Behind the Cards: Qliphort, The Big Red Death

Franco Ferrara

12/5/2014 11:00:00 AM
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It seems no matter where you turn in the Yu-Gi-Oh! world a new terror's waiting just around the bend, and the Qliphorts are the next wave of horrifying threats. The world and play style of the Qliphort strategy is linear, destructive and mechanical. Adapting and evolving, these semi-cognitive machines are tasked with being the failsafe mechanism when Sophia, Goddess of Creation, couldn't finish the job of recreating the world.

The realm of the Duel Monsters, more specifically the Duel Terminal Realm, has been compared to that of a computer program. Immortalized through Duel Terminal World, maybe what we perceive as the Duel Terminal universe appears to be kind of the Yu-Gi-Oh! version of the Matrix. The Qliphorts would agree. As yet another theme based on the occult with some roots in mysticism, the Qliphort archetype is full of interesting information. Today I'll unveil the shadowy secrets of the Qliphorts and reveal that which remains hidden in their mechanical shells, towers and all.

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Before we dig deep into the Qliphort cards, I think I should explain to you the basics of the theme. The name “Qliphort” is likely a combination of the words “Qliphoth,” and either “fort” or “fortran,” a high-level computer programming language for scientific computing. The Qliphort monsters' purposes and forms are closely linked to the Qliphoth.

The word Qliphothtranslates from Hebrew to mean “hull” or “casing,” and they're perceived as hindering; evil residual energy acting as shells concealing holy aspects. The Qliphoth are the evil forces that exist within creation, representing impurity and evil spiritual forces in Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah). They're the chaos in the world that brings division amongst humanity, creation, and act as the bringers of destruction.

The Qliphoth come together to form the spheres on the Tree of Death. The Tree of Death is the antithesis to the Tree of Life, the divine aspects in Judaic mysticism. As these negative spheres, the Qliphoth encapsulate and hide the good intentions of the Tree of Life's spheres within their evil, as shells wrapping a fruit.

 Saqlifice
$4.95
$0.66
$0.18
Saqlifice94583
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN061
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Equip only to a "Qli" monster. It gains 300 ATK and cannot be destroyed by battle. The equipped monster can be treated as 2 Tributes for the Tribute Summon of a "Qli" monster. If this card is sent from the field to the Graveyard: You can add 1 "Qli" monster from your Deck to your hand.


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Though evil and impure, these “spheres” were given life through the divine, but remain nothing more than hollow entities with no true holiness within themselves. The Tree of Death feeds on evil, sin and darkness. Its existence alone hinders humanity's ability to evolve further and become closer with the divine, with their sole purpose to destroy life and divinity.

Whenever the Tree of Life and Tree of Death are depicted, each bears a group of names. On the Tree of Death, which is our focus for today, each sphere is represented by a single demonic force or entity. I'll go into more detail below when I discuss each Qliphort monster.

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The Tree of Death's spheres are each linked to one another through different paths. Across each path is a neighbouring sphere, and every sphere has its own specific neighbour to make a pair. Mirroring the Tree of Death, each Qliphort monster has a neighbouring Qliphort with a similar in-game function; we'll refer to them as Qliphort pairs.

These pairs can be identified a number of ways: they share a level, ATK and DEF. I'll give you an example:

We know that Qliphort Helix and Qliphort Carrier are both level 6 and share the same ATK (2400) and DEF (1000) values. We also know that their Pendulum Scales are opposites of one another, with Qliphort Helix's at Pendulum Scale 9 and Qliphort Carriers at Pendulum Scale 1. Each of their effects also involve single card removal. These similarities of level, ATK/DEF and effects, along with the opposition of their Pendulum Scales creates a Qliphort (Qliphoth) pair.

The names of each Qliphort monster are very complex and almost arbitrary, steeped in the Japanese pronunciations of the cards and an associating Qliphic sphere. In English, these names are based on both computer terminology and the function or title associated with the sphere.

The easiest way to identify each Qliphort with its corresponding sphere is by the color of the Qliphort's core. That color tells you where each Qliphort lies on the Tree of Life. The best example of this is in the card Qliphortran, where Qliphort Scout rests on a yellow sephira and its yellow core. Its position on this tree as well as the color tells us that this sephira is Tif'eret from the Tree of Life or Thagiriron of the Tree of Death.

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As I mentioned above, I've broken down and explained each Qliphort monster as well as which demonic force they're represented by on the Tree of Death, as well as their name on the Tree of Life. Here are the charts together so you can follow along.

Qliphort Scout and Qliphort Assembler (OCG Fanlation)
Qliphort Scout
(Tif'eret - Tree of Life)
(Thagiriron - Tree of Death)

The evil entity symbolized by Qliphort Tool is known as Thagiriron. It's said to conceal all beauty. I don't mean beauty on just a physical level, but in the spiritual sense as well. Senses unaltered by what we know and how we rationalize is the bane of this entity's existence, and what it seeks to destroy. It hinders the ability for humanity to experience union with the divine and the beauty of the divine. In this way, this entity can take any form, force or shape to create confusion ignoring the heart and mind. For these reasons it's known as “the disputer.”

Qliphort Scout searches the deck for any Qliphort card you need and symbolizes this entity's ability to take on any form. By doing so it hinders your opponent, essentially providing you with whatever you need to destroy, understand, and counter your opponents' plays.

Qliphort Assembler (OCG Fanlation)
(Yesod - Tree of Life)
(Gamaliel - Tree of Death)

Known as “the obscene one,” the entity Gamaliel reflects the negative attributes of Yesod. This aspect of the Tree of Death brings distortion and destruction of creation and fertility. It can't satiate its urges and hungers for stronger stimuli, consuming whatever it can. Immoral and with no clear intentions, it creates immorality and Discord.

Qliphort Assembler follows this law of immoral creation by granting you fertility, generating cards for you. After Tributing (consumption of another), you're giving your opponent something to worry about.

As neighbors on the Tree of Death it's no surprise that these two monsters are both Normal Pendulum Monsters and presents themselves as opposites to one another through their reversed ATK and DEF. The clouds and the landscape are harmonious in Qliphort Assembler's art and look artificial – like, 90's computer game artificial. However, in Qliphort Scout's artwork the scenery is in complete destruction. These two monsters share a similar naming scheme which describes their functions as a searcher and gatherer respectively.

 Qliphort Scout
$29.95
$1.62
$0.71
Qliphort Scout94537
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN021
Level 5
Type Pendulum/Effect Monster
Monster Machine
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 1000 / 2800
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Pendulum Effect You cannot Special Summon monsters, except "Qli" monsters. This effect cannot be negated. Once per turn: You can pay 800 LP; add 1 "Qli" card from your Deck to your hand, except "Qliphort Scout".
Monster Effect Booting in Replica Mode… An error has occurred when executing C:\sophia\zefra.exe Unknown publisher. Allow C:\tierra\qliphort.exe ? …[Y] Booting in Autonomy Mode…


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Qliphort Carrier and Qliphort Helix
Qliphort Carrier
(Netzach - Tree of Life)
(A'arab Zaraq - Tree of Life)

This entity is known as A'arab Zaraq and holds the title, “the ravens of death.” Its sole purpose is to create things so it can destroy other things. Careless, it has no rhyme or reason, uninfluenced by wisdom and sympathy. Its sole purpose is to let loose an army for the sake of wanton destruction. As fast as life can create, A'arab Zaraq's bringers of death will destroy.

Qliphort Carrier LITERALLY has a flock of smaller Qliphort Carriers flying around it in its artwork, giving clarity to the “carrier” aspect of its name and playing off the title of “the ravens of death.” Unlike its companion Qliphort Helix, Carrier doesn't destroy; it returns a monster back to the hand instead, but removes the monster from the field all the same.

Qliphort Helix
(Hod - Tree of Life)
(Samael - Tree of Death)

As the entity of Samael, it radiates a blinding light. Samael's a deceiver, with its light acting like the beacon of a lantern fish. It attracts the unsuspecting so as to take advantage and poison them with its influence, hence the title, “the poison of god.” While Samael offers wisdom, charm and brilliance, everything it tempts you with is meant to waste energy and brings no purpose.

Qliphort Helix is just as radiant, bright and discharging light from its spiraled form. Its effect does allow you to destroy a spell or trap card, and depending on the card destroyed it can lay waste to your opponent's plans. In its artwork you can see how the helix, the spiral of all life, is fitted with spikes and artifice, symbolizing literal purposelessness with no form.

 Qliphort Carrier
$3.27
$1.32
$0.31
Qliphort Carrier94538
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN022
Level 6
Type Pendulum/Effect Monster
Monster Machine
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 2400 / 1000
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Pendulum Effect You cannot Special Summon monsters, except "Qli" monsters. This effect cannot be negated. All "Qli" monsters you control gain 300 ATK.
Monster Effect You can Normal Summon this card without Tributing. If this card is Normal Summoned without Tributing or is Special Summoned, its Level becomes 4 and its original ATK becomes 1800. If this card is Normal Summoned/Set, it is unaffected by activated effects from any monster whose original Level/Rank is lower than this card's current Level. If this card is Tributed: You can target 1 monster on the field; return it to the hand.


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Qliphort Shell and Qliphort Alias (OCG Fanlation)
Qliphort Shell
(Binah - Tree of Life)
(Satariel - Tree of Death)

Qliphort Shell looks like a floating conch shell, and for good reason. As the entity Satariel on the Tree of Death, it's symbolized as an eternal, lifeless structure and the death of creative impulse. It's literally stagnant and dead energy. Like an actual shell, its purpose is to hide and contain the evil that lurks within; a force that punches holes through creation and life.

Qliphort Shell takes on the role of the entity described above with its ability to inflict piercing damage. Both the entity and Shell bypass opposing defenses with their seemingly lifeless form, a shell hidden within a shell, concealing powerful destructive forces. In the artwork we can see that Qliphort Shell is reflecting back energy beams.

Qliphort Alias (OCG Fanlation)
(Chokmah - Tree of Life)
(Augiel 0 Tree of Death)

This is a perfect example of how well Konami designed these monsters to correspond with the Tree of Death. As Augiel, its purpose is to antagonize creation and wisdom. It impedes the workings of the divine and destroys creative forces at their roots, before they can evolve any further. For these reasons it's known as “the hindering one.”

As the embodiment of that force, Qliphort Alias couldn't be anymore true to its mythical origins, as its effect bounces any card on the field AND your opponent can't activate cards or effects in response to its activation! Truly it acts as the hinderer, being a nearly unbreakable obstacle for your opponent.

As neighbors on the tree, Shell and Alias' opposition to one another is revealed with Qliphort Shell taking refuge within a valley, while Qliphort Alias hovers above Mountainous terrain. Their Pendulum Scales are 1 and 9 respectively.

 Qliphort Shell
$1.25
$0.24
$0.10
Qliphort Shell94541
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN025
Level 8
Type Pendulum/Effect Monster
Monster Machine
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 2800 / 1000
Rarity Rare
Card Text

Pendulum Effect You cannot Special Summon monsters, except "Qli" monsters. This effect cannot be negated. All monsters your opponent controls lose 300 ATK.
Monster Effect You can Normal Summon this card without Tributing. If this card is Normal Summoned without Tributing or is Special Summoned, its Level becomes 4 and its original ATK becomes 1800. If this card is Normal Summoned/Set, it is unaffected by activated effects from any monster whose original Level/Rank is lower than this card's current Level. If this card is Normal Summoned by Tributing a "Qli" monster(s), it can make a second attack during each Battle Phase, and if it attacks a Defense Position monster, inflict piercing battle damage to your opponent.


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Qliphort Disk and Qliphort Access (OCG Fanlation)
Qliphort Disk
(Chesed - Tree of Life)
(Gasheklah - Tree of Death)

As Gasheklah of the Tree of Death, this sphere is the epitome of misguided, smothering, and unrequited love. The expression “you're getting too close” means nothing to this aspect, as it exhausts and suffocates objects and beings with its superfluity of love, charity, indulgence and so-called “generosity.” It literally spreads itself so thin that it collapses and breaks under its own weakness. For all these reasons, it was bestowed the title of “the breaker into pieces.”

Qliphort Disk demonstrates all of this in the best way a card game could, giving you a straight plus of card economy. To show how devoted it is, Qliphort Disk will Summon from the deck two additional Qliphort monsters for you. But it'll destroy those two monsters during the End Phase, symbolizing the exhaustion this aspect is known for.

Qliphort Access
(Geburah - Tree of Life)
(Golachab - Tree of Death)

As Golachab, “the flaming ones,” this entity of the Tree of Death is merciless and violent. It adjudicates with bias (to what this bias is, we're not sure) and sends its wrath towards creation, unpredictability and life. It'll burn everything in its vicinity just to maintain its ideals of law and structure.

As the monster card Qliphort Access, this monster embodies “the flaming ones” in its own ability to burn away your opponent's Life Points by 300, judged on the difference between monsters in each player's graveyard. Through its selfish nature, Access grants Life Points in return. This monster literally seeks pleasure in your opponent's dead monsters.

As neighbors on the tree demonstrating opposition, we see that Qliphort Access hovers above a barren desert, but in contrast Qliphort Disk floats over bodies of water and green earth. Their Pendulum Scales are 1 and 9 respectively.

 Qliphort Disk
$19.95
$2.66
$1.25
Qliphort Disk94540
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN024
Level 7
Type Pendulum/Effect Monster
Monster Machine
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 2800 / 1000
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Pendulum Effect You cannot Special Summon monsters, except "Qli" monsters. This effect cannot be negated. All "Qli" monsters you control gain 300 ATK.
Monster Effect You can Normal Summon this card without Tributing. If this card is Normal Summoned without Tributing or is Special Summoned, its Level becomes 4 and its original ATK becomes 1800. If this card is Normal Summoned/Set, it is unaffected by activated effects from any monster whose original Level/Rank is lower than this card's current Level. When this card is Tribute Summoned by Tributing a "Qli" monster(s): You can Special Summon 2 "Qli" monsters from your Deck, but destroy them during the End Phase.


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Apoqliphort Towers and Qliphort Kernel (OCG Fanlation)
Apoqliphort Towers
(Malkuth - Tree of Life)
(Lilith - Tree of Death)

As the entity Lilith on the Tree of Death, it's known as “the evil woman.” As the entity of Lilith, this sphere is the culmination of all evil forces that preceded it and considers itself both one and many at the same time. It's like a literal storehouse for every form of evil and malediction imaginable. While it's the last sphere on the tree, it's everything at one time; the apotheosis of all evils concealed within.

When viewed as Malkuth of the Tree of Life, Malkuth is perceived as a throne upon which the divine sit and dwell. On the artwork of Apoqliphort Towers, you can actually see a throne atop the structure. The title of “evil woman” is just too perfect when you consider that Apoqliphort Towers would later become “enslaved” by El Shaddoll Construct and give rise to El Shaddoll Shekhinaga.

As the culmination of all evils before it, this could explain why Apoqliphort Towers is practically invincible once it hits the table. As both a single form of evil and at the same time all evils at once, this could explain why the monster's name “Towers” was pluralized upon its English release. Consider the name not as a “tower” like a tall building, but as a receptacle for the storage of information used for technology. The “Killer” aspect was probably dropped because of its irrelevance within the Tree of Death and its symbolism as a monster.

Qliphort Kernel (OCG Fanlation)
(Kether - Tree of Life)
(Thaumiel - Tree of Death)

Thaumiel embodies conflict and is known as “the contending forces.” It's aggression, dualism, and opposition all rolled into a single form. Where there's unity this entity brings Discord, corruption and cleaves apart bonds.

Apoqliphort Kernel follows in its entities roots and brings aggression to the battlefield. Its effect lets you take control of an opposing monster, effectively corrupting it and turning it against its allies!

 Apoqliphort Towers
$1.23
$0.21
$0.08
Apoqliphort Towers94542
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN026
Level 10
Type Effect Monster
Monster Machine
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 3000 / 2600
Rarity Rare
Card Text

Cannot be Special Summoned. Requires 3 "Qli" monsters to Normal Summon/Set. If this card is Normal Summoned/Set, it is unaffected by Spell/Trap effects and by activated effects from any monster whose original Level/Rank is lower than this card's current Level. All Special Summoned monsters lose 500 ATK and DEF. Once per turn: You can make your opponent send 1 monster from their hand or their side of the field to the Graveyard (their choice).


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While Apoqliphort Kernel does look like a crown, corresponding to the symbolism of the Kether sephira, it also looks like a floating city in the sky. The idea of the city and the crown corresponds with the idea of Apoqliphort Towers and its resemblance to a throne. In the tech world, a kernel is a very basic level of an operating system of a computer. Its function is to manage files and security, as well as allocate resources. As a monster, Apoqliphort Kernel takes security and management into its own hands.

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A lynchpin card for the Qliphort, Saqlifice – a pun on sacrifice and Qliphorts – features the discarded husk of El Shaddoll Grysta. From its forsaken form, ten colored orbs leave the body; they were once this monster's joints, allowing it to move. (For reference those orbs are ruby, aquamarine, aura stone, diamond, pearl, topaz, smoky quartz, citrine, seraphinite and amethyst.) Each of these ten orbs look as if they're floating towards the Naturia Sacred Tree, wherein the Qliphorts' own Tree of Death was found, in the roots. Perhaps the power gems that fueled the Gem-Knight Fusion (and Xyz) monsters are the power source for the Qliphort monsters? Each of the Qliphort has what appears to be a power gem within the grill of its Pendulum Scale, somewhere on its form.

Gemstones are sometimes associated with the Kabbalah and the sephira of the Tree of Life. That said though, many different esoteric practices place strong value on gemstones and their supposed spiritual properties. For me, it's just nice to see that my Gem-Knights haven't left this world in vain.

I hope you enjoyed this long breakdown of the Qliphort monsters and the world of the Qliphoth. The Qliphort aren't quite finished yet: within these husks lie another unholy form waiting to be released, and they'll make themselves known to the world in January when we see Secrets of Eternity!

-Franco Ferrara


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