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Top 10 Competitive Archetypes in "Yu-Gi-Oh: Master Duel"

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

Traptrix Sera

Traptrix Sera

Top Decks in Master Duel

Master Duel has swiftly reinvigorated dueling, bringing the convenience and speed of online gaming to players across numerous platforms. New and veteran players alike can find suitable matches, and competitive duelists can test their skills in ranked duels.

You might expect the meta decks in the TCG to be the same in Master Duel, and while there similarities, several factors alter the ranked scene. For instance, pricing isn't an issue; real-life expensive cards in real life can be easily crafted. Plus, each game is a single round; no best-of-3 means no sideboard, and the unique ban list differs from the TCG (and OCG). We'll note how these changes affect specific archetypes as we proceed; here are the ten best decks in Yu-Gi-Oh: Master Duel!

Ultimate Conductor Tyranno

Ultimate Conductor Tyranno

10. Dinosaurs

Key Cards: Babycerasaurus, Fossil Dig, Ultimate Conductor Tyranno

This isn't a single archetype, but a group of the best dinosaur-type monsters in the game. Their goal is to swarm the field by exploiting the dino-summoning effects activated when dinos are destroyed, quickly filling the field with materials for big extra deck monsters like Borreload Savage Dragon or Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess. They also have an excellent main-deck ace in Tyranno, who can attack multiple monsters and shift opposing monsters to face-down (temporarily blocking their effects).

Dinos are incredibly consistent thanks to their myriad searching, from Fossil Dig to Pot of Prosperity. While many meta decks like to go first, this one's also fine going second, where it can often use the bonus draw and immediate attacking for a one-turn kill.

Double Iris Magician

Double Iris Magician

9. Pendulum Magicians

Ace Cards: Double Iris Magician, Harmonizing Magician, Time Pendulumgraph

An underrated theme, pendulum Magicians have loads of tricks up their sleeves, and since they share synergy with Odd-Eyes, Performapal, and Mythical Beast groups, you can customize them in numerous ways. But usually, you're swarming levels 4 Magicians, many of which have destruction abilities you can manually trigger with Time Pendulumgraph, an amazing trap that can continuously destroy cards, and if it fails to hit one on each field, it can send (without targeting!) a card to GY.

One of the best things about the Magicians in Master Duel is how the ban list is much kinder to them, giving access to TCG-banned aces like Heavymetalfoes Electrumite and Supreme King Starving Venom.

Adamancipator Risen - Dragite

Adamancipator Risen - Dragite

8. Adamancipator

Key Cards: Adamancipator Analyzer, Adamancipator Risen - Dragite, Adamancipator Risen - Raptite

The rock-type was long one of YGO's weakest, then this squad came about. Adamancipators quickly swarm the field and are able to tinker their deck's top cards, which helps rigs their effects. They soon synchro summon into powerful creatures that disrupt enemy plays; Dragite negates spells/traps and returns opposing cards to hand while Raptite banishes opposing graveyards.

They're also one of few themes to enjoy synergy with popular hand trap Nibiru the Primal Being thanks to his rock type.

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True Draco Apocalypse

True Draco Apocalypse

7. True Draco

Ace Cards: True Draco Heritage, True Draco Apocalypse, Imperial Order

True Dracos catch opponents by surprise in thanks to the altered ban list. While the deck isn't as explosive as many others, utilizing tribute summoning as much as special, it quickly fields monsters and plays continuous cards that can trigger on both players' turns with various effects.

Because the deck isn't as combo-creating as some, it's less vulnerable to hand traps like Nibiru and Maxx C (banned in TCG but unrestricted in Master Duel). Plus, it doesn't utilize many spells, leaving room for the devastating trap Imperial Order (another card banned in the TCG but limited in MD).; if you play first, you can activate this on your opponent's turn to negate all their spells, absolutely ruining a good number of meta decks.

Basically, True Dracos are a slower but steady anti-meta theme with an amazing net if they can find Order fast enough.

Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage!

Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage!

6. Sky Striker

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

Sky Striker monsters aren't super strong on their own, but they're easy to summon, perform ridiculous amounts of link summoning, and have great spells that reward you with bonus effects just by having enough spells in the graveyard. Many are quick-plays, giving ways to disrupt enemy turns, and several are free of "once-per-turn" restrictions.

They slowly trade for enemy plays with answers, except your cards reward you with bonuses, letting you steadily take the lead. Plus, the best spell, Mobilize Engage, is only semi-limited (two copies) as opposed to limited (one) in the TCG, giving better access to its powerful search-draw effect.

Virtual World Kyubi - Shenshen

Virtual World Kyubi - Shenshen

5. Virtual World

Key Cards: Virtual World Kyubi - Shenshen, Virtual World City - Kauwloon, Virtual World Mai-Hime - Lulu

Virtual World cards utilize numerous strategies to adapt to the situation at hand, wielding useful monsters, spells, and traps to quickly build advantage while swarming fierce synchro and xyz monsters.

While they're certainly an excellent group on their own, note that many of their extra deck cards don't require Virtual World materials, making them splashable in other themes—Shenshen is one of the most feared meta threats thanks to its GY-banishing.

Tri-Brigade Shuraig the Ominous Omen

Tri-Brigade Shuraig the Ominous Omen

4. Tri-Brigade

Ace Cards: Tri-Brigade Shuraig the Ominous Omen, Tri-Brigade Kitt, Tri-Brigade Revolt

Tri-Brigades are less about negation than other meta decks and more about explosive link summoning. Their main deck monsters banish materials from graveyard to easily link summon Ominous Omen, who can continuously banish opposing cards.

The theme also has one the best traps in the game, Tri-Brigade Revolt, which revives beasts, winged beasts, or beast-warriors from your GY or banished zone and uses them as link material for a Tri-Brigade! Not only does this easily refield Omen, it returns banished cards to GY to reuse their effects. Plus, since the theme barely uses spells, it's another great archetype for the spell-lock of Imperial Order.

Eldlich the Golden Lord

Eldlich the Golden Lord

3. Eldlich

Key Cards: Eldlich the Golden Lord, Cursed Eldland, Imperial Order

A slower control theme, Eldlich focuses on summoning and protecting its key card, who can easily boost himself to 3500 ATK and protect himself from effect destruction. He's supported by an amazing backrow of spells and traps, many of which also have graveyard effects, letting you retain advantage.

Thanks to a higher trap percentage than most themes, Imperial Order is yet again a great choice, but you can also try other lockdown traps, like monster-limiting Rivalry of Warlords or Anti-Spell Fragrance.

Invocation

Invocation

2. Invoked Shaddoll

Ace Cards: Aleister the Invoker, Invocation, El Shaddoll Winda

This theme quickly finds its excellent fusion spell, Invocation, by normal summoning Aleister, who himself can be searched with field spell Magical Meltdown. From there, use Invocation to summon Invoked Mechaba to negate enemy places, and remember that Invocation can return itself to hand from the graveyard.

Meanwhile, you fusion summon Shaddolls (who trigger effects when sent to GY, including as fusion material) using either Shaddoll Fusion or Shaddoll Schism. Not only will you reap your Shaddoll abilities, you'll play tricky El Shaddoll fusion monsters. These aces ruin opposing turns, especially Winda, who restricts players to one special summon per turn. Magical Meltdown also prevents your fusion summons from being negated, which shields you from decks like…

Herald of Ultimateness

Herald of Ultimateness

1. Drytron

Ace Cards: Cyber Angel Benten, Meteonis Drytron, Herald of Ultimateness

It finally happened: ritual summons are not only relevant, but the top of the meta. Drytrons are a great theme in the TCG too, using a unique ATK-based form of ritual summoning, but what makes them truly amazing in Master Duel is the altered ban list. You see, their preferred ritual material, Cyber Angel Benten (who searches a light fairy when tributed), is unrestricted instead of limited.

More than that, fairy-searching Eva is unrestricted instead of banned. So, through a series of ridiculous summons, including a ritual spell that can easily recover itself, your opponent will swarm Drytrons, tribute Benten to find fairies and ritual summon Herald of Ultimateness, and eventually xyz summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal. Her quick effect will send a card from deck to GY; that's Eva, who will then search two fairies. From there, you've got a massive field plus fairies in hand to use as fodder for Ultimateness's effect, which tosses them to negate and destroy opposing plays, including summons. And since it's not once per turn, it works as long as you have fairies in hand.

Master Duel Tier List

This list will undoubtedly change as new cards release and the ban list evolves, but here's a tentative ranking of the game's most consistently-successful decks:

  • S-tier: Drytron, Eldlich, Tri-Brigade
  • A-tier: Sky Strikers, Virtual World, Invoked Shaddoll
  • B-tier: Traptrix, True Draco, Dragonmaid, Pendulum Magicians, Adamancipator

Even some older themes are doing surprisingly well in the meta, like Heroes and Madolche, but for now, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next YGO countdown!

© 2022 Jeremy Gill

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