Collectible card games

Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game

Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG logo
Players • 1 vs. 1
• 2 vs. 2
Age range 13 and up (Japan), 6 and up (International)

The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, known as the Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game (遊☆戯☆王オフィシャルカードゲーム Yū-Gi-Ō Ofisharu Kādo Gēmu) in Japan, 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 is the main plot device during the majority of his popular manga franchise, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and its various anime adaptations and spinoff series.

The game was 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. As of March 31, 2011, Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. Japan has sold over 25 billion cards globally since 1999. The game continues to gain popularity as it is played around the world, mostly in Japan, North America, Europe and Australia, and has been expanded with new rules and additions as the franchise grows.

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 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 is 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.


The game is a trading card game in which 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 a 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 (2,000 to 4,000 in the manga and anime) "Life Points", with the main aim of the game to use attacks and spells to reduce the opponent's Life Points. The game ends upon reaching one of the following conditions:


Cards are laid out in the following manner:

Cards that are banished are removed from play with no set location for them to be.


Each player's turn contains six phases that take place in the following order:

The player who begins the game cannot conduct the Battle Phase during their very first turn.

Types of cards

Monster Cards

Attacking with monster cards is the main means by which a player reduces the opponent's Life Points to zero. These cards are also used defensively, since the opponent's monsters cannot attack your Life Points directly as long as you have monsters in play (unless said otherwise by card effects). Furthermore, most monsters cards have their own effects (just like Spell and Trap cards), and can be manipulated by other cards. Before discussing their many functions and varieties, we will outline the common components of all monster cards.

Monster categories

There are several categories of monster cards, which are color-coded and vary in the methods by which they are summoned. Generally, the monsters with more difficult summoning methods will have higher ATK points and better card effects. Normal, Effect, and Pendulum monsters can be Normal Summoned, Tribute Summoned, or Special Summoned by card effects. All other types of cards need to be Special Summoned by fulfilling the summoning requirements detailed below. Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monsters are stored in an Extra Deck separate from the Main Deck (where destroyed Pendulum Monsters are also placed). These cards may be resummoned from the graveyard provided they have been successfully summoned beforehand, though if they are returned to the Extra Deck, the player will need to fulfill the summoning requirements once more to summon them again.

There are several types of monsters, which differ mainly in the methods by which they are summoned:

1. Normal (通常 Tsūjō, yellow)
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 typically do not have effects of their own, instead bearing a description of the monster in its card description.
2. Effect (効果 Kōka, orange)
Similar to Normal monsters in the manner that they can be summoned, Effect Monsters have a special effect listed in its card description which can be used under its given conditions. Several of the other monster types listed below may also possess effects.
3. Fusion (融合 Yūgō, purple)
A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by using a card with a Fusion effect, such as "Polymerization", with monster cards depicted in the Fusion Monster's description. The specific conditions, such as the types of monster required, the location of the material monsters, and whether they are banished or sent to the graveyard, vary depending on the Fusion effect's description.
Example: Using the "Polymerization" spell card and sending "Elemental Hero: Burstinatrix" and "Elemental Hero: Avian" from the field and/or hand to the graveyard allows the player to special summon "Elemental Hero: Flame Wing Man" (Fusion Monster).
4. Ritual (儀式 Gishiki, blue)
A monster that is summoned from the deck or hand by using a Ritual Spell Card and tributing monster cards from the hand and/or field according to the card's instructions, whose summed levels must not be less than that of the Ritual Monster you wish to summon.
Example: Using the "Black Luster Ritual" spell card and tributing monsters from the field and/or hand whose total levels equal eight or more allows the player to special summon "Black Luster Soldier" (Level 8 Ritual Monster).
5. Synchro (シンクロ Shinkuro, white)
Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's anime series. A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by sending a "Tuner" type monster and one or more non-Tuner monsters from the field to the graveyard, whose total levels equal the level of the Synchro Monster you wish to summon. Under normal conditions, only one Tuner Monster can be used per Synchro Summoning (that is to say, a player cannot perform a Synchro Summon using two or more Tuner Monsters). With some exceptions, this usually does not require specific monsters.
Example: Sending "Junk Synchron" (Level 3 Tuner Monster) and "Speed Warrior" (Level 2) from the field to the graveyard allows the player to special summon "Junk Warrior" (Level 5 Synchro Monster).
6. Xyz (エクシーズ Ekushīzu, pronounced "ek-seez", black)
Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal anime series. Xyz Monsters are summoned from the Extra Deck by "overlaying" multiple monsters (as described in the card's effect text) with the same level relevant to the Rank of the Xyz Monster the player wishes to summon. Material monsters are not sent to the graveyard but instead become "Xyz Material" (also known as "Overlay Units"), which are placed underneath the Xyz Monster in the Monster Zone and sent to the graveyard in order to activate the Xyz Monster's effects. As Xyz Monsters possess Ranks instead of levels, they are unaffected by cards involving a monster's level and cannot be used for Ritual or Synchro Summoning, the exception to this rule being if they are artificially assigned a level via a card's effect. Some card effects, such as Rank Up Magic spell cards, also allow certain Xyz Monsters to be summoned on top of existing Xyz Monsters on the field (in this event, that Xyz Monster and its remaining Xyz Material become Xyz Material for the newly summoned Xyz Monster).
Example: Overlaying two Level 4 monsters on the field allows the player to Special Summon the "No. 39 Utopia" (Rank 4). The material monsters become No. 39 Utopia's Xyz Material and are sent to the graveyard in order to activate its Xyz Effect.
7. Pendulum (ペンデュラム Pendyuramu, green gradient)
Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V anime series. Pendulum Monsters are variations of the above monster types, represented by a green gradient over each type's respective color (for example, Effect Pendulum Monsters are orange/green while Xyz Pendulum Monsters are black/green). They are stored and summoned in the same manner as their original counterparts, but are sent to the Extra Deck face-up when they would be sent to the Graveyard. During the Main Phase, players can place any Pendulum Monsters in their hand into any open Pendulum Zones (if a Pendulum Zone is already occupied by a Pendulum Monster, a card effect must be used to remove it in order for another monster to take its place). Pendulum Monsters placed in these zones become treated as spell cards and can utilise a Pendulum Effect listed in its card description (which is separate to their monster effect, should they have one). Pendulum Monsters possess indicators known as "Scales", which are used to perform a Pendulum Summon. Once during a player's turn, if there are Pendulum Monsters with different Scales in both Pendulum Zones, the player may summon multiple monsters from their hand, as well as any Pendulum Monsters face-up in the Extra Deck, provided their levels are in between the Scales of the two monsters in the Pendulum Zones. Pendulum Monsters that are stored in the Extra Deck face down must first be summoned using their respective summoning methods and can only be Pendulum Summoned when they are face-up in the Extra Deck (for example, an "Xyz Pendulum" Monster must first be Xyz Summoned before it can be Pendulum Summoned).
Example: If the player has "Stargazer Magician" (Scale 1) and "Timegazer Magician" (Scale 8) in their Pendulum Zones, they can Pendulum Summon multiple monsters from their hand and/or face-up Pendulum Monsters from the Extra Deck with levels ranging from 2 to 7.
8. Token (トークン Tōkun, grey)
Commonly a low-powered monster that is stored outside of the playing area and can only be summoned through a card effect, typically used for defense or tribute purposes. These cards can only exist on the field and are banished when they would be sent to the graveyard. Tokens may be used for Ritual or Synchro Summoning, but cannot be used for Xyz Summoning, as "Xyz Material" is not considered on the field. In addition to official Token Monster cards, players may also use other objects such as coins or card sleeves to represent tokens.
Example: If the player uses the spell card "Scapegoat", four "Scapegoat Tokens" will be summoned to the field.


As mentioned briefly in several above sections, attacking is a critical role of monster cards. It is the primary means by which a player reduces the opponent's Life Points. The following describes standard battles under normal conditions, in which spells, traps, and monster effects are not taken into consideration.

During the Battle Phase of each turn, the player may choose to attack their opponent once with each monster in Attack Position (face-up in a vertical orientation), targeting one of the opponent's monsters or, if the opponent has no defending monsters, attacking them directly. When an attack is declared, the ATK points of the attacking monster is compared with the ATK or DEF points of the defending monster, depending on which position it is in. If both the attacking and defending monsters are in Attack Position, then the monster with the lowest ATK points is destroyed and sent to the Graveyard, with its owner losing Life Points based on the difference between the two monsters' ATK points. For example, if a monster with 1400 ATK destroys a monster with 1000 ATK, the owner of the losing monster will lose 400 Life Points. If both monsters have the same amount of ATK Points, both monsters are destroyed and neither player takes damage.

When an attacking monster targets a monster in Defense Position (horizontal orientation), then the attacking monster's ATK points will be compared with the defending monster's DEF points. If the attacking monster has more ATK points than the defending monster's DEF points, the defending monster is destroyed, but its owner will not receive any damage to their Life Points. On the other hand, if the player attacks a defending monster whose DEF points are greater than their attacking monster's ATK points, then neither monster is destroyed and the attacking player will take damage based on the difference between the two values. For example, if a monster with 1000 ATK attacks a defending monster with 1400 DEF, the attacking player will lose 400 Life Points. If a monster in face-down Defense Position is targeted for an attack, it is automatically flipped into face-up Defense Position. If said monster possesses a Flip Effect, it will activate after the battle. The card will then remain face-up until it is either destroyed or tributed, or allowed to be flipped face-down again by a card effect.

Direct Attacks occur when a player attacks an opponent who has no monsters on their side of the field. If the attack is successful, the defending player will receive damage to their Life Points equal to the ATK points of the attacking monster.

Spell cards

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, draw cards, increase a monster's level etc. It is important to have a good balance of these in your deck. Spells cards were known as "Magic cards" in all OCG releases and early TCG releases, and there are six different types of them, each distinguished by an icon. Additionally, Pendulum Monsters are treated as spell cards when placed inside Pendulum Zones, during which the player can activate its described Pendulum Effect.

1. Normal (通常 Tsūjō, no icon)
A standard card which can be activated during a player's Main phases and is sent to the graveyard after activation. They may not be used during an opponent's turn.
2. Quick Play (速攻 Sokkō, lightning bolt)
A card that can be used outside of the main phase during a player's turn, or can be set on the field to use during an opponent's turn, similar to a trap card. Like trap cards, they cannot be activated on the same turn they are set on the field.
3. Continuous (永続 Eizoku, infinity symbol)
A card with a continuous fact that remains on field until it is destroyed or certain conditions are fulfilled.
4. Equip (装備 Sōbi, plus)
A spell which is equipped to one of either player's monsters, altering its stats or providing an effect. If a monster equipped with an Equip Spell is removed from the field or flipped face down, the spell card is sent to the graveyard.
5. Field (フィールド Fīrudo, compass)
A card that is placed in the Field Spell Zone, causing effects that affect both players. Following revisions made in 2014, both players can each control one Field Spell card (previously, only one Field Spell could be active at any time and would be destroyed if another Field Spell card was played by the opposing player). Players can send their active Field Spell card to the Graveyard in order to play a new one.
6. Ritual (儀式 Gishiki, flame)
A card that is used for summoning Ritual Monsters, describing the conditions needed to summon them.

Trap cards

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, though, these effects may differ. There are three types of trap cards:

1. Normal (通常 Tsūjō, no icon)
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 (永続 Eizoku, infinity symbol)
Upon activation, the card's effect remains in play until its destruction circumstances are fulfilled.
3. Counter (カウンター Kauntā, curved arrow)
Trap cards that can be activated in response to the activation of other trap cards. Once a Counter trap is activated, no cards except for other Counter traps may be activated in response to it.

Spell speed

Card effects all have certain speeds. This determines when they can be played and which effect can be "chained" to another.

When a card effect (be it Spell, Trap or Monster) is activated, the other player has the chance to "chain" onto this by activating their own card effects. You can only 'chain' if the 'spell speed' of the card effect you are chaining with is equal to or greater than the effect you are chaining onto. Once no one who is playing wants to chain onto the most recently activated effect, the effects are resolved, in reverse order.

For example:

Player one: Attacks "Elemental Hero Sparkman" with "Blue Eyes White Dragon"
Player two: Activates the Trap Card "Sakuretsu Armor"
Player one: Chains with the Counter trap card "Dark Bribe"
Player two: Chains with the Counter trap card "Seven Tools of the Bandit", by paying the cost of 1,000 Life Points.
Neither player wishes to respond.
First, "Seven Tools of the Bandit" resolves. Player two negates "Dark Bribe".
"Dark Bribe" has been negated.
"Sakuretsu Armor" resolves, destroying "Blue Eyes White Dragon".
Finally, "Blue Eyes White Dragon" can no longer attack, because it has been destroyed.


Tournament play

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 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 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.

Rating systems 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

Casual play

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. These have been reprinted into legal versions, however the original promotional cards remain illegal.) For these unofficial variants of the game, the rules, such as what cards are legal or not, are agreed upon ahead of time. However, 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, collectible tins, 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 or nine random cards are found in each booster pack depending on the set and each set contains around 100 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 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. 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. 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
Duelist packs are similar to booster packs, albeit are focused around the types of cards used by characters in the various anime series.
Promotional cards
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.

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

Nearly every card has a unique 8 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 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 its sister card, "Wall Shadow,") Gate Guardian and its "pieces," Sanga of the Thunder, Kazejin, 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.


As the card game is localized in various markets outside of Japan, many cards receive alterations and changes to names, descriptions, and/or artwork from their original Japanese counterparts, largely pertaining to references to religion, violence, sex, alcohol, and death, in order to avoid controversy in those markets and make the game more suitable for younger children. Examples include "Demon" type monsters being renamed as "Archfiends", certain weapons such as guns being remodeled into more fantasy-styled weapons like blasters, with references changed accordingly, and cards containing religious symbols, such as "Monster Reborn", which contains an ankh in the original Japanese version, being given completely different artwork. Other cards may receive alternate names from their Japanese counterparts, including characters originally given English names in the original release and even including renaming cards with original Japanese names from the English language to names from the Japanese language, for various other reasons, such as to avoid infringement with copyrighted characters in those markets.

Comparison to manga/anime

In its original incarnation in Kazuki Takahashi's Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series, Duel Monsters, originally known as Wizards & Monsters, 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.

With the exception of Yu-Gi-Oh! the Movie: Pyramid of Light, which bases 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.