The Yu-Gi-Oh secondary market follows all of your typical rules of supply and demand, but demand is a complicated thing.
Demand, from a competitive player's perspective, is almost always relative to the competitive value of a card: how effective is it at advancing your win conditions? How important is it to the game's current top strategies, or top strategies in the future? Does it counter other top decks? Is it easily replaced with budget alternatives?
All of these questions will eventually be answered as players take part in events, and either succeed or fail with specific cards or strategies. But what about the earliest days of a card's life on the secondary market? Those first few days or weeks where a card is legal, but it hasn't proven itself yet in an event?
Sometimes the Yu-Gi-Oh community undervalues or overvalues a card or a deck. For example, Vanity's Emptiness and Maxx "C" were incredibly undervalued at release, because players simply didn't understand how effective they actually were. There was a time when Vanity's Emptiness was under $2 - it eventually spiked to more than ten times that. Vanity's Emptiness became a near-staple months later, and to date it's still one of the game's biggest sleeper hits. But the opposite happens too: sometimes cards are released that just totally fail to live up to the community's expectations…and their price tags.
This week we're covering five of the biggest flops in Yu-Gi-Oh's history. All of these cards either debuted at an unreasonable price, or hit a price spike sometime in their lifespan that was completely undeserved. These aren't collector's items–these cards were valued as a result of their supposed competitive potential, which never materialized.
Stardust Overdrive featured two huge flops: Dark Simorgh and Archlord Kristya. Archlord Kristya did eventually see play in various Fairy themes, and occasionally stood in as a Vanity's Ruler you could Special Summon. It's one of my favorite cards in the game, but there's no denying that it did virtually nothing upon release. That didn't stop duelists from valuing it above $60 in 2009, and Dark Simorgh was also cost anywhere between $60-80 in the month after Stardust Overdrive arrived in the TCG.
In hindsight that price tag seems absurd, especially since basically zero competitive Fairy themes existed in the TCG at the time. The Lost Sanctuary Structure Deck was still a year away, and nobody had any idea that Herald of Perfection was about to become a rogue superstar early in 2010.
Meanwhile Dark Simorgh picked up a lot of attention as part of a two-card lockdown that would effectively stop your opponent from activating spells. You'd simply pair Dark Simorgh with Anti-Spell Fragrance to force your opponent to set their spell cards before activating them; since Dark Simorgh effect keeps your opponent from setting anything, you'd lock your opponent out of their spells entirely. You'd essentially lock your opponent out of spells, traps, and set monsters all at once, and Dark Simorgh had the bonus of built-in immunity to Book of Moon.
It was a theoretical powerhouse in an era where setting monsters wasn't necessarily a bad play, and where there was already plenty of Winged Beast support. That said, Dark Simorgh saw absolutely no play once it was out, and not even a huge helping of Simorgh support could make it relevant.
The value proposition of Cardcar D was simple: if you weren't using your Normal Summon anyways, why not play a Pot of Greed on legs?
The idea of drawing two cards on your first turn was immediately appealing to a lot of players–no surprise there–and it ended up taking the place of cards players were running a few years prior. Cards like Cyber Valley and Mystic Piper were draw engines that ate your Normal Summon and sometimes offered extra utility, but Cardcar D promised even more value as long as you were willing to give up the rest of your turn.
It seemed like fate when Cardcar D debuted in Galactic Overlord alongside the new Hieratic theme–another story of failed expectations–but Cardcar D failed to push any of these going-second combo strategies beyond the local or sometimes-Regional level. Instead, it found its way into degenerate stall strategies as an assist to Exodia the Forbidden One and Final Countdown: decks that weren't making it all the way to the final rounds of a YCS, but might still rack up enough wins to annoy players and spectators alike.
For a card that was promoted as the next big thing in draw effects, Cardcar D was a far cry from Pot of Duality or Allure of Darkness.
Speaking of draw effects, Shard of Greed was met with a fair amount of excitement when it debuted in Photon Shockwave alongside Rescue Rabbit and Evolzar Dolkka. It was somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of the Dino Rabbit strategy, but at launch it was still more than $25. It slowly dropped as players lost interest, but it soon spiked in price thanks to two separate instances of players topping with it at YCS events. Merlin Schumacher played two copies in his Anti-Meta build at YCS Brighton in December of 2011, and Brandon Buck also ran two copies in his T.G. Stun build at YCS Atlanta in February of 2012. With two YCS tops is it really fair to say that Shard of Greed was a flop?
Shard of Greed
Shard of Greed is one of the game's most deceptive cards, acting like a reverse Reckless Greed with almost none of its advantages. Rather than adding cards to your hand earlier, Shard of Greed asks you to wait patiently while exposing your future card economy to simple backrow removal. In 2010 and 2011 there was a lot of excess backrow removal running around, including Heavy Storm, so an exposed Shard of Greed was basically asking to be hit by collateral damage from Inzektor Hornet or Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier.
So why did Shard of Greed work? It's not so much the Shard of Greed itself, but the presence of any kind of tempting bait to draw backrow removal away from the good backrow that both Schumacher and Buck were running. Of course, as soon as we got better backrow options Shard of Greed was immediately put out to pasture, and it's never seen play since.
In early 2020 Konami finally put the nail in the coffin for the dominant decks of the past couple of years. Thunder Dragons, Sky Strikers, Salamangreats, and Orcusts all got heavy restrictions on key cards. Orcusts specifically only had one on-theme restriction, but Orcust Harp Horror largely irreplaceable. Once among the top decks to beat, Orucsts slid into obscurity over the summer, and the hype around Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight quickly faded with it.
When Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight was first revealed it was met with a collective groan from the Yu-Gi-Oh competitive community. Orcusts were still tearing up the tournament scene and the addition of a powerful new Normal Summon to replace Armageddon Knight and Dark Grepher seemed excessive. Orcusts were suddenly positioned to take the world by storm–again–if nothing was done.
Fortunately, Konami's F&L List reeled Orucsts back in and left Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight dead on arrival. Of course, there were still holdouts who insisted that Orcusts had a shot even with the latest restrictions, so Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight debuted as one of Eternity Code's top Secret Rares. That said, its premium price never materialized into tournament success, and today we can all clearly see that Orcusts have very little competitive viability without Orcust Harp Horror.
Does that mean Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight a totally dead card? Of course not! It's actually a great pick in pure Mekk-Knights! Still, I wouldn't consider its status as a staple 3-of in Mekk-Knights as a success for the card overall. Mekk-Knights aren't exactly a top tournament contender, although I personally think the deck's solid enough to top events with a skilled pilot. It's hard to buy into the Mekk-Knight hype when decks like Invoked exist, but Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight remains one of the game's best Normal Summons. It's just too bad that the deck it's played in lost one of its best tools: Ib the World Chalice Justiciar.
And that's the list! There are plenty of other flops out there, but I think these are the biggest standouts. Hit up our socials! I'd love to see your thoughts on the most overvalued cards in Yu-Gi-Oh's history.
I think the community's been getting consistently better at valuing cards on release. Practicing with OCG cards early has been a huge help, and there are so many more tools available these days to improve your understanding of the game. It's a lot harder for a card to fly under the radar, or for a card to receive hype it doesn't deserve. Keep your eyes open: the next big sleeper hit could be revealed at any moment.
Until next time then