The Vampire archetype made its splash on the Duel Links meta in August 2018 with the release of the Empire of Scarlet minibox. The minibox introduced consistent searchers for the archetype in the form of Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer as well as key win-conditions in Vampire Kingdom and Vampire Vamp. These cards revamped (no pun intended) the archetype from the mishmash of odd Zombie monsters from earlier boxes to a top tier deck that stole 1st place in the September 2018 KC Cup and continued to dominate for the rest of 2018. Unfortunately, unlike earlier dominant decks such as Cyber Angels and Fur Hires, Vampires were too “fair” of a deck, making them highly susceptible to power creep throughout the 2019 year. As an insult to injury, Vampires also got hit on the March 2019 Forbidden/Limited List, which put a key card, Samurai Skull, on the Limited 2 list. Due to this combination of power creep and nerfs, Vampires are no longer considered a tier worthy deck. However, that does not mean that the deck is no longer viable -- on the contrary, Vampires are still capable of producing a fair number of King of Games each month as well as the occasional top cut placing in community tournaments. In other words, Vampires are still very solid as a rogue deck.
Vampires as a deck is best described as a “toolbox” deck. It has such consistent and accessible searchers in Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer that the deck is able to “tutor” i.e. access whatever combo it needs for the given situation. Of course, the deck's most iconic and primary go-to combo revolves around Vampire Grace, using her effect to trigger Vampire Kingdom to destroy any card on the field. Both the effects of Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom are not hard once-per-turns, hence they can be abused in multiple copies to wipe an opposing board and enable a devastating one-turn-kill (OTK). Complementing Vampire Grace is Vampire Vamp, otherwise known to the community as the “good succ.” Vampire Vamp has an ability that lets her “succ up” opposing monsters with more ATK than her (2000 ATK by default), equipping them to herself and raising her ATK by their ATK stat. Thus, not only can Vampires threaten board wipes into OTKs with Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom, but they also have one of the most reliable outs to big boss monsters in Vampire Vamp.
As a foreword, this guide assumes that the reader has an intermediate level of knowledge of the game mechanics in Duel Links and Yu-Gi-Oh! in general. The main concepts that we expect the readers to already know -- beyond the basic rules of e.g. summoning and activating spells / traps -- include the Toggle Button, reading “delays,” the Duel Links Limited 1 and Limited 2 lists, and Chain Links. We refer to these terms throughout the guide.
Combo Starters: Gozuki (3x) and Samurai Skull (0-2x)
Gozuki and Samurai Skull are the main combo starters for any Vampire deck, with Gozuki currently being the more crucial one, as Samurai Skull is on the Limited 2 list. Both monsters are able to mill a Zombie monster from one's deck to the graveyard the turn they are summoned. Since Vampires are a Zombie-based archetype, they have many monsters that want to be in the graveyard to trigger effects. This includes the two searchers of the archetype, Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer. The Vampire archetype also has revival cards in Vampire Takeover and Vampire's Desire -- hence, sometimes one might also want to mill a particular Vampire monster to then resurrect it with either of these cards.
One key difference between Gozuki and Samurai Skull is that Gozuki's mill effect is an ignition effect that must be manually activated, whereas Samurai Skull's mill effect is a trigger effect that activates immediately upon summon. This difference actually matters quite a bit as it means Gozuki is far easier to disrupt than Samurai Skull -- e.g. the opponent can activate a trap like Paleozoic Canadia upon Gozuki's summon to stop the Vampire player from activating his mill effect. As a result, Samurai Skull is actually the more reliable miller, as it can only be disrupted by a negation from a card like e.g. Forbidden Chalice -- unfortunately, Samurai Skull is on the Limited 2 list and competes with other powerful Limited 2 cards like e.g. Enemy Controller for deck slots.
Gozuki and Samurai Skull also have secondary effects that add to their utility. Gozuki, if it is sent to the graveyard, allows one to banish a non-Gozuki Zombie monster from the graveyard to special summon a Zombie monster from the hand. The effect triggers no matter how Gozuki gets sent to the graveyard -- this allows one to e.g. mill Gozuki from the deck with another Gozuki or a Samurai Skull to use its effect and special summon a Zombie from the hand. Additionally, if Gozuki is used to tribute summon Vampire Vamp, then Vampire Vamp's trigger effect upon summon goes on Chain Link 1, and Gozuki's effect immediately goes on Chain Link 2, effectively chain blocking the opponent from disrupting Vampire Vamp's effect -- this comes up when e.g. playing against Red-Eyes Slash Dragon.
On the flipside, Samurai Skull, when removed from the field by an opponent's effect, floats into any level 4 or lower Zombie monster that one chooses from the deck. This comes in use when Samurai Skull is removed by e.g. cards like Treacherous Trap Hole or Dimensional Prison, allowing one to replace him with a Gozuki or a low level Vampire.
Because these two monsters are the deck's main avenues to dump Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer into the graveyard to start plays, one ideally wants to max out on the number of copies in the deck to make it as consistent as possible. This means running 3 Gozuki for sure; running 2 is less consistent but manageable for players on a budget. Ideally, one also wants to max out on Samurai Skull -- but since it is on the Limited 2 list, one could argue for using one or both of those slots for a game-winning card like Enemy Controller.
Searchers: Vampire Familiar (2-3x) and Vampire Retainer (2x)
These two monsters are the searchers of the Vampire archetype. If Vampire Familiar is special summoned, then one can search any Vampire monster from the deck and add it to the hand at the cost of 500 LP; Vampire Retainer has a similar effect, but it searches any Vampire spell / trap instead. Both of these effects are hard-once-per-turns, meaning one cannot activate e.g. two Vampire Familiar search effects in the same turn.
Both monsters also have the effect where one can send a card with “Vampire” in its name to the graveyard, from either the field or hand, to special summon them from the graveyard -- however, if they are summoned this way, then they are banished when they leave the field. Note that this restriction makes it so that one cannot send e.g. a Vampire Familiar that was special summoned via its own effect to summon another Vampire Familiar from the graveyard, since the first Vampire Familiar can only be banished, not go to the graveyard.
The ability to search any card in the entire Vampire archetype with Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer is what makes this deck so consistent and powerful. One typically wants to open with a combo starter (either Gozuki or Samurai Skull) and another Vampire card in hand. The combo starter mills one of the searchers, which can then special summon itself from the graveyard by having one pitch the Vampire card in hand. Then, once the searcher hits the field, one can pay 500 LP to add whatever Vampire card they want to the hand.
The most ideal opener is a combo starter plus Vampire Familiar in hand. This opener allows one to mill Vampire Retainer, pitch the Vampire Familiar from hand to special summon Vampire Retainer, search Vampire Takeover, and end on a board of a combo starter, Vampire Retainer, and Vampire Takeover, with 2 extra cards (assuming going first). Then, on the opponent's turn, one can flip over Vampire Takeover to play Vampire Kingdom from the deck and revive Vampire Familiar to search one of the Vampire boss monsters for a follow up play, effectively going +3 in card advantage -- see the Combos section for more details. With 5 combo starters and 4-5 searchers, Vampires are able to consistently generate such card advantage.
For the above reason, a ratio of 3 Vampire Familiars and 2 Vampire Retainers is theoretically ideal, as one wants to open with a Vampire Familiar while keeping the Vampire Retainers in the deck to mill. That said, players have had success just running 2 copies of each searcher, either because they do not own a 3rd Vampire Familiar or because they want to cut down on deck space. As a result, running either 2 or 3 Vampire Familiars has become more of a preference choice -- it should be noted though that having more Vampires in the deck helps pay off the cost for Vampire Kingdom.
Win Condition 1: Vampire Grace (2x), Vampire Kingdom (2x), and Vampire Takeover (1x)
Vampire Grace in combination with Vampire Kingdom is the primary win-condition for Vampires. Vampire Grace has an ignition effect that allows one to make the opponent mill a monster, spell, or trap from their deck to then trigger Vampire Kingdom. One can then send a Vampire monster from the hand or deck to the graveyard so that Vampire Kingdom can target and destroy any card on the field. This gives the Vampire archetype a powerful form of spot removal for any problematic card on the opponent's field.
Setting up Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom is also really easy with the searching power from Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer. Typically, one uses a combo starter to mill Vampire Retainer, then pitch the Vampire Familiar from hand to special summon Vampire Retainer, and finally search and set Vampire Takeover. Then, on the opponent's turn, one can flip over Vampire Takeover to play Vampire Kingdom from the deck and revive Vampire Familiar to search for Vampire Grace, who can then be tribute summoned next turn.
Alternatively, one can play Vampire Kingdom directly from the hand without the need for Vampire Takeover if one has Vampire's Domain ready to help tribute summon Vampire Grace. Another option for summoning Vampire Grace is through the use of Vampire's Desire to revive a copy of her from the graveyard.
Note that Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom are both soft-once-per-turns. This means that one can trigger their effects multiple times per turn with multiple copies of each card. This is the main reason why it is ideal to play two copies of both Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom. Suppose one manages to set up Vampire Kingdom with Vampire Grace in hand thanks to Vampire Takeover on the opponent's turn. After summoning Vampire Grace to trigger a pop with Vampire Kingdom, one can then mill either a Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer -- depending on which one is needed in the graveyard -- to then search for a second Vampire Grace or Vampire Kingdom. With the help of Vampire's Domain or Vampire's Desire, one can then easily play the second copies of Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom on the same turn for a second pop. This “double pop” combo is typically done to push for game -- see the Combos section for more details.
One thing to keep in mind though is that, since Vampire Kingdom is a field spell, the opponent can chain spell / trap removal to its effect to effectively “negate” the pop. This is because Vampire Kingdom must be on the field when its effect resolves to destroy a card on the field. Hence, this deck is unfortunately weak to spell / trap removal in the form of quickplay spells or traps -- e.g. Cosmic Cyclone and Dust Tornado.
Finally, it is worth it to mention that Vampire Grace has a second effect that triggers from the graveyard when one special summons a level 5 or higher Zombie monster. When this effect triggers, Vampire Grace special summons herself back from the graveyard at the cost of 2000 LP. This effect can actually come up for the deck when one uses e.g. Gozuki or Vampire's Desire to special summon a high level Vampire boss monster. Though more often than not, the 2000 LP cost is too steep of a price to pay -- but the option is there.
Win Condition 2: Vampire Vamp (1x)
Vampire Vamp is the deck's main out to big, opposing boss monsters. When she is normal summoned, or when a Vampire monster is normal summoned beside her, she can target an opposing monster with an ATK stat higher than her's (2000 ATK by default) and equip it. She then gains ATK equal to the original ATK of the equipped monster. Not only is Vampire Vamp a great out to a problematic monster, but she also enables potential OTKs, as her own ATK stat typically skyrockets to lethal damage after gaining the equip.
Vampire Vamp also has a second useful effect that special summons her back from the graveyard if she is destroyed while having a equipped monster. This forces opponents to often deal with the equipped monster via spell / trap removal like e.g. Cosmic Cyclone as opposed to dealing with Vampire Vamp herself -- as she just comes back otherwise.
As previously mentioned above, Gozuki's second effect can combo with Vampire Vamp's effect to chain block the opponent from disrupting her. If Gozuki is used to tribute summon Vampire Vamp, then Vampire Vamp's effect upon summon goes on Chain Link 1, and Gozuki's effect immediately goes on Chain Link 2, effectively chain blocking the opponent from disrupting Vampire Vamp's effect. This comes up when e.g. playing against Red-Eyes Slash Dragon.
Utility: Vampire's Domain (1x) and Vampire's Desire (0-1x)
The two utility spells of the Vampire archetype, Vampire's Domain and Vampire's Desire, are used as extenders so that one may pull off more plays in one turn -- i.e. they aid in stringing together longer combos.
Vampire's Domain is the more important of the two, as it allows one to pay 500 LP to gain an additional normal summon for a Vampire monster that turn. This effect of Vampire's Domain lingers even after Vampire's Domain leaves the field for e.g. a cost to special summon Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer from the graveyard. The extra normal summon is extremely beneficial for Vampires, allowing one to summon Vampire Grace or Vampire Vamp on the same turn that one normal summons a combo starter. This enables one to make proactive Turn 2 plays of say starting with a combo starter and ending with Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom. The extra normal summon also helps in summoning multiples of the Vampire boss monsters in the same turn -- e.g. two times Vampire Grace or Vampire Grace followed up by Vampire Vamp.
Meanwhile, Vampire's Desire is the more optional of the two -- some Vampire players consider it core, while others find success without it. This card has two nice utility effects, with the first making it a combo starter like Gozuki or Samurai Skull. It can be used to target any monster on one's field and change its level to that of a Vampire monster in the deck; that Vampire monster is then milled to the graveyard. When used in combination with Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer, Vampire's Desire can mill the other searcher, which can then use the searcher that is already on the field as a cost to special summon itself, effectively starting up a combo.
The second effect of Vampire's Desire is a pseudo Monster Reborn -- one can target a Vampire monster in the graveyard and special summon it in place of a monster that is already on one's field. This can not only be used to revive say a Vampire Grace, but it can also send Gozuki from the field to the graveyard in her place and trigger Gozuki's special summoning effect. A very typical use of Vampire's Desire is to enable a double Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom pop in one turn. It can also be used to play around disruption like Paleozoic Canadia or Floodgate Trap Hole -- one can use Vampire's Desire to e.g. send a Vampire Grace hit by a Floodgate Trap Hole for a second Vampire Grace in the graveyard.
Note that Vampire's Desire's second effect will not resolve if the monster selected on the field is a Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer summoned by its own effect. Under these circumstances, Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer are banished when they leave the field instead of hitting the graveyard. And since the selected monster on the field does not go to the graveyard, Vampire's Desire does not fully resolve.
Sealed Tombs: The anti-meta skill. As Duel Links continues to include more and more recent cards from the real life trading card game (TCG), the meta finds itself with more and more decks that can abuse powerful graveyard effects. When a player activates Sealed Tombs (once per duel), they shut down any reviving and banishing from either player's graveyard until their next turn. This effectively stuns and slows down any opposing deck that relies on such effects. Of these decks, Vampires are no exception. Hence this is arguably the best skill to run for the mirror match, allowing one to shut down the opponent and push for game the following turn. This also makes Sealed Tombs the most dangerous ability to play against as a Vampires player. In the current meta, Sealed Tombs disrupts quite a number of popular decks, including Koa'ki Meiru, Subterrors, Red-Eyes, Spellbooks, Ancient Gears, Six Samurai, and Neos variants.
No Mortal Can Resist: Another anti-meta skill. Similar to Sealed Tombs, No Mortal Can Resist is a skill that is mainly used to disrupt opposing decks in the meta. A player can activate No Mortal Can Resist each turn as long as their LP is 1000 or more below the opponent's LP (which is an easy feat for Vampires and their array of LP cost effects). When activated, No Mortal Can Resist turns every monster in the opponent's graveyard into a Skull Servant. This is particularly useful against decks that rely on effects that trigger when specific monsters are in their graveyard. For instance, Blue-Eyes and Neos variants utilize the effects of The White Stone of Ancients and Bacon Saver respectively, both of which require the named card to be present in the graveyard for the effect to trigger. No Mortal Can Resist wipes such cards from the opposing graveyard, thereby eliminating any threat that they may pose.
Bandit: The anti-backrow skill. Bandit can be triggered once per duel at 1500 LP or lower to allow a player to steal an opposing facedown card, effectively giving that player a free +1 in card advantage. Given all the LP cost effects in the Vampire archetype, the deck has a relatively easy time reaching the 1500 LP threshold. Typically, Bandit is used in combination with multiple uses of Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom in one turn to fully clear opposing backrow and guarantee the OTK. As one might expect, this skill is at its best against backrow heavy decks, but is subpar vs. more offensive decks that may not run much backrow.
Destiny Draw: The “toolbox” skill for a toolbox deck. Destiny Draw can be triggered once per duel after losing 2000 or more LP during the draw phase and allows the player to draw any card they choose from their deck. As mentioned in the other skill descriptions, Vampires have an incredibly easy time reaching low LP thresholds with all their LP cost effects. Hence, the deck synergizes well with Destiny Draw. This skill is most often used to draw into game winning cards such as Hey, Trunade! and Enemy Controller.
Monstermorph: Evolution: This is a neat skill that can be activated each time the player loses 1500 LP to send a monster on their side of the field to the graveyard and summon a second monster of the same Attribute and Type from the deck that's 1 level higher. In the context of Vampires, this skill lets a player: Send a Vampire Familiar on the field to the graveyard to summon a Vampire Retainer from the deck to trigger a search. Note that the skill bypasses Vampire Familiar's effect, so even if it were special summoned via its own effect, it will NOT get banished when leaving the field this way. Rather, the skill will always send Vampire Familiar to the grave. Send a Gozuki or Samurai Skull on the field to the graveyard to summon Vampire Grimson from the deck. Send Vampire Grimson on the field to the graveyard to summon Vampire Grace from the deck. Send Vampire Grace on the field to the graveyard to summon Vampire Vamp or Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon (REZ) from the deck. In this case, REZ becomes a decent tech card that reaches 2900 ATK with a Vampire Kingdom boost.
Reinforcements: This is a fun skill that is used with Black Luster Soldier - Sacred Soldier (BLS) -- during the player's main phase, after losing 1800 LP, they can shuffle a card in their hand back into the deck for a random Warrior monster from the deck. If they are only running 1 Warrior (BLS in this case), then they are guaranteed to get it when they activate Reinforcements. The downside of this skill is that it becomes dead if the player already drew their 1 copy of BLS. For reasons on why one might want to run BLS in their Vampire deck, see the Techs section.
LP Boost Alpha: This skill starts the player off with 5000 LP for the duel. While this skill hasn't seen too much use in the competitive scene, it does somewhat mitigate all the LP cost effects in the Vampire archetype. The extra 1000 LP might actually help one survive what otherwise could have been an OTK after a few LP costs. Nevertheless, this skill is only really recommended to new players who have yet to obtain any of the other, more competitively viable skills.
This section mainly examines specific tech cards that synergize with the Vampire archetype. More generic tech cards such as Sphere Kuriboh or Paleozoic Canadia are instead listed in the Matchups section as side deck or tech choices for specific matchups.
Vampire Grimson is one of the best cards in the mirror match and also really good for keeping one's monsters alive in general. For the cost of 1000 LP, Vampire Grimson can protect one's monster on the field from destruction via battle and card effect. She can be quite susceptible if put into defense though, so be aware of that. Vampire Grimson used to be a must have in the side deck when Vampires were a top tier meta threat -- but her use is rather limited in the current meta. Depending on the format, she could also be a main deck card worthy card as a searchable, defensive option. One particular, defensive application of Vampire Grimson is to summon her with Gozuki's effect when it is destroyed on the opponent's turn to prevent more destruction and potentially block an OTK.
Simultaneous Loss was used as a tech in early Vampire builds, allowing one to trigger Vampire Kingdom without relying on Vampire Grace. While the card became absent from competitive play for some months, it saw a comeback in usage during the February 2019 KC Cup. One reason for this resurgence is the importance of disruption in the meta then and now -- with so many decks like Koa'ki Meiru and Ancient Gears being able to OTK Turn 2, having a way to pop the opponent's cards on their turn can be incredibly useful. Furthermore, Simultaneous Loss can unbrick hands that open with a Vampire Kingdom, but no easy way to summon Vampire Grace. In a meta where games only last a turn or two, one wants to have as many playable opening hands as possible.
Parry Knights is a handtrap that triggers when one takes damage from an opponent's attack -- one can then special summon Parry Knights plus other monsters from the hand such that the total ATK of these other monsters add up to less than the damage dealt by the attack. The main use of Parry Knights is to not only block an OTK from the opponent, but also to special summon a searcher from the hand, i.e. Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer. Their attack values are low enough that one is often able to summon one of them upon taking an attack and then get a search off to go +1 in card advantage.
Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon
Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon (REZ) can be a nice tech if one is using Monstermorph: Evolution as the skill. One can then morph Vampire Grace after using her effect to trigger Vampire Kingdom to then summon REZ from the deck. This lets one pop a card with Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom and then get out a 2900 ATK beater in REZ after the Vampire Kingdom boost.
Black Luster Soldier - Sacred Soldier
Black Luster Soldier - Sacred Soldier (BLS) was used a lot when Vampires were first introduced in the second half of 2018, primarily as another out to Wiz, Sage Fur Hire. During that time, Fur Hires were highly prevalent in the meta, and Wiz, Sage Fur Hire in particular often took multiple resources to out due to her ability to negate spells and traps. BLS made the match up easier as it was not too difficult to get two monsters on board to tribute summon him -- and on summon, he can target and banish any card the opponent controls while also returning one of one's banished monsters back to the graveyard. Even if one didn't use the first effect on an opposing card directly, BLS could still act as a nice beater with his 3000 ATK. His second effect also helped recycle a banished Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer to be used again from the graveyard. However, as Fur Hires fell off from the meta, BLS also fell from usage. It can still be a cute tech to remove a problematic card that one might otherwise have trouble outing, though Vampire Vamp tends to do his job more reliably.
Rezileen, 1st Place Anytime Season 13 & Day 1 June 2019 King of Games
First of all, I want to give a shout out to the Ancient Gears expert, Gregulator, for using my decklist to win an Anytime Tournament in Season 13!
This list is about what I'd personally recommend for the main deck in the current meta, with the Paleozoic Canadia deck slots being flexible to change for other generic defensive cards like Sphere Kuriboh.
No Mortal Can Resist is my main go-to skill for the ladder, being able to wipe away common monsters that often reside in the graveyard, including Bacon Saver, The White Stone of Ancients, Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Subterror Nemesis Warrior, and any Warrior or Six Samurai monsters run by Red-Eyes and Six Samurai decks respectively.
For tournaments, I would recommend having Sealed Tombs in the side deck if not as the main deck skill (in which case, No Mortal Can Resist would be the side deck skill). Both skills have certain matchups in the meta in which they excel over the other. For instance, Sealed Tombs is incredibly useful against Spellbooks or Dinos, whereas No Mortal Can Resist is nearly useless in those matchups.
Finally, I would like to comment on some of my card ratios and choices. Ever since I ran 3 Vampire Familiar in my MCS 14 Top 16 deck, many Vampire players have agreed that this ratio increases the consistency of the deck, making it more likely for a player to open with Gozuki or Samurai Skull plus Vampire Familiar in their starting hand. This two card combo is the ideal opener for the deck as it allows one to set up Vampire Takeover for a potential +3 in card advantage (see Core Cards and Combos section for more details). Furthermore, I'm also running more “Vampire” monsters in the deck overall to fuel the cost for Vampire Kingdom, which will trigger more often than usual with this build due to the inclusion of Simultaneous Loss. Simultaneous Loss takes away the deck's traditional reliance on Vampire Grace to trigger Vampire Kingdom, giving it more flexibility and plays, as well as a way to disrupt the opponent with Vampire Kingdom on their turn. Disruption on the opponent's turn is especially important nowadays, given the influx of meta combo and setup decks that came with the 2019 power creep.
poopballs69, Top 4 May 30, 2019 Youtube Giveaway Tournament (1900+ players)
This list utilizes Parry Knights as another hand trap in addition to Sphere Kuriboh. The idea of Parry Knights is that it can not only block an OTK from the opponent, but it can also special summon a monster from the hand like Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer, both of whom will allow one to search a card for a +1 in card advantage. The deck maker himself says they would've used a 3rd Parry Knights if they had a 3rd.
We've actually compiled an annotated video guide that showcases most of the combos and plays that one can make with this deck.
As a foreword, all the games in this video are from the early January 2019 meta, so a lot of the matchup specific plays might be out of date. However, the main ideas behind the Vampire combos are still relevant. There are comments within the video itself, but for convenience, here is a list of timestamps, pointing out where in the video we go over what.
- 00:27 - Setting up and using Vampire Takeover for card advantage.
- 00:56 - When to revive a Vampire with Vampire Takeover vs. not giving the opponent a replay on their attack.
- 01:17 - Showing the fact that Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom are not hard once-per-turns, allowing one to do “double pops”; also shows Vampire Grace's 2nd effect that can occur once in a blue moon, where she revives herself at the cost of 2000 LP.
- 01:59 - Less than ideal Vampire Takeover openings when clogging one's monster zones.
- 02:39 - A quick aside on Sealed Tombs.
- 02:47 - A typical set up for a double pop using Vampire's Desire and then stealing the game; using Vampire's Domain instead of Vampire's Desire could have achieved similar results.
- 03:18 & 03:45 - The usefulness of Sphere Kuriboh in the mirror match.
- 03:34 - Samurai Skull's ability to float into another Zombie from the deck when removed from the field by a card effect; avoid triggering an opposing Samurai Skull's effect in the mirror match.
- 04:13 - Using Vampire's Domain to not only get an extra normal summon for a Vampire, but to also pitch it as a cost for reviving a Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer for a search; note how Vampire's Domain's effect lingers even after it leaves the field.
- 04:31 - Playing patiently and slowly popping backrow with Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom.
- 04:47 - Quick aside on how to play to one's outs.
- 05:05 - Another double pop play for game.
- 05:31 - Milling Gozuki from the deck to trigger its second effect to special summon a Zombie from the hand; in this case, one uses this to summon a 2nd Vampire Grace to prepare for a double pop.
- 05:55 - Using Vampire Vamp to out big boss monsters.
- 06:13 - A replay that shows the “toolbox” nature of the deck, and how sometimes, one has to make up plays on the spot; watch carefully.
- 07:44 - Summoning Vampire Grace on the opponent's turn with Vampire Takeover, and an aside on how one can do this to prevent e.g. Paleozoic Canadia from stopping her next turn, as she can just be flipped face up if flipped down.
- 09:18 - Another replay to show the “toolbox” nature of the deck; sometimes one has to fight the urge to give the opponent the “good succ” with Vampire Vamp in favor of a safer win condition.
- 10:54 - Running out of Vampires to mill for Vampire Kingdom's cost and resorting to deck out as a win-condition with Vampire Grace's mill effect; note that if Vampire Kingdom triggers, but one has no more Vampires to pitch, then the game will reveal one's entire hand to the opponent.
- 11:33 - Mirror match nuances; summoning Vampire Grace Turn 1 and ditching Vampire Vamp as she's useless in the mirror.
- 12:12 - Chaining Vampire Takeover to an opposing Vampire Kingdom in the mirror and the interaction between two Vampire Kingdoms on board.
- 12:22 - An aside on discarding a Vampire from the hand to trigger one's own Vampire Kingdom instead of milling one from the deck to avoid triggering an opposing Vampire Kingdom.
- 12:30 - Vampire Grimson in the mirror match.
Popular Skills: Middle Age Mechs
The Ancient Gears matchup is generally unfavorable for Vampires, as these decks main deck tons of spell / trap removal, have a piercing boss monster in Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon, and can potentially protect their monsters from targeting with Ancient Gear Fortress. Vampire Vamp becomes the main win-condition in this matchup, thanks to her ability to equip an opposing Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon and attack for huge damage. The standard Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom plays can work as well, though they are much more susceptible to the myriad of spell and trap hate in a typical Ancient Gears list. While Vampire Vamp herself can also lose her equipped monster to spell and trap removal, she at the very least removes a big threat in Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon from the field.
In this matchup, one typically wants to target the Ancient Gear monsters when triggering Vampire Kingdom. Otherwise, there is a chance of popping an Ancient Gear Fortress, which, when destroyed, enables the Ancient Gear player to summon an Ancient Gear monster from their hand or graveyard and potentially put themselves in a game-winning position. However, the risk of Ancient Gear Fortress also makes playing around backrow harder. Knowing that their opponents are afraid to target their backrow, Ancient Gears players often use traps like Drowning Mirror Force to steal games. When playing against Ancient Gears, one needs to pay close attention to the delays to read whether the opposing set card is an actual threat or just an Ancient Gear Fortress.
Cosmic Cyclone is an amazing tech in this matchup as it can disrupt attempts to summon Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon. Using Cosmic Cyclone on a Geartown is always safe, since that card must be destroyed on Chain Link 1 to summon an Ancient Gear monster. In other words, if Geartown is destroyed by a card effect that is chained to another card effect, then it will miss the timing, and its summoning effect will fail.
On the other hand, Ancient Gear Fortress cannot miss the timing. When trying to remove an Ancient Gear Fortress, one must make sure that the Ancient Gears player cannot chain a spell destruction card like Double Cyclone to the Cosmic Cyclone -- else, the Ancient Gear Fortress will be destroyed before Cosmic Cyclone can go off. Typically, one wants to chain Cosmic Cyclone to the Ancient Gears player's e.g. Double Cyclone, Galaxy Cyclone, Twister, and Breaker the Magical Warrior -- to banish Ancient Gear Fortress before the destruction effect resolves.
In some circumstances, one might also want to use Cosmic Cyclone on Ancient Gear Castle, which is put into play by an Ancient Gears player's skill, Middle Age Mechs, at the start of their first turn. When Ancient Gear Castle has 2 or more counters on it, then its owner is able to tribute the card instead of monsters to tribute summon Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon. If Geartown is on the field at the same time, then the Ancient Gears player only needs 1 counter on Ancient Gear Castle to make this play. When trying to remove Ancient Gear Castle, one often wants to turn the Toggle on and use e.g. Cosmic Cyclone during the Ancient Gears player's Standby Phase, before they are able to tribute summon in the Main Phase.
Besides Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon, the other monster that Ancient Gears commonly run is Ancient Gear Wyvern, which stops all monster effects from activating until the end of the Damage Step when it declares an attack. This can cause issues for Vampires in two ways. First, it means one cannot respond with a hand trap such as Sphere Kuriboh to the attack. Second, it means if one activates Vampire Takeover to summon Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer after Ancient Gear Wyvern has declared its attack, then the search effect from Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer will NOT go off. Hence, one needs to activate Vampire Takeover immediately at the start of the Battle Phase before Ancient Gears declare their attack, to get the full bonuses -- this also applies to Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon.
Finally, one needs to be careful about leaving any Ancient Gear monsters alive on the Ancient Gears player's field. If Geartown is activated, then Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon can be summoned off just one monster tribute; if the tribute were an Ancient Gear monster, then Ancient Gear Reactor Dragon gains the ability to inflict piercing damage, which can be game ending vs. a 0 DEF Vampire.
Side Deck / Tech Choices
Blue-Eyes is an incredibly unfavorable matchup for Vampires if the Blue-Eyes player is using Sealed Tombs, which is the most popular skill of choice among competitive players. Blue-Eyes is an aggressive deck with incredible OTK potential, especially against a defensively weak deck like Vampires -- combine that with Sealed Tombs to shut down any big Vampire plays, and the matchup is usually a loss. On the bright side, Beatdown Blue-Eyes is a bit more manageable and still relatively popular on the ladder.
The key card for Blue-Eyes decks is The White Stone of Ancients, which, when sent to the graveyard, enables the Blue-Eyes player to summon either a Blue-Eyes White Dragon or Dragon Spirit of White from their deck at that turn's End Phase. Once the Blue-Eyes player gets one Blue-Eyes monster out, it becomes pretty easy for them to swing the momentum of the game to their side, especially if they tutor out Dragon Spirit of White to banish a spell or trap and have a Blue-Eyes White Dragon in hand to go into with Dragon Spirit of White's tag out ability.
A very typical opener from a Blue-Eyes player is to simply set The White Stone of Ancients or Dawn Knight, which mills The White Stone of Ancients from the deck if it is sent from the field to the graveyard. This seemingly open field is usually backed by handtraps such as Sphere Kuriboh and Keeper of the Shrine for defense in case a simple set monster is not enough. So while it might be tempting to go for the OTK against such a weak looking field, one should also make sure to not overextend and put oneself in a losing position if e.g. a Sphere Kuriboh stops the OTK push.
The tricky part when playing against a set monster and pass play from a Blue-Eyes player is deciding whether to actually kill the monster and go for damage or to hold tight until one has more resources. One could go for the kill and potentially win the game right there if the Blue-Eyes player does not have a handtrap ready -- but there is no way to tell if that is the case until it is too late. On the flipside, waiting it out could also lead to a losing position -- if the Blue-Eyes player special summons Cosmo Brain next turn, then they can tribute off their set The White Stone of Ancients or Dawn Knight to summon a Blue-Eyes White Dragon from the deck and then summon another one or a Dragon Spirit of White in the End Phase, effectively swarming the field with three big beaters.
The key to making this matchup somewhat manageable is No Mortal Can Resist. This skill allows one to kill a set The White Stone of Ancients or Dawn Knight with Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom and then proceed to nullify any threat of a Blue-Eyes monster coming out by turning The White Stone of Ancients in the graveyard into a Skull Servant. The skill can also eliminate Keeper of the Shrine as well as any Blue-Eyes monsters in the graveyard, preventing the Blue-Eyes player from recurring their resources and resummoning them. For those reasons, No Mortal Can Resist is arguably the best skill for this matchup -- one can even overextend and miss an OTK due to a Sphere Kuriboh but still be in a manageable position if The White Stone of Ancients in the graveyard are removed.
The matchup becomes hard when the Blue-Eyes player is able to start off the duel with a proactive play -- e.g.. they open with the ability to summon Cosmo Brain and pump out one to two Blue-Eyes beaters by the end of the turn. The high attack stats of these monsters can easily rush down Vampires, and Sealed Tombs just adds insult to injury. Defensive techs, especially handtraps like Sphere Kuriboh and Parry Knights, really shine here. Simultaneous Loss with Vampire Kingdom and Paleozoic Canadia are also good disruption options to prevent Cosmo Brain from activating its effect. However, if one does not open with these techs, then the next best option is to build the biggest field possible with defense position monsters and hope to survive the onslaught and have a follow up next turn.
Outside of killing the set monsters, Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom are actually not too effective in this matchup, since Dragon Spirit of White can remove Vampire Kingdom when it is summoned and also tag out into Blue-Eyes White Dragon when targeted by an effect. Vampire Vamp becomes the more reliable win-condition if the game drags out, especially since Blue-Eyes decks nowadays have limited options in dealing with a boosted Vampire Vamp. Most Blue-Eyes decks no longer run Silver's Cry or Birthright, giving them no real way to summon Dragon Spirit of White on their opponent's turn for disruption. This allows a boosted Vampire Vamp to get off a big attack should she manage to equip any of the Blue-Eyes deck's large monsters. Be careful using Vampire Vamp to equip a Dragon Spirit of White though -- make sure there are no delays to signal that the Dragon Spirit of White can tag out to Blue-Eyes White Dragon via its quick effect. If there are, then try to bait the tag out first with Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom or a tech card before going for Vampire Vamp.
The other big threats to look out for in this matchup are Koa'ki Meiru Ice and Snipe Hunter -- Blue-Eyes decks tend to run one of the two to destroy an entire field of cards in one turn. Koa'ki Meiru Ice destroys a special summoned monster for each discarded card, being a massive threat to Vampire Familiar and Vampire Retainer and potentially Vampire Grace if she were summoned through Vampire Takeover. Meanwhile, Snipe Hunter has a 2/3 chance to destroy any card on the field per discarded card, including Vampire Kingdom and backrow techs. Luckily, No Mortal Can Resist slightly hinders the effectiveness of these two monsters by removing the The White Stone of Ancients from the graveyard and preventing the Blue-Eyes player from banishing the stones to add more discard fodder back to their hand.
Overall, Vampires do actually have a fair amount of tools for this matchup, but the threat of Sealed Tombs makes it impossible to fully utilize them until it is likely too late. Hopefully, one can survive being rushed down and have enough LP next turn to OTK back with a follow up.
Side Deck / Tech Choices
Neos Decks in General
Neos variants are arguably Vampires' best matchup in the current meta. While many different decks can utilize the Neos engine of Elemental HERO Brave Neos and Neos Fusion, almost all of them rely on having out Elemental HERO Brave Neos protected by Neos Fusion and Bacon Saver in the graveyard for defense, until they draw into their deck's main combo. Such a setup is luckily extremely easy for Vampires to break.
If using Sealed Tombs, then one can prevent the Neos player from banishing Neos Fusion from the graveyard to protect Elemental HERO Brave Neos from destruction, allowing for an easy Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom pop. One can then follow up this play with a potential OTK, as Sealed Tombs also prevents Bacon Saver from being banished to stop an attack.
Alternatively, if one is using No Mortal Can Resist, then Neos Fusion will still be a nuisance, but Bacon Saver becomes a non-issue for the entire duel, as the skill changes it into a Skull Servant. This is more beneficial in the long run, since Sealed Tombs Vampires still have to deal with the Bacon Saver should they miss the OTK the turn they use their skill. No Mortal Can Resist also changes all the Elemental HEROes (as well as any other monsters) in the opposing graveyard into Skull Servants, shutting off Elemental HERO Brave Neos's attack boosts, cards like A/D Changer, as well as potential Miracle Contact and Miracle Fusion plays.
The skills aside, one should also keep Vampire Vamp in mind as a huge win-condition. The typical Neos opening field of a lone Elemental HERO Brave Neos is highly susceptible to a Vampire Vamp OTK with either Sealed Tombs or No Mortal Can Resist to shut off the Bacon Saver protection.
Another perk for Vampires in this matchup is that Neos Fusion triggers Vampire Kingdom if it mills any card from the Neos player's deck. This makes the typical Vampire Takeover set up an incredibly strong opening play in this matchup. Suppose the Vampire player goes first and sets up Vampire Takeover. On the Neos player's turn, as soon as Neos Fusion is activated, one can chain Vampire Takeover to place Vampire Kingdom on the field before Neos Fusion resolves. If the Neos player fuses with any card from their deck, then Vampire Kingdom triggers, allowing the Vampire player to destroy a card on the field. Note that unless Sealed Tombs is active, the Neos player can still banish Neos Fusion to protect Elemental HERO Brave Neos -- but at the very least, that's one less layer of protection to deal with. One can also just hard activate Vampire Kingdom going first to possibly discourage a Neos Fusion activation -- this would best be done vs. a Bandit Keith player, as almost all of them are Neos players nowadays. Note that the Neos player can fuse with only cards from their hand to avoid triggering Vampire Kingdom with Neos Fusion -- but if they do this, then they go -2 in card advantage.
Other common cards that Neos variants tend to run are Gale Lizard, Sphere Kuriboh, Cosmic Cyclone, and Lava Golem. The first of these cards, Gale Lizard, is luckily not much of a threat for Vampires. Going first, it is easy for Vampires to build a field of 2-3 monsters, which avoids a Neos Fusion plus A/D Changer and Gale Lizard OTK. Going second, Vampires can just pop the face down Gale Lizard with Vampire Kingdom. However, the other three cards listed can be major nuisances -- one must be careful about fully committing resources (as well as LP costs for Vampire effects) to avoid losing to a Sphere Kuriboh or Cosmic Cyclone disruption, or a Lava Golem burn.
As a last note, good generic traps actually work pretty well in this matchup. Neos decks typically do not run much backrow removal besides Cosmic Cyclone, making them highly susceptible to battle traps such as Dimensional Prison and Drowning Mirror Force. Paleozoic Canadia is another nice tech choice here, since Neos Fusion cannot protect an Elemental HERO Brave Neos that is facedown. Of course, one needs to be aware that running these traps worsens the Ancient Gears matchup.
Side Deck / Tech Choices
Neos Koa'ki Meiru
Everything mentioned above for Neos decks in general applies to the Neos Koa'ki Meiru matchup as well, though one has to also look out for the Koa'ki Meiru engine. Nowadays, Koa'ki Meiru decks often only run Koa'ki Meiru Ice and Koa'ki Meiru Maximus as their only Koa'ki Meiru monsters, as their Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru allows them to add any Koa'ki Meiru monster from their deck to their hand depending on the situation. Both Koa'ki Meiru Ice and Koa'ki Meiru Maximus are capable of wiping a Vampire player's field with their destruction effects -- the additional OTK potential they give to Neos makes this variant of Neos much more dangerous to deal with.
Hand traps are Vampires' best friends in this matchup. Koa'ki Meiru decks have a weak grind game -- if their OTK attempt gets stopped by e.g. Sphere Kuriboh or Parry Knights, then their resources are usually spent, especially if they already summoned their one copy of Koa'ki Meiru Maximus. Furthermore, unless the Koa'ki Meiru player has more Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru to banish from their graveyard on the following turns, their Koa'ki Meiru monsters will self-destruct in their End Phase -- this technicality of Koa'ki Meiru makes them highly susceptible to Sealed Tombs.
If one does not open with any hand traps, then the next best option is to swarm the field with as many monsters as possible with e.g. a Vampire Takeover play to hopefully build a big enough wall to stop an OTK. Note that a Koa'ki Meiru Ice can break such a field, as it can destroy special summoned monsters. But to do so, the Koa'ki Meiru player needs to pitch cards from their hand. Hence, they need to open extremely well to have enough resources to fuel Koa'ki Meiru Ice AND summon enough monsters for an OTK.
As with Elemental HERO Brave Neos, Koa'ki Meiru Maximus is also highly susceptible to a Vampire Vamp play -- typically, after one stops an OTK attempt from Koa'ki Meiru, they go for Vampire Vamp to equip Koa'ki Meiru Maximus for a reverse OTK attempt.
It is worth it to mention Koa'ki Meiru Urnight and Koa'ki Meiru Sandman, even though they fell out of favor in today's Koa'ki Meiru builds. The threat with Koa'ki Meiru Urnight is it can special summon Koa'ki Meiru Sandman from the deck to shut off one's traps -- i.e. Vampire Takeover. Thus, one wants to activate Vampire Takeover as soon as Koa'ki Meiru Urnight activates its effect, or they risk Vampire Takeover getting negated later. Generic disruption traps like Paleozoic Canadia as well as Simultaneous Loss in conjunction with Vampire Kingdom really shine here -- flipping down or destroying Koa'ki Meiru Urnight before it can activate its effect not only prevents the Koa'ki Meiru Sandman summon, but also prevents the Koa'ki Meiru player from swarming the field for an OTK.
As a final note, some Koa'ki Meiru players are opting for Sealed Tombs instead of the typical Switcheroo. Hence, one cannot always rule out Koa'ki Meiru when seeing an Ishizu Ishtar player. Sealed Tombs makes the matchup incredibly difficult for Vampires, though, on the bright side, it also shuts off the Koa'ki Meiru player's own Neos Fusion and Bacon Saver protection. Thankfully, most players still opt to use Bandit Keith for Switcheroo.
Side Deck / Tech Choices
The Red-Eyes matchup is one where the Vampire player needs to win fast or else things can snowball out of control. This is because the main boss monster for Red-Eyes, Red-Eyes Slash Dragon, can negate and destroy targeting cards by sending an equip spell from its side of the field to the graveyard. Since Red-Eyes decks typically play 5-6 equip “spells” in the form of Black Metal Dragon and Power of the Guardians -- not to mention Red-Eyes Slash Dragon's own effect of equipping a Warrior type monster from the graveyard -- it's highly likely that the Red-Eyes player has enough fuel for multiple negates if they get to set up. This can effectively nullify the main win-conditions for Vampires in Vampire Kingdom and Vampire Vamp.
The trick with this matchup is to set up a Vampire Kingdom as soon as possible to destroy a card on the field when Red-Eyes Fusion mills a card from the Red-Eyes player's deck. This is pretty straightforward going first with Vampires, as a typical Vampire Takeover setup enables one to chain to Red-Eyes Fusion and play Vampire Kingdom from the deck before the fusion resolves. Almost always, one wants to pop the newly summoned Red-Eyes Slash Dragon with Vampire Kingdom when this occurs.
Note that the Red-Eyes player can avoid triggering Vampire Kingdom with Red-Eyes Fusion by fusing monsters from their hand or field instead of the deck. However, it is unlikely for them to have the resources to do so early on; and if they do, then they most likely do not have any equip spells in hand to fuel multiple negates. Of course, one can also rely on triggering Vampire Kingdom with Simultaneous Loss to destroy Red-Eyes Slash Dragon. If this opportunity comes up, then Simultaneous Loss needs to be activated immediately once Red-Eyes Slash Dragon hits the field -- otherwise, if the Red-Eyes player activates any equip spell (e.g. Power of the Guardians), then Red-Eyes Slash Dragon gains its ability to negate targeting effects, and it becomes too late.
Going second against Red-Eyes can be trickier if Red-Eyes Slash Dragon is already on the field with a Black Metal Dragon or Power of the Guardians equipped. Initially, one might think that one needs to set up a Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom combo to bait out the negate and then follow up with Vampire Vamp to remove the Red-Eyes Slash Dragon. However, a typical Vampire build likely does not have enough resources Turn 2 to both burn through the negate and remove the Red-Eyes Slash Dragon. The trick here is to set up the field such that (1) one of the tributes for Vampire Vamp is Gozuki and (2) Gozuki's effect can trigger upon being sent to the graveyard. What happens in this scenario is Vampire Vamp's effect activates on Chain Link 1, allowing one to target Red-Eyes Slash Dragon, and then Gozuki's effect activates immediately after on Chain Link 2, effectively chain blocking Red-Eyes Slash Dragon from negating Vampire Vamp's effect. This interaction makes Vampire Vamp the primarily win-condition should one go second in this matchup against a set-up Red-Eyes Slash Dragon.
It is also important to mention that certain tech cards become really handy in this matchup. The best tech cards against Red-Eyes are non-targeting battle traps such as Drowning Mirror Force and Wall of Disruption, though the latter is not too effective against a lone Red-Eyes Slash Dragon boosted by multiple equips. Red-Eyes decks typically do not run much spell and trap removal beyond a few Cosmic Cyclones, making them highly susceptible to backrow.
Non-targeting removal like A Major Upset and Mispolymerization are also very effective in this matchup. On a similar note, Non-Fusion Area works too, though one needs to go first and open with the card to effectively utilize it.
Skill-wise, both Sealed Tombs and No Mortal Can Resist have their use in this matchup. The former prevents Red-Eyes Slash Dragon from summoning any monsters equipped to it when it dies; it also prevents Red-Eyes Retro Dragon and Red-Eyes Wyvern from reviving Red-Eyes Slash Dragon. Meanwhile, No Mortal Can Resist simply eliminates any monsters in the Red-Eyes player's graveyard, most notably Red-Eyes Wyvern and the Warrior monsters that become Red-Eyes Slash Dragon's equips.
Both above-mentioned skills also effectively stop Necro Fusion, which is a common tech choice for Red-Eyes. Be wary of leaving any 0 DEF Zombie monsters out on the field if there is an activatable set card on the Red-Eyes player's field and a Buster Blader in their graveyard. The Red-Eyes player may flip up Necro Fusion on the End Phase before their turn starts to summon Buster Blader, the Dragon Destroyer Swordsman and pierce the 0 DEF monster for lethal on their Battle Phase.
Finally, it is important to note that the most common skill for Red-Eyes is Sealed Tombs, which makes this matchup harder than it should be. A good Red-Eyes player will activate Sealed Tombs immediately upon seeing Ishizu Ishtar, since there is no real downside to doing so in their matchup spectrum. This makes going second for Vampires in this matchup rather difficult, as all the big Vampire plays are shut off. One really relies on opening with their tech cards in this situation; but if the Vampire player can survive the initial turn of Sealed Tombs, then they have a fair chance.
Side Deck / Tech Choices
The Six Samurai matchup is unfortunately rather unfavorable for Vampires, though there are still plays that one can do against a Six Samurai player that opens suboptimally. The general issue for Vampires with this matchup is that Six Samurai is a deck that has many forms of combo disruption, and being a combo-heavy deck, Vampires lose a lot of game momentum if they get interrupted at a critical point mid-combo.
The main form of disruption that Six Samurai have is a free negation to a spell or trap activation for each Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En on the field. Given how reliant Vampires are in activating that Vampire's Domain or Vampire's Desire to extend their combos, a timely negation from Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En can just shut down one's entire gameplan. Even worse, Six Samurai are incredibly consistent in summoning Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En on their first turn -- so one might also be hard pressed trying to activate even Vampire Takeover or a manual Vampire Kingdom if e.g. the Six Samurai player goes first. Note though that Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En only negates the activation of a spell or trap, not the effect of one that is already activated. This means that if one does manage to put Vampire Kingdom on the field before Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En hits the board, then Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En cannot negate any pops from Vampire Kingdom.
Unfortunately, Vampire Kingdom is not a reliable win-condition in this matchup. First of all, Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En has a second effect that allows the Six Samurai player to destroy another Six Samurai on their field to protect Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En from destruction. Second, Six Samurai's core tuner monster, Secret Six Samurai - Fuma, has a graveyard effect that allows the Six Samurai player to banish him to prevent the destruction of a single Six Samurai. In fact, every member of the Secret Six Samurai has this effect, but the only other one besides Secret Six Samurai - Fuma that is often run is Secret Six Samurai - Kizaru for his searching effect. Regardless, the main point is that Six Samurai are well armed with protection against single-target destruction from Vampire Kingdom.
To play around Six Samurai's protection, one has to rely on their skills, specifically the two recommended ones in Sealed Tombs and No Mortal Can Resist. Sealed Tombs of course stops all banishing from the graveyard, rendering the Secret Six Samurai protection useless for a turn, while No Mortal Can Resist just eliminates all the Six Samurai in the graveyard from the game. Considering that Six Samurai also like to run revival cards such as Return of the Six Samurai, Powerful Rebirth, and Double-Edged Sword Technique, one could argue that No Mortal Can Resist provides more benefits here in shutting off those cards for the rest of the duel.
That said, Sealed Tombs has more use against another core monster in the Six Samurai lineup -- Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi. Each copy of Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi on the field can send a monster back to the owner's hand if a different Six Samurai is also on the field alongside him, at the cost of banishing two Six Samurai from the graveyard. This is a quick effect, which means the Six Samurai player can use this on either player's turn for monster disruption. Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi makes it incredibly difficult to get off a Vampire Grace plus Vampire Kingdom pop, even if one manages to successfully get Vampire Kingdom on the field. No Mortal Can Resist is certainly still a powerful skill vs. Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi in eliminating his banish fodder from the graveyard, but it does not stop the Six Samurai player from simply dumping more Six Samurai into the grave during their turn and using Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi's effect then. Sealed Tombs however does do that, at the downside of only working for a turn and also potentially hindering one's own Vampire combos.
The ideal gameplan for this matchup is to prevent the Six Samurai player from getting both Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi alongside Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En. To do this, one needs to tech in forms of disruption such as Simultaneous Loss in conjunction with Vampire Kingdom as well as more generic backrow e.g. Paleozoic Canadia. This means that the ideal scenario is to go first. The first priority is to stop the synchro summon of Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En. To do this, one must assess the Six Samurai player's board state and decide which Six Samurai to correctly disrupt:
Case 1: The Six Samurai player uses their normal summon on Secret Six Samurai - Fuma, but does not have a Shien's Dojo with a counter ready. In this case, one wants to use e.g. Paleozoic Canadia on Secret Six Samurai - Fuma, since the Six Samurai player has no way to summon a second Secret Six Samurai - Fuma this turn -- with no tuner on board, they cannot go into Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En.
Case 2: The Six Samurai player uses their normal summon on Secret Six Samurai - Fuma and also has a Shien's Dojo with a counter ready. Shien's Dojo allows the Six Samurai player to send it to the grave to summon a Six Samurai from the deck whose level is equal to or less than the number of counters on the card. Since Secret Six Samurai - Fuma is only level 1, all it takes is one counter for the Six Samurai player to tutor him out from the deck with Shien's Dojo. Thus, in this scenario, disrupting the Secret Six Samurai - Fuma is pointless, as the Six Samurai player can just tutor out another one. Rather, one should disrupt the special summon of either Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan or Legendary Secret of the Six Samurai that follows, and hope the Six Samurai player does not have another copy of Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan to swarm.
Case 3: The Six Samurai player uses their normal summon on a level 4 Six Samurai with Shien's Dojo out and subsequently tutors Secret Six Samurai - Fuma from the deck. The thing to assess here is how many Shien's Dojo are live on the field -- it would be pointless to disrupt a Secret Six Samurai - Fuma if the Six Samurai player can just use a second Shien's Dojo to tutor out another. One wants to hit the Secret Six Samurai - Fuma only if they are sure another cannot come out; otherwise, it is best to hit the level 4 Six Samurai.
Case 4: The Six Samurai player summons Legendary Six Samurai - Kageki with Secret Six Samurai - Genba or Kagemusha of the Six Samurai. This is an alternate way of summoning Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En. In this case, one wants to hit the level 2 tuner, since if Legendary Six Samurai - Kageki is left alone on the field, then his stats drop to a mere 200 ATK.
Case 5: The Six Samurai player uses Asceticism of the Six Samurai to tutor out the needed tuner for their board. In this case, one typically needs to hit the tuner whose levels add up to enable a synchro summon for Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En. This means if a Secret Six Samurai - Fuma and a level 4 are out, then one needs to disrupt Secret Six Samurai - Fuma; if Legendary Six Samurai - Kageki and a level 2 tuner are out instead, then one needs to disrupt the level 2 tuner.
If Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En does end up hitting the board, then one typically should try to out it with Vampire Vamp. Parry Knights is an excellent tech for helping one set up for a Vampire Vamp play, as it is a monster effect that cannot be negated by Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En. Parry Knights can also help stop a potential OTK attempt from a full field of Six Samurai. Another valid game plan is to try baiting out a negate from Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En so that one can safely play Vampire's Domain to help summon Vampire Vamp. Paleozoic Canadia is a great tech here for flipping Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En face down. Forbidden Chalice is another tech that does the job -- also note that Forbidden Chalice can also disrupt an Asceticism of the Six Samurai play by changing the ATK stat of the targeted monster.
When going on the offensive, one should be wary of Secret Six Samurai - Fuma's ability to float into another Six Samurai monster from the deck when destroyed. If another Six Samurai monster is on board when Secret Six Samurai - Fuma is destroyed, then the Six Samurai player has the option to float into Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi and use his bounce effect to disrupt your play. Similarly, if one tries to destroy Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En while Secret Six Samurai - Fuma is beside him, then the Six Samurai player can use protect Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En by destroying Secret Six Samurai - Fuma instead. In either case, be sure that one can deal with a potential float into Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi when dealing with Secret Six Samurai - Fuma.
It is also important to mention that Six Samurai have powerful forms of disruption in their backrow as well. Six Style - Dual Wield is a powerful trap that Six Samurai can use when they control a single attack position Six Samurai to send 2 cards back to one's hand. This card is extremely oppressive for Vampires, since the deck needs to put more than one card on the field in order to make any sort of play. Typically, if a Six Samurai player goes first with Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En and a set Six Style - Dual Wield, then that's an automatic loss for Vampires. The bright side is that Six Style - Dual Wield is often easy to read -- if the Six Samurai player only has a single Six Samurai on board with a set card, and no delays show up until one plays more than one card, then there is likely a Six Style - Dual Wield. The issue is that even if one knows there is a Six Style - Dual Wield, there might not be anything one can do about it. Cosmic Cyclone is a useful tech here, assuming Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En does not negate it; Sphere Kuriboh is also useful as it switches the Six Samurai to defense position.
Another form of disruption that Six Samurai have started to adopt is World Legacy Clash, a quick play spell that banishes a monster they control until the end of the turn to permanently debuff an opposing monster by the stats of the banished monster. This card is dangerous on its own, not just because of the stat drops it inflicts, but because it can be activated in the Damage Step. If World Legacy Clash is used to banish an attack target during the Damage Step, then one does not have the option to redirect the attack. Redirecting attacks has to happen during or before the Battle Step, hence, but removing the attack target in the Damage Step, the attack will just fizzle. This allows the Six Samurai player to use World Legacy Clash as a pseudo Negate Attack. Furthermore, Six Samurai can also use World Legacy Clash to enable their Six Style - Dual Wield by banishing a monster so that they only control a single Six Samurai -- thus, one cannot even rule out the threat of Six Style - Dual Wield when there are multiple Six Samurai on board, if there are also multiple backrow.
At the end of the day, the Six Samurai matchup is extremely unfavorable for Vampires. A lot of the matchup boils down to opening with the right techs and also going first to set up before the Six Samurai player can get going. Don't be too discouraged if one gets totally lock downed from making any plays here -- it happens a lot.
Side Deck / Tech Choices
Popular skills: Masked Tribute
Subterrors is a matchup where having ways to trigger Vampire Kingdom outside of Vampire Grace really shines -- otherwise, Vampires have it rough. Subterrors is a control deck that can easily disrupt ignition monster effects through their core cards of Subterror Final Battle and Subterror Behemoth Umastryx -- the latter of which can be tutored from the deck with Subterror Nemesis Warrior -- as well as common backrow techs like Paleozoic Canadia and Floodgate Trap Hole. As a result, monsters that need manual activation for their effects -- e.g. Gozuki and Vampire Grace -- often get disrupted before they can do anything against Subterrors. This matchup is why Simultaneous Loss is coming back in favor as another avenue to trigger Vampire Kingdom.
The big weakness of Subterrors is the deck's inability to deal with face-up spells and traps without a tech card like Cosmic Cyclone. Thus, one's main priority in this matchup is to get Vampire Kingdom on the field as soon as possible, as the Subterrors player has no searchable card to remove it. Furthermore, Vampire Kingdom has an interesting interaction against Subterrors due to the way they tutor out their big Subterror Behemoths with Subterror Nemesis Warrior. They must mill the Subterror Behemoth that they wish to summon from the deck with Subterror Nemesis Warrior's effect, which in turn triggers Vampire Kingdom to allow one to destroy a card on the field. As a result, setting up Vampire Kingdom early also discourages the Subterrors player from utilizing their main method of summoning their boss monsters.
Subterror Nemesis Warrior in general is the heart of the deck and the main monster to look out for in the matchup. His effect is a quick effect that allows the Subterrors player to mill a Subterror monster from their deck, then tribute Subterror Nemesis Warrior alongside another monster to set the milled Subterror monster on the field from the graveyard. Typically, the second tribute is either a Grand Tiki Elder or Melchid the Four-Face Beast summoned via Masked Tribute, and the milled Subterror monster is either Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken or Subterror Behemoth Umastryx, both of which can trigger Subterror Nemesis Warrior's second effect to come back from the graveyard when flipped up.
Since Subterror Nemesis Warrior's effect is a quick effect, the Subterrors player can activate it on either player's turn, as well as use it to dodge targeting effects like e.g. Vampire Kingdom on Subterror Nemesis Warrior or the monster alongside him in exchange for a Subterror Behemoth. This being a quick effect also allows the Subterrors player to hide any delays from their backrow. Note though that both Subterror Nemesis Warrior and the second tribute must be on the field when the effect resolves for the Subterror Behemoth to be summoned. This means that if a card effect like e.g. Offerings to the Doomed is chained to Subterror Nemesis Warrior's effect and removes one of the two tributes, then the effect will fizzle, and the Subterror Behemoth will not be summoned -- this makes Offerings to the Doomed a great tech card for the matchup.
Also keep in mind the restriction on Masked Tribute -- after using it, the Subterrors player cannot summon anymore face-up monsters for the remainder of the turn. One can take advantage of this with e.g. Simultaneous Loss to trigger Vampire Kingdom before the end of the turn after Masked Tribute is activated to destroy Subterror Nemesis Warrior without fear of his quick effect.
Going first is ideal in this matchup as it allows one to set up e.g. a Vampire Takeover play without worrying about disruption; the matchup gets complicated when going second. There are four possible Turn 1 boards that one must keep in mind when going second in this matchup:
Case 1: Subterrors player has no backrow. This is the ideal scenario, since one can start the typical Vampire combos without any fear of disruption. Note that if Subterror Nemesis Warrior is out alongside a Masked Tribute monster, then the Subterrors player can still use Subterror Nemesis Warrior's quick effect in response to one's plays. Luckily, most Subterrors players actually use the quick effect on the Standby Phase when they see Ishizu Ishtar, in fear of Sealed Tombs stopping it. If they do this, then the Vampire player has an excellent opportunity to not only pop the newly set Subterror Behemoth if enough resources are available, but also use No Mortal Can Resist to eliminate the Subterror Nemesis Warrior in the graveyard.
Case 2: Subterrors player has backrow, but there are no delays during the Draw Phase and Standby Phase. The lack of delays implies that the Subterrors player does not have Subterror Final Battle, which would otherwise allow them to flip up Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken or Subterror Behemoth Umastryx and trigger their flip effects for disruption. In this scenario, one should play how they would normally against potential opposing Paleozoic Canadias and Floodgate Trap Holes. Samurai Skull is the ideal combo starter here as it cannot get disrupted, unlike Gozuki. Simultaneous Loss is also great here as a way to trigger Vampire Kingdom in case Vampire Grace gets e.g. hit by Floodgate Trap Hole.
Case 3: Subterrors player has delays on their backrow during the Draw Phase and Standby Phase, but they do not have Subterror Behemoth Umastryx set or any possible way to set Subterror Behemoth Umastryx via e.g. Subterror Nemesis Warrior's quick effect. One should play this scenario out similar to how they would play out Case 2 above. The main difference between this case and the above is the potential of a set Subterror Final Battle, which can either flip Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken up to destroy a set card or boost its stats to 4000 ATK / DEF in the Damage Step. Thus, if there is a Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken set, either by its own effect or through a tribute-set last turn, then one should be wary of setting any cards, else those cards risk getting popped. Furthermore, one should avoid trying to kill the Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken by battle, since it will most likely fail due to Subterror Final Battle boosts.
Case 4: There is both a potential Subterror Final Battle set as well as a Subterror Behemoth Umastryx set or a Subterror Nemesis Warrior that is capable of setting Subterror Behemoth Umastryx from the deck. Subterror Behemoth Umastryx is the main boss of Subterrors and the main headache for Vampires. When flipped up, Subterror Behemoth Umastryx banishes a monster on the field, allowing it to disrupt and completely eliminate Vampire Grace and Vampire Vamp, as well as Gozuki from the game. This is where Simultaneous Loss really shines in providing another way to trigger Vampire Kingdom. Samurai Skull is also the ideal combo starter here as it does not care about getting banished. Unfortunately, neither of these cards are searchable, so one needs to depend on the luck of the draw in this case. Like with Subterror Behemoth Stygokraken, Subterror Behemoth Umastryx can also be boosted by Subterror Final Battle to a ridiculous 4700 ATK / DEF -- avoid trying to kill it by battle until the threat of Subterror Final Battle is gone.
In general, a lot of this matchup boils down to whether the Subterrors player has Subterror Final Battle and Subterror Behemoth Umastryx. If they do, then this matchup is incredibly uphill and likely a loss if one does not open extremely well. If they don't, then this matchup is doable as long as one can play through general disruption e.g. Paleozoic Canadia.
As a last word of precaution, keep in mind that Subterror Final Battle can also boost Subterror Nemesis Warrior in addition to the Subterror Behemoths, putting him at a beefy 3000 ATK / DEF. Take care before trying to run it over in battle. The other small monsters that Subterrors run also have decent stats -- Golem Sentry with 1800 DEF and Mahjong Munia Maidens with 2000 DEF are the most commonly used, and both can have mildly annoying effects to deal with.
Side Deck / Tech Choices
Vampires (Mirror Match)
The Vampire mirror match often has one play the deck quite differently from normal. This is in part due to the interaction of two Vampire Kingdoms on the field.
First of all, keep in mind that Vampire Kingdom will give the opposing player's Zombies a 500 ATK boost as well. That means that both one's Vampires and the opponent's Vampires may potentially gain a whopping 1000 ATK boost if both players have Vampire Kingdom on the field.
Second, when one Vampire Kingdom triggers and causes its owner to mill a Vampire from their deck, the other Vampire Kingdom triggers after, allowing the other player to destroy a card on board. This can enable some plays with Vampire Takeover, where one can chain Vampire Takeover to the opposing Vampire Kingdom. Doing so will play one's Vampire Kingdom just before the opponent's Vampire Kingdom forces them to mill a Vampire from their deck, giving one a free pop. Of course, a Vampire player can get around this situation by pitching a Vampire from their hand to the graveyard rather than from the deck, when paying the cost for Vampire Kingdom.
Due to the interaction between opposing Vampire Kingdoms, one often needs to target the opponent's Vampire Kingdom when doing the typical Vampire Grace and Vampire Kingdom combo, to avoid triggering an opposing pop. Alternatively, one might want to forgo setting up Vampire Kingdom in this matchup all together and instead simply get Vampire Grace out first to start beating the opponent down.
Vampire Grimson is amazing for the mirror match as its effect lets one protect any monster that would be destroyed for 1000 LP. This can be used to protect one's monsters from an opposing Vampire Kingdom and also be used to protect Vampire Grimson herself when she crashes into an opposing Vampire Grace or Vampire Vamp. If Vampire Grimson survives after crashing and killing a Vampire Grace, Vampire Vamp, or even opposing Vampire Grimson, then ones gets to take control of that opposing monster at the end of the Battle Phase. Also note that Vampire Grimson's LP cost can be used to proc Bandit easier, if one is using that skill.
Enemy Controller is a particularly interesting tech in the mirror. It allows one to steal and then send an opposing Vampire monster to the graveyard to special summon one's own Vampire Familiar or Vampire Retainer from the graveyard. It also enables one to steal an opposing Vampire Grace to trigger one's own Vampire Kingdom or an opposing Gozuki to mill a card from the deck -- there are many possibilities.
However, running an Enemy Controller means not running a Samurai Skull, which also has its uses in this matchup. If Samurai Skull is summoned while the opponent has up Vampire Kingdom, then his mill effect will trigger the Vampire Kingdom to allow the opponent to destroy a card on the field. However, the opponent wants to avoid destroying Samurai Skull if possible, since it can float into another Zombie from the deck when removed from the field by card effect. This can put the opponent in a situation where they are forced to destroy one of their own cards to not give one potential card advantage.
Overall, this matchup requires one to be very comfortable and knowledgeable with the nuances of the deck, since chances are, every little detail of the deck will come into play. Using or side decking Sealed Tombs as the skill can definitely trivialize the matchup, but be aware that the opponent may also be playing Sealed Tombs.
Side Deck / Tech Choices
Smogon Duel Links - "A shout out to my team for first getting me into Vampires and helping me grow as a player. I would never have gotten so invested into this deck if I hadn't been so impressed by kamikaze and blarajan's early play testing and Meta Weekly 34 1st place finish with pre-nerf Cyber Style Vampires." ~ Rezileen
Jonesy9027 - Thank you for formatting and handling the first versions of the guide on the website as well as for pushing through the first set of updates. You were the real MVP!
Jadehex - For handling the June 2019 update
Tnobes99 - A shout out to Tnobes for his huge enthusiasm for the deck and for actively spurring discussion in the Vampires channel on Duel Links Meta on a regular basis. We unfortunately could not find a recent Neos-Vampire hybrid decklist on the website for this version of the guide, but we will try to include one in the future ;)
All the players that continue to play this deck despite it no longer being a top tier contender. You all keep it alive! Shoutouts to some of them: (#Wayne Kenoff), (#mintman), (#King Halo), (#poopballs69).