Creative Deck Strategy: The Forbidden One

Time to break out the old pose, because it’s time to shout OBLITERATE!!!


The Forbidden One has always stood the test of time in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh! as the iconic alternative win condition. Exodia decks have risen and fallen, tested and deemed inconsistent, attempted and shunned for literally decades. While Exodia Turbo builds have always existed, has there ever been an actually consistent Exodia deck? Besides, this is the only deck in the game with which you have a chance to win before your first Draw Phase. Today, I present this article as a couple of neat Exodia deck ideas that you quite possibly have not have considered or encountered before. And no, I will not be talking about any of the ‘mainstream’ Exodia decks like Deep Draw (featuring Blue-Eyes, Cards of Consonance, Trade-In), Hope for Exodia (featuring Hope for Escape, Gift Card), or Dark World Exodia (featuring Snoww, Broww, and Gates). No, I’m really going to try to put the creativity back into the title of this article series. I’ve prepared four different strategies, with a quick guide to each of them. They range from winning with Exodia, to using Exodia as material, to even drawing out your entire deck through unconventional means. I think you’ll definitely want to see what’s coming next, so strap in and begin your best summoning chant.

Strategy One: Exodia with a Need for Speed?

Those in their right mind would never consider using Exodia monsters as Synchro material. But then again, I don’t think sane has ever been an accurate description of my articles. This variant is all about combining the Speedroid monsters alongside our Exodia cards. The biggest question on your mind right now may just be ‘Why?’, and in all honesty, that could be a fair point to make. To address that concern, one of the biggest downsides of an Exodia deck is that many variants simply play solitaire. It’s your deck vs the clock, as you try to get all 5 pieces before your opponent beats you. It truly can be such an extremely passive strategy. But by adding Speedroids, the passivity of the deck just melts away. When you can threaten your opponent with a string of cost-effective Synchro Summons, your opponent will be forced onto the ropes to counter your assault. Fending off Synchro after Synchro can be difficult, and while you are distracting them, you have plenty of time to draw or search into your Exodia pieces.

Now, you are probably wondering what opponent would be oblivious enough to let that sort of thing happen. But the fact is, they have to walk a fine line between over-committing to the field to try and rush you down before Exodia kicks in, and not committing enough resources to stop an explosion of Machines. While the basic Speedroid combo you want to start with involves Speedroid Terrortop + Speedroid Red-Eyed Dice OR Speedroid Taketomborg, the simple start gets a ton more interesting if you also draw into your revival Spells, such as Speed Recovery or Soul Charge. With added longevity from Superheavy Samurai Musashi, you literally can loop Formula Synchron into Musashi pretty much every turn. While just one extra draw doesn’t sound like much, it means the world when you have the disruption to back the play up due to the newest support cards for the Exodia deck! Remember, any Synchro spamming deck loves being able to make T.G. Hyper Librarian first, especially one that wants to draw into its win condition. But the Speedroids are not alone, because you have Exodia support cards to work with now!

We’ll start off by describing Obliterate!!! the powerful Trap Card ready to strike fear into any deck reliant on the Extra Deck. It is a Continuous Trap that lets you send any Forbidden One or Exodia monster from your hand or Deck to the Graveyard to bounce a monster on the field. If your opponent tries to Synchro or Xyz to try and protect themselves from your Speedroid onslaught, just bounce it back away. While this first effect is all about disruption, its second effect is the one that helps you end the duel. Whenever the Trap goes from the field to the Graveyard, you get to recover a Forbidden One or Exodia monster from your Graveyard. So if you happened to send a piece with its first effect on a previous turn, you can just get that back whenever it hits the Graveyard. Neat huh? But if that were your only way to get back Exodia pieces, this deck wouldn’t have an alternate win condition at all. So we have to turn to another new support card, The Legendary Exodia Incarnate. Summoned to the field by tributing any Exodia piece, this is your boss monster AND draw engine tied into one card. Oh, and it’s immune to any and all card effects. Each of this guy’s effects are equally important, so we will begin with the mandatory one – at each of your End Phases, you get to recover a Forbidden One from your Graveyard. So those pieces you’ve been sending with Obliterate!!! have another way to make their way into the hand. Then when Incarnate is destroyed in battle, which is pretty much the only way to get him off the field outside of Kaijus, you get to reveal any number of Forbidden One cards in your hand to draw the same number of cards. So at minimum, you should be drawing 1 card, cause you would have added back the piece used to Special Summon him. This becomes ridiculous later in the duel when you need to depend upon a big 4-card draw to attempt to find your final Exodia piece. That is, if you have to rely upon lucksacks.

Key Cards:

  • Speedroid Terrortop
    • This is the Speedroid that really can start things off. It can Special Summon itself, going into Synchros or Xyzs on a dime. Always the thing you wanna recycle with Musashi.
  • Speedroid Taketomborg
    • This is the Speedroid that Summons a tuner straight from the deck, allowing for Synchro or Xyz Summons with Terrortop without even using the Normal Summon.
  • Speedroid Red-Eyed Dice
    • The best tuner, since it modifies the Level of the non-tuner, allowing you to Synchro Summon any generic Synchro between Level 2 and Level 7.
  • 5 Forbidden One Monsters
    • Can’t be an Exodia deck without these key cards!
  • The Legendary Exodia Incarnate
    • The boss and monster draw power, wrapped up in a neat package.
  • Obliterate!!!
    • Main form of disruption for your deck, also removes the luck of drawing into your pieces. Simply get them to the Graveyard to later recover with Incarnate, Obliterate, or Dark Factory of Mass Production.
  • Unexpected Dai
    • Another way to pull pieces right out of the deck. Remember, this is a way to get Incarnate or non-tuner Synchro material straight out of the deck.

Check out the spoiler below which contains a sample decklist.

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Strategy Two: Crowning Exodia

Have you ever heard of this strategy? I bet someone you know has at least tried it. Combining the Monarch support with Exodia sounds pretty strange, since both sets of support typically run into potential ‘Bricky’ hands, but they actually can work together pretty well. Whether it is abusing all of the draw power of Pantheism of the Monarchs, the search power of Tenacity of the Monarchs and Return of the Monarchs, or the lockdown of Domain of the True Monarchs, your deck definitely packs a large punch with or without Exodia. The best part is, you can even run more cards that synergize with Tribute Summoning that also help out your Exodia cards! You could run Obliterate!!! alongside Kuraz to both recover pieces while drawing additional cards. You could run the forgotten draw spell, Precious Cards from Beyond, that give you even more advantage out of an Edea the Heavenly Squire-fueled Tribute Summon. If you want to take a page out of the Heart of the Cards playbook, run Card Advance to be able to set your next 5 draws. While some of these options sound kind of gimmicky, remember that you do benefit from picking exactly what you have in your hand to guarantee that combos can go off and resolve properly.

So the deck thinning is superb, is that the only reason to run a deck like this? Quite frankly, this strategy follows a similar logic to that of the Speedroid variant. You have the Monarchs to apply heavy pressure on the opponent, and then you have Exodia to fall back upon as an alternate win condition. Remember that the Monarchs already have the insane ability to thin out the deck drastically, and that is why this Exodia hybrid works in the first place. As for the Exodia support cards, this is an interesting case where you have a decent argument either way. Either you run Obliterate!!! and The Legendary Exodia Incarnate or you don’t. If you do not, I suggest considering that you use more of an Extra Deck focused build. If you do, remember to tech in a couple of Unexpected Dai for the extra tribute fodder if needed.

But what kind of draw power does this deck actually have? I’ve spoken highly about it thus far, but I haven’t quite put it all into perspective yet. It is quite normal, in my testing, to easily get through your entire deck in about 3 of your turns, as long as you open with a Precious Cards from Beyond, Edea, and Ehther the Heavenly Monarch. Now don’t get me wrong, this opening can be considered very rare. But if you open something like that, you easily should decide to go for the Exodia win instead of through battle damage. This variant may be a super draw, turbo-esque variant, but it is not a decision-less, mindless, solitaire deck. You will interact with the opponent, and you better be ready to adapt your strategy to what your opponent throws at you. Specifically, if they play Mask of Restrict, you better have some way to get it off the field. This deck cycles through draws by basically chaining Ehther Summon after Ehther summon during your opponent’s Main Phase, drawing 2 from Precious each time as well as triggering Ehther’s effect to send 2 Monarch S/Ts and Special Summoning Erebus from your deck. This gets you 2 tributes for your next Ehther, as well as Erebus in the Graveyard to recycle back a fresh Ehther. So yes, you really do win with Exodia during your opponent’s turn. Quite often really! Let’s get into the key cards of this unique tribute deck.

Key Cards:

  • Precious Cards from Beyond
    • The combos begin with Squire, and then it just ties into large draws. And when you have a giant array of options with Monarchs, you have tons of plays to get around your opponent’s attempts to circumvent your strategy.
  • Pantheism of the Monarchs Tenacity of the Monarchs
    • And these two are the most powerful Normal Spells for Monarchs. Make sure you keep them in your deck. Not that you’d ever drop them… right?
  • Ehther the Heavenly Monarch
    • The key part of the draw loop, letting you draw an insane amount of cards during your opponent’s turn. It also lets you tutor a Kuraz out of your deck for even more extra draws.
  • Erebus the Underworld Monarch
    • The key disruption Monarch, also helps you to loop even more Ehther during your opponent’s turn. Also, who doesn’t like forcing your opponent to start with only 5 cards in hand.
  • Kuraz the Light Monarch
    • One of the other Monarchs that facilitates drawing, let’s you trade in monsters, spells, or traps for additioanl draws. This even happens if it is Special Summoned by Ehther!
  • 5 Forbidden One Monsters
    • It’s not worth it to draw all those cards without our Exodia pieces to win the duel!
  • Edea the Heavenly Squire
    • The main tribute material, since it also recycles back your Pantheism to draw even more cards! Also Special Summons a second tribute material when it is summoned.
  • Eidos the Underworld Squire
    • The other half of the Squire combo, and it also grants you an additional Tribute Summon during your turn. This lets you do a partial Ehther loop during your turn!
  • The Prime Monarch
    • Additional draw card, it also is a great source of tribute fodder.

Check out the spoiler below which contains a sample decklist.

Toggle All Spoilers

Strategy Three: Tricky Exodia

Officially, stall-based Exodia builds really do not work all too well. But when it comes to stalling, no one does it better than the Ghostrick archetype. This is the sort of build you want to run if you just want to annoy your friends. Seriously though, it will piss them all off. The general idea is to activate Ghostrick Parade, search out all of your attack stoppers until you only have Exodia cards left, then win the duel. This is all possible since Parade searches out a Ghostrick card on each attack, and since there is Mary, Lantern, and Jackfrost combined with Jiangshi, Mary, and the other Ghostrick stall options, you have plenty of ways to remain in the duel until Exodia rolls around. However, there is a catch. This deck lives and dies by Ghostrick Parade. If you don’t get it, you are going to seriously fall behind in card advantage, losing pretty much all hope of winning the duel. The good news is, you also can rely upon a small Magic Piper engine combined with Kinka Byo. Another possibility would be to run even more Ghostrick support cards, such as Ghostrick Go-Round and Ghostrick Yeti. 

So enough of bad news, what else does this deck offer? That my friends, is Xyz Summoning potential, specifically for Rank 1 Xyz Monsters. First off, you have Ghostrick Dullahan, a great monster that cuts down your opponent’s ATK points in a pinch. It even adds back a Ghostrick from your Graveyard to stop another attack. Truly, it’s time to Trick or Treat! What else does the deck have up its sleeve? If I’m being honest, not too much. This variant does not mesh well with the new Exodia support cards, so it’s probably in your best interest to avoid trying to fit too much into this variant to attempt to make it function more effectively. But it is a pretty creative build nonetheless, which is why it got its mention here!

Key Cards:

  • Ghostrick Parade
    • Deck wins and loses on the back of this card.
  • Ghostrick Jackfrost, Lantern, Mary, Jiangshi
    • All of these form the core of your Ghostrick monster engine. So it really goes without saying that you need to be running them.
  • 5 Forbidden One Monsters
    • Can’t be an Exodia deck without these key cards!
  • Where Arf Thou?
    • A search card for all of your Level 1 monsters, especially since you are running so many.
  • Allure of Darkness
    • A great option to either get to Parade quicker or to get to the pieces remaining in a dwindled deck in the late game.

Check out the spoiler below which contains a sample decklist.

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Strategy Four: Book of EXyzodia

You got this far into the article, so I am more than happy to share a really crazy deck that actually works. No more tricky letdowns! Introducing Number Exodia Spellbooks, the deck I also like to call Exceed Exodia. The entire purpose of the deck is to use the Exodia pieces for Xyz Summons, specifically to Xyz Summon Number 78: Number Archive. Archive is quite the powerful monster, and despite the fact that your choice of summon is random, it doesn’t matter if you just happen to run entirely Number monsters. The best news is, there are even multiple Numbers that can dodge the End Phase banishing downside of Archive. Number 81: Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Superior Dora is the first of these monsters, clocking in at an insane amount of ATK and DEF points for a card that can be summoned at the small cost of 2 Exodia pieces. Or perhaps you’d rather happen to summon out Number 24: Dragon Nosferatu Dragulas, who can turn itself face-down with its effect to dodge the End Phase banishing (read up on Bilaterus’ Ruling Article here if you don’t know why). But the truth is, you would even be lucky if you hit one of your other Numbers, like the powerful Spider Xyz Monsters Number 77: The Seven Sins, Number 35: Ravenous Tarantula, and Number 84: Pain Gainer. While these cannot protect themselves from being banished, they do provide large amounts of attack power to give yourself the edge up.

Now I have to be blunt with you, while this is an Exodia deck by name, it does not actually aim to win by assembling pieces. The decks win condition is to keep using Archive turn after turn to generate boss Number after boss Number. But the problem is, you can only run a maximum of 3 Number 78. So it looks like we need a way to continue summoning it back from the Graveyard, with Xyz Material. This may seem like a nigh-impossible task, but I suggest that you have a little bit more faith in a theme that has passed its glory days, because we’re going to turn to an archetype designed entirely around Spell Cards! That’s right, we’re bringing in the Spellbooks! While the theme is notorious for its searching power and disruption in the form of Spellbook of Fate, it actually functions well with any and all Spellcasters that tend to run a small Main Deck. And wouldn’t you know, even Justice of Prophecy fits perfectly with the new Exodia boss monster, The Legendary Exodia Incarnate! But where do the Numbers tie back into this picture? That my friends, is the forgotten Spellbook card: Spellbook of Miracles. Since Number Archive is a Spellcaster-type monster, you can quite perfectly Summon your Number Archive back from the Graveyard every turn, as long as you have banished Spellbooks to use as Xyz Material. Which, just happens to be really easy due to Spellbook of Fate.

Since we have the basic parts of the deck all lined up, let’s talk about what makes a Spellbook deck function. Spellbook decks are all about compiling free advantage through Spellbook Magician of Prophecy, The Grand Spellbook Tower, and Justice of Prophecy, using Spellbook of Fate to interrupt and survive any of your opponent’s attempts to wrestle control of the duel, and then normally you lean upon a High Priestess of Prophecy to seal the duel. But in this case, we have better options, because we have the added benefit of getting on the offensive with high powered Numbers. And don’t forget just how big of a punch a fully loaded The Legendary Exodia Incarnate can pack! It can easily reach 4000 ATK points, while still remaining unaffected by card effects. In my mind, the best part of this Spellbook variant is that you also have an additional disruption option, since you bring Obliterate!!! to the table. It is a really cool variant, I hope you take the time to try this one out.

Key Cards:

  • 4 Normal Monster ‘Forbidden Ones’
    • We gotta have at least some parts of Exodia if you want to call this an Exodia deck. So take his Arms and Legs.
  • Spellbook Magician of Prophecy
    • Step one: Normal Summon. Step two: Search. Step three: Profit. Blue boy truly is your all-powerful monster, despite rocking only 500 ATK points.
  • The Legendary Exodia Incarnate
    • Serves as a primary boss monster for the deck, also happens to add a bit more draw power.
  • Exodius, the Ultimate Forbidden Lord
    • While he was the original embodiment of Exodia, this other Level 10 monster serves as a backup boss monster to the deck. In particular, he recycles your Blue boy, and gets more pieces into your deck to ship with Obliterate! PLUS he is a inherently summoned Spellcaster that benefits from the Spellbook Star Hall’s attack boost.
  • Unexpected Dai
    • Integral to both summoning Incarnate without losing your chance to Blue boy, as well as helpful in creating the initial Number Archive Xyz Summon.
  • Spellbook of Miracles
    • You wanted to recycle your Number Hunter right? Well go have some fun!
  • Spellbook of Secrets, Spellbook of Master, Spellbook of Fate, Spellbook of Eternity
    • The key cards of any Spellbook deck. Obviously other Spellbooks help the strategy, but these are the core ones.
  • The Grand Spellbook Tower
    • This is the Field Spell that gives you an extra boost of draw power, since you get to effectively draw 2 cards every single turn. Talk about generating tons of advantage.
  • Obliterate!!! 
    • Another form of disruption for your deck to use to its full potential. Remember, it helps you deckthin as well as increase the power of your Exodia boss monsters.

Check out the spoiler below which contains a sample decklist.

Toggle All Spoilers

As always, the above lists are just my personal builds. To some, Exodia may just be that troll deck designed to annoy the opponent, but I strongly believe that you can bring a bit of creativity to the archetype to make it into something worth much more. Until the next time, I hope you keep innovating and building creative decks! Most of all, just enjoy dueling for the fun that it can be!

Reminder, I also take suggestions for future CDS articles! While I will not run out of cool ideas, I do want to be writing articles about strategies you are interested in. So if you desperately wish to see a CDS article about the archetype, theme, or strategy you love, feel free to private message me on the YGOrg Discord server or the YGOrganization Forums with your ideas to keep under consideration: my username is Quincymccoy.


Hello everybody! I serve as Number VIII of the Organization; however, my main role on the site is writing regular Deck Strategy articles! I enjoy fleshing out archetypes to their fullest potential and helping people discover amazing new techs and decks to try out!

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