Where to start if you've never played Yu-Gi-Oh!?
Getting into a new trading card game is always challenging, especially when dealing with a game that has years of releases, cards, rule changes, etc. In the case of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the first thing you'll need is a bit of patience. It's a game with a long history and a lot of special rules, but once you get the hang of them it will prove no problem.
In any case, the formula for starting is usually similar and straightforward. Starter Deck and Structure Deck products come with a legal 40-card deck for play, potentially some extra deck monsters, and a rulebook with basic instructions for the deck, but they might not be the best start for someone completely new...
A special product that Konami releases specifically for new players is the Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME 2-Player Starter Set, which includes 2 simple 40-card decks that 2 players can use to learn the game, along with an illustrated comic to help grasp all the essential game mechanics. It's worth noting that the product also contains some very good cards. ;)
In addition to pre-constructed decks, random booster packs can give you inspiration for a deck to start your journey. Particularly good for this purpose are the so-called "deck build" packs, which mostly contain cards for 3 strategies, and depending on what you draw from them, you can start building one of those decks. You'll recognize deck build packs by the slightly smaller and thicker font on the pack, and examples include Wild Survivors, Valiant Smashers, and Amazing Defenders.
If you want to learn more about the local scene and the basics of the game, read our article on Yu-Gi-Oh! cards in Croatia or keep reading.
How to get into the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG after loving the anime?
The Yu-Gi-Oh! anime was initially conceived as a promotion for the card game, and we all remember the original series with Yugi, Joey, and Kaiba, later Duel Academy, Jaden, Aster, Jesse, etc. I believe a large majority of Yu-Gi-Oh! players started playing some 10-20 years ago, inspired by those early seasons of the show. If nostalgia has hit you, and you want to take advantage of the financial superiority you have as adults now, you can be sure that Konami hasn't forgotten about you!
Every year, Konami releases a range of products targeting the crowd hit by nostalgia. You can turn to product lines like Yugi's Legendary Decks, Obelisk and Slifer starter decks, but also the Speed Duel deck collection Streets of Battle City!
Generally, if you're looking for something specific related to the old days of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, it's almost certain that Konami has taken care of you. It's best to simply enter the names of cards and characters you're interested in on Google and quickly find the best products for you. However, we'll mention a few examples that have proven popular among buyers.
If you're a fan of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! sets more than the show itself, for the 25th anniversary of the game, Konami reprinted the first 5 sets, so you can buy their packs or even entire booster boxes, which for most in childhood was a dream reserved for special occasions like birthdays, if even then. These are Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Metal Raiders, Spell Ruler, Pharaoh's Servant, and Invasion of Chaos.
For those more interested in the GX era, the current Speed Duel product line focuses on the Duel Academy with products that contain decks of 4 to 8 characters from the series each. Speed Duel GX: Duel Academy Box and Duelists of Shadows have been on sale for a long time, and Midterm Destruction is coming out soon!
For fans of the 5D's era, it's a bit harder to find currently relevant products, but Konami makes an effort to release something new every few months because signer dragons are still among the most recognizable monsters from that era. Structure Deck: The Crimson King contains cards that bring Jack Atlas's Red Dragon Archfiend-focused strategy to a new level. Not only is it easy to summon all his strongest monsters, but the deck's content is good enough for the cards to be played at the biggest tournaments!
I'll leave other examples and exploration to you, and if you feel left out in this section because you are more interested in competitive play, I recommend reading through the upcoming section on Master Duel players wanting to play in real life - most advice for getting into tournament play is always the same, so there's no point in writing it again here.
How to start playing Yu-Gi-Oh! in real life after Master Duel?
Master Duel quickly became one of the most popular games on Steam. It rapidly attracted digital card game enthusiasts, and with its tournament organization, it appeals to those who enjoy competing, both from Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG and other card games. Apart from offering a series of qualification rankings for larger tournaments, players also have access to many smaller tournaments where they can compete for various real prizes, such as card game sleeves and other memorabilia.
If you started with Master Duel because of a desire to compete and haven't played the paper version of the game, or TCG - Trading Card Game, this section explains how to best start with the game.
As you probably already know from Master Duel, there is a series of cards that each deck can use regardless of its main strategy. These cards are known as staple cards and usually consist of cards whose effects have a very generic goal of stopping the opponent. Examples of such cards include Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, preventing the opponent from finding the cards they need, Dark Ruler no More, negating all opponent monster effects, and Lightning Storm, which can destroy either opponent monsters or spells/traps.
Most staple cards in the TCG are relatively cheap thanks to frequent reprints in newer packs. Exceptions are generally newer cards that Konami decided to print only in hard-to-obtain rarities, limiting their availability until they receive a reprint.
The most significant difference in the game itself between TCG and Master Duel is that they use different lists of limited and forbidden cards, so some cards that are crucial in Master Duel are not allowed in TCG - for example, Maxx "C". In addition, TCG is played in a best of 3 format with a 15-card side deck, so you can change your deck from the initial configuration for the 2nd or 3rd duel in the set by adding suitable staples to beat the opponent's deck. Keeping this in mind, you will have to relearn what is "meta," what is best, and what wins tournaments. Also, TCG is ahead of Master Duel in time; new cards are released six months before they are added to Master Duel.
A generally good option to start is to buy three copies of a strong Structure Deck. Structure Decks contain a coherent strategy supported by several generically good cards, often reprints of staples. As almost every card comes in one copy, you need 3 copies of the deck to secure a deck core that you can upgrade.
The best Structure Deck currently on sale (January 2024) is Fire Kings, which, besides a strong Fire attribute strategy, also includes copies of Droll & Lock Bird, Solemn Judgment, and Infinite Impermanence. Another good choice is Beware of Traptrix, which contains Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring and Evenly Matched.
Once you have the deck core you want to upgrade, you want to fill it with staple cards for your main, extra, and side decks. An excellent product for this purpose is the recent Rarity Collection, which reprinted a huge number of staple cards of all kinds in all possible rarities.
How to play Yu-Gi-Oh!?
Yu-Gi-Oh! is basically a simple game with a lot of specific and interesting rules. To learn to play, we recommend trying to play Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel (which you can play on all newer consoles, iOS and Android, as well as on your computer) or watching this tutorial from one of the most popular Yu-Gi-Oh! YouTubers.
Where can I play Yu-Gi-Oh!?
After finding the perfect product for yourself and starting your Yu-Gi-Oh! journey, the best next step is to head to tournaments at a local card shop and test your cards. It's the best place to get better at the game, meet new friends and future rivals, and find the cards you need for trading.
If you're in Zagreb, Magic Omens holds Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments every Thursday and Sunday, and everyone is welcome, whether completely new or game veterans.