From their initial release almost 2 years ago, Pendulum Monsters have grown from being completely undervalued and niche into a competitive dreadnought. Across the TCG and OCG, the Pendulum Craze has taken hold, as the “PePe” deck has finally arrived in the TCG with most of the power it used to dominate the OCG format. This article will explain how Pendulum Monsters and Pendulum Summoning went from useless, to completely overbearing, over just 1 structure deck and set release!
The following article is a mix of analysis, conjecture, and logic. Keep that in mind, as nothing is confirmed by Konami or any official card design sources. This is an opinion piece, you have been warned!
Initial Experimentation with Pendulum Monsters:
The aspect of Pendulum Summoning reached Yu-Gi-Oh pack at the beginning of Series 9, where the combination of Duelist Alliance and the Super Starter: Space-Time Showdown first were released. The Pendulum monsters were simply scattered – the only true semblance of searchable pendulum scales was either the original Normal Monster Pendulum Duo (Foucault’s Cannon and Flash Knight) with Reinforcement of the Army and Summoner’s Art, or the Magician engine, featuring Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon who searched Timegazer Magician and Stargazer Magician. Sure, certain decks saw the potential of using this new mechanic to their advantage, such as Ninja builds that began using Mist Valley Apex Avian yet again. Experimentation ran rampant early on, another common example were crazy tech options such as Mechanical Hound to try to abuse the new mechanic. Sadly, these efforts had no impact on the competitive game at first, but before we get into discussions about the meta, let’s start with the beginning – the origin of Pendulum Monsters and Pendulum Summoning. The basic principle behind Pendulum Monsters was simple: What would happen if you had controlled access to an unlimited supply of monsters? That is the idea that the entire Pendulum Mechanic works around. Further archetypes would dive into the more specific question: What would you DO with an unlimited supply of monsters?
But before we get ahead of ourselves, there is one other aspect to Pendulum Summoning that was also important – throwing your hand onto the field. More specifically, you could actually begin using Pendulums to get out of what was considered as ‘dead hands’. Before Pendulums became mainstream, high leveled monsters were a severe risk to use. The only high-Leveled monsters in use were those with built-in summoning methods, such as Mermail Abyssmegalo, OR those with support cards that could use them straight from the deck, like Shaddoll Beast. With Pendulum Summoning, the ability to Special Summon monsters from the hand so easily gave new life to high leveled monsters, and we actually began seeing more of them! Beyond just getting this big beaters onto the field, this new mechanic also heavily benefited decks that wanted to summon a ton of monsters constantly. Decks such as Gadgets jumped on the new mechanic in a split second, as they could summon multiple Gadgets, Xyz Summon, and accumulate insane amounts of card advantage.
So that was the start of Pendulum Monsters, people simply didn’t care about them. There wasn’t enough search options, and quite frankly, they couldn’t stand up to the likes of the other strong decks emerging at the time. But The New Challengers changed all of that with the first competitive Pendulum archetype – the Qliphort. Now, the first thing you should notice about this archetype is the restrictions. Card designers were EXTREMELY careful with this new mechanic so early on, by putting the line “You cannot Special Summon monsters, except “Qli” monsters” on every single Pendulum monster in the archetype. This was extremely necessary, which we will see later, but the Qliphort theme was something brand new. Sure, it used the new Pendulum Mechanic to great effect, but instead of relying on the Extra Deck like EVERY other deck for the Xyz Era, they gave the deck a Tribute Summoning theme. By giving this deck so many restrictions with their Special Summoning, they were free to give the support cards a ton of power. This theme also marked the first way to setup both Pendulum Scales with one card – the Effect of Qliphort Scout. Many people considered Scout as one of the main problem cards of this archetype, and it still rests on the Forbidden/Limited list today due to that. Activate Scout to the Pendulum Zone, pay 800, then you are all set for your Pendulum Summoning shenanigans. The only reason that this did not immediately break the game was the restrictions on each Pendulum monster – the deck did not gain any benefits from the Xyz toolbox that basically every other deck had access to. While the Qliphort did dominate for their section of Yugioh history, it was mainly based on their ability to run anti-meta options rather than their ability to Pendulum summon.
Fast forward yet again through time, and we arrived at The Secret Forces, which introduced the first WIND Pendulum theme – the Yosenju. Now let’s be clear – this was another way of creating a pendulum theme. Qliphort was a Pendulum theme where every single monster was a Pendulum, but Yosenju was a Pendulum theme in which there was only a couple of Pendulum monsters to augment the abilities of the other members of the archetype. It was just another way to approach the design and balancing of an archetype designed to showcase the new mechanic. With the search power available to the theme, if you want to run a Pendulum variant, you generally had easy access to both Pendulum Scales. While they did not have a ‘1-card setup’, such as the Qliphort, the deck did manage to take off competitively due to its non-Pendulum components and effects. The Pendulum side of this archetype was considered as a failed experiment, and people moved on to check out the next Pendulum theme released in Crossed Souls, which to this day, remains one of the most unique archetypes ever created.
The Zefra arrived to the game with beautiful artwork, amazing lore connections, and one of the most search-heavy decks to date. While I’m hoping to get around to writing a full article on all of the potential of the Zefra alone, the basic introduction to the theme is that it has monsters from 5 separate archetypes while also being part of its own. Therefore, the Zefra deck reaps the benefits of Shaddoll, Nekroz, Tellarknight, Ritual Beast, AND Yang Zing support cards. This was the first Pendulum deck to have a Spell card that immediately searched EITHER Pendulum Scale upon activation (Oracle of the Zefra), but just like Qliphorts, the card designers were extremely careful. This theme had access to the best searchers of the meta decks of the time: Nekroz of Brionac, Stellarknight Deneb, and Shaddoll Fusion were just waiting to get abused by this hybrid archetype. So, the Pendulum Scales were given restrictions yet again, but more importantly, their power budget was placed entirely in their monster effects. The Pendulum Scales ONLY unlocked Pendulum Summoning, as they had no other effects to help the deck. Fun Fact: Apparently this was considered a success, as this same type of Pendulum deck would be replicated later on with the Majespecters, with the no-Pendulum Effect trade-off for massive amounts of search power!
Sadly, the Zefra deck never managed to hit its full power, because the individual Duel Terminal archetypes got hit with major limitations that also hit the Zefra Deck. Hits to El-Shaddoll Construct, Nekroz of Brionac, El-Shaddoll Fusion, Reinforcement of the Army, etc also ended up crushing the Zefra deck as well. But it is an important step in the evolution of Pendulum monsters, because the theme was fully Pendulum Monsters, yet it relied on the Extra deck for power. Unlike the prior iterations of Pendulum archetypes, this encouraged duelists to Fusion Summon, Ritual Summon, Synchro Summon, and Xyz Summon with Pendulum monsters. Welcome to a new, modern age of dueling. Fun fact: it was right after this Zefra experiment that the nostalgia support started in the main sets… funny how they re-introduced old summoning forms right before re-introducing old archetypes. With the Zefra being completed, the first arc of Pendulum Archetypes had been created. They had tried various ways to unlock Pendulum monsters for both existing themes and new ones. They had split power budgets between monster and Pendulum effects. They had adjusted search power for the two effects. But the Pendulum craze hadn’t yet taken over the meta, taken over tournaments, etc. So it was time to try a new approach.
The “Meta” Pendulum Engines Arrived:
With the arrival of Clash of the Rebellion, it was absolutely clear
that Pendulum Monsters would never be the same. Card Designers wanted people to use these new mechanics more, and when that happens, it’s time to kick up the viability of the mechanic. This pack saw the release of many different ways to explore the utility of Pendulum monsters all at once. First, you had Wavering Eyes, which single-handedly broke the delicate balance of Qliphort, by creating the Towers Turbo variant that made Europe cry for quite some time. Not only did this give Pendulum decks the ability to counter each other, but it also gave Pendulum Decks search power for any ‘1-card setup’ for a Pendulum Summon. Secondly, you had the arrival of ‘Generic Pendulums’ with useful effects. Archfiend Eccentrick is a great example of this – Usable High Pendulum Scale with NO restrictions, amazing Pendulum effect, and utility as part of your endless monster supply. On the other hand, there was also the release of Magical Abductor, who gave the ‘1-card setup’ to any deck that ran a significant number of Spell cards. Lastly, and probably the most important, this pack unleashed Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer. This monster is now known for this crazy interactions with later Pendulum releases, but at the time, he was the first Pendulum Tuner that also happened to increase the number of monsters you could Pendulum Summon. Quite a bit of utility loaded into a 1850 ATK monster. As I’m sure you’ve guessed we will revisit him later.
All of what I described above were monumental shifts in the design philosophy of Pendulum Monsters and their effects. But you can also observe this shift in the Pendulum archetype released in this set – the Igknights. Hailed as one of the most boring archetypes ever, as every single Pendulum monster in this archetype is a Normal Monster, and each shares the same Pendulum effect. But in fact, this was the most powerful generic Pendulum engine to date. At the time, you had a Pendulum setup that could avoid many brick hands, because if you drew too many of the same Pendulum Scale, you could just use them to search the other. In addition, Reinforcement of the Army was unlimited in the TCG, meaning you had a Normal Spell card that could search either Pendulum Scale. Remember all of the Pendulum Summoning restrictions placed on the Zefra for having that kind of search power? Those did not exist for this Igknight theme. Quickly, people discovered the synergy of Royal Magical Library, and the Igknights quickly became synonymous with ‘Solitaire deck’ that spits out Number 86. But yet again, people did not turn to using this theme in other decks competitively, so the push to make Pendulum engines more generic continued.
And so, life continued to evolve to the next level for Pendulum themes. Crossed Souls came and went, but only the older Pendulum Theme, Qliphort, managed to pose a threat to the meta. Thus, Dimension of Chaos entered the fray. In other words, hello Performage overlords. Dracoslayer officially met his perfect match: Performage Plushfire, a fellow Level 4 Pendulum monster that triggered to Special Summon a monster from the deck when it was destroyed. At least that Performage wasn’t Pendulum Scale 3… I mean, it’s bad enough of a combo without already resulting in your Pendulum setup. This wasn’t the only terror released upon the game during this set, as new Pendulum archetypes arrived as well!
As stated before, the Majespecter was the second try at making a Pendulum theme such as the Zefra, based around search power. While they all have no Pendulum Effects, they each have effects to search a card from the Deck, just like the Gadgets that originally abused the Pendulum Mechanic. But in addition, they are also untargetable and indestructible by card effects. Considered as the next meta deck, this took the YCS by a storm, all puns intended. Just like the Igknight theme from the prior set, there was no restrictions on this theme’s ability to Pendulum Summon. The theme also recieved multiple searchers for either Pendulum Scale (Hello Majespecter Raccoon – Bunbuku and Majespecter Cat – Nekomata), but the one glimmer of hope was that the theme did not have a ‘1-card setup’ like the other problematic Pendulum themes of the past. As the disruptive theme they are, duelists were severely annoyed by these storm animals, but it was possible to defeat them.
On the other hand, Dimension of Chaos also saw the TCG release of most of a second Pendulum Archetype, the D/D. This Pendulum theme can be categorized similarly to the Yosenju, partly Pendulum and partly monsters. The theme is also unique, in that it revolves around Effect damage while Synchro, Fusion, and Xyz Summoning. This theme has a long way to go until it is fully developed in the TCG, but as of now, the theme has ways to search both Pendulum scales, has a variety of Pendulum scales, and has certain restrictions. In other words, it has all of the design characteristics of a Pendulum archetype initially released before Clash of Rebellions, because it was release a good long while ago in the OCG.
The last Pendulum archetype to actually be realized in Dimension of Chaos is Deskbot. Yes, these little guys have been getting small bursts of support, one or two cards at a time, since Duelist Alliance. The funny thing is, this archetype may be the best-designed Pendulum archetype in the game. Not only do they have strong power plays, ways to search their scales, solid disruption, but they are not completely overbearing, splash-able, or anti-meta based. Again, this theme has restrictions on what you can Pendulum Summon, BUT that’s because the Pendulum engine is just another option for the deck. The theme doesn’t rely on Pendulum Summoning to win, it doesn’t rely on Pendulum Summoning to unlock all of its power – It just relies on Pendulum Summoning as a way to spit multiple monsters onto the field at once. Again, this theme hasn’t had a chance to shine strongly in the competitive scene, but I’d imagine that it has a better shot once the dust clears and the rest of the theme hits the TCG.
The next adaptation in card design of Pendulums arrived with the next Structure Deck: Master of Pendulum. Advertised and designed to extend the Pendulum Magician and Odd-Eyes anime archetypes, this deck just took Pendulums and pushed them so much higher, all of a sudden. First, Magicians got Wisdom-Eye Magician, who serves as either Pendulum scale while also preparing the Extra Deck for a big Pendulum Summon. Wisdom is even searchable by many different cards as well, even the original Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon. Next up on the release was Dragonvein Magician and Dragonpulse Magician. This two-card combination with no restrictions unlocks Pendulum Summoning for Levels 2 through 7. On top of the additional destruction effects given by their Pendulum effects. But wait, there’s more! Introducing Pendulum Call, the pseudo ‘1-card setup’ for Magicians. That also happens to prevent destruction of either of your Pendulum Scales until the end of the next turn. So let’s recap. With one structure, they released a generic ‘1-card setup’, a searchable searcher for either scale with no ‘once per turn’ restriction, a monster that fills the Extra while searching a Pendulum Scale *During the Main Phase*, and a 1|8 Pendulum Scale combo that has no restrictions for summoning, activation, or for their scale values. Now that’s everything that’s new with this set. In addition, they also got a searcher that activates upon Summon in the form of Performapal Skullcrobat Joker, another Pendulum tuner monster, Nobledragon Magician, and a way to recycle Pendulum Magicians from the Graveyard or Extra Deck, Oafdragon Magician.
This Magician support has clearly had an impact on the game following the release of the Structure Deck. Pendulums are now considered stupid broken by many duelists, and there are suggestions to kill off so many Pendulum engines now. But this is why it went wrong – we went from the second generation of Pendulum experimentation to the equivalent of the fourth generation, with one structure deck. Card design basically skipped the part where they just try generic Pendulum engines with higher range than Igknight, they skipped the part where they just add Pendulum effects to search-heavy themes, they skipped the part where they just add a ‘1-card setup’ for any deck… Pendulum Summoning was sent into overdrive all of a sudden, without slow advances in the card design. Therefore, an absolute terror was created. Now, you can say it was a success because Pendulums are being played competitively now, but they effectively lost an entire period of time to innovate slowly with Pendulums. Let me illustrate this with a look into the next set to be released in the TCG, Breakers of Shadow.
First up, let’s discuss the tech cards being introduced in the set! Guiding Ariadne is one of the most powerful Pendulums ever printed, as it acts as a Plushfire to combo with Dracoslayer, searching a Counter Trap when it is destroyed. In addition, while it is in the Pendulum Zone, you do not have to pay costs to activate Counter Traps. Not bad. But even worse, it has a Pendulum Scale of 3. So yes, with Ariadne and Dracoslayer, you get to search a new Ariadne, search a counter trap, Pendulum summon the destroyed Ariadne…. Yup. You just gained 2 cards, for free, plus an additional 2 Counter Traps when the Ariadnes on your field are destroyed, just for opening 2 cards together. The rest of your hand is completely ignored for this scenario. This set also introduces Draco Face-Off, which lets you randomly place a Scale 3 or 5 to the Field in either the Pendulum Zone or Monster Zone, then puts the other into the Extra deck. Yes, that means Dracoslayer is even EASIER to gain access to. Both of these cards are simply amazing for Pendulum variants and engines, but the archetype support is even crazier.
It’s about time that a protagonist has a competitively viable archetype. Introducing the Performapals! Who will finally have everything they need to take the meta by the reins. First, you have Performapal Guiturtle who lets you draw whenever you activate another Performapal Pendulum monster. What makes this little guy even better is Performapal Monkeyboard, which adds any Level 4 or lower Performapal to the hand once you’ve activated it to the Pendulum Zone. While both of these just seem like advantage-generating Pendulum Spells, consider what happens when you combine the two. It is a generic, ‘1-card setup’ for Pendulum Summoning Levels 2 through 5, that has no restrictions. Monkeyboard is basically a Qliphort Scout when it is activated, without any summoning restrictions or LP cost. Monkey also happens to be searched by Performapal Skullcrobat Joker, which has a Pendulum Scale of 8 to match with Monkeyboard as well. In all intents and purposes, they made a second searchable version of the Magician Pendulum engine… That also happens to work well with the magicians. So with this, this Pendulum atrocity will run multiple ‘1-card setups’, with many powerful boss monsters, and a ton of special summoning. This perfect storm is coming to the TCG, and we have seen versions of this deck terrorize the OCG for many months. That is, until the OCG evolved into dropping the Magicians completely.
But wait, we also got another new Pendulum Archetype in Breakers of Shadow: the Dinomist! They are a full-Pendulum theme of WATER pendulums, with Scales 3 and 6, based around aggression. The Pendulum Effects protects Dinomist cards you control, and the Monster Effects allow you swarm the field and take down your opponent’s monsters. They have a Monster that can search either Pendulum Scale, a Spell that searches either Pendulum Scale, a Spell that returns Dinomists sent to the Extra to the hand, and a Trap Card that summons any Dinomist from the Deck. Already, that is more than any of the first generation of Pendulums. And yet, this theme is considered useless. ‘It’s not strong enough to compete’ or ‘it can’t stand up to the meta’ are comments frequently used when describing the archetype. This is a brand new archetype, hasn’t even been opened out of packs yet, and people still don’t trust in its power. Now, it’s just a relic, left behind by the insane advances for Pendulum Monsters contained within the Master of Pendulum deck. In other words, they have already rendered new Pendulum themes obsolete if they are not up to par with the Magicians, Performapal, or Dracoslayer engines. So where did they go wrong? Why did adding a bit more speed to Pendulums cause this issue? How did Pendulum themes become overbearing seemingly overnight?
Pendulum Summoning – It’s Repercussions:
Before answering those questions, I would like to pose another – What decks does Pendulum Summoning benefit the most? Why were archetypes such as Scrap, Gadget, Ninja, and more initially considered to be revolutionized with the arrival of Pendulum Monsters? The main balancing problem with Pendulums is that it is walking an extremely fine line. Make the mechanic too accessible, and it renders all other paths to victory obsolete. Make the mechanic balanced and in line, and it would be completely ignored by duelists, such as how it was at the very beginning, with Duelist Alliance. In fact, the answer to this question is actually the same exact reason as to why the Brilliant Fusion engine took off in many decks, such as Madolche or Synchron, or even more rogue options like Batterymen. Both Brilliant and Pendulum Summoning remove the dependence of a deck on the Normal Summon. Decks in the past that were balanced by having one Normal Summon, no longer have that dependence. With Brilliant in the mix, you can turn your sole Madolche Magileine in the hand into your play with Anjelly into Hootcakes and so on. This is the major problem with Pendulums right now – if they continue to make them better and better, they will hit a point where these decks balanced around the Normal Summon no longer have that to hold them in check.
On the other side of this mechanic, let’s talk about the endless supply of Pendulum monsters. This part of their design is intended – you are supposed to use them for fodder turn after turn. Not only does the mechanic let you spam more monsters from the hand to the field, but it’s intended to also unlock more of your Special Summons. In the past, it had always been balanced out by the setup time to achieve that endless flow of monsters. With Magicians as they are now, you could be Pendulum Summoning 5 cards on your first turn. Just imagine what would happen if you created a deck that could do that without losing any hand presence. Magicians already have access to all of the Odd-Eyes iterations, from Fusions to Xyzs, the Synchro to the Ritual. While it is one of the anime decks, and has to have flashy big plays, it is downright scary to consider that soon, this deck needs to be outclassed in order for the next generation of cards to replace the current pool.
Remember folks, we are heading into uncharted territory in Yu-Gi-Oh. There is only once before that decks had access to so much card advantage, and that was the Dragon Ruler/Spellbook Format. The current format is not on that level yet, not by a long shot, but it is accelerating to that pace rather quickly. The one bright side is where you obtain this advantage – for that format long ago, it was mainly hand advantage, as you would conduct your plays then regain cards in the End Phase. But in this current Pendulum craze, in order to maintain the advantage turn after turn that is summoned to your side of the field, you have to keep your Pendulum Scales alive. The vulnerability of Pendulums is there – banishing, setup, S/T destruction, monster destruction, OTK’s, etc. The problem is that Pendulums are slowly getting to the point where generic support cards are designed to mitigate these weaknesses.
Examples are easy to find: Dinister Powerful, the Mighty Dracoslayer – designed to protect Pendulum Scales, Samurai Cavalry of Reptier – designed to defeat non-Pendulum monsters without targeting, Igknight Reload – designed to reset brick hands for Pendulum-heavy decks, Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin – designed to bounce enemy threats while being untargetable itself, Pendulum Call – designed to grant easy generic Pendulum setups, Wavering Eyes – designed to get you the Pendulum Monster you particularly need, Echo Oscillation – designed to chain to any targeted destruction, Pot of Riches – designed to recycle Pendulum monsters, Pendulum Impenetrable – designed to protect your Scales from anything, Rescue Hamster – designed as an easy way to Xyz Summon with Pendulums, Ignister Prominance, the Blasting Dracoslayer – designed to spin any threats without targeting…
The list can continue with more examples, but I think you get my point. Support cards are already starting to get better and better, even as Pendulum Monsters get stronger Monster and Pendulum Effects. Now this is not me saying that the mechanic is broken, please do not put words into my mouth. I’ve simply highlighted the specific benefits, tools, and advantages of a Pendulum theme. What is scary to me, is that there is so much diversity and support for a mechanic and we’re not even through all of its series yet. We are just releasing the seventh set of the Arc-V era in 2 weeks in the TCG. Remember, the 5Ds and Zexal eras both had 12 sets each, and the GX era had 16 sets. We have a ways to go with Pendulums, and if we continue on the current path, we shall experience a meta completely dominated by our Monster/Spell hybrid overlords.
Why Hope that Pendulums would Work?
When I first began writing this article, I sat down with the intention to analyze the evolution of Pendulum Monsters from the beginning. As I started diving more into the card design theory and the balancing act, I began raising a second question – How could they hope that an endless supply of monsters wouldn’t damage the game? Yu-Gi-Oh from the beginning has always been a monster-dominated game. Yes, there have been many decks that used Spell or Trap cards, and many powerful cards from each of those two card types, but at the end of the day, it is battle damage that wins duels 90% or more of the time. Decks have began running 30 or more monsters rather consistently in the modern era, as even certain ‘hand trap’ monsters have begun to replace the deck slots that were reserved for backrow. Monsters have the most powerful effects, and have always had the most amount of search power. Even now, there is a very small number of generic cards that search Spells or Traps, and those that exist have very high costs.
For Spells, Alchemic Magician was the most generic of such cards, and even that required 3 Level 4 Spellcaster-Type Monsters to Xyz Summon. Ancient Gear Drill was the first, to my knowledge, and even that restricted you to be unable to use the Spell that turn. Any other Spell-card searcher in the past was highly regulated, from getting only Ritual Spell cards (Sonic Bird), Field Spell cards (Terraforming), Quick-Play Spell Cards (Spell Calling), Equip Spell cards (Hidden Armory), or Continuous Spell Cards (Z-ONE). For Traps, this isn’t even the case: Guiding Ariadne is the firstm and it is only for Counter Traps. Thank goodness for the few in-theme, Trap-searching cards, like the Traptrix or Phantom Knights.
At the end of the day, this monster bias is all of a result of what is perceived as fun – people would rather win by summoning a giant Dragon then attacking for game, rather than flipping a Virus to eliminate any options the opponent has. This is also the same principle as to why many anti-meta decks are less potent, because it is not fun to have all of your options and/or plays taken away from you. You can also think about it another way – there is only 1 archetype that has ever been competitive that was an archetype of Spell Cards (Spellbook), and even that had a monster. For Trap Cards, there is now Burgesstoma, but in the TCG and in Japan, they do not have an archetype. Therefore, I think that Pendulums may have been the first attempt to try and even the scales. Pendulums are half monster, half Spell, and it still feels good to win with the power of Pendulum Effects, because that can also be a Dragon, a Wizard, or a Warrior winning you the game. In terms of card design and overall game design, in my opinion, it was a good attempt to try to even the scales. Even now, we are seeing more and more powerful Spell and Trap cards hit the game. From the elemental Mirror Force options to cards such as Shuffle Reborn or Card of Demise, Spells and Traps are becoming more relevant. Solemn Strikeand Wavering Eyeshave some of the biggest impacts on duels now. But there is still one problem – How did someone think that making an endless supply of monsters into a mechanic would allow for the game to remain in balance?
The answer to this is simple – they already had an archetype that proved that it was possible. And yet again, I have managed to sneak Madolches into an article about Pendulums. I strongly believe that Madolche were the proof of concept for the Pendulum mechanic. First, they both have endless resources. With Madolche Chateau on the board, you will not run out of monsters, as they keep on returning to the hand to be summoned on the next turn when they are destroyed. In short, they have an endless supply of monsters. Secondly, they both have ways to vomit a hand of monsters onto the field. Remember Madolchepalooza? The Trap card pretty much functions as an OTK, throw everything you have at the opponent, which is eerily similar to archetype-restricted Pendulum Summoning. Lastly, Madolche kept on getting bigger and bigger pushes toward competitive over time. They got their initial release, then their boss monster and the other main S/T support. A couple packs later, they got a boost with Hootcake. Further down the road, Anjelly was released. Each time, Madolche was pushed closer and closer to competitive, as card designers gave the theme just a tad bit more.
Each time, the Madolche deck remained balanced, because it still centered around the initial Normal Summon. You needed to Normal Summon Magiliene, you needed to Normal Summon Anjelly… At least until the next turn, if you had your palooza. As a theme, Madolche works like the initial Pendulums, endless supply of monsters, archetype-restricted mass Special Summoning, search power tied to a Normal Summon or continuous Spell… Too bad they pushed further than their initial concept, resulting in the overbearing Pendulum engines and combinations of today.
In my opinion, this is where card design went wrong with Pendulums. They are an issue today because they dropped all of the archetype restrictions, they’ve dropped some of the vulnerabilities, and they’ve made Pendulum suites too advantage-oriented, all of which started happening as soon as they deviated from the path the Madolche took. The restriction-less Magician suite in addition to the extremely consistent Performapal engine gives any deck access to Pendulum Summoning. In addition, you even have protection that is tied into your consistency options, like with Pendulum Call. Lastly, Pendulum decks have gotten a lot more advantage-happy, leaving most non-Pendulum decks in the dust UNLESS you can OTK before the Pendulum deck is fully entrenched in their position. I have not lost faith that the card design team might take a different direction with Pendulums in the future, but the current trend is worrisome.
Hopefully you enjoyed learning about the state of pendulums, how it developed, the various approaches to pendulum themes, and potential directions in the future! I realize this is far from my normal style of article, but don’t worry, I am working on a couple of cool concepts for my next one! Thanks for reading, and until the next time!