A year following the last article about a TCG-Premiere archetype on Noble Knights, I decided to get together with the other U.A. fanboy on the YGOrg writing staff (UltimateKuriboh) and work on creating a comprehensive guide to the U.A. (Ultra Athlete) archetype! Click below to read about the sport freaks in all of their glory, and learn how you can use this archetype to win competitively in over 30 Word Doc pages of valuable information (20,000 words), none of which consist of history or lore theme. It’s purely related to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game.
It all began in 901, as two TCG-Premiere archetypes were introduced in Duelist Alliance. It was the beginning for the Burning Abyss monsters, based off the Divine Comedy, and a duo of baseball-themed Level 5 monsters. Naturally, people jumped on Burning Abyss since it was a theme that could be played from the start, but since we’re focusing on the U.A., let’s begin our journey through time to observe how the theme evolved.
U.A. Mighty Slugger
Introducing the first offensive U.A. monster to hit the TCG! Boy, did it set a high bar for the offense of the U.A. deck. This card is most commonly considered as an Effect Monster version of “Armades, Keeper of Illusions” due to its similar effect when attacking (or “Gem-Knight Citrine”, as some may prefer). This effect allows Slugger to dodge defensive Spells, Traps, or even monster effects that activate when an opposing monster is flipped face-up or destroyed. Talk about shutting down Honest like nobody’s business. Once his attack begins, there is no stopping it. The first line of his effect is shared by all U.A. monsters – the ‘tagging out’ (so to speak) for a teammate becomes extremely useful at all stages of the duel.
When this card came out, it was seen as a power monster for the theme, even when the rest of the archetype had not yet been revealed. The issue at the beginning was simple – how could the archetype function without any monsters that could be Normal Summoned without tributing? While this issue will be resolved with the next set, “U.A. Mighty Slugger” had already begun to attract people’s expectations and throw them through the roof. After all, the last Warrior-type TCG-Premiere archetype fell flat for many competitive players (Sorry Noble Knight). The real ‘eye-candy’ of the archetype so far was the other monster released in the first set for the U.A., the pitcher.
U.A. Perfect Ace
The first defensive U.A. monster to hit the TCG. Yes, this is an amazing disruptor to start off the archetype. This card is most commonly considered as an Effect Monster “Herald of Perfection” due to its negation effect, but sadly, Perfect Ace can only be used once per turn. The best part of Perfect Ace is that you do not have to discard a U.A. card to negate a card or effect, so some of the best plays come from discarding something you want in the graveyard, such as “Breakthrough Skill” or “Galaxy Cyclone”. But before we get to outside combos, let’s assess the two monsters’ synergy.
As the second monster in the Level 5 U.A. duo, Perfect Ace serves as the perfect partner for Slugger. When you have both Slugger and Ace in your hand, the magic truly begins. Simply Summon Slugger, use him to attack with no fear of effects, and then tag him out for a Perfect Ace in Main Phase 2. At the time, this allowed you to have a solid disruption to discourage your opponent’s responses while still getting in decent amounts of damage. So even at this point, you had a clear win condition – beatstick your way to victory turn after turn, while hiding behind a pseudo Herald of Perfection. Seeing this potential from their first release, casual players were picking up the deck and attempting to make the archetype into something even more powerful. It was extremely beneficial to the U.A. archetype at this point that one key Warrior-type support card was released in 901 as well – “Feast of the Wild LV5”, but we will cover this card more in depth later in the article. Let’s meet the last U.A. card to arrive in 901, arguably the reason to run this deck.
The search engine of the U.A. archetype, this Field Spell assists the deck in setting up and then executing its main strategies. The first effect is simple: When you Normal Summon a U.A. monster, simply search a new one from the deck. At this point in the U.A. timeline, this card gave the reasoning as to why both monsters in the archetype were Level 5 – Stadium provided the compensation for a tribute summon, allowing you to setup your Slugger/Perfect Ace combination to batter your opponent during your turn, and then disrupt their plays during their following turn.
While the first effect grants consistency, the second effect offers pure power – the first time you Special Summon a U.A. monster each turn, all monsters you control gain 500 ATK. While this may not seem that important at first, every bit of ATK power helps when you are playing a strategy that needs to force its way through the opponent’s field. With Slugger at a boosted 2800 ATK, very few monsters could stand in its way. In addition, the boost benefits all monsters you control, but this wasn’t that important at the time.
Overall, Stadium was revealed and initially considered the linchpin of the deck. If you didn’t open Stadium, you couldn’t win. While this was definitely a very limited view of the deck’s capabilities, the theme simply wasn’t complete yet. Hint, even though many of us had hoped that Stadium would only be the beginning, it quickly became the main source of power and the essence of the theme’s entire strategical playbook. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the first players on the team have only arrived. With 901, the stage had been set, and the game was about to be introduced to the next suite of U.A. monsters that would take the TCG by surprise.
Talk about an unexpected turn of events in 902! While people expected the Noble Knight style of releases, with the most important cards being saved for near the end, the U.A. archetype broke that expectation with the second set by releasing the all-important Level 4 U.A. monster. This was the first monster that could be Normal Summoned without tribute, allowing for a ‘free’ search from U.A. Stadium from the get-go. More importantly, Midfielder became the first U.A. monster that could be searched from the deck by “Reinforcement of the Army” (referred to as RotA for the rest of the article). Take note that 902 was released 1 month after RotA became Unlimited, which gives this deck even more search capability. With the typical setup of running 3 “Terraforming”, 3 RotA, 3 Midfielder and 3 Stadium, you only had to open 2 certain cards, with each having a 1/6 chance in obtaining them. The odds weren’t amazing, but they were pretty good for a fledging strategy. With an opening of Stadium and Midfielder, you pretty much unlocked the rest of your team from the start.
I would be giving Midfielder a disservice if I only talked about his status as a Level 4, because Midfielder also boasts one of the more unique effects out of the U.A. tribe. With the ability to swap out U.A. monsters without relying on their inherent summoning effects, you could finally begin to inflict even more damage to an unprepared opponent. During the Battle Phase, you could attack with one U.A., use Midfielder to swap it out with a new U.A. in-hand, then attack with Midfielder and your new U.A. for even more damage. The power of extra attacks in this strategy cannot be emphasized enough! For any aggressive strategy, you need to storm down your opponent in the windows that they give you. But since Midfielder served the role as the offensive Football U.A. (soccer for us USA nubs), you really only had Slugger as your main attacker. So the offensive capabilities of this monster had to be put on ice until the release of the next set of U.A.
So what else did Midfielder offer at this point? First off, a very important note is that Midfielder allowed you to trigger Stadium during the opponent’s turn. The first 500 ATK boost is pretty much nothing, a 1700 monster is easy to get over. But 2 boosts, and Midfielder can clash with Winda. Add a third during your next turn, and Midfielder begins to get really scary. Even your defense-oriented U.A. monsters can chalk up some heavy ATK power with the help of Stadium on both turns. In football, the midfielder straddles the line between offense and defense, and that’s exactly what U.A. Midfielder offers. Since its effect can be used during the opponent’s turn, you actually have the ability to swap out your defensive U.A. for the other after using its effect. So if you ended your turn with Perfect Ace and Midfielder, after negating a card with Ace, you could always swap that Ace out for the next U.A. card released in 902 – U.A. Goalkeeper!
I realize we are already 5 cards into the article, but I am going to address this now – I am going to be discussing the U.A. cards that are fighting for slots in your deck, and I have no intentions to waste your time talking about worthless cards. Foreshadowing – Every monster has its uses and therefore I will be discussing all of the U.A. released to date. So when I am dedicating a section to U.A. Goalkeeper, you should realize that this card does have potential and that reading this section is not wasting your time.
Now that the required disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk about the benefits of our first Level 6 U.A. monster! He still requires 1 tribute, like the first U.A. duo, but at first glance, his effect doesn’t appear to be as potent in the deck. This dissapointment stems from one issue – he cannot protect your Stadium with his effect. At the end of the day, his entire purpose and existence and relevance in the deck is tied to Midfielder. Goalkeeper’s job is to keep multiple U.A. monsters on the field. At this point of the strategy, getting 2 U.A. monsters to the field was difficult, therefore Goalkeeper stepped in to keep Midfielder from being destroyed by battle during the turn, before being swapped back to the hand for Perfect Ace.
So why is hitting that 2 U.A. monster point so important? While it will become more relevant with the 903’s set of new U.A. support, it is still important for the offensive capabilities of Midfielder. You cannot pull off the triple attack combo with only 1 monster, since Midfielder requires you to return another U.A. monster you control to the hand. But there is one more benefit you may be overlooking – keeping multiple U.A. monsters face up gives you the best odds of being able to summon multiple Perfect Ace on your next turn. For most decks, especially at this time, it was hard enough to get over 1 Perfect Ace. But 2? That may be a bit of a tall order. As I have said multiple times already, U.A. is an aggressively-oriented strategy, so the main win condition is not defense but offense. As the saying goes, “The best defense is a strong offense” and that surely was the guiding principle behind one of the most aggressive Equip Spells ever printed.
U.A. Powered Jersey
If you needed another reason to test out this deck when this card was released, this was your reason. If you return back to the paragraph on the offensive capabilities of Midfielder, yes this card can supersede those capabilities. To put it simply, Jersey + Slugger = OTK in many situations if your opponent leaves an Attack Position monster on the field. If they leave a 1700 or lower ATK monster, and you special Slugger with stadium out, that’s exactly 8000 damage with slugger preventing any cards or effects from ruining your day.
Perhaps you are taking the stance that it is just a situational use, it won’t happen to often in a duel, etc. And maybe you’re correct. But back when this card was released, what deck liked to leave weak monsters in attack? Oh right, Tellarknight. And Deneb clocks in under the 1700 benchmark. If Tellar couldn’t stop your summon or the activation of Jersey, that was game right there. But as you may be thinking, it’s rare to draw Stadium, Midfielder, and Jersey. And you are correct on that one, but as I have been saying, the main win condition for U.A. is just constant attacks to whittle down the opponent’s LP. Jersey isn’t your only option to win the duel, it just makes the end of the duel come a lot faster. Don’t forget that it can be equipped to Midfielder in a pinch as well, to allow Midfielder to attack over a bunch of threats. The benefit is that Midfielder does not have 1500 ATK, so “Bottomless Trap Hole” cannot be used in response to its summon.
This card is a powerhouse, to be blunt. It adds a ton of extra damage, it adds a second attack, but the most valuable aspect of the card is the final effect – it returns to hand when your U.A. returns to hand. Yes, that means that once you attack, you just tag out for a Goalkeeper or a Perfect Ace and you get your jersey back for next turn. This gives the deck not only a solid offense, but longevity as well. My favorite combo is actually using Midfielder with this ability, since you can attack with a Jersey’d U.A. monster, bounce it back to hand with Midfielder for a new U.A., add back your jersey, and continue your battle phase. This simple play gives you 4 attacks from 2 monsters, without losing any card advantage. Not too shabby, eh? Just another reason why Goalkeeper making sure you have 2 monsters is so important.
At this point, the deck was picked up by many players. It had search power, it had a win condition, it could disrupt the opponent’s plays. But then many fair-weather, bandwagon U.A. players stumbled back when they saw the support from 903, because it wasn’t the Jersey-oriented, aggressive support they were expecting….
Considered by many to be the runt of the team, U.A. Playmaker is undervalued by most players picking up U.A. for the first time. He may be Level 8, but he still packed a mighty punch upon release as the second offensively-oriented U.A. monster to hit the TCG. This beast of a monster clocks in at 2600 attack, the highest of the U.A. monsters, and he quickly raises to 3100 with the help of Stadium. The first rule of Playmaker is simple – Never attempt to Tribute summon him. The second rule of Playmaker is the reason for running this monster – Always pair it with Midfielder. The last rule of Playmaker – If you cannot get out Midfielder and Playmaker simultaneously, there is no sense searching out Playmaker.
So what exactly is his purpose? In simple terms – Making your attacks hurt. When most Playmaker plays occur, it is because you just began your turn with a Perfect Ace or Goalkeeper that survived after Stadium is on the field. Simply Normal Summon Midfielder, search Playmaker and Special Summon it using your defensive U.A., gain the extra 500 ATK on each of your monsters, then enter the Battle Phase. Attack with Playmaker first, then Midfielder being boosted by Playmaker. Then return Playmaker to Special Summon your defensive U.A. back to the field. Like Stadium, Playmaker’s ATK boost is permanent, which means midfielder is now at a sizable 2500 ATK, which is nothing to scoff at. The next turn pretty much guarantees victory without spell or trap intervention by the opponent. If you don’t see the point of Playmaker yet, his role on the team is to give your weaker U.A. monsters a stronger offensive to get a stronger defense during the opponent’s turn. Playmaker can also boost your Slugger to guarantee a stronger attack to which your opponent cannot respond. But sometimes that isn’t enough and you need to rely on your defense, and that is where Blockbacker comes in.
Alright, so if you’re still feeling like Goalkeeper was a letdown in the disruption department, this card more than makes up for it. Blockbacker is the second disruption-based defensive U.A. monster, and he definitely puts in work. With an effect similar to the trap card “Memory Loss”, Blockbacker is the only defensive U.A. that can use its effect during either player’s turn. Although there are currently only a select few cases, this effect can still be impactful whenever your opponent Summons a monster during your turn, such as through “El-Shaddoll Fusion”, “Call of the Haunted”, or Artifact monsters. But during your opponent’s turn, this guy really shines. Blockbacker and the overall playstyle of the deck is the reason why this deck has such a good Nekroz matchup: your opponent will have to rely on Decisive Armor or multiples of Valkyrus/Trishula (while you don’t have Goalkeeper or any traps), OR they have to rely on Trish actually resolving. Yes, these situations are possible since the same counters to Djinn lock break Blockbacker, but that all changes if you have Blockbacker AND Perfect Ace… so yes, you should be aiming for that.
His effect is fairly straightforward – negate a Special Summoned monster’s effect(s), and change its battle position. While the negation seems to be the big part of his effect, the battle position switching is actually a tad more important in some regards, especially with the release of the next batch of U.A. monsters. As I said before, this American football-themed batch of U.A. monsters were not well received, since they were considered to be against the OTK-heavy, Jersey-dependent variant that initially turned the spotlight on the U.A. archetype. But if Jersey was the kickass offensive spell, it only makes sense that a kickass defensive spell came out with the football athletes!
U.A. Turnover Tactics
Introducing the Quick-Play Spell Card released in 903… and this is quite the niche card. While Jersey could inflict massive damage and create OTK’s in specific situations, Turnover Tactics can heavily shift card advantage into your favor in specific situations. So in other words, Turnover deals with the card advantage resource, while Jersey deals with the LP resource. It’s kind of interesting how each support Spell or Trap in the archetype fits into one of those two perspectives. This gives the deck an extremely non-linear playstyle, and with the release of turnover, the builds began to split as the U.A. fanboys went into different camps. Looking at various guides across the interwebs in many YGO communities, Turnover Tactics came to be considered as ‘personal preference’. Yes, that dreaded phrase which can be immediately translated as ‘Causal ONLY’. I would like to argue otherwise – Turnover is a key card of the deck that needs to be considered. Like its namesake, Turnover literally turns control of the duel over to you; therefore, I would like to argue that this is a strong flexible response to a variety of threats, similar to “Book of Eclipse”. While this has an activation condition, the benefit is more than worth the risk; however, this is a card whose usage is defined by the meta. The decision as to running this card falls to your playstyle – do you like powerful cards that have specific windows to win you the duel? If you answered no to this, then you are probably someone that also prefers to skip out on Jersey, since it can be considered just as situational.
This card’s defensive uses cannot be highlighted enough, but I would really like to connect with the unique effect of this card. In simple terms, it is a “Morphing Jar #2” in Spell form, but it can be much more than that since each player gets to specifically choose which monsters to summon. In the older days, this would be considered so weak due to letting your opponent set-up, but in a deck that thrives with disruptive capabilities, this card is a godsend. Don’t get me wrong, there are also offensive uses to Turnover, such as attacking with your U.A., then swapping into a Midfielder and another U.A. to use Midfielder for an additional attack. I could list quite a few combos, but those are the two main uses for this card.
At this point, I would like you to take a second and decide which camp you are a part of: running Turnover or omitting Turnover. I’ve given the arguments for each side, but before you keep reading, you need to make a preliminary decision on whether or not you like this Quick-Play Spell. This is because how you analyze the next batch of U.A. support will vary greatly depending on that. So let’s advance to 904, currently the latest pack with U.A. support!
U.A. Dreadnought Dunker
So we started out our offense strong with Slugger, added more combos with Playmaker, and now we’re hitting home with Dunker. This card allows you to be so aggressive and influence the duel to such a degree, yeah, he’s epic. Unfortunately, he lacks the immunity powers of his Slugger cousin, but instead has a killer effect that allows him to pierce through Defense Position monsters, AND destroy a card on the field when he inflicts damage. Clocking in at 3000 ATK under Stadium is nothing to scoff at either. Equipped with our lovely Jersey, we have a 4000 ATK, double attacking, piercing monster that inflicts double damage and destroys a card when damage is inflicted. To put this in perspective, Shaddoll instantly lose if you attack a set Dragon with a Jersey’d Dunker. Instead of the 1700 ATK benchmark set by Slugger for the 8000 damage Jersey play, Dunker raises that mark to 2000 ATK or 2000 DEF. Yes, you trade a tad bit of security for more muscle. Much more muscle.
Now Dunker may seem like a solo-act, but he has friends in every set of released U.A. monsters. Dunker and Slugger form a perfect pair, one to go more aggressive when applicable and the other to play it safe. Either way, one of these two athletes will be your main source of offense on the team. As to a friend from the second set, Midfielder is key in the summoning of this guy. Since Dunker boasts a Level 7 status, you cannot maintain card advantage when Tribute Summoning him; therefore, you need to be bouncing a U.A., and Midfielder combined with Stadium can lead to a wide open court for Dunker to strut his stuff. In addition, Midfielder can also allow Dunker to ‘dodge’ battle traps by chaining Midfielder’s effect to an opponent’s card effect such as Mirror Force or Dimensional Prison, which is always a great thing. From the American Football support, Blockbacker is the perfect U.A. to pair with Dunker, since it can render monsters vulnerable to Dunker’s piercing. And there is one more monster that pairs well with Dunker, so let’s introduce the other Basketball star that throws the ball into Dunker’s court!
U.A. Rival Rebounder
Remember how I asked you a couple sections back to pick a camp on Turnover? This card is the reason why, because what you think about Turnover will influence your thoughts on this card. For those of you who actually listened to me, I have split the introduction to this monster into Pro-Turnover and Against-Turnover sections, because each section will resonate more with that group. It doesn’t hurt to read both sections though!
This card is the godsend the U.A. deck has been waiting for – Finally we have a way to get 2 U.A. monsters onto the field off of a single summon. With the help of any of a slew of enablers, Rebounder is just a card away from beginning to win you the duel. By Normal Summoning Rebounder, you can trigger Stadium (searching an offensive team member) and special summon a second U.A. from your hand, preferably Midfielder. Then, progress immediately into your Battle Phase, attack with your Rebounder, then tag him out for the offensive U.A. you just searched using Midfielder and continue attacking. Off of one Normal Summon, you get 3 attacks, and this doesn’t even require you to have Goalkeeper protecting a U.A. during your opponent’s turn. Follow the offensive play during the opponent’s turn with Midfielder’s effect, tagging Rebounder back into the game to get an additional Special Summon from the Hand or Graveyard. Just remember, there is a specific benefit to the interaction between Rebounder and Stadium, since the chain is built so that the newly summoned U.A. gets the ATK boost from Stadium as well. For a rulings refresher on SEGOC and why this is mandatory, check out THIS ARTICLE by Bil.
While that was the offensive side of Rebounder, there is also a potent interaction with our dear favorite Quick-Play Spell Card, Turnover Tactics. The Normal Summon of Rebounder alone now fulfills the condition to activate your situational, advantage-based, themed disruption support card. Rebounder makes its ‘situational’ condition easy as pie to fulfill. More importantly though, you can also make Turnover an even trade in advantage even if your opponent controls only monsters that can return to the main deck, such as in the Nekroz matchup. Use Turnover in the opponent’s turn and Special Summon Rebounder, that way you get an additional U.A. monster straight from your Graveyard, offsetting the spell itself. Lastly, note that you can abuse the effect of Rebounder to Summon a U.A. pretty much straight from the Deck if you have Stadium on the field. When you Normal Summon Rebounder, make its effect CL1 with Stadium’s Normal Summon effect as CL2. This way you can search whatever U.A. you would like, then summon that monster immediately from the hand. That play may not always be the best, as you are not getting another +1 in card advantage due to it, but you are getting 2 high ATK U.A. monsters straight to the field.
Many individuals who are against Turnover simply see it as a “win more” card; if you can set up 2 U.A., then you should be able to win the duel. Therefore, Rebounder simply serves as an additional player on offense, recovering U.A. summons from the Graveyard. Finally, the deck has a decent form of recovery that does not require sub-par spells, such as “The Warrior Returning Alive”. Since we have Rebounder, we can actually discard U.A. monsters with Perfect Ace for its negation, only to recycle those discards right back. This play allows you to expand your monster count while disrupting your opponent’s plays! But as the main role of Rebounder is just to recycle, it is not as important as Perfect Ace or Midfielder, therefore your early Stadium searches should still go to the main U.A. monsters.
Without Turnover in the mix, you will have some room for additional tech options as well, the best of which with Rebounder is “The Monarchs Stormforth”. Rebounder turns this card into a +2, removing your opponent’s monster, adding a U.A. with Stadium, and Special Summoning a U.A. from the Graveyard. So even though you aren’t running the ‘advantage-centric’ support card, you still have a really strong advantage game to work with and stick with the top decks of the format.
Those are the two main points of view on Rebounder, but perhaps you may see differently. That’s perfectly fine, as I’m hoping that everyone walks away with a new appreciation and understanding at the inner workings of the U.A. archetype. So let’s dive into the last of the support cards in 904, eh?
U.A. Signing Deal
Talk about more reworks for the U.A. archetype! Signing Deal is “A Hero Lives” for the U.A. archetype with less of a restriction on activation, and their themed Midfielder searcher. Simply Summon out Midfielder while you have another U.A. in hand, and you have your Midfielder to Normal Summon and then search out a new U.A. with Stadium. While RotA still remains important, this card helps out the U.A.’s early game, since it can be a bit rough for the athletes. You have to get warmed up for a big game after all, but once you get a solid momentum… it will be difficult to stop you from scoring. Don’t forget, you can even activate Signing Deal when you already control a field of U.A. to add a Stadium boost or simply to add one more attacker!
The other main use of Signing Deal is to search out whatever U.A. that is needed at the given time, when you have no Stadium to aid you. Simply Summon it, use the negated one as fodder to special summon another U.A., then re-summon the one you needed. While this is generally very costly in the LP department, it is last resort tactic available to the U.A. when needed. Signing Deal is great and all, but wouldn’t it be better if the themed monster searcher of the archetype was searchable? Oh right, about that…
U.A. Penalty Box
The final support card released for the U.A. at the time of writing, this is the one and only trap of the archetype and it offers a lot. First, it is the absolute best card to discard with Perfect Ace, since it then searches out a new U.A. Spell when its in the Graveyard. Yes, that’s right, the support trap is a searcher, but only from the Graveyard. While this seems a tad gimmicky, which I have to give to you in all fairness, it opens doors for many different variants of U.A. that I will discuss later in this article. As with many of these cards, I would be doing this card a disservice if I only talked about its advantage capabilities, but its effect on the field is potent as well.
With the ability to banish your opponents monsters for 2 turns, this forces your opponent to begin playing around your monsters even more. If they want to attack over a Blockbacker or Perfect Ace, they have to invest multiple strong monsters to be able to do it. Also, Penalty Box allows you to get out of many monster locks, such as Vanity’s Fiend, the Djinn Lock, or even the El-Shaddolls. Out of all of these situations, my favorite use is just to use Penalty to strip an Xyz Monster of its materials. Feels nice, especially against “Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction”. Just remember, this card is best used as the discard fodder for Perfect Ace to get your early game moving. Oh, and when you make “Lavalval Chain”, you basically get a free U.A. Spell with its effect, something to keep in mind. Penalty Box may not be the best search card, or even the search card U.A. fanatics were expecting, but it fulfills the role quite well in its own unique way.
I hope you stayed on board for most of that introduction, because I certainly gabbed for a while. I’ve talked about each card, their role in the deck, and their overall role in the archetype. But I haven’t quite begun to talk about many of the main tech options, therefore I’m going to devote the next section to tech cards and various engines that work well with the U.A.
Tech Cards and Engines:
The Cards that Define the variant:
The Monarchs Stormforth
Introducing the Spell Card that is easily seen as one of the most powerful enablers for the U.A. deck. Stormforth is the answer when you do not have Midfielder, but would still like to trigger Stadium with a Normal Summon. Stormforth allows you to tribute summon Perfect Ace, Mightly Slugger, Goalkeeper, or Rebounder just using your opponent’s monster. When you summon this way while Stadium is face-up, it becomes a +1 in card advantage, except for Rebounder, which becomes a +2! Yes, card advantage is a game in which U.A. can compete at the highest level.
While it is an enabler for higher leveled U.A. monsters, I actually prefer Stormforth for its role as non-targeting, non-destruction monster removal. Say goodbye to “Vanity’s Fiend”, Djinn lock, Unicore, etc. While this is a combo card, it tends to have a stronger impact earlier in the duel when you are less likely to have the Midfielder/Stadium combo. Therefore, since you want it earlier, it should be ran in multiple copies, if you choose to go with this enabler. There are many other tech options that fill this role, but Stormforth is the only true ‘removal and enabler’ tech card for the U.A. archetype.
The variant that runs 3 Stormforth is currently considered by most to be the most consistent build of Pure U.A.; however, in a format dominated by Nekroz, Qliphort, and BA, consistency alone isn’t enough when each of the other main decks bring another defining aspect to the table. In all fairness, the pure Stormforth build has the absolute best Nekroz matchup, due to the ability to tribute away threats, Blockbacker tackling Ritual Summons, and Perfect Ace striking out attempts to win back the duel, but you don’t necessarily need Stormforth to defeat the blue cosplay troupe.
“Reasoning” defines the U.A. variant that is best known for its explosive plays, by trading away some of its consistency. Due to the large variance in levels, it will be unlikely for an opponent to guess the correct Level, and even if they do, that U.A. can still make it to the field quickly with the help of Rebounder. “Reasoning” is especially potent on your first turn of a match, since your opponent will probably expect that you are playing Infernoid, the only other competitive option that runs Reasoning at the current time.
So if the downside is losing consistency, what is the point? Isn’t consistency supposed to be the main highlight of the U.A. archetype? The point is that you very easily get multiple U.A. monsters to the field quickly. Also, it is sort of like a cost-less Signing Deal, since you still get a U.A. monster summoned to your field. Both “Reasoning” and Signing Deal can be considered your enablers in this variant, since they both give you a way to Special Summon high leveled U.A. monsters from the hand. This variant may be more powerful on the surface, but as it is less consistent, it is also more prone to floodgates than the average U.A. deck. “Vanity’s Emptiness” and “Vanity’s Fiend” both shut down Reasoning variants hard, because you simply will have less outs to either of those lockdowns. But there is one redeeming quality, and that is the other reason for running a Reasoning variant – the mills.
While “Reasoning” intends to Special Summon out a needed U.A. monster, it also has a secondary benefit – milling every Spell or Trap that is excavated before your first monster. Remember, there is a themed Trap card that specifically activates in the Graveyard – Penalty Box – which means that the U.A. can benefit so much from milling a few key cards. If you happen to mill a Penalty Box during the resolution of “Reasoning”… You are definitely in a good spot. To be fair, you do run the risk of milling the Spells you wish to search. In many builds that feature “Reasoning”, the duelist also chooses to run many other Graveyard-activated Spells and Traps, such as “Breakthrough Skill”, “Galaxy Cyclone”, “Mischief of the Gnomes”, and sometimes even “Skill Prisoner”. This allows the deck to have many ways to quickly gain advantage, if you’re lucky. If you’re not, “Reasoning” only serves as a means to setup Rebounder for the U.A. duelist. That’s the hidden power of the “Reasoning” build – Either you win big or you simply prepare for a future … unless the small chance that your opponent calls Level 6 and you don’t mill any of your Graveyard effects and result in a Rebounder being sent to the Graveyard. Just remember, don’t activate Stadium until after “Reasoning”: that way, you do not waste the +500 boost on only that one monster. Moreover, on the first duel of a match, your opponent won’t have a clue as to what deck you are running when calling a Level. They will probably expect Infernoid in this day and age, so you will just have to hope your opponent doesn’t guess the right Level to hit your deck as well.
This is probably one of the main tech options you have never heard of being associated with U.A. before, so let me explain before you chalk it up as stupid and silly. This concept actually came up with it in a theory-oh discussion during the writing of this article, as we tried to figure out a way to more consistently get to our Midfielder + Stadium combo on turn 1, and since it tested well in practice, we decided to stick a section in the article about ourfindings. “Hand Destruction”, the Quickplay Spell that is never found outside of bad Exodia variants, is notorious for being a bad draw card. When Exodia decks abandon a draw Spell, there is a problem. This profiling of the card as a bad option is due to the fact that it is an inherent -1 in card advantage, PLUS your opponent can use this opportunity to set up their hand and Graveyard simultaneously for free. So why in the world would we possibly consider this as a solid core for a U.A. variant? Let’s see if I can convince you of its potential.
The fact of the matter is that U.A. have a ton of searching. But draw power? None. U.A. should not even use “Upstart Goblin” (in other words, don’t try), because the extra LP you give the opponent is often just enough to push them out of OTK range. While your defense can put you in position to win games, your offense needs to be strong enough to end them, and Upstart makes the required power level that much higher. So on your first turn, Destruction is great at getting you to your needed combos to setup a Perfect Ace and/or Blockbacker on your first turn. Or perhaps even the fabled ‘Double Perfect Ace’ 4-card combo that U.A. duelists dream of. (Needed Cards: Stadium, Signing Deal, Midfielder, other U.A. monster).
But why “Hand Destruction”, why this specific “bad draw card”? Because this U.A. variant, when built properly, gets to abuse the cards you send to the Graveyard to turn the -1 into a +1. Send Penalty Box, and you get to make up for the -1 by searching out the Stadium or Signing Deal that you may need. Send a U.A. monster, and you get to Summon that monster back to the field with the help of Rebounder. With Destruction, you can make a build that specializes in abusing Rebounder, noted earlier as the advantage-centric monster of the archetype. Similar Spell and Trap card support also work amazingly in this version as in the “Reasoning” variant, except your sending of Spells and Traps is more controlled with this specific variant than random milling. On paper in an controlled environment, this should be the best of both worlds in terms of U.A. variants: consistent, fast and powerful. However, I haven’t mentioned the one crucial part of this tech choice – the opponent.
In the current meta, every deck loves sending things to the Graveyard or digging deeper into the deck. For Nekroz, it’s literally a no-brainer that they love sending Releaser or setting up a “Nekroz Cycle” Ritual Summon. Against Tellar, Destruction lets them set up Altair before their first turn. Against BA or Shaddoll, it lets them trigger their effects extremely early. Against Qliphort, Destruction just means that they are 2 cards closer to a Scout. Against HERO, it allows them to trigger Shadow Mist for a free search and maybe prepare the Graveyard for “Call of the Haunted” if they didn’t have a way to do so already. This trend continues for pretty much any other semi-competitive deck in the current meta. At the end of the day, you have to weigh your odds. Do you trust in the power that Destruction gives your deck, to the point where you are content to set up behind double Perfect Ace or Perfect Ace/Blockbacker to inhibit your opponent’s setup? Or would you rather go with a less opponent-dependent version? Any way that you slice the pie, this is a key decision that needs to be made during deckbuilding before you even get into a duel.
So that was the basic introduction to the three main ways to run U.A., at least the 3 that show the most competitive merit. If you are really interested in building a U.A. deck for yourself, you will need to figure out which of these styles fits your meta the best. But don’t let the meta be your only factor, you should try testing each U.A. variant a bit, and learn how each variant fits into your playstyle. For example, I am someone who does not like the random milling element to the Reasoning build, so I avoid it with a ten-foot pole. However, there are many U.A. duelists that swear by that specific variant, so do not count my word as law on this matter. After you make this initial decision and work out how you like to play the deck, it’s time to learn about augmenting your deck through various deckbuilding choices. Let me be the first to say, I simply love smoke screening by having a second U.A. option hiding in the Side Deck to bring in for specific matchups. Before you can get to that level of comfort with the deck, let’s introduce the complement engines which can augment whichever main strategy you choose!
I know what you’re saying, ‘this is a U.A. deck’. And when I put Nekroz here, I am going to specify even further into two specific routes – the Nekroz Hybrid and the Nekroz Engine. The Hybrid features an even split of U.A. and Nekroz, allowing you to have the power of Trishula and Unicore backed by a Perfect Ace disruption. This is definitely an option, but to put it in the words of people in discussion guides across the interwebs: “You are playing with 2 half decks each playing at half potential.” While this is true, it is also kind of interesting because the Nekroz help to make up for poor U.A. setups, while U.A. setups can stall until you have your Trishula play ready. The two engines complement each other, as Unicore fills the role of Blockbacker, and Clausolas can lead to some fun OTK’s with Jersey.
The Nekroz Engine on the other hand has been the go-to Nekroz addition to a U.A. deck, even as it has adapted over time. It originally began with triple Tour Guide, Scarm, Releaser, 3 Clausolas and 2 Cycle. The purpose of this specific addition was twofold – TGU into Scarm allowed you to Xyz Summon “M-X-Saber Invoker”, which then allowed you to summon Midfielder from the deck. TGU acted as an enabler for Midfielder, while thinning your deck by another copy. You can think of it functioning similarly to the prior role of TGU in Koa’ki Meiru, if you are familiar with that due to my previous articles.
But that was the past, now TGU is limited. So now, the Nekroz engine simply features 3 Claus, 2 Cycle, and 1 Releaser. While this doesn’t seem to be extremely impactful, everyone and their brother knows the potency of the Djinn lock, especially those of you who play competitively. In a U.A. deck, you already run 3 RotA, so all it takes to setup the lock is Releaser and RotA. This engine does work best with a couple tech cards to be discussed later, such as Foolish Burial; however, it is effective enough to just run the engine. Remember, in the current meta that has developing over the last few months, people started running options to break the Djinn lock, but you have a Perfect Ace up your sleeve. However, if Nekroz isn’t an option you want to consider, there are definitely other engines to pair with the athletes, so let’s meet the other contestants!
Hands down, this is the most popular archetype to pair with the U.A. and for good reason. Assault Halberd is simply amazing at providing Tribute fodder and being a magnet for your opponent’s trap cards. While it alone is not much of a threat, many duelists will respond to its attack with a “Mirror Force” or other trap cards to prevent the free search. Remember, every single trap used on Heroics is a tiny victory on the way to a Jersey-empowered OTK. If your opponent does not stop your Assault Halberd’s attack, then you just set up a free “Lavalval Chain”, which then can dump Penalty Box, which then searches out a U.A. Spell that you may need, such as Signing Deal to then set up a Perfect Ace. So in other words, one monster can become an Xyz monster, netting you a free U.A. Spell card in the process. At the end of the day, this simple play is an overall +1 in card advantage that will quickly snowball if your opponent cannot get Lavalval Chain off the field.
While all of those combos sound well and good, Assault Halberd is an enabler for your Level 5 and Level 6 U.A. monsters while being a monster itself. That is its main role, be a magnet for Fiendish Chain and easily be tribute away when needed. Remember, a Tribute Summon makes up for itself if Stadium is on the field, and it especially works out if you are Tribute Summoning Rebounder. But if Assault Halberd was the only Heroic monster worth running, this wouldn’t be much of an engine. So let’s introduce the second Heroic monster that makes an appearance in U.A. builds – “Heroic Challenger – Thousand Blades”.
Thousand Blades has a simple use – damage sponge that keeps summoning itself back. It can be Special Summoned to the field from the Graveyard whenever you take damage, and sometimes that is all you need to mount a last-second defense to fend off your opponent for a Tribute Summon to regain control of the game. While it is extremely uncommon, you can also use its first effect to make a Rank 4 Xyz such as Lavalval Chain if you have an Assault Halberd in hand and your opponent does not have a monster. Good luck ever accomplishing that play though. As a preliminary warning, its effect cannot be paired with “U.A. Signing Deal”, since the “losing LP” part of that card’s effect does not qualify as taking damage.
As I said in the beginning of this segment, this is the most common engine to pair with the U.A. due to how the Heroics complement the various weak points of the U.A. archetype at the current time. You don’t need combos, you don’t need a clear field, the Heroics are simple and sweet. This fact is often overlooked in decks with wide play options, but a straightforward option is always an amazing thing to have at your disposal. But if Heroic is not the engine for you, there are still more options.
While the Heroic Engine is designed to give you ways to play without combos required, the Striker engine keeps the same enabling abilities and instead adds additional combos. The Striker engine is composed of 3 copies of “T.G. Striker” and 2 copies of “Spell Striker”. This engine pretty much serves as monster tribute fodder when needed, but its main purpose is enabling Synchro monsters if you happen to draw into multiple Strikers. “Naturia Beast” is powerful against everything but BA in this current format, so it only makes sense to try out a build that can make it.
Many duelists who swear by this build call the locks more powerful and potent, especially in a meta of Ritual Summoning, Pendulum Monsters, and Fusion Summoning. However, I do not think that this engine benefits U.A. enough in the current metagame, due to the fact that it is an inherent -1 to use the Strikers as Tribute Fodder or as Synchro material, and there is no way to make up that advantage on their own, outside of 600 direct attacks until you reduce your opponent’s LP to 0… which will take a while. In addition, it just adds more strategic complexity when the deck already has a wide array of plays at its disposal. If the Striker engine does not float your boat, perhaps you will consider the other Synchro engine.
This engine is probably more aptly called an E-Tele engine, but it does feature multiple Psychic monsters. The typical engine runs 3 “Emergency Teleport”, 2 “Re-Cover”, and 2 “Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit”. This setup gives the U.A. deck more answers in a difficult matchup (Qliphort) while also giving access to Synchro monsters and Tribute fodder when needed. “Re-Cover” is awesome, as it makes “Naturia Beast” with Midfielder, “Naturia Barkion” with Slugger, or “Naturia Landoise” with Rebounder, so you can effectively split your negation from relying on just Perfect Ace to relying on the best Naturia monster for the job.
On one hand, this engine is a lot more versatile than the Striker engine, but it does require additional cards to function at its best. The most alluring ability of this engine, at least in my opinion, is “Re-Cover”, since it doubles as both a tuner and a recurring tribute fodder when needed. The unfortunate part is the LP cost, since 2000 is quite heavy in a deck that already uses Signing Deal in addition to other Trap cards that require LP as a cost. Unlike the Striker engine, the Synchro combo of E-Tele + Midfielder is a lot easier to arrange, it does not set back your strategy by searching non-U.A. monsters, and it is more beneficial for your card advantage since you can still get a Stadium search to offset the -1 for the Synchro Summon, especially in comparison to relying on the Strikers. This is in the perspective of making “Naturia Beast”, since the Beast is obviously the best Synchro for the current meta. If the Synchro options did not convince you of their potency, let’s see if a flexible option is more appealing to you.
You read that title correctly, I am referring to the Continuous Traps that Special Summon themselves as monsters. You know, that theme that managed to top a few Regional events here and there? Perhaps you are asking the question – how may they help the Ultra Athletes? Well each Trap Monster is an enabler, that’s a start, but the newest Trap Monsters actually bring a Draw Engine, Stall, and Spot removal as secondary roles when used as an engine in U.A. So let’s talk about each of these qualities in turn.
The Draw Engine that comes hand-in-hand with the Trap monsters is simple – “Magic Planter”. It is an extremely straightforward 2 for 2 Spell, until you factor in one specific U.A. support card – Penalty Box. No longer do you have to wait by keeping Penalty Box in hand hoping to discard it with Perfect Ace for a search, you can simply activate it, Planter it away for 2 draws and immediately search the U.A. Spell you need. A neat combo in this regard is to activate Planter, send Penalty to the Graveyard as a cost, then chain with Penalty Box’s effect from the Graveyard, giving you better odds to draw into non-U.A. Spell cards that you may need from your deck. It’s just simple deck thinning theory at work.
The Stall comes in the form of the uncanny ability for Trap Monsters to stick around for quite a while. The main Trap Monsters that work the best in this variant are the two most recent Trap Monsters – “Abyssal Stungray” and “Statue of Anguish Pattern”. Stungray comes with an immunity to battle, which is always a nice touch, and in this meta where MST isn’t always Main Deck worthy, it tends to stick around a while until your opponent gets up a Castel (which you should be tackling with Blockbacker’s effect by the way). On the other hand, Statue is untargetable while you control another Trap Monster and boasts 2500 DEF, so it will take quite a bit to get over the Statue. Most duelists choosing this engine choose to run one final Trap monster, to round out the number of Continuous Traps at 10, warranting 3 Planter. “The First Monarch” serves as tribute fodder even for your Level 7 U.A. monsters, “Metal Reflect Slime” basically can never be killed in battle, “Tiki Soul” will protect your other Trap Monsters and “Tiki Curse” gives you some battle domination (which you really don’t need, since you are using U.A.). Also, the last two monsters are Level 4, which means easier access to “Lavalval Chain”.
The last point is spot removal, and “Statue of Anguish Pattern” provides that as well. Each time you summon another Trap Monster while you control Anguish, you get to destroy a card your opponent controls. This is amazing for the U.A. archetype, as they don’t have a safe option for removing backrow, so Anguish becomes your answer. In addition, it is a Level 7 monster, allowing for you to go into Dragossack or Big Eye when combined with Dunker or Blockbacker. On a similar note, Stungray happens to be a Level 5, which nicely combos with your Perfect Ace and Mighty Slugger, both of which you should be running multiple copies of! “Number 61: Volcasaurus” and “Shark Fortress” say hello.
I hope that this massive advertisement for Trap Monsters of all things being featured in U.A. has won you over a bit. There has to be a downside though, and the downside is that all of your enablers need to wait a turn. You cannot draw your enabler then immediately Tribute Summon for a Level 5 or Level 6 U.A. monster that turn. In some duels, this can be overlooked, but it can have an effect and will force you to adapt your play pattern based on the opponent. This variant is also hit harder by backrow control, such as MST, “Galaxy Cyclone”, or “Royal Decree”, which means that it functions best when used as a smokescreen variant (aka siding out into a different sub-engine or complement strategy). In most cases, this second strategy tends to be a more standard Stormforth version ready to enter the fray versus monster Floodgate-heavy opponents. Now that we’re done with rogue options, let’s return to another archetype that definitely is known for making a competitive splash.
Similar to the Nekroz engine, a HERO engine in U.A. done right will take a considerably larger number of cards in order to perform optimally. In order to actually make this work, you need to be running 3 “Elemental HERO Shadow Mist”, 2 “Summoner Monk”, 3 copies total of “Mask Change”/”Mask Change II” (the number of each you decide), 3 copies of “A Hero Lives” and then 2 other HERO monsters of your choice. Yes, this is a large engine, and one I only recommend in a meta where Dark Law is extremely impactful. Right now, Dark Law is that powerful, but you must also consider the fact that decks tend to run a ton of Dark Law disruption as well, which is why in the current state of the game, I would advise avoiding the HERO engine.
The point of this engine is similar to the Nekroz one, set up the floodgate monster next to a Perfect Ace and watch the tears begin. The other neat interaction with this specific variant is that you can discard Shadow Mist for Perfect Ace, and get a free HERO to your hand for your troubles. Typically, this setup works best by adjusting your deck completely – this includes eliminating Penalty Box and maximizing on Spells. Again, as with the other engines, I am sure there are many people who will swear by HEROs due to the whole Warrior-type synergy and all, but I personally do not like the heavy deckbuilding investment or heavy LP cost associated with this sort of build.
Now that we’ve completed the list of various engines that can complement the U.A., let’s dive into the individual tech cards. I’ve sorted this next portion into various subcategories, grouping cards with similar functions together so that you can more easily compare options to one another!
The Cards that add additional capabilities:
This card has yet to be extensively tested by us U.A. enthusiasts, but the theory behind it as a hyper-aggressive strategy is sound. Basically, Trio lets you OTK with Jersey + Dunker, since you deal 6000 each attack. Even if you run triple “Upstart Goblin”, that is still an OTK. While most U.A. variants rely on the defense to put up a good offense, that may not be needed to win games with “Ojama Trio”-focused variants. On the other hand, this card is invaluable in a number of matchups as a tool for disruption. Firstly, it stops Tellar from ever summoning Triverr. At least until they “Torrential Tribute”. Sometimes if you are lucky, you can even disrupt their “Call of the Haunted”. Secondly, it stops Burning Abyss in their tracks. They can’t play if they can’t summon BA monsters! With Trio, Nekroz can’t search with their Graveyard Ritual Spells either, so yes, this card is extremely potent against the meta and you can easily take advantage of that. Sadly, Trio does not lock down their traps, so you still have to be on the lookout for those!
Feast of the Wild LV5
As mentioned in the introduction to the first wave of U.A. monsters to join the team, this card was originally used as a simple way to recover a Mighty Slugger and Perfect Ace without any hard feelings. While many U.A. users consider this card to be superseded by other tech options at this point of the archetype, it still can prove to be worthwhile in dedicated Turnover Tactics builds or decks that still max out on 3 of each Level 5 monster. The best thing about Feast of the Wild is its ability to make an instant Volcasaurus, and it is a good topdeck late in the game, so if you are struggling lategame, you may wish to consider this spell as an option to give you a boost. Outside of these limited functions, I do not think it will be strong enough to meet your expectations and requirements as a U.A. duelist.
This card is mainly mentioned in tandem with other tech options, so I will keep this description short and sweet. Foolish has seen a resurgence with the release of Rebounder, since Rebounder turns Foolish into a ‘pick a U.A. to Special Summon from the Deck’ card. Otherwise, it works very well with the next 2 cards on our list in addition to the Nekroz Engine/Hybrid, the Psychic Engine, and the HERO engine.
Similar to the role of “Re-Cover” in the Psychic Engine, “Glow-Up Bulb” serves as access to the powerful Naturia Synchro monsters, while also serving as Tribute fodder in a pinch. Unlike “Re-Cover”, there is no Spell Card to summon Glow-Up straight from the deck; therefore, it is not quite as accessible. The good news is the random mill, which, if you’re lucky, can lead to a nice Penalty Box search. But I don’t think you need to be informed of the odds of that happening. At the end of the day, Glow-Up can serve as a 1-card Naturia access if you don’t want to dedicate the 7 slots to the Psychic Engine.
Call of the Haunted
While Glow-Up is extremely situational based on your other tech cards, “Call of the Haunted” (CotH) can be used across pretty much every Engine and variant of U.A. to great effect, if you so choose. CotH is best paired with Rebounder during their turn, so that you get a second U.A. summoned off of CotH. This is an excellent play later in the game, particularly after your opponent attempts to win back control of the duel with an Exciton play. This is also important for sealing the deal later in the game, you can CotH Rebounder to summon a Perfect Ace back from the Graveyard in order to prevent their latch ditch efforts at a comeback. While these all seem well and dandy, so far a lot of the examples have required Graveyard setup. And that’s correct, you’re going to need to either discard U.A. monsters with Perfect Ace, or let your opponent destroy a couple U.A. either with Torrential or with “Dark Hole”/”Raigeki”/”Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss”, therefore CotH is a tech card dedicated to getting you back into the duel. If you are interested in setting up unbreakable defensive locks, then by all means, ignore CotH. But if you are the tiniest bit afraid of being put in a situation that you cannot turn around, then you should give CotH a second look.
Yes, this card is a bit of a joke in the eyes of some, but it has a neat interaction you may wish to consider (Even outside of the Trap Monster build). Basically, Copy Knight can only be activated when a Level 4 or lower Warrior-type monster is summoned (aka Midfielder) and this Trap Monster summons itself with its card name. The good news is that “Copy Knight” allows you to summon Midfielder, search another U.A. with Stadium, bounce your Trap Monster “U.A. Midfielder” for the U.A. that you search, and have the 2 U.A. setup for a triple attack in your Battle Phase off of 1 Normal Summon. This option works best if you run Playmaker, as this Trap Monster sets that offensive play up brilliantly. The bad news is that “Copy Knight” is slow as a Trap card with limited activation timing. To be honest, I have not had time to test out this tech card extensively, but I am listing it as another option due to its potential. Also, it cannot be forgotten that this makes an instant “Lavalval Chain” with Midfielder.
Finally, let’s get into the really powerful tech cards. Similar to “Black Whirlwind”, there is no ‘once per turn’ restriction on the search effect of Stadium, therefore you can make amazing setups, either offensively or defensively, with “Double Summon” (DS), Midfielder, and Stadium. Alone, these three cards let you setup Perfect Ace and Blockbacker, but with an additional U.A., you can also prepare a double Perfect Ace setup. Not too shabby, eh? DS is also useful if your opponent activates “Torrential Tribute”, so that you do not have to end with an empty field, as you can just search a new Midfielder when Stadium resolves to continue your original plan. DS also unlocks Tribute summoning if your opponent is preventing you from tagging out, either through “Vanity’s Fiend”, “Vanity’s Emptiness”, or in some cases, “Re-qliate”. Simply use DS to allow the summon of your high leveled U.A. monster after searching it through a Midfielder’s summon while Stadium is up. There is a ton of cool plays with DS, and it is especially impactful in builds such as the Hand Destruction variant that build up a ton of monsters in hand. It isn’t necessarily good for its combos, but rather its ability to extend combos for greater results.
Inferno Reckless Summon
“Double Summon” offers additional Normal Summons just as “Inferno Reckless Summon” (IRS) offers additional Special Summons. You know, it’s really nice to drop a Perfect Ace then summon out 2 more from the Hand, Deck, or Graveyard, then just watch your opponent begin to tear up. There is pretty much nothing short of a god hand or a “Qliphort Stealth” that can break that kind of setup. While you do potentially give your opponent 2 more copies of a monster they control, but does that really matter when you just summoned 3 2000/2500 monsters under Stadium? Not really, unless they are running something crazy like Blue Eyes. You can also use IRS to Special Summon additional Midfielders if you really felt like spamming the field with them. Technically, this card can work in the Striker variant by summoning additional “Spell Striker” to make “M-X-Saber Invoker”, but in practice, that play is normally a waste of resources. IRS works at its absolute best in the Reasoning variant, as you have 3 “Reasoning”, 3 Signing Deal, 6 Midfielders (counting ROA) & 5 or 6 Stadiums (counting “Terraforming”), and that’s not even counting Penalty Box yet. Moral of the story – if you want to win with an overwhelming defense dropped all at once, then by all means, try out IRS.
Sadly, “Summoner Monk” really doesn’t fit in anywhere in most U.A. variants, but again, its role is straightforward – get Midfielder out NOW. Since you are running so many different Spell cards, you will have something to discard to get out a Midfielder. And if you have 2 Spell cards, summon a second Monk, then summon Midfielder, make “Lavalval Chain” with the Monks to send Penalty Box, search your Spell Card that you need, and you end with Chain, a U.A. Spell, and Midfielder. Pretty good trade for a “Summoner Monk” and 2 random Spell cards you may not need at the time. That combo I just described is actually one of the main ways of going into a Jersey OTK, since many U.A. builds only run 1 Jersey at this current time due to how it can be useless in certain matchups. “Summoner Monk” never is left out of the HERO variant though, because the sheer power of summoning Shadow Mist is enough to make it a mandatory tech.
Introducing the final Monster enabler, and of course, this warrior brings something new to the table that defines its worthiness. Outside of Midfielder, think back to all of the off-theme enablers I have discussed so far and what do they all have in common? That’s right, they all require your opponent to have a monster or for an extra turn. Whether it is a monster so you can summon “Heroic Challenger –Assault Halberd”, a monster to tribute for Stormforth, an additional turn for the Trap Monsters or to get a Glow-Up in the graveyard… they are all extremely ‘slow’. You cannot perform any of those actions reliably on your first turn, and most cannot be performed at any stage if your opponent controls no monsters. This is why many duelists assume that U.A. prefers to go second for most duels. But in actuality, it helps to go first when you are running a build with a high chance of setting up Perfect Ace. “Photon Thrasher” does not have this restriction, which gives you a bit more flexibility, and he can even be searched by RotA. This is his role, this is why he is an effective enabler tech option.
However, the important thing to consider is meta shifts when it comes to Thrasher. Either you are afraid of not being able to setup Perfect Ace and hindering your opponent’s plays, or you simply aren’t confident that the loss of Halberd’s search is worth it. Either way, the game is constantly shifting. A common deck in the OCG at the moment is Clownblade, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. In the beginning, Thrasher was a staple. But over the last couple weeks, Thrasher has been completely phased out, since it simply isn’t needed to guarantee a summon of a first turn “Cyber Dragon Infinity”. Perfect Ace is pretty much an Infinity with better DEF than ATK, so at the end of the day, you may wish to consider Thrasher when moving forward in deckbuilding. I find higher value in the Heroic techs, but it is up to you to decide as the deckbuilder.
While the U.A. archetype functions extremely well aggressively, it can pair its defensive capabilities with floodgates in order to be extremely taxing on an unprepared opponent. Perfect Ace is a pain to get over, we all know that, but making your opponent get over it without an Xyz Summon? That’s nearly impossible for some decks to accomplish. Factor in the negation as well, and their odds are looking slim. Remember, this meta is pretty much based around monster-based removal, therefore if you can lock out a ton of monsters, you can also lock out their best responses to Perfect Ace. We all remember the wonderful days when Bujin were a thing in the meta, with a Yamato behind Kaiser, and the U.A. strategy can replicate that, just with a tad better chance of OTK’ing the opponent and more widespread disruptive capabilities.
As with all of these floodgates, these are preference picks. Many U.A. duelists cannot come to a final decision on which floodgates are the best – they are always in flux and probably always will be as to which one counters the current meta the best. Kaiser’s role is to apply intangible pressure to the opponent, adding a third resource for them to manage – their monster count. It is definitely a unique floodgate, as it is super powerful against certain decks, but fairly useless against others. It is your call whether or not to consider running this in your deck!
We went from one extremely common floodgate to another, but as I’m sure you’re asking, doesn’t Vanity’s stop the entire U.A. deck in its tracks? The short answer is yes, it does. But the long answer is that it serves the same role as “Kaiser Colosseum” – Summon Perfect Ace, flip up Vanity’s when your opponent tries to special summon to get around our pitcher, and watch them cry as you defend it. Perfect Ace discards from the hand, so Vanity’s will not self-destruct from that. The neat thing is that the U.A. deck runs a ton of Spell cards, so you can remove Vanity’s pretty much any time you need to. For example, just save that extra “Terraforming” in your hand for when you need to begin your U.A. Special Summons – when the time is right, you better be ready to swap out your defense for a strong offense. Vanity’s is especially good against many of the decks in the current meta: such as Shaddoll, BA, and Nekroz. Shaddolls have few outs outside of Dragon or MST, and if they try to set a Shaddoll to stall, we all know how fast someone will die to a Jersey equipped to Dunker. Out of the floodgate section, this is probably the most commonly ran tech card in most U.A. builds.
Dimensional Fissure & Macro Cosmos
We go from one Limited floodgate to the next, however this one is more potent against Graveyard-dependent decks such as Nekroz, Shaddoll, or Burning Abyss. Fissure is great – it locks down your opponent’s Graveyard from monsters while also giving yourself a bit more protection in the BA matchup. Good luck to your opponent using “Fiend Griefing” when you don’t have any monsters in the Graveyard. On the flipside, this tech option has only come into question recently with the release of Rebounder, since previously, the U.A. deck had no need for the Graveyard whatsoever. I sincerely hope that you consider the power of this spell alongside “Macro Cosmos”, because both of these cards are excellent options if you want to fare better against the current meta. Please be aware, Macro does not play well with Rebounder or Penalty Box; therefore, these floodgates have fallen out of favor in recent times. Once questioned, the tech was quickly dropped in favor of more intheme U.A. cards.
Last but not least, “Royal Decree” checks in as the most effective floodgate for the U.A. deck. It is both a defensive and offensive floodgate simultaneously – on offense, it defends your Sluggers or Dunkers from untimely Traps, and on defense, it defends your Perfect Ace from being defeated by multiple Trap cards. The freedom to attack with your monsters cannot be overstated – it is a very dangerous thing for your opponent to be staring down a field of U.A. with nothing they can respond with. The role of Decree is similar as to why some U.A. builds in the past used “Denko Sekka” to guarantee their OTK when paired with “Double Summon”. While Denko was quickly phased out with the release of better U.A. support, Decree has stuck around for being such an amazing catchall backrow floodgate. And the best part, at least in my opinion, is that you have a very good chance of resolving it when it is drawn. Your opponent will want to save his MST for Stadium, if they didn’t use it already and if they are familiar at all with the U.A. matchup, he or she would not want to blind MST into a Penalty Box. Even an inexperienced duelists would realize the beginning of their downfall from there.
The Gimmicky Enablers:
At the very beginning, I introduced the U.A. as an archetype of gimmicks, because they all have amazing effects but are tied together loosely. Well, there are a bunch of gimmicky outside support cards as well, and each of these find preference with individuals with different playstyles. For example, my partner in crime for this article, another U.A. enthusiast, swears by “Star Blast” for its versatility. It serves a similar role to Thrasher – it is an enabler that does not require your opponent to have a monster. Except its role can be a bit larger, since it can also serve as an enabler for the Level 7 U.A. monsters in a pinch. Blast allows for you to have better Turn 1’s, the turn in which a U.A. deck is at its weakest point if you do not open Stadium and Midfielder. If you somehow lose your Midfielder to things like “Mind Crush”, this card can also set you up to search another Midfielder. The last big advantage is allowing you to Normal Summon Rebounder without tributing, netting another U.A. from the Graveyard. Therefore, some duelists turn to Blast because it lets you get started from the get-go and getting your advantage train rolling/restarted. However, as with many of these tech options, there is a pretty clear downside.
The downside to Star Blast is simple – the LP cost. For those of you who are still riding the ‘LP don’t matter till you hit 0’ train, I think that you should change your philosophy quickly, but I will not derail this section with that argument. But even if you do not care about LP costs, you should when factoring Signing Deal into the equation, since both of these Spells have hefty costs. Unlike pretty much every other enabler that I have listed thus far, Star Blast becomes quite horrible after Turn 1. If you draw it later in the game, you will likely not have the LP to activate it, and I don’t think I need to mention what happens if you topdeck Blast. At least you have some hope with the other gimmicky enablers for a bigger role later in the game. At the same time, it is probably the best Turn 1 enabler available to the deck at the current time. Hence, this is the conundrum for many U.A. deckbuilders – how much of the deck should be dedicated to facilitating your first turn, and how much of the deck should be dedicated to closing out the duel? The scales of deck balance will continuously shift as the meta evolves, but this is definitely something for you to consider when building a U.A. deck, especially if you wish to include “Star Blast”.
Mischief of the Gnomes
Introducing the enabler that is preferred of the Reasoning variant, “Mischief of the Gnomes” (MotG) is a TCG World Premiere introduced early on in the U.A. lifespan. This Trap card has two uses, once when it is flipped, and then it can activate once more from the Graveyard. Each time, it reduces the Level of all monsters in the hands by 1. Similar to “Breakthrough Skill” or “Galaxy Cyclone”, this dual-usage allows for MotG to be used once to make a Perfect Ace Level 4, and then a second time later in the duel to make Mighty Slugger 4. To put it bluntly, Gnomes creates the other Level 4 monsters the deck wishes it has. The original reason that I began to run this enabler in my builds began a couple of months ago when the Star Seraphs hit the TCG. Needless to say, they were a force to be reckoned with, on the off-chance that the combo was drawn… but once this trap got involved… not so much.
MotG may be labeled as an enabler, but it also doubles as a disruption card. Similar to how “The Monarchs Stormforth” is the removal enabler, “Double Summon” is the OTK enabler, Assault Halberd is the enabler with Xyz potential, etc. And boy, does MotG mess with Xyz decks. The hopes and dreams of a Rank 4 get crushed, the BA archetype can’t make Dante, and the Star Seraphs summon themselves and fail to make an Xyz Summon. The bad news about this disruption is that it doesn’t remove the problem, it only delays it. But that works out perfectly for Mighty Slugger or Dunker, who wish to have monsters on the opponent’s field to benefit off of Jersey even more. Also, this also leaves monsters on your opponent’s field for other enablers to swoop in to fulfill their roles! At the end of the day, MotG is not the best enabler for every single variant, but its ability to be used from the Graveyard tied with its disruption potential carves out a niche for the trap.
Escalation of the Monarchs
Let’s get some more Monarch support up in here! The Level 5’s and Level 6’s are definitely not the Tribute Summon menaces compared to the monarchs, but Stadium does benefit from additional Normal Summons. Unlike the other enablers, Escalation is not intended to summon high-leveled U.A. before you get Midfielder – it is supposed to exponentially increase your advantages once you do. Open the duel by Normal Summoning Midfielder under Stadium and search out Rebounder. During the opponents turn, you can use Escalation to summon out Rebounder, search a new U.A. with Stadium and summon Midfielder right back to the field with Rebounder’s effect. While this does not lead to any immediate advantages, it will start the slow snowball of advantage into winning defensive fields that you will need to stay ahead of many strong decks. In addition, it also allows you to setup for Turnover Tactics during the opponent’s turn.
I’ve talked about the downsides for so many of these tech cards, so let’s talk the big downside here – Escalation is a card that benefits you when you already have your Midfielder + Stadium setup. Escalation’s job is to propel a U.A. duelist from a ‘winning’ duel into a ‘guaranteed victory’. If you do not trust the capabilities of the U.A. defensive monsters on their own, then you may need to call for reinforcements and put faith into Escalation. I personally love the U.A. monsters and strongly believe in their potential as an archetype, therefore, I do not feel the need to rely on a gimmicky enabler in order to close out duels. But as I’m guessing most of you reading this article are not as familiar, the extra confidence could go a long way. Also, who doesn’t love a bit more focus on Rebounder for certain builds…
Additional Tech cards and Engines to Consider:
Solemn Scolding, Forbidden Lance, Level Eater, Magical Hats, Battle Fader, Gusto Engine, BA Engine, Maxx “C”, Cardcar D
All of the above are options that I considered for inclusion in this guide; however, many of them did not get tested adequately. The benefits to many of these cards are apparent, but here is a complete list of potential that we scribbled down, in case you don’t see it: Scolding and Lance for protection purposes, Eater for recurring Tribute fodder, Hats to get Penalty Box into Graveyard, Battle Fader to block OTKs while setting up a Tribute Summon, Gusto so that you can use “Creature Swap” to setup Jersey OTKs while maintaining a floating wall of Tribute fodder, BA for access to floating Dantes and triggering something off of Perfect Ace, Maxx “C” to let you passively wait out your opponents plays, and Cardcar to offer another source of draw power if needed.
The U.A. Playbook:
Now that I’ve covered quite extensively all of the cards both in-theme and tech support that are frequently seen in U.A. decks, it is finally time for you to learn the playbook for the deck and more importantly, how to use it. This section of the guide has been developed to explain the main stances of piloting the deck in the clearest methods possible to a new duelist picking up the deck; therefore, this may seem a bit obvious to duelists that have more experience with the Ultra Athletes. At its core, the playstyle of a U.A. deck is very similar to how a sports team plays, switching roles, focuses, and strategies in response to how the opponent decides to approach the game. In order to master the U.A. archetype, you need to be able to identify which strategy is the best approach for any given moment in the duel, and which strategy involves the highest risk or the best chance of success. So let’s begin with the first Stance – Disruption.
Stance One – Disruption
The definition of this first stance is simple – preparing to interrupt your opponent’s plays. While this definition is definitely a good way to describe many decks throughout the history of YGO, such as HAT (Hand Artifact Traptrix) a couple formats ago, the U.A. deck cannot ever hope to negate or disrupt everything that comes its way. Instead, in the context of the U.A., the Disruption stance is just the initial go-to stance for many decks that require one or two solid plays to get the game going. For examples, this could be Nekroz resolving its first Kaleidoscope –> Unicore summon, or Qliphort searching and activating Scout. In most matchups, your goal should be to immediately enter this disruptive stance. A couple of paragraphs prior in this massive article, I mentioned the key ideal behind the U.A. – The Defense wins games, the Offense ends them and with the U.A., Disruption is your go-to defensive tactic. If you wish to survive later in the duel, you need to get through the first turns while hindering your opponents plays.
There are many applications of the Disruption stance, but there are a couple key times of the duel when it is imperative that you use it. As mentioned earlier, any early turn before you set-up the key preparation of Midfielder/Stadium with a U.A. already on the field. In most cases, it is in your best interests to have your opponent’s backrow cleared before switching stances from Disruption as well. While the setup explained earlier is needed to get your duel going, it is also important, at certain times, that you take a couple of turns to rebuild your strength. The longevity of the U.A. is amazing, as long as you can keep up Midfielder and Stadium, because that gives you access to at least 1 U.A. monster from your deck every single turn. So it is naturally a good idea to revert back to the Disruption stance whenever you need to get the setup back; an example of this would be if your opponent just happened to draw into MST or “Mind Crush” to break your Midfielder/Stadium combo.
As hinted in the previous section, the goal of the Disruption stance is to pave the way for you to be able to end the duel. This stance will win you games, but many other decks, especially this meta, can come back at the drop of a hat if you are not careful enough. One topdeck can inspire your doom if you do not take enough care, and I cannot say that enough. The point of this stance is to hinder your opponent and force them to rethink optimal plays out of fear of your negation; do not just sit around expecting the disruption stance to allow you to move onto the next duel of the match!
Stance Two – Stalling
The Disruption stance is great at slowing down the duel, but sadly, even the strongest defense can be broken by a solid offense. Sometimes, it is not the best idea to setup a Perfect Ace or Blockbacker to disrupt the opponent. As in every sport, once you are behind, you need a way to counter the opponent’s momentum and spring yourself forward, and that is when the Stalling stance is implemented. Let’s face it, if Perfect Ace was as perfect as we would hope, then “Herald of Perfection” would definitely have been a meta deck since its release. The moral to the comparison is easy to grasp – your defense will never be strong enough to hold back everything. So how do you stall with a U.A. deck? The answer comes down to yet more combos.
Think back to when I described the U.A. support cards, specifically the most recent Spell and Trap, Signing Deal and Penalty Box. Both of these cares play a pivotal role in helping you to understand how to execute the Stalling stance correctly. Signing Deal has one downside – the LP cost; therefore, it is in your best interests to make sure you retain at least 1200 or 1500 LP, so that you can use it to get out of a sticky situation. If you knew your opponent could get over Perfect Ace, perhaps an example would be if your opponent has a “Bottomless Trap Hole”, why would you waste a Midfielder Normal Summon for that? There would be no point to searching out Perfect Ace just to watch it get banished. So instead, cover your bases – figure out a better way to stall. If you are practical and still run Goalkeeper, he is your go-to monster in this situation. Nevertheless, let us assume for the sake of argument that you have decided that defensive option simply isn’t worth it. How do you approach the situation?
Another solid answer to the situation is to simply Summon Midfielder, then use Stadium to search another Midfielder. Not only are you protecting your life points without losing your Stadium/Midfielder combination, but you are also giving yourself a bit of protection from direct attacks. This play is extremely potent when you are facing down a floodgate such as “Vanity’s Emptiness” or “Vanity’s Fiend” – sometimes you really need to stall for time until you get an answer, and the Midfielder search does that. In addition, if you happen to have a spell or trap in your hand as well, set it to your field. Your opponent will have to weigh the odds – should he or she blind MST at your End Phase? The risk is that your set is a Penalty Box and you just gained yourself a bit more advantage when in a bad situation. The other consequence is if your set card is a different trap. Either way, your opponent is left between two tough choices, potentially giving you enough time to stall until you get a response.
While most of this stance’s description has been examples, I am pretty sure that you understand the methodology and theory behind Stalling. There is a time and a place to execute your plays, and if Disruption is not a good option, then you need to have an alternate strategy waiting in the wings to which you can resort. Just remember, you can easily adapt your playstyle to switch between stances as the duel progresses, allowing your deck to appear extremely versatile and threatening to an opponent that does not know how to predict the next U.A. play!
Stance Three – Patience
Now if you are sitting there trying to find contradictions between this section and the last, you are missing the point. The point of these two stances is to be able to respond appropriately to the matchup. If your opponent is one that can put a ton of damage on the board (let’s define ‘a ton’ as enough to put you below 1500 LP), then you need to resort to the Stalling stance. But if your opponent is more advantage or disruption-focused, such as Tellarknight or Ritual Beast, the better option may just be Patience. The main uses for this stance fall under the blanket of the following piece of advice – “Just because you CAN doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.”
Let me continue this stance with a provoking question – If you have the Jersey OTK all setup, but your opponent could have a “Book of Moon” or Compulsory or Fiendish, should you try to go through with it? For the sake of argument, let’s decide that your opponent has two set cards face-down. Again, if you already have decided on an answer before asking the matchup, you have missed the point!!! U.A. is a deck that needs to adapt its playstyle to its opponent. Many archetypes can be run with limited trap cards, especially in this diverse metagame, so if you pass an opportunity to OTK, then your window to win the duel may have already closed. On the flip side of the coin, if you try and be hasty and run headfirst into a trap card, your duel could be over right there. I approach this issue with the best answer I can come up with – patience can go a long way. For most matchups, it is in your best interest to play it safe until you can get an Offensive U.A. beside a Midfielder if you are going for a Jersey OTK, that way if your opponent has a response, Midfielder can get him out of there in a jiffy. Yes folks, Midfielder is useful for its effect, not just its Level.
I’ll conclude this section of the playbook with a bit more thoughts to ponder. To use the U.A. is to be the U.A., you should be able to match your personal playstyle with the playstyle of the archetype you wish to use in competitive play. For example, if you are a very aggressive duelist, it makes more sense to use an archetype or theme that can OTK easily or that involves heavy risk. On the other hand, if you are a passive player, it is generally a better idea to go with a theme that lets you build your own plays while slowing down your opponent. The point of this side conversation is that the U.A. is one of the most playstyle-complex archetypes out there; your playstyle is not restricted by card design. Therefore, the point of including this section in the guide to the U.A. should become obvious – to master U.A. is to master which playstyles you should bring to a given matchup. Included in this is that your Side Deck should also be non-linear: being able to adapt your playstyle in a more aggressive, disruptive, or stalling direction when necessary can give you the upper hand in a multitude of matchups. It is just your goal and purpose as a U.A. player to keep your opponent on their toes.
Stance Four – Offense
All of the rest of the stances have been well and good, but none on their own ends games. An Offensive stance will be your win condition in 95% of your games, so be sure that you understand this playstyle the best. While one word to describe an aggressive duelist could be ‘reckless’, you can defy that stereotype by playing a smart aggressive game. Let’s test your ‘smart’ sense with one multiple choice question:
In which of the following situations should you switch to an Aggressive stance and begin to apply more pressure to prepare to end the duel?
A] If your opponent just topdecked their only set backrow card.
B] If your opponent has 2 set backrow cards that have been set the entire duel.
C] If your opponent has Compulsory, Bottomless, Book of Moon, and 3 Fiendish Chain in their graveyard with 3 Set backrow cards.
D] If your opponent ends their first turn without setting, summoning, or activating any cards or effects.
I really hope you have been paying attention, because I will say it yet again. If you already have decided on an answer before asking the matchup, you have missed the point. You are not thinking smart. A U.A. duel and the U.A. deck as a whole is about picking the correct option at the correct time, that is why Stadium offers them so much flexibility. As I have insinuated so many times, the deck can be extremely rewarding to you while being punishing to an unsuspecting opponent, but you have to be able to use your mastery of the U.A. archetype to your advantage. As with many rogue decks, the element of surprise is just another force at play that will help you achieve victory. The difference with U.A. is that this element balances the difference between U.A. and most of the top tier archetypes.
So let’s return to the Aggressive stance. The point of this stance is to end games, plain and simple. Whether it is Slugger attacking to remove your opponent’s floaters (such as Dante) or it is Dunker attacking to remove your opponent’s advantage engines (such as Scout), your offense has the ability to cut away at your opponents card advantage and their Life Point resource. Dunker is always the stronger option; however, the additional strength comes at the cost of risk. Is the destruction worth risking a “Mirror Force” or “Dimensional Prison”? I cannot answer that question, nor can I offer advice on the matter since it comes down to yet another personal playstyle preference, so what I will do is explain how the Aggressive side of U.A. works. The point of the first or second time that you switch into the Aggressive stance is to get your opponent into the kill zone, where you can go for an aggressive combo to end the duel if your opponent misplays. Trust me, there is only a small amount of wiggle room for an opponent; setting the wrong monster or choosing the safe play can be deadly later in the duel. Typically the Aggressive stance works best in the midgame, when your deck is at the peak of its advantage and at the top level of performance, since the power curve of a U.A. is just a simple bell curve that ends a bit stronger than it begins. If you are interested in playing with the U.A. archetype and moving forward with mastering the athletes, it is important that you learn how to balance risk with this aggressive stance. This is a skill that you must learn for yourself: it is a skill that comes with endless hours and matches of testing. If you want to win with the Ultra Athletes, this is the most important skill to hone. Quite frankly, master of the Aggressive stance is even more important than your deckbuild.
Matchups and Encounters with the Meta-Kind:
While the scale above offers very little in terms of details, there are a couple key points I want to highlight. First, “Lose 1 Turn” SUCKS. “Lose 1 Turn” pretty much forces you to negate it during your opponent’s turn with Perfect Ace OR never be able to switch into the Aggressive Stance except with your Disruptive U.A. monsters. While that is a possibility (I have beat Yosenju by getting 3 Perfect Aces with 3500, 3000 and 2500 ATK on the field), you pretty much begin to suffer quickly. I have tried to focus on the main matchups you should be prepared for at the current time in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! Please note, you may have a different analysis of this than me, so please leave your thoughts below in the comments so that others may learn from your insights.
Yosenju – The Nightmare
If you are facing a Yosenju duelist, I truly feel bad for you. Not only does the U.A. deck suffer against OTK-heavy decks, but it suffers even more from the Yosenju’s uncanny ability to leave their field clear at their End Phase. This pretty much removes any Enablers that are commonly used by U.A. decks. You can’t rely on Assault Halberd, Stormforth, or “Inferno Reckless Summon”, plus, your floodgates can actually just help them even more than they hurt. Yosenju can also run the bane of your existence, “Lose 1 Turn”, in addition to backing the continuous trap card with a slew of other disruptive traps that ruin any chance of your OTK. And did I mention that they are able to just attack directly over your stall-wall? It’s a very sad day.
Qliphort – The OTK machine
While Yosenju suck cause the archetype leaves no monsters on the field, the Qliphort matchup sucks because it leaves monsters on the field you can’t destroy by battle or tribute summon over. The most common opening play with Qliphort is to get Scout on the field, search “Saqlifice”, Summon any Qliphort and equip the Spell. Yes, this is a major downer. The best part is when they back that field up with additional face-down Trap cards. On top of that nightmare combination, you also have the threat of “Qliphort Stealth”, preventing your Perfect Ace from negating anything if your opponent goes for a Tribute summon. The good news is that there is one light in the darkness – if you somehow manage to remove “Saqlifice” from the field after the typical Scout into Saqlifice on a Normal Summoned Qliphort play. Special Summon Dunker under Stadium, equip it with Jersey, and attack. You will inflict 4200 from the attack on their monster, then you can attack again for game. This situation will NOT occur often for the floodgate-heavy Pendulum machines, but it does give you some hope in an otherwise grim matchup. Outside of that, you will be relying on your Goalkeeper and Perfect Ace to keep you in the game. Also, the current trend to run Necrovalley in Qliphort does not hurt U.A. too much, which is definitely good in this difficult matchup.
Mermail – The CHAINZ!
Mermail may not be making a splash in the current meta, but it will definitely get a resurgence with the arrival of Neptabyss in the hopefully distant future. At any rate, the Mermail deck is an OTK machine that can build chains so that a Heavy Infantry can destroy Perfect Ace while Ace cannot defend itself. Similar to the Qliphort matchup, all is not lost. Goalkeeper can be a shining star in this matchup, forcing your opponent to go into a Rank 7 Xyz or bust. The other option for you is to simply attack over Linde with Dunker equipped with Jersey. That damage is insane, and you even get a second attack to finish off the opponent using whatever monster they summon. The other option is the grind game, since Slugger shuts off Linde entirely, so good luck stalling when Slugger is up to the plate! The sad part about this matchup is Abyssgaios – you will definitely need to rely on Midfielder to put in work against him. Or just resolve Turnover Tactics and call it a day!
Ritual Beast – Infernity 2.0
The point of the Ritual Beast deck is simple – Loop your way to insane card advantage, then win the duel from there. Pretty much you have one big issue – their monster destruction trap card, “Ritual Beast Steeds”. Not only will they search it during the first turn more often than not, but even if they don’t, the Ritual Beast user can shut down any play you ever attempt with that one trap card. It’s even more difficult when they have multiples. The good news is that Dunker makes them cry, and Jersey pretty much means an OTK if they leave any monster on the field without adequate protection. So it is definitely a tough matchup, but your opponent does tend to have quite the difficult time when opening poorly, a trait shared with U.A. depending on the U.A. build.
Burning Abyss – The Deceptive Matchup
Take one look at the stats of the Burning Abyss archetype, yes, you will see they are low and that Jersey OTKs can happen. Take one look at Slugger and how he makes any of their floaters cry. So you should be saying ‘oh how easy this match will be’. The truth is pretty much the opposite. This matchup is completely in the hands of the Burning Abyss Duelist. If he runs Fire Lake with the intention to draw it early and often, you will lose. If he runs “Phoenix Wing Blast” and “Raigeki Break”, you will have a tough time. If he chooses to max on Griefing instead, you will have a good chance at winning. If he plays dumb and summons “Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction” to get over Perfect Ace, you will win. That last scenario may seem situational and stupid to list, but I have lost count of the number of wins I have obtained in competitive duels because my opponent decided he had to destroy Perfect Ace as soon as possible. Acid Golem’s effect to prevent Special Summoning wins games, and if you throw up Goalkeeper, there is nothing your opponent can do to you, outside of Phoenix Wing or Farfa. The other option for beating BA is simple – resolve Turnover Tactics. BA are known for spamming the field with Extra Deck monsters, and Turnover gives the duel over to you if you resolve it against them. BA is a skill matchup for the UA deck, which is fitting for the two TCG World Premiere archetypes that debuted together, but to be quite honest, it is a matchup that is decided by the specific deck builds in the match. To be blunt, you will need to be on the top of your game in order to beat the little devils from The Divine Comedy.
Tellar – All of the Traps
Despite Konami’s attempts to convince people otherwise with their Youtube strategy videos, most duelists are still running Tellar as a 100% disruption-focused deck. With about 9 or 10 monsters and 20 or so traps, your day will pretty much be hell if they open correctly. But if they do not get Alpha and all of the pink goodies, you definitely have a shot in this matchup. Many Tellar players have stuck with the “Mirror Force” mentality, and do you know how great it feels to resolve a “Royal Decree” against them? Flip “Royal Decree”, then proceed to OTK over Deneb with either Dunker or Slugger, your choice. If you really want to make them feel horrible, you could even OTK with 2 Jersey on a Perfect Ace, but that may be adding insult to injury. But to make it simple, floodgates will swing this matchup in your favor, but lack thereof will only hurt your chances of getting through your opponent’s oppressive advantage and disruption.
Infernoid – The Luck
Similar in Reasoning (get the pun?) as to why “Fiend Griefing” sucks against U.A., the Infernoid cannot disrupt your strategy if you do not let them. The key player in this matchup is Blockbacker, as he can throw your opponents for a loop if they try to summon out an Infernoid. My absolute favorite play is yet again Turnover, because returning those Infernoids makes your opponent be forced to summon Lightsworns to the field… if they still have them in deck, that is. But this matchup should go better for you than them, unless they get super lucky. Which they do deserve every 4 duels or so, but other than that, you should be able to beat them. Be careful in the Infernoid matchup for “Archlord Krystia”, since its use has been slowly becoming more frequent due to Krystia’s inherent power in the current meta.
U.A. – The Mirror Match
The U.A. mirror match is simple – go first, setup Perfect Ace, negate their Stadium, profit. If your opponent cannot get something started, they cannot win. Another amazing thing to consider is Blockbacker in this matchup, because your opponent cannot even hope to summon Slugger or Dunker and Jersey over your defensive U.A. once you have Blockbacker in the fray. To win this matchup, simply start with a Perfect Ace and never leave the Disruptive stance until you win the match. Otherwise… you better have some really neat techs up your sleeve.
Yang Zing – The Floating Chinese Dragons Material
This matchup is super fun for one reason – DUNNNKKEEEERRR! Dunker + Jersey = OTK, and Slugger just stops their effects. As long as you are running the proper monster removal, this matchup will go very fine. The one thing to look out for is “Fiendish Chain”, since they enjoy maxing out on that lovely trap card. Please be careful though, since if they manage to resolve Baxia’s summoning effect either during your turn or theirs, the spinning of your U.A. monsters and your Stadium can lead to your demise. Baxia pretty much is the equivalent win button as “Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss”, so your job is to stop that from happening. Your goal in this matchup should be to play the advantage game, make them waste resources, and remember that Blockbacker can even be used during your turn to shut down the threat of Baxia. The good news is, this is the best matchup for you in which the opponent runs “Lose 1 Turn”, because you can stop them from getting things going while their plays are relying on Bixi to get around the floodgate.
Shaddoll – There are no Strings on Me!
Stop their fusions, win the duel. Dunker can OTK with Jersey through a set Dragon, Hedgehog, Falco, or Beast, so use that to your advantage. Otherwise, Blockbacker and Perfect Ace will be your best friends. If they run the Seraph build, be sure to disrupt their advantage plays to the best of your ability and always use Dunker to pop their set backrow in the Damage step, that way they cannot chain the set “Call of the Haunted”. I do not expect that you will see this matchup all too often anymore, due to the fact that the Forbidden and Limited list combined with the current meta shifts have not been too kind to the shadow puppets, but you should be ready to face this matchup anyways.
Nekroz – The Blue Archetype loses to the Athletes!!??
Yes, yes they do. Pretty much, this matchup lives and dies by Blockbacker. Similar in function to setting up the Djinn lock against Nekroz, Blockbacker locks out their Trishula’s effect. The only other option they would have to defeat Blockbacker is yes, Valkyrus, which is a win in itself if you make your opponent summon him in defense out of fear of Blockbacker’s effect. Once Blockbacker is up and kicking, a Perfect Ace pretty much seals the duel, since it is the Djinn Lock with a “Herald of Perfection” next to it against Nekroz. Their only hope is having multiple answers to the lockdown BEFORE you can setup extra Perfect Aces. Which if you open strong, should occur once every single turn, matching their draws. Moral of the story – you can say screw you to Trish, you can say screw you to Valky (due to Slugger), you can say screw you to a Djinn lock due to Penalty Box or Stormforth. Those occur in most builds, but if you are running Mischief of the Gnomes, this card may just be the best restriction for the Djinn Lock IN SPECIFIC SITUATIONS. Good luck Ritual Summoning with exact levels when the Releaser is a level 3 in their Graveyard and Clausolas is Level 2 in the hand. While this can backfire if they have a Unicore or other options, it is still noteworthy that you have disruption options to interrupt their plays, no matter the build or techs that you choose to run.
Why Play the Ultra Athletes?
After spending so many words describing the archetype, how it plays, how to build it, its matchups and its hidden agendas, I am finally ready to tell you in one word why you should run U.A. – Versatility. This deck has the greatest range of options and playstyles out of every single deck run right now. You have OTK-centric builds, you have advantage-driven builds, you have high risk/high reward builds, you have defensive and disruptive builds, or you could just combine all of those into one. Outside of the Stadium + Midfielder as your search each turn, your opponent will not know your main win condition or game plan until it is too late. The other major point going in your favor is the fact that U.A. is a rogue option and a lot of individuals have not tested the combos and are very unfamiliar with the deck. Let’s be honest, your opponent will probably not play to expect a Jersey OTK every turn 1, so you can use that to your advantage. As I’m sure many of you have seen throughout my long list of articles on this site, I prefer playing rogue decks, and that is the reason why I choose to do so. If you are fighting an opponent that is unfamiliar with your deck, you already have an intangible advantage. The goal is figuring out the correct rogue deck that has the best chances versus the top decks in competition without sacrificing other rogue matchups. I believe that U.A. is this option right now, and I hope that this article has laid the groundwork to begin convincing you of that. And it only gets better from here folks. 3 more U.A. cards will be arriving in 905 (Clash of Rebellions), so this archetype will only develop into a stronger theme with the arrival of the next pack. I am already beginning to dream of the possibilities for the Hockey U.A. monsters, especially with the strong hope of an additional Level 4 monster based on the current patterns… but one can dream. But let’s focus on what we have now – tons of options and hard choices.
During the writing of this article, I have tested over 40 different variations of the U.A. and combinations of tech cards and engines; therefore, I would like to think that I know what I am doing in terms of basic deck builds. I have compiled the following list of example decks based on the different approaches you can take, and I have tried to avoid builds with too similar of playstyles. The following decks are only the beginning – if you read this entire guide, you should have already started to form some ideas of your own. By all means, use some of these as a launching point, but I highly recommend building your very own deck to fit your own style(s) of play. I’ve listed them below in terms of my comfort levels, but obviously, you are going to have your own ideas on how to build and play U.A. and it will change based on the meta shifts.
Trap Monster Build: http://i.imgur.com/htCBKrs.png
Notes: Very nice to have a way to stall with Stungray until getting Stadium + Midfielder, and the pops from Statue can really help. I love that the deck has two uses for most tech cards – either continue getting closer to U.A. combos or beginning to function on their own as a unit. The free tribute fodder for this deck is just a plus, I normally send the Trap monsters away for planter after they stop a battle phase. The biggest bonus in playtesting has been additional ways to defend my precious LP so that I can use Signing Deal anytime that I draw it
Stormforth Build: http://i.imgur.com/pGBsXG2.png
Notes: Way back in the beginning of the article, I talked about the amazing power of a recycler such as Rebounder. As a refresher, he can be so useful in letting your U.A. monsters be discard fodder for Perfect Ace at no cost. It’s even better that when triggering his effect, you get to get rid of one of your opponent’s monsters as well. This build works extremely well in terms of the pursuit of absolute versatility, as it has a nice balance of advantage, aggro, disruption, and combo elements to create a really fun deck variant. Also, who can’t love Turnover Tactics!
Hand Destruction: http://i.imgur.com/Iiuv6Ug.png
Notes: This build was the variant I tested the most, as I had fun developing this fun idea as I wrote the article. The advantage potential is through the roof for this sort of build, but it sacrifices a bit of the monster removal of the Stormforth variant. Again, Rebounder plays a key role as the ‘lets make Hand Destruction a plus’ player in the build. What I didn’t expect was the additional disruption that this build offered, especially versus Nekroz. In such a search-heavy time of YGO, it is really interesting if you use Hand Destruction during their turn, after they activate a spell card or search card. For example, chaining Hand Destruction to a ritual spell can be amazing if they only have 2 cards left in hand. While it never ended up in the final example variant, I found that Hand Destruction worked best when combined with triple Mind Crush in the main deck, so if you are considering this sort of build, try that out.
Star Blast U.A.: http://i.imgur.com/a8Ptr6v.png
Notes: This build, designed and piloted by Dan, is streamlined to fit a specific playstyle – let’s abuse the wide open searching of Stadium to grab whatever you need to fit a specific situation. With Thrasher and Blast, there is no opponent dependency in respect to enabling higher leveled U.A. monsters to be Normal Summoned. In addition, this specific build is built to counter common tech cards found in the meta that could break the Perfect Ace lockdown. The combination of “Forbidden Lance”, “Fiendish Chain”, and “Juragedo” protects the lock from Spells or Traps, Monster effects or Battle, depending on what is needed. With all of the bases covered, this U.A. variant is ready to win the duel with its defensive disruption capabilities, then equip Jersey for an offensive counterattack that can end the duel. Also, note the “Juragedo” tech allows for the duelist to recoup LP loss OR contribute even more to OTK’s. Nothing like 2000 more damage to a Jersey empowered attack.
Nekroz Cycle Engine: http://i.imgur.com/dSDzT0Z.png
Notes: This deck is designed as it is named – add an additional lock to make the opponent cry. In this monster removal-based meta we are currently playing in, we definitely can look to a Djinn lock backed by Perfect Ace as a great answer to most of the meta. And each turn, you just get more Perfect Ace to lock down the duel! The main issues that I came across were the correct card counts for the engine, and I’m still not convinced that I got those right, so if you can do better, go right ahead!
Reasoning Build: http://i.imgur.com/O1Z0ka2.png
Notes: I will keep this part brief because I do not know this build too well, even after testing it out quite a bit to try and get the knack of it. But I can see the benefits to it, I just cannot get behind the whole luck factor this deck brings. But if you want to refine the concept and make this all work, all power to you.
Ojama Trio Dunker OTK: http://i.imgur.com/SIoscO2.png
Notes: DO NOT TRY THIS BUILD EXPECTING COMPETITIVE MERIT – this build is purely for making one of your friends cry if you wanna just crush through a couple tokens for insane damage. Trust me, it will make you feel better about yourself if you need a pick-me-up. It’s nice that you can even resolve 3 Upstarts and still OTK with Dunker/Stadium/Jersey and Trio. Maybe Duality in there as well to add the sense of impending doom? Perhaps if this build was worked on further, we could make this be an actual competitive option, but for now it is way too risky. High risk, high reward – maybe that just is your kind of deck.
For those of you who just skipped down to the above section to peek at the example decklists, I wish you the best of luck figuring out the crazy strategies in the Ultra Athlete Playbook. For the majority of you who tried to read this whole guide, I hope you leave inspired to continue working with this awesome warrior-type archetype that is bound to continue to grow and develop as the TCG wraps up its third World Premiere archetype in the near future. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your future dueling!
Ultra Athlete wiki page – http://yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/U.A.
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Special Thanks to UltimateKuriboh:
Thank you so much to an awesome contributor for listening to all of my crazy ideas, fixing my horrible spelling mistakes, and then offering deck help when I got deckbuilding block. He helped me bring the vision of this comprehensive guide to life, and I can’t wait to see where players take the U.A. archetype in the future. In addition, I’d also like to thank all of the rest of The Organization who read over my article and gave priceless feedback on how to improve this guide. Thank you so much!