HEROs are pretty much off the map right now. The decks has considerably bad match-ups against a lot of high teir decks like Machinas, Dark Worlds Chaos Dragons, Agents and what I’d predict to be a poor match-up against Mermails. It has a fair match-up against Wind-ups and has always fared quite well against the Dinos. So the odds look kind of split in a bad way at this point. But of course, why I am even talking about them if they’re “bad”? That’s because for some reason it feels like people have put HEROs in this weird box where they’re only allowed to run 1 variant, when in actuality there’s a slough of other ways to play the deck that have been played in the past successfully as well as new variants that are being made right now. Some of these variants even give them a positive match-up against decks they’d otherwise lose to while also not loosing to there normally good match-ups.
As of now, there’s only 2 ways to play HEROs that are on people’s radar: Standard HERO Beat and Bubble Beat (or A HERO Lives Turbo if you’d like). Standard focuses on very simple circular game play in which you force the game into a grind, where HEROs hopefully will inevitably win, we all know this deck well, and if you don’t may I ask, where have you been? The deck is flawed though in that it looses out to extremely aggressive or evasive destruction and can’t effectively deal with a large amount of high attack monsters unless it’s been dealt the mother of all hands, which we all know only happens very little unless you’re a stacker. The deck also suffers from being extremely well documented; everyone and their mother knows exactly how the deck works. Stratos first turn and then cycle Neos Alius with Gemini Spark, Hero Blast and The Shining. etc. etc. Rinse repeat. Bubble Beat is relatively the same except it sacrifices its ability to grind for OTK potential. The amount it does that depends on the build. It can go from a Standard variant + a couple Bubbleman to full blown OTK with no Neos Alius. The Bubble Beat deck in the end is kind of a one trick pony, and now that we all know it ‘s one trick, it’s not that scary. Also, with people moving more towards Maxx “C” and Tragoedia, it’s much harder to OTK with and it’s easier for the opponent to come back from your push since they’ve likely invested less into the board meaning they have more to combat your push. Due to this change, what in past formats are OTKs for a HERO player are more like awful gambles in which you invest all your cards to the board to get a 50/50 shot at winning or getting destroyed the next turn.
Okay, now I’ll simplify that all nice and concise like; the deck has problems with the following: Big beaters, evasive destruction and a movement towards low field investment. HEROs used to be a deck that morphed to face the format, but for some reason they’ve halted this motion. So as would be logical we should morph the deck to fix these problems. Bear in mind these are just theories, so not all these ideas will work in the current meta. I’m just trying to stimulate some thought. I’m going to go through many of the old and new innovations of HERO decks that aren’t being used or thought about, mostly geared around softening up those weak edges the deck has this format.
Let’s start with big beaters, there’s quite a few ways to deal with this:
First, let’s talk about deal with big beaters. The initial and obvious way to deal with this is if we could increase the strength of our beaters to be greater than that of the standard decks then those “big beaters” aren’t big enough anymore and are no longer a problem. This means consistently beating over Grapha, Light Pulsar and and Hyperion with your boss monsters or even our weenies if that’s possible. Elemental HERO The Shining does do this already, so if we can focus on getting him out more often then we can deal with that. Increasing the amount of Fusion within the deck isn’t too difficult. Super Polymerization can easily make it into the main deck now (although I only suggest running it for highly skilled players since it’s such a lopsided card) which will easily increase the amount of Fusion monsters you make as well as deal with opposing boss monsters. There’s also Fusion Gate, which seems to have been forgotten, and it literally can churn out a new Fusion Monster every turn at almost no cost. A 3000 Grapha every turn is good, but isn’t a 3200+ beater that recycles your monsters every turn better? Fusion Gate allows for a lot of diversity in the rest of your deck other than the standard Stratos and 3 Alius of course. You can run heavy traps and stun with it, or you can run a huge mess of monsters and try to OTK by fusion summoning so much, or even somewhere in between.
We can also try to boost the attack of our lower monsters or lower the attack of our opponent’s monsters. There’s not a whole lot of ways to do this, but a couple come to mind. Very simple small deck changes such as running a couple Forbidden Lance or Honest can edge the deck up a couple percents on its win loss ratio, there’s also the highly overlooked Captain Gold and Skyscraper. I frequently saw, a while back OCG, players maining 1 Captain Gold and 1 Skyscraper. It takes up such little deck space but brings a lot of versatility with that small change. It allows Neos Alius to be at a pretend 2900 ATK during your turn which can even save you from Grapha considering it also deals with the opponent’s Gates of the Dark World. It’s also very consistent even though you only run 1 of each since it can be searched with Reinforcements of the Army, E-Emergency Call or Stratos. It also nicely sets up Miracle Fusion and has strange synergy with some weird techs like Summoner Monk.
There’s also alternative boss monsters. As I said, a lot of people are really stuck in the old deck style and wont really think outside the box, but it’s worth it when it comes to these guys. I’m sure there’s more, but these are some good ones that I’ve been able to implement with a fair amount of ease: Chaos Sorcerer, Black Luster Soldier, Tragoedia, Gorz, Lightray Sorcerer and other Lightray monsters. All of which quite easily deal with opposing boss monsters. One of the funnest ones is using Lightray Daedalus with multiple copies of the aforementioned Skyscraper and Captain Gold. The two monsters have a very natural synergy since they help each other out very nicely. Elemental HERO Prisma also very quickly helps mill Light monsters for the Lightrays and also serves as double Chaos food since he can send Sangan to the graveyard with his effect if you run Sanwitch in your extra deck. Prisma also adds a nice versatility for Chaos boss monsters since he can send Cyber Dragon by running a Chimeratech in the extra to mill lights as well as contact fuse while being treated as Cyber Dragon for Chimeratech who is a Dark monster. Pretty sweet right? This also deals with HEROs pesky Zenmaines problem, which essentially becomes a non-issue when you main Prisma and Cyber Dragon. There’s also Tour Guide, which already works well with running the Sangan for Prisma and works really well with Chaos and even with Miracle Fusion using Leviair. There’s also a couple really wonky OTKs using Tour Guide and MX-Saber Invoker that can be easily implemented into the deck.
One of the biggest issues with the big beaters for HEROs is that they keep coming back. So another solution to this problem is to more effectively deal with them. Or more easily have answers to them. In the case of Agents, Hyperion is really annoying to deal with, but say if you went into Absolute Zero more often he’s less of an issue. Allowing this can be done with small deck alterations as well as simple awareness of the plays and differing your play style. As for cards like Grapha, we need some permanent solutions to help deal with that. Which brings me to a card that I’ll talk about in the next section.
Dealing with evasive card effects:
A lot of HEROs worst match-ups involve card effects that are nearly impossible to stop. The main two ways these effects occur is either in the damage step or activating in the graveyard.
The main evasive effects are the graveyard effects, such as Grapha’s effect to destroy a card or the new Atlantean Marksman’s effect to destroy face-downs. These effects can easily pick apart a HERO deck’s setup usually at a plus 1 ratio, making it difficult for HERO decks to deal with since they cannot respond to these effects. There’s two very simple cards that can be main or side decked in HEROs to deal with this: Macro Cosmos and Dimensional Fissure. I find it quite odd that these card choices haven’t been implemented in HERO decks yet. Now that the new Atlantean Mermail deck is out, people seem to be scrounging for decks to run Macro Cosmos in, and it works incredibly easily here, but for some reason people don’t seem to want to. Maybe people are too attached to Miracle Fusion (which, mind you, can still be played at 3 with main decked D-Fissure rather than Macro if you focus on XYZ summoning) because they’re still stuck in the mindset that HEROs only have those main 2 variants. Other than Miracle Fusion though, the deck is pretty unattached to the graveyard, so at the very least it could be sided in if you don’t like the idea of not running Miracle Fusion. This also offers, as I alluded to earlier, a much easier method of getting rid of large beaters because it removes them from the game permanently rather than letting them see the graveyard where they’re easily accessible.
Macro and Dimensional Fissure also open up the ability to use 2 really fantastic cards rather easily. The first is Lightray Sorcerer. Sorcerer is super easy to bring out in a deck running both Fusion Gate and Macro Cosmos and serves as the alternative cycling method to cards such as The Shining or Hero Blast, but gives you much welcomed spot removal. I talk more about it in a previous article, so I wont spend to much time on it here.
Macro and D-Fissure also allow the use of Elemental HERO Voltic, who’s an extremely underrated card. Voltic allows for a lot of 1 card Rank 4 XYZ and in combination with Stratos can achieve some really nutty free advantage. I’ve been testing a lot of variant running him, and he really makes massive advantage when he goes off, and it’s not very hard to get him to work either. If you attack directly with him to Special Summon Stratos you can search for a Bubbleman and make a card Shock Master, I heard that’s a good card. You don’t have to be running Macro in the first place to use him either, by just using Fusion Gate, Miracle Fusion, Lightrays or Chaos Monsters you can easily banish HEROs to make quick Rank 4’s with or just spam advantage. If you’re running either Elemental HERO Ocean or Bubbleman, you can use Voltic to revive them for a quick Abyss Dweller even to help agaisnt the horrible Dark World match-up, maybe things are looking up as far as that’s concerned?
The second problem is the damage step. HEROs find a lot of grief in the damage step since they have almost no cards capable of responding during that time, making them vulnerable. Example: You have a Neos Alius and a Gemini Spark, you attack the opponent’s face-down monster, it’s Ryko. Ryko’s effect will activate in the damage step, for this example destroying Neos Alius. Although you have Gemini Spark in hand, you can’t activate it because it’s the damage step and you lose out on your chance to play it. This makes it so a lot of the time you have to preemptively Spark face-down monsters, but that gets a bit dicey, and nobody likes that. People commonly side in Ryko and Snowman Eater against the deck, and it’s difficult to answer with HEROs. Also, cards such as Forbidden Lance and the like are unanswerable for the deck aside from the 1 clutch Honest you might have.
It’s unfortunate, but there’s not a whole lot of ways to deal with this though, but it’s the small changes that are what will help the most here. Main decking a copy of Nobleman of Crossout is a definite option and especially good in HERO gate builds since it’s easier to get the opponent to set monsters because you frequently only have 1 huge The Shining on the board and the opponent can prevent damage by simply setting there floaters and waiting or by setting offensive cards like Ryko and Snowman. There’s also a lot of cards that are good baiting damage step cards too that should probably be moving to the main deck such as Cyber Dragon and Photon Thrasher, especially the Cyber Dragon with the Prisma plays. There’s also cards like Neo Spacian Grand Mole that evade face-down monsters quite well that should be highly considered. (You can send Grand Mole to the graveyard for Prisma if that’s ever relevant, same with Bubbleman. I’m not sure if that will ever come up as useful but it’s always good to keep and open mind) It also deals with XYZ monsters, which can be an issue for HEROs if they don’t have the right cards. There’s also a really interesting card I was looking at that might be good: Noble Arms – Arfeudutyr. (that’s a mouthful) It just came out in Abyss Rising, it’s an Equip Spell you can equip to a Warrior. Once per turn if it’s equipped you can destroy a face-down card by lower the equipped monsters attack by 500. Note that that’s face-down spells and trap or even monsters! Pretty wicked awesome! There’s a couple of ways to deal with the attack drop, such as equipping it to a really big monster such as The Shining or Heroic Champion Excalibur, where 500 is a minimal loss or you could use it before XYZ summoning or Fusion Summoning with the Equipped monster. It’s also quite funny when equipped to Absolute Zero since the opponent doesn’t really want to destroy him even if his attack is being lowered.
The new, more Trapless meta:
If you’ve been playing recently I’m sure you’ve noticed an increasing shift to decks running either massive amounts of traps or little to no traps at all and there’s really no in between. It also seems that the decks with no traps are losing steam while it’s the opposite for the other. The advantages of running no traps seemed to be increasing and the amount of defense you can have with no traps is quite potent. You’re not at risk of losing games to Heavy Storm and your opponent has a bunch of dead MSTs in there deck game 1 giving you a keen edge. You also invest less into the field so if you play your cards right most decks don’t have to put much into the field and have a lot of fallback potential in response to the opponent’s plays. Also, you’re in almost no risk of OTKs because the hand traps are the best cards in the game at preventing them and the fear of you having them alone can keep the opponent from investing too much in the board as well. While, with traps your opponent can cause a blowout with almost no effort using the staple spell cards if you opened only sub par because when running traps you’re required to invest in the field in order to defend yourself. The opponent always knows exactly how much defense you have, so bluffing is very difficult when you run traps, while with none, the amount of defense in your hand is always a mystery unless you have no hand.
HEROs have some advantages here though. Firstly, hand traps are mostly useless against them. Aside from Tragoedia and Gorz I wouldn’t expect any of the hand traps to hurt too much, but the low investment into the field makes it difficult to play with HEROs since you usually have to invest a lot into the board to make difference. This doesn’t have to be the case though. Many OCG players have adapted strange HERO builds with no traps running Tragoedia, Gorz, Veilers and Maxx “C”s of their own and have proven them successful. This opens up a weird avenue of a deck where the opponent has dead hand traps as well as dead MSTs and Heavy Storm game 1, that’s around 6-8 dead cards game 1, which is a pretty significant advantage. Not to mention that HEROs rarely need to to main a whole lot of MSTs themselves since they can deal with most general threats with Gemini Spark alone. This gives quite a high amount of usable cards game 1 as compared to most decks. It’s just a basic natural consistency the deck benefits from.
There’s also exactly the opposite. When running Macro Cosmos, now the opponent literally can’t activate hand traps and has to get MSTs to deal with you. This allows you to use a lot of weird techs without fear such as Tour Guide of the Underworld to bring out Leviair and recycle Stratos all without much fear of the opponent responding. It’s similar to Dino Rabbit running Macro Cosmos making almost all there Rabbit and Tour Guide plays go off without a hitch.
Well, I’ve rambled on long enough. I hope that all was interesting an maybe I’ll bring back some more HERO talk in a couple weeks. I’ll probably be taking a look into the future packs next week. Comment about anything your confused about, maybe you disagree or even comment about any other cool HERO ideas you may have, I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible!