End-Of-Year Market Watch: 2016s Biggest Cards, Part 1

Jason Grabher-Meyer

1/4/2017 11:02:00 AM
 Comments

Welcome to a special end-of-year edition of Market Watch!

For eight months we've been showing you the Top 10 bestselling cards in the TCGplayer Marketplace, taking sales data from over a thousand active Yu-Gi-Oh! sellers, examining the top selling cards by sheer number of copies sold, and then using those numbers to get a feel for tournament trends and responses to new releases. But this week we're going to do something a Little Different.

With a full year of data to sift through, we'll count down the Top 10 biggest selling cards of the year from all twelve major booster releases from 2016. Which cards stood the test of time? We'll find out. We'll also look at some more figures, including a head-to-head comparison of 2016's three Structure Decks, the most popular OTS Pack singles, and a Final Countdown of the Top 10 bestselling cards of the entire year.

Here in Part 1 we'll begin with the Big Core release of 2016 Breakers of Shadow and we'll follow the numbers all the way to The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack in July. Then we'll take a break to discusses Rise of the True Dragons, Structure Deck: Yugi Muto, and Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba. From there we'll pick it up again tomorrow and finish off the year in dueling.

Let's get started.

 Twin Twisters
$14.99
$6.55
$4.36
Twin Twisters111166
Set Breakers of Shadow
Number BOSH-EN067
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Discard 1 card, then target up to 2 Spell/Trap Cards on the field; destroy them.


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ISD Gaming 1st Edition - Lightly Played 3 $4.99
Supercube Unlimited - Heavily Played 1 $5.15
Supercube Unlimited - Moderately Played 1 $5.18

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Breakers of Shadow

#1: Twin Twisters

#2: Interrupted Kaiju Slumber

#3: Master Pendulum, the Dracoslayer

#4: Kozmo Tincan

#5: Guiding Ariadne

#6: Fiendish Rhino Warrior

#7: Kozmo Soartroopers

#8: Quaking Mirror Force

#9: Buster Whelp of the Destruction Swordsman

#10: Kozmojo

Looking back, January's Breakers of Shadow marked the end of several eras and the beginning of some new ones. While Kozmojo and Kozmo Tincan were underrated when they were first revealed through a bizarre leak, both cards propelled Kozmos straight to the top. Later, Kozmo Soartroopers would power a dominant mash-up with Fire Kings as well; it's no surprise all three made the Top 10.

Fiendish Rhino Warrior and Master Pendulum, the Dracoslayer were integral to Burning Abyss and mixed Pendulum decks respectively; Interrupted Kaiju Slumber wound up being one of the year's biggest cards for its all-around playability as a splashable engine; and Twin Twister redefined the shape of competition, challenging us to rethink everything we knew about backrow defenses and Pendulum Scales. Easily the most influential card of the year, Twin Twisters was an obvious prediction for the Number 1 slot in BOSH.

By comparison, Solemn Strike clocked in down at Number 23. While Strike was a must-own for deeply competitive players, the sheer demand outweighed the supply: there were way more Super Rare Twin Twisters to be had than Secret Rare Strikes. At the end of the day, both cards wound up setting the stage for the year, making Breakers of Shadow an landmark release.

 Bottomless Trap Hole
$1.74
$0.91
$0.53
Bottomless Trap Hole111903
Set Wing Raiders
Number WIRA-EN056
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Common
Card Text

When your opponent Summons a monster(s) with 1500 or more ATK: Destroy that monster(s) with 1500 or more ATK, and if you do, banish it.


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Wing Raiders

#1: Bottomless Trap Hole

#2: Mystical Space Typhoon

#3: Number 101: Silent Honor ARK

#4: Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight

#5: The Phantom Knights of Silent Boots

#6: Super Quantal Mech Beast Grampulse

#7: Dark Rebellion Xyz Dragon

#8: Phantom Knights' Fog Blade

#9: The Phantom Knights of Ancient Cloak

#10: Ghostrick Alucard

One of the biggest stories of the year was the sheer number of new and lapsed players coming into the game, and Wing Raiders was our first big hint that it was going on. While the set introduced Phantom Knights, which started topping tournaments immediately, they were savagely outsold by Bottomless Trap Hole and Mystical Space Typhoon: cards any active player already owned.

The nostalgia-driven flavor of Yu-Gi-Oh! in 2016 harnessed a kind of energy that's been fueling the Pokemon TCG since its conception. And in a franchise that Reboots every few years, launching a stream of new TV shows each with new casts of characters, that was an unprecedented gambit. It seems to've changed the fundamental way the companies responsible for Yu-Gi-Oh! have started to handle the brand, from Shueisha and Konami on down.

February's Wing Raiders was a combination of powerful new cards that could stand on their own or integrate with older themes, with a wealth of very basic, but well-timed reprints. Looking back, it's easy to see the appeal.

 Maxx "C"
$17.81
$5.38
$4.01
Maxx
Set Premium Gold: Infinite Gold
Number PGL3-EN042
Level 2
Type Effect Monster
Monster Insect
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 500 / 200
Rarity Gold Rare
Card Text

During either player's turn: You can send this card from your hand to the Graveyard; this turn, each time your opponent Special Summons a monster(s), immediately draw 1 card. You can only use 1 "Maxx "C"" per turn.


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Kirwan's Game Store 1st Edition - Lightly Played 2 $4.48
soldji 1st Edition - Lightly Played 7 $4.49
Neverland Games 1st Edition - Moderately Played 1 $4.49

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Premium Gold: Infinite Gold

#1: Maxx "C"

#2: Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss

#3: Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal

#4: Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy

#5: Emergency Teleport

#6: Kozmo Dark Destroyer

#7: Storming Mirror Force

#8: Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer

#9: Red-Eyes Flare Metal Dragon

#10: Vector Pendulum, the Dracoverlord

Perhaps the first giant hit of 2016, Premium Gold: Infinite Gold was a perfect storm that managed to hit every customer group. For serious duelists, Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal and Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy changed the shape of tournament competition. For more casual and locals-focused players, cards like Kozmo Dark Destroyer, Emergency Teleport, and Storming Mirror Force were suddenly affordable, not to mention Number 106: Giant Hand.

And also? Everybody needed Maxx "C".

The result was a set that flew off shelves until stores started opening all their packs, just so they could sell the cards as singles. Infinite Gold was a ridiculous hit, and the most unbelievable thing about it was that its performance would be trumped months later by another smash-hit release.

Interestingly enough, while Bahamut Shark was a non-factor when Infinite Gold released, it's become so important today that it nearly snuck into the Top 10, clocking the Number 11 spot. That's kind of amazing considering that the other cards in the set hit the ground running in March.

 Card of Demise
$51.05
$26.92
$24.30
Card of Demise116962
Set Millennium Pack
Number MIL1-EN014
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Draw until you have 3 cards in your hand, also for the rest of this turn after this card resolves, your opponent takes no damage. During the End Phase, send your entire hand to the Graveyard. You can only activate 1 'Card of Demise' per turn. You cannot Special Summon during the turn you activate this card.


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Millennium Pack

#1: Card of Demise

#2: Ring of Destruction

#3: Left Arm Offering

#4: Red-Eyes B. Dragon

#5: Holding Legs

#6: Dark Paladin

#7: Exodius the Ultimate Forbidden Lord

#8: The Winged Dragon of Ra Immortal Phoenix

#9: Crush Card Virus

#10: Trap Hole of Spikes

After the frenzy that was Infinite Gold, the response to Millennium Pack was very different. What could have proven to be a fan-forward set appealing largely to casuals went straight for the throat instead, as Card of Demise had an immediate impact on tournaments. For a long time it was the set's only real legacy, minus a couple Top Cut showings from Holding Legs.

But Left Arm Offering proved to be a huge pick in the OCG with the release of The Grass Is Always Tastier On The Other Side, which instantly made Infernoids a dominant strategy. If you haven't seen it yourself, players are running 60-card decks with three copies of Tastier to fuel massive graveyards, searching them with three Left Arm Offering to compensate for the inconsistencies of playing a foot-tall stack of cards.

We've seen some pretty big numbers on Left Arm week to week over the past month or two, and that was enough to give the card a strong finish for the year.

 Pre-Preparation of Rites
$4.25
$2.60
$1.30
Pre-Preparation of Rites117952
Set Shining Victories
Number SHVI-EN065
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Add 1 Ritual Spell Card from your Deck to your hand, and add 1 Ritual Monster from your Deck or Graveyard to your hand whose name is listed on that Ritual Spell Card. You can only activate 1 "Pre-Preparation of Rites" per turn.


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Collectible Corner Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $1.64
realgoodeal Unlimited - Near Mint 56 $1.75

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Shining Victories

#1: Pre-Preparation of Rites

#2: Sage with Eyes of Blue

#3: The White Stone of Ancients

#4: Performapal Odd-Eyes Unicorn

#5: Red-Eyes Toon Dragon

#6: Dragon Spirit of White

#7: Lunalight Blue Cat

#8: Unwavering Bond

#9: Cattle Call

#10: Lunalight Cat Dancer

Sage with Eyes of Blue, The White Stone of Ancients, and Performapal Odd-Eyes Unicorn were all huge in tournaments for several months this year, but they were beaten in the bestseller lists week in and week out by one of the the most hyped cards of the year: Pre-Preparation of Rites. While Pre-Prep never really made Top Cut headlines, it captured the imaginations of thousands of duelists, and strong supply as a Super Rare meant it was always available at an accessible price. That made the promising search spell an obvious shoe-in for a year-end Number 1.

Meanwhile Lunalights powered demand for Cattle Call upon release, and Call continued to be popular through future fringe successes in both the TCG and OCG, especially in decks like Raidraptors. Note the Number 8 spot for Unwavering Bond, too; while it's fallen out of favor today, it quickly became very popular for several weeks as the summer shifted into high gear.

Notable for its absence, another Secret Rare that just didn't make the cut due to low supply: Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries clocked in at Number 13, still pretty high for a such a scarce card.

 Gold Gadget
$4.33
$2.21
$1.50
Gold Gadget120920
Set The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack
Number MVP1-EN018
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Machine
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 1700 / 800
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

When this card is Normal or Special Summoned: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 Machine-Type monster from your hand. If this card is destroyed by battle or card effect: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 "Gadget" monster from your Deck, except "Gold Gadget". You can only use 1 "Gold Gadget" effect per turn, and only once that turn.


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The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack

#1: Gold Gadget

#2: Silver Gadget

#3: Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon

#4: Chocolate Magician Girl

#5: Blue-Eyes Chaos MAX Dragon

#6: Berry Magician Girl

#7: Dark Magic Veil

#8: Kiwi Magician Girl

#9: Palladium Oracle Mahad

#10: Apple Magician Girl

Almost inarguable as the most popular release of 2016, July's The Dark Side of Dimensions Movie Pack sold out everywhere and was routinely pulled from shelves just so retailers could stock more singles. While the set was a smash hit for its appeal to tournament duelists, casual players, and fans of the TV series alike, it was the three big tournament cards that sold the most copies: Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon was integral to the Blue-Eyes White Dragon deck, which instantly rocketed to the forefront of competition; while Gold Gadget and Silver Gadget remain must-run cards in ABC-Dragon Buster.

Meanwhile Chocolate Magician Girl led the charming charge, seeing play in a number of Top Cut Spellcaster and Lightsworn decks, and Berry Magician Girl, Kiwi Magician Girl, and Apple Magician Girl connected with fans. Blue-Eyes Chaos MAX Dragon was the perfect mix of flash and nostalgia, while Dark Magic Veil and Palladium Oracle Mahad benefited from both oldschool fanfare and the hype for the then-upcoming Eternal Soul.

That brings us seven months deep into our 2016 review, and halfway through the year's booster set releases. But before we finish up for today, let's talk about...

 Return of the Dragon Lords
$13.67
$12.43
$10.91
Return of the Dragon Lords120313
Set Structure Deck: Rise of the True Dragons
Number SR02-EN025
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Target 1 Level 7 or 8 Dragon-Type monster in your Graveyard; Special Summon it. If a Dragon-Type monster(s) you control would be destroyed by battle or card effect, you can banish this card from your Graveyard instead.


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Structure Decks

The Rise of the True Dragons Structure also released in July, while Structure Deck: Yugi Muto and Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba launched in October. All three were wildly popular, with SD: Rise and SD: Kaiba both launching huge strategies.

So which one sold the most sealed decks?

While Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba brought us ABC-Dragon Buster, whch has had a longer run in tournaments than Blue-Eyes White Dragon, it was actually outsold by Rise of the True Dragons. By a VAST margin. It was basically no competition. It's a little tough to say why that happened: with a three month head start, Rise of the True Dragons spent more time on shelves than Structure Deck: Seto Kaiba, which might have been a considerable advantage. At the same time, the deck's ties to the iconic Blue-Eyes White Dragon may have given it an edge as well, and the summer seemed to see more hype for Blue-Eyes cards than ABC's got in the fall. Arriving at the apex of the 2015/2016 competitive season might have helped too, with global enthusiasm for the WCQ's playing a role.

Regardless, here were the Top 10 Structure Deck cards of the year

#1: Return of the Dragon Lords

#2: Breakthrough Skill

#3: Terraforming

#4: Trade-In

#5: Raiden, Hand of the Lightsworn

#6: Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragon

#7: Oasis of Dragon Souls

#8: Foolish Burial

#9: Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand

#10: Arkbrave Dragon

Yup, the entire Top 10 was pure Rise of the True Dragons, suggesting that timing was perhaps everything. Return of the Dragon Lords sold for as much as five to six dollars at its peak, nearly reaching the cost of the Structure Deck itself If you could even find them for sale.

From there it was Breakthrough Skill in Number 2, likely benefiting from last minute use in Paleozoic Frogs these past few weeks; and Terraforming at Number 3, ironically pushed forward by the ABC-Dragon Buster strategy. Arkbrave Dragon might be the most interesting card from the Top 10, played only in later builds of Blue-Eyes White Dragon and largely at the behest of four-time Champion Billy Brake.

ABC-Dragon Buster sat at Number 15, right below the SD: Yugi Polymerization at Number 14, which perhaps goes to show the impact of fandom on the singles market this year.

That's it for now, but join us tomorrow as we finish up the countdown! We'll look at the Top 10 bestselling cards from The Dark Illusion, Dragons of Legend: Unleashed, Mega-Pack 2016, Duelist Pack: Rivals of the Pharaoh, Invasion Vengeance, and Destiny Soldiers, as well as the OTS Packs and one final all-encompassing Top 10, where we'll reveal the top selling cards of the entire year. See you then!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer


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