Yu-Gi-Oh cards, like those in most TCGs, are printed with a number of different cosmetic effects.
Foil titles, holofoil art, and cards with a refractive coating covering the entire card’s entire surface are all available. These results are commonly referred to as a card’s ‘rarity,’ with ‘higher’ rarities reserved for the more difficult-to-pull cards in each set. However, while a Common may be the most common card in a “core” or quarterly tentpole booster pack, an Ultra Rare might be the most common card in a non-core booster pack if it’s an all-foil update.
When buying or selling cards, keep two things in mind: you’ll need to know how rarities are allocated in a pack, and you’ll need to be able to recognize each rarity visually. The first aspect is simple: a fast scan of a card’s set identifier–those letters and numbers below the numbers on the right side of the card–will tell you which rarities are present in each release and how many are allocated per pack.
However, distinguishing rarities by sight can be difficult. We’ll go through the most popular rarities in the game, as well as a few extras you may find when evaluating a card or set.
If you’ve ever played Yu-Gi-Oh!, you’ve probably come across a few different cards. These are the non-foil cards that make up most sets and will be the ones you draw from packs the most.
Popular cards come in various variations, including the notorious Short Prints and Super Short Prints, for which Konami has been chastised.
When a normal, or a card that is meant to be the easiest to pull from a deck, is harder to find in packs, it is known as a Short Print. As a “byproduct of the production process,” Kevin Tewart, Konami’s head of production for Yu-Gi-Oh! in the United States, reported that all Booster Packs contain Short Print cards.
Rare printings are the next step up from common cards, adding a holofoil to the lettering at the top of the stamp, mostly in silver, but black and gold have also been used. Several updates have been made to this particular rarity over the years, and they are no longer printed in core sets as of Eternity Code’s release in early 2020. However, they still play an important role in the game’s history.
In addition to eight Commons, every core booster pack is guaranteed to contain at least one Super Rare. Holofoil artwork, Level, and Attribute icons can all be seen on modern Super Rares. Just holofoil artwork can be seen on older Super Rares.
Ultra rare cards have a gold card name and a holofoil logo, making them the rarest of the usual rarities. The card’s Level/Rank and Attribute are also printed as holofoils on newer UR cards released after July 2017.
The majority of UR cards are among the most costly in their collections due to their rarity and the fact that Konami usually prints the best cards as SR or higher. They are also the rarest type of card in almost any Structure Deck.
Ultimate rare cards incorporate an “embossed” foil to the card art, including the artworks’ borders, the Attribute symbol, and a monster’s level stars. They are widely regarded as one of the greatest rarities ever published in the series. While UR variants of certain cards are still considered more expensive than their UL equivalent, the card name is written gold, as it is on UR cards.
According to Konami, UL cards are unusual variations of R, SR, UR, or Secret Rare cards that have the same Fixed Number as their regular counterparts but are much harder to find. UL cards were removed from key releases with Breakers of Shadow, despite their success, and are still only included in tournament packs.
Secret uncommon cards used to be the most valuable in the series, and they were marked by a holographic rainbow card name and a special holofoil known as parallel holofoil on the artwork. They’re also the standard rarity of Collector Tins and other limited edition sets with promotional cards.
Due to players using electronic scales to locate packs of SE cards inside, SE cards were discontinued the introduction of Soul of the Duelist in 2004. They were reintroduced three years later in Strike of Neos.
There’s also a rarity known as “ultra secret rare” by the group, which happens anytime a card has UR foil on the art and has the sparkly silver foil name of a SE card.
Only the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Special Edition version of Elemental Hero Wildheart has been published in the TCG with this rarity. In 2004, some Collectible Tins had promo cards that were misprinted as super secret rare.
A “secret ultra rare,” in the same vein, is a card with SE foiling over the illustration and the gold letter foiling of a UR card. Misprinted SE variants of Gaia the Dragon Champion and Tri-Horned Dragon from Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon, as well as Jinzo from Pharaoh’s Servant, are the only known cards for this kind of rarity.
Prismatic Secret Rare
A prismatic secret uncommon, unlike secret super rare and ultra secret rare, is an official card rarity that is a special variety of SE cards and uses a holographic foil pattern that follows a distinct horizontal and vertical parallel pattern rather than the normal diagonal pattern. The card name often has several speckled holofoil shades rather than a single solid hue.
The name is only found in the TCG and is only used in key collections, although in the OCG, it is the standard SE rarity. TCG video game promos were prismatic secret rare initially, but it now appears in exclusive collections, including the 2020 Tin of Lost Memories.
The chase exclusive Collector’s Rare rarity first appeared in Toon Chaos in 2020, and it appears like a more subdued version of a Platinum Double Rare. These cards have a rainbow-colored pattern on the rim, picture, Level/Rank, and Attribute, as well as a Secret Rare-style name.
Close to an Ultimate Rare, Collector’s Rare cards have a gently elevated texture and an etched look. The foil texture on these cards isn’t always bent in the same direction, giving the Collector’s Rare pattern a distinct look that many people equate to fingerprints.
Ghost uncommon cards were first included in 2007’s Tactical Evolution collection and are among the game’s rarest cards, with most sets including them only having one card in the rarity. The card name is written in gleaming silver lettering, and some colors have been stripped from the card graphic, giving it a pale, “ghost-like” look.
With Breakers of Shadow, another GR card was omitted from the core set rotation, but The Winged Dragon of Ra was reprinted as a GR in Legendary Duelists: Rage of Ra last year. There are only 35 ghost rare TCG cards available right now, not including ghost/gold rares.
Parallel Rares are the same as non-parallel Rares, but they have a covering on the back. Depending on the form of unusual, this coating can have a different design. They are otherwise similar to other rares of the same kind in appearance.
Duel Terminal, Battle Pack 2: War of the Giants, and Star Packs are all sets that contain these cards. A dotted, shatterfoil, mosaic, or other special pattern is usually added to the whole card in the form of a non-foil film bonded to the top layer of the card for Parallel Common, Rare, Super Rare, Ultra Rare, and Secret Rare cards. The designs can adjust with each publication, but the card rarity remains consistent.
Most players consider the duel terminal to be part of the parallel rarity, but it is distinguished by the fact that it often serves as its own set of cards. They are based on parallel commons, but they have a different coating style.
Duel terminal version cards can be used for DT machines, which are standard arcade machines with different game modes and the ability for players to check in their cards to use. DT cards are only usable in licensed competitions if they are not used in a more commonly available package or commodity.
This rarity, known simply as gold, is limited to a collection of special sets known as the Gold Series. Only cards with gold foil over the card name, holographic gold foil artwork, artwork frame, text border, and card border are included in these packs.
Gold rarity cards have undergone many style updates over the years, but they remain unique to their own packs. There’s also a ghost/gold rarity, which replaces the gold-foiled artwork with hologram-like artwork from a ghost rare card.