Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
The Best General Cards in Yu-Gi-Oh
When deck-building, Yu-Gi-Oh players typically pick one or two monster archetypes and then hunt for supports to boost those selections. However, occasionally the game offers versatile units who operate well in almost any deck, and you might be surprised just how many are competitively viable.
Of course, some will work better than others in certain structures, but these guys can assist just about any assortment. To see the cream of the generalized crop, here are 50 awesome cards for any Yu-Gi-Oh deck!
50. Fairy Tail - Snow
With a nice 1850 ATK, Snow's one of the stronger monsters that doesn't need a tribute to normal summon, and when fielded through either normal or special summon, she lets you change an opponent's monster to face-down defense position, blocking their effects and often putting them in a vulnerable combat state. Additionally, you can banish seven cards from your hand/field/graveyard to revive Snow from your graveyard and again activate her trait.
49. Breakthrough Skill
Like all traps, you have to wait at least one turn after setting Breakthrough Skill to use it, but (unlike timing-specific cards), you can trigger it at any point to target and negate a monster's effect for the rest of the turn, perfectly dampening entrance abilities. On a later turn, you can also banish Skill from your graveyard to once again negate a monster's abilities, giving two blocks for the price of one.
48. Gold Sarcophagus
For those playing the long game, Gold Sarcophagus is now unbanned and ready to add any card from your deck, giving it you two turns after activation. Unlike its counterpart Different Dimension Capsule, Sarcophagus doesn't remain on the field, meaning there's no way to destroy it and cancel the effect. A useful search for any deck, particularly when collecting the five Exodia components.
47. Golden Ladybug
Another great card for the long game, Ladybug should stay in your hand where you can reveal it on each of your turns (at your standby phase) to gain 500 life points. Over the course of a lengthy duel, this can amount to several thousand extra health, granting you an appreciated defense in case your field gets destroyed. Alternatives include "Aroma Jar" and "Solemn Wishes", which can also continuously restore your health but are more vulnerable to your opponent's removals. After you've put its effect to good use, Ladybug also makes good fodder for either a forced discard or link summon.
46. Foolish Burial
Simply enough, Foolish Burial sends a monster from your deck to your graveyard. Although I wish it possessed a graveyard-banishing effect, this still offers an excellent and fast way to prepare your discard pile with whatever monster you need. You can then revive your fallen ally with cards like "Call of the Haunted" or use any graveyard abilities they may carry. Also, with no "once per turn" limitation, feel free to activate multiple Burials in a single round.
Tragoedia would typically need two tributes to normal summon, but its effect lets you special summon it from your hand at any point when you take battle damage. On the field, it gains 600 ATK and DEF for every card in your hand, and it can (once per turn) let you discard a monster to take control of an opposing monster with the same level.
You can also alter Tragoedia's level to that of a monster in your graveyard, useful for setting up synchro and xyz summons, and its default level of 10 helps ritual summon with only one sacrifice.
44. Nimble Momonga
Nimble Momonga masterfully swarms your field and replenishes your life points. When destroyed by battle, you gain 1000 life points and can special summon up to two copies of Momonga from your deck. Those copies will also gain you 1000 points if destroyed, or they can also used for a tribute, link, or xyz summon.
If you manage to place the original vanquished Momonga back into your deck with cards like "Pot of Dichotomy", you can reuse the combo once more.
43. Breaker the Magical Warrior
Breaker offers a great spell/trap removal for decks that have room to give him their turn's normal summon. When normal summoned, Breaker gains a spell counter that increases his ATK from 1600 to 1900, impressive on a level four monster. He can also spend that counter to destroy any spell or trap on the field. After that, you've still got a respectable 1600 spellcaster who is now primed for an xyz or link summon, excellently bestowing both a removal and a material.
42. D.D. Esper Star Sparrow
A handy support and boss monster for any deck, Star Sparrow matches a Blue-Eyes in power with 3000 ATK, though he'll need two tributes if normal summoned. While fielded, your opponent can't target other monsters you control with attacks or effects, a superb barricade for allies.
Additionally, while in your graveyard, you must revive Star Sparrow in defense position (banishing it when it leaves the field) when your opponent makes a direct attack, taking a crucial hit for you. Finally, note its high level makes it a useful ritual tribute.
41. Dark Hole
Although long-banned monster-wipe Raigeki has been legalized, it's still restricted, offering only one copy for each deck. Dark Hole offers a nice substitute that's also (as of this writing) limited to a single inclusion. Like Raigeki, this magic destroys all opposing monsters without targeting, useful for bypassing shrouded foes. However, is simultaneously nukes your monsters too, so either wait until your field is empty or your adversary has more to lose than you do.
40. Threatening Roar/Waboku
These two cards each protect you for a turn; the former prevents attacks from being declared while the latter guards both your life points and monsters from combat, rendering you invulnerable. The handy thing about them is that they can be activated before the battle phase, so if your opponent plays a spell/trap removal in their first main phase, you haven't completely lost your trap (as you would with battle phase-only cards).
I recommend Roar for non-flip decks and Waboku for flip-decks (as your monsters can still activate their revealed effects when attacked).
39. Pot of Duality
One of the game's best "Pot of" cards, Duality will grab a card from your deck, meaning your overall hand size won't change (one for one). Your special summons for the turn are also sadly disabled. However, you don't just draw a card from your deck, you excavate (reveal) the top three and pick one, shuffling the rest back in. This gives you several options to choose from, letting you select the one that fits your situation.
This card is good for any deck but is best used in builds that rely more on normal summons or sets and won't heavily mess the delay on special summons.
38. Beast King Barbaros
Barbaros is a versatile beast who serves as a boss monster/field wipe or low-level beatstick. You can cast him with three different amounts of tributes, listed below, strengthening his abilities with each sacrifice. Most notably, his final form wipes your opponent's entire field!
- Zero tributes: Barbaros's ATK becomes 1900.
- Two tributes: Barbaros maintains his 3000 ATK.
- Three tributes: Barbaros maintains his 3000 ATK and destroys all cards your opponent controls.
37. Called by the Grave
As a quick-play spell, you can activate Grave even on your opponent's turn, similar to a trap. It banishes a monster from your opponent's graveyard, negates its effects, and also negates any cards on the field sharing the same name. This not only makes it harder for your opponent to recover their unit (and makes a perfect chain to negate a revival), it dampens any duplicates your opponent may control.
36. The Monarchs Stormforth
A modernized version of Soul Exchange, this quick-play spell belongs to the Monarch archetype but serves any tributed monster well. After activation, the next time during the turn that you tribute summon, you can spend a monster your opponent controls as if you owned it, but you can't special summon from the extra deck the turn you play Stormforth. Plus, its quick-play status allows you to combo it with cards that let you tribute on your opponent's turn, but note that it's limited, so only place a single copy in your deck list at official events.
35. Card Car D
Card Car D bears the popular machine type, which can help prepare type-effects like Solidarity, but it's a useful draw tool for any structure. Car can't be special summoned, and you can't special summon the turn you use its trait. However, during the first main phase of the turn, you normal summon it, you can send it to the graveyard and immediately end your turn to draw two cards. This quickly boosts your hand and makes a great first-turn play (since you wouldn't be able to attack anyway).
Remember, you can still set cards during your first main phase, so place some defenses to protect yourself until your next move.
Whatever archetype or theme you choose to employ, odds are good you'll be utilizing at least one field spell. These are some of the strongest cards in the game, as evidenced by each player's ability to only use one at a time. To quickly pull these fierce units from your deck, tryTerraforming, a card that simply lets you add any stadium from your deck to your hand. With no drawbacks, this offers a bargain deal that greatly increases your odds of landing an early-game arena.
33. Borreload Dragon
Borreload needs 3-4 materials, so you'll spend quite a few monsters when summoning him, but he accepts any and all effect monsters as fuel. He also brandishes 3000 ATK and points two arrows to each side and diagonally backwards, granting you (and not your opponent) several extra deck slots. Additionally, Borreload wields three helpful abilities, one of which steals enemy monsters!
- Can't be targeted by monster effects
- Once per turn at instant speed, can lower the ATK/DEF of a face-up monster by 500
- When attacking, you may gain control of the target at the start of the damage step, but send it to the graveyard at the end of the next turn
32. Scrap-Iron Scarecrow
Another useful unit for extended duels, Scrap-Iron can (once per turn) negate an opponent's attack. Unlike several battle phase traps, it won't destroy or otherwise hinder their creature, but Scrap-Iron resets itself after use rather than heading to the graveyard. In other words, as long as it isn't destroyed, you can block several attacks over the course of a duel and safely field weaker utility monsters.
Marshmallon's fairy type and light attribute fit well with holy decks, but it can blend just about anywhere. This fluffball doesn't need any tributes to set, and it's immune to battle destruction, forcing your opponent to spend a monster removal if they want to swing at your life points.
Additionally, when your opponent flips Marshmallon with an attack, you inflict 1000 damage to them, a huge effect damage burn that devours 1/8 of their total health. A useful unit, but beware monsters with pierce who can hit through Marshmallon's weak DEF with excess trample damage.
30. Penguin Soldier
A long-regulated original card, Penguin Soldier is now free to use as many (up to the regular maximum of three) copies as you wish. While it's pretty weak, when flipped, you can return up to two target monsters to the hand, bouncing multiple enemies and circumventing destruction immunities. Alternatively, you can return one foe as well as Penguin itself, letting you set it once more to prepare its flip again.
29. Lost Wind
Lost Wind can only impact special summoned units, but these tend to be the strongest foes you'll most want to cripple anyway. When activated, you halve the ATK and negate the effects of a special summoned monster, greatly reducing its prowess. Additionally, if your opponent special summons from their extra deck while Wind is in your graveyard, you can set it! This lets you reuse its sweet abilities once more, although it'll now be exiled when leaving the field.
28. Future Fusion
Our long-banned fusion spell has since returned to official play, albeit with a new errata. Now, rather than immediately sending fusion materials from your deck to the graveyard, Future does so at the standby phase after activation, so it'll need to survive a turn. Then, after another turn (two turns after activation), the fusion monster is summoned to your field. While there's a delay, this beautifully summons a fusion monster without killing your hand and helps prepare your graveyard with whatever materials you desire.
27. Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon
We're fudging a bit here, since Odd-Eyes really works best in pendulum decks, but it's honestly a decent monster even outside its focus. It needs two tributes, but odds (ba-da-cha) are good you'll be pendulum summoning anyway. With a decent 2500 ATK, Odd-Eyes also doubles battle damage against foes, an incredible force that can really decimate your adversary's life points if you boost Odd-Eyes's attack stat.
Plus, in the pendulum zone, Odd-Eyes lets you both negate battle damage your pendulum monsters suffer as well as destroy itself at your end phase to add any pendulum monster with 1500 or less ATK from your deck to your hand, a nifty search for any pendulum archetype.
26. Solemn Judgment
As a counter trap, Solemn Judgment operates at spell speed 3, meaning it can only be responded to by other counter traps. While Judgment saps half your life points, it can essentially counter anything, negating and destroying summons, spells, and traps! Its versatility and speed cement it as one of the best traps around, evidenced by its current limited status at ranked events.
Judgment works particularly well as a check against pendulum monsters, as they'll head to the graveyard (and not the extra deck where they could be revived) when negated.
25. Sangan/Witch of the Black Forest
Like Future Fusion, Sangan and Witch were indefinitely banned but made playable again with a new errata. While they're fairly weak, when sent from the field to the graveyard, Sangan adds a monsters with 1500 or less ATK from your deck to hand while Witch does the same for 1500 or less DEF, making each a great tribute or link material since you'll get to search a unit afterwards.
However, their new text states they can only use their effect once per turn, and you can't activate the searched card that turn. Still, note that Sangan is a level-three fiend while Witch is a level-four spellcaster, offering different synergies with multiple deck themes.
24. Bottomless Trap Hole
Another great defense against swarming, you cant trigger Bottomless Trap Hole when your opponent summons at least one monster with 1500 ATK. At that point, you'll destroy any of the summoned monsters with 1500 or more ATK and banish them from play.
Not only can this remove multiple warriors, but it also exiles them, making them much harder to recover. That said, note that their abilities aren't negated, so any entrance effects they may brandish will resolve before disappearing.
23. Saryuja Skull Dread
Saryuja offers incredible versatility to any structure, needing a total link rating of four and arriving with a mighty 2800 ATK. The more monsters spent on his summon, the more abilities Saryuja wields:
- Two or more materials: If a monster is normal or special summoned to a zone Saryuja points to, it gains 500 ATK and DEF
- Three or more materials: Once per turn, you can special summon a monster from your hand
- Four or more materials: When this card is link summoned, you can draw four cards, then place three cards from your hand on the bottom of your deck
22. Battle Fader
The downside to using spells and traps for defense is that if your field gets nuked, you're left open (even cards like Threatening Roar can be sprung into activation sooner than desired). Enter Battle Fader, one of the best hand traps in the game. It rests safely in your hand until needed, making it practically impossible to counter, and when your opponent declares a direct attack, you can special summon it to end the battle phase, banishing Fader when it exits the field. Your foe's assault is ruined and you now have a material or blocker in future turns.
21. Galaxy Cyclone
Galaxy Cyclone provides two spell removals in one, with a few negligible restrictions that hardly dampen its prowess. When first activated, it can destroy any set spell/trap, eliminating a face-down unit. Then, during a later turn, you can banish Galaxy from your graveyard to destroy any face-up spell or trap. Although each of its blasts can only obliterate either revealed or unrevealed units, you're still getting two for the price of one.
20. Number 101: Silent Honor ARK
Another fudge since (like all xyz monsters) this rank-four aqua-type needs a specific level for its materials; you'll want to pass on ARK if you're not using level fours. However, level-four monsters are incredibly abundant and seen in almost every deck; combining any two forms this fierce unit. It bears a respectable 2100 ATK, and it can detach two units to attach an opposing special summoned attack position monster to itself as material!
This both removes an enemy and leaves you with a single xyz unit, which you can detach to once prevent ARK's destruction (whether through battle or effect).
19. Mythical Beast Jackal King
Another semi-cheat, Jackal King admittedly performs better in pendulum decks. However, since his main use stems as a monster, not a pendulum scale, he's a solid choice for several builds. In the pendulum scale, King bears an unwieldy scale four and an archetype-dependent monster swap, but as a monster, he'll gain two spell counters whenever either player activates a spell card.
Then, on either player's turn, Jackal King can remove two spell counters (from anywhere on your field, including himself) to negate and destroy an opponent's activated monster effect, a fierce and versatile defense mechanism to shut down opposing warriors.
18. Ties of the Brethren
This risky spell loses you 2000 life points, and you can't special summon or perform your battle phase for the rest of the turn after usage. However, you target a level-four or lower monster you control, then special summon two different monsters from your deck with the same level, type, and attribute, but different names. Even with the prices you're paying, this fields two monsters at once with their effects intact, beautifully preparing your archetype's combos and extra deck summons.
17. Supply Squad
Many series contain their own draw engines, but Supply Squad offers excellent card advantage to just about any deck. On either player's turn, if a monster you control is destroyed (by either battle or effect), Squad simply draws you a card. Since this can even activate on your turn, it stacks well with ally-destroying units like Sky Iris or Scrap Dragon, constantly gaining you draws on both players' turns.
16. Mirror Force
The classic day-ruiner, Mirror Force activates when your opponent attacks, destroying all attack position monsters they control. It's particularly effective against link monsters, who can't hide in defense position.
Mirror Force remains a potent offense/defense blend, but as destruction-immunities and exit effects have become more common, its powers have slightly diminished over the years. Still, it enjoys a heap of awesome variants and offers a great comeback to turn the tide back in your favor.
Scapegoat has always been an incredible card, but it got even better with the advent of link monsters. When activated, you're prevented from summoning monsters that turn, but as a quick-play spell, you'll probably use it on your opponent's move anyway.
Scapegoat places four sheep monster tokens in defense position to your field. These tokens are pitifully weak and can't be used for a tribute summon, but they make great blockers and qualify as material for most link and synchro monsters.
14. Swords of Revealing Light
Although not a continuous spell, Swords of Revealing Light stays active for three turns. During that time, your opponent simply can't attack you; unless they have a method of removing Swords, you've gained a lengthy period of stall time to plan a counterattack. In addition, when first activated, Swords flips all opposing face-down monsters face-up, giving you more information to map out your turn.
13. Monster Reborn
Having finally left the forbidden list, you can now harness a single copy of Monster Reborn. This awesome magic special summons a monster from either player's graveyard. It's as simple as that; not only can this access both burial sites (unlike cards like Premature Burial), it recalls the monster with no disadvantages.
Often, rejuvenated monsters have their reviving spell/trap attached to them, providing an additional weakness and leaving the field if it does. Monster Reborn deftly sidesteps the issues with its quick and easy rebirth.
12. Glow-Up Bulb
Admittedly, you only really need tuners for decks with synchro, but that's most of them. Also, Glow-Up Bulb offers an excellent tuner for any theme, not just a specific archetype, and as a level one unit, it can access synchro monsters of just about any level (depending on the non-tuners used). Even better, you can send a card from the top of your deck to the graveyard to revive Glow-Up Bulb, letting you tune it once more while stocking your discard pile. Even if this is a once-per-duel effect, it's an excellent way to synchronize two monsters with a single tuner.
11. Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
Speaking of synchro monsters, this is arguably the best one in the game. Despite belonging to the Ice Barrier archetype, Trishula fits into any build and accepts any tuner and nontuner combination, although you need at least two nontuners.
When synchro summoned, Trishula lets you banish a chosen card from your opponent's graveyard and field as well as a random one from their hand! This exiles three units at once, disrupting all of your opponent's main areas, and since it's an entrance ignition, you can still apply it even if Trishula gets smashed with Bottomless Trap Hole or the like.
10. Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
As a tuner, Ghost Ogre can aid with synchro summoning, but any deck can utilize its awesome hand trap effects. When a monster or spell/trap that was already face-up activates its ability, you can send Ghost from your hand to the graveyard to destroy that card. Not only does this vanquish an enemy's unit, it typically blocks the effect, as most continuous cards need to remain fielded at resolution for their traits to function.
9. Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
Like her cousin Ghost, Ash Blossom can help synchro summon, but is generally used for her excellent hand trap abilities. You can discard her on either player's turn to negate a card that would apply one of the following effects:
- Adds a card from the deck to the hand
- Special summons from the deck
- Sends a card from the deck to the graveyard
Able to hinder three different types of strategies, Ash will throw a wrench in your adversary's plans, possibly ruining their entire turn.
8. Imperial Order
Currently limited, Imperial Order negates all spells while active. Now, you'll have to forfeit 700 life points during your standby phase, but that's an incredible barrier that really dampens your foe (spells are much more common than traps competitively). You're affected too, but you can avoid the net by either building a low-spell deck or simply activating any magic cards in store before employing Order. Overall, a formidable continuous trap that I wouldn't be surprised to see rejoin the ban list.
7. Twin Twisters
Twin Twisters requires you to discard a card, but targets and destroys up to two spells and traps on the field. You're trading two cards to destroy two, but crafty players will use the discard to setup their graveyard, so it's often really just one for two. What else can I say? When it comes to mass spell/trap destruction, only one legal card rivals Twisters...
6. Heavy Storm Duster
Heavy Storm Duster combines the long-banned Heavy Storm and Harpie's Feather Duster into one powerful and playable package. You can't conduct your battle phase the turn you ignite it, but like Scapegoat, you can easily avoid this by activating it on your opponent's turn.
When used, Duster simply targets and destroys up to two spells/traps! That's an excellent instant-speed removal, and the "up to two" wording helps since it also lets you annihilate just one if needed.
5. Drowning Mirror Force
A variant of the classic Mirror Force, Drowning now requires your opponent to directly attack you, so it won't work when they just take a swing at your monsters. However, this time, opposing attack position monsters aren't destroyed, but shuffled into your opponent's deck. This is a far superior monster wipe that circumvents destruction and targeting-immune targets and doesn't fill your opponent's graveyard; they'll need to search out their lost units all over again.
Green is back with a resounding thunder. After years on the ban list, players can now implement a single instance of Raigeki, the classic magic that casually destroys all opposing monsters. No gimmicks or prices to pay; just activate and nuke. No targeting either, so if a monster is invulnerable to targeting but not destruction, they'll still be eradicated.
3. Firewall Dragon
This limited dragon is notable for accepting any two monsters (even tokens or normal monsters) as material and arriving with 2500 ATK. It's also a good candidate for secondary link monsters, as from a main monster zone it'll give two side arrows for additional extra deck creatures. However, Firewall really impresses with its effects, the first of which lets it once return monsters (up to the number of cards co-linked to Firewall) from the graveyard/field to the hand, bouncing enemies while recycling your graveyard units.
Also, if a creature Firewall points to is destroyed in battle or sent to the graveyard, you can special summon a monster from your hand, adeptly fielding your higher-level champions without needing to tribute.
2. Evenly Matched
Evenly Matched can be risky since it activates at the end of your opponent's battle phase, so it can't help you stop that turn's attacks. However, when used, it forces them to banish cards to where they control as many as you do, an awesome removal that mass exiles several forces when you've fallen behind.
As if that weren't powerful enough, you can activate Evenly Matched from your hand if you control no cards, both catching your opponent by surprise and banishing their entire field!
1. Pot of Desires
The current competitive staple found in nearly every deck, Pot of Desires offers unparalleled hand advantage. Like the long-banned Pot of Greed, you'll draw two cards, increasing your overall options and giving you more units to play; the only price is exiling the top ten cards of your deck face-down. This gives you fewer units to pick from when performing searches, but unless you're facing a rare mill deck, you should have plenty of cards left to prevent a deck-out loss, meaning it's a surprisingly small price for such an awesome bonus.
I use Desires in essentially any competitive deck I craft (especially ones that go over the 40-card minimum), and thankfully, it's incredibly cheap for its usefulness, costing less than five dollars to buy.
Deck-Building Yu-Gi-Oh Cards
These cards offer insane amounts of versatility that can blend into almost any deck. You'll definitely want to consider your archetype's theme and specialized support options when deck-building, but don't overlook the prowess of the game's best jack-of-all-trades. Also be sure to consult the most recent ban list, as many of today's units have moved in and out; you won't want to accidentally be disqualified for playing something that has since reinstated its ban.
But for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next expansion of awesome catch-all cards, vote for your favorite unit and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Spod on May 27, 2020:
Thanks! Im definetly going to buy some of these for a start!