Often when the imbalances of Yugioh are discussed, someone proposes a set rotation system, like in Magic the Gathering.  It would be an interesting experiment for a niche of player to organize amongst themselves, but should it become a format in Yugioh?

A set rotation means that only cards which have been released (or re-released) within a specific period of time can be used.  After 2 years, or whatever the set date is, you can’t use those cards.  Core sets tend to be released as a way for the player to attain the basic building block cards of the format and booster sets are used to build on that with new strategies and deck types.  If a card from 2002 is reprinted into a core set, you can use that card, but otherwise, no.  

Set rotations hurt accessibility.

In Yugioh, if you have a card in your hands, unless it’s on the specific list of cards you can’t use, you can use it.  Also, Yugioh has two formats (only 1 of them – Advanced – is sanctioned for tournaments).  Adding another format and telling a new player certain cards from certain sets can’t be used (to someone who doesn’t know the order of set releases) is immediately an accessibility barrier.

Set rotations help accessibiity.

On the other hand, Magic is probably more accessible because if you’re stating the game for the first time or returning to the game after a long hiatus, you only have to catch up on 4 sets – not 10 of them.  It makes things really simple if you have a life.  But some Yugioh players like having a card pool of thousands of cards.

Banning Cards

Since Yugioh has been using the same system for 15 years, it’s a much simpler fix to just ban the cards that are problematic rather than ban 95% of the cards.  Why ban cards that aren’t problematic, especially thousands of them.  Having a tight grip on which cards enter play can be a good thing too.  In MTG, card designers can make cards in the booster sets with the core set in mind, so the possibility of a long neglected card from 2004 messing things up once a player finds a deadly combo with it is.  Also with a more limited card pool, MTG has more freedom in card design choices ; there’s no need to scrap card ideas just because other cards were released. 

mtg mana symbols

The Main Consideration

They’re two fundamentally different games.  Magic uses 6 colors and combines them into dozens of different permutations.  You would only need a handful of multi-colored cards for each combination, and otherwise decks can share cards.  A Blue-Green deck can use both Blue Cards and Green Cards.  But a Lightsworn deck can really only use Lightsworn cards and some cards that benefit from milling. 

In Yugioh, support is limited to specific names.  Blackwings and Harpies are both Winged-Beast but they have way more name-support than Winged-Beast support. There are probably 100 different archetypes in Yugioh and there’s no way to include them in a core set.  Most archetypes would have to go, with exception to its more splashable members (like Blackwing Gale the Whirlwind).

As far as archetypes go, it would be easier to ban a broken card, or release a few more support cards to balance the archetypes than having to start from scratch.

Yugioh’s History

Yugioh originally placed great emphasis on these things.  Stat boosters like Sogen and so on, until people realized that the generic cards were more useful.  Archetypes had a very limited role in the original series.  Gravekeepers may have been the only one though.  But then the GX series made every character have their own theme to match their personality.  Oftentimes, they were novelty characters so concepts like Water Dragon had enough depth just to fill two episodes.  5D’s made Synchro’s to speed up the pace of the game and eventually strong archetypes popped up everywhere.  With so many archetype’s, it’s hard to have set rotations now.

I see some merit in a rotation format for Yugioh, but I wouldn’t want it to replace Advanced Format necessarily.