"Archfiend, known as "Demon" (デーモン Dēmon) in the OCG, is an archetype of monsters that 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.
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 "Demon" 「デーモン」. To avoid confusion, "Demon" is often spelled "Dæmon" or "Daemon" by fans to show that the card is an Archfiend. Some non-Archfiend cards have "Demon" spelled differently, and some monsters have Japanese names with "Demon" as a possible translation.
The first official members of this archetype (not counting existing cards retroactively identified as Archfiends) are chess-themed, including "Terrorking", "Infernalqueen", "Desrook", "Imprisoned Queen", "Darkbishop", "Shadowknight" and "Vilepawn Archfiend", all of whom are named after chess pieces and feature a chessboard pattern as their background. The support card, "Checkmate", is named after the Checkmate, the final winning move in Chess.
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 demonic physiques with bones and sinew reminiscent of their original representative, "Summoned Skull".
Since some Japanese cards with names containing "Demon" 「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
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 must rely on heavy support. Try to activate "Pandemonium" as soon as possible and add "Terraforming" and/or "Archfiend General". 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". Another route to go is to simply stop caring about your Life Points, throw in a few more suicidal cards to help, like "Bark of Dark Ruler", and hope you kill your opponent before your Deck kills you. If you're a fan of the game chess and are going for a "Chess Archfiend" Deck for novelty's sake, then you should really make it geared more towards a general fiend-themed Deck, adding "Goblin King" and other fiend support cards. This way, when the heat is high, you can turn to a plan B.
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.
- "Life Absorbing Machine" is very helpful because it causes you to regain half of the Life Points paid in the last turn. Having multiple copies may be excess, but having two copies will result in no loss after the initial payment. Three copies, while zone clogging, will actually gain Life Points. However, once "Pandemonium" is on the field, all three would become dead weight unless you choose to pay Life Points.
- If you are using Continuous Trap Cards that will become useless after activating "Pandemonium", you ought to consider using "Darkness Neosphere". Aside from being able to easily satisfy its strict summoning condition with this type of Deck, "Darkness Neosphere" will allow you to return Trap Cards like "Life Absorbing Machine" or "Battle-Scarred" to your hand. This would prevent your Spell & Trap Card Zone from getting clogged with useless traps while also allowing you to trade those cards for (hopefully) better ones with "Reload" or "Magical Mallet".
- Solemn Wishes gives a steady stream of life points.
- Solomon's Lawbook skips the Standby Phase therefore avoiding the maintenance cost.
- Supremacy Berry can give a quick boost to your life if you're running low.
- Cyber Archfiend is a great addition to an Archfiend Deck because, in addition to having a high DEF and potential for increased Drawing, when "Pandemonium" is active on the Field "Cyber Archfiend's" self-destruction ability allows you to search your Deck for a level 3 or lower Archfiend monster.
- Destruct Potion can be used to gain Life Points, avoid the maintenance cost of the destroyed monster, and search for another Archfiend with Pandemonium's effect.
- Mist Archfiend is another option, providing a 2400, no tribute monster that dies at turn's end. This will allow the player to search for level 4 archfiends easily as well.
"Megamorph" can be a useful and sometimes game card. You will most likely have less Life Points due to the maintenance costs and this will give the Archfiends much needed power. This will give "Summoned Skull" or "Skull Archfiend of Lightning" 5000 ATK points, enough to match the infamous "Five-Headed Dragon", and even greater attack powers can be reached with "Infernalqueen Archfiend", "Imprisoned Queen Archfiend", and/or "Axe of Despair" can overpower it. "Pandemonium" is a must in an Archfiend Deck: as well as negating any costs to your Life Points to keep Archfiends in play, when an Archfiend monster is destroyed by a card effect you can add an Archfiend of a lower Level from your Deck to your hand. You can search and protect "Pandemonium" with "Archfiend General" and "Pandemonium Watchbear" respectively, as well as "Field Barrier". Since "Pandemonium" is so important in an Archfiend Deck, increasing your drawing potential could be useful. Draw increasing cards like "Card Destruction" and "Magical Mallet" may be worth considering in an Archfiend Deck. "Falling Down" is another staple: if you control an Archfiend, you can clear the field and attack directly. In the same vein, "Earthbound Immortal Ccapac Apu" can benefit from Pandemonium to help heavily weather down the opposition. Other cards to help stifle or downright negate the Archfiends' weaknesses are "My Body as a Shield" to protect the Archfiends from their weakness to cards that affect multiple monsters, or "Dark Ruler Ha Des" to negate opponent monsters' effects. "Dice Re-Roll" is useful but not required because the Archfiends' dice effects are not reliable. It is also perfectly possible to heavily increase the threat level of even the low-level Archfiends by using "Solidarity", as most Archfiend Decks do not require monsters of any other Types.
- If you have "Vilepawn Archfiend", "Shadowknight Archfiend", "Darkbishop Archfiend", and "Infernalqueen Archfiend" in your deck, you might want to think about including the trap "Elemental Burst" since the requirements of having a "FIRE", "WATER", "EARTH", and "WIND" monster to activate it's effect will be fulfilled, which will allow you to clear your opponent's field of both Monster and Spell and Traps for a direct assault on your opponent with one of your more major Archfiend monsters.
- "Thought Ruler Archfiend", "Red Dragon Archfiend", and "Chaos King Archfiend", all of which are intended to be unrelated to the usual Archfiends, are good Synchro Monsters: "Thought Ruler" can pay Life Points to negate the effect of Spells and Trap that target it and replenish your Life Points when it destroys a monster in battle, "Red Dragon" can destroy all defense position monsters your opponent controls, and "Chaos King" can allow your other monsters to destroy high-ATK but low-DEF monsters with ease.
- 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 remove an "Evil Hero Infernal Gainer" from play so "Terrorking Archfiend" can attack twice, then play "Checkmate" to allow it to attack directly for a OTK.
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.
Or you can use the resonators and power tool dragon to search for falling down.
- Dark Armed Dragon (for general removal)
- Vanity's Fiend (to get an edge against Synchro decks because Archfiends don't focus on special summoning)
- Dark Ruler Ha Des (get around effects that activate in the graveyard)
- Dark Necrofear
- Solidarity (to give all of your Archfiends a boost in attack power)
- Stygian Street Patrol (to aid in summoning Terrorking Archfiend)
- Prime Material Dragon (to get around mass removal cards and reverse burn damage)
- Allure of Darkness
- Evil Hero Infernal Gainer
- Trade In (to get Imprisoned Queen in the graveyard and also to draw more cards)
- Snipe Hunter (gets a boost from Imprisoned Queen and can be used to destroy cards your opponent controls)
- Starlight Road (to get around mass removal)
- Sangan (Searches almost all archfiend monsters and is very helpful at some points)
Dice Roll Archfiends (named after chess pieces)
- Vilepawn Archfiend
- Darkbishop Archfiend
- Desrook Archfiend
- Infernalqueen Archfiend
- Terrorking Archfiend
- Shadowknight Archfiend
- Skull Archfiend of Lightning
- Imprisoned Queen Archfiend (chess piece, no die roll)
- Pandemonium Watchbear (protect Pandemonium from being destroyed)
- Archfiend General (searches for Pandemonium)
Archfiend Effect Monsters (no dice rolls)
- Shadow Tamer
- Archfiend Interceptor
- Trance Archfiend
- Mad Archfiend
- Lancer Archfiend
- Archfiend of Gilfer
- Lesser Fiend
- Mist Archfiend
- Archfiend Empress
Normal Archfiend Monsters
Chess Piece Archfiend Support
Base Archfiend Support
- Foolish Burial
- Field Barrier
- Supremacy Berry
- Magical Mallet
- Card Destruction
- Soul Exchange
- Axe of Fools
- Archfiend's Roar
- Altar for Tribute
- Frozen Soul
- Nightmare Archfiends
- Sakuretsu Armor
- Hate Buster
- Dice Re-Roll
- Destruct Potion
- Elemental Burst
- Self-Destruct Button
- Red Dragon Archfiend
- Stygian Sergeants
- Chaos King Archfiend
- Scrap Archfiend
- Thought Ruler Archfiend
- Dark Highlander
- ↑ The Japanese name of "Regenerating Rose", 「スプリット・
Ｄ・ローズ」 translates to "Split Demon Rose", but "Demon" is spelled 「デモン」, so it is not an Archfiend.
- ↑ Even though this card is technically an "Archfiend", there is no situation where it is important for it to be listed as an "Archfiend", so UDE does not list it as one.