Before I get into any negativity, let me first say why I love Yu-Gi-Oh! in just one word – simplicity. Yes, when Yu-Gi-Oh! first hit the US, it was an instant hit at my school, and that’s saying something at a time when Pokémon was on everyone’s mind. But Pokémon cards just weren’t the same as Yu-Gi-Oh! cards; no one even knew how to play Pokémon properly. But Yu-Gi-Oh! was a game that anyone could pick up and play. Back then, everyone was on an even playing field, as the most commonly used decks at this time were based on the Yugi and Kaiba Starter Decks, it was strategy that made the difference (and occasionally getting lucky with booster packs).
But to sell more cards, things couldn’t move along at this pace, new sub-types and other categories were invented to give up-to-date players the edge. This is the natural progression for most card games, but Yu-Gi-Oh! still kept its edge for a while, until changes really picked up. Gemini, Synchro and Xyz monsters changed the game, not necessarily for the better. Experienced players had no problems adapting, but large changes like these effectively alienated newer players, and it was suddenly harder for people to pick up the game. But the worst part of all is that just about any deck made of current cards could annihilate a well-made deck of cards from 2003 and before. Suddenly, it’s no longer a game of strategy, it’s just whoever has the newest and best cards wins. It’s sad but true, new sets simply keep the name alive by making older cards obsolete (remember the last 5-star monster with 1500 ATK?).
Meanwhile, reprint sets lessen the value of once-formidable cards. Mirror Force was (and probably still is) one of the best Trap cards in the game, and was a privilege for those who could get their hands on it. But it has been reprinted to the point of being common, and has diminished its value. This is how cards become broken and overused. Then the ban list comes into play, once cards are abused through unwise reprints, they’ll inevitably become doomed to the ban list, which takes away some of the freedom of creating a deck, but has its purpose of keeping broken cards from being overused.
Overall, the real-life game has evolved so far that it barely resembles its humble origins in a manga by Kazuki Takahashi. The monsters are overpowered, the effects are out of hand, and further changes only make the game… boring. The pleasure one once got from summoning a Blue-Eyes White Dragon to finish a duel cannot be duplicated by any Xyz summon.
So I’ve probably touched upon most of the things that have changed the game from what it once was. Although it may sound overly negative, I haven’t given up on Yu-Gi-Oh! Heck, I’ll probably never give up on it, as the game, while not what it once was, is still one of the better games out there, and still holds a special place for players like me. While the new style may make it nearly impossible for older decks to win, that doesn’t mean we can’t try…