Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
Monster Archetypes in Yu-Gi-Oh
Ask any duelist which series of monsters they prefer, and you'll get dozens of different answers. After all, hundreds of types exist in the game, with many more well on their way. Some players look for ease of summoning, others want high ATK, some prefer card advantage, etc.
Today, we'll take a look at the six monster series I personally favor. Whether you're a dueling veteran or a rookie looking for a starting point, try building a deck around these guys! I promise they'll hold their own in any match.
The first Yu-Gi-Oh anime featured a stuck-up brat named Weevil Underwood who used Insect-themed monsters. And he lost. A lot. As a kid, I disliked him and his monsters for being annoying; as an older player, I realize his deck had very few options. And so, Insect-type monsters largely stayed off my radar for years, without a single series ever grabbing my attention.
Enter the Inzektors, Insect-typed creatures with the ability to attach other Inzektor cards from your hand or graveyard as equip spells. Finally, an Insect archetype that not only grabbed my attention, but really impressed me.
- Many Inzektors raise the ATK or DEF of the equipped monster, and some manipulate the Level, allowing for some great xyz combos. Additionally, there's a variety of spells and traps available as support.
- You've got plenty of great cards here; my favorite is Inzektor Hornet. If you play him as a monster, he can (once per turn) equip another Inzektor to power himself up. When used as an equip, you can send him to the graveyard to target any card on the field and destroy it. Monster, spell, trap, anything. Plus, the monster he's equipped to receive an ATK, DEF, and level boost.
In short, if you're a fan of equips and XYZ, definitely give these bugs a go.
5. Yang Zing
Next are the Yang Zing monsters, who showcase the wyrm type. Aesthetically, wyrms look similar to dragons; the Yang Zing creatures are even based on the nine sons of the Dragon King in Chinese mythology.
- Nearly all have either superb ATK or DEF. When destroyed (whether by battle or effect), most let you summon another Yang Zing from your deck, making a monster wipe near-impossible.
- Some are tuners, who combine with non-Tuners to call out powerful synchro monsters. Many of the non-Tuners here even power up the synchros; for instance, using Suanni as material raises the synchro's ATK by 500.
- The Yang Zing synchros include the mighty Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing. With 2600 ATK and 2100 DEF, he's hard to beat in battle and wields two helpful effects. First, like his brethren, when destroyed, you can summon a wyrm monster from your deck. Second, once per turn, you can target one of your Yang Zings and one card your opponent controls; destroy both. Your opponent's will be gone, but your Yang Zing's effect will call another from your deck to further your assault.
Add in some great support spells (check out Yang Zing Path) and you've got a winning recipe for the wyrm type that impressed me far more than psychic decks did upon their debut.
Next we have the Yosenju, a theme revolving around mostly beast-warrior type monsters bearing all sorts of tricks:
- These guys can swarm. Many let you summon another from your hand when normal summoned, and this can combo in a single turn, allowing you to rapidly fill your field. Then, utilize their various effects to shift the battle in your favor (one can return a monster to your opponent's hand, another lets you add a Yosenju to your hand when it deals damage, and so on).
- Then you have the pendulum cards, which further aid in swarming, power up your monsters, and help you call out the devastating Level-10 Mayosenju Daibak, who can return any two cards on the field to their owner's hand, then attack for massive damage.
Swarmers who can adapt to any situation, I owe many victories to the Yosenju bunch, and they held up against the changes implemented alongside powerful link monsters better than most pendulum archetypes.
Here's a peculiar series of thunder-types that started off as underwhelming but became terrifying as time passed and better support cards were added.
- Great at swarming. Many have effects to call monsters from your deck to the field, helping you assemble the three Batterymen you need to activate the magic card Short Circuit. You can only play it when you have at least three Batterymen out, but it destroys every single card your opponent controls! This lets you attack without fear of traps (looking at you, Mirror Force) and eliminates the monsters your opponent worked so hard to summon.
- Also, as your monsters enter the Graveyard, you can banish two of them to summon the mighty Batteryman Industrial Strength. 2600 ATK, plus the ability to remove another Batteryman from your Graveyard to destroy both a monster and a spell or trap on the field.
- Their light attribute works well with popular cards like Honest.
Thunder types are few and far between, but clever duelists can easily take advantage of the Batterymen's awesome destructive powers. Since they swarm from the hand or deck, your extra monster zone is helpfully left free for any extra-deck monsters you want, lessening the need for link monsters.
I appreciate that Yu-Gi-Oh doesn't forget its roots. We've seen many new special summoning methods added, but we've also seen newer and better ways to ritual summon—something that's been with us since the beginning. My personal favorite ritual summons all involve the impressive Gishki series.
- Bearing several different types, the weaker Gishkis can serve as entire tributes needed for ritual summoning, add cards to your hand, or summon monsters from your graveyard, helping you stall while you gather the components for your rituals.
- The strongest Gishki are, of course, the ritual monsters themselves, especially Zielgigas, a colossus with 3200 ATK plus an awesome ability: each turn, you can pay 1000 life points. If you do, you draw and reveal a card; if it's a Gishki monster, you shuffle a card from the field into its owner deck. For the price of some life, this effect both refills your hand and often removes an opposing unit.
- Water attribute provides access to great support cards like Torrential Reborn
For a high-risk, high-reward series, you'll find little better than the Gishki. Consider including some health-regenerating cards (Solemn Wishes and Golden Ladybug work wonders) to keep your life points in a safe range and guarantee the usage of Zielgigas's awesome effect.
Even after link summoning, pendulum is sometimes criticized as overpowered, and these cards help explain why. I absolutely love the Qliphort series, although I'm relieved that some are forbidden competitively. From their unique design (some sort of weird alien husks with different colored orbs?) to their great effects and ace monster, no other series has struck me like the Qli.
- Nearly all are pendulum cards, letting you swarm easily. Many are high level, and have awesome effects when tribute summoned (like Shell, who pierces through defenders and can attack twice each turn), but may also be summoned as Level-4 monsters with reduced ATK if necessary. Plus, some have effects that activate when tributed; Helix destroys spells/traps while Carrier can return a monster to the hand.
- The cards you use in your Pendulum Zones have many helpful effects; some boost your monsters' ATK, some reduce your opponents', and some search your deck for Qlis to add to your hand.
- Then there's Apoqliphort Towers, who takes three Qliphorts as sacrifices to normal summon, but is worth the effort. He lowers all special summoned monsters' ATK by 500, is immune to spells/traps, and is immune to all monster effects from monsters who are lower level/rank than him. Which is nearly all, since he's level 10. Then, once per turn, he can force your opponent to send a monster from either their hand or their field to the graveyard. Factor in his 3000 ATK and 2600 DEF, and if you successfully summon him, you're almost certain to win the duel.
Accounting for some nice support (equip spell Saqlifice raises ATK by 300, prevents battle destruction, and allows one Qliphort monster to be tributed as two), a Qli build makes for a horrific machine deck, especially when unrestricted in unofficial play.
Today we've examined six amazing monster themes, but remember there are hundreds of archetypes to choose from. As we eagerly await the next generation of potent monsters, feel free to mention your favorite series below, but first, vote for your favorite entry, and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: Which is overall the better Yu-Gi-Oh monster, Blue-Eyes or Archfiend?
Answer: Currently, I'd lean towards Blue-Eyes.
Question: What about Odd-Eyes/Magician for this list?
Answer: The Odd-Eyes/Pendulum Magician combo is formidable (possibly with some Performapal thrown in), but with the changes that debuted alongside link monsters, pendulum monsters have lost much of their gusto. Additionally, many cards from this series (like Double Iris Magician) are banned, further limiting their usefulness in competitive play.
That's not to say they aren't powerful, though. In the right hands, an Odd-Eyes deck could still devastate opponents despite the new extra deck limitations.
© 2016 Jeremy Gill
Noka on June 23, 2020:
I use the Nordic archetype for most of my competitive duels. However, the D\D monsters are my favorite pendulum set.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 22, 2018:
To be honest, the Gladiator Beasts have never quite adorned the competitive edge I look for, but I can appreciate their unique battle phase-oriented playstyle.
Ancient Gear monsters are remarkable for how long they've stayed relevant (they were featured way back in the second anime, Yu-Gi-Oh GX), partially due to, as you say, ongoing support. Be sure to check out their awesome fusion monsters like Chaos Ancient Gear Giant!
hector on January 13, 2018:
the gladiator beast because they first contact fuse and help each other out by swarming the field with their special abillities
Toga on October 06, 2016:
My favorite archtype would be ancient gear and I had a compatitive build on DN but now it's lost forever ;(. But at least their getting support (if it's anything like red-eyes I have a good fun deck then it's completely stompeed over by support). Also I play pure insects meaning no archtype and their really good as you can get a search every time 1 is destroyed. I've never played with or against Inzektor although I always had them on my short list on decks to play