Yu-Gi-Oh's seen a big uptick in legacy support over the last few years. The divergence of the anime with Rush Duels may be the main culprit: since card design for Master Duel releases are no longer dictated by the TV show, modern booster sets have a much more open design space, leaving more room for legacy themes. That's one of the big reasons we've been getting so much more support for fan-favorite decks; strategies that have really needed new cards to be relevant!

Some themes get an absolute glut of support, or entirely new sub-themes that take them in different new directions. Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased as everyone else to constantly have new cards for Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, but I'd be remiss in my duties if I failed to notice that many other themes that have gone untouched. Even if a theme does get more support, it's often the case that the attention given has paled in comparison to that theme's actual needs.

Triamid Loading

Today I want to talk about ten decks that still need some major help, strategies that I think deserve it! Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long to see them get some support. I understand there's a limit to the space Konami's R&D can devote to legacy cards in each release, but sometimes even just one card can raise the ceiling of a deck in big ways (think Triamid Loading from Dawn of Majesty!). Other times, lone cards are just total eye-rollers. Looking at you, Ghostrick Renovation

Fingers crossed!

#10 Elemental Heroes

Elemental HERO Sparkman

Before you grab your pitchforks and start making (accurate) claims that HERO strategies have more support than any other theme out there, let me clarify what I mean by "Elemental HERO support." Specifically, I want to see Konami flesh out the lineup of Elemental HERO Fusions, specifically the pairings of original Elemental HERO monsters that never happened.

Elemental HERO Sparkman has no direct Fusion counterpart with Elemental HERO Burstinatrix, Elemental HERO Avian, or Elemental HERO Bubbleman. There are some more pairings like Elemental HERO Clayman and Elemental HERO Avian missing, but the sheer lack of Elemental HERO Sparkman hurts my soul.

Elemental HERO Shining Flare Wingman

Elemental HERO Plasma Vice and Elemental HERO Shining Flare Wingman, both of which involve Elemental HERO Sparkman, are two of the original HERO Fusions that might have applications today. It makes sense that if any Normal HERO got new pairings, Elemental HERO Sparkman should be the keystone everything revolves around.

Elemental HERO Grandmerge isn't much of a consolation prize. Elemental HERO Grandmerge and Elemental HERO Sunrise offered two different ways to OTK, but I'm jonesing for some more authentic nostalgia. I like the new monsters such as Elemental Shadow Mist and Elemental HERO Liquid Soldier, but I also want the original gang to get the support they should've had all along.

In the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX anime, the Elemental HERO Fusions were all about mixing and matching to find the right Hero for the job. It seems odd that the Fusions splintered in so many wacky directions before they rounded out some of the Normal Monster combinations; the potential was staring us all right in the face.

#9 Kozmo

Kozmo Farmgirl

While Kozmos may not "need" support, they draw inspiration from both Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz. Anytime a theme's referencing another piece of pop culture, I really expect a deep dive into what it's pointing to; I want as much of it as I can get.

But when you're referencing two stories, you need to be pulling from both sources. The iconic pieces missing from the Wizard of Oz, the stuff that's not represented in Kozmos yet, are the yellow brick road, the tornado, the poppy fields, Dorothy's house, the wizard himself, the Munchkins, the hot air balloon, and Toto just to name a few. We can even assume there's a casual reference to Dorothy's dog, Toto, in the background of Kozmo Farmgirl, but we don't have an actual card for it yet.

If you went beyond the original books and snuck in some iconic scenes from the movie, too, there's nearly infinite possibilities!

Don't judge me. I had a crush on someone that really liked The Wizard of Oz.

While the Star Wars aspects are mostly covered, there is so much Star Wars lore, so much symbolism and iconography, that you could probably make another thousand cards. Most of the iconic pieces are there, but with dozens of games, movies, and comic books, there's always something else you could pull from.

The Kozmo deck's already powerful as-is, and it caught a bit of a buff with Emergency Teleport going back to Semi-Limited. Anything that gets out Kozmo Tincan as fast as possible is a boost to the strategy. I'm slightly worried a new wave of Kozmo support might bring Kozmo back to the annoying level of supremacy it had back in 2015, but I'm optimistic new support could be made to be helpful, without being overwhelming.

#8 Iron Chain

Iron Chain Dragon

Unless you were big into the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds era, there's about a 97% chance you haven't heard of this theme. Iron Chain Repairman was used in a few random, cutesy combos, while Iron Chain Dragon was a surprisingly meta card for a surprisingly long time. Not because it was a good card, but because it was a Level 6 Dragon Synchro with 2500 ATK that played a role in a very specific set of plays.

It involved Debris Dragon. You can ask your grandfather about it, or consult your local library.

59297 || 122974

Anyways, there's a grand sum total of six Iron Chain cards in the game, and to be honest none of them do much. The Iron Chain concept promised to be an aggressive mill strategy grinding away cards from your opponent's deck, but the lack of support squashed that instantly. Mill strategies have largely been non-interactive FTK's like Empty Jar, and pre-errata Exchange of the Spirit strategies. An aggressive, attack-based mill deck never really took off.

It didn't help that the only Iron Chain spell card - Poison Chain - only milled your opponent's cards when you didn't attack. The entire theme's a bit of a discombobulated mess that needs to be either wiped from everyone's memory, or given a big update.

At this point, I'm not even sure I care which one we get.

#7 Spellbooks

Spellbook of Judgment

When a theme has a card like Spellbook of Judgment, it's hard to imagine they'll ever need support again. But when you think about the effects of most of the Spellbook cards, you might notice that the majority of them do a whole lot of nothing.

Spellbook of Fate banishes one card per turn, while High Priestess of Prophecy and World of Prophecy have different levels of destruction built in. Those cards are pretty good. But outside of that… the deck just doesn't do much.

Virtually every card is a glorified theme-stamped version of Reinforcement of the Army. Or at least most of the cards used in actual competition. Crowley, the first Propheseer tried to bolster high-Level Prophecy monsters, but it's not compatible with the destruction effect of World of Prophecy, arguably the best of the Prophecy monsters.

Empress of Prophecy

Hierophant of Prophecy

The support Spellbooks need should supplement the cards that already exist. The Prophecy monsters at Level and Rank 5 and higher, all have lots of potential without much support. I played Spellbooks for a nauseatingly long time, including strictly Xyz versions. But even dedicating my strategy to specific monsters rarely got me the exact effect I wanted.

I've resolved the effects of Empress of Prophecy and Hierophant of Prophecy enough times to have a few shreds of hope left for the deck, but it was painfully hard to achieve either of those effects consistently. Factor in Wheel of Prophecy and Reaper of Prophecy, and I think there's something there.

It sounds odd to say that a deck with infinite search power needs more consistency, but something has to change to facilitate the big guns. Right now, Spellbooks are really consistent… at underachieving. Ouch.

#6 Gadgets

Gadgets are an interwoven mess that was never fully fleshed out, riddled with weird ties to Boot-Up, Gadjiltron, and Ancient Gear monsters. Technically I think these are all part of the same theme? But if you choose to interpret them that way, the whole thing just seems thrown together and… almost disingenuous.

The original Gadget monsters - Green Gadget, Red Gadget, and Yellow Gadget - were some of the most instrumental cards to shape the face of the game as it once was. That sounds weird to say here in 2021, but the premise of self-replicating monsters revolutionized the concept of card economy in Yu-Gi-Oh, and changed the way we looked at the idea of trading resources with your opponent. With upwards of nine Gadgets in a deck, you'd have a steady self-replacing stream of field presence while Smashing Ground, Mystical Space Typhoon, and Sakuretsu Armor made 1-for-1 trades with your opponent's bigger monsters.

In 2007, product-hover id="196441" added Ancient Gear Gadjiltron Chimera, Ancient Gear Gadjiltron Dragon, and Boot-Up Soldier - Dread Dynamo. Suddenly the Gadgets were integrated with an astounding three new themes. The Gadgets were positioned as tools to strengthen other cards, but that idea just never came together.

And then there's Ancient Gear Gadget and Cyberse Gadget. Both are Gadget monsters, but they largely function independently of what Gadgets were known for. The Boot-Up cards have the most promise with Gadgets, but even the cover card for Fists of the Gadgets - Boot-Up Admiral - Destroyer Dynamo - never saw use in the deck it was meant to support.

If they can make good cards based on Mako Tsunami's fishy madness, then Gadgets deserve a helping hand, too.

#5 Summoned Skull (And Archfiends… Sort Of...)

33511 || 59130

Due to choices that were made in the localization of cards, what we know in the TCG as the "Archfiend" theme is tied to Summoned Skull.

Because Summoned Skull the de facto pioneer of this theme, it seems fair to continue the emphasis on the Normal Monster. The four Summoned Skull personas printed in Fists of the Gadgets were almost impressively underwhelming, teasing the notion of support, rather than actually being cards that worked with Summoned Skull.

As a subset of Archfiends, the Summoned Skull theme is about ten cards, and the new material from Fists of the Gadgets left me perplexed. Is Summoned Skull supposed to be its own deal now? No Summoned Skull card, nor anything I'd call "Summoned Skull-adjacent" mixes well with the Archfiend support; each Summoned Skull card itself is wildly different from the others.

Black Skull Dragon

Makiu, the Magical Mist

How am I supposed to use Black Skull Dragon and Makiu, the Magical Mist in the same strategy?

Not to harp on the Fists of the Gadgets support as much as I am, but it's frustrating that Summoned Skull was teased at its own theme with nothing to show for it. It's more egregious than Iron Chain, honestly.

#4 Hieratics

Hieratic Dragon of Eset

This is a classic case of opening up a can of worms by introducing a mechanic. While the concept of tributing monsters for effects while simultaneously summoning Normal Monsters from your deck might not seem impressive at first, that concept can spiral out of control quite easily. Tributing's a pretty basic mechanic that can appear in a vast number of strategies, so at their peak, it was no surprise to see Hieratics serving as a combo engine for other decks, moreso than their own strategy.

Am I the only one that sees the word "tribute" in card text and immediately wonders how I can apply it to Hieratics? While I'm in the minority, better Hieratic cards would definitely lead more players down this path.

Hieratic Sky Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis

Hieratic Seal of Creation

Before I dig into this, no, I didn't forget about Hieratic Sky Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis and Hieratic Seal of Creation, released just this year in Ghosts from the Past. In fact, Hieratic Seal of Creation is exactly what I mean when I talk about slippery slope card design.

Creation can turn any Dragon Xyz into Hieratic Dragon King of Atum, which in turn can Special Summon any Dragon from your deck. The power of Atum was originally locked behind a Rank 6 Xyz Summon, but with Hieratic Seal of Creation, that power comes from any Dragon Xyz monster. While the challenge of drawing Creation may keep it from being splashed everywhere, adding some method of searching it opens the door to more Dragon-centered plays.

Once upon a time, cards weren't instantly abused in every deck you could ram them into, but as we've seen with the infamous Dragon Link deck and other Dragon strategies, Dragons have become a bit of a problem in Yu-Gi-Oh for just that reason. Giving Dragons more ways to spam Special Summons could easily turn into a misstep once again.

If we ever got more Hieratic support, I hope it'd focus on Hieratic plays specifically. It doesn't have to lock players out of non-Hieratic cards, but there's room between "absolutely busted" and "weak on-theme support that keeps you from playing standard cards."

#3 Performapals

Performapal Parrotrio

If there weren't so many Performapal cards, I wouldn't have included this here, especially not so high as Number 3. Despite losing several cards to the Forbidden & Limited List for a long, long time, Performapals as a deck aren't particularly powerful. They were considered meta shortly after their initial release, but Master Rule updates really wrecked the strategy.

Yuya Sakaki, the main protagonist of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc V anime, packed lots of themes into his decks. Magicians, Performage, and Odd-Eyes were the other three tribes in his signature mash-up, but those have been relevant in their own rights in real-world competition, and they're compact enough for me to consider them mini-themes.

Performapal Trampolynx

Meanwhile Performapals are bloated, to put it bluntly. Not only is the theme splintered between a bunch of different playstyles and effects, half the cards aren't Pendulum Monsters, and arguably over 80% of the cards are really bad. The fact that Performapal Springoose is in the Top 10 best Performapal cards is embarrassing, especially when cards above that are either Forbidden, or were only technically better for super niche applications.

Something's direly wrong with a theme when it has over 80 Main Deck monsters, and something like Performapal Trampolynx is still the 8th best card for the sole reason that you can run it in Qliphorts to recycle Qliphort Scout. Yeesh.

Let me be clear - I remember very well the Tier 0 horrors when Performapal Monkeyboard was legal. Performapal Skullcrobat Joker and Performapal Monkeyboard were hit to 1 on the Adjusted List in February 2016 as a larger temporary pause to the power of Pendulum strategies. Performage Plushfire and Tellarknight Ptolemaeus were the more problematic cards, and that doesn't negate what I mean about Performapals being mediocre.

A man can dream, right?

#2 Ninjas

Ninjas have always seemed like the theme that got away. Ninja cards have been around since Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon with Armed Ninja, but the support they get is always a weird smattering of mostly unrelated cards that don't really work together most of the time.

Order of Chaos tried to introduce Rank 4 and Rank 5 Ninjas, but that didn't pan out. The Ninjitsu Art traps date back to Ancient Sanctuary, but they don't exactly tie the theme together. The Twilight Ninja are probably the best set of support, if you can call it that, and I'm still upset over the mediocre Dragon Ninja cards.

Ninja Grandmaster Hanzo

Hidden Village of Ninjitsu Arts was so close to being a better card, but the Shadows of Valhalla support lacked any real firepower. The set has potential purely based off the power of Ninja Grandmaster Hanzo, and I think it's finally time to bring Ninjas center stage.

Besides, there isn't an effective strategy that successfully leverages Continuous Traps in the way that Ninjas do. The Ninjitsu Art traps are some of the most fun trick cards to play, opening up things that would seem ridiculous in the theme. Ninja Grandmaster Hanzo and the subsequent tribute to summon Ninjitsu Arts makes way for a lot of big possibilities, so if anyone's reading this and needs ideas, well, there you go.

#1 Sylvans

Believe it or not, Sylvans were one of the biggest decks-to-beat somewhere around 2014. Thanks largely in part to Soul Charge, Lonefire Blossom, and Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos, the deck was a struggle for smaller control strategies to handle. It was pretty common for a regular turn to produce multiple Xyz monsters, and Vanity's Emptiness was no big deal for a strategy that had its own on-theme Graceful Charity in the form of Sylvan Charity.

Sylvan Princessprite the last shred of support Sylvans ever saw, but that in Maximum Crisis back in 2017. They have plenty of powerful cards, but the deck needs more starter cards and more proactive ways to excavate. Sylvans popularized the excavate mechanic and are nearly synonymous with it… and yet, there's little on-theme excavating that doesn't consume your Normal Summon in return for a pitiful payout.

It's 2021. I shouldn't have to Normal Summon Sylvan Flowerknight to use Sylvan cards to do Sylvan things.

The deck doesn't need a drastic overhaul because there are plenty of good Sylvan and Plant cards already. Sylvan Charity, Sylvan Hermitree, Mount Sylvania… we have tools to stack the deck and draw cards, but the payout just isn't worth the hassle most of the time.

Lots of themes take fire for this, but there's almost no other deck where your Normal Summon is so important. If there were enough cards to make it worthwhile, then the deck could easily graduate to modern times. We just need to raise that power ceiling a bit.

I'm always of the opinion that every theme should be revisited, not for the sake of keeping it relevant, but simply as a way of fixing past mistakes. Yu-Gi-Oh design is always evolving, and many themes that could've been really entertaining were woefully underpowered upon initial printing; that, or they just never got the tools to reach their full potential. I like fully explored ideas, so with a heart full of high hopes, I'm looking forward to new support for the cards above.

Let me know on Twitter if there are any themes you think I missed!

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.