Why do I think Magic the Gathering is better designed than Yugioh?

Oh boy posting in the middle of the morning while tired. Clearly this is the best time to gather my thoughts and provide meaningful arguments. Sarcasm aside my last post essentially said that I loved Yugioh more for the anime, and that I thought Magic was a better designed game.

For my own sanity I’ll be brief about why I think that Magic is better designed than Yugioh (all of this is my opinion after having played both games for the past few years, please take it with a grain of salt).

1) That Darn Power Creep nuff said

This isn’t the only reason I think Magic is better designed than Yugioh, but it’s definitely the one that comes to mind the easiest. Essentially this problem stems from how both Magic and Yugioh “balance” their respective games (at least their standard/advanced formats). Yugioh has a banned list that prevents the use of certain cards deemed either too powerful or generally unhealthy for the game in competitive settings. Magic in contrast only allows the use of cards from the most recent 4 sets (this may have changed recently, but I digress) in their standard format and prevents the use of all older cards (for the sake of this argument I’m ignoring Modern, Legacy and Vintage formats since I believe that Standard is still the most common/widely supported Magic format).

So what does this have to do with game design? To put it bluntly it allows Magic to re-release cards with the same effects as earlier ones modified for the current set theme. This means that while the game’s story and flavor is ever changing the types of cards released remain balanced. An example of this are the cards Llanowar Elves and Elvish Mystic, both released in different years, but with the same effect.

In contrast Yugioh allows all of its un-banned old cards to be played. The problem with this is that in order to to push their new cards Konami is forced to release more powerful cards over time to replace their older ones in terms of utility and effectiveness. While a poor example, just look at Joey Wheeler’s card Gilford the Lightning in contrast to the later card Beast King Barbaros.

Gilford’s effect is if you tribute 3 monsters for its summon you can destroy all of your opponent’s monsters (this was the counter part of another old card called Moisture Creature which destroyed Spell/Traps cards for the same cost). While both cards were quite difficult to play they both offered a powerful effect for their price.

Now faster forward a few years later and we find Beast King Barbaros. In his case though, if you tribute 3 monsters to summon Barbaros he destroys all cards your opponent controls (monsters, spells and traps). As if that wasn’t enough, you can also normal summon Barbaros as a 1900 Attack monster opening up combos with the card Skill Drain. Essentially, Barbaros is both Gilford and Moisture Creature combined with an additional effect to only further his play-ability. Now imagine that magnified a couple thousand times (hyperbole for the win) as Barbaros isn’t even a meta card anymore. And that is the problem with Yugioh. Not matter how strong your cards just wait a year or two and soon they’ll be power creeped.

The simple fact that Magic can prevent this power creep from poisoning their standard format is more than enough for me to say it’s a better designed game.

(Disclaimer: I’m not saying Magic doesn’t release new cards or that some of their new cards aren’t broken! Just look at Gray Merchant of Asphodel!)

However, that’s a post for another time.

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3 thoughts on “Why do I think Magic the Gathering is better designed than Yugioh?

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