Top 10 "Once-Per-Duel" Yu-Gi-Oh Cards
Once Per Duel Card Effects
Many Yu-Gi-Oh effects are only "once per turn," preventing players from spamming them in the same round, but a few take the restriction further, limiting their activation to once per duel (per card).
To compensate, they offer formidable abilities that can really ignite your combos—which reign supreme? These are the ten best once-per-duel effects in Yu-Gi-Oh!
10. Constellar Tempest
Once per duel, during your end phase where you control two or more Constellar xyz monsters with xyz material, this continuous spell lets you detach all material from two of them to halve your opponent's life points.
If they're at full health, you can drain a brutal 4000 LP, although losing material will prevent your monsters from using their effects. That's where Tempest's other ability (which isn't once per duel) comes in, letting you attach a Constellar from your graveyard to a Constellar xyz monster during your standby phase, providing constant fuel for their effects.
9. Rescue Hamster
This pendulum monster's duel-limited effect stems from his pendulum scale ability. His scale is a rather mid-way value of five, but you can banish Hamster from your pendulum zone to add two face-up pendulum monsters from your extra deck to hand. Although pendulum monsters can be revived from the extra deck, doing so requires extra monster zones; Hamster's effect brings them to hand, where you can easily summon them to main monster zones (or play them as scales).
If used as a monster, Hamster has pitiful battle stats, but can tribute himself when normal summoned to summon two copies of a level five or lower pendulum monster you have face-up in your extra deck. They have negated effects and are destroyed at the end phase, but that's plenty of time to use them as link, synchro, or xyz material, and since this effect isn't duel-limited, you can activate it multiple times throughout your game.
8. Super Anti-Kaiju War Machine Mecha-Thunder-King
Thunder-King's first effect is rather situational, letting you discard him during any main phase where you control a Kaiju owned by your opponent to banish that monster and special summon a monster from your graveyard. This effect isn't once per duel, but it admittedly relies on your opponent running Kaijus, making Thunder-King a prime sideboard candidate.
That said, he's unaffected by other Kaiju effects and can't be destroyed in battle by Kaiju, making him a great counter to their theme. And his once per duel effect simply lets you special summon him from your graveyard during your end phase, making him tempting discard fodder even against other decks.
7. Predaplant Darlingtonia Cobra
Cobra's stats aren't amazing, but Predaplant decks will probably use him as fusion material, especially considering his trait. When special summoned by the effect of a Predaplant, Cobra can once per duel add a "Polymerization" or "Fusion" spell from deck to hand, a versatile search that can tutor numerous monster-fusing spells.
That's a great setup for a powerful fusion summon, but remember Cobra has to be special summoned (not normal) for it to work.
For a level one monster, Dotscaper has surprisingly sturdy 2100 DEF. More than that, he's actually got two once per duel effects; you can use both in the same duel, just not the same turn.
The first special summons Dotscaper when sent to the graveyard (from anywhere), and the second special summons him when banished (from anywhere). This makes him excellent material for link and other summons, quickly swarming your field. Versatile yet easy to use, Dotscaper works well in many decks and is surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!
5. Altergeist Pookuery
Pookuery has poor stats, but you'll want him in hand anyway for his first effect, letting you once per turn use him in hand as material for an Altergeist link summon if another Altergeist on the field is also used.
Pookuey's once per duel ability lets you return him to hand from your graveyard when you link summon an Altergeist. Effectively, this gives you two link materials in one, and ones that can be used from the hand at that.
4. Destiny HERO - Decider
Decider has workable 1600 ATK, and he can't be targeted for attacks by level six or higher monsters, a small but appreciated defense. He's also packing two once per duel abilities; the first lets you add another HERO monster to hand at the end of a turn where he's normal or special summoned. That's an excellent effect that triggers from both main summoning methods and can find any HERO, whether a Destiny, Elemental, or otherwise.
Decider's next single-use effect returns him to hand from your graveyard when a card or ability would deal you effect damage, making that damage zero. Not only does this shield you, it adds him to hand, letting you summon him again and reactivate his search. Luckily, this can trigger from self-inflicted effect damage, providing numerous ways to activate it.
3. Blackwing - Steam the Cloak
Banned in the Asian OCG as of writing (but not the American TCG), Steam the Cloak is a tuner, helping the Blackwings summon their numerous synchro monsters. Plus, when he leaves the field (through any means), you create a steam monster token with 100 ATK and DEF; weak, but useful as material for other summons.
Or, simply sacrifice it for Steam's once per duel effect, letting you tribute a monster to revive him from the graveyard. This will give another token when Steam leaves the field, but when summoned this way, he can only be used as synchro material if all other materials are fellow Blackwings. A small restriction, especially since other summon types (link, xyz, etc.) aren't similarly hindered.
2. Rank-Up-Magic Argent Chaos Force
Banned in the TCG as of this writing, this Rank-Up spell uses a rank five or higher xyz monster you control as material for a Number C or Cxyz monster that's one rank higher. Materials from the first xyz are attached to the new one, providing plenty of resources, and these upgraded beasts wield stronger effects than their base variants.
That's a nice effect in itself, and you can once per duel recover Chaos Force from your graveyard when you xyz summon a rank five or higher monster, providing two rank-ups over the course of your game.
1. Glow-Up Bulb
Forbidden in the OCG (but not our TCG), Glow-Up Bulb provides an excellent generic tuner for any deck. Puny stats, but once per game, you can special summon him from your graveyard by sending the top card of your deck to the graveyard. Not only does this give an easy material for synchro, link, or tribute summons, it stocks your discard pile, potentially empowering other effects.
For a similar if slightly harder to use ability, run fellow tuner "Spore" alongside Bulb, whose effect lets you revive him from the graveyard by banishing another plant (possibly Bulb) from it.
Which card do you prefer?
Using Once-Per-Duel Cards in Yu-Gi-Oh
Since today's effects can only be used once per duel, it's often smart to only run one copy of each in your deck. Sure, putting more in increases your chances of drawing them and using their effect, but weakens the power of redundant copies.
As always, think carefully about the optimal time to apply their powers, often when you're ready to cast a fierce extra deck monster, but for now, as we await Konami's next batch of once per duel cards, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill