A sovereign head of state, especially a king, queen, or emperor. That is the definition you get if you look up Monarch. Yu-Gi-Oh is familiar with their own Monarchs, and that definition holds true for them. Monarchs are a group of monsters that debuted at the tail-end of Duel Monsters and beginning of GX. Since then, they have given us some of the most powerful tribute monsters in the game. In this series, I will go over the history of Monarchs to see their impact on the competitive Yu-Gi-Oh scene. We’ll analyze each Monarch separately and look at some Decks known for their focus on these powerful cards.
Table of Contents
- Meet the Monarchs
- The Mega Monarchs
Monarchs are all single tribute monsters with effects on Tribute Summon. They are all 2400 ATK and 1000 DEF and have varying different Types and Attributes. With the exception of one, all the Monarch effects mostly focus on removing cards. It’s mostly on the field, but some do have hand removal and graveyard removal effects. The first six also have a Mega Monarch form that need 2 tributes and have 2800 ATK and 1000 DEF instead. Their effects are powered up versions of the originals and get better if you tribute the same Attribute monster to summon them. In this part, I will go over all the Monarchs and the ones with Mega forms to see their power in the game. For this part, I won’t go other Ehther or Erebus since they are key players in the final part of this series, and will be discussed more there.
Meet the Monarchs
Zaborg the Thunder Monarch
We begin with the first of the bunch, the LIGHT Zaborg the Thunder Monarch. Now while the other regular Monarchs are Level 6, Zaborg is different being the lone Level 5. It’s still a single tribute, so not much changes there. Zaborg’s effect on Tribute Summon lets you target and destroy a monster on field.
It’s overall a pretty good and simple removal effect to take care of problematic monsters. The only negative is that the effect is mandatory. This means you would have to destroy your own monster if the opponent doesn’t have any for Zaborg to target. Until we would get other Monarchs that could remove monsters and other cards as well, Zaborg was a strong card.
Easy spot removal on a Tribute Summon is very good for early to mid 2000 standards. It’s a Monarch with several tops throughout the years. It hasn’t had a topping result since 2011, and even then it was in the Side Deck. At the very least, it had a strong run from late 2004 to 2007.
Mobius the Frost Monarch
The second one is one of the best as we get to Mobius the Frost Monarch. Of course, this one is WATER, and its effect actually gives a plus rather than neutral card advantage. Mobius on Tribute Summon can pop up to 2 Spells and Traps the opponent controls. This basically means you give up one monster to summon Mobius and remove 2 cards.
It’s a +1 for you or -1 for the opponent in card advantage while the others are mostly neutral in card advantage. It has more success than any other Monarch, likely due to its early release giving it more play time and its +1 being unmatched. It even saw play as recently as 2014 in Burning Abyss, though in the Side Deck. Even a few modern Monarch variants ran the card. That’s how good the card can be.
Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch
The FIRE Attribute is now represented with Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch. We finally have a Monarch that doesn’t hit the field, as Thestalos instead goes for the hand. On Tribute Summon, Thestalos lets you randomly select a card in the opponent’s hand and discard it. If you hit a monster, the opponent takes damage equal to the monster’s Level times 100.
The effect damage isn’t relevant outside anything Burn related. The main part here is getting rid of the opponent’s hand resources. Some of the best cards in the game took cards from the opponent’s hand and some of those are banned now.
Thestalos at least needed a tribute and didn’t let you look at the opponent’s hand. Still, getting rid of an opponent’s hand resource is pretty good. Good enough that it has earned Thestalos many topping results in Decks up to 2017 in modern Monarch variants.
Granmarg the Rock Monarch
Before a 2007 hiatus, the last Monarch we had was the EARTH Granmarg the Rock Monarch. This one was mandatory like Zaborg, so you’d have to pop your own stuff if the opponent doesn’t have a target. With that said, the effect wasn’t as good. Granmarg on Tribute Summon let you target and destroy any Set card on the field.
The main problem here is that Zaborg and Mobius can do what Granmarg does, but better. Zaborg can pop any monster and Mobius can destroy any Spell and Trap, and potentially hit two at once. While Granmarg can hit both, it didn’t have the versatility of hitting face-up cards like Zaborg or Mobius.
It has seen the least success of the Monarchs so far, having found only five lists with it. None of them ever really maxed out on this card, and only 2 used it in the Main Deck. Not a good end before taking a 2 year hiatus.
Raiza the Storm Monarch
The Monarch monsters finally returned in 2007, and we got one of the best ones with the WIND Raiza the Storm Monarch. This card was so powerful that it was limited at one stage in its lifespan. Mostly limited in the March and September 2008 format and semi-limited in the March 2009 format.
On Tribute Summon, Raiza let you target any card and return it to the top of Deck. Not only can it pick any card, it creates a scenario where the opponent loses a draw. It’s another mandatory effect, so you target your cards if you have to. With that said, you’re most likely summoning this when the opponent has cards.
Creating a scenario where the opponent can’t see a new card is very good for the era it was printed in. It was highly played on release in 2007 and lasted until 2014 Burning Abyss, being one of the best Monarchs.
Caius the Shadow Monarch
We’ve finally hit the last of the main six Monarchs, and we end with the best one. Here we are at the DARK based Caius the Shadow Monarch. Caius, like most of the other Monarchs, has a mandatory effect, so you target your own cards if you have to. Caius’s effect let you target and banish any card on the field, and throw on 1000 burn if you hit a DARK monster.
Now you don’t make the opponent unable to see a new card for a turn, unlike Raiza. What you do get instead is removing a card from the game. Banished cards are hard to get back, so Caius is pretty efficient removal to have access to.
It was one of the most staple Monarchs from release in 2008 and continued for years beyond. It was also one of few to see play in modern Monarch variants of 2016. Caius was also released around Phantom Darkness era, so the meta on release was already DARK based. Caius certainly has a place in the game’s history.
Kuraz the Light Monarch
We now escape the mainline 6 Monarchs and get to some extras we got over the years. The first extra one we got was Kuraz the Light Monarch. Now Kuraz is a special case where the original Monarchs only work on Tribute Summon, Kuraz gets its effect on any Normal/Special Summon.
On said summon, you can target and destroy up to two cards on the field. Sounds like a great effect in theory, but there’s a catch. You then allow the player who controlled a destroyed card to draw a card for each of their destroyed cards.
This does mean destroying two of the opponent’s cards lets them get two new resources. Sure, you can pop your own cards for draws, but there wasn’t much to benefit off that. Some Decks that might like it need to Tribute Summon it. Another downside was it couldn’t attack the turn it was summoned, but that’s irrelevant.
It wasn’t until modern Monarch variants that you can take advantage of Kuraz by Special Summoning it. Kuraz can then pop the cards you want in grave and get you new cards. I’ll save some of this information for the part on modern Monarchs, but Kuraz was a great piece in that variant. Other than that, Kuraz was never used.
Delg the Dark Monarch
While we didn’t get a new line of small Monarchs, Kuraz did get an opposite form. Where Kuraz was LIGHT, we had the DARK version with Delg the Dark Monarch. Delg is an interesting case with an effect similar to Kuraz, so works on Normal/Special Summon.
Delg on summon will banish cards from the opponent’s graveyard and then let them mill top cards of Deck equal to the number of banished cards. Now, if there was a way to summon it on the opponent’s turn, it could be decent. There’s no good way to do it and make good use of it. You can use it in modern Monarchs, but you risk missing the timing cause it’s a “When” effect.
The milling you force on the opponent is a risk cause they can hit something new they want in the grave. You also can’t attack the turn Delg is summoned, but again it’s irrelevant. As of 2021, there has been no topping Deck I can find that has used Delg. It’s certainly one of the worst Monarchs we have.
Angmarl the Fiendish Monarch
We hit the final small Monarch, and it’s certainly an interesting case. Angmarl the Fiendish Monarch returns to only triggering on Tribute summon, but the effect differs very much from the old Monarchs. Angmarl on Tribute Summon lets you banish a Spell in your graveyard to search a Spell with the same name from the Deck.
An effect that really sounds nice in theory. It could potentially search a lot of power Spells, but some of the best ones were limited. This could of been nice back in the day, but it was released in later years, when we had the new Monarch support. This basically made Angmarl see limited play.
Unlike Delg, you at least saw a few Decks use Angmarl. I was able to find two successful modern Monarch Decks using Angmarl, so it was used. It can be a little win-more in modern Monarchs where you can use the Deck without it and get just as good results.
The Mega Monarchs
We finally get to the Mega Monarch series of cards. After several years from the debut of the original, the first 6 were upgraded to Mega Monarch forms. Mega Monarchs are 2-Tribute monsters with upgraded effects over their original form, and more stats with 2800 ATK and 1000 DEF. You can also Tribute Summon them with only 1 Tribute Summoned monster, though. Mega Monarchs also added a bonus for tributing the corresponding Attribute of the Monarch. They were still released when the original Monarchs were seeing less and less play. This made 2-Tribute versions look not as appealing unless the upgrades were worth it. With that said, some of them saw a little bit of use. Let’s see how good each Mega Monarch is.
It was the last before a hiatus back in the day, now it’s the first Mega Monarch. We start with Granmarg the Mega Monarch, which is based off what we established was the worst Monarch. Granmarg on summon targeted 2 Set cards on the field and destroys them. Now 1-Tribute for 1 Set card pop wasn’t that great. Here we see 2-Tributes for 2 Set pops.
It wasn’t enough of an upgrade. The bonus for tributing an EARTH only let you draw a card. Not enough of an upgrade from the original Granmarg to make this that good. It saw no play in any topping Deck. Therefore I can’t provide any decklists where the card was used. It was the worst of the original six and now it’s the worst of the Mega versions.
Mobius the Mega Monarch
Now we get a Mega version of one of the better original six. Mobius the Mega Monarch is similar to Granmarg, where it adds 1 to the original effect. Mega Mobius on Tribute Summon lets you pop up to 3 Spells and Traps. Still a +1 for you or -1 for the opponent since you give up 2 and the opponent loses 3. Where Mega Mobius does better than Mega Granmarg was with its bonus effect.
Tributing any WATER monster to summon Mega Mobius prevents the targeted Spells and Traps from being used in response to Mega Mobius. This does make it near impossible to use Spells and Traps in response to Mega Mobius to get value of out them. It’s how Konami should do these bonus effects on Mega Monarchs, as opposed to what they did with Mega Granmarg. It was able to at least see play in Decks over the years, so it’s an improvement on the concept.
Now we get a Mega Monarch where upgrading the amount of cards you hit could be a problem. Thestalos the Mega Monarch at least finds a good way to be an upgrade without hitting more cards. Mega Thestalos now lets you look at the opponent’s hand to choose what you discard. I mentioned some of the best cards in the game hit the opponent’s hand. The best of that category let you look at the opponent’s hand. That got both cards banned, you might of heard of Confiscation and The Forceful Sentry.
Now, Mega Thestalos did need 2 tributes to get on field unless you used a Tribute Summoned monster. Even then, you gave up a monster for the Tribute Summoned monster, then lose that for Mega Thestalos. It’s hard to dedicate two tributes to anything not based on Tribute Summoning.
The burn is cool if you choose a monster, 200 damage times the Level is more significant. Still, burn is kind of irrelevant outside of Burn strategies. The bonus for using FIREs only getting 1000 more damage also isn’t worth going out of your way to use this in FIRE Decks.
The only Decks that ever used it were modern Monarch variants, and it can be good in the Deck. It’s one of the better Mega Monarchs to add to modern variants. Like I said, looking at the opponent’s hand to hit a card is very strong. Having a Deck dedicated to Tribute Summoning is something Thestalos wants considering how it’s a 2-for-1 still. At least it found its home in modern Monarchs.
We got a Mega Monarch with a high standard to live up to as we get to Raiza the Mega Monarch. Mega Raiza on Tribute Summon still only hit one card on the field, it just hits a card in grave as well. You’d have to tribute a WIND monster to get the bonus of hitting a second card on field, but you don’t see WIND Decks that often since it’s the worst Attribute historically.
Mega Raiza doesn’t offer enough for Tribute Summoning it with more resources compared to the original. You got an interesting case here now where the original Raiza saw nice play around this time. Despite that, nobody wanted to go out of their way for Mega Raiza. You only want to hit the graveyard on the opponent’s turn when you can interrupt them. It’s also hard to find good WINDs to get two targets on field. Mega Raiza is kind of a letdown considering it’s based on the only original Monarch that got limited.
We now have the Mega Monarch with a unique use: Zaborg the Mega Monarch. Mega Zaborg on Tribute Summon still pops any monster on the field, the bonus is very different. If you pop a LIGHT Monster, you make both players send as many cards from the Extra Deck to the grave. You can’t send more monsters than the destroyed monster’s Level or Rank. You can easily pop your own Mega Zaborg and hit 8 Extra Deck cards. Tributing a LIGHT monster also let you pick the sent cards for the opponent since you can already pick your own.
In modern Extra Deck Monarchs, you can at least use Mega Zaborg to empty your Extra Deck to make your Spells and Traps better. Or you can use it in regular Monarchs and not worry about dumping cards from the Extra Deck. Mega Zaborg, however, has its best use in Ritual Decks. This is due to sending cards like Herald of the Arc Light for 3 Ritual-relevant searches. You can also throw in Elder Entity N’tss for pops or Toadally Awesome if you use WATER Rituals. PSY-Framelord Omega is another good dump to recycle your graveyard cards, maybe for a second Mega Zaborg.
Mega Zaborg was lucky to see a little play in modern Monarchs, whether Extra Deck or original. If you did see a Ritual Deck top not named Drytron, you might be likely to see Mega Zaborg as well after Impcantations were released. They offer good tribute fodder for Mega Zaborg and 2 are LIGHT to let you pick what you send for the opponent. If we see more Ritual Decks that can use Impcantations, we might see Mega Zaborg more often.
The final Monarch in the regular line is now the final Mega Monarch as we finally get to Caius the Mega Monarch. Mega Caius on Tribute Summon still lets you banish a card on field, but now the 1000 damage is guaranteed. You now get a bonus where if you banish a DARK with this effect, you can banish all copies of that monster with the same name from the hand, Main Deck, Extra Deck, and graveyard of the player who controlled the banished monster.
Considering how strong some DARK monsters can be, it’s nice to have a way to get rid of all of them from the opponent. The bonus by tributing a DARK monster lets you target 2 cards on field instead, so that can be a nice way to really hit the opponent’s best cards. It’s still hard to justify tributing 2 for just 1 banish, but anything using DARKs and can Tribute Summon might like this.
Luckily, modern Monarchs use DARK monsters, giving Caius a potential tech spot in the Deck. It was seen in the Side Deck a good amount, but some decided to Main Deck the card as well. Caius is lucky enough to really benefit off being used in Monarchs post Structure Deck more than the Megas. Mega Zaborg really only benefits in Ritual Decks, but Monarchs can tribute LIGHTs for it. Mega Caius is the best of the six in post Structure Monarchs.
It’s cool to see how often some of these Monarchs were used. Except for Granmarg, the Monarchs are some of the most played cards from back in the day. Caius and Raiza got a ton of results. The three small Monarchs after the original six weren’t too successful on release, but Kuraz found a lease on life post Structure Deck. Angmarl at least saw experimentation, unlike Delg.
As for the Mega Monarchs, they never took over like the original, but 4 of the 6 saw a little amount of play. They weren’t generically used as often as the originals, mostly due to the game evolving a ton since the original Monarchs, and Mega Monarchs needing more investment. With that said, the Mega Monarchs did see some success in post Structure Deck variants of Monarchs. The exceptions of course were Raiza and Granmarg, which never saw play.
Overall, Monarchs were very cool cards. I don’t know if we’ll ever see more Monarchs released to the game, but I doubt they’ll be used generically anymore. We’re past the point of needing Monarchs in most of the Decks in the format. Therefore, a new Monarch’s home is just going to be in a Monarch Deck. The archetype did leave a legacy as generic cards, and next time, we’ll see the legacy the originals left with Decks built around using them.
- The Monarch’s Reign Part 3: The New Emperors - April 9, 2021
- The Monarch’s Reign Part 2: Ruling With Force - April 3, 2021
- The Monarch’s Reign Part 1: The Power of the Monarchs - March 30, 2021