Cyberdark is one of the strangest relics from the GX's bygone era, up there with the likes of Gemini monsters and cards heavily caring about Chain Links. Today, Nocturne and I will be going over the theme, a little bit about its history, and what it's up to nowadays. Join us in our new article series: Exploring Forgotten Archetypes!
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Cyberdark Impact was a 2006 set that notably introduced the Barrier Statue series of monsters. It's often referred to as one of the worst sets of all time, for its minimal impact on Yu-Gi-Oh's metagame at the time, but it also brought us the eponymous Cyberdark archetype from the anime. The strategy was still in its infancy back then, with nothing more than the Cyberdark machines and Cyberdark Dragon released.
The Cyberdark machines are Edge, Horn and Keel. All three share effects to equip a Level 3 or lower Dragon monster from the GY and also use those equips to protect themselves from battle. Edge can attack directly by halving its attack. Horn does piercing damage, while Keel does 300 damage if it destroys a monster by battle. Nothing too impressive even for back in the day.
In terms of actually using the Cyberdarks, the best play was to use Future Fusion to summon Five-Headed Dragon and then equip a large dragon beater that was milled to Cyberdark Dragon. Beyond that, normal summoning a Cyberdark machine while you had Masked Dragon in the GY was a way to get an easy 2200 ATK beater with some modest protection. Unsurprisingly, the cards never really caught on even in casual play.
Rising From the Inferno
The first wave of Cyberdark support from Legendary Duelists debuted in early September 2017, featuring two new Main Deck monsters, a Field Spell, and a shiny new Fusion monster to go into! While it didn't become a world-beater in competitive play, the deck finally became functional. Notably, both Cyberdark Claw and Cyberdark Cannon allowed you to stop running the likes of Hunter Dragon just to have a Level 3 or lower Dragon in the GY to equip your Cyberdarks.
Let's turn up the heat with Cyberdark Inferno! While no longer impressive by today's Field Spell standards, it was quite the strong card on release! Making your Cyberdarks unable to be targeted or destroyed by card effects made them pretty difficult to clear especially since the Equip cards gave them some extra protection from being run over in battle. The effect of returning a Cyberdark to Normal Summon again sounds a bit unintuitive, but it lets you re-equip a spent Cyberdark to grant it the stat boost and protection, as well as make use of Claw and Cannon's bonus effects a bit better. Last but not least, if your opponent destroys the Field Spell, you can add something like Overload Fusion as consolation. Later on, potential options like Fusion Destiny or Branded Fusion become desirable choices.
Cyberdark Cannon is an incredible consistency tool for Cyberdark, as it only gets better when the second wave of support arrives for the archetype. Pitching itself to add a Machine Cyberdark while also being a Level 3 Dragon for Claw, Edge, and Keel's effect sets up the deck's (admittedly limited) plays well. The fun doesn't stop there, however, as it has two other effects to sweeten the pot.
The free draw is a nice bonus, and being able to send any monster from the deck to the GY opens some nice utility options. There weren't many at the time of its release, but recently cards like Eldlich the Golden Lord and Gizmek Orochi, the Serpentron Sky Slasher work incredibly well with this effect.
Cyberdark Claw is the late bloomer of the two, as it wasn't all that great back in the day but eventually overshadowed its counterpart with better Cyberdark Spell and Trap support to become the premier consistency booster. Still, during its debut the card was solid regardless. You could pitch it to search Inferno to massively beef up your monsters, or to get Impact for a surprise Fusion play.
It had decent recursion for the time, but the most alluring part of Claw has to be its effect to send an Extra Deck monster to the GY. This allowed you to cash in some very nice effects such as Elder Entity N'tss and set up some wacky plays. A notable one back in the day involved Shooting Quasar Dragon, where it can be equipped and should the monster be removed, you can (sometimes) float into Shooting Star Dragon!
Cyberdarkness Dragon is a wickedly cool boss monster and an upgrade to the original Cyberdark Dragon! It's such a shame that the card is extremely difficult to bring out especially upon release, without any reliable ways to turbo it out. Cyberdarkness lets you equip any Dragon or Machine monster from your GY to it and it gains its original ATK. Not only that, you get a non-once-per-turn negate of any card or effect your opponent activates, provided you have a bunch of Equip Cards to pay as cost. In future support waves, the deck does gain more methods to easily summon out this behemoth, but it may have arrived too little too late.
Cyberdarks Invade Dandenong!
Although at this point many fans of the archetype had given up on it entirely, there was another subset of fans that weren't satisfied with the Fusion summoning gameplan but weren't willing to give up on the archetype either. A few months after the release of the Structure Deck, some players began to experiment.
The most prominent of these were Alex Mondlak, who took a going second Cyberdark control build very reminiscent of Sky Striker builds into a case tournament and won, back in February 2022, and then soon after in early April, Daniel Pollard, who used a similar build running Destiny HERO - Destroyer Phoenix Enforcer at the NGL Dandenong Regional in Australia to get a top 8 finish.
These builds both relied heavily on Cyberdark Realm and Cyberdark Invasion to stay in the game and disrupt the opponent. Notable plays and synergies included Cyber Dragon Core being able to search Realm, making it a substitute for Claw which also put a body on the field and enabled Chimeratech Megafleet Dragon. One main play involved Cannon sending Eldlich the Golden Lord to the GY, which in Main Phase 2 would send either Realm or Cannon to the grave to summon itself, the latter netting you a draw. Golden Lord and either the now equip-less Cyberdark monster or a Cyber Dragon Core would link into Predaplant Verte Anaconda, which would summon DPE.
DPE itself can also destroy Cyberdark Equips for their GY effects while also destroying cards. Cyberdark Inferno and/or Cyberdark Invasion allow these plays to become a gameplay loop, as they both allow you to re-equip Claw and Cannon to the machines.
In the wake of these successes, a small amount of hype rose once more, only to dim as the advent of POTE saw stronger decks enter the format, decks that Cyberdark's engine simply could not contend with easily. We wouldn't see Cyberdark again for quite some time until a sudden stroke of genius emerged in 2023.
A New Calling
After years of neglect and relative obscurity even after the release of the Cyber Strike Structure Deck, which was mostly just opened up for Jizukiru and Infinite Impermanence, Cyberdark finds new life in competitive play as an engine for Exosister!
It's an unbelievable sighting for sure, but it's real and it managed a Top 4 finish at the Montreal WCQ Regional which had 163 players, alongside a small Dinomorphia package to round out the deck. This is currently Cyberdark's most recent foray into competitive play.
Cyberdark Dinomorphia Exosister is an unnerving combination no normal duelist may consider. Still, the machinations of Dave Trepanier paid off to secure him his invite, various regional prizes, and a chunk of worlds points. Let's take a look at how the mighty sisters enlist the help of Cyberdarks in their time of need.
Exosister Martha is the best starter and extender for Exosisters, but it has a restriction that makes it so you cannot Special Summon non-Exosister monsters, even if it gets stopped by Ash. Because of this, players have to get crafty and utilize engines that provide extra Level 4 monsters without Special Summoning. Let's enter the Cyberdark Realm!
Cyberdark Claw shines as the best card to open here, as you can discard it to add Realm to your hand. Realm allows you to add one of the OG Cyberdarks and additionally provides an extra Normal Summon, therefore not conflicting with Martha. You may then wonder, why go through all this trouble for a boneless Sakitama? The answer lies in Martha's incidental synergy with the Cyberdark Equip mechanic.
Say Martha gets hit with Ash Blossom, which is a fairly common occurrence. You can pitch Claw from your hand to get Realm, activate it, and search Edge (Keel / Horn work as well), NS Martha and use Realm to NS the Cyberdark you added. The Cyberdark triggers, equipping Claw to itself. Now, because a card moved out of either GY, Martha can then turn into Exosister Kaspitell. You can use Kaspitell to add Exosister Elis to your hand, summon it, and make Exosister Mikailis. Mikailis can add any backrow of your choice before making Exosisters Magnifica! It's a unique way of extending, as otherwise it's difficult for the deck to make Magnifica should Martha be interrupted otherwise.
Realm alone in this case still isn't bad, because Edge with the extra Normal Summon can act as discount Sakitama. Lastly, the Dinomorphias acted as a very strong supporting engine that didn't conflict with either strategy. All in all, it's a unique build that shook the dueling community, even having a bunch of curious people pick up the deck and play it for their locals or in Master Duel, which is probably the most relevant Cyberdark has been in its entire career, even if it's just an engine.
While Trepanier's approach to the deck was certainly innovative, we decided to go a slightly different route, keeping much of the theory, but expanding on some aspects, while removing others.
To be specific, we weren't big fans of the Dinomorphia engine, feeling that it took up a lot of space that could be used for generics, so we cut that for a bigger Cyberdark engine and hand traps. The bigger Cyberdark package allows each part of the engine to shine a little more, while also having every last bit of utility squeezed out. For example, the addition of one copy of Invasion allows Claw to become much more threatening to the opponent, as it can now add a recurring interruption and grind machine. Invasion synergizes well with Martha, being able to trigger her effect on the opponent's turn. In this regard, the Exosister engine gives the Cyberdark engine a better payoff for simply equipping cards. Drawing multiples of either engine also gets a lot better - opening Edge or Horn with Claw or Realm, and other possibilities.
We decided to add one copy of Cannon and another Cyberdark machine in the form of Horn for extra consistency and power. Cannon makes it so opening Realm on its own still lets you do the Equip combo that works with Martha, as you can search Cannon with Realm and then pitch it to grab either Horn or Edge. Aside from that, Cannon on its own works if Martha resolves to summon herself and Elis, as normal summoning Edge or Horn and equipping Cannon will also trigger her effect.
To make better use of Claw's effect to send from the Extra Deck, we also increased the number of potential targets, featuring Garura and a Fossil card. In regards to the Extra Deck, the addition of the two Charmers, Lyna, and Dharc, is also quite relevant, as these cards give us plays into Iblee and let us get rid of Nibiru tokens. Post-AGOV they also help with enabling S:P Little Night, a powerful new Link monster.
Even though Cyberdark hasn't seen much competitive success and the Structure Deck didn't fully live up to its potential, there are glimmers of hope for it as an engine in other decks that can make use of its talents. It's also fine in a lower power-level casual environment, and considering GX is a well-beloved series, it may just be a matter of time before the deck receives more support. I hope you enjoyed our look into the Cyberdark archetype, as it is quite dear to us. Join us again for further explorations of other forgotten archetypes! Until next time folks, Renren and Nocturne out.