Let's count 'em down!
All year long, every Friday we've been looking at the Top 10 best-selling cards of the week. But now we're going to look at the best-selling cards of the year, from January 1st to today, December 31st, and we're looking at the Top 21 biggest movers in the TCGplayer Marketplace.
As always we're going by number of unique purchases made, not the sheer volume of copies. That means this is an accurate snapshot of what players, collectors, casuals, and competitives were buying this year, instead of what the speculators were hyping up.
So with no further ado, here they are: the 21 best-selling cards of the year in dueling!
First up, Number F0: Utopic Draco Future debuted in product-hover id="236330" at a price north of the $40 mark at launch, as maybe one of the most hotly anticipated cards of the year. But as it failed to materialize in competition over the summer, it dropped to an all-time low of less than $15 in August, before it started to recover. An absolute ton of people bought their copies, and now that it's actually appearing in tournament-winning Lyrilusc Tri-Brigade builds, it's rebounded to a current Market Price of almost $34.
Despite the slow start, Number F0: Utopic Draco Future quietly become one of the most popular competitive cards released in 2021, and the sales numbers show just how much faith people had in this thing.
Reprinted in Structure Deck Freezing Chains, Heavy Storm Duster was one of the year's best-selling trap cards, even though it isn't seeing much current play in tournaments. The Duel Devastator Ultra Rare's actually been the most popular version, in one of those rare situations where the cheapest version of the card is the max rarity. As a budget replacement for the still-pretty-expensive Lightning Storm, and a card that has legitimately performed in tournaments in the past, it's a great buy at less than 50 cents a copy.
Droll & Lock Bird (Alternate Art)
Hand traps are popular as ever, and the 2020 reprinting of Droll & Lock Bird in Maximum Gold helped drag down the price from the $15 to $20 range… at least when Maximum Gold first dropped. Now, the Alt Art Premium Gold Rare's back up to $16 and just seems to continue slowly gaining value as the months pass. We haven't seen another reprint in over a year, but the card's been so good in so many formats here in 2021 that the 2020 printing sold like hotcakes.
The one giant outlier on this list is this card… and one more you'll see later. War Rocks have become a meme as one of the most disappointing World Premiere themes of recent memory, but the theme does have potential, and does seem to be accruing a real fanbase despite the haters.
War Rock Dignity from product-hover id="231515" is a pretty impressive card offering easy access to powerful, flexible negation once per turn, so you can't blame the thousands upon thousands of players who picked up one or two copies for seeing some promise. War Rock hasn't made it yet, but there's a stunning number of duelfans building their War Rock cores, so if the deck ever pops off, expect a lot of War Rock duelists to come out of the woodwork.
It's no secret that Tri-Brigade dominated the back of the 2021. The strategy started as a strong contender from the beginning of the year, when Yishan McNabb and Kyle Waterbury first piloted it to a series of Top Cut finishes in Remote Duel Extravaganzas and Invitationals. But the deck went on to become the dominant presence we now know with the release of Tri-Brigade Bearbrumm the Rampant Rampager in product-hover id="231515" in June, and it's largely sat at the top of the competitive heap ever since.
With Tri-Brigade Revolt being so key to the strategy's success, Tri-Brigade Shuraig the Ominous Omen is the only three-of Tri-Brigade Link in most builds, and that made it a massive card on secondary.
Long considered a budget alternative to more expensive Link 4 bosses, Mekk-Knight Crusadia Avramax also has a distinct role in fan-favorite decks that tend to float on the fringe of competition, like Mekk-Knight Invoked. It also features in some novelty OTK lists, and despite the fact that none of these decks are leading tournaments, Mekk-Knight Crusadia Avramax was a huge staple for any competitive player craving a complete arsenal of Extra Deck options. The 2020 Tin of Lost Memories knocked its price way down last year, and the market response has echoed for more than twelve months.
Remember when this got unbanned, and then reprinted as a $4 card in Maximum Gold? Harpie's Feather Duster sat on the Top 10 best-seller lists for months, and when the price climbed toward the $10 mark, the dual reprint in the Slifer and Obelisk Egyptian God Decks offered a welcome market correction.
Say what you want about the God Deck Structures, but Harpie's Feather Duster, Forbidden Chalice, Mirror Force, and Book of Moon have kept both decks from falling below their $9.99 MSRP, offering pretty good value for time-honored staples and budget picks.
You might not remember it because of all the loud controversy, but product-hover id="229657" actually was more than just a Ghost Rare lottery. The reprint of Evenly Matched, which was previously above $30, was a welcome addition to the release, and countless players picked up copies of the GFTP Ultra Rare, as well as the Ultra Rare version from Duel Power previously.
Evenly Matched is one of those cards that's always rotating in and out of competition. Lately we've been seeing it in Top Cut builds of Sky Striker and Tri-Brigade, but you really never know where you might want to play it next. That said, the price is creeping back up, so it'd be nice to see another reprint sometime soon in 2022.
Does this one even need commentary? Dragon Link was the deck-to-beat for basically the first half of the year, and it only started to loosen its deathgrip on competition when Tri-Brigade Bearbrumm the Rampant Rampager arrived in June. While the Prismatic Secret Rare from last year's Tins was once as low as $10 to $12, it's back up to roughly $30 now, and it's not even seeing play in anything that's winning. It's just a huge card with a unique role that's so obviously powerful, and so obviously worth owning.
Yeah, a lot of people really thought those product-hover id="231515" War Rocks could've been going somewhere. War Rock Meteoragon reads in a sort of underwhelming fashion until you hit the last sentence and realize it can make multiple attacks at a boosted ATK. I don't think it's really as impressive as War Rock Dignity in a vacuum, but the theme needed another boss monster and this was what they got.
It might be kind of surprising to see Number 39: Utopia this high up on the list, but a lot of printings of Utopia became really collectible in 2021, and honestly, I don't think I even really noticed. Yes, Number 39: Utopia (Astral) and Number 39: Utopia (Collector's Rare) are obviously popular, but product-hover id="251593" is in a similar range, as are the product-hover id="80499", product-hover id="80500", product-hover id="80501", and product-hover id="77586" printings.
Specifically, the version that got this card into the Number 11 spot was product-hover id="81565", which a ton of collectors all picked up one or two copies of. It's possible we're starting to see a ZEXAL push from the collector market, just like we saw GX and 5Ds eventually come into their own with a strong nostalgia crowd.
I mean, you better have it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
There Can Be Only One might seem a bit strange in the Number 9 spot, but this card featured in a lot of big decks this year. Sky Strikers love it, it's huge in Prank-Kids, and as long as people continue to play Invoked decks - which they will - you're going to keep seeing There Can Be Only One. The Duel Devastator Ultra Rare turned out to be the most popular version, offering that old school UR appeal for about $2.50 a pop.
Another mega-popular Duel Devastator Ultra Rare, Red Reboot is just a must-own, as one of the best cards of all time to side in against trap decks. You may not always want to run it since trap-heavy decks rotate in and out of fashion, but whenever they're back in style, Red Reboot play value skyrockets. Apart from the 2019 Gold Sarco Tin Prismatic Secret, the 30 cent Ultra Rare from DUDE is the max rarity, so it's an incredibly easy pick.
…So if PSY-Frame Driver Number 7 on the list, go ahead and guess now how high up PSY-Framegear Gamma was.
Knightmare Phoenix has been a huge card since it was first printed, and the reprint in Genesis Impact made it even more accessible, just before it became a staple in Drytron decks. This card appears in lots of strategies to this day as a flexible, always-there problem solver, but its status in Drytron especially helped drive demand all year long.
Again, another must-own hand trap that got a low priced Ultra Rare reprint in Duel Devastator two years ago, Artifact Lancea was big in competition for much of 2021. While there is a Secret Rare version available from Battles of Legend: Hero's Revenge, that printing is almost five times the price of the Ultra, and that made the DUDE reprint the go-to for most players this year. This card's still all over the place right now, countering some of the biggest decks in current competition.
The best-selling card of the year, from a set that was printed this year, was Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder from the product-hover id="241346". With the product-hover id="220329" original Secret Rare well over $60 at its peak, the Ultra Rare Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder has settled around $12 to $14, playing a key role in both Tri-Brigade and Drytron decks. This is a duel-defining card that has a massive impact on any game it appears in, and it's no surprise to see it here after watching it rank in almost every Friday Finance Top 10 since its release.
Genesis Impact dropped the price of Knightmare Unicorn like a rock, turning a card that was nearly $20 into a budget Rare that's now under 50 cents. Even with the new versions in product-hover id="246446", the budget pick is still the one driving the most sales, with this card appearing in Drytron, Prank-Kids, and even that YCS Finals build of Beetrooper.
Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess is to date one of the best Link 4 monsters of all time, if not the single greatest, give or take the ones that are Topologic Gumblar Dragon or Firewall Dragon And while it seemed weird at the time that Konami reprinted Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess in the 2020 Tins, and then immediately followed up with Apollousa, Bow of the Goddess (Alternate Art) in 2020's Maximum Gold, the market's demonstrated what a great move that really was, with both reprints still being in huge demand over a year later.
And finally, the Number 1 best-selling card of the year! This should be no surprise to anyone who's been following the market, but if you missed it: anytime we saw players returning to competition this year, whether it was a surge of interest in Remote Duels or returning real-life tournaments, PSY-Framegear Gamma sales had a massive surge. Before Toon Chaos this card was roughly $50+ for a playset, but the Rare reprint in TOCH shattered the price point on this card and knocked it below $1.50.
Fast forward to now, and both last year's TOCH Rare and this year's Premium Gold Rare from product-hover id="246446" are over $4, because PSY-Framegear Gamma is just that good. This card is worth playing almost anywhere you can fit it, in almost any format where hand traps are popular, and it remains one of the most punishing cards you can play in the opening turns of a duel. No wonder PSY-Framegear Gamma (CR) is over $160 for the unlimited copy, and nearly $300 for the 1st Edition.
Those were the best-selling cards of the year in Yu-Gi-Oh for 2021! Happy New Year, and we'll see you tomorrow in 2022.