What Cards Go In a Side Deck? (In Yu-Gi-Oh)


When it comes to creating your side deck, I’m pretty sure most people are as lost as I was back in the day. Many people are often confused about what cards go in a side deck, and rightfully so. 

After all, it has to be one of the most painstaking tasks ever. So here’s the deal.

Display Card Descriptions in Yu-Gi-...
Display Card Descriptions in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel Guide

Your side deck needs cards to strengthen your match-ups. Hence, any card that doesn’t do so isn’t worth side decking.

In most cases, it’s common practice to put tech cards in your side deck, but that’s something I can discuss later. Here are all the things you should know about using a side deck effectively.

What Are the Key Determinants of a Good Side Deck?

When it comes to choosing the right cards for your side deck, it’s important to ask the following questions:

➢ What is my best match-up?

➢ What is my worst match-up?

➢ What could work in my favor in multiple match-ups?

➢ Do I have spell and trap removal?

What Is a Common Mistake Most People Make With Side Decks?

A rather common mistake that most players, especially the newer ones, make is improper side decking. This means they don’t consider the first game match-up. 

Your tooling should be focused on getting you an edge over any opponent. If done right, side decking is a very effective way to help you conquer games two and three.

Basics of Side Decking

Before we get into what cards go in a side deck, here’s some basic information to help you get started. Your side deck typically consists of 15 extra cards you can add between games one and two and games two and three. 

The key point to note here is that your side deck should have the same number of cards in the end as it did in the beginning. This means, if you add four cards to it, you also have to take four cards out of it.

Here’s a little extra detail most people miss out on. 

You always have the option to side cards for your extra deck, but you must keep in mind that your main deck still requires 40 cards. Hence, it’s impossible to side in an extra deck card if you don’t take one out of the extra deck.

The Key to Being an Effective Player

Effective side decking requires a player to have a good amount of knowledge about the meta for the event they’re participating in. Personally, I had always struggled with side decking when I was unfamiliar with the decks in the format I was playing in.

Therefore, don’t hesitate to take your time to learn the game and the weaknesses you can encounter. Let’s take a small example. If you play against Kozmo, you should ask the following:

➢ Why is the imperial iron wall effective?

➢ Why is Mask of Restrict good in the Monarch match-up?

The point is, take your sweet time to do your homework and save yourself from those excruciating headaches while playing an intense game.

Five Best Side Deck Cards

While there are several cards to choose from, it all comes down to the following for me. Here are my top five picks for your side decks. 

However, since there’s still space for ten more, you can always keep your own preferences intact.

Kaiju Monsters

The Kaiju series of Monsters has to be the first in the list of cards protected from being Tributed. Most of the Kaijus have this impact or effect that Tributes a Monster on the opponent’s field. 

It does seem bad to give your opponent a Monster, but at the same time, you’re also getting rid of a strong Monster and getting a simpler one in return.

Appointer of the Red Lotus

This one is often a great choice for a side deck but an awful one for the main deck. It helps you get rid of cards that your opponent can use, and it also helps you get rid of cards that would negate the board or wipe it, such as Evenly Matched and Dark Ruler No More.

Imperial Order

As one of the oldest cards in the game, this one is currently restricted to one copy per deck. However, the best part about it is that all the Spell card effects are negated as soon as you activate it.

 If you’re unfamiliar, Spell cards hold special importance in Yu-Gi-Oh since many decks rely on them to continue playing.

The Winged Dragon Of Ra – Sphere Mode

If you’re looking for the best God Card by a wide margin, look no further because this one is a guaranteed way to dismantle your opponent’s field. 

Even though it’s pretty average against control decks, never underestimate its value in a side deck, especially when you’re up against combo decks on big boards.

Summon Card

This fantastic addition to your side deck prevents either player from summoning more than two times in each turn. I prefer keeping it in the side deck because it has very little use when going against control decks.

If a player can guarantee they go first, more often than not, this card will completely shut the opponent’s turn down, guaranteeing a win on the following turn. 

Even though it affects its controller, the summon limit won’t be activated until the board is fully established, which means they wouldn’t care much for its effect.

Final Thoughts

In the end, knowing what cards go in a side deck is a crucial aspect of Yu-Gi-Oh! Moreover, nothing can beat its importance when it comes to the deck-building process. 

While choosing the right cards often depends on the current meta, some cards will always be relevant, like those mentioned in the list above. 

The bottom line is that once you have the power to control if a player goes first or second, it can prove to be big swings in games two and three.

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