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5 best Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel meta decks 2023

Meta than the rest.

The best Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel decks can sometimes be tricky to find. With a wealth of new updates and card packs released since its launch, the Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel meta has shifted many times. The good news is that the variety of great Master Duel decks has never been richer.

Best Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel decks 2023

The biggest meta-shift for Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel hasn’t come in the form of new cards but in time management. A player’s total round time (the culmination of time you take on your turn alongside actions during your opponents) has been reduced from 480 seconds down to 300. Removing three whole minutes has made longer setup decks like Drytron and Adamancipator more precarious for those not sure what the card combinations are.

Getting started with Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

With that and a mountain of new cards to consider, it’s time we look at the best meta decks for Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel. For this list, we will be focusing on five of the latest decks.

If you are a player looking to catapult yourself up the Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel rankings, or simply looking for a new deck to experiment with, the best decks for Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel in 2023 will certainly not disappoint.

1. Runick

Pestle & mortar

Compared to other powerful Master Duel decks that win by attacking, Runick gradually grinds your opponent's deck into dust using spells like Runick Fountain. | Image credit: Konami

There is an argument to be had that Runick decks are the most toxic deck engine ever to be introduced into Yu-Gi-Oh! Whereas most Master Duel decks want to win games with witty tactics or overwhelming power, a Runick deck aims to mill down a player’s deck - and patience.

When it comes to monsters, there are only three that are essential for the engine to function: Hugin the Runick Wings, Munin the Runick Wings and Geri the Runick Fangs. These monsters are only here to block enemy attacks and, most importantly, fetch the spell cards needed to grind down the enemy deck. The most important of these is the field spell Runick Fountain.

Runick Fountain has two key effects: first, it allows you to play Runick Quick-Play spells on your opponent’s turn. The second is to be able to fetch up to three Runick Quick-Play spells from the Graveyard (GY) once per turn. The Quick-Play spells you can now use on your opponent’s turn core are there solely to disrupt play and grind their deck down by banishing cards from the top of the deck.

For example, if an opponent were to target you with a special-summoned monster, you could play Runick Flashing Fire to destroy that card and make them banish the top two cards from their deck. If your opponent has an effect monster out, use Runick Freezing Curses to negate its effect and banish the top three cards from their deck. Even if an opponent fetches a card from their deck, you can play Runick Dispelling to discard a random card from their hand to the GY and banish the top two cards from their deck.

Runick spell cards have an answer to most problems. However, you are left vulnerable to attack if your opponent is able to get monsters on the field. It’s good then that the Runick monsters - which can all be summoned from the extra deck directly as an alternate effect from most Runick spell cards - can block and destroy opponent monsters with card effects. Even if an opponent was to somehow break through that, trap cards like There Can Only Be One and Grave of the Super Ancient Organism will restrict how many monsters a player can have and what they can attack.

Overall, Runick is a sweaty, infuriating, absolutely fascinating Master Duel deck for those looking to grind out victories.

2. Floowandereeze

Bird box

The Floowandereeze deck wins Master Duel games by controlling what your opponent is able to do. | Image credit: Konami

Floowandereeze is another control engine that received its fair share of backlash when first introduced to Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel. Unlike Runick which wants to mill your opponent’s deck to oblivion, Floowandereeze wants to control what effects your opponent can and can’t use and, if played correctly, even what cards they draw.

Floowandereeze is unique in that, unlike most other decks in Master Duel, it relies primarily on normal summons. This will instantly negate the notorious card-collecting Maxx C.C. from having any effectiveness. Ideally, you want to start with Floowandereeze & Robina, which will allow you to fetch another level 4 or below Winged Beast from your deck. Not only that but, once you have fetched that card, you can immediately normal summon another monster. In this case, Floowandereeze & Eglin will allow you to fetch a level 7 or higher Winged Beast and can immediately normal summon once again. This time, tribute summon Floowandereeze & Elgin with the two on the board. At this point, three effects will trigger at the same time.

Elgin will let you fetch a Floowandereeze spell or trap. Either Floowandereeze and the Dreaming City or the field card Floowandereeze and the Magnificent Map, and the two cards tributed to summon Elgin can be pulled from the banished pile to your hand. From there, you have complete control of the board.

Elgin doesn’t allow tribute-summoned monsters to use their effects and can half an opponent's monsters attack during the battle phase. Dreaming City lets you hijack your opponent’s turn, start the Robina summoning chain and fetch again. This time instead of aiming for Elgin, you can summon either Mist Valley Apex Avian to nullify an opponent’s effect chain or Raiza the Mega Monarch to target a card on the field and instead place it on the top of your opponent’s deck - a particularly harsh move if they have had to use a lot of resources to summon that card, which will now be dead weight just sitting in their hand.

Don’t let the cuteness of Floowandereeze cards give you a false sense of security. This study in ornithology can be a particularly brutal lesson to learn.

3. Mathmech

Calculated victory

A fairly recent addition to Master Duel, Mathmech cards work toward summoning the mighty Accesscode Talker. | Image credit: Konami

Mathmech cards are one of the most recent editions to the Master Duel meta. Like any good Cyberse deck, like Salamangreat, the overall aim is to get to a point where you have tribute-summoned enough link monsters to eventually summon the behemoth Accesscode Talker. What makes the Mathmech engine so brilliant for this is how quickly and varied the path to Accesscode Talker can be.

Mathmech, as their name implies, have different effects based on the mathematical terminology used in their name. With Mathmech Addition, you can target a card on the field and when this card is special-summoned you add 1000 to the targeted card. Mathmech Subtraction has the same special summon ability but subtracts 1000 instead. However, what we want to be doing is getting our Mathmechs into the graveyard.

We can do this most easily by special-summoning Mathmech Circular, which can be easily summoned by sending one monster from your deck to the GY. Send Mathmech Sigma, which can be summoned from the GY if there are no monsters in your Extra Monster Zone. From there you can Xyz summon Primathmech Alembertian which can send the two attached Mathmechs to the GY again to fetch Mathmech Diameter, which when normal summoned allows you to summon a level 4 monster from your GY. With very little effort, we now have three monsters on the field to start chaining Link monsters.

The order of Link monster chaining is entirely dependent on whether you have gone first or second, which is what makes this deck so effective. Whether you go first and set up to negate the opponent with Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess or go second and continue the GY summoning chain with Splash Mage to eventually summon Accesscode Talker, Mathmech has the formula for your destruction - no matter when your turn is or what your opponent has planned.

4. Branded Despia

A trusted brand in destruction

Branded Despia is one of the more complicated Master Duel decks to get to get to grips with, but your effort will be rewarded. | Image credit: Konami

With all of the control engines currently ruling the meta, it’s nice that sometimes some big ol’ dragons can also effectively ruin someone’s day. Branded Despia is not short of tricks and is one of the more complicated Master Duel decks to wrap your head around - but slapping down a massive monster is never not satisfying.

Branded Despia lives and breathes through its fusion spell card, Branded Fusion, which allows you to fusion-summon a monster with Fallen of Albaz listed as a tribute requirement and one dark monster directly from your hand, deck or field. This means that you can start your fusion chain without the materials to hand. The first target of this chain should be Lubellion the Searing Dragon. You can then discard a card to activate Lubellion’s effect, which lets you fusion-summon a level 8 monster using cards from your field, GY and banish pile. Tribute Lubellion and Fallen of Albaz, which go back to the deck rather than the GY, and suddenly you have Mirrorjade, The Iceblade Dragon: a 3000 attack monster with a special ability allowing you to place a fusion monster in your GY (that fusion monster should be Albion the Branded Dragon) to straight-up banish an opponent monster.

Great trading card games

With minimal effort, Branded Despia can summon massive monsters capable of extreme damage. Though, you might be thinking that this engine is weak if Branded Fusion isn’t to hand or gets negated. Thankfully, this deck is also incredibly flexible in its attack approach.

If Branded Despia isn’t to hand, fetch monsters like Aluber the Jester of Despia can retrieve the spell when normal-summoned. If Branded Despia gets negated at all, the deck is packed full of fetch cards for standard Polymerisation to get the chain going more traditionally.

Branded Despia is not the easiest Master Duel deck to master, and there are decisions you will need to make throughout your and your opponent’s turn that could mean disaster for you. But if you can master the card combos and timing, giant scary monsters will guide you to victory.

5. D/D/D

King D/D/D

Practice makes perfect: D/D/D is one of the most complicated decks in Master Duel, so be prepared to learn its combos. | Image credit: Konami

D/D/D is one of the most complicated decks in the whole of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel. This is because it relies on Synchro summoning, Xyz summoning, Link summoning and Pendulum summoning. On top of this, many of the activation effects needed to set up your board will sting you for 1000LP. If you are not careful or get your activation chain wrong, you will either put yourself in a losing position or end up defeating yourself.

Your main priority right at the start of your turn is to get two D/D monsters on the field so that you can Link summon D/D/D Abyss King Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh will then place two D/D/D monsters from your deck into the Pendulum summoning positions on the far left and right of the spell/trap zone (often referred to as Pendulum scales) in exchange for 1000LP. This effect damage will allow cards like D/D Orthros to be summoned from the hand. One of the D/D/D monsters fetched for the pendulum scales should be D/D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok as its pendulum effect will allow you to summon a monster from the GY later on.

The effects and summons cascade from here. By the end of your opening gambit, you will need to have Xyz summoned D/D/D Wave King Caeser, D/D/D Marksman King Tell and D/D/D Wave High King Caesar; fusion summoned two D/D/D Flame King Genghis; synchro summoned D/D/D Cursed King Sigfried; Link summoned another Gilgamesh to finally Xyz summon D/D/D Deviser King Deus Machinex. Each summon has to be carefully considered in not only making sure you have the suitable materials to hand but that the effects happen in the right order and the final board is stacked with both the correct monsters and fetched spells.

This is a lot. Considering the tighter turn times, a player needs to be 100% on it and know what card combination comes next. However, if you can complete your setup, you now have one of the most powerful boards in the game.

D/D/D Deviser King Deus Machinex can straight up remove a monster by attaching it to itself once per chain. Not even once per turn; every time a chain happens, Machinex can remove it provided it can remove another two cards in exchange. Sigfried can just negate a spell effect once per turn if you want to. High King Caesar can remove an Xyz attachment to also negate a spell effect and will also boost the attack of itself and another monster by 1800. On top of that, there are countless spell and trap cards like D/D/D Headhunt, which can just steal opponent monsters to be used as D/D/D tributes later on.

D/D/D is complicated and will need a lot of time either in Master Duel's solo mode or the casual play queue to get used to. But once you do, you will dazzle your opponents with top-tier strats and mind-boggling summon patterns.

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About the Author
Michael Leopold Weber avatar

Michael Leopold Weber


Michael has always had an obsession with traditional games. This has reached a new peak with his pursuit of Shogi fame (which is going terribly) in his current home of Okayama City, Japan. When he isn't concocting the next great tactical manoeuvre, he can be found eating copious amounts of baked goods and slowly atrophying under his kotatsu. Michael also has an inexplicable need to carry a Professor Rowan Pokémon card on his person at all times (just in case).

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