Monster Reborn is simultaneously one of the most iconic cards in Yu-Gi-Oh and among the most powerful spells in the game. True, it's had a bumpy ride on the Forbidden & Limited List since its introduction in Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon — Monster Reborn was Limited in the game's very first F&L List, and it was among the first cards in the game to be Forbidden. It returned to the Limited List for a few years before doing another five on the Forbidden List.  Finally, it arrived at its current Limited placement in 2018.

One of the most shocking revelations for returning players is that Monster Reborn — once among the go-to examples of cards that were 'too strong for the game' — is now both Limited and largely unplayed. Nowadays, Monster Reborn is a rare sight in competitive strategies and not something you're likely to run into at the virtual top tables of a major event. Unlike other famously-Forbidden cards, Monster Reborn didn't return with an errata or some new ruling.  Instead, it just doesn't have a place in the game anymore when so many alternatives exist.

Let's get the obvious out the way: Monster Reborn is still one of the best cards in the game if you're looking for a way to summon monsters from your graveyard. It doesn't have any restrictions or limitations that most modern cards do, and it's uniquely capable of manipulating the opponent's graveyard. But despite all that, Monster Reborn still isn't seeing play. 

This is largely because there are other cards that are more competitive in the roles that it serves.  There are or have been better recursion cards, better extenders, and better ways to summon from your opponent's graveyard. Some of these cards are generic, while others are exclusive to specific themes. Either way, there isn't much appeal for Monster Reborn in a huge number of decks.

Here are ten cards that have outpaced Monster Reborn in modern Yu-Gi-Oh, plus a couple that strictly power creeped it during the last two decades. Not every card on this list is a direct competitor in terms of summoning monsters from the graveyard, but they're all taking on a role that Monster Reborn might've otherwise served.

World Legacy Succession

What's better than Monster Reborn? A searchable Monster Reborn, of course! World Legacy Succession is chained down by restrictions and limitations, but you can also add it from your deck to your hand with Lib the World Key Blademaster, World Legacy - "World Armor", World Legacy - "World Chalice", Mekk-Knight of the Morning Star, or World Legacy Survivor. That might sound like too much work at first, but Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight is a one-card Lib that also sets up the conditions for both Lib's effect and World Legacy Succession itself. The days of summoning Ib the World Chalice Justicair are a distant memory at this point, but the World Legacy engine is still a more reliable way of summoning monsters from the graveyard than hoping you draw into your single copy of Monster Reborn.

Living Fossil

Monster Reborn is a fantastic spell card, but it's just a Normal Spell. What if you're looking for a card that can summon more extenders and double as a target or cost for some other effect?   If you caught Anthony's article last week on the top decks from the Extravaganza, you might have noticed Living Fossil in Christopher Brunner's Top 16 Burning Abyss Phantom Knights.  On its own, Living Fossil simply summons another extender from the graveyard to be spent towards a Link or Xyz Summon, but it's also useful when combined with Isolde, Two Tales of the Noble Knights to summon a Level 1 Warrior from the deck.

Soul Charge

Yes, Soul Charge is Forbidden today, but it was released at a time when Monster Reborn was still Forbidden. Soul Charge is an enormous power creep of Monster Reborn in nearly every way. Only going-second OTK strategies would even consider playing Monster Reborn instead if Soul Charge were available. The ability to summon up to five monsters from your graveyard in today's game translates into at least one Link 4 monster, which in turn either results in more negation from Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess or more card removal from Accesscode Talker.

Themed Monster Reborn-like cards have the obvious drawback of only being playable within their respective themes. But when most duelists are playing themes anyway, it's hard to find space for the classic Monster Reborn, especially when these spells and traps are searchable and perform their jobs so much better.

Sky Striker Mecha - Shark Cannon

Summoning monsters from your opponent's graveyard is one of the main draws of Monster Reborn. If the monsters in your graveyard aren't worth summoning, then maybe your opponent has something that is. More importantly, summoning from your opponent's graveyard is potentially disruptive because it moves that monster out of their reach. If that selected monster had a graveyard effect, or if it might have been activated from the graveyard later, then summoning it to your field could put part of your opponent's strategy on hold. The problem with Monster Reborn is that it's just too slow to be a reliable counter. D.D. Crow, Skull Meister, and Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion are better answers to graveyard and graveyard-targeting effects, but so is a Quick-Play version of Monster Reborn: Sky Striker Mecha - Shark Cannon. It's a direct upgrade to Monster Reborn's graveyard manipulation by virtue of being a Quick-Play Spell, even if it can't summon a monster from your own graveyard.

A.I.dle Reborn

The @Ignister spell A.I.dle Reborn is a great example of a themed Monster Reborn that does so much more than the original.  At its core, it's basically identical in purpose: you'll activate A.I.dle Reborn to grab another extender while locking yourself into Cyberse summons for the rest of the turn. The tradeoff is totally worthwhile, given the huge range of Cyberse Extra Deck monsters that are available to you, including Accesscode Talker. From there, everything about A.I.dle Reborn is just an improvement over Monster Reborn. It's searchable, it's a Quick-Play, and you can banish it from your graveyard during a battle between two monsters to trade a card in your hand for a banished A.I. spell or trap. Between the extra utility and its stronger card type, there's little reason to consider Monster Reborn in @Ignister decks, and that's a common trend among many modern strategies.

Dragonmaid Tidying & Dragonmaid Hospitality

Dragonmaid Hospitality exists as a direct parallel to Monster Reborn, so why am I also talking about Dragonmaid Tidying here? Simply put, Tidying is actively seeing play in one of the best decks in the game, and it's a great example of today's graveyard Special Summon effects. Tidying isn't first and foremost a disruptive trap that returns your opponent's cards to their hand, and secondly a means of Special Summoning the very same monster that likely searched it from the deck: Chamber Dragonmaid. Monster Reborn is a hard sell in a deck that has graveyard Special Summons as a bonus, and that's a big deal in terms of card advantage. Tidying is typically added to the hand as a +1, then grabs another +2 in total by summoning Chamber Dragonmaid and triggering its effect. It's hard for Monster Reborn to compete with that.

Finally, let's talk about two more cards that replace Monster Reborn's usefulness as an extender.

Instant Fusion & Ready Fusion

Three years ago, it might have been hard to convince players that Instant Fusion was better than Monster Reborn in most strategies. The rise of the Link era caused the value of any monster that could be used as a Link material to skyrocket. The most important thing to do in the game right now is to load your field with as many free monsters as possible, while having access to enough extenders to outplay your opponent's interruption. Instant Fusion and Ready Fusion are the fantastic set of spells that help players push through interruption and bring their best combos online — and best of all, they aren't reliant on the content of your graveyard.

When you play Monster Reborn as an extender, you're relying on having a graveyard in the first place. That isn't always the case, and you can easily find yourself in situations where your opponent can banish your target. Those same interruption options aren't there for Instant Fusion and Ready Fusion. Yes, the cards that Monster Reborn summons are typically more useful than whatever Ready Fusion is summoning, but I'd rather guarantee that a monster hits the field than hope that I can meet all the right conditions for Monster Reborn to resolve successfully.

Premature Burial

Okay, I'm having a little fun with this one. Premature Burial has been Forbidden for over a decade at this point, but newer players often ask the same question: why is Premature Burial better than Monster Reborn, and more worthy of being on the Forbidden List? After all, Premature Burial is loaded with restrictions, easily outed by spell and trap removal, and costs Life Points — a whole 800! 

Of course, more seasoned players will recognize that the ability to return Premature Burial to the hand after expending the summoned monster's effect was incredibly powerful and ultimately game-breaking. Cards like Giant Trunade and Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier were just too strong in combination with Premature Burial, especially when targeting cards like Armageddon Knight.

Two decades of power creep haven't made Monster Reborn totally irrelevant, but 20 years has presented players with a number of better alternatives. Konami's push for themes to take over the game has made the generic spell slots in most decks extremely competitive, and for the moment it's the exclusive territory of draw effects and negation cards like Pot of Desires, Triple Tactics Talent, and Forbidden Droplet.  

It's hard to make an argument for an unsearchable, Limited spell when so many themes have built-in graveyard summoning or recycling effects. For the themes that are missing these things, there's still room for Monster Reborn to see play, but it's still lacking the synergy, card economy, and utility that makes on-theme alternatives so great. Monster Reborn is still a powerful card – it just doesn't make the cut in the best modern strategies.  

Until next time then.