"Archfiend", known as "Daemon" (Japanese: デーモン Dēmon) in the OCG, is one of the very first archetypes. Members appear in a myriad of sets due to the string required for inclusion being a simple word in Japanese. While many Duelists such as Yugi Muto and Jack Atlas use "Archfiend" cards in the anime and manga as a result, only Titan runs a dedicated "Archfiend" Deck. The majority of the monsters in this archetype are DARK Fiend monsters, but there are many monsters of other Attributes and Types.
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. Its name, 「デーモン」 (Dēmon with the long ē) is preferably translated by fans as "Daemon". Some non-"Archfiend" cards whose Japanese name contains 「デモン」 (Demon with the short e), along with cards whose name contains 「
Since some Japanese cards with names containing 「デーモン」 had already been released in the TCG, they were retroactively classified as "Archfiend" cards, although their official names were left unchanged. Their TCG card text now includes an "archetype condition", likely because some of them were iconic cards featured in the anime (as opposed to some lesser known cards, such as "Oscillo Hero #2", whose names were changed instead). Those cards are:
- A Deal with Dark Ruler (デーモンとの
- Axe of Despair (デーモンの
- B. Skull Dragon (ブラック・デーモンズ・ドラゴン)
- Beast of Talwar (タルワール・デーモン)
- Fiend Skull Dragon (デス・デーモン・ドラゴン)
- Lesser Fiend (レッサー・デーモン)
- Shadow Tamer (デーモン・テイマー)
- Summoned Skull (デーモンの
- Toon Summoned Skull (トゥーン・デーモン)
Starting with "Axe of Despair" in Battle Pack 2: War of the Giants, later prints of these cards in the TCG now use archetype conditions in their card text to classify them as "Archfiend" cards. With the release of Legendary Collection 4: Joey's World Mega Pack, all of these cards have archetype conditions classifying them as "Archfiend" cards. In Portuguese, "Archfiend Soldier" also has an archetype condition classifying it as an "Archfiend" card, although this wasn't added until it was reprinted in 2-Player Starter Deck Yuya & Declan.
"A Deal with Dark Ruler" was not included on the original list of "Archfiend" cards that do not have "Archfiend" in their English names on the Upper Deck Entertainment website, as it had virtually no mechanical impact at the time. However, due to later "Archfiend" support it became mechanically significant, so it was given the archetype condition along with the other cards.
In general, "Archfiends" 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 members introduced after "Archfiend" became an archetype (except for "Archfiend Soldier") appeared in Dark Crisis and were chess-themed, all being named after chess pieces and featuring a chessboard pattern as the background of their artwork. Most "Archfiends" released since then have lacked the chess motif.
|Imprisoned Queen Archfiend||Queen|
Each chess "Archifend" featured a dice roll-conditional negation of effects that target them ("Terrorking Archfiend", "Vilepawn Archfiend", etc.). 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".
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" and "Fiend 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" were also designed with the chess-theme in reference to the original attempt at the archetype, with each monster representing a different chess piece.
The appearance of "Archfiend Heiress" as a younger version of "Archfiend Empress" is a reference to how pawns are typically promoted to a Queen when they reach the end of the board. "Archfiend Eccentrick" (a portmanteau of "eccentric" and "trick") represents a gambit, a "crazy" play in which a player sacrifices a pawn or piece in order to gain better board advantage, which is reflected in its effect.
The release of these Archfiends began in the TCG, in Starstrike Blast, beginning with the North American release of "Archfiend Empress". 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" which continued with the global release of "Archfiend Eccentrick" in Clash of Rebellions.
Clash of Rebellions also introduced 2 Archfiends unrelated to the new chess Archfiends, instead being retrained versions of Summoned Skull ("Red-Eyes Archfiend of Lightning") and B. Skull Dragon ("Archfiend Black Skull Dragon") for the Red-Eyes Archetype..
Building a Deck around the original "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, as only two of the cards have a 1/2 chance of negation (although one of them, "Darkbishop Archfiend", works for any of your Archfiends, including the ones that have their own protection); most have a 1/6 chance, and a couple have a 1/3 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.