Drawing Versus Searching


To draw or to search? That is the question. Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game with no lack of draw and search cards, but is there an objective way to find out which outclasses the other? Is it better to increase the size of your hand or to get just the right cards for your strategy? Both have always been important …

magical meltdown - pot of desires

Both effects look so similar, obviously related, yet are so different. Curiously, it seems that cards offering extra draws are often more restricted than search cards.

Have you ever played the Pokémon card game? If so, you have probably come across cards such as Professor Oak and Hau. Don't you just wish Yu-Gi-Oh! allowed such kind of draw cards to exist in order to make your deck better? Of course, Pokémon is a different game with different mechanics, but the fact that they can almost draw at will leaves me with a little twinge of jealousy. Yu-Gi-Oh! does not have energy cards like Pokémon or mana like Magic: The Gathering, making the impact of the drawing and searching mechanics different across these games. Pokémon also eventually nerfed card draw in a way when they made supporter cards and stipulated that only one supporter card can be used per turn.

professor oak hau

The Yu-Gi-Oh! counterpart to Pokémon's Bill is the eternally banned Pot of Greed, and it sadly deserves to remain on the list. It is not once per turn and gives its controller a plus one. Just imagine opening with three Pot of Greed in your opening hand if you were allowed to play it at three. For its time, the card was not inherently broken since the game was much simpler and slower. Now that the game is more complex and resource management is key to winning, gaining access to extra cards comes at a premium. Just look at Pot of Desires and Pot of Extravagance, both allow you to draw two cards but they can only be used once per turn with certain costs. Extravagance even goes a step further by restricting its controller from drawing any additional cards for the rest of the turn.

On the other hand, searching has become more popular over the years with many archetypes containing searchers for their own cards. One Magical Meltdown can result in a one-turn kill and a card such as Elemental HERO Stratos can either end games going second or produce an impressive board going first. I wrote about Nadir Servant and how good it is in a previous article.

pot of desires magical meltdown

The Debate

Now the question I am trying to answer is: is searching or drawing cards more important? From one perspective, searching and drawing do the same thing: they allow you dig deeper into your deck to add more cards to your hand to increase your options, whether it is being done in a one-for-one exchange or if the result increases your card advantage. The difference is in what cards end up being placed in hand.

In the case of draw cards like Desires and Extravagance, regardless of the cost of activation, there is a chance that you will end up drawing cards that cannot improve the current game state or draw the exact card you just used. Other draw cards offer some forms of restrictions such as Card of Demise, which stops the opponent from taking any further damage while cutting you off from special summoning. Other draw cards are more forgiving but require a set up on the field first such as Memories of Hope.

As for search cards, they get you directly to the cards you need. Even if it is usually just a one-for-one exchange, getting the card you need at the time when you do need it is crucial for competitive play. Take for example El Shaddoll Apkallone, which can search Shaddoll Schism. A turn one Schism puts a lot of pressure on the opponents because they know that El Shaddoll Winda is coming to ruin their plays.

Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage!
Of course, the best of both worlds would be a card that both searches and draws. Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! is a great example of a perfectly balanced … I mean banned card that combines both the ability to search and draw cards, which is why we cannot use it anymore. However, ideally decks in general need both search and draw cards. Draw cards can you help you get into cards that help you search other cards or vice versa. Also draw power helps boost the consistency of decks by thinning out the main deck. Search cards also boost consistency by getting you to what you want immediately.

Would you prefer your decks to rely on drawing or searching cards and why? Which of them do you believe is the superior alternative? Please share your opinion in the comment section below!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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Yurra(26.05.2021 17:52)

I think that the more important non-engine cards become, the more important digging cards become. Cards that either draw, or excavate from top of deck give you a chance at seeing any card in your deck, not just the engine cards that you can access by searchers. Decks that can answer everything within the engine of their deck tend to be some of the best decks in any given format. But right now, non searchable cards like DRNM, Forbidden Droplet and spell/trap removal are needed to play through opposing boards. Which is why the newest Pot is so amazing, it digs deep for otherwise unsearchable cards, which right now is much more valuable than a +1 in card advantage, especially with deck space being so limited due to the engine of decks being quite large compared to times long past. There is less space to fit in answers, so you need to dig deeper to find them reliably, making cards that let you see as many unknown cards as possible a lot better.

NecrofaceSCR(25.05.2021 13:25)

Free my Sky Striker Engage :(

Pharaoh7(25.05.2021 15:25)


Very very difficult...