The Gravekeeper's are a Dark Attribute, Spellcaster-type Archetype initially introduced in Pharaonic Guardian. Gravekeeper's are monsters with weak attack points, none exceeding 2000 ATK. Despite their inability maintain field presence through large attack, they have powerful cards which disrupt strategies of various popular decks. Despite being considered a dead archetype for a large period of time, the Structure Deck: Marik was released, granting them additionally support, which was supplemented in recent sets such as Starstrike Blast. Though inferior to many Decks, they are viable competitively due to their disruptive strategies.
Compensating for mediocre attack points, the archetype contains a myriad of powerful effects, which are supplemented a noticeable attack buff when their Field Spell, Necrovalley is present. In addition to the attack boost, Necrovalley also heavily disrupts a plethora of popular decks whom rely on the Graveyard acting as a "toolbox".
Due to their mediocre ATK points, a heavy lineup of traps are used within popular Gravekeeper's decks, preventing the opponent from pushing offensively. This large trap line-up usually reaches around 15 traps, many of which are negation.
Building the Deck
These are the cards that should be included in every Gravekeeper's deck regardless of what the meta looks like.
The main monster that started it all. When combined with Necrovalley, Spy hits an astounding 2500 defense, which is difficult for many decks to get over, since they'll need either a boss monster like Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World or a big Xyz like Gem-Knight Pearl or Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction. On top of his amazing defense, he also has an amazing ability. When he's flipped, he can search any Gravekeeper's monster in your deck with 1500 or less attack, meaning he'll be able to search every Gravekeeper's mained except Commandant. With this, you can bring out Descendant to pop a card your opponent controls on your turn, bring out a Recruiter to get a search off or another Spy for more walling or to set up an Xyz play. Spy can help immensely by setting up a comeback, giving you a good opening start or just general walling by either being big or making your opponent think the Descendant you set as a bluff is a Spy that they don't want to flip. Spy should always be played at 3.
The destroyer of the deck. Descendant clears the way to your opponent's lifepoints by tributing off his fellow Gravekeeper's to pop your opponent's cards, Monsters, Spells and Traps all included. When combined with Recruiter, he nets you a +1 off destroying your opponent's stuff. Some people think 3 Descendant is too cloggy and unneeded, while others believe 3 Descendant is necessary. The choice is yours, but you go 2 at the lowest.
The searcher of the deck. With 2000 defense with Necrovalley up, while not as big as Spy, Recruiter can wall quite well, especially since your opponent won't want you getting his effect. When Recruiter is sent from the field to the graveyard in any way, whether by battle, card destruction or being sent for a tribute, he searches for any Gravekeeper's monster with 1500 or less defense. So while he can't search Spy or Guard, he can search everything else you run, including himself. Use him to trim your deck down by grabbing him over and over or by grabbing Commandant who can net you Necrovalley.
The field searcher of the deck. With a 2100 attack with Necrovalley up, Commandant is the biggest Gravekeeper's you'll be running in the deck. What really makes him shine though is that he searches Necrovalley, the card the entire deck is built around. Commandant is arguably the most important Gravekeeper's you'll run.
The centerpiece of the entire deck. This card is a killer with 3 different effects. The first grants all Gravekeeper's monsters a cool 500 boost to both attack AND defense, making all our monsters either 2000 attack beatsticks or 2000+ defensive walls.
The second effect effect prevents cards in either player's graveyard from being banished at all, utterly devastating to Chaos decks.
The third and most important effect is that cards in the graveyard are unaffected by card effects. The only exceptions to this are card effects that target themselves(Treeborn Frog, Plaguespreader Zombie, etc). This means staples like Monster Reborn and Call of the Haunted no longer work.
Combine all this together and you've got monsters with 2000+ attack/defense and a nearly completely locked down graveyard.
2-3x Gravekeeper's Stele
The recycler and the last "themed" core card of the deck. Just when your opponent thinks they finally got rid of all your Spies, this card nets you a +1 and two important monsters. As with Descendant, some people think 3 is too cloggy while others think it's necessary at 3. Suggested at 3 if you run Royal Tribute with 14+ Monster counter, otherwise 2 Stele is fine.
While not a key part of the deck, they still are key in winning duels and should be added before any techs.
1x Book of Moon
With Book at 1, most decks consider it a tech or just don't run it at all. But Gravekeeper's receive extra options with Book, making it a must use. Book can be used to flip an opponent's monster face-down, whether to disrupt a Synchro/Xyz play, to be able to run over a big monster that has small defense, or to just stop an attack from connecting. What really makes Book shine in Gravekeeper's, though, is the ability to reset Spy to reuse its effect, which can cause huge plays to happen. Run this card at the max the ban list allows.
1x Dark Hole
Dark Hole is staple for a reason and one we can easily use. Clearing the field for a direct 2000 attack swing is always nice.
2-3x Pot of Duality
Duality gives Gravekeeper's much needed speed to getting to the key cards of the deck, making it that much faster for Necrovalley to come out or Spy to get set. The "No Special Summoning this turn" part of the card doesn't hurt Gravekeeper's much unless a Spy is already set or you have a Malefic Stardust Dragon you want to bring out.
Before Priority on Ignition Effects was gone, this card was a often overlooked in favor of Solemn Warning. With Priority on Ignition Effects gone, though, Warning is starting lose ground to Bottomless Trap Hole, which can largely do Solemn Warning's job at no cost to your lifepoints.
While paying half your lifepoints might seem costly, this card can be key in securing a victory or saving yourself from defeat.
0-2x Solemn Warning
As stated in the description of Bottomless Trap Hole, Solemn Warning has slowly been falling out of favor for Bottomless. While you can easily run Warning alongside Bottomless in the deck, Warning is no longer necessary as it was before.
Torrential Tribute is Dark Hole in trap form. Great for disrupting your opponent's plays while also setting off your own Recruiters.
Cards That Change With the Format
These are the cards that fall in and out of usefulness depending on the format. They may shine in one format, but then prove to be inadequate in the next.
Gravekeeper's Assailant is an amazing card, able to run over any monster with 1900 or less defense, which can often be one of the only ways to get rid of some boss monsters. Assailant has recently seen less usage due to the rise of Chaos Dragons, who have monsters with huge defenses as well as attacks; Dino Rabbit, who's Evolzar Dolkka will negate and destroy Assailant; and Dark Worlds, who can easily just revive Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World and run over Assailant with it.
0-2x Gravekeeper's Guard
The Compulsory Evacuation Device on legs. With an impressive 2400 defense with Necrovalley up, Guard is just shy of Spy level in terms of walling. Guard also has the amazing ability to bounce one monster your opponent control's to their hand, or, in the case of Synchros and Xyzs, the Extra Deck. This means that at worst, Guard bounces an opponent's Grapha to hand or gets negated and destroyed by Dolkka. At best, he spins Evolzar Laggia or Lightpulsar Dragon while staying around a while longer to wall your opponent.
0 or 2x Royal Tribute
The one card Wind-Up Loop that helped Gravekeeper's rise in popularity and single-handedly caused many decks to lower their monster count out of fear. With the simple play of Necrovalley and this card, you can see your opponent's hand and force them to lose all the monsters they currently hold. While it's true you also have to show them your hand to make sure you're not hiding any monsters, most of the time GKs will only have 1 monster in hand, so you merely play that, set any spells or traps and play Tribute. This card has fallen out of popularity due to most decks now running less than 20 monsters on average, with the only noticeable exception being Chaos Dragons. This card can be mained, but for the moment, is better off in the side for Chaos Dragon matches. If you do main it, it's best to keep a monster count of 14 or lower, otherwise you'll more often than not be forced to discard monsters off Tribute.
These are the cards you add to the main deck after you have your core established. They provide support to help the deck succeed. Many Techs work equally well in the main deck or side deck.
2-3 Effect Veiler
This nifty hand trap has slowly gotten more popular in the past few formats due to its ability to stop key plays when used correctly and having very few true counters. This card has very few downsides and can easily fit in the main or side without a problem.
Fossil Dyna has one job and it does it well: Keeping the field clear of Special Summons. So long as he's face-up, neither player can attempt a Special Summon at all. Fossil Dyna's one downfall is its mediocre stats, which will have it run over very fast. This deck's defensive nature, however, can insure Fossil Dyna staying around long term to hinder the opponent.
Malefic Stardust makes all your opponent's Mystical Space Typhoons, Graphas, Ryko, Lightsworn Hunters and other spell/trap hate less effective. Malefic Stardust keeps Necro around for the long haul and makes it much harder for your opponent to get to their graveyards. While Malefic Stardust has the downside of preventing other monsters from attacking, this can be used to your advantage and the Gravekeeper's monsters used for Descendant's effect to clear cards for Malefic Stardust to swing. Excellent card to run in either main or side.
Similar to Malefic Stardust, but he trades the Necrovalley protection for 1500 more attack points. Nearly impossible for an opponent to get a bigger monster out, but still susceptible to effect removal.
Mystical Space Typoon, a staple at 2-3 in every other deck, is actually not necessary in this deck. Descendant's ability helps clear the backrow well enough to forgo the need of MSTs. While not needed in the main deck, it can still be ran in the main and is definitely a 2-3x in the side, if not put in the main, for opponent's sided in Shadow-Imprisoning Mirrors and Royal Decrees.
0-2x Shard of Greed
Shard is a delayed Pot of Greed that takes 3 turns to gain the +1 this card gives. A good card for early on when you have ways of protecting it, but drawing it late when you need a monster or a defensive trap can mean defeat.
0-2x Smashing Ground
Good spot removal for dealing with monsters you can't deal with otherwise.
0-2x Wonder Wand
This card can combo with any Decendant or Commandant for a sizeable 2500-2600 attack monster with Necrovalley present for getting over some bigger monsters. The monster this card truly shines with, however, is Recruiter. Equip this card to Recruiter, send to the graveyard to draw two, then search a Gravekeeper's with Recruiter's effect. Can be a dead draw, but also adds some extra draw power to the deck.
This card is extremely good at disrupting your opponent's plays. Compulse the opponent's Tuner or one of the monster they plan on Xyzing with, or just flat out bounce the Synchro/Xyz back to the Extra.
0-2x Dark Bribe
Most people do not like Dark Bribe, due to it letting your opponent draw, ultimately -1'ing yourself just to negate 1 spell or trap. However, it does provide more negation, while also being able to stop Heavy Storm if Starlight Road is nowhere to be found. The deck does not need the card, but it can be extremely helpful. Very much a preference card.
0-3x Dimensional Prison
Very useful for getting around destruction negating effects like Stardust, but being limited to the Battle Phase also limits its usefulness.
1-3x Fiendish Chain
Fiendish Chain is a trap version of Effect Veiler, but permanently disabling the effect and preventing the monster from attacking.
0-1x Mirror Force
And old staple that has fallen out of major usage due to being limited as well as cards like Stardust existing to negate this card.
These two are paired together because they do largely the same thing: Negate cards like Heavy Storm, Torrential, Dark Hole and Black Rose Dragon nukes; but go about it in slightly different ways. Starlight Road grants you a Stardust Dragon from your Extra, but is limited to only cards on your side of the field, as well as being a Normal Trap and thus can be chained to with cards like Trap Stun, as well as Solemn Warning, since Starlight Road summons a Stardust. The Huge Revolution is Over just needs two cards anywhere on the field to be in danger of being destroyed to activate, so can negate and banish Scrap Dragon. Huge Revolution is also a Counter Trap, leaving its only real counters to be Solemn Judgment, Dark Bribe and Seven Tools of the Bandit.
Both cards are extremely useful and almost necessary with Heavy Storm being in every deck.
Run only if you run Cyber Dragon in your side.
0-1x Cyber End Dragon
Run only if you run Malefic Cyber Dragon.
0-1x Black Rose Dragon
If you decide to run Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind, Black Rose becomes an option to help you out of bad situations. Be careful, however; if you decide to nuke, you'll most likely end up losing one of your Necrovalleys unless you have Malefic Stardust around.
0-3x Stardust Dragon
Used solely for Starlight Road and Malefic Stardust. If you don't run either of those two, you don't need this.
0-1x Abyss Dweller
A great way to turn those "auto-lose" game 1's to Dark Worlds around, as well as stopping Atlantean decks from gaining advantage. Stops Dark Worlds from going off for an entire turn unless the opponent can figure out how to clear Dweller off the field, which won't be likely with all the backrow protection Gravekeeper's run.
0-1x Evilswarm Nightmare
An amazing effect on a tiny body. Stops any big monsters dropped by the opponent from doing any immediate damage, leaving them in a vulnerable position which Descendant can then capitalize on. 1950 defense means it won't be sticking around long unless it has good backrow, so try not to drop this guy sporadically.
An interesting monster with two interesting effects, allowing him to be played either offensively or defensively. If played offensively, Cowboy can run over any monster with less than 3000 attack or crash with a 3000 attack monster. If played defensively, he can hit your opponent for 800 effect damage twice, as well as providing a sizable 2400 defense. All that combined means the ancient Egyptians welcome the western Cowboy into the tomb protectors' group.
0-1x Gagagigo the Risen
Gem-Knight Pearl's big brother. At 2950 attack, Gagagigo is the biggest Rank 4 monster alive. Similar to Pearl, he's there for muscle work and laughing off Fiendish Chain. Gagagigo comes with the heavy price of needing 3 Level 4 monsters, however, so think over if that extra 350 attack is worth the third material.
The biggest Rank 4 that only needs 2 materials and much more cost effect than Gagagigo. No effect, but makes up for it by being the raw muscle Gravekeeper's need to run over most monsters out currently. Pearl also laughs off Fiendish Chain
0-1x Kachi Kochi Dragon
If Pearl is Gagagigo's little brother, Kachi Kochi Dragon is Blade Armor Ninja's little brother. While 2100 attack isn't much bigger than most of the Gravekeeper's and even ties with Commandant, Kachi allows Gravekeeper's to have some offensive power without risking your Commandants and Descendants, who are better suited for their effects.
The Rank 4 Zenmaines. Can save himself up up to twice, or can set an opponent's monster to be able to run over easier. Very solid monster and easily worth the Extra Deck space.
Can help push for game or hinder your opponent immensely, as well as having decent attack. That said, three materials is a rather large price for GKs to pay, so no more than one should be run.
2-3x Number 39: Utopia
Sizeable Xyz and decent stalling effect. When the materials are up, you can easily drop Utopia Ray to avoid Utopia destroying himself.
Years past, before Gravekeeper's Recruiter existed, Gravekeeper's used to run Caius as a problem remover. Blackship of Corn is the new and improved Caius. Blackship gets rid of any monsters that can cause trouble, namely Maestroke and Zenmaines. Maestroke and Zenmaines, who could stall Gravekeeper's for several turns until the opponent can push or Gravekeeper's drew into Compulsory, can do nothing to stop Blackship, since Blackship "sends" instead of "destroys". Worth the Extra Deck space, if for nothing more than making the opponent cry over their lost Zenmaines.
Use to save your Utopias from self-destructing, or from dropping on an opponent's Utopia that you stole with Puppet Plant.
Useful for destroying an opponent's Spirit Reaper or getting over a stronger opponent's monster. Also useful for flipping a Spy you just set this turn.
Slowly lost usefulness with the fall of Synchros, Roach has however gained a bit more use with the rise of Chaos Dragons, capable of severly hindering anything they can do, leaving them only able to get rid of Roach with Ryko or Dark Hole.
At first glance, Zenmaister seems to be a rather sub-par Xyz and not worth the space. Gravekeeper's, however, find great use in him with his ability to reset Spy and force Spy to reactivate its effect. Definitely worth at least one space in the Extra.
- 2-3x Gravekeeper's Descendant
- 3x Gravekeeper's Commandant
- 3x Gravekeeper's Recruiter
- 3x Gravekeeper's Spy
- 2x Bottomless Trap Hole
- 0-2x Compulsory Evacuation Device
- 1x Solemn Judgment
- 0-2x Solemn Warning
- 0-2x Starlight Road
- 2x Torrential Tribute
Gravekeeper's have two major weaknesses: Heavy reliance on a Field Spell and decks that don't rely much on the graveyard.
Field Spell Reliance
Necrovalley is the entire focus of the deck, since it shuts down access to the graveyard, something that most competitive decks rely heavily on. Without Necrovalley, the deck suffers majorly and usually means defeat if a new Necrovalley isn't brought out soon. Because of this, you need cards that will protect Necrovalley from being destroyed or replaced.
Cards to Keep Necrovalley Safe
Malefic Stardust Dragon As mentioned above, Malefic Stardust makes removing Necrovalley incredibly difficult for the opponent, as they'll generally have to remove Malefic Stardust first before being able to reach Necrovalley. Note: Malefic Stardust does NOT protect Necrovalley from being destroyed if a new Field Spell is played, since it is being destroyed by a game mechanic and not an effect.
Dark Bribe The easiest way to protect Necrovalley from the most common Spell/Trap hate in the game: Heavy Storm and Mystical Space Typhoon. While a -1 technically, keeping Necrovalley around is well worth the -1 if it stops your opponent from making big plays.
Starlight Road/The Huge Revolution is Over While its usage in protecting Necrovalley is largely limited to Heavy Storm and the dying out Black Rose Dragon nukes, these cards can still do their part in protecting Necrovalley, with Road giving you a Stardust Dragon for further protection and Huge Revolution being incredibly difficult to stop.
Decks That Don't Rely on the Graveyard
The main decks that give Gravekeeper's trouble from lack of Graveyard usage are Dark Worlds and Dino-Rabbit.
While at first glance, it seems that Dark Worlds rely heavily on the Graveyard, all of their effects get around Necrovalley, including Beiige's summon. Grapha also has no problem getting out of the Graveyard, since his bounce of a Dark World monster is a summon and not an actual effect, meaning Grapha has no problem coming back over and over to swing over our Gravekeeper's and into our traps. They also have their own Field Spell, meaning they can easily get rid of ours, giving us even more problems. The easiest solution to dealing with Dark Worlds is to not let them summon a Dark World to bring Grapha back from the Graveyard, though we do have Side Deck options for dealing with them.
Dimensional Fissure With Dark Worlds being heavily reliant on the Graveyard, but being unaffected by Necrovalley, the best way of shutting them down is making sure their cards never hit the graveyard in the first place. With this card, all their monsters will be banished instead of sent to graveyard, meaning their effects won't go off and they'll be harder for Dark World players to reach.
At this point, you're most likely thinking "But wait, you said Necrovalley is the entire focus of the deck. Doesn't using a different Field Spell completely defeat the purpose of the deck?" and you'd be correct, normally. However, when it comes to Dark Worlds, Necrovalley does absolutely nothing to hinder Dark Worlds, meaning a different approach is needed. That approach is this: Spell Prevention. Nearly every card Dark Worlds run to discard is a Spell, with the only exceptions being Trance Archfiend and Dark Smog, but these cards aren't often run in Dark Worlds, meaning that if you get Secret Village and a Gravekeeper out, Dark Worlds can do nothing but try and run your monster over in battle, which the traps will be there to stop. Secret Village also has the added bonus of not being able to be destroyed by another Field Spell, since they can't activate one unless they bring out a Spellcaster. Note: You can also side this card in for versing HEROes, but it doesn't hurt them as bad as it hurts Dark Worlds, since HEROes can still easily Xyz.
Much the same as Dimensional Fissure, but with the added bonuses of banishing Spells/Traps, as well as being able to be chained to one of your opponent's card activations.
Dino-Rabbit are a challenging deck for Gravekeeper's, since they don't rely on the Graveyard at all aside from Monster Reborn, as well as Laggia's effect stopping us from playing Necrovalley or getting a summon and Dolkka negating all our monster's effects, putting us at a large disadvantage. If Necrovalley is brought out before Laggia or MST show up, Spy and Guard can easily block Laggia, with Spy bringing out Descendant for popping Laggia and Guard for bouncing Laggia back to the Extra Deck. Dolkka is the bigger problem for Gravekeeper's, as it makes most of our monsters useless and having to rely on Spells and Traps to remove it. Unless either player opens an amazing hand, these duels tend to drag on for quite a while.
Rivalry of Warlords This card can stop just about any Xyz from coming out of Dino-Rabbit's Extra, since Xyz/Synchro monsters are chosen before the materials are overlayed/sent to the graveyard, so you cannot choose an Xyz/Synchro of a different type than the monsters you currently control while Rivalry is active, or, in simple terms the average player can understand, a player can't Xyz/Synchro for a monster of a different type than the ones they currently have out if Rivalry is up. If they can't Xyz, Dino-Rabbit can't win.
Gozen Match Gozen works much the same as Rivalry, but affecting attribute instead of type. While this shuts Dino-Rabbit off from the Evolzars, it still lets Dino-Rabbit Xyz other monsters.
Malefic Stardust Dragon With 2500, Malefic Stardust gets over both Evolzars as well as protecting Necrovalley from any MSTs or Heavy they have. When Laggia is on the field, the opponent has to choose to use Laggia's effect or have it die to Malefic Stardust in battle. With Dolkka, the opponent gets no choice.
Gravekeeper's Guard With Necrovalley out, Guard reaches a great 2400 defense, which neither Evolzar can get over, sending Laggia bouncing and forcing a Dolkka effect.
Why Aren't These Cards Used?
Gravekeeper's Cannonholder Cannonholder does a similar job to Descendant, but instead of destroying an opponent's card, you do 700 damage to your opponent, which is not much damage, especially since the deck doesn't try and win through burn damage.
While letting you recover the cost of his tribute, allowing your opponent access to your graveyard isn't a good thing, since it makes their Monster Reborn live again, which is something we don't want. He also only has 2400 attack when Necro is up, which isn't that spectacular for a tribute, especially one that can drop back to 1900 with a single Mystical Space Typhoon.
A tiny body and a tiny burn effect, he's just not worth running.
Many people who see Priestess for the first time assume Priestess is a second Necrovalley. The truth is that all Priestess does is allow cards that need Necrovalley on the field to be activated, namely Royal Tribute and Gravekeeper's Assailant. She doesn't shut down the graveyard from being accessed, nor stop things from being removed from play.
Spear Soldier CAN be run, but he doesn't do anything spectacular and Gravekeeper's generally prefer a lower monster count to avoid dead hands.
The tinest Gravekeeper's with an effect that really doesn't do anything. Not worth running in any build.
The boss monster of the Gravekeeper's archtype, Visionary can get quite big with a lot of Gravekeeper's in the grave and hand, but the deck generally wants to keep a low monster count, meaning Visionary can't be used to his fullest extent.
Useful as a side deck card for against Dark Worlds, but not worth room in the main deck.
With Gravekeeper's being DARK, it would appear that Allure is a perfect fit for the deck to give it more draw power. However, the banished zone is the hardest place for Gravekeeper's to reach. Combine that with the relatively low monster count the deck runs and Allure can easily hurt you instead of helping.
The themed Monster Reborn. Can bring back Recruiter for more Descendant popping or bring back one of the other Gravekeeper's for an easier Rank 4 summon. While highly useful, it doesn't go with the deck's strategy of limiting what your opponent can do, instead allowing for a more aggro approach. Feel free to try it out, as it is by no means a bad card.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series
Gravekeeper's have been present lately at a few YCS (Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series), generally in the top 32, but have yet to achieve first place in a large-scale tournament.
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