Yu-Gi-Oh! started in 1996 as a weekly manga by Takahashi Kazuki. In 2000 Konami started to produce the a card-game tie-in known as the Yu-Gi-Oh! Offical Card Game and before too long history was made and a world wide phenomen was born.
The rules of the game are pretty simple and easy to learn, each player constructs a deck of anywhere between 40 and 60 cards. In addition to this deck, players may build a 15 card “side deck” in which they may swap out cards in between duels as long as the number of cards in the main deck does not change. Also, players have the option to build a 15 card extra deck. This deck includes only synchro and fusion monsters and does not count towards the 40 card minimum of the main deck.
Players then recieve 8000 life points and then shuffle their decks, drawing the top 5 cards as their opening hand. The main point of the game is to win a best 2-out-of-3 style match. You win each individual duel by lowering your opponents life points to zero or via another victory condition including Exodia, Ouija Board and Final Count Down`s effect.
Each turn consists of 6 phases. The Draw phase is just drawing the top card of your deck and placing it into your opening hand. Then its the stand-by phase in which card effects take place. Phases 1 & 2 are where you will do the majority of your monster summoning and magic and trap card activating. The battle phase is where you will do all your attacking and the end phase is where you discard cards if you have more than 6 in your hand and activate any last minute card effects. So a Yu-Gi-Oh! turn does not last that long. I played in one of the local tournaments in Toyama city and most turns lasted about 2 to 3 minutes.
The biggest flaw I did find over my several weeks as a dueling sensation is that there are a ton of useless cards. The cards themselves are also receive a complaint or two. They are so flimsy one card was damaged just from removing it from its packaging and their overall street value must be next to zero. Not a great investment when compared to Baseball cards.
Another flaw is that depending on where you play gameplay can be very uncompetitve. Players run pretty much the same deck or just copy a deck off the internet (This is a major problem with the game in America). Allot of it though is the result of producing either incredibly weak cards or totally unbalanced and way too powerful cards.
To deal with the matter of overpowering cards destroying everything in sight. Konami issued an “Advanced” format which is used in tournaments and is a list of cards that are forbidden or limited to a certain number of copies of a certain card per deck, (To see the current March 2010 list of forbidden cards, check out www.yugioh-card.com, the website covers all regions so its good for everyone!). The list is updated every six months so players will have to check again in September and adjust their decks or copy a new deck off the internet accordingly.
If the cards themselves were not enough to throw away your hard earned yen at, there are accessories! These include plastic sleeves which can be used to protect your cards from the constant use and shuffling as well as special binders to organize your collection and show off to other players in hopes of trading for new or better cards. I have a custom Japanese playmat that I won at a tournament as well as three small binders and a ton of other prizes. There are really allot of different tournaments to enter and prizes therein to win. If you are too lazy or unlucky to not be close to an event then many game shops as well as collectable card shops sell the sleeves and binders as well as the plastic pages that go with the binders.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a great game by design but in terms of actual gameplay, I think there need to be more check and balance into the making of the cards. Its simple to learn rules yet hard to master, for the most hardcore to the most casual player, Yu-Gi-Oh! has something for everyone! In the future I do plan to write more on the Japanese cultural aspect of Yu-Gi-Oh! (It comes out in May) but for now, I`m just giving an overall look at the world Yu-Gi-Oh!