Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
Using Skills in Duel Links
Yu-Gi-Oh's mobile Duel Links game follows a simpler "speed duel" rendition of traditional games. Life points are cut from 8000 to 4000, starting hands are 4 instead of 5, extra decks have 6 cards instead of 15, main decks are 20-30 cards instead of 40-60, and only three monster and spell/trap zones exist per player. The second main phase is also eliminated, and the game only spans cards through a certain point (the synchro era as of this writing).
While some fans prefer standard rules, these changes keep games fast and exciting. But another big change is the introduction of character skills, offering various abilities that can make or break your duel—which reign supreme? These are the ten best-activated skills in Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Links!
10. Time Passage
Character: Carly Carmine
Effect: One Fortune Lady monster you control gains three levels until end of turn.
Limit: Once per turn, twice per duel.
Pretty easy to tell whether you'll want this skill: are you running the Fortune Lady archetype? If not, go with something else. But when you are, you'll find few better supports.
Fortune Ladies gain ATK and DEF based on their level, so increasing a level by three can really make a difference in combat. Some of their effects also trigger when their levels increase, like "Fortune Lady Earth" inflicting 400 damage to your opponent. Throw in the fact that you can activate the skill not once but twice per duel (though only once a turn) and you've got a tempting complement to the theme.
9. Master of Destiny
Effect: Your first three coin tosses will all be heads.
Limit: Requires your deck to have 7+ coin-related cards with different names.
Few Yu-Gi-Oh cards rely on coin flips, but they do exist, and like the Pokémon TCG, you almost always want your coin tosses to land on heads. Rather than leave this to chance, Sartorius automatically makes your first three results heads, bending luck to your favor.
Not only does this empower the chance-based antics of the Barrel Dragon and Arcana Force themes, it's an excellent supplement to"Cup of Ace" (semi-limited as of this writing). Ace is a spell card that basically becomes the long-banned "Pot of Greed" when you land heads, simply drawing two cards.
Card advantage is especially important in this game since your opening hand is diminished, making a rigged Ace even more alluring. The downside is that your deck needs seven or more different coin-flip cards for the ability to work, so you'll have to run other coin-tossing effects as well.
8. Baggy Sleeves
Character: Bandit Keith
Effect: When your level 5+ monster is destroyed in battle, you draw two cards at your next draw phase.
Tribute-summoning high-level monsters requires monster sacrifices, making them especially costly to lose. Keith's Baggy Sleeves helps you recover, giving double the draws at your next turn after losing a level five or higher monster in battle.
With no "once per" restrictions, this ability can trigger as much as you need, keeping your hand stocked throughout the match. You can trigger it yourself by purposefully attacking a stronger monster, though you'll rarely want to since the draws are delayed. Baggy Sleeves works well with several archetypes, but especially favors the Lightning Dragon theme.
7. Master of Rites
Character: Shared (available to many characters)
Effect: Return a card from your hand to your deck, then choose to add a random ritual spell or ritual monster from deck to hand.
Limit: Twice per duel, and only after you've lost at least 1000 life points.
Not to be confused with Alexis's "Master of Rite II" skill, this generic ability greatly increases the consistency of ritual themes. Ritual monsters are powerful beasts that can sacrifice monsters from the hand (and sometimes graveyard) instead of field, but using them requires a combination of ritual monster, spell, and materials.
Normally, this makes rituals high-risk high-reward, but you can drastically lower the risk with Rites. Up to twice per duel, it basically lets you remove an unneeded card from your hand to pull a random ritual monster or spell from your deck. You don't get to pick which card exactly, but you do get to pick the type, so you can choose between monster and spell. Of course, if your deck only has one ritual monster/spell (or multiple copies of one), you know exactly what you're pulling with each option, ensuring you have what you need.
6. The Tie that Binds
Effect: Your face-up monsters gain 100 ATK per monster you control until end of turn.
Limit: Once per turn.
In my opinion, this is the best non-exclusive aggro ability in the game. Sure, since Duel Links only has three monster zones, that means the boost maxes at just 300, but since it's per monster, that's a potential 900 bonus damage you're dealing. And extra ATK isn't just useful for damage, it helps successfully topple enemy monsters in battle.
But the best part is, this skill is once per turn, not duel, so you can repeatedly spam it for extra power every round. And remember that face-down monsters count and will help empower your face-ups.
5. Cyber Style
Character: Zane Truesdale
Effect: Summon a "Proto-Cyber Dragon" from outside your deck in attack position for each 1000 life points you are below 4000. They can't be used as tributes or materials except for fusion summons.
Limit: Once per duel and only with 3000 or less life points.
Cyber Style helps Cyber Dragon themes quickly rebound from a losing match. It works better the lower your LP is; if you're at 1000 or less, you can potentially cast three Proto-Cybers, each with 1100 ATK. And since they come from outside the game, you don't need them in hand (or deck) to summon them, leaving your other resources intact.
You won't be able to tribute these monsters, so you can either use them as blockers or fusion material—since their effect changes their name to "Cyber Dragon", they're perfect for fusing behemoths like "Chimeratech Rampage Dragon".
4. Spell Specialist
Effect: Increases your chances of having a spell in your opening hand.
Limit: Requires five or more spells in your deck.
At first, this effect might not seem great, simply upping the odds that you'll find at least one spell in your starting four cards. But for decks that heavily rely on specific spells, this can be a lifesaver, preventing dead hands full of mismatched cards.
While it's not for every theme, Spell Specialist is a popular choice for the current top-tier Shiranui theme, helping its zombie-summoning players nab powerful spells like "Enemy Controller" and "World Legacy Clash".
3. Sorcery Conduit
Character: Yami Yugi
Effect: Instead of your regular draw, draw a random spellcaster monster from your deck.
Limit: Can be used each time your life points have decreased by 1000.
Once your LP has dropped enough to activate it, Conduit replaces your regular draw with a spellcaster from your deck, useful when you're hunting specific monsters. Admittedly, this effect is only of moderate use to many themes, but it's essential for the Elementsaber + Invoked combo that's currently in tier 2 (right below top) of the meta.
Basically, Conduit guarantees you'll draw the deck's one spellcaster, "Aleister the Invoker", a necessary material for the fierce Invoked fusion monsters. Normal summon Aleister to tutor your "Invocation" fusion spell from your deck and you're basically set to fusion summon, all thanks to the draw-tampering power of Conduit, the skilled currently used in 100% of the theme's builds.
Effect: Send your deck's top card to your graveyard and recover 300 life points.
Limit: Can be used each time your LP decreases by 1000.
Compensation's two abilities may seem minor, but they add up. Milling your deck's top card preps your graveyard, potentially leading to combos you wouldn't otherwise have access to. And that 300 health might mean the difference between losing and surviving long enough to counterattack.
Plus, these effects don't have any "per duel" limits, so they'll continuously help throughout your match. All-in-all, Compensation is a good skill when you're not sure what else to use or have a graveyard-reliant theme (like the meta-dominating Darklord fairies).
1. Sealed Tombs
Character: Ishizu Ishtar
Effect: Until your next turn, neither player can banish or special summon from the graveyard.
Limit: Once per duel.
We've seen some great skills, but to be honest, Tombs wins by a landslide, currently seen on numerous high-tier themes like Shiranui, Dark Magician, Blackwings, and Ritual Beasts. Locking down the graveyard from both summons and banishment is a huge detriment, potentially leaving your opponent with a dead turn. Of course, you suffer the same restriction, but you'll have presumably already played any graveyard-needing effects before activating the effect.
Ironically, Tombs works well against many of the decks that use it; letting Shiranui players net other Shiranui players at key moments. Sometimes it really is best to fight fire with fire.
Future Duel Links Updates
We've covered the best character abilities yet, and with ongoing support, we'll undoubtedly encounter more. As of this writing, we're still waiting on xyz, pendulum, and link monsters to enter the game, which should bring new characters, skills, and other twists to the arena.
Once they shake things up, we'll see which effects stand the test of time, but for now, vote for your favorite Duel Links skill and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill
Omega on February 24, 2020:
Awesome! Do more of this guide!