Harpies are one of the game's oldest themes, and they're back in the spotlight in 2020 for three reasons.
First, a new round of the Lost Art promotion is headed our way once OTS stores reopen, and they'll include the OCG's original artwork for some big Harpie cards. Second, there's a new Harpie Synchro that's being teased in an upcoming OCG release. We don't know what it does yet, but Harpie cards on the secondary market jumped in price last month when the image was revealed. Lastly, Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty debuted in Duel Overload back in March, and Harpies just happen to be one of a handful of themes that can make the most of it.
The competitive outlook for Harpies haven't been great, but there are signs of greatness breaking through. Turn 1 lockdowns with Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty and Mist Valley Apex Avian or Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds can steal games, and so Harpie's Feather Storm is devastating against nearly every deck in the game. Harpies need those win conditions because the deck's core engine doesn't hold up against modern strategies.
That said, the Harpie monster line-up got a huge boost early last year with Harpie Perfumer in Legendary Duelists: Sisters of the Rose, and the deck's ability to pump out Link Monsters and Rank 4 Xyz has never been better.
Rank 4s And Link 3s - Harpies Do It All
There are a lot of Harpie cards out there, so let's start with the deck's best combo for building field presence.
Ideally you'll want to open with Harpie Channeler and Harpie Harpist or any other Harpie card. Harpist has an End Phase search effect that triggers after it lands in the graveyard, so it's the optimal discard for Channeler's Special Summon effect. Channeler will Summon Harpie Perfumer from the deck, and Perfumer's effect will then search Elegant Egotist. You can activate Elegant Egotist since you control 'Harpie Lady' as a result of Channeler and Perfumer's effects – a useful, but sometimes detrimental fact consistent across most Harpie monsters. When Elegant Egotist resolves and Special Summons Harpie Lady or Harpie Lady 1 you'll end up with three monsters on the field: exactly enough to Special Summon your Simorgh Link.
We've already narrowed down the best-of Harpies quite a bit. Harpie Lady, Channeler, Perfumer, and Harpist are by far the most effective line-up, and that's at least ten cards right there. Of course, you'll need more Harpies to make sure you can always pay Channeler's discard costs. Harpie Lady Queen doubles as a Terraforming for Harpies' Hunting Ground, so it's a solid pick for one or two slots. Harpie Dancer can generate insane card advantage with Divine Wind of Mist Valley, but the 2-card combination is a little risky. If Divine Wind of Mist Valley wasn't Limited you'd have a totally different discussion on your hands, especially since Harpist and Harpie Conductor play into that 'return to hand' mechanic.
Optionally there's a Level 5-centric build that revolves around Harpie Lady Sisters and some of the newer cards in Legendary Duelists: Sisters of the Rose. Cards like Harpie Perfumer, Harpie Oracle, and Harpie's Feather Rest benefit from having a Level 5 Harpie on the field, but Harpie Lady Sisters itself is an annoying dead draw that contributes very little towards your end goal of Summoning Rank 4s. Harpie's Feather Rest lets you draw two cards if you control Sisters when you resolve it, but it's already outclassed by Pot of Avarice.
This build prioritizes the Harpie Channeler starting play and leverages that field presence into Links and Rank 4 Xyz. It doubles down on all of the core Harpie monsters while adding extenders that support the deck's best combos. You'll want to reserve your Normal Summon for Channeler or Perfumer, so all of your extenders are exclusively Special Summons. There are a handful that I really like, including Unexpected Dai and Cockadoodledoo. I know Cockadoodledoo might seem like a meme choice here, but remember that one of your goals is to stop your opponent from Summoning or resolving monster effects. Spell and trap negation pairs perfectly with our gameplan, and Cockadoodledoo gives you easy access to F.A. Dawn Dragster when there are no other monsters on the field.
There are a few deck building points to keep in mind when putting Harpies together: first, you'll need to make sure you're running no more than three cards total of Harpie Lady, Harpie Lady 1, Harpie Lady 2, and Harpie Lady 3. All four of those monsters are considered "Harpie Lady" at all times, so they count towards the 3-card maximum for any single cards.
You'll also want to be careful when making Link Summons for monsters that require materials with different names. Most Harpie monsters pick up the "Harpie Lady" name while they're on the field or in the graveyard, and that can make Summoning Knightmare Phoenix impossible. Lastly, watch out for Channeller's Level-changing effect. It's not a problem if you're using it for a Link Summon, but just keep in mind that Channeler will jump to Level 7 if you control a Dragon. Make sure you use it for a Rank 4 or a Synchro Summon first before you field a Dragon-type.
Combo Starters Beyond Channeler
We've already spent some time talking about our starting combos in this deck, but let's quickly cover some alternatives. Normal Summoning Perfumer isn't a bad way to get the Harpie engine rolling, and if you have another extender available you can easily end on a board of Simorgh and Stormwinds without ever seeing Channeler.
Cockadoodledoo and Unexpected Dai will lead your Normal Summon, and if you happen to open with them and Channeler you can end with Harpie Lady 1 on the board alongside Stormwinds. You can also use Harpie Harpist to bounce your opponent's monsters by returning another Winged Beast – probably your Cockadoodledoo or Harpie Lady Summoned via Unexpected Dai – on your field to your hand. Harpist is useful for clearing a path through your opponent's worst monsters, but you'll need a copy of Egotist to avoid stalling out.
Cockadoodledoo and Unexpected Dai need to be activated before you start committing monsters to the board, but they're your best extenders for opening up the Extra Deck and kickstarting the Harpie engine. Cockadoodledoo totally changes its role as a Tuner depending on whether you're going first or second. Going first you'll typically use it to Summon F.A. Dawn Dragster, but going second you'll instead Summon Borreload Savage Dragon or Scrap Dragon. In the future we'll likely use Cockadoodledoo to Summon the upcoming Harpie Synchro Monster, or at least use it for Crystron Halqifibrax.
Elegant Egotist is a fantastic extender that needs a Harpie Lady on the field to work, so Unexpected Dai has the added benefit of bringing Egotist online. You'll search Egotist with Perfumer, but also with Hysteric Sign. Triggering Sign's End Phase search gives the deck a huge boost in resources and a much better shot at winning a grind game.
You can't activate both of Sign's effects in the same turn, so you'll still want to get as much mileage out of Perfumer as you can. Destroying Signs is as simple as Summoning a Harpie while Harpies' Hunting Ground is on the field, and you have more ways than ever to destroy it on your opponent's turn, including Tornado Dragon and Unchained Abomination.
Ending The Channeler Combo
The ideal defensive set-up in the Harpie strategy includes Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty and either Mist Valley Apex Avian with Mist Valley Thunderbird, or Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds. An extra negation body like F.A. Dawn Dragster is appreciated, but not absolutely necessary.
Tornado Dragon can also help out by destroying Hysteric Sign at some point before the end of the turn, and doing so will let you search Harpie's Feather Storm in addition to two other Harpie cards. You can fire off Feather Storm at the start of your opponent's turn as long as you control a Harpie monster, but we're also maxing out on Trap Trick to hopefully grab it as soon as possible. Resolving Trap Trick will still leave a copy of Feather Storm in the deck to search with Hysteric Sign, so you don't have to worry about running out of copies.
This particular build isn't using Apex Avian, Thunderbird, or Union Carrier, but you could go for a build that ends with the 'infinite negates' of Apex Avian fueled by Thunderbird. YouTuber Seto Merza has a great combo video that covers the set-up:
-Normal Summon Channeler, discard a Harpie card, and Special Summon Harpie Perfumer from the deck. Search Elegant Egotist with Perfumer's effect. Activate Egotist to Summon Harpie Lady from the deck
-Link Summon Dragunity Knight - Romulus with Harpie Lady and Harpie Channeler. Activate its effect to add Dragunity Divine Lance from your deck to your hand
-Equip Divine Lance to Romulus and activate its effect to equip Dragunity Phalanx from the deck. Special Summon Phalanx with its effect
-Link Summon Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty with Romulus and your remaining Harpie. Use Phalanx to Link Summon Guardragon Elpy in the right-most Main Monster Zone. Activate Elpy to Summon Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms from the deck
-Link Summon another Romulus or any other Link 2 Dragon with Tempest and Elpy. Special Summon Tempest from the graveyard with its effect and Link Tempest and your Dragon Link Monster for Union Carrier
-Target Simorgh with Union Carrier's effect to equip Mist Valley Thunderbird from the deck. During the End Phase, activate Simorgh to Summon Mist Valley Apex Avian from the deck
Obviously you'll need to play a handful of potential bricks to make this combo work, which is why I didn't make that build the focus of this article. I think it's probably overkill at the moment, but that could change if another Wind theme becomes viable, or if Harpie mirror matches become common. In the meantime Stormwinds answers most match-ups, though there are a handful of Wind attribute Adamancipators that could challenge your set-up. Backing up your floodgate with Harpie's Feather Storm is devastating enough, and this build is dedicated to pulling off that particular combo as consistently as possible.
Offensively you have some options to break through your opponent's board, including a few unique picks like Lightning Chidori and Ice Beast Zerofyne. Draco Masters of the Tenyi is also fantastic here since its effect will go live as soon as you get a copy of Harpie Lady in the graveyard. Between Draco Masters of the Tenyi and Unchained Abomination you'll have access to plenty of destruction effects, and Lightning Chidori nicely deals with monsters that resist destruction. Evilswarm Exciton Knight's useful for destroying your own Hysteric Sign, and Unchained Abomination will do the same in the End Phase.
Your ability to win with Harpies comes down to two questions: can you follow through after locking down your opponent's Summons and monster effects; and can you shatter your opponent's board, even after they successfully complete their combo? Answering the first question's largely a matter of resolving Hysteric Sign in addition to fielding Apex Avian or Stormwinds, and the second question is addressed by your Extra Deck and Side Deck. Access to Rank 4s, Level 7 and Level 8 Synchros, and Links gives you a variety of specialized tools to break apart your opponent's set-up. Of course, having a Field Spell at your disposal that can wipe out backrow is also incredibly helpful, and it can quickly drive some match-ups in your favor with very little effort.
Personally, I'm excited to see what the new Harpie Synchro has in store for us. With any luck it'll be just what this deck needs to stop relying solely on Simorgh to carry the strategy.
Until next time then