Regional Top 8: Brandon Ramos’s Brethren Cyber Herald

Whenever I play any card game I want to be doing the most powerful thing I can, and negating every one of my opponent’s cards is pretty far up there.

That’s why I’ve always been a big fan of Herald of Perfection, but in recent times the deck has definitely declined. The threat of Kaiju was a big hit to the deck’s viability. Not only are Kaiju an easy way to answer Herald, but they fit into the Main Deck or Side Deck of just about any strategy out there.

So why would it be worth playing Herald of Perfection as it stands now?

cyberangelbenten-drl3-en-scr-1eA while back, Sandro Ficini made the Top 32 of YCS Rimini with a variant of Herald of Perfection we’d never seen before: Cyber Herald. With the addition of a couple Cyber Angels along with the insane power of Ritual Sanctuary, the Herald game plan took on a completely different dimension while gaining a ton of consistency. The deck could run Star Seraphs thanks to the search power of Cyber Angel Benten, making it easier to combo off, and Ritual Sanctuary even let you abuse them in later stages of the game.

The fact that the Star Seraphs are conveniently Fairies means that even if you draw them and don’t have a complete combo, you can always throw them away for Herald of Perfection’s effect and fuel your negation. Sandro Ficini’s finish influenced many others to try to repeat his success, and he essentially gave new life to the strategy.

Fast forward to today, and Brandon Ramos may have taken things a step further with another piece of innovation: Ties of the Brethren. We saw just how powerful a strategy built around Ties could be when Aaron Furman took a Brethren-centric Majespecter list to the Top 4 of YCS Minnesota, but we haven’t seen it much since. Ties of Brethren is extremely powerful, but if your deck’s only good when you draw it, then your strategy probably can’t go the distance in a big tournament.

But Cyber Herald was already fine as it was, and I think that Ties of the Brethren solves one of the biggest problems I’ve had with Herald of Perfection in the modern era. Let’s take a look at Ramos’s list.

Brandon Ramos’s Brethren Cyber Herald
Henderson Regional Qualifier, January 21st 2017
Monsters: 20

HeraldofPerfectionTSHD-EN-UR-1E1 Barrier Statue of the Heavens
3 Cyber Angel Benten
1 Cyber Angel Idaten
3 Herald of Perfection
2 Honest
2 Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands
1 Saffira, Queen of Dragons
3 Star Seraph Scepter
3 Star Seraph Sovereignty

Spells: 20
3 Dawn of the Herald
1 Hymn of Light
1 Instant Fusion
2 Pot of Desires
3 Pre-Preparation of Rites
1 Preparation of Rites
1 Raigeki
3 Ritual Sanctuary
1 Sprite’s Blessing
1 Terraforming
2 Ties of the Brethren
1 Twin Twisters

Traps: 1
1 Vanity’s Emptiness

tiesofthebrethren-ldk2-en-ur-1eExtra Deck: 15
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Daigusto Emeral
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Evilswarm Ouroboros
1 Fairy Cheer Girl
1 Gagaga Cowboy
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Number 39: Utopia Beyond
1 Number 80: Rhapsody in Berserk
1 Number S39: Utopia Prime
1 Number S39: Utopia the Lightning
1 Stellarknight Constellar Diamond
1 Stellarknight Delteros

Side Deck: 15
1 Artifact Lancea
1 Consecrated Light
2 Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
2 Maxx “C”
2 Royal Decree
2 Santa Claws
2 System Down
1 Twin Twisters
2 Urgent Ritual Art

While I don’t think it’s perfect, Ramos does a lot of things here that I’m super impressed with. The first big difference-maker is Tie. Herald’s always been known for consistency issues since Ritual strategies need specific cards to get going. By adding Ties of the Brethren, you get another card that can make your worst hands much better, and make your good hands practically broken. How does Ties of the Brethren do that for Cyber Herald?

At first glance, I thought that Ties of the Brethren was just another way to abuse Star Seraphs or something like that, but what Ramos does is both simpler, and so much stronger. Ties of the Brethren is usually as powerful as the monsters you summon with it, and here you get Barrier Statue of the Heavens and Honest.

BarrierStatueoftheHeavens-CDIP-EN-C-1EIf you aren’t familiar with the Barrier Statues, they’re basically a bunch of Attribute themed Fossil Dyna Pachycephalos. Turning off all Special Summons except for Lights hurts every major strategy aside from ABC-Dragon Buster, while not slowing your game plan at all. To make things even better, you get to return that Honest you Special Summoned to your hand, giving you a way to defend the Barrier Statue from any potential attacker.

If you can throw Saffira, Queen of Dragons into the mix, things obviously get better. Even if you just have the soft lock of Barrier Statue and Honest, Saffira lets you continue abusing Honest to make sure you can protect the Barrier Statue. You can do the same thing with Ritual Sanctuary, though it’s a bit more costly. That’s why presenting a fast clock along with the Barrier Statue is so important: if your opponent has enough time they can get through the first Honest and just swing again the following turn.

Any hand you draw with a Level 4 Light Fairy and Ties of the Brethren gets you to a solid set-up that can buy you some time, if not win you the game. But consider the hands that let you Ritual Summon Herald of Perfection while still leaving you with Ties of the Brethren, and you can easily see why it’s so absurd. Normal Summoning a Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands or Senju of the Thousand Hands is already a big part of the Herald game plan, and they’re perfect targets for Ties. Herald backed by Honest is already notoriously powerful, but throw a Barrier Statue into the mix and you have an easy recipe for success.

The biggest issue I’ve had with Herald is that it’s so hard for it to be effective when your opponent has easy outs like Kaijus. That made me focus very heavily on Archlord Kristya in the past, because the only way you could really answer the Kaiju was using Kristya to stop your opponent from tributing it away. But with Ties of the Brethren, you don’t need to do anything cute to make that happen. You get a monster that’s effectively Archlord Kristya anyways, along with Honest to shore up the ATK deficit. It’s much more consistent than Archlord Kristya, because you couldn’t always guarantee that you’d meet the requirements to summon it. All Ties of the Brethren takes is a Level 4 Light Fairy.

StarSeraphSovereignty-WSUP-EN-PScR-1ETies of the Brethren is insane with the Star Seraph combo opening too. If you have Star Seraph Scepter and Star Seraph Sovereignty plus Ties, the amount of free cards you generate is bonkers. You’ll end with Stellarknight Delteros and Barrier Statue of the Heavens on the field; two fresh draws, thanks to the two copies of Star Seraph Sovereignty; plus Honest in your hand. You also have the option of Number S39: Utopia Prime which you can then Rank-Up into Number S39: Utopia the Lightning, though that’s only good against a developed field.

Upstart Goblin really interests me here, since it could lend a little more consistency to the core game plan and actually making combos with your Star Seraph into Ties opening. You’d pay yourself down to 6000 Life Points for Ties and push your opponent up to 9000 with Upstart, giving you the exact 3000 Life Point disparity requirement for Number S39: Utopia Prime’s effect, clearing your opponent’s field of Special Summons. While I don’t think that’s an essential argument to include Upstart Goblin, because it’s already good enough to use on its own, the fact that you have that kind of combo available going second is super cool.

Sprite’s Blessing was another interesting addition, a generic Ritual Spell that can Ritual Summon any Light Ritual. It’s nice to have at least some way to Ritual Summon Cyber Angels if you need to, but notice that Ramos still played a single copy of Hymn of Light for Saffira, Queen of Dragons; probably because of the added protection effect Hymn offers. He has also played a single copy of Cyber Angel Idaten, something that we hadn’t seen before, as an additional option with Sprite’s Blessing.

Side Deck Tech
There are a bunch of sweet cards in Ramos’s Side Deck, likely because he can search them with Cyber Angel Benten and even get them back with Ritual Sanctuary. Artifact Lancea can combat ABC-Dragon Buster, a matchup that might be a little bit troublesome because it gets around Barrier Statue of the Heavens. You can also use Lancea’s effect when it’s on the field, so if you can bring it back with Sanctuary you can use it again.

You can even reuse it with Saffira, Queen of the Dragons, and Saffira synergizes with Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit in the same way. Consecrated Light’s obviously strong against Dark strategies, though it requires a Normal Summon and that makes it a bit weaker. On the other hand, its recursion requirement for Ritual Sanctuary is super low because it’s only Level 1, so it does have that going for it.

SantaClaws-PGL2-EN-GScR-1ESanta Claws is the coolest card in the Side Deck, basically acting as a Kaiju that Ramos can search for thanks to his Cyber Angel Benten. In addition to that, he can Special Summon Santa Claws to his side of the field with Ritual Sanctuary once he deals with it, so he can benefit from the card draw. That additional draw alongside Herald of Perfection is an obvious way to win a game, but it clearly takes a lot to set up.

The last card I want to talk about is Urgent Ritual Art, another way to potentially answer Kaijus or just about anything your opponent could use to deal with your Herald. As soon as they eliminate the Herald you can spring into action with Urgent Ritual Art to make sure they can’t do anything too crazy. It gets even better if you let them invest a couple of resources first; surprising them with a Herald of Perfection mid-combo after they’ve used up a ton of cards is a very easy way to win.

Ties of the Brethren is definitely the best way to be playing Herald of Perfection right now. While I think that Ramos has a very good starting point here, I think it could get even better with more fine tuning, so I’m very excited to see what Herald may do in the future.

-Robert Boyajian

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