Currently the most successful deck from Haruhi is an Alien deck focused around Yuki. These decks tend to mix Blue with mainly Red, but also often with little bits of Yellow and Green. Today I’ll be focusing mainly on my own personal Alien (or rather Yuki) deck and explaining my card choices. At the end we’ll look at the choices available for the more competitive Red/Blue version.
Level 0 is where you start the game and as such you need to make sure you can have a strong opening to gain stock early, since you’ll need it later. In addition most of your support cards will probably be at this level. The cards I use at level 0 are:
Most of these are fairly obvious choices in a ‘pure’ Alien deck. The 3 Aliens card is a key support card in the deck so you of course want to play as many copies as possible. It supports all «Alien» on stage, allows you to add nearly any card in your deck to your hand, and also allows you to manage your stock to remove Climax cards from the pile. [Nagato Yuki] is the deck’s wall at level 0, since it’s a 3500 attack character during the opponents turn, with encore, making it a hard card to budge. Once again it’s obvious to play as many copies as possible. The final card where I use the maximum of 4 copies is [Usual Nagato]. [Usual Nagato] is the deck’s one shot powerhouse in the early game, often reaching 5000+ attack, due to gaining 500 for every «Alien» on stage. With the right set up [Usual Nagato] can take down just about any level 0 it will be faced with, as well as a few weaker level 1 cards. However since it falls back down to 2500 (3500 with 2 support cards) afterwards it usually won’t survive another turn. It’s done its job though if it can take out characters that would otherwise be unapproachable for the rest of the deck. If possible you want to be avoiding playing it when you can’t defeat a character with it.
Moving onto the other level 0s [Observer Nagato] is a mixed attack / support card. If you don’t draw the 3 Aliens you can use it as a support card, but if you lack attackers its 2500 attack means it can take out the weaker level 0 cards. It can also be used to take out cards which reverse you once they’re reversed, such as [Onsen Haruhi(SY/W08-054)], without having to sacrifice [Nagato Yuki]. I feel 3 copies is enough to have a decent chance of drawing a support card in the early game, without taking too much away from your attacking capabilities. Finally there is [Cat Ears Nagato], who’s just a plain vanilla and is just a space filler / beater. If there were what I felt to be better options I’d play them, but I’m not a massive fan of the other choices, so just went for a straight beater.
Other options for level 0 in a pure Alien build are [Wedding Dress Nagato(SY/W08-106)] and [Watermelon eating Nagato(SY/W08-091)]. [Wedding Dress Nagato] can heal 1 by paying 2 cost when she’s played, however I feel this is too steep a cost. [Watermelon eating Nagato] has a change ability with [Swimsuit Haruhi & Nagato(SY/W08-083)], which has more uses in late game than early game, but I’ve never been particularly fond of the card. More often I found myself changing simply for the attack increase, rather than the ability. The card does have its uses though if you wish to play it over say [Cat Ears Nagato].
For my deck Level 1 has a variety of different effects to try and gain card advantage over the opponent. The cards I use are:
All of these cards serve different purposes, and will be useful at different stages in the game. [Waiting Mode Nagato] is just a 7000 attack beater used to take down whatever cards you’re faced with at level 1, and with support is often at 8000 attack. [Swimsuit Haruhi & Nagato] gives one of your other characters a free encore, meaning you can afford to run a character into someone of equal or greater strength without worry of losing them, or use it to force the opponent to make a choice between losing a counter card, or losing a character on stage. The card is useful at all stages of the game from level 1 up, however when you’re leading the game this card is largely useless.
[Witch Nagato & Shamisen] is a free counter card which will usually provide either +2000 attack or +1000 attack to two characters, which helps to keep your characters on stage. Being a character card means it can be searched by the 3 Aliens card and in desperate situations can even be played to the stage. [Glasses Girl Nagato] is relatively weak but has a Climax Synergy with [Death Match in the Information Restraint Space (SY/W08-099)] . You can draw a card for 1 stock when an «Alien» reverses another character. This helps to replenish your hand and can also get Climax cards back to the waiting room as soon as you trigger them. Finally [Message on the Bookmark] heals and draws cards, but leaves you with 1 less than when you started. It can be useful for keeping you in the game, or digging for extra cards, but I’m always wary of the fact you lose 1 card in the process. Often I’ll just use it together with clocking a card for essentially a free clock.
Other choices for level 1 include [Onsen Nagato & Mikuru(SY/W08-084)], [Ryoko Asakura(SY/W08-080)] and [Emiri Kimidori(SY/W08-093)]. [Onsen Nagato & Mikuru] is just a vanilla, but with no cost can be used to build stock. Your use of [Ryoko Asakura] will depend entirely on your choice of Climax cards, since she has a Climax Synergy. Finally [Emiri Kimidori] can give your «Alien» cards yet another attack boost, but often will be unnecessary for this deck.
Level 2 is rather sparse since some of my level 3 cards essentially function as level 2s. My card choice at this level are:
These are basically all defensive cards, 3 are support or counter cards, and the last is a wall. [Guitarist Nagato] provides +500 times a character’s level during my opponents turn, which can make some of my high end cards nearly unapproachable at 13000 attack when 2 are played at once. The extra ability of Guitarist Nagato lets you draw an extra card, then discard one, when you trigger a book icon. This allows me to run through my deck faster if I’m in need of a refresh. However it does run the risk of drawing into additional Climax cards and putting you in even more risk than before. [Clubroom Nagato & Itsuki] is basically just a higher power counter, but you can use it to put more cards in your opponents deck, which will be useful in some situations. [China Dress Nagato], like Nagato Yuki is a high attack wall (often reaching 10500) in the opponent’s turn who also has encore. This can make it very difficult to budge her and makes it easy to keep a character on stage late game. Due the level 3s in the deck I can afford to play less level 2s without worry of being left defenseless.
Other choices at level 2 are mostly restricted to counter or support cards. [Destruction of Information Link(SY/W08-097] allows you to get rid of an opponents Climax card, which can spoil some plans in an instant. [Stay(SY/W08-096)] offers no advantage over Witch Nagato & Shamisen in terms of pure strength, but the additional effect to send the other card to the bottom of the opponent’s deck can help to clear out characters with encore. [Girl of few words Nagato( SY/W08-081)] has a powerful Concentrate ability which allows you to swarm the field with lots of low level cards, but it is very costly, probably too costly for the deck to handle. It can also change to [China Dress Nagato], which is how I used to play the deck pre-Extra pack, but there just simply isn’t space to warrant something like that now. Some people also like to use [Sakura Viewing Nagato(SY/WE09-26)], but I’ve never been that fond of concentrate abilities that just give a power boost.
At level 3 we have the real powerhouses of the deck:
[Summer Festival Nagato] is the heavy hitter of the deck, especially since she can be brought out at level 2. The deck really has no problems getting the 4 Aliens on stage required to play her a level early. Once [Summer Festival Nagato] is on the stage you want to keep her there as long as possible and get as many copies on stage as possible, since her Climax Synergy with keeps healing you, and also allows you to overpower nearly any threat, regularly hitting 15000 attack. I felt going all out with 4 copies of her made sense for this deck. The trump card of the deck is [Dressed Up Nagato], who can rearrange the opponent’s stage, tearing their strategies apart in a single turn. She can disrupt your opponent’s best laid plan by taking out their support cards and also can allow you a turn of easy damage since their heavy hitters will often be relegated to back stage for the turn. It’s actually fairly rare to play this card in my experience and you will practically never have need to play more than 1 per game, however the extra copy is mainly to increase the chance of drawing that 1 copy you’ll need to use.
There really are no other options for an Alien deck at level 3. The only choice would be the relative numbers.
Finally there are the Climax cards, which are limited to only 3 choices, of which I use 2:
Both of these are Book triggers, meaning they work well with Guitarist Nagato, and they both have Climax synergies with cards in the deck, meaning they are useful if drawn. The only other option is [Yes, That is Impossible(SY/W08-100)], which provides the deck with some much needed soul, and being a Climax with a drawing effect doesn’t lead to a net loss in cards when you play it.
Strategies, Strengths and Weaknesses
Since the deck is severely lacking in Soul triggers the main strategy of the deck is to take out the opponent’s cards and options whilst maintaining your own, and use openings to make direct attacks to cause damage. You can gain advantage by taking out opponents cards through sheer power, like [Waiting Mode Nagato] or [Summer Festival Nagato], or through counter cards combined with walls like [Nagato Yuki] and [China Dress Nagato]. In addition you can increase your own number of cards through [Glasses Girl Nagato] and the 3 Aliens card, and of course the Book trigger. You just have to watch out for drawing too many Climax cards.
The deck’s biggest strengths lie in its searching abilities and its healing powers. The deck has a very strong end game with the combined powerhouse and healer of [Summer Festival Nagato].
The biggest weakness of the deck is arguably the near complete lack of Soul. Another problem is the fact that many of the cards in the deck beyond level 0 are more or less vanillas. The deck can also fall into a lot of trouble if it doesn’t get its support cards early enough.
Building a more competitive deck
If you’re looking for a more competitive build of the deck it’s very easy to combine it with some of the other colours from the series, usually drawn from Red.
From Yellow, counter card aside, the only card that ever seems to see use is [Xmas Party Kyon’s Sister(SY/W08-003)], who is simply used for deck thinning with her concentrate ability.
From Green there is [Wish Upon A Star Mikuru(SY/WE09-05)], [Different Time Isotopes Mikuru & Mikuru(SY/W08-026)]+[Classified Information(SY/W08-049)] and [Cat Ears Mikuru(SY/W08-037)]. The first three can be useful just for the sheer attack power they provide the deck, whilst [Wish Upon A Star Mikuru] can also help get Climax cards out of stock. [Cat Ears Mikuru] gives you defensive options during late game.
From Red the usual 3 cards you’ll see used are [Onsen Haruhi(SY/W08-054)], [Trouble Girl Haruhi (SY/W08-T08)] and [Someday in the Rain (SY/W08-T10)]. [Onsen Haruhi] sorts out some of the early game problems with cards that are basically just space fillers and is useful for clearing out character cards you can’t otherwise deal with at the start of the game. [Trouble Girl Haruhi] gives you another late game heavy hitter, and another way to heal yourself. [Someday in the Rain], as well as being the Climax paired with Trouble Girl has a Door trigger meaning that between it and the 3 Aliens, any card you want should be at your disposal. You may also see some people using [Haruhi holding a bouquet of flowers in both hands (SY/W08-T02)] which works well with [Someday in the Rain].
Fitting these cards into an Alien deck is fairly easy. To fit the Climax cards in just replace [Death Match in the Information Restraint Space] and the associated character, since it becomes worthless without the Climax in the deck. So [Glasses Girl Nagato] should be replaced with [Onsen Nagato & Mikuru] for example, or with the characters of the new colour you wish to play. The level 0 characters can easily replace [Cat Ears Nagato] and you can reduce the numbers of some of the other level 0s to accommodate them, and shift a bit of the «Alien» support since you’ll be playing less «Alien». With less Book triggers you can also think about replacing one or both [Guitarist Nagato] to allow more higher level cards. In order to fit in the higher level cards you can also reduce the number of [Dressed Up Nagato] in the deck. Many examples of these decks can be found on the official site.
Since I originally planned and wrote this article I’ve now moved to the mixed Blue/Red version because of the added consistency things like [Onsen Haruhi] and [Someday in the Rain] add, although I’m still toying with the build. Hopefully this has given newcomers a view on the deck, and might inspire Yuki fans to take up the deck, or give other players an idea of what they’ll face should they come up against the deck.