Yu-Gi-Oh can certainly be a hard game to get into for newcomers or returning players. However, recent Structure Decks do help a great deal with this.
It’s often a common idea to buy three structure decks that you like and that’s that. This is fine and all but falls short in more competitive tournaments.
Duel Devastator is an answer too, so we’ll be excluding it for the sake of specific core cards for these Structure Decks. It is still a good idea to get them though! Hand Traps also fall into the same boat, save for a few.
Cheap will refer to cards that cost around or less than $10 for their cheapest print. The middle tier goes around from $11-20, and the expensive ones go higher than that.
Check out a list of SDs here!
If you want to up your game, here are upgrade paths to take in improving these decks! This article will focus on the less explored ones, so picks like Shaddoll, Dino, Salad, and Dragon link are out of the picture.
Table of Contents
Ice Barrier is often memed upon, but the Structure Deck actually made great tools for it such as Speaker and Revealer. Still, it could use some help. The deck lacks a bit of oomph and these additions should help a lot in the long run!
Routes: WATER Goodstuff Combo, Frog Ice Barrier (Midrange / Control), Crystrons
Swap Frog, Toadally Awesome, Fury of Kairyu-Shin (Torrential Tribute), Abyss Dweller, Bahamut Shark, Coral Anemone, Adamancipator Risen – Dragite, Synchro Tuner package (T.G. Wonder Magician, Desert Locusts, Shooting Riser Dragon)
Moderate: Borreload Savage Dragon, Sky Cavalry Centaurea (optional) Downerd Magician (optional), High-end Crystron Synchros and their tuners
Expensive: Crystron Halqifibrax (recommended), Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS -Sky Thunder (tin reprint soon)
Ice Barrier can either go with a control strategy or a combo one, but one thing is certain. It’s a great idea to get the Frog engine. Not only is the deck capable of making Toad easily (thanks to the likes of Prior and Medallion), the card gives a lot of benefit and backbone to the deck. Swap can dump certain IBs, Toad protects and recurs, and so on.
Fury of Kairyu-Shin is a nice card in most versions, as it helps protect from destruction effects, adds Torrential, and helps the deck deal with problems before they even hit the board. Should they stop your plays, you can fall back on it as a plan B.
Bahamut Shark slots in nicely in combo builds, as it lets you make better use of Speaker and gives a free Toad. Savage is a high-end Synchro monster for the deck, but cheaper cards like Dragite, Omega, Draco Berserker are fine as well.
Lastly, Crystron Halqifibrax allows crazy ceiling and accel Synchro plays on your opponent’s turn alongside free plusses. Focusing on the other Crystron monsters is also an option, as well as Atlantean Dragoons if you want something more explosive.
The Charmer Structure Deck is another victim of bashing. However, it still does have a good amount of staple reprints and is playable. You’ll definitely need a lot of help with this one, but it’s not too bad to make it work. The staples found in the product is a nice bonus too.
Routes: Trap Heavy Charmers, Synchro Charmers with Dusk/DawnWalker, Magistus Charmers with Halqifibrax, Dogmatika Charmers
Free Tuner summons like Tenyi Spirit – Adhara, Synchro Tuner package (T.G. Wonder Magician, Desert Locusts, Shooting Riser Dragon) plus Synchros of choice, Walker package (Ascator and Sunwalker, Supay and Duskwalker), Dogmatika Punishment and Trap Trick, Charmer Link monsters, Rasenryu, Zoroa, Crowley
Moderate: Artemis, the Magistus Moon Maiden, Rilliona, Selene, the Queen of the Master Magicians, Titaniklad the Ash Dragon (tin reprint soon)
Expensive: Crystron Halqifibrax, Nadir Servant, Dogmatika Ecclesia. Fleurdelis (tin reprint soon)
Upcoming: Blood Rose Dragon, Baroness de Fleur
The first route is pretty simple, using the likes of Partnerships and the cont spell with other traps to great effect. Fairy Tail – Luna shines the most here, as this version takes it slow and steady.
Ascator and Supay let you get Synchro plays at the cost of a discard. It also has a Synchro lock, but that doesn’t hurt that much. This is a small price to pay, as you can Link on later turns. Not only that, thanks to their attribute and type, they work well with Nefariouser.
Dogma Charmers are pricey, but also raise the power of the deck unlike any other. It’s a good idea to wait on this though, as the 2021 tins are near and will reprint the needed stuff.
Halq Charmers make use of the Magistus package or free tuners which speed up the deck by a long shot. The result is a board with many ways to stop their plays. Here’s a combo below!
Any 1 Spellcaster with 1500 DEF + Magistus Zoroa
NS Zoroa and use its effect to equip Artemis. Zoroa triggers, bringing out the spellcaster in your hand.
Search Crowley, and summon it by its effect. Change his attribute to EARTH and then bust out Nefariouser from the deck!
Nefariouser will revive Zoroa, then Link Summon Crystron Halqifibrax. Cl1 Halq, cl2 Nefariouser to add Partnerships, and Halq grabs Ghost Ogre too! Citree for Dawn Dragster is also an option.
From here it’s a matter of timing your plays and choosing the right Tuner + Synchro for the job! Halq can tag out into Wonder Magician for example to destroy S/T then make Shenshen. Locust into Blood Rose or Baroness is also a good idea once those come out.
Mechanized Madness is a good Structure out of the box, especially at three copies. However, it gets even better should you invest to build towards Machina Infinitrack Trains or Earth Machine Pile.
MIT is flexible, giving the player freedom on how they want to build it. It is rather complex compared to most decks out there, but once you have the core combos down it’s a solid pickup.
Routes: Dozer Control MIT, Train Focused MIT, TMC (all variants of Earth Machine Pile)
Cheap: Full Infinitrack Package (don’t play Mountain, Crab Crane, or Drag Shovel), Urgent Schedule, Dingirsu, Ancient Gear Box, Ancient Gear Ballista, Train Package (Super Express Bullet Train, Switchyard, Derri, Super Dora, Gustav Max, Pegasus)
Moderate: Machina Metalcruncher (tin reprint soon), Liebe
Expensive: AA-ZEUS (tin reprint soon)
Due to the nature of how complex MIT is, we won’t be able to cover all the key aspects of it. Resources from aerosol_tcg (the creator of the deck) are available though, so feel free to explore that.
Since MIT has many versions on how to make it, feel free to experiment on which direction you want to take.
In any case, one of the core traits of the deck is that it’s consistent with 1-2 card combos. Metalcruncher, Redeployment, Harvester, and Heavy Forward are all able to start you off strong. The deck also has an infinite loop thanks to Ancient Gear Box, Anger Knuckle and Bullet Train.
Redeployment is best to be saved, as getting to Overdrive is great to fall back on. This really matters should your plays get hand trapped. Both effects of Overdrive matter for the deck and timing them right is one way to get value off of it. Citadel is not only easy to get on the field, it can take out their monsters too.
Knuckle is able to special Bullet Train by discarding Box during either player’s turn, then in the End Phase, if it’s in the GY, you get to add Box which then adds another card. In the case you draw Box, there are ways around it such as pitching it with Knuckle and using River to put the link in the GY. Tunneler can then shuffle back Knuckle and Box!
Another thing to have in mind is keeping track of your Link-1s, as they are needed for Tunneler to recycle and get your machines in the GY in the first place. Certain combos will show many Goliaths you’ll be going into. This paired with your follow-up and GY effects means you’re able to push past vs most decks.
Order of the Spellcasters
Endymion is sort of an odd Deck in recent times, as the ban of Electrumite put it in a rough spot. With a slew of options paired with strong engine cards, Endy can hold its own well enough.
Other builds use engines such as Pendulum Magician or Zefra, but we’ll be focusing on Endymion for this article as that’s been the most solid way to play the deck. It’s also a straight path from the 3x Structures, so that’s a win-win!
Routes: Endymion, Zefra, Pen Mag, etc
Cheap: Time Package (Chronograph Sorcerer + Timegazer Magician), Spellbooks (Crowley + Knowledge), Magician’s (Restage, Right/Left Hand), Power 5 (Upstart Goblin, Into the Void, Instant Fusion, Called by the Grave, Reasoning), Allure of Darkness, Links (Cross-Sheep, Unicorn, Clara & Rushka, Apollousa), Rank 6s (Norito, Dragulas), Other Pends (Jackal King, Eccentrick, Garuda), Odd-Eyes Package (Absolute, Vortex)
Moderate: Selene, Queen of the Master Magicians, I:P Masq, Artemis Link, MER
Expensive: Magicians’ Souls (wait for LDS3), Accesscode Talker (tin reprint soon)
Upcoming: Solfachord Link 2, ME-PSY-YA
Endymion is a strat that builds around itself from the 3 Structure Decks, thanks to the native cards and reprints being top of the line.
Cards such as Desires, Allure, Knowledge, will let you dig deeper into your deck while handing out Spell Counters. Selene boosts the deck to absurd levels, allowing for board building unlike any other. It’s not rare to go through 2-3 Selene in one single turn. The Cross-Sheep play is a staple, letting you get a free beefy negate to boot with Vortex.
Mighty Master is the best board breaker going second for the deck, able to wipe out entire boards and then push through what’s left. It also helps that it’s a great way to fight against Spell / Trap cards. Jackal King handles the monster part, while Garuda, IP, or even Dragulas can stop Boarbow from ruining your day.
Fairy Tail – Luna is fine to search Reflection on a budget.
Crowley makes it so two spellcasters let you get to the Spellbooks! Chrono is an overall boost too, with free bodies and high scales.
Souls grants a huge boost to the deck but does have a high price tag. Right Hand and Left Hand have their moments, especially to beat cards like DRNM or Evenly.
Pendulum also doesn’t need its NS, so it can tech Denko, Lava Golem, or Sphere Mode. These all shine post siding going second.
ME-PSY-YA is a free body or a deadly scale that’s coming soon, while the Solfachord Link has its times to shine. It’s no Electrumite, but you take what you can get.
Zombie Horde is a little hard to find in stores, but if you get your hands on it, it’s a fine Structure deck. The base itself has some good cards but is clunky at times more often than not.
The upgrade paths will boost the quality of life as a whole. Let’s check it out!
Routes: Vampire ZW, Eldlich ZW
Cheap: Vampire Package (Dog, Bat, Scarlet Scourge, Fraulein, Voivode, Sucker, Sheridan, Domain, Counter Trap, etc) Jack-o-Bolan, Limited Power Spells (Monster Reborn, Foolish Burial, CBTG, Instant Fusion, Reasoning, One for One) IF targets (Theseus, TER), Super Poly, Rivalry of Warlords Links (Almiraj, Linkuriboh, Avendread Savior), Eldlich the Golden Lord (MAGO), Ghost Belle (zombie HT), Golden Lands, Eldlixirs (Black tin reprint soon), Dragonecro
Moderate: Chaos Ruler, Ash Blossom (zombie HT)
Expensive: Crystron Halqifibrax, Ghost Mourner (zombie HT, tin reprint soon), Black Awakening + Cursed Eldland (tin reprint soon)
The Vampire package helps shore up some of the Structure’s issues, such as extra starters and weakness to Spell / Trap cards. The Eldlich engine is also a great help in this regard.
Familiar and Retainer are fine starters or extenders that search more engine cards. The Counter Trap Domination is one of the big ones, while cards like Voivode with Sucker are also potent.
Vampire Sucker is the perfect Link monster for the deck, letting you get plusses like crazy and setting up your boss monsters nicely. Remember, you can tribute their monsters to bust out Voivode, Eld, or Baler! Avendread Savior has his merits going second as well.
Bolan is a strange extender, but he lets you play around your opponent’s stuff a lot easier and works for most versions of the deck.
Zombie World is still a dangerous floodgate for a good bunch of decks, stopping their plays thanks to the Type change. Even the very best decks of the current format like Dragon Link or Dinosaur would hate to see it.
Eldlich can be a variant, as both itself and the Eldlixirs can support Zombies as a whole, as long as you can work around them. A 3800/3000 Balerdroch with protection is not to be taken lightly.
Zombie hand traps such as Ash, Belle, or even Mourner can also be used as they allow Baler to banish a monster in the opponent’s field or GY even if ZW gets outed which tends to happen.
Lastly, the deck is able to run a slew of power cards such as Super Poly or Rivalry from time to time.
Lair of Darkness
Possibly one of the coolest decks of all time, Lair is last on our list but certainly not the least. 3x Structure is a fine start but leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, it is quite cheap to upgrade Lair and make it playable, just needs proper piloting to get the best use out of it.
Routes: Trap Heavy Lair of Darkness, Lair Infernoid, Ties of the Brethren Lair, Spheres Lair
Cheap: Tribute cards (Beat Cop, Ballista Squad, Dark Spirit Art – Greed), Utility Traps (Gozen Match, Trap Trick, Storm Duster, Back to the Front, Dogmatika Punishment, Solemn Strike and Judgment), Pot of Duality, Ties of the Brethren, Fiend Package (Scarm, Fiend Griefing, Dark Sacrifice, Back Jack), Infernoid Package, One card Spheres (Heavenly Spheres, Black Metal, Parlor, Striker), Field Spell Package (Planet Pathfinder, Demise of the Land)
Moderate: Crystron Halqifibrax, Infernoid Tierra, Infernoid Decatron, Void Vanishment and Imagination
Expensive: Pot of Extravagance, Accesscode Talker (tin reprint soon)
Lair of Darkness is a nifty control deck that aims to make full use of its Field Spell.
The deck is able to clear problem monsters with ease and take the pace of the game from there. Ahrima, Demise, Pathfinder, Terraforming, Metaverse can all get you to it.
Lilith is your main playmaker, abusing Lair and getting you free powerful traps. Diabolos is a boss that pops up every now and again. Fiend Griefing is a great card for the deck, as it lets you get to her more often. The same can be said for the Ties engine, with Sangan and friends.
In the event you don’t have a way to Lilith, Tribute Traps are also a nice backup. Ballista Squad and Dark Spirit Art Greed are good for this. Beat Cop is a stellar Link 2 that tributes stuff in a pinch while protecting Lair.
Lair Infernoid is tried and tested, being quite a powerful deck but does suffer from inconsistency. Still, it’s a good upgrade path if you want to get spicy.
Spheres Lair is a fancy take on the deck, aiming to use the Link 2 as your main tribute engine. Do ask your head judge about this before you continue though.
Lastly, the Field Spell changing everything to DARK has niche uses with the likes of SIM, Super Poly and Gozen Match. It can also hinder the opponent based on their deck at times.
So marks the end of our Structure Deck upgrade article! We aren’t able to cover all of them, but the others could be looked at in the future! I hope you enjoyed this read. Let us know what was your favorite Structure Deck out of the bunch here. I’ve really grown to like Endy again, but Lair is cool too. Maybe in part 2, we’ll also revisit stuff like Monarch or Sacred Beasts.