Yu-Gi-Oh can be a pretty expensive hobby, but if you're more interested in playing for fun, or just starting to get your foot in the door for competitive play, it doesn't have to be. Don't get me wrong, some of the game's pricy staple cards really are that good, but if you're willing to compromise you can save a ton of money competing with your friends, or getting your feet wet in the Remote Duel tournament scene.
Today I'll look at some of the more expensive generic cards that players often use in a variety of different decks, and showcase some cards that are similar, but way more accessible. This is going to be realistic: we're going to talk about what makes the more expensive cards unique, too. But not everybody's ready to make serious investments in their dueling career, especially during a pandemic, so having some alternatives is really useful.
Cards like Lightning Storm, Forbidden Droplet, Infinite Impermanence and Accesscode Talker are played in lots of competitive decks and help carry them to victory. If you can't get your hands on those, here are some budget options I'd suggest instead.
Lightning Storm is played because it's a board wipe for monsters, or spells and traps. Because it can destroy either or, it's very flexible and takes up less space than playing three monster wipes and three backrow removals.
Though it's hugely flexible, it's also situational in the sense that you can only play it while you control no face-up cards. It's usually the first card you play to an open field, or a mediocre topdeck when you already committed cards. Lightning Storm activation is also limited to once per turn, so drawing multiples can be questionable. That said, a second copy can work out if your opponent negates the first with cards like Solemn Judgement or Borreload Savage Dragon.
If you don't have access to Lightning Storm and your strategy struggles against a board of monsters, you can play cards like Dark Ruler No More instead. It's definitely the Easy Button when you don't want to interact with your opponent's monsters. But that's only good if your strategy can wipe the field to follow up on the mass negation; something a deck like Dinosaurs can do really well.
Raigeki, Dark Hole, and the Kaiju package, mainly Interrupted Kaiju Slumber, are also really strong monster wipes. Interrupted Kaiju Slumber activation is limited to once-per-turn, but it also nets you a Kaiju for the next turn so it's pretty high in value. Raigeki and Dark Hole are not once-per-turn, so drawing multiples can be great at forcing out negates.
If your strategy struggles against heavy backrow or floodgates, Harpie's Feather Duster was just recently unbanned and it's pretty affordable. If you need backrow destruction, that's definitely the go-to option that you would wanna pick up. If your deck can OTK really fast, Red Reboot should be your best friend. Everyone should have a few copies lying around somewhere since it's been reprinted multiple times in several different rarities.
Hey, Trunade! is another mass removal option I'd suggest for backrow hate, but it's worth noting that it doesn't help get rid of Continuous floodgates. Nor does Denko Sekka or Magical Mid-Breaker Field. But those cards definitely help against a field of regular traps like Compulsory Evacuation Device, or against the likes of Sky Strikers and their multiple copies of Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor.
Anti-Magic Arrows is one of my favorites. I try to use it whenever I find a combo that relies on monster effects to create a board that can instantly win the game, or that wipes the opponent's field and doesn't need its Battle Phase. You can also technically use it to defend yourself against Evenly Matched. It's weird to me how it hasn't been reprinted yet.
If your strategy's vulnerable to popular floodgates, then you'll probably want spot removal instead: cards like the classic Quick-Play Spells Cosmic Cyclone, Twin Twisters and heck, even Typhoon. Galaxy Cyclone also a go-to if you're facing a slower matchup. It can usually take care of two cards over the course of the game, making it a pretty high value pick.
Overall, Lightning Storm unique flexibility means that nothing can fully replace it. There's no one card that does everything Lightning Storm does. But if you can afford the deck space, then substituting more cards for specific matchups might hold you over until you can add some Lightning Storm to your collection.
Forbidden Droplet one of the biggest chase cards from Rise of the Duelist. Alongside Triple Tactics Talent, it's played in a wide variety of decks to help you play out of disadvantage situations. Forbidden Droplet in particular is similar to a variety of monster negation cards that came before it, but its cost and its wording set it apart.
For starters, Forbidden Droplet doesn't target, making it one of the best options to negate untargetable boss monsters like Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon. The ATK halving effect is also a nice touch, helping you beat over your opponent's board and giving Forbidden Droplet some potential as a battle trick to defend your position.
The cost to play Forbidden Droplet is to pitch or send cards from your hand or field, letting you negate the same numer of cards on the field. That can help set up cards you want in your graveyard, and it can let you dodge effects that just so happen to target your monsters, like an opposing Infinite Impermanence. And last but not least, your opponent can't respond to Forbidden Droplet with the same type of cards you pitched. So yeah, it's a very unique card that can be played in lots of different ways.
Forbidden Chalice is also a Quick-Play monster negation spell. It targets, so it can't beat Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon, but both cards can help you negate something like El Shaddoll Winda or Number S0: Utopic Zexal. Since Forbidden Chalice is also a Quick-Play, you can set it as a type of disruption for the opponent's turn. It definitely can't match some of Forbidden Droplet key uses in this format, but it's got a bit of similarity to it.
If you want a card to help you dodge effects that target your monster, then something like Enemy Controller can help. It's also a Quick-Play Spell, taking control of an opponent's monster at the cost of tributing one of your own. It's a classic card that's been played in countless formats. Just like Forbidden Chalice, it does target, so it can't help you against Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon. But it's pretty good in many mirror matches, and in decks that just need monsters to Link Summon with.
When it comes to non-targeting Quick-Play disruption, not many more cards come to mind except something like Book of Eclipse. Another classic card that's rotated in and out of many formats, Book of Eclipse does have a slight drawback of possibly giving your opponent free draws, but that's only if the monsters affected stay on the field. As far as disruption goes, the one turn of flipping your opponent's stuff face-down might be all it takes to let you play to a win anyways.
But yeah when it comes to mass negation, Dark Ruler No More is definitely the go-to option yet again. Especially when you're staring down a field of three or four negates, pitching three or four cards with Forbidden Droplet might work out to negate your opponent's cards, but you'll need to open the one perfect combo card to follow up with to actually play the game. Dark Ruler No More can just solve the board all by itself, letting you play with the rest of your hand.
Infinite Impermanence is super unique because it's one of the few viable and generic trap cards you can play from your hand, rather than setting it to the field first. Along with Evenly Matched and Typhoon, it's seen a lot of play across a variety of formats. While some themes like Galaxy, Blackwings, and even Marincess have their unique traps that can be played without being set, off-theme cards that can do that are really rare.
Impermanence is also unique in the fact that it can help you negate an opponent's spell or trap in the same column that you activated it in. That's very helpful at dealing with floodgates against slower paced decks that give you the opportunity.
Being a trap card negation's very valuable in this day and age, ever since the release of Triple Tactics Talent. Even though it's similar to a monster hand trap like Effect Veiler, it's played more because it doesn't trigger the condition of Triple Tactics Talent or lose to the likes of Called by the Grave. That said if you can't get a set of Infinite Impermanence, then yeah Effect Veiler your replacement.
The other big differences between Effect Veiler and Infinite Impermanence besides their card type, is that you can use Infinite Impermanence on your own turn similar to Forbidden Chalice. That's important, because it gives you a higher chance to play against an opponent's disruption on your turn, such as Number S0: Utopic ZEXAL or an Invoked Mechaba.
Accesscode Talker a Link 4 monster that's very easy to summon, and many players use it as an easy win condition. Some will incorporate Crystron Halqifibrax just to bring out Effect Veiler and Link climb into Selene, Queen of the Master Magicians, using her effect to revive the Effect Veiler. That lets you Link Summon Accesscode Talker with 5300 ATK and a couple of pops.
Accesscode Talker definitely a game-winning card, able to clear the field with ease or even just beat over cards with its high ATK. And since its Link materials only require at least 2 Effect Monsters, it's much easier to summon compared to other OTK-centric Link 4s like Borrelsword Dragon.
Salamangreats or any Cyberse deck can easily climb into Accesscode Talker with just any two Cyberse monsters. First they make Splash Mage and use its ability to bring back a monster, just to make Transcode Talker to bring back a Link and then finally going into Accesscode Talker with, yet again, 5300 ATK and multiple effects.
But if Accesscode Talker just isn't in the cards for you right now, Topologic Zeroboros might not be too bad. It's also a pretty generic Cyberse Link 4 that only requires 2 effect monsters to summon. It can also have humongous attack points if you or your opponent played cards like Pot of Desires or Pot of Extravagance, since it gains 200 ATK for every banished card.
As for its removal effect? Well, Topologic Zeroboros is a board wipe as long as you have another monster to summon into the zone it points to. It's often combined with of Gizmek Orochi, the Serpentron Sky Slasher, not only fueling its ATK, but also hitting the field on either player's turn to Topologic Zeroboros zone, so that it can be used aggressively or as disruption. Then when it returns in the Main Monster Zone, you can have it point towards one of the Extra Monster Zones or both to lock your opponent out of them. It's definitely not the exact same as Accesscode Talker but it could get the job done.
At the end of the day this is a trading card game. That means sometimes, new cards will be direct upgrades from previous cards, and objectively better. They might be flexible or more generic, or there may be lower costs or a lower risk of counterplay built into the card's design. If you want to consistently do better, it would be in your best interest to get those more expensive cards when you can.
But if you're not ready to invest in those cards right now and you've been looking for alternatives, then I hope my suggestions can help you decide what to put in your next shopping cart! It's okay to work your way up as you build your dueling career.