Revisiting the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game

Back when I was a kid I was obsessed with any and all kinds of collectable card games I could get my hands on; Pokemon Cards, Magic: The Gathering, Digimon Cards, Harry Potter cards (For the hot five minutes that they were a thing, I had a terrible Severus Snape deck.) But the one that captured my imagination the most was the Yu-Gi-Oh competitive card game.

I was a nightmare for going out and blowing money on booster packs and even buying individual cards online. I got my Buster Blader and Dark Paladin that way, still no regrets. This was in no small part thanks to the anime that ran alongside and accompanied my obsession with the card game. I followed it all throughout the original run and even enjoyed GX until 4Kids decided to stop dubbing it half way through the third season.


While I eventually did get over my card game obsession, the urge to collect only moved onto other things. Such as Xbox Achievements, Amiibo and Overwatch loot boxes. Then got briefly got back into Pokemon Cards, but that’s a story for another time.

Recently, after falling down a dark and perilous Youtube hole, I discovered a number of Youtubers of the abridging variety. I binged on all of their spoof redubbings of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series and GX too a number of times, which coaxed me into buying a recommended game on the PS4 called Yu-Gi-Oh: Legacy of the Duelist.

Once again though, when expectation meets reality, anticlimactic things will kinda sorta happen, disappointingly. While I have been putting time into the game, I usually leave it unsatisfied. The inherent problem with the card game is my own romanticised vision of the game through what I’ve seen in the anime.

Yu-Gi-Oh always has the best stupid anime hairstyles
Yu-Gi-Oh always has the best stupid anime hairstyles

While I kind of enjoyed the original series for the characters first and the card game second, I got a fair bit of enjoyment from GX too. Because while the original was a show which featured card games as their main method of solving problems, GX was more of a duel a day kind of show, just creating random character who would show up, do a gimmick and then duel a main character, you’d rarely see them again after that. They were generally low stakes and faster paced than the duels in the original show.

Not only that but the characters had pretty consistent decks throughout the series too. While characters still had super situational cards that they would never use more than once, it felt like their deck was somthing you could recreate in real life, rather than the almost insanely specific things the characters in the original show used to use.

It was entertaining through, it panted a picture of this card game being dramatic and always coming down to the last nail biting second. Playing Legacy of the Duelist, it reminded me of the shortcomings of the game from when I used to play it in the past. The game itself recreates most of the duels throughout the main series, as well as the four spin-offs. The player takes the role of whoever won each duel in the series, and are given a real deck made with the specific goal to allow the player to win the duel in the same manner it was won in the show. It’s a cool idea and allows you to play with all manner of different decks as you burn through the game.


Here in lies the problem. While duels in the show are interesting and dynamic, rarely lasting more than 10 turns and having the balance shift from one person to the other several times, having characters get their trump cards onto the field with little to no effort. The reality is much different. Despite its best efforts, most duels in the game will be one sided from the first turn based on the luck of the draw and a players opening hand.

Even if you want to recreate the moments from the show, it can be incredibly difficult and the game doesn’t even reward you for meeting the criteria, so you’re better off just winning however you can. Thing is, if you opponent draws badly, you can just destroy them in a few turns in a very boring duel. On the odd occasion you do draw the right things and can make a really cool play and summon a powerful monster, your opponent can just flip a genetic trap card and make all your efforts for naught, it’s incredibly anticlimactic. It’s the same when you do it to them, as you just flip one of your three mirror forces and wipe the field. Not all that satisfying.

The reality of the game is the more basic decks have a better chance of winning than anything build around a theme like many of the characters in the shows have. Just load with powerful basic monsters and a few destroy everything magic and trap cards and you’ll win nine times out of then. The only problem with this is it’s boring to play that way. It’s much cooler to summon a Cyber End Dragon and blow your opponents monsters away, but just summoning a monster with monster reborn will be a more reliable strategy.

I like Buster Blader
I like Buster Blader

Obviously, I’m not a high level player. And I don’t want to be, I just want to have a bit of wish fulfilment, and even with the custom made decks the game provides you that doesn’t happen a whole lot. For me, the game comes off as slow paced, often anticlimactic and more a game of luck than a well built deck.

But I’m stuck in a loop! I keep watching the Youtube videos because now they are constantly being recommended to me, and they make me want to go play this game, only for me to bang my head against a game that I am barely interested in. It’s like my old addiction coming back to grab me, despite me not caring. Maybe my problem is because I should be playing with physical cards and not digital ones…

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