How to play yugioh in 2021?
Yu-Gi-Oh is one of the most complicated trading card games ever created. That said, despite how confusing it can be, getting started playing is easier than one would expect.
First released in 1999, the TCG is a real-life adaptation of the Yu-Gi-Oh anime and manga’s Duel Monsters game. Yu-Gi-Oh’s popularity followed hot off the heels of Pokémon, with plenty of ’90s and 2000s millennials dueling on playgrounds and cafeteria tables during the height of the card game’s fad. But over two decades later, Yu-Gi-Oh is still just as fun today as it was during its first few years.
Interested in learning how to play this iconic TCG? Here’s what you need to know.
First in Yu-Gi-Oh, make a deck of 40-60 cards with an “Extra Deck” of up to 15 cards. The extra deck is where Fusion, Syncro, XYZ, and Link monsters go, and the main deck is for everything else. When the game begins, shuffle your deck and draw five cards.
Yu-Gi-Oh is divided into phases which are fairly easy to understand. Each turn starts with a Draw Phase, where the player draws a card (unless you’re going first in the match, in which case, don’t draw anything). Standby Phase is the start of your turn before you draw, which activates any cards’ affiliated Standby effects. Next is the Main Phase, where the core part of the game is done. The dueler can play their cards during this segment: Monsters, traps, summons, and activated effects are all fair game. They can deploy monsters both defensively and offensively. If you set cards to attack, this segues into the Battle Phase.
In Battle Phase, any card in attack position can attack just once. Battles are incredibly straightforward: Compare your card’s Atk to your opponent’s defending card. The bigger number wins in a fight, and the difference is dealt in Life Points. Things can get tricky here; if you attack a monster weaker than your card’s Atk, you destroy that monster and deal LP damage to your opponent. If you you attack a monster with the same Atk, both are destroyed. And if you attack a monster that’s stronger than your own, you lose LP. The inverse is true for defending as well.
If your opponent has no defending monsters, you can attack their LP directly. All players start with 8,000 LP. To win the game, deplete your opponent’s health to zero.
Once the Battle is done, it’s time for Main Phase 2. This lets the player use more cards if things get messy in battle. After that, your turn enters the End Phase. Any End Phase effects are activated during this phase. You’ll also need to discard any additional cards you have if there are more than six in your hand. Then, it’s time for your opponent’s turn, where the process starts all over for them.
During the Main Phase, you can play as many cards as you want from your hand as you can play. Traps need to wait a turn after being set, but so long as the card’s activation condition is met, you can play them. You are allowed one normal summon per turn for playing a monster, but many cards allow themselves to be special summoned. Cards have levels, but in modern Yu-Gi-Oh, that hardly matters. Today’s players rarely tribute summon and instead will use cards to bring out cards, or use cards for their effects in hand.
Summoning from the extra deck has become a core part of Yu-Gi-Oh. Players can Fusion summon by playing a Fusion spell card and meeting the conditions on the Fusion monster. To Syncro summon, grab a “tuner” monster (it will say on the card) and other monsters equal to the level of the monster you want in the extra deck. For XYZ cards, just put two cards or more of the same level on top of each other and then put an XYZ monster with an equal rank on top of it. And to Link, just put any cards together and meet the conditions on the Link monster. Generally, it’s just mashing two to four monsters together.
There are many other odds and ends to Yu-Gi-Oh, but this covers the basics. The biggest key to learning the TCG is taking your time. Most of Yu-Gi-Oh comes down to reading cards and taking advantage of their abilities. Basically, any rule could have had a “unless a card says otherwise” clause. So learning the cards and the normal flow of the game is way more important than learning every niche that Yu-Gi-Oh’s over 10,000 cards provide.
Now that you know the basic structure for playing Yu-Gi-Oh, you’ll want to start trying the game out yourself.
The best starting point is to buy a deck. Buy three structure decks and put together the best cards. From there, you’ll have a solid assortment to use in battle.
Once your deck is assembled, focus on learning that deck’s cards. Play against people you like who are familiar with the game, and take the time to learn how your deck and their deck works. Yu-Gi-Oh’s far more complicated rules, like Pendulum summoning, card ruling, miss timing, and so on, will come over time.
If you’re coming back to Yu-Gi-Oh after playing the game when you were a kid, most of your cards are irrelevant to the way the game is played today. Still, it’s worth flipping through your old deck and taking note of your favorite monsters. There just might be new cards based around your classic picks, and some old standbys still get plenty of play in modern decks, like the Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Figure out what feels fun first. A lot of new card designs are catering to Yu-Gi-Oh nostalgia these days, so there is a lot to enjoy if you’re just coming back.
That’s basically everything you need to know to play the game. You should be able to start dueling with friends, family, and enemies from here.
Tournament attendance records are broken every year and, because publisher Konami continually releases both support for the decks of yesteryear and all-new playstyles, it’s never been easier to build a Yu-Gi-Oh! deck you enjoy and find people to play with.
Whether you’re a total novice or a returning duelist who could use a refresher, this guide to learning how to play the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG will get you up to speed with the basics of the trading card game.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG is played in turns that follow a specific order of operations. To begin a duel, the decks are shuffled and each player draws an opening hand of five cards. Here’s a breakdown of the flow of a player turn.
Draw Phase: The first thing you do every turn is draw a card. The one exception is the first turn of the player who goes first, who doesn’t draw anything.
Standby Phase: This is when some card effects activate, as indicated by the cards’ text.
Main Phase 1: In this phase, you make most of your non-combat actions. These include the normal summon/set of one monster (in face-up attack position or face-down defense position respectively), any special summons you are allowed, the activation/setting of spells and traps, and changing battle positions of your monsters, including flip-summoning facedown defending monsters into the face-up attack position.
Battle Phase: This is where the magic happens. Each monster in attack position gets to attack once. When you attack, you compare your Atk value to the opponent’s Atk or Def value, whichever is relevant. Battle can go one of a few ways.
Main Phase 2: Just the same as Main Phase 1, preparing for your opponent’s turn.
End Phase: This is when some card effects activate, which you’ll see in the cards’ text. If you have more than six cards in your hand, discard until you have six.
If your opponent doesn’t have any monsters, you deal your monster’s full Atk in damage.
You’ll bring to the table a Main Deck of 40 to 60 cards, and an Extra Deck of zero to 15 special monsters. You’ll know a monster belongs in the Extra Deck if it has “Fusion”, “Synchro”, “Xyz” or “Link” in bold on its card text.
In tournament play, where a round is decided by a best-two-out-of-three, you can also bring a separate Side Deck of up to 15 cards to swap in between duels to adapt to your opponent’s specific deck. You may have no more than three copies of any card between these three decks.
If building a deck from scratch sounds intimidating, you can pick up a pre-built Structure Deck for under £10/$10. Once you have a sense for how the deck plays, consider experimenting by getting two more of the same one. That way you can swap out the cards that weren’t carrying their weight with extra copies of the ones you wished you saw in your hand more often.
Now let’s look at some Yu-Gi-Oh! card types, beginning with the stars of the show: monsters. There’s a lot going on here, so let us walk you through the different parts of a Yu-Gi-Oh! monster card.
Name: Simple, but the interactions of many cards that specify a card name necessitate a mention.
Level: This determines how difficult a monster is to summon. A Level 1 to 4 monster requires no Tribute to summon. A Tribute is where you pick a monster on your field to send to the Graveyard (in other words, discard) before summoning your bigger monster. A Level 5 or 6 monster requires one Tribute, and a Level 7 or higher monster requires two Tributes. That said, defer to any specific summoning conditions a card might mention.
Attribute: Every monster belongs to one of seven Attributes. These only matter when a card’s text dictates.
Type: Every Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG monster belongs to one of twenty-five Types. Again, these only matter when a card’s text dictates.
Text: For Normal Monsters, this is flavour text. On Effect Monsters, it explains their effects or summoning conditions.
Atk: The relevant stat when the monster is in attack position (vertical), even if it is not the monster attacking.
Def: The relevant stat when the monster is in defence position (horizontal). You do not take damage from battles involving your Defence Position monsters.
You won’t just be summoning monsters; you’ll also be supporting them with spells and traps. These cards are much simpler in design, but they come in a few subsets. Spells can be played face-up and activated immediately or Set - played facedown to be activated on a later turn. In the case of Quick-Play Spells, they can be activated as soon as your opponent’s turn!
Sold on spells? Check out our list of the best Yu-Gi-Oh spell cards.
The last of the core card types is the trap. These get played facedown on your turn to activate on a later turn when their conditions are satisfied.
Now that you’ve seen the soldiers and support, let’s check out the field of battle. In the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, orderly card placement isn’t just a matter of etiquette, it’s part of the strategy, so you may want to play on a labeled play mat until you’re used to it.
There is no designated space for this, but cards can be “banished”, which you can think of as “double dead”. Of course, life always finds a way, and even banished cards might find their way back into play.
Some cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG can be activated in response to something happening, and may even be responded to themselves with another card. This event is called a Chain.
As the chain builds, card effects do not resolve until both players agree they are done adding to it, at which point each effect in the chain resolves in backwards order, so the last card played is the first to resolve. Cards may only respond to another card if it has an equal or greater Spell Speed.
Spell Speeds are assigned as follows:
That should be enough tutorial to get you started on your own journey to becoming a duelist and learning how to play the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game. Once you’re familiar with the basics, take a look at the different Special Summoning styles that will really bring your deck to the next level and the best ways to start your collection.