Attributes, are essentially the "Elemental" groups for each Monster Card. There are different cards made to support each "element", and there are popular monsters of each kind. It is possible for a monster to be considered part of multiple attributes via a card effect, such as with cards like "Light and Darkness Dragon".
The Attributes are:
Dark monsters are perhaps the most numerous of all monsters. Many well-known monsters are of the Dark attribute, such as Dark Magician of Chaos and Jinzo. Fiends and Zombies are usually Dark types and so are all the Destiny heroes. Many Spellcasters are also Dark, such as the Dark Magician. Although Light is the opposite of Dark, there is no true advantage over one side among the game, although there are cards such as Luminous Soldier, Penumbral Soldier Lady, Hoshiningen and Witch's Apprentice which lower the stats of the opposing attribute.
Being one of the most versatile and common Attributes, Dark monsters and the cards akin to them can work with many different Deck Types, and rarely does a typical deck lack at least one. However, it can be said that many Dark cards have something to do with Spell Cards and the like, perhaps reflective of the mysterious and shadowy nature of darkness, coupled with the great number of Dark Spellcasters. Chaos Decks favor Dark monsters as well as Light monsters, and are in fact instrumental in summoning the key cards of the Deck (i.e. Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End, Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, and Chaos Sorcerer).
A recent theme is development of Dark-attribute versions of other cards, such as Dark Armed Dragon, Dark Nephthys and Dark Simorgh. These cards tend to revolve around removing other DARK-Attribute Monsters in the Graveyard from play in order to activate their effects.
Earth monsters are powerful cards focused both on brute strength and rock-solid defense. The Field Spell Card Gaia Power is targeted toward Earth monsters, increasing their ATK by 500. Another Field Spell Card, Canyon, while it uses Rock-Type monsters, is also good to use, since Rock-Types are nearly all Earth. Structure Deck 7: Invincible Fortress takes advantage of this by strengthening Earth cards and striking opponents hard with high ATK. Warrior, Rock, Beast, Beast-Warrior, and Plant-Types are the most common Earth monsters, though there are others of many different Types. Some of the most powerful earth monsters include:
- Megarock Dragon
- Neo-Spacian Grand Mole
- Injection Fairy Lily
- Big Shield Gardna
- Granmarg the Rock Monarch
- Morphing Jar
- Enraged Battle Ox
- Berserk Gorilla
- Exiled Force
- Goblin Elite Attack Force
- Bazoo the Soul-Eater
- Card Trooper
- D.D. Assailant
- Exxod, Master of The Guard
Earth monsters are not greatly supported by other cards, though they have a few. Those include: Giant Rat, Milus Radiant, The Rock Spirit, Gigantes and Warrior Lady of the Wasteland for Earth Warriors.
Fire-Attribute monsters are commonly associated with Pyro, Dragon, and Machine, though it is not uncommon in other Types such as Warrior or even Beast. Fire Monsters are somewhat oppositely linked to Water monsters, but there is no direct advantage outside of one of the Video Games.
FIRE-Attribute Monsters tend to focus on inflicting Effect Damage on your opponent's Life Points and stacking up in ATK points when on the field together, along with the appropriate lockdown cards like "Gravity Bind" and "Level Limit - Area B" to protect the burn monsters.
UFO Turtle - Automatically Special Summons a Fire Monster with 1500 ATK points or less when destroyed in battle.
Molten Destruction - Increases the ATK of all Fire monsters by 500 points, at the cost of weakening their DEF by 400 points.
Backfire - A Trap Card that deals 500 points of damage to an opponent every time one of the controlling player's Fire Monsters is destroyed.
Spiritual Fire Art - Kurenai - Another powerful Direct Damage-dealing Trap Card that deals damage to an opponent equal to the original ATK of a Tributed Fire monster.
Though Fire Monsters can be extremely powerful, they tend to lack support for one another. Instead of focusing on combining and drawing on their strengths as a whole, couple with the fact that there are few good Spell and Trap cards to suit them than some of the other Attributes (most notably Water), Fire Monsters can be seen as having a negative impact on the opponent. They take out Life Points slowly, and dealing some mighty damage with their high ATK, rather than helping the player directly via drawing, increasing Life Points, etc.
The Blaze of Destruction Structure Deck emphasizes combos, and if a monster itself is on the field, it will be destroyed easily because of no other monsters to support it. Ultimate Baseball Kid needs other fire monsters to survive, for example.
Light Monsters are the historic opposites of Dark Monsters. Blue-Eyes White Dragon, the Components of XYZ-Dragon Cannon, and monsters such as D.D. Warrior Lady, and Watapon, are all Light monsters. Light monsters are represented often by Fairy, Spellcaster, Thunder, and at times Warrior-Types, but in general, they encompass a wide array of monsters.
Lights served as Tribute fodder for the two Envoys (Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning and Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End). They used to serve the same capacity in Chaos Decks, for Chaos Sorcerer, until its September 2006 ban.
Many light types focus on positively reinforcing the player instead of directly damaging the opponent, such as by increasing their Life Points or allowing the player to draw extra cards from their Deck.
Water is a very versatile Attribute, and even has it's own deck based around such monsters, the Water Deck. The Monster Types typically associated with Water are Aqua, Fish, and Sea Serpent, though Plants and Reptiles are not uncommon Water types. Water is usually thought of as the opposite to Fire, though there is no real advantage for either Attribute over each other.
Because of their versatility, Water monsters can be used in a number of strategic ways, possessing many different abilities. Some of the most powerful Water monsters include: Gogiga Gagagigo, Fairy King Truesdale, and Levia-Dragon - Daedalus. The popular Water Deck typically tries to boost the ATK of Water Monsters with Field and Equip Spell Cards as well as monster effects, while simultaneously lowering their Levels with A Legendary Ocean to summon them faster, very effective strategy when played right.
Water monsters enjoy great support, especially from Spell and Trap Cards such as Tornado Wall, Big Wave Small Wave, and Salvage. They also have 3 Field Spell Cards specifically targeted towards them, more than any other Attribute:
Monster cards that aid Water Decks are great in number as well:
- Mother Grizzly, a Deck Searcher for Water Monsters.
- Star Boy, boosting the ATK strength of all Water monsters on the field by 500.
- Eria the Water Charmer allows the player to take control of the opponent's Water Monsters.
- Warrior of Atlantis use to search "A legendary Ocean out.
One weakness of Water Decks and Water monsters in general, is that they rely on Umi or A Legendary Ocean to work to their potential. Some of their effects are also rather passive compared to other Attributes, such as Fire's aggression and Earth's reliable defensive tactics. All in all, though, a well-prepared Water deck can be an extremely difficult obstacle to overcome.
Wind monsters are often flying monsters, such as the Harpie Ladies, perhaps one of the most famous Wind monsters among the game as well as the anime. This Attribute is greatly under-represented, but the most common type associated with it is the Winged Beast-Type, though Insect, Fairy, and Dragon are not uncommon. Other Wind monsters include Slate Warrior, Whirlwind Prodigy, and Hand of Nephthys. Wind is usually thought of as the opposite of Earth, though there is no direct advantage other than in certain video games.
The Wind monster strategy is difficult to define, and not many players run Wind Decks, though the strategy seems to focus on removing opponent's cards from the field or by bouncing cards back to their hand, and working best with Spell and Trap Cards. This is evident in cards such as Lady Ninja Yae, (which is designed for primarily WIND-Attribute Winged Beast monsters and is featured in Lord of the Storm), and the cards usually seen in a Harpie Lady Deck, like Harpie's Feather Duster. Generally speaking, the option to attack multiple times with a monster in the same Battle Phase is also associated with Wind monsters (such as Chain Thrasher). Taking advantage of this effect, however, is usually rendered somewhat difficult by the low original ATK of most Wind monsters.
It is very likely that Wind monsters have the least number of supporting cards of all Attributes. But a few of them include: Flying Kamakiri #1, Bladefly, Silpheed, and Garuda the Wind Spirit. Rising Air Current is a Field Spell Card which increases the ATK of Wind monsters by 500, and Mountain is similar in increasing Winged Beast types' ATKs by 200, as well as that of Dragon and Thunder types.