Top 10 Side Deck Cards in Yu-Gi-Oh

Updated on October 9, 2019
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.

What is a Side Deck in Yu-Gi-Oh?

Most Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments utilize the match format, meaning the duelist to win two of three games tirumphs. After the first game, you'll have knowledge of what your opponent runs, and to help adjust your tactics, you can swap out cards from your main and extra deck with your side deck.

Side decks can hold up to 15 cards, and although you can switch as many out as you like, your deck size has to stay the same. They're a great place to store counters to specific strategies, cycling them in when you see your opponent running one, and they make your own arsenal less predictable. But with thousands of potential choices, which units reign supreme? These are the 10 best cards for your side deck in Yu-Gi-Oh!

Dinowrestler Pankratops
Dinowrestler Pankratops

10. Dinowrestler Pankratops

Type: Monster

Like many of the best side deck cards, Pankratops is a "hand trap," a monster whose effect activates from the hand. In this case, if your opponent controls more monsters than you, you can special summon him. Not only does he wield a fierce 2600 ATK, Pankratops can tribute any Dinowrestler monster you control (including himself) to destroy an opposing card.

Since this is a quick effect, you can activate it at instant speed on either player's round. Thus, use Pankratops for a fast warrior who doubles as a removal against any card type, and bonus points if you run dinosaur or Dinowrestler themes for him to combo with.

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Gozen MatchRivalry of Warlords
Gozen Match
Gozen Match
Rivalry of Warlords
Rivalry of Warlords

9. Gozen Match/Rivalry of Warlords

Type: Trap

Continuous trap Gozen Match restricts each player to only controlling one monster attribute while Rivalry of Warlords restricts them to only one monster type. If a player controls more than one when activated, they have to sacrifice creatures until they only command one attribute/type.

Thus, if you mostly run a single element and you see your opponent using a deck that includes numerous, throw in one of these to snare your opponent's deck. Use them against archetypes like "Elemental HERO" and "Shaddoll," who use several attributes, or "Lightsworn" and "Invoked," which include various types. Plus, even against themes that lean towards a single element, Match and Warlords limit their extra deck, which often contain different types and attributes.

Poisonous Winds
Poisonous Winds

8. Poisonous Winds

Type: Spell

Wind isn't the most common attribute, but you can severely hinder devoted wind decks (no, not the cleaner) with Poisonous Winds. This continuous spell both prevents wind monsters from being special summoned and has all wind monsters lose 500 ATK, two large penalties that clip any avian's wings.

Of course, don't include this magic if you're running wind monsters yourself, but it adeptly counters themes like "Windwitch," "Majespecter," and "Harpie."

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Light-Imprisoning MirrorShadow-Imprisoning Mirror
Light-Imprisoning Mirror
Light-Imprisoning Mirror
Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror
Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror

7. Light-Imprisoning Mirror/Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror

Type: Trap

Light-Imprisoning and Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror excellently punish the two most common attributes. They respectively negate all light/dark effects activated on either the field or graveyard, making them lethal against many of the most common structures.

Bear in mind that they don't stop effects activated from the hand or banished zone, but those are uncommon loopholes that will rarely prove troublesome. Use these traps to shut down themes like "Blue-Eyes," "Supreme King," "Red-Eyes," "Dark Magician," and many more (just be sure not to hinder your own cards in the process).

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PSY-Framegear GammaPSY-Frame Driver
PSY-Framegear Gamma
PSY-Framegear Gamma
PSY-Frame Driver
PSY-Frame Driver

6. PSY-Framegear Gamma

Type: Monster

Gamma's biggest downside is that he essentiallys take up two slots in your side deck, as his usage relies on also running the normal monster "PSY-Frame Driver." And without any effects, Driver is a rather lackluster card.

However, the two form a potent combo; you can special summon Gamma (who can't be normal summoned/set) from your hand when your opponent activates a monster effect while you control no monsters. You also special summon Driver from your hand, deck, or graveyard, Not only does this field two monsters, it negates and destroys the activating monster. You'll have to banish Gamma and Driver during your end phase, but if you use the ability on your turn, you can easily use them as link, tribute, or synchro material (Gamma is a tuner) to avoid their exile. Or, on your opponent's round, they might be destroyed by battle before the banishment occurs.

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Twin TwistersHeavy Storm Duster
Twin Twisters
Twin Twisters
Heavy Storm Duster
Heavy Storm Duster

5. Twin Twisters/Heavy Storm Duster

Type: Spell/Trap

As the best spell/trap removals in the game, these two cards often see use in main decks, but they also make great side deck entries to swap in against spell/trap heavy decks (like pendulum themes).

Twin Twisters has you discard but destroys up to two spells/traps, and as a quick-play, you can use it on either player's turn. Trap card Heavy Storm Duster is slower since it needs to be set for at least one turn, but it destroys up to two spell/traps with no discard penalty. You also forfeit your turn's battle phase, but that's a nonexistent penalty if used on your opponent's turn.

Shared Ride
Shared Ride

4. Shared Ride

Type: Spell

Hand advantage is huge in any TCG; the more cards you have, the more plays you can make. Shared Ride adeptly punishes your foe for boosting their array; when activated, any time they add a card to their hand from their graveyard or deck other than by drawing, you get to draw a card.

Search engines are common, with many top decks able to pull three or more cards in a turn; Shared Ride lets you capitalize on each with a single spell. Plus, as a quick-play, you can activate on either player's turn and potentially bait a removal.

Droll & Lock Bird
Droll & Lock Bird

3. Droll & Lock Bird

Type: Monster

Rather than tailgating your opponent's searches with Shared Ride, you can entirely disable them with this hand trap. When your opponent pulls a card from their deck on either turn (other than their default draw), you can send Droll from your hand to the graveyard to prevent either player from adding cards for the rest of the turn.

Your opponent's initial search will succeed, but for the rest of the turn, they'll be unable to draw or search anything else, adeptly keeping their speed in check.

Effect Veiler
Effect Veiler

2. Effect Veiler

Type: Monster

When your opponent summons a boss monster during their main phase , you can send Effect Veiler from your hand to your graveyard to negate its abilities for the turn. This works particularly well on monsters with entrance effects; once their initial activation window is negated, they won't have another chance to use their abilities. As a bonus, Veiler is also a tuner, helping synchro summon if fielded, and his light attribute helps access the Chaos monsters (who require banishing light and dark attributes from your graveyard).

Effect Veiler works well in any deck, but I particularly enjoy running him in spellcaster or synchro themes; fortunately, for such a competitive card, he's surprisingly cheap, costing well under two dollars!

Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring

1. Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring

Type: Monster

Yet another hand trap, Ash Blossom can also punish searches, as you may discard her to negate an effect that would add a card from a player's deck to their hand. You can also negate abilities that special summon from the deck or send a card from it the graveyard, making her a versatile tool with several uses. Plus, her zombie type offers many graveyard applications, and her tuner status helps access synchro monsters when needed.

Counterparts like "Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit" and "Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion" are also worth considering, but in most cases, Ash is the cream of the crop.

Which Card Do You Prefer?

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Archetype Side Deck Cards

In addition to today's entries, unused members of your chosen theme also make worthy side deck options, as do extra copies of cards in your main deck. Remember, side decks are great for concealing specific but powerful removals that you can bring out when the targeted prey arises. While not the most sporting practice, you can even bluff by swapping some cards out, then swapping them back in, tricking your opponent into thinking your array will be slightly different.

Just remember that your overall deck size must stay the same and that you can only have three copies of a single card (less if limited or semi-limited) throughout your decks. But for now, as we eagerly await Konami's next expansion of side deck aces, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!

© 2019 Jeremy Gill


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