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The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading 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 comic artist Kazuki Takahashi, which is the main plot device during the majority of his popular comic Yu-Gi-Oh! and the Nihon Ad Systems animated series Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters GX and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's and "Yu-Gi-Oh! R" (it appears only intermittently and under the name of Magic and Wizards, in reference to Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering, in the Japanese version of the manga and the 1998, Toei Animation series). The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, often shortened TCG, 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.

In the fictional settings of the manga, anime, and films, the game is referred to as Duel Monsters. Thus the trading card game is the realization of a fictional game invented by the author Kazuki Takahashi. The cards and rules of the fictional game are subservient to the plot of the story, and so they cannot be made into an actual trading card game without modification. Konami has produced most of the cards named by Takahashi with the powers he gives them. The rules of the trading card game are quite distinct from those of the fictional game. They are more consistent and balanced and do not change as they do in the fictional contexts. The original manga and the first English printing of Volumes 1–3 and part of Volume 4 used the name Magic & Wizards while the other and newer English productions and both anime versions use Duel Monsters.

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.

Basic RulesEdit

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a strategy card game in which players use monsters, spells and traps in order to damage their opponent. Each player has a set number of life points (typically 8000) and a deck of 40-60 cards (along with an Extra Deck of up to 15 cards), taking turns going through several phases; Draw, Standby, Main 1, Battle, Main 2 and End. The player wins when he or she manages to reduce his or her opponent's life points to zero (By battle damage or effect damage), or the opponent is unable to draw cards in his Draw Phase (Deck Out). There are also some cards with automatic victory conditions, such as Exodia the Forbidden One or Destiny Board.

Game LayoutEdit

The player's deck of cards, which are drawn when required, such as during the Draw Phase of each turn. If the player has no cards in his deck during his/her Draw Phase, he/she loses.
Extra Deck
A separate deck containing up to 15 Fusion or Synchro Monsters, which require specific means to summon.
Monster Zone
Up to five monsters can be played here in Attack or Defense position or both maybe.
Spell/Trap Zone
Up to five Spell or Trap cards can be in play at once.
Discarded cards, such as used Spells and Traps or Monsters that were destroyed or tributed are placed here.
Removed From Play Zone
Cards that are removed from play as denoted via card effects go here.
Field Spell Zone
Field Spell cards are played here as opposed to the Spell/Trap Zone. Only one Field Spell can be in play at any time. If another field card is played, it automatically destroys the other field card.

Also, there are Matches, which are three duels in a row. You and your opponent play best out of three duels to win. Between each duel, a player may switch cards between their deck and their Side Deck (a deck of 15 cards or less that is designed specifically for Matches). The winner of the previous duel chooses who takes the first turn of the next duel.


The player draws a card from his/her deck.
Certain effects may occur during this phase
Main 1
The player can summon Monsters, change existing Monsters' battle positions, and/or use or set Spell and Trap cards.
The player can attack once for each monster he/she has in Attack position. The player who begins the game may not attack on his/her first turn.
Main 2
Player can activate or set Spells or Traps. If the player has yet to summon a Monster, or wishes to change the battle position of a Monster, he/she may do so.
The player ends his/her turn. Certain effects may occur.

Card typesEdit


Monsters are the essential point of the game, and are used to attack and defend against the opponent. Each monster has a level, an ATK power and a DEF power and are played in either Attack position (face-up, upright) or Defense position (placed sideways, summoned face-down unless otherwise noted). Once per turn, players can normal summon a Level 4 or lower monster, or Tribute summon a more powerful monster (Lv 5-6 requires the tribute of one monster, Lv 7 or higher requires two tributes.) If the conditions for special summoning are met, the player can perform this as many times as possible. Each turn, players can attack once with each monster currently in Attack position during the battle phase. To destroy the opponent's monster, the player's monster must have higher or equal ATK points than that monster's ATK points, if in Attack position, (if lower, your monster will be destroyed and you will take damage to your life points) or DEF points if it's in Defense position (if lower your monster will not be destroyed, but you will take damage to your life points). Depending on the outcome, life points may be deducted from the player's life points. Each monster may also have a card effect denoted in its description, and may also be affected by other cards depending on their name, type and attribute.

There are several types of monsters, some of which require certain strategies to summon:

1. Normal/Effect (yellow/orange)
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 are yellow with a description of the monster whilst monsters that have effects are orange with an effect detailed in their description.
2. Fusion (purple)
A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by using Polymerization or a similar card effect and "fusing" monster cards depicted in the Fusion monster's description from the hand or field.
Example: Using 'Polymerization' and using 'Elemental Hero Avian' and 'Elemental Hero Burstinatrix' as the monsters for the fusion allows the player to special summon 'Elemental Hero Flame Wingman.'
3. Ritual (blue)
A monster that is summoned from the hand by using a Ritual Spell card and tributing monster cards from hand and/or field according to the Spell's instructions, whose summed level must not be less than the ritual monster's.
Example: Using 'Black Luster Ritual' and tributing monsters from field and/or hand whose sum of levels equal 8 or more allows player to special summon 'Black Luster Soldier.'
4. Synchro (white)
A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by sending to the graveyard (referred to as 'tuning') a 'Tuner' monster (the text 'Tuner' appears where 'Effect' would appear on effect monsters) with one or more non-tuner monsters from the field, whose total level equals the level of the Synchro Monster you wish to summon. With some exceptions, this usually does not require specific monsters. Some Synchro monsters are also Tuner monsters and have the special ability of allow the player to perform a Synchro Summon during the opponent's turn. Some Synchro monsters require two Tuner monsters to be summoned.
Example: Tuning 'Junk Synchron' (Lv 3 Tuner monster) and 'Speed Warrior' (Lv 2) allows player to special summon 'Junk Warrior' (Lv 5).
5. Token (grey)
A low-powered monster summoned through card effects. These are typically used for defense or tribute purposes.

In the case of Fusion and Synchro monsters, they may be Special Summoned by certain means if sent to the Graveyard (unless they were sent there before they were summoned). However, if they are returned to the Extra Deck, the player must meet the summoning requirements to re-summon them.


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, etc. It is important to have a good balance of these in your deck. Spells come in 6 forms.

1. Normal
Sent to the grave after the effect resolves.
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 outside of the main phase. However, you cannot activate a quick-play spell on the same turn that you set it on the field.
3. Continuous (appears as the infinity symbol)
Remain on the field after activation until they are removed or destroyed.
4. Equip (appears as an addition sign)
Attach to a monster to alter its stats, or provide an effect.
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 whilst an opponent has one already in play, the opponent's field spell is destroyed.
6. Ritual (appears as a fire)
Used to summon ritual monsters.


  • 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. There are three types of trap cards:
  1. Normal traps are Spell Speed 2. 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 are also Spell Speed 2. Their effect stays in play until its destruction circumstances are fulfilled.
  3. Counter trap cards have a Spell Speed 3. No cards except other Counter traps can be played after a Counter trap has been activated.
Monster effects, spell cards and trap cards all have certain speeds. This determines when they can be played and which effect can be "chained" to another.
  • Spell Speed 1 cards can ordinarily only be played during the turn of the player who controls the card. This is true for Field and Continuous spell cards only when they are usually compulsory to activate.
  • Spell Speed 3 cards are only Counter trap cards. They can be activated in response to either Spell Speed 1, 2, or 3.


Tournament playEdit

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) tournaments. 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.

Rating Systems

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.)

Casual playEdit

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 with the exception of their legal card forms.) 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 informationEdit

Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Cards are available in Starter Decks, Structure Decks, booster packs, and occasionally as promotional cards.

Booster packsEdit

As in all other Trading Card Games, booster packs are the primary avenue of card distribution. In Konami's distribution areas, five random cards are found in each booster pack, and each set contains between fifty and sixty different cards. However, in Upper Deck's areas, early booster packs contained a random assortment of nine cards (eight common cards and one rare card) 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.

Tournament BoostersEdit

There are 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 three Turbo Packs.

Promo CardsEdit

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.

Duelist PacksEdit

  • Jaden Yuki's Duelist pack 1, 2, and 3
  • Chazz Princeton's Duelist pack
  • Zane Truesdale's Duelist Pack
  • Aster Phoenix's Duelist Pack
  • Jesse Andersen's Duelist Pack
  • Yusei Fudo's Duelist Pack
  • Yusei Fudo's Duelist Pack 2
  • Yusei Fudo's Duelist Pack 3
  • Crow Hogan's Duelist Pack
  • Yugi Muto's Duelist Pack
  • Seto Kaiba's Duelist Pack

Card rarityEdit

These cards are normal monster, spell, and trap cards that usually have made previous appearances in other booster packs.
Short Print
Short Prints are identical to Commons, except they are slightly harder to find. This only existed in the TCG, and were discontinued after Ancient Sanctuary, but have since been re-introduced in the TCG in Phantom Darkness.
Holofoil Rare
Holofoil Rares are used for early Gameboy Promos. They are akin to Super Rares, but have a coating very similar to Parallel Common cards. However, this coating has none of the consistent layout and texture of the usual Parallel coating.
A Rare card is identified by having a silver card name and the image is not holofoiled. There is a rare in every pack but could be replaced by something higher than a rare. Starting with "The Duelist Genesis," you get a rare and sometimes something higher than a rare.
Super Rare
A Super Rare card is identified by having a black or white card name and the image is a holofoil. More recent video game promo cards have been Super Rares. Currently there is a 1:5 chance of getting one in a booster pack.
Ultra Rare
An Ultra Rare card is identified by having a gold card name and a holofoil image. The odds of getting an Ultra Rare in a Booster Pack was around 1:12 in Booster Packs before Soul of the Duelist. From Soul of the Duelist onwards, the odds became around 1:24. However reprint sets released after Soul of the Duelist such as Dark Revelation Volume 3 use the 1:12 ratio. Although after Tactical Evolution the odds dropped back down to 1:12.
Gold Rare
Gold Rare is a newer type of rarity introduced in the Gold Series. It has gold lettering and a holographic foil image like an Ultra Rare, but also has a holographic gold image border, lore text border, and card border. On Monster Cards, the Level Stars are embossed in gold foil, similar to what is found on Ultimate Rares. This type of rare is only present in Gold Series 1, Gold Series 2, and Gold Series 3.
Ultimate Rare
An Ultimate Rare card has an "embossed" foil on the Card Artwork, including the borders of artworks, Attribute icon, and on Monster Cards, the Level Stars. The card name is printed gold, like an Ultra Rare. When scanned, the embossed image may be muted and the image indistinct from the background. Unlike other Rares, an Ultimate Rare cannot be detected by weighing a booster, since the card is much thinner than a normal Super Rare or Ultra Rare, with a weight comparable to that of to a Common. Ultimate Rare cards usually also come in a less rare variety that can be found in the same booster with the same card number. Ultimate Rares are printed on thinner paper.
On the internet market, Ultimate Rare Cards are sometimes much more valuable than others, even if their effectiveness in the game is only above average.
Ghost Rare
Ghost Rare is a fairly recent rarity introduced in the TCG version of Tactical Evolution. It appears to have a very shiny silver lettering, much like a Secret Rare, with some colours removed from the card and a 3D image. The overall effect of these changes is a pale, "Ghost-like" appearance to the card art, especially when scanned. There are only 14 Ghost Rare TCG Cards, with a new one released in every booster pack: Rainbow Dragon, Elemental Hero Chaos Neos, Rainbow Neos, Honest, Stardust Dragon, Black Rose Dragon, Red Dragon Archfiend/Assault Mode, Power Tool Dragon, Ancient Fairy Dragon, Majestic Star Dragon, Majestic Red Dragon, Black-Winged Dragon, Dragon Knight Draco-Equiste and Shooting Star Dragon. The first four represent alternative foil patterns for a single Secret Rare card in their respective sets, but starting with the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's booster series, Ghost Rares became alternatives to monsters that were released in Ultra Rare and Ultimate Rare. In addition, all of the cards available in Ghost Rare were the image on the cover of the booster set, except for Rainbow Neos. Ghost Rare is the TCG version of Holographic Rare. The odds of obtaining a ghost rare is approximately 1 in every 36 booster packs. Most of theses cards are very valuable because of their extreme rarity, however many of them had their value diminish somewhat when a Secret Rare version was released in a Collectible Tin. The only cards released as Ghost Rare that have not also been released in Collectible Tins are Elemental Hero Chaos Neos, Rainbow Neos and Red Dragon Archfiend/Assault Mode.
Secret Rare
A Secret Rare card is identified by having a silver card name and the image has a unique holofoil known as a parallel holofoil (named due to the parallel dot effect on the image). In sets that are older than Tactical Evolution, secret Rares are all either the first (#000) or last cards in a set.
Secret Rares were at first discontinued due to excessive use of electronic scales, however, they have been re-introduced in Strike of Neos. Currently, the odds of getting a Secret Rare in a Booster Pack is 1:24.
Prismatic Secret Rare
This refers to European Secret Rare promos, whose glittery holographics follow a very different 'prism' pattern to their North American counterpart(s).
Ultra Secret Rare
An Ultra Secret Rare has the Ultra Rare foil over the image, but has the sparkly silver card name like a Secret Rare. (the GSE version of "Elemental Hero Wildheart") It is a Fairly common card.
Secret Ultra Rare
A Secret Ultra Rare has the Secret Rare foil over the image, but has the Gold card name like an Ultra Rare.
There is only one image known for this type of rarity, is an apparently misprinted version of "Gaia the Dragon Champion" in the original Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon booster pack.
Parallel Rare
Parallel Rare is a generic term, used to refer to cards where the entire card surface is holographic (that shows up as an even "haze" on most scans). There are four types of Parallel Rare:
Normal Parallel Rare
Normal black or white title, normal picture. Also known as "Parallel Common."
Super Parallel Rare
A Super Parallel Rare has all the characteristics of a Super Rare (ie. foil image and a black card name) but has a coating that makes the whole surface reflect. The coating tends to stiffen the card and when scanned the coating creates a uniform haze on the card.
Duel Terminal Parallel Rare
Only found on Duel Terminal Series cards, these are based on Normal Parallel Rares, but with a different Parallel Coating design.
Ultra Parallel Rare
An Ultra Parallel Rare has a gold card title like Ultra Rares, but also has a coating across the surface to make the whole card reflect. The coating tends to stiffen the card and when scanned the coating creates a uniform haze on the card.

Using physical cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! video gamesEdit

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 Black Luster Soldier (and its Ritual Spell Card "Black Luster Ritual"), Labyrinth Wall (and its sister card, "Wall Shadow,") Gate Guardian and its "pieces," Sanga of the Thunder, Kazijin, 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.


Otherwise, due to the nature of the inspirations of some of the cards, such as ancient mythology and Japanese folklore, the card game was a potential target for religious advocate groups to accuse of promoting idolatry, among other things. 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". 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. (The use of Christian themes have also been censored out of the international edition of Yu-Gi-Oh. i.e. Halos removed from certain characters, crosses removed.)

External linksEdit

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