Drawing Two Cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! – A Look Back
- Sam Šulovský
Drawing two cards is one of the most powerful effects in Yu-Gi-Oh! and over the years we've come a long way and have seen many variations on the theme, from Pot of Greed to Pot of Desires. In this article, we'll look at how drawing two has shaped the metagame of Yu-Gi-Oh! over the years.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is fundamentally a game about card advantage. Since it doesn't contain any resource cards, all cards, barring exceptions, can be played right away. That means cards in hand or on the field are extremely important. How come, then, that when Yu-Gi-Oh! first released we saw a card printed that gave immediate card advantage to its user at no cost?
Enter Pot of Greed
Debuting in the very first Yu-Gi-Oh! set, Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon, Pot of Greed is one of the most iconic Yu-Gi-Oh! cards ever. But what does it do? It lets you draw two cards with no drawback, as many times as you can play the card. Pot of Greed has now been banned for more than ten years and it is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful cards in the game in a vacuum. It also highlights precisely how Yu-Gi-Oh! is different from most every card game on the market. Playing the Pot, drawing another Pot and playing that too can easily lead to you winning a game, regardless of what your opponent does to stop you.
The biggest argument for bringing Pot of Greed back as well as for keeping it banned is consistency. Playing with it means that your deck is effectively thinner, since a part of your deck are essentially blank cards that replace themselves for whatever haymakers you run. Well, then why do some people want it back? Aside from making every deck better, consistency also leads to games being the same, since you draw into your ideal card combinations more often because of the added draw power. That is also why it has been and will remain banned — it makes bad and good decks alike better which leads to an even greater divide in deck strength. The player who happens to draw the most Pots would be at a huge advantage regardless of the deck they play, which would lead to a lot of bad beats in games by making skill matter less and drawing that one card matter more.
All the cards we will be looking at in this article feature the same text as Pot of Greed but with a drawback — a very necessary drawback. However, a drawback isn't always enough to keep cards from taking over a format …
Many Bad Things = A Good Thing?
Tele-Dad format was named after the deck that dominated at the time. The year was 2008 and Yu-Gi-Oh! looked quite different to the game it is today, with many powerful cards running loose. You got three copies of powerhouses like Solemn Judgment and Royal Oppression, two Reinforcement of the Army, and powerful one-ofs like Brain Control and Heavy Storm.
The strategy essentially sought to use its three copies of Emergency Teleport to get Krebons out of the deck and use it to Synchro Summon various Synchro Monsters using Monsters produced by the HERO engine and summon Dark Armed Dragon as a big bad beater to top it off. Even though the deck got its name because of the big bad dragon, the real heroes of the deck were Destiny HERO - Malicious and Destiny HERO - Diamond Dude.
The glue holding the whole deck together were the playsets of Allure of Darkness and Destiny Draw that could get rid of a lot of variance in your deck. You were drawing so many cards that seeing a hand without one of your haymakers was rather rare. Although both of the draw spells had downsides, those downsides actually played into the deck's strengths! Destiny Draw could discard Destiny HERO - Malicious to the Graveyard and enable more advantage generation from that point on while also drawing those two cards! Allure of Darkness was admittedly worse in the deck as it didn't create additional advantage, but in this context drawing cards itself was enough of an upside, when any number of the drawn cards could be further draw spells or ways to get to those draw spells like Destiny HERO - Diamond Dude. Getting an Allure or Destiny Draw from Diamond Dude was also a tremendous benefit, since it didn't activate the Spell Card it sent, only its effect, meaning you didn't have to pay any costs to activate it.
Coincidentally, a different card needed to be banned due to its interaction with Destiny Draw even before what is widely considered the prime of Tele-Dad format. Although the card has received an erratum in Legendary Hero Decks, Destiny HERO - Disk Commander's original effect simply read "When this card is Special Summoned from the Graveyard: Draw 2 cards." Bringing Disk Commander back from the Graveyard multiple times in one turn proved rather easy, and so the card needed to get banned. Tele-Dad with it would probably be extremely consistent, even more than the version we could experience during its reign as the top deck in Yu-Gi-Oh!
Restrictions Breed Creativity
Over the years, there have been many decks that used draw cards creatively. No matter the type of strategy, there's a draw card out there for you. A great example of such a case are Trap decks, often also called control decks. Think Altergeist, Paleozoic, or similar archetypes that rely heavily on Traps. Altergeists synergize very well with Traps being activated and have many ways of incurring advantages with the cards they have on the field. So adding in Reckless Greed strengthens the main game plan while giving additional cards to work with. Giving up a Draw Step per card drawn is even less of a downside nowadays, when games tend to last fewer turns anyway. The downsides of Reckless Greed being a Trap Card, and thus naturally slow, are combated by the fact that the decks using them have Trap Card synergies or operate on a resource denial plan where slower gameplay can be effective.
Pot of Avarice is another interesting card that recently left the Forbidden List. It's obviously great in combo decks, letting them recycle cards and draw into further extenders mid-combo. However, I want to mention one very creative way in which this card was used, primarily by OCG players, in Sky Striker decks. Sky Strikers have a lot of synergy with spell cards, so this card naturally synergises with the shell. For some time in both the OCG and the TCG, Sky Striker Ace - Kagari was limited, which severely reduced the recursion potential of the deck. However, playing Pot of Avarice let Sky Striker players easily shuffle Kagari and company back into the (Extra) Deck and draw two cards.
Another interesting way draw cards have been used is in Exodia the Forbidden One turbo decks. These decks play almost every effect under the sun that lets them draw cards, in combination with Waboku type effects to keep them alive. A very notable card in this regard is the Bamboo Sword engine, with Golden Bamboo Sword as the actual draw spell. These strategies have been at varying power levels throughout the history of the game, but usually fall into the jank category. Regardless, they are always fun to watch!
Once Per Turn; Also, an Arm and a Leg, Please!
One thing became obvious throughout the history of Yu-Gi-Oh!: Drawing cards is possibly the most powerful effect in the game. As the card pool grew and cards needed to be banned, we saw the game eschew drawing cards in favor of tutor effects — effects that search the deck for a specific card and put it into your hand. This is the primary way Yu-Gi-Oh! has turned away from draw effects and "made them weaker," so to say. This is not to say drawing cards is now irrelevant. Modern draw spells have undergone many changes, such as a lot of archetype-specific draw spells being introduced, think Orcustrated Return, as well as more restrictions being imposed on generic draw spells.
Obviously, old cards didn't have that many restrictions, so adding a simple "once per turn" clause should help, right? Of course! Setting a hard cap on the number of activations of a card is the name of the game in modern Yu-Gi-Oh! and modern draw spells follow suit. However, printing Pot of Greed with a "once per turn" clause is not enough; if you need an argument as to why, look at the popularity of the card with this downside and another one as well, Pot of Desires. If the printing of Pot of Desires taught us one thing, it's that the price we are willing to pay for two extra cards is very, very steep. Banishing a quarter of the deck face down as a cost is a daunting requirement, but somehow one that thousands of players are willing to pay in many different decks. Statistically, if your deck is mainly comprised of playsets of cards, you are unlikely to banish all the cards you need. This isn't to say that horrible situations can't happen because of this, just that they are unlikely. Playing Pot of Desires is indisputably worth it in many decks, even though the time I drew two further Pots with my first Pot of Desires still stings …
Another philosophy emerging in card draw design in modern Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of niche cards that benefit certain archetypes hugely, while being downright unplayable in others. This leads to some decks finding perfect cards for themselves that reward specialization and creative deck building. One such card is Sekka's Light. If you meet its restrictions, it's Pot of Greed with an upside! However, the restrictions are quite steep: you can't play any spells or traps except Sekka's Light. Some decks can use this seamlessly, like Burning Abyss decks, some can't at all, and that's a philosophy I love to see.
I think it's interesting to take some time to reflect how far we have come sometimes. With an effect as common as drawing two cards, seeing how the powerful effect has been tackled is quite interesting. I'm overall very satisfied with how these effects tend to be handled these days. Cards like Flawless Perfection of the Tenyi are posterchildren of a very interesting and engaging design philosophy. Obviously, there are many cards from various formats that I haven't mentioned and I'm interested to see what the future may hold for Pot of Greed lookalikes and reworks. Tell us in the comments what your favorite draw spells are and why you like them!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.