Yu-Gi-Oh's constantly evolving, but change isn't always good.

If you've stuck with the game long enough you've probably seen your fair share of changes you wish hadn't happened. This week we're checking out five things that were left behind, replaced, or changed in modern Yu-Gi-Oh; five things that really need to come back.

Special Editions Are Sorely Needed

Rise of the Duelist is perhaps the best example of why Special Editions of core sets need to return as soon as possible. A sealed box of ROTD will run you about $230–that's nearly four times its initial price in August. For context, you can pick up boxes of Eternity Code and Ignition Assault for around $150 or less, while the newer Phantom Rage and Blazing Vortex boxes go for under $70 and $60 respectively. You can understand older sets rising in price over time, but ROTD's an outlier even given the normal trend.

Apart from reported product shortages likely owed to the pandemic, the reason why ROTD's so insanely valuable is obvious when you consider it's completely busted line-up of Secret and Ultra Rares. Forbidden Droplet currently over $130 and it's widely considered a semi-staple. Triple Tactics Talent is almost as valuable, for nearly identical reasons. [Nadir Servant's] right at the $100 point, and other Dogmatika cards are also extremely pricy. Cards like Shaddoll Schism and Ice Dragon's Prison are huge Ultra Rares that can make up for missing the big Secrets, and as a result the potential of a single box of ROTD's vastly higher than any other core set booster box in circulation.

There's another issue that's plaguing recent releases: the lack of Special Editions. It's hard to quantify exactly how many more packs would be in circulation with an extra Special Edition release, but that's almost beside the point. What's really important here are those extra year-round reprints that used to accompany Special Editions as promos. In the past, those reprints have delivered some of the game's best cards, including Allure of Darkness, Charge of the Light Brigade, and Summon Sorceress. The Special Edition promos weren't always hits, but any extra reprints would be greatly appreciated.

Ultimate/Ghost Rares In Core Sets

Two of Yu-Gi-Oh's best-looking rarities were removed from core booster sets a few years ago, and I think it's about time we started seeing them again. Ultimate Rares used to show up as alternatives to Ultra Rares, much like Starlight Rares do today. I actually love the idea of Starlight Rares and the role they play as huge lottery-style wins for the players that pull them. The one reservation I have about Starlight Rares is that they're a little too rare. Personally I've never pulled one, and I imagine that there are quite a few other players out there who also haven't added a Starlight to their collection since they were introduced.

The biggest benefit of adding an Ultimate Rare tier as an 'enhanced' rarity is that Ultimates used to be realistic to pull. You could expect an Ultimate Rare around every four or five Ultra Rares, so it didn't take long for players to start stocking up on them. Again, I like the idea of lottery-style rarity upgrades, but I think Starlights are maybe too much of a longshot if you're not buying sealed cases of every core set release. Obviously Starlights are valued so highly because they're hard to find, but I don't think you'd have any shortage of players hunting for Ultimate Rare upgrades of their favorite Ultras.

Ghost Rares are already returning to the game with product-hover id="228256" next month, and I'm glad to see Konami's finally making better use of the game's most unique rarity. That said, is there any reason why the 'reprint' Starlight Rare-only card in each core set isn't a Ghost Rare? This last year was the perfect opportunity for D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare), Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (Starlight Rare), and Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare) to get the Ghost Rare treatment.

Adding both Ultimate and Ghost Rares back into core sets without changing any other rarities might be asking for too much, but I think it'd go a long way towards giving players a bit more control over how their deck 'looks'. If you like the Ultimate Rare look over Ultra, you could spend a bit more to get that. If you want to show off with Starlights, or flex your favorite card in Ghost Rare, you could do that too.

In-Person Play…Eventually

It's nobody's fault that Yu-Gi-Oh's in-person events have been suspended in the wake of a global pandemic. It's a bad situation all around, but Remote Dueling's taken me by surprise. It's not only incredibly popular–thanks in part to content creators setting up their own tournaments and by regularly participating in remote OTS events–it's also the safest way to continue playing with physical cards without risking your health.

We're all trying to make the best of a bad situation, and Yu-Gi-Oh appears to be growing ever-larger despite the pandemic.

Of course, eventually in-person play and major events will return. It's not so much a question of when–we'll probably start hearing news on that front later this fall–but instead we'll be wondering exactly what in-person events will look like. I'm not sure if Konami will start hosting huge YCS events immediately again, or if Regional and YCS tournaments will have smaller capacities.

What will happen to new rules about contact with another player's cards? How will venues deal with local laws that remain in place even after this crisis dies down? The most important thing to remember here is that rushing to open up will do significantly more harm than good, and that we just don't have a perfect view yet of when this crisis is 'over'.

Full-Sized Game Mats From Sneak Previews

Sneak Previews underwent some changes last year when Eternity Code debuted, and Sneak Previews were re-branded as "Premiere!" events. The mandatory tournaments of the old Sneak Preview program were traded out for a simple pre-release event, where players could buy packs of the new core booster a week early with the option to participate in a tournament. The actual tournament structure was up to the hosting Official Tournament Store. There were a lot of good changes: the Premiere! event format gave stores more choice in how to run their pre-release day, so they could tailor it to be a better fit for their player base. The option to buy more than just five packs of product meant you didn't have to drive around your whole city sprinkling cash all over the place if you wanted to just support your home store, too.

Still, the biggest change wasn't to the event structure, but to the supporting prizes that OTS stores could give away. While the promo card remains, the playmat that typically accompanies pre-release events was shrunk down to a mini-mat. Seriously, what's up with that?

The pre-release playmat might have been reduced to mouse pad size for any number of reasons. Konami might want to differentiate between YCS and Regional-level prize playmats and giveaway playmats, or maybe there's a logistics reason explaining the change. I can't imagine tournament prize support being changed to mini-mats in the future whenever major events start up again. Either way, mini-mats should really only be distributed in retail products where packaging is an issue. Getting a mini-mat with your purchase of an off-the-shelf product doesn't sting as badly as winning half a playmat in a pre-release tournament.

Fewer Secrets Per Core Set

Current core set boosters contain ten Secret Rares per 100-card set, but it wasn't always that way. Before Eternity Code all core sets had just eight Secret Rares, which ultimately made pulling any specific Secret a little easier.

Let's consider the probabilities: most booster boxes contain two Secret Rares–keep in mind that ratios per box are not guaranteed–and getting two of the same Secret Rare is unlikely. Currently your odds of pulling a specific Secret Rare, Pot of Prosperity for example, is roughly 20%. That is, you have two chances at pulling a specific card from a ten-card pool with no repeating cards. Prior to Eternity Code your odds were more around 25% because the pool of Secret Rares was smaller.

Of course, I've personally opened boxes that had only one Secret Rare, or even none at all. The 1-in-5 odds of pulling a specific Secret is a best case scenario that might not even apply. That said, the unavoidable conclusion of the new rarity scheme in current core sets is that specific Secret Rares are harder to pull. Forbidden Droplet and Triple Tactics Talent aren't just expensive because they're incredible cards and didn't get a Special Edition printing, they're also just strictly harder to pull than Secret Rares in past sets. That's not a problem if every Secret Rare is equally valuable, but the difference between Rise of the Duelist Secrets like Forbidden Droplet and Dogmatika Maximus is over $120.

There's always a reason behind Konami's decisions when they make a major change to the game. I like to think there's usually a pro-consumer reason hidden behind most of their choices, or some business reality that's forcing their hand. There's nothing Konami can do about the pandemic, and there might be logistics issues stopping them from distributing larger playmats or Special Editions.

Ultimate Rares have been moved into OTS packs where I imagine they'll stay for a while, and we'll be seeing more Ghost Rares returning next month thanks to product-hover id="228256". It's really only the Secret Rare changes that I'm somewhat cynical about, and unfortunately it's among the biggest issues this game has from a budget player's perspective.

Until next time then