Gladiator Beasts are a control-based archetype that made their Duel Links debut in November 2017 with the release of the Galactic Origin main box. This box notably brought along cards such as Gladiator Beast Laquari, Gladiator Beast Bestiari, and Gladiator Beast Murmillo; with which the deck was able to top DuelLinksMeta weekly tournaments up until March of 2018.
In March and July of 2018, they received further support in Gladiator Beast Darius, Gladiator Beast Equeste, and Gladiator Beast Retiari from the Duel Island -Gladiator- event(now available from the card trader/ticket pool). Though these cards did not add much to their viability at the time.
Aside from some lackluster support in the Blackstorm Rising box late in 2018, there was then a nearly two year dry spell of competitive Gladiator support.
This leads us to the release of the EX Structure Deck: Gladiator’s Storm in February of 2020. This brought much needed support in Gladiator Beast Gyzarus and Gladiator Beast War Chariot which pushed the deck into rogue-tier, but still unable to top tournaments.
Not even two weeks later, the main box Judgement Force brought even further support in Gladiator Beast Vespasius and Gladiator Beast Charge which has now allowed the deck to top multiple tournaments including top 16 of the DuelLinksMeta March 2020 MCS.
Gladiator Beast Vespasius (2-3x)
When deck building, this card is treated as a hand trap/backrow card. He special summons himself from your hand when a face up Gladiator Beast monster you control battles an opponent’s monster. This all happens at the beginning of the damage step, so he avoids cards like Floodgate Trap Hole or Wall of Disruption. In addition to this, he provides a 500 attack boost to all monsters you control and can tag out/in just like other Gladiator monsters. This card is the sole reason this deck came out of rogue status and has allowed it to top tournaments.
Gladiator Beast Darius (0-1x)
When tagged in he will revive a Gladiator from the grave, but it’s effects are negated and it will return to the deck when Darius leaves the field. Good for pulling a Gladiator Beast Bestiari or Gladiator Beast Vespasius from the grave to contact fuse with if you are confident they will survive the opponent’s next turn.
Gladiator Beast Equeste (1x)
When tagged in he will bring any Gladiator Beast card from the grave to the hand. Great for bringing a Gladiator Beast Vespasius back to your hand to act as a hand trap again, and can even pull Gladiator Beast Charge/Gladiator Beast War Chariot. Though when pulling the traps from the grave you will have to wait until your next turn to set them as Duel Links operates without Main Phase 2.
Gladiator Beast Laquari (1-2x)
This card is mainly used as a beatstick coming in at 1800 attack (2300 after Vespa boost). He can be used for the Gladiator Beast Heraklinos fusion, but this will actually rarely be used.
Gladiator Beast Bestiari (2x)
Great card; when tagged in, it will pop any backrow/field spell your opponent has. More importantly, along with one other Gladiator, it can contact fuse into Gladiator Beast Gyzarus.
Gladiator Beast Sagittarii (0-1x)
This is very much a “win-more” card. Meaning if you are able to use it effectively, you are probably already in a favorable game state. However, tagging into Gladiator Beast Equeste to pull a card from the grave, then a second Gladiator tagging into Gladiator Beast Sagittarii to discard it creates a free +2 in card economy. Being able to go +2 and potentially draw into Vespa or your tech’s is worth noting.
Gladiator Beast Charge and War Chariot (4x)
I’m putting these together as you don’t want to run more than four total of these cards. If you don’t draw a summonable Gladiator, these are dead cards in your hand as they require a Gladiator to be face-up on the field to activate. However the strength of these cards makes them absolutely worth running. Gladiator Beast War Chariot allows you to negate any monster effect, activated in the hand, grave, field, or banish pile. Charge allows you to destroy face-up cards up to the amount of different face-up Gladiators you control. The ratio of these cards you use depends on the match up you are against. Chariot is great against monster effect heavy decks while Charge is better against decks that lack destruction protection.
Gladiator Beast Gyzarus (1-2x)
Contact fusing Gladiator Beast Bestiari with any other Gladiator allows you to bring this bad boy out. On summon you can destroy any two cards on the field. Then, after successfully attacking, you can tag him out for two Gladiators other than Bestiari. Great for tagging out into double Gladiator Beast Vespasius for two 3300 attack beaters, or Gladiator Beast Vespasius + Gladiator Beast Equeste/Gladiator Beast Darius to grab/revive to set up for your next turn. It is also worth noting that you can contact fuse into any Gladiator fusion even if your monsters are flipped face down. Floodgated or Canadia’d monsters are good to go. You can also cheese your opponent out of reacting by setting your Bestiari/second gladiator face down to contact fuse. Unless their toggle is set to ON, they will not be able to use a card like Treacherous Trap Hole or the Dark Magical Circle combo on your monsters.
Gladiator Beast Nerokius (1x)
This card won’t be seen all that much, but is still great as it only requires three of any generic Gladiator. He cannot be destroyed by battle, and does not allow your opponent to activate cards or effects when he attacks or is attacked. He also hard counters Lunalights unless they run card destruction, which can be pretty hilarious if you can get him out in defense early enough.
Gladiator Beast Domitianus (1x)
Again this card won’t see much play, but can help in specific situations. He requires three Gladiators (one being Gladiator Beast Vespasius) and can negate any monster effect once a turn, every turn. In most situations, if you already have three Gladiators out on the field, you’ll probably be better off pushing for Gladiator Beast Gyzarus or tagging in and out those three instead.
Gladiator Beast Heraklinos (0-1x)
Three Gladiators, one being Gladiator Beast Laquari. Spell/Trap negate by discarding a card, unlimited per turn use. In a thousand duels, you will use this fusion once. He is so situational that you don’t need to run him if you don’t have him. However, if you do have him, he is worth the spot in the extra deck for that 1/1000 you will need him.
Basically Sealed Tombs as a card. Used a lot in the current meta as it stops many meta decks in play currently. Elementsabers, Shiranui, Dark Magicians, etc are decks heavily affected by Necrovalley. Moreover, Necrovalley serves as a good sacrificial card to draw your opponent’s Cosmic Cyclone to it, so they do not target your backrow cards such as Gladiator Beast Charge and Gladiator Beast War Chariot.
Definitely needed in the Dark Magician match-up going second to remove Dark Magical Circle. Otherwise good for sniping backrow that would otherwise disrupt your plays.
Great for triggering skills such as Destiny Draw, No Mortal Can Resist. It also protects your monsters during battle. Works well against Dark Magician as Magician Navigation cannot banish to negate during the damage step.
Great for general protection against larger monsters and is safe against Cosmic Cyclone/backrow removal. One of the only outs to Cyber Dragon if they pop your field.
This card allows you to reveal a fusion monster from your extra deck and search out a monster that is specifically listed on it. So using this we can search out Gladiator Beast Vespasius on our opponents turn, even after they’ve declared their attack. We can search a Gladiator Beast Bestiari to use for a fusion, or we could search out a Gladiator Beast Laquari if running a Gladiator Beast Heraklinos in the extra deck. Also acts as a target for opponents Cosmic Cyclone or other backrow removal.
No Mortal Can Resist
This skill hard counters many decks in the current meta by deleting the graveyard of your opponent. Notably Crystrons, Lightsworn, Shiranui; and greatly hinders Elementsabers, Darklords, and Thunder Dragons. The activation requirements are not difficult to meet when running Mirror Wall and/or Cosmic Cyclone. You can even surprise your opponent by activating Mirror Wall in your own draw phase, paying the LP cost, and activating the skill in your main phase before they can respond.
The OG way to run Gladiators. Running a monster/spell/trap ratio of 8/6/6 or 7/6/7 is recommended. Guaranteeing a spell, trap, and monster in hand can be a strong build for this deck. However balance can cause bricking issues if you run two or more Gladiator Beast Vespasius as you may not have a monster to normal summon on your first turn.
This can also be a powerful skill to use with Gladiators, as many duels you will find you can turn the tide if you just draw that one tech card you need. Mirror Wall also does a good job in helping to proc the skill. I believe this will be the skill to use once No Mortal Can Resist inevitably gets nerfed as you will not be forced to run 6 spell cards like you would with balance.
Gladiator Beasts operate under a unique mechanic of tagging in and out of the deck at the end of the battle phase after successfully attacking or being attacked. Each Gladiator has a different effect upon being tagged in by a different Gladiator. Additionally they fusion summon to their boss monsters, without using Polymerization, by simply having the correct materials on the field and shuffling them back into the deck.
The fact that a Gladiator cannot tag into one with the same name means that the deck runs single copies of several different Gladiators, aside from key fusion materials, as only one is needed. Due to this, we are required to run lots of protection in order to ensure our monsters survive.
The optimal Gladiator Beast deck runs only 7 or 8 monsters, with the rest of the deck being backrow/protection. It is important to note that Gladiator Beast Vespasius is treated as backrow/protection and should not be counted as a monster when building your deck (except in Balance builds).
Balance Build - Kei Top 16 MCS 28
Destiny Draw Build
In a deck with 7 monsters 13 backrow (including 2 Gladiator Beast Vespasius and 4 Gladiator Beast traps) The ideal hand you’d want to draw into: 1 Gladiator Beast Monster + 3 Backrow (including Vespasius) Turn 1: 41.32% chance Turn 2: 71.02% chance
In a deck with 8 monsters 12 backrow, the chance of drawing the ideal hand of 1 monster and 3 Backrow is Turn 1: 36.33% chance Turn 2: 65.27% chance
If you aren’t running No Mortal Can Resist or can’t draw into Necrovalley, this is one of the harder matchups. They have a simple out to you with Samurai Destroyer which will negate the attack boost of a Gladiator Beast Vespasius during battle. The only way to counter it is with two Vespasius on the field, as one of their attack boosts will remain active and keep them boosted to 2800 attack. However, a well timed Gladiator Beast War Chariot can disrupt their plays long enough that you can get the ball rolling. Rushing into Gladiator Beast Domitianus if possible is a good plan, as Crystrons rely entirely on monster effects. Gladiator Beast Retiari is a great card in this matchup as well, banishing their Crystron Sulfefnir or a synchro target can shut down their plays. A Crystron Impact can turn Retiari’s banish into a good play for them, so it’s worth calculating the potential outcomes of a banish.
Elementsabers are now a stall heavy deck, which turns out to be very favorable for Gladiator Beasts. As our monsters do not care much about being flipped face down or hit by Fiendish Chain, they can simply contact fuse into one of their boss monsters. Again, Gladiator Beast War Chariot and Gladiator Beast Domitianus are good options in this match, they will negate Aleister the Invoker on summon as well as Aleister’s attack boost from the hand. If they are able to get Invoked Cocytus out and he isn’t floodgated, our only option is to get two Gladiator Beast Vespasius out or a Domitianus. Gladiator Beasts are fortunate enough to have an out to Cocytus in the main deck, however it can be tricky to get out. Invoked Purgatrio can be handled as long as we draw into sufficient backrow (Mirror Wall/Gladiator Beast Charge/Floodgate Trap Hole).
Gladiator Beast Charge and Gladiator Beast War Chariot are the MVPs of this matchup. With two different Gladiators out, Charge becomes a Treacherous Trap Hole that you can recycle with Gladiator Beast Equeste. War Chariot can catch a Darklord when they activate their effect to use a card from the grave or when they use Darklord Desire’s effect to attempt to send your monster to the grave. It can be difficult to deal with their staying power, so it is recommended to attempt to contact fuse into Gladiator Beast Domitianus as soon as possible to stop any momentum they may gather. It is recommended to run No Mortal Can Resist and/or Necrovalley in this as they rely on the grave almost entirely.
By far the toughest match-up for Gladiators. Their turn 1 play is almost impossible to recover from if you don’t open a Cosmic Cyclone to banish their Dark Magical Circle. However if we start turn 1 and can set a Gladiator Beast War Chariot or Gladiator Beast Charge, we can disrupt their turn 2 by negating Magician’s Rod or destroying Dark Magical Circle, and set us up for success. Mirror Wall is a key card for success against DM as it is possible to activate it in the damage step to avoid a Magician Navigation negate. World Legacy Clash is also a powerful card Gladiator Beast decks use to outplay Dark Magicians as it can also be activated in the Damage Step.
Additionally it is possible to cheese your opponent out of activating Magician Navigation in time by setting a second Gladiator on your turn. For example, they have Circle and Navigation on field ready to go and you have a lone Gladiator Beast Laquari on the field with Gladiator Beast Bestiari in hand. Unless they have toggle set to ON, you can set Bestiari to contact fuse to Gladiator Beast Gyzarus and they will not be given the option to respond to your set. Then you can destroy the Circle to avoid your cards being banished.
No Mortal Can Resist and Necrovalley have the ability to shut this deck down as well. The key to winning this match-up is to shut them down early. Stopping synchro summons early with Gladiator Beast Charge, or stopping tuner summons from the deck/grave with Gladiator Beast War Chariot can cripple their play from the beginning of the duel. Being able to tag out to Gladiator Beast Retiari to banish a tuner from their grave is a great way to prevent them from making further plays after they have already got a board set up. Forbidden Lance can also be a good tech card to use here as Shiranui are starting to move towards a more backrow heavy build as well. Gladiator Beast Gyzarus and Gladiator Beast Domitianus plays should be be worked towards in more drawn out duel.
Blue Eyes currently operates entirely on monster effects with the occasional counter trap. Additionally, they operate using a face up Maiden with Eyes of Blue. Knowing this, we can deal with the deck in a few ways: Floodgating their Maiden, negating Maiden’s Effect, or beating over their Blue Eyes. If we destroy a set The White Stone of Ancients, a Gladiator Beast Retiari can be tagged in at the end of the battle phase to banish it from the grave, which will prevent it from summoning a Blue Eyes from the deck. Blue Eyes can be frightening with their ability to banish our backrow with Dragon Spirit of White, and their use of Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon to destroy our monsters. Charge and Mirror Wall are also good cards, as they lack destruction protection and their 3k beaters will be cut to 1500. Note that with Blue Eyes Spirit Dragon out, we cannot summon two Gladiators from the deck at the same time. Gladiator Beast Gyzarus will not be able to tag out successfully.
Blackwings are one of the better match-ups that Gladiators have. They hate backrow, and now that they have lost the ability to run Hey, Trunade!, we can feel safe setting our protection. Gladiator Beast War Chariot will negate Blackwing - Simoon the Poison Wind in the hand, Gladiator Beast Charge can destroy Black Whirlwind or their summoned Blackwings, Floodgate Trap Hole will stop their Whirlwind search and synchro plays. If all else fails, you can ram into their Assault Blackwing - Raikiri the Rain Shower and summon Gladiator Beast Vespasius to beat over it. There are simply too many outs for Gladiators to lose this match consistently. We just have to watch out for Blackbird Close, which can negate our monsters if they have a Blackwing out. Moreover, they can play Blackbird Close from hand.
Gladiator Beast has a somewhat hard time with this deck, however there is an out that they have no answer to. Gladiator Beast Nerokius cannot be destroyed by battle, nor can your opponent activate cards or effects when it is attacked. Since Lunalight does not use any card destruction in their deck, Nerokius hard counters them. They can’t even activate Lunalight Cat Dancer‘s effect to inflict 100 damage since he doesn’t allow effects to activate in battle. Getting Nerokius out can be tricky however, you have to rely on Floodgating their fusions and using Gladiator Beast War Chariot to negate any play starters they use. If you can stall their plays for a few turns to get three Gladiators out, the game is won.
Thunder Dragons operate in two major ways: making synchro plays and bringing Thunder Dragonduo out. So let’s breakdown how to deal with both scenarios. Synchro plays: the tuners they will most likely be using are Plaguespreader Zombie, Glow-Up Bulb, or Wattfox. If they normal summon Plague, you can’t destroy it with Charge as they will be able to just resummon it. If they summon it from the grave, you should only Gladiator Beast War Chariot if it’s all you have. The same principles apply to Bulb. Ideally you will Floodgate whatever tuner they have. Dragonduo: this is what you want to save Chariot for. If they send a card from the hand to the grave, Dragonduo will activate to boost its attack; this is when you Chariot to destroy it. Otherwise Floodgate Trap Hole or Gladiator Beast Charge this. Overall Gladiator Beast Domitianus can help deal with this deck, they use almost entirely monster effects. But Thunder Dragons have an incredible ability to continue making plays, especially when using the skill Baggy Sleeves. We need to be very calculated in how and when we disrupt their plays, and push for lethal as fast as possible.
The second hardest match-up after Dark Magician. Going first you have to hope you open a Gladiator Beast War Chariot to negate their Cyber Dragon Core search effect. If not they’ll more than likely be able to nuke your monsters with Cybernetic Overflow the following turn then wipe your backrow with Chimeratech Rampage Dragon. Going second you’ll need a Cosmic Cyclone and hope to snipe their Overflow. With their ability to remove backrow, we have to rely more on the hand traps we use. An interesting tech to consider is Sphere Kuriboh. If you hold off on setting backrow and have a SK, you can bait out Chimeratech and surprise them with it when they think they have lethal. You can follow up by now setting backrow and hopefully summoning a monster if you have one by now. In a tournament format, it is worth siding in a 3rd War Chariot and/or a 3rd Cosmic Cyclone as there aren’t many outs to Cydra in Gladiators.
More often than not, your opponent will not be playing with their toggle on during the duel. We can take advantage of this by abusing the fact the Duel Links does not offer the opponent time to activate a card when setting a monster by default. Consider a scenario: your opponent has a lone Treacherous Trap Hole set while you have a single Gladiator on the field. You can now set a Gladiator Beast Bestiari from your hand, and your opponent will not be given the option to activate TTH. It’s too late for them to stop your contact fuse into Gladiator Beast Gyzarus and now their TTH is dead.
Gladiators are inherently an anti-deckout archetype. If you meet a scummy stall build in your duels, you don’t need to worry about drawing all your cards. If your monster zones get clogged from opponent trap cards such as Fiendish Chain or Floodgate Trap Hole, you can simply contact fuse into any of your extra deck monsters. Then, those same extra deck monsters can be used to contact fuse into other Gladiators! Gyzarus can even fuse into itself with another Bestiari, or into Gladiator Beast Essedarii with any other Gladiator.
Additionally, it can be easy to completely forget to use the upsides of Essedarii. If you’re low on life points and don’t want to ram into an opponent’s monster, but still want to summon Gladiator Beast Vespasius from your hand, Essedarii will turn into a 3k beater while still allowing a Vespasius special summon. This is extremely situational, but a duel like this will come up eventually and it is worth remembering this as an option.
Great for Lunalights as it hard counters Lunalight deck’s ability to fuse into their boss monsters for a quick OTK.
Wall of Disruption
Great counter to Blue Eyes and Dark Magician decks as it dramatically reduces the monster’s attack points.
- Set Gladiator Beast Bestiari and contact fuse into Gladiator Beast Gyzarus.
- Pop both Elementsaber Lapauila. Opponent activates Fiendish Chain to negate Gyzarus.
- Chain Gladiator Beast Charge to it and destroy Chain, opponent will activate Lapuila to negate our Charge
- Chain Gladiator Beast War Chariot to it and negate Lapuila.
- Swing with Gyzarus for game.
- Normal Summon Gladiator Beast Laquari
- Swing into one Dark Magician and enter damage step.
- Activate World Legacy Clash and banish Lacquari to reduce the attack of one Dark Magician to 700.
- Chain Gladiator Beast Vespasius’s effect from hand and special summon it on field.
- Dark Magician cannot negate World Legacy Clash in Damage step. Swing over 700 ATK Dark Magician and win.
There are still plenty of Gladiator Beast support cards we have yet to receive. Cards that are bound to push us up higher the tier list. Certainly Gladiator Beasts will see more competitive in days to come as cards like Gladiator Beast’s Comeback and Gladiator Proving Ground have yet to make an appearance in Duel Links.
- Thank you Pl0xy (RandomPl0x) for being the best editor and taking your time to format the puzzles.
- Thanks Uzumaki for being such a chad and pushing the GB agenda.
- Thanks to Near for inviting me to help create this guide!
- And lastly, thank you for reading this guide we put together.