Not every new Yu-Gi-Oh product is a winner.
We've all had to make the choice between investing in a sealed product–like booster packs and boxes–or singles. That decision's easy to make when you're only looking for one or two cards in a given set: it doesn't make much financial sense to take your chances if the average value of the cards you open is less than the price of the sealed product. You might luck out and hit the best money pull, but in cases like that, it's much more likely that you'll end up disappointed. Unfortunately, sets that are stocked with valuable cards probably won't stay at their regular retail price for long.
Sometimes the decision to buy sealed products or singles is even easier when the product in question is completely uninteresting. Konami's occasionally missed their target completely with their product design, and that's led to sets that almost nobody actually wants. This week we're looking at some of the least loved sets in the game's history, and discussing the factors that made them so remarkably unpopular.
The Advent Calendar releases each had twenty-four cards, designed to be opened each day leading up to the 25th of December. But unless you're really into the holiday spirit, you probably would have purchased these things with the intention of opening all the cards immediately. Who has time to wait three weeks when there are card games to play?
Anyways, three of the four Advent Calendar products were actually solid buys! The 2011 version reprinted several of the Signer Dragons that were relatively difficult to come by at the time, and the 2014 version reprinted some pretty useful Xyz Monsters. product-hover id="197025", including product-hover id="199842".
The 2018 Advent Calendar, on the other hand, is an outlier in the worst way possible. Active players had almost no reason to purchase it outside of the reprint of Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, a card that was already seeing very limited play in competitive spaces. The set was also missing the charm of the 2019 edition and its fan-pleasing product-hover id="199868". Instead, the 2018 Advent Calendar relied on the Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries reprint to carry sales while leaving duelfans to wonder if Super and Ultra Rare copies of product-hover id="179229", product-hover id="179236", product-hover id="179244", product-hover id="179243", and product-hover id="179252" were actually worth spending $20.
Look, it's not that I'm not a fan of Joey Wheeler, it's just that I don't think his cards are very good. Unfortunately for Joey fans, there's not much support for his best themes. Red-Eyes as a deck is virtually non-existent, with only Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon and Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon seeing any kind of play in today's game. Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon aren't exactly tearing up the competitive scene, but they're at least coherent casual decks.
Legendary Collection 4: Joey's World is a massive set with nearly three hundred cards, including a whopping sixteen Normal Monsters. Huge set sizes make finding any specific card you want significantly harder, though Legendary Collection Mega Packs each contained five Commons, and one Rare, one Super Rare, one Ultra Rare, and one Secret Rare each.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of foil cards in Joey's World aren't worth chasing to begin with. The two stars of the set were Sixth Sense and Harpie Dancer, but Sixth Sense debuted on the Limited List before it was soon Forbidden at the end of the format.
There are five Star Pack sets in total that have debuted since 2013, and they're all equally terrible. Star Packs are loaded with reprints of existing easy-to-get cards, and stuff from casual themes. There aren't many cards in them, if any, that a competitive player would actually want to pull. As a result the Star Packs were panned by the most vocal members of the Yu-Gi-Oh community. But competitive and casual players aren't the only buyers of Yu-Gi-Oh products and Konami was targeting an entirely different audience with Star Packs: parents.
Star Packs contained a mere three cards, but they were also priced at just 99 cents. That might not seem important, but by placing those packs in places like grocery store checkout lanes Konami was ensuring that parents would spot them. Star Packs were often positioned as an affordable gift for a child that could be bought on impulse, and it's my understanding that they sold relatively well despite criticism from the more 'online' Yu-Gi-Oh community. They did make five of them!
Yes, the packs suck for the typical player, but they also weren't designed for us in the first place. That said, the Star Pack series absolutely earns its place on this list from my perspective because, well, they're full of terrible cards. That doesn't stop being the case just because it's designed to be bought by non-players.
Most of Yu-Gi-Oh's Starter Decks aren't very good, and Super Starter: V for Victory is no exception. Like other Starters, V for Victory came with an assortment of cards that were barely connected with any kind of cohesive strategy. Normal monsters like Mystical Elf and Chamberlain of the Six Samurai weren't representative of the way Yu-Gi-Oh was played even back in 2013. V for Victory wasn't trying to teach players anything new: Starter Deck: Xyz Symphony was already doing that job, so what was the point of this product? Ostensibly this Starter Deck only existed to showcase the 'Chaos Xyz' mechanic of overlaying an Xyz Monster on top of another one.
Did that need its own Starter Deck? Probably not.
The broader problem with Starter Deck design was their lack of cohesion. Starter Decks will always carry simple cards with easy-to-understand effects so new players can pick up the game and learn the basics, but there's virtually no synergy between most of the cards in V for Victory. Other than the shared level of the monsters there's nothing holding this thing together. Meanwhile Structure Decks always debut new cards, feature competitive reprints, and center around a core strategy, making them look far more appealing by comparison.
Even modern Starter Decks like Starter Deck: Codebreaker aren't much more cohesive, and we haven't actually seen a new Advanced Format Starter Deck for close to three years. That said, I think the newer Starters do have stronger line-ups of individual monsters that can point new players in the right direction, and Speed Duel Starters do a good job filling several unique uses. If we're getting more regular release Starters in the future, the easiest 'fix' to make them better is probably just to include more copies of the deck's key cards.
The Noble Knights of the Round Table Box Set is one of Yu-Gi-Oh's most expensive releases. Other than boxes, displays, or entire sealed cases, it's hard to name another set with an MSRP over $30, let alone this release's $49.99.
The price tag on the Round Table Box Set was shockingly high, but it did come with 46 cards–43 of which were static, and appeared in every box. There was no guesswork here: this set was essentially a glorified Noble Knight Structure Deck, and it gave players a guaranteed pathway towards a full Noble Knight deck. Unfortunately the Round Table Box Set was universally panned. It was the wrong product at the wrong time, despite Konami's good intentions of bringing the entire theme to players in one single release.
The Round Table Box Set ended up being a failure for a variety of reasons. First, the set launched too late in the lifespan of the Noble Knight theme. New Noble Knights had appeared in core sets for years, but those new cards trickled in so slowly that the deck never really had a chance to build up hype. By the time the box arrived it was already too late: Noble Knights had a reputation as a theme that would consistently get underwhelming cards. The promise of new support in a $50 package wasn't terribly enticing, especially since you'd need to buy more than one to fully build out your Noble Knight deck.
And Platinum Rares didn't help sell the Round Table Box Set. If anything, the fact that every card in the set came as Platinum Rare was a huge strike against it. Everyone has their preferences when it comes to their favorite rarities, but the consensus on Platinum Rares was overwhelmingly negative. The darkened appearance of the cards smothered a lot of excellent art in the Noble Knight theme. Maybe the goal was to make each card shine like armor, or a blade? Whatever the reason was, the final result didn't encourage players to buy the product, and a rarity scheme of all Ultra or all Secrets would have been greatly preferred.
Again, not every product stumble is a matter of comparing secondary market value against the cost of sealed. Often, a product fails because it doesn't offer enough value to a wide enough audience. Star Packs and some Starter Decks might not get more than a glance from dedicated players, but they could still be popular with the right audience (and some were). On the other hand, the Noble Knights of the Round Table Box Set was a bad buy for everyone, including Noble Knight fans.
The great thing about Yu-Gi-Oh, and heck, any TCG, is that you don't have to buy the stuff you don't want. Sticking to singles is a totally viable strategy to save money and avoid the RNG of booster packs. Of course, that's what TCGplayer is here for, and personally I've found myself relying on the secondary market quite a bit lately when I want to snag stuff like Dragunity Remus Dragunity Glow in Ghosts from the Past.
Until next time then