Ever since Konami decided to revamp Archfiends with the release of Judgment of the Light, I've been deeply fascinated by the strategy and how it operates. It's a game of hidden potential, quite frankly. You see, the various archetypes of the Yugiverse are like people in many regards. Some, like Dragon Rulers or Dino Rabbit in their heyday, are easy – you figure them out right away and they give you everything you want immediately. Other themes – like Archfiends – are a little more respectable. They aren't going to give you what you want on the first try – no, you've got to get to know them first and then you can play with them. For me, mystery is attractive; half of the fun is guessing what's underneath the surface. This elusive quality is what finds me deeply enthralled with the new and improved Archfiends.

I couldn't help but wonder: can you take all of this raw beauty and dress it up into something sexy and fierce? Well, Thomas Lippman absolutely found a way! For the uninformed, Mr. Lippman went X-2 with Archfiends at YCS Atlanta; racking up some impressive Feature Matches and just missing the Top 32 because of a tie-breaker that didn't fall in his favor. It's easy enough for me to say that he was absolutely the rock star of the weekend. Thomas' build was everything the strategy needed: it was streamlined, concise, and fun. Glorious, really. What really gets my goat is the fact that you can build it from the ground up with relatively little strain on your wallet.

What I've got for you folks today is a build that could possibly be the next step in Archfiend strategy. Here I'm using Lippmann's incredible deck as a foundation, and building on it with just a few key card changes and in the process I thoroughly budgetized it for our mutual enjoyment. Let's delve right in, shall we?

DECKID=99896So if you've taken the time to examine the differences between my build and Thomas's you'll find one card that sticks out like a sore thumb: The First Monarch. This World Premiere from Shadow Specters was seemingly designed to make the Mega Monarchs easier to Tribute Summon. However, there are a few kinks in that plan. When The First Monarch is Special Summoned to the field, it hits as a Dark Fiend. Upon Special Summon though, you get the option to discard a card and declare an Attribute. Whatever you pick, The First Monarch becomes that Attribute and can be used as two Tributes for the Tribute Summon of a monster with that same Attribute.

It sounds all fine and dandy but if you notice, you're still taking a -1 overall just as if you Tributed two monsters. Konami just found a sly way to make it faster and easier at the same cost. This isn't an altogether terrible thing, however. Often you'll find monsters that you need in your graveyard that could use a bit of a faster set-up and The First Monarch allows you to achieve that. However, even if you do not discard for its effect, it still remains a Fiend-type monster and that alone is incredibly valuable.

What you've got here is a powerful and unpredictable card that carries high levels of synergy with a strategy that's already remarkably cohesive! This deck has two big power players in its midst: the Level 6 Archfiend Commander and the Level 8 Archfiend Emperor, the First Lord of Horror. When you add Archfiend Palabyrinth to this simmering saucepan of synergy, you get quite the caustic concoction – as well as an abundance of alliteration, literally speaking. To better understand the options at hand, you first have to wrap your head around the wall of text that is Archfiend Palabyrinth:

All Fiend-Type monsters you control gain 500 ATK. You can target 1 "Archfiend" monster you control; banish 1 other Fiend-Type monster you control, and if you do, Special Summon from your hand, Deck, or Graveyard, 1 "Archfiend" monster with same level as the targeted monster. You can only use this effect of "Archfiend Palabyrinth" once per turn.

Did you catch all of that? There's a lot going on here but all of it's great. First off, there's that 500 ATK boost which isn't something to be overlooked. What really makes Palabyrinth incredible however, is that second block of text. When used in conjunction with The First Monarch you can get some incredible results.

Take first, for instance, its interaction with Archfiend Emperor. You can fully Tribute Summon Archfiend Emperor using The First Monarch AND prime-up ammunition for the Emperor's effect by discarding an Archfiend card. However, if you have the Field Spell out, you can opt to Normal Summon the First Lord of Horror without Tribute and then bring out your second copy of Archfiend Emperor by using Palabyrinth's effect and banishing The First Monarch.

Often, I've found that the difficulty with comboing Emperor off of Palabyrinth is getting that second monster on the field without using up the Normal Summon you usually need for Archfiend Emperor. Along with Battle Fader, The First Monarch gives you a consistent means by which to successfully hit this particular combo– which is devastating when you consider the fact that you're dropping two Dark Armed Dragons and 5500 points of damage to the field.

Second In Command
While most of the interactions The First Monarch shares with Archfiend Emperor are designed to outright end your duel, Archfiend Commander usually plays the role of set-up and control. The plays are simple, elegant and effective. Both monsters are Level 6 – and that's the key thing to take from this: The First Monarch functions in this capacity as a means to facilitate Rank 6 Xyz Summons. In your early game, you often want to make your Rank 6 plays around Tour Guide From the Underworld; doing so pulls Commander straight from your deck and into the realm of easy access. But The First Monarch shines strongest in your mid and late game.

Archfiend Commander's gracious enough to give you many ways in which to get it onto the field, and this deck takes full advantage of them. First off, if you control another Archfiend monster you can Special Summon Commander from your hand and then destroy one of your Archfiend cards. That effect is what makes Tour Guide so righteous. If you open Tour Guide From the Underworld and Archfiend Commander, you can end your starting turn with Photon Strike Bounzer:

-Normal Summon Tour Guide From the Underworld.

-Using Tour Guide's effect, Special Summon Archfiend Heiress.

-Then, Special Summon Archfiend Commander and destroy Heiress.

-Heiress' effect kicks in at that point; grab Palabyrinth from your deck.

-Activate Palabyrinth and bring out a second Commander using its effect.

-Enjoy getting your Bounzer on.

All of that magic happens with just two cards and ends with an incredibly powerful Rank 6 Xyz of your choice – and you still have four cards in your hand. It's a daunting first turn set-up when it's bolstered with a solid back row. The First Monarch lets you make strong use of Commander's effect when you Tribute Summon it – especially if you find yourself with a second copy of Commander in your hand. That's a situation that can be unwieldy in normal circumstances but The First Monarch allows you to handle it with grace. Your Archfiend Commander will pull that second copy of itself from your graveyard when you Tribute Summon it with The First Monarch. For just being one trap, it brings a powerful level of consistency to that ability.

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When you Special Summon Commander using Archfiend's Roar, you can save it from destruction as well by overlaying it with The First Monarch – however you'll have to make Exa-Beetle unless you want to change The First Monarch's Attribute. Exa-Beetle though has been proving rather… exa-llent in my testing.

Mostly because of puns.

Alright, Buck. Where's The Bang?
This one's about $80 to build in its entirety. The Extra Deck has been maximized for minimal budgetary impact but it's still super effective!

So what's your thoughts, friends? How do we advance the cause here? I've found this strategy to be incredibly versatile and leaving your opponent without much wiggle room when you get things moving. I'm ridiculously smitten with what The First Monarch lends to here and I'm excited to see your thoughts on it.

-Zach Buckley
Team Nofatchx