YCS Top 32: Sandro Ficini’s Cyber Herald

YCS Toronto and YCS Rimini were held the same weekend, both under the old Forbidden & Limited list. While that would normally render a lot of information from those tournaments irrelevant because there were so many changes, there are always exceptions. One of which was at YCS Rimini, where Sandro Ficini made it all the way to the Top 32 with Cyber Herald!

An excuse to write about Herald of Perfection? Sign me up.

I tend to get drawn to cards that I think are powerful, and Herald of Perfection is definitely one of them. The ability to negate anything your opponent throws at you is obviously absurd; you get to dictate what parts of their game plan work and what falls flat, so you’re in complete control.

HeraldofPerfectionTSHD-EN-UR-1EBut with great power comes great responsibility, and Herald of the Perfection has always been known for certain problems. Issues of consistency and the challenge of managing your opponent’s answers for Herald are just some of the problems that you need to solve. That said, the F&L list made the best strategies worse and not better, so if Herald succeeded at YCS Rimini there’s a good chance it can keep doing so in the new format.

So what makes Herald more relevant now than before? Dragons of Legend: Unleashed had a ton of new Ritual cards that make the deck that much better. The first big one is part of a completely new Ritual archetype: Cyber Angels. Cyber Angel Benten’s great because you can tribute it to Ritual Summon Herald of Perfection and search a card in the process; if you use it in combination with Dawn of the Herald, you not only get a Light Fairy from your deck, but you return Benten to your hand. From there you can use the Benten to fuel a Herald negation, so you’re already in the money.

It gets better: to me, the real reason Benten stands out is that it searches WHATEVER Light Fairy you want – you can search cards that you never could before. Whether that’s a win condition, a combo piece, or just more fuel for Herald, it’s a good deal. Pre-Preparation of Rites was already the best way to summon Herald because it’s basically free, but with just Pre-Preparation of Rites and Benten things get really crazy. Those two cards can field Herald and set you up with a hand of Benten and any Fairy you want.

Next up, Ritual Sanctuary is absolutely nuts. Herald always had a problem with consistency. Older versions used to run an abundance of Normal Fairies to try and Summon Herald of Perfection with Advanced Ritual Art, fueling Archlord Kristya in the process, and thriving in the late game with Dark Factory of Mass Production. But that mean some of your hands were just abysmal; while you could always ditch any Fairy for Herald’s effect, sometimes you’d just brick your opening hand and could do absolutely nothing with a hand full of vanillas.

Ritual Sanctuary is a huge boost to your consistency, since it effectively lets you turn whatever spell you have into a Light Ritual Monster or a Ritual Spell. Trading your worst spell for a key combo piece so you can guarantee that you’ll summon your Herald is awesome, and there’s more to Ritual Sanctuary than just that alone. Herald used to avoid running too many non-Fairies simply because once you Summoned Herald, you wanted lots of Fairies to fuel your negations. On that note, Ritual Sanctuary also has another effect; you can recur Fairies by shuffling back used spells from your graveyard. That’s great for reviving big win conditions like Archlord Kristya or a properly Ritual Summoned Herald of Perfection. So Ritual Sanctuary doesn’t just aid consistency, but it also helps you do more in the late game.

Let’s take a look at how Sandro Ficini solved all those problems and discuss the factors that made his list so awesome.

Sandro Ficini’s Cyber Herald – 40 Cards
cyberangelbenten-drl3-en-scr-1eYCS Rimini, August 28th, 2016
Monsters: 18

3 Herald of Perfection
3 Cyber Angel Benten
1 Saffira, Queen of Dragons
3 Manju of Ten Thousand Hands
3 Star Seraph Sovereignty
3 Star Seraph Scepter
2 Summoner Monk

Spells: 22
3 Ritual Sanctuary
3 Terraforming
3 Pre-Preparation of Rites
3 Dawn of the Herald
3 Instant Fusion
1 Preperation of Rites
1 Hymn of Light
1 Soul Charge
1 Upstart Goblin
1 Raigeki
1 One Day of Peace
1 Metalfoes Fusion

ElderEntityNorden-CT12-EN-SR-LEExtra Deck: 15
1 Elder Entity Norden
1 Darkfire Dragon
1 Abyss Dweller
1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
1 Diamond Dire Wolf
1 Daigusto Emeral
1 Fairy Cheer Girl
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Evilswarm Ouroboros
1 Number 104: Masquerade
1 Stellarknight Delteros
1 Stellarknight Constellar Diamond
1 Constellar Ptolemy M7
1 Number 39: Utopia Beyond
1 Number 24: Dragulas the Vampiric Dragon

There’s a few interesting things about Finici’s deck, the biggest standout being the Star Seraph engine. Cyber Angel Benten gives this deck a ton of missing consistency; it lets you combo off even if you only draw Star Seraph Scepter or Sovereignty, as long as you can tribute away Benten for Dawn of the Herald. You just search whichever Star Seraph you don’t have, making Star Seraphs far more reliable than they’ve ever been before.

Star Seraphs were a huge force that dominated the OCG for quite some time, and even though they’ve yet to shine in the TCG, all we’re really missing is a good Rank 4 Xyz that needs three or more materials. Regardless, the Star Seraphs are Fairies, so worst case scenario you can ditch them for Herald of Perfection’s ability. Otherwise, comboing off with the Star Seraphs is crazy. For only two cards, you end with a three-material Rank 4, you draw two cards, and you can even destroy anything on the field to draw another one.

StarSeraphSovereignty-WSUP-EN-PScR-1EYou’ll often wind up with three fresh cards, a Rank 4, and your opponent’s down a card; all of that’s before you even activate the effect of whatever Rank 4 you summoned, which will typically take an additional card away from your opponent! That’s a huge swing for just two cards, and this deck probably does it better than any other strategy right now.
Summoner Monk and Instant Fusion are both fantastic alongside the Star Seraph engine. Monk can play a role similar to Ritual Sanctuary, ditching your worst spell to help you combo off, and just giving you more consistency for the Star Seraph engine. That’s huge. On the other hand, Instant Fusion for Elder Entity Norden gives you more bang for your buck once you’ve gone off. You can summon whatever Rank 4 Xyz you want, and there are a ton of awesome options.

Because you’re just getting back a Fairy with Norden, you can slide them together to Xyz Summon Fairy Cheer Girl to draw a card if you want more momentum. You can also do cool stuff like use Norden to bring back a Star Seraph, and let that trigger an-in hand Star Seraph Sovereignty so you can draw an extra card. So THAT’S pretty cool.

Ritual Sanctuary lets you do some awesome stuff with the Star Seraph engine too. Four spells is basically nothing when you’re trying to turbo through your deck, so bringing back a Star Seraph Scepter and triggering its effect for free is just as good as it sounds. You can also use Ritual Sanctuary to bring back your Elder Entity Norden, triggering its effect to get you another monster. Ritual Sanctuary’s a real all-star in both halves of the deck and those interweaving synergies are what you’re really looking for when you’re building a competitive strategy.

Single copies of Saffira, Queen of Dragons along with Hymn of Light are a staple in any Herald variant with Pre-Preparation of Rites now. You get a ton of utility out of Pre-Prep, and Saffira’s a great threat to pair with your Herald to make sure you never run out of cards. Metalfoes Fusion’s an interesting tech choice you can ditch with Summoner Monk or Ritual Sanctuary for a free draw too, so that’s pretty cute.

Moving Forward
There are a few things I’d probably change if I wanted to pilot this deck at a tournament. The first of which is the most glaring to me – the lack of Pot of Desires. I’m sorry but I just don’t want to take any deck to a competitive tournament without sleeving up Pot. Draw 2 effects are crazy, and Pot of Desires is as good as it’s going to get in terms of completely generic draw power. It’s not as much of a build-around as Card of Demise, and it’s not like Herald couldn’t use a couple extra cards to fix your occasional brick hands or just make sure you have the game locked once you summon Herald. It’s obviously best to just gas up after you’ve comboed off so you don’t have to worry about what you banish for Pot’s activation, but it’s always better to have some way to recover your brick hand than not.

PotofDesires-TDIL-EN-ScR-1EMaxx “C” is a definite staple for me right now, right up there with Pot of Desires. You didn’t want to see it against Monarchs last format, but with that match-up out of the picture I think it’s by far the best hand trap. Something similar can be said about the decline in popularity of Demise Kozmo and Demise strategies in general. Maxx “C” is the most played monster in the OCG for a reason; its power level is unrivaled in terms of what a single card can do, and that’s before you consider the synergies it has with Herald of Perfection.

If you ever go second, Maxx “C” is one of the few tools you can use to ensure your opponent doesn’t establish a big field and render your Herald useless. You can also let your opponent Special Summon a little while you have a Herald up to feed a Maxx “C”, putting your opponent in a worse position where they’re half committed to the table and will have to play into your negations if they push. Most of the time Maxx “C” is at worst just a cycling effect that draws you another card, so why not use two copies?

I also feel like the lack of Archlord Kristya’s definitely a mistake. Cyber Angel Benten is searchable with a decent number of cards, making Archlord Kristya very easy to find. Because you have the Star Seraph engine as well, getting four Fairies into the graveyard is really easy. Archlord Kristya’s one of the few ways you can hope to beat Kaiju, and if they continue to be popular even with the fall of Monarch and Kozmos, I think not using Kristya is just silly.

We didn’t touch on the Extra Deck much, but it seems worthwhile to run Thousand-Eyes Restrict if you’re already playing Instant Fusion. It just gives more value to additional copies of Instant Fusion if you draw them.

In terms of what I’d remove for those six cards, I think I’d start with some of the spells. One Day of Peace has always seemed much better than it is, unless you’re actually FTKing your opponent. Giving your opponent a card means that you essentially lose a card to a 1-for-1 trade with a Herald negation, making whatever you get off of One Day of Peace essentially worthless. Raigeki also feels very weird here and sort of plays a similar role to Maxx “C”, so that seems like an easy switch.

Metalfoes Fusion is another card that seems very cool in theory, but I don’t think it adds that much to what you’re trying to do. The good thing about all of these spells is you can ditch them in worst case scenarios, but if more factors lead you to discarding them than using them, that probably means you can play with better cards.

The next three cuts are a much tougher question because there’s less obvious fat to trim. Summoner Monk, Instant Fusion, and Soul Charge are all on the chopping block because they’re nonessential to your Herald game plan. The issue is though that they make your Star Seraph engine leagues better, so you could lose too much by cutting them. Perhaps the Saffira and Hymn could go, but you lose out on a lot of utility from Pre-Preparation of Rites if you do, as well as the inevitability Saffira provides alongside Herald. This strategy used to be notorious for stumbling over simple problems, and I think Instant Fusion helps solve that thanks to Norden and Thousand-Eyes. That said, slimming it away could be the right thing to do just because the second Instant Fusion isn’t nearly as good as the first even with Thousand-Eyes Restrict.

300px-ArchlordKristya-CT08-EN-SR-LE-2 Instant Fusion
-1 Raigeki
-1 One Day of Peace
-1 Metalfoes Fusion

+1 Archlord Kristya
+2 Maxx “C”
+3 Pot of Desires

So while these changes unfortunately put you to 41 cards, which is probably not exactly what you want in Herald, I think it’s good to at least try things out. For example I could be completely wrong about how good Maxx “C” is in this deck, because you really just want to combo off when you’re going first; only having four cards to do so because you have a dead-for-the-moment Maxx “C” might not be enough. I could also be wrong about any of the other cards I chose to keep in, but only testing will tell.

What do you think of Ficini’s Cyber Herald deck? Do you think that it can thrive in the new format? What changes would you make to his list if you wanted to use it at a competitive tournament? Let’s see your answers down below!

-Robert Boyajian

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