Other card games like Magic: The Gathering or Pokémon make use of a rotation system. Every year or so, the cards from last year "rotate out," making them not playable in the Standard format of the game. This helps keep the metagame fresh and makes it so the power level of decks doesn't go too far, but it does come with its fair share of disadvantages. The biggest one I and other players notice is the inability to keep playing a deck you really like, together with losing out on your cards' value every year. However, in most cases, the good outweighs the bad. This holds true even in cases where the current Standard format is stale, overpowered, or underpowered, as games with set rotation also tend to include more than one format, allowing for players to have more options if they do not like the current Standard format. The set rotation mechanic is mostly a given for most card games, but if that's the case, then why does Yu-Gi-Oh! not do it?
Honestly, I do not know why Konami decided to not give Yu-Gi-Oh! a rotating format, but I, for one, thank them for it. Yu-Gi-Oh! stands out from other card games because it has no rotation. A card you bought ten years ago is (for the most part) still playable today, and you can still run it in any deck you so choose. This increased pool of cards creates a very interesting dynamic where you can build decks with a lot more options, making for a vast array of accessible tools to tackle any situation. Format after format we see the resurgence of some random old card making a splash in the metagame. Cards like Droll & Lock Bird or Appointer of the Red Lotus come in and out of the format, giving it a nice twist and making it so almost every strategy has a counter among the thousands of cards in the playable pool. Having an absolutely massive card pool is something that really separates this game from others. And yes, there are a lot of cons.
Dragon Rulers changed card design forever, turning Yu-Gi-Oh! into a far more combo-centric game, with individual cards' power level going up every consecutive year, as I brought to attention in my article "Staples and Power Creep: From MST to Lightning Storm." It is a mere fact that Yu-Gi-Oh! has been getting more and more powerful cards and decks, to the point where the long-feared decks of yesteryear such as Dragon Rulers, Spellbook, and even PePe do not seem so threatening in the face of Gouki Extra Links or Danger FTKs.
Set rotation is a very powerful tool that would most certainly have spared us having to go through these basically tier zero formats. Don't you just hate it when your opponent wins off the back of some obscure ancient engine piece such as Cannon Soldier or a badly designed Duel Monsters floodgate like Imperial Order? I know I certainly do. Set rotation would also make it so overly obnoxious, not overly powerful decks can leave the game in a more organic manner instead of getting hit by the banlist when they really do not need a hit. Decks such as Normal Summon Aleister the Invoker Turbo or Infinite Impermanence Altergeist Multifaker Control aren't so powerful that they need a hit, but have been in the game for long enough where making their players venture into something other than Invoked Mechaba pass or Altergeist Marionetter set five would be a good thing for everyone.
It's too late. It simply is. It might have been something to consider 18 years ago, but after over 10,000 cards, you can't just say "Yeah, starting today, you can only play with this tiny fraction of the card pool and all the others are not legal". It might have been a mechanic that could have been introduced with the game's release, but right now, it just cannot be implemented. And why should it have been implemented? Why should Yu-Gi-Oh! be like every other card game? There is enough variety in the TCG world where you can basically play any game you like depending on what you're looking for in a card game. You want slower, more control-centric gameplay? Try MTG. You want to stack things on top of one another? Try Pokémon. You want a fast-paced game centered on deck building? Stay with Yu-Gi-Oh!. There is something out there for you, that much is certain, but it might just not be Yu-Gi-Oh!.
This is a great game with a lot of moving pieces, and sometimes those pieces don't quite fit together for a working format and a fair metagame, but what do you expect? Snake Rain to not eventually be broken? That's what's so cool about the game, getting to play these dumb, big combo decks or something slow like Ice Control. There's just something for everyone, and making cards rotate out would ruin that appeal for me and many others. That on top of being able to play your favorite decks of old. If you liked summoning Judgment Dragon in 2008, you still can do so in 2021, and with even more support to boot, because since the game does not have set rotation, Konami can release cards to support old strategies that need that little push to get over the edge. You liked Six Samurai? Well, here's Spirit Warriors, a set with a bunch of new support. You eagerly awaited El Shaddoll Construct to come back? Well, here's an entire structure deck and a bunch of more cards. You like volcanics? Well, about that …
All in all, not having set rotation makes Yu-Gi-Oh! really stand out among a sea of card games, giving its players the tools to build a deck exactly how they want it to be. And even in games with a rotation system like Magic: The Gathering, players tend to gravitate towards formats with no rotation, such as Commander or Modern, because the larger number of tools available makes both deck building and gameplay much more fun, interesting and challenging. So yeah, if you're one of those people who think the solution to all of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s problems is giving it set rotation, think again. This is not like any other game, and that's fine.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.