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Yu-Gi-Oh: Top 6 Monsters for Any Deck

Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.

Yu-Gi-Oh Overview

We've previously explored several types of Yu-Gi-Oh monsters; today, we'll focus on monsters who fit well in pretty much any deck. If you're not yet a hardcore pro duelist but are looking for some casual fun, try playing a few of these creatures to reap their powerful and varied effects.

They may not all enjoy the numerous support of popular cards like Dark Magician, but they offer a surprising amount of benefits in the right duelist's hands. We know the drill by now, so let's get to it and rank some of the most well-rounded monster cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!

Note: This list highlights some powerful monsters of the past, but is admittedly aging (card games naturally add new and better monsters over time). I look forward to periodically reviewing fresh sets for Yu-Gi-Oh, and thankfully, many of these monsters can still help in several builds.

Cyber Dragon

Cyber Dragon

6. Cyber Dragon

ATK: 2100
DEF: 1600

Our first monster was made popular by the character Zane Truesdale in the show Yu-Gi-Oh GX. Cyber Dragon is a level 5—meaning that it requires one monster to be sacrificed to summon it (level 4s and below can be summoned for free). However, its monster effect allows you to "special" summon it if your opponent has a monster out and you do not.

This allows it to enter the field easily, and gives your one "normal" summon for the turn to another monster. Cyber Dragon enjoys a solid 2100 Attack and has potential to transition into stronger Xyz or Fusion cards. Give this mighty and accessible "dragon" a try!

Alector, Sovereign of Birds

Alector, Sovereign of Birds

5. Alector, Sovereign of Birds

ATK: 2400
DEF: 2000

Alector, Sovereign of Birds works similarly almost like an upgraded version of Cyber Dragon. He has stronger attack, better defense, and a slightly different summoning effect: You can special summon him when your opponent controls at least two monsters of the same attribute; a typical condition considering most decks utilize creatures of like attributes.

Plus, this birdbrain gets a bonus effect: you can target a face-up card, once per turn, and negate its effect for that turn. This rips through many defensive barriers your opponent may concoct. For his strong attack, easy summoning, and extra effect, I highly recommend him!

Spirit Reaper

Spirit Reaper

4. Spirit Reaper

ATK: 300
DEF: 200

This eerie monster works great because of a strong offensive and defensive effect, and you don't need a tribute to summon him.

You'll notice Spirit Reaper's pathetic battle stats—but consider that the card's effect allows it to be invulnerable in battle. Enemy monsters can't destroy the card by attacking it; you could keep it in defense position to craft a powerful barrier. Once you see an opening, change your monster to attack position and nail your opponent; thanks to Reaper's second effect, they must discard a card when Reaper lands a direct attack. Give him a chance to always have a defensive ace up your sleeve.

Neo-Spacian Grand Mole

Neo-Spacian Grand Mole

3. Neo-Spacian Grand Mole

ATK: 900
DEF: 300

Third place goes to a monster made famous by the main character of Yu-Gi-Oh GX, Jaden Yuki. A member of the Neo-Spacian monster archetype, Grand Mole performs even in other monster series. Its battle stats aren't great, but this guy's effect allows you to return it and any monster it battles to their respective owner's hand.

Imagine how annoying fighting this guy must be. Your opponent works hard to call out a level-8 monster (which requires two sacrifices), but then you send Grand Mole to battle it. Both monsters are returned to the hand; your opponent will now have to re-sacrifice new monsters to call forth the level 8, while you can summon your measly level-3 monster for free. Alternatively, return potent opposing fusion, synchro, xyz, or link monsters to your foe's Extra Deck.

It's as simple as that! Give it a shot and watch your rival seethe as you repeatedly foil their tribute and special summons.



2. Marshmallon

ATK: 300
DEF: 500

Second place goes to the reliable Marshmallon. Similarly to Spirit Reaper, he can't be destroyed in battle—set it in defense position to guard your Life Points. Additionally, when Marshmallon is first flipped face-up, your opponent receives 1000 damage, a significant chunk of the 8000 points each player begins with.

Marshmallon provides a strong defense and damages your adversary—all while staying in its comfortable defense position. Certainly a powerful card, but one monster seems more adaptable to almost any deck . . .

Honorable Mentions

A few more monsters whose effects can aid almost any deck.

MonsterATK/ DEF/ LevelEffect

Gorz the Emissary of Darkness


Special summon when you take damage while you have no cards on the field.

Treeborn Frog


Special summon from Graveyard when you have no magic or trap cards on the field.

Nimble Momonga


Gain 1000 Life Points when destroyed by battle. Then, you can summon up to 2 more Nimble Momonga from your deck.

Golden Ladybug

Golden Ladybug

1. Golden Ladybug

ATK: 0
DEF: 0

The number one monster for just about any set of cards has just zero attack? Yep, today's first place goes to the dependable Golden Ladybug. Unlike almost any monster in the game, you're pretty much never going to want to summon this creature to the field.

She's got no attack or defense, and no effect to help her in battle. What she does have is an easy to way to gather Life Points. Once during each of your turns, you can reveal her in your hand, and gain 500 life. Duels may last dozens of turn; 500 points each turn can really add up.

Plus, since the effect activates from the hand, not the field, it's difficult for opponents to destroy this insect. If you're looking for a great support monster, consider Golden Ladybug—she's one of the best ways to consistently regenerate your health.

Your Favorite

Your Vote

Hopefully you've learned about some adaptive monsters, and remember to obey the simple golden rule of the TCG: have fun. Still, although your monster archetype will contain several specific support cards, don't overlook the most powerful generalized options, many of which catch unsuspecting foes off guard.

As we eagerly await our next Yu-Gi-Oh TCG batch, feel free to vote for your favorite entry, and I'll see you at our next card countdown!

Questions & Answers

Question: Are Cyber Dragons Yu-Gi-Oh cards competitive, or were they?

Answer: Cyber Dragon was awesome upon its debut, and while it's definitely not at the top of the meta, continued support through fusion and xyz monsters helps keep its theme relevant.

As of this writing, though, it could use a few modernized upgrades like the Blue-Eyes and Dark Magician supports introduced alongside the Dark Side of Dimensions film.

Basically, Cyber Dragon was great upon release. Nowadays, not so much, but far from unsalvageable with some tweaks.

Question: Where can I buy Yu-Gi-Oh cards?

Answer: I'd recommend Amazon or card-specific websites like; my experiences with online card shopping have been positive. If you head there from one of my articles, I'll also get a slight commission!

© 2015 Jeremy Gill


Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on May 11, 2018:


Generally, any player who didn't read the update at the start of the artiicle is a terrible commenter. Their opinions are just too uninformed.

This list was made several years ago, I've already admitted that some of the cards have aged better than others, and you're simply wrong about some cards--Marshmallon is far from terrible.

Rakkis on May 11, 2018:

Generally, any list that doesn't include Ash Blossom is a terrible list. That card is just too good.

Most duels nowadays just don't last long enough for Golden Ladybug to be effective, and 500 LP per turn just cannot keep up with your opponent summoning 4k+ damage every turn.

Cyber Dragon was 'ok' as bait for ABC back when those were meta, and has very niched used against certain tower-likes (neither of which are commonly seen), but outside Cyber Dragon decks you generally won't see this card being played.

Grand Mole and Spirit Reaper didn't age really well. They were really good once upon a time, but they just aren't good anymore.

Marshmallon is just terrible. Alector is better sided, but somewhat playable in certain decks.

the_mann on May 03, 2018:

what are some overall good cards?

Beast on February 17, 2018:

Marshmellon is the most reliable one of these cards

BEWARE DANGER on December 08, 2017:

Another way you could find out to play is by downloading the beginners tutorial booklet from

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on December 07, 2017:


Yu-Gi-Oh is a fun game but admittedly has many rules to learn. I'd recommend a YouTube tutorial, or if you're willing to spend a few dollars, a video game that includes a detailed guide, like "Legacy of the Duelist." This also prevents you from having to buy physical cards before deciding whether you enjoy dueling.

leon on December 07, 2017:

i want to know how to play yugioh. How do i play?

BEWARE DANGER on November 05, 2017:

Okay then, also I too have marshmallon in my defense deck, I count on cards like exodia and final countdown

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on November 05, 2017:


Dino-sewing is definitely versatile, though I still prefer Marshmallon as far as battle-indestructible monsters go. Weird that Dino was a Fiend and not a Dinosaur (which I've always felt was underutilized).


Agreed, Grand Mole is a force to be reckoned with, and was even more so before Pendulums.

BEWARE DANGER on November 05, 2017:

Hey, you forgot 'Dino sewing'!!!

Michael on June 18, 2017:

I use Grand Mole in my deck, and I find it really effective against almost every single deck known to mankind, from my own decks to my friends' decks. It works well against any deck with at least a few extra deck cards, and/or a few high-level cards.

slayer171 on June 05, 2017:

this really isn't a bad list, especially considering many of the "best" cards are only specific to one set of monsters, these fit in any deck

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on June 05, 2017:

@Shawnboy and anyone else of similar mind:

I understand that, like any trading card game, the top tier cards will change over time. Here are some factors to remember:

1. Card values are subjective to a large extent. Many of these monsters can still work well in several decks.

2. That said, while great for its time, this list is admittedly aging. It predated Pendulums and many other cards.

3. I love writing about Yu-Gi-Oh and still play it, but please remember to be polite. Yes, a more modern list is in the works, but I like leaving these olders countdowns as testaments to powerful and versatile cards of the past.

Shawnboy on June 05, 2017:

I hate to be that guy but your list is just the worst. I would consider a grand total of 0 of those cards to play with and all can easily be replaced with much more beneficial cards

Etweedy8863 on October 28, 2016:

While you do have some solid points, I would for Black Luster Soldier-Envoy of the Beginning on here because of his easy summon, high attack, and ability to attack twice.

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on October 22, 2016:

Marshmallon and Spirit Reaper can both stall since they can't be destroyed in battle, plus they each have addition helpful effects. Ladybug is a great choice for decks that haven't quite hit 40 cards and want an easy way to recover health.

@Big EyeThis list is admittedly a few years old, but these are still good cards that fit into plenty of decks. You can disagree, but do so politely.

Toga on October 06, 2016:

I have to agree with big eye although Alector, Sovereign of Birds is good durning the pendulum age as swarming the field has always be a thing even back in 2008 and most archtypes are 1 atribute and negating your floodgates on your turn is always good although you would have to activate vantities afterwords