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Subject: My approach on building a decent Yu Gi Oh deck on a budget! rss

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Andreas Propst
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Well before I get started I think I owe y’all an explanation: Yes I am the guy who ripped the whole Yu Gi Oh TCG apart recklessly in a furious rant-rather-than-a-review. But in a supreme twist of irony I have come to the decision to give the game a fair chance while keeping my eyes shout so as not to be offended by cheesy artwork and childish card names. Before you ask: Yes I might as well change my rating of the game as I get it played more often. ‘Nough said, let’s get it over with:

So you wanna give the Yu Gi Oh TCG a go and build a decent deck while being reluctant of spending 100s or even 1000s of dollars on it? Well here is the strategy I suggest. It will most likely not produce decks that will win you any tournaments in competitive play, but will give you and your buddies some fun to play decks filled with some quality cards.

One day, while studying card lists of Starter and Structure Decks (Look here if you are interested in the contents of the various Starter and Structure Decks: ) I noticed that these contained some very high quality, highly playable cards - many of them being considered staples even in competitive tournament decks. Some of these cards that are included non-randomly in these Starter and Structure Decks are not even that easy to come by when you are trying to find them in (quite overpriced) booster packs, often being "rare" or beyond. Sure, the versions of these cards you find in booster packs have these fancy, shiny holo pictures and gold lettering, but for the sake of staying budget, you can play the non-holo versions as well.

So what I did after realizing this is I bought four Structure Decks (prices among Structure Decks seem to vary somewhat, but Amazon has them for an average of 10 USD, so not all too much), already owning the Kaiba and Yugi Evolution Starter Decks (which are out of print right now which is a shame - you might still find some of them on ebay). So in the end I had two Starter Decks (Yugi and Kaiba Evolution), as well as the Warrior’s Strike, the Warrior’s Triump, the Dark Emperor and the Spellcaster’s Judement Decks, which did cost me about 50 bucks. Now you might say that 50 dollars is not a trifle, but if you want to really give the game a serious try while having a decent card pool to build decks from and considering the fact that buying all the cards that come with these decks by default would cost you maybe at least tenfold the money, it is actually quite a bargain for a quality gaming experience. If that is too much for your wallet, I’d suggest you stop reading right here and buy just one of the Structure Decks. Probably the best one out of the lot is Warrior’s Triumph. The Structure Decks are fun to play and quite powerful each as they are, but if you want to add a bit of depth to your gaming experience and build more independent decks of your own devising, bear with me!

So, the next thing I did was I went through the Starter and Structure Decks I bought card by card, setting aside the cards which I regarded as "staples" or "semi-staples", meaning that they are useful, powerful and thus highly playable in any given deck.

Here’s the list of what I got when I was finished after going through all the decks:


1 x Breaker, Magical Warrior: as far as I know considered one of the best and most versatile non-tribute monsters in the game
3 x D. D. Warrior Lady: Exellent Monster Removal
3 x Exiled Force: the same
1 x Man-Eater Bug: the same
1 x Gemini Elves: 1900 ATK non-tribute Monster
1 x Goblin Attack Force : one of the highest ATKs in non-tribute Monsters
2 x Skilled Dark Magician: 1900 ATK for a non-tribute Monster, Can special summon Dark Magician
2 x Magician of Faith: Lets you return one Spell from your Graveyard to your hand
1 x Sangan: Puts any 1500 ATK or less Monster from your deck in your hand
1 x Giant Rat: Lets you summon any 1500 ATK or less Earth type Monster from your deck to the field
1 x Mystic Tomato: Lets you summon any 1500 ATK or less Dark type Monster from your deck to the field
1 x Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer: Fairly high stats plus very useful effect
1 x Card Trooper: Nice effect which combos well with “Reanimation” type effects and replaces itself by letting you draw 1 card when it dies
1 x Summoned Skull: Very high stats for only 1 tribute
1 x Caius the Shadow Monarch: Only one tribute, high stats plus he removes any card in the game from play when played
2 x Dark Magician: High Stats
1 x Blue Eyes White Dragon: Highest stats normal monster


2 x Pot of Greed: simply the best card draw in the game
2 x Monster Reborn: Reanimate a Monster in ANY graveyard
2 x Premature Burial: Reanimate one of your Monsters
2 x Change of Heart: You control target Monster for one turn
1 x Brain Control: The same with a small drawback...
2 x Snatch Steal: Take over control of a Monster permanently
2 x Card Destruction: Draws you a new hand and lets you dump powerful Monsters in your graveyard for you to reanimate them
3 x Nobleman of Crossout: Excellent face-down Monster removal
1 x Dark Hole: Destroys all Monsters on the field
3 x Lightning Vortex: Destroys all face up enemy Monsters
2 x Swords of Revealing Light: Stalls enemy attacks for 3 turns
Lots of Heavy Storms: Destroys all Trap and Spell cards on the field
Lots of Mystical Space Typhoons: very useful Trap and Spell removal


2 x Trap Hole: Destroys any Monster summoned with 1500 ATK or more
2 x Call of the Haunted: powerful reanimation effect
1 x Birthright: Lets you resurrect one normal Monster
2 x Magical Cylinder: Reverses any one attack
1 x Bottomless Traphole: Removes from play summoned Monster(s)
3 x Sakuretsu Armor: Destroys any attacking Monster
1 x Torrential Tribute: Destroys all Monsters on the field
1 x Raigeki Break: Discard one card to destroy any one card on the field.
1 x Ultimate Offering: Lets you summon one additional Monster per turn at the price of 500 measly Life Points

Ok, so you see there are quite a lot of cards in these 6 preconstructed decks that are quite powerful and highly playable in any deck. Now you and a friend of yours could just build decks out of those cards, but that would obviously be quite lame and boring. So onwards to the next step in my little how-to-build-a-fun-budget-deck lesson.

The next thing I would suggest to do is to add some common theme/goal/strategy and your personal touch to the deck. Now as we started out with two generally themed Starter Decks as well as two Warrior-themed decks, one Spell and Spellcaster themed deck and one deck that is all about removing stuff from play, our choice of theme is a bit limited. So what you do is you think about a common theme and/or strategy/goal for your deck and then pick and choose cards which you think suit your theme and/or support your strategy from the remaining ones in your Starter and Structure decks. So in the end you should have a deck consisting of a healthy mix of staple cards, which are the backbone of any good deck, as well as some cards that support your general theme and strategy and add a personal touch to your deck. In case you wondered, the ratio of Monsters and Spells/Traps should be about 1:1, so in other words, about 20 Monsters plus 20 Spells and Traps. I strongly advise you on using one Pot of Greed, one Monster Reborn and one Change of Heart in ANY deck.

In the next and final part of my little article I want to show you some examples on how such a custom deck built out of a pool of two Starter and four Structure Decks could look like.
The first example is a deck revolving around Warrior type Monsters and cards which support them - a choice which comes quite naturally regarding the fact that two of the six decks are Warrior decks. I will break down the decks into Monsters, Spells and Traps as well as "Staples" and "Theme/Strategy" cards.

So here comes my budget Warrior Deck:

Monsters (20):


3 x Marauding Captain
1 x Dark Blade
2 x Future Samurai
1 x Command Knight
1 x Lady Warrior of the Wasteland
1 x Freed the Matchless General
1 x Evocator Chevalier
1 x Field Commander Rahz
1 x Swift Gaia, the Fierce Knight
1 x Gilford the Legend


1 x Breaker, Magical Warrior
1 x Goblin Attack Force
2 x Exiled Force
2 x D. D. Warrior Lady
1 x Giant Rat

Spells (16):

3 x Reinforcement of the Army
3 x The Hero Returning Alive
3 x Axe of Despair


1 x Pot of Greed
1 x Change of Heart
1 x Snatch Steal
1 x Brain Control
1 x Lightning Vortex
1 x Swords of Revealing Light
1 x Nobleman of Crossout

Traps (4):


1 x Trap Hole
1 x Bottomless Trap Hole
1 x Sakuretsu Armor
1 x Ultimate Offering

The goal of this deck is to swarm and control the field with lots of powerful and versatile non-tribute Warrior type Monsters. Key Monsters are Marauding Captain, Freed the Matchless General and Command Knight. Captain protects all other Warriors from attacks (this means if you got two Captains, none of your Warriors can be attacked any more) and puts another level 4 or lower Warrior from you hand into play, thus greatly supporting your rush strategy. Freed lets you search your deck for any Warrior instead of drawing during your Draw Phase and the Knight boosts the ATK of all your Warriors. Probably THE key card in the deck is Reinforcement of the Army. Together with Freed and Giant Rat, this elegant card lets you search your deck for any 1500 or lower ATK Warrior and puts him in your hand. Through this you have a very versatile "toolbox" consisting of different one-of Warriors in your deck. One Trap in particular is very useful for overrunning your opponent: Ultimate Offering. It gives you one additional normal summon or set per turn at the price of 500 of your Life Points.

The second deck I want to show you embraces a more general approach in deck building and strategy. It revolves heavily around Dark Monsters and bringing back "Fatties" from the Graveyard. In this list I won’t divide in "Strategy/Theme" and "Staple" cards, as in this case they are as good as identical...

My Dark Reanimator Budget Deck:

Monsters (20):

1 x Breaker, Magical Warrior
1 x D. D. Warrior Lady
1 x Exiled Force
1 x Man Eater Bug
1 x Sangan
1 x Card Trooper
1 x Gemini Elves
1 x Goblin Attack Force
2 x Skilled Dark Magician
1 x Kycoo, the Ghost Destroyer
1 x Kaiser Sea Horse
2 x Magician of Faith
2 x Summoned Skull
1 x Caius, the Shadow Monarch
2 x Dark Magician
1 x Blue Eyes White Dragon

Spells (12):

1 x Pot of Greed
1 x Change of Heart
1 x Snatch Steal
1 x Monster Reborn
1 x Premature Burial
1 x Card Destruction
1 x Lightning Vortex
1 x Dark Hole
1 x Nobleman of Crossout
1 x Mystical Space Typhoon
1 x Mystical Plasma Zone
1 x Swords of Revealing Light

Traps (8):

3 x Sakuretsu Armor
1 x Bottomless Trap Hole
1 x Raigeki Break
1 x Birthright
1 x Call of the Haunted
1 x Ultimate Offering

This deck is pretty straightforward and brutal. Plan A is to dump some fatties like the Dragon, Summoned Skull or (Dark) Magician into the graveyard via Card Destruction, Card Trooper, Lightning Vortex or Raigeki Break and then special summoning them without paying any tributes through Monster Reborn, Premature Burial, Birthright or Call of the Haunted for some major pawnage. Plan B is even more straightforward: Swarm and dominate the field with a horde of non-tribute beatsticks optionally powered out by Ultimate Offering and powered up by Mystical Plasma Zone, which gives all Dark Monsters plus 500 ATK. Supported by lots of removal in the form of Sakuretsu Armor, Trap Hole, Raigeki Break, Lightning Vortex etc and sporting some high quality Monsters like Breaker, Magical Warrior, D. D. Warrior Lady and Caius, the Shadow Monarch this deck should stand a fighting chance in any casual playing environment. Plus it can pull off some nasty tricks like special summoning Dark Magician through Skilled Dark Magician, summoning Ol’ Blue Eyes with just one tribute in the form of Kaiser Sea Horse or simply recycling some of your best Spells like Pot, Monster Reborn or Change of Heart with Magician of Faith. This is BTW the deck I am currently playing and I must say I really enjoy it: It is powerful, versatile and can handle about any situation you might come across in casual play. I only added two or three cards that cannot be found in Starter and Structure Decks (like the potent card draw Graceful Charity) and I must say I can only recommend a similar build...

Oh well, I think that was about it. I hope it was at least a bit educational and you got some enbjoyment out of it. I think I was able to prove my point: You can find some quality cards for your money in Starter and Structure Decks only and can build some fun and quality custom decks out of them!

I would be more than happy if you posted a comment (or two) if you agree or disagree with me or just have some questions, suggestions and ideas. Maybe I forgot to mention some quality cards - please correct me. Would also be cool if you would share your experiences in building Yu Gi Oh decks on a budget! Any posts are more than welcome.

So thanks for reading!

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