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Harping on Harpies!

Harpies have been around for a long time, and I mean a really long time! They were always a fan favorite strategy, but as far as serious competition’s concerned they were never really up to snuff. However, we recently got previews of Harpie support way down the line in the upcoming Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy set and that got me pretty excited. After having some fun proxying the new cards, I realized that testing for something that far away didn’t make a lot of sense. But, I’d still gone through all of my cards to find Cyber Harpie Ladies and Harpie Queens, so I though might as well make something that’s worth playing right now.

Because of the general constants of this format, I knew that an anti-meta strategy would be the best way to go. But figuring out what other cards to play was difficult; making a deck that was simply anti-meta cards with some Harpie monsters didn’t seem fitting at all. There weren’t any real strategic reasons to do it, and their interactions weren’t powerful enough to justify it. So I scoured my thoughts for something better, and after a few database searches I figured it out. After a few painstaking hours of testing and figuring out numbers I finally came to this:

Monsters: 15
3 Beast King Barbaros
3 Cyber Harpie Lady
2 Dragunity Darkspear
3 Harpie Queen
2 Mist Valley Falcon
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh

Spells: 7
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
2 Harpie’s Hunting Ground
1 Monster Reborn
2 Pot of Duality

Traps: 18
3 Call of the Haunted
3 Icarus Attack
2 Mirror Force
3 Skill Drain
1 Solemn Judgment
2 Solemn Warning
2 Starlight Road
2 Torrential Tribute

Extra: 15
1 Ancient Fairy Dragon
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Mist Valley Thunder Lord
1 Scrap Archfiend
2 Stardust Dragon
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Gem-Knight Pearl
1 Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis
1 Maestroke the Symphony Djinn
1 Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 50: Blackship of Corn
1 Photon Papilloperative
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines

Hunting Season
The thing that Harpies are best at right now is blowing away back row cards. Harpie’s Hunting Ground is searchable, and gives you immediate card advantage if used correctly. Ensuring that you play around Bottomless Trap Hole is important, but for once, Summoning a monster into multiple set cards is what you want to do. The ATK boost is also relevant: letting your Harpie cards get over the majority of Normal Summoned monsters is very important. You don’t want to be wasting cards on the littler things. The ability to play Icarus Attack is also a huge bonus, a great way to deal with threats while either maintaining or generating card advantage. But Icarus Attack does much more than that. Normally Bottomless Trap Hole is a huge problem: it doesn’t matter if Harpie’s Hunting Ground is in play if the only card you can pop is a chainable Bottomless Trap Hole. Icarus Attack allows you to take the opportunity to outplay a Bottomless, and then destroy your opponent’s monsters during those bad situations. Icarus is just an overall insane card, and being able to play it with monsters that will typically generate card advantage anyway means that we’ll be blowing away a lot of cards very fast.

Recurring Nightmare
If you checked out that deck list, you might be scratching your head about Dragunity Darkspear and Mist Valley Falcon. If you’re unfamiliar with their interaction, Mist Valley Falcon forces you to bounce one of your cards when it attacks, which means that you can reuse stuff like Call of the Haunted. Dragunity Darkspear can retrieve Mist Valley Falcon from the graveyard, so if you us Call of the Haunted on Darkspear, you can tribute it to fetch Mist Valley Falcon from your graveyard, leaving Call of the Haunted on the field. See where I’m going with this? Those three cards in combination give you the ability to keep putting a threat into play. The interaction may seem gimmicky, but it can be used to grind out card advantage fairly quickly. Some decks stumble pretty early, and a 2000 ATK monster can make short work of their Life Points.

There’s more to it than just that though: Dragunity Darkspear and Call of the Haunted can also be used to bring back Harpie Ladies, meaning more card advantage off of Harpie’s Hunting Ground. We’re able to tie the combo into our main strategy, giving us a pretty good reason to play it. Dragunity Darkspear and Mist Valley Falcon also work under Skill Drain, a very good thing for us. We want our cards to be consistent while pushing us over the top on card advantage, so the more synergistic our strategy is the better.

Problem? Drain it
Skill Drain is a very big reason why I want to play this deck. It’s very simple for Skill Drain to just take over a game, only being weak against Mermail strategies. All of our combos and things that we want to be doing are just better under Skill Drain, so having a near zero drawback is a very big plus. Skill Drain also allows us to do something that’s very subtle: not play hand traps. Normally, a turn one Wind-Up Magician paired with Wind-Up Shark can spell defeat for a lot of strategies. What Skill Drain does is allow us to get completely back in the game. When the Wind-Up player’s field is filled with Xyz Monsters and Skill Drain is flipped, they all basically become vanillas that are susceptible to removal and can’t even beat over something like Beast King Barbaros.

So beyond all of our cool card interactions, ways to get card advantage, and synergies we also have Skill Drain to back it up. It’s pretty fantastic when everything comes together and you realize that you’re still able to play more and more powerful cards while maintaining that consistency which is so important. The decks that Skill Drain is good against usually lose to it, while the decks that Skill Drain isn’t good against are generally weak to the rest of this deck. Between Harpie’s Hunting Ground, Icarus Attack, and our plethora of removal cards we’re able to keep all of our match-ups relatively solid.

Results
So it’s clear that the theory is there: you have cards that are very good against certain strategies with the rest bringing up the other end. With all of that you have some cool combos, synergistic cards, and the ability to pressure your opponent constantly in many different ways. But does that mean we have a flawless format-breaking strategy? Not really. The problem with most anti-meta decks still holds true here: sometimes you don’t have enough answers and aren’t able to stabilize fast enough. While we max out the cards that can allow us to keep control of the game, there will be duels where you just can’t get to them in time.

Even though two sets from now we’ll have a few more broken Harpie cards that will give us more than enough reason to throw away the anti-meta theme, this is the best we can do as of now. The deck’s fun and can deal with the popular competitive strategies just as well as any other aggressive control deck can. The best part of it all is probably that no one will have any idea what you’re doing; surprise is one of the best things you can have on your side. When your opponent doesn’t understand the best way to play around your cards, let alone that you’re able to grind them out in the late game, you can put yourself in a position to win that you would normally never have.

-Robert Boyajian

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