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 it’s evolution throughout the years.
Table of Contents
- Vision HERO Vyon and Elemental HERO Honest Neos (Duelist Saga, March 2017)
- Elemental HERO Solid Soldier (2018 Mega Tins, August 2018)
- Stratos Returns (September 2018 to 1, July 2019 to 2, October 2019 to 3)
- Xtra HERO Dread Decimator and Wonder Driver (Legendary Hero Decks, October 2018)
- Xtra HERO Cross Crusader and Fusion Destiny (Dark Neostorm, May 2019)
- Vision HERO Faris and Increase (Battles of Legend: Hero’s Revenge, July 2019)
- Evil HERO Adusted Gold and Malicious Bane (Legendary Duelists: Immortal Destiny, September 2019)
- Elemental HERO Liquid Soldier and Sunrise (Legendary Duelists: Magical Hero, January 2020)
We have gone through the past for HEROs, and now it’s time to look at the deck’s present. The deck has received some support through the years, even past the deck’s meta prime. They also got some help on the Forbidden and Limited List to make the deck relevant again. All the support helps, since the deck only has one main playstyle now that works. The deck has become an OTK or bust strategy, which fails to interruption super easily. It can do a fine turn one board, but it’s best going second and going for game. The deck just doesn’t put out many interruptions to interact with the opponent. The support at least makes OTKing more consistent, so let’s go through the cards the deck most recently received.
Vision HERO Vyon and Elemental HERO Honest Neos (Duelist Saga, March 2017)
The next relevant HERO support following the Structure Deck came in Duelist Saga. Vision HERO Vyon is the first of two cards, with two useful effects for the archetype. Vyon’s first effect on summon lets you send any HERO from deck to the grave. This is useful for two cards in the archetype, Malicious and Shadow Mist. Malicious is a good send to banish it from grave and get another from Deck. This was going to be perfect with the upcoming Master Rule 4 to access Link-2s to open up Fusion plays. Shadow Mist being sent gets you to any HERO via its graveyard effect. The second effect of Vyon can be setup with the first effect, banishing a HERO for a Polymerization to setup Fusions.
The second card makes the Deck more lethal, Elemental HERO Honest Neos. Honest Neos can be discarded as a Quick Effect to boost a HERO’s ATK by 2500 for the turn. This puts more damage on board for your OTKs, which is perfect for the Deck’s playstyle. The best target is Vision HERO Trinity Honest Neos is still a 1-of since it is searchable off Shadow Mist, E – Emergency Call, and an old friend I’ll mention soon.
Elemental HERO Solid Soldier (2018 Mega Tins, August 2018)
The next piece of support for the archetype comes in the 2018 Mega Tin Promos. Solid Soldier is a Level 4 with an effect on Normal Summon to Special Summon a Level 4 or lower HERO from hand. This gave an in-archetype way to finally summon Shadow Mist from hand to get to your Mask Change. This also set up your Link-2 play, which Isolde was out at the time and we were waiting for archetype Links still. It was an easy way to get two bodies on board for one effect, which was pretty good. The second effect required Solid Solider to go from field to grave by a Spell effect. This lets you revive any HERO in your grave in Defense Position. An effect easily setup through Mask Change or Polymerization, another free body is pretty good to trigger effects once again.
Stratos Returns (September 2018 to 1, July 2019 to 2, October 2019 to 3)
The legend finally returned after four years of being banned in the TCG. Stratos finally came back to the TCG. With the return of one of the archetype’s best cards, this is when you really begin to see a rise in the Deck seeing play. It later came back to 2 and eventually 3, which gave a massive consistency boost. TCG did give up A Hero Lives to 1 to get Stratos, but it’s arguably worth it for the Deck’s best summon. Stratos was a massive help to the archetype, especially when Malicious kept swapping from 2 to 3 around this period as well before sticking at 2.
Xtra HERO Dread Decimator and Wonder Driver (Legendary Hero Decks, October 2018)
The archetypal Links finally come to the TCG. First off was the import of Wonder Driver, the first of eventually three Link-2s the archetype got. The arrows weren’t the best for HEROs in Master Rule 4, but it was something. It only needing two HEROs made it easy to summon as well. The first effect let you get back your Polymerization/Fusion/Mask Change Spells when a HERO was summoned to a zone it pointed to. It was perfect for setting up Fusion plays once again. Its destruction in battle or card effect from the opponent and sending it to grave lets you summon a HERO from hand. It at least offered field presence after being removed, but the archetype would get a better Link-2
We also got Dread Decimator in this product as a TCG exclusive at the time. It needed 2+ HEROs to summon, making it easy to get out and it made use of the Link-2s some more. The most important thing with Dread Decimator was the three arrows pointing down. Its only effect just boost the HEROs it pointed to by 100 ATK for each HERO with a different name in grave. It at least set up Destiny HERO – Dystopia as the archetype’s only disruption, but it gave a little more damage as well.
Xtra HERO Cross Crusader and Fusion Destiny (Dark Neostorm, May 2019)
We got some relevant archetype support in Dark Neostorm boosting the Destiny HERO sub-archetype. The main two cards were Xtra HERO Cross Crusader and Fusion Destiny. Cross Crusader was the best Link-2 the archetype got, and it was more generic needing only two Warriors. The arrows were better for Master Rule 4 as well. On Link Summon, Cross Crusader revived any of your Destiny HEROs, making for a free body on board. It also tributes a Destiny HERO to search for any HERO monster, but you can only Special Summon HEROs the turn you use this effect. While it locked you to the archetype, it got you to the cards you wanted to enable your OTKs much easier, plus it set itself up with its revival effect.
Fusion Destiny helped at least get you to your Destiny HERO Fusions faster. It let you use monsters in the Deck as material, meaning you could send monsters like Malicious, Celestial, or Dynatag from Deck to grave. It was quick access for your Dystopia or maybe Dangerous for more graveyard setup there. Fusion Destiny locked you more to DARK HEROs, but that was at least for the rest of the turn, letting you use non-DARKs first. The monster summoned was also destroyed at the end of the next turn, but again at least you got a Link Material if you didn’t OTK.
Vision HERO Faris and Increase (Battles of Legend: Hero’s Revenge, July 2019)
We now see one of the best engines in the Deck now, the Faris and Increase package. Faris was a free Special Summon from hand by discarding any HERO, which then triggered Faris’s effect. You then get Vision HERO to your Spell and Trap Zone, which was mostly Increase. Increase could then tribute the Faris to Special Summon itself. This then triggered Increase’s effect to instantly summon Vyon from your Deck and use its effects. It was a great consistency boost to get your combos going for OTKing, something the Deck really needed.
Evil HERO Adusted Gold and Malicious Bane (Legendary Duelists: Immortal Destiny, September 2019)
It took a bit for anything Evil HERO related to see play, but we finally saw it with Adusted Gold and Malicious Bane. Adusted Gold could discard itself to search for any card listing Dark Fusion in the text, which was mostly Dark Calling. Dark Calling could then summon your Evil HERO Fusions by using graveyard materials, which was going to be Malicious Bane. Malicious Bane of course needed a Evil HERO, which was Adusted Gold, and then a Level 5 or higher monster, which you had several of. It couldn’t be destroyed by battle or card effects, making it hard to out. It also destroyed all the opponent’s monsters with ATK less than or equal to Bane’s. Bane then gains 200 ATK for each monster destroyed, giving you more damage. You could only attack with HEROs after, but that’s mostly what you’re running. This was a small package in the Deck, but it made OTKing easier.
Elemental HERO Liquid Soldier and Sunrise (Legendary Duelists: Magical Hero, January 2020)
The final bit of relevant support for the archetype came at the beginning of 2020 with Liquid Soldier and Sunrise. Liquid Soldier gave the Deck some revival on Normal Summon, giving some recovery to get your plays up and going once again. Stratos is a good target to revive off this, same goes for Shadow Mist. The second effect let you draw 2 and discard 1 if it’s sent to the graveyard or banished for a HERO Fusion Summon. It’s a helpful effect to cycle through your Deck to get to other pieces like Faris or Fusion Spells you might need. Liquid Soldier also gave an updated WATER monster for the archetype. This let us throw in Absolute Zero and Acid without having to use Bubbleman anymore. You only got one effect a turn, but you take what you can get.
We finally get a new relevant Fusion as well with the release of Sunrise. You only needed 2 HEROs with different Attributes, which is perfect in an archetype that has every Attribute. It searched for Miracle Fusion on summon, finally giving a relevant way to get to that card in archetype. You likely already had graveyard setup as well, so you basically got 2 Fusions for 1. Your monsters also gain 200 ATK for each monster with a different Attribute you control, which adds up for more damage. Finally, Sunrise gave a pop when your HERO monsters battled, helping get rid of problem cards to get your battles through. It was nice to get a new Fusion that didn’t need specific Attributes, just different ones.
We finally reached the end of this historical piece. HEROs have left a big legacy on the game’s history. We even see the archetype seeing success nearly 17 years after GX began and 14 years after Stratos was released. The Deck does struggle to be the top Deck in the format. It only gets sparse tops anymore. It’s just hard to play against interruption like hand traps and monsters with negation and disruption effects. You can at least use hand traps in the Deck to try and keep up. The Deck just doesn’t set up a good turn one board and is super reliant on OTKing. The Deck could maybe top again if it got more disruptive cards or ways to play around disruption. With that said, considering the Deck’s history, it doesn’t need to be tier 1 again to have a place in history and in players’ hearts.
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