A Cyberdark Story

You know what Yu-Gi-Oh! archetype I think about a lot? It’s Cyberdarks. I’ve had a fascination with them ever since I was a child – I like their unique design and playstyle, plus their artwork is riddled with all that mid-2000s edginess I’ll always have a soft spot for. Hell, I even remember spending my pocket money to buy a few packs of Cyberdark Impact around 2007, just to hope to own one of them for myself. There’s just one small, incredibly big problem with Cyberdarks as an archetype: they’re terrible.

As one of Cyberdark’s biggest fans, I’m not afraid to tell you they’ve been complete unplayable garbage for most of their existence. Even by the standards of mid-2000s Yu-Gi-Oh!, the deck proved too slow and clunky for any kind of competitive play, as the whole gimmick of equipping Machines with Dragons meant that you were basically running two decks at once with little to no synergy with each other. Therefore, you were better off building either a dragon-themed deck or a machine focused one. On top of this, the archetype was also given a load of annoying restrictions (because apparently Konami was frightened of this janky-ass deck becoming too powerful), like being able to only equip level 3 or lower dragon monsters. So, this deck which was already weak on debut, has aged about as well as a bottle of milk from around the time The Black Parade was released. For these reasons, Cyberdarks have either been mostly forgotten or perceived as nothing more than a joke by the Yu-Gi-Oh! community since they came out. However, this didn’t stop some devilishly handsome 20-something year old from Bedfordshire, who may or may not be the owner of a website called willdoartforfood.com, try and make this shit actually playable.

The amount of time I’ve sunk into trying to make a decent Cyberdark deck is actually embarrassing and mostly riddled with failure. I know, I’m fully aware that I could’ve spent the time doing something more productive and less futile, like learning how to play a decent deck, or repeatedly slamming my head in a car door, but here we are. In a vague attempt to convince myself that I haven’t completely wasted my time trying to make this garbage tier archetype not terrible, I’m going to exhibit my (mostly) failed experiments for the whole world to see. So if you’re ready, let’s start at the very beginning:

Our story starts in the ancient year of 2013, back when people liked Gangnam Style unironically and you could listen to Lostprophets without feeling horribly ashamed of yourself. This was many years before I started playing Yu-Gi-Oh! properly, but I was sinking a lot of time into playing Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s: Decade Duels Plus on the Xbox 360. This game is terrible – don’t play it. Decade Duels was so bad that the only way to make it even remotely playable, was to modify it with Xbox Horizon so you could unlock all the cards at once, rather than have go through the game’s awful campaign mode. On top of this, the Yu-Gi-Oh! format it used was also far older than the game itself, because in 2013 I’m pretty sure we were a decent way into the XYZ era, whilst Decade Duels only had cards from the Synchro era and before then. With this in mind, I used the tools at my disposal to make a somewhat functioning Cyberdark deck.

The deck in question was a pseudo synchro-spam build, using cards like Black Salvo and Dragunity Phalanx to go into synchro plays. Also pre-errata Future Fusion was legal in this game, which I could use it to make 5-Headed Dragon and Cyberdark Dragon. That was fun. This deck was……… fine, in the context of Decade Duels Plus anyway – keep in mind that a typical turn 1 play of this build consisted of setting a dragon or Cyberdark, passing turn, then maybe going into a synchro play on the following turn, because doing anything required at least one turn of setup. For this reason, I’m sure this deck would’ve been horrendously outclassed in any semi-competitive environment. Nonetheless, it did work. Just. I do have a lot of fond memories of this deck though, mostly because it was my first-time experiencing “proper” Yu-Gi-Oh! in any real capacity, despite the fact I’ve been interested in this game ever since it came out. Before then, the closest I’d gotten to playing “real” Yu-Gi-Oh! was during my childhood, where I constantly lost to my older brother because he’d keep changing the rules so he could win. And no, I’m definitely not still bitter about that.

My next attempt at Cyberdarks was in the futuristic year of 2019, which still feels like ancient history in a way. After all, since the world ended at the beginning of 2020, it seems like we’ve just been rummaging through the aftermath since then. Anyway, when I returned to Yu-Gi-Oh!, I learned very quickly that my old deck from Decade Duels Plus wasn’t going to cut it. This is partially because it was never good to begin with, but mostly because power-creep is a cruel and fateful mistress; having to catch up on 10 years of new cards and summoning mechanics was certainly a shock at first, but I persevered. I did have one advantage though: during my 6-year absence from the game, Cyberdarks had actually received some new support. I know, it’s shocking to think that Konami actually set aside some time from their busy schedule of printing mediocre Dark Magician support, in order to make a few new Cyberdark cards. This wave of support included some consistency cards, a new field spell and another boss monster. All of these cards were kind of good, but sadly, they all fell being victim of being too little too late. Cyberdarks had already been left far behind by newer deck and archetypes, so it was going to take more than a few semi-decent cards for them to compete in the modern era. Besides, even with the new support, you still couldn’t make a 40-card deck with purely Cyberdark cards, like you can with most other legacy archetypes. Alas, Konami finally tossed us a bone, but there wasn’t enough meat left to survive on.

The most success I had with building Cyberdarks featuring the new support, was by making a hybrid build with Red-Eyes cards. This idea isn’t quite as stupid as it sounds, because there is actually some synergy here: both archetypes involve equipping cards, both utilise the graveyard a lot and Red-Eyes (unsurprisingly), has some pretty decent level 3 and lower dragons, which are good for obvious reasons. Would it be a surprise if I told you this deck still wasn’t very good though? This is largely down to the fact that neither Red-Eyes or Cyberdarks are good decks, so shit plus shit also equals shit. I did manage to dig up the decklist from my old YGOPRO files though, and here it is:

Well yeah, it’s catastrophically awful, but cut me some slack as I made this shortly after returning to the game after many years, plus I wasn’t exactly working with a masterpiece to begin with. This failure is what led me on what I can only described as my “Joker arc” in my Cyberdark story, as I completely gave up the idea of making Cyberdarks competitive and just wanted to watch the world suffer. Once again, I dug up the decklist out of my old YGOPRO files, but I warn you, what you’re about to see isn’t pretty. Have you got your eye-bleach at the ready? If so, then here goes:

Honestly, it’s not quite as bad as I remember, but it’s still awful. That’s 10 floodgates in the main deck by the way – an amount that a Subterror player would call “adequate”. The sad truth is that, despite being basically a troll deck, this is probably the best way I found to play Cyberdarks optimally. Almost a decade and-a-half since Cyderdark Impact was relased and this was the best that me, a man who’s spent more time playing this shitty archetype that anyone else alive, could muster.

After conceiving this abomination, I threw Cyberdarks aside for what I thought would be the last time. I felt like I’d exhausted every option possible to make them playable; I didn’t see myself ever going back to the deck, unless of course, Konami actually gave us some new Cyberdark support. But what were the chances of that? But then, just when all hope seemed lost, the unthinkable happened: Cyberdarks were announced to receive new support in the upcoming Cyber Strike structure deck in 2021. This was big news, but it would all be for nought if the new support wasn’t insanely good. But what’s this? Cyberdark Realm? A card that allows you to search any Cyberdark monster from the deck AND allows an additional normal summon? Hang on, THIS IS ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD! And what about this Cybernetic Horizon thing? A card that’s a searcher, a Foolish Burial AND an Extra Foolish Burial all in one? Whoa, if this was in any other deck it would be overpowered to the point of it being banworthy! We’ve also been given this new Cyberdark Invasion card, which allows us to create actual interruptions during our opponents turn, just like a real deck can do! Also there’s a new Power Bond searcher, which is nowhere near as shit as the last one. Well, there’s certainly a lot to take in here, isn’t there?

Whilst there’s certainly a lot of stuff to get excited about in the Cyber Strike structure deck, not all the new support is as good: Cyber Eternal is the recovery card that no-one asked and Attachment Cybern is alright in theory, but is ultimately pointless right now. Then there’s the new boss monster, Cyberdark End Dragon. Don’t get me wrong, this card is really cool and very powerful when it hits the board, but is let down by obnoxious summoning conditions. When you consider that Cyberdarks have always struggled to summon their own fusion monsters consistently, I’m not sure if printing another one that’s even harder to summon was a smart move. Nonetheless, there was enough good support for me to work with, but where to start?

One of the main selling points of Cyber Strike, is that you can supposedly make some sort of hybrid deck featuring both Cyber Dragons and Cyberdarks. This might seem like a load of pseudo-anime nonsense, because “hurr-durr Zane Truesdale played them in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX”, but it does make sense. After all, Cyber Dragon Core already searches every Cyberdark spell and trap alongside Cyber Dragon ones, making it rather hilariously, a better archetypal search card than Cyberdark Claw. Besides, it’s not like there’s enough Cyberdark cards to fill an entire structure deck, so you may as well pad the rest of the set with some decent Cyber Dragon reprints. That’s right, thanks to Cyber Strike, Cyber Dragons are basically a budget deck now, with the exception of Galaxy Soldier costing around £20 per copy. Glad I picked mine up when it was £6 for a playset – Yu-Gi-Oh! card prices are a strange thing. Anyway, since Konami were really trying to push this Cyber Dragon/Cyberdark hybrid deck, it made the most logical sense to follow this route if I were to get the most out of the new support.

My first instinct was to go fusion turbo, as churning out the Cyberdark boss monsters alongside the Cyber Dragon ones seemed like a swell time. This route isn’t really worth it outside of casual play though; it’s not impossible to get both Cyberdark End Dragon and say, Cyber Dragon Infinity on the field during the same turn, but these kinds of boards lose too hard to interruptions and rely on very high-roll hands. However, you can use the new support to run a small Power Bond engine in Pure Cyber Dragons, as there’s this neat little combo with Cyber Dragon core plus any spell or trap card that ends on a 4200 attack Chimeratech Rampage Dragon. This is perfectly fine for budget players, but if you want to play Cyber Dragons optimally, this engine just isn’t necessary whilst a card like Predaplant Verte Ananconda exists in the game. With these things in mind, it became evident that if was going to make this Cyber Dragon/Cyberdark hybrid work, a somewhat different approach was required. Luckily, I’m a 9000 IQ genius, so it didn’t take long for a new idea strike me.

You see, Cyber Dragons have this neat little trap card called Cybernetic Overflow – it allows you to banish Cyber Dragons from your hand and graveyard to destroy your opponent’s cards. One of the new cards, Cybernetic Horizon, allows you to send both Cyberdark and Cyber Dragon monsters from your hand and deck to the grave for cost, in order to search any Cyber monster. This got me thinking: could I use Horizon to load up my graveyard with Cyber Dragons to banish off of Overflow, whilst simultaneously setting up Cyberdarks plays? For example, as well as sending a Cyber Dragon monster for Overflow, I could use Cybernetic Horizon to send Cyberdark Chimera from my deck, so I could revive it later with Cyber Dragon Nachster to go for a fusion play. I legitimately felt like I was onto something here, so with this in mind I began the long and arduous process of deck-building. Many, many months of building and testing later, I finally perfected this idea. What you’re about to see is the accumulation of countless hours work – call it my magnus opus if you will. Without further ado, I reveal unto you, my masterpiece: Cyberdark Control.

I’ll give you a few moments to fully absorb its brilliance. Are you done? Good. Now, let me give you the rundown of how this thing actually works. Though I should warn you, this is where things get boring and technical, so if you aren’t a Yu-Gi-Oh! player you may as well click off this article, assuming you haven’t already.

Of course, this build focuses around the aforementioned interaction between Cybernetic Overflow and Horizon, but there’s a little more to it than that. The overall philosophy of this deck is using the traps to control the game early on, then going for a big fusion play on the follow-up. There are a couple of different ways to do this, whether it be going for a Power Bond play with Cyberdark Chimera, or using Cyberload Fusion to shuffle back the cards banished off of Overflow to make something. The important thing to remember about this build is that whilst it does utilise the fusions, they aren’t the main focus of the deck. The fusion engine with Cyberdark Chimera isn’t 100% reliable, as it becomes completely dead if you’ve already drawn the Power Bond. To compensate for this, I’ve built this deck in a way that still has plays even of you draw Power Bond. For example, you can just play a control strategy with the Cyberdark monsters in tandem with their new trap card. Basically, view the fusion part of this deck as the icing on the cake rather than the sponge if you will. Now, let’s get onto the pros and cons of playing this thing, shall we?


  • Consistency: Half the cards in this deck are search cards, so it’s pretty easy to get everything you need, not to mention you only need 2-3 cards to combo off anyway.
  • Can set up boards going first and is able to OTK going second: This is generally a going first deck, as you’ll be wanting to set up Cybernetic Overflow to disrupt your opponent on their turn. However, since we haven’t completely forgone the Power Bond engine, there’s still the option to make a 4200 attack Chimeratech Rampage Dragon out of basically nothing.
  • Compact engine: Since not many cards are needed for the deck to function, there’s plenty of room for spicy techs and hand-traps. For example, I’m running some Ash Blossoms, Imperms and even a couple of Solemn Strikes.
  • Doesn’t lose to a lot of floodgates: Since this deck doesn’t rely on special summoning or using the extra deck that much, you can play around oppressive floodgates with relative ease. Has your opponent just activated Shaddoll Schism to summon Winda, preventing you from special summoning more than once per turn? No problem! Just normal summon Cyberdark Edge and attack over it. Easy.
  • Powerful follow-up play: You can have your entire board wiped and still win – just resurrect Cyberdark Chimera with Nachster to bring out one of your powerful fusion monsters. Cyberdarkness Dragon GG?
  • Can be tricky to counter: I suppose that the benefit of playing obscure rogue decks is that no-one knows how to counter them. Sure, this build doesn’t exactly set up unbreakable boards, but you’ll be amazed about how many decks lose to having their cards popped by Cybernetic Overflow mid-combo. Plus, a lot of people forget that attacking a Cyberdark monster equipped with Claw allows me to send Elder Entity N’tss to my graveyard, which destroys a card on the field. That’s always quite funny.

This sounds pretty good right? For the first time in their wretched existence, Cyberdarks feel like an actual deck and not just a catastrophic brickfest. So, are they playable now? Yes, absolutely, but there’s another question we must answer: are Cyberdarks actually any good? Can they be played competitively? Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, allow me to elaborate:


  • Dies to every hand-trap ever printed: Since half the cards in this deck are search cards that search another search cards, a single copy of Ash Blossom can flat-out end your turn. Plus if your opponent has Droll and Lock Bird, you may as well curl up into a ball and cry.
  • Dies to every Equaliser/backrow removal card ever printed: Since you’re putting all your eggs in the Overflow basket (crickey that’s a strange metaphor), being hit with something like Cosmic Cyclone removes your main interruption. So once again, you’re curling up into a ball and crying about it.
  • It’s quite hard to play optimally: This deck might not seem difficult to pilot, but it can be tricky to figure out how to get from A to B whilst creating a board that actually has some interruptions. If you ever plan on playing this particular build of Cyberdarks, here’s a tip for you: play it safe. Don’t over-extend; if you have the thought of “oh if I just did this instead, I might be able to end on one of my cool fusions”, give yourself a mental slap in the face, because you’ll probably realise halfway through the combo that you don’t have enough materials for Cyberdarkness Dragon, losing the game in the process. Play it safe, stick to the gameplan.
  • Requires running a load of crappy one-ofs that suck to draw: Whilst this deck is fairly consistent, it has to run a few bricky cards in order to function properly. I swear, that lone Cyber Dragon is absolutely glued to my hand. Maybe if I run it at 3 copies, I’ll draw it less?

Due to the combination of all these rather glaring issues, you aren’t going to have much success with this particular build outside of casual play. Not to say that the deck is bad by any means, it’s just that despite my best efforts, I failed to Cyberdarks truly competitive with this list. Once again, it seems that Icarus flew too close to the sun and got badly burned.

Of course, there are other ways to play Cyberdarks. For example, I’ve been toying around with a build involving Magicians’ Souls. This idea isn’t particularly original of course – I nicked the idea from YouTuber Yacine656, but I’ve made my own adjustments to it.

This deck works by using Magicians’ Souls to destroy the Cyberdark equips so you can draw a whole bunch of cards. It’s the most competitive way I’ve found to play Cyberdarks, despite still losing to every hand trap and backrow removal card ever printed. You can still pull off some crazy shit though; the Buster Lock might seem like a cheesy win-condition in the post Union Carrier TCG, but this deck can pull it off with relative ease thanks to Cyberdark Invasion and Protector Whelp. Though this might be the way forward for playing Cyberdarks competitively, a playset of Magicians’ Souls will set you back about £300 if you want to actually play it in person. Not to mention it’s not even worth playing without illusion of Chaos – a card which isn’t out yet in the TCG. So not only is this deck horribly expensive for how good it is, it’s also illegal.

There’s another build that I’d like to talk about, which is Cyberdark Dogmatika. I can only say so much about this variant because I haven’t actually played it. Why? Because I fucking hate the Dogmatika cards with every fibre of my being and refuse to have anything to do with them. I’m legitimately worried that if I activate Nadir Servant even once, I might be overcome with a sudden urge to eat every green crayon in sight. I have heard some success stories with this deck though, plus there is some genuine synergy between Cyberdarks and Dogmatikas with the whole extra deck dumping thing. It might be more than just “how do I make my shitty deck better let’s just add Ecclesia yummy yummy crayons”, which is more than I can say for 99% of all other Dogmatika builds I’ve seen since the release of Rise of the Duelist.

So, what happens next? Well, at time of writing I’ve just taken Cyberdarks to a remote duel and didn’t get completely annihilated, which is honestly much better than I thought. Since I failed to make a truly competitive Cyberdark variant, I’ve decided to go back to basics and make a Cyberdark End Dragon turbo build just for fun. After all, if I’m going to make a Cyberdark deck that loses to a single hand-trap, I may as well do something funny with it.

Sure, I’m not exactly going to win the next YCS with this thing, but it works perfectly fine and is fun to play, so maybe that’s enough? Perhaps that which I was searching for was in front of me all along? Not that it’s going to stop me from having another crack at making Cyberdarks competitive in the future – I’m sure a few months from now I’ll have another crazy-ass idea, only to discover that it was all in vain. Hey, I get points for trying at least.

I have absolutely no idea what keeps me coming back to this stupid deck. It might be stubbornness, nostalgia, the sunken-cost fallacy or a mixture of all 3, but I’ll always find myself coming back to Cyberdarks, even though I know in my heart that they’ll never really be competitively viable, due to the inherent flaws in their design. Despite this, I’ll always feel like I have unfinished business with Cyberdarks; even if this deck somehow became tier 0, I’ll still probably attempt to find ways to push this dumb archetype further. I guess at this point I’m just too far gone. So, if there’s any advice I can give you regarding the topic of sinking a large portion of time into making a sub-par archetype in a children’s card game decent, it’s this: don’t.

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