Two years ago, I began this series going through the history of the HERO archetype in the competitive Yu-Gi-Oh meta over the years. When I wrote that series, I knew the archetype would continue to expand and get new members. Of course, that's exactly what happened, hence why we are here today to update this series. There have been several major changes to the HERO Deck as a pure strategy, and the archetype even made appearances outside its own Deck for a period of time thanks to certain elements coming together at the right time. Today, I will go over the updates to the HERO archetype in these last few years and see how our friends have done since I initially did this series.
Destiny HERO - Destroyer Phoenix Enforcer (November 2021)
We start with easily the biggest addition to the HERO archetype in these last 2 years. Destiny HERO - Destroyer Phoenix Enforcer debuted in Burst of Destiny and took the metagame by storm from the beginning. This was a powerful Fusion of any Destiny HERO and any Level 6+ HERO. In return, you basically get a Quick Effect version of Scrap Dragon that could destroy itself and keep reviving itself the next turn after. The main thing, however, is that it didn't really take over in a dedicated HERO Deck. DPE, as the card was was run in multiple different Decks along with an engine to help Fusion Summon it, thanks mainly to Predaplant Verte Anaconda. Any Deck that could put 2 monsters out to summon Verte was able to summon a DPE with the greatest of ease. This is thanks to Fusion Destiny helping you use monsters directly from the Deck without having to draw them.
Now, with Fusion Materials as open-ended as DPE's were, you had to make choices as to what you wanted to use. The common 2 Destiny HERO monsters chosen by players were Destiny HERO - Dasher, for his ability to summon a monster from hand when you draw it for turn, and Destiny HERO - Celestial, to use the graveyard effect to banish itself and the Dasher to draw 2 when you got no more cards in hand. The thing that made this package even better is that drawing the Fusion Destiny wasn't that bad, since all you had to do was make your plays and then activate the Fusion Destiny to summon your DPE. This made it a great replacement for the previous package you used with Verte Anaconda, which was the Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon package. Now, while Dragoon itself might be a better card than DPE, the package used to summon it was far from being as good. For one, you had to use Red-Eyes Fusion, which made you have to give up any other plays for the turn if you drew and activated it. Not only that but instead of using 2 monsters with graveyard effects like with the DPE package, you had to run Level 7 vanillas in Dark Magician and Red-Eyes Black Dragon. So with a much better Fusion engine required to play the card, this made DPE the go-to target to try and summon off Verte Anaconda for many Decks. This, of course, only lasted until Verte Anaconda was banned, sending DPE back to making HERO Decks its main home.
With all that said, however, DPE is still a great addition to a HERO Deck. Focusing on a HERO Deck means you can play Destiny HERO monsters that help the archetype first and foremost. Destiny HERO - Plasma is a common addition for a high-Level HERO monster since it is still a strong boss monster, and the release of a card like D - Force does make it more accessible if you choose to run it. Destiny HERO - Malicious is another higher-Leveled Destiny HERO you can always rely on, and the Destiny HERO - Denier released alongside DPE does help you use Malicious more times than the Semi-Limited status it has as of this writing would lead you to believe initially. Destiny HERO - Drawhand is a potential option to revive and get some more draw power. Also, the more Destiny HEROs you run, the better use you can also get out of a card like Destiny HERO - Dark Angel to attempt to give to the opponent to lock them from their own Spell Cards as long as they are unable to get rid of the Dark Angel you gave them. DPE might of been great outside the archetype, but you can never really forget how good it is in a dedicated HERO Deck as well.
Elemental HERO Shining Neos Wingman and Friends (August 2022)
We advance a few months towards Power of the Elements, one of more impactful sets in recent memory with archetypes like Tearlaments and Spright. What didn't get as much focus, however, was the new HERO support, mainly supporting Elemental HERO Neos and the Neo-Spacians. The featured card was Elemental HERO Shining Neos Wingman, a new Fusion of both of Jaden's main aces. It helps give the archetype more power with 3100 ATK and an ability to gain even more ATK for each monster in your grave, but it also serves as more removal since on summon it destroys cards on the field up to the number of Attributes there are on said field. Also, its ATK boosting helps run over more monsters and deal the classic burn effect we saw on the old Flame Wingman monsters.
The main part here is the removal effect, which can be used on the opponent's turn if you got the Fusion Materials on the field, in the graveyard, or banished and got a copy of Favorite Contact to help summon it. Some other noteworthy cards in this support wave include Elemental HERO Spirit of Neos to give you options to search for your HERO related Spells and Traps, just as long as they mention a specific HERO in its effect text. Cross Keeper can help extend by summoning a HERO from your hand or grave and offers draw power while it's in the grave and you perform a Fusion Summon. You also got some cards with potential like EN - Engage Neo Space to help summon your high-Level HEROs or Neo-Spacians from the Deck, or Instant Contact to cheat out any Elemental HERO Fusion that's Level 7 or lower. Now, HEROs didn't do much instantly after the new Power of the Elements support dropped due to how volatile the meta would be to it. It would, however, find success later on, but after a new piece of support dropped in the next year.
Wake Up Your Elemental HERO (March 2023)
We skip to March 2023 for our next support in Maze of Memories, a new boss monster for the HERO archetype in Wake Up Your Elemental HERO. It's a fairly easy Fusion to summon, since it just needs any Elemental HERO Fusion and any number of Warriors. You can go with the classic Polymerization with something like Elemental HERO Sunrise or Elemental HERO Absolute Zero on the field, or you can just use up any of your already used resources in the graveyard thanks to Miracle Fusion, which the aforementioned Sunrise does search for. It does reward you for the more materials you use, since it gains 300 ATK per material and can attack a number of monsters up to the number of Fusion Monsters used as material, but the bare minimum 2 materials already makes it a respectable 3100 ATK at least. It ensures the destruction of any monster it battles, and adds a bit of burn damage equal to that monster's ATK at the very least. Finally, it does something not most HERO monsters do, and that's float into any Warrior from your hand or Deck on destruction. With this new card, along with the previous support and a meta that's not as dominated by a single Deck, HEROs were able to find a little bit of success once again.
Elemental HERO Flame Wingman - Infernal Rage (June 2023)
The last piece of noteworthy support is very recent, but gave HEROs one of their more notable tops we've seen in a while. Elemental HERO Flame Wingman - Infernal Rage is a retrain of the classic Flame Wingman that makes the previous Shining Neos Wingman much easier to summon. Infernal Rage isn't too hard to summon either, since it just needs 2 Elemental HEROs with different Attributes. In return, the main effect this has is the ability to search for any "Favorite" card, which includes Favorite Hero and the Favorite Contact I talked about earlier. Now, Favorite Hero might allow for some interesting Field Spell stuff, since something you could do is get to Secret Village of the Spellcasters with Elemental HERO Neos Kluger on the field. The important part, however, is the ability to search for Favorite Contact to make summoning Shining Neos Wingman easier. Since Infernal Rage is a Wingman Fusion for one of the materials, all you need is Elemental HERO Neos, which is searchable by revealing the Shining Neos Wingman with Xtra HERO Infernal Devicer. This recent addition helped the HERO archetype manage to get a Top 32 spot at the 2023 North American WCQ, a very impressive feat from Nathanal Christmas. Infernal Rage will get better as we get more search targets, since Eternal Favorite is coming up with Yubel support in Phantom Nightmare, maybe making Yubel HEROs something more viable. Still, it's cool to see HEROs accomplish something in 2023 as the archetype continues to get support.
Other Noteworthy Stuff
Finally, there's some other stuff I want to go over that hasn't really found much success. I already mentioned stuff like Instant Contact, EN - Engage Neo Space, and Elemental HERO Neos Kluger, which are all cool additions to the Deck, but no list with competitive success that I could find. EN Shuffle was also released at the tail end of 2022, which is a cool card, in theory, to swap out something like Elemental HERO Stratos for Elemental HERO Shadow Mist from the Deck to search Mask Change, but no lists have topped with the card. We also had more cards released alongside Infernal Rage, as the archetype did get Protection of the Elements for a Spell/Trap negate option. There was also the new powerhouse, Armed Neos, giving the HERO Deck a potential reason to run Dark Armed Dragon and helping go into other HERO Fusions after it destroys something in battle, maybe summoning Elemental HERO Cosmo Neos on the opponent's turn. Sadly for Armed Neos, nobody has opted to use it and get a top with the card, mainly since if you're going to go for a gimmick like this, honestly something like Rainbow Neos is better.
I also want to talk about the rise of Time Wizard tournament events, mainly those focusing on Edison Format from 2010. One of the better Decks from the era are HERO variants, mainly Diva HERO and Hero Beat. They both offer nice advantages since Diva Hero can use Deep Sea Diva to help make Synchros while also being a WATER to use to summon Absolute Zero, plus running Evil HERO Infernal Prodigy to serve as tribute fodder for Caius the Shadow Monarch, or being more Synchro material. Hero Beat, on the other hand, tries to back itself up with powerful Spells and Traps, using Elemental HERO Neos Alius to synergize with cards like Hero Blast and Gemini Spark. It's a fairly balanced format with a ton of diversity, and it's nice to see HEROs be somewhat of a viable and good option, even with the lack of the Fusions they'd get in later years.
The legacy of the HERO archetype constantly growing and expanding in 2023 is a sight to see. The Deck can still sneak in a surprise result in the modern format with the right pilot. The power output the Deck puts out is nearly unmatched, and it has some nice floodgate abilities like the previously mentioned Plasma and Dark Angel along with the well-known Masked HERO Dark Law still being a threat. Edison format also being extremely popular is also good for the archetype, since it's a format where HEROs are a much better Deck for compared to the current one. Now, with any more new support in the future, we could always see HEROs rise again to being a Tier 1 Deck for all we know. As of right now, HEROs are in a pretty decent spot for past and current formats and I hope it continues that way and maybe I can talk about the deck's success in a few years when we got enough new support for a Part 7.