Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
How Does Excavating Work in Yu-Gi-Oh?
"Excavate" is basically a Yu-Gi-Oh abbreviation for "reveal from the top of your deck." When you excavate, you'll reveal to both players a number of cards stated by the effect from the top of your deck.
What happens to the revealed cards depends on the ability in question; often, excavation lets you add a card from among them to your hand. But with dozens of deck-searching powers available, which reign supreme? These are the ten best excavate cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!
10. Cynet Storm
Cynet Storm offers several supports to link monsters, which basically everybody runs these days. Linked monsters (both link monsters and the monsters they point to) gain 500 ATK/DEF, and link summons can't be negated. These are powerful benefits, but remember they can potentially aid opposing units too.
Additionally, once per chain, if you take 2000 or more battle or effect damage, you can shuffle your face-down extra deck cards, excavate the top one, and special summon it if it's a cyberse-type link monster. This helps you rebound back from big hits, especially since you can special summon to a regular monster zone (instead of needing an extra one).
9. Pot of Duality
One of several "Pot of Greed" variants, Duality works well in decks that rely on normal summoning instead of special. Which admittedly isn't many, but it's nonetheless a nice support, excavating your deck's top three cards, adding one to hand, and shuffling the rest back in.
This provides a minor search that helps pull find whatever you need, but you forfeit your ability to special summon that turn. Use with normal-summon decks, or simply wait for a turn where you don't need to special summon.
Based on the classic "Kuriboh", Kuribandit has low stats, but at the end phase of the turn he's normal summoned, you can tribute him to excavate five cards from your deck, add a spell/trap from among them to your hand, and send the rest to the graveyard.
The spell/trap effect provides a non-archetype-dependent search, but Kuribandit notably mills the other four cards rather than shuffling them back in, providing plenty of graveyard fodder to exploit.
7. Paleozoic Anomalocaris
Xyz monster Anomalocaris requires three or more level-two monsters as material, so he's not particularly easy to summon, and his ATK is only a decent 2400. However, he's completely unaffected by other monster effects, and once per turn, when a trap is sent from your spell/trap zone to the graveyard, you can excavate your deck's top card. If it's a trap, you add it to your hand, otherwise sending it to the graveyard.
So, you either get a bonus draw or minor graveyard-stocking. And as long as Anomalocaris has a trap card as material (which he should among his Paleozoic trap-monster allies), he can once per turn detach a material to destroy a card on the field. Since this is a quick effect, you can use it on either turn and in response to other plays.
6. Until Noble Arms are Needed Once Again
This wordy trap excavates cards from your deck equal to the number of Noble Arms equip spells you control, adds any one of those cards to your hand, then places the remainder on top of your deck in any order. Additionally, you can banish this trap from your graveyard (except the turn it arrived there) to special summon any Noble Knight from your deck with a different name than monsters you have in your field or graveyard.
So, the first effect maintains card advantage while manipulating your upcoming draws, and the second pulls a free monster without reducing your hand. Both nifty abilities, especially since Once Again carries the Noble Arms name and qualifies for relevant supports.
5. Rafale, Champion Fur Hire
The low-level Fur Hires (hilarious, Konami) let you special summon another Fur Hire from your hand—use this to cast level-eight Rafale. Not only does this save you tributes, it activates his special-summon effect, which excavates cards equal to the number of other Fur Hire monsters you control with different names, adds one to your hand, and shuffles the rest back in.
Bam, card advantage maintained and you've got a 2800 ATK beatstick. You can make use of your boosted hand with Rafale's next effect, which lets you discard a Fur Hire card to negate (but not destroy) a monster's effect, always a handy tech option.
Limited (one copy per deck) as of this writing, this spell has your opponent declare a monster level (anything from 1-12), then you excavate cards from the top of your deck until you reach a monster than can be normal summoned. If that monster has the same level as the one your opponent guessed, you send all revealed cards to the graveyard, and if not, you send everything except that monster, which you special summon.
The chances of your opponent guessing right are slim, and you get to swarm your graveyard either way; use Reasoning to stock your discard pile with spells, traps, and monsters that can't be normal summoned, like ritual monsters and the Sacred Beasts.
3. Salamangreat Foxy
Foxy belongs to a mighty archetype and offers several minor but appreciated abilities. His stats are meager, but when normal summoned, you excavate three cards and can add any single Salamangreat among them (even another Foxy) to your hand, shuffling the rest back into your deck.
Plus, as long as there is a face-up spell or trap anywhere on the field, you can discard a card to revive Foxy from your graveyard and destroy a face-up spell or trap if you like. This puts you ahead, trading one card from your hand to add one to your field and potentially remove an opponent's; just remember you can only use one of Foxy's effects each turn.
For his versatile effects, strong archetype, and useful elements (the fire attribute and cyberse type are both performing well competitively), Foxy's a staple in my own Salamangreat decks, especially since he costs well under a single dollar!
2. Sky Striker Airspace - Area Zero
The Sky Strikers quickly proved themselves as of one of the game's best archetypes, partially thanks to this field spell. Zero lets you target another card you control, excavate three cards, add a Sky Striker among them to your hand (shuffling the rest into your deck), and send the targeted card to your graveyard.
This helps swap out cards and support Sky Striker abilities, and if Area Zero is sent to the graveyard, you can special summon a Sky Striker ace monster from your deck, ensuring it won't go down without a fight.
This card's pun-name might be groan-worthy, but it's a competitive addition to the Flower Cardian theme. Activating Recardination adds any Flower Cardian monster from your graveyard to your hand, then special summons one from your hand (whether the retrieved unit or not), ignoring its summoning conditions.
That's more than a fair trade, but if Recardination is instead sent to the graveyard by a Flower Cardian's effect, you excavate five cards, add any one spell or trap from them to your hand, and place the rest back on top in any order. Both awesome powers that let Recardination adapt to fit your situation.
Using Excavate Cards in Yu-Gi-Oh
Excavating cards provide handy mini-searches that pull whatever you need from the top of your deck, sometimes rearranging it as you like in the process. While usually found as a supportive mechanic, the entire plant-typed Sylvan theme revolves around excavating, and the long-banned "Morphing Jar #2" also uses the mechanic.
Excavation is becoming more and more common as time passes, helping many themes tutor needed cards. But for now, as we await Konami's next expansion of deck-revealing abilities, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill