Coming soon to the OCG~!
DARK Level 6 Spellcaster/Effect
(1): You can Special Summon this card (from your hand) by discarding 1 card.
(2): If this card is Normal or Special Summoned: You can add 1 “Dark Magician” from your Deck to your hand.
(3): During damage calculation (in either player’s turn), when another DARK Spellcaster-Type monster you control battles an opponent’s monster: You can send this card from your hand or field to the Graveyard; that monster you control gains 2000 ATK and DEF during that damage calculation.
Its first effect allows it to be special summoned from hand, in a process similar to Quickdraw Synchron and The Tricky, although it is more alike to the latter than former, having no restrictions whatsoever in the discard cost, whereas Quickdraw demands its user to discard a monster card. Personally I few that this is a plus for the card, since in the current stage of the metagame, any effect monster incapable of special summoning itself would be a hindrance to the deck by slowing it down. A self-summoning effect sets itself apart from its predecessor - Dark Magician Girl, which faces challenge in a fast summon onto the field.
The second effect of Apprentice Illusion Magician is worded such that even if it is special summoned via other means, be it Magical Dimension or Monster Reborn, you can perform the search from your deck. If summoned via her own effect, the search effectively compensates for the discard cost, maintaining your card economics and hand advantage.
At first glance, its third effect seems to provide a powerful boost to the Dark Magician archetype. Being a "Honest" for the deck is outstanding. Attack power always seem to be something the deck lacks, evident from its weaker stats against the theme's iconic dragon rival. Being able to activate its third effect from the field, apart from the hand, proves this card to be very useful as well. Not only does it poses a threat on the field due to its third effect, it showcases its value of leaving on the field, by ensuring that this card's utility isn't expired after you completed the summon-and-search effect. This third effect will make it a much more potent threat than your other Spellcasters in the field, and your opponent will now have to prioritize defeating it in battle first.
While its attack boost may pale in comparison to Honest, which ensures any LIGHT monster victory in battle, Apprentice Illusion Magician proves it worth by being capable of boosting the DEF stat of the battling monster as well. This is something which Honest wasn't capable of - protecting defense-positioned monsters from being destroyed by battle. Ultimately, it sacrifices a significant sure-win ATK boost for a simultaneous increase in both stats.
So next time, players might want to think twice before attacking into Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer. Don't be too overconfident in being able to destroy Kycoo by battle, only for your opponent to Apprentice Illusion Magician from hand and Kycoo's effect triggers, DURING YOUR TURN. Hah. That's a salty experience for sure.
Also, do not limit your options by believing that it can only caters to the Dark Magician theme and archetype. Other DARK Spellcasters exists - Anyone else forgetting Shaddolls? A Level6 like this in the deck could allow the fusion-orientated deck to access Level8 synchro options with Shaddoll Falco. Angel of Zera supports a Chaos summoning theme in the deck, and inputing synchro into Shaddolls could help the deck accommodate to the current meta, as cards like Dimensional Boundary threatens to punish any deck that is over-focusing on a single summoning method.
Together with this and a timely (or maybe overdued) release of El Shaddoll Construct from its Forbidden status, might Shaddoll be capable of catapulting itself back to the top tables, and relive its former glory, once again?
At this point, it is worth noting that the entire card lacks a "Once-per-turn" clause, as of now.... (Hopefully Konami doesn't change that with an erratum.) The lack of such a restriction makes multiple summoning accompanied with multiple searches, should the user be capable of doing so. This also means that players can summon both copies of her onto the field, and the searched Dark Magician can even be ditched to fulfil the summoning cost of the second Apprentice Illusion Magician. Kinda reminds me of Galaxy Soldier in ABC decks back then....
Being Level6, and having a relatively easy summoning method, I expect Apprentice Illusion Magician to be making a splash in the deck's play style, shifting the deck's focus on Rank7 xyz to having to accommodate to Rank6 xyz as well.
Photon Strike Bounzer, Constellar Ptolemy M7 comes to mind as the cream of the crop among all the Rank6 xyz, providing board control and recycling capabilites + removal options. Of course, others may argue that removal options such as Sword Breaker and Gauntlet Launcher deserves an honorable mention, but should the deck want more aggro options, Number 39: Utopia Beyond is a card... As Traveller of the Burning Herpes would say:
"Once you summon Beyond the Hope,
your opponent is beyond hope..."
Also, how could one mention Rank6 without the staple meta-changing card - Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal which could be helpful in setting up the grave for future plays.
Lastly, Magi Magi Magician Girl now has more use in the Dark Magician deck, which was previously outclassed by other options due to its Rank6 status contributing to its inaccessibility. Despite its hefty cost of banishing a card in hand on top of an overlay xyz material detach, it has two effects to boast, both of which are capable of disrupting your opponent's plays as it involves the theft of their resources. The cost to activate Magi Magi's effect might thus be worth the investment.
And of course, with every deck that plays Rank5 and Rank6, Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger should be included in the limited 15card slot in the Extra Deck. With all the mentions about the Rank6 toolbox, it is evident that hard choices will have to be made as the Dark Magician deck revamps itself and changes its deck's playing style.
Apprentice Illusion Magician is a useful card that players should consider keeping a playset of. Apart from supporting its archetype and theme, Rank6 spam decks might find it a pleasant addition to their roster. Chaos Hieratic and maybe even Phantom Abyss decks which are seeking to boost their deck's capabilities by summoning Beatrice, the Eternal Lady via a Level6 xyz summon.
With this, hopefully, Dark Magician can once again contest for the meta. Expect a price hype in the initial weeks, as fans eagerly determines its viability. Whether this card produces result remains to be a sight to see. With this new support, Kycoo might see more play alongside Summoner Monk, being a preferable answer to answer threats floating in meta, and a more popular choice than Night's End Sorcerer, in terms of usage and longevity.