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Revisiting the Golden Age: The Yu-Gi-Oh Set

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“Hey Willie. The store owner found an old Yu-Gi-Oh gravity feed in the back. Should I buy it?”

While some may say the cards only playable in a Golden format aren’t worth your money, or a particular set like Yu-Gi-Oh doesn’t fit into a Superhero or D&D universe, that doesn’t mean such a set is lacking any good team-building cards.

This article examines the significant cards from the now Golden format Yu-Gi-Oh set. These are cards that were commonly used in team builds because they had a significant ability or were great support tech. Also, many of these cards would find a place in the Modern format team builds of today.

Breaker the Magical Warrior - Mana Break
When summoned, you may move an action die from the field to its used pile.
This was the first card that enabled the removal of an Action die. For a time, it was used primarily against Millennium Puzzle, but when Lantern Ring burst onto the scene, the stock on this card rose considerably. Reliable Action die removal is one area where the Modern format lags behind Golden.

Jinzo - Trap Destroyer
While this monster is active, your opponent must pay 2 life to use an action die or global ability.
This card was a staple in many elite tournament team builds. It clamped down, hard, on PXG and several other Action/Global abilities. This was one 6 cost card you built a team around to buy (by using some of the other cards mentioned later in this set).

Millennium Puzzle - The Eternal Dungeon
[ERRATA version] Continuous. You may move this die to your Used Pile to send one opposing monster to the Used Pile. (You may use this ability when you may play a Global Ability. This die stays fielded until used.)
For a time, many teams at the competitive level contained this card. It provided consistent die removal tech, especially against dice that had “when damaged” effects (e.g. Hulk). It was also one of the few Action dice that had ‘double energy’ on all three energy faces. The drawbacks were the 5 purchase cost and Max Dice of 1. In Modern, there are many cards available that provide this capability more effectively.

Morphing Jar - Canopic Jar
The first card with a purchase cost of 1. Being mask energy, it was a staple on many teams exploiting the Professor X global. When Half-Elf Bard teams hit the meta, Morphing Jar was an indispensable support card. It is the only blank text card that has seen consistent play at the competitive level.

Obelisk the Tormentor - Fist of Fate
If this monster is blocked but is not knocked out, it deals damage equal to its attack to your opponent (in addition to the damage it has already dealt to its blockers).
This card, on the surface, has so much going against it - high purchase cost, TCF of 6, a narrowly applicable affiliation, max die of 1 – but these shortcomings are offset with spectacular A/D values and a killer (literally) ability. It is a perfect match with a taunt ability. In Draft, it was definitely one high-cost card you did not want to pass up.

Red-Eyes B. Dragon - Inferno Fire Blast
When this monster attacks, knock out all sidekicks (of both players). This monster gets +2A for each sidekick knocked out in this way.
Whenever I played Draft and got this card, I won almost every game. Its ability is particularly suited for Draft, in that Sidekicks are plentiful so you can greatly increase the A value. Hardy D values make this die hard to KO. When combined with the global from Horn of the Unicorn, this card was a beast.

Ring of Magnetism - Action Attraction
[ERRATA version] Continuous. Play on a monster. Your opponent's action dice and abilities can only target that monster.
To put into context, when this card came out the language around ‘targeting’ was still ambiguous. I had to mediate many games where the permutations created by this card created unusual situations. If your team relied on applied abilities (like buffs or preventative effects) this die threw a monkey-wrench into those plans.

Cards used mostly for their Global Abilities:

Blue-Eyes White Dragon - Monstrous Dragon
Global: Pay [1 bolt] and knock out one of your monsters to reduce the cost of the next die you buy by 2 energy.
This global is the quintessential ability to remove your own dice and provides an unconditional reduction in purchase cost of any die. It put cards with a 5 or greater purchase cost within easy reach (like Jinzo). Imagine this card paired with The Collector in Modern.

Doomcaliber Knight - Fiendish Fighter
Global: Pay [1 fist] when you attack. Your monsters cannot be the target of action dice or card abilities.
The global on this card was the hard counter to Distraction at the time. You had to pay attention when using this card because if you wanted to apply any effects to the attacking die (like an A value buff) you had to do it before you applied this global.

Goblin Attack Force - Goblin Squad / Unruly Throng
Global: Pay [1 fist]. Target monster must block this turn.
These two cards were the first to have a force-to-block taunt global. There were already force-to-attack taunt globals (Mr. Fantastic and Phoenix from the AvX set), which were employed to surgically remove an opposing problematic character die. This global countered that strategy by forcing your opponent to block your forced attacker (usually with a Sidekick). It was also used when you had a high D value beat-stick to force your opponent to block it with a key character die or trigger a "when damaged" ability. This Global Ability is available in Modern (e.g. Wasp – Fashionista, Giant Spider – Greater Beast), albeit with a different energy type requirement. However, Casey Jones – Penalty Box is a fist energy global, but only targets Sidekicks.

Thousand Dragon - Noxious Nostril Gust
Global: Pay [1 bolt]. The next action die you buy this turn costs 2 less energy.
Within the set, this global enabled you to purchase your Millennium Puzzle for less. It was good support tech for mainly purchasing those cool 4+ cost Basic Action dice. Imagine having this global in Modern with Delayed Blast Fireball, End of Days, One Against Many or Superhero Registration Act. In Modern we have less economical or reliable cards: e.g. Satchel of unlimited Weaponry - Gun, Batcave - Large, Dark, Wet or Cosmic Cube - Beyond Imagination.

Slifer the Sky Dragon - Lightning Blast
Global: Pay [1 bolt] to deal 1 damage to target monster.
Honorable Mention: Initially, this global was used to ping Hulk or Nova to trigger their abilities. Eventually, this card’s ability was replaced by the global on the Magic Missile BAC, which freed-up a team-building slot.

While the following cards, being Basic Actions, were only available in a Starter Set, they are still worth mentioning.

Crush Card Virus
Knock out one of your monsters in the field to knock out an opponent's monster up to 1 level higher than yours.
Great way to remove an opposing level 1 or 2 character die with only a Sidekick and it doesn’t trigger “when damaged” effects.

Horn of the Unicorn
[ERRATA version] Up to two target monsters you control get +1A and +1D.
*/** Also, those monsters gain Overcrush.
The burst ability is simply your common Overcrush keyword. But you also get additional buffs with the ability and a global to pump the A value more. Great BAC for a 3 cost.

Swords of Revealing Light
Choose one monster. That monster can't attack until the start of your next turn.
Relentless re-skinned…so good both cards are banned.

Nostalgic Footnote: Yu-Gi-Oh was the only unopened gravity feed I purchased that contained 3 Super Rares, all different. Thank you Wizkids!!

Hopefully for you veteran players this brought back some memories. For you newer players, don't be hasty in passing up an opportunity to get some of these great cards.
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  1. Jwild's Avatar
    So many memories! Shame the art for that set was so poor.
  2. TrueMisterSix's Avatar
    I used to like mixing my Yu-Gi-Oh Dragons with my D&D dragons for a fun themed team...