Subterrors came in brand new to Duel Links on May 20th, and this archetype revolves around so-called Subterror Behemoths’ flip effects, and the recursion of the central card, Subterror Nemesis Warrior. Despite the inherently slow nature of Flip monsters by themselves, the core trap card, Subterror Final Battle, greatly speeds up the deck and can enable some swift OTKs.
This can be played as a pure variant, or a Neos hybrid variant. In that variant of Subterrors, the core pretty much stays intact, except one utilizes the Neos Fusion engine as an alternative starter piece in the deck. Neos Fusion often dumps Subterror Nemesis Warrior to the GY as a strong opening play over a card such as Mahjong Munia Maidens or Golem Sentry without hurting the deck’s consistency.
Some reasonable support cards to potentially look out for in the future for Duel Links are Subterror Guru (a searcher + “Book of Moon” Flip monster), The Hidden City (a searcher + disruptor Field Spell), and Subterror Nemesis Archer (an aggressive nondestructive removal option for face-down monsters, who floats into Subterror monsters from the deck). There are other support cards, but for Duel Links, this is all we really need.
Before we proceed, let’s just highlight some considerations for why one may or may not use the Neos hybrid variant.
Elemental HERO Brave Neos is a strong body compared to any Flip monster in the game, with a continuous effect protection that improves the Ancient Gear matchup.
In the ideal play, it puts a Subterror Nemesis Warrior in the GY faster than the pure variant does, creating the dilemma of removing the Elemental HERO Brave Neos vs. letting Subterror Behemoth Umastryx get summoned by using the Nemesis Warrior in GY and the already-Set Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken.
- Masked Tribute:
This is the primary skill that pretty much everyone is using right now, and for good reason. Once per turn, twice per Duel, you can shuffle back 1 card from your hand into your deck, and play a Grand Tiki Elder or Melchid the Four-Face Beast from outside your deck.
This is great for unbricking if you start with only Behemoth monsters, but if you start with Subterror Nemesis Warrior, you can set up for its Quick Effect of Special Summoning a Behemoth from the deck face-down.
- Labyrinth Builder:
This is a similar skill that few people (if any) would like to use, but if Konami nerfs Masked Tribute to be used as intended (i.e. “you can only use the summoned monster as a tribute for the Special Summon of Masked Beast Des Gardius”), this could be a fringe option.
The main difference is that it shuffles back 2 cards and not just 1, and it is only once per Duel, but at least you could Special Summon whatever you want afterwards, in the same turn, leaving you less susceptible to an interruption before your turn ends.
Kcman200, KoG May 2019
Cray, 1st Place Meta Weekly #73
PDS, Top 8 Meta Weekly #73
These are the cards that are used in almost any Subterror build you may see. Keep in mind that there are other Subterror cards that are not included in this list, that you may want to consider, such as Subterror Behemoth Ultramafus, Subterror Behemoth Stalagmo, and Subterror Cave Clash. However, the below are the most common.
Subterror Behemoth Umastryx (2-3x):
This is your main boss monster, who flips to target and banish your opponent’s monster; that gives this deck a nondestructive removal option, which is very important in the current and future meta, where many monsters have protection from destruction effects. Note that running 2 copies is acceptable, because it is preferred to open with some backrow cards that would protect him, or flip him up on the opponent’s turn as disruption, although some people do run 3.
Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken (2-3x):
Quite the valuable one-tribute monster. He flips to target and destroy as many face-down cards (on either field) as there are face-up Behemoths you control on resolution. This is quite powerful against stall decks, and other decks that set multiple backrow or use flippable monsters like Karakuri Ninja mdl 339 "Sazank" and Gale Lizard.
Subterror Nemesis Warrior (3x):
The main recursive option you have in this deck. Perhaps the best part of this monster is his Quick Effect of milling a Behemoth from the deck as cost, then tributing at least 2 monsters (face-up/face-down, including himself, but without targeting) as an effect to Special Summon/Set the milled Behemoth. Not only that, but if you flip one of your Behemoths face-up in any way, you can Special Summon this guy from the GY with priority.
Subterror Final Battle (3x):
This is the best trap card that could have been given for this deck right now. It has multiple uses, most notably, flipping your Subterror monsters (1) face-up or (2) face-down, or (3) bestowing them stats equal to their combined original ATK/DEF for the rest of the turn. The final use, though not often used, is (4) to prevent anyone from negating the effects of Subterror cards that could be activated. Something of note is that it does NOT target the monster that would be flipped or boosted, so you choose on resolution.
Golem Sentry (3x):
This is a key starter card to this deck. You need monsters that can flip themselves face-down, so that on the off chance you do not open with Subterror Nemesis Warrior, you can still Special Summon Behemoths from your hand. He also provides a disruptive threat on later turns, by being able to bounce your opponent’s monsters back to the hand on Flip Summon.
Mahjong Munia Maidens:
This is a less-favored, but still decent starter card. It is basically a Dark World Dealings on a Flip monster. Some people like the draw power, but others have considered dropping this card for a less sacky card like Des Lacooda or Guardian Statue.
This is a very good card for controlling the board, and for making your Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken usable more often. However, as we will see in the matchups below, it can be put to great use against the mirror match to force missed timings.
This is a nice option as well, if you are low on copies of Subterror Final Battle, or if you want more ways to flip your Behemoths up on cue. A card that functions similarly in this deck, Ghostrick Scare, is available at one copy and could also be used for more control over which monsters (and how many) are flipped.
Basically a way to dump Nemesis Warrior in the GY, used in the Neos hybrid variant. Provides a strong body on board as well, with protection from the GY.
Still a very broken card option, and should be considered, since just like Cosmo Brain, Nemesis Warrior can tribute your opponent’s monsters (of any level) if you tribute take them with Enemy Controller.
Usually a surprise. This card might be more important in the meta moving forward since Koa’ki Meiru are suddenly pushing for top-tier status with the performances they’ve had in Matsu Cup and DLE.
This card still has solid viability in the meta as a good counter to key cards in the more aggressive decks in the meta, such as The White Stone of Ancients (Blue-Eyes) and Geartown (Ancient Gears), and it might also help against rising decks with GY-reliant power plays like Koa’ki Meiru (via Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru) and Dinos (via Survival's End).
Here are the most common matchups in this current meta. Note we will denote any specific differences in the matchup for both Pure and Neos hybrid variants.
This is a fairly coin-flippy matchup. Whoever opens Subterror Final Battle and also goes first, usually wins, as they are likely to be able to flip up a Behemoth to disrupt your field before you can flip up your backrow, or potentially, before you are able to respond using Nemesis Warrior after losing the option that turn by using Masked Tribute.
To make the mirror match go more smoothly, copies of Bad Aim are recommended, as you can (1) respond to Behemoths in the hand to pop a monster on their field, disrupting them as they come in, (2) pop the monster that could be tributed, in response to the activation of Nemesis Warrior’s Quick Effect, or even (3) respond to Final Battle and pop the best monster that could have been flipped.
Another useful interaction is that Paleozoic Canadia can be chained to your opponent’s starter monsters, like Golem Sentry or Mahjong Munia Maidens, to flip them face-down on Chain Link 2. To do that, chain to the effect they use to flip themselves face-down. That will make the Behemoths miss timing, and often end their turn outright.
One final note is that Subterror Final Battle could flip your opponent’s Behemoths as well (again, without targeting), so if you really need to, you could do that.
Pure: This may be one of the easiest matchups, because of how the Chain Links work with the Behemoths and Subterror Nemesis Warrior.
Neos: This matchup is still very favorable for the hybrid build; note that Red-Eyes decks in tourneys following Meta Weekly #73 have been running Cosmic Cyclone and Treacherous Trap Hole, which the Neos hybrid variant is more capable of surviving against, due to having the Elemental HERO Brave Neos on board.
Because Subterror Nemesis Warrior responds to the flip of the Behemoth, it meets the same activation requirement at the same time (SEGOC), and they form a Chain Link where you have priority to activate Nemesis Warrior if you want. In the TCG, you could choose how to order your Chain Links, and logically, Duel Links made it so that Nemesis Warrior is Chain Link 2. Since Red-Eyes Slash Dragon is a “When . . . you can negate” effect, it cannot negate the activation of the Behemoth’s effect since it was blocked from doing so by Nemesis Warrior.
Hence, as long as you have not used Masked Tribute that turn, you can safely flip a Subterror Behemoth Umastryx and banish the Slash Dragon, then summon Nemesis Warrior without Umastryx being negated and destroyed. And since you banish, you won’t trigger recursion effects from Red-Eyes Retro Dragon either (although Black Metal Dragon would still get a search off).
Besides that interaction, the usual Red-Eyes decks (ignoring Toons here) are rather linear in their strategy. You are not likely to have many issues other than Red-Eyes Archfiend of Lightning, which you want to take care of with Umastryx ASAP. Lastly, be careful not to destroy their Return of the Red-Eyes (unless they have no Red-Eyes monsters in the GY).
Neos: Elemental HERO Brave Neos can strengthen the turn 1 play vs. a Dual Wield + Shi En board, compared to trying to swarm the board with Flip monsters. There is also space to run Enemy Controller, which is another way to potentially play around Dual Wield.
Even though they are heavily countered in this current meta, they are still a pretty good deck, with consistent draw power in Six Samurai United, a good negation in Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En, and a nondestructive removal option in Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi.
To handle this matchup, assuming you are going first, Bad Aim is a good way to destroy a non-Secret Six Samurai - Fuma on the sending of Shien's Dojo to the GY before a Fuma has hit the GY. It also would pop a monster targeted by Asceticism of the Six Samurai to fizzle the summon from that. Subterror Final Battle also disrupts them by banishing a summoned Fuma to prevent Shi En from coming out.
If you are going second, assuming they have Dual Wield against your pure build, there is not much you can do; after Masked Tribute settles and you end your turn, they can bounce your 2 monsters if they have it, and you cannot respond. Or, if you do not choose to use Masked Tribute, unless they are dummies, they can still bounce your backrow and easily deal with your 1 monster.
Don’t count on playing around it unless you are carrying tech cards like Cosmic Cyclone or Enemy Controller to bait it out. However, the Neos hybrid build provides a turn 1 play that does not require you to put more than 1 card on the field, playing around that Dual Wield.
Finally, something to keep in mind is that Final Battle does not prevent Shi En from negating another copy of Final Battle. Shi En negates the activation, not the effect, so his negation will go through regardless.
Koa'ki and Control Neos
Pure: This is a tough matchup, mainly because their best hand could have 2-3 dangerous, summonable monsters that could be immune to destruction, while your best hand has 1-2 disruptions. Also, they are capable of playing with Sealed Tombs, which turns off your Subterror Nemesis Warrior Quick Effect.
Neos: This is not that different in comparison, especially if Sealed Tombs comes into play. It might even be worse, since there are (1) more Special Summoned monsters, adding more susceptibility to Koa'ki Meiru Ice, and (2) Subterror Nemesis Warrior is not on the field, losing the Quick Effect response one had in the pure build.
Paleozoic Canadia greatly helps in this matchup, as it can flip Elemental HERO Brave Neos face-down, turning off its protection from Neos Fusion, or any of the Koa’ki Meiru monsters face-down, turning off its protection from Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru. Then, Bad Aim or Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken can destroy them. This however, is a 2-3 card combo, and is not extremely reliable to pull off.
Subterror Behemoth Umastryx in combination with Subterror Final Battle or Desert Sunlight is also quite helpful in taking care of the most problem threats like Koa'ki Meiru Maximus and Koa'ki Meiru Ice, who can easily pop the Special Summoned Behemoths. Brave Neos is not that problematic, because he usually starts with 2600 ATK, not enough to get over Umastryx and Stygokraken.
What you want to watch out for is when they drop Maximus or Ice to pop your Behemoth(s), Neos, or backrow, and possibly Set a Gale Lizard to combo with A/D Changer to bounce your Golem Sentry or other starter cards back to your hand. Lastly, Sealed Tombs is a common skill used in these Koa’ki Neos decks, which turns off Nemesis Warrior’s Quick Effect, and Neos Fusion protection.
Amazoness / Stall
This is one of the best matchups, despite the potential Lava Golem threat, due to a number of cards this opposing deck often sets. However, the Neos hybrid build does leave itself more susceptible to Lava Golem, as it cannot make the play mentioned in the final paragraph for this matchup.
The pace of stall decks and Amazoness decks are, as expected, slow. This deck is highly susceptible to Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken if you go first, and if they are slow on the Toggle and do not flip Amazoness Onslaught before your Main Phase. If they get Onslaught up in time, it won’t be fun.
Subterror Behemoth Umastryx is also quite valuable using Final Battle to help banish the Amazoness Queen, which reduces the frequency of reflect damage win conditions from Amazoness Swords Woman. Sadly, it cannot banish a Lava Golem as it only banishes the opponent’s monsters.
However, Subterror Nemesis Warrior can tribute the Lava Golem for any Behemoth in your deck (4+8 = Lv 12 or below allowed), which can remove the pressure of a lingering Lava Golem. Nemesis Warrior can also be used in their Draw Phase with Toggle On, if you are predicting a Lava Golem in their opening hand and are playing it safe.
Pure: This is one of the hardest matchups, because their best hand can rip apart your worst hand. If both of you have good hands, you may still be likely to lose your Subterror Final Battle to Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon.
Neos: This is still a fairly bad matchup, but Elemental HERO Brave Neos does help wall off Reactor Dragon with its one-time protection from Neos Fusion as a continuous effect, compared to a more-likely board wipe in the pure variant. Subterror Nemesis Warrior already being in the GY also improves the follow-up play.
The main problem in the pure variant against Ancient Gears is that their Ancient Gear Wyvern and Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon turn off monster effects during their attacks, making you flip Subterror Final Battle early to boost your face-up monster, or to banish their monster before they can attack. As such, if you don’t draw Final Battle in time, they will have no problem attacking you. The Neos hybrid variant helps put a strong body to wall off the Reactor Dragon and Wyvern.
Bad Aim is invaluable in this matchup, as it can respond to cards like Double Cyclone or Galaxy Cyclone (including Galaxy Cyclone from the GY) to pop Geartown on Chain Link 2, making it miss timing. It could also respond to the activation of Ancient Gear Fortress to pop an Ancient Gear Castle, if you are detecting a brick and a reliance on Tribute Summoning via Geartown.
Lastly, if you are running into a lot of Ancient Gears, Desert Sunlight or Ghostrick Scare are also nice options to have in addition to Final Battle in the pure build, flipping your Behemoths at will.
This is kind of a coin-flippy matchup as well. Their best hands can beat over your good hands, but their decent hands can include face-down monsters you don’t necessarily want to pop with Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken. The Neos hybrid build helps put up a stronger wall in comparison.
Since Blue-Eyes often carries cards like The White Stone of Ancients and Dawn Knight, which mill the deck to ultimately summon a Blue-Eyes monster from the deck (most notably, Dragon Spirit of White), it is not a good idea to use Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken to pop them while they are Set. Instead, it is recommended to take it slowly, waiting for a Subterror Behemoth Umastryx to banish it instead.
It is tough to counter Dragon Spirit of White if you detect a delay while you have a monster, because they can chain to your Umastryx to summon Blue-Eyes White Dragon from the hand. You might however get the chance to use Bad Aim in response to pop the Cosmo Brain that is usually next to the Spirit of White.
If you can handle those two interactions, Blue-Eyes is otherwise a battle-heavy deck, which means if you can consume their resources with Umastryx and Subterror Nemesis Warrior early on, you should be able to take control.
Both variants of Subterrors have shown to be extremely viable, as they have done well in the Meta Weekly, and have also performed well in recent tournaments, such as DLE at a 50/50 split of the total tops between pure Subterrors and Neos Subterrors. It is on you to test both variants and see which one fits your play style more, as both are extremely viable in the current metagame.
Overall, this is actually one of my all-time favorite archetypes to come to Duel Links, and despite being based around Flip monsters, do not underestimate them. They can easily OTK if given the opportunity, and are quite resilient! Hopefully we will get to use Masked Tribute for a fairly long time, because it is extremely helpful to this deck.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading this guide, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask me about substitute tech cards, any tips and tricks you want to know, evaluation of your replays, etc. I am also open to updating this guide if there is anything you want to add, or if I have made any silly errors! Have fun flipping your opponent off!