Every serious deckbuilder has run into a puzzling conundrum from time to time. When it comes to cards with huge, game-shifting abilities that form the centerpiece of a deck, players have had to toe the line. You see, many cards with immense power—such as Pot of Avarice, Skill Drain, Royal Decree, and Return from the Different Dimension—are counter-balanced by their lack of versatility. You either score huge advantages with such cards or watch your chances of victory go down in flames as they sit useless in your hand.
Decks with central design goals—such as a Robbin’ Goblin-centric hand disruption build, Pot of Avarice abuse (back when you could play three copies), or a Royal Decree trap negation strategy—have always had to deal with the curious nature of the volatile “this combo card forms my central strategy” beast. The poster child for this conundrum is the field spell-based deck. If you follow my work here, you’ll know that I love themes revolving around types and attributes. For many players, field spells are the best method of unlocking the potential of a given subset of monsters. Cards like Necrovalley, Rising Air Current, and Harpies’ Hunting Ground have not remained un-Limited because they lack power; they’re each very powerful in their own right. It was actually the difficulty of balancing the number of copies to include in a deck that relegated them to underdog status. You see, almost every field spell requires strong monster presence for support. Otherwise, the spell sits useless. Since the monsters rely on the field bonuses for power themselves, you’ll ideally always want to have a copy of a field spell in play. After all, a lack of field spells in play leads to disaster. Gravekeepers without Necrovalley, Agents without Sanctuary in the Sky, Fire monsters without Molten Destruction . . . less than spectacular. Ideally, you’ll want to pack a few copies of Terraforming to avoid that nightmare scenario, right?
Wrong! What happens if your deck draws smoothly and actually puts a copy of a field spell in play? I doubt you’d want to draw an extra copy, and Terraforming will just be a spell card with no utility for the current situation. Where generic decks simply have to avoid having a bad draw, field spell-based decks constantly fear the next topdeck!
The way to balance this, obviously, is to have field spells either function with a secondary effect when one is already on the field (perhaps as a discarded ATK boost like Rush Recklessly), or to have monsters that double as searchers! After all, the trio of Ritual fetchers—Senju of the Thousand Hands, Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands, and Sonic Bird—make Ritual spells worth using. The oft-forgotten King of the Swamp is a perfect example of this ability. It doubles as a Fusion substitute and an enabler of Polymerization! As Dr. Crellian Vowler would say, “Versatility is good (you lazy ingrates)!”
Now that we’ve gone over the challenges field spells have faced in the past, let’s take a look at the exciting changes in store for the field spell mechanic. Enter Harpie Queen.
Harpie Queen Stretches Out Her Wings and Soars
First of all, Harpie Queen fits the Harpie Lady theme as a Winged Beast/Wind type monster with the word “Harpie” in her name. Unlike her predecessors, however, she packs impressive, beefy, downright scintillating stats of 1900 ATK and 1200 DEF. She can be a terror on the field if you make the choice.
Aha! Make the choice you say? Yes! Let’s take a look at the effect:
You can discard this card to the Graveyard to search 1 "Harpies' Hunting Ground" from your Deck and put it in your hand. The name of this card is treated as "Harpie Lady" while it's on the field or in the Graveyard.
Harpie Queen doubles as a field spell card and as a Harpie Lady monster. It’s safe to say she’s probably the most versatile monster card in the game. Between the Harpie Lady support (Elegant Egotist, Birdface, and Triangle Ecstasy Spark, to name a few delectable morsels) and her ability to double as perhaps the best field spell printed, you have quite a well-crafted monster.
Make no mistake about it, Harpies’ Hunting Ground can provide some of the most powerful support in the game. Each summon or special summon allows you to destroy one spell or trap on the field, ostensibly clearing the way for a direct attack that should lead to dominance over the field. This type of game-breaking edge could not be reached before the era of Harpie Queen, mainly because the act of juggling sub-par ATK score monsters with a situational field spell was too hard. Harpie Queen ties both ends together nicely in a neat package.
Standard combinations include cards like Icarus Attack and Hysteric Party. However, her effect is also very synergetic with more mainstream cards such as Pot of Avarice and Premature Burial. You can dump her for the field spell, use Premature Burial to bring her back, and then destroy a spell or trap card. Since her boosted ATK hits 2100, usually only tribute monsters will be able to withstand her.
I’d like to explore this card a bit deeper in a future New Grounds article. For the moment, however, I’ll conclude by saying that a card like Enemy Controller with two underwhelming effects (when taken individually) becomes a commonly seen card in all metagames because of its versatility. Harpie Queen is cast from that same mold of versatility, but both of her effects would stand on their own. Her design elements are highly intriguing for players such as myself who have been following the development of field spells for a long time. Here’s hoping future sets will bring more gems like this one.