Classic Decks: Exodia
Many Decks from the various Yu-Gi-Oh! animated series become extremely popular with Duelists, but none has ever had the same lasting appeal as the very first winning strategy in all of Dueling: Exodia! Ever since the first episode of the original series, players have scrambled to build their own Exodia Decks, looking for every edge they can get to put those 5 special cards into their hand. And why? Because Exodia the Forbidden One has those 4 little words that every Duelist loves to hear: “You win the Duel.”
Everyone knows that there are two main ways to win a Duel. First, you can reduce your opponent’s Life Points to 0. Second, you win when your opponent must draw a card, but their Deck is empty. But when the very first Starter Decks were released, the rulebook included one other way to win the Duel: an automatic victory granted only to the Duelist who assembles all 5 pieces of Exodia! When you hold Left Arm of the Forbidden One, Left Leg of the Forbidden One, Right Arm of the Forbidden One, Right Leg of the Forbidden One and Exodia the Forbidden One in your hand, you win the Duel immediately (Editor’s Note: To be more specific, you win the Duel if you hold all 5 pieces of Exodia in your hand and a card or effect is not currently resolving. That means you still have to discard 2 cards with Graceful Charity even if activating it let you draw the final piece of Exodia). Even now, with all the ways to draw and search for cards and protect your Life Points, a win by Exodia is still one of the most difficult combos to pull off in all of Dueling, so every time somebody does it it’s something special.
The difficult part of the combo is, naturally, getting all 5 pieces in your hand at the same time. Since 4 of the pieces are Normal Monsters and Exodia the Forbidden One’s only text is an explanation of obliteration, the more pieces you have in your hand, the fewer cards you have in your hand to help you get the remaining pieces. Simply drawing cards every turn won’t get you all 5 pieces quickly enough so Duelists have tried all sorts of tactics to speed up the process.
One of the original methods of using Exodia relied on the fact that 4 of the pieces are Normal Monsters. Backup Soldier is a Trap Card that returns 3 low ATK Normal Monsters to your hand when you have 5 or more in your Graveyard. If you used Painful Choice, revealing some Legs and Arms of the Forbidden One (make sure to choose 5 monsters total!) your Graveyard would fill up rather quickly, and then Backup Soldier would get back 3 pieces at once. This greatly sped up the process and with Sangan and Witch of the Black Forest able to add Exodia the Forbidden One directly to your hand, Duelists could win with Exodia rather quickly.
Over time, more cards helped out with this strategy. Dark Factory of Mass Production returned 2 Normal Monsters to your hand, which made it the perfect addition to or replacement for Backup Soldier. Monster Reincarnation was useful in getting any piece, even Exodia the Forbidden One, back to your hand. Magical Merchant, Foolish Burial and Armageddon Knight were all new cards that could send Exodia pieces to the Graveyard. Emissary of the Afterlife, Sangan and Witch of the Black Forest could be combined with Monster Reborn, Premature Burial and Call of the Haunted to repeatedly add Exodia pieces directly to your hand, and Gold Sarcophagus did the same.
As the years went by and more complicated strategies were becoming popular, Duelists tried out all sorts of things to win with Exodia. Royal Magical Library combined with several Spell Cards to swiftly draw through entire Decks. Dragon variants using Cards of Consonance, Trade-In and Super Rejuvenation combined Yugi’s Exodia the Forbidden One with Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes White Dragon to form a unique strategy. At this year’s Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship in Japan, American Duelist Jarel Winston made the most of cards like Hope for Escape and several other Spell and Trap Cards to swiftly draw through his Deck and win with Exodia. That particular strategy took him to the Top 8, showing everybody exactly how powerful Exodia the Forbidden One could be.
Exodia the Forbidden One is a key part of the history of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Yugi’s victory with it in the very first episode of the TV series is still one of the most memorable and popular moments for many Duelists. As more cards are made available, more Duelists will try and build new strategies to bring Exodia to the top tables of tournaments, and with the unstoppable Exodia lurking in Legendary Collection 3: Yugi’s World, Duelists who crave his power are sure to begin crafting newer and better strategies!