Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Spell Counters in Yu-Gi-Oh?
From Yugi's famous Dark Magician to the impressive pendulum Magicians, spellcaster monsters have always been a series staple. Like other monster types, spellcasters possess several archetypes based around their members, but several also brandish a unique spell-counter mechanic, activating powerful traits by amassing and spending spell counters using their unique monster effects.
Spell counters act similarly to xyz material units (and even predated xyz monsters)—you spend a limited resource to harness awesome monster abilities. Luckily, spell counters are easier to restore than xyz units, and they can activate benefits that boost your ATK, destroy opposing cards, or even force your opponent to discard. But with dozens of mystical creatures available, which spell-counter wizards reign supreme? These are the 10 best spell-counter monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh!
10. Skilled Blue/Red/White Magician
These three entries share a slot because they're essentially the same card, just with minor stat tweaks and a different special summoned monster. Whenever a spell is activated (from either side of the field), you place a spell counter on your Magician when that spell resolves, each holding a maximum of three. By tributing your Magician with three counters, you can special summon a card from your hand, deck, or graveyard. Blue pulls any Gaia the Fierce Knight member, Red casts any Archfiend monster, and White fields a Buster Blader combatant.
You can also banish Blue and Red from your graveyard to place a spell counter on any card you control that can legally have one, making the Magicians good discard fodder. White strangely lacks this ability, and since Blue bears the highest ATK, if you absolutely make me pick a favorite, it's him. That said, Red and White's dark and light attributes are most useful for Chaos builds.
As sweet as these sorcerers are, note that despite their names, the wizarding trio doesn't belong to the Magician archetype; their naming was a poor translation from their non-Magician Japanese titles, and they won't qualify for corresponding effects.
9. Dark Red Enchanter
Unlike the patriotic level-4 Magicians above, Dark Red Enchanter is a level 6 card, meaning you'll have to tribute a monster if you normal summon or set him. Unfortunately, his base ATK of 1700 is low for a tributed monster, but he compensates with several tempting traits:
- Gains two spell counters when normal summoned
- Gains a spell counter whenever a spell is activated
- Gains 300 ATK for each spell counter he has
- Can (once per turn) remove two spell counters from himself to make your opponent discard a random card
These are great abilities that lend Dark Red impressive versatility. When normal summoned, his base ATK jumps to a respectable 2300 thanks to the spell counters, and even if special summoned, you can still turn him into a beatstick once enough spells have been activated (remember, your opponent's cards help with this too).
Also, unlike many spell counter cards, Dark Red doesn't have a maximum number he can possess, and he offers a rare forced discard ability, especially helpful since the discarded card is random, denying your opponent the option of choosing what they lose.
8. Crusader of Endymion
Crusader of Endymion is one of the best gemini monsters in the game, and like his brethren, he counts as a normal monster while face-up on the field or in the graveyard, useful for normal monster-dependent effects. Gemini monsters can normal summon themselves once already fielded to morph into effect monsters and wield their potent abilities. In this case, once his latent powers are unlocked, Crusader can (once per turn) target a face-up card on the field that can have a spell counter, place one on it, and gain 600 ATK for the rest of the turn.
While he himself can't bear spell counters, this lets you continuously resupply your other spell counter monsters, strengthening Crusader along the way. And since he bears the standard-max ATK (for level-4 cards) of 1900, he's no slouch in battle even before his boost. Remember that his ability can place spell counters on compatible spells/traps (like Pitch-Black Powerstone) as well as monsters, and can even provide the counters to opposing cards, handy when you want the ATK boost but don't have other valid targets.
7. Magical Something
Probably the game's best-named card, Magical Something wields a sturdy 1800 ATK and gains a spell counter whenever a spell is activated, with no maximum amount. His level is also increased for every spell counter he has, helping access high-rank xyz monsters with easy-to-cast units. Best of all, he can (once per turn) remove three spell counters from himself to set a quick-play spell from your graveyard onto the field, letting you recycle common instant-speed magic cards like Mystical Space Typhoon or Scapegoat.
A little-known rule reminds us that, unlike normal spells, quick-play spells can't be played the same that they're set, but after that, they'll be accessible on either player's turn (just like a trap card). Overall, a useful and versatile warrior whose type and attribute fit right in with Dark Magician decks.
6. Apprentice Magician
Apprentice Magician offers more benefits than his weak stats would imply. When normal, flip, or special summoned, you place a spell counter on a card that can receive it anywhere on the field, empowering your allies. Unlike many monster effects, this entrance ability helpfully triggers with all summoning methods, even flip.
After that, once Apprentice Magician is destroyed in battle, he simply summons a level-2 or lower spellcaster from your deck to in face-down defense position. This can (but doesn't have to) pull more Apprentice Magicians for even more spell counters, and it's also useful for other low-level flip spellcasters like Shaddoll Falco.
5. Mythical Beast Garuda
A pendulum monster from the spell counter-oriented Mythical Beast archetype, Garuda (who is a spellcaster despites its winged beast appearance) offers a sweet ability while in the pendulum zone. Although its scale of 4 is undesirably midway, you'll hardly notice since Garuda can destroy itself when you have no other scale to target and destroy a spell/trap on the field, an excellent removal for the series that also stocks your extra deck.
As a monster, Garuda gains a spell counter (and has no maximum amount) whenever a spell is activated, but you'll often want to keep it in your hand until you can activate its hand-trap ability. When your opponent normal or special summons a monster(s), you can remove three spell counters from anywhere on your field to special summon Garuda and return the monster(s) to your opponent's hand. This simultaneously fields a unit to your field and bounces one or more off your opponent's. Once out, Garuda doesn't wield any more abilities using its spell counters, but the ones it collects can be used for other Mythical Beast skills.
4. Breaker the Magical Warrior
Breaker here wields a simple but useful effect. When normal summoned, he gains a spell counter, and he can only hold one at a time. The spell counter increases his ATK by 300, matching the best level 4s at 1900, and he can spend his counter to target and destroy a spell/trap on the field.
While it's unfortunate that Breaker can only hold a single counter at once, spell/trap removals on monsters are relatively rare and valued; Breaker makes a great xyz or link material after spending his resource. Additionally, his effect doesn't bear that pesky "once per turn" errata, so if you can replace his counter with other cards, you're welcome to destroy multiple spells/traps in the same turn. As much as I love Breaker, I'm even fonder of his upgraded form...
3. Breaker the Dark Magical Warrior
Unlike his prior state, Breaker the Dark Magical Warrior is a level-6 card, needing a tribute to be normal summoned. At that point, he'll gain two spell counters, boosting his ATK by 400 for each for a hearty 2400. However, if instead pendulum summoned, Breaker arrives with three spell counters, upping his total strength to 2800!
Just like before, Breaker can remove a counter to destroy any spell/trap (even yours) on the field, although this time it's once per turn. To compensate, the Dark Magical Warrior doesn't bear a maximum spell counter limit, letting you add more counters to both provide spell/trap removals and further supplement Breaker's power.
2. Magical Abductor
Magical Abductor is a rare pendulum monster who doesn't belong to a specific archetype and bears the earth attribute, uncommon among spellcasters. However, she offers several tantalizing qualities for any spell counter deck list. In the pendulum zone, her scale 3 is low enough to pendulum common level-4 monsters (including other copies of herself) when used in tangent with a high scale, and she collects a spell counter (no maximum) whenever a spell is activated. Once per turn, you can spend three of her spell counters to add any pendulum monster from your deck to your hand, an amazing search that accesses dozens of cards.
As a monster, Magical Abductor begins with a respectable 1700 ATK, but she'll gain 100 whenever a spell is activated, quickly shapeshifting into a low-level beatstick. Again, she gains these counters whenever either player resolves a spell, and can amass as many as you like. This time, spending three adds a level-1 spellcaster from your deck to your hand, useful for pulling tricky wizards like Effect Veiler.
Finally, remember that even though Magical Abductor isn't a Mythical Beast, her spell counters can still help them ignite their abilities since they pull from anywhere on the field.
1. Mythical Beast Jackal King
With a healthy 2400 ATK, Jackal King holds his own against most single-tribute monsters in battle, and his pendulum scale (while midway at 4) lets Jackal destroy itself if you have no other pendulum scale to special summon a face-up Mythical Beast pendulum monster from your extra deck, other than another Jackal King.
This ability is only relevant to Mythical Beast decks, and even there it's not outstanding. Thankfully, Jackal King's field effect works wonders, even if deployed outside his archetype. Whenever a spell is resolved, Jackal King gains two spell counters, with no maximum limit, and (once per turn), whenever an opponent's monster activates their effect, you can remove two counters from your field to negate and destroy that card!
This incredible ability offers rare monster-lockdown. Remember, pendulum monsters activated as pendulum scales count as spell cards, making it easy to place several on Jackal King, and any your opponent plays with further supply him. Additionally, he doesn't even have to spend his own counters—Jackal King can fuel his ability with counters from anywhere on your field. Versatile and bearing the classic dark attribute/spellcaster type, Jackal King fits into a surprising number of decks, and he's won me a fair share of fuels.
Here's one of my favorite combos: when paired with the continuous spells Magician's Right Hand and Magician's Left Hand, you can negate the first card of each type your opponent plays every turn. Luckily, despite his prowess, Jackal King costs less than seven dollars, and he's a must-have for any spell-counter or pendulum deck.
Future of Spell Counters
Although they're not the most frequent type of card, spell counter monsters build off each other and enjoy continued support to this day. Modern entries can often hold an unlimited amount of counters and even spend those of their allies, keeping the mechanic relevant in competitive play with more freedom to build off each other.
Since many spell counters wizards are dark, they fit well with common supports like Allure of Darkness and the Virus Control traps, further adding to their synergies. But for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next expansion of spell counter creatures, vote for your favorite champion and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
DiegoHecka85 on July 11, 2018:
I like all the Skilled Magician specially the RED one, cause i can summon consistently random SUMMONED SKULL for effectiveness and nostalgia XD