Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
What Are Monster Tokens in Yu-Gi-Oh?
Monster tokens are a unique type of monster with different rules than other creatures. You don't include them in either your main or extra deck; in fact, the Yu-Gi-Oh wiki amusingly (but accurately) states they are literally summoned "from nowhere" by other card effects.
Once fielded, tokens act similarly to normal monsters, as they don't bear special abilities, but they have ATK/DEF scores, attributes, and types just like creaturesmonsters. However, they can't be placed into face-down defense position and completely leave the game (not banished, but entirely dispelled) when exiting the field. Learn more token monster rules below or skip straight to our countdown of Yu-Gi-Oh's best token-summoning cards!
Token Monster FAQ
- Can token monsters be used as materials for extra deck monsters? Depends. Unless a token's summoning card states otherwise, tokens can be used for tribute, fusion, synchro, and link summons. However, they can never be used as material for xyz summons, since they'd just disappear rather than attach to the xyz monster as an xyz unit.
- How do I represent a token in a duel? While most monster tokens have official releases of their specific token, even official tournaments helpfully allow you to use almost anything to represent a token. Many players opt for fan-made cards to give their deck a personal blend. If you don't have any around, it's good to use objects with two different, easily-seen rotations to represent attack and defense position. The heads and tails sides of coins or lowest and highest values on a die also work well.
- Where do I keep my tokens during a duel? Since tokens don't go in your main or extra deck, you can keep them anywhere nearby that's quickly accessed. It's helpful to conceal them to prevent your opponent from receiving clues about what type of deck you're playing.
10. Stray Lambs
Stray Lambs is a legal spell that almost matches the banned Dandylion monster in usability. When activated, you special summon two Lamb tokens in defense position. They're pretty frail (0 ATK and DEF), but two monsters for one card is a nice deal.
However, you can't summon other monsters the turn you activate Stray Lambs. This admittedly significant drawback is somewhat alleviated by several things you can do even with Lambs: you can still set a monster the turn you activate it, and (unlike some tokens), once your next turn arrives, you can use any remaining livestock as fodder for a tribute, synchro, fusion, or link summon. If nothing else, they make good defenders and will absorb two hits. A useful card, but I really wish it was quick-play, which would let you activate it on your opponent's turn and avoid the summoning restriction.
9. Shinobaron Peacock/Shinobaroness Peacock
Some of the best spirit monsters in the game (not to mention ritual), these two share a slot because they're identical in terms of token production. Both Peacocks are ritual summoned using the ritual spell Shinobird's Calling, and depending on which you use, you'll be able to return up to three monsters to your opponent's hand or three spells/traps to their deck, then special summon a spirit monster from either your hand or deck.
Nice effects, but for our purposes, we're interested in the Peacock end of turn abilities: both Shinobaron and Shinobaroness will bounce back to your hand, but will special summon two Shinobird tokens to your field, each counting as a level 4 winged-beast monster with 1500 ATK and DEF. These tokens wield higher battle stats than most imitation monsters, you get two at once, and their level of 4 helps synchro summon higher level monsters than typical low-level tokens.
8. Void Expansion
Void Expansion serves as a field spell, a powerful magic card that each player can only control one of at a time. During your standby phases, Void lets you special summon an Inferno token, bearing the expected 0 ATK/DEF and level of 1. When summoning Infernoid monsters, Void also lets you banish monsters you control as tributes in addition to those in your graveyard, and it prevents your opponent from attacking or targeting any Infernoid you control, except for the one with the highest ATK stat.
You can see how crucial Void Expansion is to an Infernoid deck, but its free monster token each turn is surprisingly beneficial to all builds. With no pesky tribute errata, you're welcome to spend your token for tribute summons or other monster castings, or simply keep it in defense position for an extra blocker. If your deck doesn't already contain a field spell, Void Expansion offers a free monster every turn, perfect for high-level archetypes like Monarch, Dark Magician, or Blue-Eyes.
7. Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack
The Mecha Phantom Beast series entirely revolves around tokens, and one particular machine member shines even outside its clan. Draossack is a rank 7 xyz monster, resting dormant in your extra deck until you can call it by attaching two level 7 monsters you control as material. Luckily, unlike several xyz monsters, Dracossack accepts any and all level 7s, making it easy to play.
Dracossack brandishes a sturdy 2600 ATK, and you can (once per turn) detach a material to special summon two Mecha Phantom Beast Tokens with 0 ATK/DEF but a level of 3. While you control at least one token, Dracossack can't be destroyed by battle or effect, an excellent shield, and it can once per turn tribute any Mecha Phantom Beast (including your tokens or even itself) to target and destroy one card on the field. Dracossack can't attack the turn you do this, but this awesome card can generate a total of four tokens, then\sacrifice them to annihilate enemies of all types. You can even destroy your own units if you wish, perhaps to activate effects like that of draw-engine Supply Squad.
6. Synthetic Seraphim
This fearsome continuous trap lets you special summon a Synthetic Seraphim token immediately after a counter trap is resolved. The token has 300 ATK/DEF, certainly not much but more than the usual zilch, and it bears the fairy type and light attribute, useful since fairy monsters have an affinity for counter traps and harness many ways to support them.
As icing on the cake, Seraphim works when either player activates a counter trap, so if your opponent's running common negations like Solemn Judgment, they'll be playing into your hands by fielding you a monster whenever they activate their hidden surprises. Finally, remember that counter traps operate at spell speed 3, which basically means they can only be responded to by other counter traps, rendering your opponent unable to chain quick-play spell or monster effects and letting your counters trigger unhindered.
5. Photon Sanctuary
Photon Sanctuary greatly resembles Stray Lambs, but with a few changes. You special summon two Photo tokens in defense position, and they bear a level of 4 with 2000 ATK and 0 DEF. However, they can't attack or be used as synchro material. You might be wondering why bother giving these tokens a solid 2000 ATK if they're summoned in defense position and can't attack even if they last long enough to switch positions, but remember that while unable to battle, altering their mode will force your opponent to "waste" stronger attacks on them; they won't be able to remove your tokens with less-valuable pipsqueak attacks.
Photon Sanctuary also prevents you from summoning other monsters the turn you activate it, but you can still set. However, its biggest advantage over Stray Lambs is that you can summon other monsters the turn you use it—as long as they're light-attributed, which if you're playing a Photon or Galaxy deck, you'll have plenty of to choose from. Overall, Sanctuary's stronger, higher-level tokens and negligible restriction overtake Stray Lambs in every category other than synchro summoning.
4. Lair of Darkness
Arguably the game's best field spell, Lair of Darkness automatically makes every monster on the field dark, and lets you (once per turn) tribute an opponent's monster instead of your own when tributing using a card effect (likely one of the Virus Control traps). Then, during the end phase, you summon Torment tokens to the turn player's field in defense position up to the number of monsters tributed during that turn.
While this can field tokens to your opponent's area as well as yours, it ensures that there's always plenty of fodder for you to tribute (remember, you'll be accessing opposing creatures thanks to Lair's first effect). Also, the tokens possess a level of 3 and 1000 ATK/DEF, so they're more useful in battle than most forged monsters.
3. Super Hippo Carnival
The restriction to Super Hippo Carnival is that your deck needs to be running Performapal Hip Hippo for it to function; luckily, the Performapal archetype is a vast series with several members plus synergies with Odd-Eyes and pendulum Magicians. Super Hippo Carnival special summons Hip Hippo from your hand, deck, or field, a great boon since it can pull your silly mammal from just about anywhere.
After you've fielded Hippo (whose effect sadly only functions when normal summoned), you get to special summon as many Hippo tokens as possible to your field. Assuming it was empty, you're completely stocking it with one Hip Hippo and four Hippo tokens! The downsides are that the tokens can't be tributed and you're unable to special summon from the extra deck while you control one. However, on the turn you activate Carnival, your opponent can't attack anything other than Hippo tokens, and with Carnival's quick-play status, you can cast it on either turn at instant speed. This offers one of the best ways to fill your field with blockers or protect weaker monsters, and bonus points if you can trick your opponent into "wasting" a spell/trap removal on Carnival, activating it in response to use its effects before being dismantled.
Scapeghost may bear 0 ATK and DEF, but when flipped from face-down defense position, this zombie lets you special summon any number of Black Sheep tokens, possibly providing up to four blockers! The tokens also have zip for ATK/DEF, but they don't bear any restrictions, letting you freely tribute or materialize them.
Additionally, Scapeghost counts as a tuner, letting it synchro summon (particularly easy thanks to the tokens you'll have), and its low battle stats let you search it from your deck with Sangan/Witch of the Black Forest or revive it with Masked Chameleon. Overall, definitely a worthy homage to the game's most renowned token generator...
Scapegoat simply fields four Sheep tokens to your field. They're weak and can't be tributed for a tribute summon, but they can still be spent as other materials, and they make excellent blockers. You can't summon monsters the turn you activate Scapegoat, but you can set, and since it's a quick-play spell, you'll likely be activating it on your opponent's turn, where you typically won't be summoning other creatures anyway.
What else can I say? Scapegoat was great when it released, and it's aged exceptionally well; four monsters at instant speed with no specific archetypes or cards needed still impresses. Whenever I need an extra blend of defense or link material, I always include this potent spell, and thankfully, despite its age and power, you can often snag it for under two dollars!
Future of Token Monsters
While tokens are relatively rare, they're a valuable resource that can block several attacks or help access your extra deck units. Since they can't be exiled or head to the graveyard, you don't need to worry about protecting them, making them excellent fodder for whatever boss monster you're working towards. Also, token maker sites give fans another way to customize their deck with their own unique creations. Whether you want to represent a Dragon Lord token with Charizard or a piece of lint, you're legally allowed to tweak your token's art to your heart's desire.
Tokens enjoy their own set of support cards that we'll undoubtedly tackle another day, but for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next batch of faux monsters, vote for your favorite replica and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill