Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
What Are the Subterror Monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh?
The Subterror cards are a series of earth-attributed monsters with varying types and levels, many revolving around "flip" effects that activate after being set. Several of the high-level members avoid the tribute costs you'd need to normal summon or set them by special summoning themselves from your hand if you control only face-down monsters, and many Subterrors can return face-down, resetting their effects for future use.
Supported by a heap of impressive spells and traps, this powerful set more than holds its own in modern dueling and proves the flip mechanic is still very much relevant in the competitive arena. But with dozens of members available, which burrowing horrors are most worth your time? These are the ten best underground cards you'll definitely want in your Subterror Yu-Gi-Oh deck!
10. Subterror Nemesis Archer
As a level 3 monster, this fairy can be summoned without tributes, and she wields a workable ATK stat of 1600. More than that, when Nemesis Archer attacks a face-down monster while you control another Subterror unit, you can shuffle the attack target into your opponent's deck, simultaneously removing it and preventing graveyard recoveries.
That's a nice albeit situational ability, as many decks don't run face-down monsters. Luckily, when destroyed by battle or card effect, Archer can summon a Subterror member from your deck in face-up or face-down defense position, a superb exit ability that helps field your strongest cave-dwellers without tributes. As icing on the subterranean cake, this ability even resolves if it was your card that initiated Archer's destruction, granting many pathways towards her boon.
9. Subterror Cave Clash
This continuous spell offers two formidable effects to your archetype members. First, all Subterror monsters you control gain 500 ATK and DEF for each set monster on the field. Since many Subterrors offer flip effects, you'll frequently be setting hidden creatures that pile on the bonus, and note that it accounts for concealed opposing units as well, punishing foes for wielding flip effects.
Additionally, when a Subterror you control inflicts battle damage to your opponent, you can (once per turn) add any Subterror card from your graveyard to your hand other than another copy of Cave Clash. This offers excellent recycling of your monsters, but note that it can recover any Subterror card type—including traps and other spells!
8. Subterror Behemoth Ultramafus
As a rare level 12 monster, pyro-type Ultramafus needs two tributes to normal summon or set, but you'll likely be gimmicking it to the field with special summons anyway. It matches a Blue-Eyes White Dragon in power with its 3000 ATK, and when flipped, you can change all other face-up monsters to face-down defense position. This both prepares your other flip effects and places opposing monsters into a position where their effects are temporarily muffled. An awesome trait, but note that link monsters will be unaffected (they can't enter any form of defense position).
Luckily, even if you don't have an Archer handy, you can still special summon Ultramafus from your hand when a face-up monster you control is flipped face-down, and you then possess only face-down units. Finally, you can (once per turn) switch this pyromaniac to face-down defense position. This will let you reuse its powerful flip effect, but take precautions to guard your ace while it's in a more vulnerable state (wielding a DEF of only 1800).
7. Subterror Behemoth Burrowing
Behemoth Burrowing can potentially provide three great effects to your kin with a negligible price. When activated, by banishing a Subterror monster from your graveyard, you'll prevent your opponent from both targeting and destroying your Subterror monsters with card effects for that turn, a useful shield that can be activated in response to such a trait, wasting your opponent's removal effort.
Plus, if Burrowing is destroyed while fielded, you may add a Subterror monster from your deck to your hand, replenishing your supplies whether annihilated by an opponent or yourself. Finally, you can banish this card from your graveyard to change a Subterror monster you control to face-down defense position, both preparing their flip effects and allowing for the self-summons of cards like Ultramafus.
6. The Hidden City
Field spell The Hidden City offers several great boons to your team. When activated, you can add a Subterror creature from your deck to your hand, instantly refilling your hand size and searching for a unit to fit your situation. Next, you can (once per turn) shift a face-down Subterror monster to face-up attack or defense position, manually triggering flip effects without having to wait.
Finally, when an opponent declares an attack, you can (once per turn) change a face-down Subterror monster to face-up attack or defense position and negate the strike, a superb barrier that fantastically dampens your foe's offense. Definitely a great magic card for your build, but note that despite supporting them, Hidden City doesn't bear the Subterror name, and can't be searched for or recovered by corresponding effects (though the ever-popular Terraforming spell can access it)
5. Subterror Behemoth Umastryx
With 2000 ATK, Umastryx can swing for a decent amount of hurt, but it offers a tantalizing 2700 DEF, easily surviving most attacks that awaken it from face-down position. As a level 7 monster, you'll need two tributes for a regular summon or set, but like most high-level Subterrors, Umastryx can special summon itself from your hand when a monster you control flips face-down, leaving you with only face-down monsters. It can also (once per turn) change itself to face-down defense position.
You'll definitely want it face-down as often as possible since Uma's flip ability lets you banish a monster your opponent controls, a brutal removal that both weakens your adversary's field and denies graveyard recoveries. For its awesome effect and reduced dependency on other cards to guard itself when preparing a flip, Umastryx remains my favorite of the high-level Subterror monsters.
4. Subterror Nemesis Warrior
No, he's not a Bleach character, he's Nemesis Warrior, offering several powerful tools your Subterror repertoire. First, as a level 4, Nemesis doesn't need the special summon tricks of his peers and can be easily normal summoned, wielding a nice (for his level) ATK of 1800. Next, during either player's turn, you can send a Subterror monster from your deck to the graveyard, then tribute Nemesis and at least one other creature so that the combined tributed levels equal or exceed the sent monster's, special summoning the selected unit in either face-up or face-down defense position.
This allows you to pull essentially any Subterror you need (if you can match its level quota), and places Nemesis into the graveyard—perfect for his next effect. When a Subterror monster is flipped face-up, you can simply revive Nemesis from the graveyard. Unlike several fallen rejuvenations, Nemesis retains both his stats and effects when recalled, letting him function at full capacity, and we've seen plenty of tools (in addition to regular flip methods) that will let you quickly uncover your monsters and breathe new life into this fierce warrior.
3. Subterror Final Battle
Similarly to the famed Scrap-Iron Scarecrow trap, Subterror Final Battle actually sets itself after being used rather than heading to the graveyard, letting you reuse it on future turns indefinitely! You can activate once per turn and choose from one of four sweet effects with each resolution:
- Change a set Subterror monster to face-up attack or defense position
- Change a face-up Subterror monster to face-down defense position
- Change the ATK and DEF of a Subterror monster to its combined original ATK and DEF until the end of the turn
- Activated effects of Subterror cards can't be negated this turn
These are all great abilities; the first two quickly shift between formats and activate/prepare flip effects, the third lets your monsters dominate in battle (Umastryx's combined stats equal a whopping 4700 power!), and the last offers some rare negation-countering, perfect when up against cards like Mist Valley Apex Avian or Decode Talker. Final Battle offers a heap of terrific reusable effects, so do your best to protect it as it doesn't offer any exit or graveyard abilities to assist when eliminated.
2. Subterror Fiendess
Fiendess's actually brandishes higher stats than most level 1s, but they're still pretty atrocious. That's okay; as a "hand trap," you'll often keep her nestled away from the field. During either player's turn, when your opponent activates a card or effect, you can send Fiendess from your hand or field to the graveyard, change a Subterror you control to face-down defense position, then negate the effect. Note that the negated card isn't destroyed, but you've both prevented an effect and prepped your own unit for a flip ability. It's also nice that you can use this trait from either the hand or the field, letting Fiendess serve even if she winds up in the thick of battle—like to activate her next effect.
From the field only, Fiendess can rotate a monster you control (including herself) to face-down defense position to special summon a Subterror monster from your hand or field in face-up or face-down defense position. This versatile effect can pull from two areas and may place the arriving unit in multiple positions, adjusting to suit your needs and cementing Fiendess as one the best hand traps in the game since she also offers a great field trait. Impressive as she is, this isn't the only Subterror Fiendess around...
1. Subterror Behemoth Fiendess
Though the Subterror set doesn't heavily rely on the extra deck, it's still nice to have additional extra zones to work with. Luckily, Behemoth Fiendess (who accepts any two flip monsters as material) provides two diagonal arrows without giving any to your opponent. In addition to a decent base of 2000, Fiendess gains ATK equal to the original levels of its Subterror materials times 100—two Ultramafus sacrifices result in a monstrous 4400 ATK! Also, you can send a flip monster from your deck to your graveyard to special summon a monster from your hand in face-down defense position to a zone this card points to, both stocking your graveyard and filling your field.
This combos beautifully with Fiendess's next trait, letting you add a flip monster from your deck or graveyard to your hand when a monster Fiendess points to is flipped face-up. That's an awesome effect that can search two separate areas and even find non-Subterror flip monsters. I've used Behemoth Fiendess's power, summoning aid, and searching to win several duels myself, and I definitely recommend snagging it while it's cheap—extra deck monsters tend to cost more, so I'm pleasantly surprised that we can buy this awesome card for prices under a dollar!
Subterror Deck Ideas
Due to their focus on flipping, Subterrors combo well with the Prediction Princess archetype, and they work well alongside the quick-play spell Book of Eclipse, which changes all monsters on the field to face-down defense position, both dampening your opponent's offense and prepping your army's abilities. Other flip units like Des Lacooda help provide extra draws, while Stealth Bird offers continuous burn damage.
Still, regardless of which route you choose when building your customized deck list, the Subterrors are a formidable and fun clan that will serve you well, and I'd recommend any duelist give them a try. But for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next expansion of cavern-dwelling beasts, vote for your favorite Subterror, and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill