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, that summons Subterrors from the deck. 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.
Recent builds have been either 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 to dump either a Subterror Nemesis Warrior, an A/D Changer, or Bacon Saver to the GY. Both variants have been known to carry what we'll call "Starter Cards" that summon Behemoths from the hand, which typically are Golem Sentry or Flip Flop Frog.
Some potential support cards to 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.
Also of note, in the Duel Links Meta Discord within the #subterror channel, you can check the Pinned Messages for an FAQ that will be frequently updated, but you can definitely feel free to ask questions there for quick answers as well!
Before we proceed, let’s just briefly note why people are primarily using the Neos build, but some are opting for a pure or a Trap Monster build.
Elemental HERO Brave Neos is a strong body compared to any Flip monster in the game, with a continuous effect protection that improves matchups against Ancient Gears, Triamids, and other decks that are able to turn off effect activations. Provides pseudo-card advantage from a searched Neos Fusion for a later turn when using Labyrinth Builder, which has become more essential to the skill nowadays after the nerf to Masked Tribute.
When you open Neos Fusion, it adds a layer of protection from Bacon Saver in addition to the Nemesis Warrior quick effect, or if you dumped A/D Changer and went first, it could, for example, turn off a Six Style - Dual Wield or if you went second, flip your own Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken the same turn you set it.
All-around faster than the pure or Trap Monster builds, which swarm the board with monsters that don't have inherent protection, or pass with 3 backrow and maybe 1 monster, respectively.
The Trap Monster or the pure builds are generally more consistent, since they do not require you to carry any garnets that always seem to want to show up in your opening hand. Some people even run 2 Fusion Spells and 1 Neos instead of 3 and 2.
Doesn’t eliminate the deck’s weakness to Sealed Tombs.
Leaves you more at a loss if your opponent opens Lava Golem, as you'll just be left with a 3000 DEF Normal Monster and no cards in hand, most likely.
Also, a brief summary of an ideal Neos build field setup:
The following is the best and most-used skill(s) for the deck, but an honorable mention is Draw Sense: Low-Level, which is used in a Trap Monster variant of the deck to draw Nemesis Warrior. There have been a few tops every now and then from users of this skill, but in major tournaments like the MCS or Meta Weekly, and even among just King of Games decks, Labyrinth Builder dominates in usage.
- Labyrinth Builder: This is a similar skill to the now unusable Masked Tribute that people are now flocking to as the next best 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. Despite the -1 in card advantage in comparison, it is still worth it over skills like Heavy Starter or Wounded Hero that increase your chances of bricking, or require you to carry bad garnets, respectively.
- Heavy Starter: This was experimented with early on after the Masked Tribute nerf, and you might see it on the ladder every now and then to open with the Subterror Behemoths. However, it has been shown to give you hands with multiple monsters and 0-1 backrow card(s) more often than not, which is not so great in a meta dominated by Treacherous Trap Hole as the #1 most-used Trap Card. For casual play or skill farming, this is a good temporary skill, but is not recommended for tournament play.
NO LONGER USED:
- Masked Tribute: This skill is pretty much no longer used for this deck at all, because a recent nerf to it prevented Tribute Setting or Special Summoning for a whole turn, leaving the deck susceptible to Treacherous Trap Hole, Sealed Tombs, and Lava Golem.
WhyEri, KoG August 2019
Erikson, Top 4 Meta Weekly #85
haru, 2nd Place MCS #21
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 a few 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 flip. This is quite powerful against stall decks, and other decks that set multiple backrow or use flippable monsters like Karakuri Ninja mdl 339 "Sazank" or simply suspicious face-down monsters you don't want to deal with.
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.
Flip Flop Frog (2-3x):
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. Golem Sentry is still also used sometimes, but Flip Flop Frog does not target, and also does not have to Flip Summon, which is extremely valuable.
Deep Sea Diva:
Starting to become a lot more popular lately, perhaps thanks to Tsun Tsun. Combined with the Level 5 Labyrinth Wall from the Labyrinth Builder skill, it gives instant access to Crystron Quariongandrax to banish 3 monsters, or Black Rose Dragon to nuke the field.
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.
Statue of Anguish Pattern:
A staple in Trap Monster builds, but isn't otherwise, so it could be considered a tech. When another Trap Monster is summoned alongside it, it pops a card, so it functions in a 2-card combo to be a more aggressive Bad Aim, in a way.
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. Recently, this has been dropped for Floodgate Trap Hole or in some cases, Trap Monsters like Statue of Anguish Pattern.
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.
Mahjong Munia Maidens:
This is a rarely-used, but still decent starter card. It is basically a Dark World Dealings on a Flip monster. Some people like the draw power, but many have dropped this card for a less sacky card like Golem Sentry and Flip Flop Frog, which actually interact with the opponent.
A pretty decent card in the current meta, if only for the surprise factor. Definitely helps against Ancient Gears' Geartown to make it miss timing, but compared to a few months ago, it is more of a side deck card at this point.
Here's a quick rundown of combos that you can do with this deck. We'll keep it generic here.
Pure Build's Turn 1 SetupSealed Tombs or Lava Golem in the Draw Phase and then summon Subterror Behemoth Umastryx or Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken, depending on the matchup. If Sealed Tombs is on, you would not be able to summon from the deck, and you would not be able to summon Nemesis Warrior from the GY either on flip of the Behemoth.
If Activatable Monster Effects are Turned Off
"Chain Blocking"Red-Eyes Slash Dragon, Cyber Angel Izana, and I suppose many Counter Traps (which often would negate Nemesis Warrior instead of the Behemoth).
The Synchro Power PlayLabyrinth Builder, you can get a free Level 5 monster for Black Rose Dragon to nuke the field, or Crystron Quariongandrax to banish up to 3 monsters. Deep Sea Diva can summon a second copy from the deck for the Quarion, or if you predict something like Paleozoic Canadia or Floodgate Trap Hole, summon the second copy anyway and go for Black Rose instead. Building the Labyrinth Wall AFTER summoning Diva is something that cannot be responded to, and then you can summon one of these guys, the likes of which cannot be stopped or dodged except with cards like Forbidden Chalice or World Legacy Clash. If you're actually lit, you could even follow up with a Neos Fusion to poke for damage...
Here are the most common matchups in this ridiculously diverse (June-August) meta. Note we will denote any specific differences in the matchup for both Pure and Neos hybrid variants, and that we will be lumping the Pure and Trap Monster variants together due to the similarity in playstyle. We'll list the tier 1 decks first and go down from there.
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 deck easily counters DARK Machine decks that utilize Desperado Barrel Dragon, given that Subterrors focus on controlling the board while being able to flip your own monsters face-down, but Desperado loves to destroy face-up monsters. The omnipresent BM-4 Blast Spider also requires a face-up target to destroy so it can turbo out Desperado, so that's another way to just end their turn. Yet another benefit for Subterrors is that Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken can pop monsters that you've flipped face-down using Paleozoic Canadia or Floodgate Trap Hole, which does NOT allow Desperado to even come out.
Despite all that, just watch out for Desperado anyway, because some variants of the deck have absurd draw power from the two (potentially-guaranteed) Cup of Ace, and all variants have full access to semi-limited cards, Cosmic Cyclone, and sometimes the Cyberdark Edge/Cannon engine. (Because Cyberdarks often use Desperado nowadays anyway, this matchup also pertains to Cyberdarks.)
This matchup can be difficult, especially if you are going second (but I suppose it's like that no matter what deck you are playing against them). Their Spellbook of Fate banishes anything without targeting, which is instantly oppressive. However, the numerous hits on the Forbidden/Limited List makes the deck run low on resources fairly quickly in comparison to their full-power days.
The main concern is not really on being able to break their board, but being able to build yours when you go second, because they can just banish your Starter Card and then you can only set 1 or 2 backrow that they can easily deal with later. Silent Magician also negates 1 Spell per turn, but Subterrors tend to run a lot of traps anyway, so it's generally fine.
Going first, this is quite an easy matchup if you can bring in multiple monsters right away. Spellbook players tend to struggle when they can't clear a field of monsters with their 1 Spellbook of Fate per turn and their 1 big Silent Magician, because the deck is made for dealing with backrow and a fairly-sparse monster field, and lost its access to Treacherous Trap Hole quite a while ago. If you want to stop a Spellbook player from playing, use Umastryx to banish their Spellbook Magician of Prophecy (or whatever Spellcaster they use, like Tsukuyomi or Breaker the Magical Warrior) as soon as it's summoned, so they can't use Spellbook of the Master to start filling their GY.
Triamids are kind of like Ancient Gears in a way, but this is a better matchup than Ancient Gears would be. Most notably, Triamids have Triamid Kingolem, which during battle with a Triamid monster, turns off activatable card and effects, just like an Armades, Keeper of Boundaries, but at least it's not a mechanic built into the monsters themselves. Both decks need 1-2 turns to set up an appreciable board (unless Triamids open Treacherous Trap Hole, but that's the case with any new-ish deck).
The key to beating Triamids is to interact on the Triamid player's turn. Using Paleozoic Canadia to flip Triamid Hunter down would slow down their swarming. Flipping Subterror Final Battle to use Umastryx to banish a monster would reduce how many times they can swap out their Field Spell on your turn, or to use Stygokraken to pop their Triamid Pulse in their End Phase prevents them from saving it by flipping it up early on your turn.
If you go second though, a good way to break their board is to tech in Cosmic Cyclone to hopefully snipe their Triamid Pulse (try not to target their Field Spells since they can chain), as their backrow is their main outlet of destruction (you don't want to hit Treacherous Trap Hole, because it's obviously going to be usable immediately and if they carry two, you've let them use both). Perhaps a safer play is to just snipe the already-face-up Pulse in chain to when they use its face-up effect, to "MST negate" it, as it must remain face-up on the field to resolve.
Either way, be sure to win as fast as possible, because Triamid Dancer can boost them by 500 ATK each turn. They start out peaking at roughly 2300 ATK, which is beatable against your 2600 DEF Stygokraken, so don't let them get too big and then attack under Kingolem!
Pure: Not an easy matchup, since even your face-down Behemoths can count as Special Summoned if you used e.g. Flip Flop Frog to summon them, so they can be banished if Vendread Revenants is a Ritual material.
Neos: A rare case where the Neos build might actually add some weaknesses, because Neos can easily be banished after Vendread Revenants becomes a Ritual material.
A very new Ritual deck, that centralizes around strong built-in monster effects. The most important interaction with Subterrors is that Ritual Cage from Master of Rites II prevents Umastryx (but not Stygokraken) from targeting their Ritual monsters. Your main two hurdles are as follows: (1) With Revendread Executor and Ritual Cage on the field, you must deal with the Executor first without using your monster effects. (2) With Vendread Battlelord on the field, you must be able to interrupt it before it can either turn off your trap activations or your monster effect activations.
The best way to deal with this matchup is to carry Paleozoic Canadia or Floodgate Trap Hole, as they basically make the Ritual monsters forget their banishing Quick Effects. It also gets around the Ritual Cage protection, in addition to the Revendread Origin protection (not unlike Neos Fusion protection), which only works on face-up Ritual monsters, letting you pop them with Stygokraken. Keep in mind that Revendread Slayer, for example, still searches Origin and dumps a Vendread monster, but at least it will be off the field.
Also, since Subterrors have some room for techs like Cosmic Cyclone, something worth considering is that you can chain to the effect of the Vendread Nights Field Spell to "MST negate" it, and if you called a brick, you just wasted their Hard Once Per Turn effect to search a monster.
Lastly, in a pinch, if you carry Treacherous Trap Hole, you may want to chain to the Ritual Spell to destroy their Ritual materials on the field, just to force them to make awkward decisions and disallow them to gain Quick Effects that way.
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. Snipe Hunter is also an annoyance that you just want to flip down immediately with Paleozoic Canadia and hope they don't have a follow-up in the form of Cosmo Brain.
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.
Perhaps a frustrating matchup if you are a new player. They often interact with you on YOUR turn, so they could dodge your targeting cards. They also can "float" when destroyed (namely, Crystron Ametrix summons a monster from the GY, Crystron Sulfefnir summons into a monster from the deck, and the Tuners Crystron Citree, Crystron Rion, and Crystron Quan dodge targeting effects to go into a Synchro Monster). Always check their GY and banish pile to see what kind of options they have for their Tuners (typically, Ametrix for Level 5 and Powered Inzektron for Level 6; most other Synchros that they make must be on their turn). Keep in mind that they also cannot respond except in your Main Phase and Battle Phase, so you can catch them in the Draw Phase or Standby Phase.
Against them, it's most favorable to go first and flip the Tuner face-down on their End Phase using Paleozoic Canadia, so you can be free to get rid of them on your turn. Also, a big-brain play is to chain Canadia to their effect that could Synchro Summon on your turn, flipping the Tuner face-down to fizzle the Synchro Summon. Something else you can do in addition to maindecking Canadia is to side deck Bad Aim, so that if they use Crystron Rosenix (or Crystron Prasiortle / Crystron Smiger) for example to target another face-up card, hit that card they target with Bad Aim so that they cannot summon a Tuner (they must destroy it using their effect to summon a Tuner).
If you go second, just play it out as if you are going first, because they take a while to get going anyway. It's rare and resource-intensive to see them going for a Crystron Quariongandrax on Turn 2 or Turn 3. The main things to keep in mind are to respond to their actions and not the other way around, and to be keen to disrupting them in the Draw Phase, Standby Phase, or End Phase.
Magnets are kind of similar to Crystrons in a way, because they can dodge your targeting effects on YOUR turn. What's really painful is if they open That Grass Looks Greener and mill really well, because it gives plenty of GY banish fodder for Berserkion the Electromagna Warrior, their main boss monster who can destroy an entire field. They also have Block Dragon, but that's not really relevant because of its ATK being under 2600, and its protection against destruction of face-up monsters by card effects doesn't matter to your Stygokraken and Umastryx. Thankfully, only the little guys have Quick Effects, but this matchup can be a blowout depending on their hand...
As usual, if you go first, you're at an advantage when you can just summon out Subterror Behemoth Umastryx from the deck and banish their monsters. If they've already milled Magnet Conversion, know that they can recover a banished magnet easily, so be patient and wait for a Berserkion to come out. Ideally, you want to hit it with a Canadia to be safe, and then by the End Phase, if they haven't followed up with a second one, banish that first one and it won't float into a setup for a second one. Magnet Conversion recovering Beta The Electromagnet Warrior could maybe allow them to summon 2 Berserkion in one turn, so keep that in mind.
If you go second, the best way to deal with them is to attack them and force them to chain and summon Delta The Magnet Warrior, which cannot really do anything other than attack or be destroyed. Therefore, it can clog their field, making it hard for Berserkion to even come out, making them choose between Block Dragon and Berserkion. Even if Berserkion does come out, if it's destroyed, it won't float unless their entire field is empty when Berserkion is destroyed.
Lastly, some bad news here; Straight to the Grave variants do carry Storm, which is fairly relevant against Subterrors, and Storm doesn't target; unfortunately, Stygokraken flipped with Final Battle would go onto a new Chain Link, making it pointless to try to fizzle the number of your cards destroyed by Storm because their cards would be off the field by then, so there isn't really a good in-archetype counter to that if you already see Storm onscreen.
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.
Despite their two nerfs in a semi-limited Shien's Dojo and Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi, 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 the good nondestructive removal option in Enishi.
To handle this matchup, assuming you are going first, Subterror Final Battle disrupts them by banishing a summoned Fuma with Umastryx to prevent Shi En from coming out. Cosmic Cyclone as a side deck card might also help to banish their typically-one copy of Shien's Dojo, or their Six Samurai United to capitalize on a brick. The nice thing is that going first, 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.
If you are going second, assuming they have Dual Wield against your pure build, the best play is to simply hope you opened Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken, then tribute Set it using Labyrinth Builder until you are able to take out the Six Style - Dual Wield. Pay close attention to their playstyle though, as they might telegraph a huge brick, in which case you might just be able to bait out the Dual Wield early anyway and still survive. Kind of depends.
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.
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. Siding Bad Aim is recommended, as typically you can (1) respond to Behemoths in the hand to pop a monster on their field, disrupting them as they come in or (2) pop the monster that could be tributed, in response to the activation of Nemesis Warrior’s Quick Effect.
Another useful interaction is that Paleozoic Canadia can be chained to your opponent’s starter monsters, like Golem Sentry or Flip Flop Frog, 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 aside from some set backrow.
Lastly, note that you can actually use Subterror Final Battle to flip your opponent's Subterrors face-down in a pinch, either to stop an attack or to act as a pseudo-Canadia for forcing missed timing.
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 more support for them in the near future! Hidden City would be amazing against Ancient Gears and Triamids, and Nemesis Archer would be great against a Black Rose Dragon field nuke.
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!