Metagame Defining Cards – A 2016 Retrospective

2016 is about to come to end, and it has a been a wild ride. Good or bad, 2016 was certainly something to experience.

As I sit back and think about the metagame of this year, I remember all the decks that have come and gone, and the decks that continue to be played. We saw the rise of Pendulum and watched it reach its peak with Performapals and Performages; we witnessed the return of the kings with Monarchs; we were told the story of a deck from a galaxy far, far away with Kozmo; we were present more recently as duelists relearned their ABCs; we’ve heard about the current rat problem in the OCG with Zoodiac; and we even saw Blue-Eyes, once a relic of the past, win this year’s World Championship – and there are still so many more decks to see.

I thought about the cards that made the biggest impact on the game this year, in both the TCG and the OCG, or in either one, and I decided to write an article to share my thoughts with you all.


It’s hard to define what exactly counts as a card released in 2016. Due to the separation of TCG and OCG metagames, core-set booster packs are released 3-4 months later in the TCG than their OCG counterparts. Another complication is the inclusion of imports to the TCG, of cards which were released years earlier in the OCG. Ultimately, I decided to define “released in 2016” as, “the first printing of a single card in either the TCG or the OCG, released in 2016”.

I will not be splitting them up based on their impact on the metagame, but rather by which metagames they influenced.


Pot of Desires (OCG: 4/09/16, TCG: 8/04/16) – Making its debut in The Dark Illusion, the big question surrounding this card: is Pot of Desires a -9 or a +1? We have seen “Draw 2 cards” before in this game but never quite like Pot of Desires. Most draw-2 cards have costs that are linked to archetypes or other specific limitations. But Pot of Desires doesn’t need you to play any other cards to make use of its advantage, and this generic effect has changed the mindset of deckbuilders everywhere. Before players would mainly build their decks with only the minimum of 40 cards, so as to increase the consistency of their combos. But after Pot of Desires was released and for the first time in a long time, we saw decks being built with more than 40 cards to offset the banishment of 10 cards. While in addition to being a buffer to protect key combo pieces from being banished.

Dimensional Barrier (OCG: 07/09/16, TCG: 11/03/16) – For a card released so recently in Invasion: Vengeance, Dimensional Barrier is already known as one of the best floodgates we have seen in a long time. With Dimensional Barrier, a player can call a monster type and block off the Summoning and effects of that type of monster for the rest of that turn. Dimensional Barrier can single-handedly devastate an opponent’s entire turn that they had planned out. Dimensional Barrier has quickly shown its power as an instant staple in decks.


Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer (OCG: 11/28/14, TCG: 1/14/16) – Introduced as an OCG import in Breakers of Shadow, Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer quickly became a staple in Performapal and Performage decks. When he was Special Summoned, he had the ability to free up 2 spaces on the field while searching any 2 Performapal cards. This gave players quick access to cards like Performapal Guitartle, Performapal Monkeyboard, Performapal Lizardraw, etc. to continue and extend their plays, or to set up for coming turns. Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer helped push Pundulum decks into a whole new plane of play.

Cyber Dragon Infinity (OCG: 10/17/15, TCG: 1/14/16) – I thought long and hard about Cyber Dragon Infinity’s place on this list. Like Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer, this card debuted in Breakers of Shadow as an OCG import, and it immediately rose to dominance in the metagame as a “boss monster” in the Performapals and Performages format, being accessible thanks to the now-Forbidden Tellarknight Ptolemaeus. The card is a pseudo-hybrid of Number 101: Silent Honor ARK and Shooting Quasar Dragon. Being able to steal an opponent’s monster and negate one opponent’s effect once per turn. Cyber Dragon Infinity became a key monster in decks designed to make powerful, unbreakable first-turn fields. It became a huge threat of a card following its releases and power.

Twin Twisters (OCG: 10/17/15 TCG: 1/14/16) – Another debut in Breaker of Shadow, Twin Twisters can be described as Mystical Space Typhoon‘s cooler cousin. Like, Mystical Space Typhoon, Twin Twisters can also destroy backrow cards. Unlike Mystical Space Typhoon, Twin Twisters can destroy up to 2 backrow cards on the field, at the cost of discarding a card. Twin Twisters outshines the now forgotten Mystical Space Typhoon due to its power. Twin Twisters allows you to either discard dead cards in your hand or discard cards that further extend or prepare your plays for the future while destroying your opponent’s backrow.

Solemn Strike (OCG: 10/17/15 TCG: 1/14/16) – And now, the final card in this article that also debuted in Breaker of Shadow. Solemn Strike, along with Dimensional Barrier, is another metagame defining Trap card that came out this year. As player sought out a replacement for the Limited Solemn Warning and the Forbidden Solemn Judgment. Solemn Strike was a powerful card to have during its release in the Performapal and Performages format. Not only able to single-handedly destroy a Pendulum Summon if your opponent isn’t prepared but unlike Solemn who can only stop Summoning, Solemn Strike can also stop opponent’s monster effects as well.

Pantheism of the Monarchs (OCG: 9/19/15 TCG: 1/28/16) – Released in the Emperor of Darkness Structure Deck, Pantheism of the Monarchs can be considered one of the best archetype specific draw cards. Not only are you allowed to Draw 2, but Pantheism of the Monarchs also allows you to search (not only another copy of itself, but any other Monarch spell/trap you need for the situation). Pantheism of the Monarchs allows you to set up your plays by ditching The Prime Monarch to be revived back or search out your Tenacity of the Monarch, which in turn allows you to search out any other Monarch spell/traps. Pantheism of the Monarchs’s effect was a powerful asset to the Monarchs.

Number S39: Utopia the Lightning (OCG: 3/04/15 TCG: 3/01/16) – Making its debut as a manga promo, Number S39: Utopia the Lightning came at a time (at least for the North American playerbase) when it was needed most, with the powerful threat of the Kozmo archtype and its ever-floating armada of ships like Kozmo Dark Destroyer. Number S39: Utopia the Lightning has shown its power in the Rank 4 toolbox, even though its a Rank 5 monster. Being a powerful boss monster and many effects that can react to being destroyed, Number S39: Utopia the Lightning with its built-in Armades, Keeper of Boundaries‘s effect stopped them. Not only does it stop card effect’s from being activated until the end, it was also able to boost its ATK all the way up to 5,000 ATK, allowing you to beat down any monsters.

Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal (OCG: 9/19/15 TCG: 3/18/16) – The beloved to Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal finally arrived as an import in Premium Gold: Infinite Gold. Burning Abyss as a deck, and an interesting one at that, is able to use the Rank 3 toolbox and as a deck, has one of the best recycling power we’ve seen in quite a while. Burning Abyss didn’t have much react power during the opponent’s turn, either relying on backrow traps or the many effects of Burning Abyss’s monsters. Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal offers a way for the deck to react during their opponent’s turn, while offering a threat that is able to summon Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss when destroyed.

Card of Demise (OCG: 12/19/15 TCG: 4/14/16) – Debuting in the Millennium Pack, Card of Demise can easily be described as:

Card of Demise created a strategy that revolved around setting 5 in backrow and hoping to draw 1 monster, requiring no opponent interaction. Fighting for board control and battles between monsters make a game of Yu-Gi-Oh more fun and compelling, but dealing with 5 cards that say ‘you cannot play’ is not particularly fun or interactive.

Card of Demise has caused quite a stir since its debut, splitting the playerbase on whether its a healthy card or not.  As the game evolved faster, so did the decks at the moment, but decks of the past were left behind, stuck in their old playstyle of the older metagame. Card of Demise helped bring them up to being able to be competitive again. We saw many different variants of decks utilizing Card of Demise; Kozmo, Yosenju, Gravekeeper, Barrier Statue, and even Ritual Beast. While the general deckbuilding of decks using Card of Demise were relatively the same; a low monster count and enough Trap cards to fill a minefield, Card of Demise was a bane or blessing to many duelists this year.


Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju (OCG: 09/10/16 TCG: 11/05/15) – Battle of monsters, Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju arose from the depths as an TCG import in Extra Pack 2016. Compared to all the other Kaijus, Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju stood out among them, as the weakest of them all for players to use. Before the inclusion of Kaijus, OCG players had to look for other non-target spot removers, such as Santa Claws or Lava Golem to deal with powerful boss monsters that were established by their opponent. Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju has seen many inclusions to decks in the OCG metagame, as it came out around the same time Raging Tempest came out along with the most defining deck out right now in the metagame; Zoodiac. As Gameciel, the Sea Turtle Kaiju was a way to deal with the opponent’s Zoodiac Dranica.

Zoodiac Marmorat (OCG: 10/08/16 TCG: 2/17) – The rat in the room. Zoodiac Marmorat scurried his way from Raging Tempest along with the rest of its archtype to define the OCG metagame. Zoodiac Marmorat was single-handedly able to power the deck due his effect of when he’s an Xyz material to be able summon another copy of himself when detached. Combine this with the archetype Xyz monsters able to be summoned with just 1 material and stack on from there. With just 1 Zoodiac Marmorat, you were able to easily end your turn with a full board.

In conclusion, 2016 was a wild ride indeed. This year was a crazy year for the game. I can’t wait to see what new and more exciting cards we’ll see this year and the impact that they will leave.

So thank you all for reading this and until next time, k, thanks, bye.



I am man of waifus and a player of this game. When not playing the game, you can find me on youtube, where me and my friends play video games and some other things:

Leave a Reply

To post a comment, please login or register a new account.