Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
Budget Decks in Yu-Gi-Oh
Keeping up with the meta can be tough for duelists on a budget, with many of the best plays (in both the main and extra deck) costing dozens of dollars. Thankfully, many inexpensive yet powerful cards exist to bolster the ranks of finance-restricted players.
Remember to look past a card's price tag; these guys may be cheap, but you'll see them in several competitive decks—here are ten great budget extra monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh!
Sheep is weak at 800 ATK, but has an easy link summon, accepting any two monsters (even tokens) with different names. From there, when a monster is summoned to a zone Sheep points to, it can activate various effects based on the card types it points to; ritual draws and discards two cards, fusion revives a level 4 or lower from your graveyard, synchro raises your monsters' ATK by 700, and xyz lowers opposing monsters by 700.
These are all useful, but what's generally best is the fusion ability; reviving a monster lets you link it with Sheep for an easy link-3 (while keeping your fusion monster).
9. Daigusto Emeral
Formerly banned, Emeral is limited (one copy per deck) as of this writing. While a part of the Gusto archetype, he takes any two levels 4s as material. ATK isn't amazing at 1800, but Emeral can detach a material to either revive a non-effect monster from your graveyard or shuffle three monsters from your graveyard into your deck and draw a card.
You gain advantage either way, whether through field swarming or cards in hand, and since the effect only uses one material, you can do it again if Emeral survives until your next turn.
8. Ra'ten, the Heavenly General
Vastly underrated, Ra'ten barely costs a dime and takes any three monsters (even tokens) with the same type—you can gimmick this with cards like Scapegoat.
His first ability lets you target and destroy a card at the start of the battle phase—including your opponent's. So as long as you can protect Ra'ten, he'll continue to ransack their field. As a bonus, he can summon a monster from your hand to a zone he points during the standby phase, but it has to match the monster type of something Ra'ten already points to.
7. Masked HERO Dark Law
Instead of fusion summoning, you play Dark Law with a spell, either Mask Change (which works best in HERO decks) or Mask Change 2 (which requires a discard but lets other archetypes access Dark Law).
Either way, Dark Law offers an amazing combo ruiner, banishing any card sent to your opponent's graveyard. As if that weren't brutal enough, he also once per turn banishes a random card from your opponent's hand when they add a card to hand (outside their normal draw).
6. Knightmare Phoenix
Like Cross-Shee-, Phoenix takes any two monsters with different names. Its ATK is decent at 1900, and when link summoned, Phoenix lets you discard a card to destroy a spell/trap, then you draw a card if Phoenix was co-linked (it and another link are pointing to each other).
Phoenix also prevents your co-linked monsters from being destroyed in battle, a nice bonus on top of its backrow destrucion.
5. Clear Wing Synchro Dragon/Supreme King Dragon Clear Wing
Both of Clear Wing's forms are surprisingly inexpensive, and since they have different levels (7 and 8), including both makes sense to ensure you have a monster to synchro into.
Clear Wing Synchro focuses more on negation, once per turn able to negate and destroy a level 5 or higher monster effect and an effect that targets a level 5 or higher monster, and if a monster effect was negated, it gains that ATK for the turn.
Meanwhile, Supreme King Clear Wing handles preexisting threats, destroying all face-up opposing monsters when synchro summoned and automatically destroying what it battles once per turn, then inflicting damage to your opponent equal to that card's ATK.
4. Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon
Often the endgame of pendulum decks, Vortex can target and return an attack position monster to hand when special summoned—meaning this effect triggers when revived with cards like Monster Reborn, not just on fusion summon. Additionally, Vortex can negate and destroy an activating card or monster effect once per turn by shuffling a pendulum monster into your deck. Toss in 3000 DEF, and it's pretty hard to trample over Vortex, making it a pain to eliminate.
There's also tons of ways to summon Vortex, whether that's with the monster effect of Performapal Odd-Eyes Dissolver, the spell Odd-Eyes fusion (which can use materials from the extra deck), or the sent-to-GY ability of xyz monster Odd-Eyes Absolute Dragon.
I've personally used Vortex to great effect in my Pendulum Magician and Endymion builds, and it's available for well under two dollars!
3. Sky Striker Ace - Kagari
Sky Strikers are still a decent threat in the meta, able to quickly link summon with a single material while chaining spells for bonus effects. They enjoy several great link monsters, one of the best being Kagari, who gains 100 ATK per spell in your graveyard and recovers a Sky Striker spell when summoned.
Use this to get back their best spell, Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! (limited as of this writing), which you can immediately reuse since it's not once-per-turn.
2. Raider's Knight/Arc Rebellion XYZ Dragon
I'm amazed these cards are as cheap as they are considering how deadly their combo is. Here's how it works: first you summon Raider's Knight using two level 4 dark monsters, often from Raidraptor, Phantom Knight, and Pendulum Magician offerings.
Then, use Knight's effect to become material for Arc Rebellion (Arc can't be destroyed by card effect, nullifying the downside to Knight's ability that destroys at end of turn). From there, activate Arc's effect by detaching the material that isn't Knight to negate the effects of all other face-up monsters on the field and add their ATK to Arc! Pull this off, and unless your opponent has a spell/trap removal handy (and it has to be one that doesn't destroy), you'll likely swing for game with a 10,000+ ATK monster.
1. Virtual World Kyubi - Shenshen
A surprisingly affordable meta card, Shenshen accepts any tuner and non-tuner combination for its summon, they just need to add to level 9. Shenshen wields impressive 2800 ATK and banishes any card sent to the graveyard. Unlike Dark Law, this also affects your own graveyard, but if you play Shenshen at the end of your combo, you won't mind much, especially since it can return a banished card to your GY once per turn when your monster attacks.
Also, Shenshen can revive itself from GY (except the turn it was sent there) by banishing two monsters with different original types and attributes, rewarding you for diversifying your deck.
Budget Decks in Yu-Gi-Oh
You can still compete at and even win some local tournaments with the right budget decks. Often the cheapest competitively-viable decks are what was dominating the meta in past years, so look to themes like Sky Striker, Pendulum Magicians, and Dinosaurs, but for now, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next YGO countdown!
© 2022 Jeremy Gill