The Misfits of Japanese Theatre
P.U.N.K. (Ｐ．Ｕ．Ｎ．Ｋ．パンク Panku in the OCG) is an archetype that was introduced to the TCG in the Deck Builder Pack, “The Grand Creators”, on January 27th, 2022. Since then, it has received two additional waves of support in the main sets “Dimension Force” (May 19, 2022) and “Power of the Elements” (August 7, 2022). Ever since its coveted release, P.U.N.K. has made waves in each subsequent metagame, initially functioning as an engine for Halqifibrax-reliant decks before eventually holding its own ground as its own deck. In the modern era, P.U.N.K. continues to thrive in players' decks and in players’ hearts.
The cards of P.U.N.K. are divided into five categories based on various genres of Japanese art. These include Ukiyo-e, or 17th to 19th century Japanese woodblock prints and paintings; Gagaku, or a type of Japanese classical music catered towards the higher classes; Joruri, or a form of Japanese storytelling that utilizes music to convey plot points; Noh/Nogaku, or a type of classic Japanese dance-drama set on telling stories of dealing with one’s own past; and Jam, or a culmination of modern art.
The theme’s main deck monsters are composed primarily of Level 3 Psychic-type Monsters, with exceptions in the form of two Level 8’s (Fiend and Beast) and a Level 5 (Warrior). P.U.N.K. also contains three unique spells and two unique traps - also, two Synchro Monsters and one Fusion monster. Each individual inclusion expresses the aesthetics of their respective genre previously mentioned above via their card art. For example, the “Noh-P.U.N.K.” cards feature masks that reference the iconic masks of Noh theater plays that imbue actor’s characters with interpretative emotion. The “Gagaku-P.U.N.K.” Spells key in on certain strides Gagaku performances and adapt instruments that would have been used to produce the art’s music.
P.U.N.K. is a very resilient and versatile deck due to its lack of restrictions, enabling them access to various high-yield combos. As alluded to prior, this trait enables the archetype to function as a robust supporting engine in a myriad of hybrid builds to be dubbed “variants”. As such, P.U.N.K. has many different strategies it can conform to, and many different lines of play it can follow that make playing against it a challenge.
- art by Ro_G on Pixiv / Twitter
Like the other Guides on the site, this one aims to teach players almost everything about the deck, ranging from its strength, weaknesses, playstyle, combos, and even its history. And it’s to act as basically an archive of information for the archetype. This is to make sure that every new, present, and returning players of the deck will be able to keep up to the deck’s true potential.
The first wave of PUNKs was quite… underwhelming to say the least. No real gameplan, no consistent way to get advantage, and overall just no combo that ends on anything good. Due to this, only 2 of PUNK Cards ever saw competitive play, which is Loading... and Loading... .The deck initially functioned as a small engine used for decks to make Loading... or Loading... with 1 Card, whether it’s from Normal Summoning Ze Amin or activating Loading... . These engines was quite commonly seen in 3-Axis based decks, like Phantom Knights that thrived on another way to make Cherubini and the newly popular 3-Axis Auroradon build that terrorized some Official Tournaments in both the OCG and TCG.
It wasn’t until the release of Dimension Force in May 2022 where the deck got 1 piece of support in Loading... wherein the deck finally seemed like it was able to do something. Being a Level 5 that also summons back a P.U.N.K. from the GY made it fantastic for the deck, as it finally had a consistent 1.5 Card Combo to end on Loading... and a Level 8 Monster to make Loading... during the opponent’s turn. But alas, the Pure Version of the deck still wasn’t seeing play, on the other hand the P.U.N.K. Engine suddenly became a much stronger threat overnight. It no longer just made Halqifibrax or Cherubini, it also started making Loading... to essentially Mill 4 and add 1 thanks to Deer Note. And following it up with either a Loading... to summon a combo piece from deck, or overlaying Chaos Ruler and Foxy Tune to make Loading... to mill an additional 4 cards from yours and the opponent’s deck, once again, thanks to Deer Note. A lot of decks lived and died with this engine, it made decks like Dragon Link much more powerful in the meta, and Rogue Decks like Zombies enjoyed the ability to Mill 9 Cards with the activation of 1 single card.
It wasn’t until August of 2022 where Pure P.U.N.K.s finally saw competitive play, as this month released the Power of the Elements set and gave the deck 2 new powerful pieces of support. A Field Spell that acts as extension, and makes up for the lost advantage of Foxy Tune’s discard, and a Level 8 Synchro that gains you advantage by adding any Level 3 Psychic from deck to hand. These pieces of support are what the deck needed for people to finally realize how insane the deck truly is, with PAKTcg getting a First Place with the deck in the POTE Sneak Peek Event. Although, it wouldn’t reach the top spots much as this set also dropped the long awaited and feared Sprights and Tearlaments, 2 Decks that everyone knows from the OCG that will be undoubtedly the new best decks of the upcoming format. And compared to the 2 decks, P.U.N.K.s really didn’t seem like it could reach Tiered Status, and was relegated to be a Rogue Deck for the format.
The Engine didn’t change with this new support. But it did gain more decks to play in, as a handful of decks (Tearlaments) enjoyed Chaos Ruler’s ability to Mill Tear Names and the occasional Loading... . But the engine wouldn’t last long after this format, as a mere 1 month later the TCG Forbidden and Limited List got updated to include Loading... and Loading... in the Forbidden Section, preventing both cards from seeing any play in the future formats. This was presumed to be a decision made by Konami to prevent Punks being splashed into any further deck, and serves as a way to nerf the new Tearlament Deck. With this, P.U.N.K. as an engine was finally dead, which lead to a lot of decks being completely unviable in the new format.
For my sake, I’ll be writing them as PUNK instead of P.U.N.K. for the rest of the guide.
Also, I apologize if the formatting on mobile looks bad. This was made in PC Format.