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Yu-Gi-Oh Needs a Fresh Start

Since its humble beginnings as a shonen manga in 1996, Yu-Gi-Oh still thrives as one of the most popular franchises in many different forms. This includes anime, manga, video games, merchandise, and the ever-so relevant Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game. Over the span of decades, Konami has added thousands of cards along with new mechanics to Yu-Gi-Oh to keep the trading card game fresh. However, those added mechanics and cards morphed the game into something almost unrecognizable from its initial launch.

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Synchro, XYZ, and Link Summons have introduced a problem in the card game. Even old mechanics that have been there since the beginning like Fusion Summons have caused issues. The way Konami fixes this problem is by semi-limiting, limiting, and banning cards from use in official settings. Due to the age of the Yu-Gi-Oh card game, a sizable number of cards have been limited or forbidden from play. With powerful new cards being added periodically, it’s time for Konami to restart Yu-Gi-Oh and release old cards from the Shadow Realm.

Konami has been limiting cards since the game’s inception in 1999. However, the first ban list was issued in 2004 with well known cards like Harpie’s Feather Duster and Pot of Greed. Most cards at the beginning of Yu-Gi-Oh were straight-forward. Cards such as Pot of Greed didn’t have effects like, “Draw 2 cards then discard 1,” as they do now. With effects like “Destroy all of your opponent’s Spell cards and Trap cards” or “Draw 2 cards,” it was easy to see how they were banned as the game was in its infancy. Now cards are more intricate with walls of text that have more sacrificial conditions to activate. Yet these modern cards with paragraphs of text are constantly getting limited and forbidden.

What is the reason for this?

With new box sets introduced by Konami, new cards are included to counter or suppress powerful cards from previous sets. Sometimes the box sets contain support cards for archetypes introduced previously. Of course, the new additions often skew towards being stronger than the older cards. This causes a complication with older cards that weren’t as strong as the cards that were labeled “unhealthy” for Yu-Gi-Oh. The older cards are not able to compete with the newer archetypes and decks like the fan-favorite Dark Magician. Some might ask: Why doesn’t Konami stop releasing cards that are overbearing?

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The simple answer to that query is that Konami is a business. If Konami were to release a box set with cards that don’t seem stronger than the top tier decks in the current meta game, there is a high chance that people won’t buy them. Yu-Gi-Oh is a competitive game. Tournaments are held around the world with prizes, trophies, and other rare items for the winners. While there isn’t any money on the line like Fortnite esports tournaments, players still want to compete at the highest level. However, this creates a turbulent cycle of powerful cards being released then limited or forbidden. Only for newer cards to be introduced and repeat the issue. This is why Konami should consider unbanning and unlimiting every card in Yu-Gi-Oh.

Why should Konami unban every card?

Modern cards have gotten so powerful that cards that were banned in the past probably won’t have a meta-shifting effect on modern Yu-Gi-Oh. Konami has practiced this in the past with cards like Harpie’s Feather Duster. In 2020, Konami removed the classic card from the forbidden list 16 years after its initial ban in 2004. While the probability of encountering this card in someone’s deck is high, there are many ways to counter it compared to when it was first released.

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Naturia Beast, a Synchro monster introduced after Harpie’s Feather Duster, is able to negate Spell cards after sending two cards from the deck to the Graveyard. It can activate this effect as long as there are cards in the deck. Seeing as Harpie’s Feather Duster is a Spell card, Naturia Beast stops the effect efficiently. This is not the only instance where Konami has unbanned older cards for modern use.

Konami introduced Change of Heart back into the game in 2022 with little to no effect. Akin to Harpie’s Feather Duster, this Spell card is easily negated by other cards. What’s different with this card is that since its ban, Konami introduced cards with similar effects that do what it does better. The impact of these cards were dampened when facing stronger cards.

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This case can’t be made for every card in Yu-Gi-Oh. It would be better for Konami to unban them all to see what works in the current format. A card can be Semi-limited, Limited, and Forbidden as it has been in the past once a problem is found. Most people agree with Konami banning and limiting cards that make the game less fun to play. Banning and limiting cards should be a part of future balances. However, keeping every card ban after introducing a more threatening adversary only keeps the cycle going.

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TreMarcus Thomas
TreMarcus is a writer that has been gaming since the Nintendo GameCube's debut. When he is not writing about video games, you can find him trying to make them if it hasn't frustrated him enough in a day. TreMarcus's favorite genres are fighting games and JRPGs. Every once in a while, you can catch him playing action-adventure games.