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Every Yu-Gi-Oh Card Rarity Explained

Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.

Magic vs. Yu-Gi-Oh: Card Rarity

A lifelong fan of trading card games, I appreciate both Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering, each bearing its own strengths and weaknesses. But where Magic keeps things simple with four basic card rarities (common, uncommon, rare, and mythic rare), Yu-Gi-Oh confuses the heck out of players with dozens of categories and styles, which also make determining a card's status difficult (in Magic, the set's symbol color denotes rarity).

So, what are the card rarities, and how do they differ? Here's a rundown of every rare card type in Yu-Gi-Oh!

Short Print Common

Short Print Common

1. Commons

True to their name, commons are the most abundant cards, identified by their card name's plain black text—if they're a monster. But common spells, traps, and xyz monsters instead have white text. Geez, I'm already confused and we're only at the first category.

Commons generally aren't as powerful as rares, but they do contain some worthwhile units and are good options for budget players. Some commons, dubbed Short Prints and Super Short Prints, share the same card format as regular commons, but are much harder to find in packs—why these weren't just made into rares is beyond me.

Rare categories in Yu-Gi-Oh




Gray or Gray-outlined text, not foil

Super Rare


Non-foil name, foil card

Ultra Rare


Gold name, foil

Ultimate Rare


Gold and embossed name, foil

Ghost Rare


Silver name, pale art

Holographic Rare


Silver name, pale art (Japanese version of Ghost Rare)

Platinum Rare


Platinum name, foil

Alternate/Starlight Rare


White name, special horizontally-lined foil

2. Rares

As listed above, rares come in many shapes and sizes. Standard rares can usually be distinguished by silver print or silver-outlined black text, and like commons, they're not holographic. As a rule, these tend to be better and more valuable than commons, and your odds of finding one in a booster are usually 1:1, or 50%.

But these aren't even all the rare card types, as we delve further down the rabbit hole with secret rares...

Secret Rare categories in Yu-Gi-Oh


Secret Rare


Holographic rainbow card name

Prismatic Secret Rare


Foil uses horizontal and vertical pattern rather than diagonal

Extra Secret Rare


Applies Secret Rare pattern over whole card

Platinum Secret Rare


Platinum card name, foil art

Ultra Secret Rare


Secret Rare name, Ultra Rare image

20th Secret Rare


Holographic red card name

Secret Ultra Rare (misprint)


Gold name, Secret foil image

10000 Secret Rare


Black name, Secret foil image

3. Secret Rares

Standard secret rares are easy to spot thanks to their distinctive rainbow-colored card names, but as seen above, their various spin-offs change the name's font color and muddy the waters. Thanks, Konami.

In most boosters, the odds of obtaining a secret rare are 1:23, so they're pretty elusive. Thankfully, most cards are printed in multiple rarities, so even if you don't score a secret rare "Clear Wing Synchro Dragon", you might find an ultra or ghost version instead.

Secret Rare categories in Yu-Gi-Oh


Parallel Rare


Generic term for completely-holographic card

Normal Parallel Rare


Common appearance but with Parallel Rare hazy foil coating

Super Parallel Rare


Super Rare with hazy coating

Ultra Parallel Rare


Ultra Rare with hazy coating

Secret Parallel Rare


Secret Rare with hazy coating

Extra Secret Parallel Rare


Extra Secret Rare with hazy coating

Starfoil Rare


Star pattern surface

Mosaic Rare


Square pattern surface

Shatterfoil Rare


Shattered glass-esque surface

Collectors Rare


Rainbow reflective surface

Holographic Parallel Rare


Holo Rare with hazy coating

4. Parallel Rares

Parallel rares make the entire surface of a card (not just the name or artwork) holographic, leading to a "hazy" look. Cool idea, but sometimes misleading names—normal parallel rares are actually glossed-up versions of commons, leading fans to dub them "parallel commons".

Kaiba Corporation categories in Yu-Gi-Oh


Kaiba Corporation Common


Black name with KC logo and coating

Kaiba Corporation Rare


Silver name with KC coating

Kaiba Corporation Ultra Rare


Gold name with KC coating

5. Kaiba Corporation Cards

Few cards apply this style, exclusive to members of the Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions Duel Set. In other words, you won't see these in standard boosters, but they highlight some cool monsters from the film, like "Gandora-X the Dragon of Demolition" (a great board wiper who costs under a dollar) and "Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon".

Gold Rare categories in Yu-Gi-Oh


Gold Rare


Gold name with reflective sheen image

Gold Secret Rare


Gold Rare name with Secret Rare texture

Ghost/Gold Rare


Gold-outlined name with Ghost Rare image

Premium Gold Rare


Ultra Rare with thick golden frame

6. Gold Rares

Gold rares bear a shiny golden font and holographic sheen. Again, it's a cool look, but when mixed with other rarities, it's easy to see how confusing the system gets—you're not just distinguishing between gold rares and secret rares, but also gold secret rares.

As if that weren't bad enough, the rarities aren't always consistent between the American TCG and Asian OCG; for instant, the OCG golds have always covered monster levels/rank stars with foil, but the TCG golds didn't until the Gold Series 3 special set.

That said, you won't find any in boosters (they're only sold in Gold box sets), which is kinda lame but does simplify determining card rarity from packs.

Millennium Rare categories in Yu-Gi-Oh


Millennium Rare


Grainy foil over entire surface

Millennium Super Rare


Super Rare with Millennium coating

Millennium Ultra Rare


Ultra Rare with Millennium coating

Millennium Secret Rare


Secret Rare with Millennium coating

Millennium Gold Rare


Gold Rare with Millennium Coating

7. Millennium Rares

Millennium rares resemble parallels in that their foil covers a card's entire surface, but they apply a different style using grainy vertical particles designed to mimic stone tablets. You'll only see these in special "Millennium Packs", both a pro and a con depending on how you look at it.

Fixing Yu-Gi-Oh Card Rarity

As much as I love dueling, it's disheartening to see so many unnecessary card classifications. Without a clear hierarchy, it's hard to tell what a card is really worth by looking at it, and the excess adjectives seem like a scam the naive (buy our new Ultra Awesome Ultimate rares, kids!)

It'd be great if Konami picked a few categories, stuck with them, and made them easier to distinguish, maintaining consistent categories that minimize confusion. But wishful thinking aside, vote for your favorite card style and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill

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