Header

Content

Masked HEROs Guide

Overview

The Masked Hero archetype is a subcategory of the all-inclusive HERO archetype. This variant revolves around Masked Heroes which can be specially summoned from the extra deck; delivering finishing blows with Masked HERO Anki or disrupting the opponent with Masked HERO Blast. Equipped with an arsenal of Vision HEROs giving access to the infamous Vision HERO Trinity and its lesser but equally useful Vision HERO Adoration, the deck can quickly end games with its explosiveness. Having established their presence throughout the years as a top tier deck, HEROs manage to sneak their way into the top cut of tournaments when least expected.

About the Author

Every Hero has a sidekick manipulating things behind the scenes. I am RadRzRg, the sidekick. I fell in love with the Masked Hero variant some time ago; when Masked HERO Anki was first released. Since then I have seen them rise and fall, either through a banlist or through a new way to play them. With the introduction of Elemental HERO Stratos I was excited to pick up the deck and it did not disappoint. Since then I have been mainly playing HEROs and encouraging more people to at least try them! I unfortunately do not have a long list of tournament tops to my name, but that has not stopped me from being an active member of the Duel Links Meta community and a member of the Clan War team, Qutie Pies. With this guide I aim to share the little knowledge I possess with regard to HEROs and shed light on the small interactions that truly make this deck enjoyable. Realizing the lack of a competitive spirit, I enrolled neo, a HERO user with several tops to his name to help with the project.

Introduction

Currently HEROs are falling from grace. But heroes truly shine at their lowest! Their main win condition is a traditional beatdown approach with a heavy focus on removing backrow before engaging into a game winning play. Alternatively, Masked HEROs excel at bringing out Destiny HERO - Plasma to negate the opponent’s monsters and also equip them on your S/T zones to allow for a One Turn Kill (OTK). With a searcher Elemental HERO Stratos, a combo starter Vision HERO Faris and the all-time mighty Mask Change, the Masked HERO variant is equipped with tools to deal with most boards when going second. Access to techs such as Cosmic Cyclone enable you to deliver that much needed OTK, since this deck does not bode well in a game of attrition. Similarly to most OTK-oriented decks, Masked HEROs suffer from a lack of turn 1 plays, although going first is not always a game ending deal. What the deck truly suffers from are particular consistency issues, as the current variant runs a plethora of garnets such as Vision HERO Increase and Vision HERO Vyon which you rarely want to see in your hand. That said, the deck still has a lot of pending support and is extremely oppressive with the right card opening. The aim of this guide will be to explore the cards used, the interactions you may come across and discuss matchups of the current meta.


Skills

Main Skills

The go-to approaches to Masked HEROs in regard to skills.

  • Bring it!

Your bread and butter skill. Its main function is to bring a plasma to your hand at will. Triggering it is simple given that a Cosmic Cyclone or two Masked HERO Blast effects will be enough. It can help you gain access to Plasma without hard drawing it or using a Elemental HERO Stratos search. You can also use it to alleviate bricks, by shuffling a copy of a duplicate garnet in your hand such as Vision HERO Increase or Vision HERO Vyon. Further, it can be used to shuffle back a spell allowing you to have two HEROs for either a Vision HERO Faris or Polymerization play.

  • Sealed Tombs

In a meta with a high prevalence of graveyard effects, such as that of Crystron Thystvern or Shiranui Spectralsword, Sealed Tombs can be your “go free out of jail” card. It can be both preventive in nature or disruptive. Either way, it can allow you to stop the opponent from committing plays which could devastate you otherwise, helping you win the next turn instead. Also preventing your opponent from banishing cards from the GY is an ability to reckon with, allowing you to maintain your Destiny HERO - Malicious in the graveyard for a future “Pot of Greed”. Overall, in any side deck format it or a metagame with GY decks being prominent, it would not be a bad idea to have this skill as an alternative for any particularly tricky matchups.

Honorable Mentions

  • Master of Fusion

With a similar cost to Sealed Tombs and Bring it! of 1000 Life Points, this skill allows you to go into more than the normal maximum of 1 fusion per duel due to only one Polymerization in the deck. It also helps do so when it would otherwise be impossible; eg. when you do not have the necessary combo in place or searcher available. Is this skill the superior option? You are sacrificing potential win-cons to consistency. It depends on the current meta and the setting in which you are playing in. For settings such as the ladder playing this might be ultimately worth it since one loss due to a lack of Destiny HERO - Plasma or GY lockdown will not be detrimental. Nonetheless, this does not stop the skill from being played on tournaments either.

  • See you later!

SYL, a great skill for maintaining card advantage in many decks, does not fail to make its way to HEROs and steal the show. SYL grants more expendable resources on a turn one board, being able to return a Elemental HERO Stratos to the hand to allow for future plays. It can also return monsters which were potentially disrupted by the opponent’s backrow, letting you make a come-back. Despite great versatility, it begs the question “Is it not a win more skill?”.

  • The Tie that Binds

A less commonly seen skill, The Tie that Binds has seen partial success in some tournaments. It has particular synergy with Vision HERO Adoration allowing for an additional reduction of at least 200 ATK/DEF points on an opponent’s monster. With a total of at least 600 ATK/DEF summed gains, this combo can oftentimes be the defining factor for that much needed OTK.


Core Cards

This section covers cards that every deck should have and build on.

Elemental HERO Stratos (3x):

Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Stratos

Stratos is one of the best searchers in Yu Gi Oh! Duel Links and you always want to see him on your starting hand. Allowing for a search of any HERO, including itself, it helps set up your win-con combos. Typically, you will be searching for one of the two HEROs needed for an optimal combo of Vision HERO Faris and its discard fodder, Destiny HERO - Malicious or Destiny HERO - Celestial. It also has non-targeting backrow destruction abilities, claiming the title of the “MVP” card of the deck.

Vision HERO Faris (2-3x):

Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Faris

Faris is the main combo starter of the deck. He promotes the equipping of Vision HERO Increase on your backrow, which will in turn special summon Vision HERO Vyon from the deck upon summon. Faris is responsible for giving you a Polymerization and enough fuel to fuse with it, or alternatively 3 monsters on the board to go into Destiny HERO - Plasma. Ideally you also want to see Faris on your opening hand, alongside Stratos. Nonetheless, it is searchable.

Vision HERO Vyon(1-2x):

Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Vyon

An immensely powerful card with great synergy in this variant, Vyon searches for a much needed Polymerization as well as potentially sending your Destiny HERO garnets to the grave for further plays and deck thinning. Vyon has had a long history of being semi-limited and removed from the banlist in attempts to either restrict the card itself or prevent the archetype from gaining access to semi-limited staples such as Hey, Trunade! and Treacherous Trap Hole.

Destiny HERO - Celestial(1x):

Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Celestial

Your ideal graveyard setup for turn 1 plays, Celestial’s draw effect is extremely strong allowing you to draw 2 cards the next turn after it was sent to the graveyard by banishing either Destiny HERO - Plasma or Destiny HERO - Malicious. Its first effect to destroy a face-up spell is also helpful when playing against Aromages, Necrovalley and Dark Magical Circle. It is also becoming increasingly useful against a rising top tier deck, Weather Painters.

Vision HERO Increase(x2)

Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Increase

The garnet that links Vision HERO Faris and Vision HERO Vyon together, Increase is responsible for special summoning itself from the S/T zone by tributing a HERO monster (on either player’s main phase) and special summoning Vyon from the deck. It also has a plethora of interactions linked to it, putting it at an awkward position of a “necessary potential brick”. The interactions will occupy a separate section in the guide.

Destiny HERO - Malicious(x2)

Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Malicious

Another great card to mill with Vision HERO Vyon or discard with Vision HERO Faris, Malicious is a great fuel for Destiny HERO - Celestial and also able to special summon a copy from the deck by banishing a copy from the graveyard. It can enable Plasma plays, serve as normal fusion fuel, be a HERO on the field to Mask Change onto, and also act as a defensive or offensive tool with a miniscule but yet enough attack toolbox to make a difference. It can however be a complete and utter brick with the wrong hand, so even though it does better than harm, be prepared to face the occasional unplayable hand of Malicious and spells.

Destiny HERO - Plasma (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Plasma

A runner up for the “MVP” card of the deck, Plasma’s effect to equip an opponent’s monster to your S/T trap and negate effect monsters on the field is worthy of striking fear in many. Requiring 3 monsters on the field to be specially summoned, Plasma hits the field with ease due to the archetype’s ability to swarm the field through Vision HERO Faris’s combo. It is a much needed out to a lot of otherwise almost unwinnable matchups such as Crystrons, Witchcrafters and Invoked. Its potential for preventive monster negation on your turn 1 is not to be underestimated either. Unfortunately, its great effect comes at the cost of being a potential brick.

Mask Change (3x)

Duel Links Card: Mask%20Change

Your most versatile card in terms of OTK potential and dodging opposing disruption. Mask Change can special summon Masked HEROs by sending a HERO monster you control with the same attribute to the graveyard from the field. Being a quick-play effect, it is both versatile and explosive. Chaining Mask Change to Elemental HERO Stratos for a Masked HERO Blast or on a dark attribute HERO for a Masked HERO Anki will often change the outcome of the duel. This card can also be searched once per turn by Masked HERO Anki’s effect increasing the OTK potential of the deck.

Form Change (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Form%20Change

Similar to the aforementioned Mask Change, but with the condition that you can only use it on extra deck monsters, Form Change is a very powerful card that gives you access to go from a Masked HERO Anki or a fusion to a Masked HERO Koga. However, there is debate on whether this card is in fact just a “win-more” card as it can cause the consistency of the deck to decrease.

Polymerization (1-2x)

Duel Links Card: Polymerization

A searchable card through Vision HERO Vyon, Polymerization can use HEROs as materials to summon Vision HERO Adoration and Vision HERO Trinity. Usually run at one copy to prevent bricks, it is a fundamental card to the deck.


Extra Deck

Masked HERO Anki (2-3x)

Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Anki

Your Mask Change’s best friend. It can search for a “Change” card upon destroying a monster, can attack directly for 1400 attack and can end the duel on a whim. The deck abuses Anki to the best of its ability. Two copies of this card can work but three are the norm, especially with the addition of the 7nth extra deck slot.

Masked HERO Blast (1x)

Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Blast

An immensely strong Masked HERO, usually used for disruption purposes. It can be summoned through a Mask Change on Elemental HERO Stratos and its ability to return a S/T card your opponent controls back to the hand is exceptionally powerful. In some matchups, Blast can single-handedly win you the game with no other necessary follow-up. Blast’s first effect to reduce one opponent monster’s ATK by half permanently is nothing to scoff at either. Most boss monsters will be rendered useless unless they have over 4400 ATK or other effects.

Vision HERO Adoration (1x)

Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Adoration

Summoned by using two HERO monsters as fusion material through Polymerization, Adoration’s effect to reduce both a monster’s ATK and DEF values by an amount equal to another monster you control is strong enough to OTK the opponent or shatter their board.

Vision HERO Trinity (1x)

Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Trinity

Nothing strikes more fear to the heart of the opponent than a Vision HERO Trinity while they control a face-up monster in attack position. With a toolbox of 5,000 attack points and potentially 3 attacks to his name on the turn he was summoned, Trinity sweeps away everything in his wake if they have no disruption. He is unable to attack directly, so keep an eye out for that. He is also not too difficult to summon, requiring 3 HERO monsters as fusion materials, a feat easily achieved through Vision HERO Faris’s combo.

Masked HERO Koga (0-1x)

Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Koga

Recently introduced in the HERO Generation structure deck, Koga has synergy in the deck utilizing Form Change. Its effect to banish a monster from your graveyard to reduce the opponent’s monster by the attack value of the banished monster is a strong OTK enabler as well a great defensive measure. Alas, this fusion card is only summonable through Form Change, a card with previously mentioned downsides.


Tech Cards

The cards below are used to complement the deck’s core and boost it in any lacking aspect.

Cosmic Cyclone

Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone

To nobody’s surprise Cosmic Cyclone makes its way into the Masked HERO deck. Being an OTK focused deck, the backrow removal capabilities, and the synergy it has with the skills played make this staple a must have, to the extent that Cosmic Cyclone can be considered a pseudo-core card.

Hey, Trunade!

Duel Links Card: Hey,%20Trunade!

Being the most oppressive backrow hate card in the meta, Hey, Trunade! has excellent synergy with the playstyle of Masked HEROs. Unfortunately, its inclusion comes at a cost of running only 1 Vision HERO Vyon, after a semi-limit hit it once again for the very reason of blocking the deck access to this tech.

Book of Moon

Duel Links Card: Book%20of%20Moon

One of the newer additions to the game, this staple is meta breaking. It enables Heroes to pursue both defensive as well as disruptive and offensive plays, offering a ton of versatility to the deck. An excellent out to otherwise nigh-unbeatable boards, such as Photon Strike Bounzer. This card is pivotal, to the point that maindecking it over 3 copies of Cosmic Cyclone becomes an actual consideration for a lot of HERO users.

Enemy Controller

Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller

An old staple that has earned its place in almost every meta, Enemy Controller may be used for its offensive properties to deliver a cheesy OTK or stop a lethal push from the opponent. Being semi-limited, it is not generally ran as it conflicts with Vision HERO Vyon, but the potential is limitless.

Treacherous Trap Hole

Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole

Yet another semi-limited staple, Treacherous Trap Hole gives HEROs a much-needed turn 1 protection mechanism, also adding a monster destruction aspect to the otherwise lacking deck. This is a great card to side in matchups that require a stronger turn 1 play and additional disruption.

Fusion Substitute

Duel Links Card: Fusion%20Substitute

To compensate for the lack of a second Polymerization, this card is being implemented in Masked HERO decks to allow for a second fusion summon on top of some minor draw power. It might be useful in attrition games or situations where you need more than the standard HERO play of just 1 fusion to end the game.

Offerings to the Doomed

Duel Links Card: Offerings%20to%20the%20Doomed

A monster destruction effect that complements the deck nicely. HEROs have enough draw power through Destiny HERO - Celestial and Elemental HERO Stratos. The downside of skipping the next draw phase can be alleviated at the tradeoff of disrupting the opponent. It is also very useful at putting an end to otherwise troublesome boss monsters such as Witchcrafter Madame Verre. A great pick for side deck cards.

Forbidden Chalice

Duel Links Card: Forbidden%20Chalice

A quick-play spell with monster effect negation properties, it has two functions in the deck. It can be used to disrupt the opponent to allow for a follow-up lethal play, or it can be combo-ed with Masked HERO Anki. If this card is chained to Anki’s direct attack within the damage step the card’s ability to attack directly will not be stopped, leading to a 3,200 damage direct attack, a blow crippling enough to usually win the duel if any other Life Point loss already took place.

Vision HERO Poisoner

Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Poisoner

Often referred to as a counterfeit Masked HERO Blast, Poisoner is a great OTK enabler by reducing a face-up monster’s ATK points by half at will. Stacking this card with a follow-up Mask Change will often lead to OTKs. Unfortunately, this card is, similarly to Vision HERO Increase, a suboptimal card to have in your opening hand. The consistency trade-off comes down to personal preference.

Vision HERO Minimum Ray

Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Minimum%20Ray

This card, unlike its cousins Vision HERO Increase and Vision HERO Poisoner who are combo extenders and OTK enablers consecutively, is used for disruption purposes. Monster destruction effects are not usually seen in a Masked HERO deck list, but as the XYZ era dawns upon us, and with Synchro’s still as prevalent as ever, its effect to destroy a level 4 or lower monster on the field may be something to consider.


The XYZ Era is here!

With the implementation of XYZ’s in the game, the Masked HERO deck can afford to fit one XYZ of your choice to the Extra Deck. Keep in mind that Vision HERO Faris will prevent you from going into an XYZ summon when it was specially summoned. That said, the deck still has enough swarming potential to fit a level 3 or 4 XYZ monster. Notable picks are listed below, although as more XYZs become accessible this will be subject to change:

Wind-Up Zenmaines

Duel Links Card: Wind-Up%20Zenmaines

A great protective generic XYZ which can catch the opponent off guard and potentially win you the game on the next turn.

Zubaba General

Duel Links Card: Zubaba%20General

A generic rank 4 XYZ available to everyone, it can equip a spare HERO monster from the hand to gain a boost in attack. Although it can be easily disrupted, it is still an alternative beat stick to the usual HERO combos and can come in handy when least expected.

Maestroke the Symphony Djinn

Duel Links Card: Maestroke%20the%20Symphony%20Djinn

A rank 4 XYZ with both protective and OTK enabling purposes. It can be a game-winning card in the Crystron and Witchcrafter matchups, baiting either Crystron Citree or Witchcrafter Madame Verre to then follow-up with additional combos. Its second effect offers at least 2 protections buying yourself enough time if needed.

Diamond Dire Wolf

Duel Links Card: Diamond%20Dire%20Wolf

A well-rounded approach to your backup XYZ, Diamond Dire Wolf offers a destruction of any 1 card on the field by destroying itself. This should be used to destroy a specific obstacle to your typical OTK combos. For instance, a Necrovalley, a Crystron Citree or a Witchcrafter Madame Verre. Overall, a great and versatile card.

Abyss Dweller

Duel Links Card: Abyss%20Dweller

A situational but powerful XYZ, it allows for graveyard effect negation. Good generic staple to have for some grindy matchups.

Number 70: Malevolent Sin

Duel Links Card: Number%2070:%20Malevolent%20Sin

A XYZ to compliment the aggressive playstyle of heroes, it allows for a temporary banishment of a monster on the field, hopefully enabling an OTK.


Sample Decks

neo, Top 32 in MCS#39

Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Plasma
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Faris
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Faris
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Faris
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Stratos
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Stratos
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Stratos
Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Malicious
Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Malicious
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Increase
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Increase
Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Celestial
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Vyon
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Vyon
Duel Links Card: Book%20of%20Moon
Duel Links Card: Book%20of%20Moon
Duel Links Card: Book%20of%20Moon
Duel Links Card: Mask%20Change
Duel Links Card: Mask%20Change
Duel Links Card: Mask%20Change
Duel Links Card: Polymerization
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Anki
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Anki
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Anki
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Blast
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Adoration
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Trinity
Duel Links Card: Number%2070:%20Malevolent%20Sin
Save & Test

Wanted, Top 4 in MF#35

Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Plasma
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Faris
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Faris
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Faris
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Stratos
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Stratos
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Stratos
Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Malicious
Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Malicious
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Increase
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Increase
Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Celestial
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Vyon
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Vyon
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Mask%20Change
Duel Links Card: Mask%20Change
Duel Links Card: Mask%20Change
Duel Links Card: Polymerization
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Anki
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Anki
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Anki
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Koga
Duel Links Card: Masked%20HERO%20Blast
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Adoration
Duel Links Card: Vision%20HERO%20Trinity

Side Deck:

Save & Test

General Tips

Opening Combos

This section will be split between combos you might want to follow if you lose the coin flip and go first, or combos you want to go through to deliver a hit and run OTK going second.

Going first

Arguably the least favorable outcome in most cases, going first has three typical lines of play assuming average or above average hands. Naturally, you play with the hand you are dealt. If you have Elemental HERO Stratos most of the following combos should be possible. A single HERO monster with Vision HERO Faris should also allow you to tap into the following combos as well. Hands with neither Elemental HERO Stratos or Vision HERO Faris should play at the best capacity they can be played at, considering what the opponent is playing.

  • Setting up with a Elemental HERO Stratos and a Vision HERO Faris on the field with a Vision HERO Increase in the S/T zone. This line up play is when you are suspecting the opponent to be playing an OTK oriented deck that can eat through 3 monsters on the field. It is also preferred when you already have Polymerization in the hand as you don’t need to use Vision HERO Vyon’s effect to actually search it. This setup is further advised when the opponent does not commonly play multiple copies of Cosmic Cyclone and you wish to preserve some resources for a future turn if the situation does not call for it.
  1. Normal summon the Elemental HERO Stratos and search for a card you need, eg. Vision HERO Faris, or even itself for a follow-up.
  2. Special Summon Vision HERO Faris by discarding a HERO monster (ideally Destiny HERO - Malicious or Destiny HERO - Celestial) and click yes on the effect to bring a Vision HERO Increase on the S/T zone.
  3. Set any relevant backrow you have such as Mask Change or Cosmic Cyclone. It is advised to only set Mask Change if you feel it can help you survive or if you have Elemental HERO Stratos to go into Masked HERO Blast.
  4. On the opponent’s turn if you feel and see no delays, and think the opponent has no Cosmic Cyclone feel free to special summon Vision HERO Increase by tributing a monster to either protect it or yourself from a deck with swarming capabilities. Special summon Vision HERO Vyon in defense position and send either Destiny HERO - Malicious or Destiny HERO - Celestial in the graveyard.
  5. Follow-up on the next turn with the appropriate plays needed to counter the opponent’s board and hopefully OTK. Refer to the match-up section for tips.
  • Similarly to the previous opening combo, you’ll want to set up an Elemental HERO Faris combo (And if you have it, a Elemental HERO Stratos). This time, you will use the effect of Vision HERO Increase to finish your graveyard setup as well as result in a Polymerization in the hand. This combo is used when you suspect the opponent playing a deck that cannot OTK through your future board and you want sufficient graveyard setup for a follow-up OTK, as well as a Polymerization in the hand.
  1. Normal summon the Elemental HERO Stratos and search for a card you need, eg. Vision HERO Faris, or even itself for a follow-up.
  2. Special Summon Vision HERO Faris by discarding a HERO monster(ideally Destiny HERO - Malicious or Destiny HERO - Celestial) and click yes on the effect to bring a Vision HERO Increase on the S/T zone.
  3. Use the effect of Vision HERO Increase to special summon itself, followed up by a Vision HERO Vyon from the deck. If you have a Mask Change tribute the Vision HERO Faris and not the Elemental HERO Stratos. Otherwise, tribute the Stratos. Activate the effect of Vision HERO Vyon to send either Destiny HERO - Malicious or Destiny HERO - Celestial to the graveyard. The choice between the two comes down to what you discarded with Vision HERO Faris and what the other cards in your hand are. If you have Mask Changes for instance, Destiny HERO - Malicious is better to ensure you have something to play them on. If you have a Destiny HERO - Plasma, Destiny HERO - Celestial will be active once you Polymerization using Plasma. After sending your Destiny HERO of choice, search Polymerization by banishing a Vision or Elemental HERO from the graveyard. If you can avoid it do not banish a Destiny HERO.
  4. Set any relevant backrow you have such as Mask Change or Cosmic Cyclone. Reminder from the previous section: it is advised to only set Mask Change if you feel it can help you survive or if you have Elemental HERO Stratos to go into Masked HERO Blast.
  5. Follow-up on the next turn with the appropriate plays needed to counter the opponent’s board and hopefully OTK.
  • The last turn one play you can go into is the one of highest risk but highest reward. A turn one Destiny HERO - Plasma. You want to go into Destiny HERO - Plasma in particular matchups where you know this will completely shut them down for at least one turn, if not more.
  1. Normal summon the Elemental HERO Stratos and search for a card you need, eg. Vision HERO Faris, Destiny HERO - Plasma or even itself for a follow-up.
  2. Special Summon Vision HERO Faris by discarding a HERO monster(ideally Destiny HERO - Malicious or Destiny HERO - Celestial) and click yes on the effect to bring a Vision HERO Increase on the S/T zone.
  3. If you did not have a Elemental HERO Stratos or a Destiny HERO - Plasma you can use Cosmic Cyclone on your Vision HERO Increase to trigger Bring it!. Make sure your self-chain or your toggle button is set to ON. Use Cosmic Cyclone on the Vision HERO Increase and chain Vision HERO Increase to special summon itself and Vision HERO Vyon.
  4. Send the appropriate HERO to the graveyard. That would be Destiny HERO - Malicious if you did not have a normal summon to get three monsters on the field that turn. If you have enough monsters to tribute Destiny HERO - Plasma for, send Destiny HERO - Celestial as it will be an active draw +2 on the next turn if something happens to your Destiny HERO - Plasma.
  5. Search Polymerization with the effect of Vision HERO Vyon before using the skill Bring it! on the Polymerization or some other less useful card.
  6. Special summon Destiny HERO - Plasma, set a second Cosmic Cyclone if you have any, and pass.
  7. Follow-up will depend on what the opponent does and on your top deck. Typically, you will have some plays from an active Destiny HERO - Celestial in the graveyard.

Going Second

Your main focus is to One Turn Kill(OTK) on your first turn while going second. In terms of win conditions, you have 3 main ways to win here as well. You can use Vision HERO Trinity, Vision HERO Adoration or Destiny HERO - Plasma. Deciding which one to use will depend heavily on your hand, but mainly on what the opposing board state is. That being said, the basic premise of what to do remains the same. You need to deal with the opponent’s spells and traps, and then the method in which you can OTK will unfold as the game progresses. Assuming there are no longer spells and traps on your opponent’s field:

  1. Normal summon the Elemental HERO Stratos and search for a card you need, eg. Vision HERO Faris, or even itself for a follow-up.
  2. Special Summon Vision HERO Faris by discarding a HERO monster(ideally Destiny HERO - Malicious or Destiny HERO - Celestial) and click yes on the effect to bring a Vision HERO Increase on the S/T zone.
  3. Use the effect of Vision HERO Increase to special summon itself, followed up by a Vision HERO Vyon from the deck. Activate the effect of Vision HERO Vyon to send either Destiny HERO - Malicious or Destiny HERO - Celestial to the graveyard.
  4. Search Polymerization by banishing a Vision or Elemental HERO from the graveyard.
  5. Fuse into Vision HERO Trinity using the weakest monsters or monsters from the hand as fuel to ensure you have enough attack points for an OTK.
  6. If you can ensure lethal damage using Vision HERO Adoration’s effect(consider using Mask Change on another monster to reduce the opponent’s monster by 2,800 attack points!), opt for this play instead of step 5. Which monsters to use as material remains the same; use the weakest ones or those that you don’t need to OTK with.
  7. If the opponent controls one main boss monster and neither step 5. or 6. are enough, opt for a Destiny HERO - Plasma to negate its effects and equip it, gaining an attack point boost! Usually pairing this up with a Mask Change is enough to OTK.

If the opponent controls plenty of spells and traps and you have limited or no Cosmic Cyclone/Hey, Trunade!, you can change the summon priority of step 1. and step 2. Special summon Vision HERO Faris, activate its effect and afterwards normal summon Elemental HERO Stratos with the purpose of destroying spells and traps. Remember that this effect is non-targeting, so your opponent HAS to respond on this prompt. If he chains Fiendish Chain or some other disruption on the Elemental HERO Stratos, chain the effect of Vision HERO Increase on the Stratos. Once that is special summoned, you’ll have a prompt to destroy a total of 2 spells and traps instead of just 1. Alternatively, you can do the same with a Mask Change on the Elemental HERO Stratos if you are suspicious of a Cosmic Cyclone which could stop your Increase play. Don’t hesitate to chain Mask Change on the Vision HERO Faris summon, as you’ll be force the opponent to miss the activation timing of Floodgate Trap Hole on your Masked HERO Anki, also giving you access to the much needed Increase combo.

Interactions with S/T’s

This section will include several tips and tricks which involve your use of spells and monster effects and the interactions which may occur with commonly seen cards in the meta. It also includes a recap from previously mentioned interactions.

  • Ballista Squad; Raigeki Break and Cosmic Cyclone with Vision HERO Increase : If you suspect the opponent has any of these three cards try to bait them out with the second effect of Elemental HERO Stratos or even with Masked HERO Blast if you have to! Wasting a Mask Change for a guaranteed OTK through your fusions is absolutely a great tradeoff! Do not be afraid to not use Vision HERO Increase if you have strong suspicions about these cards. You will go into a -2 in terms of card economy at minimum. If you have an alternative win condition, pursue that. Naturally, if you are forced into a corner and anticipate a loss, attempt to force the combo. On the other hand, you can chain Vision HERO Increase to a targeting effect and based on CL order, your Increase will not be banished/destroyed. This gives rise to an interaction with your own Cosmic Cyclone which can trigger a skill such as Sealed Tombs or Bring it! on your first turn. Use Cosmic Cyclone on the Vision HERO Increase and chain its effect. Remember to have toggle or the self-chain to ON.

  • Any kind of disruption effect on your HERO monsters while you have a Vision HERO Increase on the backrow: Chaining Increase will allow you to dodge said disruption. In fact, if you chain Vision HERO Increase to Elemental HERO Stratos’s Spell/Trap destruction effect, you will destroy an additional backrow as opposed to Stratos remaining on the field as Increase is a new HERO on the field. The same scenario occurs with a Mask Change on Stratos’s effect.

  • Mask Change: can dodge most disruptions and the HERO’s effect will resolve as normal. When will it not work? Mask Change will not help against cards like Needle Ceiling, Desperado Barrel Dragon and Drowning Mirror Force. Use wisely!

  • Interaction with Destiny HERO - Plasma already on the field and a disruption like Karma Cut or Paleozoic Canadia. If the Plasma effect activates and targets a monster on the field, chaining a backrow card(except Fiendish Chain) will not negate the effect. In fact, the monster will be sent directly to the GY. Thus, on a new turn if there is a monster on the field and Plasma on your side, the first thing you should do(if allowed) is use Plasma’s effect. A similar niche play is chaining Mask Change to an attempt at equipping a monster. The opponent’s monster will be sent to graveyard even if they chain Fiendish Chain on your Plasma. In another scenario, if you manage to equip a monster with Destiny HERO - Plasma: destroying it with Elemental HERO Stratos or banishing with Cosmic Cyclone on your next turn will enable you to use Plasma’s effect again and equip a new monster. That said, be careful if you destroy a monster whose effect triggers when destroyed or in the GY.

  • If you suspect a Floodgate Trap Hole you can chain Mask Change to any other effect, eg. Cosmic Cyclone, opposing disruption etc. That will make Floodgate miss its activation window and your Masked HERO Anki will be safe.


Matchups

Masked HEROs are infamous for delivering quick OTKs and might seem linear. However, the true potential of the deck in this currently diverse meta lies in the user’s ability to read the opponent and adapt his plays to the board state at hand. In this section I will go through different matchups, the challenges of each one and how to hopefully overcome them.


Masked HEROs (Mirror)

The matchup you almost never want to see. This will be almost solely dependent on RNG, both for people going first and second. That said, your mastery of the deck can sometimes determine the winner.

Going second: There are two scenarios in which going second is scary. In the first scenario the opponent went Plasma and passed. If you do not have Polymerization to fuse with your HEROs or Mask Change, you will lose. If you have either, however, as long as you can get enough damage in there is a high chance of you winning that turn. In the other scenario the opponent will set up a Elemental HERO Stratos and Vision HERO Faris on the field, sometimes resolving Vision HERO Increase, whilst others keeping it on the backrow. The main fear with this scenario will be any set cards. They will most likely be a Cosmic Cyclone or a Mask Change. If the opponent goes into a Masked HERO Blast and chains the effect to your Vision HERO Increase(or do so with Cosmic Cyclone), you will be stuck with little plays. Baiting out a Blast summon with your backrow removal abilities or chaining increase before Blast hits the field will determine the outcome of the game. If Blast is already on the field you’ll want to either go into a Destiny HERO - Plasma without relying on Vision HERO Increase or you’ll want to beat over it with some other fusion play, with the ideal one being your very own Blast. If Blast has not been summoned by the time you have Vision HERO Increase in your S/T zone, you can easily win by going into Plasma and having a Mask Change. Vision HERO Trinity is not necessarily the play because Masked HERO Blast can reduce your attack in half. Vision HERO Adoration can also be a game winning card and the go-to choice if the opponent has any of his monsters in attack position(such as his Masked HERO Blast.

Going first: If you can set up a field with Elemental HERO Stratos, Vision HERO Faris and set cards, do so. Otherwise, if your only option is to have 3 random HEROs on the field and nothing else, go for a Destiny HERO - Plasma and hope for the best. Do not forget to chain your Cosmic Cyclone or Masked HERO Blast to the effect of Vision HERO Increase to summon itself and not before that. If you have a Cosmic Cyclone and a Mask Change set as well - or two copies of either, do not be afraid to let the opponent banish/destroy one. Timing is everything.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Sealed Tombs is the recommended skill for the mirror.


Dark Magician

A matchup typically made in heaven, often considered a free win. Assuming you have at either Elemental HERO Stratos and Vision HERO Faris or a combination of those 2 and Cosmic Cyclone and Mask Change, you should be good to go. The Dark Magician nerf that came with this ban list made their combo even less consistent, so any encounter should be fairly easy to win.

Going second: If you have one cosmic cyclone there is no need to rush. Take your time and go through your combos, while scouting for delays. If you know they might have an active Magician Navigation wait for them to use it before using Cosmic Cyclone on Dark Magical Circle. If you have a Mask Change just chain it to the Dark Magical Circle’s target. The matchup becomes tricky if they have an additional disruption on top of the Magician Navigation. It should be fine as long as you have a good enough of a hand. If they chain Magician Navigation to bring out a Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, Mask Change will win you the game. If you cannot ensure lethal that turn, go into a Masked HERO Blast, as chaining his effect to Dark Magical Circle renders the opponent with very little options. Special summoning Faris and then normal summoning Stratos to destroy spells and traps is a very practical combo in this matchup, and one of particular importance. If you have a HERO and both Mask Change and Cosmic Cyclone use Cosmic Cyclone on a set card, and then play around the other one with Mask Change if worse comes to worst.

Going first: Setting up a Elemental HERO Stratos with a set Mask Change will be enough to usually stop them from getting the combo in the first place, if you return the Dark Magical Circle on activation(Make sure to bring out Masked HERO Blast beforehand. Toggling on will help you with that!). You can greed and not special summon Blast instantly if you also have a Cosmic Cyclone to chain. Just make sure to have adequate follow-up and you have this win in the bag. You can also choose to instead bounce back the set cards if you have enough follow-up for any kind of combo the next turn. Will depend solely on your hand.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Fairly irrelevant. Cosmic cyclone is a must. If you have it, Hey, Trunade! is a good tech for the matchup as it will force out their Magician Navigation.


Photon

The glorified Dark Magician deck of the current meta, it relies on splashing out Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon through Starliege Lord Galaxion. It can then use Photon Stream of Destruction to banish any one card you play at will. It is particularly scary as Galaxy Photon can search for the spell.

Going second: Usually adequately easy match-up. If you have any kind of S/T removal, such as Cosmic Cyclone or Elemental HERO Stratos with a Vision HERO Faris on the field, it is usually game over. Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon’s effect can disrupt your Vision HERO Trinity or any other beatstick, so ideally the best play will be to either swing into Starliege Lord Galaxion and Mask Change for lethal, or go for a Destiny HERO - Plasma. If you are running Book of Moon, using it pre-emptively on the Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon will incapacitate their Photon Stream of Destruction.

Going first: A stardard HERO wall with follow-up will be more than enough. Especially if you control a Elemental HERO Stratos with a Mask Change.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Back row removal cards and Book of Moon. It’s favorable, so no intensive siding is required for this deck.


Onomatoplay

Yet another OTK deck. It can go into extensive XYZ plays with effect negation properties, and can decimate almost any turn 1 HERO board. It is a 50-50 matchup, and the starting coinflip will usually determine the outcome of the duel.

Going second: If the opponent’s board has a Photon Strike Bounzer, it will negate Vision HERO Faris’s effect even if a Mask Change is chained to the activation. As such, Book of Moon or Forbidden Chalice or an alternative lethal play with Mask Change and a normal summon will be needed. Generally, it is not impossible to pull off.

Going first: A particularly scary situation, as Onomatoplay will OTK through 3 HERO monsters in defense with relative ease. One option is to gamble with a set Book of Moon or Mask Change and hope they have no Hey, Trunade! or a good hand with Gagagabolt on top of it. The other option is to play a turn 1 Destiny HERO - Plasma and hope they did not open a Gagagabolt. Most Onomatoplay decks heavily invest their resources into one or two plays, and as such, a follow-up counterplay should not be too difficult. That said, the chances of surviving their turn 2 push is unlikely.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Book of Moon will be crucial. No other particular weaknesses can be exploited, but Sphere Kuriboh might be worth looking into, as Onomatoplay struggles to OTK through it.


Noble Knights

The star of the XYZ era, this deck relies on its extreme card advantage, survivability and when necessary, explosiveness, to overwhelm or outgrind the opponent at will. Heroes have a favorable matchup against this deck, especially in a side format.

Going second: Noble Knights prefer going first, which aligns with our preferance to go second. The line of play can evolve into a multitude of directions, depending on what the opponent’s board looks like. If they opened into 2 monsters(Usually Noble Knight Medraut and Noble Knight Borz), with a Until Noble Arms are Needed Once Again in the graveyard, the first priority is to destroy any set card on the field. That card might be a Raigeki Break or Karma Cut. Then, the next priority is to bounce back or remove Gwenhwyfar, Queen of Noble Arms, as it will destroy your monster upon attack declaration. If you used Masked HERO Blast, reducing Noble Knight Medraut’s ATK value will allow you to pursue lethal through Vision HERO Trinity on it. The situation becomes more complex if they have a Merlin in the graveyard. Then, to proceed with the same play, Book of Moon is also required to be in your hand, which you can chain to Merlin’s activation in the graveyard. If you do not have an optimal hand, proceed with any corresponding play that your hand allows you, considering the priority order posed.

Going first: A standard HERO board with follow-up should be satisfactory. You can also attempt to chain Book of Moon to their normal summon, as that will incapacitate them for one turn. Do not chain a Cosmic Cyclone to their equip cards unless you’re confident that they will not have a second one to continue their plays with, or if the situation is dire. Destiny HERO - Plasma may also steal a game assuming they do not open Noble Arms - Caliburn, Noble Arms - Gallatin or Gwenhwyfar, Queen of Noble Arms alongside a Noble Knight monster. It is a high-risk, high-reward play that should only be done if you have sufficient follow-up prepared.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Posthumous Army will almost completely cripple their board. Book of Moon is also very useful.


Blackwings

Yet another coinflip match between two OTK decks, Blackwings will easily eat through most turn 1 setups. That said, there are some ideal openers which can potentially cripple Blackwings. Apart from their main OTK combo, beware of Cosmic Cyclone and Offerings to the Doomed.

Going second: If they do not expect a HERO matchup, going second will most likely result in a quick and easy win through Vision HERO Trinity on his face-up attack position monsters. Alternatively, the opponent may choose to go for a Ancient Pixie Dragon or Ancient Fairy Dragon in defense position, alongside a Necrovalley. Your main priority is to get rid of any backrow as it will most likely be a Cosmic Cyclone, threatening to stop your Vision HERO Increase in any case. In the scenario of the dragons in defense, Destiny HERO - Plasma or Vision HERO Adoration both pose a possibility to OTK depending on the rest of your cards. In any case, going second against Blackwings will usually result in a win, unless you open below the minimum hand needed to make any sort of play.

Going first: Tricky. You need to set up a board with Elemental HERO Stratos and a Vision HERO Faris, but not activate the effect of Vision HERO Increase. Further, a Cosmic Cyclone or a Mask Change will come in handy. If they open a Black Whirlwind as well as a Blackwing - Simoon the Poison Wind, you might want to banish the Peak Performance skill’s spell and hope they did not open into a Blackwing - Zephyros the Elite or Blackwing - Kris the Crack of Dawn. Otherwise, if they only have one Black Whirlwind, returning it to the hand with Masked HERO Blast or even better, banishing it with Cosmic Cyclone may be enough to prevent them from both going through your board and also OTK-ing you. If you survive with adequate graveyard setup you have a very likely chance of winning. Timing of each disruption and reading delays as well as keeping track of the opponent’s searches are key.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Skill used will not affect the outcome of the duel significantly. Offerings to the Doomed can stop the opponent’s search and plays, if used in combination to some other form of search disruption. At very minimum, it will cripple the OTK potential of the opponent.


Invoked Variants

A particularly scary matchup as they utilize the invoked engine to access Invoked Caliga and predominatly, Invoked Purgatrio, two very difficult cards to deal with. The recent ban list severely crippled this deck but various variants still pose a risk. The invoked Magician Girl variant and the Invoked Neos variant differ in some lines of play, which we will elaborate on below.

Magician Girls

Going second: If the opponent does not have a Invoked Caliga, the priority is the backrow. (Reminder that this deck may run Needle Ceiling, a HERO killer!). Removing any set cards will most likely win you the duel on that turn with an adequate hand. If they have a Berry Magician Girl on the field, Destiny HERO - Plasma should be the goal. In the hopefully unlikely case that they summon Invoked Caliga on the first turn, Using Polymerization or Mask Change to attempt to swing over it is the only line of play. It is generally regarded as an extremely unfavorable duel at that point. Yet another great tech card is Forbidden Chalice which could shift the duel to your favor temporarily.

Going first: If you have strong suspicions that your opponent is playing Invoked, setting up multiple monsters will only lead to an early demise through Invoked Purgatrio. Setting up an early Destiny HERO - Plasma should prevent any Aleister the Invoker searches to resolve. With adequate backrow removal or with insufficient backrow on their end, this duel is in your favor. If the opponent sets cards and passes with a monster on the field, the first prompt you should do is attempt to steal the monster with Destiny HERO - Plasma. Even if they chain some sort of disruption(apart from Fiendish Chain), their monster will end up in their graveyard. With the new nerf to the deck, chaining Cosmic Cyclone to their Invocation should render their deck virtually useless. Elemental HERO Stratos with a single Mask Change can be a perfectly viable play leaving no monsters in the graveyard for the opponent to use as materials. It will also deal with any unwanted backrow.

Invoked Neos

Going second: The priority is the backrow. Similarly to Magician Girls, dealing with hidden threats will most likely grant you the win through Vision HERO Trinity. If they play a set monster, it is probably a Spiritual Beast Tamer Winda. You can choose to play Destiny HERO - Plasma if they do not have an Elemental HERO Brave Neos on the field. If they do, Vision HERO Trinity is prefered.

Going first: Elemental HERO Blast setup will be the safest option for this matchup. Destiny HERO - Plasma is risky as Spiritual Beast Tamer Winda can crash into it and float into Ritual Beast Ulti - Apelio. A Hero wall will also do, but you are risking an Invoked Purgatrio, so proceed with caution.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Both Sealed Tombs and Bring it! are strong contenders. Sealed Tombs is perhaps more powerful by preventing a Invoked Caliga summon off of your monsters in the graveyard, but mostly prefered for the Magician Girl variant. Hey, Trunade! is advised against this deck as they are one of the more backrow reliant builds. Forbidden Chalice is also a good recommendation. Book of Moon can stop Invoked Purgatrio. Artifact Lancea can be a good side card for this archetype.


Cyber Dragons

This is a moderately balanced match-up. Both decks can make the duel go either way regardless of the turn you coin flip into.

Going second: Cybernetic Overflow is the main card to watch out for. Similar to Elemental HERO Stratos’s backrow removal effect, it is non-targeting, meaning that chaining Mask Change to it to salvage a HERO monster will only get the fusion you summon destroyed. With adequate backrow removal you should be able to steal the duel. Watch out for Cosmic Cyclone; use Vision HERO Increase effect with great caution. Ideally, you keep a Vision HERO Faris special summon at the ready. First play Elemental HERO Stratos, use Mask Change and attempt to bounce back the backrow. If that is the only set/the right one gets sniped, then there is a chance you can continue with your Vision HERO Faris combos. An alternative play is to discard Destiny HERO - Malicious to the graveyard, special summon Vision HERO Faris, normal summon Elemental HERO Stratos and attempt to destroy spells and traps on the field, followed by Vision HERO Increase on the Elemental HERO Stratos in the same chain. Then, after triggering the Cybernetic Overflow, special summon Destiny HERO Malicious and use Mask Change for lethal if they used Cosmic Cyclone on your Vision HERO Increase tributing the Elemental HERO Stratos to destroy more than 1 spell and trap on the field.

Going first: A fairly easy matchup if you go Destiny HERO - Plasma. By negating their Cyber Dragon Core’s effect, the chances of winning skyrocket. The opponent needs to go into a Fusion Gate or Cyberload Fusion after a Cybernetic Fusion Support to attempt to destroy the Destiny HERO - Plasma. He can only do so with a Chimeratech Rampage Dragon as his Proto-Cyber Dragons summoned by the skill have their effects to be Cyber Dragon negated. This gives you a really good shot at going for an OTK the following turn.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Adequate backrow removal and/or protection cards should do well. Consider siding Sphere Kuriboh if you feel like this is a particularly tough match-up. The new XYZ Maestroke the Symphony Djinn is an excellent counter to the CyDra deck assuming you can survive for 2 turns uninterrupted.


Ritual Beasts

A tricky matchup to say the least, Ritual Beasts rely on their extremely combo intensive deck to bounce back your monsters with Spiritual Beast Pettlephin and attack with Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio. Moreover, they can dodge effects by tagging out with their fusions as well as protect themselves with the powerful floater Spiritual Beast Tamer Winda.

Going second: Your course of action will depend on their current field. The matchup is moderately unfavorable. If they have set cards, the safest play will be to go for a Destiny HERO - Plasma after destroying any backrow. That set card is often times a Spiritual Beast Tamer Winda. If they have a fusion monster out with banished cards to tag into, Vision HERO Trinity will be the better play. Hopefully, you have adequate cards to ensure an OTK after a Trinity beatdown. On the meantime, beware of a potential Cosmic Cyclone or Needle Ceiling, two commonly played techs which can stop you dead in your tracks. Some decks may also play Sphere Kuriboh, albeit there is very little counter play to a full board of Ritual Beasts and a hand trap.

Going first: A normal GY setup board with 3 monsters on the field should be sufficient to buy you a turn. There is no need to invest heavily on another play. A turn one Destiny HERO - Plasma will also not be overly effective if they have a Spiritual Beast Tamer Winda in their opening hand as they will crash and summon a Ritual Beast Ulti-Apelio to swing over it. However, it is a play to consider in cases you think you can OTK next turn as they will have very little means to stop you or protect themselves.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Poisonous Winds will devastate them. Mind of the Plana is also effective however it is too situational, and you will not find yourself siding it explicitly.


Desperado

A match better finished early, the deck relies on adequate disruption either through counter traps like Rebirth of Parshath or through generic staples like Karma Cut to stop any plays. Their main boss monster is Desperado Barrel Dragon. It completely shuts down HERO’s standard beatdown approach once it hits a field.

Going second: Get rid of the backrow. In either version of Desperado, the backrow can be devastating. If they have a set monster, Destiny HERO - Plasma will be necessary to avoid a Desperado Barrel Dragon from the hand. Combined with a Mask Change, it will hopefully end the game assuming the opponent does not have a Arcana Force XIV - Temperance. If the opponent plays Ms. Judge you will want to bait the negation with any sort of backrow removal before proceeding with the standard combos. Keep track of the coin flips since the opponent has 3 guaranteed heads using the skill Master of Destiny. It will not necessarily save you if the RNG is not favorable, but it at least gives you a chance to play around guaranteed effects. Keep in mind that if you face a Machina Fortress variant, Machina Fortress will destroy a card on the field when destroyed by battle. Moreover, Super Team Buddy Force Unite! can special summon Desperado Barrel Dragon from the graveyard.

Going first: A standard HERO board with monsters on the field will be sufficient. Overcommitting is discouraged since they can go into a Desperado Barrel Dragon and wipe your field of any monsters. Just prepare for a follow-up play. Elemental HERO Stratos combined with a Mask Change should deal with any backrow threats.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Backrow removal and a sided System Down or Debunk are helpful. Skill wise, Bring it! is recommended. Posthumous Army is not too effective as Super Team Buddy Force Unite! summons monsters based on original Type.


Witchcrafters

Witchcrafters had terrorized the meta not too long ago through their abuse of That Grass Looks Greener. After consecutive nerfs, the deck fell behind and only recently started making a comeback. Despite its reduced power, it is still a tricky matchup for us HEROs because of Witchcrafter Madame Verre’s effects.

Going second: If the opponent has set up a Witchcrafter Madame Verre, the match becomes increasingly difficult. Backrow removal is crucial but will not necessarily determine the duel as much as the Verre will. Your Destiny HERO - Plasma is your main win condition. Alternatively, if the opponent uses his negation sooner, Vision HERO Adoration can reduce Verre’s ATK and DEF points. Hopefully, you will be able to OTK as soon as possible, because in the long run, this is a nigh guaranteed loss. Going first: You can attempt to go for a first turn Destiny HERO - Plasma. If the opponent cannot access Witchcrafter Edel they will likely lose in the turn to come. Otherwise, this matchup will similarly become increasingly difficult.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Last Day of Witch, Offerings to the Doomed, Treacherous Trap Hole and XYZs such as Diamond Dire Wolf and Maestroke the Symphony Djinn can destroy your opponent’s Witchcrafter Madame Verre. Beware of a Witchcrafter Masterpiece when pursuing a game ending play.


Blue-Eyes

It should come to no surprise that these two legendary anime archetypes would clash at some point. In this competition of the bigger beat stick and better opening hand, backrow is one of your two main concerns. The other concern is Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon which can float, dodging your effects, as well as deny you any GY follow up.

Going second: This is a very linear scenario. If you can get through their backrow you can act according to what the field looks like. If they have Blue-Eyes White Dragon(s) in ATK position, a simple Vision HERO Trinity will win you the duel on the spot. If they have one or less, Vision HERO Adoration is the better play. Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon can float into Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon which can be a nuisance as it may be the outcome of a dodged Destiny HERO - Plasma sack, as well as the result of a dodged Vision HERO Adoration; but it should be fine if you have a Vision HERO Trinity. At this point, if you could not pull off an OTK, the opponent should be relying on a top deck to recover. Destiny HERO - Plasma is worthy of a mention if you think the situation calls for it, as a big enough Destiny HERO - Plasma will temporarily incapacitate the opponent. Before investing into a combo, probe for delays. There is a chance the set cards may be Hallowed Life Barrier which will completely stall out the duel for a turn. Lastly, if the opponent summoned Dragon Spirit of White, remember about its floating properties before using any effects on it. Book of Moon can help force floating effects of Dragon Spirit of White as well as Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon, allowing for better Destiny HERO - Plasma plays.

Going first: A full monster board in preparation for a next turn OTK should be satisfactory, as Blue-Eyes are not known to OTK through a full board.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: No particular skills outshine the others. Sealed Tombs are a good pick to deny future recycling with The White Stone of Ancients.


Weather Painter

Weather Painters are a rogue deck with the potential to find themselves in the top cut of tournaments. Equipped with an arsenal of continuous spells with different effects, and the infamous The Weather Thundery Canvas, this deck can be challenging. That said, HEROs are not the type to just accept such treatment.

Going second: This matchup is a great stress tester of the deck and how fast you can OTK your opponent. The more the game drags on, the more likely it is for Weather Painters to win instead. As such, a full-frontal assault is the best approach. A Elemental HERO Stratos nuke on the field with its second effect will be one of the main win conditions as the Weather Painter monsters are not great without their accompanying continuous cards. One card to consider is The Weather Painter Cloud, which will return the destroyed cards back to the field. In that case Cosmic Cyclone and Masked HERO Blast will be the priorities. If there are set cards, they are one of four usual suspects: The Weather Thundery Canvas; Hallowed Life Barrier; Rainbow Life and Raigeki Break. The two protective cards are the worst scenarios as they can stop your OTK. In which case, you want to prepare for a follow-up on the next turn. Masked HERO Blast is a great pick for that purpose. Destiny HERO – Plasma unfortunately has little use but it can help stop a The Weather Painter Cloud effect when destroying their S/T cards.

Going first: Setting Cosmic Cyclone or an active Masked HERO Blast board will be particularly helpful in the matchup. Otherwise, an adequate field for a potential comeback will be the secondary play. They are unlikely to OTK in one turn so you should be safe on that regard. A particularly risky play that might pay off if you have the idea opener is a turn one Destiny HERO - Plasma, stopping them from setting up a board to begin with. However, assuming they open a The Weather Snowy Canvas, this may backfire. Proceed according to your hand.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Backrow removal cards. See You Later! is a solid skill to allow for multiple Elemental HERO Stratos effects. Chaos Hunter is another great side card that will cripple Weather Painters.


Gouki

Goukis are an archetype with high dependence on its spells and traps, and one of the few pure control decks in this meta. That said, naturally, your main concerns will be the backrow used. Current Gouki decks rely on their arsenal of spells and traps and the Balance skill to set up a highly disruptive well-rounded board and build on that with their every draw. Main concerns include, but are not limited to: Necrovalley, Ballista Squad, Enemy Controller and perhaps, Cosmic Cyclone. In general, in this matchup pay particular attention to your attack priority when Gouki Twistcobra is on the field(attack it first!).

Going second: Backrow removal is of outmost importance and will determine the outcome of the duel. Thanks to their skill, Balance, you can predict what their board may look like, and get an idea of what you will be dealing with. For instance, if there is no Necrovalley on the field, it is safe to assume that one of the set cards in the S/T zone is either a Enemy Controller or a Cosmic Cyclone, while at best, it may be a Forbidden Lance(If that’s the case be careful when relying on Mask Change). Then, we can expect that the other set is one generic staple. If there is no delay up until a summon, then it is probably a disruptive trap like Floodgate Trap Hole which is of little significance. If there is a delay(still remember the delay may be caused by a spell), it might be a Ballista Squad or Fiendish Chain. The latter is of little significance, but a Ballista Squad is tricky. Refer to “Interactions with S/T’s” on how to proceed. Assuming that you get past the backrow, your goal is to OTK. There are two scenarios here: a) the opponent opened with just 1 monster. It is a simple combo into Vision HERO Adoration or Mask Change to deliver a lethal blow. b) The other option is the opponent having two monsters through the effect of Gouki Suprex. If so, just a Gouki Riscorpio alongside Gouki Suprex can allow for a swift OTK through Vision HERO Trinity or any other sufficient combo given your opening hand. In the case of a Gouki Twistcobra being present make sure to consider the potential boost in ATK he can get by its effect (It is original ATK!)

Going first: Slightly unfavorable, but manageable none the less. If you opened Elemental HERO Stratos alongside a Mask Change, prepare for a Masked HERO Blast. Alongside it, work your way to a follow-up play, but consider the possibility of a Necrovalley which might hinder any GY setup. It is not a bad idea to search Elemental HERO Stratos with your pre-existing Stratos, given that you have a good enough hand.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Backrow removal cards. Hey, Trunade! and Cosmic Cyclone will definitely ease up the matchup. Skill-wise, See You Later! is a good pick, but generally everything other than Sealed Tombs will be useful. Note: In the case that the opponent is not running Balance, chances are they are using Endless Trap Hell in which case backrow removal cards are even more important.


Thunder Dragons

A scary adversary. Thunder Dragons have access to a multitude of special summons, allowing for consecutive plays to ensure lethal. Chaos Dragon Levianeer has non targetting destruction, so attempting to survive with Mask Change is hopeless. Going second, the matchup becomes more favorable, but overall, it is a coinflip and a contest between hands.

Going second: You can usually OTK through a standard Thunder Dragon board. Things to look out for are Photon Strike Bounzer and Thunder Dragonroar, one of which can stop your Vision HERO Faris plays, while the other one floats. With an ideal hand, you can overcome these obstacles. You can attempt to Book of Moon their Photon Strike Bounzer or use consecutive Mask Change cards to OTK through Thunder Dragonroar, which becomes easier if they have a normal summoned card such as Aloof Lupine or Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn.

Going first: If the Thunder Dragon player did not brick, they can most likely OTK you through most boards, including Destiny HERO - Plasma or 3 HEROes in defense. That said, between the two, Destiny HERO - Plasma has a higher chance of allowing you to survive.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Sealed Tombs is a useful skill, albeit to trigger it you will need to Cosmic Cyclone your Vision HERO Increase before chaining it to special summon it. A better alternative is to run Book of Moon to stop Photon Strike Bounzer and any other XYZ such as Constellar Ptolemy M7. The best counter to the deck is Artifact Lancea, which will incapacitate the opponent for a turn to a large extent, except for Thunder Dragonhawk plays.


Water XYZ

A newly introduced deck following the addition of Abyss Dweller, it can abuse the skill Territory of the Sharks to turbo out rank 4 XYZ as well as a handful of synchros, eg. Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier. The matchup is surprisingly unfavorable. The particularly scary trait of this deck is not the XYZ effect itself, but the materials which can be sent to the grave as a quick-effect. Atlantean Heavy Infantry will destroy a face-up card at will, resulting in extremely tricky boards to overcome.

Going second: Your best friend is Book of Moon and Forbidden Chalice. Without them, only a Mask Change will allow you to set up some sort of board and proceed to hopefully OTK. Beware of Forbidden Lance and other backrow cards which in turn can disrupt even these plays.

Going first: A standard hero board will do the trick. You can attempt to go into Destiny HERO - Plasma to stop some XYZ plays from taking place to begin with. However, as the opposing deck is also known to play Book of Moon, proceed with caution and aware of the looming risk.

Recommended skills and tech cards in this matchup: Book of Moon and Forbidden Chalice.

Final Thoughts

HEROs may be falling from grace, but that does not mean they are unfit to win against any top tier deck. We are insistent that HEROs mainly lose to themselves most of the time. Consistency issues and suboptimal hands will lead to more losses rather than the deck being overpowered by other top tier decks. That said, HERO’s current position in the meta requires the user to anticipate the opponent’s deck, combos, and cards on both the field and hand. Misjudgment is likely to cost dearly, while mastery over delays and interactions will punish the opponent in their every move. Maybe with additional support a day will come that we will not need to even worry this much. Until then, the deck will require maximum effort and suffer the occasional loss to a brick. Regardless, it is a force to be reckoned with.


Acknowledgements

  • My team, Qutie Pies who were willing to allow me to play HEROs on a competitive level despite knowing the deck’s downsides, letting me pursue my passion.
  • All the content managers who will format this and present it in a readable form, and overall, for their contribution to this community.
  • King_Fayo - Answered any questions I had, deck or guide related.
  • Luxun - The previous Masked HERO guide’s author whose article I learnt much from.
  • All the people from the HERO deck channel in the Duel Links Meta discord for their constant feedback on the deck and their innovative ideas.
  • Dkayed and Duel Links Meta - for all their effort in shaping and maintaining this community to what it is now.

Guide formatted and uploaded by RandomPl0x.
Thumbnail designed and created by RandomPl0x.

Loading comments…