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”. This is a fan created term 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 Gladiator Beast Murmillo to summon Gladiator Beast 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 have been an important aspect of the metagame for almost half a year, since our decks core engine is small (7-9 monsters) and can run any backrow card our builds can be incredibly versatile and adapt to anything Konami throws at us. If we can survive Abyss Encounters and come out strong, we can survive anything. The recent addition of side decking in community events improves our versatility even more so you should always be prepared to face Gladiators in a tournament.
Brenduke played the TCG competitively up until 2010 and achieved multiple regional tops in the UK with Gladiator Beasts. He only quit the TCG due to starting University which meant that time and money became more restricted. When Duel Links was released he was instantly hooked and has achieved King of Games six times so far, four of which were with Gladiator Beasts. He has topped multiple tournaments and popularized 3SD Gladiators. He is currently Deck Expert for Gladiator Beasts in the Duel Links Meta Discord.
Green played the TCG competitively for years. He comes up with original and creative deck ideas, completely new to the meta. He has achieved King of Games multiple times, and is currently the head coach for Creeping Death in Team Wars. He focuses heavily on deck analysis, and meta prediction to spur creativity. He has actively posted in the Gladiator Beast discord channel since its inception.
This will be a living guide which will be updated once per month to reflect new card releases and changes in the metagame. The guide has three main sections:
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.
You will want to run 8 monsters in your deck but you can move this to 9 if you wish for non-balance builds.
Gladiator Beast Laquari [Optimal Count 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 by cards like Volcanic Rocket but he remains important. 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 unbooted Hazy Flame Sphynx and many other 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 if you are free to play.
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. Some players argue that three Bestiari without a Dimacari is optimal. If you think this ask yourself the question: Would I rather draw Bestiari or Dimacari?
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 Ancient Gear Golem, Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon and Valkyrion the Magna Warrior. 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. 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 the metagame favours targeting immune monsters such as the Hazy Flame Archetype or Citadel Whale.
Gladiator Beast Dimacari [optimal count 1-2]
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.
Note: The spells we use and optimal counts will vary significantly based on the current meta, The current guide was written for March 2018. We will go in depth on how to use these cards in the match up sections.
Enemy Controller [Optimal Count: 3]
Gladiator Beasts generally want to attack defense 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 defense 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. Finally, the second effect of Enemy Controller opens up OTK plays or can be used to primitively stop effects such as Cyber Angel Dakini, Snipe Hunter and Golden Flying Fish. 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.
Super Rush Headlong [Optimal Count: 2]
Super Rush Headlong is a card we use often despite it having little synergy with our monsters. Super Rush Headlong complements our low attack monsters and can be used offensively or defensively to destroy threats outside of battle. The card is also important in that it doesn’t target and is one of our only outs to a boosted Hazy Flame Sphynx or Citadel Whale. Being able to destroy outside of battle also allows us to remove Aliens from the board without having to worry about A-counter on our monster or getting A-counters from alien warrior. This spell is also one of the cards used to counter Gladiator Beasts. Due to turn player priority, the turn player’s Super Rush Headlong will always win. Therefore, if you are attacking a defense position monster and your opponent responds with this card you can chain your own copy which destroys your opponent’s monster while also saving your own! Like Enemy Controller, this card has all the benefits of being a quickplay spell.
Cosmic Cyclone [Optimal Count 0-3]
Simple, Versatile, Effective 1 for 1 backrow removal. This is an incredibly versatile card and in the current meta (March 2018) you should be main decking this card for the ladder and side decking it for tournaments. Cosmic Cyclone can simply remove set backrow so that your Gladiators can effectively attack or can be used to remove matchup specific threats such as A Legendary Ocean, Brainwashing Beam, Ancient Gear Castle, Fire Formation - Gyokkou, Xing Zhen Hu, Ninjitsu traps and Powerful Rebirth. If you are taking a pot shot at backrow this is best used in the end phase on a card the opponent set that turn where the opponent cannot chain that set card. Also not that this card does not negate so banishing in response to Wall of Disruption will not stop it going through. However, you may wish to chain this to spells or traps with graveyard effects to stop those occurring, for example, Hymn of Light, Machine Angel Ritual and “A” Cell Recombination Device. This card can be used to trigger skills but can also turn off Mind Scan.
Note: The traps we use and optimal counts will vary significantly based on the current meta, the current guide was written for March 2018. We will go in depth on how to use these cards in the match up sections.
Floodgate Trap Hole [Optimal Count: 3]
This is one of the best generic trap cards in the game and is an important trap for the Gladiator Beast deck. This card fulfills 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 defense position monster to attack into and begin tagging. Being face down is important since it prevents the use of cards such like Super Rush Headlong. Finally, it also shuts down monster effects. For example, you can shut down Gozuki, Snipe Hunter, Lava Golem, Cyber Angel Dakini, Alien Telepath, Golden Flying Fish and Abyss Soldier to name but a few. It also permanently puts large monsters into defense so we can hold off a large attack until we can pop it with a Murmillo tag. One thing to recognize 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. Many decks do not run tribute monsters and you can actually go for a deck out victory against a deck like Volcanic Snipe Hunter, Aliens (if you hit Overlord) and Magnets. Some players prefer two and have success with two but it is my personal opinion that three is optimal since you want it turn one.
Impenetrable Attack [Optimal Count: 0-2]
This cards usage is heavily dependent on the meta but is something you should always consider when building your deck. Right now this card is seeing a lot of play because it allows you to play completely passively against Aliens and force them to make attacks. Setting this and a GB while using Balance also allows you to bluff being an Alien player where you will see many players attacking right into the trap. The key reason Impenetrable Attack is good right now is because Super Rush Headlong usage is relatively high, Mysterious Triangle is seeing play in the battle phase and this card can stop Sea Stealth Attacks destruction effect. This card can be used both offensively and defensively. Its second effect does not see much use but it can stop OTKs. That said, I find that if I am in a situation where I need to use the second effect I have already lost.
Wall of Disruption [Optimal Count: 0-2]
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 Red-Eyes Zombies, Cyber Angels, Magnet Warriors, Aliens and Destiny Heroes. 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 Essedari.
Mirror Wall [Optimal Count: 0-2]
Mirror wall is a card that has fallen out of favor in recent months but I have included it as a core trap since it functions in a similar way to Wall of Disruption but has some notable advantages. Firstly, this card is better when the opponent only has one monster, secondly, this card can be chained to Sergeant Electro who is still around even if his usage has dropped recently and finally, and possibly the most important point is that Mirror Mall is much harder to play around compared to 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. You will probably want to use this over disruption is using skill like No Mortal Can Resist.
Curse of Anubis [Optimal Count: 1]
This is a staple trap for the deck. Like Floodgate Trap Hole, this achieves two things. It protects your monsters while also turning opponent’s monsters to defense which allows you to get some tagging plays off. Another big bonus this card has is that it is chainable to cards like cosmic cyclone and storm. It can also be used before the battle phase to counter a suspected anti-magic arrows play. Remember that this card only hits effect monsters so some cards are immune to it. This includes ancient gear knight, gladiator beast andal and heavy knight of flame all of which see play. This is one of the most powerful and versatile traps in the game and you should be using the one copy we have access to.
Windstorm of Etaqua [Optimal count 0-1]
This card is very similar to curse of Anubis but also hits normal and gemini monsters. This card comes in and out of favour since it is easy to play around if your opponent makes the correct read. The second issue with the card over curse of Anubis is that if your opponent is playing around WoD they are also naturally playing around windstorm. That said, it remains a very powerful option for all the reasons stated above for curse of Anubis. You will usually be playing this but it can be dropped to fit in another copy of wall of disruption.
Sphere Kuriboh [Optimal Count 0-3]
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 and Anti-Magic Arrows, this card also does not target and is therefore a strong card. It is very strong in matchups which aim to OTK or have a lot of backrow removal like Red-Eyes Zombies, Cyber Angels, Control Decks and Dinosaurs. Unfortunately, this card can cause bricks with Balance but it is a very good choice for non-balance builds.
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).
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, Des Counterblow, 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. Des Counterblow would cause destruction, 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.
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.
The holy guard variant of gladiator beasts will often use 2-3 D.D Warrior. This card provides the best monster removal in the game at the cost of a normal summon. It was more popular in heavy CA meta where you could crash into Dakini or Saffira, Queen of Dragons and bypass all protection. The card can also banish Gozuki, Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon, Valkyrion the Magna Warrior and Ancient Gear Golem and other large threats.
Only really used with Mind Scan and Mighty as FIRE. Electro offers disruption by forcing early backrow plays and pinning unchainables down. Electro quickly becomes the center of attention and forces the opponent to burn resources removing him.
4-Starred Ladybug of Doom:
In my opinion this is the best side deck card since it is very good against the Legendary Ocean deck when combined with Impenetrable Attack, Aliens, Dinosaurs, Little City Destiny Heroes, Magnets and the mirror match. This is a side deck card since it is useless in some matchups.
Jowls of Dark Demise:
A very good card in the mirror. Set it and let your opponent attack into it, then you can tag out their Gladiator at the end of the battle phase. This is a huge swing play and a great side option when Gladiators are popular.
Heavy Knight of the Flame:
Similar in function to D.D. Warrior but is slower to set up at the cost of having more long term utility.
You can tribute off two monsters your opponent controls to summon this in defense position. You can then attack Golem and destroy it with Murmillo. Good for clearing untargetable threats such as Whale and Hazy. Golem + E-con take is also an OTK move against very aggressive decks which run little backrow.
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.
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.
An okay side deck card which prevents targeting and monster destruction.
Note: Dress will not negate an effect which has already targeted. (e.g. chaining to Enemy Controller)
My Body as a Shield:
This card stops monster destruction from any source outside of battle but comes with a heavy cost. This is good against Sea Stealth Attack, Snipe Hunter, Murmillo, Archfiend Emperor, the First Lord of Horror and Mysterious Triangle to name a few. Best used with LP reduction skills such as Bandit. Better in the side deck
Fire Formation - Gyokkou:
Very useful if you don’t have Cosmic Cyclones. It also boosts Laquari to 1900 which helps in the mirror match. Really good in conjunction with Mind Scan.
Shuts down Hazy Flame decks and Monarch decks which are both very difficult matchups. A good side option but might not be the best use of the spot.
A good side deck card against Red-Eyes Zombies and Aliens. We can force Red-Eyes Spirit/Powerful Rebirth activation with Bestiari and chain this from the hand to ruin their play. I personally feel Disappear is better in the GB side as it is an automatic win vs stall/burn if used.
Acid Rain/System Down:
If Ancient Gears come back into the meta this is a good side card
Blast Held by a Tribute:
A nasty and brutal surprise against Hazy Flame players. This is like Acid Rain in the Ancient Gear match-up.
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.
We all saw how well Glading used this in MCS VI where he sided this in his tournament winning deck. Amazing vs Aliens, GB and Burn who often set 3.
Divine Wrath/Ultimate Providence:
These traps offer monster effect negation at the cost of a discard. This is good in the side for Snipe Hunter where negating its effect is an even trade.
Most top players see this as an inferior version of Foolish Return and for good reason. However, I strongly feel Disappear is better for Gladiator Beasts specifically because it gives you guaranteed win vs stall.
Kunai With Chain:
Often forgotten card but I like to compare it to Enemy Controller in that it is a versatile card which can do Sphere or E-cons defending job or be activated in the damage step to surprise the opponent. It also opens up Dimicari OTK plays. Its situational activation requirement for the defense change has kept it out of the main deck so far.
A good option if facing decks with a lot of out of battle monster destruction to recover lost Gladiators. Tagging out the summoned Gladiator does clog your backrow so use with caution.
The Regulation of Tribe:
Can be used to stall for a turn after been hit by Hey, trunade!.
If Hey, Trunade! Becomes a meta staple then this is the ultimate counter to it.
This is quick play spell reminiscent of Shrink from the TCG which was often in the Gladiator Beast main deck. This card can be used in the damage step. Therefore, it can be used aggressively in such a way that Enemy Controller and Super Rush Headlong cannot since the opponent must use a resource to stop the attack before the damage step if they suspect you have this card. The only other relevant damage step effects, Mirror Wall, Chalice and Destiny Hero - Dangerous all offer attack reduction/increases lower to the decrease of this card.
If we examine the current metagame the only monsters which are not significantly impaired by this card is Samurai Skull and Hazy Flame monsters. Additionally, Sea Stealth Attack destroys before this card becomes relevant… but if we use Cosmic Cyclone it is rarely an issue. let’s take our weakest monster, Murmillo. Using Gravity Lash on the following monsters means even Murmillo can attack over them: Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon, Dakini, Valkyrion, Alien overlord, Citadel Whale, Legendary Fisherman II, Abyss Soldier, Saffira and Ancient Gear Golem to name but a few.
But why would you use Gravity Lash over Super Rush Headlong? Two reasons:
This card is THE BEST support Gladiator Beasts have received in months and this card will open up more aggressive builds and allow us to make better counter plays to the next new card to consider: Hey Trunade! This rare spell has the chance to become a core x3 spell and change the way we build and play Gladiators completely.
This card presents both opportunities and threats to Gladiator Beasts. Many players are acting as though this card spells the end to the Gladiator archtype but they couldn’t be more wrong. How long have we survived while Storm and Anti-Magic Arrows have been meta-relevant? This is a stronger version of these cards since it is quicker (Storm) and returns main phase one backrow (Floodgate, Curse of Anubis, E-con etc.) back to the hand before they can be used.
This card will be mainly used in OTK decks and will lead to a big resurgence of Cyber Angels, improves REZD OTK plays and will be used by new OTK builds in the upcoming set (Gigaplant gemini decks specifically). If this card sees a lot of play (it will for a while) then we will need to switch to a Restart build utilising Spheres. But, this card presents opportunities for us as well. Firstly, we can use the card to clear backrow like we have used Anti-Magic Arrows in the past but this card does have less synergy and secondly may lead to a reduction in backrow heavy decks and other backrow harming cards. Which are both good for us.
Would you rather have your backrow returned to your hand or pinned down or destroyed? Don’t let this card discourage you, we have been dealing with cards like this for months.
The closest comparison to this card which we currently have is Forbidden Chalice. At first glance this card looks amazing for our decks and had the potential to be a core card. However, upon closer inspection it only negates one activation of the effect. Therefore, cards like Snipe Hunter and Golden Flying Fish can activate their effects again.
But for cards other than this, such as Dakini, Gozuki, Samurai Skull, Alien Telepath, Alien Overlord, Delta The Magnet Warrior, Beta The Electromagnet Warrior, Volcanic Rocket and ritual searchers this card is strong if used on them on the turn they are summoned (so they cannot just switch back to attack). This card may become an important side deck card for us, but only through testing will we learn if it is better or worse than Chalice.
Spikeshield with Chain:
Another damage step trap with good potential. 500 attack allows our monsters to be able to hit important attack stat thresholds and can act is an Impenetrable Attack in a way since our set Gladiator’s defense will rise higher than most monsters in the meta. For example, with this card Dimacari has 3300 defense (and can threaten an OTK if tagged in), Bestiari would have 2800 defense and Laquari would have 2700 defense. Those are impressive stats to hit. This card fits into the more aggressive playstyle that Gravity Lash encourages as well.
Note: If using in Three-Star Demotion (3SD) build Sanga of the Thunder defense would go to 5300 and be an outright OTK to the decks which don’t have an out to set Sanga. (3SD GB might be a good way to play the deck after the new box).
Sample Decklist for the Predicted Post Rampage of the Forest Meta
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 Here.
The meta is beginning to fill up with graveyard effects yet again. Therefore Shadow Game and No Mortal can Resist have re-entered the top five skills list. Balance and Mind scan remain the dominant skills. Endless Trap Hell remains in the top five due to its stall power and deck out victory potential. The new box, Rampage of the Forest looks to further the metagames reliance on graveyard effects even further with the introduction of power cards such as Gigaplant and Doom Dozer. Furthermore, Destiny Heroes and Flying Fish are somewhat reliant on the graveyard. Furthermore, the introduction of Trunade is likely to increase the representation of OTK decks such as Red-Eyes Zombies and Cyber Angels both of which rely in the graveyard. Therefore, NMCR looks to be a top anti-meta option.
If Trunade sees high usage as we expect then switching to a build using Sphere Kuriboh may be recommended. In this case, Restart will replace Balance as our key consistency skill. Though we have high consistency using 8 or 9 monsters so Restart may not be needed unless you wish to dig for specific cards such as Sphere or Mirror Wall.
Restart may take over Balance as the decks dominant consistency skill because Hey, Trunade! improves the consistency of OTK focused decks like Cyber Angels and Red-Eyes Zombies. Therefore, we will probably want to switch to a build utilizing multiple Sphere Kuribohs.
2: No Mortal Can Resist:
This skill turns all monsters in the graveyard into Skull Servant and can be activated every turn as long as your life points are 1000 lower than the opponents. This skill shuts down the new d-hero decks, Doom Dozer insect builds, Gigaplant gemini builds and Sylvians not to mention Red-Eyes Zombies and Magnet Warriors while also impairing Aliens, CA, Fishies and Hazy to a lesser extent. You will also be using CC to trigger the skill so you will be effective against SSA as well.
I am not ruling our best skill out just yet. You can still use one Sphere and Mirror Walls with this skill.
4: Mind Scan:
This skills usefulness will fall initially as people drop some backrow due to Trunade fear and increased Sphere usage but may rise in usefulness again if control decks do survive in the OTK meta Truande offers.
5: Three Star Demotion:
I think in the upcoming meta we will need to be more aggressive than before and 3SD Sanga fits the bill perfectly. I had a lot of success with this skill when CA usage was high and it looks to be making a comeback with trunade.
Traditionally, Balance has been the most popular skill because it allows you to manipulate your opening hand to always open with one Gladiator Beast and two backrow cards. One useful tip for Balance is to play eight monsters, six spells and six traps. This way you have a guaranteed chance to draw one Gladiator, one spell and one trap. Therefore, if you run three Floodgate Trap Hole and three Wall of Disruption you have a 50% chance to draw either. Furthermore, if you play three Enemy Controller and three Super Rush Headlong you have a 50% chance to open with either. This means you will always open with a good card against Saffira Cyber Angels and one card which is good in the mirror match. The issue with Balance is that it removes Sphere Kuriboh as an option. Looking towards the future, Balance’s power will decrease as more hand traps such as effect veiler release. Balance’s future as our dominant skill may be limited by the influx of out of battle monster destruction and Trunade both of which hinder our preference to open with 1 monster 3 backrow. We will usually prefer 2 monsters 2 backrow going forward.
Mind scan is perhaps the second most popular skill after Balance for the archtype and for good reason. 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 and in side deck tournaments so you can see the tech cards your opponent is playing. For example, in MCS V I was knocked out by Ewe_Surname because his Mind Scan skill revealed that I had sided in 4-Starred Ladybug of Doom in the (Mind Scan) mirror match. As a result he was able to play around it by fusing into Essedari. No matter how good you are at reading activation prompts only Mind Scan stop you falling into a trap such as this. One concern I have with the new Mind Scan skill is that it heavily favors going first so you have it active on your first attacking turn. Going second you will not have it activate for both your set up and first attacking turn.
NMCR is an amazing skill in the right meta-game. Discord member Xanxus made an excellent read on the meta and got second place in the Meta weekly tournament using the skill and the below list. No mortal can resist turns all monsters in the graveyards into skull servants. This is particularly good versus red eyes zombie dragon decks which are currently tier one and magnet warriors. The skill is also really strong against any deck which uses powerful rebirth such as aliens and flying fish. Furthermore, the new decks coming out of rampage of the forest are all reliant on the graveyard. No mortal can resist absolutely destroys decks reliant on the graveyard and naturally needs to run cosmic cyclone giving it a good matchup against SSA water as well. I anticipate this to be one of the premier GB skills going forward. However, in the mirror match and against decks like dinosaurs this has no use.
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, you can use the skill I ranked as having the most utility, 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 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 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.
Using Enemy Controller in the Mirror
As long as Gladiator Beasts remain popular then three 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!
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
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
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.
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.
Dominant Skills Used: Balance, Restart, Mind Scan
Gladiator Beasts are the one deck in the metagame which is best equipped to deal with Aliens. This is because we can “tag-out” which removes A-counters from our monsters which can stop the Alien deck from functioning. Additionally, our diverse suite of backrow options means that it is often the Alien player who has to go on the offensive since we can very easily set our Gladiators and force them to attack into cards like Impenetrable Attack or Wall of Disruption. Remember that the alien deck cannot put A-counters onto face down cards. You will want to play this matchup passively, but if you do not draw good backrow options you can also go on the offensive and start draining away their resources. If going aggressive make sure that you have an out to Brainwashing Beam and a way to deal with Alien Telepath.
Cosmic cyclone, Floodgate Trap Hole, Impenetrable Attack, Wall of Disruption.
Side Deck Options:
4-Starred Ladybug of Doom, Disappear, Cosmic Cyclone, Remove Brainwashing.
Dominant Skills Used: Straight to the Grave, Beatdown, The Tie that Binds
The REZD match up is one of the more interesting match-ups in the fact that you tend to make your plays differently based on the skill your opponent has. When playing vs Straight to the Grave REZ, this match can sometimes be an uphill battle, simply because your opponents monsters are bigger than yours are. You want to make sure to hold onto Curse of Anubis until they make their Storm play, to properly counter on your turn. If you are running Sphere kuriboh, you want to hold it in your hand for the Anti-Magic Arrow plays. To best take advantage of REZ, you want to force your opponent into a position where they are forced to pop their backrow. Simply sitting on your Glads and waiting is not an optimal strategy. By forcing them to play their backrow, they have less cards to be able to get off a Storm play with. So you want to go as aggressive as your hand will allow, and trade card for card. While it is now going out of favor, WOD destroys this deck HARD. If you manage to get a WOD off vs REZ, you are in a much better position to be able to go on the offensive, as typically the most defensive card that REZ runs is either Mirror Wall or Enemy Controller, both cards of which are very good to force your opponent to play.
Match Up Tips:
Curse of Anubis, Sphere Kuriboh, Windstorm of Etaqua, Wall of Disruption
Side Deck Options:
Disappear, Foolish Return, Security Orb, Wild Tornado
Match Up Odds:
Beatdown/TTTB, Gladiator’s Favored, Straight to the Grave, REZD Favored.
Dominant Skills Used: Straight to the Grave, Restart
This deck has proven itself to be quite formidable and has gone from the metagames underdog to a true tier two deck. There are two main versions of the deck. Firstly a standard 20 card variant which is built for consistency and a 30 card The Grass Looks Greener version which gives up some consistency for power. The deck revolves around sending Magnet Warriors to the graveyard to provide fuel for Gaia Plate and to enable Delta’s ability to special summon Valkyrion. The deck can also very easily swarm with Powerful Rebirths and carries outs to our backrow in Anti-Magic Arrows (Restart) or Storm (SttG).
We have an even matchup against this deck because we carry outs to both their boss monsters in Floodgate Trap Hole, Super Rush Headlong, Murmillo and e-con take. You will want to save Floodgate Trap hole for Beta, Valkyrion and Gaia Plate. You will also want to play around allowing Delta to summon Valkyrion unless you have an answer to it. For example, you may wish to attack with a Gladiator before running over Delta with Laquari to open up and threaten the Murmillo play. Also, you may wish to avoid destroying Delta by battle if you have Floodgate Trap Hole set. Here a Murmillo on Delta would be better than running over it in battle. I find that we have favorable odds against the Restart version since Laquari can beat over monsters but the SttG version stops us doing that. Additionally, Storm is a bigger threat than Anti-Magic Arrows.
Floodgate Trap Hole, Murmillo, Wall of Disruption, Nerokius
Side Deck Options:
4-Starred Ladybug of Doom, Crevice Into the Different Dimension
Restart: Gladiator favored, SttG/Grass: Gladiators Unfavorable.
Dominant Skills Used: Mythic Depths, Balance, Restart
Sea Stealth Attack is potentially the strongest single card Duel Links has to offer and it is a very tough card for Gladiator Beasts to deal with. Decks like Red-Eyes Zombies can deal with the deck easily because they can OTK through it whereas Gladiators cannot reliably do this. The deck functions in a similar manner to Hazy Flame decks in that they rely on three card combo to become a threat. This three card combo is very difficult to break. We cannot Bestiari SSA itself or the field spell because it can protect itself from destruction, additionally, they can banish a monster targeted by Murmillo to save it. If that wasn’t enough, the trap also allows water monsters whose original level was 5 or higher to destroy Gladiators out of battle. Additionally, the deck runs Abyss Soldier as an out Nerokius. This is a very difficult matchup for us, but with a few tech options in our main deck and side deck we actually stand a good chance of winning.
Cosmic Cyclone, Super Rush Headlong, Impenetrable Attack, Dimacari, Nerokius
Side Deck Options:
Cosmic Cyclone, DNA Transplant, Lava Golem, Closed Forest.
Dominant Skills Used: Balance, Restart, Beatdown
Cyber Angels has a history with Gladiator Beasts. When Gladiators were first released, they had to deal with triple Dakini from the deck, and was a tough match up to get a foothold in without an Econ. Since then, CA’s have been nerfed with the banlist, and now we have the introduction of CA-Saffira. For Glads, this match is not too difficult if you have the appropriate backrow, which can be achieved with the skill Balance. WIth the upcoming release of Hey, Trunade, this may be different story and Glad’s may have to adjust themselves. As of right now however, this is how Glads play. With either an Econ or Floodgate, there are alot of plays that Gladiator Beast can accomplish. Typically with Floodgate, you want to either Floodgate, Dakini or Saffhira. By doing this, you shut down the recursion capability of CA’s tremendously. With Enemy Controller, if Dakini triggers its effect, you can use it to steal the Dakini and send it to the grave. WOD is your third card that will help vs CA, as CA tends to spam multiple monsters on the field. This makes it much easier for your monsters to attack over they Cyber Angel player’s monsters as well. Side note, this deck has a very hard time with 3SD Glads, because it cannot easily get over a set Sanga unless they have not used Dakini. Once dakini has been used, the deck struggles tremendously vs Sanga, unless they have a way to re-summon Dakini.
Enemy Controller, Floodgate Trap Hole, Sphere Kuriboh, Wall of Disruption
Side Deck Options:
Extra Econ or Floodgate, if not running 3 in the deck, Forbidden Chalice, Lava Golem.
Gladiator Beasts favored
Dominant skills: Mythic Depths, Mind Scan, Balance
This is a relatively new deck which is built around abusing Golden Flying Fish and Oyster Meister to destroy two cards on the field. The deck uses Powerful Rebirth to use this combo multiple times in one turn and wipe the field. This deck can pose a threat because it can destroy multiple Gladiators per turn outside of battle and clear backrow easily. As with any deck which focuses on a single unsearchable monster (outside of the one tuna) it has consistency issues. Gladiators are one of the best decks poised to deal with Golden Flying Fish because we use Floodgate Trap Hole which shuts the fish down allowing us to start draining their resources. This is a very polar matchup since you are heavily reliant on drawing Floodgate Trap Hole before they can summon flying fish. If they summon flying fish and you don’t have a Floodgate to respond to it you will have probably already lost. This is the biggest issue with going second vs the deck; if they go first and open fish, there isn’t much you are going to be able to do with your main deck.
Floodgate Trap Hole, Curse of Anubis, Windstorm of Etaqua, Cosmic Cyclone
Side Deck Options:
Forbidden Chalice, Divine Wrath, My Body as a Shield, Michizure, DNA Surgery
Dominant skills: Aroma Strategy, Beatdown
This has traditionally been one of our hardest matchups but the way we build Gladiator Beats decks now means we have lot of answers to the deck. The Hazy Flame deck runs a series of monsters which all cannot be targeted by card effects. This means we cannot Murmillo their large monsters. The deck becomes difficult to deal with if they get Beast Rising. Fortunately, this trap is unsearchable and can be destroyed easily by Bestiari or Cosmic Cyclone. The way to win this match is by putting their monsters in defense, a boosted Laquari can beat over all Hazy monsters in defense position and does not care about boosted attack through Beast Rising. This can be achieved through cards such as Floodgate Trap Hole, Curse of Anubis, Windstorm of Etaqua, Memory Loss and Sphere Kuriboh. Unfortunately, Enemy Controller is useless in this particular matchup and should be sided out in a tournament. Super Rush Headlong also allows us to destroy Hazy monsters regardless of Beast Rising. The biggest issue with Hazy Flame Sphynx is the use of Soul Exchange. A newer variant of the deck uses Beatdown and Fire Fist monsters. This is an inconsistent OTK deck that works on the ladder but has had no tournament success. They are very easy to deal with unless they get very lucky with Gyokkou targets using Curse, Windstorm or Wall of Disruption. Remember, you can’t Bestiari their continuous spells if Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Raven is face up on the field. I classify this matchup as even and I know that is controversial. The reason being is that it is heavily dependent upon the backrow and sides you use and amount of Soul Exchange the Hazy player uses. You can be favored or unfavored.
Super Rush Headlong, Floodgate Trap Hole, Cosmic Cyclone, Curse of Anubis, Windstorm of Etaqua, Wall of Disruption, Sphere Kuriboh
Side Deck Options:
Sphere Kuriboh, Zombie World, Lava Golem, Mirror Wall, Cosmic Cyclone, Xing Zhen Hu
Dominant skill: Dinosaur Kingdom
Modern Dinosaur decks have given up the control route of using Sergeant Electro and transitioned to a backrow hate aggro deck. Because of this the deck either removes your backrow or pins it down with Xing Zhen Hu or Gyokkou. If the dinosaur player opens really well or gets lucky with the Gyokkou/Cosmic Cyclone pops at your backrow it can be a tough matchup. Thankfully, this isn’t usually the case. The dinosaur deck burns through its own resources quickly and you can capitalize on that. I personally feel the backrow hate variant of the deck is easier to defeat than the control version due to a lack of good backrow. If you can survive their initial push and rebuild your backrow you can easily win. The match-up has got easier since we now main Cosmic Cyclone, allowing us to remove Gyokkou and Xing without tagging in Bestiari.
Wall of Disruption, Sphere Kuriboh, Curse of Anubis, Windstorm of Etaqua, Floodgate Trap Hole, Bestiari
Side Deck Options: 4-Starred Ladybug of Doom, Sphere Kuriboh, Cosmic Cyclone
Dominant Skills: Switcheroo, Bandit, Restart, Sleight of Hand
This is one of our toughest matchups because it has many ways of destroying our monsters outside of battle. The key to winning this matchup is to use Floodgate Trap Hole on Snipe Hunter. Interestingly, the deck more often than not opts to not run Enemy Controller or any tribute monsters. I have found that the way to win this matchup is to lock up their field with Floodgates and Wall of Disruption and go for a deck out victory. This is surprisingly easy to do but requires a lot of patience and you must not be tempted to attack Floodgated monsters. Their only out to a locked up board is for them to snipe their own monsters. Obviously, you will need to clear Snipe Hunter if you did not manage to Floodgate it to stop it from targeting backrow. The deck can very easily incorporate Electro and if they do this matchup goes from bad to worse.
Floodgate Trap Hole, Wall of Disruption, Cosmic Cyclone
Side Deck Options:
Forbidden Chalice, Michizure, My Body as a Shield, 4-Starred Ladybug of Doom
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 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 not giving up on the deck when Abyss Encounters was released.
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 Creators for helping me convert this guide into a suitable format for the website.
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