The ideology of a Hero is something that transcends the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game. They are a media staple, whether in movies, television, books, and many other sources of entertainment. It’s an easy archetype to fall back on. Yu-Gi-Oh is not unfamiliar to Heroes, with each of the seven animes being based on a singular main protagonist who has to save the world. Heroes are so popular that they have transcended the anime characters and have become their own full fledged archetype.
The HERO archetype is used by a few characters in the anime and manga. The biggest examples are Jaden Yuki and his Elemental HERO cards as well as Aster Phoenix and his Destiny HEROes. We’ve also seen other HERO variants like Vision HEROes, Evil HEROes, and Masked HEROes. An archetype as big as HERO seems likely to see competitive success. That’s why I’m here to go through the history of this archetype in the competitive meta and its evolution throughout the years.
Table of Contents
In the modern era, we are used to archetypes having their own Field Spells. Dragunity is known for their Dragon Ravine. Kozmo is known for their Kozmotown. True Draco has their Dragonic Diagram. The HERO archetype aren’t unfamiliar with Field Spells, with two of their own for Elemental HEROs. Two of their most known Field Spells are their Skyscrapers, which Jaden used in the anime. Both of which are the centerpieces of two different HERO variants in history: Big City and Little City.
The first Field Spell for HEROs is the Skyscraper card. It was an iconic card used in the first GX episode, helping Flame Wingman defeat Ancient Gear Golem. It’s a simple Field Spell to boost an attacking Elemental HERO by 1000 ATK. The catch, you have to attack a monster stronger than your Elemental HERO. While their Fusions don’t really need the boost, the Main Deck could use help. While stats around 1500-1900 ATK is respectable, it can’t really get over boss monsters. Turning that to 2500-2900 will likely destroy any powerful monster in battle.
Skyscraper 2 – Hero City
The second Field Spell for the archetype was Skyscraper 2 – Hero City. While it’s a sequel to the original Skyscraper, it isn’t anywhere close to what the original does. Hero City instead revives any Elemental HERO monster in your graveyard that was destroyed in battle. It’s good to revive your HEROs for Fusion or Tribute Material, or to trigger an effect. While it was the second Field Spell for the archetype, it was the first one to see meta play.
Big City (2007)
The goal of Big City was pretty simple in concept: abuse the effect of Stratos as much as possible. This can be done by the effect of your Hero City, but also by the effect of Elemental HERO Ocean. Ocean can recover your E-HEROs from field or grave to the hand during your Standby Phase. This lets you get Stratos back to hand to continue to summon it and either search or remove backrow with Stratos. It was a simple concept that brought a few Top 8s and 16s, most famously Jeff Jones getting Top 16 at SJC Philadelphia.
The Heroes Functioning
You can get to your HERO cards easily via E – Emergency Call or RotA. Whether it’s your Ocean, Stratos, or even your Elemental HERO Wildheart. Wildheart is a decent card, as it is immune to certain power Traps like Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, or Bottomless Trap Hole. You can also use other Warrior options for your RotAs like Exiled Force or D.D. Warrior Lady. Snipe Hunter is also there for more monster removal. The Deck has few monsters though and many Spells and Traps to control the field. The main focus is field swarming and controlling to out grind the opponent and win the game.
Little City (2008-2009)
The second city Deck, Little City is a more Anti-Meta variant of a HERO build in history. It mainly revolves around using Skill Drain to negate all the monster effects on field. You also have several LIGHT monsters mostly to use with Honest to boost their ATK in battle. The other card to boost ATK in this Deck is Skyscraper, the main Field Spell in the Deck. It can be searched as well through Elemental HERO Captain Gold. Captain Gold can be a nice 2100 body to use with Skyscraper or Skill Drain on the field, or otherwise Captain Gold destroys itself.
The Heroes Functioning
As previously mentioned, Skill Drain is a key piece of the Deck. Elemental HERO Neos Alius doesn’t need its effect as a Gemini, and you never really use the Gemini effect. You can prevent Captain Gold from being destroyed via its own effect. While you lose Thunder King Rai-Oh‘s effect to block searching, it sending itself as cost can still negate Extra Deck monsters being summoned. You can also use Beast King Barbaros for a free Normal Summon of a 3000 ATK body. Honest stays in the hand for you, so you don’t worry about its field effect. The biggest effect you might lose is your Stratos, which is a 1-of anyways.
You also have many uses for your Neos Alius, mainly through Hero Blast and Gemini Spark. Both cards serve as some good removal to disrupt the opponent. Hero Blast can recover your Neos Alius from grave to your hand to destroy a weaker monster. On the other hand, Gemini Spark can tribute your Neos Alius to pop an opponent’s card and give you a draw. Both of which are nice for giving removal and not letting you really lose card advantage. When Thunder King isn’t under Skill Drain, you can also use it to shut down your opponent’s search cards like Sangan or their own RotA. You also got the searching of Stratos, Emergency Call, or your own RotA. Stratos also serves as backrow removal alongside R – Righteous Justice for card advantage as well.
These were two cool variants of the HERO strategy in the history of the game. It was cool to see the two Skyscrapers see play in the meta as well. These weren’t the most insane variants of HEROs, but there was synergy for these Decks. They are also strategies you could try and modernize as well. Both Skyscrapers are legal and you have three Stratos now. The Decks are legal to use today, just not meta anymore. There are better ways to use this archetype, which now focuses on Fusion Summoning. Next time in this series, I will finally get around to what this archetype was known for: Fusions.
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