Top 10 Competitive Original Yu-Gi-Oh Monsters
Yu-Gi-Oh has greatly changed over the years, offering quicker summons and stronger creatures. Before the advent of mechanics like Pendulum summoning and rapid-swarming, it took time to get your big monsters out, and players really felt the loss of any one of them. With limited alternatives, beatdown strategies reigned, emphasizing cards with the highest Attack that cost the fewest tributes.
Nonetheless, players developed tricks up their sleeves to handle large threats. Take a trip down memory lane and examine the ten most lethal original Yu-Gi-Oh monsters!
10. Luster Dragon
A Normal monster, Luster lacked effects but made up for it with raw power. As a Level 4, no sacrifices were needed to summon this behemoth, who could best or match any other non-tributed creature of its age (with an exception we're about to cover). A few other Level 4s, like Gemini Elf, also wielded 1900 Attack, but couldn't match Luster's also-respectable Defense.
Additionally, the Dragon-type synchronized with Dragon-specific effects of the time, and helped keep Luster relevant as cards like Five-Headed Dragon and Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon released.
9. Dark Elf
Admittedly, Luster Dragon couldn't match the Level 4 and 2000 Attack Dark Elf, but her power came with a price. Each time she struck, she demanded 1000 Life Points, a hefty chunk of a player's initial 8000. Panther Warrior also boasted of 2000 Attack, but its even more costly effect required a tribute of a monster to attack, and having pawns to tribute was far more difficult in those days.
Still, Dark Elf's power let her overcome absolutely any other Level 4 or below creature, and you could keep her in Attack Position without actually attacking to form a formidable shield. As a last benefit, the Dark attribute let her serve as Graveyard fodder for certain beasts we may eventually see..
8. Time Wizard
This luck-based card greatly polarized players. Time Wizard possessed abysmal battle stats but had a game-changing effect: Once per turn, you could flip a coin. Call it right, and all your opponent's monsters were immediately destroyed. Call it wrong, and the same happened to you, but you also lost Life Points equal to half their total Attack.
This may sound like you got the raw deal, but crafty players knew to brandish the effect as a last resort. If your opponent had a full field of behemoths, and yours was empty, you really didn't have much to lose anyway. Call the toss wrong, and you'd only take 250 damage (half of Time Wizard's 500 Attack) and lose him, but you were probably going to perish soon anyway. Call it right, and you'd basically employed a free Raigeki, destroying all opposing monsters and potentially turning the tide of the entire duel.
7. Man-Eater Bug
The scourge of many stronger creatures, Man-Eater Bug gave as good as it got. When flipped, it simply destroyed a monster of your choice, often trading your low-Level card for an opponent's hard-earned Tribute Summon
Note that the destruction isn't optional, so if your opponent forces you to flip while their field is empty (perhaps with Swords of Revealing Light), you'd have to vanquish one of your own monsters. These situations were few and far between, barely diminishing the usage of this feared insect.
6. Blue-Eyes White Dragon
A card that's aged comparatively well thanks to consistently-added support, Blue-Eyes is arguably the most famous monster of all time. Of all the 2-tribute monsters, his Attack reigned supreme at 3000, easily dominating Dark Magician and Red-Eyes Black Dragon. Heck, even if he was in Defense Position, they couldn't defeat him.
Obtaining two pawns to sacrifice was much harder in those days, but this titan's power made it worth the effort. Its Light attribute also helped summon certain other monsters.. patience, we'll get there.
Sangan's Attack of 1000 wasn't great, but it did handle most flip monsters. The real benefit was Sangan's ability to search decks for any monster with 1500 or less Attack when it moves from the field to the Graveyard. Sangan could block a hit while in Defense Position and search for a monster-removal like Man-Eater Bug; even better, it could be used as a tribute to simultaneously summon a strong monster and refill your hand.
Again, a Dark attribute helped fuel the usage of other monsters, offering even more benefits to running some Sangans. Players also harnessed Witch of the Black Forest, who functioned identically but searched for creatures with 1500 or less Defense.
4. Penguin Soldier
A puny Level 2 card still proved its mettle with an impressive effect: when flipped, you could target up to two monsters (including Penguin Soldier) and return them to their owner's hands. This let players remove two opposing cards at once, or return their already-flipped monsters to the hand, enabling the reactivation of flip effects.
Penguin not only removed multiple enemies but gave the option not to activate its power in the rare cases where it would detriment you.
3. Summoned Skull
The undisputed king of one-tribute cards, Summoned Skull's 2500 Attack matched Dark Magician and exceeded Red-Eyes for one less sacrifice. Players using beatdown strategies, which was basically everyone, absolutely needed this offensive masterpiece. Other than removals, the only way to demolish him was with the few two-tributes who could best him like Blue-Eyes, but gathering the necessary fodder wasn't easy while Skull obliterated opposing forces.
Yet again, the icing on the cake is a beloved Dark attribute to allow the summon of.. just a bit longer, I promise!
2. Morphing Jar
Yu-Gi-Oh had an odd habit of creating deadly pots and jars (we miss you, Pot of Greed). Morphing Jar's low stats made it unsuitable for battle, but its awesome flip effect discarded all cards in each player's hand, then had them draw five more. Players could simply set all the Spells and Traps they held, then reset their hand—except they now had several hidden tricks ready, providing a huge advantage.
Like other flip monsters, if Morphing Jar was still alive after activating, it could further aid players by serving as fodder for a Tribute Summon.
1. Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning
We began with a Luster, we end with a Luster. This unholy monster's battle stats matched a Blue-Eyes, but without needing field tributes. Instead, it only required the removal of one Light and one Dark monster from your Graveyard, letting you play it without reducing your precious field.
The easier summoning condition and indomitable battle stats already gave Black Luster the edge over Blue-Eyes (and everything else, really), but it also brandished two spectacular effects:
- Once per turn, you could remove from play a monster on the field, but you couldn't attack with Black Luster the turn you did so.
- If Black Luster destroyed a monster in battle, it could immediately make a second attack that turn.
This card's first ability banished monsters without attacking, preventing opponents from activating counters like Mirror Force, and its second effect utilized its hefty Attack twice per turn.
For even more icing on the cake, remember that cards removed with the first effect are gone, preventing Graveyard-recovery options like Call of the Haunted, and that Black Luster's Light attribute helps summon another one if it's defeated.
Which monster do you favor?
As you can tell, despite having a plethora of options, early monsters heavily favored Dragon or Spellcaster and Light or Dark characteristics. Beatdown strategies and cheap removals were also emphasized, and while great for their time, the game has thankfully expanded to allow several more viable strategies.
Though today's cards vary considerably in their current competitiveness (some still being banned entirely), they're a fun testament to the power plays of older days. Feel free to vote for your favorite, and I hope to see you at future card countdowns!