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Thanks to the 4000 LP format, the available cardpool and the smaller decks, things that would normally be fair in the original TCG can become broken in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. The addition of character-specific skills has also led to this.

Skills

Note that unlike cards that must follow their real life counterparts, Skills can be altered.
  • Bandit Keith's unaltered Switcheroo skill was devastating, as it let you return a card from your hand to the deck, shuffle, and draw a new one at no cost, potentially saving yourself from certain defeat or brick hands. It can be used twice per Duel, as well. What really made the skill overpowered was its interaction with Thunder Dragonnote , that allowed a player to essentially draw two cards with a single Thunder Dragon while thinning the deck, behaving similarly to the permanently banned Pot of Greed. It ultimately got addressed in May 2017, when Switcheroo was nerfed so that it was only usable after you suffered a 1000 LP drop each time for its two activations.
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  • Another Bandit Keith-exclusive skill, Baggy Sleeves, was an originally balanced skill that became broken due to Power Creep. The skill allowed you to draw two cards during your draw phase if a Level 5 or higher monster you controlled was destroyed in battle on your opponent's preceding turn. While Awesome, but Impractical at first, this skill became a true monster in Thunder Dragon decks, where a majority of the archetype's monsters (and tech cards, like Artifact Vajra) are level 5 and above, allowing you to gain major advantage while still defending yourself. The May 21 2020 Update introduced a nerf that restricts the skill to on activation per Duel, and adjusts the condition to require the destruction of a Level 7 or higher monster.
  • Weevil/Insector Haga's skill Parasite Infestation would shuffle from 1 to 3 Parasite Paracides in your opponent's deck at the start of the duel. The 1000 LP burn in a 4000 LP format, and the draw block in such a fast format, coupled with cards such as Jade Insect Whistle and Gyaku Gire Panda that abuse the placement of the Parasites to deal damage to your opponent and control their draws made the July 2017 update address it by making it so only a max of 2 Parasites could be added to your opponent's deck. Two years later, in July 2019, the Skill gets addressed again after long time complaints that Stall Burn decks are still somewhat prevalent. The Skill now requires its user to run a deck that contains at least 4 different Insect-Type monsters, thus greatly reducing the amount of annoying stall monsters the deck can run.
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  • The Paradox Brothers have a drop skill called Three-Star Demotion, which at the cost of 2000 life points once a turn, lowers the levels of all the monster cards in their hand by three stars, meaning you're able to normal summon level 5-7 monsters without any tributes. Putting powerful monsters on the field such as Barrel Dragon, Flame Ogre and Guardian Angel Joan for nothing would allow you to easily gain field, hand and LP advantage respectively. Dark Magician decks would use Champion's Vigilance, Dark Magician Girl and Sage's Stone to lock you out of the game and OTK thanks to support cards such as Dark Magic Attack and Thousand Knives, using Supremacy Berry to get over the drawback and use the skill multiple times without summoning Joan. It was eventually addressed in the July 2017 update by increasing the LP cost to 3000. It was still too good when combined with the various high-level monsters in the game, so the January 2018 update nerfed it again to only be usable once per Duel, and the LP cost was changed to make the skill only usable on Suijin, Kazejin, and Sanga of the Thunder unless you're under 1000 LP.
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  • Mai Valentine/Kujaku's drop skill Harpie's Hunting Ground. The skill placed the aforementioned card on the field at the start of the duel. In a format so devoid of good facedown spell/trap removal, Hunting Ground provided the player with up to 3 free s/t removals. Add good normal beaters, chainable monster removal and you cover all the normal weaknesses of a deck while helping the Harpie's low attack score. It ended up shaping the metagame so much that the addition of cards such as Wild Tornado and Security Orb was seen as an attempt by Konami to deter the mindless sniping of facedown cards but it was not enough and, in the case of Wild Tornado, became an instant addition to the deck as it allowed it to easily snipe monsters. With the addition of cards such as Soul Resurrection and Knight of the Red Lotus the Harpie player was able to easily fill their entire field while sniping the entire opponent's backrow. It was finally addressed in the July 2017 update by making it so that the skill now starts with Harpie's Hunting Ground on top of the deck, taking away one draw.
  • Many Legendary Duelists are able to get a drop/level-up skill called Balance. It altered the starting 4-cards hand by making it reflect the type ratios of your deck buildnote . The increasing searching additions to the card pool in Duel Links made it so getting what you wanted in your starting hand was guaranteed. Need to have Polymerization on your starting hand? Add 2 Fusion Sage and 3 Polymerization to your deck. For a more threatening example: Need to get Champion's Vigilance or Red-Eyes Spirit on your starting hand? Just play those cards at the right ratios (usually 3 of each) and you're guaranteed to start at least with 1. The fact that running 1 card off the 5 card mark (so, running 4 or 6) didn't affect the starting hand just made it even more broken. It was nerfed in the November 6 2017 update to only affect three cards in your starting hand, with the forth being just as random as normal. And further in June 2018 by requiring the deck to have at least 6 monsters, 6 spells and 6 traps in order to trigger at all.
  • Tèa Gardner's skill Duel, Standby! was a skill used mostly to add consistency in OTK decks, allowing decks like Cyber Stein OTK, Silent Swordsman LV3 OTK and such, to have an overwhelming advantage over their opponents with the increased amount of resouces, allowing to end duels quickly, and even then, it was a practical skill overall, because it added an initial card to use in almost every deck that could take advantage of this. Therefore, the skill received a nerf in June 2018, so the player with the skill can't activate card effects at all on their initial turn, making the +1 advantage mostly pointless in most cases.
    • And then it received another nerf in December 2019, preventing you from Normal Summoning as well on your first turn, after people abused the Skill alongside the Normal Summonable Amano-Iwato, which would stay on the field thanks to the Skill negating its last effect that returns it to the hand at the end of the turn it is Normal Summoned. This combo locks the opponent from activating any Monster effect at all for the rest of the Duel, provided Amano is well-protected by its user. As this is deemed too unfair by Konami, the Skill gets nerfed again.
  • Beatdown, a skill from Seto Kaiba and Vellian Crowler, was a pretty balanced skill, used to increase the attack of your monsters by the number of monsters in your side of the field with Lv.5 or higher, but with the advent of Fur Hire into the foray (see below), the skill became more unbalanced, because it helped to increase their OTK consistency with the ATK boost after a Dyna was in the field, and by 600 with 2 Dynas or a Dyna and a Wiz, helping to overcome their mirror matches and getting over other powerful monsters with ease. The impact was such, that Konami nerfed the skill in August 24th, 2018, so that only Lv.5 and higher monsters receive the boost instead.
    • As if it wasn't enough, because of the rise of higher level monsters as well as quicker and more efficient ways of summoning them, the skill became further nerfed in October 28th, 2019 to become a once per duel skill.
  • Restart, a skill that was available to a good bunch of Legendary Duelists, allowed to optionally redraw your initial hand without consequences, increasing the consistency of decks overall by redrawing a bad hand. On January 24th, 2018, the skill was adjusted by adding the condition of revealing your starting hand before redrawing if you activate the skill, which wasn't a dealbreaker on the grand scheme of things and it was still one of the most used skills in the metagame, especially during the Sylvan format, which prompted a further nerf in June 2018, by dropping the reveal condition, but adding an inherent -1 advantage by skipping your initial first draw if you activate the skill at all.
  • Cyber Style, is a Zane exclusive skill that is initially meant to ease the summoning of Cyber End Dragon in a game that lacks the original Cyber Dragon. However, the monsters provided by this skill have no restriction whatsoever placed on them, and players began to use them with many decks that likes having free monsters, usually as Tribute. And with many ways to reduce your own LP, it becomes easier to trigger this skill, the most common being Cosmic Cyclone, which has you pay 1000 LP to banish 1 Spell/Trap card. This allows players to break their opponent's field AND get a free tribute as bonus, which then extends into their deck's play that of course does not involve any "Cyber" monsters at all, despite the skill's name. This goes WAY against Konami's intended use of the skill, so as a result, in October 2018, the skill received a huge nerf that makes the monsters from this skill usable only for Fusion Summoning. However, this also prevents the use of cards that require Cyber Dragon as a tribute such as Photon Generator Unit. Granted, those players who would want to use that are so few and far in between; but the issue is still there.
    • In response to the resurgence of Cyber Dragon decks thanks to a new wave of good support in the Future Horizon Box, Cyber Style was nerfed again on July 17, 2020, requiring the user to have lost at least 2000 LP before using it and making it so the player can neither attack with nor Special Summon any non-Fusion Monsters while the summoned Proto-Cybers are on the field, preventing the Cyber Dragon player from simply attacking the opponent for game with the Summoned Proto-Cyber Dragons if the field was cleared.
  • Transcendent Crystals is a skill exclusive to Jesse Andersen, and like the above-mentioned Cyber Style was abused in almost identical ways. The skill allowed a player to send 1 to 3 cards from their hand to the graveyard to add that number of Crystal Beast monsters to their backrow as spell cards. While Crystal Beasts themselves are far from viable, the skill was a huge boon to Crystron decks. Many Crystron cards have effects that activate or target cards in the graveyard, so being able to selectively send cards to the graveyard without having to run cards with discard costs provided unmatched utility. In addition, several Crystrons have effects that require the player to destroy a card on their side of the field, so the Crystal Beasts in the backrow also served as valuable fodder for the Crystron player to get their combos rolling. The May 21, 2020 update nerfed the skill by making it only usable from turn 3 onwards, preventing Crystrons from being able to instantly set up their graveyard on their first turn.
  • Sorcery Conduit is a skill that allows a player to draw a random Spellcaster-Type monster from their deck during their draw phase every time they lose 1000 LP, and doesn't require a certain number and/or differently named Spellcasters in the deck to use. Combined with Cosmic Cyclone, this skill was a major consistency tool for decks running the Invoked Engine, since the skill was guaranteed to add Aleister to your hand if he was the only Spellcaster in your deck, and he would in turn add Invocation to your hand to immediately summon the powerful Invoked fusions. The March 2020 update nerfed this skill by increasing the required LP deficit to 1500, nixing the ability to selectively trigger it with Cosmic Cyclone.
  • Life Cost 0 is a skill used in Cyber-Stein decks, which usually focus on getting a free Ojama King into the field in order to lock the opponent's field, then get another free monster to attack the opponent with (neither Cyber-Stein nor Ojama King are good in terms of offense), or to ensure you can get rid of any possible threats on your next turn. This skill makes Cyber-Stein so good that, along with the Cyber Style skill in October 2018, the skill gets a nerf that prevents it from being used more than once, meaning Cyber-Stein players now cannot summon anything else after Ojama King, preventing them from putting up a solid attacker or something that can handle incoming threats.
  • Three Lord Pillars is a skill exclusive to Sartorius that lets you start with a The Material Lord set on your side of the field. Why was it broken? Because it had a second effect that placed all copies of The Sky Lord and The Spiritual Lord at the bottom of your deck. It didn't take long for people to realize that this basically allowed you to play a 14 card deck by stacking the bottom. As a result, it took less than two days from the skill being unlockable until Konami announced that the sorting effect would be removed.
  • Sealed Tombs is a skill exclusive to Ishizu that prevents players from summoning monsters or banishing cards from the Graveyards until your next turn, serving as an absolutely devastating lockdown ability against anything that relies on the Graveyard. Which, as the game goes on, are becoming more common by the day. It only works once per Duel, but effectively forcing an opponent to skip their turn means that once can be quite enough. The March 2020 update nerfed the skill by making it only usable if you have 1000 LP less than the opponent.
  • No Mortal Can Resist is another Ishizu-exclusive skill that immediately jumped in to take the place of the nerfed Sealed Tombs and quickly proved to be just as devastating, if not even more so than its predecessor. If your LP are 1000 or more lower than your opponent, activating the skill turns every monster in your opponent's Graveyard into a Skull Servant. This completely demolishes ANY strategy relying on Graveyard resources, was usable once per turn, and was easily turned online by a single Cosmic Cyclone. This skill immediately became a dominant force in the meta, so the May 21 2020 update nerfed it by making it usable once per Duel, and increasing the LP Deficit to 2000.
  • Compensation is a level up skill for Bakura and Yubel that was easily the skill of choice for a Darklord deck. The skill allows you to send the top card of your deck to the graveyard and gain 300 LP, and can be used every time you lose 1000 LP, and can be used an unlimited number of times per turn, as long as you lost 1000 LP right before you use it. The Darklord monsters can pay 1000 LP to reuse the effect of a Darklord Spell/Trap in the graveyard and shuffle it back into the deck, so Compensation not only softened the cost of repeatedly using these effects, but also had a good chance of immediately milling the card(s) you just copied back into the graveyard, keeping the Darklord player stocked with resources. The March 2020 update nerfed the skill by making it only usuable once per turn and twice per duel, in tandem with the Semi-Limiting of Darklord Ixchel.
  • Master of Destiny, a skill exclusive to Sartorius, guarantees that your first 3 coin toss effects will always land on heads if you have 5 or more different coin toss cards in your deck. Flavor-wise, it's meant to work with his Arcana Force cards, but people quickly found out that it turns Desperado Barrel Dragon into Mirror Force/Lightning Vortex on a stick with a card draw effect, to boot, and that's before getting into other good coin cards like Cup of Ace. This deck quickly became one of the few viable options on the ladder, and Konami responded by nerfing the skill to require 7 different coin toss cards in your deck, hitting Desperado decks' consistency.
  • Grit is a skill obtainable by many characters that works by allowing a player to survive lethal damage with 1 LP remaining, as long as they had 4000 or more LP at the start of that turn. The skill allowed decks with heavily offense-based strategies to survive an opponent's turn and then unleash their One-Turn-Kills on the next turn, without having to dedicate deck space to defensive backrow or handtraps. With a resurgence of OTK-based decks like Masked Heroes, Blackwings, and Lunalights the skill became a major safety net for these decks if they had to go first. The May 21 2020 Update adjusted the skill so that the player can only Special Summon one monster on the turn after Grit activates, preventing these decks from simply exploding on the opponent after using it. This was also the second nerf to the skill compared to its original version, in which Grit's activation was luck-dependent and it was possible for it to activate two turns in a row (though the activation chance was higher with more LP), which wasn't that notable in the slower early metagame, but became a major safety net around the time of faster decks like Sylvans.

Cards

Note that the banlist in Duel Links works differently from the banlist in the real-life card game. Instead of being Limited or Semi-Limited, cards are marked as Limited 1, Limited 2, or Limited 3, and you can only have a maximum of 1, 2, or 3 cards from the respective lists in your deck. For example if Raigeki and Dark Hole were both in limited 1, you can only use one or the other, not both. Likewise if, for example, Mystical Space Typhoon and Upstart Goblin were both in limited 2, you can only either play 2 copies of one card and 0 copy of the other, or play just 1 copy of each card.
  • Restructer Revolution. Conceived for a 8000 LP format, the card was hopelessly outclassed from its inception thanks to more damaging burn cards available to the playerbase. However, thanks to the 4000 LP format and the addition of a specific skill for Tea/Anzu called Duel, Standby! that allowed you and your opponent to start with an extra card on the starting hand, the card ended up being the focus of the first deck able to FTK (First Turn Kill) in Duel Links. Combine it with the card Cup of Ace, and you would either increase your opponent's hand making Restructer more lethal or you would draw into your other burn cards. Without any other factors in play, a copy of Restructer Revolution would make 1000 damage on turn 1. The card ended up being the first card to be limited for the August 3 banlist.
  • Cyber-Stein and De-Synchro are both major FTK and pseudo-FTK enablers. Cyber-Stein, much like in the TCG/OCG, is distinguished by its ability to pull out otherwise difficult-to-Summon Fusions with powerful effects, and that becomes even more pronounced in the Speed Duel format. Combined with various LP gain cards and cycling cards like Magical Mallet to consistently get Cyber-Stein and use to to summon an Ojama King on turn 1, locking all three of your opponent's monster zones and preventing them from doing anything to defend themselves while you poke them to death (barring their spell and trap cards). De-Synchro, being a Normal Spell instead of Quick-Play like De-Fusion, was initially seen as useless... until it was combined with the Fortune Lady deck. With Past allowing the deck to Synchro and Calling allowing summoning from the deck, it is very easy to trigger the effect of Water to draw 2 cards upon being Special Summoned. De-Synchro would return any Synchro to the extra deck and Special Summon the materials from the graveyard, therefore using Past and Water for a Synchro would allow a double draw every time De-Synchro is used. Since neither Fortune Lady Water nor De-Synchro have hard Once-Per-Turn clauses, one could repeatedly draw cards in a loop by abusing these effects, drawing into damage dealing Spells and setting up very consistent FT Ks. The May 21 2020 List Limited both of these cards to 1 for these reasons.
  • Cyber Angels immediately took over the ladder as soon as they were released. Though they were Alexis's signature archetype in GX, they were actually released in the Arc-V era and buffed accordingly to account for Power Creep. The result was a hyper-consistent deck with searching and card recycling prowess far surpassing any other deck of the time, easily allowing them to get out and reuse Cyber Angel Dakini, a powerful Ritual Monster with a removal effect extremely hard to play around. In addition, their signature Ritual Spell, Machine Angel Ritual, also protected them from destruction, making them hard to remove by conventional methods. Konami instantly took note of this and Limited Machine Angel Ritual in the November 6 banlist, 1 month and a half after their release in the game, and even then the deck was still effective in the meta, so they received a second nerf in the February 2018 banlist, by Limiting 2 both Machine Angel Ritual and Cyber Angel Dakini, and even then it was meta during the Sylvan format by using alternatives like Gishki Chain, and using the Saffira engine with Hymn of Light for ritual protection, so the last nail in the coffin was Cyber Petit Angel becoming, and the skills Balance and Duel, Standby! being also nerfed after the June 26th, 2018 update, which completely made the deck irrelevant. The deck has since been slightly improved by Petit Angel being put on Limited 1 (which no longer forces players to choose between it, Dakini, and Ritual), and the March 2020 list deemed Petit Angel balanced enough to come off the list.
  • Champion's Vigilance is a Solemn Judgment's clone that has a fair restriction in the TCG; needing to control a mediocre high leveled normal beater is just small fry compared to the many other Judgment clones the game has. However, it has a whole different story on Duel Links; the format's lack of counterplay against counter traps, combined with the addition of many special summon tools (Kaibaman, the aforementioned Three-Star Demotion, Black Dragon's Chick) that allowed players the easy summon of high leveled 7 star monsters, made the card creep its way into many deck builds that loved being able to negate the opponent's power plays. With the right starting hand, CV players would outright prevent the opponent from playing the game, and it was even worse when used in combination with the unnerfed Balance skill and the Red-Eyes deck top-notch consistency. It was Limited in the November 6 banlist for promoting uninteractive and one-sided gameplay.
  • Red-Eyes took the meta by storm when their support card, Red-Eyes Insight was added to the game in May 2017. Thanks to Red-Eyes Spirit, RE decks were able to get a 2400 beater on field at the cost of only 1 card while also improving their consistency to levels never seen before in Duel Links. After enjoying many months in the spotlight as THE dominant tier 1 deck, (with only Cyber Angels invading their home turf in October 2017), Red-Eyes Spirit became the first semi-limited card in the game in the November 6 banlist.
  • With the release of the Broken Bamboo Sword series of Spells, the Woodland Sprite FTK decks became extremely prominent due to their consistency at winning in the very first turn. Not helping things were how common the components were, making it easy for anyone to put together the deck, which allowed you to use Cursed and Broken Bamboo Swords to inflict 1000 damage, then add a Golden Bamboo Sword to your hand with Cursed's effect. This deck was so broken that Konami had to address it just a few weeks after the cards came out, limiting Woodland Sprite in January 24th, 2018 and later announcing the limiting of Golden Bamboo Sword February 5th, 2018.
  • With the release of the minibox "Rampage of the Forest", we saw the debut of Sylvans into the game. At the beginning, the players took for granted that they weren't going to be so influential in the meta, but then it became one of the most meta-defining decks in the story of Duel Links. Their main anchor is Sylvan Komushroomo, which has the effect of excavating up to 5 cards from the deck and if a plant gets excavated, it's sent to the GY, which is a good thing, because most of the plants from this deck activates from being excavated or just being in the GY overall. For example: Sylvan Marshalleaf pops a monster from the field, the aforementioned Komushroomo can destroy 1 card from the backrow, Rose Lover can Special Summon a Plant monster from your hand and it becomes immune to traps for the rest of that turn, and World Carrotweight Champion was able to be Special Summoned from the GY by sending a Plant monster from your hand or field (often being an already used Komushroomo or a Rose Lover). The most insane part is, the deck was cheap to make, due to most of the components coming from that same booster, plus Rose Lover could be acquired from the Card Trader. The result? Most decks had to account for this threat in order to be effective, and after two months of being one of top decks in the metagame, Rose Lover and Sylvan Marshalleaf got semi-limited after the June 26th, 2018 update.
  • Enemy Controller has been a staple since the day of release, allowing to either change the position of a monster or steal a monster for the remainder of the turn by tributing a monster of your own. It was used in pretty much every single meta deck. For example, Amazoness could get free steals by tributing an Amazoness Baby Tiger, and it was often used to steal victories from your opponent. The aforementioned Sylvans also used this card as a tech in order to counter threats like Masked HERO and Cyber Angels. Such examples got Konami aware of this situation, therefore, the card got semi-limited after the June 26th, 2018 update, and since you can only include 2 of any semi-limited card in your deck, this effectively meant that decks with key cards on the semi-limited list were barred from this powerful, otherwise splashable tool.
  • After the June 26th, 2018 banlist, there was another advent of a largely dominating deck: Fur Hire. Like Sylvans, it is also a cheap deck to make, because most of the components came from a single minibox, "Clash of Wings". Also, like Cyber Angels, it is a deck released in Duel Links, mere months after their OCG / TCG debut in real life (Fur Hire is an archetype released in 2018!), meaning the effects are designed according to the major Power Creep in the real life game, something that hasn't happen yet in Duel Links. As a result, it didn't take too long until Fur Hire became the undisputed best deck after the Sylvan format.
    • Their main player was Beat, Bladesman Fur Hire, which can special summon another Fur Hire card from the hand. Also, if this card is on the field after a Fur Hire monster was special summoned, it allows to search for another Fur Hire monster in the deck, except itself.
    • The first effect was also shared by Donpa, Marksman Fur Hire, Recon, Scout Fur Hire and Seal, Strategist Fur Hire, which also has effects when a monster of the archetype was special summoned; Donpa allowing to destroy a face-up card, Recon allowing to destroy a set card (including set monsters), and Seal allowing to retrieve a Fur Hire from the GY that was either discarded, tributed or destroyed.
    • These monsters can special summon their main bosses: Dyna, Hero Fur Hire and Wiz, Sage Fur Hire. The former allowing to banish cards from your opponent's Graveyard up to the amount of Fur Hire cards with different names on the field, while the latter allowed to recover LP by the amount of other Fur Hire monsters on the field with different names x 500 (which in turn allows the use of cards like Cosmic Cyclone without too much of a cost), but their effects on the field were also insane. Dyna redirects all the attacks to other Fur Hire monsters towards him, and if there are two Dynas on the field, your opponent can't attack any face up Fur Hire monsters, including both Dynas, due to them protecting each other, while Wiz can negate spells and traps once per turn by discarding a Fur Hire monster from the hand.
    • Even if you were able to send one of these to the Graveyard, they could be retrieved with their personal revival card, Mayhem Fur Hire, which also allowed to trigger the effects of the lower level Fur Hire monsters, and being a Quick Spell card, it meant that it also could be activated during your opponent's turn after setting the card on the field.
    • The deck was so versatile and powerful, that it was considered a skill-less deck, and no other deck could hope to compete at the same level as them. Due to this, in order to attempt to stop their rampage, Konami limited Dyna and semi-limited Donpa following the banlist change applied on August 29th, 2018. Then, in October 2018, Konami nerfed the deck again by putting Wiz on semi-limited.
  • Amazoness was a largely dominating deck that quickly get important monsters on board with the effect of Amazoness Princess and Amazoness Onslaught, and is capable of banishing all of opponent's monsters using Amazoness Onslaught's other effect. As banished monsters are much harder to retrieve, this often means those monsters are dead for good for the rest of the Duel, often preventing the opponent from making further plays. The deck eventually received a nerf by having Amazoness Onslaught and Amazoness Baby Tiger be semi-limited in August 2018, but even that is not enough, and during October 2018, Konami goes further by limiting Amazoness Onslaught, and semi-limiting Amazoness Princess.
  • Treacherous Trap Hole is a powerful SR-rarity Trap card from a box, that allows a free destruction of two monsters on the field. This effect often proves to be a massive game changer due to how much it kills opposing player's strategy, making it a must in many decks in the game. However, despite the players' outcry, Konami's usual reluctance to hit box SR and UR cards means this card would always dominates the game. That is, until Konami finally decided to semi-limited Treacherous Trap Hole in October 2018.
  • Masked HERO Anki decks are in the running for most hated deck archetype in the game. The deck uses a Destiny HERO backbone consisting of Drilldark, Decider, and Celestial to quickly swarm the field and draw cards while setting up a Mask Change into the 2800 ATK Anki, allowing them to shred the opponent's LP in record time. To top it off, Mask Change is a Quick-Play spell, meaning that you can use it during the Battle Phase or even in response to an opponent's Trap, and can be searched by Anki whenever he destroys a monster, letting you Mask Change into a second Anki and immediately attack again with it. To top it off, Anki can also ignore the opponent's monsters and attack directly at the cost of halving the battle damage dealt, which sounds balanced on paper, but players found ways around the downside. Activating Forbidden Chalice during the Damage Step allows the direct attack to go through, but removes the halved damage and adds 400 damage on top of that, often killing wounded opponents outright and leaving healthy ones weak enough to be finished by a second Mask Change. Even worse, Rex Raptor's Titan Showdown skill hadnote  an infamous glitch that causes a direct attacking Anki to deal full damage, letting him swing for 5600 damage regardless of field state. The June 26th 2018 and October 29th 2018 lists hit the deck's consistency tools by semi-limiting Destiny HERO - Celestial and limiting Vision HERO Vyon, but the deck is still a strong contender. The deck rose to prominence once again with the introduction of Stratos in a Selection Box and Vision HERO Faris making the deck's strategy even more devastating and consistent, along with the Grit skill almost guaranteeing the HERO deck could survive long enough to unleash the OTK. The May 21, 2020 update placed Vyon on limited 2 (preventing access to the backrow-clearing Hey, Trunade!) as well as placing a summoning restriction onto Grit (detailed in the skills section) to specifically prevent an OTK follow-up.
  • Koa'ki Meiru saw little play in the Duel Links meta, as the Speed Duel format made their maintenance costs much steeper compared to the real-life game and gimped the deck's viability. That is, until they got Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru, which not only greatly increased the deck's consistency but also made them much, much easier to maintain. This turned them from a mediocre Glass Cannon deck into an extremely scary one, as all they need to do is keep their monsters around for one turn to beat the opponent into the ground in the next, and playing multiple copies of Koa'ki Meiru Maximus went from an all-or-nothing endeavor into a legitimate threat; if the opponent didn't have an answer, the Maximuses (Maximi?) can then destroy the opponent's field with their effects and then demolish the opponent's LP twice over. Even with just one copy, Maximus can take out one of the opponent's cards and three-quarters of their LP; considering that most Koa'ki Meirus have at least 1900 ATK, it wasn't hard to take care of the rest, and Diamond Core gave them a safety net to let them try again next turn. The March 2019 lists subsequently Limited 1 Koa'ki Meiru Maximus and set Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru to Limited 2 to try to curb their dominance, and the July lists hit it again by swapping Iron Core for Diamond Core on the Limited 2 list (which was reversed in December as limiting Diamond Core killed the deck entirely).
  • Cosmic Cyclone is the backrow removal of choice in Duel Links, and was one of the inaugural members of the Limited 3 category to make players choose between it and other staples going forward. For a cost of 1000 LP, Cosmic Cyclone banishes a Spell/Trap on the field, ignoring annoying floating effects and preventing Graveyard effects from being used. The real kicker that makes this card stand out is the cost. You'd think that paying 1000 LP would be much more harmful in a 4000-LP format, but given the number of skills that require you to either lose LP or be below a certain threshold, Cosmic Cyclone more often than not became a skill enabler on top of popping backrow.
  • Darklords, like Fur Hire, had the problem of being adapted to the Power Creep of the real-life game rather than the Duel Links environment. The deck's ability to throw out massive beatsticks while also re-using powerful Spell and Trap effects repeatedly from the Graveyard, including revival, searching, and effect negation on either player's turn made it quite simply absurd to go up against. A Darklord first turn often goes as follows: discarding Ixchel and often Darklord Superbia to draw 2, reviving Superbia with Darklord Contact, and then reviving Ixchel with Superbia, giving you two monsters with 2500+ ATK on your first turn. Or just dropping the 2600 ATK Nasten by discarding two other cards, which often includes a Spell or Trap that Nasten can then activate from the Graveyard, giving you essentially no loss in card advantage. Darklord Contact (their revival card) had to be put to Limited 2 and The Sanctified Darklord (their negation card) to Limited 1 to rein them in, and even then, they were still oppressive enough that the March 2020 lists put Ixchel, their main consistency booster, to Limited 2 as well.
  • Invoked Elementsabers was one of the most powerful decks in the Duel Links Meta upon release. The deck works by combining the Invoked cards, whose specialty is fusing Aleister with monsters of specific atttributes, with Elementsabers, whose effects can change their attributes while in the graveyard, to create devastating combos. Between a consistency and ATK boosting Field Spell, a walking Book of Moon, a nearly indestructible wall monster, and powerful attackers, the deck had the resources to dismantle any opposition while still having room to run powerful tech cards. Attempts to curb the deck were made, via Limiting Cocytus and Semi-Limiting Magellanica, but the later release of Purgatrio more than compensated. As a result, the March 2020 lists put Palace of the Elemental Lords and Cosmic Cyclone on the Limited 3 list, forcing the deck to choose between maxing consistency with the Field Spell and being able to use the meta's premier anti-backrow/skill enabling card. The May 21 2020 Lists hit the deck again by Limiting Malo to 1 as well, forcing a choice between it and Cocytus (one that Cocytus generally always wins), and reducing the consistency/speed of summoning Invoked Purgatrionote .
  • That Grass Looks Greener isn't exactly known for being balanced in the real-life game, and it's not much better in Duel Links. On the one hand, the limited deck sizes mean That Grass will only mill a maximum of 10 cards, compared to the real-life game's 20. On the other hand, skills exist in Duel Links, with skills like Balance and Spell Specialist allowing players with three copies of it to reliably draw the card on turn 1 and set up their Graveyard for the rest of the game. Shiranuis are a particularly notorious abuser of this strategy, allowing them to easily get monsters to banish for their effects and rapidly spam huge Synchro monsters. As such, TGLG was put on Limited 1.
  • Shiranui immediately became a favored deck in Duel Links, both for being budget-friendlynote  and for being incredibly consistent and powerful while maintaining high versatility, so much so that the main cards each require a separate examination.
    • The deck revolves around its main tuner Spectralsword, whose ability allows it to banish itself and another zombie to Special Summon a Zombie-Type Synchro of their combined levels from the Extra Deck. This effect bypasses the strict requirementsnote  of Archfiend Zombie-Skull and Revived King Ha Des, giving Shiranui easy access to destruction protection and anti-floater utility. Spectralsword was placed on the Limited 2 List in March 2020, preventing Shiranui decks from using other Limited 2 cards like Enemy Controller.
    • Shiranui Squire is the other half of the deck's core. Upon Normal Summon she can summon a Spectralsword or Shade from the deck, instantly setting up a Synchro Summon. And with the aforementioned graveyard effect of Spectralsword, doing this also sets up a follow-up Synchro on the following turn. Squire was placed on the Limited 3 List on May 21 2020, preventing Shiranui decks from accessing other powerful staples like Cosmic Cyclone and Gold Sarcophagus.
    • Shiranui Solitaire can tribute itself or another zombie to summon a Tuner with 0 DEF from the deck, setting up Spectralsword plays and also clearing out monsters hit by Floodgate Trap Hole. Additionally, when banished its effect allows a player to Special Summon a different banished Shiranui monster, allowing retrieval of spent Spectralswords and extending Synchro-climbing plays even further.
    • The archetype Synchro monsters all have utility on their own, but the truly monstrous Shiranui Sunsaga deserves special attention. It has a massive 3500 ATK, and upon summon recycles Zombie-Type Synchro monsters back into the extra deck and destroys an opposing card for each one. Furthermore, it has an effect to protect itself or any other Zombie monster from destruction by banishing Shiranui monsters from the graveyard, in turn triggering the banished monsters' effects. To put a cherry on top, the intimidating Level 10 Synchro requirement can easily be circumvented by using the Level Augmentation skill, allowing one to summon Sunsaga on the first turn off of a Squire-to-Spectralsword play.
    • The deck's first big splash was due to interactions with Burgeoning Whirlflame and That Grass Looks Greener, allowing mass-triggering of the Shiranui banish effects and instant graveyard setup, resulting in the Limiting of TGLG and Spectralsword. Even with that however, Shiranui's relatively small number of core cards allowed the deck to include whatever backrow and/or hand traps one desired, without affecting consistency. This versatility kept Shiranui a top contender in the meta, leading to Squire being placed on the Limited 3 List on May 21, 2020. The July 21 2020 List reversed the limits by placing Squire on Limited 2 and Spectralsword on Limited 3, recognizing Squire's 1-card Synchro setup to be the more dangerous of the two.
  • Dark Magicians have always been a popular deck on Duel Links, but they truly reached the height of their power with the release of Dark Magical Circle in Future Horizon, which, in addition to scrying your top 3 cards for a Dark Magician card, will banish one card on your opponent's field when a Dark Magician is summoned, once per turn. This effect changed Magician Navigation from a simple swarming card to a way to disrupt opposing plays by banishing their key cards and/or boss monsters right after they are played, in addition to being able to negate an opposing Spell/Trap on future turns by banishing itself, nixing almost any attempt at a comeback play. Combined with Magician's Rod searching out the key cards, a Dark Magician deck that could set up a Circle and Navigation on the first turn was usually guaranteed a victory regardless of the opponent. The May 11, 2020 lists slapped the deck on the wrist by putting Magician of Dark Illusion (a card the deck usually played only one of anyway) on Limited 2, and the deck's continued dominance led to their consistency card Rod being placed on Limited 2 instead in the July 21 List.
  • Gold Sarcophagus banishes one card from your deck face-up and adds it to your hand in 2 turns. In a scenario mirroring the circumstances of the card's Limiting in the TCG, Gold Sarcophagus ended up being a major consistency booster for Thunder Dragon (and to a lesser extent Shiranui) decks, leading to it being placed on the Limited 3 List along with Thunder Dragondark and Shiranui Squire, the main play-enabling/consistency cards for both of these decks.
  • Type Zero Magic Crusher became this thanks to the Witchcrafters recycling of Spell Cards. By discarding a Spell card, you can inflict 500 damage to your opponent an unlimited number of times per turn. It became Limited 1 on the July 21 Lists.
  • Neos Fusion. Players would use this card to dump any LV 4 or lower Effect monster from the deck and summon Elemental HERO Brave Neos with a high ATK boosting effect, usually as high as 3000, then use Give and Take to bring Ra's Disicple (which forbids Special Summoning and cannot be tributed except to summon an Egyptian God) to screw their opponents or dump Lunalight Crimson Fox to change your opponent's monster's ATK to 0,which made it risky to summon a monster in ATK position. Worse, Neos Fusion can be easily searched by Keeper of Dragon Magic. Thus Lunalight Crimson Fox became Limited 2, and Give and Take became Limited 1.
    • Neos Fusion itself is on the banlist as a Limited 2.
  • Cyber Dragons, initially just a fun deck, got a huge boost in competitive viability with the Future Horizon Box, which introduced some incredible support cards, which will be detailed below,
    • Cyber Dragon Core is basically a Magician's Rod for the deck, as upon Normal Summon it searches a Cyber Spell/Trap from the deck, providing great consistency. In addition, it can banish itself from the graveyard to summon any of the archetype's monsters from the deck if your field is empty.
    • Cyberload Fusion is a powerful fusion spell that can Fusion Summon a Cyber Dragon Fusion using monsters from the field or the banished pile. This allows easy recycling of Cyber Dragons and makes opposing effects that banish your monsters more of a help than a hindrance. In addition, Cyberload is a Quick-Play spell, meaning it can be used on the opposing turn to stop attacks/dodge targeting effects, or during your Battle Phase to get an extra attack.
    • Cybernetic Overflow is a beastly trap card for the archetype. You can banish (original)Cyber Dragons with differing levels from your hand, field, or graveyard to destroy an equal number of cards the opponent controls. This effect does not target, getting around targeting protection, and most of the Main Deck Cyber Dragons have effects that treat their name as that of the original while on the field and/or in the grave, easing the name condition. This combines well with the above-mentioned Cyberload Fusion, allowing Cyber Dragon decks to blow away the opponent's field and then use Cyberload to recycle the banished monsters into the deck while pulling out a big Fusion monster. In addition, if Overflow is destroyed by a card effect, you can search your deck for a Cyber Spell/Trap, including another Overflow. This card was sent to Limited 2 on the July 21, 2020 List, blocking access to cards like Concentrating Current and Enemy Controller.
    • Chimeratech Rampage Dragon is the archetype's newest fusion monster, and it brings a lot to the table. First, its material requirement is "2+ Cyber Dragon Monsters", whereas every other Cyber Dragon fusion requires at least one of the original Cyber Dragon. This makes it far easier to summon with Cyberload Fusion, since banished Cyber Dragons are not treated as the original by their effects. As for its actual effects, upon summon Rampage Dragon will destroy Spell/Traps on the field up to the number of materials used to summon it, meaning a minimum of two backrow pops using the minimum number of materials. The second effect is even more nutty, sending up to two LIGHT Machine monsters from the deck to the graveyard (helping set up either an Overflow or another fusion) to give Rampage Dragon one extra attack for each one sent. With a clear field (i.e. just cleared by a Cybernetic Overflow), this can mean three direct attacks in a row, allowing an instant win unless the opponent has handtraps like Kiteroid.

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