Subterrors were introduced to Duel Links on May 20, 2019, and this archetype revolves around “Subterror Behemoth” 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. Some advantages this deck has over other decks in Yu-Gi-Oh! is that Final Battle gives this deck the ability to play under Destiny HERO - Plasma, Necrovalley, Fiendish Chain, and other monster-effect suppression cards, and even a way to dodge certain spot-removal/board wipe cards like Herald of the Abyss, Karma Cut, and Needle Ceiling.
Many variations of the deck have been experimented with since its release. The most prominent ones nowadays are the pure variant and the Invoked hybrid. Other popular ones are Neos hybrid, and sometimes a Ties of the Brethren or a Trap Monster variant. Out of all of these, the pure variant remains the most consistent, but the Invoked variant is currently recommended as it has the highest power ceiling against decks like Blue-Eyes, Cyber Dragons, and Dark Magician that either have big monsters or are oppressive going first.
Among the hybrid versions, the Invoked version adds a tiny recurrable engine to just add an alternative line of play if not enough Subterror cards were opened, and the Neos variant adds a layer of protection or aggression (respectively) via sending key cards to the GY with Neos Fusion, as well as a strong body on board that is itself protected from destruction once. The pure version is best able to take advantage of the most-recently-introduced World Legacy Pawns to make your Flip monster effects consistent.
Some potential support cards to look out for in the future for Duel Links are Subterror Guru (a searcher + “Book of Moon” Flip monster to add consistency), The Hidden City (a searcher + disruptor Field Spell to add stability), and Subterror Nemesis Archer (an aggressive nondestructive removal option that is also an answer to Black Rose Dragon). There are other support cards, but for Duel Links, this is all we realistically 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!
Here are example duels showcasing Subterrors in action! NOTE: While these may not necessarily show the most recent meta-relevant matchups, the point is to show how the deck works. Some of these duels are from old metas, and some from new metas, but we hope these give you the gist of what this deck can do! (Links are clickable)
Before we proceed, let’s just briefly ask ourselves why people continue to experiment with hybrid builds, among those who continue to use a pure or a Trap Monster build. Keep in mind if you are in the DLM Discord, you are always free to ask members of the channel to help build your deck! Please ask if you want to see builds (especially those not shown in “Sample Decks”), and we will provide. NOTE: Builds that no longer see significant play include Darklord and Thunder Dragon hybrids, so they were recently omitted.
- The Invoked version uses Aleister the Invoker to give access to Invoked Cocytus (an untargetable defense-mode attacker) and Invoked Magellanica (a 3000 ATK vanilla), which can be alternative lines of play in scenarios where you don’t open enough Subterror cards, or you want in the late-game to make use of Behemoths that were lost in the GY earlier on. A somewhat expensive version, which still plays similarly to the pure version, but has a good backup plan and can counter Dark Magician well early-game due to Cocytus being untargetable by Dark Magical Circle.
- The Neos version provides Elemental HERO Brave Neos as a strong body, with a one-time protection from destruction that improves matchups against Ancient Gears, Triamids, and other decks that are able to turn off effect activations or nuke the field with Black Rose Dragon. Provides pseudo-card advantage from a searched Neos Fusion for a later turn when using Labyrinth Builder.
- The Ties of the Brethren version adds various Lv 4 EARTH Warriors such as Justice Bringer and D.D. Assailant, to work with Ties of the Brethren in order to flood the field with 3 monsters (including Nemesis Warrior) at the cost of 2000 LP and skipping your Battle Phase on your opening turn. These monsters add one negation of special summoned monsters’ effects and a banishing removal option, using the above example Warriors, but most notably, it plusses quite a bit with monsters on the board without relying on using a skill to set that up, leaving you with more backrow to work with. Labyrinth Builder is still a backup skill in a pinch.
- The pure versions are generally more consistent in controlling the field, since they do not require you to carry cards that may be awkward in certain hands, such as Elemental HERO Neos, or a random Invocation with no Aleister himself. Flip Flop Frog continues to be a strong Flip monster that is nontargeting nondestructive removal, a fantastic counter to Extra Deck monsters, especially those that cannot be targeted like Invoked Cocytus and Lunalight Sabre Dancer. It also has a good amount of room for tech cards because of not carrying cards from other archetypes.
- The Trap Monster version adds tribute fodder in the form of Trap Monsters like Statue of Anguish Pattern and Tiki Soul, and the former, on the summon of a Trap Monster, can target and destroy any 1 card on the field. Traps are slow though, and sadly, targeting destruction isn’t so good nowadays. Once you get set up though, this version makes you play through full backrow and can wear you down with skills like Chain Reaction and Endless Trap Hell. Despite the April 20 rule unifications though, this build didn’t really see significantly increased usage, even though you are able to have full backrow alongside Trap Monsters.
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 primarily using nowadays as the next best option.
The most important benefit of this skill is that it gives you a monster to tribute with Subterror Nemesis Warrior, but does not restrict you from Special Summoning in that turn. Often it is worth considering that no one can respond to a Skill, and as such, it will matter whether you use the Skill and THEN summon Nemesis Warrior, or the other way around. Decide that order wisely!
- Reinforcements: This is an okay option if the deck can Special Summon monsters easily and you just want to be able to have instant access to Nemesis Warrior. It can work well for a Trap Monster build nowadays. Or if you want to be cheeky, a Mermail hybrid with Abyss-sphere (which can be chained to Cosmic Cyclone to summon Mermail Abysslinde to still get a body on the field).
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, all of which are easily sided for in a tournament setting, even though the former two are not as popular on the ladder right now.
Heavy Starter: This was experimented with early on after the Masked Tribute nerf, but over time many people have realized that it often gives you hands with multiple monsters and 0-1 backrow card(s), which is not so great in a meta where Cosmic Cyclone is incredibly dominant. For casual play or skill farming, this is a good temporary skill, but is not recommended for tournament play.
Scrocky, KoG May 2020 (Synchro)
ShinySopheon, Point Battle #41 2nd/3rd Place (Pure)
Saultek, KoG May 2020 (Invoked)
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 we don’t necessarily recommend, that you may still want to consider as temporary filler cards before you finish your ideal build, such as Subterror Behemoth Ultramafus, Subterror Behemoth Speleogeist, and Subterror Cave Clash. However, the below are THE recommended cards.
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 the best Subterror hands have at least 1 backrow card to protect him, or flip him up on the opponent’s turn as disruption, although a few people do run 3 Umastryx.
Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken (1-2x):
He flips to target and destroy as many face-down cards (on either field) as there are face-up Behemoths you control on flip. He is less useful in the current meta than Umastryx, but he can still be used to help deal with backrow in backrow-heavy decks like Shiranui and Dark Magician.
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 on chain link 2, so he’ll help you “chain block” your behemoth (you will see this come up in the Combo section).
Subterror Final Battle (3x):
This is the best trap card in the deck, period. 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. None of these target, by the way; you choose the affected card on resolution. Lastly, the final effect, though underrated, is (4) to prevent anyone from negating the activatable effects of Subterror cards. This last effect actually comes in handy against Fiendish Chain, Necrovalley, The Sanctified Darklord, etc., and should NOT be confused with preventing the negation of activations; it only prevents negation of effects that WERE successfully activated.
World Legacy Pawns (2-3x):
This is recent support that came in the Judgment Force box. It is like a second copy of Final Battle, except that it is generic, so it works on other Flip monsters as well. This speeds up the deck as it allows you to control the field with cards like Flip Flop Frog and Tsukuyomi. Worth noting, it does target your monster, unlike Final Battle (so Dark Cavalry can negate!), and keep in mind that Flip Flop Frog can miss timing when using Pawns (it is a “When…: You can” effect!).
Flip Flop Frog (2-3x):
This is a key starter card to this deck. You need monsters that can flip themselves face-down (as a stand-in for Subterror Guru while he is not in the game), 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. (It also therefore works with World Legacy Pawns while Golem Sentry does not.)
Deep Sea Diva:
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. It is a fun option for the ladder to include this in your deck for the power play options!
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 also 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 World Legacy Pawns, 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. This no longer sees much play, but is mentioned here anyways as a temporary option for budget players still lacking one or two more Final Battles.
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.
Tsukuyomi is sometimes used, and is actually better than before now that World Legacy Pawns is available—now she becomes a Canadia. Keep in mind however, that her effect is mandatory, so it may be trickier to OTK with her in the mix.
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”Dark Cavalry, Crystron Impact, Maiden with Eyes of Blue, and many Counter Traps (which often would negate Nemesis Warrior instead of the Behemoth), such as Blackbird Close (completely dodged), Rebirth of Parshath (hits Nemesis Warrior instead), etc.
Pushing for OTKSphere Kuriboh or Kiteroid for example, but should only be done if you are sure that your opponent won't have any more follow-up. Assuming a board state of Final Battle set, with Nemesis Warrior and any other monster (preferably one you can attack with), attack with one or both monsters. Whether your opponent does anything or not, you can chain Nemesis Warrior to that, then tribute Set a Behemoth like Umastryx from the Deck. Flip Final Battle to flip Umastryx, then re-summon Nemesis Warrior. Attack two more times!
Here are the most common matchups in this meta (May-June). Note we will denote any important advantages available in the matchup within pure and any notable hybrid version(s), and that we will be lumping the pure and Trap Monster variants together due to the similarity in playstyle. Let’s get started!
CrystronsCrystron Ametrix summons a monster from the GY, Crystron Sulfefnir summons into a monster from the deck, and the Tuners Citree [yellow Lv2], Rion [gray Lv3], and Quan [blue Lv1] dodge targeting effects to go into a Synchro Monster).
Since this deck has multiple paths of plays to make, here are general tips:
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 the Tuners cannot respond except in your Main Phase and Battle Phase, so you can catch them in the Draw Phase or Standby Phase.
If you go first, 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.
If you go second, watch for if they use Crystron Impact to recover Citree next to Sulfefnir, or (typically) Ametrix, before their following turn. That following turn is a Black Rose Dragon, so Toggle On, and then in that turn’s Draw Phase, try to banish the Citree and hope for the best.
We have an inherent counter to Crystron Impact, because Nemesis Warrior chain blocks Umastryx or Stygokraken from being negated (see Combo section)! As long as Nemesis Warrior is in the GY, you cannot get negated by Crystron Impact.
Overall, 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.
Although Blackwings mainly just try to win as fast as possible with no consistent plan, it seems to be a good idea to just give general tips here:
Cosmic Cyclone will be extremely helpful in stopping them from rolling by banishing Black Whirlwind in chain to Blackwing - Simoon the Poison Wind‘s Normal Summon effect, or just sniping their Blackbird Close if they ever set it. If they end up opening multiple Black Whirlwind, you should respond with Floodgate Trap Hole, or even Forbidden Lance, to nullify/hinder their searches all in one go. They will still get another Normal Summon, but at least you’ll stop 2-3 searches.
In general, you’ll want to Special Summon Umastryx right before they would Synchro Summon (that way you cannot get negated by Blackbird Close from the hand). Then, immediately after the Synchro Summon resolves, flip Umastryx to banish the Synchro monster without worry of Blackbird Close. Then take any other swarmed monsters as you will (a smart player will summon 3 monsters before Synchro Summoning). (If they have enough to still push for game, so be it.)
Keep a close eye on their hand, because Blackwings will tell you exactly what is in their hand, except for 1-2 cards.
It remains that this is a difficult matchup, just because of the deck’s ability to basically Normal Summon twice, and its ease of Special Summoning. One final note is that the deck could side deck Ancient Fairy Dragon to search Necrovalley on their first turn. If that happens, you could use Final Battle’s 4th effect to play under Necrovalley, but it’ll be annoying.
Hybrid: The Invoked variant has the advantage of access to Invoked Cocytus, which cannot be targeted by Circle, and the only out to it they typically have is Eye of Timaeus for Dark Cavalry, which Nemesis Warrior chain blocks from negating Umastryx (see Combo section). This will let you stall until you draw your combo pieces (Nemesis Warrior and Final Battle).
Dark Magician is a coin-flippy matchup. Some tips against them:
If you go first and they start with Magician’s Rod, you’d best go for Stygokraken and attempt to snipe the Magician Navigation. I would personally recommend having Cosmic Cyclone too, as it helps in case you miss the Navigation—in that case, just banish the Circle, should you have missed.
If they manage to pull off using Navigation, your main priority is to get rid of the Magician of Dark Illusion (e.g. attacking over it with any Subterror + Final Battle, or just banishing with Umastryx) so that he cannot trigger to revive Dark Magician later for another banish with Circle.
Navigation CANNOT negate in the Damage Step. Take advantage of that if you can take a given turn into the Damage Step and use Final Battle at that time.
Other than that, this is a pretty straightforward matchup. You have to win fast, and preferably before they get to Dark Cavalry. However, even then, we chain block Dark Cavalry anyway (it can’t negate, as long as Nemesis Warrior can summon itself from the GY), so as long as you have Final Battle available to boost Umastryx to 4700 DEF, and they don’t run any random tech cards to force out Final Battle, you’ll be fine.
Invoked (Elementsabers)Invocation. As of late, they rely heavily on their backrow, which typically consists of Floodgate Trap Hole or Fiendish Chain, possibly Wall of Disruption. Once you get past that (which for this deck, it's not hard), try to push for game as soon as possible. The longer Invoked duels go, the more advantage they can gain.
While the strategies of this deck really just revolve around flipping you down with Elementsaber Molehu and OTKing with Invoked Purgatrio, there are some important plays or interactions you need to know:
When they have Aleister the Invoker on the field while Nemesis Warrior is in the GY, you need to deal with it immediately. If you don’t have Enemy Controller, don’t wait until they activate Invocation to chain Final Battle because then it is too late to flip Final Battle and get Nemesis Warrior out of the GY. Toggle On and either tribute take with Enemy Controller on chain link 2 to Invocation, or banish immediately with Umastryx before they use Invocation.
They CAN use Elementsaber Molehu’s effect in chain to Flip Flop Frog flipping itself down, which will make your Subterror Behemoths miss timing for summoning themselves from the hand because they can flip you down on Chain Link 2. Many Invoked players do not understand how to do this correctly unless they have a good grasp of how our deck works, but you DO need to be aware of this possibility that they might not be complete potatoes.
Typically, you’ll want to use Labyrinth Builder first, and then summon Nemesis Warrior. That way, you have the priority to respond to Molehu’s effect to flip you down if they decide to do that. Do not do it the other way around, because a good player will flip you down before you get the chance to activate your skill.
If they manage to bring out Invoked Cocytus, you do have ways to deal with it. Flip Flop Frog together with World Legacy Pawns will bounce it back to the Extra Deck, or Umastryx is 4700 ATK with Final Battle (which forces them to protect with 2 Aleister, or let it die).
Overall, aside from the above key scenarios, Invoked Purgatrio or Invoked Magellanica can be issues, but if you have Final Battle you shouldn’t worry too much because you can at least target these monsters, and they don’t often get over 4700 ATK unless their hand is beast-mode insane with 2-3 Aleister or 2 Invocation.
Here are some key interactions that you need to watch out for:
You pretty much need Final Battle because people maindeck Plasma, against which you must rely on Final Battle’s 4th effect to prevent your activated effects from being negated.
Stratos is also something to watch out for if the first thing they activate is Vision HERO Faris, because Stratos can destroy backrow without targeting with another HERO on their field—if they start with Faris, chain Nemesis Warrior right away so that you would be ready to respond if they drop a Stratos to destroy backrow.
If for some miraculous reason they go second and open no backrow removal (no Cosmic Cyclone and no Stratos), you can probably survive even if they have Mask Change. In that case, check for delays while they are attacking you to see if they have Mask Change, and just let them attack into Umastryx instead of flipping him early; they can dodge the banish, but NOT in the Damage Step. If they just poke with Anki directly, simply banish Anki in the End Phase so that even if they try to dodge with Mask Change at that point, it would only waste resources to do so.
Overall, very coin-flippy. Not too difficult to win if you happen to go second because they don’t often build a strong turn 1 board, but could be a struggle if they go second.
ShiranuiArtifact Lancea (anti-banishing on your turn), (2) some of their monsters don't mind being banished per se, and (3) they have multiple game plans to play through disruptions.
Since Shiranui have multiple playstyles (lots of backrow, or anti-backrow), here are general tips:
Try to prevent their board presence using World Legacy Pawns to activate Flip Flop Frog to bounce an Extra Deck monster back, or Subterror Behemoth Umastryx to banish a key monster. In terms of the maindeck monsters that you could banish with Umastryx, in order from the best to the worst choices, that would be Spectralsword Shade > Spectralsword > Samurai > Squire > Spiritmaster. Remember what is in their hand if they revealed it via Level Augmentation as that is their guaranteed follow-up.
As for their boss monsters, Samuraisaga (Lv6) is not a problem, but don’t let them get Shogunsaga (Lv8) because it could get up to 5500 ATK, which is too large for Umastryx to block. Definitely don’t let them make Sunsaga (Lv10) because he destroys without targeting. It is okay to let them make Squiresaga (Lv7) with Squire + Spectralsword Shade, but you should toggle on and banish her before she can activate because she destroys without targeting (and doesn’t choose what to banish, to decide what to destroy, until resolution).
For their backrow, only Ballista Squad or Raigeki Break are annoying, because they can destroy on Chain Link 2 and “fizzle” your effect to summon from the deck (making it resolve without effect, just like Treacherous Trap Hole would). If you feel a delay when they have a Spectralsword on the field, consider attacking it to force out a Ballista Squad, then you can chain Nemesis Warrior to that so that they cannot make Nemesis Warrior “fizzle” if they targeted him. At the very least, we don’t really worry about Floodgate Trap Hole or Canadia because we can flip back up, and we can use Final Battle’s 4th effect to play under Skill Drain/Necrovalley/Fiendish Chain (see Example Gameplay!).
Overall, we like going first against Shiranui. Going second is a struggle because if they open Ballista Squad they have the advantage. Going first, go after their backrow first and monsters later.
Hybrid: The Invoked variant has access to Invoked Cocytus, which cannot be destroyed or targeted by the opponent’s card effects. This can help stall until you bait out all their backrow (but don’t stall too much or they might bring out Cyber End Dragon and break your board). The Neos variant could survive 1 Cybernetic Overflow but it does not have as much staying power as the Invoked variant.
Probably our worst matchup. Often times you’ll find yourself topdecking, and fending them off with no backrow. You might have a chance if you first with your full setup, but the winrate is probably going to be low here.
If I go first, I usually summon Stygokraken and pop their middle backrow in their End Phase, as I assume they set Cybernetic Overflow in the middle (them getting a search isn’t a big deal, because Overflow is the biggest threat). If they also opened Cyberload Fusion, so be it, because at the very least, you can banish Chimeratech Rampage Dragon with Umastryx in the Damage Step even if they destroy Final Battle or Pawns on-summon.
If you are using Fiendish Chain or Forbidden Lance, Fiendish does make the “Cyber Dragon” monster forget how to call itself “Cyber Dragon”, or Lance makes it unaffected by other Spell/Trap effects, which prevents it from being banished for Overflow’s effect. If you are seeing this deck en-masse, it may be worth maindecking those 2 cards if you have them.
If you go second and you opened Flip Flop Frog, go ahead and do the Labyrinth Builder / Nemesis Warrior setup anyway. Most likely they will use Overflow to pop both monsters, and on the off chance you opened Flip Flop Frog and they didn’t open the fusion spell, setting Frog next turn (if you make it) can still fend off an OTK.
Again, this matchup is far from easy, but in most circumstances where I have lost to them, considering their god-hand setup going first can destroy up to 4 cards, any other deck would have lost anyway, so I don’t put too much stock into it. In a fair duel where both of you open normal hands, this is still a winnable matchup if you don’t get obscenely unlucky.
Some general tips against them:
If you go first, you’ll want to watch them closely to keep track of who they have already Special Summoned, then deal with the Fusion monster at the end of the turn. Earlier in the turn, they do not care about Floodgate Trap Hole because they can contact fuse face-down and the fusion monsters can dodge Floodgate by tagging out on Chain Link 2.
You can use Umastryx to banish the Spiritual Beast Cannahawk right away, so that they cannot set up their banish pile with more than one different kind of monster (Spiritual Beast vs. Ritual Beast Tamer) while also having a fusion monster on the field to tag out for those monsters. Watch for delays on-summon if they have something in the GY/banish pile, to check if they opened Ritual Beast Return, because if so, they could continue extending. Also, Flip Flop Frog can often keep a Spiritual Beast Pettlephin out of reach of being Special Summoned back to the field.
Lastly, some people might still use Destiny HERO - Plasma, but we don’t really care too much because Subterror Final Battle can just be chained to Nemesis Warrior’s effect to make your activated effects unable to be negated.
Overall, not as bad of a matchup as it seems at first. You’re going to have to pay attention and have your toggle on though, to watch for key points of interruption which are (1) banish the maindeck Cannahawk or (2) Floodgate the fusion that they end on for their turn.
And now, the matchups which are generally considered rogue, but that you shouldn’t be surprised to see on the ladder nowadays.
Subterror (Mirror)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.
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.
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.
Blue-EyesCards of Consonance, and the *control* version with Raigeki Break and sometimes Karma Cut. (There was also a version with Malefic Blue-Eyes White Dragon to turbo out Necrovalley, but that kind of stopped seeing that much use because it was fragile.)
Duels against Blue-Eyes can get out of control quickly. Because of the flexibility of the deck, here are some general tips:
Whenever possible, try to pop their backrow with Stygokraken before they are able to use it.
If they ever Normal Summon a Tuner (instead of setting it), they likely have Sage with Eyes of Blue in their hand. Therefore, try to get rid of it or flip it down (don’t chain to Sage, do it pre-emptively), because they cannot target a face-down monster with Sage. If they play Cosmo Brain, don’t be surprised to see Chaos Dragon Levianeer as well, so keep that in mind.
After the April 20 rule unification, if they get a Blue-Eyes face-up on the field, be sure to banish it pre-emptively with Umastryx or bounce it back to the hand pre-emptively with Flip Flop Frog. You are not be able to respond directly to Alternative Evolution and consequently, Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon will target your Flip monster, then you can respond. At that point it would be too late to use Pawns/Final Battle on your monster because it will have left the field before it could attempt to activate on the field (even though it flipped by the time the chain resolved). (Before April 20, you would have activated off the field.)
Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon can negate Nemesis Warrior in the GY (even in the Damage Step), but cannot dodge Umastryx in the Damage Step.
Overall, it’s kind of a sweatfest against Blue-Eyes. Be on your toes!
Because this deck has no set combos, here are some general tips against this deck:
The “TD” monsters’ effects are “one effect per turn and only once that turn” effects, so as soon as they use one of the effects of Hawk, Roar, or Dark, that monster can be safely banished by Umastryx with no consequence.
They have mostly stopped using Baggy Sleeves for the most part after its nerf, because you CAN now destroy Lv5-6 monsters by battle without triggering the skill.
They recently lost access to Gold Sarcophagus and are opting for 1-2 Charge of the Light Brigade instead, so try not to let them get any “TD” monsters into the GY, especially if the first thing they do is Normal Summon Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn (in hopes of finding a monster to revive with Thunder Dragonhawk, most likely).
An important Synchro to watch out for is Black Rose Dragon. Currently, this is most often done with a Glow-Up Bulb and either Dragonroar or Dragonhawk. Of course, banishing the Bulb is the best choice here.
If somehow they open enough ways to get 3 DARK/LIGHT monsters in GY on turn 1-2, which while not likely early-game, could come up, watch out for Chaos Dragon Levianeer. For that you’ll want to maindeck or side deck Fiendish Chain or Void Trap Hole to negate it, as Levianeer often destroys 2 cards without targeting and gets chain-blocked by Roar/Dark/Hawk (i.e. can’t use Counter Traps). Keep in mind that in the case of Levianeer, if its activated effect (i.e. the effect is allowed to activate) is negated by a card like Forbidden Chalice, it is NOT prevented from attacking (if confused, compare with the PSCT on Offerings to the Doomed), which is why I recommended Fiendish Chain or Void Trap Hole specifically.
Overall, definitely not an easy matchup, but the deck can be very prone to bricking now, so it’s not the worst matchup by any means. The main threats are Black Rose Dragon (banish the Tuner) and Levianeer (negate it! But you can’t use Chalice). If you can ward that off, you might be able to steal the win.
Hybrid: The Invoked variant could possibly summon Invoked Caliga using a Darklord monster as material. That would slow them down for a bit.
Although not the best deck, Darklords are still a menace in this meta, and even with Contact and Ixchel to 2 and Sanctified to 1, it is easy for them to keep milling cards multiple times in a turn using the Lightsworn engine (3 Charge of the Light Brigade, and 2 Lightsworn monsters), and negate monster effects with The Sanctified Darklord.
Since this deck has no set combos/strategies nor consistent turn 1 boards, here are some general tips:
They also are probably using No Mortal Can Resist, so try to watch for when their LP is 2000 below yours, and revive Nemesis Warrior before it can become a Skull Servant. Good thing it’s once per duel now.
Unlike many decks, Subterrors actually do have an answer to Darklords’ negations. Many people forget that the 4th effect of Subterror Final Battle is quite relevant here, because it prevents the effect of The Sanctified Darklord from being able to negate your “Subterror” monsters’ effects. They can still gain LP, and the effect will appear to be negated, but your monster will not be affected, regardless of when in the turn or when in the Chain Link this 4th effect is activated.
If they Tribute Summon Darklord Morningstar, whether you have Final Battle or not, your best bet is to tribute Set your Umastryx from the deck. If you no longer control any face-up Effect monsters, Morningstar won’t be able to summon anyone else from the Deck and can therefore be targeted.
Overall, not as bad of a matchup as it used to be, just potentially annoying because of No Mortal Can Resist, specifically. Don’t have to play around Sealed Tombs, though, as it hinders the deck itself!
Hybrid: 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. The Invoked version adds Invoked Cocytus, which this deck will have loads of trouble getting over until they bring out something like HTS Psyhemuth. The Ties of the Brethren version lets you use Justice Bringer to negate Shi En’s negate.
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.
General plans going first/second:
If 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. You might even want to just set a single Flip Flop Frog and pass, and if they attack into it, bounce Shi En back to the Extra Deck.
Lastly, important note… BE CAREFUL HERE:
- 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.
Things to watch out for:
Don’t get too complacent when you see a Lv3 Tuner plus a Lv4 non-Tuner, because they CAN use Black Rose Dragon. If they have Fortune Vision active and they banish Fortune Lady Light in an ideal combo, they can nuke the field without destroying their monsters.
Since they have Enemy Controller, be careful to check that they have NO delays before using Nemesis Warrior’s effect (or use his effect before their backrow becomes live), so that they cannot use Enemy Controller to take your non-Nemesis Warrior and “fizzle” your Special Summon.
Overall, not too much more difficult than any generic backrow deck. Just remember that Every can only banish face-up monsters. Keep yourself face-down until you’re ready to react, and don’t let them get a Black Rose Dragon, which they will telegraph by having Fortune Vision on the field most of the time (if they aren’t dumb, and they actually nuke the field only when they have a follow-up play).
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.
Hybrid: 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. Invoked Magellanica in defense actually walls off Reactor Dragon with its 3300 DEF, surprisingly enough, if that comes up.
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.
See the Gameplay Demonstration section for an example of playing against Reactor Dragon!
Bad Aim is great 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.
Cosmic Cyclone is risky, but also nice if you can banish the Geartown or a suspected Drowning Mirror Force.
Aroma / AromageSolemn Scolding, which the deck can natively use because it uses primarily continuous traps and continuous spells, so it can have 1 set backrow by flipping the continuous trap(s) early. Of course, it would instantly tell you to play around Scolding if they flip a continuous trap in your Draw Phase. The key cards to play around otherwise are Blessed Winds (target-dodging, recursion, and revival respectively) and Aroma Gardening (summon from deck when lower LP than you); don't even worry about the rest.
Don’t let the duel drag on too long so that they don’t obtain more resources than you have. To maintain advantage, banish Cananga (green boy) immediately to keep your backrow safe, or banish Jasmine (white girl) to prevent drawing cards. Rosemary (blue girl) and Marjoram (purple lady) aren’t really a problem, and Bergamot (red man) is only dangerous in the Battle Phase for piercing.
Don’t try to OTK through Aroma Gardening until you can see yourself removing 2 monsters via card effect in the Battle Phase, which requires a Flip Flop Frog, an Umastryx, World Legacy Pawns, and Final Battle. Instead, work on banishing the monsters summoned, or those revived by Blessed Winds, to diminish their resources. Once that is out of the way, either wait until they have more LP than you and attack directly in one shot with Umastryx (less than 4700 LP), or wait until you have that 4-card setup and OTK through that.
Play around Scolding by waiting until their LP drops to below 3000, then use the effect you didn’t want negated before they resolve effect(s) to gain enough LP.
Overall, this is a control matchup. They have more versatility than us, but our removal options are more impactful. Don’t let their many effects dazzle you too much—stay focused!
Desperado / OrcustDesperado 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.
Some general tips for dealing with this deck:
Master of Destiny builds right now use Rebirth of Parshath, so try to Flip Summon Umastryx to chain block his banish effect with Nemesis Warrior from the GY, rather than flipping Final Battle, if possible.
More recently, Desperado gained access to Black Salvo, which gives them Lv7 Synchros like Black Rose Dragon and Samurai Destroyer. That now adds pressure to banish the Lv4 DARK Machine that they revive to stop that (typically Orcust Harp Horror or Cyberdark Edge), but flip your Behemoth up in Defense so they can’t crash into your monster to bring out Desperado. Other than that, this matchup is not too difficult.
SpellbooksSpellbook 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.
Some quick tips for this deck:
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 Aleister the Invoker or Temperance of Prophecy) as soon as it’s summoned, so they can’t use Spellbook of the Master to start filling their GY.
A risky thing you could try is Cosmic Cyclone to banish Spellbook of Secrets in response to its activation, so that if they don’t carry Spellbook Library of the Crescent, they cannot make any more plays that turn (which all stem from Spellbook of the Master). It’s risky because they can still likely do something next turn, so if you don’t beat them in your turn, they can follow up.
TriamidsTriamid 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 deck with no native Limited 2 cards).
General tips against this 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!
MagnetsBerserkion the Electromagna Warrior, their main boss monster, can destroy an entire field. Nowadays, they also have Destiny HERO - Plasma, which is a huge problem for us because we need 2 Final Battle to counter both Plasma and Berserkion. So, you'll want to prevent them from having Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Electromagnets in the GY as much as possible.
If you go first, you’re at an advantage when you can just summon out Subterror Behemoth Umastryx from the deck and banish their Lv3 Magnets monsters in their End Phase. They have Magnetic Field, so they could bounce your Behemoth back to the hand I suppose, but they will get hit by its effect beforehand on Chain Link 2 (do not be confused, as this is NOT changed by the April 20 ruling unifications!), so it may not be a good idea to attack into you in that case!
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. You’ll want to try to make sure they don’t get 3 monsters for Plasma, but also not clear their entire field, so that if Berserkion does come out, if it’s destroyed, it won’t float. Carefully evaluate what their hand could be, and how many monsters they can get on the field on any given turn.
Both pure and Neos variants of Subterrors have shown to be extremely viable, as they have topped in some of the past DLM tournaments, and have also performed well in, e.g. 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 add amazing consistency support without too much oppression, 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 flip flopping around and watching your opponent squirm! :D