Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
Discarding Cards in Yu-Gi-Oh
To win a Yu-Gi-Oh duel, you need access to your cards, and the amount of plays you can make is largely determined by your hand size. Thus, anything that cuts cards from your opponent's hand decreases their ability to counter your moves and helps you achieve victory.
Many decks focus on destroying their opponent's field, which is an important part of the game, but dwindling their hand with forced discards can be just as beneficial, especially against pesky hand-trap monsters. Sure, some cards have effects that activate from your graveyard (which is where discarded cards are sent), but many don't, and even those that do often only activate their secondary abilities once lost, meaning it's still beneficial to remove them from your adversary's hand.
Forced discards are surprisingly rare and tend to be trap cards due to their opponent-dampening abilities, but with dozens of dastardly discards available, which ones are worth your time? These are the 10 best discarding cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!
10. Royal Tribute
A card that's currently limited, allowing only copy in your deck, Royal Tribute operates only with the Gravekeeper's monster archetype, since it depends on their field spell Necrovalley, restricting its versatility to a single series. However, when activated (while you control Necrovalley), both players must reveal their hands and discard all monster cards.
This can make for an absolutely brutal turn-1 combo if you're lucky enough to draw both Necrovalley and Royal Tribute in your opening hand (or use cards like Pot of Duality and Desires to search them out). First, cast Necrovalley, summon as many monsters as you can to minimize your own discard losses, then play Royal Tribute to drastically weaken your opponent before they've even had a chance to play!
9. Confiscation/Delinquent Duo
These are the best forced-discard spells around, so why only rank them at nine? Well, they've long been forbidden, and they're not coming off the ban list anytime soon. Confiscation pays 1000 life points, lets you look at your opponent's hand, and discards a card of your choice. This lets you discard without having to wait for the specific activation window of a trap, lets you peek at your opponent's hand to predict their future plays, and eliminates a card of your choice.
Delinquent Duo also spends 1000 life points, then your opponent discards a random card plus a card of their choice (if they still have another). Forfeiting 1000 life points is negligible compared to an easy two-card loss, and since your opponent only gets to choose one of them, the random discard can really mess up their plans.
Like most discard traps, Fuh-Rin-Ka-Zan has a specific activation window. This one's pretty tough to meet; it demands that at least one water, fire, earth, and wind-attributed monster exist on the field. Luckily, this includes your opponent's field, and monsters with multiple attributes like Elemental Mistress Doriado can also help. To compensate for its challenging criteria, Fuh-Rin-Ka-Zan lets you activate one of four powerful abilities:
- Destroy all monsters on your opponent's side of the field
- Destroy all spells/traps on your opponent's side of the field
- Randomly discard two cards from your opponent's hand
- Draw two cards
These are all impressive effects that mimic banned and limited spells. You're picking from either a Raigeki, Harpie's Feather Duster, Pot of Greed, or an improved Delinquent Duo that doesn't spend your life points and makes both discarded cards randomized, preventing your opponent from choosing what they lose.
Finally, note that while light and dark monsters don't help you activate this potent trap, they also don't prevent it as long as the other attributes are present, so don't feel forced to completely exclude them from your deck list.
7. Drop Off
Except for the very first turn of the first player, every player draws a single card at the start of their turn, consistently reinforcing your hand with a new unit. Many cards that skip your opponent's upcoming draw step, like the spirit monster Yata-Garasu, have long been banned because they leave no room for potentially fighting back with new cards.
Luckily, the unrestricted Drop Off acts as a good substitute. Rather than skipping your opponent's draw step, it simply forces them to discard the card they just drew. Like all discard effects, this potentially lets your opponent activate graveyard abilities, meaning it's not quite as effective as passing over the draw step entirely, but it's still an underestimated method of keeping your opponent's hand and field state in limbo for multiple turns.
6. Phantasm Spiral Wave
As an equip spell, you attach Phantasm Spiral Wave to a monster of your choice, and its text states it must be bestowed to a normal monster. Once per turn, that monster can't be destroyed by battle. and at the end of either player's battle phase, if it battled, you can special summon Phantasm Spiral Dragon (thumbnailed above) from your hand, deck, or graveyard, then equip it with Spiral Wave.
After that, if your opponent has any cards in their hand, they discard one of their choice. While it's unfortunate that they get to pick, Spiral Wave simply offers too many benefits to ignore. Once per turn battle immunity, the special summoning of a powerful wyrm monster, and forced discards all packed inside one awesome magic.
5. F.A. Off-Road Grand Prix
A field spell designed for the F.A. archetype, Off-Road Grand Prix increases the levels of your F.A. monsters by two during your main phase, useful for summoning higher-rank xyz monster using easy-to-summon minions. Plus, if Grand Prix is destroyed by a card effect (even your own), you can add any F.A. card from your deck to your hand, except another copy of Grand Prix.
These are nice benefits, but we're really interested in the next effect: once per turn, when your F.A. monster is destroyed in battle, you can discard a random card from your opponent's hand. This punishes them for depleting your field and even lets you purposefully attack stronger monsters to intentionally lose the combat and discard from their hand. Adding insult to injury, it's a random discard, so your opponent may very well throw out their best cards.
4. Trap of Board Eraser
Unlike many of our prior entries, Trap of Board Eraser can fit into any deck structure, although you can only trigger it when an effect activates that would inflict effect damage to you. Not only do you negate your effect damage, but your opponent must also discard a card of their choice!
Even battle-oriented decks often have some burn damage abilities, so it shouldn't take you too long to use Eraser, and you can quicken the process by using cards that would inflict damage to you (remember, this is different than paying life points) such as Tuning Magician. And since there's no pesky "once per turn" errata, you're welcome to activate multiple copies of Eraser in the same turn as long as they're both resolving at proper times.
3. X-Saber Airbellum
Wolverine here belongs to the X-Saber theme, but works with just about any blend. As a level 3 monster, you can normal summon Airbellum without tributing, and he wields decent attack for a low-level tuner. Plus, when Airbellum inflicts battle damage through a direct attack (it has to be direct), your opponent must discard a random card.
Like all tuners, Airbellum can also be used to synchro summon daunting white-backgrounded synchro monsters from your extra deck. What else can I say? Decent stats, a random discard, and extra deck access keep Airbellum useful even years after his debut.
2. Secrets of the Gallant
Phantasm Spiral Wave offered some forced discard potential to normal monsters, a trait it shares with Secrets of the Gallant. When activated, you select a normal monster you control. When that monster inflicts battle damage to your opponent this turn, they must discard two random cards!
Not only does this offer the uncommon ability of imposing two discards for one, both are random, and again there's no once per turn ruling. Gallant also works with either direct attack damage or shave damage on weaker attack-position monsters, and its quick-play speed as a trap helps because you can activate it right before your attack connects. This is after the window for declare-attack traps like Mirror Force, so (barring a few hand traps like Honest), you should be pretty confident that your attack will successfully go through and Gallant's effect will trigger.
Finally, if you can somehow make your normal monster attack multiple times in a single turn, Gallant will activate with each strike, potentially discarding four or more cards from your opponent's hand!
1. Robbin' Goblin
While technically a member of the Goblin archetype, Robbin' Goblin is versatile enough to aid any deck. It's pretty simple: whenever a monster you control inflicts battle damage to your opponent, they discard a random card.
And that's it. Unlike the one-turn-use Secrets of the Gallant, Robbin' Goblin is a continuous trap and stays active until removed, letting you continuously deplete your adversary's hand. It applies with all monsters you control regardless of archetype and status, can trigger multiple times in the same battle phase, and works with both shave/pierce battle damage and direct attack damage. Robbin' is one of the most criminally underestimated cards in the game and can turn your opponent's situation from injured to hopeless.
With both life points and their hand gone, most foes just won't have the means to form an adequate counterattack on their next turn. I often throw a Goblin into any of my decks that have the spell/trap space to spare, especially if they emphasize beatdown (Blue-Eyes White Dragon) or direct attack (Yosenju) strategies. A recommended card that bolsters the most common win condition—battle damage—and despite, Goblin's age and prowess, you can buy it for surprisingly low prices under a dollar!
Discard vs. Send
A quick tip: Remember to carefully read cards to determine the text on cards to decipher whether appropriate effects will activate. For instance, a card being sent to the graveyard from the hand isn't the same as being discarded, even though they both basically do the same thing.
For example, Shaddoll Dragon can destroy a spell/trap when sent to the graveyard (from anywhere). Discarding counts as sending from the hand to the graveyard, so you would be able to trigger its ability either when discarded or sent (perhaps your opponent used Apoqliphort Towers's ability). Compare this to Gren, Tactician of Dark World, who must specifically be discarded to activate his spell/trap removal; if he was sent from the hand by Towers, this time you would not be able to use his ability.
The Future of Discards
Despite their graveyard-filling, forcing discards remains a useful and underutilized mechanic that can catch opponents off-guard. Some archetypes like Fabled and Dark World even revolve around the mechanic, but all series can benefit from a dose of opposing card disadvantage.
With more booster sets on the way and other impressive discard abilities to consider, we'll undoubtedly return to cover more hand-weakeners in the future. But for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next expansion of discard effects, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill