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"Celtic Guardian", "Winged Dragon, Guardian of the Fortress #1", "Winged Dragon, Guardian of the Fortress #2", "Guardian of the Labyrinth" and "The Reliable Guardian" are not "Guardian" cards as they do not include 「ガーディアン」 in their Japanese names. As such, the only "Guardian" support card in the TCG/OCG, "Arsenal Summoner", specifically excludes them.
The core "Guardian" monsters were initially released in Dark Crisis and re-released in Dark Revelation Volume 1. They can only be Summoned if the player already controls their corresponding Equip Spell Card. However, they can still be Set without controlling their respective Equip Spell Card. The Equip Spell does not have to be equipped to their corresponding monster, and due to their Summoning conditions, usually cannot be. "Guardian Eatos" is the only one of the "Guardians" with an associated Equip Spell Card who can be Summoned without restrictions.
"Guardian Sphinx" appears as a character in "Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship Tournament 2006", in World Championship 2008, and in World Championship 2009, "Guardian Angel Joan" appears in World Championship 2008, "Guardian Eatos" appears in World Championship 2011, and "Goyo Guardian" appears in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Arena.
|Ceal||Shooting Star Bow|
|Kay'est||Rod of Silence|
|Tryce||Twin Swords of Flashing Light|
As mentioned before, "Guardian" is a deck type consisting of monsters with various different Types and Attributes, all of which borrow their names from their corresponding Equip Spells. Almost all of them share the effect that they cannot be summoned unless their Equip Spell is on the field beforehand. This effect in combination with the fact that these cards are all surprisingly underwhelming due to their age makes them one of the worst archetypes in Yugioh.
"Guardians" have no overall strategy other than Beatdown, and most of the time the "Guardian" player will have to focus on keeping his deck afloat instead of worrying about the opponent. The most useful cards this archetype features are probably "Guardian Eatos" for being Special Summonable as long as no monsters are in the Graveyard (which, in a normal "Guardian" Deck, is probably only turn one) as well as not suffering from the effect text line that would make her reliant on her Equip Spell; "Guardian Grarl" for being a big beater with a possible Special Summon condition and a fairly useful Equip card; and "Guardian Ceal" due to the ability of destroying monsters.
The rest of this archetype is sadly quite underwhelming: "Guardian Baou" ignores effects of monsters he destroys in battle, which is quite a feat to achieve with his pathetic 800 ATK. "Guardian Kay'est" is immune to Spell effects and cannot be chosen as an attack target, but while both of these effects are quite nice for a defensive wall, the "Guardians" don't really have anything to stall for and 1000 ATK will not help you win anything. "Guardian Tryce" has insultingly small stats for a Level 5 monster and his effect revives whatever monster you tributed for him upon being destroyed. "Guardian Elma" is completely irrelevant for this deck, since her Equip Spell "Butterfly Dagger - Elma" is banned and will stay banned for the foreseeable future; therefore, she can only be Set and flipped up by an opponent running into her, which will kill her most of the time. "Guardian Dreadscythe" is the last "Guardian" monster and can only be summoned if "Guardian Eatos" is destroyed and put into the Graveyard; this allows "Guardian Dreadscythe" to be summoned from the hand, who will then proceed to summon his weapon "Reaper Scythe - Dreadscythe" from the deck. As a positive note, the Equip card can transform "Guardian Dreadscythe" into a massive beater; unfortunately it only works on him. Worse even, if you happen to draw his weapon without him on the field, you effectively just got Garnet'ed, since you cannot do anything with it until you trigger "Guardian Dreadscythes" summoning condition.
Before continuing to the Equip Spells, one should mention the one and only card that makes this conglomerate into an archetype: "Arsenal Summoner" is a Flip Monster that searches a "Guardian" card from your deck, and while its effect text conviently lists all the cards it cannot search for, there are many other legal targets for this effect outside the equip-based "Guardians", such as "Gate Guardian" or "Guardian Sphinx". However, none of the additional searching power helps this archetype, or in fact this card, to any greatness as it is simply to slow to work consistently.
The Equip Spells the "Guardians" are guarding are overall more useful than the monsters and some of them found niches in other decks over the years. The aforementioned "Butterfly Dagger - Elma" was banned due to its interaction with cards like "Gearfried the Iron Knight" and "Royal Magical Library" and the resulting OTKs and FTKs this caused. "Gravity Axe - Grarl" gives a small boost of 500 ATK, but forces the monsters your opponent controls into their current positions; less useful due to Link Monsters roaming around everywhere, but still not the worst possible effect. "Wicked-Breaking Flamberge - Baou" also gives the equipped monster a bonus of 500 ATK and the "Baou" effect on top, which was helpful back in the day, but got progressively worse over time. The card is even worse since it forces the player to discard a card to equip it. "Twin Swords of Flashing Light - Tryce" actually can be considered an option in beatdown-focussed decks, since it allows the equipped monster to attack twice for the price of 500 ATK and one card in hand to equip it. It is useful as a gimmick in the deck, even without its "Guardian". "Rod of Silence - Kay'est" increases the DEF stat by 500 and negates other Spell effects on the equipped monster, which certainly will find a niche in some deck, but does not help the overall beatdown strategy in the slightest. "Shooting Star Bow - Ceal" is not unlike "Tryce", as it is a gimmick card that might find usage in the deck: Decrease the equipped monsters' ATK by 1000 and it can attack directly. Even if you don't have a target for this card on your side of the field "Ceal" can be useful: Simply equip it to the opponent's monster to lower a big thread down to manageable stats. "Celestial Sword - Eatos" can help "Guardian Eatos" to reach some impressive stats, but to really milk this card, you have to build a dedicated deck for this strategy alone. In a normal "Guardian" deck, the Equip Spell is playable, but not really impressive. Lastly, "Reaper Scythe - Dreadscythe" is sort of the opposite of "Celestial Sword - Eatos" and can help "Guardian Dreadscythe" gain some stat boosts, as mentioned before.
While some of the effects of "Guardian" are certainly passable, one should not forget that the "Guardians" themselves will rarely hold one of their weapons. To make this deck playable even on a casual level, the player is forced to use a decent amount of outside support. In this instance it does not help that Konami supports Equip Spell based decks as much as they make generic Flip support, therefore almost not at all. "Hidden Armory" is the best generic way to fetch the right Equip Spell from the deck, but locking yourself out of the Normal Summon hurts immensely. To add insult to injury, the best Equip based effects outside of Vylon and Noble Knight (both decks that do way better without the addition of "Guardians") are Gemini Monsters, which are also incredibly slow. However, if one decides to go down the Gemini route, there are certainly cards that will help the deck: "Catalyst Field", while being paramount to any Gemini deck, is also a way to get some swarming into the "Guardian" strategy. "Knight Day Grepher" sports decent ATK while potentially recycling Equip cards from the Graveyard. "Evocator Chevalier" is another option (aside from "Guardian Ceal") to get some monster destruction effects into the deck. The new "Evocator Eveque" can revive the Geminis to give the deck more consistent boards. And "Phoenix Gearfried" can be Normal Summoned without Tribute via "Catalyst Field" and brings admirable stats and helpful effects. In addition to that, "Phoenix Gearfried" is a Level 8 monster and therefore a potential target for "Trade-In" (same as "Guardian Eatos" and "Guardian Dreadscythe"). All of the aforementioned Gemini monsters benefit from "Supervise", while "Supervise" itself is searchable in this Deck since it is an Equip Spell.
To further improve on the consistency of the deck, one can play "Marauding Captain"; while he is Level 3, a Level that is so far shared with nothing else in the deck, he also brings a friend with him and can easily be used for "Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights". "Isolde" further helps the deck to get on its feet by searching for any of the Warrior monsters in the deck while also making use of the ridiculous amount of Equips the "Guardian" have to run. "Fairy Tail - Rella" can also search for any necessary Equip Spell to summon the "Guardians" or simply fetch something like "Moon Mirror Shield" or "United We Stand" to run over opposing monsters. A final, and very powerful, addition to the deck can be found in "God Phoenix Gearfried", who can easily become both the boss monster and the easiest monster to summon in this deck. Searchable by "Isolde", and able to buff himself up to 3500 ATK while absorbing enemy monsters and then sporting effect negation is a combination of everything you can wish for and more to make the "Guardians" run.
- The "Guardians" worst weakness is probably the interaction with its own archetype. Without massive amounts of generic or outside support, "Guardians" constantly end up missing either the right monster or the right Equip Spell, which can lead to unbearable bricks.
- The archetype, just like most other archetypes, does not like any form of Summon Negation; therefore, cards like "Vanity's Fiend", "Vanity's Emptiness", "Archlord Kristya" or "Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo" can stop the deck completely.
- Since the archetype is almost completely relying on the combination of Equip Spells and Monster Cards, any form of effect that will either prohibit players from using Spell Cards or delay them will hurt this deck immensely. Examples are "Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8", "Imperial Order" or "Anti-Spell Fragrance".
- The same reliance on Equip Spells makes them weak against backrow removal, such as "Twin Twisters", "Heavy Storm Duster" or "Tornado Dragon".