Time for a honorable mentions list for a year of insane cards. Hello Pojo Readers, Crunch$G here with the yearly tradition where I go through some honorable mentions for cards that didn’t make the Top 10 cards of (insert year here). This is mostly done to give some sort of respect to how good some of these cards are, and this year I’m trying to raise the standard a little higher for honorable mentions. Instead of full archetypes, I’ll mainly mention one cards, so nothing Eldlich on here since Golden Lord himself was number 10. There were some crazy cards from this year that are worth bringing up, so let’s go down the list of everything we’ve seen.
We had an early contender for one of the best cards of the year right out the gate in the first release of 2020 with Magicians’ Souls. Magicians’ Souls alone brought the SPRYAL archetype back to Tier 1 status for a time due to its synergy with sending Spells and Traps for draw power working well with SPYRAL MISSIONS and how it synergizes with the fact that SPYRAL Master Plan is a Level 7 Spellcaster to send off Souls so you don’t have to draw it. Even outside SPYRAL, we’ve seen Magicians’ Souls make an impact in other strategies like Pendulums having several targets for Souls and early versions of Eldlich using cards like Palladium Oracle Mana or Apprentice Illusion Magician. You even have Dogmatika synergy here with Dogmatika Fleurdelis and Dogmatika Maximus being options to send off this. It was a decent year for Spellcaster support, and Magicians’ Souls is one of the top Spellcaster cards of the year.
A very good card that was initially printed as just a Rare, nobody slept on the power of Cross-Sheep on release. It was an easy to summon Link-2 that worked with 4 of the main summoning mechanics being Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz. While the Synchro and Xyz effects were pretty minor with boosts and debuffs, the real money was in the Ritual and mainly the Fusion effects. Ritual offered a nice ability to cycle through the Deck with a draw 2, but you had to discard 2 so you weren’t really plussing while the Fusion effect was a great revival for Level 4 or lower Monsters in a year where we had some good Fusion showings with Invoked showing up several times and Shaddolls getting a new lease on life with the Structure Deck. Cross-Sheep is a good Link-2 that is a strong option for Fusions and a decent choice if using Rituals.
El Shaddoll Apkallone
I felt it’s only fair to mention Shaddolls somehow with their revival this year, so I’ll go with the main Fusion that’s seen more play than the rest of the Shaddoll stuff, El Shaddoll Apkallone. Apkallone is an easy to summon Fusion that just needs 2 Shaddolls that have different Attributes, which is achievable now considering the Main Deck got different Attributes in their Shaddolls as well. In return, you get to negate the effects of a face-up card on the field on any Special Summon, making for good synergy with El Shaddoll Fusion and later Shaddoll Schism potentially. It also had the second effect upon being sent to the graveyard to let you add any Shaddoll card from the Deck or graveyard to the hand and then discard a card, which made this useful in Dogmatika to send from the Extra Deck off Nadir Servant or Dogmatika Maximus to search for Shaddoll Schism to potentially set up an El Shaddoll Winda summon. It was nice to see Shaddolls get revived, and El Shaddoll Apkallone was a worthy addition to the archetype.
We had a lot of great cards from Duel Overload this year, mainly with the new Links we received, and one of those great Link Monsters was Union Carrier. Union Carrier was a Link-2 that just needed 2 Monsters that shared a Type or an Attribute and easily equipped a Monster on field with any other Monster from the hand or Main Deck with another Monster that shared a Type or Attribute with the target. In anything using DARKs or Dragons, you commonly saw this used to equip Dragon Buster Destruction Sword from the Deck to lock you out of the Extra Deck. In WIND Winged Beast strategies, you saw this easily set up an infinite negation combo with Mist Valley Apex Avian and Mist Valley Thunderbird. In Adamancipator, you saw this equip Block Dragon from the Deck to have it fall up and get you a search for up to 3 Rock Monsters. In Drytron, you see this now equipping Dawn Knight from Deck so when it falls off, it can send a Drytron name from Deck to grave for combos. Union Carrier has enabled some powerful combos and is certainly a card that could get banned in the future due to how easily it can tutor cards from the Deck for various uses.
Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty
It might not of been the most meta card, but it certainly had uses. Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty was a very powerful Link-3 that had great arrows and helped tutor for any of your Winged Beasts from your Deck with the greatest of ease. Two common targets were Mist Valley Apex Avian for its negation that comboed well with Union Carrier helping get Mist Valley Thunderbird from the Deck and Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds to prevent players from Special Summoning any Monsters unless they were WIND Attribute. It’s a fairly simple card, but you must respect anything that can summon such a wide range of Monsters from the Deck, cause the future potential for this to become broken is certainly there.
Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon
The last Link Monster I’ll go over from Duel Overload is the second Mecha Phantom Beast from the Extra Deck we saw become a powerful meta card, Mecha Phantom Beast Auroradon. Auroradon on Link Summon helped you get out 3 Mecha Phantom Beast Tokens that were able to be used as fodder for its very powerful effects. Just tributing 1 Monster off Auroradon gave you a pop for any card on field, which is simply great. The second effect was probably the best, since tributing 2 Monsters let you summon any Mecha Phantom Beast from the Deck, letting you summon great cards like Mecha Phantom Beast Coltwing or the now banned Mecha Phantom Beast O-Lion. The final effect is never really seen, but tributing 3 Monsters lets you recover a Trap from the graveyard, which might have something going for it, but is easily trumped by the first two effects. Auroradon was a great Link-3 in combination with Crystron Halqifibrax and has so many cool combos to use with it.
Considering how good Adamancipator were in the TCG, it was fair to mention at least one card, so I’ll go with their best Tuner in Researcher. Each of the Tuners had a Special Summon effect to get itself on field easily, and Researcher was the best one considering its requirement was you only needing any Rock Monster. In return, you get a Level 2 Tuner with an effect to excavate the top 5 cards of your Deck in search for a non-Tuner Rock that was Level 4 or lower for you to summon, easily extending your combos to crazy levels for creating insane boards. Adamancipator was able to make some of the best boards the game has ever seen super consistently, and still can even without Block Dragon being legal, and the Tuners were a main feature in making these boards, especially Researcher.
Rank 4 spam was once the meta for a time basically considering we’ve had some of the best Decks in the game’s history be Rank 4 spam focused in Performages & Pals and later Zoodiac. It’s also why Lunalight Tiger was banned entering Master Rule 2020. A new card to easily let you go into a Rank 4 was Parallel eXceed, a Level 8 that only required you to Link Summon in order to Special Summon this from the hand as a Level 4 Monster to a zone said Link points to and then gets you another Parallel eXceed from the hand or Deck to be Level 4 as well. This made for a super fast Rank 4 Xyz for options like Number 60, Number 41, Abyss Dweller, Tornado Dragon, Daigusto Emeral, and the list goes on for good Rank 4s. You can easily imagine Rank 4 Toolbox Decks one day entering the meta again, and I can see this card being a staple in those strategies.
We saw great success from Dinosaurs this year, and a card that helped the Deck’s success was the release of Animadorned Archosaur. Archosaur was a Level 1, meaning it was summonable off Miscallenaosaurus with the greatest of ease, and as a result you could destroy a Dinosaur in hand or on field to search for an Evolution Pill card, which while not the only option to search, was the only one really used. This was helpful for destroying a Babycerasaurus or Petiteranodon to get your Double Evolution Pill while also floating into something like Souleating Oviraptor, Giant Rex, another Miscellaneosaurus, Dinowrestler Pankratops, and so on and so forth. Dinosaurs were a great Deck in 2020, and while Archosaur wasn’t the only reason for the Deck’s success, it’s a card worth thanking for giving Dinosaurs a decent push in power.
Toon Chaos gave us some great Chaos support, but none of the cards were going to top the power of Chaos Space. Chaos Space was a simple Normal Spell that let you discard any LIGHT or DARK Monster to search for a Level 4 to 8 Monster of the opposite Attribute that couldn’t be Normal Summoned or Set. Not only did this set up a summon for some powerful Chaos Monsters, it also searched for them as well. It got you to some great cards like Chaos Dragon Levianeer, The Chaos Creator, Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, and many more. It also had an effect to recover your banished Chaos Monster for a free draw as well, making sure you could get to and summon it once again. Chaos Space was a great push for Chaos-themed Monsters and a card to look out for in coming years.
Immortal Phoenix Gearfried
Another selling point for Toon Chaos besides Toons and Chaos was the release of the FIRE Warrior support the OCG got in a Structure Deck, mainly Immortal Phoenix Gearfried. Immortal Phoenix was an easy to summon boss that just needed you to banish an Equip Spell from your field or graveyard and in return it gave you Monster negation at the cost of sending your face-up Equips to the graveyard while also being able to equip opponent’s Monsters to it during the Battle Phase when it’s battling. It was a great boss to make sure Infernoble Knights were able to get their plays through or to be another powerful card to have on your ending board and could be a card we see in other Warrior strategies in the future.
While Battles of Legend this year was kind of lackluster outside the lottery chance of pulling Ten Thousand Dragon or Astral Utopia, it did at least give us the Numeron cards. While the Numeron cards weren’t as powerful in the meta as expected, they did see play and that’s thanks to how good Numeron Network is. Numeron Network easily let you send a copy of Numeron Calling from Deck to grave while you had no Monsters to quickly summon Numbers 1-4 in quick succession. This set up several options considering you only got 1 more summon after this. You could use 3 of the 4 to go into Number S0: Utopic ZEXAL or Infinitrack Fortress Megaclops or use all 4 to Link Summon something like Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess or Saryuja Skull Dread. You could also just attack Monsters with Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 to keep doubling their ATK and go for an easy OTK if needed or Rank-Up your Number 1 into Number C1 for a full board wipe. Numeron Network might of limited your options, but it certainly also opened some up and is hopefully the breaking point for getting Number S0: Utopic ZEXAL banned soon.
Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous
Dogmatika was one of the best engines we’ve seen in 2020, and the best card that gets the engine going is Ecclesia without a doubt. It was easy to Special Summon, just needing an Extra Deck Monster on field, or it could be a Normal Summon if you had to. It was also easy to summon off a sent Titaniklad the Ash Dragon during the End Phase. Summoning an Ecclesia let you search for some great Dogmatika cards like Fleurdelis, Maximus, or Punishment for the versatility each one offered. It was also easy to search itself off Nadir Servant to send any Extra Deck Monster that at least has 1500 ATK to get to your Ecclesia while also getting a graveyard effect. Ecclesia is the main kog in the Dogmatika machine and is likely the card that will keep Dogmatika relevant.
Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon
Now while I already mentioned Chaos Space in terms of Chaos support, I did not want to ignore this insane Synchro for Chaos. Chaos Ruler is a generic Level 8 Synchro that on summon let you look at the top 5 cards of your Deck to grab any LIGHT or DARK Monster you find while sending the other cards to the graveyard, likely setting up more Chaos plays. It also acted like a Chaos Monster in the grave, letting you banish a LIGHT and DARK from your hand or grave to revive itself, but it was banished when it left the field. Sure you don’t get to look at the top cards of your Deck since that only triggers on Synchro Summon, but it is a Level 8 body with 3000 ATK you get back for more damage or more plays. It was an insane card for LIGHT and/or DARK Decks and certainly is a powerhouse for Chaos.
Ice Dragon’s Prison
We’ve seen a recent rise in Trap Cards, so we were going to see any good recent Traps be played, and Ice Dragon’s Prison is one of those cards. It’s a simple card that lets you revive any of your opponent’s Monsters for free, just negating the Monster’s effects. After that, if the revived Monster’s Type matches the Type of a Monster the opponent controls, you can banish the revived Monster as well as one of the opponent’s Monsters. It’s a great card to interrupt the opponent while they are comboing off or to help you break an opponent’s board piece by piece. It’s one of the best modern Traps in the format today, and I would love to see more Traps designed on the power level that this was.
The Phantom Knights of Torn Scales
While Phantom Knights weren’t a high top tier strategy after their new support, we can’t sit here and ignore the power of Torn Scales. It’s another Level 3 DARK Warrior, all the best qualities of the good Phantom Knights, that let you discard a card to send a Phantom Knights card from Deck to graveyard, setting up several graveyard effects for you in your Phantom Knights Deck. It also can revive itself from the graveyard easily just by banishing another Phantom Knights from the graveyard, and while it is banished when it leaves the field, you can get around that by going into a simple Rank 3 like The Phantom Knights of Break Sword, Dante, or Leviair the Sea Dragon. It was a great card and if you see Phantom Knights in the meta again, Torn Scales will be the main card you see.
Virtual World Mai-Hime – Lulu
A new meta Deck from 2020 was Virtual World, mostly due to how easily it can summon a True King of All Calamities or two, and one of the best Virtual World cards was Lulu. It’s like most the other Virtual World cards where you target a face-up Virtual World card and send a Virtual World card of a different card type from Deck to grave to Special Summon this and then search for a Virtual World card of the last card type (Monster, Spell, Trap). It also being a Level 3 Tuner helps set up Synchros like Virtual World Kyubi – Shenshen for its Macro Cosmos effect to affect the field. Virtual World is a pretty consistent and good Deck, and Lulu is the best consistency card for the Deck.
Alpha, the Master of Beasts
While it might not be a Dinowrestler Pankratops replacement, it is an alternative to Pankratops. Alpha is a big 3000 body that can be Special Summoned just by the opponent controlling Monsters whose combined ATK is higher than the combined ATK of Monsters you control. This isn’t a hard once per turn either, so you can spam the field with Alphas if you have enough in the hand and the opponent has a big board of strong Monsters. The only hard once per turn is for Alpha to target your Beasts, Beast-Warriors, or Winged Beasts to bounce them and then bounce the opponent’s Monsters, helping you try to break the opponent’s board so you can make your own plays. Alpha is a good card that serves as an alternative to Pankratops, and while it isn’t better or worse than Pankratops, it does serve its purpose.
Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS – Sky Thunder
Xyzs got a great new boss option in AA-ZEUS and the powerful effect that it has. It is a generic Rank 12, but it can also be overlayed on top of an Xyz Monster that battled that turn, meaning you have to wait til Main Phase 2 to summon it. In return, you get a Monster with a Quick Effect that isn’t a OPT to detach 2 materials and send all other cards on the field to the graveyard. It also has a soft OPT effect to gain a material from your hand, Deck, or Extra Deck when one of your cards is destroyed. It’s ease of summoning, insane field wiping effect, and option to regenerate materials makes this one of the best Xyzs we’ve ever seen.
While Prank-Kids was also not a Deck to take over the meta, Meow-Meow-Mu was a great card to give Prank-Kids some meta relevance once again. It was an easy to summon Link-1 that only needed a Level 4 or lower Prank-Kids to summon, triggering your Prank-Kids floating effects to get your combos going. Meow-Meow-Mu didn’t do much, and you can only summon it once a turn, but it does have an okay effect to banish itself from the graveyard instead of tributing a Prank-Kids that needs to be tributed to trigger its effects. It didn’t really matter what Meow-Meow-Mu did that much, Prank-Kids just needed a Link-1 to help get combos going with greater ease, and they got it this year.
Drytron was a great modernization of Rituals by using ATK for Ritual Summons instead of Levels as well as being able to tribute Drytrons or Rituals to summon themselves and gain various effects to continue your combos, but Drytron Nova was great for getting you to any Drytron name you needed. It was an easy activation to summon any Drytron from Deck just to get to the cards you needed like Alpha Thuban for its search for Ritual Monsters or Zeta Aldhibah for its search for Ritual Spells. While Nova didn’t trigger the Drytron effects, you could just Link them away into Linkuriboh or Relinquished Anima to then trigger its own effect in grave to summon itself and get your effect while maybe triggering whatever you tribute like Cyber Angel Benten. Nova locks you from not Special Summoning any Monster that can be Normal Summoned or Set, but Drytron doesn’t focus on using many Monsters that can be Normal Summoned or Set anyways, so its fine. Drytron Nova was a great card for Drytron to help get its insane combos going.
2020 has seen so many good archetypes released like Adamancipator, Eldlich, Drytron, Virtual World, Dogmatika, etc. while also having insane generic cards. We’ve seen some of those generic cards mentioned in the Top 10 and others in here. We also had some nice archetype revivals for Phantom Knights, Shaddoll, Prank-Kids, and Dinosaurs. 2020 was a great year for some good new cards and you’d hope to see it continue into 2021, though we could use the game being slowed down a little still.
Thanks for reading,