by Phoenix Desertsong, Old School Duelist
Many old school Yu-Gi-Oh players will say that 2003 to 2005 was the “golden age” of the competitive game. As I came into Yu-Gi-Oh around the time of Dark Beginning 1, the first major reprint set, I enjoyed the tailend of this “golden age.” The last “old school” set of Ancient Sanctuary had recently come out, along with the first ultimate rare set with Soul of the Duelist. I’d say those early days of Yu-Gi-Oh were my favorite, too. While the years since have had their ups and down, the game was a lot of fun back then.
Today, we’re going back to 2003, though. Around the release of Labyrinth of Nightmare - a freaking awesome set, by the way - the competitive game was actually based mostly in two archetypes, beatdown and burn. There were various permutations of both, but those were basically the best decks in the format. The competitive game would expand a bit in the next year or so, but the Labyrinth of Nightmare Advanced format is very nostalgic for we older Yu-Gi-Oh players.
One of the best Yu-Gi-Oh decks in 2003 was Fire Princess Burn. The Old School Expert on YouTube did we Old School Yu-Gi-Oh fans a favor by sharing a Fire Princess Burn deck list from 2003. Interestingly enough, a lot of this deck is still playable today. Then again, it’s way too slow for today’s format. Let’s take a look at this classic Yu-Gi-Oh burn deck!
1 Cure Mermaid
1 Cyber Jar
3 Darklord Marie (Marie the Fallen One)
3 Fire Princess
1 Morphing Jar
3 Nimble Momonga
2 UFO Turtle
1 Witch of the Black Forest
1 Card Destruction
1 Dark Hole
2 Graceful Charity
2 Messenger of Peace
1 Monster Reborn
1 Painful Choice
1 Pot of Greed
1 Premature Burial
1 Swords of Revealing Light
1 Tribute to the Doomed
1 Call of the Haunted
3 Gravity Bind
1 Imperial Order
1 Magic Cylinder
1 Magic Jammer
1 Mirror Force
2 Solemn Wishes
Thanks to the Old School Expert for featuring these Yu-Gi-Oh decks on his YouTube channel! Here’s his video:
The strategy of this deck is very straightforward. Get your Darklord Maries (formerly Marie the Fallen Ones) into the graveyard (GY) and one or more Fire Princesses on the field. Let’s see how this deck does this.
Monster Card Breakdown
In this Fire Princess deck profile, we’ll split the cards into what’s banned today and what isn’t. First, we’ll start with the meat of the deck, all but one card of which is still legal in tournament play in 2018.
Three copies of Fire Princess make up the heart of the deck and about half of the overall strategy. Back in Labyrinth of Nightmare, the Princess was a super rare and much more valuable. She was a common in DB1, meaning she was easier to get, but still just as powerful. Having 1300 ATK and 1500 DEF as a four-star monster is fairly underwhelming, but her effect is awesome: any time you gain Life Points, inflict 500 points of damage to your opponent.
This is really strong, as unlike some other burn decks, this deck is actually based on YOU gaining life while using Fire Princess to do the dirty work. Building that life point gap in your favor is how this deck can be fairly consistent.
Two copies of UFO Turtle serve as a way to get your Fire Princess into play. When the Turtle is destroyed by battle, you pull a Fire monster with 1500 or less ATK from your deck and Special Summon it in attack position. There are only two copies, since the other Turtle and the three Princesses are your only legal targets.
Three copies of Darklord Marie make up the other half of this deck’s main burn engine. But, as they are level 5 monsters, to summon her you have to Tribute a monster. Fortunately, there are enough ways to discard her into the graveyard to take advantage of the real reason you play her. During each Standby phase that Darklord Marie is in the graveyard, you gain 200 LP. You gain this 200 LP for each one in the graveyard, too.
Cure Mermaid is only at one copy in this list, although people were known to run more. This 1500 ATK water monster had this ability: “As long as this card remains face-up on your side of the field, increase your Life Points by 800 points during each of your Standby Phases.” While not a bad card at all, she’s fine as a one-of in the deck, although I remember people playing two copies or even three.
Nimble Momonga is the other big life gain card in the deck. There are three copies. The cool thing about Momonga is that when he’s destroyed you gain 1000 LP, but then you get to summon up to two other copies from your deck. This is great for defense, but it’s also good to thin your deck out by a couple of cards, too. This guy was actually played in a variety of different decks because of his versatility.
Sangan and Witch of the Black Forest were seen in almost every deck of the day. When he’s sent from the field to the graveyard, Sangan searches out any monster from your deck that has 1500 or less ATK and adds it to your hand. Witch of the Black Forest is similar, but she finds a monster that has 1500 or less DEF.
Back then, each of these tutor monsters were limited to one per deck. There was a time you could even play two Witches! These guys were always great for deck consistency. It wasn’t until later when you could bring them back again and again and abuse their effects that they were finally banned - although Sangan was legal for far longer than the Witch. But in 2018, Konami not only unbanned these two, but unlimited them! Hurray for old school cards coming back!
Onto what’s banned, the first was legal for quite some time until recently. Morphing Jar was an extremely expensive card when this deck was being played, and it was restricted to one copy per deck. It would actually be banned for a time while I was playing, although it’s unlimited to three copies now. This is a great card in the deck because not only does it let you reload your hand by discarding what you have and drawing five new cards, but it gets Marie in the graveyard. This is a pretty solid card, but it’s not legal in tournament play as of May 2018.
The only other monster that’s banned in tournament play is for good reason. Cyber Jar is one of the meanest, most lopsided cards of all time, in my opinion. It was even legal when I first started playing tournaments. It’s a flip effect monster that destroys all monsters on the field, then you and your opponent reveal the top 5 cards of each of your decks. You special summon any monsters level 4 or lower from among them to the field and add the other cards to your hand. Of course, Cyber Jar could backfire on you, but it was also a way to get Fire Princess and your other key monsters into play.
Spell Card Breakdown
We’ll start with the banned cards in the deck, most of which were deck staples at the time. Painful Choice is probably the most important of these. This spell card let you search out 5 cards from your deck and reveal them. Your opponent chooses one to put into your hand and the other 4 go to your graveyard. Getting this early in the game was always great, because you could potentially choose all three of your Darklord Maries to get them out of your deck. If you had a Monster Reborn or something to get your Fire Princess back right away, you could toss one of them to Painful Choice, too.
Painful Choice helped you get your deck going very quickly. Because of how many decks could use it to great advantage, it eventually was banned. In the 2018 game, it would be the most broken card ever because of how important the graveyard is to today’s game.
Pot of Greed and Graceful Charity were extremely powerful draw cards that would eventually be banned as well. There’s no strategy to Pot of Greed; you just draw two cards. Graceful Charity, which would be at two copies for some time, was a bit more strategic, since although you draw three cards, you have to discard two. However, in this Fire Princess deck, you hope to be able to just toss two Maries.
Card Destruction was legal for years but banned in recent years. This card forces you and your opponent to discard your hand and draw new cards equal to the number you discarded. It was pretty good for reloading a dead hand, but it could help your opponent out, too. It’s just too good in today’s game for filling the graveyard.
The last banned card is Premature Burial. This card wasn’t really worthy of being banned at the time because as an equip spell, it could be destroyed very easily. But, people would discover how easy it was to abuse this card in later years. Other cards would come that allowed you to abuse Equipment cards, which would lead to Premature Burial being banned. But, it’s a great card, because if you have to toss one of your Fire Princesses, you can get it back easily.
Now, onto the unbanned cards, we look at perhaps the best card in the deck: Messenger of Peace! Honestly, the Messenger is one of the best old-school cards that still has seen play in recent years. This continuous Spell Card says: “Monsters with 1500 or more ATK cannot declare an attack. Once per turn, during your Standby Phase, pay 100 LP or destroy this card.” That 100 LP price is so tiny for what it does. There are two copies in the deck, as while you probably want a third copy, drawing into a third can make it a dead card. Personally, though, I’d run three and just run 41 cards. It’s that good, and you want to make sure you get it ASAP.
The monster destruction package in the deck is all still legal in 2018: Dark Hole, Raigeki, and Tribute to the Doomed. While Tribute to the Doomed was often considered a pretty underwhelming card, it can target. The drawback of discarding a card isn’t even a big deal, as you can pitch a Marie or other unneeded card. Decks that played big tribute monsters, like Blue-Eyes White Dragon, also played this card so they could bring back the Dragon with something like Monster Reborn. Of course, Monster Reborn is legal in 2018, too. Not only can he revive one of your monsters, but he can get one of your opponent’s monsters, too! Nifty.
Trap Card Breakdown
The trap cards are all pretty vital to this deck, and the only one banned today is Imperial Order. That’s because Imperial Order is a nasty, dirty card that was banned before I even started playing. Imperial Order negates the effects and activation of all Spell cards.
While Imperial Order has a drawback of requiring the owner to pay 700 LP during each standby phase, this isn’t really a drawback, because you can just choose to destroy it when it no longer suits you. It allowed lesser decks to win games all the time, which is why it was banned.
Onto the cards that make the deck tick…
Solemn Wishes is a sweet little Continuous Trap card that gains you 500 LP each time you would draw cards. While it’s not for each card you draw, this card is going to gain you a lot of life. While three copies would seem better, as having two gains you 500 LP twice, three just clogs up your Spell and Trap zones too much.
That’s because there’s another important Continuous Trap card in the deck, three copies of Gravity Bind. If you can’t get Messenger of Peace to stick, Gravity Bind prevents all monsters Level 4 or higher from attacking. You don’t care about attacking in this deck, anyway. Gravity Bind will often win you the game by itself, and it’s nearly as good in 2018 as it was then - although XYZ and Link monsters get around it by lacking levels.
Ceasefire is a burn deck staple, dealing 500 damage to your opponent for each effect monster on the field, including your opponent’s! It even flips up face-down monsters and negates the effects when they flip. This is a great card for many reasons and it continues to see play in Chain Burn in modern Yu-Gi-Oh! In 2018, you can even run three copies! Back then, and rightly so, you could only play one copy.
Magic Jammer was a card a lot of people were actually not using as much by 2003, but the Old School Expert (and myself) still loved this card. It stops any Spell Card from being activated, for the cost of a discard. Again, that discard can still be to your advantage.
Magic Cylinder was a staple in many decks at the time, but was particularly powerful in burn for obvious reasons. Not only does this Labyrinth of Nightmare secret rare - reprinted since a billion times - negate the attack, but it sends the damage right back at your opponent. Oftentimes, Magic Cylinder could finish a game on its own. One of my favorite Yu-Gi-Oh cards of all time, you can play three copies in 2018! But back then, you could only run one, because this card is nasty. Really, it still is.
The last two are format staples: Call of the Haunted and Mirror Force. While Call of the Haunted isn’t played nearly as much in the modern game, it was a great way to revive a Monster that you pitched into the Graveyard earlier. Mirror Force, today at two copies, still is in many modern decks, sometimes in the sideboard.
If I Were Playing This Fire Princess Burn Deck…
Really, the only thing I’d change if I were playing this burn deck in the format that it was made for, is a third copy of Messenger of Peace. There are enough discard outlets in this deck that if I find that third copy as a dead card, it’s not a big deal. I really just want to make sure that I get a Gravity Bind or Messenger of Peace to stick. Otherwise you’re going to be in trouble.
The other thing about this deck is consistency. If you can’t get one of your Fire Princess to stick, it can be miserable. Still, I wouldn’t play a third UFO Turtle, because it’s going to be dead more often than not. This deck is pretty much good as it is.
There were many other burn variants at the time, but they were usually somewhat similar to this. Many people played the full three copies of Cure Mermaid, for example.
There was also Skull Invitation, a trap card from Pharaoh's Servant that would deal 300 damage for each card that went to the graveyard to the owner of the card. You’d be ahead enough in Life Points where this was actually more in your favor. For me, it would’ve been a decent sideboard card, and it was a common by the time I played.
Another Trap card I remember being played sometimes, often in the sideboard, was a short print also from Pharaoh’s Servant called Numinous Healer. This trap card could be activated whenever you took damage to your Life Points. You’d increase your life points by 1000, and for each Numinous Healer already in your Graveyard, it would give you an additional 500 LP. There’s actually a cute combo with Skull Invitation, since the damage you’d take from Invitation could let you activate Healer. While this combo is cool, it’s very reliant on trap cards, so Jinzo would give you a very bad day.
Not long later, Magician’s Force would give the deck Wave-Motion Cannon, a card so powerful it would even be banned for a time.
When I started playing Yu-Gi-Oh “for real” the Fire Princess deck had a lot of new tools. Ancient Sanctuary was the set that was just released when I began playing seriously. This set would give the deck some new ways to go. There were so many great burn cards in the set.
Some people opted to run a Solar Flare Dragon package in addition to Fire Princess for extra burn damage. There was also a Spell Card called Goblin Thief which heals you 500 LP and inflicts 500 damage on your opponent. It was a pretty nasty card with one or more Fire Princess in play.
Spell Absorption would come much later with Flaming Eternity. Way later, in Light of Destruction, there was Golden Ladybug. These cards are awesome, but they’re way out of this era. If you were burning this sort of deck today, though, they’d be highly considered. There’s also “Nurse Burn,” a totally different kind of deck that still sees some play in Modern Yu-Gi-Oh.
Burn has continued to be an awesome archetype in Yu-Gi-Oh! While Fire Princess Burn is much too slow in the Modern game, it was an awesome deck back in its day, and still an awesomely fun deck to play.
Have you ever played with or against Fire Princess? Would you build a Fire Princess burn deck today?
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