There are hundreds of cards in Yu-Gi-Oh that boost the Atttack Points of monsters, and many more monsters that boost themselves! Even the game's weakest monsters can topple the mighty Blue-Eyes White Dragon with the right equipment.
For theory crafters and min-maxers, the question of 'how do I get the most ATK possible?' comes up pretty frequently. Whether you're building an OTK strategy, or you're just looking for an excuse to get Shapesnatch to 9000 ATK, you might find yourself looking for every possible means of buffing your monster. This week we're taking a look at the game's biggest ATK boosts, including ones you can apply to any monster, and effects that are attached to one particular card.
Axe of Despair
There are two broad categories of ATK buffs in Yu-Gi-Oh. Some cards increase ATK by a constant amount, like Axe of Despair or Fire Formation - Tenki. Other effects are variable, and might increase your monster's attack power by a hundred points or ten thousand, depending on other factors. Among the variable increases there's even another subset of effects that scale with the ATK of an opposing monster. Those last buffs give some of the biggest increases in the game, but you need your opponent to have a suitably strong monster themselves.
Many ATK buffs state exactly how much they'll raise your monster's ATK. The number's written directly on the card, so barring any other effects, a Sangan equipped with Dark Energy will always have 1300 ATK.
That might not be as compelling as a variable ATK increase, especially if the buff in question is raising your monster's ATK by a tiny amount. But even a medium-sized ATK increase isn't terrible if you don't have to work for it. While your opponent's busy setting up the conditions to skyrocket their monster's ATK, you can simply equip a Double-Edged Sword to your monster to boost its ATK by 2000. A 1000 ATK monster with Double-Edged Sword is strong enough to beat most high-ATK Extra Deck monsters, but that's hardly the biggest boost you can pick up with a static ATK increase.
Most static ATK increases don't see a lot of competitive play because they're rarely as easy to abuse as variable buffs. Static increases are balanced against their ability to turn a 1000 ATK monster into a 3000 ATK monster, while an effect that doubles a monster's ATK would only put an extra 1000 ATK on the field. The trade-off between the immediate ATK buff and the variable one that requires more set-up ends up being a no-brainer in many competitive spaces: variable buffs are significantly more exploitable, and they're typically built into passive continuous effects.
So what are the biggest constant ATK buffs in the game? Ten Thousand Dragon and Armityle the Chaos Phantom have the highest printed ATK values in their effects, and I don't expect that their record will be broken anytime soon. Sephylon, the Ultimate Timelord can give a high Level Fairy monster with zero ATK a total of 4000 attack points.
Goldilocks the Battle Landscaper, Buster Gundil the Cubic Behemoth, Injection Fairy Lily, Assault Blackwing - Onimaru the Divine Thunder, and a handful of other Extra Deck monsters all feature a 3000 ATK boost built into their effects. Generic ATK boosts are a little harder to track down, but Double-Edged Sword is likely the biggest buff that isn't restricted in some way. You could try to equip Doitsu to a monster to score a 2500 ATK increase, but I'm not sure how you'd manage it without Union Carrier (which is currently Forbidden).
Most variable ATK increases are some kind of continuous effect that give monsters a certain amount of attack for each instance of... something.
Cards like Gren Maju Da Eiza or Slifer the Sky Dragon gain ATK based on the number of your banished cards, and the number of cards in your hand respectively. Old school picks like Maha Vailo and Mage Power formed the backbone of some of Yu-Gi-Oh's earliest beatdown strategies.
In today's game you'll see variable ATK buffs prominently in Zoodiac's Extra Deck monsters, Accesscode Talker, Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess, and in dozens of different Field Spells.
These kinds of ATK buffs often take a lot more effort to set up, but they have a much higher ceiling than set-ATK buffs. Exodius the Ultimate Forbidden Lord also resets your graveyard when it hits the field, which means you'll need to build up your graveyard after you've committed a 0 ATK monster to the field.
Orichalcos Shunoros, The Legendary Exodia Incarnate, and Maha Vailo, Light of the Heavens can also increase their ATK by 1000 for each of their conditions, but all of those cards cap out below 10,000 ATK. Exodius the Ultimate Forbidden Lord theoretically caps at 59,000 ATK, and even that absurd total can be surpassed by monsters that gain ATK for each Spell Counter on them.
The ATK increase increment isn't what's most important with these kinds of effects. For example, Firewall Dragon Darkfluid possess the highest ATK increment at 2500 points per Cyberse type monster card in your graveyard. That said, Firewall Dragon Darkfluid caps at four counters for a total of 10,000 ATK, which is then added to its original 2500 ATK.
Arcanite Magician isn't limited by the physical restrictions on deck size or card types, so with a solid set-up you could potentially send its ATK through the roof. Amassing more than sixty Spell Counters might be easier said than done, although it's not like Exodius' cap is realistically achieved either.
Limiter Removal represents another common type of variable ATK buff: effects that double the ATK of a monster. Numeron Number monsters, Galaxy-Eyes Afterglow Dragon, Double or Nothing!, and [Number 39: Utopia Double let you quickly multiply the ATK of a specific monster. Many of those effects can be stacked, like playing two copies of Limiter Removal in the same turn to quadruple the original ATK of your Machine monsters. That multiplier becomes eight times if one of your monsters is a Machine Fusion summoned by Power Bond.
You can hit insane numbers by combining the ATK-doubling effects exclusive to Machines, or you can leverage Double or Nothing! and Number 39: Utopia Double to attack your opponent with a 10,000 ATK Number 39: Utopia in any deck that can summon Rank 4s.
Let's finally answer the question posed by this article's title: what's the biggest ATK buff in the game?
In terms of written, static increases, Ten Thousand Dragon and Armityle the Chaos Phantom are absolutely the winners. But what about the highest potential ATK increase given the perfect set of conditions? The answer, simply, is that any card that gives your monster the ATK of another monster is potentially the biggest ATK buff in the game.
Consider a monster with the highest achievable ATK in all of Yu-Gi-Oh. In fact, simply pick a number, or even infinity, and imagine a 0 ATK monster on the other side of the field that's equipped with Moon Mirror Shield. Not only did Moon Mirror Shield increase the ATK of a monster from 0 to our theoretical maximum, it even added an extra 100 ATK on top. It's the equivalent of saying 'infinity plus one' in a playground argument.
Of course, Honest gives an even larger buff as long as the monster is Light and has more than 100 ATK. You can also chain copies of Honest prior to Damage Calculation to buff a monster twice past infinity. Static ATK buffs start to pale in comparison to the insane ATK gains offered by scaling buffs.
Honest can just as easily give your monster a boost of zero ATK, or over one million. That duality makes Honest a difficult choice, especially since offensive and defensive Battle Phase effects have increasingly fallen out of favor over the years.
One key advantage that Honest has over its new counterpart, Dark Honest, is that it can give monsters an ATK boost that they can carry through the rest of the Battle Phase. Monsters that can attack twice like Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning could easily OTK with a copy of Honest. Heck, they often did in the past.
ATK buffs have rarely been pursued by players when card removal, draw effects, negation, and search effects are available. There's a simple reason why: unless you can end the duel that turn, focusing on dealing damage gives your opponent an opportunity to start a comeback. Controlling the field and the state of the game, while seizing opportunities to win with Accesscode Talker or Borrelsword Dragon, is a much more practical strategy that's been hugely successful in competitive Yu-Gi-Oh.
That said, I'll always have a soft spot for decks that abuse the game's biggest ATK buffs to win the game in hilarious ways. Raging Mad Plants and Rainbow Flower didn't make Sylvans any more consistent, but they did make my wins way more fun.
Until next time then