How Bad the Winged Dragon of Ra ACTUALLY is
If there was one thing that was drilled into our innocent, youthful minds during the Yu-Gi-Oh! Battle City arc, it was that the Winged Dragon of Ra was the undisputed best God card compared to his (is Ra a he or an it?) compatriots, Slifer the Sky Dragon and Obelisk the Tormentor. The Michael Jordan of the Egyptian Gods (would Obelisk be Rodman and Slifer Pippen?). We saw Ra transcend a children’s card game in new, originative ways with every episode. Oh, Ra can absorb the attack and defense of the three tributed monsters used to summon it. It can absorb all but one of your life points for a one turn kill. It has protection from spells, traps, and monster effects. It can protect your monsters from attacks and effects if it was special summoned in defense position. It can burn you alive! Well, not really on that last one but it can destroy all your monsters in Phoenix mode.
You get the gist of what I’m saying. Ra was the antagonist of Battle City, not Marik. He was carried you see! All the Gods themselves had exaggerated abilities that were tacked on willy nilly. The epitome of your little cousin spouting out bullshit made up effects to negate ANYTHING you did in the duel. You wanna see for yourself? Hope you got pinpoint accurate glasses.
Yeah. They went overboard. So when the Gods inevitably made the switch to actual, real life cards, they obviously weren’t going to have all these dumbass abilities in fear of bricking any duel and causing riots in the streets. Same with cards like the Seal of Orichalcos. We can’t have people running amuck, stealing each others’ souls with a card that costs $3 on Ebay (or maybe we need that I don’t know). Even with some of the anime effects no longer there, the Egyptian Gods, especially Ra, should still be good right? Fate would have different plans.
So this is the ACTUAL Winged Dragon of Ra card. Firstly, it’s not an absolute eyesore to read. That’s a plus. But sadly, that’s where the pluses end. No joke. Compared to both it’s anime version and Obelisk, Ra has no protection from spells, traps, or other effects. Anything can stop it. Even a flip-up effect from a dinky monster like Penguin Soldier can send Ra back to your hand, forcing you to tribute three more monsters to get it back on the field! Not ideal! Then we get to the meat and potatoes of the card. It’s main way of getting attack power. Unlike the anime where the tributed monsters’ attack and defense make up Ra’s attack, the only way to up Ra’s attacking prowess is by offering life points. And you can’t go halfway so to speak, like offering only 5000 LP leaving you with a cool 3000 left (assuming you have all your health). You HAVE to go down to 100 LP to power up Ra. But who needs LP when you got a brick shit house with 7900 attack?! Well, what if your opponent was packing this bad boy?
Your ass would be toast. In reality, nobody would be using this card but you get the message. Plenty of monster effects damage your life points so you’ll be in constant danger. For example, take a look at this bulky lad:
He can strut onto the field, banish Ra, and decimate the rest of your life points. That’s how easy it is. But the negatives don’t stop here. Despite the fact Ra wants you to yeet the rest of your life points to power him up, his other ability requires you to pay 1000 LP if you want to destroy a certain monster on your opponent’s field. With what health?! The easy thought could be, “well, what if I pack a shit-ton of life point healing spells or monsters like Guardian Angel Joan?”
Sounds good right? Well, you would have to get TWO MORE monsters on the field to tribute, and you already tributed three to get Ra on the field in the first place! You see where the problems start to pile up. But with any iconic card comes potential support. And Ra has a good amount. Can these cards save our golden boy? Let’s find out shall we?
Firstly, fire artwork for the Immortal Phoenix. Secondly, these cards are built to give Ra some extra utility and extra ways to get it on the field. Sphere mode gets Ra on the field with consistent, Obelisk like attack power, and Immortal Phoenix can restart the process if Ra gets sent to the graveyard. There are still plenty of flaws, especially with Sphere. You can tribute it, so if your opponent has something like Summoned Skull (or another one tribute monster) in their hand, they can just punt that bitch away like Tim Howard no problem.
Another funny thing is that if your opponent summons Sphere Ra onto your field and you have Ra in your deck, you can summon it yourself! So despite the inclusion of these cards, it’s still a massive risk to get Ra on the field. It is easy to get Phoenix into the graveyard thanks to Foolish Burial, among other cards. Which leads us to our next point that could save Ra. His new support. Which is why many believe Ra is the best God by default now.
So recently, all the Egyptian Gods have gotten new support cards in the form of monsters, traps, and spells. And Ra got spoiled pretty hard.
Slifer and Obelisk got one unique spell each (one spell, Soul Crossing, and one trap, Ultimate Divine Beast, use Obelisk and Slifer’s art but they can be used by all the Gods) while Ra got three spells, a trap , and a monster that links with it. That monster being Guardian Slime, a monster that acts like Bam Adebayo in the paint and walls out any monster while you try to start your Ra combos. And if it gets sent to the GY, it can search for a Ra related spell! You’ll probably want to use Ancient Chant, because it gives Ra one of it’s signature anime effects. All the tributed monsters’ stats will become Ra’s. It also acts as a Double Summon, allowing you to tribute in addition to any normal summon. Blaze Cannon adds even more anime effects to ensure that one turn kill. It’s just to put into perspective how ridiculous anime Ra was in that they had to make various spells and traps in order to SOMEWHAT replicate it. This adds on to the general new God support, which includes the fusion monster Egyptian God Slime. The Ra support in a nutshell just adds on to what Ra specializes in. Putting a colossal ass monster on the field and one turn killing with it. That’s fun and all. But is that good? And with all this emphasis on special summoning, especially with any other link monsters that may help with combos, what happens when this long haired boy hits the field and you don’t have protection?
You’re fucked. End of story. No special summoning with Monster Reborn. No special summoning Sphere Mode. No Egyptian God Slime. No special summoning slime tokens or Ra’s Disciples. And that’s why Ra is so inconsistent compared to Obelisk and Slifer. So much power yet so much inconsistency. So even with the new, yet fun support, Ra just can’t get out of Obelisk’s shadow as the best God.
Obelisk seamlessly fits into multiple decks that focus on gathering tribute fodder. Frogs and Monarchs come to mind, and with Monarchs, you can give Obelisk added protection from effects via March of the Monarchs and The Monarchs Erupt, as well as use one of your opponent’s monsters as tribute with The Monarchs Stormforth.
Once you get Obelisk, these cards, and Vanity’s Fiend on the field, you got the duel on lock. And you don’t have to worry about any apparent caveats with Obelisk’s power. He’s a consistent beat stick. With an 800 atk boost from Domain of the Monarchs, none could stand up to him. Now I’m sure more experienced Yu-Gi-Oh! players that actually know what they’re doing will say “what the hell you talking about?” but I have my take and I’m sticking with it damnit! Ra is the worst God card. If you want, we can meet in the middle and say Slifer is the worst (hand dependency was always terrible). Glad we can agree, thanks for reading 🤝