Fusion Monsters were designed at a time when Synchros, Xyz, and Links didn't exist, and unfortunately the Fusion Summon mechanic is way tougher to use than its fellow Extra Deck card types. Fusion Summoning require more cards, and more specific cards, than every other Extra Deck summon in Yu-Gi-Oh, outside of Pendulums.

But that fact hasn't kept Fusions out of the competitive space. Modern Fusion summons are nothing like Yugi's anime duels. Instead of fusing two extremely specific monsters together with Polymerization, you can make many of the game's best Fusions with a variety of materials. Nowadays there are dozens of ways to cheat out big purple guys without resolving a Fusion spell, or even drawing into any of the monsters!

It's rough to say, but the game's best Fusions–even those from the time before Synchros–are the ones that circumvent the traditional design of the Fusion Summoning mechanic entirely. From Gladiator Beast Gyzarus to Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon, it's never been necessary to play cards like Polymerization, or to draw into your Normal Monster materials.

This week we're looking at the best Fusion monsters of all time, and there's one key takeaway from this list: all of these monsters can be summoned by unique means, or at least while bypassing the original design of Fusion summons. That's a trend we also see in other Extra Deck themes, but not to this extent.

Elder Entity Norden

It's hard to name a more impactful card released in the middle of the Xyz era. Elder Entity Norden blew up the competitive scene by fueling 1-card Synchro and Rank 4 Xyz Summons in the game's best decks, and Instant Fusion became a staple overnight as Elder Entity Norden-enabled strategies rocketed to the top of the competitive scene.

Elder Entity Norden the best target for Instant Fusion in the game's history, and unsurprisingly it's also one of a select few Forbidden Fusion monsters.

Supreme King Dragon Starving Venom

Speaking of Forbidden Fusion monsters, Supreme King Dragon Starving Venom landed on the banlist thanks to a broken interaction with Lyrilusc - Independent Nightingale. While it was legal you could use Instant Fusion to summon Lyrilusc - Independent Nightingale, then summon Supreme King Dragon Starving Venom and copy Lyrilusc - Independent Nightingale burn effect. Activating Lyrilusc - Independent Nightingale effect with Supreme King Dragon Starving Venom would dish out 4000 Life Points as burn damage, so it took just two activations to win the game on Turn 1.

That said, this card was fantastic even beyond its most extreme applications. Supreme King Dragon Starving Venom wasn't just an OTK card: it was an adaptable, aggressive monster with easy Fusion materials, that didn't rely on a specific Fusion Spell.

El Shaddoll Construct

Shaddolls put Fusions Spells back on the menu after years of relying on Instant Fusion to cheat out low-Level Fusion monsters. They directly addressed the value proposition of the Fusion Summon, by generating card advantage when materials or the Fusion monster itself were sent to the graveyard.

Shaddoll Hedgehog and Shaddoll Beast replaced themselves immediately when they were used for a Fusion, and El Shaddoll Construct returned the all-important Shaddoll Fusion back to the hand. Cyclic strategies that can loop both their themed Fusion Spell and quickly recover card advantage are the only successful 'traditional' Fusion models the game has ever seen.

Invoked Mechaba

Like Shaddolls, the Invoked deck features a gameplay loop that keeps a constant flow of Fusion materials and Fusion Spells. Invoked Mechaba a solid Fusion Monster that might not be technically as strong as other cards on this list, but like El Shaddoll Construct it's heavily supported by a theme that's designed to be maximally effective at Fusion Summoning.

It's also among the best targets for Cyber Dragon Nova graveyard effect, which has made it a recurring Side Deck pick for the Dogmatika match-up.

Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon

You're probably not surprised to see Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon on this list. Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon playability is largely the result of Predaplant Verte Anaconda and its ability to bypass the extremely restrictive penalty of Red-Eyes Fusion.

Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon currently a win condition for a number of rogue and casual strategies, and until something changes we'll likely keep seeing it show up in Extra Decks for months to come. Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon absolutely stacked with incredible effects, and it's one of the game's best–and easiest to summon–negation bodies.

ABC-Dragon Buster

There's no question that ABCs are among the best upgrades to a legacy theme in the game's history. The ABC deck was fantastic out of the gate, and it's still pretty competitive years after its initial release. ABC-Dragon Buster itself is incredibly easy to summon, features an excellent removal effect, and comes equipped with an emergency evasion that lets it dodge many of the game's best targeting effects.

Thunder Dragon Colossus

There was a time when Thunder King Rai-Oh was among the best anti-meta tech cards in the game. Thunder Dragon Colossus is just a significantly upgraded version of Thunder King Rai-Oh floodgate effect, and it's doing time on the Forbidden List for exactly that reason. Even setting aside its criminally easy summoning conditions, Thunder Dragon Colossus is one of the best floodgates in the game and a perfect counter to so many of today's top decks. It was once a format-defining card, but for now it's simply another Forbidden Fusion.

Masked HERO Dark Law

There are a few Hero cards that could arguably find their way on this list. Elemental HERO The Shining used to be the key card in some old school HERO decks, and Elemental HERO Absolute Zero was once among the most exciting board wipe effects in the game.

I think Masked HERO Dark Law placement here speaks for itself, but I'm sometimes surprised that it doesn't see more play. Masked HERO Dark Law effect can completely win certain match-ups and, until the last couple of years, there weren't a lot of ways to counter it. Forbidden Droplet actually can't be activated while it's on the field.

Thousand-Eyes Restrict

The era of Goat Control is far behind us, and Metamorphosis has been Forbidden for well over a decade, but none of that changes the fact that Thousand-Eyes Restrict was once one of the game's best Fusions. Even today, it's still among the best targets for Instant Fusion as it competes against its newer counterpart: Millennium-Eyes Restrict. If Instant Fusion ever returns to Semi-Limited or Unlimited I'd get ready to see a whole lot more Thousand-Eyes Restrict hitting the field.

Chimeratech Fortress Dragon

There was a time when every Machine strategy had to concern themselves with the possibility that a single Cyber Dragon might doom their gameplan.

Chimeratech Fortress Dragon was once a walking board wipe that let Cyber Dragon steal an entire field of Machines, consolidating them into a hugely powerful beatstick. From Machina and Karakuri, to Geargia and Gadgets, the threat of Chimeratech Fortress Dragon drove deck building decisions and tech choices. Using Cyber Dragon as a tech choice against Machine decks started to decline when ABCs were introduced. System Down became a much more promising Side Deck pick, but future Machine themes will always have to worry about Chimeratech Fortress Dragon reemergence.

Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon

Pendulum strategies couldn't have asked for a better negation body, although by the time Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon was released it was already fading from tournaments. A new challenger was approaching even as Pendulum Magicians were finally being fleshed out. Performages, Performapals, and eventually Draco hybrids would kick Pendulum Magician themes out of the game until their next round of support in the middle of 2017. Performapal Odd-Eyes Dissolver eventually stood in for Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon own Fusion Spell–finally enabling Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon to consistently hit the board on Turn 1.

Gladiator Beast Gyzarus

I'm ending this list with an old school pick from 2008: Gladiator Beast Gyzarus. There's a bit of a toss-up here between Gladiator Beast Gyzarus and Gladiator Beast Heraklinos, but between the two I think Gladiator Beast Gyzarus is the more impressive card. Its card removal was astonishingly strong at the time, particularly when other removal options required significantly more set-up.

Dark Armed Dragon and Judgement Dragon existed, sure, but Gladiator Beast Gyzarus could follow up a Gladiator Beast Bestiari or Gladiator Beast Murmillo to knock out three cards, then convert into the defensive Gladiator Beast Heraklinos to defend your set-up. Granted, Dark Armed Dragon would go on to crush all competitors in the second half of 2008, so the reign of Gladiator Beasts was sporadic and ultimately short lived despite the power of its Fusions.

Fusion Monsters are by far the least splashable Extra Deck mechanic in the game, but they also deliver insane value for the decks that can use them well. The Shaddoll and Invoked engines are two of the strongest loops in Yu-Gi-Oh despite their more traditional approach to Fusion Summoning, and Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon remains among the game's best negation bodies!

Fusions are usually at their best when they're exploitable without conducting an actual Fusion Summon: a trend that isn't shared by other Extra Deck strategies. As a result it's plainly obvious why a theme like Myutants has such a hard time summoning its Fusions, while a deck that can 'cheat' its Fusion Summons like Plunder Patroll is poised to have a little more success.

Until next time then