Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game
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Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG logo
|Players||• 1 vs. 1
• 2 vs. 2
• 3 vs. 3
• unofficial free-for-all 3 or 4 players
|Age range||13 and up (Japan), 6 and up (International)|
|Setup time||approx. 2–3 minutes|
|Playing time||approx. 5–60 minutes per game (depending on variables), hours per match|
|Skill(s) required||Card playing
The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game (遊☆戯☆王オフィシャルカードゲーム Yū☆Gi☆Ō Ofisharu Kādo Gēmu , Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game) 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 Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game was first launched by Konami in 1999. 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. The trading card game continues to gain popularity as it is played around the world, mostly in Japan, North America, Europe and Australia.
Prior 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 unauthentic 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 currently serves as 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.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a battle-based trading card game in which players draw cards from their respective decks and take turns playing cards onto "the field". Each player uses a custom-made deck containing 40 to 60 cards, as well as an optional "Extra Deck" of up to 15 cards that are used in certain situations. There is also a 15 card "Side deck," which allows players to modify their deck between games. Players are restricted to three copies of any one card per deck and side deck (with some restricted to just one or two per deck). Each player starts with 2000, 4000 or 8000 "Life Points" (as agreed by the players or set by the tournament rules), and the usual win condition is the reduction of the opponent's Life Points to zero. This is typically achieved by using one's "monster" cards to attack the opponent's monster cards and/or inflict damage to his or her life points. The other two card types are "spells" and "traps", which have a nearly endless variety of functions. For example, these cards' effects may eliminate an opponent's card, counter the effects of an opponent's card, or retrieve a specific card from one's own deck, to name just a few. Most monster cards also have extra abilities of their own,
Win Conditions 
Most commonly, a player wins when the opponent's Life Points reach zero. Less commonly, a player is also the winner if the opponent's deck runs out of cards and the opponent is therefore unable to draw a card at the start of his/her turn (during the Draw Phase). Lastly and least commonly, a few cards can grant the user an automatic victory when certain conditions are fulfilled. However, such strategies are easily prevented by competent players, and so they aren't typically used in competitive matches. Some of the ways of winning by using card effects are by collecting all 5 pieces of Exodia in your hand or activating the spell card "Final Countdown" and passing 20 turns.
A draw occurs if both players' Life Points simultaneously become zero or if both players have a card effect that can win a duel activated at the same time.
Each player's turn contains six phases, taking place in the following order:
- During the Draw Phase, the player draws one card from his or her deck.
- The Standby phase exists only for card effects that occur at the beginning of the player's turn (e.g. maintenance costs for certain card effects) and is often skipped when no such effects apply.
- During each of the two Main Phases, the player may "summon" a monster (once per turn, not counting other monsters summoned by card effects), manipulate monsters that are already in play, and set cards face-down.
- During the Battle Phase, the player may attack the opponent's monsters (or the opponent's Life Points, if the opponent has no monsters in play) once with each of his or her own monsters in Attack position, while the opponent may attempt to defend with his or her own Traps, Spells, or monster effects. If the player has no monsters capable of attacking, or chooses not to battle, he/she can choose to skip this phase.
- Main Phase 2 occurs between the Battle Phase and the End Phase. A player may do all the same actions that are available during Main Phase 1, but they may not summon a monster during this phase if they did so during Main Phase 1 (excluding 'special summons'). If you tribute summoned a card faced down, it is allowed to flip this turn.
- The End Phase, like the Standby Phase, activates certain card effects before the next player begins his/her turn. It is often skipped when no such effects apply.
Monster Cards 
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. 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 position of their monsters, provided they have not been summoned in the same turn and have not declared an attack.
- Level/Rank: This is indicated by the number of Level Stars shown under the monster card's name. Monsters with higher levels typically possess higher ATK or DEF points, or possess more powerful abilities. Whilst normal summoning, players can summon one Lv 4 or lower monster card to the field. However, in order to summon monsters that are Lv 5 or higher, player must send monsters already on the field (known as Tribute Summoning) in order to summon it. Lv 5 and Lv 6 monsters require tributing one monster, whilst monsters that are Lv 7 or higher require two monster tributes. Tribute summoning can only be performed if the player has yet to perform a normal summon during his/her turn. These restrictions do not apply if the card in question is special summoned. Levels are also important in other ways, such as summoning Ritual or Synchro monsters. Xyz Monsters do not possess Levels but instead hold Ranks, indicated by black and yellow stars on the left of the card, relevant to the Levels of the monsters required to summon it. As such, Xyz Monsters are unaffected by effects which target monsters with Levels and cannot be used for Ritual or Synchro summoning.
- Attribute: A monster card will have either a light, dark, earth, wind, fire, water, and 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 (that is, 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 and subtracts 400 to their DEF points to all water-attribute monsters).
- Type: Unlike the mere seven possible attributes, there are 23 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 and Creator God). 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, typically one of the following: Toon, Spirit, Union, Gemini, and Tuner.
Monster Categories 
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 Special Summoned by fulfilling the summoning requirements detailed below. Fusion, Synchro and Xyz Monsters are stored in an Extra Deck separate from the Main Deck. These cards may be resummoned from the graveyard provided they have been successfully summoned beforehand, though if they are returned to the Extra Deck, the player will need to refulfill the summoning requirements to summon them again.
There are several types of monsters, which differ mainly in the methods by which they are summoned:
- 1. Normal (通常 Tsūjō ) (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 typically do not have effects of their own, instead bearing a description of the monster in its card description.
- 2. Effect (効果 Kōka ) (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.
- 3. Fusion (融合 Yūgō ) (purple)
- A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by using a card with an effect that fusion summons monsters, such as 'Polymerization', and sending monster cards depicted in the Fusion monster's description from the hand or field to the graveyard.
- Example: Using the 'Polymerization' spell card and sending 'Crass Clown' and 'Dream Clown' from the field and/or hand to the graveyard allows the player to specially summon 'Bickuribox.'
- 4. Ritual (儀式 Gishiki ) (blue)
- A monster that is Ritual Summoned by using a Ritual Spell Card and tributing monster cards from the hand and/or field according to the card's instructions, whose summed levels must not be less than that of the Ritual Monster you wish to summon.
- Example: Using the 'Black Luster Ritual' spell card and tributing monsters from the field and/or hand whose total levels equal Lv 8 or more allows player to special summon 'Black Luster Soldier' (Lv 8 Ritual Monster).
- 5. Synchro (シンクロ Shinkuro ) (white)
- Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's anime series. A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by sending a 'Tuner' type 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. With some exceptions, this usually does not require specific monsters.
- Example: Sending 'Junk Synchron' (Lv 3 Tuner Monster) and 'Speed Warrior' (Lv 2) to the graveyard allows player to special summon 'Junk Warrior' (Lv 5 Synchro Monster).
- 6. Xyz (エクシーズ Ekushīzu , pronounced 'ek-seez') (black)
- Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal anime series. Xyz Monsters are summoned from the Extra Deck by 'overlaying' two or more monsters (the number is 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', which are placed underneath the Xyz Monster in the Monster Zone. Xyz Material can be sent to the graveyard in order to activate an Xyz Monster's effects. Unlike other monsters, Xyz monsters don't have levels and thus they are unaffected by cards involving a monster's level and cannot be used for Ritual or Synchro Summoning.
- Example: Overlaying two Lv 4 monsters allows player to special summon the 'No. 39 Utopia' (Rank 4).
- 7. Token (grey)
- Commonly a low-powered monster that can only be summoned through a card effect, typically used for defense or tribute purposes. Tokens may be used for Ritual or Synchro Summoning, but cannot be used for Xyz Summoning (tokens can only exist on the field, and "Xyz Material" is not considered on 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. Only monster cards in Attack Position (placed in a vertical orientation) can attack, and each such monster card can attack once per turn during the Battle Phase.
When a monster card "declares an attack", one of the opponent's monsters is selected as the target. At this time, the ATK points of the attacking monster are compared with the relevant ATK or DEF points of the opponent's targeted monster (depending on whether it is in Attack Position or Defense Position). The monster card with the lower points is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard. Subsequently, the victorious monster may have the attack points of the defeated monster subtracted from the pool of that monster's attack points. If the destroyed monster card was in Attack Position, then its owner will lose Life Points equal to the difference between the two monsters' points. For example, if Mystic Tomato (which has 1400 ATK and 1100 DEF) attacks an opponent's Sangan (1000 ATK and 600 DEF) in Attack Position, then the opponent's Sangan is destroyed and he or she loses 400 Life Points. However, the owner will not lose Life Points if his or her monster card was in Defense Position. In the previous example, if Sangan had been in Defense Position (placed in a horizontal orientation), then it would still be destroyed by an attacking Mystic Tomato but its owner would not lose Life Points.However, If the Defensive Points of a Card (for this example the card Mystic Elf, which has 800 ATK and 2000 DEF) is higher than the ATK points of the attacking Card, the owner of the attacking card will lose life point to the difference of each number (If Mystic Tomato attacked the Mystic Elf in Defense mode, the owner of Mystic Tomato would lose 600 life points), but the attacking monster is not destroyed. No Cards are destroyed after the end of an attack subject to a card effect (like D.D Warriors effect which removes both this card and the attacking card from play)
In this way, monster cards in Defense Position protect their owner's Life Points. On the other hand, only monster cards in Attack Position can declare attacks, and their positions cannot be manipulated afterward.
If the opponent has no monster cards in play, then an attacking monster may target the opponent's Life Points directly. This causes the full amount of that monster's ATK points to be deducted from the opponent's Life Points. A very general strategy is to use card effects (those of monster, Spell, and Trap cards) to eliminate the opponent's monsters, so that a player's own monsters can attack the opponent's Life Points directly.
Spell Cards 
These are cards that can be played either from the hand, or set on the field 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. It is important to have a good balance of these in your deck. Spells cards were originally known as "Magic cards". Spells come in 6 forms.
- 1. Normal
- Sent to the grave after the effect resolves. They can not be used on opponent's turn(s).
- 2. Quick Play (appears as a lightning bolt)
- Can be set to be activated during your opponents turn as well as your own, or played during your own turn outside of the main phases. However, you cannot activate a quick-play spell on the same turn that you set it on the field.
- 3. Continuous (appears as an infinity sign)
- Remain on the field after activation until they are removed or destroyed.
- 4. Equip (appears as a plus)
- Attach to a monster to alter its stats, or provide an effect. If the equipped monster leaves the field,or is flipped face down; it loses Equip Spells.
- 5. Field (appears as a compass)
- Played in a special field card zone, which provides an effect that takes place over the entire duel while active. Only one field card can be active in the duel at a time; if a player plays a field spell while one is already in play, the first field spell is destroyed.
- 6. Ritual (appears as a flame)
- Used to summon ritual monsters; tributing may occur.
Trap Cards 
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 unless there is a card effect that says it could be activated the turn the trap card is set. 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 traps
- They cannot be activated during either player's turn if it was set that turn. Certain normal traps turn into equip cards but are still considered normal trap cards.
- 2. Continuous trap cards (appears with an infinity sign)
- Their effect stays in play until its destruction circumstances are fulfilled.
- 3. Counter trap cards (appears with a curved arrow)
- No cards except other Counter traps can be played after a Counter trap has been activated.
Spell Speed 
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 players have 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 'Sarkuretsu 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 one negates 'Dark Bribe'.
'Dark Bribe' 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.
Tournament play 
Tournaments are often hosted either by players or by card shops. In addition, Upper Deck (now no longer part of Yu-Gi-Oh's Organized Play), Konami, 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.
- Advanced Format
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 advantageous 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 six months (September 1, March 1) and is followed in all tournaments that use this format.
- Traditional 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.
The trading card 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.)
- Sealed Format
With the introduction of the Battle Pack: Epic Dawn, Konami has announced the introduction of drafting tournaments.
Casual play 
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 recently been reprinted into legal versions, however the original promotional cards 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, very recently, official Tag (team) Duel rules have been introduced into the main game, advertised in the form of Tag Force 2 and Championship 2008.
Product information 
- 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 100 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 130 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 amount of cards (around 200 to 250), and they contain twelve cards along with one tip card rather than the normal five or nine. Recently, 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 Cyber Valley 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 7–9 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 Yu-Gi-Oh! 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.
There are also Duel Terminal cards. (Prefixed by DT in cards.) These are used in a Duel Terminal machine, 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.
Due to the inspirations for some of the cards, such as ancient mythology and Japanese folklore, the card game was a potential target for religious advocacy groups. Perhaps to alleviate their concerns, the English names of the cards were not always given a direct translation, instead opting for a name less controversial. For example, the "Black Magician" in the original Japanese was changed to the "Dark Magician" in English, which reduced its association with black magic and the card "Trial of Hell" was changed to "Trial of Nightmare". Also some cards that had their original Japanese names in the English language had been renamed with names that are in the Japanese language, mostly or sometimes different in meaning from the original Japanese names. For example, the card "Gargoyle" in Japan is renamed as Ryu-kishin meaning Dragon Demon God in Japanese. Most cards with "Des" in their English names have it to replace "Death", which is used in other languages. However, this has caused some problems with the naming of certain cards, such as Archfiends (Demons in Japan), who (before the advent of Dark Crisis) all had unique names in the English version. Thus they had to be reclassified as Archfiends to meet the new standard. In addition the use of Christian themes have also been censored out of the international edition of Yu-Gi-Oh. Many cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game receive alternate or censored artwork from the original Japanese editions. This occurs mostly in cards where the original artwork has religious connotations or is of a sexual nature. This has also occurred in instances where a card may bear some similarity to a tragic event, such as the alteration of "Poseidon waves" to "Zeus's breath" in the anime, and the removal of crosshairs on the card "Cloak and Dagger."
See also 
- "Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Sales Set New World Record" "Konami Press Release" Tokyo, August 7, 2009.
- "Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game". Yugioh-card.com. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game Beginner's Guide. Konami. p. 3.
- "Official YuGiOH U.S. Site – "Yugioh Forbidden/Limited Cards: Advanced Format – Limited and Forbidden Lists"". Yugioh-card.com. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- "Official YuGiOH: Traditional Format – Limited Lists". Yugioh-card.com. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- "YGO TCG News: Konami Unleashes Champion Pack 8 on Duelists Everywhere". Shriektcg.twoday.net. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Expert: Jody D. Sullivan – September 13, 2006 (September 13, 2006). "Christianity – Christian Living: please help!, fantasy card games, horro films". En.allexperts.com. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
- Official Konami Trading Card Game website (Konami)
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Online worldwide portal
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Wikia
- Yu-Gi-OH! Decklist-Archive
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Database
- Yu-Gi-Oh! List of Forbidden Cards