Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game
Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Back
Upper Deck Company
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The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, known as the Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game ( Y?-Gi-? Ofisharu K?do G?mu) in Asia, is a Japanese collectible card game developed and published by Konami. It is based on the fictional game of Duel Monsters created by manga artist Kazuki Takahashi, which is the main plot device during the majority of his popular manga franchise, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and its various anime adaptations and spinoff series.
The game was launched by Konami in 1999 in Japan and March 2002 in North America. It was named the top selling trading card game in the world by Guinness World Records on July 7, 2009, having sold over 22 billion cards worldwide. As of March 31, 2011, Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. Japan has sold over 25 billion cards globally since 1999. The game continues to gain popularity as it is played around the world, mostly in Japan, North America, Europe and Australia, and has been expanded with new rules and additions as the franchise grows.
From March 2002 to December 2008, Konami's trading cards were distributed in territories outside of Asia by The Upper Deck Company. In December 2008, Konami filed a lawsuit against Upper Deck alleging that it had distributed inauthentic Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG cards made without Konami's authorization. Upper Deck also sued Konami alleging breach of contract and slander. A few months later, a federal court in Los Angeles issued an injunction preventing Upper Deck from acting as the authorized distributor and requiring it to remove the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG from Upper Deck's website. In December 2009, the court decided that Upper Deck was liable for counterfeiting Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG cards, and it dismissed Upper Deck's countersuit against Konami. Konami is the manufacturer and distributor of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG. It runs Regional and National tournaments and continues to release new Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG card products.
The game is a trading card game in which players draw cards from their respective decks and take turns playing cards onto "the field." Each player uses a deck containing forty to sixty cards, and an optional "Extra Deck" of up to fifteen cards. There is also an optional fifteen card side deck, which allows players to swap cards from their main deck and/or extra deck between games. Players are restricted to three of each card per deck and must follow the Forbidden/Limited card list, which restricts selected cards by Konami to be limited to two, one, or zero. Each player starts with 8,000 (2,000 to 4,000 in the manga and anime) "Life Points", with the main aim of the game to use attacks and spells to reduce the opponent's Life Points. The game ends upon reaching one of the following conditions:
- A player loses if their Life Points reaches zero. If both players reach zero Life Points at the same time, the game ends in a draw.
- A player loses if they are required to draw a card, but has no more cards to draw in the Main Deck.
- Certain cards have special conditions which trigger an automatic win or loss when its conditions are met (e.g. having all five cards of Exodia the Forbidden One in the hand or all five letters of the Destiny Board on the field).
- A player can surrender at any time.
Cards are laid out in the following manner:
- Deck: The player's deck which consists of forty to sixty cards.
- Extra Deck: The player's deck which may contain up to fifteen cards consisting of Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, and Link Monster cards. Pendulum Monster cards are placed face up here when they would be sent from the field to the Graveyard.
- Graveyard: A zone where cards are sent when they are discarded, such as used spell cards or monsters that are tributed or destroyed in battle.
- Main Monster Card Zone: A field of five spaces where Monster cards are placed when successfully summoned. Prior to the addition of Link Monsters, any kind of monster could be placed there anytime. Since then, monsters special summoned from the Extra Deck can only be summoned to a space on the Main Monster Zone if it is linked to a Link Monster's Link Marker.
- Extra Monster Card Zone: Introduced with Link Monsters, this is a zone where monsters from the Extra Deck can be summoned.
- Spell and Trap Card Zone: Five spaces in which either Spell or Trap cards can be placed.
- Field Spell Zone: A zone where Field Spell cards are placed.
- Pendulum Zones: Two spaces in the Spell and Trap Card Zone where Pendulum Monsters may be placed instead of Spell or Trap Cards in order to activate Pendulum Effects and perform Pendulum Summons. Originally separate zones, these were integrated into the Spell and Trap Card Zone following the introduction of Link Monsters.
Cards that are banished by card effects are removed from play and sent to a banish pile outside of the game area.
Each player's turn contains six phases that take place in the following order:
- Draw Phase: The turn player draws one card from their Deck.
- Standby Phase: No specific action occurs, but it exists for card effects that activate or resolve during this specific phase and maintenance costs also this is for looking at the drawn card.
- Main Phase 1: The turn player may summon or set a monster, activate cards and effects that they control, change the battle position of a monster (provided it wasn't summoned this turn), and set spells or traps face-down.
- Battle Phase: The turn player may choose to attack the opposing player using any monsters on their field in Attack position. If the player chooses not to attack, they can skip straight to the End Phase.
- Main Phase 2: The player may do all the same actions that are available during Main Phase 1, though they cannot repeat certain actions already taken in Main Phase 1 (such as Normal Summoning) or change the battle position of a monster that has already been summoned, attacked, or had their battle position changed during the same turn.
- End Phase: This phase also exists for card effects that activate or resolve during this specific phase and maintenance costs. Once this phase is resolved, the player ends their turn.
The player who begins the game cannot conduct the Draw and Battle Phases during their first turn.
Types of cards
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source
. (November 2013)
Attacking with monster cards is the main means by which a player reduces the opponent's Life Points to zero. These cards are also used defensively, since the opponent's monsters cannot attack your Life Points directly as long as you have monsters in play (unless specified otherwise by card effects). Furthermore, most monsters cards have their own effects (just like Spell and Trap cards), and can be manipulated by other cards. Before discussing their many functions and varieties, we will outline the common components of all monster cards.
- ATK and DEF points: These are short for "attack" and "defense", and determine the result of a battle between two monster cards (see more about attacking below). When a monster is involved in a battle while in Attack Position (whether attacking or being attacked), only its ATK points are applied and its DEF points are ignored. The reverse is also true: when a monster is attacked while in Defense Position, only its DEF points are applied and its ATK points are ignored. Monsters summoned in Defense position are placed face down unless otherwise stated (for example, monsters that are special summoned from the Extra Deck in Defense position are summoned face up), and remain face down until it is targeted by an opponent's monster or changed into Attack position. This is known as "flip summoning", which can activate effects in certain monsters. During the Main Phases of each turn, players can choose to change the battle position of their monsters that were not summoned that turn, unless that monster has already changed its battle position that turn or has already declared an attack. Unlike monsters of other categories, Link Monsters have no DEF points listed and can not be placed in Defense Position.
- Attribute: A monster card will have either a Light, Dark, Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, or Divine attribute. This is indicated by an icon at the upper-right corner of the card. A monster card's attribute has no inherent significance (for example, a water-attribute monster has no advantage over a fire-attribute one), but is relevant in the context of other cards' effects (e.g. the Spell card Umiiruka adds 500 ATK points to and subtracts 400 DEF points from all water-attribute monsters).
- Type: Unlike the mere seven possible attributes, there are 25 different types which may apply to a monster card (Dragon, Spellcaster, Zombie, Warrior, Beast-Warrior, Beast, Winged Beast, Fiend, Fairy, Insect, Dinosaur, Reptile, Fish, Sea Serpent, Machine, Thunder, Aqua, Pyro, Rock, Plant, Psychic, Divine-Beast, Creator God, Wyrm, and Cyberse). All monster cards have one type, indicated in text form just above the card text. Like attributes, a monster card's type has no inherent significance and becomes relevant in the context of other cards' effects. Additionally, cards may have a secondary type, called an Ability, typically one of the following: Toon, Spirit, Union, Gemini, Tuner, or Effect.
- Description: Each Monster card features a box of text at the bottom of the card. Monsters that do not possess any effects of their own, such as Normal monsters, will feature a description of the monster written in italics. For monsters that do possess effects, the text box will describe their effects, including any specific summoning conditions it may require (for example: a Fusion monster may list the required material monsters needed to summon it). Pendulum Monsters have an additional description box which may list a Pendulum Effect that applies while they are in a Pendulum Zone.
- Level: This is indicated by the number of Level Stars shown under the monster card's name. With a normal summon, players can summon one Level 4 or lower monster card to the field. A player can also perform a Tribute Summon, which is necessary to summon monsters that are Level 5 or higher. In a Tribute Summon the player tributes monsters already on the field to the Graveyard. Level 5 and Level 6 monsters require one tribute, while Level 7 and higher monsters require two tributes. Some monsters may require a different number of tributes than their Level would suggest due to card effects. Levels are also important in other ways, such as summoning Ritual or Synchro Monsters. Xyz Monsters and Link Monsters do not possess Levels, and as such are not affected by effects that target levels and cannot be used for Ritual and Synchro Summoning.
- Rank: Values possessed by Xyz monsters in place of levels. An Xyz Monster's Rank, indicated by black and yellow stars on the left of the card, represent the level of the material monsters required to summon it.
- Link Rating: Values possessed by Link Monsters in place of Levels or Ranks. A link monster's Link Rating is indicative of the number of monsters required to Link Summon it, as well as the number of Link Markers it possesses. When summoning Link Monsters with higher Link Numbers, a Link Monster can be treated as multiple monsters when used as a material based on its Link Number.
- Pendulum Scale: Pendulum Monsters possess an additional value called Scales, which are applied when they are placed in the Pendulum Zones. These values determine which monsters the player can special summon through Pendulum Summoning.
- Link Markers: Link Monsters possess arrows which point in one of eight directions, the number of which corresponds to the monster's Link Number. Depending on the card's placement, a Link Monster can activate effects based on spaces in the Monster Zone that Link Markers point to, including those on the opponent's field. Additionally, players can special summon a monster from the Extra Deck to an open space on the Main Monster Zone if a Link Monster's Link Marker is pointing to it.
There are several categories of monster cards, which are color-coded and vary in the methods by which they are summoned. Generally, the monsters with more difficult summoning methods will have higher ATK points and better card effects. Normal and Effect monsters can be Normal Summoned, Tribute Summoned, or Special Summoned by card effects. All other types of cards need to be Special Summoned by fulfilling the summoning requirements detailed below. Fusion, Synchro, Xyz and Link Monsters are stored in an Extra Deck separate from the Main Deck (where destroyed Pendulum Monsters are also placed), and can only be summoned to either the Extra Monster Zone or a Main Monster Zone space linked to a Link Monster's Link Marker. These cards may be resummoned from the graveyard to any Main Monster Zone space provided they were successfully summoned beforehand, though if they are returned to the Extra Deck, the player will need to fulfill the summoning requirements once more to summon them again.
There are several types of monsters, which differ mainly in the methods by which they are summoned:
- 1. Normal (yellow)
- A standard monster that can be Normal or Tribute Summoned from the hand once per turn, as well as Special Summoned under certain conditions. Normal Monsters do not have effects of their own, instead bearing a description of the monster in its card description.
- 2. Effect (orange)
- Similar to Normal monsters in the manner that they can be summoned, Effect Monsters have a special effect listed in its card description which can be used under its given conditions. Several of the other monster types listed below may also possess effects. While most Effect Monsters can be Normal or Tribute Summoned, some monsters may list specific summoning conditions in its card description.
- 3. Fusion (purple)
- A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by using a card with a Fusion effect, such as "Polymerization", with monster cards listed in the Fusion Monster's description. The specific conditions, such as the types of monster required or where the material monsters are sent, vary depending on the Fusion Monster's effect.
- Example: Using the "Polymerization" spell card and sending "Dark Magician" and "Buster Blader" from the field and/or hand to the graveyard allows the player to special summon "Dark Paladin" (Fusion Monster).
- 4. Ritual (light blue)
- A monster that is stored in the Main Deck and can be summoned from the player's hand by using a corresponding Ritual Spell Card and tributing monster cards from the hand and/or field according to the card's instructions.
- Example: Using the "Black Luster Ritual" spell card and tributing monsters from the field and/or hand whose total levels equal eight or more allows the player to special summon "Black Luster Soldier" (Level 8 Ritual Monster).
- 5. Synchro (white)
- Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's anime series. A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by sending a "Tuner" monster and one or more non-Tuner monsters from the field to the graveyard, whose total levels equal the level of the Synchro Monster you wish to summon. Under normal conditions, only one Tuner Monster can be used per Synchro Summoning (i.e. a player cannot perform a Synchro Summon using only Tuner Monsters). Some Synchro Monsters may require certain types of monster to be used as Synchro material.
- Example: Sending "Junk Synchron" (Level 3 Tuner Monster) and "Speed Warrior" (Level 2) from the field to the graveyard allows the player to special summon "Junk Warrior" (Level 5 Synchro Monster).
- 6. Xyz (pronounced "ek-seez", black)
- Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal anime series. Xyz Monsters are summoned from the Extra Deck by "overlaying" multiple monsters (as described in the card's effect text) with the same level relevant to the Rank of the Xyz Monster the player wishes to summon. Material monsters are not sent to the graveyard but instead become "Xyz Material" (also known as "Overlay Units"), which are placed underneath the Xyz Monster in the Monster Zone and sent to the graveyard in order to activate that Xyz Monster's effects. As Xyz Monsters possess Ranks instead of levels, they are unaffected by cards involving a monster's level and cannot be used for Ritual or Synchro Summoning, the exception to this rule being if they are artificially assigned a level via a card's effect. Some card effects, such as Rank Up Magic spell cards, also allow certain Xyz Monsters to be summoned on top of existing Xyz Monsters on the field (in this event, that Xyz Monster and its remaining Xyz Material become Xyz Material for the newly summoned Xyz Monster).
- Example: Overlaying two Level 4 monsters on the field allows the player to Special Summon the "No. 39 Utopia" (Rank 4). The material monsters become No. 39 Utopia's Xyz Material and are sent to the graveyard in order to activate its Xyz Effect.
- 7. Pendulum (green gradient)
- Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V anime series. Pendulum Monsters are variations of the above monster types, represented by a green gradient over each type's respective color (for example, Effect Pendulum Monsters are orange/green while Xyz Pendulum Monsters are black/green). They are stored and summoned in the same manner as their original counterparts, but are sent to the Extra Deck face-up when they would be sent from the field to the Graveyard (monsters sent from the Hand or Deck will still go to the Graveyard). During the Main Phase, players can place any Pendulum Monsters in their hand into any open Pendulum Zones, where they become treated as spell cards and can utilise a Pendulum Effect listed separately from any Monster Effects (some Pendulum cards may not necessarily possess a Pendulum Effect). Pendulum Monsters possess indicators known as "Scales", which are used to perform a Pendulum Summon. Once during a player's turn, if there are Pendulum Monsters with different Scales in both Pendulum Zones, the player may Special Summon multiple monsters from their hand, as well as any Pendulum Monsters face-up in the Extra Deck, whose levels are in between the two different Scale values. Pendulum Monsters that are stored in the Extra Deck face down must first be summoned using their respective summoning methods and can only be Pendulum Summoned when they are face-up in the Extra Deck (for example, an "Xyz Pendulum" Monster must first be Xyz Summoned before it can be Pendulum Summoned).
- Example: If the player has "Stargazer Magician" (Scale 1) and "Timegazer Magician" (Scale 8) in their Pendulum Zones, they can Pendulum Summon multiple monsters from their hand and/or face-up Pendulum Monsters from the Extra Deck with levels ranging from 2 to 7.
- 8. Link (blue with a honeycomb pattern)
- Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS anime series. Unlike other monsters, Link Monsters have no Level or Rank, but a "Link Rating" and can be summoned from the Extra Deck by sending a number of Link Material Monsters listed on the card equal to the Link Rating and have "Link Markers", arrows pointing to at least one of eight directions (forward, backward, left, right and the four diagonals) in the same number as the Link Number. A Link Monster in the field with a Link Rating of 2 or more can be used to replace an equal or lower number of Link Materials for another Link Summon if eligible. At first, Link Monsters can only be summoned in the Extra Monster Card Zone, but as long it is on the field, any monster Main Monster Card Zone pointed by a Link Marker becomes "linked", and linked Monster Card Zones can be used to summon any kind of monster from the Extra Deck, including other Link Monsters. If two Link Monsters share Link Markers pointed at each other, they are considered "co-Linked." Mutual Links play into the effects of certain link monsters. Link Monsters also have no DEF points and thus can not be placed in Defense Position.
- Example: Two or more Effect monsters are tributed to Link Summon "Decode Talker" (Link Number 3) in the Extra Deck Zone in front of the 2nd Main Monster Card Zone. As long as this monster is on the field, the player can summon any kind of monster in the 1st and 3rd Main Monster Card Zones, as they are now linked to it, but the opponent can also summon any monster in the linked Monster Card Zone in front of it. Having a Link Number of 3, "Decode Talker" and a second monster can be tributed to Link Summon "Firewall Dragon" (Link Number 4).
- 9. Token (grey)
- Commonly a low-powered monster that is stored outside of the playing area and can only be summoned through a card effect, typically used for defense or tribute purposes. The type, attribute, level, ATK, and DEF of Token Monsters are determined by the description of the card that summoned them. Token Monsters can only exist on the field and are removed from the game when leaving the field (unlike standard cards, Token Monsters are not sent to the Banished pile). As Xyz Material is not considered to be on the field, Token Monsters cannot be used for Xyz Summoning. In addition to official Token Monster cards, players may also use other objects such as coins or card sleeves to represent Token Monsters, provided they can be positioned in a way that can represent both Attack and Defense positions.
- Example: If the player uses the spell card "Scapegoat", four "Sheep Tokens" will be summoned to the field.
As mentioned briefly in several above sections, attacking is a critical role of monster cards. It is the primary means by which a player reduces the opponent's Life Points. The following describes standard battles under normal conditions, in which spells, traps, and monster effects are not taken into consideration.
During the Battle Phase of each turn, the player may choose to attack their opponent once with each monster in Attack Position (face-up in a vertical orientation), targeting one of the opponent's monsters or, if the opponent has no defending monsters, attacking them directly. When an attack is declared, the ATK points of the attacking monster is compared with the ATK or DEF points of the defending monster, depending on which position it is in. If both the attacking and defending monsters are in Attack Position, then the monster with the lowest ATK points is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, with its owner losing Life Points based on the difference between the two monsters' ATK points. For example, if a monster with 1400 ATK destroys a monster with 1000 ATK, the owner of the losing monster will lose 400 Life Points. If both monsters have the same number of ATK Points, both monsters are destroyed and neither player takes damage. Monsters with 0 ATK cannot destroy anything, that is to say, if two monsters with 0 ATK battle, neither monster will be destroyed.
When an attacking monster targets a monster in Defense Position (horizontal orientation), then the attacking monster's ATK points will be compared with the defending monster's DEF points. If the attacking monster has more ATK points than the defending monster's DEF points, the defending monster is destroyed, but its owner will not receive any damage to their Life Points (unless the attacking monster possesses a "Piercing Damage" effect, in which case the defending player takes damage based on the difference between the two values). On the other hand, if the player attacks a defending monster whose DEF points are greater than their attacking monster's ATK points, neither monster is destroyed but the attacking player will take damage based on the difference between the two values. For example, if a monster with 1000 ATK attacks a defending monster with 1400 DEF, the attacking player will lose 400 Life Points. If the attacking monster's ATK points and the defending monster's DEF points are the same, neither monster is destroyed and neither player takes damage. If a monster in face-down Defense Position is targeted for an attack, it is automatically Flip Summoned into face-up Defense Position. The card will then remain face-up until it is either destroyed or tributed, or allowed to be flipped face-down again by a card effect.
Direct Attacks can be performed when a player attacks an opponent who has no monsters on their side of the field (or utilises an effect that allows a direct attack even if the opposing player controls monsters). If the attack is successful, the defending player will receive damage to their Life Points equal to the difference of the ATK points of the attacking monster.
Monsters can possess various types of effect based on the following categories. Each effect type have a Spell Speed of 1, with the exception of Quick Effects, which have a Spell Speed of 2.
- 1. Continuous
- A continuing effect which activates when the monster is played face-up and continues until the monster is destroyed or tributed.
- 2. Ignition
- An effect that the player can declare during their Main Phase. Some effects require a cost to activate, such as discarding cards or paying Life Points.
- 3. Quick Effect
- An effect that can be activated even during an opponent's turn. Unlike other effect types, these have a Spell Speed of 2.
- 4. Trigger
- An effect which activates during specific times, such as during the Standby Phase or when a monster is destroyed.
- 5. Flip
- An effect that activates when a face-down monster is flipped face-up, either from changing battle position, being targeted by an attack, or from a card effect.
These are cards that can be played either directly from the hand, or set on the field face down for later use. They can either power up your monsters attack/defense, destroy other cards, increase life points, draw cards, increase a monster's level etc. Spells cards were known as "Magic cards" in all OCG releases and early TCG releases, and there are six different types of them, each distinguished by an icon. Additionally, Pendulum Monsters are treated as spell cards when placed inside Pendulum Zones, during which the player can activate its described Pendulum Effect.
- 1. Normal (no icon)
- A standard card which can be activated during a player's Main phases and is sent to the graveyard after activation. They may not be used during an opponent's turn.
- 2. Quick Play (lightning bolt)
- A card that can be used outside of the main phase during a player's turn, or can be set on the field to use during an opponent's turn, similar to a trap card.
- 3. Continuous (infinity symbol)
- A card with a continuous fact that remains on field until it is destroyed or certain conditions are fulfilled.
- 4. Equip (plus symbol)
- A spell which is equipped to one of either player's monsters, altering its stats or providing an effect. If a monster equipped with an Equip Spell is removed from the field or flipped face down, the spell card is sent to the graveyard.
- 5. Field (compass)
- A card that is placed in the Field Spell Zone, causing effects that affect both players. Following revisions made in 2014, both players can each control one Field Spell card (previously, only one Field Spell could be active at any time and would be destroyed if another Field Spell card was played by the opposing player). Players can send their active Field Spell card to the Graveyard in order to play a new one.
- 6. Ritual (flame)
- A card that is used for summoning Ritual Monsters, describing the conditions needed to summon them.
Cards that are activated in response to certain situations, most often when an opponent activates an effect or attacks. They are set face down on the field and cannot be activated on the turn they were placed down under normal conditions (some card effects may allow this). Some are used to destroy an attacking monster, negate battle damage, or possibly redirect damage back to the opponent, though, these effects may differ. There are three types of trap cards:
- 1. Normal (no icon)
- A standard trap card. Certain normal traps may be treated as Equip cards but are still considered normal trap cards.
- 2. Continuous (infinity symbol)
- Upon activation, the card's effect remains in play until its destruction circumstances are fulfilled.
- 3. Counter (curved arrow)
- Trap cards that can be activated in response to the activation of other trap cards. Once a Counter trap is activated, no cards except for other Counter traps may be activated in response to it.
Card effects all have certain speeds. This determines when they can be played and which effect can be "chained" to another .
When a card effect (be it Spell, Trap or Monster) is activated, the other player has the chance to "chain" onto this by activating their own card effects. You can only 'chain' if the 'spell speed' of the card effect you are chaining with is equal to or greater than the effect you are chaining onto. Once no one who is playing wants to chain onto the most recently activated effect, the effects are resolved, in reverse order.
- Player one: Attacks "Elemental Hero Sparkman" with "Blue Eyes White Dragon"
- Player two: Activates the Trap Card "Sakuretsu Armor"
- Player one: Chains with the Counter trap card "Dark Bribe"
- Player two: Chains with the Counter trap card "Seven Tools of the Bandit", by paying the cost of 1,000 Life Points.
- Neither player wishes to respond.
- First, "Seven Tools of the Bandit" resolves. Player two negates "Dark Bribe".
- "Dark Bribe" cannot activate, because it has been negated.
- "Sakuretsu Armor" resolves, destroying "Blue Eyes White Dragon".
- Finally, "Blue Eyes White Dragon" can no longer attack, because it has been destroyed.
- Spell Speed 1 cards can ordinarily only be played during the turn of the player who controls the card. Comprises Spell cards (excluding Quick Play) and Monster Effects (excluding Quick Effect Monster cards)
- Spell Speed 2 cards can be played in any turn, and can be activated in response to either Spell Speed 1 or 2. Comprises Quick Play spells and Normal/Continuous traps and Quick Effect Monster Cards.
- Spell Speed 3 cards are only Counter trap cards. They can be activated in response to either Spell Speed 1, 2, or 3.
Tournaments are often hosted either by players or by card shops. In addition, Konami, Upper Deck (now no longer part of Yu-Gi-Oh's Organized Play), and Shonen Jump have all organized numerous tournament systems in their respective areas. These tournaments attract hundreds of players to compete for prizes such as rare promotional cards.
There are two styles of tournament play called "Formats;" each format has its own rules and some restrictions on what cards are allowed to be used during events.
The Advanced Format is used in all sanctioned tournaments (with the exception of certain Pegasus League formats). This format follows all the normal rules of the game, but also places a complete ban on certain cards that are deemed too powerful for tournament play. These cards are on a special list called the Forbidden, or Banned List. There are also certain cards that are Limited or Semi-Limited to only being allowed 1 or 2 of those cards in a deck and side deck combined, respectively. This list is updated every three months (January 1, April 1) and is followed in all tournaments that use this format.
Traditional format is sometimes used in Pegasus League play and is never used in Official Tournaments and reflects the state of the game without banned cards. Cards that are banned in Advanced are limited to one copy per deck in this format.
Rating systems The game formerly incorporated worldwide rankings, but since Konami canceled organized play, the ratings were obsolete. Konami has developed a new rating system called "COSSY," (Konami Card Game Official Tournament Support System.)
With the introduction of the Battle Pack: Epic Dawn, Konami has announced the introduction of drafting tournaments. This continued with a second set for sealed play: Battle Pack: War Of The Giants in 2013
Casual players typically agree to follow an unofficial variant of the rules, such as multiple player duel (where three or more duelists play every-man-for-themselves) and use of the Egyptian God Cards (promotional cards from the anime/manga adaptation, which are illegal in official tournaments. These have been reprinted into legal versions, however the original promotional cards no longer remain illegal.) For these unofficial variants of the game, the rules, such as what cards are legal or not, are agreed upon ahead of time. However, official Tag (team) Duel rules have been introduced into the main game, advertised in the form of Tag Force 2 and Championship 2008.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Cards are available in Starter Decks, Structure Decks, booster packs, collectible tins, and occasionally as promotional cards.
- Booster Packs
- As in all other Trading Card Games, booster packs are the primary avenue of card distribution. In Konami's distribution areas, five or nine random cards are found in each booster pack depending on the set and each set contains around one hundred different cards. However, in Upper Deck's areas, early booster packs contained a random assortment of nine cards (rarity and value varies), with the whole set ranging around one hundred and thirty cards. To catch up with the Japanese meta game, two or more original sets were combined into one. Now, more recent Upper Deck sets have simply duplicated the original set. Some booster sets are reprinted/reissued (e.g. Dark Beginnings Volume 1 and 2). This type of set usually contains a larger number of cards (around 200 to 250), and they contain twelve cards along with one tip card rather than the normal five or nine. Since the release of Tactical Evolution, all booster packs that have a Holographic/Ghost Rare card, will also contain a rare, meaning if you receive a Holofoil card in a pack you will still receive 1 Rare card and 7 Common cards. Current sets have 100 different cards per set. There are also special booster packs that are given to those who attend a tournament. These sets change each time there is a different tournament and have fewer cards than a typical booster pack. There are eight Tournament Packs, eight Champion Packs, and 10 Turbo Packs.
- Duelist Packs
- Duelist packs are similar to booster packs, albeit are focused around the types of cards used by characters in the various anime series.
- Promotional cards
- Some cards in the TCG have been released by other means, such as inclusion in video games, movies, and Shonen Jump Magazine issues. These cards often are exclusive and have a special type of rarity or are never-before-seen to the public. Occasionally, cards like Elemental Hero Stratos and Chimeratech Fortress Dragon have been re-released as revisions.
Using physical cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! video games
Nearly every card has a unique 8 digit code printed on it. When that code is entered into one of the Yu-Gi-Oh! video games that accept it, a digital copy of that card is added to the player's virtual cards. Thus, players can port their real-world decks into the games.
Some cards do not have this code. For example, all but two copies of Japanese Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon cards say "Replica" where the code should be (They are considered replicas of the other two that were given as prizes in a tournament in Tokyo).
Some cards do not have anything at all. For example, the Shadow Ghoul monster card from the English Metal Raiders and Dark Beginning 2 booster sets has no code number, as opposed to being a replica card. Some other examples of cards that do not have any codes at all are Labyrinth Wall (and its sister card, "Wall Shadow,") Gate Guardian and its "pieces," Sanga of the Thunder, Kazejin, and Suijin.
Duel Terminal cards, which are prefixed by DT in their identification, are used in a Duel Terminal machines, which are at various locations around the country. In these machines, you can lay down a Duel Terminal card, and the machine will scan it in so you can play with it.
As the card game is localized in various markets outside Japan, many cards receive alterations and changes to names, descriptions, and/or artwork from their original Japanese counterparts, largely pertaining to references to religion, violence, sex, alcohol, and death, in order to avoid controversy in those markets and make the game (TCG) more suitable for younger children. Due to the OCG in Japan age range being 12 and up they were allowed to feature some images not suitable for children. Examples include "Demon" type monsters being renamed as "Archfiends", certain weapons such as guns being remodeled into more fantasy-styled weapons like blasters, with references changed accordingly, and cards containing religious symbols, such as "Monster Reborn", which contains an ankh in the original Japanese version, being given completely different artwork. Other cards may receive alternate names from their Japanese counterparts, including characters originally given English names in the original release and even including renaming cards with original Japanese names from the English language to names from the Japanese language, for various other reasons, such as to avoid infringement with copyrighted characters in those markets.
Comparison to manga/anime
In its original incarnation in Kazuki Takahashi's Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series, Duel Monsters, originally known as Magic & Wizards, had a rather basic structure, not featuring many of the restricting rules introduced later on and often featuring peculiar exceptions to the rulings in the interest of providing a more engrossing story. Beginning with the Battle City arc of the manga and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime series, more structured rules such as tribute requirements were introduced to the story, with the series falling more in line with the rules of the real life card-game by the time its spin-off series began. From the Duel Monsters anime onwards, characters use cards which resemble their real life counterparts, though some monsters or effects differ between that of the real life trading card game and the manga and anime's Duel Monsters, with some cards created exclusively for those mediums. Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's featured an anime-original card type known as Dark Synchro, which involved using "Dark Tuners" to summon Dark Synchro Monsters with negative levels. Dark Synchro cards were featured in the PlayStation Portable video game, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Tag Force 4, while Dark Synchro Monsters featured in the anime were released as standard Synchro Monsters in the real-life game. Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V features Action Cards, spell and trap cards that are picked up in the series' unique Action Duels, which are not possible to perform in the real life game. In the film Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions, an exclusive form of summoning known as Dimension Summoning is featured. This method allows players to freely summon a monster by deciding how many ATK or DEF points it has, but they receive damage equal to that amount when the monster is destroyed. The Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS anime series features Speed Duels which use a smaller number of Monster and Spell & Trap Zones and removes Main Phase 2 for faster duels. In the anime, characters can activate unique Skills depending on the situation (for example, the protagonist Yusaku can draw a random monster when his life points are below 1000) once per duel. A similar ruleset is featured in the Duel Terminal arcade machine series.
With the exception of the films Pyramid of Light and The Dark Side of Dimensions, which base the card's appearance on the English version of the real-life card game, all Western releases of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters anime and its subsequent spin-off series, produced by 4Kids Entertainment and later 4K Media Inc., edit the appearance of cards to differentiate them from their real-life counterparts in accordance with U.S. Federal Communications Commission regulations in concerning program-length commercials, as well as to make the show more marketable across non-English speaking countries. These cards are edited to only display their background, illustration, level/rank, and ATK/DEF points.
The overall reception of the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game has changed over time.
For over a decade when it was first launched, the game gained popularity among lots of people which led to the start of official tournaments and eventually Championship Events. Then in 2013, a few years after the start of the Zexal Era, the game's format began to seriously change.
The game became more focused on quickly summoning out large groups of monsters which appeared to be centered around recently released themes centered around Xyz monsters. This effect rendered several older cards and archetypes obsolete This was in direct contradiction to the previous format as previous Yu-Gi-Oh video games were winnable without resorting to the newest format of cards, which closely mirrored the real life game at the time they were released. Konami also began a process of changing up the rules of various cards as part of an effort to remove those that had been on the banlist for years. Although this was embraced by long time players, this helped to alienate new and younger players that would be unable or unwilling to purchase these new cards which were highly priced.
This continued into the Arc-V Era after Pendulum Summoning was introduced. Despite a statement from Konami stating that all summoning types would be supported equally, it became clear a year into the format that Pendulum Summoning had a clear advantage over all other summoning types. New archetypes were introduced with other summoning formats, but this still alienated new players due to the high price of these cards and the inability of older cards to keep up with this format.
The current format Vrains along with Link Summoning appears to have been created in direct response to these criticisms. Despite the fact that it slows the game down, limits the use of Extra Deck monsters, and makes it harder to use Spell and Trap Cards with Pendulum Monsters, these new changes have made several once popular deck themes unusable. As a result, the player usage of the game has dropped even further and several official tournament stores have dropped the game entirely.
The popularity has also declined due to the spin-off anime adaptions following the original 2000-2004 series not being as popular, causing many to not be interested in its game counterpart.
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