Playing Yu-Gi-Oh's expensive. But collecting Yu-Gi-Oh? That can be even more expensive. But it's also part of the fun.

It's been almost two and a half years since Starlight Rares debuted in Rising Rampage, and Konami's been rolling out all sorts of premium printings ever since. Not only did they expand the number of Starlight Rares in core sets from four to five, they introduced Collector's Rares, brought back Ghost Rares, started putting unannounced Number 39: Utopia (Astral) with Obelisk the Tormentor (Ultra Pharaoh's Rare) into boosters, and continued to make OTS Tournament Packs the exclusive source of modern Ultimate Rares.

For the better part of two decades, the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG was largely designed for players. But Konami's shift to creating more cards targeted at high-end collectors, added a new depth to Yu-Gi-Oh as a collector's hobby. The result is dozens of high-priced cards, most of which appeal to duelfans from pretty much every walk of life; from tournament players and hardcore collectors, to casual duelists and nostalgic fans of the anime and manga.

2021's been an especially good year for collectors, with a ton of cool chase cards released in plenty of different products. Want to see the best of the bunch? Well you're in luck, because today we're counting them down: these are the Top 10 most expensive cards in Yu-Gi-Oh, from 2021!

#10 Pharaoh's Secret Slifer, Ultimate Imperm, & Starlight Live☆Twins

243516 || 251594

I'm splitting the Number 10 spot four ways, because all of these cards are roughly the same value give or take ten bucks, and any one of the four could probably best the others depending on when you read this. A tiny market shift in one day could easily shuffle these around, and since they're all awesome cards, why not give them all a nod?

product-hover id="236330" was an awesome set that proved to be a big hit with fans and collectors, after some sort of lukewarm receptions to the sets that preceded it. Part of the excitement of KICO was the surprise appearance of "Pharaoh's Rares", a sort of derivative of the OCG's Millennium Rares, which weren't advertised for this release. The internet got whipped up even more when people realized the Pharaoh's Rares came in both Obelisk the Tormentor (Ultra Pharaoh's Rare), and The Winged Dragon of Ra (Secret Pharaoh's Rare), at least in North American packs. With six different God Cards total in product-hover id="236330", it was this one - the product-hover id="243516", that wound up being the most prized, with a Market Price of $270.

product-hover id="251594" arrived pretty late in the year in OTS Tournament Pack 17, but it made an immediate impact, also achieving a Market Price of $270 almost right from release. No surprise there: product-hover id="251594" is one of the most played cards in competitive Yu-Gi-Oh, and since it's commonly played in threes, demand is through the roof.

252601 || 240475

Finally, Live☆Twins hit it big toward the end of the year with the release of new support in product-hover id="243716", finally capturing Top Cut finishes in some big events. It's driven up the price of lots of Live☆Twin chase cards, with the biggest being product-hover id="252601" and product-hover id="240475", currently at $276 and $280 each.

#9 Ultimate Rare Forbidden Droplet

Most of the cards on this list are Starlight Rares, but a second Ultimate Rare made the cut as well, the max-rarity version of one of the game's most important Spell Cards. All three printings of product-hover id="241458" are expensive, but while the Secret Rare versions are $100 to $130, the Ultimate more than twice that at a Market Price of over $300. It's a stunning price of a stunning printing of one of the most coveted cards in the game today.

#8 Starlight Elemental HERO Stratos

It was pretty controversial when Konami decided to add a fifth Starlight Rare slot to core sets, reserved for reprints of classic cards; there was lots of debate about whether Effect Veiler (UTR) or Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (Starlight Rare).

The lowest on the list is Elemental HERO Stratos (Starlight Rare), coming in at a cool $330. And if you think that's expensive, check out my article on The 10 Most Expensive E-Hero Cards for some real jaw-droppers!

#7 Starlight Lyna the Light Charmer, Lustrous

You just can't underestimate a tournament-playable waifu! Lyna the Light Charmer, Lustrous (Starlight Rare) hasn't seen much play since she was released in product-hover id="231515", but keying off Light monsters she IS theoretically playable. On top of that, the sheer fan appeal of the Spirit Charmers has become a real force in the last few years, and those factors combined to drive Lyna the Light Charmer, Lustrous (Starlight Rare) all the way to a Market Price of $350.

#6 Starlight Incredible Ecclesia, the Virtuous

Another duel-worthy waifu, Incredible Ecclesia, the Virtuous (Starlight Rare) is a three-of in the format's reigning deck-to-beat, playing a pivotal role in Swordsouls. It's a fantastic card with awesome art, featuring a character that seems destined to become an iconic part of the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG's history and fandom. Not a shock to see it holding a Market Price of $460.

#5 Starlight Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon

Narrowly swiping the Number 5 spot from Incredible Ecclesia, the product-hover id="256385" from product-hover id="243710" was another surprise chase card that wasn't advertised for the release, following in the footsteps of Ten Thousand Dragon. And while product-hover id="256385" is nowhere near the level of Ten Thousand Dragon - because what could be - it's still well above $470 in Market Price right now.

product-hover id="256385" might be seeing far less play in the wake of Destiny HERO - Destroyer Phoenix Enforcer, but it's become a massively memorable tournament card in the last year, and its appeal to Duel Monsters fans can't be overstated.

#4 Starlight Black Rose Dragon

Black Rose Dragon (Starlight Rare) was the retro reprint from product-hover id="231515", and it looks gorgeous as a Starlight Rare; the white Synchro Monster frame is perfect for the Starlight trappings, and the classic crimson artwork has never looked better. Black Rose Dragon (Starlight Rare) one of the biggest cards from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, played by one of the most popular characters in the franchise, and its tournament history spans nearly a decade of competitive use. It's a more than worthy Starlight Rare, and at a Market Price of $490 it probably has room to grow.

#3 Starlight Pot of Prosperity

One of the most powerful cards of the year is also one of the most expensive in its Starlight Rare form. Pot of Prosperity (Starlight Rare) a massively flexible card that offers an element of choice in countless strategies, and even if you're not looking for the max rarity version, the thing that keeps many players from running it is the sheer cost: even Pot of Prosperity is a rough $140. But if you really want to flex on your opponent, a playset of Pot of Prosperity (Starlight Rare) will set you back more than $1500 at a Market price of $502 a piece. Yowza.

#2 Ghost Rare Dark Magician

The last two cards on the list are purely for collectors, and unlike Pot of Prosperity you probably won't see them in your next Regional Qualifier. product-hover id="229657" was the single most divisive set this year; an absolute miss with competitive players and Yugi influencers, it whipped collectors into a frenzy and became one of the strongest selling releases of all time, pre-selling way over MSRP for weeks. GFTP disappeared from store shelves pretty quickly in most areas, but nowadays you can still find a few boxes at your local big-box store if you get lucky and. That said, the Market Price for individual boxes is still well over the $19.99 suggested retail price, hovering around $25 a pop.

Love it or hate it, the frenzy turned Dark Magician (Ghost Rare) into one of the biggest cards of the year. One of the biggest figures in dueling, premium printings of Dark Magician (Ghost Rare) have long been prized by collectors, as we saw in my previous article on the most expensive versions. The Dark Magician (Ghost Rare) isn't the priciest printing out there, but it's pretty close at a Market Price of over 600 dollars.

#1 Starlight Stardust Dragon

Finally, the biggest chase card of the year was none other than Yusei's iconic Synchro Monster, Stardust Dragon (Starlight Rare)! The most recognizable monster from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, it may be the most playable protagonist ace of all time, and like Black Rose Dragon (Starlight Rare) it's has spawned an entire string of support cards and theme-stamped releases.

Arriving in product-hover id="241145", which was basically an entire set built around Stardust Dragon (Starlight Rare) legacy, it made a huge splash with a debut price over $650. After dipping closer to $550 at the end of September, it rebounded to where it is now, chasing its all-time high at a respectable Market Price of $628. That makes Stardust Dragon (Starlight Rare) the most expensive card of this year in dueling, and a truly amazing addition to any collector's hoard.

It was a great year for collectors, but at the end of the day no one card from 2021 managed to top the dizzying heights of the collector's market in 2020: Ten Thousand Dragon still reigns supreme as the single most expensive card released in recent years, barring stuff like Championship promos; it's still well over $1500 on secondary.

Will 2022 bring something new that can match it? Personally, with Ghost Rare Dark Magician Girl confirmed for Ghosts From the Past: The 2nd Haunting, it seems possible! But we'll have to wait until April to find out.

Until then, Happy Holidays, and be sure to stick with us through next week for some killer holiday reading!