April 2003.  Labyrinth of Nightmare (booster set) is released.   Graceful Charity (at 2), Harpie’s Feather Duster and Sinister Serpent would be released next month in May and significantly raise the power level of the game.  This format is a sweetspot; LON adding interesting cards to the game without it getting too hectic yet.  

FormatLibrary has info and decklists on this format; they call it Android format.  Here are some of the winners:


  • Back in 2003, people had a beatdown mentality.  Decklists looked more like list #2.  List #1 is the more of the modern Yugioh (deck-thinning, utility effects).  
  • Jar of Greed was very underrated in 2003.  Not every card was equal in value, so drawing into Pot/Painful/Reborn/Raigeki/Imperial a turn sooner was huge. Plus, Heavy Storm at 2 and MST at 3 meant chainable traps made Jar and Time Seal good.  
  • Kycoo, Bazoo and Gemini Elf all have their checks and balances.  Bazoo can get over Elf (and Jinzo too), but the banishing requirement means he’s bad early game.  Kycoo loses to Gemini but can easily get its effect on a Sangan/Witch/Tomato thats in ATK position.  With cards like Premature, Call, Reborn, Bazoo and maybe Skull Lair graveyard size is important.
  • People don’t typically main 2 Heavy Storms.  Good opponents will rarely set 2 non-chainable cards, so it’s hard to plus on it.  MST can be set and used before the opponent’s traps are live and chainable; stopping Prem/Call on a Jinzo helps too.  
  • Nobleman of Crossout was at 2, but not everyone mains them. Most monsters are summoned in attack mode (including Witch/Sangan, to put pressure on the opponent’s removal traps).  
  • Only 1 Tribute monster is needed.  Lots of removal makes tributing often not worth the cost.  And Tributes are bad to draw early game, considering you have other cards in your hand that also want to be saved for later in the game too.

Side Decking: 

  • Side any copies of Heavy / Fissure / Trap Hole / Nobleman / Torrential that you don’t main
  • Against decks with bigger beaters than you, you can bring in Trap Hole, Torrential, Fissure, 4-Star
  • Dust Tornado against equip decks, stall decks or any decks with weird cards.  (Solemn Judgment works as a catch-all too)
  • Maybe 1 Exchange against Exodia and 1 Penguin Knight against deck-out decks?
  • Seeing an equip aggro OTK deck get to 3rd place in a LON tournament makes me want to side deck 2-3 Waboku.  
  • If you use a lot of face-up monsters, you can side-in some flip effect monsters as your opponent sides out Nobleman.

Other cards:

  • 4-Starred Ladybug.  Spicy tech.  Was underrated.  Could go 2-for-1 against LV4 beaters.  Worth side decking 1-2.  Maybe even main 1?
  • Magic Cylinder.  Was never good.  Overrated at the time.  -1.  Dealing with the threat is better than negating an attack, and a removal card like Trap Hole/Fissure can set you up for a direct attack to deal the damage anyway.
  • Waboku.  It was good to main deck in 2002, when most beaters were 1800 ATK and Waboku made your 1800 beat their 1800 in battle.  But in 2003, Labyrinth of Nightmare released beaters of different ATK (Gemini 1900, Kycoo 1800, Bazoo 1600-2500) which made it much less consistent in being able to destroy an opponent’s monster with.  
  • Mask of Darkness.  Like MoF, its strong early game, weak late-game.  Decent card, but traps aren’t as powerful as spells.

General tip is to save your power cards if you can.  Use lower power level cards (like your beaters, Tomatos, trap holes) to force the opponent into commiting to the board.  Then use the more powerful cards when they have impact.  Mirror/Raigeki/DHole against swarms.  Change/Snatch to make 2 enemy monsters battle, or deal lots of damage, etc.  Save revival cards for Jinzo or maybe a good direct attack with Kycoo if you can.  Using other cards in your deck that are versatile and safe to draw opening hand will let you use those early on, so you can save your stronger cards when needed.  Whereas if you brick, youre forced to use your stronger cards sooner.

And lastly, the controversy of Gemini Elf (a card that players wanted 3 of) being a $50 secret rare.  It felt oppressive.  If much of your deck were just vanilla 1800 ATK monsters, you would get hard-countered.  But there were ways of playing around Gemini Elf back then if you didn’t have much money.  

  • Cut out your vanilla 1800 beaters so you don’t minus against her.  
  • Use a 2000 defense wall like Giant Soldier of Stone (not Wall of Illusion).  
  • Use Bazoo.  Use 2000+ beaters like Zombyra, Dark Elf or Goblin Attack Force; they have drawbacks so you may not want to use 3, but you could splash in 1.  
  • Removal cards like Trap Hole, Fissure and Man-Eater Bug were starter deck commons; budget decks could use 3 of each.  Maybe even 1 4-Starred Ladybug.