"The only thing intricate about this game is its ban list."
Yu-Gi-Oh (also written Yu-Gi-Oh!) is a CCG (or "Children's Card Game" in the popular Abridged Series) produced by Konami which is based off a shonen battle manga of the same name (literally meaning "King of Games" in Japanese). It can be surprisingly fun, and while confusing at first, it becomes second nature to most after just a few games.
While it does have some major rules problems thanks to idiotic rulings and decisions by Konami (i.e. missing the timing, semi hidden information going into hidden information zones, and an errata policy based mostly on what cards get reprinted), Yu-Gi-Oh is not as bad as some people have been led to believe; it has a quite interesting amount of game styles to choose from in the way you use the cards in your "deck" which is quite customizable.
...At least, unless you're playing in a tournament, in which case the majority of players will be playing 3 different deck styles max, because power creep 'n' seep is a bitch like that. The banlist has usually been the primary means of balance, meant to keep the best current playstyle(s) from overruning the meta for TOO long. In addition to outright banning cards that completely fuck the balance (ideally, anyway), other cards are limited so that the play styles that aren't completely gimped can still perform their strats reliably, without surgically excising chance from the game altogether like several older infamous combos, a few of which necessitated the creation of its Forbidden section.
Unlike most trading card games, Yu-Gi-Oh has no set rotation. This means you can play every card released in your region since the game started in 1999/2002 today if it isn't banned. While most of the useful cards from this era have been banned or power crept, cards like Dark Hole (released in Volume 1, the very first OCG product) can remain options. Further, old cards often get new cards as support that allows them to see continued use; this is especially true with many of the earliest iconic cards, like Volume 1's Dark Magician. A card need not be iconic to get support (though that makes it significantly more likely), and even really random old cards can get some attention. Supporting this is the lack of a Reserved List or policy that only allows reprinting good cards in expensive products ([ like Magic has), and Konami's ability to reprint any card (except Tyler the Great Warrior, a one off gift to a dying child, and a handful of Japan-only cross promotion cards that were just normal monsters or terrible gimmicks) at any time, even re-releasing promos to the generic public. Even entire sets can be reprinted at once, and while full on reprints of much older sets are primarily seen in Korea and certain facsimilie promos (that will likely never happen in the west due to the lawyer encouraged renaming of "Magic Card"s to "Spell Card"s) packs that combine two or more older sets have been released with some frequency.
The upside to this is that the card pool is huge, currently exceeding 10,000 cards, and can provide limitless combinations. The downside to this is that the card pool is huge, and those 10,000+ cards are impossible to keep track of and can combine with new cards in unexpected combos that destroy the game. One notorious example of this is Grinder Golem: Once a trash card that blew your summon to give yourself two weak tokens and your opponent a large beatstick, it got banned after Link Monsters came about and used it in multiple infinite or otherwise degenerate combos.
At first it was just played by a few groups of people over the world, but then it got a major increase in its player base after its anime dropped in the West. It is a relatively simple to play game that can keep you entertained for hours thanks to deck building and combo opportunities. It's an alright game for playing with friends, but the competitive scene for it is awful, partly due to the community being kinda shitty; while something of an understatement, it's to be expected from a long-running grog magnet, to say nothing of its various anime and some of the fans THOSE have attracted.
Mostly, though, it's due to Konami's usual practice of releasing new stuff, often in the form of 'structure' (i.e. preassembled) decks that generally fall into one of two categories: they're A) broken as shit, which sells more packs while potentially buttfucking the meta until the next banlist; or B) gimmicky as shit and thus utterly useless outside of select reprinted cards, even on a casual level (which was the case for many of the first ones released). In that regard, they're akin to good ol' Games Workshop - which, if you consider their reputation outside of this TCG, is being EXTREMELY generous. This has also given birth to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Meta Cycle:
- Did the company release a structure deck or set containing cards that are either new or powering up an old archetype?
- If yes, do said cards make a new deck which dominates the meta completely and warps the game?
- If yes, sit back and await a sudden update to the Limited/Forbidden list, and take a shot for each of those new cards that make it. Try not to die of alcohol poisoning.
- Enjoy the new format until new overpowered cards are released, which brings you back to step 1. Rinse and repeat.
- 1 How to Play
- 2 The Metaplot
- 3 Archetype
- 4 Formats and Ban Lists
- 5 Simulators
- 6 The Anime/Manga
- 7 TL;DR
How to Play
Yu-Gi-Oh is rather similar to Magic the Gathering in terms of play; in fact, it was introduced in the manga as a sort of Magic clone that was one of many featured games (it's even called Magic and Wizards), from which point its popularity took off and changed the manga's entire focus as the game was fleshed out and became something more relatively unique. You can guess how much a point of contention this is for the respective fanbases.
Each player starts with a 40-60 card deck plus a 0-15 card extra deck (both of these used to have no maximum, but someone actually took a 2000+ card deck to a tournament) and tries to take his opponent's 8000 life points down to 0. If you are playing a best 2 out of 3 match, you can also use a side deck of up to 10 cards. It also is possible to win by making the opponent run out of main deck cards, as they also lose if they must draw but have no cards left. There also are a small number of cards that allow you to win automatically by meeting a difficult condition, such as the Exodia cards, which make you win if you have all 5 of them in your hand, or Final Countdown, which makes you win in 20 turns. Players take turns to play creatures and spells, attack the opponent's creatures and deal with some of the most badass cards brought to play.
The number of cards you can have in play is currently limited as follows: you can have five monsters (and one which you summon from the extra deck!), five spells/traps and one field spell in play at the same time. If you have five monsters you cannot summon additional ones without sacrificing others; you also can't play spell/trap cards if you already have five of them active, but you can play a field card if you already have one (in which case, the former field gets destroyed).
Note that 8000 is a really fucking huge number of life points to keep track of: you might want to bring a notebook, calculator or app along to keep track of your life points. The manga and anime starts with 2000 instead (later 4000 due to power creep).
Notable compared other TCG's, Yu-Gi-Oh lacks a 'cost' mechanic the way Magic has with lands, Pokemon has energy, or Hearthstone has with mana. The limiting factor for powerful monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh are (generally) that they need other monsters to be 'spent' to bring them out, either on the field or with the aid of a spell card, you need to expend some monster to bring out a bigger one, and you can normally only normal summon once per turn.
The makeup of a card
The three basic types of cards in Yu-Gi-Oh are Monster, Spell and Trap.
These cards are your warriors who will do the fighting for you. Monsters have levels, which affects how you summon them. Monsters from level 1 to 4 can be summoned normally. Monsters of level 5 and 6 require you to sacrifice one of your monsters, 7 or higher require two sacrifices. Monsters also have Attributes (think the colors from Magic the Gathering, except there are seven, and they are less important), Monster Types (like creature type, there are 23, including fish, aqua and sea serpent), Attack and Defense (Strength and Toughness). There are eight types of them (or nine if you count tokens). The first four (or five) are from the early days of the game, with the latter four being added in 2008 and onwards:
- Normal - Coloured yellow. A straightforward card with no abilities. They used to be pretty common place as the "basic" units in the earliest stages of the game, but became increasingly rare with the rise of good Effect Monsters. Has received support cards at times, and modern ones typically have higher attack for their levels, but Effect Monsters remain the most commonly used. Note that monsters that do not have effects do not necessarily count as Normal Monsters, for example, a Fusion monster without an effect is a non-effect Fusion monster, not a Normal Fusion monster.
- Effect - Coloured orange unless they also belong to another class of monster. A monster that has a special ability. These are the most commonly used monsters. In the early days of the game the effect monsters were balanced by typically being weaker than normal monsters but eventually powerful effect monsters started showing up. It's almost a rule now that every monster must have an effect.
- Token: Colored grey. Token monsters are a special class of monster which are not kept in any of the decks and do not required that you even have the card to play them). Although most tokens that can be summoned do exist as cards, you can instead place any form of marker on the monster zone to represent it. Because of this, cards that have the ability to summon tokens will always tell you the token's properties. Tokens always count as normal monsters, even if the card that summoned them gives them effect-like properties. Tokens cannot be turned face down and are treated as ceasing to exist if they are removed from the field. Tokens cannot be used as overlays for summoning XYZ monsters, but they can be used to pay the cost for summoning other kinds of monsters, unless the card that summoned them puts a restriction on what they can be used for, and a few cards forbid using tokens to pay their costs. They also cannot be used to pay an effect cost if the effect specifically says to send the paid card to a specific place, since they can't exist off the field. For example, they can be used as a tribute to pay a cost, which would normally send the card to the graveyard, but they can't be used to pay a cost that specifically says to send the paid card to the graveyard. Because they do not exist as actual cards in the deck, it is possible to summon more than three copies of the same token. Most tokens are extremely weak, so their primary purpose is for stalling the opponent or for paying costs.
- Ritual - Coloured blue. A ritual monster is summoned using a ritual spell card and tributing monsters. They are placed in the main deck and cannot be summoned without a ritual spell. Usually has an effect, but not always.
- Fusion - Coloured violet. A fusion monster is one where you have to combine two or more cards in order to summon it. This combining is done by the special abilities of other cards, usually the spell card, Polymerization, though not always. Modern fusion monsters usually have effects, but rarely did early on. Since alternative extra deck monster types were created, the support they've gotten in the form of actually good fusion monsters and better Polymerization searchers and replacements has actually caused them to be more used than they originally were.
- Early Fusion Monster- In the early days of the game, nobody used them without cheating them out since, while high attack, they required at least three specific cards, generally bad/useless on their own, be in your hand/field simultaneously for what most of the time was just a normal monster with a high attack that still died to any removal and was generally still weaker than just giving Gemini Elf an axe (two cards that can be used without the other). Few still get some play because of Instant fusion giving you an easy material for another card and there are not many newer low-level Fusions, but otherwise the only one that sees any play is Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon because it's the best target for Fists of the Unrivaled Tenyi.
- Contact Fusion - A variation of Fusion that involves either sending the cards that make up the fusion material into the graveyard or the banishment zone, or shuffling them into the deck. Polymerization is not needed; this effect is inherent to the Contact Fusion monsters in question. This effect is commonly found on A-to-Z monsters, the Neos, Gladiator Beast and Ritual Beast archetypes, and a few other cards. This means that while the lack of dependency on Polymerization cards makes them easier to play, these cards require their tributes to be on the field instead of either on the field or in the player's hand.
- Transformation Summon - Limited to the Masked HERO archetype, Transformation Summons requires a tribute of one card in favor of another, more powerful one. This requires the play of a Change-type spell, of which there are three. Because all Change cards are Quick-Play, you can play them during the Battle Phase in order to avoid negative effects or targeted destruction by your opponent, as well as attack several times in a single turn.
- Synchros - Coloured white. They go in the fusion deck, now known as an extra deck, and are summoned by sending monsters with a total level equal to theirs to the graveyard, including one tuner monster. These quickly dominated the meta when they came out because of how easy they are to bring out with the number of cards that make it easy to bring the lower level monsters needed to summon them by time they were released and Konami made sure to make all the initial ones really good.
- Dark Synchros (anime and Tag Force video games only)- Used to summon Dark Synchro monsters. Instead of adding the values of the Tuner and the non-Tuner monsters together the level of the Tuner monster is subtracted from the level of the non-Tuner monster. This matters a lot more in the anime, where they are treated as their own card type. When the cards were adapted to the CCG the became just Synchro monsters that required specific materials.
- Double Tuning - The rare Synchro monsters that require two Tuner monsters to summon. There are only five of them in the game, three of which are variants of Hot Red Dragon Archfiend (which is also home to the only three tuner monster).
- Accel Synchro - Just like regular Synchro summoning, except all material cards have to be Synchro cards themselves.
- XYZ - Coloured black with streaking stars. Pronounced "Exceeds", and summoned by placing two or more cards of the same level on top of each other and can expend them to activate its effects. Instead of a level they have a rank that reflects the level of the monsters that must be "overlayed" to summon them from the extra deck. Like Synchros, these are largely the dominant force in competitive play with how easy it is to summon two monster of the same level.
- XYZ Evolution - XYZ Evolution monsters can be XYZ summoned as normal, but they can also use a single specific card as XYZ Material. This can be either from the effect of the XYZ monster itself or a Spell card often called "Rank-up Magic". Many XYZ Evolution monsters are either CXYZ or Number-C monsters.
- Pendulum - Coloured the same colour as the other monster type they are in their top half and green in their bottom half, with a transition between the two, to show how they're like a mix of monster and Spell. Thus you can have Normal Pendulum monsters, Effect Pendulum monsters, XYZ Pendulum, Fusion Pendulum, etc. There are currently no ritual pendulum monsters or link pendulum monsters in existence, though this may change in the future. These are monsters that can also be played as spells in the pendulum zones, and go to the extra deck when they're destroyed while on the field. With the release of Link monsters, the rules have changed to remove the Pendulum zones, so now they are played in the same zones as regular spells. They have a number called a scale, which is used when they are played as a spell card. They also allow you to summon a bunch of monsters in one turn, as long as the levels are between the scales of the two pendulum monsters you have in your pendulum zones. Newfags.
- Link - Coloured blue like Ritual monsters, but in another shade and with a hexagonal background. They have a link rating instead of a level or rank and have no DEF and can never be in defence position. They go in the extra deck, and are summoned by sending a number of monsters you control to the graveyard whose total Link Rating is equal to the summoned monster's Link Rating (monsters that do not have a link rating count as 1). They have Link markers that point to other monster zones, and you can summon other links monsters (formerly required for any extra deck monster) from the Extra Deck to the zones pointed at by the markers. Their effects often relate to the zones pointed to by the arrows. Newerfags.
On top of that, there are several secondary monster types that said monsters have on top of their normal type:
- Flip - When a Flip monster is attacked when it is face down or turned up by its controller or an effect, it triggers its own effect. Having the monster destroyed or exiled outside of being attacked, the effect does not trigger. Can trigger multiple times if an effect turns it face down.
- Gemini - A Gemini monster is played as a regular Normal monster. It can later (either a later turn or outright, depending on what other cards its controller plays) be summoned again as if it entered the field from a player's hand. When it is, it triggers its effect. And no, Gemini Elf is not a Gemini monster.
- Spirit - When a Spirit monster is summoned, it returns to its owner's hand from the field during the End Phase. This means that Spirit monsters have little staying power, and they cannot be Special Summoned.
- Toon - Toon monsters resemble existing monsters in the game in a cartoony style. They rely on the Toon World card, and they are frequently destroyed if Toon World is.
- Tuner - These monsters are mandatory if you want to run a Synchros deck. While it is tempting to make a deck of nothing but Tuner monsters to make sure you always have one, most Synchros monsters require at least one non-Tuner monster or a monster of a particular type instead.
- Union - Often weak on their own, Union monsters can equip themselves to another monster to grant said monster a special effect. If that monster were to be destroyed, its equipped Union monster is destroyed instead.
These cards are for support, augmenting monsters, giving you more cards or life points, stunning the opponent...etc, anything to give you an upper hand in the battle. They are coloured green. They have have six subtypes:
- Normal - A one-time use card that is discarded after its effect is completed
- Continuous - The effect persists, so long as the card is still in play
- Equip - Equipped on a monster card to augment their stats or give them special abilities
- Quick-Play - Like a normal spell, but can be played in response to other card or card effect activations. If they are set they can also be activated during the opponent's turn like a trap card..
- Ritual - A card which lets you sacrifice monsters whose total levels are a certain amount in order to bring forth the patron of the ritual, a ritual monster (see above).
- Field - Changes the attribute of the playing field, which can give certain monsters buffs or penalties (I.E: Water monsters benefit from Umi and Dark monsters benefit from Yami). It used to be that only 1 field spell may be active at a time, but later rules made it that each player may have their own field spell at the same time. Unlike other types of spell cards, you can place a field spell on the field even if your field spell zone is already occupied, which destroys the card in it.
Trap cards can't be played directly and have to be deployed in the face-down position. As their name implies; they're traps for your opponent, which can be triggered either by your decision or once your opponent meets certain conditions. Thanks to the animu's flair for the dramatic, you're required to say "YOU'VE ACTIVATED MY TRAP CARD!" in a loud and smug fashion when activating, while dramatically flipping your trap card. Verbally explaining the trap's effects in a dramatic fashion is optional. They are coloured pink. Trap Cards exist in three kinds:
- Normal - This sort of card can be used once and discarded after its effect is completed
- Continuous - This kind of trap persists so long as the card is still on the field.
- Counter Trap - A trap used to counter other cards; the only thing that can stop a counter trap is another counter trap. Also single-use like normal traps.
- Trap Monster - A trap card that has the ability to summon itself and become a monster. They may be treated as a normal monster or an effect monster depending on the text of the card. Most trap monsters are continuous traps and are treated as a monster and a trap at the same time while they are on the field, and take up two zones instead of one (a monster zone and a spell/trap zone). A few which may be called pseudo trap monsters are normal traps instead and are not treated as a trap at the same time when summoned as a monster and only take up one zone. This changed in the 2020 rules and now all trap monsters don't take up a trap card space when activated.
- The turn starts with a Begin of Turn phase where some things can happen depending on the cards in play, but most of the time this turn is just filler.
- The Draw Phase allows you to draw 1 card from your deck. Again, some abilities might be triggered in this phase, but it's not all that flashy.
- The Standby Phase the phase that happens between the Draw and Main Phase. Nothing really happens here, but some abilities use this as part of their trigger requirements.
- The First Main Phase is where it all happens: you can play 1 monster and as many magic/trap cards as you like. Monsters can either be Summoned or Set. Summoning means they are placed in a face-up upright position; this makes their Attack stat the number used in the combat phase. If a monster is set it is placed in a face-down position turned 90 degrees to the right; this makes their Defense stat the number used in combat. You can only summon one monster normally, although card effects may allow you to conduct a "special summon" which is basically the same except that they are almost always summoned face-up and they don't take up your normal summon
- The Battle Phase has four sub phases. Again it has a Start and End step in which some effects trigger, but most of the time they're just there to look pretty. The big part of this is the Battle and Damage steps: you choose one of your monsters and attack one of your opponent's monsters. You then compare your monster's Attack to the other monster's opposing stat. If it is in Attack Position you compare the two Attack scores: the monster with the lowest Attack is destroyed and its controller loses life equal to the difference in Attack. If the scores are equal both monsters are destroyed. If the monster is in Defense Position you compare your Attack to the other's Defense: if yours is lower or equal then you lose life (but not your monster) equal to the difference (obviously you can't lose zero life), if yours is higher the other monster is destroyed but the opponent does not lose life. If the scores are equal nothing happens. If you attack a face-down monster this way then it flips up: either to reveal a weak monster that your opponent put down to stall for time, an effect monster that does something beneficial when flipped or destroyed, or a large blocker that might deal you damage. All monsters you control may attack only once (Unless an effect says otherwise), one by one; you are allowed to attack the same monster several times.
- After this is the Second Main Phase, which is identical to the First Main Phase. You don't get another summon, so you can't usually summon unless you never summoned in your first main phase (generally done to avoid certain effects that can only be activated in the battle phase, or because you only got a monster in your hand after an effect in the battle phase), so it's mostly just used to set traps and quick play spells to use in your opponent's turn.
- Finally there is the End Phase where effects might be triggered and where you have to discard cards from your hand if your hand is over the current hand size cap of six to meet it.
Some sets of cards will depict the stories of recurring characters. Usually forming in the Duel Terminal Storyline but also shifting into other characters. the Metaplot of Yugioh while usually interesting is often ecstatic and while often interesting winds up being hard to compact without a Konami made meta-books. Particular ones include the story of Gagagigo setting from Dark Revelation all the way to Abyss Rising and Memory of the Adversary.
Archetypes are series of cards of a similar theme or kind, often with a series of related monsters. Through their interwoven and complementary mechanics a deck can become greater than the sum of its parts. There are dozens upon dozens of archetypes in the game, with many of them having their own sub-archetypes. Also, there is fluff of sorts for many of them, but this tends to have no real bearing on the game.
Archetypes were in the game since before the physical card game existed, with Toon and Harpy existing in the manga and anime before that and most duelist having themed decks even though the majority of their cards were ultimately generic. Despite that, it would take over five years, about the GX era, before making cards archetype centered really took off. Unfortunately, it would be even longer before Konami understood how to make archetypes actually work. Before the GX era proper, a few archetypes were released, but they were just sets of cards with some other cards of with abilities that worked with other cards of specific names (e.g., “Yellow Gadget” adds a “Green Gadget” to your hand, “Green Gadget” adds “Red Gadget” which adds “Yellow Gadget”) or a series of cards with related effects and names but no requirement to run them together (e.g., Early Monarchs all had “Monarch” in the name and effects that destroyed cards when they were tribute summoned, but no interactivity between each Monarch). GX brought with it archetypes like we have now, except Konami had no idea what they were doing and most early ones suffered from having no real synergy, lacking a consistent strategy, being horribly gimmicky, and/or being worse than the generic options (Two of the most prominent archetypes of the era, Neos and -roids are still considered some of the worst in the game despite disproportionately high support). Still, Konami eventually figured things out and archetypes are a well regarded part of the game.
Unlike a lot of other card games 'archtype' is often tied into the name of the card rather then some mechanical aspect of the card. As an example: Madolche Magileine is a member of the Madolche archtype due to it's name, but it's monster type is spellcaster effect and it's attribute is earth. This means that cards that affect Madolche, Spellcasters, effect monsters, and earth attribute monsters all can interact with Magileine. This design tendency has a couple advantages and draw backs. First it's easy to add support for a set of cards just by adding more cards the key off the name, which is what they have done with Dark Magician, Blues Eyes White dragon and Red Eyes Black Dragon. Additionally it also allows decks to splash multiple Archtypes together by using synergy for the things they have in common, such as type or attribute to help hold the deck together. But it also means that on occasion yugioh can run into the Scunthorpe problem and accidentally add support for a random card. For example this noticeable happened with the Ciper Archtype of monster which ended up giving support to a card known as Cipher Soldier, released almost a decade earlier. It also runs into issues with translations, as English (ect.) names that seem normal at the time can give a card the name of an archetype it’s not actually part of years later, which results in bits of rules one just has to know or get a reprinted version of the card with a new name or says it isn't an X card. Cipher Solider is another example because in it's initial release in english it was called "Kinetic solider", and when the Cipher archetype was released the english version of the card had to be Errata to be called "ciper soldier": and again Cipeher solider was an almost decade old card that was not even played when it was new. This also works in reverse, where cards that were linked in Japanese aren’t in English and it matters when their archetype gains cards or was created. Tons of early cards, like Summoned Skull, have デーモン/Daemon in them which was never translated in a consistent way before then, creating a big mess when it was turned into an archetype with at least 9 different cards needing to be errated to count as as Archfiends in english.
Some of the archetypes are:
- Ally of Justice - A series of cards that shut down LIGHT monsters and suck at absolutely everything else despite not being any good at fighting LIGHT monsters either. If you're wondering how why allies of justice hate light monsters, its because in lore they're robots built to fight invading aliens who happen to be LIGHT. Their only good card (to the point one can forget there is an archetype at all) is Ally of Justice - Catastor: An easily splashed Synchro monster that's a good toolbox option for removing any non-DARK monster that can be targeted for a battle.
- Arcana Force - A series of cards based on the Major Arcana of Tarot decks. Unfortunately, all of there coin flip effects that at best give you a meh monster at best and backfire horribly on you at worst. Many Years later Konomi surprisingly gave Arcana Force a card for searching coin flip cards. It didn't help the archetype as a whole but made the turn skipping shenanigans of The World, their best card, more consistent for gimmick decks.
- Blackwing - A bunch of birds focused on summoning a bunch of monsters quickly, then using them as synchro fuel or transferring their attack power of the member that can attack the opponent's life points directly. Was broken when it came out (and still can be) so it quickly became a tournament staple and actually resulted in executives forcing rewrites to the anime so that a minor recurring character who used it joined the main cast to promote it further. Even Tag Force, an official video game, openly calls it broken.
- Blue-Eyes - Based on the famous Blue-Eyes White Dragon used by Seto Kaiba in the first series, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon itself has the distinction of being the most powerful main deck Normal Monster in the game at 3000/2500. With its plentiful support a well-built Blue-Eyes deck can summon a bunch of monsters in one turn and lay a massive smackdown through regular monsters and powerful Rank-8 Xyz monsters and do it well enough to win high level tournaments. This archetype is very old, so it includes a lot of awesome but impractical cards such as "Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon". Its normally impractical ace monster "Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon", is and has been a popular monster to cheat out of the extra deck. With its light scales and disintegrating breath the Blue-Eyes is based on Bahamut from D&D.
- Burning Abyss - Taking its inspiration from the Inferno part of Dante's Divine Comedy, the Burning Abyss archetype is based around swarming the field, then summoning its Xyz, Synchro, Fusion and Ritual boss monsters. On their own the Burning Abyss monsters (called Malebranches) are not very strong: except for the boss monsters they are all Level 3 and top at 1700 ATK and 2000 DEF. On top of that, if you control a non-Burning Abyss monster all of them go to the graveyard, and if you don't have a spell or trap card on the field you can special summon them. The Malebranches have a variety of effects to help them not immediately crumble come your opponent's battle phase.
- PK-Fire: a powerful combo of Burning Abyss and Phantom Knights as they're both Level 3 centric archetypes that like sending their own cards to the GY.
- Phantom Knights: - often abbreviated to PK, Used by Yuto, the XYZ dimension's version of Yuya Sakaki from Arc-V. They Are made of level 3-4 Dark Warriors but have a weird tensing were the monster is called "The Phantom Knights". Thier effects often revolve around banishing themselves from the GY to summon themselves or other Knights with many of the Spell&Trap cards also having GY effects to summon them themselves as monsters. Newer support had tried to link them with Raid Raptors.
- Raidraptors: Used by Shun from Ark-V. Was clearly made to be the XYZ version of Blackwings. Mostly spamming level 4 Dark Winged beasts and ranking up their XYZ monsters with searchable Quick-play Rank-up Magic cards. Since the release of Waking the Dragon in 2018 their boss monster Raidraptor - Ultimate Falcon sees use in loads of random decks as an easy to bring out hard to remove beatstick.
- Chaos - Uses a lot of LIGHT and DARK monsters and revolves around banishing cards (like destroying them, but they will super duper never come back, totally, unless you play this or several other banish-based archetypes). Technically only an archetype because of one card which only works for Rituals, given the number of cards in Japanese that don't have the name of the archetype in English. Just UDE things. The Black Luster Solder monster, another of Yugi's favorites, is part of this. Home to a shit tonne of previously broken cards, including an upgraded version of Black Luster Soldier, and Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End, a broken card which blows up everything and is half the reason (with Yatagarasu being the other) Konami started banning cards instead of just limiting them to one and would still be OP today if it weren't errataed to death. Even the nerfed version of these two cards, Chaos Sorcerer, spent a decade on the ban list.
- Charmer - Cute elemental themed magical girls with partner monsters that focus on stealing your opponent's monsters of the correct attribute and using it to fuel effects. Unfortunately, while cute and a relatively early release, they were never very good at any point in the game's history due requiring your opponent be running a particular attribute and being exceptionally fragile even if you did correctly match them. The most notable thing about them aside from being cute girls is that several of their support cards can summon themselves directly from the main deck, being home to two thirds of the cards capable of doing that. A structure deck with some really powerful support has been released, but its only been sufficient to make them an OK archetype and not a great one.
- Cyber Dragon - The original Cyber Dragon is Power Creep: The Card, to the point that there's still a popular fan format, GOAT Format, which is "everything that came before Cyber Dragon" (though other cards from the same booster are also serious power creep, Cyber Dragon is the one on the cover that Cybernetic Revolution is named for). Being used by the only competent rival in GX, they've gotten enough of support through the years to play in any format since their release. Their first main strategy is quickly summoning the above Level 5 2100 ATK monster to the field (without Tributes) and then using the "Power Bond" card to create an 8000+ ATK Fusion Monster that runs over everything. In later formats they might try to create a Rank-5 Xyz Monster or a number of other tactics.
- Dark Magician - The signature monster of Yugi Muto from the original series. On its own, the Dark Magician is... not very good. 2500/2100 for a two-Tribute monster is middling, even back in the day. Summoned Skull provided the same ATK for only one Tribute, and for two Tributes you could instead get a Blue-Eyes White Dragon. To mitigate this the archetype includes a fair number of Monster/spell/trap cards to summon, support, and protect the Dark Magician. Once got a card called Dragun of Red-Eyes, shared with Red-Eyes with an effect so bonkers it was limited to one per deck before it was released in English.
- Magician Girl - A sub-archetype based around gaining power and summoning more Spellcaster-type monsters. The Dark Magician Girl is notable for being one of the most popular waifus of the game.
- Egyptian Gods - Giant God-Soldier of Obelisk, Sky Dragon of Osiris and Winged God-Dragon of Ra, aka Obelisk the Tormentor, Slifer the Sky Dragon and Winged Dragon of Ra. The only three monsters in the game with the Divine-Beast type, they are legendary monsters based around the Egyptian gods Ra, Osiris and... Obelisk. They all require THREE Tributes to summon normally but they are beefy: their summoning cannot be negated and no cards can be activated as a reaction to their summoning. Obelisk has a hefty 4000/4000, cannot be targeted by spells, traps or card effects (but can still be destroyed by non-targeted effects). By tributing 2 monsters Obelisk can destroy all monsters your opponent controls, but Obelisk cannot attack that turn. Slifer's has all monsters your opponent summons lose 2000 ATK (if they hit 0 they are destroyed), and Slifer's ATK and DEF are equal to the number of cards in your hand x1000. Ra starts out with 0 ATK/DEF, and by paying all but 100 of your LP Ra's ATK and DEF becomes equal to the paid. By paying 1000 LP you can destroy one monster on the field. It's obvious that these two abilities are difficult to use at the same time. While powerful they're difficult and risky to use. Suffers from how destruction effect heavy Yu-Gi-Oh is and how only one of them has any protection from it
- Elemental HERO - Used by Jaden Yuki from GX, the HERO monsters (based on superheroes) require extensive use of Fusion Summoning to get your good monsters on the field and attack with them. A serious source of skub because of the heavy reliance on summoning, the fact that they were used by the GX protagonist, that they were in every set of the GX era meaning that they clogged up booster space, and there were a LOT of them. Seriously: about two dozen in the main deck, over three dozen in the Extra Deck, and that's not even counting all their support cards and sub archetypes. On top of all that the HERO monsters are terrible, with only a few being worth running. Has some of the worst support cards in the game thanks to mediocre effects tied to overly obtuse activation requirements
- Destiny HERO - Like the Elemental HERO monsters, except 50% more British and 50% more edgy. Used by Aster Phoenix from GX.
- Evil HERO - As above, but less Britishness and with extra edge. Used by Jaden Yuki once he goes evil in the third season of GX.
- Masked HERO - Based on Kamen Rider, the Masked HERO cards use Transformation Fusion to turn Elemental HERO monsters into Masked HERO monsters, who have powerful effects. The three transformation cards are all Quick Play cards, allowing you to change your monsters mid-turn to attack over and over again.
- Exodia / Forbidden One - The most famous alternate win condition, Exodia comes in five pieces. If you have all pieces in your hand you win the duel. While on their own it's very unlikely to obtain all parts, when combined with a wide variety of draw and search engines you become able to draw just about your entire deck in one turn and obtain all the parts. This means that playing an Exodia deck automatically makes you That Guy, even in the eyes of other That Guys with their own That Guy decks. There are a number of monsters based on Exodia and are supported by him, but they're mostly even more difficult to use than regular Exodia. Its tendency to reduce matches to solitaire, even if not consistent enough to be competitive viable without an otherwise broken draw engine, would have gotten it banned over a decade ago if it weren't so highly iconic. Still, Exodia rarely sees competitive play due to the simple fact that anytime there's enough draw/search to make it good, there's some more consistent FTK options that require fewer, non-limited, cards.
- Gem-Knights - A gemstone-themed archetype of warriors who can combine to create more powerful beings in order to face more powerful opponents. And before you ask: the Gem-Knights came around just over three years before Steven Universe became a thing. The Gem-Knights are a bunch of honorable warriors who fight to protect the weak. They are very reliant on Fusion Monsters: of the 24 monsters in the archetype, there are 12 Normal, Effect, and Gemini monsters, 11 Fusion monsters and one Xyz monster. To aid in this they have access to six cards that allows Fusion for Gem-Knights in a variety of ways.
- Gishki - A revival of the long-neglected Ritual summoning method, they are built around finding both Ritual Monsters and the Gishki Aquamirror Ritual card, which allows them to summon all of their monsters. They are one of the archetypes featured in the Duel Terminal arcade machines, where they made their debut.
- Golden Castle of Stromburg - An unusual archetype with no shared names between the cards. Instead all of them reference Golden Castle of Stromburg in their text or target cards that reference it in their text. This field spell card requires you banish 10 cards each turn or destroy it, but protects you from battle damage while its up and lets you special summon monsters of its archetype from the deck.
- Gravekeeper - One of the oldest archetypes and one of the few that play up the Egyptian aspect of the game, Gravekeeper Monsters resemble Egyptians protecting tombs and those who rest in them. Some of the artwork resembles characters from ancient Egypt as depicted in the anime/manga. They heavily depend on the Necrovalley Field Spell, which shuts down just about anything having to do with the graveyard. Despite being able to mess over many other archetypes this way a well-placed negation or card destruction will leave them quite vulnerable.
- Harpie - The signature archetype of Mai Valentine from the original show, the Harpie monsters resemble, well, harpies. Attractive winged women who don't wear a lot of clothing, their archetype is built on swarming the field with monsters and beat the opponent down that way. Awkwardly predates modern archetype standards so cards have to change their name to "Harpie Lady" to benefit from older stuff and the archetype has been kinda sucky. Still, as the signature monsters of one of the major anime characters, it will keep getting support for forever and can be a decent deck. Not great, just decent.
- Ice Barrier - A shit archetype which spawned two broken cards that aren't even used in it. They have no well-defined strategy at all (the nearest they get is some passable walls) but they have Synchro Monsters (Brionac and Trishula) that can be used in other decks and have superb effects: Brionac allowed the player to repeatedly bounce their own cards back to the hand and reuse on-activation effects, which was so broken they had to issue an erratum, and Trishula removes 1 card each from the hand, field, and Graveyard when summoned. Memed by "Forcing Konami explains what Ice Barrier do", They had surprisingly won a Structure deck poll, even beating out the more popular Cyber Dragons. Second wave Ice Barrier, while not Spetecluarly powerful does elevate the archetype from a grab bag of cards to a proper deck with combos. Most Still have situation Stun effects but you can now make boards of them to hinder your opponent and then summon your strong synchros to attack for game.
- Jar - Just about the biggest middle finger you can play to your opponent, Jar monsters are weak (except for Pot of The Forbidden) monsters resembling jars with a grinning creature inside. They all have very powerful but annoying flip effects, from discarding your hand and drawing a new card to wiping the board followed by forced revealing of cards, playing some of them and putting the rest in the graveyard. These are all supremely annoying effects, and the most annoying ones are outright forbidden. Playing them automatically makes you That Guy on the same level of an Exodia player, except even Exodia players think you're being That Guy because Jars get rid of Exodia pieces so easily.
- Paleozoic - an archetype with all its main Deck monsters are normal Traps based on sea creatures from that era. Many cards have good effects to help deal with an opponent any turn or give you more card advantage. The defining Gimmick of the archetype is that they summon themselves as Level 2 Aqua Normal Monster that are unaffected by monster effects when another trap card is activated. Cards like "Canadia" are often slotted into decks that used traps as they provide removeal while giving a extra body.
- Jinzo - A small archetype dating back to the early days, Jinzo (short for the Japanese jinzoningen, which means cyborg) itself is a Lvl 6 2400/1500 Monster that stops the activation of and negates all Trap cards on the field. Given that Trap cards were a notable part of the game, Jinzo was quite feared back in the day for outright shutting down an entire type of card on top of being almost as strong as Summoned Skull's 2500 attack (the then gold standard for a one tribute monster). At one point it even was Limited to stave off its reign of terror, but in the modern day it is Unlimited because it is easier to get rid of, and traps are relatively rare. Jinzo spawned a few spinoffs that either shut down Trap cards as well or aid in summoning other Jinzo monsters. Jinzo was only a archetype in that their were anime people that played some Jinzo support cards for a long time until Konami gave a proper deck. A Situational play style of now Jinzo making card advantage if the enemy happened to play traps against a Jinzo deck, but still works better a side option that's rarely used. Jinzo became one of Joey Wheeler's signature monsters halfway into the Battle City arc of the original show.
- Kaiju - GOJIRA! Yes, of course Godzilla and Friends were adapted into the game. Their gimmick is twofold: you can summon one to your opponent's side of the field to make it easier to summon one of your own (because Kaiju do love to battle one another, and because this is done by tributing one of their pre-existing monsters), and their non-Monster cards generate Kaiju Counters which can be spent for a variety of potent effects. Their roster includes expies of Godizlla, Mothra, Gamera, Gigan, Kumonga, Ghidorah and Mecha Godzilla, and strangely enough Dark Lugiel from Ultraman as well. Of course none of this matters since people only play Gamera, the weakest in terms of attack, to get rid of the opponent's monsters easily. Opinions are sharply divided on if such a card is healthy for the game or not, debating on if it's a good way to avoid "unbreakable boards" of monsters immune to all other removal that plagued some prior formats.
- Kozmo - You know what's neat? The Wizard of Oz. You know what's also neat? Star Wars. So what happens when you slap those two together? You get the Kozmo archetype. Oh yes. Luke Skywalker is now a smokin' hot redhead, R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca are the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion, Ben Kenobi has been replaced by a rather attractive Good Witch of the North and even the Darth Vader and Darth Maul of the set (The Wicked Witches of the West and East respectively) are pretty. You'd think "Oh Japan" at this, but the archetype was actually created on the TCG side. The archetype consists of two kinds of cards: the "pilots" are used to summon the second type, the spaceships. Summoning the spaceships is as easy as banishing the pilot in order to get a spaceship on the field. In turn, a spaceship that's in the graveyard can be banished to summon a pilot from the deck. This means that it's ridiculously easy to get extremely powerful cards on the field, and aimed destruction is easily avoided. There was even a very easy one-turn kill available that lead to several Kozmo cards being Limited.
- Kuriboh - One of the contenders for the title of series mascot, Kuriboh are a series of Lvl 1 300/200 or lower monsters with a series of effects that involve negating your opponent's attacks. Yugi, Jaden and Yuma from the first, second and fourth series all have their own Kuribohs which saw frequent use. Because of their low stats Kurioh have great difficulty standing on their own, and require support from powerful monsters in order to win a duel instead of avoiding losing it. Despite the support, only one Kuriboh was ever used seriously and that was purely as an effect.
- Lightsworn - A bunch of light monsters that focus on sending their deck to the graveyard as a cost. With the number of cards that work in the graveyard nowadays and their already good effects, they're heavily splashable. Despite seeing solid play and support, they somehow wound up in a poll on what archetype should gain more support in 2020. The backlash was enough that they lost to an obscure archetype focused on the unpopular pendulum summoning mechanic in their first round.
- Monarch - A series of tall humanoids dressed in armor, the Monarch archetype consists of a series of six 2400/1000 Monsters supported by two 2800/1000 Monsters and upgraded versions of the core six, a series of Spell/Trap cards, weaker 800/1000 Monsters and a few other cards built around Tribute Summoning. When you successfully do so the Monarchs destroy or otherwise remove cards from your opponent's field, giving you the advantage. They can Tribute Summon at a relatively high speed and can even shut down your opponent's Extra Deck, but this is at the cost of many Monarch cards revolve about you either not using or having an empty Extra Deck on your own. They can be frighteningly effective and fast, filling their field while emptying their opponent's, and were a top deck in the final years before synchro (though that may have been largely due to heavy restrictions on other forms of removal during this era). Monarchs are a rather large archetype, with around 40 cards (but don't build a deck of 1 of each of these cards: it won't work very well). Exactly what they are monarchs of is unknown. Their ability to remove stuff from the field while generating a beatstick that only requires a monster tribute to fuel them makes the cards in the archetype without extra deck restrictions extremely splashable, especially in decks focused on special summoning.
- Nekroz - see "Gishki", but insert the words "broken" and "busted" as necessary between all the words. Technically not in Duel Terminal, though, but they were part of the follow-up to the Duel Terminal story that was being rolled out between 2014-17, to the point that their Ritual Monsters were corrupted versions of Duel Terminal story favorites.
- Neo - An archetype built around Elemental HERO Neos, Jaden Yuki's signature monster. The archetype revolves around using Contact Fusion involving Neos and a Neo-Spacian Monster to summon a better monster. These monsters are not spectacular on their own, and they're made even worse by the fact that they return to the Extra Deck at the end of the turn. This made an already iffy archetype drop even more in use. Its best monster, Neo-Spacian Grand Mole, has nothing to do with the archetype in the slightest but sees use because its ability to repeatedly bounce both itself and whatever it fights to the hand makes it really good at screwing over any deck that used anything more than their normal summon to bring a monster out (read: almost all of them).
- Number - Central to the plot of ZEXAL, the Numbers are Monsters whose names start with a number. While they are all Xyz monsters this is the only thing they have in common: their archetypes, attributes, types and effects are all widely different. Some of them are generic, while others work exclusively in certain archetypes. In the anima only they did also had a Number claws which they can only be destroyed in battle by another number.
- Odd-Eyes - The archetype used by Yuya Sakaki, the protagonist of ARC-V. The Odd-Eyes monsters are a group of dragons with heterochromia, giving them mismatched eye colors. The archetypes consists of a large number of high level, high power (7+, 2500+ ATK) dragons and their support cards, which includes the Magician archetype. A large number of them are Pendulum cards designed to summon a large number of them onto the field quickly. There are also several cards that are both Pendulum and another type: Fusion Pendulum, Synchro Pendulum and Xyz Pendulum.
- Supreme King - Near the end of ARC-V a new sub-archetype was introduced to reflect the series' villain: the Supreme King archetype. The main card of this archetype is Supreme King Z-ARC, a Fusion Pendulum monster that requires you to tribute 1 Fusion, 1 Synchro, 1 Xyz and 1 Pendulum dragon-typed monster. In return, you get a 4000/4000 beast that cannot be destroyed or targeted by your opponent and can Special Summon a Supreme King Dragon card from your (extra) deck if it destroys a monster. With the changes made to the game regarding Link Summoning, this archetype has become next to unusable.
- Spellbook - An odd archetype that has a single monster card (not that central and also a member of an otherwise unrelated archetype as well), and is entirely (bar one trap) spell card-based. They focus on tutoring other cards of the archetype out and supporting Spellcaster monsters but are prevented from spamming them by only allowing one of each card name to be activated per turn. Due to their ability to thin the deck and support monsters they don't have, they are typically combined with other archetypes. Had Spellbook of Judgement, which led to one of the most broken decks of all time that only avoided dominating the game because the equally broken Dragon Rulers were around at the same time.
- Twins - Kisikil and Lilla are the V-Tuber duo known as Live☆Twin by day, and the jewel thieves Evil★Twins by night. They swarm the Live☆Twins to use them as tribute/link material to bring out the Evil★Twins series, which destroy the opponent's field on summon.
- Ojama - Named after the Japanese phrase Ojamashimasu ("pardon me for interrupting"), the Ojamas resemble small ugly imps in tiny speedos. Oh you, Japan. They are the main archetype used by Chazz Princeton, one of the main characters of GX, and the spirit of Ojama Yellow acts as Chazz' sidekick in the show. Standing at a weak 0/1000 each, the core Ojama monsters are not very tough. Instead, they rely on a mix of spell and trap cards to clog up the opponent's side of the board with tokens that they cannot tribute and stall the battle, allowing for the summoning of the Ojama King and using their field spell to switch around the ATK and DEF of all Ojama monsters, followed by either a wipe of the opponent's side of the board or destroying all other Ojamas on the field to make the Ojama King unreasonably buff. A gimmicky and not very powerful archetype by it self that's fun to play but annoying to play against. Later on to synergies with Chazz's other cards, Ojama also becomes an engine to spit out ABCXYZ and Armed Dragon monsters.
- Performapal/Performage - One of the most broken archetypes of its time and a contender for the most powerful deck of the game pre-nerf, Performapal and Performage are based on circus animals and circus performers respectively. The former is the other archetype of ARC-V's Yuya Sakaki, who uses the circus animals for his signature Entertainment Dueling style. Both archetypes are based on Pendulum Summoning and shenanigans in the battle phase that break the game so utterly, Konami was forced to employ the second emergency ban list in the game's history. Even then it remained powerful enough to remain a meta staple until the power creep set in. It's safe to say that a lot of people did not like them a lot, with the cartoony art being the least of their complaints.
- Red-Eyes - The Red-Eyes Black Dragon (Red-Eyes B. Dragon because they wanted to avoid the association with black magic) is one of the game's most famous cards and the signature card of Duelist Kingdom's Joey Wheeler. On its own the Red-Eyes is not very impressive: 2400/2000 at level 7 is just not worth it, even with its good attribute and type: outclassed by the Dark Magician and the Summoned Skull alike it's just not up to par. What it makes up with however is its support and mind-boggling versatility: Gemini, Burn, Pendulum, Toolbox and more are all options for the archetype. This means that the archetype is capable of a great many things, but herein lies the trap: an improperly built deck will only get in its own way. A good Red-Eyes deck is the result of a great degree of finetuning to make a specialized deck. The archetype is also lacking in defensive measures and doesn't have a large number of good trap cards to support it, so a powerful opponent will simply steamroll a Red-Eyes deck. Shares broken Dragun of Red-Eyes with Dark Magician, and Red-Eyes Fusion as support made it even crazier.
- Six Samurai - An unimpressive archetype that focused on shifting what monster was destroyed by battle with a bit of swarming.
- Legendary Six Samurai - A much better archetype that focuses primarily on swarming and deck searching to fuel that summon. This surplus of monsters on the field is then used to summon their quite good boss monster, and supporting it with tribute monsters (they're also good at summoning utility synchro monsters from outside the tribe). Since it so heavily focuses on a single card it's very vulnerable to limited list changes and Master Rules 4.
- roid - Cars with faces. A deck that sucks, played in GX by a character who sucks. Make a typical anima fusion Archetype were the game plan was to make random weak pack filler that only wins because of plot. Sometimes called "Vehicroids" so as not to be confused with...
- Speedroid - These are technically roids, but they look completely different and have a completely different strategy. This gave them a headache when it came to attempting to making Vehicroids not garbage, as they had to support them in a way that didn't help Speedroids. Their strategy somehow managed to hurt the Vehicroid deck. But hey, it's Konami. Speedroids are wind monsters based on toys that want to synchro-spam.
- SPYRAL - A TCG-only set that's two parts James Bond, one part Metal Gear and a nod at the Spyral agency from DC Comics. The archetype revolves around getting its core monster, SPYRAL Super Agent (or one of the many, many, cards counted as it on the field), onto the table followed by using a set of support cards to keep it on the field. It also involves looking frequently at your opponent's hand (which fits with the spy theme) to trigger effects. This means that the SPYRAL archetype suffers from a few weaknesses that, if exploited, can utterly shut it down. While it saw play with relative frequency, it was never that popular till years of support eventually built up and it suddenly became a tier 0 (65%+ of tournament placements used it) strategy in 2017.
- Shaddol - A menace of its time being a fusion archetype basted around of all things, strong flip monsters that came straight from the dual terminal. The Flip effects were just icing during a time when set a monster and pass was still a viable move. The real threat was how much card advantage they generated by the absurdly broad stipulation that they had to be sent to the GY by card effect. Not just by fusion summing, not just by your opponent, not just by Destruction, not just sent from the hand. If you had a card that discarded, dump, or milled, you got card advantage. Being such splashable and powerful made it tier-zero for a time until the banhammer came. By a fan pull, Shaddols did make a return years later with a structure deck, new card, and with all the old ones unbanned, but the meta had evolved past Shaddol's shinagins.
- Red Dragon Archfiend/Resonator - The deck of the Main Rival and teammate Jack Atlas. Is an inverse to Yusa's Defensive Stardust Dragon, with a focus on offensive and pressuring the opponent. Keeping up the reflection of Stardust, Red Dragon Archfiend has several evolutions, with the higher level taking the approach of using multiple tuner monsters instead of a Synchro Tuner monster. The Resonator Tuners facilitates that Red Dragon Archfiend gets out first turn.
- Watt - A seemingly random (their Japanese names all start with キ/ki, but this is impossible to convey in English) series of animals with electrical parts on them. They focus on attacking directly and inflicting additional pain on the opponent for doing so successfully. Unfortunately, the most relevance they ever got was one of the video games had them used by the default partner, a game only character that’s prime waifu fodder.
- World Legacy - An archetype notable not for its game effects, but because of how (alongside World Chalice, Krawler, Mekk-Knight, Knightmare, and Orcust), it's art and names tell a surprisingly complex story that could have been its own vidya. How complex? The official Master-Guide series takes multiple pages across tens of pages each in multiple installments to cover it (and the latest additions post-date the newest so it doesn't fully cover it). There are multiple videos (even in Japanese) that need an hour to tell the whole thing, and even the ultra condensed version takes several minutes.
- Orcust - Konami is also compiled to create at least one tier zero archetype whenever they do their long-running stories. A Link Deck of dark machines monster made of orchestra instruments. The deck locks you into Dark monster for the rest of the turn but gives you card advantage by banishing them from GY, then have your link monsters Recycle them to get you your powerful counter-trap, then use that link monster to immediately go into Dingirsu to pop and protect your field. Given Splashablity with an already well-supported machine and Dark cards, easy to dump for effects, and easy to loop for card advantage, you have a tier zero deck until power creep rased the totem pole.
- Photon/Galaxy/Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon - Used by Kite, one of the main Rivals in ZEXEL. The deck consists of Light monsters with specifically 2000 ATK so you can tribute them to summon his ace dragon. Outside some anime Number monster gimmicks, his deck is based around XYZ summoning Rank 4 and 8 monsters, which is a ready strong pool of Toolbox monsters. In his Arc-V version, he also added Galaxy-Eyes Cipher Dragon with a gimmick of stealing monsters to make a copy of itself. Add in that some XYZ Galaxy-Eyes monsters can rank up on top of other Galaxy-Eyes, now you have Rank climbing shenanigans.
- Dogmatika/Fallen of Albaz - Konami's next long-running storyline set in an inter-dimensional junkyard desert, about the forbidden love between a nun from the church that hates the extra deck and a dragon boy that fell from the sky that's a polymerization on legs. Dogmatika is an interesting deck for its time as the pool of cards that what to be directly dumped from the extra deck to the GY so to activate their effects is ever increasing. Throwing way Elder Entity N'tss, Fossil monsters, or one of Albaz's fusion forms grant greater card advantage than summoning them.
Non-Archetype Deck Themes
Notable deck themes that aren't based on card archetypes. Most of these are either based on the effects of a particular card (which can quickly be killed by banlist changes), interactions between two specific cards, or Type based tribal (which has been supported since before there was a real card game in the original manga).
- Burn: Do direct damage to the opponent's life points and stall till they die instead of trying to smash them with monsters. Some archetypes support this (Konami threw minor burn effects in entirely random archetypes a lot during the GX era) but burn decks without an archetype are common.
- Nurse Burn: Both Darklord Nurse Reficule and Bad Reaction to Simochi have an effect where anytime the opponent would gain life, they lose it instead. Nurse Burn decks combine this with effects that give your opponents life points, something that is pretty easy since it's often included on otherwise good cards as a drawback, or on apparent joke cards that do nothing but give your opponent a bunch of life points.
- Cyber-Stein: Cyber-Stein was an earlyish card that allowed special summoning nearly any fusion monster without polymerization or the materials at the low cost of 5000 life points. This was really good, since a good fusion monster on its own could deal almost that much damage in one turn while Megamorph would boost that attack enough for a OTK (and later it had a lot of toolbox options it could choose on demand). While a common card in Japan and a guaranteed inclusion in the Kaiba starter deck (alongside the best abuser, Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon), for some bizarre reason it wasn't released in the west for years till it was given out as a tournament prize card. It was later released as a rare card, just in time to cause the tournament finale to end in three turns and promptly get it on the next ban list. It's merely limited today, but power creep, only working on fusion monsters, and more counters has rendered it less useful.
- Dinosaur: Holy fucking shit, it's a dinosaur, Jesus Christ, what the fuuuuck. A whole lot of Dinosaur monsters slapped together to form a deck, supported by spells/traps. These are dinosaurs that do not fit into any of the existing archetypes, so they band together to form a large toolbox with many different ways to essentially do the same thing: rush and beat down your opponent.
- Dragon: With age and popularity, Dragon has a lot of strong cards that spam these beat sticks. Although many were intended to support a particular archetype, they are usually generic enough to be used with any dragon card.
- Empty Jar: Morphing Jar is a card that forces both players to discard their entire hand and draw 5 cards when it's flipped. Since you were constantly getting new cards it was quite easy to repeatedly flip and unflip Morphing Jar with these cards to rapidly to deck out your opponent just by having slightly more cards in your deck and some ways to return cards from the graveyard to the deck. Since this could win the game on the first turn, the combo components have repeatedly been subjected to the banlist. Still possible today with Morphing Jar (currently limited to one per deck) being easily searched, but hand traps can easily disrupt it and it's non-trivial to recover if disrupted.
- Final Countdown: The card Final Countdown gives its user a win 20 turns (opponent's turns included) after its activation. Final Countdown decks focus on getting that spell out and stalling till they win.
- Goat Control: The card Scapegoat loads your field with level 1 token with zero attack and defense that can block attack. The card Metamorphosis lets you turn a monster on your field into a Fusion Monster of the same level. Thousand-Eyes Restrict is a level 1 Fusion monster that's really hard to bring out normally (requiring a useless monster, a hard to bring out ritual monster, and Polymerization) with a powerful effect of absorbing one of your opponent's monsters and gaining their attack and defense. After combining those three elements, the deck focuses on flipping TER upside-down then up again to destroy the stolen monster and let it absorb another before crushing the enemy. The signature and namesake deck of the "GOAT Format", a format consisting of everything in the TCG prior to Cybernetic Revolution's release on August 17, 2005 that is still played regularly today. Nowadays while Metamorphosis has been banned for over a decade, TER is unlimited (after spending forever banned) and a valid target for Instant Fusion, though changes to the game since its been gone mean its merely an option instead of a central focus.
- Gren Maju: Gren Maju Da Eiza is a card with a really simple, and really good, effect that grants it a bunch of attack for every banished card. At first it was just an unofficial member of the Golden Castle of Stromberg cards, but when Konami decided to print a bunch of cards that banished cards from your deck as a cost people started making entire decks around it (though it still overlaps with Golden Castle decks).
- Normal Monster: Once Konami realized Normal Monsters no longer really had a point, they started releasing a bunch of for support them. This is a deck type that focuses on the support that would be powerful if it wasn't designed for such bad monsters. Support was never enough to make it that great a deck type, but it has its fans. The support for swarming normal monsters saw use once link monsters were a thing, but that was always just an engine to special summon effect monsters.
- Synchro Spam and XYZ Spam: Decks focused around summoning a bunch of monsters in one turn into order to use them to bring out powerful extra deck monsters. Typically paired with more swarm friendly archetypes, but can be run on its own (in-fact, such an archetypeless swarm deck is the starter deck for Tag Force Special, which is by far the best starting deck in any video game in the series).
- R4NK: A deck focused on level 4 monsters that quickly bring out Rank 4 XYZ monsters quickly. Since almost all level 4 monsters can be normal summoned, they've traditionally been easy to special summon compared to higher levels.
- Rank 10: In contrast to Rank 4, Rank 10 monsters are supposed to be harder to bring out and are accordingly more powerful than their rank 4 counterparts. In practice, level 10 has enough easy to special summon monsters (and the aid of level changers) it's not all that hard to use a Rank 10 engine. A subtype, "trains" is in the weird position of having a series of thematically and mechanically related cards with a relatively prominent user in the anime but not having any common name and not being a true archetype as a result.
- Zombie: Focuses on the excellent support the Zombie type has received. One of their big things is graveyard revival, often letting you pull out monsters who are normally hard to summon properly.
Formats and Ban Lists
Yu-Gi-Oh has a strange relationship with what cards are legal or not. Unlike the two other big card games, Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering Yu-Gi-Oh does not have a "standard" format that says "all cards in sets X, Y and Z can be played and the rest cannot". This means that every single card, printed from Legend of the Blue Eyes White Dragon to the latest set can be used in a deck, as long as they're not on the ban lists. This means that in effect there are several thousand cards legal to use in your deck, with only a fraction being limited and only a handful being outright banned. Cards have four levels of legality, determining how many you can have of any one card in your Main, Extra and Side Decks:
- Unlimited: 3
- Semi-Limited: 2
- Limited: 1
- Forbidden: 0
There are also Illegal cards: cards that were never intended to see use in official duels or tournaments. These are often promotional materials, with the vast majority of them having conditions that allows their player to win the match. Not the duel: the best-out-of-three match. This is less useful than it sounds because the opponent can forfeit before the effect goes off. The remaining ones are cards based on the anime, one being a promotional card handed out during the World Championship of 2007 that is quite useful in the right kind of deck, and the last three remaining cards being the unofficial versions of the three Egyptian Gods. There's also one special version of The Seal of Orichalcos with all the anime powers, including the "The soul of whichever Duelist loses this Duel is forfeit to the winner" part, intact. It was an internal novelty for Upper Deck Entertainment employees when they were distributor.
Exactly which cards are of what legality is determined by the region you're in. Yu-Gi-Oh has two regions where the game has different names: the Official Card Game and the Trading Card Game, shortened to OCG and TCG respectively. The OCG is played in Asia while the TCG is played in the rest of the world. Both regions have their own ban lists, some exclusive cards on either side, and (at times) different rulings, meaning that a deck that is played in one region might not work as well or is perhaps not even legal in the other. This separation stems from the card backings being different, and Konami farming the western release out to Upper Deck Entertainment for its early history. Originally the two were fairly similar, just with a delay on cards being released for the western game (with many promo cards in particular not showing up for half a decade!). After a decade of near identical ban-lists (there's less than a dozen differences in OCG/TCG bans before this), the two diverged a good deal in 2012, largely because Shock Master was completely broken, but a valuable promo card in the OCG and merely rare in the TCG, resulting in Konami of Japan stalled its banning for the rest of the world.
This is even further complicated that while the OCG has only one format, the TCG has two: Advanced and Traditional. The difference between the two is akin to the difference between Legacy and Vintage: Advanced restricts more cards to create a more balanced experience and has quite a few cards that are illegal in the format. Traditional is a friendlier kind of game: all Forbidden cards are Limited. If you want to use Illegal cards then you need your opponent's permission first due to the amount of cheese found in the banlist. Advanced is the format used in official tournaments and events, making it akin to Standard. In other words, Traditional and no banlist at all are for fun games with friends, and Advanced is for more serious games.
Beyond the "standard" tournament rules, Konami has also recently introduced the Generation Duel format, where players pick a Forbidden and Limited list for their decks from a set corresponding to the cards that were new when the various cartoons were released. This is the closest Yu-Gi-Oh comes to having an explicit list of legal cards, as every Generation Duel banlist has entries that ban card types that weren't extant when that list's cartoon was airing, and some ban all effect monsters that don't have a list entry. This never really took off due to Konami adding various unnecessary shit that detracted from the entire point.
GOAT Format (Named for both "Greatest of All Time" and the prominence of Scapegoat in it) is the the TCG as it was prior to the release of Cybernetic Revolution in 2005. This demarcation point is chosen because of that expansion's power creep and being closely followed by an extensive banlist change. This period has been immortalized due to the period boasting heavy competition, having a surprisingly diverse number of decks, and representing a much earlier era of the game that played significantly differently from the modern one. The revival is not officially supported by Konami, but it remains the most played historical format (unless one counts video games)
Master Rules 4
"If you look at Firewall Dragon’s effect and see nothing wrong you’re either mentally deficient, or a very money hungry company[...] the first wave of Cyberse and Link Monsters was like witnessing 20 different FTK engines suddenly spawning into existence with no foresight by the developers whatsoever."
- – Rank10YGO
Introduced in 2017, Master Rules 4 (or "New Master Rules") made big changes to the game. The most obvious being the introduction of Link Monsters and there's an extra monster zone for extra deck monsters (which you can only have one of without work). This change would be widely despised due to its massive balance problems: Every existing deck type was screwed massively and needed to buy new link monsters to even have a remote chance of working except the ones that were already OP as shit anyways. Several early Link Monsters were stupidly broken, with anime ace monster Firewall Dragon alone getting half a dozen other cards banned, while most other Link Monsters were total garbage except for their arrows, a stark contrast with early Synchros offering plenty of good and generic options. Link Monsters lacking face down position, defense position or levels made a lot of older cards that changed cards to those positions or did things based on level completely and utterly useless. High level Yu-Gi-Oh already was heavy into board wipes where monsters never really fought each other that much, and MR4 made it far worse since link monsters were all about summoning a bunch of monsters in one turn and sacking them for OP shit before your opponent could really do anything to counter it. Problems were further compounded by Konami taking years to support a lot of "lesser" archetypes or generic support (The Attribute Booster Link Monster cycle is frequently highlighted here for Missus Radiant being decent generic support among the first set of Link Monsters but Konami taking a full year to provide a version for every other attribute, even though its predecessors were all within a single booster). So widely despised was MR4 that MR3 was still widely played on unofficial simulators.
Master Rules 5
In December of 2019 it was announced they'd finally be ending MR4 after years of that shit. Starting April 1st 2020 (with unofficial simulators moving over almost entirely as soon as it was announced), "Master Rules (April 1st 2020 Revision)", which everyone will just call Master Rules 5, were implemented. Now Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz monsters may be placed in either the Main Monster Zones or in the Extra Monster Zone, while Link Monsters and Pendulum Summoning from the Extra Deck are still dependent on summoning in either the Extra Monster Zone or link arrows pointing to their Main Monster Zones. Also a bunch of other minor rules changes, mostly just clearing up a bunch of crap.
Master Rules 5 unfortunately coincided with the outbreak of the [Wikipedia:Coronavirus_disease_2019|Nurgle's latest blessing]. See, Konami bases banlist changes largely on tournament results and utterly refuses to acknowledge simulator play, so with most tournaments being canceled Konami had nothing to base a new banlist on. As a result the June 2020 TCG banlist (which set Altergeist Multifaker, Nekroz of Unicore, and Ritual Beast Ulti-Cannahawk from Limited to Unlimited while doing nothing else) was the smallest change to the banlist in TCG history, and is tied in size only with the very first OCG banlist (which put Dark Hole, Raigeki and Trap Hole to Limited). This wouldn’t be too bad if this didn’t leave the TCG stuck in a fairly degenerate format for five months. Even the September 2020 banlist did the bare minimum in banning 3 problem cards and reducing restrictions on cards that had been unrestricted on the OCG side for years.
Speed Duel was an alternate ruleset in the game for years that was primarily used for spin-off video games (Duel Terminal, Saikyo Card Battle and Duel Links) and has lower starting LP/hand size/deck minimum, only three slots each for monsters and spell/traps, no extra monster zone (though this is at least in part due to predating that rule), and no Main Phase 2. The one unique thing about this format is that in the most recent incarnations each player has a skill card that is always activate-able if the conditions are met. One odd consequence of the lower deck size is that mill decks are actually quite good, and some cards that are absolutely horrible in the normal game (because they give your opponent free cards) are actually used since you need to mill less than 16 cards to win. Likewise, the smaller field means giving your opponent cards they can't get rid of to block them from putting something useful on the field is also viable.
There's several variants of this format with their own card pools.
The most prominent is Duel Links, Konami's gotchapon mobile game adapation of the franchise. The card pool for this is fairly eccentric, containing reprints of OG anime era cards, some synchro era stuff, some new cards that are weaker in the normal game, and a few anime cards that don't exist in the real world. These cards are selected to make a format based on moderately hard to bring out beatsticks instead of getting into crazy chains to wipe the opponent's field while summoning a bunch of monsters in one turn.
The reason this is getting a section is that in 2019 it was used for a soft reboot of the game in the west. Taking the skill cards from Duel Links with a completely different card pool that only allows cards printed with a Speed Duel watermark (these cards are also legal in normal TCG matches), though the core rules haven't really changed so casual matches with the full TCG card pool are possible. There's actually a few physical cards that have exclusively been released for this format, but they're just really old normal monsters that were never released physically in the west before because they were terrible (though they have shown up in video games). In 2020 Konami used it to make a quasi Living Card Game with the Speed Duel Box.
Another alternate ruleset, similar to Speed Duels in that there are only 3 spell/trap slots and no Main Phase 2, but extra monster zone. In addition to being only able to use Rush Duel specific cards there are certain Legend cards that you can have only 1 copy of in your deck. Both players begin a Rush Duel with 8,000 LP and 4 cards in their hand. During your Draw Phase you draw until you have 5 cards in your hand. You can normal summon as many times as possible in a Rush Duel, although tribute summoning restrictions still apply. All cards and effects can only be activated once per turn, not counting field spells. In contrast to the original game, every card except normal monsters has a requirement to activate it. Some of these are passive, like controlling a monster of a particular type, while others require actions like discarding certain cards. A player can also only activate one effect per trigger.
is was primarily a video game company, Yu-Gi-Oh has far more video game versions than any other TCG. Indeed, it's one of the video game franchises with the most released games, clocking in at over 50. These can be simple games with nothing to do but fighting opponents and navigating a menu, repeats of the anime storyline or, more rarely, completely original plots set in the same world as the anime. Unfortunately, these games vary wildly in quality, with many being shit, almost always due to cheating AI and gimmicks that aren't card games. Among the ones considered best are Stairway to the Destined Duel (OG), World Championships 2008 (GX) and Over the Nexus (5Ds), which coincidentally were all released near the end of one of the anime series and before the next round of gimmicks were introduced to the card game. Over the Nexus in particular has a surprisingly high degree of effort put into it, with an original story, customizable avatar, a bunch of side-quests and tons of shit to find. There's also a bunch that play by the anime "rules", many of which were made prior to many of the actual card game's rules being codified.
Unfortunately with Konami's move to focusing on pachinko, they stopped making many games at all, including Yu-Gi-Oh ones, and so we only have Duel Links, which is unfortunately a mobile game and thus a relatively stripped-down experience and (far more pressing) is riddled with microtransactions. Years after this move to pachinko, Konami walked this stance back in September of 2019 in wake of anti-addiction laws that would cripple pachinko stating "high-end console games are the most important" and they were working on "multi-device titles for [...] Yu-Gi-Oh".
There's two main fan-made simulators for players to use without having to buy expensive cardboard. Duelingbook is an browser-based manual simulator, while EDOpro is a downloaded automatic one. (So it moves the cards for you, if you're too lazy to do that.)
Yu-Gi-Oh was clumsily "advertised" by a cartoon for children about adults playing a children's card game, which shared the same name. Made even worse in the West where 4Kids Entertainment americanized the show and badly censoring anything violent, such as banishing characters to The Shadow Realm instead of dying in the story. However 4Kids was found to have withheld royalties from Konami, leading them to terminate their Yu-Gi-Oh contract and 4Kids' eventual bankruptcy.
Season 0 as fans refer to it was the first anime made for the series based on the early chapters of the manga, notably more darker in tone yet equally as silly compared to the second anime most people are familair with. Yami Yuugi is a well known follower of Tzeentch (as if the Egyptian gig wasn't enough of a give away). Mostly it was about Yami Yuugi punishing local bullies and scumbags by challenging them to a "Yami No Game", a dark and demented game of Yami's making with a stringent set of rules (dependent on the current challenge) that are meant to test the person's true character. If the person looses a Yami Game, or breaks the rules in any way, he will either kill them or give them such realistically horrifying hallucinations that they turn into a gibbering, hapless wreck. As an example, Yami once played table hockey with a puck full of nitroglycerin and blew the other guy to bits. In another game in the anime, he tricked an armed criminal holding his friend hostage into pouring 180 proof vodka all over himself and putting a lighter on his hand. Subsequent Yamis... well, he IS the King of Games, but his punishments weren't AS horrific so he arguably drifted away from it somewhat, but outside of the DURO MONSTA CARDO scene where he invokes Khorne, he's still in JUST AS PLANNED territory.
- Yugi Moto is a lonely high school kid with few friends but covets his "treasure" - an ancient Egyptian puzzle inscribed with the message that the one who solves the puzzle will be granted dark powers. Although no one has been able to solve it Yugi is close to completing it after 8 years of trying. One day at school while showing off the puzzle to his classmate Anzu (Tea in English), a bully named Jonouchi (known IN AMERICA as Joey) secretly snatches a piece while messing with Yugi and throws it into a river. However this attracts the attention of Ushio, a huge malicious hall monitor, who takes it upon himself to be Yugi's bodyguard and beats Jonouchi and Honda (Tristan) - who Ushio thought was also bullying Yugi - to a pulp. Yugi however intervenes, claiming that they're his friends, which surprises Jonouchi and earns his respect. Ushio shrugs and says Yugi must pay up for his bodyguard services and when Yugi can't pay he beats him as well. Jonouchi retrieves the missing piece from the river, allowing Yugi to complete the puzzle. Immediately the spirit of puzzle possesses Yugi and challenges Usio to a Yami Game where they hang from the roof by a single rope they share. When Usio loses he tries to throw Yugi off the building but instead hallucinates himself falling into the river and getting eaten by monsters. Yugi, Joey, Honda, and Anzu now forming a close group of friends - and occasionally a second girl named Miho who existed for 1 chapter in the manga but was added into the cast of the anime.
- Many episodes then follow a similar format, where a bad guy antagonizes Yugi or his friends, Yugi is possessed by the spirit & challenges them to a Yami Game, where they usually try to cheat and suffer the penalty. Famously as mentioned before when an escaped convict holds Yugi's friend Anzu (Tea) at gunpoint in the restaurant she is working at. The possessed Yami Yugi challenges him to a game where they try to kill the other with one finger. The criminal obviously chooses his trigger finger while Yami chooses his thumb, offering to light the gunman's cigarette while he pours himself a shot of vodka. Yami dropping the lighter on his wrist pouring the drink, meaning if he shoots he'll drop the lighter in the vodka he's now spilling all over himself. In the manga he actually does die agaonizingly, while in the anime he only hallucinates catching fire.
- One day at school Yugi mentions to his friends his grandpa owns the FLGS and has a rare limited edition card: the Blue Eyes White Dragon. This attracts the attention of the billionaire transfer student Seto Kaiba, who offers to trade an entire suitcase worth of cards for it but Yugi's grandpa refuses. Kaiba manages to trick Yugi to bring the card to school so he can steal it, but Yami Yugi challenges him to a Yami Game of Duel Monsters for it where the monsters in the cards come to life. Kaiba and Yugi trade blows, but Kaiba gains the upper hand with the stolen Blue Eyes White Dragon card. Just before he's about to win though Blue Eyes refuses to attack and kills itself because Yugi's Grandfather's heart was in the card. Kaiba manages to end the duel in a draw, leaving the Blue Eyes card and vowing to defeat Yugi.
- Yugi also meets other people who possess different Millennium Items in the series, including Shadi, a mysterious figure who wields both the Millennium Scales and Key. Able to see into people hearts and control people with his items, Shadi challenges Yugi to a Yami Game to test his worthiness of wielding the Millennium Puzzle. Making Anzu walk onto a plank high up on a building, secured only to ushabti statues that represent Yugi's heart in the game while a single ushabti connects to Shadi's Millenium Key that will free her if he loses. Shadi torments Yami Yugi trying to break his spirit and in turn almost breaks all the statues holding Anzu up, but Yugi keeps his composure, believing in his friends while Shadi doubts his faith. For the final test Shadi summons a phantom of Jonouchi to be Yugi's opponent, but Yami refuses to play against it. Shadi is shocked when the phantom also refuses to play as the real Jonouchi saves Anzu, causing his ushabti to break and lose the game. Shadi admits defeat and leaves, claiming that Yugi is indeed worthy.
- Later in the series Kaiba returns, kidnapping Yugi's grandpa. Challenging Yugi for a rematch if he wants his grandpa back at his new amusement park: Death-T, specifically designed to murder Yugi and his friends. Kaiba hiring professional hitmen and murderers for the challenges, and several traps that would electrocute, cut, or crush them all to death. After defeating and saving Kaiba's younger brother Mokuba from Death-T, Yami/Yugi learns that Kaiba once cared about having fun but became cruel over time. Mokuba and his brother were once orphans but Seto challenged a chess master and president of KaibaCorp, Gozaburo Kaiba to a chess game with the promise that if they won he'd have to adopt them both - which Gozaburo loses. Furious Gozaburo puts incredible strain on his new adoptive son, making him study advanced subjects and business throughout his childhood. Eventually Seto grew to be a cold and ruthless business tycoon, overthrowing Gozaburo from his own company. Gozaburo congratulates Seto before jumping out of the window of the KaibaCorp building, ingraining the lesson to Seto that defeat equals death.
- Yugi arrives to face Kaiba, who has installed holograms to simulate their previous Yami Game for their duel. Kaiba summoning 3 Blue Eyes while Yugi only draws weak pieces of a larger monster. Just before he's about to lose Yugi puts his faith in his cards and draws the final piece of the unstoppable Exodia winning the game. As penalty Yami Yugi shatters Kaiba's mind, but leaves the pieces in his heart promising Mokuba that if any kindness remains inside Kaiba he can put the pieces back together.
- The second and final Millennium Item user Yugi faces is a fellow classmate, Bakura who wields the Millennium Ring which also holds a spirit inside. However this spirit is cruel and torments both it's opponents and it's host, stealing the souls of those he defeats and putting them into game pieces. Yami Bakura plays a game of Monster World with Yugi and his friends in an attempt to steal the Millennium Puzzle, transferring their souls to their miniatures until there are no players left. Yami Yugi then gets up to Yami Bakura's surprise, taking up the dice rolls for everyone for the remainder of the game. The party eventually making it to the end of the dungeon, with the real Bakura sacrificing himself so that they can defeat the final boss. But then they revive his character in game which brings him back to life in the real world, ending the series with Bakura making a diorama with all their miniatures.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters was the main series most remember but is technically the second made. Completely butchered by 4Kids in an attempt to localize and edit it for a much younger audience, the only saving grace being Dan Green's performance as both Yugis. Made more infamous at the start of the series as the card game hadn't been created yet, leading to many cases where characters seem to make up rules on the fly, although by the second season this slowly becomes less of an issue. It's popularity going to spawn off several set of cards, spin-off series, and many, many memes.
- Long ago, when the pyramids were still young, ancient Egyptian kings played games of great and terrible power. But these Shadow Games caused a war which threatened to destroy the entire world, until a brave and powerful Pharaoh sealed the magic away within the seven mystical Millennium Items. Now, 5,000 years later, a boy named Yugi unlocks the secret of the Millennium Puzzle. He is infused with ancient magical energies, for destiny has chosen him to defend the world from the return of the Shadow Games, just as the brave Pharaoh did, 5,000 years ago.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters begins much the same as Season 0, minus the fact that Yugi has already completed the puzzle and made friends with the rest of the cast. While playing Duel Monsters against Joey/Jonouchi, Yugi invites them all to see his Grandfather's rare card, which the rich student Kaiba overhears and follows them to the FLGS. When his Grandpa shows off the one of a kind Blue Eyes White Dragon, Kaiba rushes in offering to trade or buy it outright, but is turned down. The next day Kaiba challenges Yugi's grandpa for the card and defeating him, only to tear the card in half in front of everyone. Yugi transforms into Yami Yugi and challenges Kaiba to a rematch, during which Kaiba summons 3 more copies of Blue Eyes. Believing in the heart of the cards Yugi gathers the last piece of Exodia in his hand winning the duel.
- Word of Kaiba's defeat quickly spreads to the creator of Duel Monsters, Maximillion Pegasus, who sends a VHS tape to Yugi's house. But when he plays the tape everything suddenly freezes around him as he's thrown into a Shadow Game. Through the prerecorded video Pegasus reveals he possess the Millennium Eye and challenges Yugi to a duel. Yugi manages to almost win but runs out of time on the tape before the last attack lands. Pegasus technically the victor of the Shadow Game steals his grandpa's soul, taunting Yugi that if he wants his grandpa returned to face him in the tournament on his own personal island.
- Yugi travels to Pegasus's island, fighting against opponents with some wonky rules as the anime came before any actual card game existed yet, but eventually earn their spot in Pegasus' castle. Kaiba making a reappearance to save his younger brother Mokuba who had also been kidnapped by Pegasus in a plot to take over his company. Yugi faces him in a rematch on top of the castle, but refuses to deal the finishing blow as Kaiba threatens to commit suicide if he loses - or fall off from the shockwave of the hologram in the 4Kids dub. Yugi is able to recover and eventually faces Pegasus in the finals. Switching between Yami and normal Yugi to throw off his mind reading powers, before throwing his hairy balls in his eyes to win the duel. Yugi is crowned king of games, but gives Joey/Jonouchi the prize money to pay for his sister's expensive eye surgery and saving his grandfather, Kaiba, and Mokuba.
- Pegasus meanwhile is attacked by another of Yugi's friends, Bakura, who is also in possession of the Millennium Ring with it's own dark spirit. Yami Bakura ripping out the Millennium Eye from Pegasus's skull, stating his desire to posses all the items for his own purposes. In the anime continuity Pegasus survives the attack but the manga has him die from his wound with blood gushing from his empty eye socket. Seemingly having died clutching a card portrait he made of his deceased wife whom he wished to revive using the power of the millennium items.
- Shortly after this Kaiba is approached by a woman named Ishizu Ishtar who claims he and Yugi are the reincarnations of ancient Egyptian kings, showing him an ancient stone tablet depicting Kaiba and Yugi dueling. She states her brother Marik possess the Millennium Rod and is after the rest of the Millennium Items and 3 incredibly powerful god cards: Obilisk the Tormentor, Slifer the Executive Producer, and Mega Ultra Chicken - who are ironically terrible in the real life card game. Ishizu gives Kaiba Obilisk, managing to save it before her brother took the other two. This prompts Kaiba to hold a city wide tournament to draw out the god cards where the victor takes their opponents rarest card, and also as a chance to challenge Yugi for the championship title.
- The semi finals of this tournament being played on Kaiba's own personal dueling blimp, and the grand finals are played on yet another island. Through exposition and flashbacks Marik's and Ishizu's backstory is told during the finals. The Ishtar family guarding the pharaoh's tomb in the Valley of the Kings since ancient times. Marik's father was an old and bitter man because his wife was unable to sire him a son - only giving birth to Ishizu - so they adopted an orphan named Odion (Rashid). Ishizu's mother loved Odion like her own son, but just before he was to come of age she became pregnant. She died giving birth to Marik, leaving all 3 to their father's abuse. Eventually Marik became of age and was went through the tomb-keeper ritual, where they carve hieroglyphs onto the back of the child - or tattoo them in the 4kids dub. This trauma caused Marik to develop a split personality dubbed Yami Marik, murder his father, and eventually plan to get revenge of the Pharaoh himself as he believe he was the cause of all his misery in life.
- Jonouchi/Joey faces Marik in the semi finals, despite being physically tortured by the pain of the Shadow Game he is about to defeat Marik, but dies just before he declares the finishing attack - or falls into a coma in 4kids' dub. Yugi and Kaiba have their rematch, with Yugi using Joey's Red-Eyes Black Dragon card during the duel that eventually wins the game and heads to face Yami Marik in the finals. Yami Marik concocts a wicked Shadow Game where the loser's other half will slowly fade away as they lose points, taunting both Yugi and the real Marik with the fact he was the one who was responsible for the miserable parts of Marik's life. Though Yugi is able to defeat Yami Marik's god card, through a twist Yami Marik and the normal Marik switch places with Yami Marik now the one at stake to disappear and Marik in a position to defeat Yugi & the pharaoh. Marik however forgives the spirit of the Pharaoh and forfeits the duel as Yami Marik vanishes.
- Now having gathered all 3 god cards Yugi unlocks the pharaoh's memories sealed in the Millennium Puzzle through the previously mentioned stone tablet. Yami Bakura then makes his move, challenging Yami Yugi to a Dark RPG for his Millennium Items, through which the events that happened in Egypt 5,000 years ago are repeated. Revealing that the Millennium Items were created by mixing the flesh, blood and bones of 99 human sacrifices with gold, but that one boy survived the slaughter and became the Thief King Bakura. Thief Bakura returned to seek his revenge and took the 7 Millennium Items to summon forth a demon of darkness called Zorc Necrophades. However the pharaoh sacrificed himself to seal the memory of him and Zorc into the Millennium Puzzle. Unknown to him however both Thief King Bakura and Zorc had sealed part of their soul into the Millennium Ring: creating the modern day Yami Bakura.
- The goal of Yami Bakura's RPG is to allow Zorc to be victorious this time, releasing him into the modern world, while Yami Yugi's goal is to find his hidden name. Though also in the RPG world are Yugi and his friends helping to search for the pharaoh's name. Yami puts up his best fight, he is unable to stop Zorc from being summoned once again, but just as all seems lost Yugi and the rest of the party discover his true name - Atem. Atem now empowered swiftly defeats Yami Bakura and Zorc, erasing them from the Earth for good.
- While everyone is happy that Atem has regained his memories, he must now pass on since his mission is complete - having to be defeated in a duel by Yugi in the Valley of the Kings to ascend to the afterlife. Yugi is able to prove his growth from all their adventures in their duel, even destroying the 3 god cards, before finally defeating Atem. Though everyone is saddened by the Atem's departure they promise that he will live on in the memories they shared. Atem silently bidding them farewell as he walks into a literal door to the afterlife as the tomb starts to collapse, the Millennium Items falling into the abyss as everyone escapes. Ending the series by saying that their own stories are just getting started.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged as previously mentioned offhandedly near the top of the page, is an abridged series of the second anime. An affectionate parody that "dubbed" episodes of the series into non-canon humor, it's so popular that enough imitators of it focusing on other media entirely happened for the "Abridged series"-style of fan parodies to be considered a genre on its own. Also, there's even more memes from it than the actual show. Perhaps the most widespread joke spawned by the series is the use of the phrase "children's card game(s)" to underscore how silly everything revolving around card games is and how everyone takes it way too seriously. Not only has this has gained use within the larger fandom, it has quickly entered use to refer to other Card Games. Other jokes of note are Seto's utterance "Screw the rules! I have money!", and 5ds as "Cardgames on motorcycles".
The aforementioned program Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters was so popular, they released a spin-off sequel show called Yu-Gi-Oh GX, about children attending a university that teaches students how to play a children's card game (really). This bad premise is made worse by being from an era where card design quality was rock bottom, giving main characters terrible decks and plot armor at the same time, leading to some really stupid duels. The main character's plot armor is such that he loses three times in the entire anime (Yugi lost more than that before the end of Duelist Kingdom!), one of those to Seto Kaiba's literal self-insert character, and another to a professional. Even the US dubbers noticed how stupid this series was, and would write dialog that mocked the franchise, making some parts of the show look like an Abridged parody. It's also infamous for randomly getting really good in the 3rd season. (You can skip most of the first season.) For real though, the Supreme King plot was awesome.
- Sometime after the first series, Seto Kaiba created a university specifically centered around teaching children how to play the card game on a volcanic island. GX follows Jaden Yuki who narrowly misses the entrance exams to Duel Academy after bumping into Yugi from the Duel Monster series, who gives him rare Winged Kuriboh card. Jaden is given an opportunity to take the exam against one of the top professors and his Ancient Gear deck, Professor Crowler (or Chronos in the sub). Jaden is berated both in the duel and out by Crowler, but Jaden states that he is having fun dueling him. In the end Jaden manages to win and is accepted into Duel Academy as promised, albeit at the lowest hierarchy - the Slifer Red dorm. Although he quickly makes friends with several students such as Syrus and Chumley in Slifer Red, Bastion Misawa in the middlemost dorm; Ra Yellow, and Chazz Princeton & Alexis Rhodes in the top dorm Obelisk Blue. Each dorm named after their titular Egyptian god cards, Kaiba apparently placing his at the top and Yugi's at the bottom. Slifer's students living in a cramped and dirty apartment, Ra being a more normal dormitory, and Obelisk's essentially a luxurious mansion.
- The earliest season is notoriously bad, with many episodic, nonsensical plots such as a monkey being forced to learn to duel by scientists, a student being kept underground because when he duels he makes other people
highsleepy when he duels them, and the group threatening to be murdered by Duel Monster spirits - and a semi serious subplot of several students going missing, one being Alexis's brother, and being covered up by Duel Academy. One of the few good decisions 4kids made when dubbing over the series was adding in dialogue making fun of the series itself it borders on being it's own Abridged Series. However they still did their usual over the top censoring on anything violent and other dumb localization changes like giving children adult voices and grown men the voice of prepubescent kids.
- Outside of Professor Crowler spending a few episodes trying to expel Jaden as revenge for embarrassing him, the only other stand out characters are Zane Truesdale - Syrus's older brother who called him weak for being afraid to play a card - and Tyranno Hassleberry who's entire deck and character is dinosaur themed because as a kid he had a dinosaur fossil grafted onto his broken leg after an accident.
- The main conflict of the season begins when the principal of Duel Academy approaches the cast and reveals that Duel Academy is merely a front to seal 3 powerful
not god cardsSacred Beast cards underneath with seven spirit keys. He then gives each a key and says seven "shadow riders" will come to try and take them to unleash the Sacred Beasts. The shadow riders turn out to be mostly joke characters that are defeated the episode they are introduced. The only losses being against the vampire Camula because Syrus's soul would be sacrificed if she lost her duel against Zane, and Bastion lost his duel against a Amazon who turned out to be a cat after she was defeated by Jaden in the episode immediately after. Despite beating everyone they couldn't end the arc without a climactic battle so the show makes Chazz steal the seven spirit keys to ask Alexis out on a date because Sonic the Hedgehogher brother told him it was a good idea. The one behind the plot turns out to be the chairman of Duel Academy, who steals the keys from Chazz and reveals he wants to use the power of the Sacred Beasts to obtain eternal youth. Jaden challenges him to save the world and defeats him after a tough duel, telling him he doesn't need the powers of evil god cards to feel young - only to break his frail spine after giving him a hug.
- After graduating from Duel Academy in the second season Zane goes into the pro leagues, only to get humiliated by a duelist named Aster Phoenix who also uses a HERO deck like Jaden. Becoming a hasbeen, Zane goes into the underground dueling scene where duelists fight in a steel cage and wear shock collars that electrocute them when they take damage. The main antagonist this time is Sartorius, a fortune teller who can "control destiny" through his Arcana Force cards (by predicting their coin flip effects) and mind controlling people he defeats in a duel to join his Society of Light. As a side job apparently he manages Aster Phoenix in the pro duel leagues and asks him to defeat Jaden so that he will be mind controlled. Aster actually defeats Jaden, but instead of being mind controlled he is left unable to see his cards.
- Jaden is depressed by this until he is abducted by an alien dolphin who explains that The "Gentle" Darkness is the force of good and The Light of Destruction is evil and possessing Sartorius. Jaden remembers who the dolphin is, as a child he entered a card design contest hosted by Seto Kaiba where the winning designs would be turned into cards and sent into space to teach aliens dueling. Jaden finds his Neo Spacian cards and thus his sight and drive to duel is restored. Meanwhile back at Duel Academy the Genex tournament is beginning, which Sartorius uses the opportunity to mind control a random prince who just happened to attend this card game tournament with the launch codes to an orbital laser that the possessed Sartorius will use to destroy the world (or mind control it in the dub). Although Sartorius's good half is able to regain control briefly and gives possession of the two keys needed to activate it to Jaden and Aster.
- At the final battle Jaden confronts Sartorius who has taken Aster captive after he tried to stop him, placing him in a scale that will drop him into a vat of lava unless Jaden hands over the keys. Jaden does so but then Sartorius has the mind controlled prince take the keys and activate the satellite despite Hassleberry's best efforts to stop him. Enraged, Hassleberry's inner dinosaur awakens as an astral projection and is joined by the spirit of Jaden's Elemental HERO Neos as the two fly off into space to destroy the satellite before it fires. Jaden is able to defy Sartorius's divinations and defeats him just as the satellite is destroyed, freeing everyone mind controlled including Sartorius.
- In the 3rd season Duel Academy hosts the Disclosure Duel tournament (shortened to Des Duels as a pun on Death Duels) ran by a guy with the most evil sounding name ever, Thelonious Viper, under the guise to weed out duelists with weak fighting spirits. In actuality the bracelets they wear feeds off their duel energy to the point they either collapse or die from exhaustion, and sends their energy to the disembodied arm of a strange being in a tank. During the tournament Jaden becomes fast friends with Jesse Anderson and others from different schools. They eventually discover the truth behind the Des Duels thanks to a duelist named Adrian Gecko who had been investigating Viper, and they plan their counter attack.
- The group successfully overload the bands and head to Viper's hidden base, although Adrian secretly went ahead to confront Viper. They both take off their shirts and throw down fists instead of cards, though just before Adrian deals the finishing blow he's paralyzed by the demon in the tank with visions of his younger self contemplating killing his infant brother. Afterwards Viper duels Jaden with his venom deck, but Jaden manages to make a comeback and defeat Viper. The demon then appears as a glowing apparition aside from it's arm, as it had promised Viper to let him see his son who had died in a car accident in exchange for helping it recover. It does just that, giving Viper a vision of his deceased son and making him walk off the roof and fall to his death, only for the demon to reveal it knows Jaden before teleporting the entire school to another dimension.
- The students find themselves trapped in a world where duel monsters are real, and also Bastion who the writers actually forgot about midway through season 2. Meanwhile the demon slowly accumulates it's power, possessing the body of one of the children and using the bio bands still around the students wrists. Once they're completely drained of energy they rise up as "duel zombies" and wander to battle more students. Jaden and co battle their way through the horde while Bastion works up a plan to bring them back to their world. Eventually Jaden and Jesse face the possessed student by the demon who reveals itself to be named Yubel and again taunts Jaden that they'll make him suffer like he made them - though he has no idea what she means. In the end Jesse sacrifices himself to save Jaden just as the school and students are transported back to Earth.
This spawned another spin-off, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, where angsty emo teenagers play a children's card game on motorcycles, in a setting that's some sort of attempt at dystopian cyberpunk (though surprisingly not that far in the future, as Tetsu Ushio, an early antagonist from the manga and first anime, is actually a signficant supporting character). Seriously, that's actually the premise. Not terrible. Surprisingly interesting and edgy at times. The dub is mediocre compared to the subbed, as 4kids of course excised the more "mature" parts from their localization. This is the show that introduced Synchro monsters to the game.
- Card games on motorcycles
- Season 2 onwards of 5D unfortunately suffer from problems caused by outside events. A voice actress being involved in a cult forced the erasure of the series signature occultism. Meanwhile, the sudden popularity (due to being broken) of Blackwings resulted in a minor antagonist being rewritten into a main character.
This was followed by Yu-Gi-Oh! ZeXal, which is basically Naruto with card games instead of ninjas, set in an alternate universe from 5Ds where Synchros don't exist. Xyz monsters were invented here. It gets better after the Barians are introduced.
- Get set to get decked
Next up was Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V, which seemed to have remembered the other series and summoning methods existed, but the promise the show had got butchered once they traveled to the Synchro dimension, a world similar to that of 5D's... and then literally shot itself it the foot with what could be considered the most nonsenical twist in all of anime.
- But you'll still take the damage!
The final series produced by Studio Gallop beginning with Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS (which stands for Virtual Reality Artificial Intelligence Network System) introduces Link monsters. Its villains, the Knights of Hanoi, are basically Anonymous with a technomagical supercharge whose goal is to wipe out a race of AI at all costs believing them to be a threat to humanity. The protagonist is an antihero seeking revenge on The Knights of Hanoi for cruel experiment he was put through as a child. While the signature cards of previous protagonists were OK at best or (for Stardust Dragon) merely a good staple rather than a deck center, here the protagonist's signature card Firewall Dragon was stupidly OP and a cause of loads of degenerate infinite loops. Konami desperately tried to ban every other card in the loops to avoid banning such a prominent card before they eventually had to give up and ban it.
- Seize the wind!
Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens is currently the most recent series of the franchise, being the seventh series overall. Causing a lot of Butthurt over the new art style and direction to a far younger audience. Following the new protagonist Yuga Ohdo, an elementary schooler who's sick of all of the rules and restrictions placed on dueling, deciding to make up his own Rush Duel rules. The Goha Corp being the antagonists in this world having control over not just dueling, but also influence over people's daily lives.
- Future Card Buddyfight
Manga without anime counterpart
Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG Structures actually sticks to the real rules of the game and doesn't introduce new cards as the plot demands. It stars Shoma Yusa and his older sister Ageha Yusa. Its side characters have actually appeared in one the video game Saikyo Card Battle.
A decent card game that could have been better, even great, if not for the two-headed giant that is Konami's incompetence and the crappy player base. Hey, at least it gave birth to a memetastic set of anime and parodies thereof.
|Call of Cthulhu - Cardfight!! Vanguard - Fire Emblem Cipher |
Force of Will - Jyhad - Magi-Nation Duel - Magic: The Gathering
Netrunner - Pokémon - Star Wars: Destiny CCG (Dead) - Yu-Gi-Oh
|1000 Blank White Cards - 7th Sea - Apples to Apples - Bang! |
Cards Against Humanity - Coup - Decktet - Dominion - Dvorak
F.A.T.A.L. - Mafia - Mag Blast - Mao - Munchkin
Race for the Galaxy - Sentinels of the Multiverse - Tanto Cuore
|Bridge - Cribbage - Mahjong - Solitaire/Patience - Poker - Rummy - Tarot|