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Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game
Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG card back design
Players 1 vs. 1 or 2 vs. 2
Age range 6+
Setup time approx. 2 minutes
Playing time approx. 15-25 minutes per game (depending on variables), 45 minutes per match
Random chance Medium To High
Skills 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?) 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.[1] 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 which was invented by the author Kazuki Takahashi. The cards and rules of the fictional game are entirely 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4][5][6] 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.


General rules

A group of Dutch people playing the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game.

Each player begins with a set number of life points (official rules designate 8000) and a deck containing 40 to 60 cards. A turn-based duel ensues in which players use cards representing Monsters, Spells (previously known as Magic), and Traps to combat their opponents. Players can place monsters in either face up Attack or face down Defense position, and each Attack Position monster can attack once per turn unless there is an effect that designates otherwise. By successfully attacking and destroying the opponent's monsters, players can deal damage to the opponent's life points unless the monster attacked is in defense mode.

A duel is won by fulfilling one of the various conditions:

  • The opponent’s life points are reduced to 0.
  • The opponent is unable to draw a card from their deck during their Draw Phase or by a card effect because the deck is empty.
  • Some card effects allow a player to win a duel instantly the most famous of which is known as Exodia.
  • The player surrenders by placing his/her hand on top of their deck.

Card types

NOTE: All text on cards INCLUDING the errata text override any listed game rule.



These are cards used to help ensure victory from your hand. 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. Regular
Sent to the grave after the effect resolves.
2. Quick Play
Can be activated during your opponents turn as well as your own.
3. Continuous
Remain on the field permanently
4. Equip
Attach to a monster change its stats and may provide additional effects.
5. Field
Remain on the field permanently until a new field spell is played. Only one can be on the entire field at a time.
6. Ritual
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 ordinarily cannot be activated on the turn they were placed down. Their usual use is to destroy the attacking monster, negate the damage, or possibly redirect the damage back at the opponent. There are three types of trap cards:
  • Normal traps are Spell Speed 2. They can't 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.
  • Continuous trap cards are also Spell Speed 2. Their effect stays in play until its destruction circumstances are fulfilled.
  • Counter trap cards have a Spell Speed 3. No cards except other Counter traps can be played after a Counter trap has been activated.

Spell Speed

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 initially played. Spell Speed 1 cards cannot be chained to or activated in response to any other card. Spell Speed 1 effects, however, can be chained to other Spell Speed 1 effects.
  • Spell Speed 2 cards can be played on either player's turn but must have been set during your turn. Spell Speed 2 cards can be activated in response to any Spell Speed 1 or 2 card or effect. Spell Speed 2 effects are rarer but 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.


A chain is when two or more card effects activate at the same time. The rule of thumb is that a chain resolves backwards in the order of which cards are played. For example:
  • Player 1 plays a Monster Reborn spell card (Spell Speed 1). This spell card allows Player 1 to special summon a monster from either player's graveyard. They choose their opponent's monster, Dark Magician.
  • Player 2 activates a Call of the Haunted continuous trap card (Spell Speed 2). This trap card allows Player 2 to special summon a monster from their own graveyard as long as the trap card remains on the field. They choose their own Dark Magician.

Because Player 2 activated their card last in the chain, their card effect goes first. Player 1 now gets to choose another monster from either player's graveyard to special summon. Most chains are generally only a "Chain link 2", meaning only two cards are activated in a chain. There are longer chains, however:

  • Player 1 plays a Monster Reborn spell card (Spell Speed 1). This spell card allows Player 1 to special summon a monster from either player's graveyard. They choose their opponent's monster, Dark Magician.
  • Player 2 activates a Call of the Haunted continuous trap card (Spell Speed 2). This trap card allows Player 2 to special summon a monster from their own graveyard as long as the trap card remains on the field. They choose their own Dark Magician.
  • Player 1 activates a Royal Decree continuous trap card (Spell Speed 2). This trap card negates the effect of all trap cards on the field except for itself. This means that while player 2 has activated Call of the Haunted and it remains face-up on their side of the field, they are unable to special summon a monster. Because both cards are continuous, unless Royal Decree is immediately destroyed (as part of the same chain), Call of the Haunted will be unable to Special Summon a monster. Note that if Royal Decree were to be destroyed next turn, or even in the next phase of the current turn, this does not mean that Call of the Haunted can Special Summon a monster; the Special Summon is activated upon activation of Call of the Haunted, and Call of the Haunted's activation and effect were negated, and it was not returned face-down, and can not be reactivated.
  • Player 2 activates a Dust Tornado trap card (Spell Speed 2). Dust Tornado destroys one spell or trap card on the field. Player 2 targets the Royal Decree.

Because a chain resolves backwards, the chain would play out like this: Dust Tornado destroys Royal Decree. Because Royal Decree is no longer on the field, the next effect activated is Call of the Haunted, followed by Monster Reborn. Because Dust Tornado was played after Royal Decree, the effect activates first, meaning the effect of Royal Decree never negated Dust Tornado. Q: But does the Monster Reborn work? It was activated, targeting a monster that was not effectively present in the Graveyard.


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), Konami, and Shonen Jump have all organized numerous tournament systems in their respective areas. These tournaments attracted 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 most 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, respectively. This list is updated every six months(September 1, March 1) and is followed in all tournaments that use this format.[7]

  • Traditional Format

Traditional format is used rarely in Official Tournaments and reflects the state of the game before the Forbidden Card list was created. Cards that are banned in Advanced are limited to one copy per deck in this format.[8]

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).[9]

Casual play

Casual players typically agree in advance to follow the rules of the Traditional Format. In addition, there are countless other unofficial variants, 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). 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

Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Cards are available in Starter Decks, Structure Decks, booster packs, 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 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. In order 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 that you can receive 2 uncommon cards and 7 common cards.

Tournament Boosters

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 two Turbo Packs.

Promo Cards

Some cards in the TCG have been released by other means, such as inclusion in video games, movies, and Shonen Jump manga magazines. 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 Packs

  • Jaden Yuki's Duelist Pack 1
  • Jaden Yuki's Duelist Pack 2
  • Jaden Yuki's Duelist pack 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
  • Yugi Muto's Duelist Pack
  • Yusei Fudo's Duelist Pack 2

Card rarity

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 would be replaced by a 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 Ultra Rare
Gold Ultra Rare is a new 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.
Short print Gold Ultra Rare
This type of rarity has the same look as a Gold Ultra rare.Crush card virus, the only card In Yu-Gi-Oh that as ever been printed at this rarety, had pull odds of 3:100. Due to the rarity and quality of the card this version (which is a reprint) sold at peak for 350-400 US dollars.
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.
On the internet market, Ultimate Rare Cards are often 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 10 Ghost Rare TCG Cards: 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, and Majestic 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 the Ultra Rare monsters represented on the set's booster pack artwork. Ghost Rare is the TCG version of Holographic Rare. The odds of obtaining a ghost rare is approximately 1 in every 36 boxes.
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. There are very few of these cards; only one currently exists in English (the GSE version of "Elemental Hero Wildheart"), with the remaining ten in Japanese.
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 which 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 games

Nearly every card has a unique eight-digit code printed on it. When that code is entered into one of the Yu-Gi-Oh! video games which accept said codes, a digital copy of that card will be 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 it's sister card, "Wall Shadow"), Gate Guardian and its "pieces", Cosmo Queen, and Dian Keto The Cure Master.


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.[10] 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.

See also


12. ^

External links


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