Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
What Are the Elemental Heroes in Yu-Gi-Oh?
The Elemental Hero (or HERO, as they're annoyingly but technically called) archetype first came to light with the debut of the second anime, Yu-Gi-Oh GX, where protagonist Jaden Yuki used the fusion-centered series to great effect.
Although most of the original cards can't compete with the powers of modern dueling, the series has thankfully seen ongoing supports to keep them relevant, even considering the extra deck limitation rules that accompanied link summoning's changes. But with dozens of Hero monsters running rampant, which warriors reign supreme? These are the 10 best Hero cards you'll definitely want for your Elemental Hero Yu-Gi-Oh deck!
10. Elemental HERO Shining Flare Wingman
Fusion monster Shining Flare Wingman begins with the same ATK and DEF as Yugi's famed Dark Magician, but also gains 300 ATK for each Elemental Hero in your graveyard. Since his synthesis needs two Hero materials, you'll likely be generating at least 600 additional strength, rapidly skyrocketing Shining Flare's ATK to incredible heights.
This potent fusion monster bears the warrior type that marks most of his archetype, and when he destroys a monster in battle and sends it to the graveyard (easy with his impressive ATK), you inflict damage to your opponent's life points equal to that monster's original ATK! That's a formidable burn effect on top of his fierce power, but with no exit or graveyard effects, be sure to keep Shining Flare well-protected with other defenses. Also note that one of his materials (Flame Wingman) is itself a fusion monster, which can make this fusion costly unless you use other gimmicks to change the name of your monsters; more on that soon.
9. Elemental HERO Ocean
As a level 4 monster, you can normal summon or set Ocean without tributing, and it bears a decent 1500 ATK. But Ocean's main power lies in its ongoing ability: once per turn, during your standby phase, you can return one Hero monster from your field or graveyard to your hand. Bouncing a unit from the field can occasionally be useful (perhaps if debuffed or otherwise hampered by opposing tricks), but often you'll want to recycle cards from the graveyard, enabling you to cast them once more.
Unfortunately, this power triggers during your standby phase, which occurs before the main phases you'll probably summon Ocean in, so to keep it alive long enough to make use of its effects, you'll want to protect it using defensive spells/traps like "Swords of Revealing Light" or "Threatening Roar." Finally, note that Ocean enjoys the water attribute, useful for the fusion summon of Absolute Zero, who we'll soon see is arguably the best Hero champion.
8. Elemental HERO The Shining
The Shining (no silly, not the horror film) accepts any Elemental Hero and any light-attributed monster for his fusion, making him an easier combatant to play, although he can only be fusion summoned; you can't recover him from the graveyard with "Monster Reborn" or other revivals. Not only does Shining wield a sturdy 2600 base ATK, he gains 300 more for each of your banished Hero monsters, rewarding you and punishing your opponent for exiling your creatures.
Shining also possesses a sweet exit effect: when sent from the field to the graveyard (whether through battle or effect), you can add two of your removed from play Heroes to your hand, offering a rare and appreciated banished-card recovery that quickly refills your hand.
7. Elemental HERO Prisma
Like Ocean, Prisma is an easily-summoned level 4 monster, and it bears a solid 1700 ATK. However, we're really interested in its fantastic effect: once per turn, you can reveal a fusion monster in your extra deck, then send one of the listed materials on that card from your deck to the graveyard,and Prisma's name becomes the sent card's until the end of your turn.
Not only does this help you field your selected fusion monster by altering Prisma's title to that of a necessary component, it stocks your graveyard with a unit ready to be recovered or revived. Note that Prisma can apply its effect for any fusion monster, not just those of the Hero archetype, granting it even more versatility. Tip: select cards like Necroshade, whose abilities specifically activate from the graveyard, to further pile on your combo.
6. Elemental HERO Blazeman
1200 ATK certainly isn't exceptional on a level 4, but it could be much lower, and Blazeman compensates with 1800 DEF, staving off weaker blows. Thankfully, when either normal or special summoned, you can add a Polymerization (the default fusion spell) from your deck to your hand, a superb pull that prepares your fusions and will even activate when Blazeman is revived or gimmicked to the field.
Also, during your main phase, you can activate an effect that prevents you from special summoning non-fusion monsters for the rest of the turn, but lets you send a Hero from your deck to the graveyard (other than another Blazeman copy), changing Blazeman's ATK, DEF, and attribute to match the sent card's until the end phase. If you send stronger main deck members like Bladedge, you can deftly increase Blazeman's power, but this also helps with both stocking your graveyard and swapping Blazeman's fire attribute for another, useful when meeting the attribute conditions of several Hero fusion cards. For his spell-searching and type-altering prowess, Blazeman's an easy pick for any Hero deck.
5. Elemental HERO Nebula Neos
Matching the battle stats of Seto Kaiba's iconic Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Nebula Neos offers incredible power to players willing to work towards its tricky summon. This warrior demands three specific components and they need to be fielded; they can't rest in your hand like most fusion materials. Fortunately, as a "contact fusion," you don't need a fusion spell, slightly easing the burden of this taxing summon.
Nebula Neos arrives with a fierce 3000 ATK, and when special summoned from the extra deck, you draw cards equal to the number of cards you your opponent controls, then negate the effects of a face-up card until the end of the turn! Assuming your adversary has an even remotely-stocked fielded, this can draw an astonishing number of cards while also suppressing a face-up unit for the turn, and since it's an entrance effect, it'll apply even if they immediately destroy Neos with a card like "Bottomless Trap Hole." Sadly, Nebula Neos shuffles itself into your extra deck at the end of your turn, but when it does, it'll banish all cards on the field face-down, a great field-wipe in case things went poorly and you need to reset the state of the duel.
4. Elemental HERO Solid Soldier
Although he veers on the weaker side of the Hero team, Solid Soldier applies an effect similar to the general "Goblindbergh" card: when normal summoned, you can special summon a level 4 or lower Hero monster from your hand. This helps field two units with one summon, gracefully setting you up for an xyz or link summon. With no "once per turn" errata, you can also trigger the boon multiple times in a single turn if you somehow gain extra normal summons.
Plus, Solid Soldier makes great material for a fusion summon because when sent from the monster zone to the graveyard by any spell effect, you can special summon a Hero in your graveyard (other than another Solid Soldier) in defense position. This effect is once per turn, so don't try spamming it with multiple Soldier copies, but it helpfully resolves whether it's your fusion magic or your opponent's spell wipe (perhaps Raigeki or Dark Hole) that annihilates him. Soldier's revival prowess can bring back your vanquished fusion behemoths, but it's also handy for triggering the effect of...
3. Elemental HERO Shadow Mist
Yet another mediocre-stats level 4 Hero, Shadow Mist nonetheless brandishes a sweet entrance effect, although he can't activate it with normal or flip summons. When special summoned, you can add one quick-play "Change" spell from your deck to your hand, a useful way to search the "Mask Change" cards that access the powerful Masked Hero fusion monsters. Additionally, when Shadow Mist is sent to the graveyard (whether from the hand, field, or even deck), you can add a different Hero from your deck to your hand, a superb search that stacks excellently with Prisma's and Blazeman's abilities.
However, note that you can only use one of Mist's effects per turn, and only once that turn, so try to spread out his bonuses. As of this writing, Shadow Mist is limited (allowing only one copy per deck) in the Asian OCG format, but unlimited in the American TCG formats, so feel free to place the usual three in your deck list while State-side.
2. Elemental HERO Honest Neos
Not only one of the greatest Heroes but one of the best hand traps in the game, Honest Neos can activate a useful trait from either the hand or the field. Like the default normal Neos card, Honest Neos is a level 7 warrior, needing two sacrifices to normal summon or set, and he only wields a lukewarm 2500 ATK. However, on the field, you can once per turn (during either player's turn) discard a Hero monster to increase Neos's ATK by that of the discarded creature until the end of the turn, overpowering just about any enemy in battle.
A nice trait, but to prevent having to field Honest Neos, you'll often want to nestle him in your hand to be used as support. From here, you can discard him on either player's turn to increase the ATK of a Hero you control by 2500, a huge boost that can really turn the tide in combat. Note that (unlike the "Honest" fairy it was based upon), you can but don't have to trigger this effect in the battle phase, letting you apply the boost earlier or later in the turn if needed.
1. Elemental HERO Absolute Zero
Fusion Hero monsters often suffer from being too weak to combat modern threats or too hard to summon to reliably play. Enter a terrifying unit that solves both problems, accepting any Hero and any water-attribute monsters as material. Absolute Zero may only be fusion summoned, but he gains 500 ATK for every other face-up water monster on the field (including your opponent's), increasing his base ATK to lethal proportions. Even better, when he leaves the field, you destroy all monsters your opponent controls, essentially offering a free Raigeki! This awesome trait triggers whether Zero is banished, destroyed, returned to the extra deck, or otherwise moved, meaning there's not really a way to circumvent its exit effect, and since it doesn't target, it bypasses shrouded foes.
Absolute Zero receives an unexpected partner in the form of Timebreaker Magician, one of the bountiful pendulum Magicians. Not only does Timebreaker offer a good pendulum scale (which can help pendulum summon and swarm the field), his monster effect lets him temporarily remove both himself and another monster from the field; target Absolute Zero to apply his effect, then recover both monsters at the start of your next turn and reapply the field wipe!
Absolute Zero is one of my favorite cards who I've used to conquer many duels, and despite his age and prowess, he's a surprisingly cheap bargain (extra deck monsters tend to cost more money) that you can obtain for less than two dollars!
How to Use the Elemental Heroes
We've seen many potent Hero monsters; to best employ their effects, make sure your deck has the draw power to quickly find and recover from fusion spells (which tend to drain the hand) as well as link monsters to provide additional extra deck slots. Many Hero creatures also combo well with the Neo-Spacian archetype, granting additional options when deck-building.
Other cards like "King of the Swamp" work great for replacing specific fusion monster materials, and of course "Elemental HERO Stratos" will dominate competitively if it ever escapes the ban list (update: it's now limited!). The Masked and Destiny Heroes also offer synergies with this series, so you can see just how many routes are available when constructing your ultimate Hero deck. Regardless of which theme you choose, Heroes are an underestimated monster clan who may surprise you with their rising abilities, and even if they're not always top-tier in the meta, they're a fun structure to play. But for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next expansion of varied-attribute warriors, vote for your favorite Hero card and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on October 28, 2018:
A hero deck without fusions? Interesting. Normally I'd advise you to include link monsters to ensure you have sufficient extra deck zones, but if you're not using fusions, that may not be as crucial for you.
Here's some generic advice: pick a theme, examine and playtest cards that fit that strategy, and swap in and out as needed. For instance, the heros are warrior-type, so warrior supports can assist them.
Las903 on October 27, 2018:
I have an elemental hero deck but it is not a fusion one how can I use these cards.