"Archfiend", known as "Daemon" (Japanese: デーモン Dēmon) in the OCG, is one of the very first archetypes, and appear in a myriad of sets due to the way they are classified. They are used by a variety of Duelists in the anime series for the same reason, although one, Titan, runs a dedicated "Archfiend" Deck. In Judgment of the Light, Archfiends have received new support after a long intermediate period.
According to the Upper Deck Entertainment website, "Archfiends are a special category of card. Most "Archfiend" cards can be easily identified by their name. Any card with "Archfiend" in the card name is an "Archfiend."
This category was officially introduced with the release of Dark Crisis, as a way to standardize the English translation of OCG card names containing "Daemon" 「デーモン」. Some non-"Archfiend" cards have it spelled "Demon". The Japanese name of "Regenerating Rose", 「スプリット・
Since some Japanese cards with names containing "Daemon" 「デーモン」 had already been released in the English TCG, they were retroactively classified as "Archfiends", although their official names were left unchanged. These include:
- A Deal with Dark Ruler
- Axe of Despair
- B. Skull Dragon
- Beast of Talwar
- Fiend Skull Dragon
- Lesser Fiend
- Shadow Tamer
- Summoned Skull
- Toon Summoned Skull
Starting with "Axe of Despair" in Battle Pack 2: War of the Giants, these cards in the TCG have started to include archetype conditions in their text to classify them as "Archfiends". As of Legendary Collection 4 Mega-Pack, all of these cards have archetype conditions classifying them as "Archfiends".
The first official members of this archetype (not counting existing cards retroactively identified as "Archfiends") are chess-themed, all of whom are named after chess pieces and feature a chessboard pattern as their background.
| Infernalqueen Archfiend|
Imprisoned Queen Archfiend
Since then, other "Archfiends" have been released which lack the chess motifs. In general, they possess demonic and gruesome features, some even going so far as to have physiques featuring bones and sinew reminiscent of their original representative, "Summoned Skull".
Since "Archfiends" have seen many years of release, the archetype has varying appearance themes which change over time. The original unorganized "Archfiends" were generally bony and "horror" themed ("Summoned Skull", "Axe of Despair", "Lesser Fiend", etc.). At this point in time, they were not related other than sharing a word in their Japanese names. Since archetypes were not yet officially part of the game, these early cards were not initially translated as members of a group.
The first archetype-oriented "Archfiends" appeared in Dark Crisis and were chess-themed, each featuring a dice roll-conditional negation of effects that target them ("Terrorking Archfiend", "Vilepawn Archfiend", etc.). These "Archfiends" all had appearances that very closely resembled contortions or variations on "Summoned Skull". This series was the longest-lasting period for the "Archfiends", and provided them with most of their Spell/Trap support, including their first Field Spell, "Pandemonium", and ended with the release of "Imprisoned Queen Archfiend".
The next wave of "Archfiends" appeared in the 5D's period, and had a sports theme ("Archfiend Interceptor", "Lancer Archfiend", "Mad Archfiend"), and for the first time since "B. Skull Dragon", featured a Dragon-Type member: "Red Dragon Archfiend". This series had no general effect theme or visual appearance (though skulls featured prominently in several of their artworks), but represented a move away from the "bone and sinew" style of the chess "Archfiends".
The most recent series of "Archfiends" began in Starstrike Blast, beginning with the North American release of "Archfiend Empress". These Archfiends bore little resemblance to the original chess Archfiends, having generally purple color schemes, a metallic appearance, and an imperial theme, similar to the "Fabled" monsters. Judgement of the Light introduced the archetype's second Field Spell, "Archfiend Palabyrinth", and the 3000 ATK "Archfiend Emperor, the First Lord of Horror". This support continued in the North American release of Shadow Specters with the release of "Archfiend Giant".
Building a Deck around the "Chess Archfiends" is tricky since they require your Life Points as payment and paying is not optional. As a result, your Life Points will be drained very quickly, especially since you must worry about further Life Point drain through battle damage from your opponent. Most "Archfiends" do not have enough attack power to hold their ground. Their most useful ability is negating an opponent's effect that targets them by a roll of the dice. However, this is not a reliable defense, and only two of the cards have a 50% chance of negation (although one of them, "Darkbishop Archfiend", works for any of your Archfiends, including the ones that have their own protection), whereas most have a 16.5% chance, and a couple have a 33% chance.
A Deck built around these cards is difficult to play and does not ensure victory. "Archfiend" Decks rely on heavy support, so try to activate "Pandemonium" as soon as possible, including "Terraforming" and/or "Archfiend General" in the Deck to get it out faster. To help an "Archfiend" Deck run smoothly, it is often advisable to use "Dark Necrofear" or "Plaguespreader Zombie" to get a quick defense if you're in a tight spot. It is highly advisable to make good use of "Archfiends" that don't sap your Life Points but still offer good attack or defense, like "Archfiend Soldier" and "Archfiend of Gilfer".
Take advantage of the high ATK of most "Archfiends", namely "Shadowknight Archfiend", "Archfiend Soldier" and "Terrorking Archfiend". "Archfiends" are one of the few archetypes with an abundance of high ATK non-tributers in the game; "Stygian Street Patrol" is an excellent card and can help avoid the Summoning problems usually related to "Terrorking Archfiend". "Summoned Skull" and its retrained counterpart can provide late-game power, as well as receive a considerable boost when used in conjunction with "Axe of Despair" or "United We Stand". If you can weather the Life Point payments, you may be able to destroy your opponent under a barrage of massive attacks. Piercing cards such as "Big Bang Shot" and "Fairy Meteor Crush" can further the punishment, while the "Archfiend's" own innate immunities can provide some defense.
One potential strategy is to use "Foolish Burials" and "Armageddon Knights" to put at least two "Imprisoned Queen Archfiends" in the Graveyard to give "Terrorking Archfiend" 4000 ATK, then banish an "Evil Hero Infernal Gainer" so "Terrorking Archfiend" can attack twice, then play "Checkmate" to allow it to attack directly for a OTK.
"Masked Chameleon" can also be used with "Archfiend Heiress", "Archfiend Cavalry" or "Mist Archfiend" to go into a Level 7, Level 8 or Level 9 Synchro Monster, respectively. "Masked Chameleon" can also be used with "Archfiend Cavalry" for a Rank 4 Xyz Monster.
"Archfiends" are Beatdown Decks that don't rely on Special Summoning, so cards like "Vanity's Fiend" and "Barrier Statue of the Abyss" are great compliments to fend-off Synchros and higher-level monsters. On the other hand, it is very possible to go to the opposite and abuse Special Summoning, both from the Graveyard and the Deck, with cards such as "Archfiend's Roar", "Stygian Street Patrol", and "Call of the Haunted", along with Synchro Summoning higher level Archfiends or fiends to weather down the opponent, such as "Thought Ruler Archfiend", "Chaos King Archfiend", or even "Stygian Sergeants", and very strong monsters that fit with the general Archfiend theme such as "Darkness Neosphere". As an added bonus, the Synchro Archfiends do not require Life Point payment and in case of destruction, "Pandemonium" allows to search the Deck for virtually any other" Archfiend" to take to the hand.