The Gravekeeper's are a series of monsters based on ancient Egyptians who guarded the Pharaoh's tomb. The Gravekeeper's Deck usually activates "Necrovalley" and gains power from it, while using loopholes to avoid being affected by its drawbacks. This deck tends to prevent the opponent from affecting cards placed in the Graveyard, as well as keeping field control with its ability to swarm. They were introduced in Pharaonic Guardian as the first true Archetype.
The key card to the Gravekeeper deck is Necrovalley. Necrovalley is a Field Spell Card that increases ATK and DEF of Gravekeeper monsters by 500. Necrovalley also stops spells, traps, and monsters effects from targeting the Graveyard, like Monster Reborn, Magician of Faith and Call of the Haunted and prevents either player from removing from play from their Graveyards with cards like Soul Release and Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End. However, Necrovalley does not prevent effects that activate in the Graveyard, so cards like Mystic Tomato and Pyramid Turtle still activate.
Because of the effects of Necrovalley, this deck tends to be some-what anti-meta, countering chaos and Teledad decks as well as Lightsworn, Zombie, and to a certain extent Gladiator Beasts, therefore making it desirable to use anti-meta style cards such as Burden of the Mighty, Thunder King Rai-Oh, and others. Because the most of the Gravekeeper's are DARK they can also use Allure of Darkness, and other dark attribute supports.
Although Necrovalley stops most graveyard related effects, Gravekeeper's have their own support that are unaffected by Necrovalley, namely Rite of Spirit and Gravekeeper's Stele. Gravekeeper's Chief can also unlock access to your Graveyard and Special Summon a Gravekeeper monster from your Graveyard when you Tribute Summon it. Magician's Circle can also summon any Gravekeepers from the deck.
A Combo with The End of Anubis will shut down the Graveyard completely (except costs), but will also hinder your own swarming abilities by stopping Rite of Spirit, Gravekeeper's Stele and Gravekeeper's Chief.
Gravekeeper's Chief has been obsolete in the current meta game for a while now. There are various cards that work with the Graveyard without being hindered by Necrovalley since they don't target anything in the Graveyard. Such cards include Stardust Dragon, Goyo Guardian, Level Eater, Plaguespreader Zombie, and Fox Fire as well as the 2300 ATK Dark World monsters just to name a few. Gravekeeper's Chief also opens up your Graveyard for removal by D.D. Crow. And your opponent can also open up their Graveyard by taking your Gravekeeper's Chief by any number of cards such as Brain Control and Mind Control among others. And with the release of Gravekeeper's Visionary in Absolute Powerforce, there's no reason to use him for the ATK power either. On the other hand, Chief's revival effect makes him fairly powerful, gathering tributes for Gravekeeper's Descendant or monsters for swarming.
Although able to burn with Gravekeeper's Curse and Gravekeeper's Cannonholder, it is not highly recommended since Shadowpriestess of Ohm does more damage and the cost of sacrificing monsters are quite heavy. Instead, Gravekeeper's Descendant can destroy opponent's cards for direct attacks, making it much more worthwhile.
Spellcaster support cards can be used for Gravekeeper's decks, such as Magician's Circle and Magical Dimension , since all Gravekeepers are spellcaster monsters. Book of Moon (perhaps in multiples) is also a good choice as both Spy and Guard have flip effects.
A normal Gravekeeper can match a Dark Armed Dragon's attack by having both Necrovalley and Solidarity on the field. With the addition of Gravekeeper's Priestess, level 4 Gravekeeper's can reach 3000ATK, making Gravekeeper's capable of being a beatstick in low levels and cost for summoning.
The current strongest Gravekeeper is Gravekeeper's Visionary which is capable of forming a beatstick and negate its destruction, able to reach over 4000ATK quite easily. Make sure you have a high supply of gravekeepers in the hand and in the graveyard to maximize its potential, one card that surely helps is Gravekeeper's Stele that return 2 Gravekeeper's monsters from your graveyard to your hand (its effect is unaffected by Necrovalley). Also, Gravekeeper's Descendant is capable to destroy any card on the field, making it a deadly Gravekeeper's monster when your field is full of Gravekeepers.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The use of Necrovalley in this Archetype prevents the opponent from using the Graveyard as a resource. A very large number of opposing strategies, therefore, will be at a severe disadvantage while this card is on the field (Cyberdarks, Destiny Heroes, Lightsworn, Zombies, Dark Armed Dragons , Junketc). The ATK-boost of Necrovalley to "Gravekeeper's" monsters makes them very strong at low levels, making it feasible for a Gravekeeper user to press their advantage early, and there is enough variety in their effects for a number of variant strategies (aggro, stall/burn, control, etc.)
Currently the strongest Gravekeeper's monster, Gravekeeper's Visionary, is only at 2000 ATK (at base value, however his own effect as well as that of Necrovalley increase it, easily topping 4000), so Gravekeeper's Decks tend to be weak at higher levels unless external support or more Gravekeeper monsters are used. Also, with the new Gravekeeper's card Gravekeeper's Descendant there are alternative ways to get rid of monsters, traps, ect.
To help make up for their lack of bulky monsters and protection, Gravekeeper's have a large amount of recycling available to them. Between Gravekeeper's Chief, Gravekeeper's Stele, and most importantly Rite of Spirit (all of which ignore the effects of Necrovalley), it's not uncommon to get 3 to 4 uses out of a single monster card in a duel.
Their intense reliance upon Necrovalley makes them very vulnerable to opponents who enjoy using Spell and Trap destroying effects, so cards to protect it (like Field Barrier) and traps that can help the player maintain a field and hand advantage over a stronger opponent are highly recommended.
But one must be careful when one uses Field Barrier. If Caius the Shadow Monarch, Raiza the Storm Monarch, or Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier remove Necrovalley from the field, Field Barrier will remain and prevent you from replaying Necrovalley.
Cards such as Gravekeeper's Vassal and Gravekeeper's Watcher have now become obsolete. Gravekeeper's Vassal can barely benefit the use of Necrovalley and unfortunately, most cards that are discarded from the hand care due to a result of a cost, so Gravekeeper's Watcher should be avoided.
The true weakness of this deck is the cumbersome reliance of Necrovalley and the amount of skill the person containing the deck has. A Gravekeeper's Deck mostly revolves around manipulating your opponent's cards and crippling their deck. If not used wisely, your opponent can cease your opportunity of field control and take advantage of your low attack. Also, if not constructed correctly, this deck will lose its anti-meta balance and will eventually become weak. EX: "Fabled" decks
However, with the advents of both Gravekeeper's Visionary and Gravekeeper's Stele, it has become possible to speed the deck up through the use of Trade-In. Gravekeeper's Visionary can be discarded to the graveyard for the cost of Trade-In and Gravekeeper's Stele can pull Gravekeeper's Visionary back to your hand from the Graveyard to be discarded once again. This gives the theme fairly large draw potential so you can increase your chances of drawing into a Necrovalley or a Gravekeeper's Commandant.
- Malefic Stardust Dragon -- A strong alternative to Field Barrier to protect Necrovalley. It can be Special Summoned virtually for free and is yet another DARK Level 8 Monster (alongside Gravekeeper's Visionary) that can be tossed for Allure of Darkness or Trade-In increasing the reliability of your draw game.
- Brain Golem - An additional support to the theme of the Dark Gravekeepers. Since this card only requires one tribute as well as its high attack and seldom high defense, this card can effectively counter Decks that use mostly Light Monsters and their effects such as Lightsworns, Watts, ect.
- The End of Anubis -- Strong, and further prevents the use of Graveyard effects by negating all effects that occur within the Graveyard. Note that using him will prevent Gravekeeper's cards from utilizing the loopholes that allow them to summon cards when Necrovalley is on the field.
- Magician's Circle -- This card can draw ANY Gravekeeper straight out of the deck to the field due to their low ATK (Gravekeeper's Visionary is a particularly good choice as it has the highest ATK of them all).
- Magical Dimension -- Another fast way to Summon a Gravekeeper like Gravekeeper's Visionary to the field with the added bonus of destroying and opponent's monster.
- Curse of Royal/Judgment of Anubis/Magic Drain/Magic Jammer -- It's good to have one of these side-decked to prevent an opponent from destroying your Necrovalley (or even your Field Barrier), Curse of Royal is useful if your opponent is using Mystical Space Typhoon, Dust Tornado, or Twister as it has no cost to use; however, it can't stop cards like Giant Trunade or Heavy Storm. Judgment has the same cost as Magic Jammer, but in addition to also working on Heavy Storm it can destroy an opponent's monster and deal damage.
- Allure of Darkness -- Adding draw power to any deck is helpful. All of the Gravekeeper's monsters are DARK, excluding Gravekeeper's Commandant and Charm of Shabti (EARTH), making this Spell Card useful for speed.
- Mystic Tomato -- This monster adds speed to the Gravekeeper's Deck. This card can summon almost all of your Gravekeeper's (the only exceptions being Gravekeeper's Chief, Gravekeeper's Commandant, and Gravekeeper's Visionary)
- Sangan -- This helpful critter can get almost every monster in the Gravekeeper's theme of monsters. Add it to your hand to have it attack your opponent next turn, or stall with Gravekeeper's Spy or Gravekeeper's Guard. He can also grab you a Charm of Shabti to protect your Gravekeepers, or even just put a Gravekeeper in you hand to feed Gravekeeper's Visionary's effect (and ATK)
- Witch's Apprentice If you have room for this card in your deck it's good to have since it simply powers up most of your Gravekeeper monsters, excluding Gravekeeper's Commandant.
- Solidarity -- Great way to increase the Gravekeeper's attack strength outside of Necrovalley. The only downside is that the user must give up the usage of Charm of Shabti, Caius the Shadow Monarch, and other non-spellcasters in order to maintain graveyard dominance.
- Caius the Shadow Monarch -- With all the advantage you'll be generating with Gravekeeper's Spy, this card can use a newly special summoned card as tribute fodder. As a bonus, he's DARK so he becomes another Allure target and has a great effect overall. Optionally, even if your opponent has no DARK monsters, it can still easily deal damage by removing almost any Gravekeeper's monster or even itself.
- Exodia Necross is a good choice seeing as once all pieces of Exodia are in the graveyard, Necrovalley's effect prevents them from being removed.
- Gravekeeper's Servant can combo great with Necrovalley, that way your opponent cannot get back the cards that are sent to the Graveyard.
- Charm of Shabti Can be discarded from your hand to the graveyard to reduce Battle Damage to 0 when your opponent's monsters attack Gravekeeper's.
- A Cat of Ill Omen can be used to search out a Trap Card and put it on top of your Deck. If you control Necrovalley, you can add the Trap Card to your hand instead, giving you a great advantage.