2013 was a rough year for Harpies. Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy provided new support in the form of Hysteric Sign, Harpie Channeler, and Harpie's Pet Phantasmal Dragon, but the set also ushered in an era of Dragon Ruler and Spellbook dominance. Harpies saw a lot of discussion leading up to May, mostly due to the consistency with which they could Summon Rank 7 Xyz. Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack's generic Summoning requirements meant that Channeler, not some Mecha Phantom Beast monster, was the best way to play it. A single discard to bring out a Number 11: Big Eye or Dracossack seemed too good to pass up; even Mermail wouldn't always have it that good.

Yet, the Rank 7 access Harpies had was laughably inadequate compared to Dragon Rulers. Hysteric Sign seemed more and more like a poor man's Super Rejuvenation or Spellbook of Judgment. Worse: without Harpie Dancer, builds based around Divine Wind of Mist Valley were out of the question. Even after Dancer hit the TCG in Legendary Collection: Joey's World there still wasn't a whole lot of interest in Harpies. They were definitely seeing more play, but lacked a favorable match-up against Dragons. However, a new format brings with it a new opportunity for the deck to succeed. And believe me; it absolutely has what it takes to be a top contender.

In the past I've usually focused on how to side against various decks, but going forward I plan to discuss their Game 2 and 3 strategies directly. This week we'll be looking at Harpies and how their Side Deck gives them a major edge on the competition.

DECKID=99341Answers to Sided Cards
Mystical Space Typhoon has long been the best answer to sided spell and traps. Virtually everyone has a playset of Typhoon somewhere between their Main and Side Decks. The reason's simple: there are still too many continuous cards running around that completely shut down whole strategies. Using multiple attributes? Gozen Match can make many of your combos unusable. Need your graveyard? Macro Cosmos, Dimensional Fissure, and Necrovalley could give you a hard time. The problem facing many decks is rather straightforward: drawing into one of three Typhoons is less likely than your opponent opening with one of their four or five sided cards. You really don't want to be stuck behind a Mistake or Prohibition for very long.

For taking out opposing spells and traps, Harpies' Hunting Ground is nothing short of amazing. It's very nearly an unlimited source of backrow removal, provided you can summon a Harpie monster. Generally that's not too much of a problem, although your opponents will usually find ways to keep your field spell from triggering. Hunting Ground does an awesome job of generating card advantage and creating a safe environment in which to make Xyz Summons. It also lets you destroy Hysteric Sign, as well as other spells and traps you control. That might not seem important right away, but it's incredibly useful when using sided cards.

Icarus Attack's typically used to counter cards like Torrential Tribute, Bottomless Trap Hole, or anything that's attempting to destroy or remove your Winged-Beasts. It's a +1 when you play it that way, but there's nothing stopping you from making a neutral exchange of card economy when necessary. Taking out a monster like Thunder King Rai-Oh along with a set card can turn a rough situation into one that's vastly more workable. Icarus is yet another method of destroying sided cards and lets you make the best of situations where Effect Veiler or Maxx "C" stopped your plays.

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The Harpie Extra deck is no slouch either. Lightning Chidori, Wolf' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Diamond Dire Wolf">Diamond Dire Wolf, Ice Beast Zerofyne, and Dracossack can spin, destroy, or negate nearly anything your opponent sides against you. There's a ton of problem-solving potential here. You won't often be in a position where you can't make plays unless you're simply short on cards. Chidori's the star of the Extra Deck, and the most frequent Xyz you'll Summon. It's entirely possible to go through all three copies and have the opportunity to summon a fourth; Hysteric Party allows you to make two or three Xyz without even using your Normal Summon. Party's one of the deck's strongest cards, although it's also the riskiest.

Birds On The Sidelines
Any non-conversion Side Deck has two goals:

1. Swap out cards in the Main Deck with tech choices that are especially effective in a certain match-up.

2. Side in counters to the tech choices your opponent is likely to use against you.

Harpies have more than enough Main Deck removal to deal with most sided cards, making the second goal less of a priority in this case. Of course, 'less' is very different from 'not'. There are still a handful of cards that impact Harpies in a big enough way that siding in additional cards is beneficial, but not to the extent that you'll need to dedicate more than a couple of slots. In particular, Debunk's a great dual-use trap that counters two poor match-ups while also counter siding against hand traps. Mermail and Dark World decks have a distinct advantage against Harpies with little reliance on board presence, a seemingly endless stream of large monsters, and quick access to on-theme removal. Debunk negates and banishes Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World, Mermail Abyssmegalo, and a dozen other monsters between the two decks.

As far as hand traps go, Effect Veiler can be worrying in a number of situations. Having your Harpie Channeler's effect negated is painful since it costs a discard to activate. At only 1400 ATK your best bet is to tribute it off for Icarus Attack or try and defend it with Magical Hats. Neither of those cards are an option if your Lighting Chidori gets negated. To protect Xyz plays from the cards that Harpies' Hunting Ground can't destroy, Debunk supplements Divine Wrath in taking out both Effect Veiler and Maxx "C".

As a theme of Wind and Winged-Beast monsters, Harpies are a perfect fit for Gozen Match and Rivalry of Warlords. Unfortunately, Gozen isn't particularly effective this format. Most of the decks being played right now consist of a single attribute. On the other hand, Rivalry's great against Madolche, Evilswarm, Constellar, and various rogue strategies. Siding it means you won't be able to use Harpies' Pet Dragon effectively, but siding out your copies isn't as big of an issue as you might think. It's the limitations to your Extra Deck that really hurt. You'll only be able to summon Ice Beast Zerofyne, and although it's a great monster it has its limits just like any other. You'll need to play Rivalry carefully, but it's worth the effort.

Carefully playing Side Deck cards and timing their activations takes a lot of skill and practice. Harpies, thankfully, make things a bit easier on you. Harpies' Hunting Ground can target your own Rivalry, Dimensional Fissure, or Macro Cosmos when you need to use multiple types or send a card to the graveyard. It's a cool trick that's even better if you have a yarded Blackwing – Zephyros the Elite. The only thing better than activating Rivalry in response to a Madolche Hootcake resolving, is doing it twice.

Onto Dimensional Fissure and Macro Cosmos: these two are tricky. Both are extremely rewarding and absolutely devastating when used in the right match-ups, but they're also detrimental to some of this deck's best cards. Take Hysteric Sign, for example. Sign needs to hit the graveyard to trigger and while Fissure won't be an issue, Macro certainly will. Both cards also prevent Harpie Queen from searching out Hunting Ground. That means you won't be able to destroy your own cards as easily. Dimensional Fissure's easy to play under, but you'll really have to be careful with Macro Cosmos. As for siding, pulling out the two copies of Hysteric Party for the pair of banishers works great. There's an additional benefit, too: you can play effectively even if your opponent sides in their own pair of Fissure and Macro. It happens a lot, as players are desperate to keep Sign from triggering.

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Non Aggression Area fits very, very well in this deck. You can only activate it during you Standby Phase, but its powerful effect keeps your opponent from Summoning or setting monsters during their next turn. That's huge, because it means they can only defend themselves with their spells and traps. Hunting Ground and Chidori easily mop up backrow while your opponent scrambles to survive over two turns, without being able to Summon. Discarding Hysteric Sign to activate Non Aggression Area means you'll have an additional three monsters to capitalize on your opponent's open field.

There are lots of decks that use offense as a form of defense, that pressure their opponent with strong plays to suppress a counter attack. This combo directly counters those strategies and wins games outright.

Closing Thoughts
The rest of the Side Deck is likely self-explanatory. Two hand traps, including one that's an Icarus Attack target, add some flexibility to a mostly trap-based line-up. Light-Imprisoning Mirror and Soul Drain counter some of the more popular decks right now and have very little impact on your core strategy.

Harpies are resilient, versatile, and consistent enough to be a real threat this format. They have one of the best Side Decks currently available, and their Main Deck's full of answers and problem-solving effects. Even after Legacy of the Valiant I'm sure we'll be seeing them around in competition.

Until next time then.

-Kelly
Article Aftermath #24