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This Space
For Rent

Zero Space
By Perennial Zero
May 24, 2005

Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys:

Did the ol’ bird really live up to the hype?

Part II

Hand of Nephthys
WIND/Spellcaster – 2 Stars

“Tribute 2 monsters on your side of the field, including this card, to Special Summon 1 "Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys" from your hand or Deck.”

Honestly, Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys, and its playability in the current metagame, cannot be properly analyzed without examining it in conjunction with the abovementioned spellcaster. Alone, Phoenix is a two-tribute monster with a potentially game-breaking effect. Remind you of any other card? It should, because that is exactly what Dark Magician of Chaos is. However, DMoC is seen even less amidst top-tier tournament decks than the Phoenix. Why? It has a higher attack, its Dark-attribute allows it to double as Chaos bait, and, depending on the Spell cards currently in your grave, it can give you immediate hand/field advantage. Simply put, it’s just too often a dead draw.

Now you may be thinking, Hand of Nephthys can easily search out Phoenix, even as early as turn one, from your deck! True. When summoned via Hand, to “break even” in terms of card advantage Phoenix has to either kill just 1 monster in battle or destroy 1 spell/trap card via its effect (to offset the monster you tributed along with Hand). In fact, without Hand, Phoenix’s two-tribute status would make it just about as popular (and useful) as DMoC.

After its ability to burn opponent’s resources vis-Ó-vis its recursion effect, Phoenix’s main advantage is the speed in which Hand can special summon it to the field. However, this very advantage is a double-edged sword and is the reason many tournament players have chosen to overlook Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys.

Once Phoenix leaves the game for good (through being destroyed in battle, barring Call of the Haunted or Premature Burial, or being removed from the game) Hand of Nephthys becomes a useless draw. At least if it was a one-star monster it could have served as Metamorphosis fodder. In the competitive tournament environment even 1 useless draw often means defeat.

To adjust to this weakness, most top-tier decks that utilize Sacred Phoenix use only 1 HoN. Though this reduces the amount of potentially dead draws, one Hand of Nephthys just isn’t enough to maximize on Phoenix’s most reliable asset, its speed. And although Hand is searchable via Sangan, in a duel there are just too many instances that arise where using the critter to search out monster removal (D. D. Warrior Lady, Exiled Forces), hand destruction (Don Zaloog, Spirit Reaper), discard material (Sinister Serpent), or spell recursion (Magician of Faith) becomes too important to pass up.

This brings us to the other monster that can search out HoN, Apprentice Magician.

I know some will disagree with me on this point, but I do not believe Apprentice Magician is as good as it is so often advertised. Sure, it speeds up your deck, sure it's Chaos fuel, and sure it can bring out both Magician of Faith and Hand of Nephthys (in a Phoenix Deck), but it lacks one key component, reliability. Unless you run a specialty deck (burn, deck depletion, etc…), field control and Life Point damage win duels. The ONLY high-attack monster Apprentice Magician can reliably search out, although indirectly, is Sacred Phoenix. Once the duel enters the mid-to-late game, Apprentice Magician becomes a serious liability. Without any good monsters left to search out, and with an attack too low to control the field, Apprentice becomes pretty useless. Again, its 2-Star status hurts its playability immensely at this point. Furthermore, destroying your own Creature Swapped Apprentice Magician WILL NOT give you a search since its effect is triggered when destroyed in battle and NOT when it hits the graveyard.

Since the cards which support Phoenix are really only viable during the earlier stages of a duel, all your opponent has to do is play conservatively, waiting for you to make your “big push.” And even then, all he/she really has to worry about is Magician of Faith (which isn’t even that great a monster in the early game and can easily be countered by the 1 of 2 Nobleman of Crossouts every duelist seems to maindeck these days) and Sacred Phoenix. Once your trump card is taken care of, a win becomes difficult to pull off.

Finally, even when everything goes your way and you manage to catch your opponent off guard, with an attack of only 2400 Phoenix’s damage potential is low enough to give your opponent time to draw a counter. Think about it, why is Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning so good? I mean, given 1-2 more Draw Phases, it can easily be taken care of with a simple Smashing Ground or Sakuretsu Armor, no? It’s because BLS’ attack potential is so high! Not even mentioning Soldier’s removal effect, losing 4400+ Life Points just from ONE monster is game ending. And, since BLS is special summoned, you will usually have another monster to tack on another 1400+ points of damage – that’s nearly three-quarters of an opponent’s total LP in one battle phase!

Personally, I am a HUGE fan of the ol’ bird. =) Ever since I got a copy of Sacred Phoenix at the FET Sneak Preview Event I have been faithfully using it in my maindeck, despite its weaknesses. So, I encourage those of you who feel similarly to do the same. Just know beforehand that it will take more planning, more effort, and more luck to win. Hopefully, the next banlist will change the TCG environment in a way that’ll allow Nephy to really shine (which will be the topic of my next article =P).

Happy dueling folks!

~ Zero


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