The Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championships are over, and that can only mean one thing: it’s time for the Mega Tins. The yearly tradition of collectable Mega Tins is like Christmas: a special set stored within a unique collectible box offering special promos and a bunch of reprints of many of the most sought-after and beloved cards from the last year of Yu-Gi-Oh!, with this year’s 25th Anniversary: Dueling Heroes being extra special thanks to Konami’s ongoing celebrations for the TCG.
To mark the occasion, the promo cards for this year bring with them the international debut of the 25th Anniversary Secret Rare first debuted earlier this year in Japan, a special variation of Secret Rare with its own 25th Anniversary watermark over the text box featured on each card. Also included in each Dueling Heroes tin are three Mega Packs featuring 18 cards each, filled with reprints and maybe even one or two all-new World Premieres to sweeten the deal.
But what are the best cards to pull in this new set? Read on to see our lowdown on the best new cards and reprints in Yu-Gi-Oh!'s 25th Anniversary: Dueling Heroes Mega Tin.
A guaranteed hit in every tin
This is a 25th anniversary set, after all, and with this in mind it’s perhaps no surprise that the promo cards are centred on celebrating the history of the game as we look towards its future.
Even with many of these cards being far out of the competitive sphere, each of the promo cards selected are iconic pieces of card game history turned into sought-after collectibles thanks to their inclusion in the all-new 25th Anniversary Secret Rare format that makes even these relics feel fresh.
The promos in the set cover the breadth of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s history. The most iconic cards for its anime protagonists are adorned across the tin’s outer packaging - perhaps the only surprising exclusion is that Kaiba’s Blue-Eyes White Dragon, typically associated with many similar iconic card collections, isn’t in this set.
Instead, Joey’s Red-Eyes Black Dragon gets a welcome inclusion alongside reprints of everything from Dark Magician and Exodia the Forbidden One to Cyber Dragon, Elemental Hero Neos, Odd-Eyes Pendulum Dragon and Firewall Dragon.
Between the exclusive rarity and the memorability of these cards in the minds of the player-base, it's easy to imagine collectors to be highly eager to get their hands on a complete set of these special promos.
Lovely Labrynth of the Silver Castle (and other Labrynth Cards)
Don’t get lost in their beauty
Labrynth has been a steady and consistent performer underpinning the Yu-Gi-Oh! format since its debut: never the best, but always competitive. It’s a rare trap-based archetype with an ability to search out traps even outside of its archetype, making it an ever-present strong counter pick to many top decks even beyond its own core strengths. What’s held it back is the overwhelming strength of decks like Kashtira and the high cost of some of its core monsters, such as Lovely Labrynth of the Silver Castle.
So expect a lot more play from these cards now they’re more readily available as of these new collector tins. The reprint of Lady Labrynth of the Silver Castle and Arianna the Labrynth Servant in 25th Anniversary: Dueling Heroes are about to make the deck not only more affordable, but more attractive to potentially-sceptical players curious in giving the archetype a chance. With its main searcher in Arianna and key monsters now easier than ever to collect thanks to this first reprint since release in Tactical Masters, pretty much every card used in the deck is now more accessible than ever.
There also hasn’t been a better time to give the deck a shot. The deck’s trap-searching capabilities can bring out the most powerful traps in the format like Dimensional Barrier and Eradicator Epidemic Virus that can decimate an opponent’s strategy with ease.
Plus, new support in the upcoming Age of Overlord set via Arias the Labrynth Butler will only make the deck even better in the coming months. This card’s ability to Special Summon any Labrynth monster or set a normal trap that can be activated the same turn, alongside being able to Special Summon itself from the Graveyard if your opponent attempts to counter a Labrynth effect, will only improve the deck’s competitive edge between now and 2024.
Bystial Magnamhut (and other Bystial cards)
A World Championship beast is tamed
The strength of Dragon Link has been no secret for some time. That was only solidified when Paulie Aronson took the deck all the way to victory during the recent World Championships in Tokyo. The strategy - which revolves around flooding the field with dragon monsters to Link Summon into powerful creatures and even more dominating endgame boards featuring titans like Borreload Savage Dragon - is not only strong, it’s persevered for years by adapting around restrictions placed upon it.
One of the adaptations helping this deck to endure comes from the Bystial engine that expanded its capabilities and brought the versatility it needed to overcome almost every opponent it faces. Their easy search and summon capabilities are a part of what made them so powerful in the first place, and not only does this new tin make them available in new rarities, they’re only going to help more players get their start with Dragon Link.
Beyond Bystial Magnamhut, Bystial Lubellion and Bystial Druiswurm are also reprinted in this set, all key cards on Aronson’s path to victory.
Beyond the Pendulum
Pendulum decks, ever since the overwhelming strength of the Performapal deck, have scarcely been allowed a chance in the spotlight. Zero Pendulum decks stood their ground on the world stage last month, and very few Pendulum strategies have even found their way into the spotlight in recent years. That being said, the strategy has its fans, and if you want to be viable with this sort of deck in 2023, you’ll need Beyond the Pendulum.
Perhaps that’s why, in spite of the lack of meta success for the deck, the card has remained highly sought-after ever since its initial release in Dimension Force last year. This Link Monster not only can search other Pendulum Monsters to prepare for a Pendulum Summon, it offers its own destruction if two monsters with different levels are Pendulum Summoned into both zones this monster points to simultaneously.
It’s a powerful card, at least in the decks that can take advantage of it. Without anything similar in the game at this time there’s value just to having a copy on hand for whenever a new Pendulum deck with potential is released, and is well worth seeking out from the new 25th Anniversary: Dueling Heroes tin.
Muckraker From the Underworld
A fiendish reprint
The Unchained archetype first released in 2019 in Chaos Impact, making some initial waves before getting lost in the wave of other, more powerful decks. That is, until one week before the World Championships and the release of Duelist Nexus, when a sudden array of new support elevated the deck’s status once again. Particularly, Unchained Soul of Shavara, alongside the new Link Monster Unchained Soul Lord of Yama (whose search and Special Summon capabilities massively increase speed and consistency in the deck), have massively improved the deck’s prospects, even helping the deck take three of the top four spots in the recent YCS Vancouver.
With the cards of the archetype being either too old or too new to feature in the new tins, the deck's accessibility unfortunately isn’t helped by these new reprints. However, one key Extra Deck monster helping the deck to shine has been reprinted in this new set: Muckraker From the Underworld. With the deck being filled with Dark Fiend monsters whose effects are activated by being sent to the Graveyard, a Link Monster whose effect involves tributing other monsters on your own side of the field is highly synergetic. Yet a single limited Secret Rare printing in Darkwing Blast without a reprint in sight hardly made things easy for those looking to play the card.
This new printing has helped increase the availability of the monster just in time for players to get to grips with a strategy that seems likely to dominate competitive play for many months to come. Look at it this way: if you have to shell out a small fortune on packs and cards in order to get a hold of what is likely the best deck in the format right now, at least this one key card in the strategy is a tad easier to grab a hold of.
The new World Premiere cards
Nobility and thievery are merely two sides of one coin
While the 25th Anniversary: Dueling Heroes set is primarily a reprint set, bringing cards from a bunch of recent sets together into one package, there are three World Premiere cards releasing inside these tins that will likely be much sought-after by players buying the tins for themselves.
The first is a new Field Spell Card for Noble Knights. Fittingly named after King Arthur’s own castle for this Knights of the Round Table-themed archetype, Camelot, Realm of Noble Knights and Noble Arms brings its own protection to the monsters by allowing Equip Cards to be destroyed instead, all alongside helping to search out the other Noble Knights of the Round Table Field Spell while simultaneously either Special Summoning an Artorigus Noble Knight or adding a Noble Arms card from the deck to the hand. After the archetype’s extended time in the wilderness, it’s a versatile spell that could bring the deck some much-needed consistency and a chance at rogue deck status. Fans of the archetype certainly won’t complain about adding this to their arsenal, at the very least.
Time Thief Power Reserve is a Continuous Trap Card that can Special Summon itself as a Normal Monster before also Special Summoning a Machine Time Thief monster from the hand, deck or graveyard. It can even banish itself from the graveyard to banish one card on the field if you control an Xyz with both a spell and trap card as material. A rather sudden piece of additional support many years after the deck’s once-impressive top cut performances in 2019, it still retains some love as a both affordable and versatile archetype with fun sci-fi time travel-inspired designs. While I’m not certain this will bring them back to competitive relevancy, it is nonetheless a powerful trap card for their arsenal.
Finally, in another case of sudden support for a dormant archetype, SPYRAL Double Agent may be the most unique of the three debutants. As the name suggests, it’s an unwanted gift for any opponent, Special Summoning itself to the opponent’s side of the field before revealing the top card of each player’s deck. It then increases the ATK of all SPYRAL monsters and allows SPYRAL Super Agent to attack directly. With the card unable to be Tributed, Fusioned, Synchroed or used in Xyz or Link Summons it’s almost impossible for your opponent to remove, and placed correctly could even directly interfere with zones a Link Monster may point towards. I doubt this will cause the return of SPYRAL, but as a tech choice introducing Super and Double Agent into a player’s Side Deck? It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
What these 25th Anniversary Tins offer beyond nostalgia is a chance to make valuable and highly-sought after cards more accessible to the wider playerbase. There are 300 total cards in this set, including reprints for the entirety of the Kashtira archetype and the highly-useful Kashtira Fenrir and many more. The only reason Kashtira doesn't make the list is that they’re almost too powerful: the idea that this deck won’t see a significant hit on the upcoming Forbidden and Limited List after already being restricted into irrelevance in Japan feels unlikely.
It’s hard to judge what the metagame will look like even just a few weeks from now, when a new List is expected at any moment and Age of Overlord is set to hit store shelves in English next month with its own share of highly-versatile and powerful new cards for players to discover. Still, the 25th Anniversary: Dueling Heroes set should help level the playing field until that date comes to pass, all while providing some nostalgic serotonin in the process.