Earlier this week, a YouTuber by the handle "DeckFlare" crunched the numbers of the Top 5 competitive decks across the 10 most popular TCGs in 2023, including MTG, Yu-Gi-Oh! and many others, and came out with unbelievable results. DeckFlare, who states they wanted to do this research because they were noticing an increase in price in their main TCG, Vanguard, eventually came to the conclusion that, indeed, Pokémon TCG appears to be the cheapest option for competitive TCG players in 2023.
The research was made considering the top 5 competitive decks as of May 2nd of the ten different TCGs: Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Vanguard, Flesh & Blood, Dragonball, Battle Spirits Saga, One Piece, Digimon and Weiß Schwarz.
These five decks for each of these TCGs were then added together for a total cost, and then the duplicate cards' price across the decks was calculated and subtracted. The numbers ended up ranging from 2000 dollars total and 434 dollars average for the most expensive TCG, to 343 dollars total and 69 dollar average for the least expensive TCG after cutting the duplicates, namely, Flesh & Blood and Pokémon TCG, respectively.
For this research, DeckFlare had certain rules: they would consider only the minimum rarity cards and only one variation of decks per deck. They also stated in the video that they were considering the Standard format of these TCGs, and that the prices of the cards were taken out on May 2nd from TCGPlayer.
Magic: The Gathering
For Magic: The Gathering, the decks chosen were Grixis Midrange, Esper Legends, White Midrange, Red Wins and Rakdos Midrange. Once the duplicates were cut out, $677 was subtracted, adding up to a total of $1265 and a $253 average per deck.
The cards that most reduced the cost of the decks were Sheoldred, The Apocalypse and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, which were responsible for $600 of the subtracted cost. DeckFlare stated that the longer a player invests in Magic: The Gathering, the cheaper the cost gets.
Pokémon TCG's decks were Lost Box, Gardevoir, Lugia V, Mew and Control Box. Once the duplicates were cut out, $51 was subtracted, adding up to a total of $343 and a $69 average per deck.
The cards that reduced the cost of the decks were Forest Seal Stone, Nest Ball and Battle VIP Pass.
The decks for Yu-Gi-Oh! were Kashtira, Runick Naturia, Spright, Mathmech and Branded. Once the duplicates were cut out, $189 was subtracted, adding up to a total of $1800 and a $360 average per deck.
Duplicates included Infinite Impermanence, Zeus, Triple Tactis and Ash Blossom. DeckFlare noticed Kashtira is only the most expensive because it has very individually expensive cards.
Chronojet, Eva, Overlord, Youthberk and Minerva were the decks chosen for Vanguard. A total of $211 was reduced once duplicates were cut out, which resulted in a total of $2044 and a $409 average per deck.
Duplicates included Elementaria Sanctitude and Gratias Gradale.
Sao (Choice/door), Escanor, Quints (8Standby), HOL (2Soul/Bar) and TRV Dual Laners were the decks chosen for this TCG. There are no duplicates among these five, so the total cost is the one shown in the image, of $795 total and a $159 average per deck.
The top 5 decks to play One Piece competitively were, according to the video, Zoro, Captain Kid, Kin'emon, Whitebeard and Ivankov. After cutting out duplicates, $87 was subtracted and the total cost went to $528 with an average of $106 per deck.
DeckFlare noticed that the duplicates for this TCG were mainly inside their colors. Decks with the same colors are affected by the duplicates, but if these were decks with 5 different colors, there wouldn't be any duplicates.
The Top 5 decks were Beelzemon, Hunters, Red Hybrid, Wargreymon and ChaosDramon. There are no duplicates among these decks, so the total price added up to $520 with an average of $104 per deck.
Terrasaur, Purple Curse, White Control, Siegewurm and Purple Soul were the decks chosen as the Top 5. $599 was subtracted once the duplicates were cut out, adding up to a total of $511 with an average of $102 per deck.
All these 5 decks are running 4 copies of Absolute Ice Shield, which in total cuts the price down by $480.
Flesh & Blood
Oldhim, Iyslander, Briar, Dash and Lexi were the heroes considered the top 5 for Flesh & Blood. Once the duplicates were cut out, however, a whopping $1548 was subtracted. The total cost ended up at $2172 with an average of $434 per deck.
Fyendal's Spring Tunic, Command and Conquer and Enlightened Strike were the most expensive duplicates. Considering how Flesh & Blood has a limit to these types of cards in a deck, it made sense to have such a big difference.
The last TCG evaluated had the following top 5 decks: ss4 Goku+Vegeta, Gamma 1&2, Syn Shenron, Android 21 and Cumber. After cutting out duplicates, $247 was subtracted. The total cost ended up at $1647, with an average of $329 per deck.
This TCG has the same format as One Piece, in which the same color decks share the cards.
Final Standings without Cutting Duplicates
These were the final standings without considering the duplicates.
Final Standings after Cutting Duplicates
These were the final standings after cutting the duplicates.
Full Number Breakdown
Overall, it isn't much of a surprise that Pokémon TCG is severely less expensive than all others considered here, but this research remains a testament to how much cheaper it is. It is also pretty interesting to consider how some TCGs can have different systems which impact their economy, such as Flesh & Blood.
You can access the full video here:
What about you? Which TCG are you gonna play?