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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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  • 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.
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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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 monster. 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.
  • 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.

Cards

Note that unlike in the IRL Game, when a card is limited or semi-limited, you can only have one limited card and up to two semi-limited cards, not copies. For example if Raigeki and Dark Hole were both in limited, you can only use one or the other, not both. Likewise if, for example, Mystical Space Typhoon and Upstart Goblin were both in semi-limited, 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 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 semilimiting 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 getting semi-limited, and the skills Balance and Duel, Standby! being also nerfed after the June 26th, 2018 update, which completely made the deck irrelevant.
  • 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.
  • 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 Koa'ki Meiru Maximus and Semi-Limited Iron Core of Koa'ki Meiru to try to curb their dominance.
  • The Claw of Hermos and its various Fusions for their sheer versatility. While the other two Legendary Dragons are somewhat hamstrung by requiring specific cards to fuse with, Hermos's fusions only need a specific type of monster. With just a Warrior, Spellcaster or Dragon monster you can get an extremely powerful Equip Card that can be used by any monster you have. Red-Eyes Black Dragon Sword basically turns one of your monsters in Dark Paladin with an extra 1000 ATK plus 500 ATK/DEF for every Dragon on the field and in the graveyards. Rocket Hermos Cannon gives Piercing Damage and a second attack. Goddess Bow negates your opponents card effects during the Battle Phase and also gives a second attack. And Time Magic Hammer can banish any monster it battles with.

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