So, I'm pretty free during the holidays so thought i'd pen down my thoughts on Heroes.
Heroes currently receive huge support in the form of Masked Heroes. What was a slower version : Gemini Spark is now replaced by Masked Change, a new quick spell which is searchable, and doesnt require a specific monster, and can be used on any hero monster you possess.
So, let's discuss the cards individually:
1) Dark Law- I won't go into depth with dark law because by now, everybody knows what it does. Konami made it quite balanced in the sense that 2400 attack is really weak and can be outted quite easily. It doesnt have any built in protection like Felgrand, and can be outted with Compulsory, BTS etc. However, it is still a really good card, and if theres anything we've learnt from YGO, its that just cos a card can be outted by a trap, doesnt make it any less good of a card.
Dark Law makes it particularly good vs satella knights going first, as they need to draw a trap to out it. If you can protect the dark law, you win quite easily. However, as good as it seems vs shaddolls, its actually not, a simple shadoll fusion clears it, and it doesnt prevent shadolls flip effects from happening. This would not be the play I would make if i am versing a shaddoll opponent.
Note that drawing a card (like from upstart) is counted as adding and will cause dark law's effect to trigger.
2) Kamikaze- Another decent monster. Its effect to prevent battle, and that it cant be destroyed in battle is hardly relevant as its easily outted by honour ark, castiel etc. Its main function is a wind mask hero so that you can abuse airman with. the draw effect is very very good in heroes you need cards to thin the deck. Well timing your kamikaze can be very devastating for your opponent and its effect makes it a threat in the mirror match if you go against a Mask hero Kouga
3) Kouga- The last monster and at first sight probably the worst. However, its probably one of the most useful mask heroes because its effect can be chained to, and acts like a pseudo honest. Kouga can put huge damage on board, which is very important in the hero deck. However, its downside is having to run E hero Alias, a bad card, a brick, and a card which hardly contributes to your comboes. If the meta turns out to be hero mirrors, you can bet its well worth maining one Alias. Alias however isnt that terrible backed up with Vanity Emptiness, particularly against Tella Knight etc. However its still a subpar card.
4) Mask Change 2- At first glance this card seemed crazy. But, its actually not as good as you think it is, mainly in Heroes. Opening with it is terrible , because its a bad investment, its cost is too steep, and the fact that you had to summon a monster with a higher level reduces its versatility. In a pure hero deck, you would never want this card, because Mask change does the exact same thing but much better. However, it is good for other decks which want to abuse mask heroes like infenity, shadolls etc.
5) Form Change- And dont get me started on form change, its dead most of the time, a horrible card to draw all around and only good for otk-ing, which translates to you being in a winning position so you should already be winning anyway. Bad card bad design.
6) Mask Charge- A very nifty card. Acts like salvage, and a 1 card of any mask hero you choose. You can return fusions too, and overall very good card. Card advantage and options are always welcome.
7) Contrast hero Chaos- Sweet card in general, with a very good effect (Solemn Judgment anyone?) but its requirement is pretty steep. It is very very rare that you will be summoning it because to have 2 Mask heroes in grave and to have miracle fusion is very unlikely and can only be good in late game. Most of the time your go to card for Miracle is Absolute Zero.
8) E HERO Core- The one card I never tested. No comments about it (i dont even know its effect)
Matchups across the board:
1) Tella Knight - Tella is one of this deck's worst matchups because the other deck just puts a steady stream of beatsticks that Hero cant deal with. They gain alot of advantage very very easily and churn monsters out. Heroes, having naturally lower attack, and playing lesser monsters in the deck just lose out. In theory , heroes would have to draw mask change or a trap to be in a commanding position, thus making it the inferior deck. The best way to play against tella would be to pray you went first and make dark law, or just going for the OTK, depending on the circumstances. A very cool tech to deal with tella would be to main/side 2 copies of the hands. This makes going 2nd much more favourable. Alot of the time, Hands put alot of pressure on tella, and you can easily blow them out, as well as cause 2 for 1 trades. If they refuse to set traps to play around the hands, you are in a really strong position. Their only out is probably castiel, as nobody extra decks dweller anymore.
2) Shaddolls- Another matchup which is very very risky. It is abit hard game 1 because shadolls will stall the game out and its hard for you to otk, but siding g2/3 makes it much easier. In theory you just have to deal with their face down monsyers, and you can do so by siding, because Shadools would have to draw their fusion spell or a trap to out dark law. Furthermore, Heroes can easily otk out of the blue if they have the right hand or if the facedown monster is not a lizard. Heroes also pressure shadolls because shadolls are a reactive deck and is usually quite slow. Having emptiness + dark law out is very hard for shadoll to deal with.
These 2 are probably the most relevant decks in the OCG meta. Anything else like yang zing, dragon rulers, are probably irrelevant. Infernity is a scary deck, but after playtesting it, deck is prone to monster hands but having first turn dark law makes it really hard for infernity to get going.
So, what cards should be in a hero list?
Here is an example of a core:
X Shadow Mist
2 Summon Priest
X Miracle Fusion
X Mask Charge
3 Mask Change
1 Foolish Burial
X Emergency Call
X Hero Alive
X Traps to deal with the format- Emptiness is probably the most important card in the current meta.
Other cards to consider also include:
E Hero Voltic
HC Halberd Challenger
Mask Change 2
Various versions of heroes:
1) Pure E Heroes (sample of the deck core is given up there)- This list focuses on the mask change + hero focus of the deck. It is generally solid, but can lack monster power.
2) Destiny Heroes- Clarence's list is a very good example, and some decklists mixed with some dhero cards have appeared on Japanese sites. Easy access to key beetle and faster than the pure hero build. Focuses less on the mask change aspect and more on the rank 4 plays.
3) Star seraph heroes- Probably the most popular version of heroes in Japan. Very explosive if you draw the right cards. However, it has consistency issues. Call me a sceptic, but I do not believe this is the right way to play Hero ATM. The reason tellaknight star seraph is good is because tella is a separate reliable engine to have even with dead star seraph cards in hand. Heroes however are not, because the only cards you wanna play are mist, stratos and perhaps 1 bubbleman, along with monk and the star seraph engines. Shadoll star seraph is also alright because you can just stall out with the shadolls or utilize the fusion spell to get rid of dead thrones.
Overall thought on heroes:
It is fun and very consistent. But it lacks really strong power plays like what the star seraph engine can do, or soul charge. This makes it slightly weaker because it relies on a decent setup backed up by vanity emptiness. However, the best decks this format are ones that utilize the star seraph-soul charge engine. They usually end up with 1-2 dead in hand cards (usually a throne or a soul charge early game) if their seraph engine doesnt get going. This makes it slightly less explosive. Heroes could capitalize on that and put pressure early.
Pure Heroes' main downfall is that it cannot make use of soul charge.
However, that seems like a risky strategy to take going into a tournament. They could be tier 1.5 ish but will not really hit tier 1. Having consistency is one thing but also being blown out by decks that draw really well is also another factor to consider. The strongest power play of Tellaknight > strongest power play of Heroes, and the same can be said for the average play for both decks. Until Soul charge is limited, Heroes will never be the best deck.