Making a budget deck in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, on the surface, seems an insurmountable task. The issue is that though there are many cheap decks in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, the best meta decks in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel - therefore the most competitive decks - are stacked with Secret Rare (SR) and Ultra Rare (UR) cards from across many different secret pack options. This means that a player either has to sink a lot of in-game currency (gems) into multiple secret pack varieties in hopes of pulling the correct cards or dismantle many other SR/UR cards collected to craft the cards needed.
Best Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel budget decks
Thankfully, there are cheap Master Duel decks out there that will allow you to stay competitive without the colossal outlay of gems and materials. The best budget decks in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel offer a variety of interesting strategies to use in the PvP scene for those not looking to invest heavily into the meta. For the purposes of this list, “budget” is being categorised as featuring few SR/UR cards, or that the SR/UR cards required to build the deck are found within one secret pack, increasing the odds of the required cards being pulled from the pack.
All rituals, no fuss
The Megalith deck is by far the easiest budget Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel deck to assemble, thanks to most of the cards being unlockable through The Mystery of the Megalith gate in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel’s excellent solo mode. The main goal of this Megalith deck is to repeatedly ritual summon Megalith monsters and use their abilities to rip apart your opponent's field. Getting the requisite ritual cards to hand is pretty easy, thanks to the card fetch effects on monsters such as Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands and summoning spells like Impcantation Thanatosis, which will also destroy an enemy card when a ritual summon is performed. From there, it’s time to start chaining ritual effects.
The main benefit of the Megalith ritual summoning is that, unlike most ritual decks which require a spell card to perform the ritual, the monsters themselves act as the ritual spell card. This makes it easier to perform the rituals and doesn’t lock your summons behind pulling a specific card. Each Megalith ritual monster can then be used as a tribute to immediately ritual summon another Megalith card in a daisy chain of destruction.
You’re going to want to start with Megalith Orphiel, which allows you to fetch another Megalith ritual monster from your deck to your hand. Then use Orphiel to summon Megalith Hagith, enabling you to pull the quick play spell Megalith Unformed and lower your opponent monster’s attack by 500. Next, summon Megalith Bethor to further destroy enemy cards depending on how many ritual monsters you have in your GY, before summoning Megalith Phaleg - who gains 300 attack for every ritual monster in your GY, which at this point should boost Phaleg’s attack to a lofty 3400.
Thanks to a very clear progression of rituals and easy access to cards in your deck, the Megalith deck offers both a fun and easy budget Master Duel deck to tear down your enemy’s field. The deck's reliance on only Normal and Rare cards makes it incredibly cheap to assemble and useful to have to hand for any future N/R Events that may occur.
Timelords are one of the most fascinating budget decks in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel. They are incredibly easy to use and can be very frustrating to play against if you do not know what is going on. Timelords are level 10 monsters with zero attack and defence. Which seems awful. However, they cannot be destroyed and do not inflict or receive any damage. The power of the Timelords lies within their effects.
For example, Michion, The Timelord will half your opponent’s overall life points if it takes part in battle. Raphion, The Timelord can inflict the attack power of an opponent's monster directly to your opponent's life points which, when paired with Thunderking, the Lightningstrike Kaiju, can cause devastating damage.
Timelords can be summoned directly from your hand without requiring tributes as long as you have no monsters on the field. At the beginning of your turn, a Timelord on the field gets shuffled back into the deck - allowing you to summon a new one to the field. If you haven’t got a Timelord in your hand, cards such as Time Maiden will allow themselves to be banished in exchange for a fetched Timelord in your deck.
The main problem with Timelords is that because their strengths lie in their effects, anything that can negate card effects, such as the trap Skill Drain, will leave Timelords extremely vulnerable. This is why trap cards like Secret Barrell, which deals 200 damage per card your opponent has on the field and in hand, and Dimension Wall, which inflicts any damage you would have received directly to your opponent’s LP instead, will help bring the pain when the Timelords cannot.
If you don’t know how to counterplay them, Timelords can feel like an unconquerable behemoth able to quickly and effortlessly tear down any deck thrown in its way.
3. Ultra Athletes
Jocks doing jock stuff
Not only are U.A. decks very easy and cheap to assemble, thanks to pretty much every major card being available in the Tournament Athletes secret pack, they are one of the most fun and effective non-meta decks in the whole of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel.
U.A. monsters are unique in that they can yo-yo themselves from the field to your hand, allowing for certain abilities to trigger throughout different phases of both your own and your opponent’s turn. On your turn, offensive cards like U.A. Dreadnaught Dunker have both impressive attack power and the ability to destroy another card on the field on a successful attack. U.A. Playmaker can offer its own attack power to other monsters to increase their damage. This, paired with field spells like U.A. Stadium, can massively boost the attack power of your U.A. monsters.
U.A. cards really show their might during your opponent's turn. U.A. Libero Spiker can swap itself out with a fetched card from your deck when your opponent plays a card, which is a prime opportunity to bring U.A. Perfect Ace to the field. Perfect Ace has the ability to shut down and destroy an opponent's card effect once per turn. Across either turn when you summon a U.A. monster, the ace of the deck, U.A. Player Manager, can be summoned alongside and either destroy a card on the field or negate the effects of all your opponent’s monsters. This is majorly disruptive and can be incredibly clutch if used correctly.
Overall, U.A. cards have the potential to unsettle even some of the most powerful decks in Master Duel. This does make U.A. more complicated to run than other budget decks on this list but, given time and patience, you will be climbing up the ranks using nothing but the power of teamwork.
4. Toon Town
Get ready for Toon World, Yugi boy!
Toon Town cards are some of the most iconic throughout the whole of Yu-Gi-Oh! thanks to their prominent portrayal in the first season of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime. Although Toon Town is not the strongest deck on this list, for fans of the anime looking to play Master Duel and players not familiar with some of the newer mechanics in the game, it's a cheap and easy place to start your Master Duel journey thanks to the key cards being widely accessible through the Toontastic secret pack.
The aim of a Toon deck is to get access to Toon Kingdom as quickly as possible. Fetching this field spell using Toon Bookmark or Toon Table of Contents will be the most effective way of doing this. With Toon Kingdom on the field, none of your toon monsters can be targeted with card effects and if a monster would be destroyed in battle, you can banish a card from your deck instead, taking the damage but keeping the monster. The caveat is that if Toon Kingdom were to be destroyed, your toons will go with it.
For the toon monsters you control, providing your opponent doesn’t control a fellow toon, you can attack your opponent's life points directly. With the deck stacked with powerful cards like Red-Eyes Toon Dragon and Toon Dark Magician, this can get devastating quickly.
Toon decks are not without their faults, but thanks to the ease of access to the rarer cards and the simplicity of the play style, Toon decks are a cheap and effective Master Duel deck suitable for those first timers as well as veterans of the game.
Tribute spells to bring the pain
Draco decks are the most in-meta of the cheap Master Duel decks in this list, thanks to their unique tribute summoning cycle and ability to control and stall your opponent’s deck. Even better is that, though the heavy reliance on continuous spell and trap cards makes the deck look intimidating to use, once you’ve started up the deck’s effect engine it’s actually very simple.
The deck is built around just four monsters, all of them level 5 or above. Given that you can only normal summon monsters that are level 4 or below, this initially feels like a mistake. Surely you can’t tribute summon these powerful monsters if you can’t get anything on the field in the first place? This is what’s so tricksy and interesting about Dracos. Instead of monsters, you can use continuous spell and trap cards as tribute. Not only does this make summoning higher-level cards easier, but you gain the effects of the spell/trap before being used as tribute.
For example, the continuous spell Disciples of the True Dracophoenix allows you to shuffle three monsters from your GY back into your deck and draw a card. Anything that lets you draw a card is massive in terms of strategy. You can then use this spell as a tribute to summon Dinomight Knight, the True Dracofighter, and use Disciples’ GY ability to destroy an opponent’s spell or trap card. Dinomight Kight, the True Dracofighter has a quick play effect that allows you to take a True Draco trap card and immediately play it, bringing True Draco Apocalypse to the field. On your next turn, you can use this card as a tribute for another monster, triggering the card’s GY effect and destroying an opponent’s monster.
These combinations of cards rumble on throughout both your turn and your opponent’s. It can seriously disrupt an opponent’s turn, especially if they’re using a spell/trap-heavy deck like Eldlich. With the deck only consisting of a handful of SR/UR cards, Dracos are cheap and extremely effective in climbing tiers in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel.