There are very few aspects of Yu-Gi-Oh that are more iconic than draw spells.
From a competitive perspective, their allure is obvious: the ability to see more cards–even if you're not increasing your card advantage–is too good to pass up. Even casual strategies are often reliant on themed draw effects like Destiny Draw and Orcustrated Return. They're among the game's most powerful and desired cards, and the best draw spell of the format is often one of the format's most expensive cards. We're going through one of those phases right now with Triple Tactics Talent and Pot of Prosperity–although technically Pot of Prosperity isn't a draw spell.
The history of draw spells in this game is largely built around the legacy of Pot of Greed, and this week we're taking a look at the best of the best in Yu-Gi-Oh's history–including cards that have been Forbidden for over a decade. We'll be skipping over cards that are nearly draw spells, but instead add cards to the hand instead of drawing them. You won't see Pot of Prosperity or Pot of Duality.
Let's get started!
Some draw spells just get better with time. Graceful Charity was once balanced by its discard clause: you could see three fresh cards off the top of your deck, but ultimately you wouldn't be gaining any additional cards. It was a +0 in terms of card advantage at a time when Pot of Greed existed, which meant that drawing Pot of Greed could easily be better than drawing Graceful Charity.
That's hardly the case in today's game. Nowadays, you've got a lot more cards than just Sinister Serpent that you'd want to land in the graveyard: there are hundreds of competitive cards that you could discard to score extra benefits. Pot of Greed would definitely be outclassed by Graceful Charity in modern Yu-Gi-Oh.
What if you're not playing any cards that want to be in the graveyard? In that case, Mirage of Nightmare might be the card for you!
Mirage of Nightmare effect will let you draw up to four cards during your opponent's Standby Phase, depending on your hand size. Unfortunately you'll have to discard the same number of cards in your next Standby Phase, which might make that draw power seem useless. Luckily, Mirage of Nightmare has to stick around on the field to trigger the discard effect, which means you can simply destroy it with some form of chainable removal to keep all of your cards.
If you drew Mystical Space Typhoon on your opponent's turn you can point it directly at Mirage of Nightmare during your next Draw Phase. Like Graceful Charity you'd probably be fine discarding whatever you drew in today's game.
Two of the cards on this list have returned to the game in a much weaker state than they left. Super Rejuvenation currently unlimited after a long stint on the Forbidden List, and Pot of Avarice is back too. Neither card's seeing a crazy amount of play, and for the most part neither is Card Destruction.
I've been keeping an eye on Card Destruction current status on the Limited List while wondering if it'll move to Semi-Limited at some point. Danger! decks would love to see this thing at two or three copies, but loading your opponent's graveyard in today's game is a huge risk. It's a -1 of card economy that might completely backfire. Still, it's hard to ignore its potency in decks like Danger Gren Maju.
Super Rejuvenation might be back off the Forbidden List, but that doesn't change the fact that it was once one of the game's most insane draw spells. In 2013 Dragon Rulers leveraged their numerous discard effects to fuel huge End Phase draws with Super Rejuvenation effect. Players would end up drawing into cards like Maxx "C", Effect Veiler, and Swift Scarecrow as they passed play to their opponent.
If you played Super Rejuvenation today you'd draw into cards like Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay, Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, and Nibiru, the Primal Being. Those are still excellent picks, but the problem is setting up the conditions for Super Rejuvenation in the first place. Without Dragon Rulers there's seemingly no home for Super Rejuvenation outside of off-meta builds of Dragunity, Hieratics, or Armed Dragons.
Card of Safe Return started its slow march towards the banlist in 2008 when it was Semi-Limited. A year later in September of 2009, it finally landed on the Forbidden List, and today it's almost unthinkable that the card lasted as long as it did.
In terms of sheer draw power there aren't many other spells that come close to Card of Safe Return potential. Cards like Quillbolt Hedgehog and Imperial Iron Wall could be paired up to generate an infinite number of draws, and while Card of Safe Return was legal there were plenty of Exodia strategies using it as the chief driver of their win condition.
The insane power of Triple Tactics Talent's effects is a symptom of the escalating reactionary response to the power of 'break my board' combo strategies and disruptive hand traps. Like Nibiru, the Primal Being and Forbidden Droplet, Triple Tactics Talent is designed to level the playing field when you're going second against an established board, or when your opponent's foolish enough to activate a monster-based hand trap.
Triple Tactics Talent timing makes it slightly more awkward than Pot of Greed, but consider that statement for a minute: Triple Tactics Talent contains a conditional Pot of Greed in addition to two other excellent effects, and its conditions are only a minor nuisance. It's no surprise that Triple Tactics Talent become one of the game's most sought-after cards.
Like Super Rejuvenation, Pot of Avarice spent several formats slowly moving up the F&L List. It spent years Forbidden until it returned to the game relatively recently, and since then it's had very little impact on the game.
There's nothing wrong with the fundamentals of Pot of Avarice, it's just that modern engines don't need to recycle the cards in their graveyards as much. Pot of Avarice was Forbidden at a time when duels were typically stretched out over more turns. In today's game, when the first two turns of the duel are more important than ever, faster-acting draw power like Pot of Desires will almost always win out whenever a deck can support it.
Pot of Desires reshaped our understanding of draw spells by dropping all of the conditions that made its predecessors difficult to play. To resolve Pot of Desires you don't need any cards in your graveyard, you don't need to give up any phases or your ability to summon, and you can resolve it as a +1 of card economy without discarding anything.
Banishing ten of your own cards face-down is a different kind of cost that often isn't realized by decks that can afford to run full playsets of their key cards. With that in mind, Pot of Desires is effectively the closest thing we've ever had to a successor to Pot of Greed. It's not always the best draw spell for a given deck, but its flexibility makes it a must-own for competitive and casual players alike.
Pot of Prosperity technically isn't a draw spell, but Pot of Extravagance definitely is.
There's an interesting dichotomy between the two cards: Pot of Prosperity card economy is strictly worse than Pot of Extravagance, but Pot of Prosperity also more likely to hand you the card you're looking for. Pot of Extravagance is a stronger pick for decks that simply need to see more cards regardless of what they are–think decks that are loaded with redundant traps or hand traps–while Pot of Prosperity an insane addition to combo strategies or decks that need one specific card.
Like Pot of Desires, Pot of Extravagance and Pot of Prosperity have 'costs' that are rarely realized by the decks they're played in–a trend that's a little worrying giving the increased power of modern cards.
What sets Pot of Greed apart from its descendants is its simplicity. There's no cost, no timing considerations, and no activation restrictions. You simply activate it in either of your Main Phases and draw two cards.
Pot of Greed simplicity made it an immediate concern for Yu-Gi-Oh's long term growth. It was nearly impossible to make draw effects that were at least as good as Pot of Greed without inducing a huge amount of power creep. After all, the only thing better than a card that simply says "draw two" is either another identical card, or a card that says "draw three."
Pot of Greed the target of plenty of memes, but the cards it spawned are consistently among the best spells in the game. Pot of Desires, Pot of Extravagance, Pot of Duality, Pot of Avarice, and Pot of Prosperity have all had their moments as the game's most-desired cards, and Pot of Prosperity experiencing its peak popularity today.
I think the move towards strong, generic draw spells is displacing a lot of more specific cards like Trade-In and Allure of Darkness, especially since these newer cards lock you out of draw effects for the remainder of the turn. Today's cards are such a huge improvement over the once-Forbidden draw spells of ten years ago. You can almost imagine making the case for playing Triple Tactics Talent over Pot of Greed, and that thought is a little terrifying.
Until next time then