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These are the top 15 most powerful decks in Yu-Gi-Oh!'s history, ranked

I tried many Yu-Gi-Oh! Decks, but these were unstoppable!

We migrated to a new server and got high on life.

The game of Yu-Gi-Oh! is a dynamic one. It has had different metas, Decks, and cards that have shaped the game's history for twenty years. As such, many games have risen to greatness. Nearly any Deck can reach the top with patience and determination.

Yu-Gi-Oh: The best instant-win cards have been ranked

These Decks are the best that Yu-Gi-Oh! has ever seen! They've been ranked according to their height in their respective format, not by how they would fare today. From first-turn kills to totally locking your opponent out of the game, these Decks represent the best that this card game has to offer.

Updated December 6, 2021 by Johnny Garcia: It's easy to say that Yu-Gi-Oh! has seen a change in its metagame since the release of Burst Of Destiny. Destiny HERO – Destroy Phoenix Enforcer has been powerful since it came out, but it didn't take much away from our most common decks. And now there are new Archetypes like Swordsoul and Flashwind that have arrived and added to how diverse the metagame is. Not only with paper Yu-Gi-Oh! active, but now digital play is on the horizon with Master Duel still pending release. Master Duel will be one of the first official simulators dedicated purely to TCG gaming rather than anime-focused games.



qliphort towers and scout art

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With one of the few pendulum-based archetypes of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, Qliphort was a popular deck during its release due to how easily it could bring back everything that was destroyed with abysmal summoning.

Qliphorts were so far and away the best Deck at the time that, in today's game, a Monster that is unaffected by card effects is known as one. The fuel they had in terms of recursion was pivotal to their strength, and that made many people at the time grow to despise the Pendulum mechanic.

Apologize had been lackluster recently, with the limiting of Qliphort Scout and Saqlifice. All restrictions have since been removed. They are still a strong option in the rouge tier, nerfed only because of changes to Pendulum Summoning.


Sky Striker

sky fighter ace and engage

Key Cards: Sky Striker Ace - Raye, Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage!, Sky Striker Ace - Kagari

The Sky Striker Deck has been one of the most played decks since its release. One of the strongest aspects of the deck is that it's only a single Main Deck Monster with Sky Striker Ace - Raye. You can use this card to recycle other Link Monsters when you want to Link Summon again, which is incredibly helpful for smaller decks.

The Sky Striker Spell Cards have incredibly powerful effects, notably Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage which both searched for and drew a card, as well as Sky Striker Ace - Zeke and Sky Striker Ace - Roze who got new cards to come off the banlist. This has allowed players to increase their Deck's power even further.

Sky Striker isn't as popular as it once was, mainly due to the popularity of control decks. However, there is a good chance that Sky Striker will make a comeback as those control decks get phased out. With how hard it is for your opponents to interact with spells, it's due for a metagame comeback sooner or later.


The six Samurai

six samurai shi en and gateway of the six arts

Six Samurai - Shi En, Gateway Of The Six, Battle Shogun of the Six Samurai

Gateway of the Six was a very powerful card in its prime, being able to loop Six Samurai cards that could Special Summon themselves to get an infinite amount of counters. The Spell Card broke the Deck, leading to bans of those cards from tournaments.

Six Samurai is a very versatile Deck that can create just about any type of Board Game they want. Shi En and Great Shogun Shien were two popular cards that allowed Six Samurai to shut down their opponent's Spell and Trap card usage. Six Samurai could flood the Field, which made for devastating end boards.

Gateway Of The Six had seen significant use in the metagame, but the limited status of this card dealt it a lethal blow. Luckily for Six Samurai players, though, Battle Shogun of the Six Samurai allows you to search out Gateway from your deck. It hasn't reclaimed its former glory just yet, but it does have potential as one of the strongest Yu-Gi-Oh! decks in the meta with a new card.


Burning Abyss

Better suited for a deck of cards and a poker game, these cards have no place in the OCG. Unlocking these following abilities are next to impossible, so it’s best left alone to avoid upsetting the balance between decks.

Good Cards: Gust, Malebranche Of The Burning Abyss, Tour Guide From The Underworld, Beatrice, Lady Of The Eternal

Burning Abyss is a Duelist Alliance Deck with powerful Monsters that can Special Summon themselves. It had a lot of staying power through the metagame, thanks to its ability to dump cards into the Graveyard even if they were negated. Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss is a strong card that dumps Burning Abyss cards into the Graveyard as a cost.

All Duelists in the Burning Abyss Archetype have Graveyard effects that can be triggered on their opponent's turn. The releases of Beatrice, Lady Of The Eternal and the subsequent ban on many cards created an environment where the deck was too powerful. This led to different parts of it being banned for usage.

We all know that Burning Abyss has lost some of its things from its prime. Sorry to break it to you, but your deck won't be at full power for a while with Beatrice, the Lady of Eternal being limited. However, other Burning Abyss monsters, such as Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, have been unlimited recently.

*Note: The rewritten sentence was created to explain why Burning Abyss is "limited" and not in "maximized."



spellbook of judgement and the jowgen art

Key Cards: Spellbook of Judgement, Spellbook of Knowledge, and Spellbook of Secrets

Because of Spellbook Of Judgement, Spellbooks were the main Deck type in the past. This card offered multiple free cards to the Hand and is significant to keeping Dragon Rulers in the Tier Zero range.

The Deck relied heavily on Jowgen the Spiritualist to completely lock the opponent out of Special Summoning while also destroying their Special Summoned Monsters on the Field. Spellbooks were able to create a lot of resources themselves, which they were then able to use at their own discretion to destroy the opponent's Field.

The banning of Spellbook Of Judgement would kill the dedicated Deck, though a Spellbook engine still sees play today. Namely, a small engine featuring Magician of Prophecy and Crowley, the First Propheseer in order to thin out your deck and draw cards.



The Monarchs Stormforth, Pantheism Of The Monarchs, Eidos The Underworld Squire

"Monarchs" is an archetype of cards which are all about tribute summoning. Their powerful effects trigger when they are summoned, and Monarchs focus on powerful attacks. They first appeared in the 2007 World Championship.

Monarch Decks have long relied on the power of their cards that come back from the Graveyard. Cards like Treeborn Frog and Cyber Dragon would special summon themselves, then be able to be used for a tribute in order to summon Monarch cards. It was one of the first Archetypes in the entire series of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and it remains one of the most powerful Decks because it's viable to this day.

Monarchs were powerful in the beginning days of Yu-Gi-Oh! However, they can't keep up with the constant change and speed of the game. Despite some banned cards becoming fully restricted, their effects are still solid, but tribute summoning is not something a Deck can rely on anymore.



shaddolls artwork - split image

Key Cards: El Shaddoll Winda, Shaddoll Fusion, Shaddoll Hedgehog

One deck to rule them all? Shaddoll decks were at the forefront in 2014, and it was due to the powerful fusion cards included. Shaddoll Fusion can use materials from the Deck if the opponent has a monster go special summoned from their Extra Deck (which is common). Super Polymerization fuses any two monsters on either side of the field and there was no response card in the game at the time.

El Shaddoll Construct and El Shaddoll Winda are two incredibly powerful fusion monsters that can easily be summoned. Despite being released in 2012, Shaddoll Monsters are still a force to be reckoned with, with the recent inclusion of new support in the Shaddoll Showdown Structure Deck from Invoked.

Shaddoll cards have been making waves in the Yu-Gi-Oh! community, bouncing in and out of the Banned List for years. All of them are now Unlimited, which makes them a great option for those who like consistency and splashability. They can handle their own in the current meta, and will most likely become meta once again when they rotate out and into Legacy status.


Frog FTK

Key Cards include Substitoad, Mass Driver, and Ronintoadin.

Frog FTK was one of the most consistent FTKs in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! An FTK (first turn kill) is a Deck that defeats the opponent before they have a chance to play (hence the name). Substitoad and Ronintoadin made it incredibly easy to loop Frog cards to get them onto the field. Once there, Mass Driver was used with cards like Nitwit Outwit, then combined with cards like Crass Clown and Draining Shield, to do Burn damage on your opponent's Life Points until they were defeated.

Hand Traps were never introduced in the TCG. This led to the Frog FTK being near impossible to stop. Even today, with the banning of Substitoad and Mass Driver, Frogs are still seeing some play thanks to Paleozoic cards.

As Frogs make for uninteractive FTKs, they're remarkably powerful. The only reason either Substitoad or Mass Driver were banned was to keep the Frog FTK in check. This deck would still dominate the metagame even if these two cards were unbanned.


Nekroz is a powerful archetype for the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game that can make short work of any opponent.

nekroz artwork split

Nekroz of Brionac, Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz, and Nekroz Kaleidoscope are all part of the Key Card collection.

Nekroz is by far the most powerful Ritual Deck in all of Yu-Gi-Oh, having dominated early 2015. Unlike many Ritual cards before it, Nekroz has effects that you can activate when you discard it to search for other key pieces from the strategy. It's still an amazing card even if you were to summon it normally.

They also had a Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz card. If used for the entire material needed for a ritual summon, it would instead add a Warrior-Type Nekroz card to their hand. This card also makes use of Djinn Releaser of Rituals. When used for a ritual summon, this card prevents opponents from special summoning any monsters while Shurit is on the field.

Nekroz clung to a Tier 1 spot in the metagame until it became unusable. Now, every other Nekroz card has become unlimited and they are still a rouge deck. Keep in mind that they cannot create their special effects too quickly now, but they can shut down entire strategies with just one card.