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Table of Contents: I. Introduction II. The Monarchs III. The Vassals IV. Spells & Traps V. Outside Support VI. Super Quantum Engine VII. Sample Decklists I. Introduction Monarch are a Tribute-based archetype that relies on control and card advantage while relinquishing the Extra Deck; a very unusual concept for a deck nowadays. Monarchs (the Tribute monsters) feature powerful, proactive effects that resolve on summon. Backing them up are a variety of Spells and Traps, that can hinder the opponent from performing their own plays, while providing draw power and other highly useful utilities each turn. A Monarch deck can utilize different engines to provide the necessary Tribute material for the Monarchs, ranging from the themed Squires/Vassals or Super Quantums. It is generally accepted that whatever engine you use you want to have one that is the least susceptible to any form of disruption. The downside of this deck is the lack of consistency due to being Tribute-based which forces it to rely solely on its Main deck. More often than not, opening hands will look quite mediocre if not unplayable. The basic requirement consists of a Monarch and a card that provides the needed Tribute material for it. Without one or the other this deck simply cannot play. But these hands are mediocre at best because the wrong Monarch won't allow the deck to fully utilize its line-up of S/Ts. Without them the deck lacks both speed and pressure to keep up with the opposition. Unfortunately there aren't many ways that allow the searching of a Monarch which makes the issue worse. The deck possess formidable draw power but there is just so much achieved by that alone. What this deck isn't lacking is power. While not known for OTKs, Monarchs excel in control and grinding. Most decks are having a difficult time because Monarchs can easily play around common protection and are able to prohibit the use of the Extra Deck with Domain. Adding cards like Majesty's Fiend to strenghten the lockdown can secure easy wins. II. The Monarchs Erebus the Underworld Monarch This is the first of the 2 Monarchs, that sends your important S/T to the graveyard (namely Pantheism and The Prime Monarch). It provides the setup for the standard plays in this deck, making it one of the most important Monarchs. The effect is similar to Castel with the added twist, that it doesn't target and hits more places, including the hand. This is especially useful nowadays as a lot of decks feature protection that can be bypassed with Erebus and unlike past incarnations it gives Erebus a potent use during T1, that can be further exploited with Thestalos. It features a recycling effect in the graveyard which allows it to exchange dead copies of a S/T for a Monarch. This is especially useful to send certain cards to the graveyard (e.g. The Prime Monarch) and lets you constantly have a Monarch in the hand later on. Ehther the Heavenly Monarch The other Monarch, that can send your S/T to the graveyard, but this one doesn't advance your field by interacting with your opponent; it summons another Monarch from the deck. While most of them don't trigger, Ehther's effect returns them to the hand anyway so they can be used later. However, the other effect is the reason why it is important. With it Ehther can put more pressure on the opponent by dodging effects, providing disruption via Kuraz or even tribute your opponent's monsters during their turn with TMSF. Unnecessary to say all of those utilities are highly appreciated, making Ehther the best Monarch in the deck. Caius the Mega Monarch Caius features a potent effect. It can banish twice and adds a solid amount of burn on top of it. The Chain Destruction effect has its uses against Dark-based decks, namely Burning Abyss and the Mirror. However, Caius lacks the setup that Ehther or Erebus provide, making it only good as a tool for removal which is also awful during T1. It isn't essential to play and shouldn't even be run in higher numbers. Thestalos the Mega Monarch Thestalos provides hand control, an often underestimated ability. Being able to choose a card from the opponent's hand can turn good hands into medicore or downright unplayable ones. You will have a hard time to find something more satisfying than this. Like Caius it lacks the effect to manipulate S/T from the deck, so it isn't a necessity. That being said it should be somewhere in the deck, be it in the Main or Side, even more so than Caius. The effect will be relevant, regardless of match-up, and combined with Erebus ruins entire games for your opponent. Zaborg the Mega Monarch Zaborg destroys Extra Decks ... literally. This effect has various degrees of effectiveness; in general, since a lot of decks rely on their Extra Deck, taking away their most important tools can limit their scope of plays quite a bit, if not cripple them entirely. The drawback of this is losing field presence. Most of the time it is required to let Zaborg target itself for its effect, which can be a fatal opening for OTKs. Even with a ruined Extra Deck some decks may still pull off plays with their remaining cards and some don't even care at all. Taking in the fact that Zaborg lacks the important ability to manipulate your Monarch S/T, this card is the most situational one of the viable Mega Monarchs and should be handled with care. Kuraz the Light Monarch Kuraz is worth playing in this deck because it features an effect that can be triggered by Ehther's effect. Being able to destroy 2 cards can be useful for disruption though it means that you are giving your opponent 2 draws. But the more important use is to target your own cards, including itself. This may seem counter-intuitive at first but it adds additional deck thinning while getting rid of cards, that would otherwise sit in the hand or on the field without any purpose. It also allows to dodge TMSF in the Mirror match which is crucial to minimize the damage done to you. III. Engines Squires Edea the Heavenly Squire Edea makes up the first half of the Tribute engine. The usual play involves summoning her in some way, get Eidos and tribute both of them for a Level 8 Monarch. By doing so it recycles one of the banished S/T with its effect (which is Pantheism most of the time) and Eidos ends up in the graveyard for its other effect. It adds longevity to the deck as a lot S/T are required to be banished for various cards like The Prime Monarch. While it gets the deck going in the most efficient way possible, Edea is also the most vulnerable combo piece of the engine or in general. Losing a NS'd Edea to disruption wastes the entire turn, which can easily end the game for you. Eidos the Underworld Squire Eidos is the other half of the engine. By itself it can be used as sufficient Tribute for any Monarch, as long as Domain or The Prime Monarch are involved. But that isn't its main use (though still quite nice to have). Getting it with Edea doesn't only provide the necessary Tribute material but it loops the play by banishing itself to revive its counterpart who then fetches another Eidos. Reinforcement of the Army & One for One Both cards serve to get Edea as soon as possible. While RotA is just a 4th copy, 141 has the added use of SS it. But be aware that discarding a monster is most times a liability, especialy if the only monster in the hand is the Monarch you want to summon. Super Quantums Super Quantum Red Layer Red Layer is the star of any Quantum variant. It can be used both as Tribute material under Domain and Tribute monster for Return, giving it versatility that isn't shared by any other card. It can also loop itself which provides constant access to a copy and being a FIRE for Mega Thestalos is a very small but nice bonus as well. Super Quantum Blue Layer + Emergency Teleport Emergency Teleport and Blue Layer are one way to compliment Red Layer. Like Red Layer it doesn't take up a NS and isn't vulnerable to effect negation which is a big advantage over the Squires. That allows still for alternative plays if Blue Layer is removed from the field. Speaking of which, it can shuffle itself from the graveyard back to the deck, creating a resource loop that makes multiple copies of it superfluous. Blue Layer can search Red Layer which has an important play with Return. By tributing a SS'd Blue Layer for the searched Red Layer gives you Ehther that allows you to go off properly during your opponent's turn. The downside of this engine is drawing Blue Layer before Emergency Teleport. While it can still be SS'd by E-Tele it's still a blank that sits in the hand without use. Mithra the Thunder Vassal Unlike Edea Mithra isn't affected by effect negation and doesn't take up a NS like Blue Layer. Giving the opponent a mere weak Token in return isn't going to cause any problems at all. If anything it gives TMSF some use during T1 and can produce some hilarous results against Burning Abyss. Tributing it allows for another Tribute Summon in the same turn. This effect allows for some strong plays like taking away 2 cards from your opponent's hand with Thestalos and Erebus or following up any play with a Fiend. If the opponent manages to break the field despite that commitment, it's likely Game Over for you so it should be used with caution. IV. Spells & Traps Pantheism of the Monarchs This card is a straight +1. It exchanges any dead copies of the S/Ts for 2 draws and banishes itself to search for another one. Pantheism influences the way how to structure your ratios; all Monarch S/T should be run either at 1 or 3. If the card in question has important value in the deck and needs to be accessed right away, it has to be played at full capacity so it is possible to reveal all 3 copies of it with Pantheism. Despite the existence of Tenacity there is no guarantee that you can rely on it because e.g. it was already used this turn or you lack the Monarch to reveal. If anything it can be used to fetch an additional piece from the deck like Return to make your fields even better. Anything else that is played here but has a more situational use should be played at 1. There is no difference in revealing either 1 or 2 copies of the card that you want to search since Tenacity needs to fill in for the vacant spots in the first place. Tenacity of the Monarchs Tenacity is a searcher for the Monarch S/T and gives Pantheism almost complete autonomy over its 2nd effect. You need a Monarch in your hand, however, which means it isn't able fix hand that are already pretty bad, and it forces you to keep 1 Monarch in hand unless you want to risk not being able to use Tenacity next turn. Nonetheless there is no reason not to play all copies available. Domain of the True Monarchs Domain is the themed floodgate of this deck. Blocking Extra Deck is important against Pendulum decks, when they have to rely on Pendulum Summons from the Extra Deck for recursion. However it needs to have a Tribute on the field, so a field should either be backed by with protection or have Majesty's Fiend on the field to narrow the possible breaks against this effect. But Domain also has other uses, that pushes it as the most important card in the deck. Reducing the Level of the big Monarchs allows the deck to have only 1 monster, making the whole process more efficient. This is very important because it opens up the use of other engines, that make the deck less disruptable. The ATK boost let all Monarchs climb over the 3000 ATK mark, meaning they can out cards a majority of monsters by battle, which would otherwise be too big or are protected from effects. The Monarchs Stormforth TMSF is one of the most powerful Spells in the game. It doesn't target, anything on the field can be tributed from that point on and as a Quick-Spell, it has many combos with other cards during the opponent's turn. Ehther and Escalation allow the card to work with its full potential, taking away the opponent's card during their plays and advancing the gamestate by summoning Monarchs at the same time. This card can bypass most things in the game and it wins the Mirror. Return of the Monarchs Return maintains the hand with a Monarch which is very much needed early on, where you want to toolbox important Monarchs like Ehther. This card also provides protection against cards that respond on summons. By arranging Return's effect as CL2 cards like Solemn Strike aren't allowed to respond to the actual summon which keeps the Monarchs safe from them. March of the Monarchs After summoning them, Monarchs are basically bodies, that can't really do anything. They are reasonably big but without protection they are easy to remove. This means keeping up Domain's lockdown effect becomes more difficult and even the Fiends aren't invicible against everything. March provides that extra layer of protection to frustate your opponent even more. Keep in mind that it stops Kuraz from targeting itself or any other Monarch, making this card quite a liability in the Mirror. It also doesn't really provide essential protection since a lot of decks either can ignore March or use only a small amount of cards that would warrant the use March. The Prime Monarch The other card, that should be sent with Ehther or Erebus. The Prime Monarch provides additional Tribute fodder and a decent body to hide behind that can even be dropped during your opponent's turn. It also has a recycling effect, that provides more draw power and keeps at least a single copy of each S/T to tutor with Tenacity or Pantheism. This effect is very important in terms of grinding, especially in the Mirror. Escalation of the Monarchs Monarchs have one other major flaw; their lack of a high ceiling and being limited to few plays. They are not capable of doing large plays and getting more than 2 Tribute Summons in a turn is a big stretch, which will be put a heavy strain on your resources. Escalation fixes this problem by using the opponent's turns as your own and allows the use of the Monarchs as disruption tools. Ehther has similar uses, but this cards allows the use of other Monarchs and Majesty's Fiend which can be a nasty suprise for an unprepared opponent. IV. Outside Support Majesty's Fiend Majesty's Fiend has some drawbacks. Having it on the field means, all of your own effects are locked out as well including important ones like Ehther or Erebus. Additionally it cannot be summoned by Ehther from the deck but Return and Erebus are still able to interact with it. But these downsides really don't weigh too much if this card under Domain is a real win-condition. Not a lot of decks are able to out this field as they aren't may options left without monster effects or an Extra Deck. Vanity's Fiend This card may seem similar to Majesty's Fiend but don't let that fool you. It cannot be used for Tenacity or searched/recycled by Return or Erebus respectively, making it unsearchable. Vanity's is stronger against Pendulum decks since it prohibits a Pendulum Summon using their hand (making Pendulum Sorcerer's scale effect useless) and blocks Kaijus from tributing your monsters away. Protected by March, it has less relevant outs against it. Foolish Burial Foolish Burial has seen use in many decks and Monarchs can utilize it to some capacity. Thanks to Erebus' effect Foolish can search it or other Monarchs if it is already in the graveyard. However, as you additionally need to discard a Spell or Trap, this results into a -1. While this would be unacceptable, consider that there aren't many ways of searching a Monarch so the cost may be worth it just to get the deck going. V. Sample Decklists Top 32 YCS Atlanta 2016 (by Allen C. Pennington) Top 8 Lima Perú Regionals (by Rhongomyniad) Mithra Build "Endorsed Monarchs" (by Allen Pennington & Steinman)