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Out of all the Forbidden (banned) cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!, the one that confuses me the most is Pot of Greed. The card effect is simple:

Draw 2 cards.

I don't see why this is so game-breaking that it has to be banned. You just get cards. What's the big deal? Heck, the anime uses it all the time (especially Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, where Jaden and/or his opponents use it in nearly every episode), and it doesn't seem to cause problems there.

Most of the cards on the Forbidden list are clearly there because playing them makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for your opponent to win. The rest of them seem to be there because there is a loophole in the rules that creates an unintentionally powerful effect. But neither of those seem to apply to Pot of Greed. You won't necessarily win by just drawing two cards, and there aren't any loopholes.

Unfortunately, the Internet has been less than helpful. I just seem to get forums where people say that it's an incredibly broken card, but don't explain why.

The only thing I can think of is that maybe having three of them in an Exodia deck makes it too easy to win before your opponent can do anything. But even then, I don't see why it must be banned instead of limited to 1 or 2 copies.

So could someone please explain to a casual Yu-Gi-Oh! player why this card is banned?

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    Card Draw and [Deck Thinning](yugioh.wikia.com/wiki/Deck_thinning) are potentially the most powerful mechanics in a card game. Pot of Greed is both, and costs nothing to play, with no downsides. – Casey Kuball Sep 23 '16 at 20:35
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    I don't know if there are analogous articles for Yu-Gi-Oh, but card advantage is a huge deal in Magic, and you can find plenty of articles like magic.wizards.com/en/articles/archive/lo/… discussing it on a more introductory level. – Cascabel Sep 23 '16 at 21:28
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    Two words: Card Advantage – QBrute Sep 25 '16 at 9:48
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    To sum everything that everyone has said up: Free +1, with no disadvantage. – Justin Time 2 Reinstate Monica May 25 '17 at 1:08
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    The value of card advantage varies a lot by game. Anonymous Tip (draw 3 cards for 1 click) was considered a bad card in Netrunner for much of the life of the game because drawing cards as the corp was often a liability. Pot of Greed is overpowered in Yu-Gi-Oh, but the why actually depends on the details of the game. – Zags Mar 8 at 17:17
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The simplest terms I can think to put it is:

Your deck requires 40 cards. Imagine you could have a 12 card deck - your 4 best cards, 3 copies each. You'd probably win every game against those 40-card deck losers, since you're always drawing your best cards and deploying them.

Every card you put in your deck makes you less likely to draw those game winning spells. So you replace them with some themed cards to bide your time until you DO draw into them. So it makes sense that a 15 card deck is weaker than a 12, and a 20 weaker than a 15. The important fact is that a 37 card deck is stronger than a 40.

Now imagine Pot of Greed just said "draw 1 card" instead of 2. What it would essentially do is let you get take your 40 card deck down to a 37, because every time you drew Pot of Greed, you would immediately exchange it for the next card.

So if it were draw 1 card, it would immediately be banned because it turns any deck from 40 into a 37 card deck. And if at draw 1 it's too powerful, then at draw 2 it must be even more powerful.

Another very simple way to put it is this: when it comes to making games fun, the key is to make interesting decisions. Pot of Greed has no interesting decision: you play it, you always benefit. It's not like a burn spell where you choose a monster to burn, or a monster that you choose "should I put this out now? Or wait for him to use up his monster kills..." Pot of Greed doesn't make games more fun. It makes them less fun.

  • Another reason it card drawing/filtering/tutoring makes the games less fun is because the course of the games is always the same. There's little to no variability on how the deck plays. – Mephy Sep 24 '16 at 22:13
  • And several strategies involved in One Turn KO, either by creating a super strong monster at turn 1, or even by Exodia. – Oak Sep 25 '16 at 1:24
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    Very good explanation of the basic nature of how powerful deck thinners are, especially free ones. This is often one of the most difficult concepts for people to grasp when learning to build decks, and ties in to the opportunity cost of drawing a "nice" card that isn't one of your core cards. – Samthere Sep 26 '16 at 9:08
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    @Mephy "Less fun" is quite subjective. There's a sweet spot of randomness vs. consistency that varies from game to game and player to player. Some draw-smoothing goes a long way to making card games feel more strategic than just "can I topdeck the thing I need?" — particularly when choices and trade-offs are involved. (The absolute lack of tradeoffs and costs is where Pot of Greed really fails as a card.) – Alex P Sep 27 '16 at 18:02
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    @AlexP Absolutely. If there's one thing I've learned reading Blogatog it's that there's so many different ways people play games and for different reasons. I read today about a couple that play MTG with a max of 2 copies to increase the variance and lets them play longer before the decks get stale because there's so many more interesting decisions to make. Many wouldn't consider that fun because they really want to draw into their big Dragon or Titan and see their rule as crippling. These massive scale TCGs turn into more frameworks than actual games, it seems. – corsiKa Oct 3 '16 at 16:55
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In most Trading Card Games drawing a card is generally one of the most powerful effects that can be printed. Having access to more cards means you have access to more options, and Yu-Gi-Oh is no exception to this. Another thing that is really important in TCGs is the ability to play cards at no cost. This applies to all Spell Cards in YGO (unless the card has an additional cost on it).

If you take two of the most powerful things you can possibly have in a TCG and combine them into a single card, that card will probably be broken. It greatly increases your card quality and deck consistency. Being able to run 3 of these cards makes it so that you both see more cards and are more likely to see the cards you need at the current moment in the game.

For these reasons it is a card that will go into every single deck which is usually considered a bad thing because it decreases the diversity of cards being played and tends to make those cards very expensive.

Some similar cards from other TCGs include Divination from Magic (which costs 3 mana) and Bill from Pokemon (which has no direct cost, but is of a class of cards called Supporters that allow for only 1 supporter to be played in a turn, giving it a fairly high potential opportunity cost).

For a more detailed reasoning for why this card is banned I found a discussion on Reddit that expands on my points.

  • I'm struggling with why drawing a card is the most powerful effect. Sure, you get more options, but isn't getting more life points or destroying monsters a more powerful effect? And is no cost a big benefit when that seems to be the default? – Thunderforge Sep 23 '16 at 19:37
  • Your point about the card going into every deck makes more sense though. It seems that in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, everybody uses the card regardless of their deck theme or structure. I imagine the same happens in the real world. – Thunderforge Sep 23 '16 at 19:38
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    @Thunderforge Because it takes one option and doubles it into two options. Now you can both gain life and destroy their monster and not one or the other. – diego Sep 23 '16 at 19:39
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    And while the default for Spells in YGO is to be free some of the other most powerful card draw spells do have additional costs or restrictions on use like Pot of Duality – diego Sep 23 '16 at 19:42
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    @Thunderforge Something to think about: You acknowledge that it makes sense that everybody would put it in their deck. Why would everybody put it in their deck if it wasn't an incredibly powerful effect? – Jason C Sep 24 '16 at 5:19
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To a casual yugioh player, it is not very clear why it is banned, to be honest. To anyone that goes to tournaments it becomes abundantly clear why it is banned. Draw power is huge in major decks. Upstart goblin has recently become limited down to 1 copy. That is simply draw 1, and your opponent gets to gain LP. Upstart is good because you effectively get to play with 1 less card in your deck, because if you draw it, you immediately replace it. This adds a lot of consistency to decks that need it. Pot of Greed is a lot more powerful. It allows you to simply draw 2 cards. it has no downside, or once per turn clause; it simply lets you draw 2. This means that you replace the card in your hand, and then get an extra one. In the entire game, there is no other card that lets you draw 2 without giving up a card from your hand (Cards of Consonance) or that let you do it so quickly. The closest any card comes is Accumulated Fortune which needs to be set first, then has to be avtivated as a chain of four or higher and is very difficult to pull off. Pot of greed takes the cake when it comes to card advantage.
To summarize, Pot of greed lets you draw ridiculously easily, and draw a lot. That is why it is banned.

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    I would also add in the fact that because of its power it becomes a card that is put into every deck which is something that game designers want to avoid. – Joe W Sep 23 '16 at 17:24
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While it is a straight card advantage card with no downides, what others fail to mention is the potential it took away from the game. It restricted Konami in what kinds of card draw cards it could create, as any 2 card draw with downsides would automatically in every situation be worse than pot of greed.

Instead, because it is banned, we can now have a ton of variety in our 'draw 2' cards that would not otherwise have been possible, and that is also why it can never be brought back: it would invalidate 10s if not 100s of cards instantly.

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It adds a couple of things to decks that define the power level of YuGiOh decks.

Firstly it gives card advantage. Simply put when two decks of similar power level play each other, the one which draws the most cards will in most cases win.

Secondly, you have small deck sizes in yugioh. The general consensus in TCG design is the fewer cards decks start with, the greater the power of drawing a card becomes. If you think about you are getting 40 percent of a starting hand back with it every time you play it.

Thirdly, it is free. There is no cost in playing it. That makes it so that unless there is better draw (Unlikely) it will always be correct to play as many of these as the format allows.

This will take away a lot of deck creativity. Seeing as this game already starts with a limited amount of cards, having cards that are auto-includes really hurt the health of the format.

Lastly, it is old and uninteresting. This card had its time in the sun. It will not provide new formats with any new type of gameplay. It will also not really sell packs as this is not a rare card.

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Pot of Greed draws two cards, that doesn't sound dangerous or overly powerful, does it?

Lets look at what the card actually does. Pot of greed shrinks your deck. Use 3 Pot of Greed, and 3 Upstart Goblin, there's 9 card draws that didn't take a turn. Since pot of greed draws 2 the math on it is more complicated but simply put running three each of those two cards effectively makes your deck about 31 cards instead of 40. This matters for the same reason people tend to only play 40 card decks, the minimum size, because a good deck is consistent and in a smaller deck you find the right cards more often/faster. How much more consistent, and easier to win, will it be when your deck is 1/4 smaller?

This is why the card was banned, cards like this that can be freely played and do nothing but draw speed up the game too much.

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A lot of decks, it IS game breaking. Like you said so yourself, you're gaining cards. From a competitive point of view, the more cards you have available, the more resources you have available to work off of. Many decks rely heavily on drawing the right cards at the right time, and cards that give you free draws like Pot of Greed gives you such an advantage

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