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Initially, their focus was on swarming the field from the Graveyard with cards such as "Mezuki", "Zombie Master", and "Book of Life". Since most Zombie monsters have low DEF (frequently 0), many high-Level Zombie monsters could be Summoned with "Pyramid Turtle". According to Bandit Keith this represents how the undead have no intelligence to understand how to defend themselves; all they know is how to attack. In the real game, however, with the release of "Plaguespreader Zombie", one of the first Tuner monsters that could Special Summon themself and several Synchro Monsters that required "Plaguespreader" as Synchro Material, Zombies began to focus on Synchro Summoning, culminating in the "Shiranui" archetype in Breakers of Shadow and further supported in "Hidden Summoners" with the "Mayakashi" archetype. Zombie monsters are primarily, though not exclusively, of the DARK Attribute.
There are also several Zombie counterparts of other cards, notably "Revived King Ha Des", "Doomkaiser Dragon", and "Archfiend Zombie-Skull". A common theme among Zombie counterparts is that they have the same stats as the original monster (in the case of "Dark Ruler", even having a similar effect tailored to suit the monster's new Type).
Most early Zombie Synchros need "Plaguespreader Zombie" as their Tuner. With the release of Generation Force, "Pain Painter" can be used as a substitute for "Plaguespreader Zombie", and can sometimes be more powerful.
Also released in Generation Force was "Blue-Blooded Oni", which goes hand-in-hand with "Red-Blooded Oni" from Galactic Overlord. These two monsters work with Xyz Monsters, detaching Xyz Material from Xyz Monsters both you and your opponent controls when they are Summoned. Based on their own effects, they could be run as a pair in any deck by themselves if the focus is Xyz Monsters.
"Number 22: Zombiestein" was the first Zombie Xyz Monster to be released in the OCG. It packs a large ATK, 4500, the largest original ATK of all Zombies, and currently the strongest member of the very large "Number" archetype in terms of ATK value. However, it is also a Nomi monster, unable to be Summoned other ways aside from Xyz Summon, so it cannot be easily revived like all the other Zombies.
As mentioned at the beginning, in the OCG Zombies are called simply Undead, although close examination shows that it is actually spelled as Undeat. This probably resulted from staff from Konami mistakenly printing 「アンデット」 instead of 「アンデッド」 on every Zombie card in Vol.1, and was settled as so when "Undeat Warrior" was later released in Vol.2.
Zombie monsters are used by Bonz and Bakura in Yu-Gi-Oh!, Camula in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Hunter Pace and Haley in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Flip Turner (as part of a Flip monster Deck) in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Tony Zomboni in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, and Clarissa Turner (as fodder for a Virus Deck), Ryujiro Mizunuma in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS and Ushiro Omaeno in Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS.
Striker Zombies, while not too notable, have enjoyed some recent success in Japan. Being one of the only Zombie decks to not run a mill engine, they rely greatly on their search power to make plays. The deck was first seen at top 32 YCS Orlando 2011 and was run by Blake Brown.
Additional Zombie Decks
- See: Zombie Deck
Strength and Weaknesses
Depending on the type of Deck its strength can vary, but the overall power of a Zombie Deck remains: its ability to quickly swarm the field with monsters (it is not uncommon to clog up one's entire Monster Cards zone in one turn) and gaining quite powerful draw power through "Allure of Darkness" and/or "Shutendoji".
Excluding the Zombie Mill variant, however, a Zombie Deck has some weaknesses. The most notable weakness of the Deck is its dependence on the Graveyard. While the extreme swarming capabilities of the Deck can overcome the aforementioned lack of sheer power, cards like "Macro Cosmos", "Dimensional Fissure", "D.D. Crow", and nearly every other card that can banish monsters or lock the Graveyard can effectively put a Zombie player at a severe disadvantage, if not outright disrupt one's strategy and cause the loss of a duel. "Burial from a Different Dimension" and "Imperial Iron Wall" can help to partially solve the problem (though the latter keeps "Plaguespreader Zombie" in the game, it makes "Mezuki" and "Book of Life" completely useless). In other words, the banish Deck can be the worst enemy for zombies because the cards that target the Graveyard are totally useless. But the Zombie Deck has another weakness in cards like "The End of Anubis" that disable your Graveyard, or cards like "Vanity's Fiend" that don't allow you to perform Special Summons.
"Banish" oriented decks and "Gravekeeper's" decks stand as direct opposition of what Zombie decks stand for. "Necrovalley" is an extremely devastating card that can put any deck at a disadvantage, but none more so than Zombies; it essentially puts the Graveyard off limits (as well as making "Mezuki" useless in the Graveyard).
Another weakness is the fact that Zombies tend to have low ATK power for their level, compared to other Types (Examples include "Il Blud" and "Vampire Lord"). This can severely hamper a Zombie Deck player if his/her opponent uses high DEF monsters to stall the game. There are a few cards that can help counteract this problem, most notably "Burden of the Mighty", "Solidarity" and "Pyramid of Wonders". The final, "Temple of the Sun", is a slightly more situational card that still would sit rather well in a Deck focused on Graveyard power.
Zombie Decks got a boost from the release of the Xyz Monsters in the TCG, this is because of the great number of level four Zombies such as "Goblin Zombie" and "Zombie Master". However, the effect of "Goblin Zombie" will not activate when it is detached, because Xyz Material are not considered as being in play. Along with new support such as "Blue-Blooded Oni" and the like, players can pull off some good combos for the Type.
- "Shiranui Samuraisaga" is the first Zombie Synchro Monster that can be Synchro Summoned without "Plaguespreader Zombie" and is also not a zombie counterpart of an already existing monster.
- "Sea Monster of Theseus", "Sacred Spirit of the Ice Barrier", "Ghost Sister & Spooky Dogwood", "Yuki-Musume, the Ice Mayakashi", "Porcupine Fish", "Yuki-Onna, the Ice Mayakashi" and "Yuki-Onna, the Absolute Zero Mayakashi" are the only Zombie type monsters that are "WATER" attribute.
- Thematically speaking, another reason why Zombie type monsters typically have very low (or none) defense points is because they’re already dead, therefore they have no will to live or defend themselves as they’re usually ghosts or reanimated corpses, and Zombie type monsters also don’t mind being in the graveyard.