When I was growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s, you were either a Pokémon kid or a Yu-Gi-Oh! kid. The rivalry was pretty intense and very serious. But trading cards on both sides was even more intense. I saw a kid try to trade three months of pocket money just to get a Blue Eyes White Dragon (this was when the anime was at its peak.) If you have not seen or played Yu-Gi-Oh! in a million years like me, then let me catch you up to speed.
Launched by Konami in 1999, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a turn-based trading card game based on the fictional card game Duelling Monsters in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. Both players have three types of cards: Monster, Spell and Trap. The players start with 8000 Life Points and the winner is the one who causes their opponent to reach 0 Life Points. It's a surprisingly complex game with fusion tactics, special cards, and passionate players around the world.
I had to re-teach myself how to play the basic game since I have not played it since I was eight years old so I am a bit rusty. However, it isn't all cool monsters and fun times. Let me show you the dark side of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the side which hides a dark past. These are cards that, if used correctly, could wreak havoc on opponents, shut down gameplay and even achieve victory in an opening move. Here I have collected the craziest banned or 'forbidden' Yu-Gi-Oh! cards to have ever been introduced.
25 Yata Gurasu
We cannot talk about banned cards without mentioning this bad boy. The mere mention of this card makes players around the world rage-quit so hard they break a table. Yata Gurasu has been forbidden for years and for good reason. Yata Gurasu is a spirit monster who, on getting a clean hit at its opponent's Life Points, will stop them from drawing a card on their next turn. Not only this but, as it is spirit-type, will return to its owner's hand at the end of the turn. This means that the opponent is stuck with the monsters, spells etc that it already has available. This, combined with one of your traps and spells could render the opponent's play to dust in seconds if they do not have the counter monster and attack. This is the power of the infamous Yata-Lock.
24 Morphing Jar
Do not underestimate the power of this jar. Morphing Jar has the power to turn the tide of battle in moments. On activating this card, both players must return all of their cards to the deck and select five new ones. This is a big gamble as each player's deck is shuffled twice before beginning the match; sure, you may know what cards you have, but you have no idea what cards will come. You could get your best cards and combos or the worst hand ever. This mid-game reset is best applied after setting a bunch of cards so that you aren't starting completely fresh.
There's an increasingly common opinion that this card is not a threatening as it once was, but I'm here to let you know why this thing was awful to come up against. Cyber-Stein had low stats but was a potentially rewarding gamble. You paid 5000 Life Points and could instantly summon a fusion monster in attack mode. That was crazy, considering you usually had to sacrifice other monsters to do that, but this means not losing any of your other cards. Low Life Points seems bad, but there are cards that rely on you having a lower score than your opponent that could come in clutch. It's high-risk but high-reward.
22 Magical Scientist
This guy is one of the worst cards. Magical Scientist allows you to summon fusion monster at the low low cost of 1000 Life Points each. Now, you have to play by his rules is you want in; this means no direct attacks, they can't be level six monsters or higher and they must return to your extra deck once the turn is over. This means that you can swarm the whole field with monsters and maybe even win if you also use a Catapult Turtle card. It's for the best that this guy is gone.
21 Solemn Judgement
If you come up against this card, you're going to have a bad time. Now, there are counter cards that can protect you from a specific trap card or spell card. Those are great. This card, however, is not like those cards.
This is not the same judgment as when you eat ice cream for dinner.
Solemn Judgement stops a monster from being summoned and negates its effects and cancels most spells and traps all for half your life points. This is incredibly versatile and handy to have in your deck as you can just stop an opponent right then and there.
20 Victory Dragon
Now, we can all agree that dragons are rad. But dragons with the first name Victory and golden scales? You definitely want that one on your team. This card doesn't just have the name victory for show, no way. The second you whip this bad boy out of your deck, you know it is about to go down. However, he comes with a price. To get him out to play, you must sacrifice three dragon type cards on the field. If this card gets a direct attack on your opponent and reduces their Life Points to zero, you win the entire match. Now, that would usually be bad enough, but in Yu-Gi-Oh! a match consists of three duels. Did you win the other two duels? Too bad, kid, you lost because the other guy has a cool dragon.
19 Dimension Fusion
In Yu-Gi-Oh! when your monster is defeated, it is either sent to the graveyard or banished from the game entirely. This is so frustrating when your most powerful monsters get sent to the great beyond. Now, what if I told you that there was a way for you to get those monsters back into the game? Dimension Fusion allows both players to summon as many monsters that got banished or sent to the graveyard as possible. This cost you 2000 Life Points, but that's a small price to pay for potentially winning the game in one turn.
18 Last Turn
Last Turn is pretty wild. When your Life Points are below 1000, you can play this trap card during your opponent's turn. It forces players to remove all cards from the field (except one of yours).
Desperate times, people.
Your opponent then summons a monster and makes it attack yours. The winner is the player with the highest attack power. Any other situation results in a draw. This is a desperate move to pull, but it could win you the game if you are in a tight spot.
17 Chaos Emperor Dragon-Envoy Of The End
If you thought Victory Dragon was an excellent name, this one will blow your mind. This guy is on another level. Chaos Emperor Dragon requires you to sacrifice one light and one dark monster to the graveyard and costs 1000 Life Points to use. On activation, this card forces each player to send all the cards in their hands and on the field to the graveyard. Not only this, but you do 300 points of damage per card that you send to the great beyond. This would allow you to not only disable your opponent but deal a lot of damage at the same time.
16 Obelisk The Tormentor
All bow before this card. Obelisk The Tormentor is one of the Egyptian God cards within Yu-Gi-Oh!. These cards insanely powerful to the point that original Egyptian God cards are banned from play. It has a long list of rules but is incredibly overpowered and is immune to many kinds of cards and attacks. I love the original description on this card which reads: 'The descent of this mighty creature shall be heralded by burning winds and twisted lands. And with the coming of this horror, those who draw breath shall know the true meaning of eternal slumber.' It is the most melodramatic thing I have ever read.
15 Pot Of Greed
Pot of Greed is a card that allows you to pick up two more cards basically for free. Seems innocent enough, right? Yeah, no. This means that you can get to the MVP cards in your deck sooner for the cost of the pot of greed itself.
Don't judge a card by its description, folks.
This is particularly useful if you need to collect some cards for a specific attack or just really want to grab that Blue Eyes White Dragon.
14 Harpie's Feather Duster
This card is very handy to have in your deck. Harpie's Feather Duster is a trap card that, when activated, immediately destroys all of your opponent's trap and spell cards (depending which edition if the card you have.) This is massively unfair and overpowered. Thank the Egyptian Gods that this card is forbidden to play or else tables everywhere would suffer the wrath of rage-quitters.
13 Painful Choice
This card is yet another high-risk high-reward card. With this card, you must select five cards from your deck and show them to your opponent. Not only this, but the opponent then selects one card for you to keep and you must discard the others.
Sometimes you've gotta do what you've gotta do.
This means that your opponent could pick the worst card possible and potentially make you throw out all of your best cards. It's a tough call, but what can you do?
12 Change Of Heart
This card was a favourite of Kaiba's in the 90s anime and with good reason. Change of Heart allows you to control one of your opponent's monsters until the final phase of your turn. This could destroy your opponent's attack or defense strategies or even give you the chance to directly attack them. Sure, it is only one turn, but one turn can change the course of the whole duel. How can you defend against your own monster? Good luck with that, man.
11 Fiber Jar
Another game changer, Fiber Jar really shakes things up. This card forces each player to put all of the cards in the field, in their hand, and in the graveyard back in their deck before shuffling them. This card is great for when you are stuck with awful cards and have sent some great ones to the beyond. It could also ruin any plans your opponent had for their next turn, making them start all over again with you.
10 Heavy Storm
This card is similar to Harpie's Feather Duster if you boosted it by ten levels. Heavy Storm immediately destroys all spell and trap cards on the field. This is a great shield for you and a good way of getting rid of unhelpful cards. However, it is awful to come up against, particularly if you have some good traps all ready to go and have to see your perfect plan go to waste. Many players, me included, are happy to see this guy out of the competitive scene.
9 Graceful Charity
I honestly kind of want this card to come back, but only for me. Graceful Charity allows you to draw three cards, select the best one and then discard the other two.
The damage you could do with this is so not charitable.
This is nice as it gives you the best chances for that turn and may even help you win, but you would not want your opponent to have this card in their deck. This card may be charitable, but the card you get from using it would be far from that.
8 Imperial Order
This is a continuous trap card that negates all spell cards on the field and nulls their effects. During the standby phase of your turn, you must pay 700 Life Points to keep this card going or destroy it. This card is an amazing shield that gives you the upper hand in the game for the entire time that it is active. What would you do if you ended up using all of your monster cards and got a hand of just spell cards?
7 Destiny Hero - Disk Commander
Destiny Hero is another card that requires a lot of work for a high-risk high-reward gamble. First, you must send this card to the graveyard and then special summon it. Once you have done this, you can draw two cards from your deck and not throw them out.
Do not underestimate the power of the Destiny Hero - Disk Commander.
This changes everything about your turn and again potentially means you win in a single turn all because you could draw two cards.
6 Tribe-Infecting Virus
This card is the Yu-Gi-Oh! equivalent of Plague Inc. Tribe-Infecting Virus makes you say a type of monster and then destroys any face-up monster on the field. This means that if your opponent has a powerful fusion monster face-up on the field, you could say 'fusion' and destroy that threat. This does apply to you too but used effectively you could avoid taking damage from powerful enemies. When this baby gets activated, imagine waiting in fear to hear which of your monsters was going to get wiped out.
This card is a super overpowered spell card that immediately destroys all of the monsters that your opponent controls. Raigeki is lethal enough on its own, but now imagine using it with Imperial Order for example.
Raigeki is the card that monster cards wake up in a cold sweat dreaming about.
Now you know why Raigeki is going to be on the forbidden list forever along with Yata Gurasu. Good riddance, you stupid bird and bolt of lightning.
4 Sixth Sense
Sixth Sense makes Yu-Gi-Oh! feel like a tabletop game for a sec. So you pick a number between one and six. Then your opponent rolls the dice. If the dice show the same number you picked then you draw that many cards. If not, then you put that amount of cards from the top of your deck into the graveyard. There seems to be a trend going on here of risky gamble cards being put on the forbidden list.
3 Card Of Safe Return
This card does not seem too powerful on its own but think about the combos. Card of Safe Return allows you to draw one card every time you special summon a card from the graveyard.
That's pretty useful, right?
Now imagine what would happen when using it in combination with Dimension Fusion. That's a stupidly large number of cards at your disposal right there and you could get all of your best monsters back in one fell swoop.
2 Return From A Different Dimension
This card is similar to previous entries on this list. Return From A Different Dimension allows you to special summon as many banished monsters as you can until the end of your turn. This costs half of your Life Points, but imagine the possibilities! Victory is one mass attack would be a realistic outcome (depending on how many special summons you could do and how powerful the summoned monsters are.) This would be a short but powerful attack that will live on in history.
This froggy cutie is one of the sneakiest cards in the game. Not only can you special summon one frog monster from your deck (except Frog The Jam) and that frog will be immune to battle destruction for the rest of the game. Frog the Jam is not allowed immunity to battle either - what has Yu-Gi-Oh! got against Frog The Jam. I did not realize that frog cards were so elitist. As bad as I feel for him, it would rule to have beefed up frogs at your command.