Relief Review - Ursarctics A short introduction to Ursarctics and how their recent support fleshes out the deck.

Welcome to relief review - A series of short articles highlighting some archetypes and themes that have recently received a minor support wave designed to fill some of the gaps in otherwise struggling archetypes, to discuss and explore whether we'll need to wait another few years for these decks to feel complete. I'm Brexx, and I'll be your guide on this journey.

This time on relief review is our favourite space bears - The Ursarctics.
What are Ursarctics?

Ursarctics are a synchro-focused archetype that debuted in 2021's Deckbuilding set, Ancient Guardians, received a second wave of support in 2021's Burst of Destiny, a singular support card in 2022's Battle of Chaos, and has received a further wave we will be discussing today coming in the next TCG set to be released; Duelist Nexus.
But what do they do? In a nutshell, these cute mechanical bears really like the number seven. Seven hundred attack, seven hundred defense, level seven. All of the Ursarctics have at least one of these three traits. Combine this with the first real implementation of "Dark Synchro" (Synchro summoning via subtracting levels) from the older yugioh anime series, and a variety of self-summoning quick effect summoning conditions, and you have the space bears.

Ursarctic Polari 
Sounds great, right? Well, it's not quite that simple. The majority of main deck Ursarctic monster shares the following summoning condition:
"During the Main Phase (Quick Effect): You can Tribute 1 other Level 7 or higher monster from your hand; Special Summon this card from your hand, also you cannot Special Summon for the rest of this turn, except monsters with a Level."

Ursarctic Mikpolar 
All of the Ursarctic monsters with this summoning condition additionally do something on summon. Summon from hand, add a monster from deck, add back an Ursarctic monster from GY, and so on. Some even have disruption attached in the form of a D.D. Crow , Book of Moon, or Mystical Space Typhoon-style effect. There are some unique deckbuilding interactions that come alongside this. Your deck becomes a great deal more consistent with having tribute fodder, so traditional hand traps such as Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring can cause you to brick more, but alternative handtrap or tech choices such as Lava Golem and Nibiru, the Primal Being can be utilised as tribute fodder in addition to their typical usage. 
However, these aren't without restrictions. Any disruptive effects attached require you to also control another Ursarctic monster at point of activation.

Ursarctic Megapolar 
As mentioned prior, the deck also utilises a "Dark Synchro" mechanic to summon its synchros. No summoning synchros naturally for you - All of your tuners are level 8, and the non-tuners level 7! This means that you'll be using two Ursarctics to make a level one synchro, and then climbing into a level 7 synchro by subtracting the level 1 non-tuner from your level eight tuner to summon one of the Ursarctic boss monsters. From the initial wave, Ursarctic Polari serves as immediate access to your field spell, Ursarctic Big Dipper, remedying some of your resource issues and providing some additional (albeit odd) disruption. 

Ursarctic Septentrion 

The goal? End on Ursarctic Septentrion going first, and utilise a combination of his floodgate effect and search effect in addition to the effects of Ursarctic Big Dipper to interrupt your opponent frequently. Utilise the self-summoning ursarctics as well as Ursarctic Grand Chariot as removal.
Here's an example decklist you may have seen when the deck first debuted:


The problem

They're just too high of an investment. With the initial release of this deck, the community quickly realised that these effects are too costly to be worth considering. In theory, being able to flip an opponent's monster face-down in their first turn is incredibly powerful. In practice, in order to do this you have to effectively utilise four cards in your hand - you need two ursarctics, and two monsters that can be tributed to do so. Some of the ursarctic effects will naturally trigger during this, so it may only end up requiring three cards, but that is still an extreme investment to make, particularly into any kind of established board. 
In addition to this, the reliance on resolving Polari's effect means that in order to play through a singular negation - for example, an Infinite Impermanence - you need to have almost a full hand of extenders, as a well timed negation on Ursarctic Polari can end your turn. One particular issue with the synchros on the release of this deck was the prevalance of Destiny HERO - Destroyer Phoenix Enforcer. Ursarctic Septentrion's effect negation relies on your opponent fielding monsters who don't have levels, and with every deck fielding a monster who doubles as something that outs this makes the deck nigh unplayable.

Destiny HERO - Destroyer Phoenix Enforcer 
Konami's Solution, Part 1

So how did Konami choose to resolve the issues with this deck?
Well, this first attempt was probably one of the most surprising pieces of support we've seen for an archetype in a long, long time.
Ultimate Flagship Ursatron  Ursarctic Drytron
That's right - To fix this deck, Konami decided to cross-support Ursarctic with Drytron. 
Thematically, this does make a lot of sense.  They're both constellation-based archetypes from deck build packs which both focus on circumventing the traditions of their summoning types: Ursarctics subtract to synchro summon, and Drytrons use attack points instead of levels. But, that's really where the similarities end, and actually putting any of these cards in the same deck together doesn't work particularly well.
A key issue with these support cards is that Ursarctic lacks a first turn way in which to search spells and traps, as their only card in the initial wave that does so was Ursarctic Septentrion, which requires your opponent to summon a monster!. This aside, it is plausible to run these cards in an Ursarctic deck, as a way in which to generate additional resources to invest into summoning more space bears. The drytron field spell (Drytron Fafnir)  searches any drytron spell/trap on activation, so it's relatively simple to splash a small package into an ursarctic deck - Though the same can't really be said for running these in Drytron.
In order to use material from the deck for Ursarctic Drytron, you need to control either Drytron Alpha Thuban  or our little buddy Ursarctic Polari , but realistically it'll always be Ursarctic Polari for us. Does this solve the deck's issues? ...Not really, it gives you a funny alternative build, but one could argue it's more hassle than it's worth, and it makes it even harder to go second. 
Here's an example build for how I would have built an Ursatron build from the time period in which these cards released:


Konami's Solution, Part 2

Ok, so the weird fusion build didn't work? Enter Battle of Chaos - Ursarctic Radiation is released.
Ursarctic Radiation 
This card has become a little synonymous with some of Konami's attempts to fix older archetypes as of late, and has been highlighted by some youtubers in the past as one of the craziest singular cards ever released. And honestly, they're not wrong. Ursarctic Radiation really does everything an Ursarctic player could want from a support card: It recoups resources lost from your summons, recycles used resources (Including spells and traps!) and keeps to the theme of sevens that these silly bears have going on.
The issue is that it is not consistently accessible. This is a card you never really want to see more than one of, because you need the remainder of your hand to be Ursarctics or fodder/handtraps, but it's so core to the strategy that you need to see it every game. Remember, Ursarctics can't search S/T. That applies here too, but doubly so, as unlike field spells, continuous spells are notoriously hard to search with generic support cards at time of writing. The only exception to this is Ursarctic Septentrion, but even he only fetches this card when your opponent summons a monster, rendering this line of play unreliable at best.
Here's a sample decklist of how Ursarctic looked when this card released:


Importantly in deckbuilding here, Radiation frees up a lot of extra deck space, by account of it being able to recycle your synchro monsters that you were previously unable to recycle.
Konami's Solution, Part 3

Last but certainly not least, we get to see what's coming next. These cards are already released in the OCG, and will be hitting the TCG later this month. To note: The names of these cards in the TCG has not yet been officially revealed, and as such I'll be using the current fan translations here. Expect them to potentially change on release as they get translated.

Ultimate Bright Knight Ursatron Alpha Ursarctic Polar Star 
First let's talk about Ultimate Bright Knight Ursatron AlphaThat's right, we're still sticking with crossover support here. This new variant of Ursatron naturally counts as being part of both themes, and has the typical drytron summoning restriction of being only summonable by card effect. 
You read this card right, this card searches any Ursarctic spell/trap. That's right, we can search for radiation with this, solving a major flaw with the deck. There's a lot of potential theorycrafting that can go with this, but first off I'll address a few minor flaws.
You can summon this off Drytron Nova .Which... would be great if Nova didn't restrict you to monsters that can't be normal summoned. So no, we can't run that. A lot of people, myself included, were surprised that this card doesn't instead summon itself from the graveyard, as both Ursarctic and Drytron monsters would've loved to tribute this if that were the case. 
As mentioned there's some fun little intricacies with this card. As it's a machine unlike other main deck Ursarctics, it now gives way to builds of Ursarctic that utilise Small World. There's also some amusing techs in the Drytron spell and trap lineup that can be considered. While it's likely not optimal, Drytron Asterism can be used as spot removal as a quick effect if you keep Ultimate Bright Knight Ursatron Alpha or Ultimate Flagship Ursatron on your field.
Now, onto Ursarctic Polar Star - This card is essentially a side grade to Polari, that helps you quickly ladder into your larger synchros without being in as much danger of being hit by handtraps. It shares the same summoning condition as Polari, but instead of activating the field spell for you, it can tribute another ursarctic from hand or field and itself to summon one of your bigger Ursarctic synchro monsters and give that summoned monster the bonus effect of making your opponent's monsters from the extra deck that have a level unable to activate their effects. 
If you missed what that means, it means that if you summon Ursarctic Septentrion off this effect, he completely locks your opponent out of extra deck monster effects. Nekroz of Unicore, eat your heart out.
Most curiously about Ursarctic Polar Star is that this summoning effect is not a once per turn in any form. While that might not seem to matter, Ursarctic Big Dipper substituting tribute effects with banishing an ursarctic from the graveyard means that you can resolve this twice in one turn, giving you access to both Ursarctic boss monsters (Ursarctic Septentrion and Ursarctic Grand Chariot) from turn one. 
Here's a sample list for what an Ursarctic list might look like later this month:


Naturally, take all of these decklists with a grain of salt. This deck is one with a small player base, and one that has yet to perform at any major events. These are merely my interpretations of the deck in its current form. 
Overall, Ursarctics have historically been something of a meme, and have been critiqued a great deal in Youtube commentaries for being one of the worse deck build archetypes we've seen in quite some time. Many of these support cards have gone a long way to patching holes in the archetype's playstyle, but it remains to be seen where the deck might go from here. Definitely give the deck a crack at locals, but don't expect major tournament results from this group of space bears any time soon.

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