Remember when Duelist Alliance dropped, hammering the TCG with two themes that demanded to be one half of every mash-up people for the next six months? Burning Abyss monsters and Shaddoll Fusions flooded deck lists far and wide since squeezing cards from those two themes greatly bolstered the power of whatever rogue deck you were playing. Heck, you could even use Burning Abyss monsters in Dino Rabbit and Doug "Dragunity Tribus!!!" Zeeff suggested a Shaddoll Inzektor Hybrid.

Take a second to imagine the submissions I get for this column - if you guessed Shaddoll and Burning Abyss hybrids comprising about 90 percent of the submissions, you've guessed correctly. Personally, I really like Shaddolls, but I can't fix up Shaddoll decks every week since beating a dead horse is only fun for so long. Fast forward to the present with the recently released HERO's Strike structure deck and my inbox is drowning in Masked Hero hybrids.

Daniel H. from Columbia, South Carolina writes…

I love HERO decks and always have! I know you like Pilica and more Pilica, but HERO decks got good support, so what can you do? I've wanted to build HERO, but without Stratos I'm up a river without a paddle. #freeStratos

But of course, the Structure Deck is a breath of fresh air! Shadow Mist is so good, I can hardly contain myself! I wish I could use both of its effects once per turn, but I'll take what I'm given now. Without Stratos, anything is good. Really. I'll take any support at this point. Lightsworns are one of my other favorite decks because you can kill your opponent so quickly. A lot of people don't like Judgment Dragon, but you have to admit it's a fun card to play with. Why not try to couple all those good cards together?

I think Lightsworns really mesh with HERO monsters because of all the synergy in the deck, and since Mask Change II came out, all Light and Dark monsters turn into Masked HERO Koga and Masked HERO Shadow Mist. Are you smelling what I'm stepping in? All I want to do with the deck is OTK. The problem is, I don't actually deal lethal damage to my opponent all that often.


Daniel H.

Judgment Dragon is so cool. It's my absolute favorite. Everyone loves that card because it's so fair and balanced. I hope I get to play against Lightsworn for the rest of my life every day.

DECKID=101735As Daniel described, the deck's by and large a heavy hitter: you'll try to rip through your deck as fast as possible to get to your best cards – Judgment Dragon, Mask Change II, Lumina Lightsworn Summoner – for lethal damage on the first few turns. If you can't do that, well, hopefully Judgment Dragon will be enough to survive.

A Hero Doesn't Live Unless He Loves
In 2012, the fast paced HERO deck was really good at one thing - instantaneous death for your opponent. Abusing Elemental Hero Stratos and Elemental Hero Bubbleman, you could stack for two Warrior-exclusive Xyz Monsters: Heroic Champion - Excalibur and Blade Armor Ninja. Against an open field you'd put anywhere from 8000 to 8800 damage on board and frustrate the bananas out of your opponent. Capitalizing on E - Emergency Call, A Hero Lives and (obviously) Stratos, the OTK was pretty consistent for "Bubblebeat." If you didn't have the OTK, you could slow-roll the duel with Gemini Spark, Elemental HERO Neo Alius and Hero Blast.

Elemental HERO Shadow Mist is probably the closest substitute to Stratos we're going to have for a while. When it's Special Summoned, you search a Change card from your deck (hint: Mask Change) and when it hits the yard, search a HERO monster from your deck. Is it as good Stratos? No, considering you're limited to one effect and one use of it per turn. Realistically speaking, the double Blade Armor Ninja OTK is a thing of the past. Sorry, Daniel, - I know you're trying to mimic this oldschool strategy, but I don't think that's a valid option anymore. Sure, there are others ways to facilitate an OTK (Miracle Fusion, Judgment Dragon, A Hero Lives), but… well…

…I think you've already created a pretty strong version of what you're trying to do. Maxing out on Lightsworn support and running duplicates or triplicates of every card except the Limited Charge of the Light Brigade obviously leads to more consistent hands. Especially with so many ways to search out cards, your opening hand in one duel will be similar to the opening hands of other duels.

However, I found myself winning solely with the Lightsworn family and Judgment Dragon, dipping into the HERO Support Daniel loves. Masked HERO Koga's really freaking neat because it's ability is a Quick Effect, meaning I can attack with a Lightsworn; Mask Change II my monster into a Koga; banish a Shadow Mist for Koga's effect; and punish my opponent for more damage. Neat? Yes. Overpowered? Hardly. You'll get in there for some hefty damage, but it's neither flashy nor dependable.

Additionally, Koga's ATK boost fueled by banishing Shadow Mist is just a drop in the bucket. Given that Koga gets a 500 ATK boost for each monster your opponent controls, Koga's main strength is getting over just about every monster your opponent can throw at you. Good? Yes. Amazing? No. Since I wanted to abuse Koga as an effective means of winning, you'll need to use monsters with higher attack power. Sadly, most cards that fit the bill are Extra Deck monsters.

A Hero's Destiny
As Zach Buckley said in his article earlier this week, the HERO archetype is huge. Destiny HERO monsters are perfect for Koga, and these Main Deck monsters boast some of the highest ATK for HERO cards. Destiny HERO Plasma may only have 1900 ATK, but Destiny HERO Dogma boasts an impressive 3400 ATK! So that means Koga can banish these big guys from the graveyard for 1900 or 3400 ATK reduction, and since you'll be running over these guys in battle, it's basically just burn damage.

Fortunately, these Destiny HERO cards offer a whole lot of deck thinning synergy - after all, you want your good cards in your hand and your HERO cards – AKA Koga fodder – in your graveyard. Plasma and Dogma are Level 8 Destiny HERO monsters and thus targets for Trade-In and Destiny Draw. Packing six discard-to-draw cards and six compatible discards for those effects is pretty reasonable; at the very least, I want to squeeze those in. They speed up the deck, load your graveyard for Koga and they give me an excuse to use my Ultra Rare Destiny Draw.

But seriously, it works out consistently enough to merit use. The more I weaseled the HERO support into the deck, the less I liked Daniel's new BFF… Shadow Mist. Don't throw tomatoes at me just yet, because I'm not saying Shadow Mist isn't a good card. I found that I couldn't efficiently use its effect. By and large, I played Shadow Mist to search out Mask Change 80th instead of search a HERO. Even if I yarded Mist, I'd opt out of the second effect since there's a good chance I have used or will use Mist's first effect on any given turn. And honestly, the only two ways to triggers its search ability for Mask Change IV were Goblinbergh and A Hero Lives. So I either had to burn my Normal Summon or pay half my Life Points to get the better effect, just to get a Mask Change II. The more draw cards I added, the faster I drew the Spell naturally.

Oh, the bounty of choices.

Then, I stumbled across a cool card the way a fat kid stumbles across cake - by actively looking for it. Remember the card Ancient Sacred Wyvern? You know, the card that gets more ATK when you have more Life Points than your opponent? It's literally kicking your opponent when they're down. I think it's had two or three shining moments of glory, the most recent being a combo with Risebell the Star Adjuster, Emergency Teleport, Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Maiden with Eyes of Blue. Using Risebell to pump up Maiden, you get a Blue-Eyes and Wyvern for 8100 damage if you play your cards right.

Wyvern's only limitation is a Light Tuner. Guess what theme has a lot of Light Tuners? That's right, Fabled! Guess what deck sucks! Also right: Fabled! Since Fabled are arguably my favorite strategy of all time, I initially tried some Masked shenanigans in that deck before eventually resigning myself to crying on the floor because the concept was impossible to manage. And considering Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn was a Light Tuner and Lumina lets you make Wyvern at the drop of a hat, I thought it best to leave the wacky cards out and go for consistency. After all, all-or-nothing wombo-combo decks are already fragile enough - yikes!

Taking Chances: Little Cost, Little Benefit
It would be super-duper swell if you could play seven Solar Recharges, but sadly you can only max out at three copies. The same goes for Trade-In and Destiny Draw and each of the HERO monsters. You have your Koga food and your outlet to make Wyvern… and a bunch of other stuff, yes, but we're mainly focused on Wyvern… but you're left a few spots shy.

Which is exactly why I'd like to vouch for a few spells that haven't seen much love in a long time. Reasoning, a card only recently brought back to life thanks to the Forbidden and Limited List, is a pretty fantastic addition. The only monsters it won't reveal and pitch are Minerva, Lumina and Raiden. Everything else in the updated deck list will get sent straight to the graveyard, which will never be a bad idea. Reasoning triggers Wulf, Lightsworn Beast and puts a monster on your field for Wyvern's effects. Most importantly, it skips through a lot of useless cards in your deck.

On the other hand, Monster Slots is like an Upstart Goblin that often lets you Special Summon whatever you draw. The main combo for this deck is Koga plus Wyvern which takes roughly three monsters on the field. Two to Synchro for Wyvern and one to change into Koga. Monster Slots digs through your deck to hopefully Special Summon a Lyla and get the ball rolling. Are Monster Slots and Reasoning perfect? No, they certainly have some flaws, but don't think for a second that they're useless. I understand if you want to ditch Reasoning, but Monster Slots is perfect. Here are the significant changes. Talk about rerouting!

-2 Elemental Hero Bubbleman
-3 Elemental HERO Shadow Mist
-3 Goblindbergh
-1 Judgment Dragon
-3 Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
-3 Necro Gardna
-2 A Hero Lives
-2 Mask Change
-2 Miracle Fusion
-2 Reinforcement of the Army

-1 Blade Armor Ninja
-1 Heroic Champion - Excalibur
-1 Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer
-2 Elemental Hero The Shining
-1 Heroic Champion - Excalibur
-2 Masked HERO Acid
-2 Masked HERO Dark Law

+2 Wulf, Lightsworn Beast
+3 Destiny HERO - Plasma
+3 Destiny HERO - Dogma
+3 Trade-In
+3 Destiny Draw
+1 Mask Change II
+2 Mystical Space Typhoon
+1 Allure of Darkness
+2 Reasoning
+3 Monster Slots

+2 Ancient Sacred Wyvern
+1 Arcanite Magician
+1 Black Rose Dragon
+1 Dark Strike Fighter
+1 Evilswarm Exciton Knight
+1 Goyo Guardian
+1 Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree
+1 Stardust Spark Dragon
+1 Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing

What can I say? I like consistency, but I also like to max out on niche cards. You can't play Yu-Gi-Oh! very well under Vanity's Emptiness, and especially with Trade-In, taking out Judgment Dragon was something I couldn't live with. Here's the deck list.

DECKID=101736Daniel, sorry if you don't like it, but there wasn't much I could do to fix your deck since your initial draft was on point! When I rerouted the deck into a Koga build, I just didn't have room for one of the best cards - Shadow Mist! The deck's either go big or go home; I didn't have much time to dilly dally around. I initially kept a few copies of Reasoning and more Monster Slots outlets, but you'd be surprised how rarely you trigger the effect of Shadow Mist.

I'm not convinced you need to run Mask Change II in triplicate, but the first six test duels I had with the deck I yarded two on the first turn. Call me superstitious (Doug can vouch for this), but you won't see me milling all three straight from the deck.

Just remember, beat your opponents before they beat you.
-Loukas Peterson

Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you love creating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send the following to to have your deck featured in the "Re-Routing" deck fix column!

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap; screencapped deck lists will be filed and then burned in the furnace accordingly… and your deck should be TCG legal).

-Your name and city.

-Remember, please use full card names! Abbrevs and mis-sipllngs make Loukas' life sad. Try your darndest to get the TCG name on there.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses. "Winning" is not a strategy per se, and neither is "beating your opponents before they beat you."

-Your favorite card from the build and why – make me fall in love with the deck!

The cooler your strategy the more I'll want to fix it, and if you throw in funny jokes, that'll surely get my attention too; be warned, unfunny jokes will push your deck to the back of the stack. Don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! -LJP