"Archfiend", known as "Daemon" (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 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.
The introduction of the "Archfiend" archetype in Dark Crisis caused a translation issue, since archetype conditions were not yet created and the cards in the set specified support for all monsters with 「デーモン」 ("Daemon") in their Japanese names. This was decided to be translated into English as "Archfiend", and from this point onward, all cards with 「デーモン」 in their Japanese names would have "Archfiend" in their English names. However, several cards in older sets predating the concept of archetypes had already been released and translated whose Japanese names contained 「デーモン」, but whose English names did not contain any specific string:
- A Deal with Dark Ruler (A Deal with a Daemon)
- Axe of Despair (Daemon's Axe)
- Black Skull Dragon (Black Daemons Dragon)
- Beast of Talwar (Talwar Daemon)
- Fiend Skull Dragon (Death Daemon Dragon)
- Lesser Fiend (Lesser Daemon)
- Shadow Tamer (Daemon Tamer)
- Summoned Skull (Summoned Daemon)
- Toon Summoned Skull (Toon Daemon)
To resolve this issue, Upper Deck Entertainment invented the idea of Archfiend monsters (rather than "Archfiend" monsters) as a separate category, similar to existing abilities. Due to the circumstances, they were not printed on the card but rather could only be looked up via UDE's website, which stated: "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." In addition, several older cards are also considered to be "Archfiends." These cards include: followed by the above list.
As a result, all "Archfiend" support in the original printing of Dark Crisis referred to Archfiend cards as if they were a category (rather than "Archfiend" cards as an archetype). For example, this can be seen in the original card texts of "Falling Down" and "Archfiend's Roar".
The introduction of archetype conditions 7 years later would remove the need for any special category, and later prints of the above list of cards in the TCG would all receive one stating that they belonged to the "Archfiend" archetype regardless of their printed name. This began with "Axe of Despair" in Battle Pack 2: War of the Giants, and finished with the release of Legendary Collection 4: Joey's World Mega Pack.
"A Deal with Dark Ruler" was not included on UDE's original list of Archfiend cards that do not have "Archfiend" in their English names, as all Archfiend support at the time referred to either monsters or cards that could be continuously controlled, making it mechanically irrelevant. However, later cards like "Archfiend Heiress" would refer to adding any "Archfiend" card from the Deck to the hand, making it mechanically significant, and it was given the archetype condition along with the other cards.
In order for a card to be an "Archfiend" card, it must have the exact string 「デーモン」 ("Daemon") in its Japanese name. Other spellings like "Demon" (or any other Japanese word that might be translatable as "demon") do not qualify. For example, the Japanese name of "Regenerating Rose", 「スプリット・
The first members introduced after "Archfiend" became an archetype are chess-themed, all of which are named after chess pieces, and feature a chessboard pattern as the background of their artwork.
Since then, other "Archfiends" have been released which lack the chess motifs. In general, they 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, they were not related other than sharing a word in their Japanese names.
The first archetype-oriented "Archfiends" appeared in Dark Crisis and were chess-themed, each featuring a dice roll-conditional negation of effects that target them ("Terrorking Archfiend", "Vilepawn Archfiend", etc.). These "Archfiends" all had appearances that very closely resembled contortions or variations on "Summoned Skull". 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". It ended with the release of "Imprisoned Queen Archfiend".
The next wave of "Archfiends" appeared in the 5D's period, and had a sports theme ("Archfiend Interceptor", "Lancer Archfiend", "Mad Archfiend"). For the first time since "Black Skull Dragon" and "Fiend Skull Dragon" it featured a Dragon 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" began in the TCG in Starstrike Blast, beginning with the North American release of "Archfiend Empress". These Archfiends bore little resemblance to the original chess Archfiends, having generally purple color schemes, a metallic appearance, and an imperial theme, similar to the "Fabled" monsters. 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" and continued with the global release of "Archfiend Eccentrick" in Clash of Rebellions, alongside "Red-Eyes Archfiend of Lightning", the first "Archfiend" Gemini monster, and "Archfiend Black Skull Dragon", the retrained version of their first ever Fusion.
Building a Deck around the "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, and only two of the cards have a 50% 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 ~17% chance, and a couple have a ~33% chance.
The more modern "Archfiends" such as "Archfiend Emperor, the First Lord of Horror" and "Annihilator Archfiend" tend to go for a destruction strategy to pave the way to attack the opponent directly with their high-Level high-ATK Monsters. Three "Archfiend" Equip Spell Cards exist with different effects: the oldest, "Axe of Despair", boosts ATK and can return to the hand; "Falling Down" is an in-theme "Snatch Steal"; and the newest, "Archfiend's Staff of Despair", is an enfeebling version of "Axe of Despair". The "Archfiends" are also lucky enough to have two Field Spell Cards: "Pandemonium", which although designed for the older "Archfiends" can still be used with the modern ones to recover losses when "Archfiends" are destroyed by an effect, and "Archfiend Palabyrinth", which boosts Fiends' ATKs as well as carrying a Special Summon from Deck effect granting access to fast Xyz Summons.
|Chess Archfiend - Recommended cards|
- The effects of "Archfiends" apply mostly on the field or in the Graveyard; as such cards such as "Skill Drain" and "Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror" can hinder the strategy.
- As most of the members are high Level, "Gravity Bind" can prevent a game winning attack from happening.
- "Vampire Hunter" and "Exile of the Wicked" can destroy "Archfiends" without needing to beat their high ATK.
- The deck is also typically slow, requiring Normal Summons of an Archfiend to begin swarming. Cards that can negate the Summon such as "Solemn Judgment" and "Chaos Trap Hole" can take away a whole turn.
- The deck often requires paying a lot of Life Points, so can have difficulty against stall and burn strategies.
- "What is an "Archfiend"?". Upper Deck Entertainment. February 26, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009.