In Goat Format, there’s a concept known as the “Warrior Toolbox” that you’ve likely seen before. If you’re into the history of the format, and the decks that were played back when the format was live, you’re likely somewhat familiar with it.
Warriors back in 2005 were considered quite powerful. I myself liked the Warrior Toolbox and worked hard to incorporate it into all of my decks, especially back in 2004 before the first banlist struck. After the demise of CED-based Chaos decks, the Warrior Toolbox fell out of favor in “standard” decklists, and if you look through the old Metagame archives you can see how little it was played.
But fast forward ten years, and suddenly we’re looking at a brand-new Goat Format, one that has seen a lot of innovation over the years. Nowadays, the Warrior Toolbox is seen in decks like Standard Zoo and my own Gravekeeper deck. Despite ten years of change – and many players writing it off – the Warrior Toolbox is once again giving duelists fits, and encouraging more people to run Warrior-type cards in Goat Format.
But what makes the Warrior Toolbox good (or bad)? Why is it used in some decks and not others? What decks should it be used in? What cards are typically used in the Warrior Toolbox? These are questions that need answers, and that’s why I’m writing this article. So let’s go ahead and deconstruct the Warrior Toolbox, shall we?
Defining the Warrior Toolbox
For starters, we have to define the Warrior Toolbox. Really, it’s a group of Warrior-type monsters (and the support card Reinforcement of the Army) that can be splashed into a deck, sort of like an engine. It’s not an engine as we know them today, of course – this is why it’s called the “Warrior Toolbox,” not the “Warrior Engine.”
It’s a toolbox, and it is full of tools that should help you win the game.
So let’s take a look at an “extended” Warrior Toolbox and list some of the cards that are regularly seen in one:
D.D. Warrior Lady
Mystic Swordsman LV2
Reinforcement of the Army
That’s really it. A full Warrior deck would also play cards such as Marauding Captain, Goblin Attack Force, and maybe even Freed, the Matchless General as well. But we’re not talking about a full-on Warrior build, we’re talking about the Warrior Toolbox.
All those cards do certain things. Blade Knight, for instance, can give you a 2000 ATK beater that can stop Flip effects and is also a LIGHT for Black Luster Soldier-Envoy of the Beginning. I’ve made my stance clear on D.D. Assailant in other articles, and D.D. Warrior Lady does much the same as Assailant but is also a LIGHT monster. Back before it was restricted to one, 3x D.D. Warrior Lady was almost a staple in meta decks. Don Zaloog is a DARK and is great for hand disruption. If you remember back to Yata formats, Don Zaloog was often used in conjunction with Mystic Tomato to provide continual pressure on your opponent’s hand. Exiled Force is a one-use kill-all-monsters that works well with Premature Burial and Call of the Haunted. And Mystic Swordsman LV2 takes care of any and every face-down monster you come across.
Each part of the Warrior Toolbox has some degree of utility that, when played properly, can give you the upper hand. Note too that the Warrior Toolbox can act as a way to thin the deck while also getting you access to powerful monsters. Reinforcement of the Army can be viewed as a more powerful Upstart Goblin that thins your deck by a card, gets you a monster that you need right then and there, and doesn’t give your opponent any LP. In this way, the Warrior Toolbox is even more versatile. Over time, though, many players have opted to turn away from the Warrior Toolbox for less volatile options, or options that allow them to play a more passive-aggressive game. And that’s not a bad thing – it’s a big reason as to why the Warrior Toolbox is not seen in many “standard” Goat Format decks, in particular the Perovic build.
But that doesn’t mean they’re bad, or that it’s wrong to play the Warrior Toolbox. It just means that you need to justify its inclusion. It’s hard to justify a full Warrior Toolbox in a Standard, Perovic-based Goat Format deck because the deck, at least from a theory standpoint, is about as good as it’s going to get. There’s a reason as to why the Perovic build is the go-to Standard Goat decklist, after all – it’s the most balanced and mathematically-sound deck in the format. From a theory perspective, and in the hands of a skilled player, it sees high win/loss ratios.
But it’s not the only deck in the format, and in less-skilled hands may not prove to be as powerful as it ought to be. This variance – and the inclusion of Exarion Universe to the format – has allowed other decks to shine and other ideas and theories to come to light. In today’s Goat Format, several decks that utilize part of the Warrior Toolbox have risen to prominence. Now it’s time to take a look at them.
What Decks can Utilize the Warrior Toolbox Effectively
The decks that can utilize the Warrior Toolbox – at least, the ones that come to mind – are Zoo, Gravekeeper’s and Skill Drain Beatdown. There are likely others, but these are the ones that actually see it played the most.
The Warrior Toolbox in Zoo
Zoo is a formidable deck that utilizes the concept of “might is right.” It looks to drop high-ATK beatsticks each and every turn and to be able to control the field via battle and win quickly. In addition to double Abyss Soldier (which is often combined with Sinister Serpent), triple Berserk Gorilla and Exarion Universe, it packs a truncated Warrior Toolbox consisting of the following:
2x D.D. Assailant
1x D.D. Warrior Lady
1x Exiled Force
1x Mystic Swordsman LV2
2x Reinforcement of the Army.
The inclusion of these cards compliments the high-octane offense that comes with its three copies of Berserk Gorilla and Exarion Universe because it gives the deck ways of dealing with potential – or actual – threats. D.D. Assailant and Warrior Lady not only provide field presence, they constitute a threat and, by design, take out a bigger monster when destroyed by battle. That one-for-one exchange works in Zoo’s favor, as the deck seeks to win by simplifying the gamestate as quickly as possible. This keeps pressure on the opponent especially once Berserk Gorilla and Exarion Universe hit the field.
Exiled Force and Mystic Swordsman LV2 are used for existing threats and face-down threats, respectively. Hence their use at just one copy. The deck already packs two copies of Nobleman of Crossout, after all, but having a searchable, summonable option is almost preferable for several reasons. For starters, the deck does not run Magician of Faith, so there’s no reusability in Nobleman. There is in both Exiled Force and Mystic Swordsman LV2 thanks to Premature Burial and Call of the Haunted.
Note, too, that the deck cannot play Metamorphosis or Scapegoat, so dealing with threats via Thousand-Eyes Restrict is not an option. Therefore, other methods need to be examined, and this is where the Warrior Toolbox comes in handy. It fits in perfectly into the deck as it allows for continual pressure while also being versatile enough to handle a variety of threats.
The Warrior Toolbox in Gravekeeper’s
Gravekeepers, like Zoo, looks to exert continual pressure, but it differs in that it approaches it more passively – but also more explosively. By virtue of Necrovalley, Gravekeepers can put threats onto the board that Zoo simply cannot, notably a 2000 ATK piercer and a 2000 ATK battle position switcher. Not only that, but Necrovalley shuts down Spell recursion via Magician of Faith, preempts the threat of Black Luster Soldier-Envoy of the Beginning, and renders both Premature Burial and Call of the Haunted useless.
But the deck is still a swarm deck at its heart. Unlike Zoo, ideally on turn two Gravekeeper’s will have three monsters on the board. The only other deck that can do that is the Warrior Swarm build, but it has its flaws for other reasons (notably Marauding Captain being so weak). Regardless, it swarms, and that’s at the heart of the deck. And it does it very well. Gravekeeper’s, though, can’t play Call of the Haunted or Premature Burial, which means Exiled Force loses a lot of power. Instead, a second copy of Mystic Swordsman LV2 should be included to make up for that. Besides, you can typically handle high-ATK monsters via Gravekeeper’s Assailant (or any of the D.D. monsters, for that matter), so your biggest fear typically is face-down monsters.
Notice how the decks don’t play Blade Knight or Don Zaloog. This is for two reasons: for one, Blade Knight is not near as versatile as Mystic Swordsman LV2, considering he has to be alone to negate Flip Effect monsters, and he is only 1600 ATK unless you have one or less cards in hand. Mystic Swordsman LV2 only has 900 ATK, sure, but his effect is always active which makes him a prime threat alongside other monsters. He is much more versatile for that alone. Note too that Mystic Swordsman LV2 can deal with a face-down Gravekeeper’s Spy, and Blade Knight cannot.
Plus, neither Zoo or Gravekeepers are Chaos-oriented, so LIGHT/DARK ratios don’t matter. Blade Knight is a LIGHT and typically is mostly included in decklists for that reason more so than his effect. As for Don Zaloog, well, Zoo doesn’t want low-ATK monsters outside Sinister Serpent, and Gravekeepers would rather force the opponent to commit to the board than simply discard. Besides, 1400 ATK is paltry against many decks in modern Goat Format, so they’re typically only seen as tech cards. I will say that they’re pretty good in Warrior Swarm decks, though those decks typically aren’t very good in Goat Format.
The Warrior Toolbox in Skill Drain Beatdown
Skill Drain Beatdown was never a tier-one deck – then again, neither was Gravekeeper’s outside of topping one event back in 2005. But Skill Drain is a powerful floodgate that can shut down a lot of strategies. It can prevent BLS from banishing, Airknight from drawing, Thousand-Eyes Restrict from sucking up monsters and preventing attacks – it’s a potent card, to be sure. In modern Goat Format, Skill Drain tends to be more of a tech card than a viable strategy, mostly because of its vulnerability as a Continuous Trap.
Skill Drain Beatdown is a deck that can utilize a lot more of the Warriors that are available in Goat Format, notably Zombrya the Dark, Goblin Attack Force and Exiled Force. These cards can all be used when Skill Drain is face-up – Zombrya becomes a 2100 ATK beater that doesn’t lose power, and Goblin Attack Force becomes a 2300 ATK beater that doesn’t have to switch to defense. Even if Skill Drain is not on the field, both of those monsters act as high-ATK deterrents that can control the field and prevent your opponent from getting aggressive.
Note, though, that the deck has major issues, notably its reliance on Skill Drain. The deck is vulnerable to big plays, notably a Heavy Storm drop followed by a major splurge onto the field. Smart duelists can work around that, but the deck is still full of holes which is why few people have made waves with it. Skill Drain has seen use in decks such as Zoo, more traditional Beastdown and others as a one-of tech, but in a dedicated deck it has seen only mediocre results.
Potential Additions to the Warrior Toolbox
Notice how the Skill Drain Beatdown deck can use other Warrior-type monsters in its Toolbox. But if you’re trying to build a deck utilizing the Warrior Toolbox, the most important thing is being able to justify its inclusion. And if you’re trying to expand your toolbox, you really need to be able to justify that as well. It’s not easy. But here’s a list of potential additions to the already-established Warrior Toolbox:
Big Shield Gardna
Goblin Attack Force
Zombrya the Dark
Notice the list isn’t very long. These are probably the most versatile of all the available Warrior cards out there, but their uses are limited. For Big Shield, you’re looking to preempt Nobleman of Crossout and protect other monsters; using him simply as a wall isn’t as good as using the Spy Engine, considering as soon as he’s attacked he switches to Attack Position and he only has 100 ATK. Command Knight is best in dedicated Warrior decks, and his inclusion is dubious in there as well. Command Knight really is best in a Warrior-only deck, as its main effect is to pump all other Warrior-type monsters by 400 ATK. If you’re simply trying to splash a Warrior Toolbox in to give your deck a bit more offensive capabilities, Command Knight is going to be too weak to do anything well.
Marauding Captain and Goblin Attack Force could be splashed for extra swarm and ATK power. When I was younger (and dumber) I thought that Warriors were the way of the future. I figured they could swarm so quickly that you wouldn’t have to deal with your opponent’s threats. But I learned that Marauding Captain and Goblin Attack Force are too weak to really be breakthrough monsters. Sure, you can summon Captain and then Goblin and protect the Goblin after taking down something like Airknight Parshath (considering Goblin Attack Force as 2300 ATK). But being in Defense Position for two turns sets you back drastically. This limits the Captain-whatever combo and puts you in a disadvantageous situation more than not. I suppose that Zoo could potentially utilize them, but again, Goblin switches to defense position and thus is best if he doesn’t attack at all. His switch is a liability that Zoo cannot afford, and Gravekeepers simply don’t have the room. Therefore, it’s something that you would need to be able to compensate for, which is difficult to do in most Goat Format decks.
Zombrya the Dark is one that I originally didn’t think about, but he does have a use in one particular deck: Skill Drain Beatdown. I’m not as familiar with Skill Drain Beatdown as others, but a 2100 ATK, searchable DARK Warrior can be a useful addition in a deck that negates on-board monster effects. Normally Zombrya loses 200 ATK whenever he attacks, but with Skill Drain up he stays at 2100 ATK. You can also argue that Goblin Attack Force is useful in Skill Drain Beatdown as well, as he wouldn’t switch to Defense Position when he swings. But note that the deck has its issues, notably being reliant on a Continuous Trap Card. But if you’re going that route, those are two notable additions to the Toolbox. One could also make an argument for Zombrya in Zoo, but with the way the deck is constructed right now, it seems to be a suboptimal choice.
The last card I want to highlight is Giant Rat. Not technically a Warrior monster, Rat nonetheless has its own mini Toolbox known as the Rat Toolbox, or “Ratbox.” A Ratbox generally sees copies of Giant Rat fetching out monsters such as Exiled Force and Mystic Swordsman LV2. It can also fetch other non-Warriors such as Nimble Momonga, and can help beef up underrated archetypes such as Amazoness. But like every other recruiter in the format, Rat has to die by battle in order to get his effect, and if the best you can pull is Exiled Force, at a paltry 1000 ATK, you’re better off playing something else since you’ll likely never get that effect off.
In theory, one could run a truncated Ratbox with Giant Rat, Mystic Swordsman LV2, and Exiled Force in Zombies, as Pyramid Turtle is an Earth-type monster that can fetch big Zombies. The deck typically doesn’t play Scapegoat as it is a swarm-based build, but the deck also has a lot of cards it has to include in order to actually be a Zombie deck, and Ratbox may not fit. As Zombies are a lower-tier archetype, though, there is no best build for the deck, so how you construct your own is up to you.
The Warrior Toolbox is a limited and yet versatile addition to a deck. If you are able to handle threats without it, by all means, exclude it. But if you’re lacking persistent field presence, or are playing a deck that is meant to swarm quickly, it is worth taking a look at the toolbox and seeing what it can offer you.
That’s it for this time. As always you can contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to stop by the official Pojo Goat Format Thread and check out the Goat Format Discord server as well to continue the Goat Format discussion.