It's hard to believe that we're just a week away from the official release of Rise of the Duelist. The last few special boosters and side sets have been pretty amazing: Battles of Legend: Armageddon and Toon Chaos both crushed expectations. But the time has come, and we're finally standing at the cusp of the summer's tentpole booster! I've been looking forward to a bunch of cards from Rise of the Duelist, and yes, I'm also one of the eleven duelists out there that's really excited for the Gaia cards.

I haven't decided how I'm going to beat everyone with Gaia the Dragon Champion when locals are back, but gosh darn, I'm going to do it. Just you wait.

Rise of the Duelist is an anomaly for the TCG because for the first time in years, there aren't any new World Premiere cards making their global debut. It's just another in the long line of changes to core boosters, following the introduction of Starlight Rares and the elimination of normal Rares. I'm supportive of those changes for many reasons, but the big one is my budding anticipation for certain Asian OCG imports that seem to be taking forever to finally appear here in the TCG.

For me this time around, that may just be Performapal Odd-Eyes Metal Claw. But it's me we're talking about, so what did you expect?

Today's Top 10 covers a lot of different types of cards, and I'm not focusing on the price as the biggest factor. Check out Doug's video on the crazy price of Ten Thousand Dragon that highlights just how insane everything is in that regard.

#10 D.D. Crow

A reprint of a TCG card in a core TCG booster? That used to be unprecedented, but ever since Effect Veiler (Starlight Rare) appeared in Eternity Code the gloves were off, and since D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare) now confirmed as a Starlight Rare in Rise of the Duelist it looks like we can expect this to keep happening. D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare) might not be the number one hand trap in the game right now, but it's been an off-and-on competitive staple for over a decade; it deserves the royal treatment.

I get it. Not everybody's after Starlight Rares and expensive collector's cards, sure. But I'd be remiss to exclude  an old iconic hand trap getting a massive upgrade as a reprint in a quarterly booster. It may not carry the same wow factor of the Starlight Rare Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring that was rumored to be in this set, nor will it be totally bonkers like Ten Thousand Dragon, but it deserves recognition for what it is and for me, there's more than enough reason to lock it in at Number 10.

Even if you don't find the D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare) interesting, a lot - and I mean a lot - of other people will. Some Starlight Rares have been a bit lackluster, but the good ones are guaranteed hits and some of the hottest cards of the past decade. Every Starlight Rare will be worth a pretty penny at some point, but I see the nostalgia and playability of the  D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare) outshining many other Starlights from previous sets.

Besides, winning because you dropped a Starlight Rare D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare) on your opponent's just the ultimate when it comes to dunking on somebody.

#9 Forbidden Droplet

It's Dark Ruler No More, but different!

Keep in mind, Dark Ruler No More shines its brightest when your opponent has 317 negates on board. It'd be very difficult to send that many cards away with Forbidden Droplet, so in situations with giant boards, Dark Ruler No More will work better. But that said, it's hard to say if either card is really "better" than the other because you can't look at them in a vacuum.

Afterall, this is Yu-Gi-Oh, and the competitive landscape's always changing; you won't always have to hack through infinite negations in every game. Heck, sometimes stopping just one monster is enough, and the cost of Forbidden Droplet turns into a benefit when you're sending useful stuff to the graveyard like Salamangreat Spinny, or recursive cards you can get back later like Block Dragon.

Yes, it's sending as a cost, so Shaddolls, Fabled, Dark World and Danger don't work with Forbidden Droplet. But there's enough merit here that you'll want to play it in a fair number of situations. Not only is Forbidden Droplet a launching point, but it's flexible beyond a blanket negate.

The Forbidden Droplet a Quick-Play too, so you can search it off Condemned Witch and set it on your opponent's turn to negate effects and rein in their attack power. Heck, you can even use Forbidden Droplet on your turn in the Battle Phase to stop a new threat your opponent played, or send something away you've already used to weaken an opponent's monster.

And while it may not come up as often, you can use Forbidden Droplet to dodge opposing counters your that require you to keep a monster on the field. Youor opponent can't negate what isn't face-up, right?

#8 Melffy of the Forest

This falls into the category of "I don't make the rules; ask the player base." Mechanically, on top of their subtly cute effects, I don't see Meffys becoming a hot contender anytime soon, but that doesn't always translate to the demand of cards. They're cute, they're cuddly, the art design is so refreshing for the card game, and their effects are neat and niche - what's not to love?

Don't get me wrong - any criticism of Mellfies, especially Melffy of the Forest, is me merely saying maybe they won't technically possibly become an unbeatable deck. If I said anything worse about the strategy, I think I'd risk getting mauled by either the Melffys themselves, or the rabid player base that supports this insanely adorable theme.

Just look at them! They're so cute! If I was there in person and not practicing social distancing, I'd be shoving the cards in your face screaming about how you have to love them because they're so cuddly. Sorry, but not sorry.

You could make an argument that all the Melffys deserve to be in the Top 10, but that'd probably be pushing it (especially since more than half the Melffy cards are humble commons). Melffy of the Forest will probably be the most sought after as the only Melffy Ultra Rare in ROTD, but Melffy Catty's an equally essential card and that much cuter too. Realistically, all of the Melffy cards are going to be really popular.

#7 Wynn the Wind Channeler

Fun fact – Wynn the Wind Channeler can search nearly 400 cards.

Second fun fact – most of them are hot garbage!

Third fun fact – there are enough amazing Wind cards to make the first two fun facts irrelevant.

Sure, Wynn the Wind Channeler cuts you off from activating the effects of all of your monsters except Winds, but… who cares? Speedroids, Dragunities, Harpies, Ritual Beasts, and Windwitches can all thrive under those conditions.

Even lesser archetypes like Yosenju, Mecha Phantom Beasts, Nephthys, Lyrilusc and Simorgh are unphased by the Wind restriction. And like Forbidden Droplet, remember that losing a card from your hand can often work in your favor.

Wynn the Wind Channeler second effect is… there, I guess? Considering the best use of the card will be proactive searching, yarding and deck thinning, I can't imagine a scenario where it would be better to keep it in your hand waiting to summon it when a monster dies in battle. I guess if you really want to I won't stop you, but by the same token you can't stop me from building a Shapesnatch deck.

Last but not least, it's a part of the Charmer theme, an archetype I didn't know so many other people liked until they started printing more cards and then a complete structure deck! Wynn the Wind Channeler certainly works for some sort of Charmer hybrid strategy, but it really shines lending a boost to a specific Wind theme of your choosing.

Hey, I'm not going to complain about having a generic Cynet Mining for my Wind decks!

#6 Frightfur Cruel Whale

The Fluffal and Frightfur theme has enough cards to produce big boards and OTKs, but it's always lacked retorts and counters. Frightfur Cruel Whale is the answer to that, at least. when you play it with Edge Imp Scythe.

Don't get me wrong, Frightfur Cruel Whale a great aggressive card thanks to its destruction effect and its ability to send useful Edge Imp cards to the graveyard for later effects, but the combo potential with Edge Imp Scythe is huge, working as an easy counter to most cards your opponent could throw at you.

Just use Edge Imp Scythe and any Fluffal to Fusion Summon Frightfur Cruel Whale, popping the Frightfur Cruel Whale and whatever you want to destroy with its effect. Banish Edge Imp Scythe from the graveyard to protect your Whale, and suddenly your opponent's just down a card.

Granted, you don't have to use it reactively. You can always destroy a superfluous Fluffal card you control or even a set Fusion Substitute. Heck, proactive destruction for your cards has me thinking of the millions of Metalfoes hybrids we've seen, but keep in mind the Frightfur Cruel Whale can also pop set cards as well!

Frightfur Cruel Whale will be a hot commodity for both competitive decks and funky mashups alike. Given how much card prices on the secondary market have waxed and waned, I literally have no idea how much something like this will be, so try to get yours as quickly as possible. I still have Wattgiraffe nightmares, trying to get a binder page full when they were irrationally over 15$.

Fluffals has evolved from a fan favorite… to… a better fan favorite? They've never been the most dominant deck out there, but they have so many good cards now it's impossible for the deck to be totally irrelevant. Doug "Check Out This Fabled Support" Zeeff is one of the more dedicated Fluffal players out there, so make sure to check out his most recent build updated for Master Rule 5, which will no doubt be even better with the new Fluffal cards in Rise of the Duelist.

#5 Shaddoll Schism

Turns out El Shaddoll Fusion isn't the only way to Fusion Summon on your opponent's turn; now you can banish materials from your field or graveyard, bring out a big purple Shaddoll monster, and even send something to the graveyard. Shaddoll Schism's searchable, it summons a monster, and it deals with threats on board, so there's no way this thing's bad.

But I won't lie; when I first saw Shaddoll Schism I wasn't very impressed, because it's a trap. I'm not knocking on decks like Altergeist or amazing cards like Infinite Impermanence, but typically a theme-stamped trap card won't save your strategy from the dirges of obscurity. Shaddolls aren't totally off the map these days, even after losing some steam in the wake of the success of Structure Deck Shaddoll Showdown, but regular old traps just aren't that exciting these days.

Luckily the fact that Shaddoll Schism's a Continuous Trap puts it into another category for me. Don't let my previous hesitation detract from it – having a one-shot attempt at getting off a cheeky play seemed ok – but tapping into that power every turn borders on actual lunacy.

El Shaddoll Apkallone basically searches Shaddoll Schism, and any time you can search a card you can usually get by running fewer copies. Even just a single copy of Shaddoll Schism adds a layer of flexibility, recursion, and monster removal that the Shaddoll deck simply didn't have before.

And with the big Shaddoll following that exists, there's no doubt in my mind that this will be a big ticket item from Rise of the Duelist.

#4 Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles

Keep in mind, the Infernoble Knights are technically Noble Knights, and unlike other tangential themes like Assault Blackwings, there's enough synergy and power hereto make both pure Infernoble Knights and mashups with regular Noble Knights viable.

The biggest of the Infernoble Knights we've seen so far, Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles is a Level 9 behemoth that pops cards on the field while getting you free equips from your graveyard and deck. It may not be as versatile as Infernoble Knight - Renaud, but Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles doesn't have many restrictions for a boss monster, and that's a good thing when your deck requires a lot of Equip Spells.

The Main Deck Infernobles mostly come with built-in, "While this card is an Equip Card" effects, so Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles has a swarm of Infernoble Knights and Infernoble Arms cards to keep him well girded. But again, consider the lack of restrictions on Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles. Getting back any Equip Spell from your graveyard is no small effect, so this card seems destined to lead to the abuse of some of the game's most powerful Equip Spells.

Side note, Infernoble Noble Knights aren't my absolute favorite theme of all time, but they do beat out Battlewasps on my rankings. And while I don't have anything against Infernobles, I'd rather use them in Noble Knights or mashup strategies instead of dedicating all my energy into a pure Infernoble Knight deck.

With such powerful lore, good enough effects and a dedicated following, I'd be foolish not to include Infernoble Knights on the Top 10 list from Rise of the Duelist. I won't blame you if it's not your thing, but even if you don't want the Infernoble Knight Emperor Charles you packed from your boosters, I guarantee you tons of people will.

#3 Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon

If you thought Block Dragon recursion was bad, just wait until you get looped with Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon. We're seeing an eerie trend creeping up in the game, where so many Level 8 monsters can summon themselves from the hand and graveyard with such little effort that I'm wondering if a pure Rank 8 deck's on the horizon.

Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon might not be as simple as Borreload Savage Dragon or PSY-Framelord Omega, but it's a pretty powerful cog in the wheel of a number of powerful combos. It's a Dark Dragon with 3000 ATK to boot, but the real kicker is its effects.

When Synchro Summoned, you excavate the top five cards of your deck and add a Light or Dark monster to your hand, then send the rest to the graveyard. You heard that right - it's a free Light or Dark monster and it yards four more cards. If you've played this game for any amount of time, you'll know that getting cards to your hand and graveyard simultaneously is busted for just about any combo deck. And if you've been playing this game for a long time, you'll remember that Painful Choice had to be banned for doing a fraction of what this card does.

While Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon a generic Synchro Monster, it's still a Synchro, so it's not as cheap as any ol' Link Monster you can toss on the field in any deck. Heaven forbid Konami makes us put some effort into a card that's this powerful.

And about that recursion - for the low cost of a Light and Dark monster, you get Chaos Ruler, the Chaotic Magical Dragon back on the field, from your graveyard. Combine that with Galactic Spiral Dragon, and you'll get a free Rank 8 every turn. Like… for free. I'm not really sure what the downsides are to this card, but I'm excited to see the Chaos decks that capitalize on it.

#2 Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous

Considering it's the lynchpin of the Dogmatika strategy, it's safe to say that Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous is the hottest of all the Dogmatika cards. The only other contender is Dogmatika Maximus, but Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous a bit more versatile because it can search anything.

If you don't know what the Dogmatika cards are, it's probably because you're familiar with the fanlation name, "Dragma." I'm not sure which name I like better, but neither makes me any less drawn to the strategy.

It's a weird theme for sure - one that hinges on monsters from the Extra Deck while likewise shutting down your own Extra Deck. (Well, just for the rest of the turn.) It's a delicate balance of playing your cards in the right order, and here's Joseph with a unique Shaddoll/Invoked/Dogmatika hybrid deck he created back before we had the theme's official name.

The weird part about Dogmatika isn't their hate on Extra Deck monsters but the surprisingly good ability to actually destroy your opponent's Extra Deck before they can summon monsters out of there. I know it's not the main focus of the strategy, but whether it's a side angle like that or some pure Dragma build or a hybrid like Joseph's, Dogmatika Ecclesia, the Virtuous is going to be the glue that holds it all together.

What did you expect? Search cards tend to be like that, and we'll certainly see the price and demand reflect that as well.

#1 Triple Tactics Talent

Hey kids, want to combine Pot of Greed, Change of Heart, and The Forceful Sentry into one spell? It sounds like the world's best card, but there's a minor caveat requiring opponent interaction. Before you can use Triple Tactics Talent an opposing monster effect needs to be activated during one of your Main Phases… but… virtually every deck going first has ways to play monster effects on their opponent's turn.

I mean, you've heard of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, right?

"But Triple Tactics Talent won't be playable when it's dead." You know what else won't be playable when it's dead? You. Or your opponent. Then it won't matter.

"Pot of Greed isn't good if you don't have cards in your deck! Change of Heart isn't good on the first turn! The Forceful Sentry isn't good if your opponent used their entire hand." You know how you sound saying those things? Foolish.

Look, I know that Triple Tactics Talent isn't perfect and doesn't deserve a slot in every Main Deck, especially those combo oriented decks going first, but you know what other cards don't belong in every deck? Dark Ruler No More, Nibiru, the Primal Being, Pot of Desires, Solemn Judgment, Lightning Storm… the list goes on and on, of cards that have incredibly high power ceilings but require just enough set-up to not be totally broken in every situation.

Even if the card ends up underperforming, it'll still be wildly expensive Have you, like, ever tried to acquire cards… like, ever? It's not Ten Thousand Dragon expensive, but we're all kidding ourselves if we don't recognize this as one of the hottest cards in the set.

Next week, I'll be writing about some of the cards that make up my personal Top 10 picks from Rise of the Duelist. Whether it's a rogue strategy, a weird interaction or cuteness overload, tune in next week to see what craziness I've cooked up for you. There's a lot love in ROTD, and now that we've got the consensus picks out of the way I'm ready to make it weird.

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.