Explore the depth of plays available to the “White” Fish Synchro series when they combine with other WATER archetypes and series!
Synchro WATER – A long time coming:
Welcome to the VRAINS era. While the waves of Extra Link spam decks have begun crashing upon the metagame, very few of the older summoning mechanics have survived well into the modern game. Ritual Summoning, the first ‘special summon’ mechanic has gotten a massive boost in the form of the Impcantation archetype, but even then has only revived some old archetypes as the debut Ritual archetype post support – Demise/Ruin – did not launch all that well. On the other hand, we have Fusion Summoning that has unfortunately resorted to using spells as a secondary option, a la Thunder Dragon. Xyz Summons have reclaimed a bit of the spotlight due to Number 101’s ability to get rid of an opponent’s monster without destroying it, due to it’s nature as an anti-Thunder Dragon tech card, or the return of Madolche or Railway with the upcoming release of Madolche Puddingcessoeur*(YGOrg Translation) and Duelist Pack: Legend Duelist 4, but outside of those about to be revitalized strategies for the OCG, they have not had a strong showing in a while. And while Pendulum Summoning is still prevalent as the manifestation of a mishmash of archetypes and standalone disruptors, there hasn’t been a cohesive, archetypal Pendulum deck faring well for quite some time. But what about for Synchro Summoning?
Everyone may be waiting for the Synchro pack, Savage Strike, to finally dust off those White cards, but what if I told you that there a great way to combine various strategies into a streamlined deck that was already released to the OCG? NOTE: This article heavily relies upon cards from Premium Pack 20; not all of which have been released TCG-side yet. You have been warned. [Click on the image to the right to view the full setlist as with any image embedded alongside the text of the article]. Many WATER decks over the years have focused on spamming monsters to the field, but most fall into the big question of “What do I do with all these monsters once I get them out?” For Mermail/Atlantean, the goal is to just spam away until you have an OTK board or die trying. It has some resilience to hand traps, but has some issues with dealing with an opponent once their initial hand of options is depleted and they don’t topdeck in a lucky fashion, such as a clutch Neptabyss. So what if instead we were able to leverage a wave of WATER monsters onto the field into an array of Synchro and Link monsters that could provide more disruption during the opponent’s turn, while still maintaining the ability to break boards and having many different routes to the same excellent starting field? Do I have your attention yet?
Before unveiling a deckbuild and showing off what this deck can truly do, let’s talk about what various WATER archetypes and series bring to the table. We’ll begin with the tuners, as any Synchro deck needs at least a core set of tuners to unlock our White boss monsters. While the pickings may seem slim (Crystron locking you into machines isn’t the greatest thing in the world), there is actually an amazing archetype already at the tip of our fingers that involves plenty of Special Summoning. And you know what, I’ve already dedicated an entire article to their combo potential – that’s right, we’re bringing in the Fishborg. Introduced as a spiritual successor archetype to Fishborg Blaster, one of 4 banned tuners in the game, the archetype excels at creating advantage from the GY. Fishborg Launcher summons itself back for free as long as you only have WATER monsters in the GY and then Fishborg Archer comes back at the cost of a discard (and destroying any non-WATER monsters you have on the field when you enter your Battle Phase). Lastly, Fishborg Doctor can be brought back from the GY whenever you have a Fishborg; however, it destroys itself if you have a non-Fishborg on the Field. In other words, this archetype plays nice under its own terms and conditions, but the unifying trend is that they can recursively return from the depths for a repeat performance as necessary.
The next archetype reeled into the fray will be the Nimble monsters. Nimble Angler is one of the easiest cards in the deck to gain advantage with, as any time he is sent from the deck or hand to the GY, you get to spawn 2 Nimble monsters from the deck. While one may see the corresponding Nimble fellows as ‘Garnets’, you can actually do quite a bit with them on their own even without activating Angler. As you can probably expect, we are going to be relying exclusively on the other WATER Nimble monsters, Nimble Manta and the more essential Nimble Sunfish. While waiting to be destroyed in battle may seem like a deathwish for some decks, you can proactively use Sunfish by attacking into an opponent’s monster with 2 copies, loading your GY with either the Fishborgs or Anglers to then flood your field with even more monsters! And don’t worry, there will be ways to clear out your opponent’s field even after your battle phase, and even into the next turn! Then Manta, the forgotten Fish Nimble outside of Lemuria, the Forgotten City decks, can Special Summon 2 more from the deck if it is destroyed by a card effect. Good thing we will be running an easily searchable monster that can destroy your own monsters… but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, as we have the most important series of the build to focus on.
Let’s fold in the star series of monsters that this deck would not be functional without – the White monsters. Yes, I haven’t been using the word ‘White’ the entire time just to refer to Synchro monsters. The ‘White’ series shares a similar ability to turn from non-tuners into tuners when they are summoned from the GY, and in the case of the Synchro monsters, they get to come back as tuners when they are destroyed! The core of the main deck is White Stingray, which Special Summons itself from the hand by discarding a WATER monster (think Swap Frog but fishier). By itself, this seems horrible in the current game, throwing advantage out the window for a free Special Summon. But toss a Fishborg or an Angler into the GY and you are ready to open the floodgates as your monsters spam out onto the field. But the true stars of the series are sealed away in the Extra Deck. Let’s begin with the Humpback – White Aura Whale is a Level 8 Synchro that has two key effects for breaking boards on top of its revival. First, when it is Synchro Summoned you can destroy all ATK position monsters your opponent controls. Second, it can attack monsters twice dealing piercing if they are in DEF. So if your opponent negates your whale’s effect to destroy their monsters, sending him to the GY, you can bring him right back to the field as a tuner to attack twice and break their setup. While Whale is a disruptor and board-clearer, the Narwhal White Aura Monokeros*(YGOrg Translation) is your Level 7 extender. When it is Synchro Summoned, you get to Special Summon any Fish back from your GY. Bring back a Launcher? You can now make Whale. Bring back a Stingray? You have yourself a Level 4 tuner to play with. The last relevant Synchro monster is White Aura Bihamut, a behemoth Level 10 Synchro monster that can only be summoned using a Synchro tuner. The best part about Bihamut is that it continuously spams a 3300 ATK token to the field, which happens to have a perfect type and attribute for many of your most potent Link Summons. But even if you don’t link the token away, a 3300 ATK and 3000 DEF token is nothing to scoff at.
So now that we have our core plays and our core bosses, what other archetypes and series can we blend in? Definitely a couple more. WATER monsters are the name of the game, so let’s tap into the generic power of the Mermail. Mermail Abysspike adds a bit more search power to the deck, grabbing any Level 3 WATER at the cost of a discard. Which, for this deck, isn’t much of a cost and more of a benefit. Mermail Abyssnerei is the second addition, offering a bit more power to an attacking Whale or just another name to search off of our last Mermail monster, the archetype’s Link monster! Mermail Abyssalacia*(YGOrg Translation) brings something that no other link brings – both the ability to discard AND send from the deck in the same opponent’s turn, sometimes triggering Angler multiple times! The best part is that she can be summoned using any 2 Fish, Sea Serpent, or Aqua monsters, so just bring on the Nimble power! Or the Fishborg power.. Or the Monokeros power… I think you get what I mean by now. Basically, EVERYONE IS HERE when it comes to this WATER deck, we did not restrict it just to the Mermail and Atlanteans that most WATER decks employ.
Since we’re using Links, let’s call upon some other generic Link support from the WATER attribute. First up, we will be employing Crusadia Arboria to great effect. Not only is she a Level 3 tuner (Hi Abysspike), but she also can be Special Summoned from the hand to a zone a Link monster points to. This is extremely easy in a deck that loves using Links to setup the plays your Synchros get to make. The other significant contributor comes in the form of a Cyberse support card – Sea Archiver. This monster checks off a few boxes – 1) It likes to be discarded. 2) It likes to work well with Link monsters. 3) It can Special Summon itself from the hand if you can’t get it into the GY. With these three upsides, and the ability to make Coral Dragon with a Fishborg Archer, it becomes a great one-of to hope to see sometimes or search out from the deck with Abysspike as needed, but you can easily argue for running more than just one copy. The only downside is that this seahorse cannot be used for the summon of Alacia. And for our final series lending a helping fin to this deckbuild, let’s bring out Mermaid Shark and Beautunaful Princess. While these two monsters can be classified as just generic Fish support, they also offer serve as the decks only Normal Summon-exclusive monsters. The other benefit is that each of these monsters can pull a myriad of options from your deck, so why not call them a series that supports practically this entire build. Now that we’ve covered our core Main Deck monsters, let’s switch over to discussing the quintessential Synchro-support Link monster that is best known for enabling ridiculous combos (and for not yet being released in the TCG).
Let’s Talk About Crystron Glassfiber*(YGOrg Translation):
Love it or hate it, no one can deny that Crystron Glassfiber is an excellent support card for practically any deck that runs tuners. Part of the initial wave of archetypal Link monsters that were too generic for their own good, this card definitely hails from the era of the Link VRAINS Pack, where – being blunt here – the goal was to provide more speed to decks hurt by the Extra Monster Zone rule changes. The only problem was that any deck could abuse Glassfiber. By having so many powerful tuner monsters in the game, this card was bound to become problematic down the road. But despite all of that, the power of Glassfiber itself doesn’t just have to be advancing your plays and upgrade to a Link 3. In fact, the deck under the CDS spotlight loves everything that Glassfiber brings to the table. First, it let’s you turbo out your Fishborg tuners to get them splashed into the GY where they belong. This is essential, as if you want to make any multiple-link plays without a pre-established GY, you will need to be summoning a Launcher back somewhere during your play. Or the other option is to get lucky with a Nimble Angler play, but if you don’t remember my style, I don’t like dueling to get lucky to win a game. The second key part of what Glassfiber brings to the table is that it lets you swap the level of a tuner you control by using an additional monster as Link fodder. Basically, if you have your Level 1 Fishborg Launcher and want to be able to make Monokeros, take a quick pit-stop for Glassfiber to bring out a Fishborg Archer from your deck to then be able to Synchro Level 7 easier. Then you get your Launcher back from the GY, and you’re able to make another Link with what Monokeros brought back! In other words, this deck is all about unlocking the full potential of all of your monsters for gaining advantage and establishing a field presence when most decks would struggle to do so.
The last part of Glassfiber that I want to touch on is its final effect, the ability to exchange itself for a Synchro Summoned Synchro tuner from the Extra Deck during your opponent’s turn. While for most decks that only means you have a T.G. Wonder Magician at your disposal to get rid of an opponent’s backrow for free on top of a draw when it is destroyed, for this deck it offers so much more. First, you always have the option of going into the tried and true Coral Dragon. This WATER Dragon (important cause it will not restrict Launcher from coming back from the GY) serves a similar role to Wonder in offering a card when it leaves the field, but it is a Level 6 Synchro tuner. Combine that with any of your Level 4 monsters (White Stingray or Mermail Abysspike) on your next turn, and you can summon out White Aura Bihamut with a draw. The other WATER option that is atypical from most decks running Glassfiber in the OCG is that you can use another Crystron monster, Crystron Quandax. This is important because it allows you to Synchro Summon (again) during your opponent’s Main Phase or Battle Phase and bring out White Aura Whale, which destroys all ATK position monsters your opponent controls. Talk about mid-turn disruption that appears out of nowhere for an opponent that has never heard of these Fish Synchro monsters. While this is just one key combo that appears in many duels, there are many others that can abuse Quandax, so I’ve included others in the Combos section below. The final option you can choose to summon is Celestial Double Star Shaman, the one of 3 non-WATER monsters one should consider using in the Extra Deck. When it is summoned, you get to bring back up to 4 Level 2 non-tuner monsters from your GY. Yes, all of the Nimble monsters are Level 2, therefore you have an amazing opportunity to make a lategame swing from a Glassfiber into all of the materials needed for a Bihamut without prior field setup. Worst case, you can just use the Shaman to bring back two or three Nimbles as link fodder for your following turn.
However way you slice it, Glassfiber is an great part of the deck. As it should be for any Synchro based strategy moving forward, until it eventually finds its way to the Forbidden/Limited List. Because Link monsters that Special Summon from the deck are just too powerful in my honest opinion. But until that day comes, it offers many useful characteristics and effects, especially to this deck, so despite its tendency to be hated for the power it holds, it will be holding nothing back in this build. So now that I’ve rambled for a while about how a ton of Fish and other WATER friends can work together in practice, let’s see how it all comes together!
|| Beautunaful Princess
| Crusadia Arboria
|| Fishborg Archer
| Fishborg Doctor
||| Fishborg Launcher
|| Mermaid Shark
| Mermail Abyssnerei
| Mermail Abysspike
||| Nimble Angler
||| Nimble Manta
||| Nimble Sunfish
| Sea Archiver
| Sinister Serpent
||| White Stingray
|| Bubble Bringer
|| Oh F!sh!
||| White Howling*(YGOrg Translation)
Extra Deck (15):
| Celestial Double Star Shaman
| Coral Dragon
| Crystron Quandax
| Crystron Quariongandrax
| White Aura Bihamut
|| White Aura Monokeros
|| White Aura Whale
|| Crystron Glassfiber
| Knightmare Phoenix
| Knightmare Unicorn
| Mermail Abyssalacia
| Mistar Boy
Combos and Resilience:
As I tried to hint at throughout all of the introduction of this article, this is a very option-heavy deck. Each turn can take a variety of different twists and turns, and depending on your playstyle and the type of deck you are facing, the same hand can be used multiple ways. These are just some of the many combos that I found for the build above, but if you continue to refine the build with your own options, you can really start to accomplish some amazing things.
- Mermail Abysspike/Beautunaful Princess/One for One + Nimble Angler
This combo should be fairly straightforward, just to put some words behind the multiple engines driving this deck. Normal Summon Princess, using its effect to bring Mermail Abysspike from the deck. Pike activates, discarding Angler and adding Crusadia Arboria to your hand. Angler activates, summoning 2 Nimble Manta from your deck. Link the two Manta into a Mermail Abyssalacia, then Special Summon the Arboria to the open zone it points to. Now you can make Crystron Glassfiber with Arboria and Abysspike, and Special Summon a Fishborg Launcher to your field. The end result from just 2 cards is a Glassfiber, a Launcher set to be used twice on the next turn, and an Alacia. Glassfiber is primed to make Shaman and bring back 3 Nimble monsters to add to your field OR you have the option of seeing if you have an opponent who wants to advance your gamestate unwittingly. If they destroy Alacia before going after your Glassfiber, you can bring back Abysspike (potentially use its effect again if you want to search another Level 3), then use Glassfiber’s effect to summon Crystron Quandax. Then, since it is your opponents Battle Phase, you can Synchro Summon (using Quandax) either Crystron Quariongandrax, banishing 3 monsters your opponent controls or that are in their GY, OR White Aura Whale, destroying all attack position monsters your opponent controls. Either way, you get great bang for your buck, and this all was from 2 cards.
- White Stingray + One for One\Beautunaful Princess + Fishborg Launcher
While this play is definitely less common than the last combo, it is still pretty awesome. First, bring out Princess, using its effect to bring Abysspike from the deck. Pike activates, discarding Launcher and adding Sea Archiver from the deck. Use White Stingray‘s inherent summon by discarding Archiver, and Special Summon it. Next, Link Summon Mermail Abyssalacia. Now, use Launcher’s effect, bringing itself back from the GY to a zone Alacia points to. Archiver activates, Special Summoning itself. Then you can just go into the same exact setup you had in the first combo – make Glassfiber, Special Summon another Launcher, then let the duel develop from there. So while this may have been more cards getting to the same setup, you still got to a really powerful and reactive field early into the duel. That’s precisely the point of this deck – react to how your opponent is playing, then adapt to the situation by throwing the right Fish at them.
- Combo Extenders
While this isn’t a combo by itself, let’s talk about how you can take both of the above examples to the next level. There are tons of other cards at your disposal that could be in your opening hand, and many of them can help keep your plays going or help you establish an even stronger board. Sometimes you just might have to make an iffy play to have the resources for a good one. The best example of this is White Salvation, a card that I mentioned in the decklist but haven’t discussed in depth until now. This continuous Spell card, also released alongside Monokeros in Premium Pack 20 in the OCG, gives you endless amounts of Fish fodder for your plays. Each turn, you get to reclaim one Fish from your GY. And if your opponent destroys it, you can summon or search a Fish from your deck instead. In other words, it doesn’t really get stopped by Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit like most other continuous Spells in this day and age. Throw a Salvation into the mix for the first combo, and you can grab back Angler to discard it a second time with Alacia, bringing out another Manta and a Nimble Sunfish during your opponent’s turn. While searching for your Mermail Abyssnerei, the ‘Honest’ of WATER decks that literally wins you games straight up. Since White Whale has double attacking and piercing already built in, plus you generally don’t leave it on the field without another WATER at your disposal to beef up. Either way, Salvation is just an advantage boosting continuous Spell that can snowball into a considerable amount of even greater advantage. The other combo extender I choose to run in the Main Deck, despite being slow, is Bubble Bringer. In a pinch you can use bringer to stall for time if your opponent is trying to ram through direct attacks from high level monsters, but the true power is in its ability to exchange itself for 2 WATER monsters. Normally you will be bringing back 2 more Nimbles, but 2 more pieces of non-tuner WATER fodder can be helpful in making the jump from a standard play to an amazing one.
- Disruption Tools
The last reason that this deck combos so well with each other and can stand on its own two feet against many threats? It can run one of the best traps ever released – White Howling. This Trap card, also released in Premium Pack 20, shuts off all Spell cards from your opponent for an entire turn. Against Sky Striker, it is deadly. It’s also chainable in case your opponent tries to go into a Knightmare Phoenix before they make any big plays using Spells. This alongside the threat of a White Aura Whale bomb during the opponent’s turn makes some of the opening boards so strong. The other key disruption tool is Oh F!sh!, a counter trap that shuffles back a banished Fish, Aqua, or Sea Serpent to negate a monster effect. The sheer utility I got out of this card during my test duels made it a must-run for me, as it shuts down the monster-driven metagame that has pretty much always existed in modern YGO. Between shutting down monster effects, destroying or banishing the opponent’s field, and stopping all Spells for a turn, this White Fish deck has a ton of tricks up its gills to stop an opponent’s counterattack in its tracks.
Themed Tech Options:
- Fish Depth Charge – This card may show its age, but it still remains an effective neutral trade in card advantage to eliminate a single threat. Since it can double as backrow removal or monster removal, it may just be versatile enough to consider running in the Main Deck to provide a bit more control over your opponent’s field.
- Double Fin Shark – Want more recovery options? This one card can bring back your other fishes, and since you are not running too many Normal Summons to begin with, you have the space to tech this in if you choose.
- Oyster Meister – The unsearchable version of Blackwing – Steam. Anytime it leaves the field except by battle, you get a token. This means that this Fish supports both Synchro Summoning and Link Summoning. Sadly you have to rely upon the Normal Summon to bring him out in most cases, and it isn’t even worth it as your other cards generally provide enough fodder, but it technically is an option.
- Sinister Serpent – Included in the build above, this serves as endless discard fodder, as long as you don’t need to use it two turns in a row. This pairs well with Fishborg Archer as a comeback mechanic if your opponent does manage to break your board, while your GY is setup, as you can add this back, discard it with Archer, and go into a play either with the card you drew, a Salvation still on your field, or a Fishborg Doctor waiting in the GY.
- Surface – Extra Special Summoning power, versatile option for getting more Link or Synchro materials to the field.
- Salvage – An excellent option for getting hand advantage back later in the duel. I ended up cutting this from my test example deck as I never could find a good enough use for it when Salvation existed, but I could see it also providing some helpful utility if needed.
- Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince & Friends – You could also choose to try including more Atlantean monsters as an additional engine in the deck, providing more WATER monsters with powerful effects. This also would unlock you to run Deep Sea Diva, one of the only good Level 2 WATER tuners.
- Crystron Citree – For similar reasons as Diva, it could be beneficial to have a Level 2 tuner in the Main Deck. The other benefit to Citree is that you can end your opening combo with Glassfiber, Alacia and a Citree, providing a bit more versatility to the beginning of the duel. Unfortunately using its effect locks you into Machine-type monsters, so you would realistically only be summoning Quandrax with its effect during the opponent’s turn.
- Nimble Beaver – If only it was a Fish with this effect… Anyways, this lets you turn your Normal Summon into two Nimble monsters, so it can be a useful tech. However, since it is not a Fish, you would have to make Mistar Boy instead of Alacia as your first Link, which dramatically reduces the power of your opening board.
- Mermail Abyssgunde – Decent combo extender if you want to be running more Mermails to let Alacia use its first effect more times before you run out of targets.
In terms of other tech options, the world is your oyster when it comes to Spells or Traps. Infinite Impermanence is definitely an amazing card in this day and age, if you would prefer having the more generic staples over something like an Oh F!sh!. The problem when it comes to Monsters is that you have to stick on the WATER side, as non-WATERs once they hit the GY shut down Launcher’s ability to keep coming back. While the sheer utility offered by Celestial Double Star Shaman, Knightmare Phoenix and Knightmare Unicorn is worth it to me, it might not be as worth it to run the typical Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring that most other decks can afford to. Also, since this is such a combo-heavy deck, Pot of Desires can backfire horribly on your strategy, making it not recommended.
If you’re still on the hook for reading every last word of this article, congrats! You have reached the end of the line. If you’ve skipped down to the bottom looking for a TL;DR, sorry, but this type of article doesn’t have one of those. As for this deck strategy, the White series offers a significant amount of power to a type that has very few worthwhile moments in the spotlight over the history of the game. And this Fish deck didn’t even need to use Superancient Deepsea King Coelacanth to be relevant! It offers disruption, a wide breadth of plays and options, and the ability to utilize some powerful monsters like Crystron Glassfiber to their full potential in a deck made to make them shine. And at the end of the day, this strategy is something pretty unique, drawing from a ton of archetypes and series to create one deck where all cards flow to gaining advantage, summoning bosses, and swimming through the opponents!
I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted on the site; life is a thing, but I’m finally getting my feet back under myself. Thanks for those of you who reached out through various mediums – I appreciate the warm wishes. I intend to continue contributing articles when I come up with a cool concept (and when life offers me some free time to give to the site), so please let me know if there is any really cool ideas you think I may not have seen before!
Reminder, I also take suggestions for future CDS articles! I really want to see some input from you! While I will not run out of cool ideas, I do want to be writing articles about strategies you are interested in. So if you wish to see a CDS article about the archetype, theme, or strategy you love, feel free to private message me on the YGOrg Discord server, the YGOrganization Forums, or just post a comment in response to this article on our Facebook page with your ideas to keep under consideration. On most YGO-related communities my username is Quincymccoy, so feel free to reach out.