Here's the story of why the seemingly basic Yu-Gi-Oh! card Pot of Greed reached memetic notoriety.
Nearly 15 years since the original run of the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, the series still finds itself embedded in the online sphere, especially through memes. One of the most popular memes involves Pot of Greed. The notorious phrase "But what does Pot of Greed do?" can be found across forums and comment sections whenever users are given the chance and often goes unexplained to confused onlookers. The meme originates from the anime, where whenever a card is used the duelist activating it describes its effect to avoid confusion. This is incredibly useful for reminding the audience what certain cards do and assuring that first time viewers can also keep up but can also lead to some humorous over explaining.
Pot of Greed has a very simple effect. It allows a player to draw two cards, making it one of the easiest to understand cards in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! However, in nearly every appearance of Pot of Greed in the anime, its activator explains to the audience what the card does. This over-explanation of such an underwhelming effect makes for some hilariously repetitive moments. YouTube videos chronicling every instance of Pot of Greed being used in the anime have helped spread the meme.
In the real-life trading card game, Pot of Greed is rather notorious for both its overuse and its status as an incredibly overpowered card. To newer players or simply those unfamiliar with Yu-Gi-Oh!, the simple ability doesn't seem to be all that impactful, but the effect is so strong that Pot of Greed has been banned for years with virtually no chance of ever being made legal again.
What makes the card such a powerful tool is the inherent card advantage it grants. If a player draws Pot of Greed on their first turn, it is the equivalent of starting the game with an extra card. Even beyond strong starts, the card allows for incredibly effective deck thinning at no cost. In a game like Yu-Gi-Oh! with incredibly optimized combo decks, the ability to get cards out of the deck and into the hand as quickly as possible cannot be understated.
The iconic status of the card has led to countless variations of the card, which have seen varied usage. One of the newest variations is Pot of Extravagance, which allows players to draw one or two cards but at the cost of cards from their Extra Deck being removed from play. Additionally, players cannot draw more cards after activating the effect. Pot of Desires is a draw two card with similar cost, which requires players to remove 10 of their Main Deck cards from play. Despite their extremely high activation costs, both cards see tons of use in competitive play, showing how important card advantage truly is.
While Pot of Greed will likely never see use again, its legacy has left a lasting impact on Yu-Gi-Oh! community. Its memory will live on through the countless memes and cards inspired by it.
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