|Players||1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2 |
|Age range||12 and up (OCG), 6 and up (TCG)|
The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game[a] 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 appears in portions of the manga franchise Yu-Gi-Oh! (under the name of "Magic and Wizards"), and is the central plot device throughout its various anime adaptations and spinoff series.
The trading card 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 sold 25.2 billion cards globally since 1999. As of January 2021[update], the game is estimated to have sold about 35 billion cards worldwide and grossed over ¥1 trillion ($9.64 billion). Yu-Gi-Oh! Speed Duel, a faster and simplified version of the game, was launched worldwide in January 2019. Another faster-paced variation, Yu-Gi-Oh! Rush Duel, launched in Japan in April 2020.
In the trading card game, 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 "Life Points", with the main aim of the game to use monster attacks and spells to reduce the opponent's Life Points. The game ends upon reaching one of the following conditions:
Gameplay revolves around three types of cards: Monster, Spell (formerly Magic), and Trap cards. Monster cards are summoned by each player to attack the opponent's monsters or life points (if the opponent has no monsters on the field) or defend against their attacks. With some exceptions, each monster typically possesses ATK (attack) and DEF (defense) points, which are used to determine the results of battles, levels, with more powerful monsters requiring tributes or special summoning techniques to summon, and types and attributes, which determine how they are affected by other cards. Normal and Effect monsters (colored yellow and orange, respectively) are stored in the Main Deck and once per turn, a player, if having the right monsters to do so in their hand, can choose to either Normal Summon a monster, which means bringing a Level 4 or lower monster to their side of the field in ATK position, Tribute Summon a monster by tributing existing monsters on the field to summon a more powerful one (tributing a Level 5 or 6 monster requires sacrificing one monster and tributing a Level 7 or higher monster requires two), or Set a monster, placing it face-down in DEF Position. When a player Tribute Summons, they then have the option of summoning the monster face-up in ATK position, or setting it. Monsters can also be Special Summoned, which is when a monster is summoned by a card effect. There are no limits to how many times a player can Special Summon on their turn, as long as they have access to the cards that allow them to do so. When Special Summoning, a player has the option of placing them on the field in face-up ATK or face-up DEF position. Monsters can also be Flip Summoned, which is when a player changes a Set face-down monster on their side of the field to face-up ATK position. This is possible as long as the monster was not set that turn and was at least set on a player's last turn or their opponent's last turn and is still on the field. Flip Summons, like Special Summons, also do not count towards a player's Normal Summon, Tribute Summon or Set, so they are allowed to Flip Summon on their turn as much as possible.
Six other types of monsters, Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, Link, and Pendulum, require their own unique methods to be Special Summoned to the field, and with the exception of Ritual and certain Pendulum, all of these monsters are first placed in a player's Extra Deck, not the Main Deck. The summoning methods are named with their respective card type (Fusion Summon, Xyz Summon, Pendulum Summon, etc.) but are also simultaneously known as Special Summons and have the same concepts. Ritual Monsters, colored blue, can be summoned by having access to a Ritual Spell Card that allows the summon, having the Ritual monster in their hand, and sacrificing monsters in their hand or on their field until the total level of the sacrificed monsters equals or is higher than the level of the Ritual Monster. Every Ritual Monster has a Spell Card that allows their specific summoning, but there are alternative cards such as Advanced Ritual Art that can be used for various Ritual Monsters. Fusion Monsters, colored purple, require, also like Ritual Monsters, access to certain monsters as well as a card with an effect to summon them. The common card used to Fusion Summon is the Spell Card Polymerization, but there are other card effects to fuse monsters. When Fusion Summoning, monsters in a player's hand or field who fit the criteria for a Fusion Monster in the Extra Deck are sent to the graveyard, and the Fusion Monster is summoned. Synchro Monsters, white, are summoned by combining the levels of monsters on a player's field. This is called tuning them. To Synchro Summon, one of the monsters, and only one, must be a Tuner monster, and the others must be non-Tuner, plus the total levels of the monsters tuned must be exactly the level of the Synchro Monster in a player's Extra Deck. Xyz Monsters, black, are summoned by having monsters on the field with the same level, and instead of going to the Graveyard, the Xyz Monster is stacked on top of the monsters, and these monsters become Xyz Material, providing various effects. If an Xyz Material is used, it is sent to the graveyard. If the Xyz Monster is destroyed or removed from the field, all its materials are sent to the graveyard. Xyz Monsters, instead of levels, have Ranks, and the rank number is equal to the one level the monsters used as Xyz Material have. Link Monsters, dark blue with a hexagonal pattern, which possess a Link rating instead of a Level and do not possess DEF points, are summoned when a player has enough monsters on the field to Link Summon one, and possess Link Markers that affect spaces on the field that they point to. If a player sacrifices a Link monster on their field to summon a different Link monster, the amount of monsters it counts for is equal to its Link Rating. For example, a Link-2 monster, summoned by sacrificing two monsters, can be sacrificed with one other monster to summon a Link-3 monster when otherwise three sacrifices would be required. For every rating the Link monster has, one arrow will point to a particular position on the field. Monsters marked with a green gradient are Pendulum Monsters. They each have a Pendulum Scale number between 0 and 13, and can either be placed in the Monster Card Zone, or face-up in a Pendulum Zone. Pendulum monsters have two different effects, and whichever one can be used depends on which position on the field it is in. Pendulum monsters that are also Normal or Effect monsters go into a player's Main Deck, and Pendulum monsters that are also Fusion, Synchro or Xyz monsters go in their Extra Deck. If any of these monsters are destroyed as a result of battle, instead of going to the graveyard, they go to a player's Extra Deck. Two Pendulum monsters can be placed in their Pendulum Zones, one each, if their two scales have numbers between them, and they have monsters in their hand with those levels (example: monsters from Levels 2 and 7 if a player's Pendulum Zone's scales are 1 and 8) they can Pendulum Summon them straight to their field. If a Normal or Effect Pendulum monster is sent to their Extra Deck and they have Pendulum monsters in their zones with scales between that monster's level, a player is able to Pendulum Summon it back to their field. Token monsters, gray, represented by either official cards or makeshift counters, are summoned through effects for defense or tributing purposes and cannot exist outside the field.
Spell cards, green, are magical spells with a variety of effects, such as raising ATK points of a specific monster or reviving destroyed monsters. They can be played from the hand during a player's turn or placed faced down for activation on a later turn. They come in six varieties; Normal, Quick Play, Continuous, Equip, Ritual, and Field. Normal, Quick Play, and Ritual Spells leave the field after activation, while Continuous, Equip and Field spells stay on the field. Continuous and Field Spells change the rules of the field while face-up, and each player can only have one Field Spell on their field at a time. Equip spells are equipped onto monsters on the field to make them stronger (or weaker), and if that monster is destroyed, so is the Equip card. (Other cards can be equipped to monsters with the right abilities, and have the same characteristics.) Quick Play spells are the only spells that can be activated on the opponent's turn if set, and can be played from a player's hand during their turn at any time, including the Battle Phase. Ritual spells are the spells used to summon Ritual Monsters. Trap cards, dark pink, have to be Set on a player's field face-down and can only be activated after the turn they were set has passed. (Quick Play spells, when Set, have the same rule.) Traps are generally used to stop or counter the opponent's moves and strategies. These come in three varieties; Normal, Continuous, and Counter. Like Continuous Spells, Continuous traps stay on the field after activation. Normal and Counter traps leave the field after activation, and Counter traps are specifically activated to stop card effect(s). Traps are also known for being the card type a player can activate during either player's turn.  An additional card type, Skill, is used exclusively in the Speed Duel gameplay format.
All monster cards possess a type and attribute. Types include Warrior, Machine, and Dragon. While there exist 25 types, there are only seven attributes. They are as follows: Dark, Earth, Fire, Light, Water, Wind, and Divine. The most common of all of the attributes is the Dark attribute. The Divine attribute has by far the fewest members at just six and includes the Egyptian god cards: Obelisk the Tormentor, Slifer the Sky Dragon, and the Winged Dragon of Ra. There are also various card effects that create loopholes to established rules, such as being able to summon a monster without the usually required cards, activating the effect of a card in the graveyard, sacrificing cards from a different source than the usual hand or field, or activating an effect during a time a player would not otherwise be allowed to do so.
Cards are laid out in the following manner:
Each player's turn contains six phases that take place in the following order:
The player who begins the game does not draw during the Draw Phase and cannot enter the Battle Phase during their first turn.
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.
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. The final Battle Pack, Battle Pack 3: Monster League, was released in August 2014, with no Battle Pack products released since.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Cards are available in Starter Decks, Structure Decks, booster packs, collectible tins, and occasionally as promotional cards.
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 in 2007, all booster packs that have a Holographic/Ghost Rare card, will also contain a rare. 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 are similar to booster packs, albeit are focused around the types of cards used by characters in the various anime series. Cards in each pack are reduced from nine to five.
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.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Speed Duel is a specialised version of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game which launched worldwide in January 2019. Being based on the ruleset of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, it features four basic card types: Monster Cards, Spell Cards, Trap Cards and an exclusive type of card called Skill Cards.
Speed Duel games are known for its rapid duels, averaging on 10 minutes.
When compared to the advanced format:
Yu-Gi-Oh! Rush Duel (遊戯王ラッシュデュエル, Yū-Gi-Ō Rasshu Dueru) is a variation of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game which launched in Japan in April 2020 alongside the release of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Sevens anime series. This variation of the game, which uses a different set of cards from the main Trading Card Game, features reworked rules first introduced in Speed Duels.
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 remove 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 and the Duel Links mobile game.
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.
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 now 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.