Vendread is a new archetype of Dark Zombies introduced in Curse of Dread focused on ritual summoning. The thing that separates them from the other ritual archetypes in duel links is their zombie typing and all the gimmicks that come with that, like almost all the non-ritual monsters being able to special summon themselves from the grave and the ability to ritual summon from the grave or use monsters in there as material. Along with the usual the deck also brings its own gimmick in the form of the ritual monsters gaining powerful effects when using the non-ritual monsters as tribute while they are on the field.
Disclaimer: Most of this is based on speculations, we won’t know what cards and combos work best until the the deck has been out for a while. If you are interested in playing this archetype take this as an introduction and test different things for yourself.
First and foremost is the most important ritual monster of the deck, Slayer might not be the strongest guy around but he is easy to summon, benefits from origin’s protection effect, and he is by far the best searcher the deck has, being the only card of the archetype that can search ritual spells along with a foolish burial-like effect that lets you get ritual material by sending any vendread monster to the grave when he himself hits it. Best thing about this effect is that it can be triggered by using slayer as a ritual material if he is on the field. Play it at 2 or 3.
The second ritual monster of the deck is the big beater and boss monster of the archetype, Executor. The biggest advantage Executor has over the other ritual monsters of this deck is his massive 3000 ATK points and the ability to make your field untargetable, this effect makes multi-targeting cards like Treacherous Trap Hole and Six Style - Dual Wield completely unusable and if you can get 2 Executors on the field at the same time they both become untargetable along with everything else on your board. The only downside to this card is that his float effect only triggers if he is destroyed by your opponent unlike Slayer and Battlelord. Play it at 2 to make summoning with evolution easier.
Our third ritual monster is Battlelord, a surprisingly lackluster card. As great as the ability to stop your opponent from using spells, traps or monster effects is, the fact that they can chain their spells, traps and monster effects to it severely limits it’s usability. Although because he can still stop things like Drowning Mirror Force or Sphere Kuriboh it might still be worth it to run 1 but in most situations Slayer or Executor is a better option for their superior search on death and superior ability to beat things up respectively. Play it at 0-1.
The last ritual monster is Chimera, true to his name he possesses an effect like that of the ritual monsters of the archetype and an effect and one just like the effects of the regular Vendread monsters. His first effect let’s you negate effects that would destroy any card on the field by banishing zombies from your grave, while his second effect weakens your opponent’s monsters when he is used as material for a ritual summon and unlike the non-ritual monsters he doesn’t need to be on the field for this ability to trigger. As great as both these effects sound his low ATK power and lack of floating effect makes it hard to justify putting him in instead of other monsters or put in more than 1.
When it comes to Vendread monsters, they all have 2 effects: a GY effect to special summon a Vendread monster (usually itself), and an effect that it gives to a Vendread ritual monster upon tributing it on the field. To further elaborate, if you have a Vendread Revenant on the field, and use it as a material to ritual summon a Revendread monster, then it will gain its tribute effect. The Revendread will NOT gain the effect if the material is tributed from anywhere else.
Vendread Core is one of two level 1 Vendread monsters. It's first effect allows it to special summon itself by banishing another Zombie from the GY. It's revival effect is better mid game when you have zombies in the GY. Its tribute effect makes the Vendread ritual monster unable to be targeted by card effects. This is very good in conjunction with Executor, as this will make your entire field untargetable. It is, however, difficult to have all of the materials if you don't have Battlelord since Core is only level one, but Level Duplication will alleviate this. If you play this, play it at 1.
Anima is the second level 1 Vendread monster. It's first effect allows you to revive a banished Vendread monster by banishing itself. This does include the ritual monsters as long as they were properly ritual summoned first , which makes this card very good to swarm the field for game. It can also revive a Vendread monster to be tributed to summon a Vendread ritual monster, and it will gain the effect. The beauty is the summoned monster will return to the GY, where it will have further use. This is a rare case where it's revival effect is much better than its tribute effect, so you want this in the GY unlike core. Its tribute effect makes the ritual monster able to banish any monster that it battles, which is good against Fumas, White Stones and Dawn Knights. Play this at 1-2.
Striges comes in at level 2. It's revival effect allows you to reveal a Vendread card in your hand in order to summon it from the GY. This cost is very easy to meet since your deck consists of mainly Vendread cards. However, unlike the other monsters, this effect will ONLY activate as soon as it's sent to the GY, so make sure you can meet the cost. Since it's level 2, it fits quite nicely in the spectrum of levels needed to ritual summon. Its tribute effect gives your ritual monsters the ability to draw a card, then discard a card when it battles. Could be useful, but it's mainly there for it's level. Play this at 1.
Now we're getting to the good stuff. This good boi comes in at level 3. It's revival effect requires you to discard a Vendread card in order to summon it from the GY. This cost is almost as easy to meet as Striges, since you can just discard extra copies of Nights, a ritual monster, or a Vendread you'd like in the GY, such as Core and Anima. It's tribute effect gives the Vendread ritual monster a Quick Effect to banish a backrow card once per turn. This is very important against a myriad matchups, including Metaphys, Ancient Gears, Six Sams, Spellbooks and Triamids. Play this card at 2-3.
The final Vendread monster is level 4. It revives itself from the GY upon its destruction, but it banishes itself when it leaves the field. This is good whenever you need to stall for a turn, should you brick with this card in your hand. It's tribute effect gives the Revendread the Quick Effect to banish a special summoned monster once per turn. This, along with Houndhorde is your bread and butter in terms of tribute effects, and it's easy to see why. This is great for banishing boss monsters and interrupting your opponent's plays. Because this effect is so impactful, we'll go in depth with this in the matchups section. Play this card at 2-3.
Origin is most likely the best ritual spell card in the game at the moment, not only does it not require you to tribute the exact level of the ritual monster it also lets you summon from and use monsters in the grave as material with a Neos Fusion-like protection effect for Slayer and Executor to top it all off. This is a ritual deck so you obviously play 3.
The second ritual spell of the deck and probably the second best ritual spell in the game by virtue of the fact that it just like origin lets you ritual summon from the grave but what sets it apart is that it lets you use one monster from the deck as material along with monsters on the board and/or in your hand making your ritual summons less costly while helping you set up the graveyard. It’s one downside is that your ritual monster will be destroy at the end of your opponent’s turn, while that might sound like a big deal you can use origins effect in the graveyard to prevent it from happening or if it goes through it triggers Slayer’s and Battlelord’s effect and lets you search out a ritual monster or spell. Same as the first ritual spell, an easy 3.
The field spell of the Vendreads, at first it might not look like a big deal or maybe even too costly to be effective but on the contrary it’s a great consistency boost for the deck by letting you search any of your non-ritual monsters so you can gain their effects but it also makes turn 1 ritual summons easier without adding too many ritual monsters. And with how easily the deck can use cards in the grave as long as you can discard a monster to activate the it’s effect you will rarely lose card advantage. It’s second effect though is very situational, it’ll most likely only see use when you can win the turn you use it. For it’s surprisingly great effect you should play 2-3.
Vendread Nightmare is the most mediocre card of this archetype. It never saw any play in the TCG and with level duplication being in the game it’s first effect is all the worse. It’s second effect could help you get over larger monsters like Cosmo Brain but it’s not worth running with how little space the deck has in it to play around with.
The first trap card of the deck we are going to discuss here, Vendread Revolution might sound great at first but the fact that it’s a trap hinders it a lot. While other cards like Houndhorde and Vendread Nights also require a discard as a cost, the fact that you can use the discarded card in the same turn makes them viable while with Revolution you have to keep a card in hand for it to work which is hard to do in the early game when all your material is in your hand. It’s second effect you can basically just ignore, in most matches you won’t be able to get 5 cards banished. That said, this card can still help you make good plays in the mid and late game so running 1 is perfectly acceptable.
Samurai Skull quite a niche in this deck in that it can either send a ritual monster to the GY or send one of your Vendread materials to the GY. It's a better option than Gozuki because if the opponent gets rid of Gozuki on summon, then you can't use it's effect. This is great turn 1 when combined with Striges or Houndhorde, as they can revive themselves once in the GY. This card is also a great way to get Core and Anima in the GY, as it can be difficult to meet the level requirements with Evolution using them. Additionally, it's a good body on the field, as if it leaves the field in any way, then it will summon a level 4 or lower monster from the deck. This card does use your normal summon, however, so it can conflict with Revenant.
The new zombie support card Glow-up Bloom might not look like it can help the deck too much because it doesn’t run Zombie World but it can be helpful in a surprising amount of situations. For example, you can send it to the grave with the effect of Samurai Skull to add a ritual monster to your hand, which is very useful if your only ritual spell in hand is Contract with the Abyss. Another goods way to utilise it’s effect is to send it to the grave with a ritual summon or with the effect of Vendread Nights. Though as useful as this card can be it’s too situational to run more than 1.
While the deck has ways of either searching a ritual monster or send it to the grave (thus meaning Senju won't be needed), there is no way to search a turn 1 ritual spell if you don't already have one in hand. Sonic Bird is a solid card for this reason, and with it being level 4, is a good level to meet the requirement of Evolution. If using, play this card at a max of 2, as you can brick by playing too many Sonic Birds and it won't be needed mid to late game.
Contract with the Abyss
Contract with the Abyss is a great card if you want to increase the consistency of starting with ritual spells, similarly to Sonic Bird. Both cards are valid options for the deck with their own pros and cons, Contract with the Abyss being a ritual spell instead of a searcher doesn’t require you to use up your normal summon which then you can use to summon a non-ritual monster to gain their effect. On the other hand Sonic Bird gives you access to Origin and Evolution which are far superior to Contract with the Abyss, but it requires your normal summon. Play it at 1 or 2 if you are not playing Sonic Bird.
Treacherous Trap Hole
Treacherous has been one of the most powerful cards in the game since its introduction. While it has fallen off in the current metagame in favor of cards such as Clash, it's still a great one or two-of to add to your deck, as it can easily steal games. If you decide to play this card, then you can play up to 2 copies.
Master of Rites II: Master of Rites II will play a Ritual Cage from outside your deck upon the start of the duel. Ritual Cage prevents your opponent from targeting and destroying your Ritual monsters with monster effects. This skill is good against Snipe Hunter, Enishi, Desperado, and Umastryx. When you have Executor on the field, your opponent can't target your Ritual Cage, which is very nice. Considering that Six Sams, Desperado and Blue-Eyes are some of, if not the 3 best decks right now, this skill should definitely be considered.
Level Duplication: When using Level Duplication, once per duel you can reveal a monster in your hand to make one monster on your field the same level. This is a good way to minimize resources needed to ritual summon, especially in conjunction with your level 1 Vendreads. However, since it is only once per duel, and it's not too hard to ritual summon the usual way (given the fact that you can use Evo to use a material from the deck, or use Origin to banish from the GY), this may not be the way to go, but will be considered.
Beatdown: Beatdown has been a very prominent skill in Duel Links. This doesn't change now, since Beatdown can help your Vendreads reach important benchmarks. It makes your Slayer able to beat over Shi En, Metaphys Daedelus, and Dragon Spirit of White without using its effect, and it can beat over Desperado and Tyrant Dragon when in use. It ties Blue eyes White Dragon and Reactor Dragon if you use the effect + Beatdown, although it clears those and Cosmo Brain if you have a second Ritual monster on the field. It allows Executor to get bigger than Cosmo Brain, Blue Eyes White Dragon, and Reactor, and it becomes bigger than Silent Magician Level 8 if you have another Ritual monster on the field.
Basic Core of the Deck
Note that any 3-card or less combo, the Ritual monster can also be Nights and another card.
- Ritual summon Slayer using Evolution by sending a Slayer from the deck to the grave
- Ritual summon Slayer from the grave using the Slayer on the field as a material
- By tributing it Slayers effect activates, letting you search another Origin and send a Vendread monster to the grave Now depending on the 4th card in your hand you can do the following:
If you have a Battlelord or Executor in hand:
- Send Houndhorde to the grave with Slayers effect
- Special summon Houndhorde by discarding your ritual monster
- Ritual summon Executor/Battlelord by tributing Houndhorde and banishing the Slayer in your grave
If you have Chimera or any non-ritual monster in hand:
- Send Executor or Battlelord to the grave with Slayer effect
- Summon your non-ritual monster so you can gain its effect
- Ritual summon the monster you sent to the grave by using the monster you summoned (or Chimera in hand) and the Slayer in your grave
If you have anything else:
- Send another Slayer to the grave
- Ritual summon the one of the Slayers in your grave by banishing the other.
- Discard the non-Ritual that can revive itself from the GY (in this case, Houndhorde or Striges. If you don't have to, don't send Revenants as it can't revive itself).
- Search your Slayer, then revive the monster that you sent to the GY if the matchup calls for it. If it's Houndhorde, send the Slayer to the GY for the cost.
- Summon your Slayer by sending the monster you revived and its corresponding level from the deck. If it's Striges though, it may be better to just send a Slayer as the entire cost and keep Striges as a body, so that way you don't need to send Revenants.
- If you decide not to revive the monster from the GY, send Slayer from your deck to summon Slayer.
- Summon Samurai Skull and send Slayer to the GY.
- Use Evolution to summon Slayer by sending a Slayer from the deck (or tribute from the hand if you had one in the hand).
- Summon the Non-Ritual, and use Level Duplication to reveal Executor in order to make it Level 8.
- Use Evolution to summon Executor by sending an Executor from the deck.
- Use Origin to summon the Executor from the GY by tributing the Non-Ritual Vendread monster.
This creates a field of two untargetable Executors. Sitting on this field wins you the game against most matchups.
- Summon Core.
- Use Level Dupe, and reveal Executor to make Core level 8.
- Use Origin to summon Executor by tributing Core.
Now your whole field just became completely untargetable.
Note that since you've opened Origin, you could now consider summoning Executor if you feel it's needed in the matchup. In most cases though, you still want to summon Slayer.
- Summon Samurai Skull and send Slayer from your deck to the GY.
- Use Origin and tribute Samurai Skull and a Vendread from your hand to summon Slayer.
- Summon Samurai Skull and send Houndhorde from the deck to the GY
- Summon Houndhorde by discarding Slayer.
- Summon Slayer by using Samurai Skull and Houndhorde if using Origin or by using a Houndhorde from the field and hand/deck if using Evolution.
In short, Vendreads might look weak and inconsistent at first glance but they pack a surprising amount of power and versatility and with their ability to use the graveyard for their ritual summons they don’t run out of fuel as fast as other ritual decks in the game. And even if it doesn’t hit the tier list it’s a fun ritual deck to play with great card designs and lore for those who like these sorts of details.