Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
The Penguin Archetype in Yu-Gi-Oh
One of the oldest Yu-Gi-Oh archetypes, penguins began with few members but have slowly yet surely gained new waddlers as time passes. As of this writing, they bear exactly ten puffins, with abilities ranging from nonexistent to surprisingly competent removals.
Typically water-attributed and aqua-typed, penguins generally revolve around using flip effects to bounce opposing cards back to hand, but they have a few other tricks up their arctic sleeves. So, which frigid birds reign supreme?
These are the ten best penguin monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh!
- Bolt Penguin
- Flying Penguin
- Penguin Knight
- Guard Penguin
- Puny Penguin
- The Great Emperor Penguin
- Nightmare Penguin
- Fluffal Penguin
- Penguin Soldier
10. Bolt Penguin
Bolt Penguin is a normal monster, meaning he doesn't bear effects and is a poor choice for decks that don't brandish normal-based abilities. Like most penguins, Bolt is also pretty lacking in battle, easily overcome in either attack or defense position, and he shockingly replaces the expected aqua type with thunder. Sorry, Bolt, we've got other fish to fry.
9. Flying Penguin
Flying Penguin is another normal monster, wielding slightly superior stats and a higher level than Bolt, but he's still easily overcome in battle. Thus, he's another lackluster unit you can substitute with other avians, but at least his type and attribute both fit the penguin theme.
8. Penguin Knight
Penguin Knight bears a situational but occasionally useful effect; when sent to the graveyard by an opponent's card effect, you shuffle your graveyard into your deck. This skillfully counters mill decks that aim to win by forcing you to run out of draws.
However, since you normally don't know what kind of structure you're facing, Knight's hard to justify including in your deck list, especially since he doesn't have any traits to harness when fielded.
7. Guard Penguin
Guard Penguin's an interesting oddball, bearing the winged-beast type instead of aqua and operating as a hand trap. When you take damage from a card effect, you can special summon Guard from your hand, then gain life points equal to the damage you took. In one fell swoop, you've fielded a blocker/material monster and recovered your lost health.
Not a bad ability, especially since you may use Guard when you suffer any effect damage, even if it was your card that initiated it.
6. Puny Penguin
While he's even weaker than most of his kin, Puny Penguin revives a different Penguin from your graveyard when sent there after having been flipped face-up. You also may choose between placing the rejuvenated unit in attack or face-down defense position, perfect for preparing flip abilities.
With the right stall cards, you can set Puny, then flip him and use him as tribute, synchro, or link material to simultaneously field a boss monster and revive a defeated Penguin.
5. The Great Emperor Penguin
As a level 5 monster, Emperor Penguin is the only member who needs a tribute to normal summon. Compared to other penguins, his battle stats are better albeit still lagging for his size, but you'll hardly notice since Emperor will soon tribute himself to special summon up to two Penguins from your deck (other than Great Emperor)!
Sadly, you can't place them in a face-down defense position, but this still swarms your field with two materials while also placing a Penguin in your graveyard for a Puny revival.
4. Nightmare Penguin
With 1800 DEF, Nightmare actually has a chance of withstanding attacks, and when flipped face-up, you can target and return an opposing card to the hand. This removal works especially well on extra deck monsters (since they'll go back to the extra deck), but can helpfully bounce spells and traps as well.
Additionally, while face-up, Nightmare grants all water monsters you control (including himself) an extra 200 ATK, a small but appreciated boost that seizes the advantage in battle.
3. Fluffal Penguin
Fluffal deviates from the norm with both his fairy type and support for other archetypes. Once while face-up, he lets you special summon a different Fluffal member from your hand, and if he's sent to the graveyard as a fusion material for a Frightfur monster, you may draw two cards, then discard one, helpfully stocking both your hand and graveyard.
No flip abilities here, but Fluffal's membership in two archetypes, useful effects, and surprisingly decent ATK (for a Penguin) make him an excellent support unit. And am I the only one who thinks he looks like the Mario penguins?
The amusingly-named Nopenguin also bears a respectable 1600 ATK and makes great discard fodder since his first ability activates from the graveyard. Once per turn, when a Penguin effect is activated on either player's field, you special summon Nopenguin from your graveyard, continuously giving a blocker or material for other summons.
Additionally, while fielded, Nopenguin banishes cards that would be returned to the hand by Penguin effects, making their removals even more deadly. Thus, use him to empower Nightmare and...
1. Penguin Soldier
Unlike most old cards, Penguin Soldier retains his competitive status even in modern dueling. Though he's frail, when flipped, Soldier lets you bounce up to two monsters back to the hand! This can remove multiple opposing creatures but can also return your own units to hand, letting you set them again and reuse their flip abilities!
If you can defend him with cards like "Swords of Revealing Light", Soldier can indefinitely bounce both an opposing unit and himself back to the hand, forming an easy combo that doesn't need tributes or extra deck shenanigans. Penguin Soldier offers an excellent removal who has won me several duels throughout the years; fortunately, despite his age and prowess, thanks to reprints he costs just a little over a single dollar!
How to Support Penguin Monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh
Penguins are utility units, accessed for their bounce effects and not their battle stats, but you can still supplement them with water's best general support cards to help them survive your foe's onslaught. Their flip abilities also combo well with structures like Prediction Princess and Subterror, adeptly blending with themes even outside the water attribute.
Penguins are a fun and classic creature type that I hope evolve further in future sets, but for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next expansion of flightless birds, vote for your favorite monster, and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill