I consider myself a gaming enthusiast, from chess and checkers to Yu-Gi-Oh TCG, console gaming, and beyond.
Scorned by many and appreciated by some, lockdown strategies are the most effective in the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG. Similar to tying down a bully’s arms and legs before pummeling them with a stuffed sack, a lockdown prevents your opponent’s plays by limiting their options.
Whether you use silencing Spells, disabling Traps, or crippling monsters (or perform a combination of the three), these lockdowns are all equally efficient at moving someone out of your deck’s way faster than a juvenile’s top speed when caught in the gaze of Pennywise the clown.
10 Best Lockdowns
Without further delay, set in no particular order, the writer presents the best Yu-Gi-Oh lockdown strategies.
- Avian Lockdown
- World Lock
- Amorphage Lock
- Dark Simorgh Lock
- Spellcaster/Royal Decree Lock
- Monarch/Extra Deck Lock
- Ojama Lock
- Igknight/Utopic Zexal Lock
- Burning Bamboo Sword/Terminal World Lock
- Naturia Lockdown
- Field—Mist Valley Apex Avian, Mist Valley Thunderbird, a Trap/Spell preventing your opponent from attacking
- When your opponent activates a card effect, chain Apex Avian’s effect to negate and destroy it.
- Return Thunderbird to the hand for Avian’s effect. Thunderbird will return to the field from the hand with its effect.
- Use Spell/Trap support to protect Thunderbird from attacks.
Why it Works: You can always trust ole’ Avian to make the writer’s list . . . but this time he deserves a platinum spot. Unlike most negation cards that are restricted to once per turn, or that rely on a limited resource, Apex Avian isn’t hindered by either restriction. As long as a Mist Valley card is on the field, Avian can block more access than your school computer’s internet filter, and if its little prodigy is gracing the field, your opponent’s deck might as well be using dial-up . . . with filters.
Thunderbird’s low attack, along with Big Bird’s effect only usable once per chain (for one Avian, mind you) keep it vulnerable, and from being the best lock deck. But for those unprepared, Avian Lock has become the death bell for many a duelist.
- Field—Arcana Force XXI—The World, Light Barrier
- Hand—Quickdraw Synchron, 2 Level Eaters (or in Graveyard), 1 extra card
- Extra Deck—Drill Warrior
- Play Light Barrier. Summon The World so you can use its head effect.
- Discard a card to Special Summon Quickdraw Synchron. Summon a Level Eater to synch it with Quickdraw Synchron to Synchro Summon Drill Warrior. Make sure you have two Level Eaters in your graveyard.
- Eat two levels from Drill Warrior to summon the Level Eaters. Discard a card to banish Drill Warrior until your next Standby Phase.
- During the Endphase, send the two Level Eaters to the grave for The World’s effect to skip your opponent’s next turn.
- During your Standby Phase, The Drill Warrior will return with its level reset to six.
- Repeat steps 3-5, and your opponent can only twiddle their thumbs.
Why it works: You can stop your opponent from setting Traps, you can silence them from using Spells, you can even hobble their monsters, but why do any of these? The World Lock provides the ultimate method for bypassing all your opponent’s plays by completely taking them out of the equation.
Other strategies exist for making this lock a success (The Samsara Lotus method, The Strike Ninja method . . . ) but the writer would argue the flexibility of a Synchron deck with the support absent from the Samsara Lotus method make it the best way to freeze your opponent quicker than Dio can say “The World!” Even with more fairy support released with the new Darklords, the deck needing time to start its engines keeps it from hitting a banlist, but a little more contemporary support from a modern mechanic could make The World a lord among lockdowns.
- Field—Any Amorphage monster in a monster zone, any combination of Amorphages in the Pendulum Zones
- Extra Deck—A Link Monster, preferably Missus Radiant
- Summon a Link Monster to your extra monster zone so you can continuously summon your Amorphages from the Extra Deck.
- After you have an Amorphage in a Monster Zone, use any combination of Amorphages in your Pendulum Zones to prevent your opponent’s plays, depending on their strategy.
Why it works: The Amorphages are nicknamed the Floodgate Dragons for a reason. As long as you have a monster growing a second head ready to brawl, an Amorphage in a Pendulum zone guarantees your opponent won’t be playing a certain card type. Amorphage Greed stops Traps, Lechery stops Spells, Gluttony stops monster effects, and other members exist in this parasitic-dragon-family to further lock the opposing player in a chest without a lock or key.
Pairing the Amorphages even further with floodgates like Skill Drain and Mind Drain makes them appear like the indisputable champion of locking; however, the hype train quickly died when duelists realized the brutal nature of the deck that became even harsher with the release of Link Monsters: The cost for keeping your precious sin-dragons in your Pendulum zones is the tribute of an Amorphage from the field.
The do-or-die fragility of the deck makes it harder to play than any other lock strategy, but a deck made to lock from the Pendulum era can’t be ignored in a list of lockdowns.
Dark Simorgh Lock
- Field—Dark Simorgh, Anti-Spell Fragrance
- Summon Dark Simorgh
- Activate Anti-Spell Fragrance
Why it works: The Dark Simorgh lock is simple, yet effective: Summon a monster that makes it so your opponent can’t set cards on the field, then add Spell cards to the list with the Anti-Spell Fragrance, a continuous Trap requiring your opponent to set Spell cards before they’re played.
Dark Simorgh lockdown may prevent Traps, Spells, monster flip effects, and even ruins the Pendulum mechanic, but in a format where monster effects turn the game like a hamster on a wheel, Mega Ultra Roasted Chicken has lost its former flavor. However, the deck’s ability to flash-fry any troll or Pendulum deck allows it to maintain some spice in the modern era of dueling.
Spellcaster/Royal Decree Lock
- Field—A Spellcaster monster, Secret Village of the Spellcasters, Royal Decree
- Summon a Spellcaster monster; Set Royal Decree.
- Play Secret Village of the Spellcasters to prevent your opponent from activating Spell cards, unless that player controls a Spellcaster.
- During your next turn, play Royal Decree, which will prevent the activation of Trap cards.
Why it works: The problem with most lockdowns sealing Spells and Trap cards is they restrict the user from playing the same cards. With only half the recoil of your average lock deck, the Spellcaster/Royal Decree lock hurts Traps across the board, but allows the user to still announce Spells.
The biggest problem for this deck’s strategy arrives, naturally, when your opponent gets in the mood to use Spellcasters, making you feel like a girl arriving to the party with the same dress as someone else, but with deadlier consequences.
Monarch/Extra Deck Lock
- Field—A tribute summoned Majesty or Vanity’s Fiend, Domain of the True Monarchs, March of the Monarchs
- Play March of the Monarchs first to ensure your opponent can’t destroy or target your tribute summoned monsters.
- Tribute Summon either Majesty’s Fiend or Vanity’s Fiend to stop all monster effects from activating or Special Summons, respectively.
- Play Domain of the True Monarchs to stop all Special Summons from the Extra Deck if your opponent doesn’t control a tribute summoned monster.
- Play Whack-a-Mole with your opponent’s head stuck above the ground.
Why it works: No special summons or monster effects? Check. Your opponent’s Extra deck options locked out? Check. The Monsters making the lock concrete immune to targeting and destruction? Truly maniacal.
With monster effects currently ruling the game and the Extra deck the sturdiest bridge to one’s victory, the Monarch/Extra Deck Lock can bring down the hammer on any contemporary deck. Even if your deck does prescribe to the same classical touch the Monarchs hold, like a man sporting a sweater and an ascot believing women should only wear dresses, the deck still has options that’ll make you kneel like a peasant before these Yu-Gi-Oh aristocrats.
Now if only the Monarchs had a more solid defense from Spells and Traps, these sword-in-cane rulers could one day become president.
- Field—Any three Ojamas (Or in the hand), Ground Collapse, Ojama Country
- Extra Deck—Ojama King
- Fuse the three Ojamas together to form the Ojama King. Fusion Summon him in attack position. The Ojama King will prevent your opponent from using three of their monster zones.
- Play Ojama Country so his attack is now 3000.
- Play Ground Collapse to block your opponent’s remaining two monster zones.
- Keep putting through the field goal that is now their lifepoints for game.
Why it works: Little, annoying aliens from a planet where speedos are vogue all year, every year have two things the other lockdowns on this list do not: A way to clear the field for the lock in the question, and a stun mechanic build within the lock.
Before spamming from the Extra deck was hip, the Yu-Gi-Oh gods loved to churn out decks that could obliterate their opponent’s field if you had the magic number. The Ojamas, graced with Ojama Delta Hurricane, were born in this era, enabling a way to create their lock without opposition. Then there’s the annoying consequence of living in a world where not wearing a speedo is a felony: Your defense becomes your new attack, and vice-versa, a fact not only making the Ojamas Earth’s perfect protectors against a zombie invasion, but also any deck lacking defense easy prey for these deceptive, comedic monsters.
These little guys’ lack of speed in the current meta keeps them from being anything more than a nuisance to level-headed duelists; however, add in extra support to hurt a player’s Spell/Trap support outside the archetype (Cursed Fig, Xing Zhen Hu) and their splashability with other decks (Beast Ojamas, Chaos Ojamas), and one will see how these irritating, homely beasts can lock you in a waking nightmare.
Igknight/Utopic Zexal Lock
- Field—Two level 6 Igknight monsters, two level 4 Igknight monsters, Denko Sekka
- Deck—Rank-Up-Magic Argent Chaos Force
- Extra Deck—Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal; Gaia Dragon, The Thunder Charger; Number 39: Utopia; Number S39: Utopia Prime or Number C39: Utopia Ray; Number S0: Utopic Zexal
- Normal Summon Denko Sekka to protect your monsters from your opponent’s set Spell/Trap support, if applicable.
- Pendulum Summon two level 6 and 2 level 4 Igknight monsters.
- Xyz Summon Beatrice with the two level 6s. Activate her effect to send Rank-Up-Magic Argent Chaos Force to the graveyard.
- Chaos Xyz Summon Gaia Dragon, The Thunder Charger. This will activate Rank-Up-Magic’s effect to add it to your hand.
- Xyz Summon Number 39: Utopia using your two level 4 Igknights.
- Chaos Xyz Summon either Utopic Prime or Utopic Ray on your Number 39: Utopia.
- Play Rank-Up-Magic Argent Chaos Force to Xyz Summon Number S0: Utopic Zexal.
- With a 4000 attack beatstick, freeze all your opponent’s effects during their turn.
Why it works: A strategy the baby of the Pendulum and Xyz mechanic, the Igknight/Zexal lock was made popular by Regional topper Hanko Chow. During your opponent’s turn, Utopic Zexal can stop all your opponent’s plays by freezing their field quicker than a warzone caught between Subzero and Esdeath. Combine this with the level 4 and 6 Xyz toolbox of the Igknights and the Spell/Trap support-blocking provided by Denko Sekka, and it’s easy to see how Ignknight/Zexal lock managed to dominate Regional tournaments.
Sadly, the writer can’t say in confidence it tops this list with the emergence of the Link mechanic, but the release of a fire version of Missus Radiant could make this deck viable once more.
Burning Bamboo Sword/Terminal World Lock
- Field—Burning Bamboo Sword, Terminal World, Mist Valley Falcon
- Hand—Broken Bamboo Sword or Cursed Bamboo Sword
- Play Burning Bamboo Sword and Terminal World.
- Summon Mist Valley Falcon.
- Equip either a Broken Bamboo Sword or Cursed Bamboo Sword to Mist Valley Falcon to skip your opponent’s next Main Phase 1 with Burning Bamboo Sword’s effect.
- Attack with Mist Valley Falcon to return the equipped Bamboo Sword to the hand.
- Because your opponent has lost their Main Phase 1 and 2, they can no longer summon monsters or set cards. Rinse and repeat steps 3 and 4 to continue the lock.
Why it works: This new lock on the block, which the writer purposely will not call Burning World because of the obvious confusion with another strategy, truly tests how well one knows their Yu-Gi-Oh. Most strategies limiting one’s plays rely simply on waiting for one’s opponent to make a mistake or for an obvious crack in the lock to present itself; however, with Burning Bamboo Sword/Terminal World lock, the limited opportunity only presents itself if one understands when it does: You can still activate Quickplay Spells during the Standby Phase, and you can still enter the Battle Phase if you’re lucky enough to have a monster ready.
Players lacking knowledge scooping before useless swords of bamboo makes this lock as dangerous as a hungry ghost with unfinished business: deadly if you don’t understand the threat, easy to vanquish once you do, but either way enough of a threat to deserve a slot on this list.
- Field—an Earth monster and an Earth tuner monster, the level of both equaling 5 or 6
- Extra Deck—Naturia Beast, Naturia Barkion
- Successfully summon an Earth monster and Earth tuner monster whose levels equal 5 or 6.
- Synchro Summon Naturia Beast or Naturia Barkion to negate either all your opponent’s Spells or Traps, respectively.
- Repeat step 1 and 2 to Synchro Summon the monster you didn’t last turn to complete the lock.
Why it works: The Naturias, like Amorphages of the Pendulum era, were the lock-champions of the Synchro era. Even without their loyal Beast and . . . Bark, Naturias have an entire deck of bugs and wildlife more annoying than a roach infestation in a field of crabgrass:
- Naturia Mantis stops Normal Summons.
- Hornneedle can stop Special Summons.
- Rosewhip limits your opponent to one Spell/Trap card a turn.
- Exterio is the fusion granddaddy who negates Spells and Traps, etc.
The Naturias may not have adapted to modern mechanics, but they easily blend into any Earth deck, from regular Plant-Synchro to Sylvans, making this lock appear in some unexpected places. So, fellow duelists, when it comes to the Naturia lock, you better check behind your potted plants, look carefully before passing that unassuming tree, and sleep with a can of bug spray, because as long as Earth decks exist, you never know if this lock will be slithering right beneath the soil.
© 2017 Zeron87
Lucas on April 28, 2020:
Thunderstruck deck is also good...