Am I upset about this release?

Short answer… no. Long answer… also no. Ancient Guardians crept up on me way too fast, so I feel like I should be flabbergasted by the cards. In normal booster sets, we have about 100 cards to deal with: legacy support, a new theme or two, OCG imports, World Premiere cards… It's a big buffet, but since core boosters drop on a regular schedule four times a year, you have time to prepare for it.

Then one of these things hits and it's all, "Surprise! Three new themes! Reprints! Collector's Rares!" I always feel blindsided by these deck builder packs, because I don't feel like I have enough time to get ready. Again, I'm not upset, but I got home from work and just found out the rarities and final set list had been released.

It was time to go to work building decks with all the new themes! It's like getting home and finding 98 packages delivered to your doorstep. You're not mad, but you do spend a lot of time just staring at the pile trying to figure out your next moves.

There are tons of goodies in Ancient Guardians, and I'm glad I came to my senses before release day. Check out the Top 10 cards I think people will be craving as soon as the set drops.

#10 Skull Meister

Of all the hand traps that could've been reprinted in this set, I think Skull Meister makes the most sense. D.D. Crow (Starlight Rare) already got a huge upgrade with a Starlight Rare in Rise of the Duelist, while Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion recently got the Premium Gold Rare treatment in Maximum Gold. With Skull Meister seeing play in recent tournaments, and no reprint since 2018's Powercode Link Structure, it was definitely due for a fresh printing.

In a set that introduces the Ogdoadic monsters, why not have a hand trap that messes with graveyards? There are other cards that serve similar purposes, but Skull Meister needed some love. It's not always your first choice when you need to control the graveyard, but it's definitely gained more respect over the years.

And Skull Meister getting a Collector's Rare! Even without that royal treatment I'd still put Skull Meister in my Top 10, but Skull Meister (CR) is likely to be one of the set's hottest cards. The Rare version's going to be an inexpensive and popular hand trap, and I don't see it ever going down from here.

It's not the exact same as PSY-Framegear Gamma, but I remember telling people that the $1 floor for the Toon Chaos printing of PSY-Framegear Gamma was laughably low. Now it's easily five bucks a pop and trending toward much more, so why not get your playset of Skull Meister while the getting's still good?

#9 Solfachord Harmonia

Ok… so… this card is pretty cute.

Even if you don't know what's going on with the Solfachord deck, I hope you can appreciate the art style across the Solfachord theme. Most of the cards present the monsters' "serious" forms, but many of them feature the characters in a chaotic chibi-style artwork instead. It's ridiculous and it's delightful.

What can I say? I love it. And I really like that the Solfachord spell and trap cards come with multiple effects. The deck's a bit eccentric, to say the least, so having the option of choosing your effect is really helpful.

That mechanic of choice is embodied most in Solfachord Harmonia. It's a searchable Field Spell that basically does whatever you need it to at that moment. It's spot removal, scale modification, and recursion all in one card. Pendulum strategies need in-theme support that doesn't power creep Pendulums as a whole, and I think cards with multiple effects is the way to do that.

#8 Nunu, the Ogdoadic Remnant & Nauya, the Ogdoadic Remnant

Are these the best cards of the Ogdoadic theme?

Well, you do kinda need all the Ogdoadic cards. You don't need to play them all in threes, but from my limited playtesting with the deck, these two seem like knockouts. When a deck thrives on throwing everything in your graveyard, the two monsters that specialize in doing that are definitely at the top of the list.

Now you may be asking yourself, "What are the Ogdoadics?" Let me put it this way: have you ever been doing yardwork in your backyard listening to "Jolene" by Dolly Parton on repeat, because you accidentally forgot to turn your iPod to shuffle, and then you move a tarp to get to your firewood so you can throw out the rotting limbs, and then suddenly there are like SIX SNAKES THAT ALL APPEAR AT ONCE, and they ALL SCURRY IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS, causing you to SCREAM LIKE YOU'VE NEVER SCREAMED BEFORE?!

…Well, Ogdoadis are just like that. And I can only assume everyone can relate to that experience. Seems totally normal for everyone.

#7 Ursarctic Mikpolar

In terms of the Main Deck Ursarctic monsters, I kinda see them all as… exactly the same. I know half of them are Tuners and half are non-Tuners, but they all have similar levels with similar effects: you tribute a big boy to bring it out, then do [X effect].

Ursarctic Mikpolar probably the one Ursarctic monster you'll use more than the others, because it searches the rest of the Ursarctics. That's good for the Ursarctic theme, letting you leverage other Ursarctic monster's secondary abilities, but it also makes Ursarctic slightly splashable with other decks. You don't need to triple up on tons of Ursarctic monsters to reap their benefits because this little guy gets you to what you need.

Also, it looks hella cool! Look at Mikpolar go! He's riding a space skateboard!

If someone is even considering playing Ursarctics, this will definitely be one of the cards they'll want to nab. I thought of adding Ursarctic Big Dipper to this list too, but we're really trying to focus on which cards will garner hype from the widest range of players. Like it says in the title: we're looking at the card's everybody wants.

Ursarctic's a bit of a polarizing strategy, pun intended, so it's not like literally everyone will be chasing playsets of everything. For every person I've talked to that's in love with this theme, I've also heard a resounding "Booooooo!" from somebody else. The middle ground is going to be the people that see some cards as useful outside of a dedicated Ursarctic strategy, and that's what makes Ursarctic Mikpolar notewortthy.

#6 Snake Rain

Not only is this card a Collector's Rare, but it's finally being reprinted.

I will personally buy several thousand copies of this card. I can't tell you how upset I was when I went to buy Snake Rain a year ago and found out the card had spiked in price due to repeated buyouts. I wanted it so I could build an Evoltile deck, but you - yes, you know who you are - had jacked up the price way too high for an esoteric reptile strategy.

I'm not alone. The most frustrating thing in this game is when a card that's cost pennies for its entire existence shoots up in price because of limited quantity. Don't @ me with your "supply and demand" arguments; just let me play my wacky decks in peace.

Anyway, now that you can find copies of Snake Rain, people are going to be picking it up for multiple reasons. Obviously it's bonkers in Ogdoadic decks, but I think the bigger draw will just be the sheer panic factor.

That's not me trying to hype up this card so you'll my several thousand copies: I just genuniely think people will buy out this card because they saw what happened to it the last time several times. If you need Snake Rain, or ever see yourself needing Snake Rain sometime in the next several years, please, do yourself a favor: go buy Ancient Guardians or snag the singles directly.

I'm trying to save Future You from headaches. Future You will thank me. In the future.

#5 Ursarctic Septentrion

Speaking of cards being generic…

Well, we were only half doing that. I like the idea of Ursarctics - I like it a lot, in fact - but since they don't restrict you solely to Ursarctic monsters, my mind drifts to playing those cards in other strategies. And [Ursarctic Septentrion]] lets you search all your Ursarctic cards. Just sayin'.

And yes, I'll admit that Ursarctic Grand Chariot is conventionally better, because on summon it gets to go "pew, pew, pew," to your opponent's cards, but I think that Septentrion will have more of a following. After all, it's 2021. Controlling your assets tends to be more important in Yu-Gi-Oh than blowing up your opponents'.

I'm not saying that destruction effects are bad, I simply think Ursarctic Septentrion will be the card to get in the long run because it extends your combos and searches other combo pieces. Right now, we don't even really know what combos people will come up with. That's not a copout; have you seen the ridiculous stuff people are doing with cards these days? If something searches something else, it always unlocks a giant domino effect of potential, and in the case of the brand-new Ursarctic theme a lot of that is still unexplored territory.

When a card effectively says, "fan out your deck and pick what you want," it often borders on broken. both for in-theme strategies and generic ones abroad. We'll see how the community reacts to this wacky strategy and its all-inclusive search power over the coming weeks.

#4 Vennominaga the Deity of Poisonous Snakes

I like alternative win conditions more than the average person, but the amount of energy it takes to resolve Vennominaga the Deity of Poisonous Snakes and win the duel with Venom Counters is unrealistic. It's always been that way. This card debuted almost fourteen years ago and it's possible no one's ever made it work.

Don't believe me? Try to do it and see how it goes. After a few minutes of tinkering, I came to the conclusion that it was basically impossible to win with Vennominaga's effect in any capacity, if your opponent did things like "fight back at all," or "exist."

That's when I stumbled on this video. While Linkross may be banned, and Diviner of the Herald isn't out in the TCG yet, you could technically win with Vennominaga the Deity of Poisonous Snakes off one card. You'd have to run a deck that does nothing but that combo, you need to play every card in it without being interrupted, and you need to win multiple coin flips, but this can technically work. Heavy emphasis on the word, "technically."

So why are people obsessed with this card? Yes, it's a Collector's Rare, but the insane spike of internet chatter as soon as this card was confirmed for a reprint was weird.

Why does this hold a place in people's hearts? Exodia is the obvious Number 1 choice for nostalgic, anime related reasons, but other weird win conditions like Ghostrick Angel of MIschief completely fly under people's radars. Heck, I'm probably the biggest Ghostrick fan to date, but even I don't care about that win-con.

People will like what they like, I guess. I personally enjoy the pineapple cores better than the rest of the pineapple, making me the weird one in the kitchen pretty often. (Fun fact if you've ever wondered what I'm doing when I'm not writing about trading card games: I'm a chef!)

#3 Ogdoabyss, the Ogdoadic Overlord

Yes, you should be afraid of the big giant snake.

I don't know what I'm supposed to say about this card. Yeah, the summoning requirements aren't cheap, but life isn't cheap either. It's got a Quick Effect that wipes the field. It's not a 100% total board wipe, sure: monsters summoned from the graveyard won't get cleared. But hey, that's not exactly a problem the majority of the time. I guess Eldlich the Golden Lord gets a free pass here, but most monsters do not.

Yeah, both of Ogdoabyss, the Ogdoadic Overlord effects are once per turn, but guess what that means? You don't have to play multiple copies of them. The opportunity cost of running just one is extremely low. That hopefully means the card will stay accessible for budget players, while still being a card everyone wants to get. It's always annoying when a card needs to be played at three, but everyone and their mother is trying to get their hands on as many copies as possible.

That just makes it harder for me to get them. And didn't you read the rules? Inconveniencing Loukas is illegal. Sorry, everybody, but there was a memo.

Oh, and Ogdoabyss, the Ogdoadic Overlord (CR) Yeesh, they knew what they were doing when they assigned that rarity. This card's going to look beautiful as a Collector's Rare.

#2 Ursarctic Polari

The card that ties it all together.

…The Ursarctic cards, I mean. Not like… I don't know… the meaning of life? I write about a trading card game, not deep philosophical questions.

If you read every other Ursarctic card before you read Ursarctic Polari, I totally understand your confusion. Their Special Summon effects, which work by tributing each other only to do some funky reverse Synchro Summon before getting back to high-Level monsters, is inexplicably confusing. But this card fills the gaps.

Polari's a Level 1 Synchro you'll Special Summon by sending away a Tuner and non-Tuner that are off by one Level. It's kind of like the Dark Synchro Monsters from Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's, a weird sort of Synchro Summon revolving around negative numbers. I literally shrugged my shoulders typing that, but I hope you see the parallel.

Not only is Ursarctic Polari weirdly generic, but it's the glue that holds Ursarctic deck together. There's no mincing words here - this'll be a hot commodity, and I don't see it going down in price over time. Ursarctic Polari unlocks combos and makes Ursarctic playable.

#1 DoSolfachord Coolia

I honestly feel bad for some of the Pendulum strategies. Pendulums were introduced in 2014 in Duelist Alliance, and they quickly spiraled out of control; as a mechanic, Pendulums were totally unfair until they were put in check by Master Rule 4.

There were really two ways Pendulum themes could go: they could do well and get hammered on the F&L List, or they could just have no good cards. Until Pendulums were "fixed" by limiting Special Summons from the Extra Deck, they were wildly unbalanced.

Flash forward to now. Outside of the Collector's Rares, DoSolfachord Coolia the most expensive card in Ancient Guardian presales. Is it the best card in the Solfachord strategy? Kinda.

Even if people don't play Solfachord competitively, you can see these cards are going to resound with lots of Yu-Gi-Oh fans across the spectrum. What's not to like? Fun artwork, balanced effects, music: it's a jolly archetype, and I think it's more accessible than most.

Some themes from past deck builder pack sets were either too good or too meh, even though they had everything else going for them. Think of Adamancipators and Rikka, which each alienated one half of the community. Adamancipator Researcher was too expensive when it released, so anyone who didn't have deep pockets bailed. Rikka looked cool and had a neat tributing mechanic, but without enough power cards, the competitive players had no interest.

Maybe Solfachord can bridge that gap. If they can, DoSolfachord Coolia will be the most sought-after card in Ancient Guardians hands down .

Let me know what cards you want from ANGU over on Twitter! Or if you bought out every copy of Snake Rain... let me know about that, too, so I can marvel in fear.

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.