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A Skill Drain Deck uses the Trap Card "Skill Drain" (A.K.A. "SkD") to remove the negative effects from monsters like "Goblin Elite Attack Force", "Chainsaw Insect", "Giant Orc", and "Indomitable Fighter Lei Lei" and use them for pure power purposes.
Aside from the cards listed above, "Fusilier Dragon, the Dual-Mode Beast" is a much-played monster and "Beast King Barbaros" is a high valued monster with "Skill Drain". They can be Normal Summoned without Tributes being offered since it has a provision for it in its effect, which in turn, cuts their ATKs. However, "Skill Drain" would remove the ATK limit so you'd immediately have their original ATK. You can also include "Beast Machine King Barbaros Ür" for another huge monster. Monsters such as "Zombyra the Dark" which can be played without "Skill Drain" are perfect for "Skill Drain" decks for versatility.
Cards like "Chainsaw Insect", "Big Shield Gardna", "Majestic Mech - Ohka", "Mist Archfiend", and cards with otherwise questionable advantages, suddenly become very playable with "Skill Drain" active. "Giant Kozaky" is perhaps the best to play with this deck, since it has 2500 ATK and 2400 DEF, and will not be destroyed by its effect. A "Vice Dragon" is also a great trump for this Deck, since he is Special Summoned and his ATK-cutting effect is negated, turning him into a 2000 ATK beatstick. "Armor Exe" can attack at the turn he was Summoned with "Skill Drain", but due to its maintenance (that is not negated by "Skill Drain") he shall only last one turn; so it's a nice addition, though is not as usable if "Skill Drain" is not available compared to other 4-Star monsters of similar ATK.
And of course, since "Skill Drain" will not negate effects that do not resolve on the field, "Solemn Judgment" and "Divine Wrath" are very worthy choices, and "Soul Drain" clears this up perfectly. "A Cat of Ill Omen" and "Mask of Darkness" may be necessary in order to draw "Skill Drain" or to recover it. Even if you already have a "Skill Drain" active, you can use either of the aforementioned monsters to obtain another, activate it, and give it up for "Magic Planter" to speed up the Deck. "Berserk Dragon" and "Ultimate Obedient Fiend" are also a great addition to this deck since they have an attack penalty and since this deck has many level 8 monsters that are easy to summon such as "Beast King Barbaros" (tribute for "Berserk Dragon") they're easy to summon.
Other cards to negate with "Skill Drain" are "Yubel", "Yubel - Terror Incarnate", and "Yubel - The Ultimate Nightmare", since their first effects resolve on the field, and "Skill Drain" also takes care of "Yubel"'s effect of growing into its other forms. However, "The Ultimate Nightmare" cannot evolve further into another form, hindering its effectiveness.
You may consider including "Final Attack Orders" in the deck as well, as it will nullify the effects of many of the cards you will use, such as "Goblin Elite Attack Force" and "Giant Orc".
With the release of "Forbidden Chalice" in the Raging Battle set, "Skill Drain" decks have seen a significant increase in power as this card allows you to negate the effect of one monster and increase its ATK by 400. An ideal use for this card in a "Skill Drain" deck would be to activate it on either "Fusilier Dragon, the Dual-Mode Beast" or "Beast King Barbaros" if "Skill Drain" is not on the field, restoring their ATK back to its original amount and increasing it by a further 400 until the End Phase.
"Skill Drain" decks work well with "Royal Oppression". Since many decks focus on Special Summoning quickly, "Royal Oppression" will shut down Special Summons while slowing the pace of the game to match the rate of Normal Summoning strong monsters. "Solemn Judgment"/"Dark Bribe" are very useful cards that not only force opponents to waste cards such as "Dust Tornado" and "Mystical Space Typhoon" but that protect "Skill Drain" as well. A great card to combo with "Skill Drain" is "Necrovalley". While "Skill Drain" negates the Monster Effects on the field, "Necrovalley" negates the effects involving the Graveyard.
To prevent common monster effects that activate in the graveyard, such as "Mystic Tomato" and "Sangan", you may consider using or side decking "Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror" to prevent DARK monsters' effects and "Light-Imprisoning Mirror" to prevent LIGHT monsters' effects. You may use "The Tricky" with "Secret Village of the Spellcasters" with "Skill Drain" for a Lockdown, preventing your opponent from activating Spell Cards.
There are several effects to overlap with "Skill Drain". If you are using a "Fusilier Dragon" Aggro Deck, use "Pole Position" to turn "Fusilier Dragon" into a 2800 ATK anti-Spell beatstick and "Burden of the Mighty" to neutralize the ATK power of Meta monsters.
Because it only negates effects that resolve on the field, "Skill Drain" Decks are free to use "Cyber Dragon", "Stardust Dragon", "Exiled Force", any searcher monsters, and, to a lesser extent, "Vampire Lord" and "Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys".
One deck type that can have an advantage over "Skill Drain" Decks is a "Dark World" Deck because they rely on sending cards in their hand to the Graveyard to activate their effects, which "Skill Drain" cannot stop. Skill Drain now has a partner, which it combos well with: Soul Drain. This takes care of most problems.
Another weakness of "Skill Drain" decks are decks that revolve around Synchro Summoning. Since you usually don't need monster effects to summon "Stardust Dragon" or "Colossal Fighter" (which are nearly unaffected by "Skill Drain"), Synchro decks pose a problem for "Skill Drain" decks and whenever "Colossal Fighter" is summoned you cannot destroy it with any cards in your deck. "Skill Drain" decks are weak against swarming to an extent because they require high ATK beatsticks which are slower to Summon to maintain the advantage. Beware of destructive Spell and Trap cards such as "Lightning Vortex", "Mirror Force", "Heavy Storm", and "Mystical Space Typhoon". Without powerful monsters on the field or any Spells and Traps to back them up, "Skill Drain" decks become very vulnerable.
With the limitations revolving around "Skill Drain" decks, such as the card itself, it is hard to draw and wish for "Skill Drain" to come to your hand whenever you want it to. Dueling against meta decks such as , "Lightsworns" poses a huge threat, even though "Skill Drain" decks are meant to destroy decks that consist of many effects, and can prove that having a mirror match with one another is pointless, as "Skill Drain" works for both sides and can easily become useless (not to mention unneeded) if another is on the field. Since Meta monsters possess high score ATK power, and there are matchless effects like "Cyber Dragon", "Exiled Force" and "Stardust Dragon", "Skill Drain" might get overcome easliy. "Spiritualism" is also a great threat against this Deck, since it will not be stopped by "Solemn Judgment" or "Dark Bribe" and wipe out "Skill Drain" easily.
It is also worth mentioning that Quick-Play Spell Cards which flip monsters face-down (such as "Book of Moon") can bypass "Skill Drain" by chaining to the activation of a monster effect, as "Skill Drain" does not affect face-down monsters and the effect will resolve. This "Book of Moon Combo" is most commonly seen in "Gladiator Beast" Decks.
Specific Types of "Skill Drain" Decks
This is the common "Skill Drain" deck where the main purpose is negate the effects of "Beast King Barbaros" and "Fusilier Dragon, the Dual-Mode Beast"'s turning a non-Tributed monster into a real threat to your opponent's Life Points. It can include "Beast Machine King Barbaros Ur", which can be Special Summoned by removing both monsters. "Big Shield Gardna" negates targeting effects while Face-down (unaffected by "Skill Drain") and won't change to Attack Position after attacked. Usually, other monsters like "Goblin Elite Attack Force", "Indomitable Fighter Lei Lei" and "Giant Orc" are there for increasing the strategy.
Archfiend Skill Drain
This Deck uses the "Archfiends" as the core of the deck. "Skill Drain" neutralizes the opponent's monster effects, including those of the "Archfiends" but they won't be affected way too much, allowing you to use their ATK power. "Pandemonium" may be used to block the maintenance cost of the "Archfiends" and heightens the synergy of this Deck, making this Deck easy to handle.
Dark Skill Drain
Unlike TeleDAD, this deck revolves around the cards "Skill Drain", "Mystic Tomato" and "Forbidden Chalice". Because most of the monster effects work in the Graveyard (such as those of "Tomato", "Destiny Hero - Malicious", and "Plaguespreader Zombie"), "Skill Drain" does not hurt the deck - it just hurts the opponent's deck. "Cyber Valley" and "Machine Duplication" are great choices along with "Destiny Hero - Plasma". If you considered Beast King Barbaros and Malicious for this deck, you could put in Dogma, then a few draw engines for speed. They work really well with Destiny Draw and Trade-In.
Zombie Skill Drain
Zombie "Skill Drain" is a viable deck type because of "Pyramid Turtle". The fact that it searches for monsters based on DEF (with a high upper limit) means that it can search out powerful beatsticks such as "Ryu Kokki", "Malevolent Mech - Goku En" (who benfits from this Deck), and "Paladin of the Cursed Dragon", which other decks simply cannot do. "Mezuki" (unaffected by "Skill Drain") may help you Special Summon a Zombie from the grave such as "Vampire's Curse" or "Goka, the Pyre of Malice". A "Plaguespreader Zombie" has also a great advantage due to its self-revival effect, which may also set up a Tribute fodder, or maybe a Synchro monster. You don't have to use Synchro monsters' effects, just use them for beatsticks.
Plant Skill Drain
Although not as common an option as other types of "Skill Drain" decks, Plants have two large assets that still work with "Skill Drain". The first is "Lonefire Blossom", which will work under "Skill Drain's" influence if it tributes itself. The other is "Tytannial, Princess of Camellias", which also works under "Skill Drain's" influence if it tributes itself, and has the advantage of having high ATK and the ability to be special summoned with "Lonefire Blossom". Also of note is "Mystic Tomato", "Lord Poison", "Dandylion", "Violet Witch" and "Botanical Girl" which all also have an effect that activates off-field.
You can also add "Beast King Barbaros" (staple) and "Phoenixian Cluster Amaryllis". Because "Beast King Barbaros", "Phoenixian Cluster Amaryllis" and "Tytannial, Princess of Camellias" all are level 8, you can use them as discard fodder for "Trade-In". That adds speed and consistency to the deck.
- "Phoenixian Cluster Amaryllis" - It is a fundamental part in this deck because can special summon itself in defense position by removing another Plant monster in your graveyard. With "Skill Drain", that makes a 2200 beatstick every turn and when its destroyed will inflict 800 damage to your opponent LP. Without "Skill Drain" you can inflict even 3000 damage to your opponent LP if "Amaryllis" attacks directly.
- "Lonefire Blossom", "Botanical Girl", "Violet Witch") and "Lord Poison" - They are the monsters that add speed and consistency to the deck. "Lonefire Blossom" can search almost any monster in your deck except "Amaryllis" and "Barbaros" but you will always want "Amaryllis" in your grave. "Lonefire" can also combo with "Dandylion" and his Fluff Tokens to Special Summon Plant monsters from your deck every turn. And can also be a easy form to summon "Tytannial". "Botanical Girl" (or "Violet Witch") are also a important part in the deck because when you have a dead "Trade-In" in your hand you can search Amaryllis with their effects and then discard him. Is preferred to use "Botanical Girl" because her effect activates when it's send from your field to the graveyard and Violet Witch activates when it's destroyed by battle and sent to the graveyard, making Botanical Girl more playable because can combo with cards like "Dark Hole" or "Torrential Tribute". "Lord Poison" and "Blue Rose Dragon" can ram into a more powerful monster that your opponent controls to summon Plant monster from your graveyard, you can even summon Tytannial.
- "Dandylion" - This monster is a great addition to the deck, because can combo with many things, you can tribute him with "Pollinosis", because is a "Solemn Judgment" for Plants, you can use him as cost for "Tytannial's" effect and will summon 2 Fluff Token. Can also combo with Lonefire to special summon many Plants from your deck.
- "Spore" and "Glow-Up Bulb" (Traditional Format only) - These monsters add the Synchro part to the deck. With "Lonefire Blossom" and "Dandylion", there can be many Synchro Summons. For example, if you have a Lonefire and Dandylion in the field, you can tribute Dandylion to summon Spore from your deck, Dandylion will summon 2 Fluff Token. From here you have 2 options. 1. You can tune "Spore" with "Lonefire Blossom" and 1 Fluff Token to Synchro summon a level 5 Synchro monster. Then, banish the "Lonefire Blossom" from your grave to special summon "Spore" and will gain the level of "Lonefire". Tune with another Fluff Token to Synchro Summon another level 5 Synchro monster. 2. You can tune "Spore" with "Lonefire Blossom" to Synchro summon a level 4 Synchro monster. Then, banish the "Lonefire Blossom" from your grave to special summon "Spore" and will gain the level of "Lonefire". Tune with the 2 Fluff Tokens to Synchro summon a level 6 Synchro monster. With monsters like "Botanical Girl" and "Lord Poison" you can summon higher level Synchros. In a pinch, these monsters can be used as tribute for "Pollinosis".
- "Tytannial, Princess of Camellias" and "Beast King Barbaros" - These monsters add the beatdown and control part to the deck. Tytannial is easily summoned with Lonefire (from your deck) and Lord Poison (from your grave) and her effect is really useful. You can also use her effect when "Skill Drain" is active by tributing itself. "Beast King Barbaros" is not a Plant monster but is great in any "Skill Drain" deck. Also, with another 2 level 8 monsters ("Tytannial, Princess of Camellias" and "Phoenixian Cluster Amaryllis") you can add "Trade-In" for more speed. Without "Skill Drain" you can use Barbaros as a decent 1900 ATK beatstick that can run over monsters like "Elemental Hero Stratos", "Blackwing - Shura the Blue Flame" and "Infernity Archfiend" and can ram with monsters like "Thunder King Rai-Oh", "XX-Saber Boggart Knight" and "Doomcaliber Knight". With "Skill Drain" you can summon a powerhouse with 3000 ATK that can run over "Dark Armed Dragon" and Monarchs and can ram with "Gladiator Beast Heraklinos" and "Judgment Dragon". His effect of destroying your opponent field is easy to activate because Amaryllis, Dandylion, Spore and Glow-Up Bulb make so much tribute fodder.
Light Skill Drain
Since the effect of "Honest" is not affected by "Skill Drain", a good and solid version of this deck could be built around LIGHT Monsters. "Thunder King Rai-Oh" is a good choice, since it negates a Special Summon and it's a target to "Honest", although his effect negates searching effects if "SkD" is not active. Some versions include "Elemental Hero Neos Alius" and "Elemental Hero Stratos"; the last one should be Summoned before activating "Skill Drain" in order to generate Card advantage. This version always mounts three copies of "Beast King Barbaros" and should not be confused with "Little City" (described below), since this deck is not Elemental Heroes-oriented.
Main article: Little City Deck
Little City uses "Skill Drain" in combination with "Skyscraper", which can boost the ATK scores of attacking Elemental Heroes. This is combined with powerful, level 4 heroes such as "Elemental Hero Captain Gold", "Elemental Hero Neos Alius", and "Elemental Hero Stratos". "Honest" is also often used in this deck.
Necrofear Skill Drain
This deck focuses on getting fiends in the graveyard to remove from play to special summon "Dark Necrofear". Many of the monsters used in this deck have effects that activate in the graveyard such as "Giant Germ", "Newdoria", and "Slate Warrior", so "Skill Drain" can be very effective & deadly choice for this deck.
Spirit Skill Drain
This deck uses the effect of "Yamato-no-Kami" and "Izanagi" to swarm the field, along with "Susa Soldier", who also have a great ATK. It can also use "Beast King Barbaros" as an optional support. The only weakness is that you can't use the drawing effect of "Yamata Dragon", or the hand destructive effect of "Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi".
Toon Skill Drain
This deck focuses on using Class A Toon Monsters to swarm the field. Class A Toons are "Toon Mermaid", "Toon Summoned Skull", "Manga Ryu-Ran", and "Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon". Class B Toon "Toon Dark Magician Girl" is also possible for this deck. Out of the Class C Toons, only "Toon Goblin Attack Force" would be useful. The idea of this deck uses the Hand ability of Class A and Class B Toons, they can be Special Summoned while "Toon World" is on the field. "Toon Summoned Skull" and "Toon Dark Magician Girl" would still require one tribute to Special Summon. "Manga Ryu-Ran" and "Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon" would still require two - these can be fulfilled by Special Summoning "Toon Mermaid" for free. With "Skill Drain" active, the Class A and Class C Toons can attack on the turn they were summoned. Class A and Class B Toons would not have to pay 500 Life Points to attack. The best part of this would be the effect all three Classes have, the monsters will not be destroyed if "Toon World" is. The Class A and B Toons can still attack directly if their abilities are not negated later even with "Toon World" removed from the field.
Macro Skill Drain
This deck revolves around "Skill Drain" and "Macro Cosmos" / "Dimensional Fissure". This differs with the normal "Skill Drain" Deck by focusing more on field control. The main strategy is keeping your opponent's field empty while you normal summon a powerful monster and deal some battle damage each turn.
"Macro Cosmos" and or "Dimensional Fissure" paired with "D.D. Survivor" are used to keep the field presence, while "Skill Drain" and "Beast King Barbaros" are used for both beatdown and field control.
The monsters lineup are non-tribute monsters with high attack points, that (preferably) gets around both "Skill Drain" and "Macro Cosmos". Good monsters to consider is "Majestic Mech - Ohka". It can be summoned without tribute and stay on the field when "Skill Drain" is on the field, or it can be tribute summoned with "D.D. Survivor" when "Macro Cosmos" is face up for a free tribute ("D.D. Survivor" will come back to the field in the end phase). A "Dimensional Fissure" should be an alternate key card to "Macro Cosmos".
An essential support for this deck is "Burden of the Mighty", as it neutralizes the enemy's ATK power. It also solves problem with many powerhouses, dragging the ATK of Monarchs down to 1800, "Stardust Dragon" to 1700, makes most of the monsters in this deck superior in ATK power. Although it alone cant be used for another powerhouses like "Goyo Guardian" (down to 2200), "Judgement Dragon" (down to 2200).
This deck relies heavily on those continuous spell/trap cards, thus makes S/T negation cards essential for this deck. Good negation cards are "Solemn Judgment", "Dark Bribe" or to a lesser extent Cursed Seal of the Forbidden Spell.
A good thing too add is the combo of "Macro Cosmos" / "Dimensional Fissure" and "Gravekeeper's Servant". The combo will be that its make a lock down causing your opponent can't attack.
Note: Don't use "Cyber Valley" because "Skill Drain" will negate the 2nd effect, if there's no "Skill Drain" on the field you can tribute "Survivor" or "Scout Plane" to activate the 2nd effect so you can draw 2 card and "Survivor" or "Scout Plane" will be back on the field at the end of your turn. However, you may use its 1st effect to protect your field from an attack and draw 1 card each time you do.
Chaos Skill Drain
This kind of Deck relies on the LIGHT and DARK effects that are active in the Graveyard, or someones that got penalty like "Fusilier Dragon, the Dual-Mode Beast" and "Majestic Mech - Goryu". No more than 3 copies of "Thunder King Rai-Oh" and "Doomcaliber Knight" are then used. Since this Decks make use of LIGHT and DARK monsters, Chaos monsters like "Chaos Sorcerer" and "Sky Scourge Norleras" might be useful. "Vice Dragon" may be used, since it greatly speeds up this Deck.
Malefic Skill Drain
Since the introduction of Malefic Monsters, it is possible to summon high attack point monsters as early as first turn. However these monsters have numerous drawbacks. But with "Skill Drain" you are able to negate these negative effects and simply use it as a beatstick. Furthermore, by paying half your points when one of these Malefic monsters is destroyed you can summon, from hand or grave, the titanic "Malefic Truth Dragon". Not only does this make up for the lost monster but this dragon has a whopping 5000 Atk points, allowing you to decimate your opponent with relative ease. But even if SkD is out, you can still only have one Malefic monster out at a time. The malefic monster on the field may be negated, but the one in your hand is the one which has the effect stopping you.