The Best Nostalgic Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Sets

Many trading card game enthusiasts got started on the hobby with Yu-Gi-Oh!'s earliest sets. Here is where you can find the updated versions of some of these classics.

Best Nostalgic Yu-Gi-Oh Sets
Photo: Konami

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For many Yu-Gi-Oh! players, the love of the card game evolved from watching the anime in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Although the real game has evolved well beyond the accompanying show, there’s still a fervent nostalgia for that era’s classic cards, packs, and decks. The likes of the Dark Magician, Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Kuriboh, and many more are ingrained for fans as part of why we took interest in the first place, and why we’re still playing.

Fortunately, Konami’s aware of this and, although the original starter decks for Yugi, Kaiba, Joey and Pegasus can now be quite pricey to get a hold of, several newer versions have been released that adhere to more modern standards of play. These sets still contain many of the cards associated with Yugi, Seto Kaiba and other favorites, but also come with spells, traps, and monsters that can lend more of a hand to contemporary strategies.

Here are the best nostalgic Yu-Gi-Oh! sets to pick up for a walk down memory lane that will also spruce up your current builds:

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Yugi and Kaiba Starter Deck Reloaded (2013)

Both the Yugi and Kaiba starter decks received a make-over for a 2013 re-release that brought their fundamental themes up-to-date. Fronted by the usual Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, these decks contain several worthwhile additions to the collection.

Firstly, Kaiba Starter Deck Reloaded has a strong set of basic monsters. Luster Dragon, Vorse Raider, and Mad Dog of Darkness are each level-4 summons boasting 1900 attack, making them great for front-line offense that can be rolled into getting out the Blue-Eyes. Then, there’s the Shard of Greed, the replacement for the banned Pot of Greed that allows you to draw two extra cards after two turns. Dark Hole makes an appearance, always handy, and Burst Stream of Destruction, which destroys all enemy monsters if you have a Blue-Eyes on the field, a nice complement to the fearsome dragon. What’s more, the deck comes with two Blue-Eyes White Dragons, meaning you’ll only need one more to bring out the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.

Then we have the Yugi Starter Deck Reloaded, which holds some sturdy effects monsters and traps. The emphasis on spellcasters gives some of the most useful, including Magician’s Valkyria, who draws fire from all other spellcasters on your side, and Skilled Dark Magician, who has 1900 attack and can be sacrificed when you’ve used three spells to summon Dark Magician. There’s a couple of reliable one sacrifice monsters, like Dark Magician Girl and Summoned Skull, and Mirror Force and Magic Cylinders, both useful traps for any occasion.

Given that these are older sets, and decks aimed at beginners, there isn’t a huge amount here if you’ve been following the archetype decks of the current 10th series, which ends this year with the upcoming Eternity Code. That said, traps such as Mirror Force, and spells like Shard of Greed and Dark Hole can prove useful in most any setup, and since Eternity Code rounds out the series, they should be able to find a place in the totality of the archetypes.

Yugi and Kaiba Mega Tins (2017)

A few years ago, Konami put out mega tins for Yugi and Kaiba that brought together many of the top cards from the 2016 and 2017 booster sets, which included the likes of The Dark Illusion, Shining Victories, and Raging Tempest. These tins are good value for a dose of nostalgia courtesy of Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and getting a slew of modern cards in the three mega packs each contain.

The two boxes come with a Proxy Dragon and Pot of Desires as standard – Pot of Desires is another Pot of Greed variant that banishes the top ten cards of your deck to draw two cards, which can be extremely useful if paired with Necroface, whose attack is decided by banished cards. The Yugi tin also contains Dreamland, an ongoing spell card that produces various effects depending on if Fusion, Synchro, or Xyz types are on the field. Kaiba’s, then, provides the powerful Elder Entity N’tss, who’s summoned by sacrificing one Synchro and one Xyz monster, and who lets you special summon one level-4 monster to the field per turn.

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Since Eternity Code supplements the Polymerization and Xyz archetypes, these tins can be extremely handy. The aforementioned Dreamland is already useful, as is Dimensional Barrier, which forbids monsters of a chosen type and their effects for a turn. Zoodiac Barrage, though now limited, can be a hefty component of any Xyz deck, allowing you to destroy cards you control to summon other Zoodiac monsters, as can Zoodiac Drident, whose attack and defense are calculated by attached Xyz materials, and can destroy cards by sacrificing said materials.

Yugi, Kaiba and Joey – Legendary Decks 2

If you have the cash and want a complete box-set of nostalgia and fearsome cards, the Legendary Decks 2 is the way to go. Three complete decks are included: a new version of Kaiba’s Blue Eyes White Dragon deck, Yugi’s Exodia deck, optimized for getting the five pieces together, and a modern iteration of Joey’s Red-Eyes Black Dragon deck.

The Joey deck is the most interesting prospect here, giving a Gemini rejig of his common Red-Eyes build, in addition to re-introducing old favourites like Jinzo. Included are the Red-Eyes Black Flare Dragon and the Red-Eyes Archfiend of Lightning Gemini monsters, in addition to the usual cast of Red-Eyes variants like Red-Eyes Black Metal Dragon. Being a legendary deck, this is already built to hold its own, containing one The Black Stone of Legend, a powerful spell that allows the summoning of a level-7 or lower ‘Red-Eyes’ monster, and can be re-shuffled into your deck after use. What’s more, buying this now gives you some extra cards to work with when the Red Eyes Dragoon tin drops in August, which merges Yugi’s Dark Magician and Joey’s Red Eyes decks. 

The Yugi deck is the ideal choice for any lapsed player who wants to jump back in, because in addition to having Exodia and Dark Magician, this also gives all three of the Egyptian Gods; Obelisk the Tormentor, Slyfer the Sky Dragon, and the Winged Demon of Ra. Many of the inclusions are standard to what’s already been mentioned here, but there’s a couple of curveball reprints, most notably Secret Village of the Spellcasters, which forbids your opponent from using spell cards if you control a Spellcaster.

The Kaiba deck is essentially a Blue-Eyes-fusion deck, containing Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, three regular Blue-Eyes and a number of ways to bring them all together for fusion. Anyone looking to build the latest Blue Eyes gameplans will find a solid competitive foundation here that will no doubt be bolstered by what emerges from combinations opened by Eternity Code.

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Likewise, Yugi’s deck contains Ties of the Brethren, a spell that trades life points for summon low level monsters of the same type to the field, a fine tool for many of the archetypes Eternity Code will serve, such as Dragonmaid and Generaider.

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