Stall cards are ones that prevent your opponent from damaging you OR ones which focus on Negating your opponent's cards.
Decks usually include stall cards as part of a larger strategy, such as a Burn or a "Forbidden One" Deck. They are also used to buy time for a player if their opponent gains an advantage over them. This is different than a player stalling for time by taking too long to lay down cards or declare actions.
A Stall Deck is designed to slow your opponent down and make it difficult to inflict damage or even to attack. Stalling is not a way to win by itself; it is usually used as a means to an end. Although it is most commonly used in the "Forbidden One" Deck, it is also considered the only way to successfully play a Burn Deck. However, there are plenty of decks that can benefit from this strategy.
Usually, someone doesn't walk into building a deck and say "I want to build a stall Deck." They start with the question "I want to play X deck, how can I support it?" But that is not always the case. Considering that most decks will use Level 4 or higher monsters, one could start the deck with Gravity Bind and Level Limit - Area B, then throw in Swords and Wall of Revealing Light, and then use only Level 3 or lower monsters to attack, e.g. Drill Barnacle, Gyaku-Gire Panda, Mataza the Zapper etc. and combine them with powerful Equip Cards, e.g. United We Stand, Mage Power, Metalmorph, Kunai with Chain etc. What style/method of stall you wish you use will depend on what kind of Deck you wish to play:
The traditional stall
When someone asks if you are playing a Stall Deck, then chances are you are using this method. A stall deck is used to either have the opponent lose via card effects such as Final Countdown and Exxod, Master of The Guard, or simply run out of cards. Over time, Konami has released dozens of great cards to protect yourself from both attacks and damage. These cards range from stopping attacks for a single turn, to locking your opponent down as long as they are on the field. The only downside to this method is that—as a player—you must commit a lot to the field in order to stay safe.
With this, comes a whole new problem: keeping it there. Unlike simply running an engine in your Deck (which is just a handful of cards) when you run a Stall deck, half to two thirds of your deck is devoted to your protection. This means that you have to play cards to protect yourself, and then cards to protect your protection. This tends to cause the consistency of your Deck to decrease.
Because there are so many generic stall cards to choose from, listed below are what most players consider the core "Staples" in any stall deck. There are numerous stall cards that have closely related effects (such as "Marshmallon" and "Spirit Reaper"), so just because one of them isn't listed here, doesn't mean it's not an effective stall card—it simply means it's not considered a staple. Sometimes more obscure stall cards such as "Gellenduo" work better because of the kind of deck you have decided to play.
- Exxod, Master of The Guard
- Guardian Sphinx
- Swarm of Scarabs/Swarm of Locusts
- Raging Flame Sprite/Drill Barnacle
- Spirit Reaper
- Castle Gate
- Medusa Worm
- Parasite Paracide
- Battle Fader
- Number 41: Bagooska the Terribly Tired Tapir
- Final Countdown (with stall cards)
- Level Limit - Area B
- Messenger of Peace
- Swords of Revealing Light
- Wave-Motion Cannon (with stall cards)
- The Dark Door
- Continuous Destruction Punch
- Vengeful Bog Spirit
- Ground Collapse
- Mask of Dispel
- Red Medicine
- One Day of Peace
- Marshmallon Glasses
- Burden of the Mighty
- Mystic Mine
- Gravity Bind
- Negate Attack
- Mirror Force (and its variants)
- Begone, Knave!
- Bottomless Shifting Sand
- Metal Reflect Slime
- Wall of Revealing Light
- Dark Bribe
- Divine Wrath
- Seven Tools of the Bandit
- United Front
- Magic Cylinder
- Draining Shield
- Scrap-Iron Scarecrow
- Grave of the Super Ancient Organism
- Fiendish Chain
- Judgment of Anubis
- Anti-Spell Fragrance
- Vanity's Emptiness
- Trap Hole (and its variant)
Anti-effect final stall
This kind of Deck is based on locking down your opponent while finishing the Duel via "Final Countdown". The main strategy of this Deck is keeping your foe from attacking, as well as using negation effects against the opponent. Many of those cards involve: Marshmallon, Spirit Reaper, Gellenduo, Decoyroid plus Heart of Clear Water, as well as Ground Collapse times three. A Skill Drain might also help by negating Effect Monsters (beware not to use Monster Effects along with that).
An effective stalling combo would be Temple of the Kings and Scrap-Iron Scarecrow, that keeps your opponent from attacking. Combined with negation effects such as Skill Drain or Jinzo plus Amplifier in order to negate most effects upon using this Stall.
However, there is a weakness in this strategy. Spiritualism is able to take down the Stall as it cannot be negated and might return Ground Collapse/Royal Decree and thus have a free path for breaking the lock. Angel O7 negates the effect of Horus the Black Flame Dragon LV8, thus leaving their Spells intact. The only way your opponent may get through the Stall to win is by having the 5 parts of Exodia.
Ways of stalling
- Spell Canceller/Imperial Order negates all Spells
- Jinzo/Royal Decree negates all Traps
- Ground Collapse/Ojama Trio/Ojama Knight prevents use of all the opponent's Monster card Zones
- Vanity's Fiend/Vanity's Ruler negates Special Summons
- Thousand-Eyes Restrict and Mystic Mine prevent attacks
- Yata-Garasu blocks the opponent's draw (Traditional only)
A wall deck focuses almost exclusively on stalling. These decks usually have significantly more than 40 cards and win by forcing your opponent to deck out simply by drawing cards during their draw phases. Unlike a mill deck, wall decks do not include cards to mill out the opponent's deck.
Hand trap wall
A hand trap wall deck focuses mostly on hard traps, this makes it very difficult for your opponent to negate or counter them, since they don't need to be placed on the field in advance, making them highly resistant to cards like Twin Twisters, which might be able to shut down other stall decks. This type of deck can be surprisingly effective, and can often win even against aggressive swarming decks such as Blue-Eyes. However, these type of wall decks are easily countered by most burn decks, as well as mill decks.
Some cards that might be used in a hand trap wall include:
- Rainbow Kuriboh, which can disable opponents monsters and protect you from direct attacks.
- Darkness Neosphere, which cannot be destroyed by battle, it also can be combined with Mound of the Bound Creator to create a monster that cannot be destroyed by battle or card effects, and cannot be targeted.
- Tragoedia, which allows you to take control of opponents monsters, provides a wall, and can also be tributed for Darkness Neosphere.
- Swordsman of Revealing Light, which can counter direct attacks and even destroy the attacking monster.
- Battle Fader, which can protect you from direct attacks.
- Sauravis, the Ancient and Ascended, which can protect your cards.
- Typhoon, a trap card that can be activated from your hand to surprise your opponent.
- Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
- D.D. Crow
- Flying "C"
- Maxx "C"
- Ally of Justice Cycle Reader
- Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
Since both Stall Decks and Lockdown Decks rely heavily on blocking effects, and require elaborate tactics, there's a gradation between the two, and it may be difficult to classify a deck as one or the other.