Caius, the Shadow Monarch, is one of the most aesthetically pleasing monsters in the game. The black and purple color scheme, his iridescent globe, and formidable armor all buttress his allure of darkness. Unfortunately, like Hanzo, he’s a good card in a rather mediocre lot.
The main flaw in the Monarch strategy is their summoning mechanic. Tribute summoning is equivalent to a – 1 special summon. When compared to XYZ and synchro summoning, the Monarch effects are pretty weak. To make matters worse, the other forms of summons usually come with pluses. Consider Geargiarmor --> Accelerator (+1) --> Gear Gigant (0) --> Ancient Gear Box (+1) --> Arsenal (+2). Caius is a + 0 at best.
Monarchs also fall victim to clumpy hands. The graph below gives the chances of opening with at least three or four tribute summon monsters. Most monarch players run about eight such monsters giving them an 8.2% chance of opening with at least three of them. Not only are these cards dead, they are robbing the doolist of drawing something better. You could run fewer level six monsters, but then there is a greater than 23.6% of not drawing any of them. Pot of Duality helps if you don’t mind using a card that says, “My deck needs a crutch.”
Intrepid Monarch players have attempted to overcome these deficits. Here is my take on those fixes.
Macro Monarchs: I mention this deck for nostalgic reasons. For those that weren’t around, this deck used Scout Plane as tribute fodder. It’s essentially dead, but can you imagine where the Monarchs would be if there were three Macro Cosmos and three Dimensional Fissures? If Konami wanted to support the archetype they could give us a Macro Cosmos like card that forbid you from summoning from the extra deck.
Frognarchs: This deck avoids the - 1 summon by counting on Treeborn Frog to hop out of the graveyard during your standby phase. You can play it with a whole pond full of frogs (e.g. Swap, Ronintoadin, Dupe, etc) or with just Treeborn and Mathematician. While arguably the best Monarch deck today, it has some significant drawbacks. First, drawing into Treeborn is pretty dead unless you have the rest of the frogs. Second, graveyard-hate is on the rise. Debunk, Soul Drain, and DD Crow are all poison darts. Still, it’s a lot of fun and the cards are pretty cheap.
Tricknarchs: This is the Ghostrick variant that happily seems to forget that card advantage is a valued in Yugioh. Like the frog variants, one can play with only Jackfrost or with a house full of ghosts and demons. While the deck bleeds cards, Jack’s effect is pretty nimble because it doesn’t target. However, the Ghostricks lose out to Debunk and Nobleman of Crossout. The deck can be redeemed, a bit, by playing Allure of Darkness and Card Car. Like the frogs, the tricks are generally cheap and fun to play.
Anti-Meta Monarchs: This deck is less about the means of summoning and more about the summoned. I suspect the renewed interest in Monarchs has little to do with the new “Monarch” cards and more to do with Majesty’s Fiend. This card, along with Vanity’s Fiend and Jinzo, gains advantage by creating dead hands for the opponent. Congratulations – now both doolists can experience the frustration of having dead hands.
Garbagenarchs: This is my moniker for the Monarch deck with a little bit of everything. Fire and Ice Hands offer a Tengu-like presence that can be used for tribute fodder. The problem is that you have taken a very good card and made it weaker by negating its effect. Soul Exchange stops your battle phase and most of the newer Monarch cards won’t let you play Treeborn. March of the Monarchs is only useful in Anti-Meta Monarchs. Return let’s you search but you need to tribute summon twice to gain any advantage. Storm Forth is clearly the best and it should take the place of everyone’s Soul Exchange. The only new card that intrigues me is Escalation of the Monarchs. It does little for card advantage but it does get around cards like Nobleman of Crossout.
If I were a Konami King for a day, I would have them introduce Monarch’s Squire, a level one effect monster. This card lets you tribute summon from the hand in addition to its Treeborn Frog-like graveyard resurrection. It does not create Geargia-like advantage but it also lets you use the other Monarch cards.