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Doomkaiser Dragon
Card# CSOC-EN043

Doomkaiser Dragon's effect isn't just for Zombie World duelists: remember that its effect can swipe copies of Plaguespreader Zombie, too!
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Living the Metagame: High-Level Monsters
Dave Brent
"Here is the card I have been waiting for—with this card I can't fail! I call forth Curse of Dragon!"

Sorry . . . I'm still on the Power of Chaos thing. I still get a kick out of Yugi's quotes. While there was a time and place (maybe) for a five star, no effect, 2000 ATK monster, nobody in serious competition today would even consider such a thing.

As a general proposition, a high-level monster has a serious drawback—you have to remove one or two monsters from your side of the field to summon it. Not only do you lose a potential field advantage in number of monsters, but you can easily lose the monster to cards such as Torrential Tribute if you have not cleared the opponent's spell and trap zone. Then you attack and risk losing the monster to Mirror Force or other cards that your opponent can activate during your battle phase. Additionally, drawing a tribute monster when you do not have a monster on the field generally spells doom for you.

So why use any high-level monsters at all? Well, some top duelists don't. Most do, though, for two reasons: gamebreaking effects and/or the ability to special summon the monster through its own special requirements.

Basically, you can divide high-level monsters into two groups: special summon and tribute summon monsters.

Tribute monsters are rarely tournament competitive if they are above level 6 (one tribute). However, certain card effects, such as Soul Exchange, make it easier to summon a two-tribute monster. Special summon monsters, or more specifically, monsters that can be special summoned by meeting the special requirements found in the card text, are especially attractive to top duelists. Such monsters can be summoned in addition to a normal summon, and the best of these cards let you use your graveyard more effectively.

However, if you have too many high-level monsters of either type, your deck will run too slow and will be too inconsistent, since sooner or later you will get a handful of high-level monsters you can't summon. So how many high-level monsters are the top players using, and which ones? As I noted in the Winning Trap Lineup article, we have had three months of Regional tournaments across the country, and I have looked at over 150 of the top decklists to give us all an insight into what top duelists are playing. While the general monster lineup is diverse, only a few high-level monsters being are being used.

The range for top Regionals decks is from zero to three tribute monsters. However, the majority (>90%) use either one or two. Obviously, certain theme decks, such as a burn-type Magical Scientist deck that relies on Catapult Turtle or a Gravekeeper's deck that uses multiple copies of Gravekeeper's Chief, may use more or different tribute monsters. This article will focus on what is found in the majority of tournament winning decks.

When you factor in the special summon high-level monsters, the high end of the range increases to five. However, most top duelists seem to avoid going over four high-level monsters even with those monsters that can be special summoned through their own card requirements.

The High Five

Here are the high level monsters used by the overwhelming majority of top duelists in Regional tournaments:

Airknight Parshath
Vampire Lord
Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End
Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning

Invasion of Chaos has really impacted the typical monster lineup substantially. Since the release of Invasion of Chaos, Chaos Emperor Dragon and Black Luster Soldier have taken the tournament scene by storm, and as a result, they've joined Jinzo on the Limited list.
Here's the basic scoop on each of the top five high-level monsters.


Jinzo is the most commonly used high-level monster, bar none. A single tribute, Dark, 2400 ATK monster with an awesome effect—prevention of the activation of traps and negation of the effects of those already activated. Jinzo usually isn't on the field long anymore due to lots of good monster removal effects, including Tribe-Infecting Virus, Exiled Force, and D. D. Warrior Lady to name a few. Then again, it doesn't need to be. Summon it and attack without fear of Ring of Destruction, Mirror Force, Magic Cylinder or any other trap. Although it is a great card, it is interesting to note that there is a small but growing number of top duelists that are putting Jinzo in the side deck instead.

Airknight Parshath

With 1900 ATK, this monster is the most underpowered of the top tribute monsters. What it doesn't have in power, it makes up with its two great effects. First, it has a built-in Fairy Meteor Crush ability, making the 1900 ATK more effective. Second, you draw a card when it does battle damage. Since it is a Light monster, it has surged in popularity to support Chaos decks.

Vampire Lord

Vampire Lord was found in a high percentage of top decks in January Regionals, second only to Jinzo. There is no doubt that the trend is to put it in the side deck or drop it from the lineup altogether. Its respectable 2000 ATK, decent removal effect of a card from the opponent's deck when it does battle damage, and excellent self-reviving effect ensure it will still be played by some top duelists. However, it does not come back to the field if sent to the graveyard, which has made it less appealing in the current Chaos environment.

Chaos Emperor Dragon (CED)

CED has been covered in other articles, so I won't dwell on it here. It is a relatively easy to special summon monster with a 3000 ATK that usually deals 2000 to 3000 damage if you pay 1000 life points to use its effect. Even before it was placed on the limited list, most duelists didn't run three, although the Pleasanton, California Regional winner on March 13 (Shengyung You), did run three copies of CED. (He is also one of the top duelists that side-decked Jinzo.)

Black Luster Soldier

My favorite, athough I wasn't sure how most duelists would respond to it, as I noted in my article on Chaos. Although CED is definitely center-stage, this monster is showing up a lot on the tournament scene and is in high demand. Like CED, it is an easily summoned monster in the grand scheme of things. A 3000 ATK monster that can attack twice if it destroys an opponent's monster in the first attack that also can be used for no-cost monster removal if you don't use it to attack—what's not to like?

What Happened to Dark Ruler Ha Des?

Dark Ruler Ha Des was considered a top high-level monster a mere two months ago. So what happened? It has been replaced in many decks by Dark Balter the Terrible, summoned through the effect of Magical Scientist. Although Dark Ruler's effect is broader than that of Dark Balter, in that it applies to any Fiend that destroys an opponent's monster while Dark Ruler is on the field, most duelists don't care. Other than Yata-Garasu, a non-Fiend based deck would typically only have a few Fiends (Slate Warrior and Sangan, for example), not enough to make Dark Ruler more useful than Dark Balter. Even in Fiend decks, Terrorking Archfiend is pushing Dark Ruler out, since Terrorking Archfiend can be special summoned to the field, set, or normal summoned if another Archfiend is on the field.

Although Dark Ruler's 2450 ATK is nothing to ignore, it no longer seems as gamebreaking to be 50 ATK higher than Jinzo in the current environment. Great card, but just not great enough for top duelists to make room for another tribute monster, especially since it cannot be special summoned from the graveyard.

Best of the Rest

Here are a few other excellent high-level monsters that appear occasionally in top decks or, more likely, in theme decks:

Dark Magician of Chaos: In my view, one of the best Effect monsters in the game—an effect that allows you to reuse a spell card and the ability to take an opponent's monster out of play as well. The really big downside is that it is removed from play if it leaves the field and cannot be summoned like the Chaos monsters. You either tribute summon it with two of your monsters on the field, or special summon it through the effect of another card or cards. A few top players have used this card to achieve a top spot at Regionals, and we may see it do even better if it is not restricted soon.

Lava Golem: Lava Golem has a nice twist. You special summon it by tributing two of your opponent's monsters on the field. Of course, it is summoned to your opponent's side of the field, and you are now protecting yourself from the 3000 ATK monster you just gave to your opponent. Works well in Burn/Gravity Bind decks, though, since your opponent will be stuck with a 1000 life point hit in each standby phase.

Dark Necrofear: The effect of reviving it and equipping an opponent's monster if it is destroyed is great. Although 2200 ATK is nothing to ignore, and removing three Fiends from the graveyard isn't too hard, you really need to build a deck around it for it to be effective. Great Mazu Garzett is another high-level monster that complements a Fiend Necrofear deck since you can use it for Necrofear "food" as well as to create a really high-powered monster. Although some Fiend decks have hit the big time (three I believe), they have struggled in most Regionals to earn a top spot.

Manticore of Darkness: I'm rooting for this card. It has a respectable 2300 ATK and a nice recursion effect. The limitation is that you need a Beast or related-type monster in your hand to revive it. This card has also recently been added to the semi-limited list.

Levia-Dragon - Daedalus: A Water deck–only card. It's a 2600 ATK Water monster that is searchable by Witch of the Black Forest with a great effect, but the bad news is that it is a level 7 monster. The good news is that the effect allows you to send an "Umi" on your side of the field to the graveyard to destroy all cards on the field except for the Levia-Dragon, giving you a 2600 ATK clear shot at your opponent's life points. The better news is that A Legendary Ocean downgrades it to a level 6 to allow it to be summoned with a single tribute. A great card, but it depends completely on A Legendary Ocean; without it, it is hard to get on the field since it requires two tributes. At least Giga Gagagigo is only a one tribute Water monster without A Legendary Ocean on the field, and it has a 2450 ATK.


This article is about the high-level monsters that have been played in recent premier tournaments by the best of the best players. I hope it either confirms your approach or helps you rethink your monster lineup to improve your deck. I also encourage creativity and hope that you can use this article to evaluate other possible high-level monsters to make an even better winning lineup!

Please feel free to email me if you have questions, comments, or rants about anything in this or any other article in the Living the Metagame series at DBrent@Metagame.com.

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