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Blackwings: Welcome to the Dark Side
NOTE: This guide has been updated to accommodate the March 1st, 2010 Advanced Format List. Changes to this guide occur regularly, so please check this guide often. I'll be adding support from The Shining Darkness within the next few days.
Blackwings made their appearance in the anime when Crow Hogan used them early in the second season. They first burst on to the card scene in Crimson Crisis, and have been additional given support in Raging Battle, Ancient Prophecy, and now Stardust Overdrive. At first glance they seem to have a simple strategy: swarm quickly with large monsters, use their effects to modify ATK/DEF, and swing for game. However, when one takes a closer look at their effects and support cards, one can see that they are perhaps the most versatile deck type in today's game.
Success in the Meta
The release of Hidden Arsenal and Stardust Overdrive allows Blackwings to thrive as one of the top three decks, Zombie and Lightsworn/Twilight being the other top dogs. Tan Hong Hwee Benjamin from Singapore won the 2009 World Championship with Blackwings; Fili Luna won SJC Indianapolis piloting them; and Rodrigo Tores won SJC Orlando running an innovative build.
The success that this archetype has seen over the last year obviously means that the deck runs well. But how does the deck breakdown overall?
- Speed (4/5) - Blackwings are one of the fastest decks out there, even though some setup is required. The March 2010 list has slowed down the deck though, by semi-limiting Black Whirlwind and limiting Allure of Darkness.
- Power (5/5) - The ability to modify ATK/DEF and the ability to call upon powerful Synchro Summons makes this deck very hard to outmuscle.
- Consistency (5/5) - The deck generally opens well, and doesn't have trouble maintaining advantage.
- Risk (2/5) - There isn't much risk in running Blackwings because they are so consistent. However the mirror match is usually a tossup, and you'll be sure to play plenty of those.
- Efficiency (80%) - Just look at the above stats and success! It's not difficult to tell that this deck is very efficient.
- Meta Ranking (Tier 01) - Blackwings are a top tier deck; however, Flamvell Cat can can simply outspeed them, and Gladiator Beasts can outmaneuver them.
Blackwings are an Aggro-Control deck type. They can swarm the field quickly by special summoning monsters from the Hand, Deck, or Graveyard. Their ability to swarm so quickly allows the player to quickly gain an advantage on the opponent. Support cards such as Black Whirlwind allow them to tutor other Blackwing monsters which maintains Hand Advantage. A combination of monster effects and support cards give them the ability to create +1's to maintain Card Advantage throughout the length of a match. Some players use this advantage to apply pressure, and swing for a large amount of Life Points within a single turn. Other players use the advantage to slow the game down while keeping control.
Their main win conditions come in the guise of Synchro Summons. Their swarming capabilities lend a hand in quickly summoning monsters such as Blackwing Armor Master, Blackwing Armed Wing, Stardust Dragon, and other useful Synchro Monsters. These synchros help the player to use either an Aggro or Control approach, thus it is an Aggro-Control deck.
Note that all Blackwing monsters are DARK Winged Beasts. Being DARK means that the boss monster of all DARKs - Dark Armed Dragon (DAD) - is a viable option. Blackwings have great graveyard control, so it isn't difficult to summon DAD in most duels. Usually when DAD is drawn it can hit the field in no more than two turns. Speaking of drawing, DARK monsters automatically means Allure of Darkness would be a great Draw Engine for the deck. Removing a DARK monster from play isn't as bad as many of you think it could be. It will thin down the deck, and remove your Dead Draws from your hand. Since all of them are also Winged Beasts, multiple copies of Icarus Attack are included for destructive power. Blackwings make the most use out of Icarus Attack because they can set up future Vayu, Blizzard, and Dark Armed Dragon plays while destroying two of the opponent's cards.
Now you know a little more about Blackwings, but what cards are actually used for the deck? There have been a lot of Blackwing specific cards released, but the best part is that since they are all Dark Winged-Beasts they have a myriad of support options. There are a few Blackwing cards in the anime that are not in the card game, so for the purposes of this guide I have omitted the anime-only cards. Also, I have not included cards that will be released in The Shining Darkness; however, they will be added soon before the official TCG release.
Blackwing Specific Monsters
- Blackwing - Sirocco the Dawn: This guy is a great beatstick at 2000 attack, and surprisingly easy to Normal Summon. His ability to pump up attack allows for big, game-ending swings.
- Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind: There are many reasons why Gale is Limited to one per deck. He's easy to special summon, a level three Tuner, and has a game-breaking Shrink effect. This guy can take down a Stardust Dragon without help.
- Blackwing - Bora the Spear: A Piercing ability with easy special summon requirements makes Bora a very deadly weapon. He combos well with Sirocco to get rid of pesky defense monsters.
- Blackwing - Shura the Blue Flame: Blackwings received a huge boost when Shura was released. He special summons a Blackwing with 1500 or less attack from the deck after destroying a monster by battle. The newly summoned monster does lose its effect, but it is able to attack during the same Battle Phase. Opening Shura and Kalut will give opponents a lot of trouble.
- Blackwing - Elphin the Raven: The biggest attacker of all the non-synchro Blackwings. He isn't hard to normal summon without tributing because Blackwings can swarm the field, but his effect is sub-par. This guy is best left out of the deck.
- Blackwing - Blizzard the Far North: He can't be special summoned, but this level two tuner monster has a great recursion effect. He allows for quick synchro summonings, and gives the player a chance to recycle Gale for its Shrink effect.
- Blackwing - Kalut the Moon Shadow: Kalut is the Blackwing version of Honest. He provides defense as well as a strong offense. The main advantage Kalut has over Honest is that he can be used when the opponent has no monster on the field. This use generally leads to game ending moments the opponent doesn't expect.
- Blackwing - Vayu the Emblem of Honor: Vayu is perhaps the most interesting Blackwing monster. He is a level one tuner that can't be used for a synchro summon while on the field (unless he is summoned through Shura's effect). That doesn't sound so hot for a tuner, but he shines where no other tuner does: he can special summon a Blackwing synchro monster from the grave. That sounds amazing, but even better is that he gets around Royal Oppression!
- Blackwing - Mistral the Silver Shield: A level two tuner with big defense and a decent effect. Generally Blizzard has more going for it if you're looking for a level two tuner.
- Blackwing - Fane the Steel Chain: This guy can attack directly, but he's very weak with a not-so-great effect.
- Dark Armed Dragon: The other boss monster that Blackwings can use very well. Blow up your opponent's cards by removing from play a Dark in your Graveyard. The addition of Blizzard and Vayu gives the deck better grave manipulation, so DAD is rather easy to summon.
- The Dark Creator: This guy was much better when Dark Strike Fighter was legal, but he still gives you the ability to special summon monsters from the Grave.
- Gorz the Emissary of Darkness: Even though Black Whirlwind is generally run in triplicate, Gorz can still be useful. Your cards will get destroyed by a variety of effects, so Gorz can still be special summoned. The threat of Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier and Mist Wurm make Gorz much more viable in Blackwing decks.
- Tragoedia: I haven't seen much of Tragoedia run in Blackwings, but I think he has a bit of potential. He helps with Graveyard manipulation, permanently steals your opponent's monsters, can act as any level, and gets around Royal Oppression. Unlike Gorz, Tragoedia can be special summoned when you control cards on the field. Black Whirlwind helps you maintain hand advantage, so he can stay beefy for many turns.
- Dark Simorgh: A great lockdown card, but needs a build dedicated to using him. Blackwings generally don't run enough Wind monsters to summon him. Perhaps we will see more of him if the TCG ever gets Divine Fowl King Alector.
- Simorgh, Bird of Ancestry: A Wind monster with a pretty nice bouncing effect. However, it has the same problem as its dark counter part, so this guy will be hard to summon. You could probably incorporate him using Trade-In, but that would make the deck more inconsistent.
- Simorgh, Bird of Divinity: Another one of the Simorgh monsters, but this one is the weak link of the three. Blackwings will run backrows to prevent Life Point damage, but he isn't worth using in the deck.
- Dark Grepher: Not so great in standard builds, but work very well in builds that utilize Vayu. Dump Vayu or Sirocco to dump the other from the deck, and you get an automatic Armed Wing. Helps in grave manipulation to set up Blizzard and DAD plays.
- Caius the Shadow Monarch: Caius is another monster that I believe can do well in Blackwings. I have used him in side decks before with much success, so it may be worth it to tech one in the main deck.
- Raiza the Storm Monarch: Probably the best Wind monster to use in the deck, and he's even better when combined with Ultimate Offering. Spin a card on the field, and set up an Icarus Attack play to take advantage of him.
- Battlestorm: A TCG exclusive card that has yet to make an impact. It's a pretty card, but that doesn't make him any more useful. He would be a useful substitute for Breaker the Magical Warrior if he was an actual Blackwing.
- Gravekeeper's Spy: A very useful card for quick access to synchro summons, especially Arcanite Magician. he thins down the deck and provides high defense.
- Gravekeeper's Guard: High defense with a useful Bounce effect to clear the field. Bouncing can be followed up with a game breaking synchro summon.
- Morphing Jar: Blackwings don't have much in the way of draw power (at least not yet). Morphing Jar provides a great means to reset your hand, and load the grave for big plays.
- D.D. Crow: DD Crow works very well within Blackwings since there are so many decks that rely on graveyard manipulation. He is a Dark Winged Beast, so he has synergy with the archetype. It is a very good side deck card, and works well when a single one is teched in the main deck.
- Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer: A good side deck option against Zombies, Lightsworn, and even Blackwings. He'll stop Necro Gardna, Mezuki, Vayu, etc.
- Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter: Whoa, a Lightsworn monster in Blackwings? It's not so bad after testing it. Ryko is a great way to open up a duel because it destroys an opponent's card, thins the deck, and sets up Blizzard and Vayu plays.
- Transforming Sphere A card tht equips a opponent's monster to it and gives it back at the end phase, in defense position. Good luck trying to get one. It's hard to find in the ocg and tcg. Try to use with mist body.
Blackwing Specific Synchros
- Blackwing Armor Master: Armor Master is probably the best overall Blackwing Synchro. He cannot be destroyed by battle, he takes no battle damage (where's your Honest now?), and can put a Wedge Counter on your opponent's monster if his 2500 attack isn't big enough. This guy is easy to summon with Gale, but Gale's limitation makes it harder to summon now. Try to run two in the Extra Deck.
- Blackwing Armed Wing: Basically a Bora with 600 more attack, but he gains 500 attack when battling a defense position monster. That effect makes him useful in certain situations. As a level six synchro he's easy to summon with Blizzard, but Vayu makes this guy much more useful. Sirocco and Vayu in the Grave makes this guy, and a fallen Armed Wing plus Vayu makes a vanilla Armor Master. Try to run at least two in the Extra Deck, but certain variants will probably want to run three.
- Blackwing - Silverwind the Ascendant: The most powerful of all Blackwing monsters comes with a whopping 2800 attack and 2000 defense. However, this level eight monster requires at least three monsters to synchro summon. For such hard work players are rewarded with a very nice destruction effect. Note that he doesn't require three monsters to special summon, so players can net a free 2800 attacker through Vayu and a fallen Armor Master. As powerful as he is, I don't see any reason to run multiple Silverwind in the Extra Deck.
- Stardust Dragon: Staple in the Extra Deck, and a great way to protect your field.
- Black Rose Dragon: Another Staple in every Extra Deck, and very worthy of limited status. An easy to make level seven synchro which nukes the entire field.
- Dark End Dragon: Great effect that can be used to get rid of annoying monsters. Good luck getting one in the TCG...
- Ally of Justice Catastor: The perfect answer to almost any monster that isn't Dark. Easy to summon with Blizzard plus Kalut. Catastor simply screams "kill Lightsworn!"
- Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier: Perhaps the best synchro monster in today's game. Clears the field without destroying your opponent's cards, thus getting around Stardust's effect.
- Mist Wurm: Another great synchro monster with a bounce effect. However, this level nine monster requires three monsters to summon.
- Dark Strike Fighter: I realize DSF is banned, but I still feel he needs to be mentioned. He is currently the only banned synchro monster in the game. He was incredibly easy to summon when Gale was unlimited, had high attack for a level seven synchro, and took less skill to use than any other synchro in the game. If a Solemn Judgment was used during a duel this guy finished it off with one attack (2600 direct attack + 1400 burn damage = 4000). Konami did a lot of good by banning him, which reduced the amount of thoughtless OTKs.
- Goyo Guardian: Easy to summon level six that has the ability to steal an opponent's monster. Very high attack (2800) for a level six.
- Arcanite Magician: Very useful if Gravekeeper's Spy/Guard is used. Blows up at least two cards your opponent controls.
Blackwing Specific Spells
- Against the Wind: This is a pretty decent recursion card, but the hefty Life Point damage could cause trouble down the road. Dark Eruption is a much smarter choice.
- Black Whirlwind: In my opinion Black Whirlwind is the main reason Blackwings are so fast and consistent. It tutors Blackwing monsters, so that you draw into spells and traps instead of drawing into monsters. It is a great Deck Thinner that can stay out on the field for multiple turns. This card helps you maintain hand advantage, and produces +1's every turn. Even better is that you can use multiple at once to grab two or even three monsters from the deck.
- Raptor Wing Strike: This card isn't too useful. It's really meant to combo with Black Whirlwind, but it is still a waste of a slot.
- Allure of Darkness: The only form of draw power that Blackwings have. It's a great card without a true cost. RFP Dead Draws to make the most use out of it.
- Swallow's Nest: A nifty little card that can help you avoid Bottomless, or bring an extra Sirocco to double pump your Blackwings. It hasn't seen much competitive play, but there is potential in this card.
- Book of Moon: Book is a very good defensive card that disrupts many of the opponent's pivotal plays.
- Dark Eruption: Recycle Gale, Blizzard, or Kalut to gain even more advantage.
- My Body as a Shield: Great defensive card that quickly turns the tide of a game.
- Giant Trunade: Gets rid of those pesky backrows to push for game.
- Staples: Heavy Storm, Mystical Space Typhoon, Brain Control.
- Mind Control: Grab a useful monster from the opponent, and synch out to set your opponent back.
- Gold Sarcophagus: Set aside a card such as Dark Armed Dragon or Heavy Storm to go for game.
- Lightning Vortex: Clear your opponent's field for a small cost. Be sure to ditch a card that either leads to summoning DAD or using Blizzard's effect!
- Smashing Ground: More destruction that can get rid of an annoying Colossal Fighter or opposing Armor Master.
- Burial from a Different Dimension: Burial is a great option in builds that utilize multiple Vayu. It allows you to recycle Vayu to get towards bigger Blackwing synchros such as Armor Master and Silverwind. It's best to run multiple in GraveWings, but it would be interesting to tech a single copy in Vayu Oppression.
Blackwing Specific Traps
- Fake Feather: This card can be pretty useful since it can copy other normal traps. However, there are better uses for the card slots.
- Delta Crow - Anti Reverse: This card can be absolutely devastating to your opponent. It doesn't have a cost, and has such a high reward. However, I feel that this card is better suited for the side deck.
- Staples: Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, Call of the Haunted, Solemn Judgment, and Bottomless Trap Hole.
- Icarus Attack: Blackwings' best form of destruction comes in the form of a trap card. It's a card that can truly turn the tide of a game, and there are so many ways to make the most of it. Tributing off a Vayu, Blizzard target, etc. to destroy two cards will make your opponent writhe in pain. There is no reason to run less than two, but three is best.
- Trap Dustshoot: I feel that this card gives too much of an advantage sometimes. It lets you put back an opponent's monster, and check out their entire hand so you can see what they are planning to do in the following turns.
- Reckless Greed: A pretty good draw engine which can lead to more drawing through Allure of Darkness, or more deck thinning through Black Whirlwind.
- Royal Oppression: Since Vayu gets around Oppression many people have been using at least one copy in their decks. It shuts down Zombies, Lightsworn, and anything else that relies on special summons to win.
- Skill Drain: What is perhaps most versatile about Blackwings is that they can not only use Royal Oppression without sacrificing synergy, but also use Skill Drain in the same manner. Drain is a great side deck choice which shuts down many of the opponent's options in a duel.
- Waboku: It's been seeing more play in Blackwings recently, and deservedly so. Prevent yourself from getting OTK'd by Zombies, Lightsworn, and other Blackwing decks. It's also great to bait out your opponent's Honest or Kalut.
- Dust Tornado: A general backrow destruction card which can be very useful. However Icarus Attack usually does a better job.
- Ultimate Offering: This card screams Black Whirlwind abuse. You'll be able to thin down the deck, and incorporate Monarchs in the main deck. It can be a little slow to set up, but the benefits are huge.
- Dimensional Prison: D. Prison is one of those cards that will save you time after time. It's perhaps the best way of getting rid of threats such as Stardust Dragon, Colossal Fighter, Gorz, etc.
- Starlight Road: Here is another great card that falls within the Aggro-Control theme. Starlight Road will protect not only your backrow cards, but also your monsters provided your opponent is trying to destroy more than one at a time. Protect yourself from threats such as Judgment Dragon, Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, Icarus Attack, etc. and bring out a Stardust Dragon to another form of negation! Be aware that this card can be negated by Royal Oppression, even if you aren't trying to summon Stardust.
In this section you'll learn about the different variants of Blackwing decks. Please note that the decks posted here are merely meant to serve as a base for you to build your own decks. They are not meant to be netdecked! For the record, all these builds are different than what I normally run. These decks will adhere to the most recent Advanced Format list (March 2010) unless otherwise noted.
I. Standard Blackwings
The standard Blackwings usally don't run any special tech. The other variants are essentially a spin off of this build. Thus, if you are looking for a basic build to learn about Blackwings, then this build is probably the one you want to look at. People with an aggro play style will definitely want to take this deck for a spin. You'll want to abuse Black Whirlwind to swarm the field, synchro for high attack monsters, and swing for game. It's a great way to start your Blackwing career, and you'll surely make your own card choices after realizing its weaknesses.
II. Vayu Oppression
The Vayu Oppression variant is probably the most common build seen today, and probably the best example of an Aggro-Control deck. This build is similar to standard Blackwings, except that it plays a pair of Royal Oppression. Protect your field of synchros with Oppression, Kalut, and Icarus. Perhaps the most important part of this deck is that your opponent will be locked out of special summoning monsters while you can abuse Vayu's effect. If you're going to a large tournament such as a regional or an SJC you'll probably want run a build like this...with your own changes of course.
This variant focuses on Dark Grepher's ability to dump Vayu, which allows us to special summon Blackwing synchro monsters. Since Vayu gets around Oppression, I've included two copies of it in this deck. Note that the deck can definitely get some bad hands, so you may want to try a Card Destruction to help with that. A little trick you might want to know is that if the monster summoned by Vayu's effect is flipped face down by Book of Moon, it's effect will come back. So you can book a vanilla Armor Master, and it will get its effects back once it's flipped face-up. This deck definitely got hit hard because the March 2010 list has limited Burial from a Different Dimension.
I find it interesting that we're on our fourth variant of Blackwings, but three of them focus on abusing Vayu's special summoning capabilities. This build is probably less consistent than Gravewings, but it's much faster. Instead of using Dark Grepher to dump Vayu we'll rely on the natural flow of Lightsworns to speed up the deck. Speed is the name of the game here with a full set of Charge, Solar Recharge, and Allure. You could run Judgment Dragon in here, but I think that route will make it even less consistent. Instead we'll rely on DAD, Caius, and Chaos Sorcerer for monster removal. Multiple Royal Oppression could work well in here, but this variant is much more reliant on special summoning than the others. Again, this deck was hit incredibly hard by the March 2010 list. Allure, Burial, Lumina, Charge, Chaos Sorcerer, and Necro were all limited.
In my opinion Spywing is the best variant of the March 2010 format. You have your normal Blackwing removal cards such as Icarus, but now you gain other removal in the form of Gravekeeper's Descendant, Arcanite Magician and Caius. You thin your deck down through Gravekeeper's Spy and set up synchro/tribute fodder for Arcanite and Caius. Generally you will bring out Descendant with Spy, pop your opponent's backrow, then tribute for Caius to remove the opponent's monster. This particular build has many strong combos, but there are plenty of ways to change it up to fit your own tastes.
There hasn't been much hype around Faderwings yet, but I believe it is a promising variant. Battle Fader will stop your opponent's direct attack, and end their battle phase immediately. Fader will then act as a tribute for Caius, or be used for better synchro ability. You could use a third Battle Fader instead of Dimensional Alchemist, but I like his ability to recycle Fader, Vayu, Allure fodder, and monsters that have been hit by Bottomless or D. Prison.
If you've taken a look at some regional decklists, you'll sometimes see Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter in Blackwings. Why would anybody do that? Well because setting Ryko is one of the best ways to open up a duel. He destroys a card, mills the deck to set up Vayu/Blizzard plays, and thins your deck down. Sure the mills may be inconsistent, but you at least get a helpful one for one removal through it. Also, with two lights in the deck we can toy with the idea of running Chaos Sorcerer. I think you'll be surprised at how live it is in here, even with only two (three if you count Magical Android) total lights in the deck. Also, because we have a good chance at milling our Blackwing monsters, we'll run a full set of Blizzard for recursion. We're also going to run a single Pot of Avarice to recycle any useful monsters that we want back into the deck.
Let's get one thing clear: just because you can build a Side Deck doesn't mean you know how to side properly. Building a proper side deck for anticipated match-ups, and learning how to side properly for these match-ups will prove to be vital for your success as a duelist. I have to admit that my ability to side deck correctly is my weakness (it's most likely a product of my team not side decking while testing out decks). Blackwings have an advantage in that they are great at using and playing around two of the best side deck cards: Royal Oppression and Skill Drain. Since they usually main Oppression, that gives more breathing room in constructing the 15 card side deck.
I. Building a Proper Side Deck
NOTE: Until I find more time to write up an actual discussion on individual card choices, I'll just be listing certain cards that work well for certain match-ups.
NOTE: For the sake of simplicity, 2x Royal Oppression is assumed to be part of your main deck.
Building a proper side deck hinges on many factors such as play style; however, the most important factor to consider is meta that you expect at the tournament. Currently the most prominent meta decks are Lightsworn, Gladiator Beasts, Synchro/FlamvellCat, and Blackwings.
II. Siding against Lightsworn
- Light-Imprisoning Mirror
- Skill Drain
- Threatening Roar
- D.D. Crow
- Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer
- Starlight Road
- My Body as a Shield
- Soul Release
III. Siding against Synchro/Flamvell Cat
- Skill Drain
- Dimensional Prison
- D.D. Crow
- Legendary Jujitsu Master
- Compulsory Evacuation Device
- Deck Devastation Virus
IV. Siding against Gladiator Beasts
- Skill Drain
- Legendary Jujitsu Master
- Mirror of Oaths
- My Body as a Shield
- Starlight Road
- Dust Tornado
- Dimensional Prison
- Giant Trunade
V. Siding against Blackwings
- Blackwing - Sirocco the Dawn (assuming you don't run three already)
- Dust Tornado
- D.D. Crow
- Legendary Jujitsu Master
- Gravekeeper's Spy
- Caius the Shadow Monarch
- Starlight Road
- My Body as a Shield
- Trap Hole
VI. Siding against Anti-Meta
VII. Siding against Rogue Decks
After reading this guide you should have a good grasp on how to run Blackwings, how to handle other matchups, and how to side properly. Remember that the decks in this guide are meant only as such - a guide. Again you should note that my builds are different than the ones that have been posted in this guide. As you practice more with this deck you'll see what changes are necessary building a successful deck, as well as learn how to win with those builds. Please be sure to leave comments on the guide by clicking here or "Discussion" at the top right corner of this page. Without feedback, I can't write a better guide in the future. I hope you had a great time reading this guide, and good luck to all of you in your dueling ventures!
I've added a poll, so that I can get a better gauge of what you think about this guide. Again, please leave comments to help me improve this guide!
A troll sez "o hey lewk @ all teh cardz frum TSD. huh y u no have ani from there. how do hav no edit hol year." Gewd ayfturd leik 2 weaks ah mew juan es bean en da makin. me r bestest ever.hh