Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
What Are the Virus Cards?
Virus traps require a dark-attributed tribute to activate, and you take a chance when utilizing them since triggering their effects requires both the trap itself and a suitable tribute. However, these abilities offer unrivaled hindering prowess, and the original virus trap, Crush Card Virus, hit the fandom by storm since it was initially only distributed as a tournament prize to the top players. Everyone was eager to get their hands on one of the game's best lockdowns, and once the unit became available to the public, Konami realized they had to ban the succulent trap lest it completely dominates the meta.
Luckily, dueling has evolved since then, and we not only have our beloved trap back (albeit with a new errata), but several other potent virus traps ready to crush our opponents. But which viruses best afflict our enemies, and which support cards help you utilize them to their fullest?
Discard your vaccines and embrace the pandemic: these are the top ten cards you need in your Virus Control Yu-Gi-Oh deck!
- Grinning Grave Virus
- Ahrima, the Wicked Warden
- Full Force Virus
- Deck Devastation Virus
- Allure of Darkness
- Eradicator Epidemic Virus
- Darkest Diabolos, Lord of the Lair
- Crush Card Virus
- Lair of Darkness
10. Grinning Grave Virus
Grinning Grave Virus employs an easy-to-meet tribute condition where you simply sacrifice any dark monster with 3000 or less ATK—which is almost all of them. After you've cast your minion to the shadows, your opponent destroys one card (of their choice) from their hand or deck for every 500 ATK your tributed monster had. Additionally, if your sacrifice bore 2000 or more, you also look at all cards your opponent draws for their next three turns and destroy any monsters among them.
Plus, cards sent to the graveyard after being destroyed by Grinning Grave cannot activate their effects the turn they were sent there. Overall, an interesting virus especially handy in mill strategies, but since it (even in its best conditions) only checks your opponent's drawn cards and not their hand or field, Grinning Grave takes a crafty player to optimally use.
9. Ahrima, the Wicked Warden
As a level 4 monster, Ahrima the Wicked Warden can be normal summoned without tributes, and this fiend bears a respectable 1700 ATK. However, instead of fielding it, you can discard Ahrima to search the field spell "Lair of Darkness" from your deck and add it to your hand, an excellent way to easily pull one of the game's best magic cards (more on it later).
Additionally, while fielded, Ahrima can once per turn tribute one dark monster to let you draw a card, and if it tributes a monster other than itself, you can (if you wish) instead search and add a dark monster with 2000 or more DEF from your deck to your hand. Basically, when Ahrima's not grabbing you a coveted field spell, it's adding monsters of your choice to your hand while doing what Virus decks do best: tributing dark monsters. Oh, and while Ahrima's 0 DEF may seem like a disadvantage, it helps the card qualify for effects like that of Masked Chameleon, providing a surprising amount of revival options.
8. Full Force Virus
Most monsters have higher ATK scores than DEF, so finding a suitable dark tribute with the 2000 or more DEF Full Force Virus requires may take some imagination. However, once you've paid its price, Full Force checks your opponent's hand, field, and all cards they draw, destroying any with 1500 or less DEF.
Not only can this eliminate scores of monsters in one fell swoop (even the strongest monsters in terms of ATK often lag below 1500 DEF), but it also lets you peek at your opponent's hand and the next three cards they draw, making it difficult for them to surprise you since you should know what to expect. Sadly, Full Force hasn't aged spectacularly; link monsters don't have DEF scores and are thus immune to its effect. Plus, they can't be used as a tribute to activate Full Force, causing this virus to slightly lag behind its furious counterparts, but it remains an appreciated member for the Virus Control structure that's far from useless.
A card long forbidden, Sangan has become unbanned and now isn't even limited, meaning you're free to play as many as you wish in your deck. This fiend only wields a paltry 1000 ATK, but when sent to the graveyard from the field (whether destroyed or used as material), you get to add a monster with 1500 or less ATK from your deck to your hand; however, Sangan's new errata states you cannot activates cards that it searched for the rest of the turn.
That's a negligible price to pay for Sangan's tempting ability, and with 1000 ATK and the dark attribute, Sangan makes excellent fodder for our upcoming Crush Card Virus. Utilizing this combo not only fulfills Crush's tribute requirement but activates Sangan's search effect: two birds with one stone. Alternatively, you can employ the spellcaster "Witch of the Black Forest" to search monsters with 1500 or less DEF (instead of ATK), but her slightly higher battle stats won't work with Crush Card, so plan accordingly.
6. Deck Devastation Virus
Our next illness-inducing trap requires a dark-attributed blood sacrifice bearing at least 2000 ATK. Once you've vanquished your monster, Devastation checks your opponent's hand, field, and all cards they draw for their next three turns, destroying all monsters with 1500 or less ATK.
While this leaves your foe's strongest behemoths unscathed, annihilating weaker monsters usually kills your opponent's utility network, rendering their aces vulnerable without supporters to boost and protect them. And like most of its brethren, Devastation's ability to let you see your opponent's hand and drawn cards offers you a huge advantage in terms of data availability, letting you play your cards knowing what counters to expect.
5. Allure of Darkness
Today's simplest card lets you draw two cards, then banish a dark monster from your hand. If you can't, you forfeit your entire hand, discarding it to the graveyard, but in dark-heavy builds like the Virus Control theme, you should have plenty of options to choose from.
Allure lets you banish what you don't need to potentially draw what you do and fills your exiled zone with cards ready to be used as fuel for banish-dependent effects (like that of Pot of Acquisitiveness). Like most magic cards, after activation it places itself into your graveyard, letting you reclaim your spell using cards like Dark Magician of Chaos or Enlightenment Paladin.
4. Eradicator Epidemic Virus
Eradicator Epidemic Virus rewards any player who pays its high price with a lethal effect. You must tribute a dark monster with 2500 or more ATK, but once your ability resolves, you choose either spell or trap cards, then check your opponent's hand, field, and all cards they draw for their next three turns, destroying any card matching your chosen type.
This excellent removal that obliterates your foe's field, hand, and upcoming draws while letting you peek at any face-down units they've set. It's also a great way to remove pesky pendulum zones (which count as continuous spells). Plus, since you get to choose one of two card types for it to target, you have more control over how effectively it serves you in a given duel. Match your choice to your opponent's current field and what cards you suspect they're gravitating towards, and they'll struggle to recover from this malicious ailment. In fact, Eradicator is so powerful that it's (as of this writing) limited, meaning you can only include one copy in your deck.
3. Darkest Diabolos, Lord of the Lair
One of the best monsters in the entire game, Darkest Diablos, Lord of the Lair wields a whopping 3000 ATK, matching a Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Additionally, your opponent can neither tribute nor target it with their card effects, a fantastic shield that guards your boss monster.
You can also use each of Diabolos's effects once per turn. The first lets you special summon this card from your graveyard or hand when a dark monster you control is tributed (other than in the damage step), making it ridiculously easy to field and revive your demon. The second ability lets you tribute a dark monster to force your opponent to place a card from their hand on either the top or bottom of their deck, offering some rare and valued hand removal to this already-monstrous dragon.
2. Crush Card Virus
The original virus reigned supreme back in its day, and now that it's legal again, it's back to crush even more builds, albeit with a new restriction. You tribute a dark monster with 1000 or less ATK, sacrificing your easily-summon pipsqueaks to trigger a daunting effect: you check your opponent's field, hand, and all cards they draw for three of their turns, obliterating any monster with 1500 or more ATK.
This often dismantles at least half your opponent's monsters, particularly their biggest (and hardest to summon) gargantuans. The new catch is that your opponent gets to destroy up to three monsters with 1500 or more ATK from their deck, filling their graveyard with cards ready to be revived, but considering Crush Card's butchering prowess, they would likely have a stocked graveyard anyway. High risk, high reward, easy tribute—Crush Card remains king of the viruses.
A staple of any Virus Control deck I craft, Virus is surprisingly cheap nowadays; despite its one-time rarity, it typically costs you less than two dollars!
1. Lair of Darkness
Lair of Darkness, the field spell that Ahrima can search for, assaults your opponent with a variety of maiming abilities. First, it alters the attribute of all face-up monsters to dark, simultaneously letting you tribute any monster for the Virus series (assuming they meet the ATK/DEF requirements) while disrupting any opposing monsters whose effects depend on their original attribute.
Even better, once per turn, if you would tribute a dark monster to activate a card effect, you can tribute one monster your opponent controls instead, both sparing you a unit and eradicating an opposing one (and that's on top of the deadly Virus's effect you just activated)! Lair also special summons a number of "Torment Token" monsters with 1000 ATK and DEF during each player's end phase based on the number of monsters tributed during the turn, ensuring you always have some fodder to sacrifice. Virus Control was proficient before Lair, and with it, the theme has become an indisputably dominant force in competitive play.
Future of Virus Decks
Virus decks are always fun to test since you never quite know what your opponent will be using and which of your ailments will hit them hardest. However, their random factor is balanced by a plethora of unparalleled lockdowns that quickly ensnare foes, and since the dark currently contains the more members than any other attribute, you may easily customize your decklist to your liking.
With Lair of Darkness remaining a current meta staple, we'll likely see a rush of Virus Control builds in modern competitive tournaments. But for now, as we eagerly await Konami's future dark-supporting expansion sets, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: Since "Lair of Darkness" says "once per turn," but without "during either player's turn," can you tribute your opponent's monsters during their turn with your trap cards? Or can you only tribute them during your turn playing Yu-Gi-Oh?
Answer: Yes, you can use it on your opponent's turns with card effects (like the Virus Control traps) that let you tribute on other player's moves.
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on February 04, 2019:
Lair of Darkness states you can tribute one monster your opponent controls; even cards that tribute multiple monsters can only sacrifice a single enemy. Assuming its attribute is dark, which it should be thanks to Lair's first effect.
Joe on February 03, 2019:
If Virus Cannon were to be used with Lair of Darkness, would I be able to tribute as many of my opponent's monsters or am I limited to only one of their monsters?
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on February 03, 2019:
Yes, Crush Card has a downside. However, remember that with its actual effect, your opponent will likely have plenty of graveyard creatures to revive anyway.
Soul Charge is a handy revival, but it drains life points and prevents attacks for the turn, meaning it can only do so much to guard against your trap.
Rory on July 01, 2018:
Crush card has become the biggest liability out there, it allows your opponent to put whatever they want in the graveyard and the ability to call of the haunted/archfiend, monster reborn, or (the card that has wiped me out) soul charge everything I just forced them to put there