What Are Yu-Gi-Oh! Structure Decks?
If you're looking to get into the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game or try some new monsters, the best way to start is with a structure deck, a collection of cards focusing on a specific monster archetype. These usually give about 40 total cards, one copy of each, with a good mix of monsters, spells, and traps.
Many also give some cards for your extra deck plus bonuses like playmats or tokens. While experienced players might not see the purpose of acquiring an archetype they may have limited interest in, you'd be surprised at how good a value the decks can be—here's why you should always snag a Yu-Gi-Oh! structure deck sooner rather than later!
1. They're Cheap
Most structure decks cost between $12–15 on release; I've seen some on clearance for as low as $7. For literally a whole deck, that's not bad at all.
Yes, having to buy 2–3 copies to get multiples of the best cards will raise the total price, as will having to purchase key cards not included in the deck, but compared to, say, Magic: The Gathering's commander decks, which usually start around $40 before alterations and price increases, you'll see the value. Depending on your existing collection, you might not even need three copies and could get away with just two.
2. You Get Awesome Generic Cards
Even if you're not interested in a specific archetype, you'll want structure decks for the general support cards they offer, often reprints of some of the best (and priciest) cards in the meta. For example, Albaz Strike gives Pot of Extravagance, Legends of the Crystal Beast provides Ash Blossom, and Obelisk the Tormentor yields Harpie's Feather Duster.
Sometimes these cards justify the cost of the deck by themselves, and since a structure deck's contents aren't random (like booster packs are), you can check online so you know exactly what you'll be getting.
3. Bonus Tokens and Playmats
In addition to the actual cards, pretty much every SD comes with a playmat. Sure, these are pretty cheap paper ones, but that means they're portable and you don't have to be overly worried about protecting them. Newer playmats also have the updated zones (like the extra zone), which are useful for beginning players.
You might also get some tokens, a beginner's guide with tips for utilizing the archetype, and other goodies with each deck you buy.
4. Old Archetypes Get New Support
Let's say a structure deck comes along for a struggling archetype, say the Batteryman group. Why buy it? They aren't competitive, right? Well, in addition to the generic supports the deck will likely have, you never know when new cards will make older families bloom.
For instance, one card that's skyrocketed a previously-lackluster archetype is Blue-Eyes Jet Dragon. While Jet hasn't been included in a structure deck as of this writing, he's sure made the cards from Saga of Blue-Eyes far better, making Kaiba's infamous ace competitive at last. So even if your structure deck isn't competitive now (looking at you, Spirit Charmers and Crystal Beasts), it could become so later.
Sometimes even specific cards get buffed, like the original Magicians Yuya Sakaki from Arc-V uses: Timegazer and Stargazer Magician. While lackluster on their own, both eventually received fantastic supports in Chronograph and Astrograph Sorceror, making players who already had the Magicians from Master of Pendulum quite happy.
5. They Increase in Value
The numbers don't lie; the vast majority of structure decks increase dramatically in price regardless of whether their archetype is currently in the meta. This means if you're going to buy a structure deck, you should do it soon after it release, or you'll be facing steeply increased prices, with some of the best examples being Shaddoll Showdown and Lair of Darkness, which as of this writing often run over $50 a pop.
Unopened products will of course fetch better prices, and for the cards you do open, I recommend sleeves, especially for the rarer cards.
Altering Your Structure Deck
As much as I enjoy the value of most decks, that doesn't mean you want to keep every card in them. Most give you both the good and bad members of each archetype, so double and triple up on the winners while cutting the losers, as most competitive decks strive for the minimum 40-card deck size.
Still, even the cut cards buff up your collection and offer minor resell/trade value. Konami seems to be releasing more and more prebuilt decks as players recognize them as great ways to test new monsters and amass key cards, but for now, share your thoughts on the game's best structure decks, and I'll see you at our next YGO! countdown!
© 2022 Jeremy Gill