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The ProDuelist
Star Power – An Insightful Look into this Format’s Best Tribute Monsters
By Alleyrat

April 17, 2006

With the April 1st bans already in full swing, duelists must quickly find out which tribute monsters are still worth playing and which ones might be making new appearances. Tribute monsters are always a novel concept in the game because they usually have stronger or even game-breaking effects, but at a price of more resources. This makes them somewhat of a risk to play because the –1 or –2 resource cost associated with them leads to loss of advantage if not played properly. The big question is, which tribute monsters are worth playing in this new format? I hope to pose an answer to that question with this article and save you some valuable play-testing time in the process.


Quickly going through a card database I picked out some tribute monsters that caught my eye and listed them as follows:


Airknight Parshath

Blowback Dragon

Chaos Sorcerer

Cyber Dragon

Dark Magician of Chaos

Dark Ruler Ha Des

Goldd, Wu-Lord of Dark World

Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV6


Mobius the Frost Monarch

Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys

Thunder Dragon

Zaborg the Thunder Monarch


From looking at the list, you may notice that all of the above monsters have been featured in a deck that has placed in some kind of major tournament over the last year. Some are old faces, like Airknight Parshath and Jinzo, while others, like Chaos Sorcerer and Thunder Dragon hold new power that has really been unleashed in this format. Every one of them, with the exception of Thunder Dragon, is used primarily for offensive strategy. Some have “come-into-play” effects while others have continuous effects that can provide you with advantage and control for turns to come.


Obviously, however, you cannot play all of the above tribute monsters in one deck, or any, given deck. Each one has a specific purpose. Realistically in most “normal” decks, you will only have 2-3 slots for “type one” tributes like Jinzo or Mobius the Frost Monarch, and another 1-2 slots for “type two” tributes like Chaos Sorcerer, Goldd, or Thunder Dragon (3 in the case of Thunder Dragon). Which tribute monster(s) you play in this format must directly reflect your deck type, strategy, and play style. Let me break down the rest for you.


Spell / Trap Destruction and Negation Tributes


Every player should fear face down cards to some extent, especially traps and quick-play spells.  The uncertainty they pose leaves players questioning their next move(s). Spell / trap destruction and negation tributes have been, and probably always will be, the best overall and most consistent base for tribute monster advantage. The truth of the matter is that with trap boards becoming larger, even to the extent of 10-11 traps, a deck not playing a decent amount of spell and trap destruction will simply get countered at every turn. Only playing Breaker the Magical Warrior, Heavy Storm, and Mystical Space Typhoon with the odd Dust Tornado just does not cover it. Where do you turn to? Tribute monsters.


From the list above, Jinzo, Mobius the Frost Monarch, and Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys are the most consistent monsters that deal with spells and traps effectively. Jinzo and Mobius the Frost Monarch can easily be splashed into nearly every type of control deck, but Phoenix takes a little bit more support. From what I have tested, Phoenix has awesome game breaking effects, but the monster has an unusually high amount of weak points. If you play Phoenix you pretty much have to play Hand of Nephthys. Every couple of games you are going to get an unfortunate stroke of luck that makes you draw into Phoenix before you can draw into Hand, Apprentice Magician, or Sangan. This means that not only is Phoenix more difficult to get out, but Hand becomes a dead monster in your deck. That is not all, however. Running Phoenix into D.D. Assailant, D.D. Warrior Lady, Bottomless Trap Hole, or Chaos Sorcerer will happen a lot less to the experienced player, but even at that a facedown read is not always 100% perfect. If this happens you can guarantee that any chances of winning the game have just diminished greatly. In a deck playing Phoenix, it is the win condition, the secret weapon if you will. Losing it is a risk I am not willing to take in this format, even in a very specific Phoenix based Spellcaster Control deck.


I am not going to go into great depth about Jinzo and Mobius, but I can assure you that both are better choices for dealing with spells and traps. Both obviously have their weaknesses, but what monster does not? Jinzo is a nice main deck counter to the increasing number of decks playing large trap-boards and Mobius is great tech against Call of the Haunted, Snatch Steal, Swords of Revealing Light, and non-chainable traps. Playing one of each in your monster board should be just perfect for most decks.


“Come-Into-Play” Tributes


The famous “come-into-play” tributes (particularly the Monarchs) have seen countless decks made around abusing their power. These type of tribute monsters do not have effects that provide continuous advantage over 3-4 turns, but are rather one timers that can provide a nice “pop” in advantage initially and then become vanillas afterwards (in most cases). From the list above, Chaos Sorcerer, Dark Magician of Chaos, Mobius the Frost Monarch, Zaborg the Thunder Monarch, and Cyber Dragon all qualify for the criteria. Chaos Sorcerer’s ability to provide an instant +1 through removal and Dark Magician of Chaos ability to provide an instant +1 through spell card revival are nice sources of advantage that leave you with a dominating monster on the field. As we all know, +1’s are not easy to obtain in the game any monster that can do it as consistently as Chaos Sorcerer deserves to have whole decks made around them. The Monarchs provide nice sources of removal that are not quite like any other monsters in the game. Zaborg is a great light for any Chaos Sorcerer based deck. When played right, Monarch insure that no matter what, you will come out even in terms of card advantage. I am going to say that Cyber Dragon falls into this category because dropping a 2100 ATK monster for no cost can be unexpected at times and can generate you a +1 in battle that turn.


Chaos Sorcerer, Mobius, and Cyber Dragon are the easiest tributes to splash that have a “come-into-play” effect and are the most consistent. Dark Magician of Chaos and Zaborg require a more developed strategy to play.


Hand Related Tributes


One group of monsters that has really gained popularity in the recent weeks is hand related cards, particularity tributes. From the list above, Thunder Dragon and Goldd, Wu-Lord of Dark World fall into this category. Thunder Dragon is especially interesting because it provides an instant +1, is light Chaos food, and has combos with Metamorphosis, Treeborn Frog, Pot of Avarice, and Graceful Charity, not to mention its ability as a deck thinner. Goldd has seen increased tech play because it combos with Graceful Charity and can reek on an opponent if they hit it with Spirit Reaper, Don Zaloog, or Morphing Jar. If it hits the field through your own effect, it is just a vanilla. It has synergy with Deck Devastation Virus and revivers. Do I care for it? No; but that is just one player’s opinion.


How do you use these types of tribute monsters? First off, you can’t really splash them, even Goldd. Thunder Dragon only really works in dedicated chaos. Likewise Goldd only really works in dedicated Dark World.


The Tech / Side Deck Material Tributes


Last, but not least, we have a group of tributes that are very powerful, but are too situational to play main-decked. They thus become great side deck choices and can prove to be interesting and useful tech for games two and three. From the list we see Airknight Parshath, Blowback Dragon, Dark Ruler Ha Des, and Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV6. Although Airknight is not a good side deck choice, it can be interesting main deck tech in a deck that needs an extra light powerhouse. One hit with its effect pays for its tribute. If you do not get that hit, however, Airknight is a –1. Don’t play Airknight stupidly. Wait for a solid chance to resolve its effect before you play it. Blowback Dragon is exceptional with Deck Devastation Virus and is a great counter to almost anything unexpected, from Wave-Motion Cannon to Return from the Dimension Fusion to Spirit Reapers in threes. Blowback is perfect for the those that “fear the unknown.” Dark Ruler Ha Des’ use is obvious, it is the best effect negating monster in the game with the exception of possibly Mystic Swordsman LV2. It’s a nice answer to an opponent playing Magical Merchant, Dekoichi the Battle Chanted Locomotive, Morphing Jar, etc. Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV6 has seen increased play in Japan as a sort of tech “pre-negation” monster that comes in game 2 and 3. It voids Smashing Ground, Swords of Revealing Light, Snatch Steal, and Book of Moon and can prove to be a tricky monster to get rid of.




With only 13-15 choices for a tribute monster, you would think the decision would not be very hard. When look more deeply into the situation, however, you will find that the decision can prove to be tricky, difficult, and even frustrating. It all depends on what deck you are playing, but outside the monsters I listed in the beginning, you do not really have many other playable choices for the competitive environment. Some can be splashed others require a deck. To me, the best tribute monsters are the ones that can be used in any deck. Monsters like Jinzo, Mobius, and Chaos Sorcerer look like the hot picks for this format because of their great overall consistency and strength. The end decision is yours, but I hope you will take some of the points in this article into consideration.


Until next time…this is Alleyrat signing off.


I would love to hear any comments you may have about my articles. Email your comments, questions, arguments, or hate mail to me at al@infosports.com.



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