Ahead of the Curve: Cyberdarks
One of the things that I love about Yu-Gi-Oh! not rotating old cards out of the game is that Konami can drop support for a deck from five years ago and suddenly it's relevant. I believe that could be the case with Cyberdarks due to the lukewarm release of Legendary Duelists, although we might be stuck waiting for a Forbidden & Limited List to see how things pan out.
Cyberdarks are the joke of the competitive scene, and also the namesake of one of the worst core boosters of all time: Cyberdark Impact. Cyberdark Keel, Cyberdark Horn, and Cyberdark Edge all have roughly the same couple of effects: when they're Normal Summoned you equip a Level 3 or lower Dragon from your graveyard to them; while a monster is equipped, they gain its ATK; and if they would be destroyed by battle the equipped monster is destroyed instead.
They also have unique effects, although they're not super important. The big one is that Cyberdark Edge can attack directly for half damage, which is crucial for closing out games unexpectedly. Cyberdark Horn inflicts piercing damage, but how often are there defensive position monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh! right now?
Their original boss monster Cyberdark Dragon's basically just a big beater that can be summoned with the confusingly named Cyberdark Impact! spell card. Cyberdark Impact! 1-for-1's into Cyberdark Dragon, recycling the three Cyberdarks for later use.
While none of those cards have had any competitive impact on tournaments, there are four new Cyberdark cards in Legendary Duelists that very well could change that. For years, Cyberdarks have lacked consistency, versatility, and power. Let's see how things are changing for the better:
The first effect for both monsters is not once per turn. When Cyberdark Cannon's sent to the graveyard while equipped to a monster, you'll get a free draw. When Cyberdark Claw is sent, you get back a Cyberdark monster from your graveyard to your hand. Claw can even grab itself, which is a neat way to score an extra search with its second effect.
That's right, both of these cards are pseudo-Reinforcement of the Army. As hard once per turn effects, you can discard Cannon or Claw to grab a Cyberdark monster or spell or trap, respectively. That's fantastic, and exactly what Cyberdarks needed. Cannon's particularly useful because you can pitch it to grab one of the original Cyberdarks, and then immediately Normal Summon what you searched to equip Cannon to it. Claw's search effect can get you straight to Cyberdark Impact! but it's mostly used for grabbing the new Cyberdark field spell, Cyberdark Inferno. More on that in a second.
Also hard once per turn effects, Cannon and Claw both have bonuses that activate when the monster they're equipped to battles, during damage calculation. Cannon can Foolish Burial any monster from your deck, whereas Claw sends a card from the Extra Deck. There are a ton of fringe uses for Cannon, but you'll mainly be using it to fill up your graveyard for Fusion Summons with Cyberdark Impact! and Overload Fusion.
Claw's a lot more versatile because of the sheer number of great Extra Deck monsters to send. Elder Entity N'tss is the most common because it'll blow up a card, but PSY-Framelord Omega is a choice if you want to recycle something. Predaplant Chimerafflesia is another option, which adds a “Fusion” spell card to your hand during the next Standby Phase. The possibilities are near endless with that broad of an effect, nabbing anything from Brilliant Fusion to Overload Fusion to Re-Fusion. If you were really crazy you could even yard Herald of the Arc Light to grab a Ritual Monster, but I'm not quite that ambitious.
That New Field Spell
The first effect prevents any Cyberdark monster that has an equip from being targeted or destroyed by your opponent's card effects. We're already off to a wonderful start, but things get silly when you consider that not only do the Cyberdarks also have a built-in protection effect from battle, but they're great on card economy when that effect is used. 2400 ATK Normal Summonable Kozmo Dark Destroyers are nothing to overlook.
With the second effect you can bounce a Cyberdark back to your hand, and then if you want you can Normal Summon a Cyberdark. That helps in a couple ways. If a Cyberdark monster loses its equip monster, Cyberdark Inferno can bounce it back to the hand to then Normal Summon that same monster so that it has an equip. It also lets you cycle through your equips, because Claw's usually the one that you want to attach. If you only have Cannon, though, you can attack, send Claw with Cannon, and then bounce the Cyberdark back to your hand to re-summon it so Claw's equipped.
Do note that bouncing a Cyberdark monster won't trigger the graveyard effects of Cannon or Claw, because the monster they're equipped to needs to stay on the field for them to activate.
Lastly, if Cyberdark Inferno is destroyed by an opponent's card effect you can add a “Fusion” spell to your hand. I've already listed a whole bunch of targets for Predaplant Chimerafflesia, and the same principle applies here. It's sad that you can't trigger that effect by destroying it with your own cards, but it a good fallback for when your opponent inevitably takes down Inferno so they can actually destroy your Cyberdarks.
A New Boss Monster
What is different is that Cyberdarkness Dragon can send any equip card to the graveyard to negate a card or effect. It doesn't have to send the monster that's equipped to it, so you can load up on the little Cyberdarks before unleashing this behemoth. Even with all the searching and milling it's still tough to bring out Cyberdarkness Dragon reliably, but it's certainly a blowout when you do manage to summon it.
I originally tried making an aggressive Cyberdark strategy using Brilliant Fusion, but eventually decided that a midrange deck was much more suitable to the theme. The goal is to slowly grind the opponent out of cards, allowing ourselves plenty of backup if things go South. Here's what I've been testing:
@@@@@DECKID=107882@@@@@ With a deck like Cyberdarks, board control is everything. Your monsters cap out at 2400 ATK, but Cyberdark Claw provides most of the spot removal needed to deal with bigger threats. Even if you can't destroy all of your opponent's monsters, Cyberdark Edge can poke for 1200 damage every turn if you can keep it alive.
To help circumvent some of the pitfalls this deck can run into, I've included two tech cards: Black Salvo and Lost Wind. Some consider Black Salvo a staple in this strategy, but I've found plenty of people who disagree with it. To put it simply: you shouldn't need Salvo if you're already winning, but you'll absolutely need it to catch up when you're behind. Cyberdarks are so powerful if you can get your engine going, but playing into a lot of disruption can be tough. Using Black Salvo to make Black Rose Dragon can often be enough to take control of the game once again.
Lost Wind helps keep your opponent from getting to that point, but it offers more value than Solemn Strike and Dimensional Barrier in a lot of cases. While Solemn Strike's a three-of in this deck because it's still the better card overall, Lost Wind's double effect negation and ATK reduction helps your Cyberdarks run over monsters bigger than 2400 ATK.
At the moment, we're still patiently waiting for a Forbidden & Limited List. Nobody knows when it's going to drop and how much it's going to change things, but I'd keep an eye out for Cyberdarks. If there end up being a ton of hits to popular strategies, players might not be prepared for a rogue contender like this deck, especially at the first couple Regional Qualifiers!