Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
Stalling in Yu-Gi-Oh
A Yu-Gi-Oh player once asked me, "Isn't the best defense a good offense?" It can be, but players often forget the existence of effective win conditions based on stalling long enough.
For instance, the famous Exodia cards earn you a win just by collecting them in hand—completely bypassing your opponent's field and life points. Additionally, Final Countdown nets the win automatically after enough turns pass, and Wave-Motion Cannon can inflict 1000 effect damage for every turn it's been out.
10 Best Cards for Stalling
In other words, don't underestimate the viability of defense-oriented builds within Yu-Gi-Oh, especially considering the slower pace the game adopted alongside the debut of link summoning. But which cards can help you properly wait out your foe? These are the top ten stall cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!
- Red Screen
- Tornado Wall
- Level Limit—Area B
- Swift Scarecrow
- Safe Zone
- Burden of the Mighty
- Abyss Stungray
- Ghostrick Mansion
- Drowning Mirror Force
10. Red Screen
The first sentence of this card says it all: Your opponent cannot declare attacks. Sorry, Blue-Eyes Adjective Dragon, you're gonna be sitting idle there for awhile.
The downside is a cost of 1000 life points during each of your standby phases, but that's more than reasonable for such an impressive effect. As a small bonus, if Red Dragon Archfiend is on the field, you can destroy Red Screen to summon a level 1 tuner from your graveyard.
9. Tornado Wall
Admittedly, Tornado Wall relies on using a specific field spell—Umi—but thankfully, many cards have effects that change their name to Umi. Thus, if you don't want to employ Umi, you can substitute one of several copycats, like A Legendary Ocean, most of which benefit water-attributed decks.
Tornado Wall will destroy itself when Umi isn't out, but while it is, you ignore any battle damage! Your opponent can swing at you with all they've got, and you won't suffer a single scratch. Additionally, Tornado Wall functions if Umi is anywhere on the field—including your opponent's side.
As a quick-play spell, Scapegoat can be used on your opponent's turn, just like trap cards. This oldie but goldie essentially summons four token monsters to your field, each ready to block a hit. That's quite a few shield monsters, and it's nice that you can chain this card to an activation that would destroy it, resolving your effect before the destruction occurs.
Unfortunately, the sheep tokens can't be tributed for tribute summons, but they can be used as synchro materials and such. Additionally, you can't summon other monsters the turn you use Scapegoat, but this shouldn't present a problem, as you'll want to activate it on your adversary's turn anyway.
7. Level Limit—Area B
This card would have skyrocketed much higher in the countdown were it not for link summons. Area B shifts all level 4 and above monsters to defense position. Unless your opponent is using the rare monsters who can attack while in defense (like the Superheavy Samurai archetype), they're essentially unable to battle with their strongest monsters (levels 3s and under tend to lack power) until they can remove Area B. Of course, you'll be unable to attack as well.
However, link monsters cannot be placed in defense, giving players a modern counter to this awesome effect. Additionally, xyz monsters, who have ranks rather than levels, are also unaffected. Even so, Area B can greatly hinder your rival—and you can use the link/xyz monster bypass trick to prevent it from impacting your own team.
6. Swift Scarecrow
Veteran players likely remember traps such as Negate Attack, Threatening Roar, and Waboku, all of which essentially prevent you and your monsters from being attacked for the turn. However, they all had to be set on the field, opening themselves to destruction at inopportune moments.
Swift Scarecrow offers the same benefit but activates from the hand, making it near-impossible to predict or counter. When your opponent attacks, you discard Scarecrow to end the Battle Phase, buying yourself time to recover. Also, remember that sending a monster to the graveyard builds towards effects like Solidarity or Call of the Haunted, an additional point in Scarecrow's favor.
5. Safe Zone
An often underestimated trap, Safe Zone targets one of your monsters and makes it immune to battle destruction, effect destruction, and being targeted by your opponent! The downsides are that your monster won't be able to directly attack (but can still attack monsters), and will be destroyed if Safe Zone is ever removed.
Nonetheless, Safe Zone drastically extends the lifespan of one of your warriors; use it on something with a potent reoccurring effect: Gishki Zielgigas, Blowback Dragon, or anything else you want to survive indefinitely, to ensure you make the most of the ability while constructing an invincible monster.
4. Burden of the Mighty
A simple but tremendous card, Burden reduces the ATK of opposing monsters by 100 times each of their individual levels. Therefore, your opponent's highest-leveled allies, intended to lead the assault against your precious life points, will suffer the greatest ATK reduction.
This not only reduces the damage you'll take if foes decide to strike, it makes them easier to overcome by reducing the ATK you need to eclipse when fighting back. However, keep an eye out for those pesky xyz monsters, whose lack of levels inoculate them to Burden's effect.
3. Abyss Stungray
Arguably the pinnacle of the trap-to-monster cards, Abyss Stungray becomes a level 5 thunder-typed monster when activated. It has a decent ATK score of 1900 and an atrocious DEF of 0—but it's immune to battle destruction!
Sure, other monsters, like Marshmallon, are also unable to be defeated in battle, but they don't provide the option of summoning during your opponent's turn. Abyss can potentially avoid field-wipes like Raigeki by arriving after such effects resolve, and also makes good fodder for a rank 5 xyz summon.
2. Ghostrick Mansion
Mansion here represents a field spell, of which each player only has space for one. If you're playing defense, you'll find few better arenas than this, which halves battle and effect damage both players take from monsters! This can really save your bacon and buy extra turns to set up barriers.
Combine it with life point-recovering cards like Golden Ladybug or Solemn Wishes to make a health-depletion win especially challenging for your opponent. Additionally, if you utilize this with the Ghostrick monster series, you'll be able to deal normal damage to your opponent, ignoring the reduction.
1. Drowning Mirror Force
The infamous original Mirror Force trap long harassed attacking creatures by destroying all attack position cards a player controlled. Years later, we received Drowning Mirror Force, which applies almost the same effect—except the monsters are shuffled into the deck, not destroyed.
Returning to foes to the deck rather than destroying them works wonders, as some monsters are immune to destruction, destroyed monsters can often be resummoned, and non-destruction removals avoid countermeasures like Supply Squad. The downside is that you can only activate Drowning when an opponent is declaring a direct attack—but that's when you'll need it most.
Drowning not only saves you damage for the turn, it washes your opponent's attackers into the obscure depths of their deck, requiring additional draws and summons to replay. In the meantime, you'll be barricading yourself and setting up for an easy win. Check out variants such as Storming Mirror Force and Quaking Mirror Force for other impressive options.
Other Defensive Cards
In order to diversify today's ensemble, I avoided reusing entries from our prior countdown on protective cards—check it out here for further defense recommendations! Use these two potent lists to build a shield deck poised to win any battle of attrition. But first, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Ruko Agenta on November 29, 2019:
"Isn't the best defense a good offense?"
*agrees in superheavy samurai steam train king*
BEWARE DANGER on June 15, 2018:
Thanks for the reply
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on June 12, 2018:
Definitely Battle Fader unless you need some machine synergy. Both are useful "hand traps" that can really save your bacon after a field wipe by ending an opponent's battle phase, but Battle Fader also fields a monster to your arena, helping you block a future attack or use it in a tribute summon.
If I recall, the reason I placed Scarecrow and not Fader here is simply that I've used Fader in several other countdowns (I try to diversify my lists as much as possible). Scarecrow also helps if you need a stocked graveyard; Fader will banish itself after leaving the field.
BEWARE DANGER on June 12, 2018:
Also Jeremy Gill, why did you choose Swift scarecrow over Battle fader which is generally better.
BEWARE DANGER on June 10, 2018:
I say Rivalry of the Warlords can actually be pretty good in quite a few situations. Good suggestion.
Somerandomkiddo on June 09, 2018:
What bout Rivalry of the Warlords
BEWARE DANGER on May 30, 2018:
Nice article, man.