let’s get to the actual Yugioh relevance of Noble Knight Eachtar in a competitive Noble Knight variant. Unlike Brothers, this card has just 2 practical applications: Special Summoning itself and a guaranteed Xyz Summon of the Sacred Noble Knight. Unlike most other Noble Knights who have a variety of applications, he is really simplistic. Let’s begin with a focus on the first part, the DragonRuler-esque summoning.
Until PRIO, if you had enough traps to interrupt successful Normal Summons, you basically had a free win versus Noble Knights. They were literally shut down if you shut down their Normal Summon. Yes, Brothers is somewhat of a solution to this, but Eachtar is the ultimate last resort. If you need to get a Noble Knight to the field, you can rely upon Eachtar as long as you have him in the hand or in the Graveyard. The only issue is that banishing away the Knights in your Graveyard is not exactly the best course of action when 2 of your core Noble Knights recover fallen comrades from the Graveyard and another loves to be there. When playing with Noble Knights, I always make it a priority to get a Eachtar into the Graveyard ASAP; however, I only end up using his effect once or twice during a duel in order to get out of desperate situations.
The fact is, the ‘older’ Noble Knight competitive variants that centered around Medraut and the protect-the-boss playstyle simply do not run enough Noble Knights to justify Eachtar as a competitive option. To enable your deck to utilize Eachtar effectively, you need to run at least 10-14 other Noble Knights, so you have considerable chances to have knights in the graveyard when needed. Also, this meta is extremely anti-graveyard, as many decks have turned to techs such as D.D. Crow, Crevice into the Different Dimension or Ally of Justice Cycle Readerto answer the powerful Artifact, Madolche, Mermail, and Bujin decks that are currently dominating. That being said, I still strongly believe in the power of a backup plan, especially one like Eachtar.
As to the other effect of Eachtar, he literally makes your Xyz (or Synchro) Summon indisputable, so that you will definitely end with a Noble Knight Xyz and up to 3 Noble Arms equipped to it. This can be amazing for one simple reason: your opponent will not get the chance to Solemn Warning, Fiendish Chain or Compulsory Evacuation Device away your Noble Knight Xyz before you can equip Excaliburn to it. Despite the fact that he can be a great backup plan, nothing can take away from Eachtar’s innate ability to make successful Xyz Summons against a solid backrow. Yes, it is true that you already have Arfeudutyr to deal with Backrow as you go through your plays, but it helps to have something to prevent interruption before the plays go through.
The Noble Table:
As we’ve reached the final new card that is going to leave a massive impact on the Noble Knight strategy, it’s time to dive into how we know that Konami is ready to finish up this archtype. As you look around the Table’s artwork, try to match up each knight with the corresponding card. Or you could just count the number of actual Noble Knight Main deckked monsters tied into the theme. In order of appearance on the round table, we have: Noble Knight Eachtar, Noble Knight Medraut, Noble Knight Brothers, Noble Knight Gawayn, Noble Knight Artorigus, Noble Knight Borz, Ignoble Knight of Black Laundsallyn, Noble Knight Gwalchavad, Noble Knight Drystan, and Noble Knight Peredur. But wait, that list only includes 10 Noble Knights, and yet aren’t there supposed to be 12? Oh right, Konami was cheeky, so if you count Brothers as 3 Knights, you get your perfect total of 12. Therefore, if the Noble Knight archtype will conclude in DUEA, I would speculate that we will be getting a Camelot card and a Merlin equivalent each without being a ‘Noble Knight’. But enough on speculation, I’m sure you guys are wondering how I am going to defend the competitive merits of this card, so let’s jump right in.
Noble Knights of the Round Table has one thing going for it: it extends the longevity of the Noble Knights. What does this mean? It means that it gives Noble Knight a chance at the end game. If you have ever played Noble Knights in the past, once your opponent gets over one or two of your Xyzs, the game is basically lost as you can never regain enough advantage to overcome their established field. Once you fall behind so far, you lost the game unless you top-decked perfectly. But what are the odds of only getting to the Round Table when you need it to start accumulating advantage with the 9 or more effect? If this is the question you are asking, you are missing the point of the Round Table completely.
Before I reveal the truths behind this awesome card, take a second to guess at what Konami was intending by staggering the release of all of these Noble Knights. At the beginning when there was only the Normal and 1 equip, a Noble Knight deck wasn’t possible. When Medraut was released, some immediately realized the potential of the Noble Knights, as such a powerful card that was searchable by Reinforcement of the Army and backed by powerful Rank 4 and Rank 5 Xyzs, people built the deck using all of the Noble Knights they had access to. When Gwalchavad was released, people discovered the OTK using him, Gawayn, and Medraut. But they also included Artorigus and Ignoble because they were alternative options. Fast forward to Judgment of the Light when Drystan first graced the TCG with his presence. A switch went off in the heads of every single Noble Knight player, as the discussion immediately turned to dropping the normal, dropping the older support for a more driven and focused build. With Shadow Specters, Borz was realized and was quickly considered support for this anti-normal philosophy. But at the same time, Lady of the Lake and a brand new Synchro was released, as if to support the Normal-centric strategy. The fact is, Noble Knight users had already gotten past the older deck philosophy, so they were quick to dub this support as useless, claiming that the only thing that Noble Knights needed was a themed ROTA. One pack later brought Gwenhwyfar, Queen of Noble Arms, quickly adopted into the ‘mainstream’ variant. So would you guess what happens when they reveal 4 new cards, none of which can be directly included in the ‘mainstream’ variant of competitive Noble Knights?
That’s right, these new cards are dubbed as useless. But the fact is, these 3 new card simply fix the balance that became skewed over the staggered release of the Noble Knights. This is just my opinion, but Konami wanted to introduce the Noble Knights slowly so that you would keep adding each of the new ones to the deck, until finally they get a card that pulls the entire toolbox together. That card is the Table, and yet people are reluctant to return to a variant utilizing Black Laundsallyn, simply because of how the Noble Knight strategy had evolved into something ignoring the normals. The fact is, these 3 cards are only super beneficial if you run a vast majority of the Noble Knights. Please do not misinterpret this, I am not expecting you to run every single Noble Knight so that you can get the 12 effect of table. I just want you to realize, the combination of Table, Brothers, and Eachtar fixes every issue with the normal-centric Noble Knight variant.
With Table, Noble Knights now get to dump their level 5’s once per turn into the Graveyard where they flourish. If you don’t open the lovely combination of Medraut or Borz + a Noble Arms, you have many other strategies to rely upon. I personally can justify running Rescue Rabbit and 2 Artorigus again, since if you draw one of the normals, you can always mill the other in preparation for Brothers to return both to the deck when you finally draw Rescue Rabbit. If you were playing the Noble Knight deck back in the day, do you remember the excitement of drawing Rescue Rabbit and knowing the power plays available to you? But with these normals, you finally gain a large enough number of monsters to summon Black Laundsallyn, which is an awesome tech option in this modern Noble Knight variant. Sure, he is a selective Noble Arms searcher that requires a tribute, but more importantly, he is a level 5. With Laund, you can go into Rank 5 off of Medraut plays without needing to activate a second equip, whether he is in the Graveyard or in the Deck. Also, Eachtar works wonders with Laund when you have a Medraut, Gwal, Borz, or Artorigus without an Equip Spell.
But beyond getting your 2 level 5’s into the graveyard with Table, what other use does it have? There are 2 main situations that I’ve found it to be irreplaceable. First off, if you don’t have Gwen, the ‘6 or more’ effect comes in handy whenever you NEED to get a Noble Knight with an equip spell versus a Naturia Beast. I am not kidding, getting a Noble Knight Medraut equipped with a Noble Arms of Destiny using the field spell can be amazing if you have a Kaiser Colosseum face-up as well. The second situation is early in the duel when you want to thin your deck to get to your power cards quicker. And to remove dead draws, like Gawayn to the Graveyard when you are about to start topdecking. Speaking of power cards…
New Power Cards that can assist our Noble Knights:
While the majority of this guide has been devoted to the new Noble Knight cards that has redefined the archtype’s strategy, you cannot ignore the power of Soul Charge in this strategy. While it is good in any deck that can afford to pay Life Points, Noble Knights have it even better than any deck in the meta because they have Noble Arms – Caliburn. That 500 Life Point recovery may seem like nothing, but if you are racking up 2 or 3 activations every turn, you are quickly going to rise to levels where 5 monsters off Soul Charge won’t really hurt you. I personally find that quite impressive, but it is your call.
Another awesome card to emerge from Dragons of Legend is Kuribandit. Before you start asking how a Fiend-type monster benefits a deck like the Noble Knights, take a second to reflect on the potential to mill quite a few Noble Knights or Noble Arms, both of which love being in the Graveyard just as much as in the hand, especially when Round Table comes into play. Looking forward, I definitely can imagine the potential of a Tour Guide engine in Noble Knights to make Leviair to return Noble Knights to the field that you banished with Eachtar. But that’s just another option.
Lastly, the release of even more powerful Rank 4 and Rank 5 Xyz monsters has been integral in the development of the Noble Knight strategy. While Leviair could be great, it is a Rank 3, something incompatible with the current Noble Knights. Thankfully, Bujins introduced their latest Xyz monster, Bujinki Amaterasu. Amaterasu is great, and the major reason as to why Brothers has the “but cannot Special Summon monsters for the rest of this turn, except “Noble Knight” monsters” clause. Just remember, if you can get out Amaterasu, use her ability to bring back 2 monsters from your graveyard in tandem with Eachtar! It will be worth it!
Completed Example Deck:
For those of you who have completed reading this guide, it’s time to mount up! The following link is a screenshot of my personal Noble Knight 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/NHZpM3M.png .
A more competitive and aggressive (but more expensive) build will be coming to the site shortly, so be sure to look for that! For more lore, art, and combos be sure to checkout The Noble Knight Showcase!