What Are the Lightsworn Monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh!?
The Lightsworn archetype consists of several light- and dark-attributed monsters with different types whose unique abilities activate by destroying (or "milling") your own deck. Most Lightsworns bear effects that transport cards from your deck to the graveyard and reward you for doing so.
You might think that the luck factor involved (you're never quite sure what's on top of your deck) would make this a difficult series to play, but a heap of awesome supports and the vast amount of members make it a surprisingly reliable bunch.
10 Best Lightsworn Cards
Still, with dozens of holy fanatics running rampant, which units reign supreme? These are the best cards you'll definitely want for your Lightsworn Yu-Gi-Oh! deck!
- Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn
- Jenis, Lightsworn Mender
- Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
- Lightsworn Sanctuary
- Garoth, Lightsworn Warrior
- Lightsworn Barrier
- Minerva, Lightsworn Maiden
- Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn
- Solar Recharge
- Judgment Dragon
10. Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn
Minerva's ATK is set at a lukewarm 2000 for a rank four xyz monster, but she helpfully accepts any two level fours as material, making her easy to summon even in blended structures. Both her effects can activate once per turn, and the first lets you detach an xyz unit, send the top three cards of your deck to your graveyard, then draw cards equal to the number of Lightsworn cards sent by this effect. This adeptly stocks both your hand and your graveyard (you'll need Lightsworns in your graveyard to summon the theme's boss monster).
Minerva's next trait resolves when she's sent from the field to the graveyard through battle or an opponent's card effect. At that time, she can once again mill the top three cards of your deck, then destroy cards on the field up to the number of Lightsworns sent. This ability eradicates opposing cards of all types, and the handy "up to" keywords prevent you from accidentally blasting your own forces.
9. Jenis, Lightsworn Mender
As a level four monster, Jenis is useful for casting both Minerva and the archetype's signature synchro monster (level fours can combine with the level three tuner we'll soon see). Admittedly, Jenis wields a pitiful 300 ATK, but her DEF excels at 2100, so try to gimmick her with a special summon into defense position or stall until you can manually shift.
Jenis rewards your efforts with her tempting ability. During the end phase (including your opponent's), if a card was sent from your deck to the graveyard by a Lightsworn card this turn, you inflict 500 damage to your opponent and regain 500 life points. This simultaneously piles on effect damage and restores your health. Keeping your life high is essential for this series, as we'll later see how two of its strongest monsters drain your LP with their powerful effects; Jenis ensures you have resources to spare.
8. Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
Like Jenis, Lyla's level four helps access your extra deck, and she wields a solid 1700 ATK. However, Lyla mainly serves as spell/trap removal; something few low-level Lightsworns can do. During your main phase, you can shift Lyla from attack to defense position (even if she was just summoned) to target and destroy an opposing spell or trap. However, doing this prevents Lyla's position from being changed again until the end of your next turn, so she'll be stuck with her vulnerable 200 DEF.
That's okay; even if she gets defeated, having Lightsworns in your graveyard empowers other members, and Lyla will have already served her purpose. Still, she makes excellent xyz, synchro, or link material after using her ability, and Lyla mills the top three cards of your deck at your end phase, filling your graveyard and triggering your other Lightsworn abilities.
7. Lightsworn Sanctuary
Sanctuary offers potent ability, and it's annoyingly difficult to remove. Once per turn, you can send a Lightsworn monster from hand to the graveyard to add a different Lightsworn from your graveyard to your hand, letting you find what you need and discard what you don't. Also, Sanctuary gains a "shine counter" whenever one or more cards is sent from your deck to the graveyard—even by non-Lightsworn effects.
Whenever a Lightsworn card (including itself) would be destroyed by a card effect, you may instead remove two shine counters from your field to save the card. You can activate this effect multiple times in a single turn, and since you can remove the counters from anywhere on your field, you can still perform the effect if you have two Sanctuaries with only one counter (just remove one from each).
Continuous spells and traps don't often combo well with Lightsworns since they'll get nuked off the field by your ace monster's effect, but Sanctuary's self-preservation can help it (and other members) survive the blast. Note that the field spell "Realm of Light" operates with a similar effect but lacks the Lightsworn name and can't save cards other than itself.
6. Garoth, Lightsworn Warrior
As a level four, Garoth is useful for playing your extra deck monsters, and his 1850 ATK lets him serve as a low-level beatstick. Plus, whenever a card is sent from your deck to the graveyard by a Lightsworn other than Garoth, he mills an additional two cards from the top of your deck to the graveyard, then draws a card for each Lightsworn sent by this ability.
Yep, this is exactly like Minerva's earlier effect, just with two cards instead of three. Still, it can mill and draw a fantastic number of units because it's not "once per turn"; it activates multiple times in a single round if you have more than one Lightsworn effect triggering. A quick way to stock both your graveyard and your hand on top of sturdy ATK makes Garoth a well-rounded and essential warrior.
5. Lightsworn Barrier
As a continuous trap, Lightsworn Barrier remains active until removed, and it provides a phenomenal defense for your team. Whenever a face-up Lightsworn you control is attacked, you can send the top two cards of your deck to the graveyard to negate the attack, which dulls the assault, fills your graveyard, and ignites your creatures' abilities.
Best of all, this isn't a "once per turn" shield à la Scrap-Iron Scarecrow—you can block as many times per turn as you like! Finally, since Barrier carries the Lightsworn name, you can protect it from both your opponent's and your own field wipes if you have enough shine counters on Sanctuary.
4. Minerva, Lightsworn Maiden
Not to be confused with her Exalted xyz fairy form, Minerva's spellcaster state bears low battle stats but a useful ignition search. When normal summoned, she can search a light-attributed dragon-type monster from your deck whose level is less than or equal to the number of Lightsworn monsters with different names in your graveyard. If you have enough defeated members, this usefully pulls Judgment Dragon, and it can search weaker dragons, too, if you decide to include them.
Also, during your end phases, Minerva mills the top two cards of your deck, further preparing your archetype's effects, and as a level three tuner, Minerva can merge with any of her level four peers to synchro summon the powerful ...
3. Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn
Michael accepts any tuner and any non-tuner light monsters as material, so you play him even if you include tuners other than Minerva in your deck list. For a level seven synchro unit, he packs a formidable 2600 ATK and workable 2000 DEF. More than that, you can (once per turn) pay 1000 life points to target and banish a card on the field, a useful removal that prevents graveyard abilities or recoveries.
Michael also mills three cards from your deck during the end phase, and when he's destroyed, you can shuffle any number of Lightsworn monsters from your graveyard into your deck, gaining 300 life points for each. This both refills your health and guards against a deck-out loss if your build is running thin. Note that this can trigger even if your own card initiated Michael's destruction, lessening the blow if you kill him with Judgment Dragon.
2. Solar Recharge
Solar Recharge offers a blessedly simply yet formidable effect, and since it doesn't stay fielded, there's no need to protect it against removals with Sanctuary. You simply discard a Lightsworn monster to draw and mill two cards each.
This does just about everything you're aiming to do. You've sent a Lightsworn to the graveyard, fortifying effects that require vanquished members with different names, you've drawn two cards and replenished your hand, and you've milled two cards to activate your fielded Lightsworn abilities and amass shine counters. An essential unit, but note that Recharge itself doesn't bear the Lightsworn name and thus won't strengthen the effects of cards like Minerva the Exalted.
1. Judgment Dragon
With all that milling, you're really trying to get four or more Lightsworns with different names in your graveyard, as you can then special summon Judgment Dragon from your hand (he can't be cast by other means). While he lacks the Lightsworn name, Judgment matches a Blue-Eyes White Dragon's 3000 ATK and actually exceeds it in DEF, so he's a powerhouse in combat.
More than that, Judgment lets you (once per turn) pay 1000 life points to destroy all other cards on the field, brutally annihilating all opposing cards (plus your own if you're not careful). And since he doesn't use up your turn's normal summon, you can then field another monster to directly attack your opponent for 4000 or more damage. Finally, Judgment mills the top four cards of your deck at your end phases, further empowering your clan.
Judgment Dragon has won me many duels, and he's by far the strongest tool in this deck; if you're using Lightsworns, you want at least two, if not three, copies included. Thankfully, despite his prowess, Judgment's a surprising bargain, as you can buy your own for under a dollar!
How to Finish Your Lightsworn Deck
With these cards, you should be well on your way to a Lightsworn victory, but bear these tips in mind:
- If you're using a good smattering of both light and dark, the Chaos monsters fit well with this theme, and their banishing abilities can help remove cards that Judgment can't destroy.
- Shaddolls also work well since they bear both the dark attribute and effects that trigger when sent to the graveyard.
- Remember to diversify your deck, as dragons like Judgment and Gragonith rely on having Lightsworms with different names; this also helps prepare your graveyard with different types, useful for cards like "Pot of Dichotomy."
- Watch out for mill decks, hand traps (who can avoid Judgment Dragon's field wipe), and the "Rivalry of Warlords" trap, which restricts each player to one monster type. All of these are good checks for the Lightsworns.
Honestly, this bunch remains one of my favorite archetypes despite its random nature for its unique mechanic and surprising speed. Try them out to form your own opinion, but for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next expansion of deck-destroying cultists, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh! countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill