You know what's really frustrating? Falling in love with a theme only to watch the years drag on without more support, every day wishing that just one new card would appear. We Shapesnatch Stans have been waiting 17 years for more Shapesnatch support only to meet disappointment each day we wake.
You might say some themes will never get support, but if Deep Sea Diva can suddenly get a whole theme based around her, nothing seems too farfetched. Personally I never would have guessed Eternity Code would bring more Deep Sea cards, but here we are.
My fingers are still crossed for Shapesnatch.
While some themes have a good chance for more support, cards with ties to the anime have the highest chance for continued support. Both the Jinzo theme and the god cards recently had new cards announced, so if you asked for that, I suppose you're welcome.
#10 - Fabled
While I'm heavily biased towards Fableds, you could easily supplant Fableds with any theme from the early Duel Terminal world: Jurrac, Ice Barrier, Mist Valley, Laval, Worm, Ally of Justice, Naturia, Genex, or Flamvell, they all have their fans and they were all pretty cool archetypes wiith their own mechanics, even if some of them never had enough support to make those mechanics matter.
Actually, the further you dig into the Duel Terminal world, you'll find other themes that were either flashes in the pan, produced a measly one or two good cards, or were otherwise forgettable. Constellars and Evilswarm might have been good for a time, while Dragunity and X-Sabers still get occasional support, but it's a shame that so many old themes coming from the Hidden Arsenal packs were all but cast aside.
Technically, Neo Flamvell Lady runs counter to my premise, but one data point doesn't fix systemic problems. We need an overhaul.
If you've paid attention for the last seven years, you'll know Fabled gives Spellbooks a run for their money as my all-time favorite theme, so it's no surprise that they're the first deck I'm calling out here. But you have to start somewhere, right? I think everybody's got at least one theme they're pretty passionate about, and would love more support for.
But yeah, the bulk of the Duel Terminal themes are so underdeveloped you have to squint to see what's going on in each one, which is a really bad sign when the themes were supposed to be unique. Fableds work mostly around discarding, while Genex plays around with Attributes. Naturia and Ice Barrier work to slow down your opponent, and Mist Valley try to build off the underused "return to hand" mechanic.
While their underdevelopment may be a loss right now, it also means there's a ton of room to expand on what Konami started over a decade ago. We've seen dozens of archetypes get an upgraded treatment, expanding on their core mechanics, so I refuse to give up hope.
…Furthermore, the Fabled cards are cute. I'm partial to the deck for a million reasons, but if Konami's going to start with old support, why not begin with cards so cute you'll squeal. Canonically I know they're probably all dead, but that didn't stop new support for Dragunity!
#9 - Chemicritters
I've never rolled my eyes as hard as I did when Chimicritters arrived. Finally, a new theme was released for Geminis, something more interesting than "Hero Beatdown featuring Elemental HERO Neos Alius and sometimes Evocator Chevalier."
Geminis certainly have an uphill battle no matter how you frame the deck, but I thought Chemicritters might usher in a new wave of competitiveness if they got continued support, balancing the finicky Gemini mechanic with powerful cards. Surely they would rescue Geminis from the dredges of boredom and deliver something exciting!
Just take a look at Chemicritter Carbo Crab, Chemicritter Hydron Hawk, and Chemicritter Oxy Ox. Between those three monsters you could search, summon, and manipulate Levels for different Synchro and Xyz plays. Addditionally you had Poly-Chemicritter Dioxogre and Poly-Chemicritter Hydragon for beatdown and destruction, backed up by Burnout and Catalyst Field.
All that was just in Invasion: Vengeance, released late 2016. But a few sets went by, and as no new support emerged I was distraught. Finally a good themed Gemini deck built to support itself and other Gemini cards! Not every Gemini strategy would require Chemicritters, but it should have been a great starting point for the mechanic's redemption, right?
There were two simple paths forward: either print better Gemini cards for generic support or focus on the Chemicritters for a fun archetype. For whole card types I'd normally prefer generic support, but since Chemicritters basically filled that role on their own, why not build up the theme to make a solid strategy?
Instead we're left with nothing interesting. In fact, the most useful thing I ever did with Chemicritters was make a hybrid deck with Frogs, since Chemicritter Carbo Crab works as material for Toadally Awesome. Was that good? Not really, but it was better than a pure Chemicritter deck.
#8 - Mokey Mokey
Hear me out on this one. While there are plenty of cards that appear on tons of artwork despite a small or non-existent theme that goes along with it, it's safe to say that Mokey Mokey's the fan favorite we all want to see more of.
Dark Ruler Ha Des, Goblin Attack Force, Gigobyte and Snipe Hunter may appear in dozens of cards each, but we've wanted Mokey Mokey support for a long, long time. Every time Mokey Mokey's on new card art, I shudder in anticipation.
Heck, Ancient Sanctuary is older than some duelists I've played at tournaments, but Mokey Mokey only has three cards in its theme, including Mokey Mokey itself and a Fusion Monster that's just three Mokey Mokeys stacked on top of each other in a trench coat.
While Konami's currently going back to give support to every legacy archetype on the block, I don't see why something trivial and light hasn't come about amidst the competitive-focused cards. Sure, we can get 30 more useless cards for Harpie decks or erratic and inconsistent Red-Eyes support until we're blue in the face, but where's the love for Mokey Mokey?
With barely any cards to its name, the little blue marshmallow of GX fame's a prime candidate with unlimited potential. Considering the fact that both Mokey Mokey Smackdown and Mokey Mokey King work by destroying your own Mokey Mokey, there's enogh of a foundation there for a standalone strategy, or a combo with something like Metalfoes.
Personally, I'd love to have Mokey Mokey at the top tables wrecking the competitive scene. In fact, I'd take it as a badge of honor to be destroyed by a Mokey Mokey FTK.
It's 2020, and the people demand more Mokey Mokey.
#7 - Ghostrick
Is my bias showing a little bit here? Perhaps, but Ghostrick might be one of the biggest themes ever to be entirely devoid of useful cards. Most underdeveloped archetypes are lucky to get half a dozen cards, but Ghostricks have nearly 30 cards to their name. Are any of them good?
I hate admitting it, but as the person with what might be the most Ghostrick event tops – I have 3 Regional Top 8 finishes with them – I can pretend to be an authority on the theme and definitively say, "No." Even at the height of my success with Ghostricks, the best card, Ghostrick Mary, wasn't much of a comfort. Requiring your opponent to land an attack just to set a Ghostrick Jiangshi was the deck's best move, followed by setting Ghostrick Ghoul to try and eke out a cheeky bit of offense.
Hey, remember Krawlers? The theme that revolved around setting cards printed just a few years ago? Ok, sure, you probably don't. But my point is that Konami tried to make a deck built around setting cards somewhat playable. It helped that they had several good Links, a Field Spell that proactively put monsters on the board, and a boatload of support like Worm Bait that helped the deck be aggressive.
As if Ghostricks needed another factor working against them, Link Monsters came onto the scene and decimated some of their best strategies, especially those that revolved around Ghostrick-Go-Round. Over the last few years I've toyed with different Ghostrick ideas that could help, but the theme just needs more support than my idle thoughts alone. It needs the lifeblood of new cards.
Technically Ghostricks got two new cards in the last two years, but it might be more disheartening to get underwhelming support than no support at all. The gimmick with Ghostricks is 90% annoying your opponent playfully like a mischievous ghost, but why am I the one who's usually annoyed?
#6 - Hieratics
Shortly after their release in Galactic Overlord, Hieratics popped up on the competitive scene pretty often for several years, albeit erratically It was one of those rare decks that actually wanted to go second at the time, thanks largely to Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit, and with a smattering of mash-ups the deck saw success often when you'd least expect it.
Some people say that once a deck has had its day in the sun, it's time to retire the strategy permanently, but I disagree. Consider Gladiator Beasts, Fire Fist, Six Samurai, Spellbooks…The list of decks that got support years and even decades after their primetime on the competitive scene is miles long, and most of them were met with open arms.
Technically Hieratics got a new card in Duel Power with Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres, but we saw that help degenerate combo decks by way of Guardragons, not Hieratics themselves. I'm not calling for a return to Hieratic dominance, but it would be nice to have some new cards that can keep the deck viable going first. Otherwise being on the play with Hieratics is a death sentence.
At the same time, I totally understand the complications with this sort of deck. When you have cards like Hieratic Seal of the Heavenly Spheres and Hieratic Dragon of Atum in the environment, you can't go overboard with support cards that could abuse what was supposed to be for Hieratics, but ended up as largely generic combo cards.
Dragons has become one of the most supported monster types in the game at this point, so any support for Hieratics would probably boost the overpowered Dragon type on the whole. But is it possible to give the lonely theme some love without disrupting the balance of the game? You bet it is.
#5 - Ultra Athletes
Remember Duelist Alliance, one of the sets that fundamentally redefined how Yu-Gi-Oh was played? Between Pendulum monsters and the combination of Satellarknights, Burning Abyss and Shaddolls, a new way forward broke free from the shackles of convention to turn competition upside down. Everything felt fresh and competition was changed forever.
Oh, and, uh… U.A. was there too?
The U.A. theme obviously pales in comparison to the impact of Duelist Alliance as a whole, but drill down and compare it to Burning Abyss to get a clear view of the unfair disparity between the two. Both U.A. and Burning Abyss were World Premiere themes, but one saw increasing support with better and better cards over time. Three Burning Abyss cards are Limited if you count Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal as a Burning Abyss card, and competitive Burning Abyss decks have consistently used 19 of the 21 available Burning Abyss cards. Its relevance to competition is just impossible to dispute.
Burning Abyss certainly didn't need a Link monster, but after six years of consistent viability, they got one anyways. The U.A. theme though? The deck's been insanely brittle ever since it released, with only one Level 4 or lower U.A. monster, and ancillary cards the deck has depended upon seem to get hit at every turn as U.A.s get caught in the crossfire. Tour Guide From the Underworld, M-X-Saber Invoker, Terraforming, Metaverse, and Reinforcement of the Army are just some of the cards that have helped U.A. in the past, all of which are now restricted.
So while Burning Abyss got Cherubini, Ebon Angel of the Burning Abyss to capitalize on the theme's success, U.A. fans had to make do with Defense Zone and Loss Time. Do they even have anything to do with U.A. as a deck? Absolutely not, but the artwork features U.A. monsters just to mock us.
The odd thing is that plenty of U.A. cards are really powerful. U.A. Stadium will generate a new U.A. every turn and U.A. Perfect Ace is a miniature Herald of Perfection. The deck just needs more consistency, specifically more ways to field your monsters without bleeding card economy.
Kaijus were another World Premiere theme with little to no extended support, but at least those cards see play.
#4 - Sylvans
Since all Syvans are Plants, Sylvans as a theme will always have support that's not completely awful. If you can bring out all of your monsters with Lonefire Blossom, the deck at least does more than just set cards (looking at you, Ghostricks). But it's not just Lonefire Blossom that helps Sylvans: Miracle Fertilizer, Rose Lover, Frozen Rose, Aromaseraphy Jasmine… Plant support that leans in a generally Sylvan-ish direction does arrive year by year, often morphing the deck in a new direction.
But slowly, Sylvans have lost those off-theme cards in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back sort of shuffle. Cards like Soul Charge, Terraforming, Brilliant Fusion and Glow-Up Bulb - the extra cards that added the best flavors to the theme – have all fallen to the F&L List, and what did Sylvans get to replace them? Sylvan Princessprite isn't exactly anyone's saving grace.
So what does the theme need. It may not be obvious considering how well some of the Sylvan cards function, but the deck really needs on-theme support that capitalizes on other Sylvan cards. The deck's crying out for more ways to excavate cards, or make plays that don't require long combos and immediate delivery of the strategy's biggest powerhouses. Those plays are fine, but the connective tissue between them is what's lacking.
If you open up with Lonefire Blossom or Evil Thorn there are Sylvan adjacent things you can do, but can't we have some Sylvan cards that do something on their own? Mount Sylvania's the best example of a card that does all the right things, but the price is really high. Not only are you effectively losing out on card economy but you might have to wait around to get value out of it.
The major reason Sylvan Flowerknight and Sylvan Marshalleaf are played is for their first effects; the deck needs more ways to excavate cards proactively, even if there are serious Sylvan-esque restrictions on any new cards. Flowerknight also helped with Naturia Beast, but don't underestimate the raw power of excavation.
Fire Fists recently got support in Fists of the Gadgets with Link Monsters, Fire Formation cards, and new bosses. That new wave of support didn't corrupt the core of the deck and didn't make old cards obsolete; instead, it accented the deck's strengths and brought it into the future with more tricks and more combos. Sylvans need something similar so they don't have to rely on a smattering of random cards like Monster Gate and Rose Girl.
#3 - Metaphys
If you just asked yourself, "what's a Metaphys?" that's totally ok. Despite somehow earning a Top 8 finish at a Regional in 2018 shortly after their release, Metaphys are still way outside anyone's competitive radar.
Metaphys are largely damage-dealing powerhouses, aiming to turn Metaphys Ragnarok into near lethal damage or capitalizing on Metaphys Tyrant Dragon. That might sound neat, but to be honest, the cards are brittle at best and weak at worst. I've played against Metaphys dozens of times, but it normally takes longer to read the cards than it does to beat the Metaphys player.
Like Lightrays, Metaphys have a captivating energy about them that should draw people's interest. Big monsters, draw power, banishing your own cards… the theme's intriguing, and I want the deck to succeed.
While the strategy's not quite as malleable as Mokey Mokey, there's room to carve out a niche that could let the Metaphys deck function. Vaguely banishing big monsters that can sometimes summon each other, even on a delay, is grounds for an insanely powerful deck. Yang Zings thrived in part because of their resilience and self-replacement, even if the monsters themselves were pretty weak.
There's a ton of potential with Metaphys, but the deck needs a major overhaul to be competitive. It relies too much on your opponent playing into your plans, as well as drawing the cards you need in a timely manner. The last thing anyone wants right now is a hand full of big monsters you can't summon, let alone monsters that wouldn't accomplish much if you could summon them.
In the long view I don't really know what the Metaphys monsters are supposed to be. I assume they're retrained versions of their namesake monsters, or perhaps replicants from different dimensions, but with only ten cards and unfinished lore there's room to expand and answer those questions.
Or, I don't know. They could just make more Noble Knight cards. Which everyone is sooooooooooo excited about.
#2 - Dark World
At first I wanted to put Dangers on this list, but since that theme's such a sore spot for so many players it didn't feel like it made sense. Despite over a dozen cards, Dangers never really took off on their own because the theme wasn't coherent: discarding for the sake of discarding helped other themes more than it helped Dangers.
Enter Dark World, a contentious theme that some players really hate because of various stages of degenerate combos we've seen in the past. Back in 2018, there was a combo with Firewall Dragon that summoned an infinite number of Dark World monsters for Cannon Soldier fodder, creating a 1-card FTK from a smattering of single cards. Competitive? Yes! Fun? Absolutely not.
But what about Dark Words as a theme? The Gates of the Underworld Structure Deck was kind of problematic, but players Side Decked against it viciously when it first arrived and it proved to be more annoying than overwhelming. Themes built around discarding can be rather pernicious, but like anything it can be structured and balanced with careful design.
You might take a look at Dangers and say I'm lying about balancing discard effects, but considering how Dark Worlds only work when they're discarded by a card effect, they have a built-in mitigating factor that kept them from becoming as invasive as Dangers did. That Dark World FTK was the fault of Firewall Dragon, not Dark Worlds.
In the end, Dark Worlds may never get their shot. But the theme deserves more than mediocre cards like Dark World Brainwashing. To me, Brainwashing's one of the biggest examaples of wasted potential that I've ever seen, at least as far as legacy support's concerned.
#1 - Spirits
Are Spirits really a theme? Technically "Spirit" is a kind of monster, or an ability, not a theme per se. But when Aratama can search every Spirit monster it's almost an archetype. As far as specific themes go, Spirits do have Shinobirds, but as a whole the Spirit strategy is floating aimlessly without real central support.
If you look at the other off-brand monster types - Toon, Gemini, and Union - their original support and continued backing helps the whole category and not just one specific flavor of monster. Even Rituals and Pendulums are unique groups with boatloads of wide-reaching support, but what about Spirits?
Shinobird Powerspot and Shinobird Salvation technically cover more Spirit monsters than just Shinobirds, but both cards are slow and frail, and that's being kind about it. Geminis have Gemini Spark, Rituals have Pre-Preparation of Rites, and Spirits are just left grasping for straws.
You might say the Spirit mechanic's confining and hard to work with, but since when have card stipulations ever stopped Konami? Heck, look at Shinobaron Peacock and Shinobaroness Peacock. Spirit monsters can't be Special Summoned? Just kidding, they can! Just because there are restrictions on the cards now, doesn't mean they can't be circumvented in other ways later.
When Aratama and Nikitama came out, there was some potential for Spirits to become something competitive, but that never really went anywhere beyond half a dozen Regional Top 8s in 2014 by Doug Zeeff, Jeff Jones, and me.
#0 - Everything Else
Is this cheating in a Top 10 list? Sure, but I know I'm not alone in this. I think every theme should get an update from time to time as long as it's not currently destroying competitive Yu-Gi-Oh. Playing old school decks is fun, but it's more fun if they're made relevant with a re-up of helpful cards.
That being said, there are plenty of themes that desperately need more support, whether it be a single card or a complete new wave to bring them into the modern era. Whether it's an obscure theme like Iron Chains or Venom or something degenerate like Infernity, on-theme cards will always be a welcome addition to the game. Heck, with all the wacky stuff getting support, I'd even be happy with more cards for Exodia the Forbidden One!
If there are other themes you'd like to see with more support, let me know on Twitter! Just… just don't ask for more Inzektors. I still haven't gotten over my nightmares from 2012.
Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.