Saturday, October 30, 2010

SDMA Part 2: Children Of The Grave

The Structure Deck: Marik includes most of the Gravekeeper Monsters along with their key Field Spell Card Necrovalley. They are all DARK, Spellcaster-type monsters. Gravekeeper monsters were first introduced in Pharaonic Guardian, and received some additional support through the years. While Marik didn't actually play with Gravekeeper Monsters, his job in Ancient Egypt was being a grave keeper himself. Some of the Gravekeeper Cards are not actually included in the Deck, but let's just review them all in this article.

Let's start with Gravekeeper's Spy:

FLIP: Special Summon 1 "Gravekeeper's" monster with 1500 or less ATK from your Deck.

Spy has a Flip Effect. It doesn't target.

Next, we have Gravekeeper's Curse:

When this card is Summoned, inflict 500 damage to your opponent.

Curse has a Trigger Effect that activates upon its successful Summon. It can be negated by Pulling the Rug or Swallow Flip accordingly.

Then, we have Gravekeeper's Guard:

FLIP: Select 1 monster your opponent controls and return it to the hand.

Guard has a Flip Effect too. This one does target an opponent's monster.

Moving on, we have Gravekeeper's Spear Soldier:

During battle between this attacking card and a Defense Position monster whose DEF is lower than the ATK of this card, inflict the difference as Batte Damage to your opponent.

Your usual trampling effect. It's a Continuous Effect.

Then, we have Gravekeeper's Cannonholder:

You can Tribute 1 "Gravekeeper's" monster, except "Gravekeeper's Cannonholder", to inflict 700 damage to your opponent.

Cannonholder has an Ignition Effect. It tributes a monster as a cost. Note that you cannot tribute ANY Gravekeeper's Cannonholder you control, not just this one. You can't even tribute a face-down Cannonholder.

And then, we have Gravekeeper's Assailant:

If "Necrovalley" is on the Field when this card declares an attack, you can select 1 face-up monster your opponent controls and change its battle position.

Assailant has an Optional Trigger Effect that you activate upon Attack Declaration. It targets a face-up monster your opponent controls, but it can be a different monster than the Attack Target.

Outside of the Structure Deck, we also have Gravekeeper's Vassal:

Battle Damage this card inflicts to your opponent is treated as Effect damage instead.

Vassal has a really unique Continuous Effect. Much as its text explains, instead of inflicting Battle Damage, this damage is treated as Effect Damage instead. This has some useful implications. For example, since inflicting Battle Damage is an event without Spell Speed, Cards that need to be chained to Effect Damage like Barrel Behind the Door cannot respond to this effect. Waboku cannot prevent a player from taking damage when Vassal would inflict Battle Damage to them. It's also worth mentioning that if an effect restricts Vassal from inflicting Battle Damage, such as Union Attack, then Vassal would still inflict Effect Damage to your opponent. For example, if Phantom of Chaos copied Vassal's effect, then you could damage your opponent with Phantom, even though it can't inflict any Battle Damage.

And another missing Gravekeeper is Gravekeeper's Watcher:

When your opponent activates an effect whereby your opponent discards a card(s) from his/her hand, you can send this card from your hand to the Graveyard to negate the activation of the effect and destroy it.

Watcher has an Optional Quick Effect. Sending this Card from the Hand to the Graveyard is a cost, so the effect can't be activated if Macro Cosmos is active. It negates the activation of an effect that includes the effect of discarding Cards from your opponent's Hand. Since effects are not costs, it cannot negate Cards like Raigeki Break or Phoenix Wing Wind Blast (more importantly, your opponent would have already discarded the Cards already). Also, since it negates activations, it doesn't target. It cannot negate the effects of an already-active S/T Card like Depth Amulet.

Back to the Deck, the last of the PGD batch of Gravekeepers is Gravekeeper's Chief:

You can only control 1 "Gravekeeper's Chief". Cards in your Graveyard are unaffected by "Necrovalley". When this card is Tribute Summoned, you can select 1 "Gravekeeper's" monster from your Graveyard and Special Summon it.

The first line is a highlander clause, which we have already reviewed before. Then, it has a Continuous Effect that stops Necrovalley from affecting your Graveyard. We'll deal with Necrovalley in a minute, but pretty much it means exactly that: Everything that Necrovalley stops doesn't count for your Graveyard. The last sentence is an Optional Trigger Effect activated upon this Card's successful Tribute Summon, so it can be negated by Pulling the Rug. It targets a Gravekeeper in your Graveyard.

Straying from the Deck once again, we have two monsters that are related to Necrovalley that are also from PGD, one being A Cat of Ill Omen and the other being An Owl of Luck:

FLIP: Select 1 Trap Card from your Deck and place it on top of your Deck. If "Necrovalley" is active on the field, you can add the selected card to your hand instead.

FLIP: Select 1 Field Spell Card from your Deck and place it on top of your Deck. If "Necrovalley" is active on the field, you can add the selected Field Spell Card to your hand instead.

Both Cards work exactly the same rulings-wise. Both have a Flip Effect that helps you getting a specific Card from your Deck faster, and they only differ in which Card they can search. This effect doesn't target. The effect only requires "Necrovalley" to be on the Field to add the Card to the Hand, it doesn't need to have its effect active. So even if Gravekeeper's Chief or Imperial Order are disrupting Necrovalley's effect, you can choose to add the Card to the Hand. If Thunder King Rai-Oh is face-up, the Card must be placed on top of your Deck. You are unable to choose in that case.

We also have Charm of Shabti:

Discard this card from your hand. Until the End Phase, make the Battle Damage to monsters that include "Gravekeeper's" in their card name 0.

Charm has an Optional Quick Effect. Discarding it is a cost. While its wording is a little ambiguous, it means that your Gravekeeper monsters are not destroyed in battle, but you still take any necessary Battle Damage. This effect doesn't target, and it will affect Graveekeper monsters that were Summoned after the effect resolves or that were face-down. Note that the effect also affects your opponent's Gravekeepers.

As for some old Gravekeeper Spell Cards, we have Gravekeeper's Servant:

Your opponent cannot declare an attack unless they send 1 card from the top of their Deck to the Graveyard.

Servant is an interesting Card. By itself, it doesn't mean much to today's Cards' standards, but it has two funny rulings. The first one is that, despite being a Continuous Spell Card, it counts as a Gravekeeper Card due to its name, and if you Summon it with Magical Hats, it can benefit from the Gravekeeper support Cards. This was one of the first Cards with this loophole, even though nowadays it's a little more common. The other ruling involves more about the Card's effect. Basically, Servant places a cost on declaring an attack. This doesn't use the chain, and is required to start declaring an attack. If your opponent doesn't have enough Cards in the Deck, s/he can't declare any attacks. The other funny ruling comes here. If Macro Cosmos is active, then the cost to declare an attack cannot be paid, as the Cards cannot be sent to the Graveyard, and so, if both Macro Cosmos and this Card are active, the opponent can't declare any attacks no matter how many Cards are left in his Deck.

We also have Royal Tribute:

Activate only when you control "Necrovalley". Both players discard all Monster Cards in their hands.

Controlling Necrovalley is only an activation requirement, so even if it is destroyed, the effect still resolves properly. If activated via Diamond Dude, you don't need to control Necrovalley. At least 1 player must control Cards in his/her Hand in order to activate Royal Tribute, but you can activate it with no Monster Cards in your Hand or no Cards at all. Both players must also reveal their Hand to verify that there are no more Monster Cards in their Hand.

And to finish with the nostalgia, the last PGD Card for Gravekeeper's is Rite of Spirit:

Select and Special Summon 1 "Gravekeeper's" monster from your Graveyard. This effect cannot be negated by the effect of "Necrovalley".

Rite of Spirit targets a Gravekeeper in your Graveyard. It's only bonus is that it's not negated by Necrovalley.

A few years later, we have Gravekeeper's Commandant:

You can discard this card to the Graveyard to add 1 "Necrovalley" from your Deck to your hand.

Commandant has an Ignition Effect. Discarding it to the Graveyard is a cost, so if Macro Cosmos is active, the effect can't be activated. It adds a Necrovalley to your Hand, and it doesn't target. If Thunder King Rai-Oh is face-up, you can't activate this effect.

And back to 2010, we have Gravekeeper's Priestess:

The field is treated as "Necrovalley". If there is a face-up Field Spell Card, this effect is not applied. All face-up "Gravekeeper's" Monsters gain 200 ATK and DEF.

Priestess has two Continuous Effects. The first one treats the Field as if Necrovalley was active. Note that you don't get ANY of Necrovalley's effects by merely controlling Priestess, so your Gravekeeper's won't gain 500 ATK/DEF and the Graveyards are NOT protected, ironically. The purpose of this effect is to "pretend" that there is a face-up Necrovalley Card, so that Cards like Gravekeeper's Assailant and An Owl of Luck can benefit from it. The restriction while there is a Field Spell Card refers to this effect, not the second one. The second effect is simply an ATK/DEF increase.

Then, we have Gravekeeper's Descendant:

You can Tribute 1 face-up "Gravekeeper's" monster you control, except this card, to destroy 1 card your opponent controls.

Descendant has an Ignition Effect.Tributing a Gravekeeper is a cost, and the effect targets an opponent's Card.

The last Gravekeeper monster is Gravekeeper's Visionary:

You can Normal Summon this card by Tributing 1 "Gravekeeper's" monster. This card gains 200 ATK for each "Gravekeeper's" monster in your Graveyard. If this face-up card on the field would be destroyed, you can discard 1 "Gravekeeper's" monster instead.

Visionary has a Summoning Condition that allows you to Summon it with only one tribute. Then, it has a Continuous Effect that provides it with an ATK increase. Finally, the last effect is a substitution effect. It's a Continuous Effect that discards a Gravekeeper monster when Visionary would be destroyed (when the effect that destroys it resolve, or during the Damage Step if it's about to be destroyed in battle).

The last support Card before reviewing  Necrovalley is Gravekeeper's Stele:

Select 2 "Gravekeeper's" monsters in your Graveyard and add them to your hand. This effect cannot be negated by the effect of "Necrovalley".

Stele targets two Gravekeepers in your Graveyard. If one of the targets is no longer in the Graveyard by the time the effect resolves, you still add the remaining one to the Hand. It also has the bonus of being unaffected by Necrovalley.

And finally, we have the most infamous Spell Card, Necrovalley:

All "Gravekeeper's" monsters gain 500 ATK and DEF. Cards in either player's Graveyard cannot be removed from play. Cards in either player's Graveyard cannot be affected by card effects, except for their own effects.

Necrovalley has three Continuous Effects. The first one is an evident ATK/DEF increase which isn't exactly problematic.

The second effect prevents Cards in the Graveyard from being Removed from Play. This covers every possible way to do this, be it an effect, or a cost. If it involves Removing Cards from Play, then the Card cannot be activated, and if it's necessary to perform a Summoning Condition, then the Summon cannot be initiated. This means that effects like D.D. Crow, Spore, or Gladiator Beast Retiari cannot be activated, Cards like Soul Release or Book of Life cannot be activated, and monsters like Chaos Sorcerer's or Enishi, Shien's Chancellor cannot be Special Summoned by their Inherent Special Summon. If Gravekeeper's Chief is face-up, you can Special Summon these monsters, but your opponent can Remove from Play Cards from your Graveyard as well.

However, the last effect is more meaningful. Through the years, this effect's rulings have been reversed back and forth just too many times. Thanks to the last reversal caused by its reprint in the Marik Structure Deck, Necrovalley has returned to its actual glory, and most importantly, can be summed up briefly.

The third effect negates the effects of Cards that affect Cards in the Graveyard. What does "affect" cover here? It involves effects that try to take out Cards out of the Graveyard other than Removing them from Play (which the second effect already covers). That is to say, this effect negates effects that Special Summon monsters from the Graveyard (Monster Reborn), effects that add Cards from the Graveyard to the Hand (Salvage, Gladiator Beast Equeste), effects that return Cards from the Graveyard to the Deck or Extra Deck (Pot of Avarice), and other effects that simply try to take a Card out of the Graveyard. A key exception to this is mentioned in the text, and that is a Card whose own effect moves it out of the Graveyard. For example, effects like Stardust Dragon's Trigger Effect, Plaguespreader Zombie's effect, or Sinister Serpent's effect.

Notice how the third effect only deals with effects, not costs, so you can take out Cards out of the Graveyard as a cost. This means you can activate the effect of Scrap Recycler by returning Cards from the Graveyard to the Deck, and you can also Special Summon Exodius the Ultimate Forbidden Lord by its Summoning Condition.

Finally, the third effect is only restricted to taking Cards out of the Graveyard. If an effect only counts or refers to Cards in the Graveyard, Necrovalley won't negate it. For example, Necrovalley will not negate the effects of Gravekeeper's Visionary or Totem Dragon, even though they need to know if certain Cards are in the Graveyard. Similarly, Necrovalley will not negate the effects of Tragoedia or The Tyrant Neptune, even though they target a monster in the Graveyard to modify some of their statistics. None of these effects try to take Cards out of the Graveyard.

Well, that's all for the Gravekeeper monsters and the dreaded Necrovalley. Stay tuned for the final batch of Cards of the Marik Structure Deck.


  1. I liked Konami's little blurb about Necrovalley when you buy the structure.
    "The cards are at rest, and you can't do anything to them. You can still look at them. And they can do their own things in the grave." Or something like that...I threw away the sheet :\

  2. Stele, not "Steele", Ness00....

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Sigh...I'll never get that word right Q_Q

  4. is marik deck worth buying

  5. Not really. The majority of the Cards can be easily obtained. So unless you plan on building Gravekeepers and you lack every single Card, it's probably a bad choice to buy the Deck.