When players talk about the best cards in Yu-Gi-Oh, or even the best monster cards, they almost never mention Normal monsters. In Yu-Gi-Oh's earliest days Normal Monsters were reasonable alternatives to Effect monsters when you simply needed more bulk during your Battle Phases. The utility of an 1800 ATK monster in 2003, or a 2100 ATK Special Summon in 2005 was significantly more than a 2000 ATK Normal Summon is in today's game. Even a massively powerful, easy to summon monster with 3000 ATK isn't necessarily valuable if it isn't loaded with useful effects.
Although normal monsters have been made largely irrelevant by Effect monsters, there are still a few holdouts. This week we're taking a look at the game's best Normal monsters — and it probably won't surprise you to see a few cards that you're already playing on this list.
This classic is still the strongest Normal monster in the game, at least in terms of raw ATK. Somehow its 3000 ATK still hasn't been eclipsed by a single Normal monster, although a few cards have come close. Rabidragon is the most recent competitor at 2950 ATK, yet it's still shy of Blue-Eyes White Dragon's impressive offensive power. Of course, Tribute Summoning a Level 8 Normal monster is completely out of the question in today's game. There's no reason to actually play a pure beatstick in modern Yu-Gi-Oh, 3000 ATK or not. That said, Blue-Eyes is a crucial component of the Blue-Eyes theme that supports, and is supported, by a wide range of spells and traps.
The Blue-Eyes deck was never the best deck in the game, but it can still hold its own at the local level. It's a key player in casual draw engines by combining The White Stone of Legend with Cards of Consonance — searching Blue-Eyes White Dragon and drawing two cards in the process — before eventually dropping Blue-Eyes itself with Trade-In. With Super Rejuvenation back off the Forbidden List, there's plenty of fun to be had there, although you'll primarily be using the Dragon to summon Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon. Blue-Eyes also takes advantage of Normal Dragon support like Silver's Cry and Dragon Shrine, giving players plenty of ways to use it.
Qliphorts radically changed the competitive scene by introducing the game's first real Pendulum strategy. Leading the charge was Qliphort Scout, a Normal Pendulum that searches a Qliphort once per turn. Scout was immediately a problem for competitive players because it generated virtually unlimited card advantage. Combined with the Pendulum mechanic, which at the time could summon five monsters from the Extra Deck at once, players still piloting decks like Tellarknights, Shaddolls, and Burning Abyss had a hard time keeping up. What put Scout over the top was its ability to be searched by Summoner's Art, a previously-useless spell that ended up being one of the game's best starters for a time.
Like Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Galaxy Serpent benefits from a wide range of cards that support Normal Dragons. You can send it to the graveyard with Dragon Shrine alongside World Chalice Guardragon, then activate the Guardragon to summon Galaxy Serpent to a zone that a Link monster points to. It's a great target for Hieratic effects when you're aiming for Level 8 Synchros, and also excellent when paired with something like Draconnet for a quick Level 5 Synchro or Link 2. You can even summon it from the deck with Carboneddon. Galaxy Serpent's closest competitor is Labradorite Dragon which fills some of the same roles. Serpent just tends to be the better Normal Tuner, thanks to its lower Level.
Another card that benefits from a years of legacy theme support, the Normal monster version of Harpie Lady has a surprising amount of utility. It's possibly better outside of dedicated Harpie decks where Elegant Egotist largely get the job done. Harpie Lady really shines in Winged Beast strategies that want extenders but don't want to play a full set of Harpie monsters. Unexpected Dai summons Harpie Lady straight from the deck, and immediately brings Harpie's Feather Storm online and gives you an optional Tuner for Cyber Slash Harpie Lady. There are dozens of targets for Unexpected Dai if you're purely looking for Link material, but very few of them offer as many options as Harpie Lady.
Sabersaurus and Kabazauls were hugely popular back in the days of Dino Rabbit. Since then. Kabazauls has been replaced with Megalosmasher X. It's another Water Dinosaur option that still lets you summon Evolzar Dolkka and Evolzar Laggia, as well as Bahamut Shark, while having an extra 300 ATK. It's still one of Rescue Rabbit's best targets, and a solid option in certain Dinosaur variants.
Likely the most-played Normal monster over the last few years, PSY-Frame Driver is PSY-Framegear Gamma's partner in crime. The fact that Driver is a Level 6 monster is still hugely relevant. It's a perfect pairing with the Level 2 Gamma to give players access to PSY-Framelord Omega after negating an opponent's card effect. Gamma's primary purpose is to stop monster effects, but being able to Synchro Summon or Link Summon afterward is a welcome bonus. Of course, Driver's existence is largely irrelevant if you're activating Gamma on your opponent's turn, and it's still everyone's least-favorite card to draw.
Surprised to see Dark Magician here? Probably not, especially since there's a decent chance that you're playing it yourself. Dark Magician is, of course, a requirement for summoning Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon. Alongside Red-Eyes Black Dragon it's widely played exclusively as a Fusion material. Sending Dark Magician with Predaplant Verte Anaconda might not be the most fun way to play Yugi's ace monster, but Dragoon is worth the effort. Otherwise, Dark Magician itself has its role in dedicated Dark Magician builds, just like Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Unfortunately there's not as much support for Normal Spellcasters as there is for Normal Dragons.
It's impossible to talk about Normal monsters without mentioning Exodia at some point. The four Normal monsters that make up Exodia's arms and legs represent the only Normal monsters in the game that are relevant to game-winning effect. Left Arm of the Forbidden One, Right Arm of the Forbidden One, Left Leg of the Forbidden One, and Right Leg of the Forbidden One aren't just used with Exodia the Forbidden One either. Exodius the Ultimate Forbidden Lord, The Legendary Exodia Incarnate, and Obliterate!!! also leverage the Forbidden One cards. There's a decent line-up of cards that can put the Forbidden One cards to use outside of their intended win condition, and plenty of potential to form a viable casual strategy. Just watch out for D.D. Crow, or worse, Weevil Underwood.
The Suship theme received an extra shipment of ingredients in Burst of Destiny, but Gunkan Suship Shari is as important as ever. If you're unaware, most Suship cards combo with each other to form complete 'meals.' The 'base' is always Shari, or rice, and it's followed by Gunkan Suship Ikura, Gunkan Sushi Umi, or Gunkan Suship Uni as additional ingredients. Each of those monsters involves Shari in some way, making it the centerpiece of the strategy. The theme's Xyz monsters also trigger a draw effect when they're Xyz Summoned with Shari as a material. In terms of ATK it doesn't get much better than Shari, but what sets it apart from other Normal monsters is its clear role as the centerpiece of its theme.
A 1900 ATK and 1900 DEF monster doesn't actually matter, but it does look cool! Clavkiys, the Magikey Skyblaster is another lore-driven centerpiece for a broader theme of effect monsters, and it's a core component of several Extra Deck monsters. Successful Magikey players will leverage Clavkiys to unlock the bonus effects of their spells and traps, including Magikey Duo, Magikey World, and Magikey Maftea. Magikey Extra Deck monsters also benefit from being played alongside, or summoned with, Normal monsters. Clavkiys, like Gunkan Suship Shari, sorta does it all here. It's an enabler for its theme that can hold its own on the field, and isn't nearly as much of a liability as a card like PSY-Frame Driver.
Normal monsters benefit from a host of support, but it's hard to justify running more than a tiny number of them at a time. The odds of opening with a handful of Normal monsters goes up each time you add another to your deck, and in today's game, you can't expect to last more than a turn against popular strategies without access to at least a few spells, traps, or Effect monsters. It's a shame to let all of that Normal monster support go to waste, but as tempting as Enchanted Fitting Room is, that job is best left to cards like Rescue Rabbit or The Agent of Creation - Venus.
The best Normal monsters in the game serve their roles as pivot points for an entire theme, or leverage the absolute best Normal monster support to provide significant value to a strategy. Decks that can unlock the potential or Normal monsters have reaped the rewards in the past, including Dragon Link decks that summoned Draco Masters of the Tenyi following the use of Normal Dragon extenders. Don't sleep on Normal monsters just because they're old school — these cards have a lot to offer.
Until next time then.