In 1996 Japanese magazine Weekly Shonen Jump published Yu-Gi-Oh!, a manga series created by Kazuki Takahashi, introducing protagonist Yugi Mutou and his mysterious millennium puzzle to the world. Upon said puzzle’s completion, Yugi unlocks a dark spirit of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who uses Yugi’s body as a host whilst competing in several wicked and nefarious games.
The manga’s popularity saw the swift production of two anime series. The first was a short-lived 27 episode Japan-only series, which mirrors the manga’s dark themes and multi-game focus, whereas the second was Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters (known simply as Yu-Gi-Oh! outside Japan), a 224-episode spectacle primarily involving Yugi and friends using illustrated cards comprising numerous fictional monsters, spells and traps to compete in card games.
The latter’s success led to entertainment conglomerate Konami launching real-life counterparts of the anime cards - and thus the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game was born. The Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG is one of the most profitable card games around, generating almost $10 billion and counting since its inception. Undoubtedly some Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are worth more than others - this list gathers together some of the rarest and most expensive Yu-Gi-Oh! cards you can find today.
Rarest and most expensive Yu-Gi-Oh! cards
- United We Stand
- Monster Reborn
- Exodia the Forbidden One
- Dark Magician Girl
- Red-Eyes B. Dragon
- Doomcaliber Knight
- Card Crush Virus
- Dark Magician
- Blue-Eyes White Dragon
- Tyler, the Great Warrior
We’re only looking at the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, the version of the game released to Western audiences in 2002. This is different to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game, which was first released in 1999. Both games differ slightly, with certain unique rules and exclusive cards, among other things.
With one notable exception, we’ve also stuck to sold cards, rather than ongoing or unsold listings. As such, the stainless steel Black Luster Soldier, a prize card from Yu-Gi-Oh!’s first tournament, listed in 2013 for 998 million yen (around $9 million) and a 45 million yen (around $400,000) Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon spotted for sale in 2018 are off the table, as rare and valuable as they may be.
While you can get common versions of these Yu-Gi-Oh! cards for under $5, it’s the particular sets they come in and the actual quality of the card that make them so valuable. The rarest and most expensive Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are graded by PSA, a professional company that has assessed their condition and placed a numerical value on their quality.
11. United We Stand #EN001 (Remote Duel at Home 2020 promo)
A recent rare Yu-Gi-Oh! card that's strong, but few, in numbers
Sold for $6,500 in December 2020
The first card on this list is the one released most recently, which is unusual as rare and valuable Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are often older releases. In an effort to raise spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic, Konami launched the Remote Duel at Home promo, a promotional sweepstake in North America where 300 Secret Rare copies of the spell card United We Stand were handed to fortunate housebound duelists. In order to be eligible, duelists had to interact with either of the official Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Twitter or Instagram accounts, providing a photo of their remote duel setup along with the hashtag #YGORemoteDuel.
United We Stand #EN001 is an equip spell that boosts a monster’s attack and defence by 800 points for each monster that you control. This means that if you have all five monster zones used, you can potentially boost your monster’s attack by 4000, allowing you to bring down your opponent’s life points in one or two turns (both duelists start with 8000 life points). The choice of card is fittingly apt by Konami, as the whole world is united together in an effort to fight the global pandemic.
Show off how you are playing #YuGiOh at home for the chance to win an exclusive Secret Rare version of United We Stand with blue foil lettering! Use hashtag #YGORemoteDuel with a photo of your Dueling setup at home to enter. pic.twitter.com/sLqeHtip53— Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG (@YuGiOh_TCG) September 4, 2020
In light of the positive response, subsequent promos were launched such as the Yu-Gi-Oh! at Home Sweepstakes and the Palladium Oracle Mahad Sweepstakes. These gave out Secret Rares of the monsters Guardian Angel Joan and Palladium Oracle Mahad respectively.
A copy of United We Stand #EN001 (Remote Duel at Home) sold for $6,500 in December 2020, only three months after release. It was graded at Gem Mint 10, the highest quality a card can be awarded by PSA.
10. 2002 LOB Monster Reborn #118 (1st Edition)
A charmingly expensive Yu-Gi-Oh! card
Sold for $6,600 in May 2021
One of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s most valuable spell cards, Monster Reborn was first released as a Super Rare in the TCG’s first-ever set of booster packs - Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon (LOB) - in March 2002.
Monster Reborn allows you to special summon any available monster in either player’s graveyard, letting you potentially use your opponent’s strongest monster against them. This rare card is so mighty that it’s currently in the Limited section of the Forbidden and Limited Card List, meaning you can only carry one copy in your deck as opposed to the usual limit of three per card.
Something interesting to note is for the first three Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG sets, spell cards were known as magic cards, with some speculating a change to avoid potential legal troubles from Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: The Gathering. The English dubbing of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime referred to them as magic cards for their entire run, much longer than the TCG, with the change coming only after the release of the second anime series, Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, to Western audiences in 2005.
A PSA Gem Mint 10 2002 LOB Monster Reborn #118 sold on eBay for $6,600 in May 2021. It was a first edition card, making it part of the first batch of cards printed in the set. The code above the top right of the description box indicates it is card number 115 from the LOB set.
9. 2002 LOB Exodia the Forbidden One #124 (1st Edition)
Don’t tell him he’s on the list
Sold for $8,000 in November 2020
In Yu-Gi-Oh! lore Exodia was an immensely powerful beast that was split up into five distinct parts, each of them chained and sealed with magic, to prevent its power being unleashed upon the world.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, this works by having five distinct Exodia cards: Exodia the Forbidden One, Right Leg of the Forbidden One, Left Leg of the Forbidden One, Right Arm of the Forbidden One and Left Arm of the Forbidden One. If you successfully manage to have all five in your hand at the same time you win the duel automatically, regardless of how you are currently faring, as Yugi did against his arch-rival Seto Kaiba in the anime’s opening episode.
As with Monster Reborn, all five pieces of Exodia are Limited cards. The five were first released as Ultra Rares in LOB, making them very difficult to find at the time. This has resulted in well-maintained versions being extremely rare and expensive Yu-Gi-Oh! cards all selling for solid four-figure sums.
Nonetheless it is the head of the beast, the only effect monster Exodia the Forbidden One #124, that fetches the most, with a PSA Gem Mint 10 first-edition copy selling for $8,000 in November 2020. Of the other four cards (all normal monsters), curiously the left leg sells for the most, a lot more than the other limbs, with one selling in October 2020 for $6,621. Perhaps Exodia is a Messi-esque footballer in his free time, with his left peg significantly better than his right.
8. 2003 Magician's Force (MFC) Dark Magician Girl #000 (1st Edition)
An iconic Yu-Gi-Oh! monster that ranks as among its most popular - and valuable - cards
Sold for $9,100 in November 2020
One of Yugi’s most treasured cards, the Dark Magician Girl is adored by fans worldwide and equally highly valued. The level 6 card, which boasts a solid 2000 attack and 1700 defence points, significantly aided Yugi during her anime debut in episode 62 - the conclusion of a high-stakes three-episode duel which saw Yugi face off against a malevolent magician named Arkana.
The Dark Magician Girl was first released in the TCG as part of the North American-only set Magician’s Force (MFC) in October 2003, a 108-card set that focused on providing support to Spellcasters. The rest of the TCG world would have to wait until October 2005 to attempt to pull the rare Dark Magician Girl, where Magician’s Force was one of the booster packs in the compilation set Master Collection Volume 2.
The Dark Magician Girl is also notable for the censoring she had while making her move to the West from Japan, with many content edits in both the TCG and anime. This has resulted in several variants of the card artwork, but it is the original one (the one owned by Yugi in the anime) that sells for the most, with a PSA Gem Mint 10 first-edition 2003 MFC Dark Magician Girl #000 selling for $9,100 in November 2020.
7. 2002 LOB Red-Eyes B. Dragon #070 (1st Edition)
Your eyes will light up if you get hold on one of these
Sold for $10,600 in January 2021
One of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s original powerhouses, with its ferocious 2400 attack and 2000 defence points, the Red-Eyes Black Dragon became the fan-favourite of many because of its status as Joey Wheeler’s signature card.
Known as Katsuya Jonouchi in Japan, Joey is a lovable rascal who serves as Yugi’s best friend and primary aide in the anime, with their friendship even inspiring a card of its own. Sporting dirty blonde locks and a thick Brooklyn accent in the dub, Joey’s storyline sees him trying to win the prize money at the Duelist Kingdom tournament so he can pay for an operation to repair his ill sister’s eyesight. What’s not to love about that?
Joey’s popularity saw the release of Starter Deck Joey (SDJ) in 2003, which made Red-Eyes Black Dragon widely available as the opening card of the deck. However, the first release of this card was in Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon, where lucky pack owners would hope to pull it as one of the ten Ultra Rares in the set.
A flawless PSA Gem Mint 10 copy of the level 7 fire-breather sold for a dollar shy of $10,000 in October 2020, with another first-edition copy of 2002 LOB Red-Eyes B. Dragon #070 fetching over that amount in January 2021, so rest assured the extremely rare Yu-Gi-Oh! card is currently worth around five digits.
6. 2008 Shonen Jump Championship Series Doomcaliber Knight #EN006
Your bank balance is doomed
Sold for $15,300 in March 2021
After seeing the rapid rise of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, Shonen Jump (the English counterpart to Weekly Shonen Jump) decided to create the Shonen Jump Championships. The SJCs were a series of North American tournaments held between 2004 and 2010 with prize cards being distributed to worthy winners across the region. A total of seven different card types were handed out at 75 different tournaments. As only two or three cards were handed out at most tournaments, these particular Yu-Gi-Oh! cards (identifiable with an SJC code) are very rare and very expensive.
Doomcaliber Knight #EN006 was the sixth such card to be handed out, with only 68 copies being given away between March 2008’s Costa Mesa tournament and the Houston tournament in January 2009. It’s one of the best monsters you can normal summon immediately from your hand - something you can only do for level 1 to 4 monsters - as it has a fierce 1900 attack and 1800 defence points.
Doomcaliber Knight also has a neat quick effect (an effect that can be used on either player’s turn) that negates the effect of and destroys one of your opponent’s monsters.
A PSA Near-Mint 7 2008 Shonen Jump Championship Series Doomcaliber Knight #EN006 fetched a substantial five-figure sum at auction in March 2021, selling for over $15,000. We can only imagine what higher grades of this highly valuable Yu-Gi-Oh! card would be worth.
5. 2004 Shonen Jump Championship Series Cyber-Stein #SJC-EN001
A monstrously rare Yu-Gi-Oh! card
Sold for $30,100 in October 2020
Cyber-Stein was the first ever SJC prize card, handed out at the first batch of championships between December 2004 and July 2005. There were nine tournaments in total in this batch, the first being at GenCon SoCal (held at Anaheim, California on December 4th 2004), a short-lived regional version of the huge North American tabletop game convention Gen Con.
There were 18 copies released in total, with only two being given away per tournament; however an extra two copies were given out at the 2008 Costa Mesa SJC, as it was the 50th edition of the SJCs. One was embedded in a material called lucite (presumably for display) and approximately 126 copies were released at a February 2009 promotional event called Upper Deck Day. This means that there are only around 147 copies of this Cyber-Stein ever to be made, making it one of the rarest Yu-Gi-Oh! cards of all time.
Clearly inspired by Frankenstein’s monster, Cyber-Stein is a level 2 effect monster that allows you to special summon any fusion monster from your extra deck, providing you pay the hefty price of 5000 life points. Cyber-Stein’s ability is extremely valuable, as it gives easy access to strong fusion monsters with numerous powerful effects. It’s for this reason that it is currently Limited; like Monster Reborn, so you can only carry one copy in your deck.
A PSA Gem Mint 10 copy of the 2004 Shonen Jump Championship Series Cyber-Stein #SJC-EN001 sold in October 2020 for more than $30,000. Another copy sold the following month for a similar amount, indicating that the rare Yu-Gi-Oh! card is certainly worth a scary amount.
4. 2007 Shonen Jump Championship Series Crush Card Virus #EN004
This highly valuable Yu-Gi-Oh! card will crush your savings
Sold for $49,999 in June 2020
Crush Card Virus was the fourth SJC prize card handed out, with only 40 copies distributed at the ten championships between January and July 2007. Like Cyber-Stein, there were an extra two copies made for the 2008 Costa Mesa SJC and one for placing in lucite. A minimum of three were also accidentally released at a sneak preview event, so there are only around 46 copies of this particular form of Crush Card Virus.
The valuable Yu-Gi-Oh! card is a trap card that causes some confusion over its use, partly due to the fact that its description has been altered four times over the years. One of Seto Kaiba’s most destructive weapons, the basic principle is that you get to destroy your opponent’s high attack monsters that they control and in their hand. By looking through their hand, you also get the added bonus of planning for what their future strategy may be.
This card was on the Forbidden section of the Forbidden and Limited Card List for many years, meaning you couldn’t actually use it in official duels, but changes to the way it works made it much less overpowering, so you can now carry up to three in your deck.
Listings for this extremely rare Yu-Gi-Oh! card are scarce, but a PSA Gem Mint 10 Crush Card Virus #EN004 sold for a dollar shy of $50,000 in June 2020, one of only two sales ever recorded on the PSA website.
3. 2002 Legend of Blue Eyes Dark Magician (1st Edition)
The main man’s main card sells for an incredible sum
Sold for $85,000 in June 2021
Described as “the ultimate wizard in terms of attack and defence”, the Dark Magician is Yugi Mutou’s signature card. Boasting an impressive 2500 attack and 2100 defence points, the level 7 Spellcaster was one of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG’s original formidable forces - so it’s no wonder that a well looked-after version fetches a lump sum. Surprisingly though, it’s not Yugi’s Dark Magician that ranks as one of the most valuable Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.
The Dark Magician that claims that title is the red variant owned by Arkana, which debuted in episode 60, the start of Arkana’s duel with Yugi. Both duelists have Dark Magicians sent to the graveyard and revived throughout the duel, but eventually Yugi defeats Arkana’s Dark Magician using the effect of his Dark Magician Girl, which gains a 600 attack point boost as both duelists have a Dark Magician in the graveyard at the time. This overpowers a Dark Magician Arkana has on the field (he actually has three copies in his deck) and proves to be the key to Yugi winning the duel.
The red Dark Magician copy sold for an astonishing $85,000 in June 2021 was also a PSA Gem Mint 10 first-edition, which like Red-Eyes Black Dragon was an Ultra Rare in the LOB set.
Similar to Joey, Yugi’s classic purple Dark Magician was the opening card of Starter Deck Yugi (SDY), a readily-available deck released in March 2002. If you want a rare version of Yugi’s Dark Magician though, you’ll need to look for one from the Dark Duel Stories (DDS) promo. Dark Duel Stories is a Game Boy Color game (remember those!) that was the first Yu-Gi-Oh! game to be released outside of Japan, which like SDY was released in March 2002. Accompanying the international release was a set of six promotional cards - of which Dark Magician is one - with them all being very rare and very valuable Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. The six cards were all released as Prismatic Secret Rares, a unique rarity typically reserved for promo cards.
A PSA Gem Mint 10 Dark Magician from DDS sold in November 2020 for a dollar shy of $10,000. Pricey indeed.
2. 2002 LOB Blue-Eyes White Dragon (1st Edition)
A fan-favourite Yu-Gi-Oh! card that goes for an eye-watering amount
Sold for $85,100 in October 2020
Seto Kaiba’s signature card, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon gathered reverence as one of the strongest monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh! - if not the strongest - at the time of its first release. The level 8 behemoth has a fierce 3000 attack, the highest of normal monsters to date, along with 2500 defence points, ensuring its correct description as “a powerful engine of destruction” on the card itself. Kaiba uses this card frequently to the detriment of Yugi and other duelists, with the card’s popularity resulting in several support cards to aid its devastation over the years, as well as many different card arts.
Blue-Eyes White Dragon was evidently part of the Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon set, in which it was an Ultra Rare. A PSA Gem Mint 10 first-edition 2002 LOB Blue-Eyes White Dragon sold in October 2020 for a staggering amount, fetching north of $85,000. No wonder Yugi and friends were aghast when Kaiba tears Yugi’s grandfather’s one in half during the anime’s opening episode.
The LOB card art is not the one shown in the anime. That Blue-Eyes White Dragon was released in Starter Deck Kaiba (SDK) in March 2002 where, as you may have guessed, it was the first card of the deck.
As with the classic Dark Magician, classic Blue-Eyes White Dragon was also one of the six Prismatic Secret Rares given out with the Dark Duel Stories game. A PSA Gem Mint 10 copy from the DDS promo sold for a sizable $25,100 in February 2021, making it one of the most valuable Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards sold in recent years.
1. Tyler, the Great Warrior
A one-of-a-kind Yu-Gi-Oh! card for a real-life warrior
In 2002, a 14-year-old Yu-Gi-Oh! fan named Tyler Gressle was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. Upon hearing of his ongoing battle, the wonderful Make-A-Wish Foundation stepped in to grant him a wish. Gressle chose to create his own Yu-Gi-Oh! card, which was ultimately made possible after the charity put him in contact with 4Kids Entertainment. 4Kids, who handled the North American production of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime from 2000 to 2012, gave Gressle and his father a tour of their Yu-Gi-Oh! facility in New York City in August 2005, where they unveiled the very card that he created: Tyler, the Great Warrior.
The card is a level 8 Warrior type with a prodigious 3000 attack and 1500 defence points. Tyler, the Great Warrior is an official TCG card, with Gressle even being given his own TYL card set code. Its design is based on the character Future Trunks, a valiant swordsman from the Dragon Ball franchise, and the titular warrior appears to be fighting with shuriken stars in a colosseum. The card also has a great effect that applies effect damage to the opponent’s life points each time Tyler, the Great Warrior successfully destroys one of their monsters and sends it to the graveyard. This effect is the same as Elemental Hero Flame Wingman, one of the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX protagonist Jaden Yuki’s signature cards, with many wondering which card came first as both were created around the same time.
The most important thing here is Gressle survived his fight with cancer. Not much is known about the adult Gressle, but he was interviewed in 2015 by high end card collector Asianyensation, where it was confirmed via Instagram that Tyler still owned the card. We’re unsure if Tyler still owns the card today, but we hope he holds on to it, as a memento for his triumph in overcoming a difficult period in his life. Should Tyler Gressle seek to sell Tyler, the Great Warrior, the price is his to name, so its value is potentially limitless, making it the rarest and most valuable Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG card of all time.