Revisiting Destiny HERO

Daniel Wood

10/11/2012 11:00:00 AM

While the September 2012 F&L list was leaked in mid-August, the format has only been official for a little over a month now. Three YCS tournaments have already come and gone, and although trends are beginning to form, it's still too early to define what decks are or aren't truly competitive. These first few weeks are often the most enjoyable part of each format. They're characterized by innovation and the free flow of ideas, where duelists aren't yet constrained to building "meta" or "anti-meta" decks because no such meta really exists yet. Deck building during this time usually stems from two sources:

1. Revisiting old concepts and ideas that have proven to be successful
2. Creating new concepts and ideas that appear to be viable due to the new F&L list

An Old Favorite
The new format has caused many duelists to begin revisiting one of the most popular decks in Yu-Gi-Oh history, Destiny HERO. Starting with their introduction back in 2007, Destiny HERO monsters have seen a great deal of success in variants such as T-Heroes, Perfect Circle Monarchs, and Dark Armed Dragon (DAD) Return, concluding with its final tournament-dominating incarnation, Tele-DAD in 2009.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Tele-DAD, it was a deck that used the speed of the Destiny HERO cards combined with a Psychic engine to generate multiple Level 6 and Level 8 Synchro Monsters, while simultaneously filling the graveyard with Darks to unleash the almighty Dark Armed Dragon. The Destiny HERO lineup consisted of the following cards:

1 Elemental Hero Stratos
3 Destiny Hero - Malicious
0-2 Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude
0-2 Destiny Hero - Doom Lord
0-1 Destiny Hero - Fear Monger
0-1 Destiny Hero - Plasma
3 Destiny Draw
3 Allure of Darkness
2-3 Reinforcement of the Army

The accompanying Psychic engine consisted of:

3 Emergency Teleport
2-3 Krebons
0-1 Psychic Commander

Tele-DAD was a devastatingly dominant strategy, and Konami made sure to deal with it in the March 2009 F&L list. Notable hits included Dark Armed Dragon, Emergency Teleport, and Reinforcement of the Army Limited to one, with Malicious, Destiny Draw, and Allure being Semi-Limited to two per deck. Destiny Heroes did manage to make a small resurgence during the September 2009 format in the form of Destiny HERO Zombie strategy (also known as DHZ). That deck saw a bit of success in Regional Qualifiers and Championship-level tournaments, and Destiny HERO seemed like a promising deck towards the end of the format with the release of Elemental Hero Absolute Zero. However, Konami dealt another heavy blow to the deck in March 2010, when they Limited both Allure of Darkness and Destiny Draw.

The Revival
Our latest F&L list may just be the breath of life Destiny HERO needed to return to the competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! scene. Destiny Draw - the key to the engine's viability - has been restored to its former three-per-deck status. Emergency Teleport has also been unlimited, leading many duelists to attempt to recreate the original Tele-DAD strategy. Sadly, the deck is little more than a shell of its former self. It lacks the speed and power it once had, partly due to the fact that Reinforcement of the Army, Allure of Darkness and Destiny Hero - Malicious are still restricted, and partly due to power creep. But fear not, Destiny HERO lovers, for I believe the deck still can compete! It just requires us to explore some new ideas.

I now present you with the Destiny Hero deck I've been working on the last few weeks. This build is a new take on the combination of HERO and Water monsters that many duelists have tried in the past in order to fuel Miracle Fusion and summon Elemental Hero Absolute Zero. Deep Sea Diva has always been a popular choice for such strategies, sometimes in conjunction with Snowman Eater to fulfill the necessary Water quota for Absolute Zero. This version chooses to use the Frog engine for its additional Water monsters instead, which in turn provide stable tribute fodder for the four Monarchs as well as the Destiny HERO monsters. I'll explain the card choices and why I think this build is viable after I show you the list.

     Destiny HERO Daniel Wood    
Main Deck
Side Deck
3 Caius the Shadow Monarch
3 Deep Sea Diva
2 Destiny HERO - Malicious
3 Destiny HERO - Plasma
1 Effect Veiler
1 Elemental HERO Stratos
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
1 Lost Blue Breaker
2 Maxx "C"
1 Raiza the Storm Monarch
1 Ronintoadin
3 Swap Frog
2 Tragoedia
2 Treeborn Frog
Monsters [26]
1 Dark Hole
2 Destiny Draw
3 Enemy Controller
1 Heavy Storm
1 Mind Control
2 Miracle Fusion
1 Monster Reborn
3 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Soul Exchange
Spells [15]
Deck Total [41]


1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Black Rose Dragon (UTR)
2 Elemental HERO Absolute Zero
1 Elemental HERO Escuridao
1 Elemental HERO Great Tornado
1 Gachi Gachi Gantetsu
1 Gaia Knight, the Force of Earth
1 Inzektor Exa-Beetle
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 96: Dark Mist (UTR)
1 Photon Strike Bounzer
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Sword Breaker
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
Extra Deck [15]

Destiny Hero - Malicious has always been a staple of Destiny HERO decks. It's at its best when it's combined with Destiny Draw, but it can also be easily Tribute Summoned when necessary thanks to stuff like Treeborn Frog and Soul Exchange. It can serve as tribute fodder for other high level monsters, or it can be Material for a Synchro or a Rank 6 Xyz Summon.

To round out my Destiny HERO lineup, I opted to play a full three copies of Destiny Hero - Plasma, giving me five discards for Destiny Draw, and six HERO cards for Miracle Fusion (the other being Elemental Hero Stratos). It has alot of obvious synergy in this deck: Diva; Treeborn Frog; Ronintoadin; Gorz the Emissary of Darkness; Tragoedia; Enemy Controller; Soul Exchange, and Monster Reborn all make it easy to fulfill Plasma's summoning requirements. But beyond that, I believe it's currently the best Destiny HERO next to Malicious.

Many duelists favor Destiny Hero - Diamond Dude or Destiny Hero - Doom Lord when they play a Destiny HERO strategy. Diamond Dude's effect has the potential to win games, but it often turns into a vanilla 1400 ATK monster when its effect doesn't hit a Normal Spell card. Doom Lord can be useful for temporarily removing Xyz Monsters (their materials get detached when they leave the field) but it's still a puny 600 ATK monster that doesn't permanently deal with most threats. Both cards will often lead to a -1 in card economy, whether they get destroyed in battle, used in an Xyz Summon, or sacked for a Tribute Summon.

 Destiny HERO - Plasma
Destiny HERO - Plasma26358
Set 2007 Collectors Tin
Number CT04-EN003
Level 8
Monster Warrior/Effect
Attribute DARK 
A / D 1900 / 600
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

This card cannot be Special Summoned or Set. This card cannot be Special Summoned except by Tributing 3 monsters you control. Once per turn, select your opponent's monster and equip it to this card (you can only equip 1 monster at a time to this card). This card gains equal to half of the ATK of the equipped monster. While this card is face-up on the field, negate all the effects of face-up effect monsters your opponent controls.

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The Card Catalog Limited - Damaged 1 $0.30
Davis Cards & Games Limited - Damaged 4 $0.30
Card Cornucopia Limited - Damaged 1 $0.30
Buis Card Place Limited - Heavily Played 1 $0.39
Card Cornucopia Limited - Heavily Played 1 $0.39
The Wizards Duel Limited - Lightly Played 1 $0.65
ULTGaming Limited - Lightly Played 1 $0.66
Winning Card Rush Limited - Lightly Played 1 $0.69
Franks Cave Limited - Moderately Played 1 $0.74
D20 Hobbies Limited - Heavily Played 1 $0.75

Plasma is different: a combination of Relinquished and a one-sided Skill Drain, it removes your opponent's biggest threat and usually proves difficult to destroy in battle once it's equipped. Its effect protects it from most monster effects that could destroy it: that's especially important against a deck like Chaos Dragons, which may not have any ways to deal with Plasma outside of Dark Hole and Heavy Storm.

Diving In The Deep End
The standard Water pick for Summoning Absolute Zero, Diva combines extraordinarily well with Destiny Hero - Malicious and the Monarchs to generate Level 8 Synchro Monsters. It can singlehandedly make a Gachi Gachi Gantetsu or Ally of Justice Catastor, or you can team it with Ronintoadin, Swap Frog, or a Tragoedia that's copied Level 2 to make Number 96: Dark Mist. When combined with Treeborn Frog, it can help provide the three tributes needed to summon Destiny Hero - Plasma. It even combos well with Mind Control and Enemy Controller to let you Synchro Summon with your opponent's monsters.

Lost Blue Breaker is one of - if not the - best targets for Deep Sea Diva's effect. Whether you need to clear a spell or trap card in order to safely make a push; want to Synchro Summon a Level 5; or just want another monster on the field to help summon Plasma, Breaker will almost always provide some value. Since Swap Frog, Treeborn Frog, and Ronintoadin are all Aqua-type monsters, Lost Blue Breaker doesn't require Diva to be useful; you can activate its effect when any one of those monsters are on the field. Being the deck's sole Level 3 monster also has some merit, allowing you to make a Rank 3 Xyz monster when you steal your opponent's Level 3 monster with Mind Control, Enemy Controller, or Monster Reborn.

The Frog engine of Swap Frog, Treeborn Frog, and Ronintoadin provides a very efficient and reliable method of getting Water monsters to the graveyard for fuel Miracle Fusion. Getting a Treeborn Frog in the yard makes all of your Monarchs, Enemy Controllers, and Lost Blue Breaker live draws. It helps set up your field for a Plasma drop, and provides an additional Level for Synchro Summons with Diva. Since it's vital you get Treeborn into the grave, some may wonder why I opted to play a third copy of Swap Frog over a third Treeborn. Swap Frog is the superior choice because it's more versatile: it can keep dumping more Frogs to fuel Ronintoadin; get you a Level 2 monster for Xyz Summons; and bounce back itself or another monsters so you can reuse it again later (most notably the Monarchs, Diva, and Stratos).

Running the four Monarchs is necessary to take full advantage of the Frogs. While a normal Frog deck would typically run a full set of Raizas, this build simply doesn't have the room, and we need to save some tributing power for summoning Plasma. Both Caius the Shadow Monarch and Raiza the Storm Monarch are useful for dealing with face-up and face-down threats, such as Xyz Monsters or traps like Dimensional Prison and Mirror Force. Because the Monarchs are Level 6, they're excellent when combined with Malicious, Tragoedia, or even another Monarch to Xyz Summon Inzektor Exa-Beetle, Photon Strike Bounzer, or Sword Breaker.

Spells and Supporting Players
Hand traps like Maxx "C", Effect Veiler, Tragoedia, and Gorz are a necessity for a deck that can't afford to run real trap cards like Solemn Warning. Not only is there little room for real trap cards in this deck, they'd conflict with Treeborn Frog's Summoning requirement.

The hand traps are vital to stop your opponent's big pushes that would otherwise go uncontested. I chose to play two Maxx "C" and only one Veiler because I feel that Maxx "C" is better against Wind-Ups and Rescue Rabbit decks. I decided to run the Veiler over a third copy of Maxx "C" because it's an excellent card to draw off of the latter's effect, and because it's better against Chaos Dragons, Agents, and Monarchs, while still being effective against Wind-Ups and Rescue Rabbit. Another card to consider here is Battle Fader, but I chose to forego it for now due to space constraints.

Enemy Controller is insanely powerful when combined with Treeborn Frog, essentially becoming a free Brain Control. It's important to note that if you Special Summon your Treeborn during your Standby Phase with its effect and tribute it for the cost of Enemy Controller while still in your Standby Phase, you can immediately revive Treeborn again. Enemy Controller is perfect for situations where your opponent has multiple monsters you need to clear, setting up easy tributes for your Monarchs or fuel for your Synchro and Xyz Summons.

 Destiny Draw
Destiny Draw57978
Set Ra Yellow Mega Pack
Number RYMP-EN037
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Discard 1 "Destiny HERO" card; draw 2 cards.

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Collectible Corner Unlimited - Lightly Played 2 $0.37
IDeal808 Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $0.45
SKYAThatOneGuy Unlimited - Moderately Played 1 $0.47
Atlas Gaming Unlimited - Moderately Played 1 $0.48
JcardGamer Unlimited - Near Mint 2 $0.50
Frogtown Hobbies 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $0.50
Alwaysplus Gaming Unlimited - Lightly Played 3 $0.50
KCs Card Corner 1st Edition - Moderately Played 1 $0.50
SKYAThatOneGuy Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $0.51
Epik Cards & Games Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $0.51

No Destiny Hero deck would be complete without Destiny Draw. It lets you get Destiny Hero - Malicious into the graveyard, and gets rid of dead copies of Plasma you can't play from your hand, all while nabbing you two new cards. Some may question why there are only two copies of Destiny Draw here instead of the full three we're allowed. That decision was made for reasons of consistency. Triple Destiny Draw would have just five discards - three Plasmas, one Malicious (you're hopefully not drawing both copies of it), and a successfully resolved Stratos. In my opinion, five targets isn't all that many, and you can't afford to be sitting with dead copies of Destiny Draw in your hand for too long. Furthermore, there'll be times where you simply want to hold onto the Destiny HERO and summon it instead of discarding it, further reducing the number of opportunities to play Destiny Draw.

We're playing two Miracle Fusion for much the same reason that we're only running two Destiny Draws - consistency. There's no doubt about how powerful Miracle Fusion can be when you resolve it, but getting the requirements for its activation isn't always as easy as it seems, especially if you've already removed some for a previous Miracle Fusion. It's also important to note that while all the HERO Fusions I've included can be summoned with Miracle Fusion, only Absolute Zero can use Destiny HERO monsters to fulfill its "HERO" requirement.

Speaking of Fusions, space is really tight in the Extra Deck since we need to include Fusion Monsters for Miracle Fusion, Synchros for Deep Sea Diva, and Xyz. I believe the staples here are Gachi Gachi Gantetsu; Inzektor Exa-Beetle; Photon Strike Bounzer; Ally of Justice Catastor; Scrap Dragon; and the two copies of Elemental Hero Absolute Zero. Other monsters you may want to consider are Daigusto Phoenix; Stardust Dragon; Dark End Dragon; Elemental Hero Gaia, and Elemental Hero The Shining.

So Why Is This Deck Viable?
The short answer to that question would be Destiny Hero - Plasma. For the same reason cards like Skill Drain and Evolzar Dolkka are used, negating your opponent's monster effects is just really, really good. It gets even better when the card doing it potentially has 3000 ATK or more.

This deck plays in a similar fashion to the Frog Monarch strategies that have been successful in the past, but it's got a few new tricks. Destiny Draw provides a bit of speed that Frog Monarchs usually lack. Deep Sea Diva gives the deck a way to summon a powerful monster that doesn't require a tribute to be played. Destiny Hero - Plasma is the alternative to Light and Darkness Dragon run in more standard Frog Monarch builds, providing a similar negation ability without harming your own plays or losing ATK. Most importantly, Plasma is Special Summoned instead of Normal Summoned, allowing you to summon a Stratos, a Swap Frog, a Diva, or aMonarch and resolve its effect, then drop Plasma in the same turn.

Enemy Controller plus Treeborn Frog is still as powerful as ever - Brain Control is Forbidden for a reason. Finally, Miracle Fusion provides the Frog Monarch deck with something it's often missing - a comeback play when your initial summon is shut down. Seeing your Monarch, Synchro, or Xyz Monster destroyed with a Solemn Warning or Torrential Tribute can be devastating for traditional Frog Monarch decks that rely heavily on their Normal Summon. Miracle Fusion takes advantage of the fact that your monsters were sent to the graveyard, and churns out a high-ATK beater even after you've used up your Normal Summon for the turn.

Overall, I've found this deck to be a lot of fun to play, with fairly strong match-ups across the board. Whether or not something like this will have a profound impact on competitive metagames like Destiny HERO strategies have had in the past remains to be seen, but I believe a new approach to the deck is necessary for it to make any sort of progress. At this early stage in the format, a little creativity can go along way in achieving wins.

-Daniel Wood

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