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Hero Blast Beat

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TheWiseman
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PostSubject: Hero Blast Beat   Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:37 pm

Source: http://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/article.asp?id=2373
By: Jason Grabher-Meyer

Though I spend a lot of time thinking about the competitive side of the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG, I love building casual decks as well. There's a thrill in figuring out the unique abilities of a strategy other people aren't using; building on them to create cool, competitive plays, and then unleashing them on unsuspecting opponents. Building new decks is a lot of fun, and it's a big part of why I love TCG's in the first place.

The release of Hidden Arsenal heralded a lot of great new cards, but one of the set's biggest sleeper hits (tucked away behind the Brionacs and the Catastors) is Wrath of Neos. Wrath brings something really cool to any deck that can use it – the ability to constantly threaten the field with complete destruction. We've seen this before in Debris Princess, a deck that threatened opponents with Black Rose Dragon thanks to the use of Debris Dragon, Dandylion, and Lonefire Blossom. Black Salvo decks often do the same thing. Wrath of Neos is very similar, but the big advantage is that while Black Rose Dragon is limited, Wrath is playable in threes.

The ability to blow everything up creates a tense situation in which your opponent must always carefully measure how many cards he commits to the field. In Debris Dragon and Black Salvo decks, committing even just two cards can result in a negative trade in terms of card presence: if you summon Salvo or Debris Dragon and then use its effect to special summon the synchro material for Black Rose, you wipe the field for an investment of just one card total – all you're losing is the Salvo or the Dragon. In a Neos deck there's a little more room for the opponent to breathe, as there isn't a “one card combo” to clear the field. The Neos player needs to give up Neos AND Wrath in order to clear the table, so if the opponent only commits two cards at a time, that's an even trade.

But the pressure that a potential wipe creates is virtually the same: if your opponent knows you could clear the field with Wrath, he or she simply can't commit more than two cards at a time unless they're packing protection or prepared to take a loss. In this sense, a Neos deck exerts virtually the same amount of influence over an opponent's play patterns as a Debris Princess or Salvo deck. And what the Neos deck loses in card economy, it makes up for elsewhere.

Namely follow-up. The big challenge for Salvo decks and Debris Princess in particular, is taking advantage of their ability to bust out Black Rose. Debris Dragon and Salvo eat your Normal Summon for the turn, so attacking immediately after clearing the field can be difficult. Not so in the case of the Neos deck, where O – Oversoul easily places a 2500 ATK beatstick on the field after you Wrath. In addition, the Neos you Wrath with doesn't necessarily use your normal summon as Debris Dragon and Salvo do. You could special summon Neos, Wrath, and then normal summon an attacker. Maybe Neos was sitting on the table for a while prior to your Wrath turn, or you could “make” a Neos with the effects of cards like Elemental Hero Prisma or Elemental Hero Neos Alius. The Neos strategy is far more flexible than other wipe decks as a result.

In addition, the Neos deck does a really good job of pinning your opponent between two problems: the first being the threat of a wipe that keeps your opponent from playing cards, and two, the damage or card loss you cause with your beatsticks. Again, Black Salvo and Debris Princess decks are very good at creating the impression that they could clear the field at any time, keeping you from playing too many cards. But they aren't that great at actually hammering home damage or destroying stuff to take advantage of that threat. Actually summoning a halfway decent monster usually meant committing multiple cards to a synchro summon (the one exception being Tytannial, Princess of Camellias). The Neos deck is a different story, easily exerting pressure over the opponent with strong beatsticks like Stratos, Alius, and Neos itself. Since the deck packs so many LIGHT monsters, Honest fends off whatever big monsters your opponent IS willing to commit, while Hero Blast creates favorable trades and clears the way for attacks.

So we have a unique deck concept. Not one that's “unique” in the sense that no one's built it yet – indeed, many Duelists have posted their Neos decks online over the past several weeks (part of the reason I'm so eager to throw my build into the ring). But unique in the sense that the strategy occupies a small niche in Dueling strategy – that of the “field wipe” deck – and further unique in that it does things no other wipe deck can do. In creating my Neos deck I kept those exclusive points in mind, trying to build on them as much as possible to take full advantage of the deck choice.

Here's what I came up with:

Main Deck:
Monsters:
2 Chaos End Master
3 Elemental Hero Necroshade
3 Elemental Hero Neos
3 Elemental Hero Prisma
1 Elemental Hero Stratos
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
3 Honest

Spells:
1 Brain Control
3 E - Emergency Call
1 Heavy Storm
2 Hero Mask
2 Lightning Vortex
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
3 O - Oversoul
1 Reinforcement of the Army
3 Wrath of Neos

Traps:
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Call of the Haunted
3 Hero Blast
1 Torrential Tribute

Extra Deck:
1 Elemental Hero Grand Neos
1 Elemental Hero Necroid Shaman
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Red Dragon Archfiend
1 Thought Ruler Archfiend
1 Colossal Fighter

The strategy is simple – use the threat of Wrath of Neos to keep opponents off balance, then exert pressure to simplify the game, deal damage, and take advantage of your opponent's unwillingness to commit too many cards at one time. And it all starts with one of the best two cards-openings ever.

Starting Things Off With A Blast!
Hero Blast is a pretty bossy card. While simple 1-for-1 cards like Smashing Ground and Bottomless Trap Hole are mainstays of competitive Dueling thanks to their ability to cleanly destroy one of your opponent's monsters for just one card of your own, Hero Blast does those cards one better by giving you a straight +1 in the process. It blows away a monster, then sends a card back to your hand from your Graveyard. Awesome stuff if you can get it to work, and a great reward for playing a demanding and tricky strategy.

The power of Hero Blast is limited by the contents of your graveyard – the higher the ATK of the “Elemental Hero” normal monsters you've yarded, the better Hero Blast is. You could wait around until someone destroyed your Neos, but the obvious and best way to load your graveyard is simply through the use of Elemental Hero Prisma. Summon Prisma, activate its effect declaring Elemental Hero Grand Neos, kick Neos from your deck to your yard, and set Hero Blast. You're ready to go – next turn you'll take down anything short of Stardust Dragon, while adding that Neos to your hand.

This is beautiful, because unless your opponent has Mystical Space Typhoon or Heavy Storm and is willing to play it “blind”, there's not much that he can do. If your opponent summons Elemental Hero Stratos or Card Trooper you'll be stuck using your Hero Blast to make an even trade in card presence instead of scoring a fast +1, but you'll still get to take a free swing with Prisma. If your opponent attacks with anything else, they're getting robbed of a card, and if he goes for an early synchro summon or a tribute summon, you just Blast the monster he's going to tribute or tune with in response to that card being summoned. Next turn you'll swing with Prisma, while using its effect a second time to load your graveyard again.

This play is huge, so I did everything I could to make it happen as often as possible. That means maxing out on Hero Blasts, and packing seven ways to get to Prisma for immediate summoning – three E – Emergency Call, a Reinforcement of the Army, and three copies of Prisma itself. That means you'll be pulling off a Prisma / Blast opening 26% of the time, or once in every four Duels. Stratos can search for Prisma, but doing so consumes your normal summon and delays the play for a turn. However, there is one more delicious pick that can set up Hero Blast in a pinch.

Time To Mask Up
Often when people discuss this deck, they'll talk about using Foolish Burial to get Neos to the graveyard. That sets up Hero Blast, O – Oversoul, Call Of The Haunted, and similar cards, so the intent is solid. The problem with Foolish Burial isn't that it's a bad idea, it's just that Elemental Heroes happen to have a much better alternative.

If you aren't familiar with Hero Mask, it's a quirky little common buried amongst much flashier cards in Light of Destruction. If you control a face-up monster, you can send an “Elemental Hero” from your deck to your graveyard and give the name of that monster to the on-field dude you control. It's Foolish Burial for Elemental Heroes! The added bonus is that if you kick Neos to the yard, the face-up monster you stick its name on becomes a valid target for Wrath of Neos. That means any monster in this deck could potentially become Wrath fodder. Mask saves you a normal summon when you want to Wrath and then summon an attacker, and it lets you send Stratos back to your deck so you can search it out and summon it again. Both are very worthwhile tricks.

Besides, actually playing freakin' Hero Mask is awesome! Enjoy the many confused looks you'll get from opponents, because the only thing sweeter than victory is victory achieved with jank commons!

Shades of Awesome
Aside from Elemental Hero Neos, the other monster you're likely to want to send to the graveyard via Hero Mask and Prisma is Elemental Hero Necroshade. Necroshade's really cool because he fits into a set of specific play patterns this deck adheres to, and it's another card that a lot of people skip when they're making their Neos decks. Once Necroshade hits the graveyard, its effect will let you bypass the tribute for a Neos or another Necroshade later. That's good, because it turns copies of Neos that you draw into live cards, while also comboing with Hero Blast. Blast a Neos back to your hand, and you'll be able to normal summon it with Necroshade's ability, immediately leveraging your +1 into real results.

Necroshade also happens to be one of the few monsters Chaos-End Master can special summon. You can search End Master out with Reinforcement of the Army, boost it up with Honest, and when it takes down something in battle you'll get to special summon a free Necroshade. If you use Honest to make that happen it's another easy +1 play (you lose Honest, your opponent loses his monster, and you gain Necroshade). If you don't need Honest, and End Master wins his battle naturally, it's a straight +2. That's pretty vicious, and once you hit Main Phase 2 you can tune End Master to Necroshade for a Level 8 synchro monster. Not only will you score a Stardust Dragon or Colossal Fighter for no loss of card presence, you'll also be sending Necroshade to the graveyard so you can use its ability later. Pretty slick!

Running End Master also brings more wipe-factor to the strategy. Brain Control on a Level 4 monster will give you access to Black Rose Dragon when you tune the monster you stole to your Level 3 End Master, giving you one more way to threaten your opponent with a field clear. Fun stuff.

Rules To Remember
Whenever we play with cards that aren't seen all too often at tournaments, it's always good to know what you're getting into. In the case of this deck, specific card erratas and rulings changes come into play as well, so let's do a quick review of some top issues.

Elemental Hero Prisma's effect asks you to reveal a Fusion Monster and send a monster from your deck to your graveyard as a cost, not as part of its resolution. This is a rulings reversal that took effect last summer just before the World Championship, and some online rulings resources aren't current on it. Rest assured, it's pulled straight from the official OCG rulings database. This ruling was bad news for Gladiator Beasts, because it meant that they could lose their one copy of Bestiari to the graveyard for nothing if their Prisma got hit by Bottomless Trap Hole. It's good news for Neos decks though, which definitely want to throw Neos to the graveyard regardless of whether or not Prisma survives.

Wrath of Neos and Hero Mask both require face-up monsters to resolve. Neither card technically has a cost, so if the monster you planned to use is turned face-down by Book of Moon (or removed via other means), you won't get your effect. Few Duelists will realize this, but be sure to take advantage of the ones who do by trying to tease out a Book when doing so plays into your favor.

Lastly, Necroshade's effect only lets you normal summon a monster without tribute – it doesn't let you special summon a monster. This might seem like a stupid thing to point out, but it's a common mistake for people to make.

Beating Redundancy
One of the interesting things about this build lies in how it deals with redundant cards. For instance, it plays three copies of Wrath of Neos even though Wrath isn't always useful. The same can be said of O – Oversoul, Hero Blast, and even Necroshade.

The deck really wants to run three copies of all of these cards for sake of reliability, and because they all make for some awesome moves. The first line of defense against such redundancies is the use of a tight monster lineup. There simply isn't room for stuff like Elemental Hero Neos Alius or Thunder King Rai-Oh, and while both are frequently seen in Neos decks, they just don't seem necessary here. Though their size is impressive they aren't as big as Neos itself, and neither card feeds the deck's key combos the way Prisma can. They don't bring anything terribly valuable or unique to the deck either, making the End Master engine the obvious choice instead of just piling on more beatsticks. Because we eliminate redundancy in the monster lineup, we free up space for more spells and traps, regaining some flexibility. This is an interesting technique you can apply to other decks you build in the future.

In addition, quick use of key cards can eliminate dead draws. For instance, Prisma's effect will send an undesirable draw (Neos or Necroshade) to the graveyard every turn, eliminating the dead stuff while getting you one card closer to your Oversouls and Wraths. Playing an End Master early ensures that you'll draw one less copy of Necroshade, while getting a Necroshade into the yard means future copies you draw will function as viable plays. While Necroshade's 1600 ATK isn't huge, you may as well normal summon it unless you plan to hang back and combo it with Lightning Vortex or a really awkward Brain Control. Though each Necroshade's effect can only be used once, the Necroshade you summon will replace the lost effect of your first copy.

For this reason, it's important to prioritize your plays in the correct order. Prisma is often a better Turn 1 or Turn 2 play than Elemental Hero Stratos, something which may seem counterintuitive at first. Protecting that Prisma is important as well, making early Honests and Bottomless Trap Holes better moves than they would be in other decks. In addition, make sure to balance how many copies of Necroshade and Neos you send to the graveyard. While having at least two copies of Neos in the yard is usually ideal, one copy of Necroshade can convert the other two Necroshades and your remaining two copies of Neos into live cards should you draw them. Another thing to consider – if you scored the Prisma / Blast opening, then using your Prisma to send Necroshade to the graveyard on Turn 2 (instead of a second Neos) means you can normal summon the Neos you got Last Turn, threatening 4200 damage.

Literally A Blast To Play
The competitive potential of this deck remains to be seen, as serious testing is lacking. However, it packs some great plays that can really mess up the top four decks of today's tournaments, and its redundancies are well-compensated for. There really isn't anything out there that does what this deck can do, and even small tweaks can add even more flashy moves and unexpected tactics (such as trading the second Hero Mask for Neo-Spacian Grand Mole, opening up Grand Neos plays). Synergy between O – Oversoul and Hero Mask can make for extremely explosive early games, and the whole thing is like playing against a lit powder keg. It's deceptively difficult to play against, and a ton of fun to wield yourself.

It's pretty affordable, too. The spells and traps are all non-foils save Wrath of Neos, which can be had for under a dollar. Honest gets reprinted in a couple of weeks in Twilight Edition, Necroshade comes from a Starter Deck, and the only “money” cards (Prisma and End Master) are currently at an all-time low on the secondary market. The fact that you can get End Masters online for $10 is nuts – whether you want to build this deck or not, do yourself a favor and pick up some End Masters now while they're nice and cheap.

Remember that while this is a fun deck designed primarily for casual or local level play, succeeding with it will require knowledge of some decent core theory. Remember, your goal here is to take advantage of an experienced player's unwillingness to lose cards to Wrath of Neos, while grinding out card advantage and clearing the field with simple +1 plays like Hero Blast and Chaos-End Master. This deck isn't easy to play, and approaching it as just a simple Beatdown won't reveal its full potential. If you're playing against a less experienced Duelist who doesn't know to fear card loss, you might wipe a huge field with Wrath and make a huge plus, or you simply might get pounded by lucky draws and aggressive removal. Remember that different players play differently, and make sure to adjust your pace accordingly.

In fact, that notion that Duelists of different experience levels play differently (for better and for worse), is actually the topic of next week's article. But for now, throw this deck together, take it out to a local, and try it yourself! It's got one of the best openings out there, it can really rattle some teeth, and it plays a lot of stuff you just won't get to run anywhere else.

Have fun with it, and have a great New Year's!

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Believe in more than you can see for it is faith that brings miracles to light.

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