Today, we're going to look at 15 of best Duel Monsters cards out there. We've included some notorious cards on principal. We've added others due to their real-life tournament win rates and popularity. Finally, we've added a handful of cards that even a die-hard duelist won't expect. So without further ado, it's time to d-d-d-d decide which 15 Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are the most powerful!
Updated by Caleb Bailey on March 4th, 2020: Before we reveal our d-d-d-d decisions, we wanted to put the spotlight on several upcoming Yu-Gi-Oh! events. Multiple release dates for Yu-Gi-Oh card packs were released in January of this year, as well as the start date for the Lost Art Promotion 2020 in North and Latin America. Numerous major card packs were given release dates in February of this year as well - such as the re-release of Jaden Yuki's Duelist Pack and Korea's LINK VRAINS pack 3. Suffice it to say that 2020 is going to be a bust year for Yu-Gi-Oh! The way we see it, that just means that we'll probably have even more OP cards to analyze by the end of this year.
At first glance, you might not think much of Jinzo; he's got relatively unimpressive stats, and he looks like a bargain bin version of Pinhead from the Hellraiser franchise. In reality, Jinzo was once such a powerful card that nearly every Duelist ran him in their decks. You see, Jinzo possessed the insanely OP ability to negate almost every Trap card in the game! Unless your opponent possessed one of Jinzo's few counters, they'd effectively be powerless to stop him and his persistent, board-dominating effect. Jinzo is proof that you should never judge a book - or a Yu-Gi-Oh! card - by its cover.
Stratos is yet another OP Monster who's might isn't apparent just from looking at him; he's got 1800 Attack, 300 Defense, and 2 big ol' CD player wing things glued to his back. In the wrong hands, Stratos will do very little to change the course of any given Duel. In the right hands, however, Stratos possesses an ungodly amount of utility; he can specifically search for any other HERO Monster in your deck, or he can destroy your opponents' Trap and Spell type cards. Stratos was such a powerful card that he was banned from competitive play in 2013.
Whether or not you win or lose in a card game, you probably won't have a sever case of sour grapes if you felt like you had a fair shot at winning; you managed to play all of your cards and implement your strategies, but your opponent simply outplayed in the end. Fair enough - you can hold your head up high and genuinely tell your opponent "good game." What feels bad when you're playing a CCG is not having a fighting chance at all. For 1000 Life Points, Confiscation can rob your opponent of a fair game by forcing them to discard a card of your choice. Confiscation was such an un-fun card to play against, that it was banned from the competitive scene.
Unlike a lot of the other cards in this article, Cyber Dragon Infinity looks and sounds as overpowered as it is. This stinkin' thing looks like a hidden Super Boss from a Final Fantasy game, or the most powerful form of an anime villain. It also has the word "infinity" in its name, as in "I've got an infinite number of ways to beat the brakes off your deck." While that might be an exaggeration, Cyber Dragon Infinity is one of the strongest Duel Monsters to ever enter play. Infinity gobbles up other monsters, then adds their stats to its own - making a mathematical monstrosity that most players simply don't have the answer to.
11. Dark Strike Fighter
OTK means One Turn Kill in the CCG world. It doesn't necessarily mean that you'll defeat your opponent on the first turn per se. However, the ultimate goal of all OTK decks is to achieve your win condition on one turn. Typically, OTK decks are extremely risky and require tons of skill to effectively play. That isn't the case with Dark Strike Fighter. This bulky douche-bag commits two major offenses; it assaults the senses with its poop-brown color scheme, then it wrecks players' faces by dealing damage equal to the level of a Monster that you'll have to sacrifice. Times 200! With the proper set up, Dark Strike Fighter could OTK players very early on in a match.
10. Dark Hole
A wise man once said "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." In the realm of CCGs, this age old adage often rings true; most of the other cards in this article either require tons of effort to properly use, or necessitate immense amounts of technical skill from the Duelist who plays them - or both, in the cases of some extremely OP cards. However, the opposite is precisely what makes Dark Hole such a terrifying Spell card; you don't need to be the greatest Duelist to ever play the game, nor do you need set this card up. You simply play Dark Hole, and do exactly what its flavor text says - you "destroy all monsters on the field" in one fell swoop.
SJ is one of the Yu-Gi-Oh cards that got banned due to overuse. The funny thing is that this card didn't see much play early on. Solemn Judgement allows you to negate an opponent's monster summoning or spell activation attempts once. The catch is that you have to pay half your Life Points to make SJ work!
Most players initially wrote Solemn Judgement off - why bring yourself closer to defeat just to stop one play? But a few players realized SJ's potential and kept using it. Before long, Solemn Judgement users could shut down mass summoning plays and OTK's with just one card.
This Yu-Gi-Oh card might look silly but it has strong negation properties. Toadally Awesome has the unique ability to detach Xyz Material during the Standby Phase. With a bit of know-how, a duelist can then set up their opponents later in the match. The next time your foe tries to activate a Spell or Trap card, you can negate it!
TA is more balanced than most of the other cards on this list. As strong as its negation powers are, they only work once per turn. Toadally Awesome is also very easy to target and take out of the game - at least in comparison to other monsters in this article.
This Yu-Gi-Oh card proves that big things can come in small packages. On her own, the Wightprincess isn't too strong. However, she can reduce the attack power of all enemies monsters to zero once combined with the right cards. To be more specific, Wightprincess becomes an absolute terror when she teams up with Skull Servant and King of the Skull Servants.
By triggering her effects, a player can shut even the machine cards and declaw the deadliest dragons! Most Wightprincess/ King of the Skull Servants decks tend to have very high win rates across the board. The caveat is that it takes a lot of skill to use them.
This beast of a Dragon-Type card is a gift that keeps on giving. Not only does it look like something that flew off the cover of a Judas Priest album, but Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon is also crazy strong! If you banish one of your face-up Dragon cards, you can summon Red-Eyes once per turn.
In turn, Red-Eyes can special summon another dragon from the graveyard. The catch is that you can only have one Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon in your deck. And no, Red-Eyes can't summon itself from the Graveyard. An experienced duelist can play multiple cards with this metal menace! An inexperienced player will at least have a cool card to lose with.
Egyptian God cards are some of the most powerful in Yu-Gi-Oh by default. The Duel Monsters manga and anime went to great lengths to display how powerful these beings are! The Winged Dragon of Ra is a tough customer. For years, he's graced the tournament scene with his divine presence. His aid also doesn't come cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
To summon Ra, you have to sacrifice 3 tributes. Once Ra enters the arena, other cards and effects can't activate for a time. As a test of one's devotion, Ra demands that a duelist use their Life points to fuel his power. If you transfer a 1000 LP to Ra, he'll instantly destroy an enemy monster!
This Yu-Gi-Oh is as overpowered as its name is overly long! It's like someone at Konami was angry one day and decided to make a card that immediately kills the fun of any duel when played. If you're dueling against a friend and they whip out this card, you might find yourself reevaluating that relationship.
Super Quantal Mech King Great Magnus takes a lot of effort to put in play - a player has to sacrifice six or more materials before their opponent can beat them. Should they succeed, said duelist will gain a Rank 12 Infinite machine that prevents enemies from adding cards to their hands! As an added bonus, it looks like a mech from Power Rangers.
At the beginning of this article, we briefly brought up the term OTK. For those who don't know, it's an acronym that stands for 'One Turn Kill.' Entire decks exist for the sole purpose of reaching their win conditions as soon as possible. Others drag matches out and aim to stall for as long as possible.
Exodia, the Forbidden One is the king of OTK's in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe. He isn't one card - rather, he's split up into five separate pieces. If a duelist can assemble all five parts before their opponent can beat them, Exodia will instantly end the game! Exodia is to Yu-Gi-Oh what Thanos was to the MCU.
Apoqliphort Towers is another Yu-Gi-Oh card that comes straight off the ban list! AT can't be special summoned and demands the blood of three Qliphort monsters. If a duelist manages to pay that high cost, however, they'll earn a wrecking ball of a machine!
Immunity is what makes Apoqliphort Towers so overpowered; it can resist the effects of most Spell and Trap cards with ease. It's also immune to effects of any monsters with a lower level than itself. AT is a Level 10 card. For added context, most monsters cap out at level 12! Link Monsters eventually helped even things out.
1. Last Turn
You're near the end of a heated duel with a very skilled opponent. Via a series of top tier plays, they've drained your life points below the 1000 point threshold. Things aren't looking good for you at all; most of your best monsters are chilling in the Graveyard, and you're all out of Spell and Trap cards. Without a doubt, your opponent's next turn will be your last.
Then you draw this insanely powerful card - Last Turn. You choose one of your few remaining monsters, banish all others to the Graveyard, and allow your foe to special summon a monster as well. And if you chose a monster that prevents special summons, then you instantly win the game!