Gladiator Beasts Guide

Written in collaboration with Bacon

Introduction & History

Gladiator Beasts have a long and rich history throughout the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game. They were first released in Japan with the Gladiator’s Assault booster pack on July 21, 2007. The Gladiators dominated the TCG throughout 2008 and were the winners of the Yu-Gi-Oh World Championship that year. Gladiator Beasts were released in Duel Links in the pack Galactic Origin and have been a common fixture on the ladder and in tournaments since.

The Gladiator Beasts use a mechanic in Yu-Gi-Oh commonly referred to as “tagging out” , a fan term created referring to special summoning a gladiator beast at the end of the battle phase from the deck by returning a gladiator beast that attacked or was attacked. The Second Mechanic that Gladiator Beast use is called contact fusion. This is fusion conducted by returning monsters from the field to the deck to special summon from the extra deck without using cards like Polymerization. The deck uses a small monster core supported by a strong suite of spells and traps which protect the gladiators to support the tagging out mechanic, generating card advantage and removing threats from the opponent’s board. It is important to note that a Gladiator beast cannot tag itself in, for example, you cannot tag out Murmillo to summon Murmillo.

The Gladiator beast deck is easy to use but difficult to master; this deck punishes the pilot’s mistakes and rewards optimal play. Gladiator Beasts were relevant in the metagame between November 2017 and March 2018. The deck fell out of favour upon the release of Sylvans, Spellbooks and Amazoness. However, October 2018 removed many threats from the metagame allowing the deck to make a comeback to the competitive scene and has topped most tournaments since then. Our deck’s core engine is small (7-9 monsters) and can run any backrow card, this makes the deck incredibly versatile and able to adapt to metagame changes. The recent revival of side decking in community events improves our versatility even more.


I would like to thank Bacon for his valuable contributions to the current version of this guide. He is responsible for the meta matchup guides and his testing and discussion has helped inform the current version. I would also like to thank Green for his contributions to earlier versions of the guide.

A Guide to the Guide

The guide has three main sections:

  • Building Your Gladiator Beast Deck

    • In this section we discuss the cards which form the core of the deck, the spells and traps the deck can use effectively and some tech options.
  • The Gladiator Beast Skills Guide

    • This section discusses the top 5 skills for Gladiator Beasts and provides a link to the main skills guide which discusses 23 different skills we can use.
  • The Match Up Guide

    • Firstly, we will discuss the mirror match in depth. This is a good place to start since it will also teach you some core mechanics of the deck.
    • We then go onto to discuss how we fare against the Tier 1-3 decks as defined by Duel Links Meta and the Top Player Council.

Building your Gladiator Beast Deck

This section will cover the relevant monsters, spells and traps the deck uses. It will not discuss in any length cards we do not often use, for example, Augustus, Secutor and Alexander will not be discussed in detail.

Monster Core

You will want to run 7 or 8 monsters in your deck but you can move this to 9 if you wish for non-balance builds. The below 6 monsters is the core.

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Laquari
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Laquari
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Laquari
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Bestiari
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Bestiari
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Murmillo

You will also want to add between 1 and 3 of the following to round out your monster count to fulfill your needs. Priority order: Retiari -> Equeste -> Darius = Dimacari

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Murmillo
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Retiari
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Darius
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Equeste
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Dimacari

Gladiator Beast Laquari} [Optimal Count 2-3]
Gladiator Beast Laquari is our highest attack monster and is key to the tagging out strategy. He is the monster you always want to draw or topdeck. Laquari’s attack has now been powercrept but he remains important for beating over Destiny Heroes and unboosted zombies in the vampire matchup. Many of our spells and traps change battle positions or lower attack therefore he is important for destroying monsters through battle. His ability to tag in either Bestiari or Murmillo is important and makes him a toolbox in his own right. When he is tagged in his attack is boosted to 2100 allowing him to beat over many relevant monsters. Finally, you need Laquari to summon Gladiator Beast Heraklinos, the decks boss monster which will be very relevant in some matches. You want three Laquari, but you can play the deck with only two.

Gladiator Beast Bestiari [Optimal Count 2]
Bestiari is our primary source of backrow removal and one of the key ways the deck generates advantage and drains opponent’s resources. His low attack means that you will more often than not need to protect him from battle. Since you want to tag into Bestiari it is important to run two so that you do not draw it as often as Laquari or Dimacari. The reason you do not want to run one is that if he was to be destroyed you lose your backrow removal and there are situations where tagging into two Bestiari to clear backrow comes up.

Gladiator Beast Murmillo [Optimal Count 1-2]
Murmillo is our weakest monster but also one of the most important. This monster allows us to destroy any monster on the field when he is tagged in and can remove large threats like Cosmo Brain, Silent Magician LV.8 and Masked HERO Anki. You will very often be able to tag in Murmillo after destroying a monster in battle to clear two monster in a turn or retaliate to destroy a monster in your opponents turn after using impenetrable attack or wall of disruption. Murmillo is a poor card to draw since he requires protection and often you will taking a sizeable hit to your life points to tag him out. For the exact same reasons as Bestiari, we recommend using two. Although, you can drop Murmillo to one if you are main decking other forms of removal such as Super Rush Headlong or Widespread Ruin

Gladiator Beast Dimacari [optimal count 0-1]
Dimacari rounds out the core monster line up and is often seen as the weakest viable Gladiator we have but he serves an important purpose. Firstly he serves a similar function to Laquari in that he is a toolbox since he tags into Bestiari, Murmillo and Laquari. Do not ignore his tagged in effect, Dimacari puts a lot of pressure on the opponent and can close out games when the opponent is top decking. He can destroy up to two monsters per turn with cards such as Windstorm of Etaqua, Curse of Anubis or Super Rush Headlong. He also threatens a whopping 3200 damage if not dealt with. If you choose to use only one Murmillo, Dimacari is the best option to replace it as the 8th monster.

Gladiator Beast Darius [optimal count 0-1] Darius is a comparatively new addition to the Gladiator toolbox. When tagged in Darius will summon a Gladiator from the graveyard. However, its effects will be negated (But will still activate!). This is very useful for recovering cards from the graveyard and helps with our fusion capabilities. This card would be core if we had a main phase two. The consensus among top Gladiator players is that Equeste performs the same job but better. It is worth noting that 1700 attack is relevant for as long as Destiny Heroes remain in the metagame.

Gladiator Beast Equeste [optimal count 0-1] Equeste is one other new addition to our toolbox. When tagged in, Equeste will add a “Gladiator Beast” card from the graveyard to the hand. This allows us to recycle monsters and grants us advantage when we do not need to destroy cards on the field. This card in particular has a lot of future potential as more “Gladiator Beast” spell and traps become available. The consensus among top Gladiator players is that this should be played as a single copy.

Gladiator Beast Retiari [optimal count 0-1] Retiari is a very important monster and should be present in your main deck or side deck. When tagged in Retiari will banish a monster from the graveyard. This lets you hit key combo cards against Vampire, Destiny HERO - Celestial and Blue-Eyes monsters to name but a few. Elsewhere, the card is useful for banishing Paleozoic Canadia and “A” Cell Recombination Device.

Spell Cards

Note: The spells we use and optimal counts will vary significantly based on the current meta, The current guide was written for October 2018. We will go in depth on how to use these cards in the match up sections.

Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller

Enemy Controller [Optimal Count: 2]
Gladiator Beasts generally want to attack defence position monsters. Enemy Controller achieves this while also offering a lot of extra utility. Firstly, Enemy Controller can protect a monster from battle by switching the attacker to defence position which also allows us to follow this up with an attack and begin tagging out. This card is a -1 in card advantage on paper but in reality the gladiator effects make it an even trade or a +1 if we destroy the opponent’s monster by battle. Being a quickplay spell means we use it defensively or offensively. This card is also the key to winning the mirror match as we will discuss later. Being a quickplay also means we can chain it to backrow removal or pinning.

Trap Cards

Note: The traps we use and optimal counts will vary significantly based on the current meta, the current guide was written for October 2018. We will go in depth on how to use these cards in the match up sections.

Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Canadia

Paleozoic Canadia [Optimal Count: 3] Versatility is king. Canadia is a jack of all trades card which functions as an Enemy Controller or Floodgate Trap Hole and can be used to “Pseudo” negate monster ignition effects. Canadia is better than Floodgate Trap Hole since it can impact an established board. For monsters which do not activate on summon you can use the card to flip them down to stop them been able to activate their effect. Meta examples include Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress, Cosmo Brain, Vampire Grace, Destiny HERO - Drilldark and Vision HERO Vyon from activating their ignition effects. It also shuts down continuous monster effects. It can be used to flip a monster face down when they attack acting as protection. For example, you can shut down an Anki after Mask Change which means you can beat over it with most of your monsters.

Extra Deck

The Gladiator extra deck will not change unless new Gladiator Beast fusion monsters are released. These will come but not in the foreseeable future since they are either too strong (Gyzarus) or their fusion materials are arguably too strong (Gaiodiaz which requires Hoplomus).

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Nerokius
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Heraklinos

Gladiator Beast Essedarii [Optimal Count: 3]
At first glance Essedarii feels weak and does not offer anything other than being a 2500 beatstick. However, he has proven himself to be a very versatile addition to the deck. For example, with two Essedarii in the extra deck you can continuously summon him by using Essedarii and one other Gladiator as material preventing you from ever decking out. This is important for the burn and stall matchups we will discuss later. This also provides the deck with its second win condition in deck out which can be achieved against a surprising number of decks when we consider Floodgate Trap Hole and Wall of Disruptions effectiveness.
Note: You can fuse using face down/floodgated monsters and those effected by Massivemorph/Wall of Disruption/Inverse Universe to clear those effects from your field. Essedarii also allows you to beat over the multitude of 2200-2400 attack monsters in the current meta such as Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon, Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys, Alien Overlord, Citadel Whale, The Legendary Fisherman II and Mecha Sea Dragon Plesion (assuming you have an answer to Sea Stealth Attack).

Gladiator Beast Nerokius [Optimal Count: 1]
Commonly referred to as Batman by the community, Nerokius is one of our two boss monsters which are very rarely summoned. Nerokius is an important card for closing out games and being able to attack into cards like Sea Stealth Attack, Widespread Ruin, Wall of Disruption and many other non-chainable backrow. He can also present a huge brick wall to the opponent since he is very tough to take due to battle phase immunity.
Tip: Nerokius stops any card that starts a chain. Continuous effects which would cause a chain to start do not activate on attack (e.g. Amazoness Onslaught or Des Counterblow would cause destruction/banishment, which always starts a chain) but those continuous effects which don’t cause chain still activate (e.g. Toon Kingdom banishing a card from the top of a deck doesn’t start a chain)
Tip: Don’t summon him into a Floodgate Trap Hole
Tip: After attack declaration, you can activate cards and your opponent cannot respond to them. For example, Cosmic Cyclone or E-con take cannot be responded to if it is done during the battle step after attacking with Nerokius.

Gladiator Beast Heraklinos [Optimal Count: 1]
Like Neorkius, you won’t be summoning Heraklinos often but in the 5% of games you do he will win you that game. I discuss using Heraklinos in detail in the mirror match section of the guide so I won’t go into it in detail here. In long, grindy games Heraklinos can be summoned to close that game out. He is also very strong against stall and burn decks but trying to summon him is a risk due to Lava Golem. One thing Heraklinos is really good at is ending the game. E.g. if you have more cards in hand than your opponent has backrow summoning Herkalinos is probably going to secure your victory. Don’t summon Heraklinos if your behind on resources since the opponent will force negations and eventually remove him.

Example Builds

Example Tournament Main deck

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Nerokius
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Heraklinos

Example Ladder Deck

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Nerokius
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Heraklinos

Pairing Example for two deck formats

Tech cards

These cards are main and side deck options which work well in certain matchups. These will not be discussed in the same detail as the core cards but they will be mentioned in the matchup guides.

Hand Traps

Duel Links Card: Sphere%20Kuriboh
  • Sphere Kuriboh Sphere Kuriboh is yet another amazing defensive option for the deck covering some of the uses which Enemy Controller and Floodgate Trap Hole offer. While this card is not as strong as the aforementioned cards it does have its merits in some metas. This card is immune to backrow removal which makes it unique. It is very strong in matchups which aim to OTK or have a lot of backrow removal like Blue-Eyes and Vampires.


Duel Links Card: Super%20Rush%20Headlong
Duel Links Card: Gravity%20Lash
Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Galaxy%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Forbidden%20Chalice
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Taming
Duel Links Card: Anti-Magic%20Arrows
  • Anti-Magic Arrows:
    Functions in a similar way to Cosmic Cyclone at the moment and is a good replacement if you don’t have any. The added benefit of AMA is free tagging in the battle phase which can be devastating since Bestiari cannot be chained to.

  • Forbidden Chalice:
    Good all round card now that we have reached an effect monster meta. The extra 400 attack can come in clutch but do not tag out if you chaliced your own monster. Also don’t expect boosted Laquari to jump to 2500 it will go to 2200.

  • Super Rush Headlong: Excellent card for protecting our monsters. Can be chained to backrow removal and is one of the few options we have access to which can be used both aggressively and defensively. Has good synergy with Dimacarii

  • Gravity Lash Excellent card in the current meta game. Damage step card with offensive and defensive use. Similar to Super Rush Headlong but allows the gladiator player to tag out. Has little utility against Vampire but a lot of utility against Blue-Eyes, Masked Heroes and others.

  • Gladiator Taming A weaker Enemy Controller/Canadia but is a good main deck or side deck choice if you expect to be playing against gladiator beasts as it is a blow-out card in the mirror match.

  • Cosmic Cyclone Spot removal, excellent against Vampires and other decks which require specific spell and trap cards to function.

  • Galaxy Cyclone Same function as Cosmic Cyclone but it is slower at dealing with cards such as Vampire Kingdom and U.A. Stadium and Penalty Box.


Duel Links Card: Floodgate%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Wall%20of%20Disruption
Duel Links Card: Mirror%20Wall
Duel Links Card: Paleozoic%20Hallucigenia
Duel Links Card: Impenetrable%20attack
Duel Links Card: Drowning%20Mirror%20Force
Duel Links Card: Treacherous%20Trap%20Hole
Duel Links Card: Dust%20Tornado
Duel Links Card: Memory%20Loss
Duel Links Card: Widespread%20Ruin
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: The%20Regulation%20of%20Tribe
Duel Links Card: Magic%20Deflector
Duel Links Card: Xing%20Zhen%20Hu
  • Floodgate Trap Hole
    This is one of the best generic trap cards in the game and is an important trap for the gladiator beast deck. This card fulfils many jobs for the deck. Firstly, it slows down the opponent and forced them to play at your pace. Secondly, it gives us a face-down defence position monster to attack into and begin tagging. Finally, it also shuts down monster effects. For example, you can shut down Gozuki, Grace, alien telepath and tuners to name but a few. It also permanently puts large monsters into defence so we can hold off a large attack until we can pop it with a murmillo tag. One thing to recognise with floodgate trap hole is that it can actually open up an alternative win condition for the deck if you are using three complemented with Wall of Disruption. Some decks do not run tribute monsters and you can actually go for a deck out victory against these decks.

  • Wall of Disruption Again this card enters and falls out of the meta as if it is a cyclical card. You usually play either this card or impenetrable attack. In a meta with little backrow removal and swarming decks this card is one of the best options any deck can use. The current meta has a lot of decks which can swarm the field such as vampires, blue-eyes and HERO. This card in conjunction with floodgate trap hole opens up the secondary win condition of decking the opponent out. In some match ups it is best to bait out a big wall of disruption play to clog the opponent’s field with 0 attack monsters and then stall out to victory. Remember, Gladiators have a natural anti-deck out option in Gladiator Beast Essedarii.

  • Mirror Wall Mirror wall is a card that has come back into favour in recent months. Mirror Wall has some benefits over Wall of disruption Firstly, this card is better when the opponent only has one monster, secondly, this card can be chained to Hey! Traunde and finally, and possibly the most important point is that Mirror Wall is much harder to play around compared to Wall of Disruption and can be used to confuse your opponent in the toggle game. Since this sees little use it comes as a surprise to the opponent and often results in you destroying a monster by battle and their second monster or a spell or trap they set that turn. Remember to activate this in the damage step. It is also important to know when to pay to keep mirror wall active for a second turn.

  • Widespread Ruin Good one for one removal which does not target. Excellent against Mask Change, Silent Magician and Dragon Spirit of White. This is a fantastic card for the current META. Many players are dropping floodgate trap hole in favour of Widspread Ruin.

  • Paleozoic Hallucigenia Provides a similar function to Mirror Wall. But it does not affect multiple monsters and is not a counter to Hey! Trunade. It has two benefits, it can be used offensively and can be used to summon a 1200 body which can generate some advantage.

  • Impenetrable attack Fallen out of favour since March due to not being chainable and better options such as Widespread Ruin now exist.

  • Dust Tornado This is a slower/worse Cosmic Cyclone but being a trap has it utility when using the Endless Trap Hell skill.

  • Memory Loss Offers a similar function to Canadia, Floodgate Trap Hole and Forbidden Chalice. Is good against decks where effects trigger on summon which Candaia does not stop such as Vision HERO Witch Raider, Gozuki and Samurai Skull.

  • Windstorm of Etaqua A card which was once core but has fallen out of favour. I believe this card could be very good in the current meta but is currently overshadowed by Wall of Disruption.

  • Curse of Anubis Fallen out of favour as it fails to hit Blue-Eyes White Dragon but should be considered for future Metagames.

  • Drowning Mirror Force Ideally, you will use traps which protect your monsters. Unfortunatly, Drowning Mirror force fails to do this. However, it often sees play in the Endless Trap Hell builds; you can choose to not summon a monster to bait an attack into this trap.

  • Magic Deflector Very versatile trap which counters Spellbook of Fate, Vampire Kingdom, Cosmic Cyclone and Mask Change.

  • Xing Zhen Hu:
    This trap can be devastating against other Control Decks, Burn, Aliens and the mirror. Resolving this in the end phase of your opponents turn will usually win you the match, but it is dead vs other. I like this in the main deck when using 3SD GB.

  • The Regulation of Tribe:
    Can be used to stall for a turn after been hit by Hey, Trunade!.

  • Treacherous Trap Hole The Endless Trap Hell version of the deck can utilise Treacherous Trap Hole because the skill can make it live even in the mid to late game. Other skills we do not advise using this since it can quickly become a dead card.

Gladiator Beast Skills Discussion

This guide will examine the many potential skills that Gladiator Beasts will use, highlight their advantages and disadvantages and why you might want to use that in a specific META. Gladiator Beasts are by far the most versatile deck in Duel Links because the core of the deck is small with only 7-8 monsters being mandatory. This means the deck has twelve spots for tech options which can be adapted to any Meta we are in. Gladiator’s versatility also comes from the huge number of skills which work with them. In total the main skills guide identifies and analyses 23 skills which the deck can use. Each of which will influence how the deck is built and will vary in usefulness based on the current metagame. View the main skills guide (Last updated March 2018) Here.

Top Skills for October-November 2018 Meta.

  1. Sealed Tombs
  2. Balance
  3. Endless Trap Hell
  4. Mind Scan
  5. Holy Guard

Popular Skills for Gladiator Beasts

Sealed Tombs

Sealed Tombs is the favoured skill among top Gladiator Beast players. This is because the skill offers powerful disruption against Vampires and Spellbooks essentially shutting down those decks for a turn which gives you time to establish a board. Sealed tombs offers spot disruption against Destiny HERO - Celestial, Silver’s Cry and “A” Cell Recombination Device to name but a few. Note, Sealed Tombs does not stop the summoning of Paleozoic cards since they are not monsters in the gravyard.

Sample Decklist

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Nerokius
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Heraklinos


Traditionally, Balance has been the skill of choice for Gladiator players. The skill ensures that you open with one Gladaitor Beast monster and two backrow cards. You are now forced to use six spells and six traps to trigger the skill. Because of this, the skill has fallen out of favour since traps hold much more value than the spells at our disposal. That said, Balance’s consistency cannot be matched so it remains popular. Balance is an excellent choice for the ladder where an all monster brick can be hard to recover from. Tournament players tend to graviatate towards Sealed Tombs to improve the Vampire and Spellbook matchups while others use Endless Trap Hell for recovery.

Sample Decklist

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Nerokius
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Heraklinos

Mind Scan

Mind Scan appears to be overlooked in the current metagame but it has many benefits in the mirror match and against Destiny HERO. Mind Scan allows you to see all of your opponents face down cards as long as you maintain over 3000 life points which is fairly easy to do given all the backrow the deck has access to. Mind Scan was nerfed in February 2018 to only activate on the third turn. This has reduced the potency of the skill and some players now dismiss its usefulness because it isn’t activate during the most important part of the game. This is false however as Gladiator Beasts can often run long matches and being able to see and play around all backrow (to an extent) is a very powerful skill. It is particularly useful on the ladder to identify tech cards. Regardless of how good you are at reading prompts, you will find some usefulness in Mind Scan.

Sample Decklist

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Nerokius
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Heraklinos

Endless Trap Hell

As a trap heavy deck, Gladiators can very easily abuse Endless Trap Hell. This skill can help acheive the deck out alternative win condition. It also allows the deck to reuse lost resources. For example, reusing Wall of Disruption or Floodgate Trap Hole can help secure victory. With this skill a hand of no Gladiator Beast monsters is not a brick and as a result it can afford to drop to 7 monsters. ETH often maximises floodgate traps.

Sample Decklist

Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Essedarii
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Nerokius
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Beast%20Heraklinos

Matchup Guide

This covers the tier list as defined by Duel Links Meta and the Top Player Council. If you are struggling with a deck not on ladder such as Sacred Phoenix please check out the ladder matchup guide Here.

Mastering the Mirror Match

General Tips for the Mirror
Generally, you want to play the mirror match passively. The first player to make a mistake is the one who loses in the mirror match. You should only attack when it is safe to do so but how do you determine this? Firstly, you will want to scout your opponent’s backrow by paying attention to delays during either players turn. Dkayed created a perfect delay guide which I have included in the appendix of this guide for you to reference while playing and also while reading this guide. Alternatively, Mind Scan which will allow you to dominate the mirror match.
Note: The delay guide is useful even when using Mind Scan for when your LP drop below 3000.

  • It is not safe to attack when you suspect Wall of Disruption, Impenetrable Attack, Mirror Wall, Hallucigenia or Super Rush Headlong (if their monster is face up) if you DO NOT have Enemy Controller or Impenetrable Attack yourself.

  • It is often not safe to attack if you suspect the opponent has their own Enemy Eontroller and Impenetrable Attack or if they control at least two Gladiator Beast monsters without Impenetrable Attack.

  • It is safe to attack if you only suspect Sphere Kuriboh, Curse of Anubis, Windstorm of Etaqua, Super Rush Headlong (if opponent monster is face down) AND have some form of protection for a defense position Gladiator(s).

  • It is often safe to attack into a suspected Enemy Controller if the opponent is not in a position to capitalise on an e-con take play in an attempt to get the opponent to waste the Enemy Controller.

  • If two Gladiator Beast players are both experienced in the mirror match the match will often be long without many attacks occurring. As a result, Heraklinos and Nerokius plays are more common than in any other match up.

  • If you suspect Floodgate Trap Hole DO NOT summon Nerokius without a backup play (such as Laquari. It almost always is a bad idea to get Nerokius floodgated, but remember Nerokius has battle destruction immunity and can tag out. To win, your opponent will have to attack into Nerokius at some point. They will do this only if they think it is safe to either

    • a) Attack then Murmillo Nerokius and
    • b) If they have an E-Con take play. You should try and set up your own Enemy Controller or Impenetrable Attack ready for the inevitable attack into Nerokius.
  • If your opponent’s backrow and hand combined is less than the number of cards in your backrow and hand Herkalinos is a safe play. For example, if the opponent has 3 backrow cards and 2 in hand and you also have 3 backrow but three cards in hand Heraklinos is a strong play and can win you the mirror since he negates every backrow card (including floodgate on his own summon) and other Gladiators except Nerokius cannot take him down.

  • You do not need to negate every backrow card. For example, if Herkalinos is your only monster and you get hit by a Wall of Disruption while you have backrow protection for him you can let the wall through. A 2200 Heraklinos is still a lot to deal with for GB. In this situation you have conserved one resource which can mean the difference between winning and losing the game. The reason I say to only not negate wall in this situation if you have backrow (preferably position changing, WoD or MW or floodgate) is because the opponent could respond with Essedari and you will need to protect a 2200 Heraklinos.

  • If you are in top decking mode, Essedarii is a viable play since your opponent will need a Gladiator and backrow to deal with it.

Using Enemy Controller & Gladiator Taming in the Mirror
As long as Gladiator Beasts remain popular then two Enemy Controller is mandatory even in the Endless Trap Hell build which favors traps to spells. This card is the key to winning the mirror match. One thing we are beginning to see is the inclusion of Gladiator Beast Andal in side decks and on the ladder in decks such as REZD and Ancient Gears. That is testament to how strong this card is.

Enemy controller can be used to tribute your monster to gain control of an opponent’s Gladiator which has already battled. This allows you to send your opponents monster back into their deck and special summon on from yours. This means that you have removed your opponent’s Gladiator and in most situations destroy their second Gladiator or a backrow card. This play does not generate card advantage (-1 GB, - e-con, +GB +destruction effect) but is a huge tempo swing especially if you can Murmillo a second monster.

Here is the discord’s Gladiator Beast expert, Raytee’s comment on how to use Enemy Controller in the mirror match. There is no point repeating what is already out there!

  • “With econ, you can attack their Gladiator, if they Impenetrable Attack, you then have 2 choices:
  1. tag out your gladiator for another (like Bestiari) THEN econ take their monster to tag out their Gladiator.
  2. If they have econ then you MUST econ after the successful attack and not attempt to tag out your gladiator. Why? If they are smart and have their toggle ON (this is what YOU need to do if on the receiving end), when you choose to end the battle phase, they will have the chance to ECON take your monster before you are able to tag out.Econ take to tag out/fuse your opponent’s gladiator is devastating no matter how you are able to pull it off.”

Using Toggle in the Mirror Match & Turn Player Priority
This a more advanced game play tip for the mirror match but knowing it and executing it correctly will win you matches. The turn player always has card and effect activation priority. This means that in your turn, you will always have to activate backrow and Gladiator Beast effects first. However, you can “pass” turn priority to your opponent by entering or exiting a phase with toggle set to off. You can also pass priority when attacking but attacking with toggle off is a very very risky play and I wouldn’t recommend even if you are a god at using the tap option. The turn player also gets to decide the order effects go onto a chain (not relevant for GB) and the order in which continuous effects occur. Unfortunately, the Duel Links app does chain order and continuous effects order automatically but it will always try and favor the turn player. The most common interaction you will see is that Super Rush Headlong will always activate for the turn player first regardless of the order in which it is played. You will also see this interaction occur with Sea Stealth Attack as it gains popularity. When to turn toggle to “Off” during your turn

  • If you have attacked an enemy Gladiator Beast which is protected by Impenetrable Attack you can set toggle to off to pass turn priority to the opponent. They then have to tag out their Gladiators first even on your turn unless the opponent has toggle to off as well, in which case you must tag out first as normal at the second prompt window (Activate Gladiator effect: Yes or No). This allows you to bypass Impenetrable Attacks destruction effect since the new gladiator is not covered by it. You can then respond with your own Murmillo.
  • When to do this:
    • A) Only if your opponent does not have Enemy Controller.
    • B) Only when the Impenetrable Attacked Gladiator is Murmillo when you only have one Gladiator.
    • C) Against any Gladiator if you have two or more Gladiators which battled this turn yourself.
  • The above is true because:
    • A) Your opponent could use Enemy Controller with priority in your turn.
    • B) Murmillo cannot tag into Murmillo and therefore cannot destroy your Gladiator
    • C) Your opponent can tag into Murmillo to destroy one of your Gladiators, but you can then tag your own Murmillo into destroy their Murmillo.
  • IMPORTANT: After passing priority set toggle to ON or AUTO so that you can regain priority in order to activate your own Gladiator and backrow card effects!
  • If your opponent has two Gladiators, you can toggle to off to let them tag one out and then toggle to on to regain priority.

Some Interesting Notes Regarding Toggle:
If both players have toggle to off a yes/no screen will occur asking if you wish to tag out. This will occur in reverse summon order. If you press no here then you won’t have another chance to tag out. Therefore, if both players toggle to off the turn player MUST tag out first. Special thanks to Puzoor for helping me test this interaction.

Tech Cards for the Mirror Match

Duel Links Card: Cosmic%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Xing%20Zhen%20Hu
Duel Links Card: Super%20Rush%20Headlong
Duel Links Card: Drowning%20Mirror%20Force
Duel Links Card: Forbidden%20Chalice
Duel Links Card: Gladiator%20Taming
Duel Links Card: Mirror%20of%20Oaths

Mirror Match Closing Remarks
By learning and playtesting the mirror match you will gain a deep understanding of how the deck functions and will improve your general gameplay for all other matchups. For example, to do well in the mirror match you must learn how to use the toggle and how to make reads based on toggle delays which is a useful skill for any matchup you face (and any other deck you use!). You will have also learnt how to side deck well against one particular matchup which will allow you to side against other matchups more effectively. I enjoy the mirror match and I am happy to playtest the mirror with you. Just send me a message on discord @brenduke#0011 to arrange a time that is convenient for us both.

Masked Heroes

Dominant Skills Used: Balance, Destiny Calling

The new heroes deck plays very much like we do, in that it relies heavily on it’s backrow to keep it stable until it can make a big push with mask changes. However, unlike in several other matchups their deck is built around, they cannot simply stall on decider. Most of our monsters still fall below the 1600 attack threshold set by heroes and attacking an attack position hero can almost certainly guarantee running into a Mirror Wall. Play this match slow. Mind scan can be used to hit non chainable backrow with Bestiari and avoid popping mask changes unless the front row is clear. Sealed Tombs and Retiari tag ins are good options to stop celestial draw plays in the graveyard. Only attack defense position heroes if at all possible. Like several other MUs, siding in or even maining a Sphere Kuriboh or 2 can impact the duel largely in your favor as the most aggressive player in this matchup is the one putting themself at risk. Remember that you can out stall any hero deck, so you do not have to make an aggressive play until you want to. Lastly, note that multiple variants of heroes have teched in 1-2 copies of drowning mirror force. You may be staring at an empty front row and full backrow and simply be reading it as a wall of disruption, so exercise caution when attacking directly with multiple attack position monsters. Lastly, watch for Xing plays or CC which heroes are both fond of to crush your backrow prior to a mask change OTK

Key Cards:
Mirror Wall, Paleozoic Canadia, Enemy Controller, Widespread Ruin

Side Deck Options:
Xing Zeng Hu, Magic Deflector, Sphere Kuriboh

Matchup Odds:
HERO Favored


Dominant Skills Used: Sealed Tombs, Bandit, Switcheroo

Vampires with trunades pose a very large threat to this deck and will most oftentimes have an OTK if they draw into it. However, due to the threat of blue eyes and the mirror, many vamps are still forced to main deck enemy controllers which makes this matchup much easier. Sealed tombs can stop an entire turn of vampire plays and make it very difficult for them to establish a strong board. Meanwhile, retiari again shines in this matchup due to his ability to banish a familiar or retainer from the graveyard and disallowing their effect. There is no fear of vampire vamp in this matchup unless you contact fuse, so keep that in mind as you make plays. As usual, rely on backrow to slow vamps down, but don’t be too passive as vampire grace can quickly snipe your most dangerous backrow. One last note is that vampires have begun using their additional space to occasionally fit in a wall of disruption or 2, so you are not safe attacking into an attack position monster with unchainable backrow behind it. As always, bestiari plays should try and target vampire kingdom since most decks only run 2 copies total and grace destruction is reliant off of that.

Key Cards:
Paleozoic Canadia, Wall of Disruption, Gladiator Beast Retiari

Side Deck Options:
Debunk, Magic Deflector, Memory Loss

Match Up Odds:
Gladiator favoured if they do not use Hey, Trunade!, but if they do; Vampire favoured.


Dominant Skills Used: A Trick up the Sleeve, Beatdown

Blue-Eyes can pose a very real threat to Gladiators and is regarded as the most difficult matchup in the current meta. Because of the ability to spit out one very large monster, a Wall of Disruption can at times not be enough. In addition, Dragon Spirit of White rending away one of your backrow upon summon and then further being able to dodge things like Canadia and Floodgate can cause massive issues and leave you defenseless from the start. Much like the matchup vs Heroes, Widespread Ruins is a card that shines here if the spirit did not target it. Retiari can be useful to banish a Blue-Eyes monster from the grave, however Silver’s Cry and Birthright can both dampen that play. Sealed Tombs is a very solid play to buy yourself a turn vs Blue-Eyes. Holy Guard can be a useful skill in this matchup due to the high damage you receive when attacking into the defense position blue eyes monsters. Another key card (and arguable the most important one) is Enemy Controller. Crashing blue eyes monsters or taking one for lethal is crucial for a GB player that wants to escape a duel before the blue eyes player builds steam.

Key Cards:
Floodgate Trap Hole, Wall of Disruption, Gladiator Beast Retiari, Mirror Wall

Side Deck Options:
Zombie World, Super Rush Headlong

Matchup Odds:
Blue-Eyes favoured

Spellbooks/Silent Magician

Dominant Skills Used: Restart, Switcheroo

By far the easiest matchup in the meta, Spellbooks have an extremely difficult time dealing with heavy trap backrows like we boast. Canadias and Floodgates shut down the use of Spellbook of Fate and cards like Widespread Ruins will simply eliminate the threat of Silent Magician LV8. Wall of Disruption can stall for plays in the event books went first and banished your first monster. Additionally, Sealed Tombs is an absolute shut down of Spellbooks and prevents them from any plays aside from going into Lv8. Retiari again can be clutch in this matchup due to hid ability to remove Spellbook of Fate ammo in the graveyard and take away potential targets for Spellbook of the Master. Even the weakest of Gladiator Beasts has a higher attack than blue boy and makes this matchup a virtually free win as many times even a Treacherous Trap Hole is not enough for books to win.

Key Cards:
Widespread Ruin, Floodgate Trap Hole, Paleozoic Canadia

Side Deck Options:
DNA Surgery, Magic Deflector, Drowning Mirror Force

Matchup Odds:
Gladiator Favoured


If you have read this guide you will now have an excellent understanding as to how to play Gladiator Beasts and you should be able to now develop your own builds, tech choices and playstyle. Gladiator Beasts are one of the most versatile decks in the metagame due to our small 7-8 card core which allows us to continuously rebuild our decks to adapt to anything Konami will throw at us for the foreseeable future. Gladiator Beasts also have excellent future potential because any new generic spell or trap release can be used and there are many more Gladiator Beast monsters yet to be released. At some point our deck will get powercrept, but when that time comes we will remain a formidable rouge deck because we can very easily transition into an anti-meta deck. We have amazing potential and the future looks brighter with the upcoming box, Rampage of the Forest, despite the general consensus that Gladiators are a dead deck due to Hey, Trunade!.


Firstly, Bacon Made a huge contribution to this guide and updated all the meta matchups. Please extend your gratitude to him!

I would like to thank Raytee and Green for their earlier Gladiator Beast guides which formed an important foundation for this guide and I would like to thank them both for their valued contributions to the current version of the guide.

Thank you to the other deck experts and guide writers for all their hard work. Reading your guides was the spark which led to writing this guide. Your advice when creating this guide was invaluable.

Thank you to every active member of #gladiator-beasts in the DLM server for their amazing support and feedback on my previous guides. And thank you for never giving up on the deck.

Thanks to Dkayed for cultivating an amazing community worth working for.

Thank you to all the players who said gladiators were dead. You guys spur me on to prove you wrong with each new box release. Don’t worry, one day you will be right but that time isn’t now.

Thank you to Sanga of the Thunda for bringing them unda!

And finally thank you to the amazing Devs and Content Managers for helping me convert this guide into a suitable format for the website.
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