Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon has a long name, and with it, a long list of reasons why players have been eagerly awaiting its release in North America. Players in Japan were excited about it too, at first, but at the time they were still missing a key card that would truly unleash the potential of a deck they called "Hopeless Dragon." I’m not really sure what led them to pick "Hopeless" as the adjective attached to the deck, but I hope that it doesn’t have anything to do with the creators’ opinion on their strategy’s chance of being a contender.
The entire point of the Hopeless Dragon deck is to play a bunch of Dragons, the bigger the better. Bonus points if those Dragons also have the Dark attribute and create combos with various cards from Phantom Darkness. In Japan, the deck was played with D.D.R. – Different Dimension Reincarnation along with The Dark Creator, Dark Horus, and Trade-In to create lots of opportunities to reap free cards and set up combos while rolling through the deck. At the time though, there was one major card missing from the Japanese card pool that was present in ours: the championship winning Allure of Darkness.
Allure of Darkness has been one of the cards that define what a playable strategy is in our current metagame and will likely continue to be for as long as it exists. The card lets you trade it and another for two fresh options from the deck, and, depending on what the rest of your cards in the deck are, it’ll set you up for any number of other combos. At first, people would draw two for Allure, then remove Darklord Zerato or Dark Magician of Chaos for later utility with Escape from the Dark Dimension. These days, Dark Magician of Chaos is Forbidden and Darklord Zerato hasn’t made the cut for months. Escape from the Dark Dimension is way too slow, but D.D.R. – Different Dimension Reincarnation gives you the same opportunities and then some during your turn, a difference akin to that between Beckoning Light and Monster Reincarnation. Like Reincarnation, it comes with the cost of a card from your hand, but the idea is that the card you spend on Different Dimension Reincarnation is balanced out by whatever effect the monster you bring into play gives you. If Dark Magician of Chaos was still legal, you’d get back any spell, perhaps even the Allure of Darkness you used to remove him from play. In this case, you want to be pulling Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon back into play so that you can immediately recoup your loss with its effect. If I were to run Hopeless Dragon right now, my initial build of it would look something like this.
Monsters: 193 Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon
3 Dark Horus
2 Van’Dalgyon the Dark Dragon Lord
2 The Dark Creator
3 Blizzard Dragon
2 Red-Eyes Wyvern
2 Armageddon Knight
1 Necro Gardna
3 Allure of Darkness
2 D.D.R. – Different Dimension Reincarnation
1 Future Fusion
1 Brain Control
1 Smashing Ground
1 Heavy Storm
1 Monster Reborn
2 Karma Cut
2 Divine Wrath
2 Magic Drain
3 Solemn Judgment
Access to Allure of Darkness really makes all the difference in this deck. In the original Japanese build, you only had access to one draw engine, that being Trade-In. Even then, Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon is level 10, not a valid card to throw away for Trade-In, making it more difficult to recover from a hand loaded with the Shonen Jump subscription promo. Being unable to get to a position where you can summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon makes the deck effectively worthless. Having six draw cards that set up your combos, akin to the ridiculously dominant Teleport Dark Armed Dragon deck, is a difference maker that has to be seen to be believed. Trade-In throws Dark Horus, Van’Dalgyon, and The Dark Creator into the graveyard, while cycling through your cards. While The Dark Creator tends to stop being useful once it’s in the graveyard, the other two cards are big Dragons that you can revive once you get to Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. Allure of Darkness serves much the same purpose, except in this case the only way back for the cards is D.D.R. – Different Dimension Reincarnation. One of the decisions you’ll probably find yourself struggling with as you try to make your own build of the deck is how many copies of Different Dimension Reincarnation you want to play. Currently, I run two as you can see above, but further testing may reveal that three is the correct number.
The biggest effects that remove your monsters from play are Allure of Darkness and Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon, and seeing as one of those effects will sometimes remove the other from play I didn’t feel justified in running the full complement. On the other hand, you can bring the Darkness Metal Dragon right back from the remove from play zone with Different Dimension Reincarnation, as its special summon clause is purely a bonus, not a restriction. In fact, this effect is what’s going to let you pull off some big turns that your opponent won’t ever see coming.
My absolute favorite trick with Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon is built purely on the fact that some of the best monsters in the format are Dragons. Think about it. Judgment Dragon, Dark Armed Dragon, Stardust Dragon, and Red Dragon Archfiend are all Dragons that you can potentially steal with Brain Control, strip of any relevant effects, then remove from play to summon Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. I’ll tell you this, none of those cards is useful at all once its out of play, with Necroface being the only card that can bring them back to potential relevance. Many players might claim that those cards only reach the field on game-winning turns, but in practice this really isn’t always the case. Protecting Stardust Dragon is one of the most important plays a Teleport Dark Armed Dragon deck can make, but this deck is extremely good at counteracting such plays since it can easily drop two monsters larger than Stardust Dragon on the field in a single turn while Phoenix Wing Wind Blast can only stop one. An example of such a move would be pitching Dark Horus or Van’Dalgyon to Trade-In, then summoning Blizzard Dragon to freeze Stardust Dragon. At this point, that Dragon isn’t going anywhere next turn, but if you have Darkness Metal Dragon in your hand, you can remove Blizzard Dragon to summon it and immediately claim priority to bring back your Dark Horus.
Assuming that your opponent had only Phoenix Wing Wind Blast set, that player is losing his or her Dragon this turn. Dark Horus will return regardless of the Wing Blast, and regardless of which monster your opponent chooses to return to the top of your deck, you’ll be able to replay it next turn. Even if your opponent did have Solemn Judgment, Blizzard Dragon still froze the Stardust so that it won’t be attacking you next turn. Blizzard Dragon is a huge part of the deck, as it provides a temporary answer to anything that would otherwise hose you. Colossal Fighter is probably going to be your biggest hassle here, as it will beat every monster in your deck every time. A Blizzard Dragon can seal it right up, however, allowing you to buy time until you find a way around the Synchro. Similarly, Blizzard Dragon can keep a Lightsworn monster or Judgment Dragon on the field a lot longer than your opponent would like it to be, causing more cards to be lost in the end phase and bringing your opponent closer to defeating him or herself. Blizzard Dragon is good stuff, and it would be wise to pick up a few while you can still find Dark Legends in stores.
Finally, I want to talk a little bit about Van’Dalgyon the Dark Dragon Lord. I’ve always loved this card, because it offers you bonus ways to punish your opponent for existing. Counter traps are already good, and being able to follow up a negation with damage, destruction, or revival of another huge monster while producing your own huge monster in the process is simply great. While it seems that Counter Fairy would be the best place for Van’Dalgyon, the card never really was good enough in the deck, largely because it wasn’t something you could play immediately. In this deck, however, you’ll be able to play Van’Dalgyon in one way or another nearly every time you draw it between its own effect, The Dark Creator, and Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon. You can still remove it for Allure of Darkness, and it’s a level 8 monster as well. Van’Dalgyon is a real team player here, and I hope that it’ll see some play in the future. I hope everyone will give the Hopeless Dragon deck a chance, and until next time play hard, play fair, and most importantly, have fun!