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Tabletopgame: Yu-Gi-Oh!
"You've activated my trap card!"

The Yu-Gi-Oh! collectible card game first appeared in the manga of the same name as a homage to Magic: The Gathering, of which author Kazuki Takahashi is a fan. Originally, the manga was intended to feature a new game every few weeks, and with the trading cards being just one of many. However, Takahashi received a lot of fan mail asking how to play it, and so he cobbled together a rudimentary game system loosely based on that of Magic which generally agreed with how the characters played. Fan mail kept pouring in, and so the editor of Shonen Jump (in which the manga was serialised) persuaded Takahashi to rework the manga to have it appear more as an important plot device. When the anime, which centered solely around the card game, proved a surprise international hit, Konami was approached to produce a real version of the game, which was released in 1999. The real game made considerable changes to the rules originally established by Takahashi, and so the manga and anime were revised to more closely reflect the rules of the real game.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is essentially a game with different names and administration structures in different territories. The so-called Official Card Game, or OCG, has been handled by Konami since the beginning; it administers East Asia. The other administration setup, called the Trading Card Game or TCG, was originally manufactured and distributed by Upper Deck Entertainment, at Konami's own behest, throughout the remaining territories worldwide. However, in 2008, UDE lost the license amid some allegations of wrongdoing, and now the TCG is administered by Konami as well. The game is roughly 99% identical on each side of the Pacific; the only differences are that some cards that debut under one administration do not appear in the other for a good, long while, if ever; and, Konami alters some card artwork to prevent incidents with Moral Guardians.

Some of the core gameplay elements:

  • Deckbuilding: Players construct their own decks, which must contain between 40 to 60 cards and no more than three of any single card (certain cards are limited to 2, 1, or 0 copies per deck). A secondary deck of no more than 15 cards can also be constructed; this "Extra Deck" contains "Fusion Monsters," "Synchro Monsters" and "Xyz Monsters" which are Summoned to the field by combining other monsters in various ways. As the official rules state that matches consist of best-two-out-of-three duels, players can also use a 15-card "Side Deck" which can be used to modify the deck between duels in a match.
  • Monster combat: Players can Summon monsters to fight the opponent. Stronger monsters have Summoning requirements, most commonly a sacrifice of other monsters.
  • Card effects: Most monsters have special abilities aside from their brute force, which is almost always helpful for its wielder, such as the ability to destroy other cards, or to increase its attack strength from its default level. Spell cards are cards that are played directly from the hand with beneficial effects. Trap cards also have special effects similar to Spells; however, they must be set face-down, and then activated later at a later time, which leads into...
  • Hidden information: Monsters, Spells, and Traps can be "Set" face-down on the field to be revealed later, often springing a nasty surprise on the opponent. Recent releases have also increased the number of cards playable from one's hand at atypical, poignant, and decisive points of gameplay - essentially behaving like a "Set" card that didn't have to be "Set". Considering how removing and playing around Set cards was one of the game's dominant paradigms for nearly a decade running, these recent releases, when competitive, have had quite the impact.

A more complete overview of the rules can be found at this Useful Notes page, the stories and tropes from the metaplot can be seen here, and the character sheet from said metaplot is at this Character Sheets page. Subjective tropes can be found here. Trivia can be found here.

For the card game based off the first anime, try Yu-Gi-Oh! (Carddas Version).

This game provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: Some cards have deliberate weaknesses to keep things interesting and keep them from becoming too powerful. The Earthbound Immortals are all very strong, unable to be attacked and can attack the opponent directly, but automatically destroy themselves if there's no Field Spell card on the field. Cloudians must remain in attack position or they also destroy themselves.
    • In the metagame, this trope is present through deck match ups, and side decking. The most prominent example of this trope the in competitive scene are, perhaps, the Dark World cards, a deck which is extremely fast, powerful, and can utterly wreck the first duel of the match. However, after said first duel, side in Shadow Imprisoning Mirror and watch as they struggle against it.
  • Action Girl: Several. There are lady warriors, spellcasters, fiends, spirits, fairies... and each of them can kick just as much ass as the male cards, or in some cases even more!
  • Alien Invasion: The point of the Alien monsters.
    • Also the Worm monsters.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Amazoness archetype. Loads of scantily-clad, athletic, muscular warrior women.
  • Another Dimension: The D.D. (Different Dimension) cards.
  • Antimatter: Word of God is that the Xyz Monsters are made up of this.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Monsters that inflict piercing damage, such as Ancient Gear Golem or a monster equipped with Fairy Meteor Crush. When one attacks a defense-position monster, if its ATK is higher than that monsters DEF, the difference is dealt to the opponent as damage.
  • Art Evolution: The artwork featured on the cards was very simplistic in the early days, but as time went on, artwork became more varied, detailed and professional looking. For example, compare this card (released in the original Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon set) to this one.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The gimmick of the Karakuri archetype is that they must attack if able (even if it would get them killed) and always shift into defense when attacked (even when their defense is lower, and they would survive if they counterattacked).
  • Attack Reflector: Available in Monster or Trap.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Subpage here.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Super-Nimble Mega Hamster.
  • Badass Adorable: Several Fairy-Type cards.
  • Badass Grandpa: For example, Grandmaster of the Six Samurai.
  • Badass Normal: Literally with Normal monsters like Alexandrite Dragon and Gene-Warped Warwolf for breaking the 'Level 1-4 monsters with 2000 ATK or more getting a negative effect' rule, and we can't forget to mention these three guys, the former being this games best example for having the highest ATK of all Normal monsters.
  • Bad Santa: Santa Claws's Japanese name is a pun on the fact that Satan is an anagram of Santa.
  • Barrier Warrior: Big Shield Gardna, Mid Shield Gardna, Shield Warrior… okay, pretty much anything with the word "shield" in its name. Millennium Shield is a Warrior-type…and a literal shield.
    • And, of course, there are many Monsters that can't be destroyed by battle, like Marshmallon, so they're essentially a pseudo-unbreakable shield.
    • Total Defense Shogun is probably the best example, as it's the first (of two) card stated to be able to attack while in Defense Mode.
    • Some monsters cannot be targeted for attacks if there is a certain type or archetype on the field, or keep the opponent from attacking monsters of certain types (Solar Flare Dragon, Marauding Captain, Morphtronic Magnen). Getting two or more of the specific card can block nearly all potential attacks.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Some cards have effects that emulate this trope. For example, Gorz - Emissary Of Darkness is Special Summoned when you take damage while having nothing on your field, and Starlight Road negates the destruction of two or more cards and Special Summons a Stardust Dragon from you Extra Deck. Not surprisingly, both cards are part of the Meta Game for that exact reason.
  • Black Knight: Black Luster Soldier and Black Luster Soldier-Envoy of the Beginning
  • Black Magician Girl: Trope Namer, known in English as the Dark Magician Girl.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Frequent on the early cards, many of which seem to have been translated by people who had absolutely no idea what they were doing. Among the most obvious examples is "Dunames Dark Witch," which is a Light-Attribute Fairy. Its original Japanese name is "Dynamis Valkyria". The fact that a card named "Valkyrie" became "Dark Witch" in the US suggests the origins of this mistake; all the same, it's no less unforgivable, especially since "Dark Valkyria" and "Magician's Valkyria" came out in English without any such mistakes.
    • Fan translations can be guilty of this as well, such as the infamous "Revise Dragon".
  • Blow You Away: A vast number of cards that deal with destroying other Spell or Trap cards happen to be named after wind effects, like "Mystical Space Typhoon", "Heavy Storm", "Dust Tornado", "Wild Tornado", "Twister", and so on.
  • Boring, but Practical: Normal monsters, in general. They have no effects but often have good combat stats, and there's a lot of support for them, including lots of ways to Summon them from the Graveyard. Decks based around them focus on brute force rather than anything fancy.
    • Of particular note: Level 4 normal monster cards with 1600+ ATK. Surprisingly easy to find, quick to bring onto the field and easily replaceable, they provide a more steady offensive counterpart to the high-ATK, difficult to Summon monsters of higher stars and can easily reach the attack power of those using equipment spells.
    • Gadgets for a long time played on this. The goal of the Deck is to make the game as simple as possible by playing one-for-one destruction cards and, with the help of the Gadgets self replenishing effect, gain advantage and win effortlessly. Such Decks can be really boring to play with, or against, but it's really effective when played correctly.
    • Ironically, see the Awesome, but Impractical entry. Read Machina Force there? Sure, Summoning it is downright hard to the point of pointless, but nobody said you can't discard it for Machina Fortress' revival effect. As a bonus, since its a Machina, some Machina support can work with it, creating some sorts of synergy.
    • Obnoxious Celtic Guard could teach a college course on this. With an attack and defense of less than 1500 each, he doesn't seem like much to look at. If your opponent starts with any kind of a halfway decent hand, though, he'll usually have at least a level 6 or higher by the end of the first turn. Put OCG out in defense mode, and you'll be invincible until he can get either a board wipe spell. If you're lucky, you could spend the entire duel without taking a single direct hit because of him.
  • Bottomless Pits: Bottomless Trap Hole, especially since it's one of the most used cards in the game.
  • Bowdlerize: In Japan, the Fairy type is actually Angel type (Tenshi-zoku).
  • Brought Down to Normal: Almost literally; the continuous trap Skill Drain negates the effects of all monsters on the field.
    • Brought Down to Badass: A 3000 ATK monster with no effects is still a 3000 ATK monster; nothing to sneeze at. Skill Drain also happens to negate any negative effects the card may have, too, so a lot of monsters actually benefit from Skill Drain. The aforementioned Beast King Barbaros inverts this trope, being brought up to badass when its effect is negated.
  • Buffy Speak: There's a card named Interplanetarypurplythorny Dragon.
  • Bullet Seed: Seed Cannon gains counters every time a Plant is Summoned (and plants are fairly good at swarming); sending the card to the graveyard damages the opponent the more counters are on it.
  • Butt Monkey: Goblin Attack Force and Goblin of Greed in the art of some of the other cards and the Ojamas.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Camel-like monsters are known as "Lacoodas" in the international releases. Back when the game was still in its "Blind Idiot" Translation stage, someone translated the Japanese "rakuda" (camel) as "Lacooda," and the term apparently caught on, as it's continued to be used even after the translations have gotten better. Justified in that the original does not say "rakuda"; it says "rakuuda," and in katakana no less, implying that the name is meant to be a play on "rakuda" rather than the actual word. Still a case of Lost in Translation, as a similar pun could have been used for the English version (but then, given it first happened in Pharaonic Guardian, arguably the nadir for the game's translation quality, it's entirely possible there was no one on staff who would have recognized it as a pun).
  • Captain Ersatz: Does Battlestorm look familiar?
    • There are not one, but two for Spawn. The first one is an indirect example, because it's based on a fictional superhero comic from the manga, that was based on Spawn. The second one was directly based on Spawn himself.
    • Likewise, Tactical Espionage Expert is quite deliberately Solid Snake in all but name.
  • Cast From Life Points
    • Many cards require a sacrifice of life points to activate.
    • Nearly taken to an extreme with Toon World; the entirety of its text is "Pay 1000 Life Points to activate this card." That's it. Sure, now you can Summon your Toon monsters note , but other than that, it just kinda sits there waiting to be destroyed.
    • This is practically the Psychic-Type's main gimmick, with frequent payments to either fire off or maintain their effects. To balance this out, a good amount of their support cards involve healing.
    • Some cards, like the Archfiend archetype from Dark Crisis, require a life point payment to keep them on the field. A life point payment that is not optional.
  • Cherry Tapping: The "Sparks" card does a measly 200 points of damage to the opponent—that's it. Most video game versions of Yu-Gi-Oh! reward you with a bonus if you ever manage to finish off the opponent using "Sparks." They give a similar bonus if you manage to finish off the opponent with a Skull Servant, but at least you can give Skull Servant some good equip spell cards to boost its power.
  • Chess Motifs: The first Archfiend monsters released in the Dark Crisis pack. Their top support card is Checkmate.
  • Collectible Card Game
  • Color-Coded Stones: The game has the Gem-Knight cards (a Homage to the Elemental Hero archetype and the Crystal Beasts) which are named for and usually colored after a Gemstone (The exception is Gem-Knight Lazuli and maybe Gem-Knight Sardonyx) Their leader Gem-Knight Master Diamond has white armor and an All Your Colors Combined Rainbow Motif sword and background.
  • Colorful Theme Naming: The Dark World archetype. Complete with Dark Overlord Reign-Beaux.
  • Combining Mecha: The VWXYZ archetype, culminating with the Dragon Catapult Cannon, the Machinas and the Magnet Warriors, but technically speaking, any Machine-type Fusion monster could be seen as this.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: Quite a few cards are designed by fans.
  • Continuity Cameo: Several cards have characters from the anime or manga on them:
  • Continuity Drift: Early cards with remove from play effects, such as Bazoo the Soul Eater and Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, implied that monsters removed from play had their souls destroyed. More recent cards indicate that those monsters are actually sent to another dimension.
  • Cool Boat: Holy damn, Number 50: Blackship of Corn.
  • Cool Planes: The Mecha Phantom Beast archetype.
  • The Corruption: The Evilswarm Archetype is based around monsters corrupted by the Evilswarm virus. This includes the infamous original Duel Terminal monster, Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier, which has mutated into Evilswarm Bahamut.
  • Crazy-Prepared: "Toolbox" is a type of deck that specializes on searching monsters with many unique (and sometimes situational) effects directly from the Deck or Graveyard to counter your opponent. For example, Gladiator Beasts can "Tag Out" after a battle and bring any other Gladiator Beast from the Deck, and Koa'ki Meirus can use some cards to get any monster they want, including a trio that literally can stop anything.
  • Creation Sequence: Depicted in Terraforming.
  • Creepy Doll: The Shadoll archetype are ALL this. Just look at their boss monster. Hoo boy...
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Some cards exist simply to counter other, very specific cards and are otherwise worthless. "Anti Raigeki" exists only to counteract "Raigeki", "White Hole" only exists to counteract "Dark Hole", and both "Call of Darkness" and "Call of the Grave" exist only to counter "Monster Reborn".
    • However, not all specializations are crippling; for example, "G.B. Hunter," designed to lock down a Gladiator Beast deck, still has enough DEF to serve as a desperate defense. Likewise, because "Monster Reborn" was first printed in the OCG on March 27, 1999, and wasn't first Semi-Limited until April 1, 2000, its own specific counters spent a few months in a rather less crippled state.
    • The Allies of Justice appear to be an entire archetype based around overspecialization. Their effects almost exclusively revolve around the opponent's monsters being LIGHT-attribute or face-down. If they're not facing something with those criteria, they're in a lot of trouble. Note that the Worms are all LIGHT-attribute monsters with a lot of flip effects, meaning the Allies of Justice were designed to just fight this one enemy and nothing else!
    • Most of the "HERO" support cards have really specific conditions, which hampered the deck's playability for quite some time.
  • Crossover Cosmology: There are cards based on Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Incan and Norse mythology, among others. Well, when we say 'based', we mean 'has some small detail in common with'.
    • Justified in the anime, as Pegasus (the creator of the game in the anime) claims to have based most of the cards on various inspirations, including the myths he encountered on his world tour.
  • Cute Is Evil: Several fiend type or darkness attribute cards can be this.
  • Cute Monster Girl: A few, but probably the best example is Tour Guide from the Underworld, because she's, you know, a demon.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Gagagigo's eventual fate. He gets better.
  • Dark Is Evil: The DARK attribute has the greatest portion of evil-seeming monsters, but…
  • Deader than Dead: Cards removed from play generally won't be seen again in the duel unless your deck is specifically designed to recycle them.
  • Death or Glory Attack: Meta-version: the spell card Power Bond often inflicts such hefty damage on its user that when used, most prefer to end the game on the turn it's used. There's the tangentially related Limiter Removal, which destroys all monsters it affects at the end of the turn. Naturally, the two are often combined with cards such as Cyber End Dragon or Ultimate Ancient Gear Golem to crush the opponent.
  • Death World: The "Venom Swamp" field spell card will slowly kill everything on the field except the native Venom monsters. The "Zombie World" field spell card causes everything to count as zombies (even in the graveyard!) so it could be called an Undeath World.
  • Dem Bones: The Skull Servant and related cards, along with numerous other Zombie-types.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The "Ninjitsu Art" cards and Thunder King Rai-Oh. "Ninjitsu" means "Ninja Art" and "Rai-Oh" means "Thunder King".
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Some monsters' relative ATK scores aren't exactly what you'd expect. For example, the supreme god of the Duel Terminal planet can be punched out by a train or a giant koalanote .
  • Difficult but Awesome: The Koa'ki Meiru monsters all have high attack power and incredibly useful anti-meta effects and support cards. What makes them difficult to use is that they all destroy themselves at the end of the turn if you don't discard the Iron Core card or reveal a card in your hand that's the same type as the monster on the field (and there are many different types of Koa'ki Meiru monsters!). It's difficult to have more than just one Koa'ki Meiru out on the field at any given time, though they can still be quite effective if you splash them into another deck full of the same monster type as them so they don't self-destruct.
    • It gets worse: the Iron Core itself is completely useless, but is required to use powerful Spell or Traps, so sooner or later you're bound to have to decide between a monster or keeping a way to use your Spell or Trap. Even worse, a few of those need the Core in your Graveyard instead, so if you're using those, you could end up with no ways to use the ones that need them in your hand.
    • All of the above problems are partially addressed by the way the TCG's releases have approached the Rock-Type Koa'ki Meiru monsters. The OCG, at most, has 3 Koa'ki Meiru for each Type, which makes it slightly difficult to try to use a Koa'ki-monster-heavy deck yet avoid the nigh-uselessness of the Core itself. One thing the OCG did bring to the table early was Boulder - a recruiter that never needs to be maintained via core or card-revealing. That, combined with the trend set by Guardian and Sandman in terms of activation negation, led to what may be the most significant thing Koa'ki Meiru has right now - a means of game control via stopping activations. The TCG continued that trend by releasing another maintenance free Koa'ki (Prototype), and another activation-stopping Koa'ki (Wall). This leaves the Rock-Type branch with five members on this side of the Pacific - all of which either help control the game or give you resources.
    • Another ideology to use with the Ko'aki Meiru monsters is to throw them into decks among their own types. Bergzak gets excellent mileage among Warrior decks.
    • Vennominaga the Deity of Poisonous Snakes requires a lot of set-up; a reptile-based deck, a card like "Damage = Reptile" to easily Summon its predecessor Vennominion, a pre-set "Rise of the Snake Deity" to Summon Vennominaga when Vennominion gets destroyed, a card to destroy Vennominion and perhaps a use of "Snake Rain" to flood your Graveyard with Reptiles to boost Vennominaga's attack. Once all that is said and done, however, Vennominaga is virtually unstoppable since it is completely immune to all card effects, and it needs only to damage the opponent three times for an instant win. The only hope the opponent has is to either Summon a monster that Vennominaga can't overpower, or to find a way to get those reptiles out of the graveyard (such as with "Zombie World" or "Soul Release").
    • Sophia, Goddess of Rebirth is considered this for having harsh Summoning requirement of banishing one Fusion, one Ritual, one Synchro and one Xyz on the field. However, once it hits the field, all other cards on the field, graveyard and hand are banished except itself. Not to mention its Summon and effect cannot be negated.
    • Probably the most overwhelming example of this trope, however, is Horakhty, the Creator God of Light. To Summon it you have to have all 3 of the Egyptian God Cards on the field...with the "card copying its name" trick explicitly negated to prevent this from being any easier than getting out 3 monsters who require 3 monsters a piece to Summon. It's well worth the effort, however, as the mere act of Summoning it cannot be negated, and once it's Summoned, you win.
    • There is also the Arcana Force monsters. They're effects rely solely on getting the right flips with a coin, but there are cards that can help a player choose what effect applies. So if a person is smart and uses the cards correctly, they can get monsters that half damage taken, Summon tokens once a turn, or even skip the opponents turn entirely and deal massive damage.
    • Sephylon, the Ultimate Timelord, the Big Bad boss monster of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, has an impressive 4000 ATK/DEF and can be easily Special Summoned once its condition is met, but it requires 10 monsters in the Graveyard to Summon and only from the hand. This can be accomplished through self-milling tactics (e.g. Lightsworns), but it is still a dead draw early-game. Its effect to Summon a Level 8 or higher Fairy monster as a 4000 ATK beatstick also requires a deck built around exploiting this effect due to the limited pool to choose from, not to mention this leaves the player even more vulnerable to dead draws. Nonetheless, if you can pull this off and remove your opponent's traps, it makes a fantastic late-game finisher that can end the game in a single turn. Plus, you're Summoning Godnote .
    • Most players shy away from Ritual Monsters because they require at least three cards to Summonnote  and thus require a deck dedicated to searching them out. Nonetheless, getting them out gives access to the most powerful effects in the game. Some of the most notorious are Demise, King of Armageddon, whose field clearing effect plays host to many one-turn kills, Herald of Perfection, which played right, prevents the opponent from doing anything, the Gishki archetype, which eases the difficulty of getting out beatsticks with hand and field control effects, and of course Pegasus's Relinquished, which steals opponent's boss monsters to use against themnote .
    • Despite the ridiculous amount of resources a well-built Infernity deck has, the cards' effects require you to have no hand, so it is not an easy deck to use. Reading strategy threads demonstrate the amount of thought necessary to make a consistent deck that doesn't lead to crippling dead cards in hand or needlessly wasting resources and it is arguably the least flexible archetype in existence. The payoff is huge Graveyard access, a nearly impenetrable defense, and powerful Synchro monsters. In fact, living up to its name, while Brionac was still legal, they could execute an infinite loop with Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier that could leave the opponent totally resource-less, though good luck understanding it at first glance.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Averted. The two have been completely separate categories since the very beginning. Though both focus upon having supremely nasty powerhouses, Dinosaurs tend more towards brute force while Dragons often have devastating effects to go with their physical power.
  • Disability Superpower: Infernities are a variation of this trope: Typically not having cards in your hand would be considered a bad thing, as it would require you to constantly draw the cards you need from the top of your deck with no backup plan, but Infernities benefit from this situation.
  • Discard and Draw: Many cards use discarding as part of a cost for an effect (e.g. Magic Jammer, Lightning Vortex, Hand Destruction, etc.) or the effect itself (ex.Graceful Charity, Dark World Dealings, etc.)
    • Note that certain cards such as Graceful Charity and Dark World Dealings allow the player to draw cards prior or after discarding as an effect.
  • Downer Ending: The Gigobyte story was originally this. Averted when Gagagigo the Risen was released as an Xyz Monster. However, since it's not a normal monster like the rest of the cards, it isn't immediately obvious that he continued the story.
  • Dragon Hoard: Dragon Treasure buffs dragons.
  • Drop the Hammer on the Goblin Attack Force.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Early sets put much more emphasis on normal monsters, with the only real strategy being how to get yourself the best ATK stat to overpower your opponent. Nowadays you'll hardly ever see any normal monsters in a deck unless it's built specifically around them.
    • There have been a few changes in the phrasing of certain rules and cards: for example, Polymerization didn't actually explain what the card did in its original printing, since that was in the rulebook. After there started to be more ways to get out fusion monsters than just Polymerization, the explanation of the card was taken out and put on the card itself.
  • Edible Theme Naming: The Madolche's names are puns of French and Italian Desserts.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
  • Elemental Powers: The idea behind monster Attributes, and the specialty of the Charmer archetype.
  • End of the World as We Know It: A Ritual Spell.
    • Also caused in the Duel Terminal verse by Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier, which plunged the world into an ice age upon release. And now, it's back.
    • Inferno Tempest can only be activated when a player takes over 3000 damage from one attack. All monsters in the graveyards, and in both player's decks are banished. The world doesn't get much more thoroughly ended than having everyone who is currently or has previously lived in it disappear from reality.
  • Equippable Ally: The Dragon-Type Dragunities are both this. As well as Attack Animals.
    • Union-type monsters, which can either stand alone as a monster (although they are typically weak) or can be equipped to another monster to give them an additional effect.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: The Penguin archetype.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies
  • Evil Twin: The Dark Counterparts archetype. They have few to no connections to each other, though DARK is probably the most-supported attribute in the game.
  • Evil Versus Evil: There is a war between Dark Ruler Ha Des and Dark King of the Abyss. Ha Des tricked Dark King out of his throne with Demotion. Dark King got his revenge, but was killed by the Revived Ruler Ha Des.
  • Evil Weapon: Word of God says the Equip Spell Wicked-Breaking Flamberge - Baou holds the dark power of Baou, its Guardian spirit. When Warrior Dai Grepher later wields it, he is overcome by the dark energy. He becomes a rampaging monster, transforming more and more until, at the height of his mutation, he was completely unrecognizable as his former self.
  • Evolutionary Levels: Pretty much any monster with LV in its name. Their main schtick is weak cards replacing themselves with stronger and stronger versions of themselves.
    • The Evol archetype that will be released in Photon Shockwave sort of fits this too. "Sort of" in that while the younger versions Special Summon older ones, the younger ones don't need to be offered up in order to do so.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Infinite Cards, Effect Veiler, and Negate Attack.
    • Question enforces this. The opponent is forced to name the bottom monster of your graveyard with the name printed on the card no matter how long it is.
  • Exact Time to Failure: Once you activate the "Final Countdown" card, your opponent has exactly 10 of their turns to beat you or you win.
  • Exact Words: See Loophole Abuse further down the page for the many ways those trope can be abused.
    • An interesting side-effect of Equip Spell Cards that give Piercing, is that you can inflict damage to your opponent by equipping them to your opponent's monster(s). Then, when your opponent attacks one of your Defense Position monsters with an ATK greater than your monsters DEF, he/she will take the difference. After all, even though it's your opponent's monster, it's your Spell Card, and thus it's your opponent — not you — who takes the extra damage, due to the wording on the cards.
    • Some continuous card effects have linkage to another monster cards such as Future Fusion and Call of the Haunted. However, when the monster is removed from field other than being destroyed, the continuous effect card remains on the field meaninglessly.
      • When this card is destroyed, destroy the equipped monster. "That card" is the primary offender.
    • Many cards require, as a cost, that a player "sends a card to the graveyard" usually from their hand or deck. An interesting side effect of a card called Macro Cosmos that states that cards are removed from play instead of sent to the graveyard, is that cards that specify this can't be used, even if their effect is unrelated to the graveyard. This leads to interesting loopholes.
    • Does a card say that under certain conditions you can do something? Because that determines if the effect is mandatory or not, which means everything when it comes to chaining cards. Several rules determine the significance:
      • "If this card is ..." means that the card is unable to "Miss the Timing".
      • "When this card is ..." means that the card is capable of "Missing the Timing" if it is not the last thing to occur.
      • "..., you can..." means that the card is optional and is capable of "Missing the Timing" if combined with "When...". Otherwise, it is still possible, but is also optional.
    • You say your card has an effect that triggers when discarded? Does it say it has to specifically be from the deck or hand? Does it specify it has to be discarded to the graveyard? Does it say it has to be discarded due to an opponent's card effect? Does it matter if it's discarded for a cost or by an effect? And as noted above, does it say you can do something when it gets discarded, because that will determine if the effect is mandatory or not when it gets discarded. This is the main reason Dandylion is Limited, because it gets its effect when it hits the Graveyard no matter how it gets sent there, and the effect is mandatory so you're promised your two tokens no matter what happens.
    • Xyz cards have also caused players to take a closer look at cards like Sangan that specify "sent from the field to the Graveyard", because current rulings are that Xyz Material monsters don't count as being on the field, so Sangan wouldn't get its effect when detached from an Xyz monster.
    • Many monsters with a powerful effect or high ATK/DEF say "Cannot be normal summoned or set.". However, Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon only says it can be special summoned with its own effect. There is nothing stopping one from normal summoning it.
  • Explosive Overclocking: The theme of the cards Overworked and Limiter Removal.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Big Eye, Thousand Eyes Restrict, and Hundred-Eyes Dragon
  • Fallen Angel: The Darklords and Marie the Fallen One.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms - Many cards with realistic guns in the art had them replaced with lasers, fanciful guns, or knives, with varying success.
    • Great example of a card that explicitly has a gun on it to less obvious. Plus the gun in the original was a burgler's.
  • Fanservice - Averted. Cards which seem to gear towards this are edited for the TCG.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink
  • Feathered Fiend: A number of monsters, but the Blackwings stand out.
  • Flaming Sword: Wielded by Flame Swordsman. Also, the Spell Card Salamandra.
  • Fragile Speedster: Some decks focus on getting out monsters as quick as possible, swarming the field (like the Harpies, the Blackwings, Frogs, and so on). To balance this out, most of them do not have very high attack power.
    • Xyz monsters are much easier to Summon than Synchro monsters or Fusion monsters, but a lot of them don't have terribly high attack points comparatively, and most of them can only use their effect once or twice because they need to detach the monsters used to Summon them. If they are revived from the graveyard they can't use their effect at all! Most of them are meant for quick-and-dirty support rather than something to decisively end the opponent.
  • Frogs and Toads: These fellas. The Frog archetype is usually Weak, but Skilled; they are mostly-all low-level monsters with sub-par attack, but have devastating support effects, like "Des Croaking" which blows away all cards controlled by the opponent.
  • Fusion Dance: Fusion was a gameplay feature since the early days of the game, but the Elemental HEROs are entirely based around fusing with one another. There are dozens of potential combinations present. To a lesser extent, the newer Gemknight archetype is also based around fusion.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Many cards have slightly different effects between the anime and the physical card game; what would be a game-breaker might be Nerfed when it becomes real, or vice-versa. Sometimes the rules are a little different as well; Summoning monsters in face-down defense position hasn't happened in the anime since the first season, but it's still an important part of the rules of the real game.
    • As for a more direct example, Normal monsters. Take Maiden of the Moonlight for example. Powers beyond mortal comprehension, huh? That 1500 ATK certainly says otherwise! Sure there are SOME examples where it fits, like the famous Blue-Eyes White Dragon (in terms of ATK, there are not many monsters that can stand up to it), but its just ridiculous for the most part. In fact, this is what made Shapesnatch a Memetic Badass.
  • Gang of Critters: Seen here and here.
  • Gladiator Games: Gladiator Beasts, a set of monsters that are Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and has the gimmick of "tagging out" with each other after a battle. Bonus points for Konami showing their work by using the real gladiator types and weapons/battle tactics for most of the cards, as well as real-life Roman figures for the namesakes of the most powerful Beasts. .
  • Glass Cannon: The Lightsworns were designed as this with a combo of Fragile Speedster. Most of their monsters are quite powerful and a good Lightsworn deck will probably win very quickly...or not win at all. This is because almost all of them send cards straight from your deck to the graveyard at the end of the turn, meaning your deck will burn itself out after a while.
    • There's also quite a few monsters that have high attack points but pathetic defense points. The mighty Rainbow Dragon has 4000 ATK and 0 DEF, for example. Similarly, the Inverz/Steelswarm monsters all have 0 DEF. If a clever player runs cards that can switch attack and defense positions or stats, or outright nuke said low-defense monsters, these monsters are toast.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Ruin, Queen Of Oblivion and the Allure Queens.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: This is impossible in real life (unless you're insanely rich and have a lot of spare time on your hands, and even then Tyler the Great Warrior is truly one-of-a-kind), but it's quite possible if you're playing any of the various Yu-Gi-Oh video games that are released every year.
  • Gratuitous English: At this point, the OCG probably has more cards and booster packs with English than Japanese names. A good deal of Japanese cards also have English names.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: In the first few booster packs, UDE's policy was that cards with English names would have their names translated into Japanese. They've since stopped, but some card names are left untranslated.
  • Harping On About Harpies: The Harpie Lady monsters.
  • Headless Horseman: Headless Knight and Ghostrick Dullahan.
  • Healing Shiv: Monster Reborn's international artwork depicts a dagger that resurrects monsters. note 
  • Hermaphrodite: Yubel
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Remember Horakhty, the Egyptian god that won the day against Zorc in the original anime and manga? She's a card now, and her effect is like this. Good luck Summoning her, though...
  • House Rules: Two common variations are based on the Forbidden/Limited list: Traditional, which allows banned cards (up to one of each), and Mega-Banned, which completely disallows cards that are on the list at all. Another type sometimes seen in competitive play is the Sealed Deck duel, which gives both players identical decks, but no one knows the contents.
  • Humongous Mecha: Many of the Machine-type monsters, especially some of their Fusions.
  • Hypocrite: The players of this game can be this sometimes. Such as accusing other players of playing net-decked, overpowered, autopilot decks when they themselves run a deck with arguably the same traits.
  • An Ice Person: The "Ice Barrier" archetype and related cards.
  • Instant-Win Condition: Several, listed on the Useful Notes page.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Regardless of what the TV series have you believe, friends don't mean much in a standard 1-on-1 game.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: An important gameplay aversion. To explain: If your monster attacks an opponent's defense-position monster, and the defender has more DEF than the attacker has ATK, it's the attacker who takes damage; think of it like punching a brick wall with your fist. This is one of the reasons why monsters can be Summoned in face-down defensive position; the attacker doesn't know what he's in for. Some decks can be built around this, with defensive monsters that flip themselves back down and "Shifting Sands" in play that lets you randomize the positions of your face-down monsters.
  • Joke Character:
  • Kill 'em All: Some cards are able to wipe out everything on both sides of the playing field (or just all cards on the opposing side). A couple of cards take it even further by also wiping out every card in the players' hands!
  • Kill It with Fire: Is the strategy with a lot of Fire/fire-themed cards, such as Elemental HERO Flame Wingman, Volcanic Doomfire, Achacha Archer, and Backfire.
  • Kill Sat: Satellite Cannon
  • Knight Templar: Vylons are so focused on creating a world of Perfect Pacifist People that they are willing to make a World of Silence to accomplish it. By killing everyone, apparently.
  • Kraken and Leviathan:
  • The Last of His Kind: The Last Warrior from Another Planet
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Some cards have compulsory attack effects (i. e. Berserk Gorilla, Battle Mania).
  • Leet Speak: There's a card called Mind Haxorz. Seriously.
  • Lethal Joke Card: There's a bunch of these. The Ojamas, three exceedingly weak monsters with no attack points, got a number of support cards that let them drastically turn the table on the enemy. "Gift Card" increases your opponent's life by 3000, but if you combo that with "Bad Reaction To Simochi", or have "Nurse Reficule The Fallen One" on the field, which turns healing into damage, you've just dealt a serious blow to the opponent. "Skull Servant" was famous for being an extremely weak card (in fact, most video games give you credit if you can win a game with the Skull Servant) but can act as fuel for "King of the Skull Servants," who becomes increasingly more powerful the more Skull Servants are in the Graveyard.
    • Grinder Golem and Inferno Tempest. Grinder Golem Summons a 3000 attack point monster on your opponents side of the field and gives you two tokens with 0 attack points. Now attack the Golem with one of your tokens, take 3000 damage, and activate Inferno Tempest. It removes every monster in both players decks and graveyards from play. You may even be able to perform an OTK by activating D.D. Dynamite which does 300 damage for every card of your opponents that is removed from play.
      • Grinder Golem has the bonus of having low defense points, so you can Summon it to the opponent's field in defense position, then use it as fodder for a monster that needs to destroy a monster by battle to activate an effect, while also providing tokens for other effects.
    • Foolish Burial sends a monster straight from your deck to the graveyard, which would seem like a bad idea on its own, except if you combine that with anything that lets you revive a monster, you've just hand-picked a monster from your deck to be Summoned onto the field. There's a reason this card is limited to one per deck.
      • Foolish Burial also sets off Dandylion, which Summons two Level 1 tokens when sent to the grave. This is especially useful when Synchro Summoning. If you Summon Debris Dragon after doing this and use it to revive Dandylion, you can now Synchro Summon any Dragon-type Synchro Monster between level 5 and 9, and then gain another two Level 1 tokens. All this from two cards.
      • Using the above strategy and a Level 1 Tuner, you can Summon Formula Synchron and Stardust Dragon, and then Shooting Star Dragon, which has 3300 ATK and a myriad of powerful effects. If you use Glow-up Bulb as the Level 1 Tuner, it can revive itself and you can play a second level 2 synchro monster, allowing you to play Shooting Quasar Dragon. So basically you just played a 4000 ATK monster with three cards, and drew an extra one thanks to Formula Synchron. All 4 of the setup cards, Foolish Burial, Dandylion, Formula Synchron, and Debris Dragon, have since been limited.
  • Light is Good: Most monsters of the LIGHT attribute seem to be heroic, but...
    • Light Is Not Good: seems to be the theme of the Arcana Force monsters and most of the Worm Archetype.
    • The Vylons are an interesting example. In the story they teamed up with the Lavals, Gishki, Gusto, and Gem-Knights in order to beat back the Steelswarms. This ultimately leads to Vylon Disigma defeating them. But as it turns out, those sets were only working together to beat the Steelswarms and prior to that were also fighting each other. The Vylons wish for a perfect existence for everyone, but they now see that's impossible. So they've decided to use Disigma to Kill 'em All.
    • Despite Santa Claws's Japanese name referencing the Devil, he is in the LIGHT Attribute.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Quite many cards are this, which kind of diminishes its value a bit; but there some among these that really are worthy of its title, examples are cards that are actually sold separately in one big deluxe package: Shinato of A Higher Plane was this at first. Other examples are Special Summons hyped in the Animated Adaptation and The Movie, expect to only get them in special events or packed with another product of the franchise (usually a Video Game).
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Loophole Abuse: Many older cards are worded in such a way to allow this as the game and its strategies have progressed and evolved in ways the card game back then couldn't have foreseen. For example, Mind Control lets you take control of an opponent's monster, but it can't attack or be Tributed. When it was first released it didn't have a lot of uses, mostly just Fusion (which was rarely used) and getting a monster out of the way. Then came Synchros and Xyz, which state their Summoning methods don't actually count as Tributing...and so it was Mind Control is now Limited.
    • Similar to Mind Control, Instant Fusion - pay 1000 Life Points to special Summon a Level 5 or lower Fusion monster from the extra deck, but it can't attack and is destroyed during at the end of the turn. Unless you need Tribute fodder, entirely useless, since none of the Level 5 or below Fusions are any good even if they weren't only around for one turn. Then Synchros came, and this card, combined with a Tuner, let you Summon pretty much any Synchro monster you wanted. And then came the Xyz cards, which can do just about the same thing.
    • Two old school revival cards have this. Premature Burial states that when it is destroyed, the monster it revived is destroyed. Its effect says nothing about the monster dying if the card is just removed from the field, most famously by returning it to the hand to be played again. Call of the Haunted meanwhile says that when the monster it Summoned is destroyed the card itself also goes, but as with Premature Burial it doesn't go if the monster is removed from the field, leaving Call of the Haunted face-up and useless, unless you have something like Scrap Dragon. Be sure to pay attention to if a card specifically says removed from the field or destroyed, it makes a huge difference.
    • The Wind-Ups. Each of them have effects that can only be activated once while on the field. But if it's sent to the grave/banished zone, then you can re-use the effects. This led to the infamous "Wind-Up Loop" in the March 2012 format, where unless your opponent had Effect Veiler or Maxx C, you basically made them discard their entire hand without any drawback to yourself.
    • Tour Guide From the Underworld Summons a second monster when she comes into play, with lots of limitations on what you can do with it. But, of course, it doesn't forbid you from using the monster with mechanics that were added to the game later, like Xyz Summons...
    • There's also numerous cards that cause things to happen at certain times during the turn. This makes some cards like Solomon's Lawbook (skip your next Standby Phase), and Dimensionhole and Interdimensional Matter Transporter (banish a monster until a particular turn phase) Crouching Moron Hidden Badasses because they allow you to avoid various effects by "dodging" turn phases. For the latter, there's Spirit Monsters, which have a universal effect that specifies they return to your hand during the End Phase of the turn they're Normal Summoned or flipped face-up. So if you banish them from the field and they return later or find a way to skip your End Phase, they get to stay on the field because the End Phase of the turn you played them has passed, and the return effect says nothing about them returning to the hand on subsequent turns.
  • Luck-Based Mission: No matter how you build it, running an Arcana Force deck inevitably turns into this.
    • Also, Lightsworns. Lightsworn cards send cards from the top of the Deck to the Graveyard, and abuse this with plenty of monsters whose effects activate in Graveyard. Of course, many key cards, including the Game Breaker Judgment Dragon need to be in the hand to use. Running Lightsworns is just hoping you get the right cards in your Graveyard and the rest in your hand. Just as Arcana Force, you can try to build them to get around this, but most of the time it's better not to.
  • Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Millennium Shield. Big Shield Gardna too, considering his pose.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Second Coin Toss, and Dice Re-Roll.
  • Lunacy: Mystical Moon. It powers up Beast-Warrior-type monsters.
  • Made of Explodium: Scrap monsters are always either being destroyed by their own effects or the effects of their support cards. Fortunately, their secondary effects usually kick in after this, allowing you to recycle other Scrap cards.
  • Mad Scientist: Kozaky and the Magical Scientist. Some card artworks suggest that these two are actually best buds.
  • Magical Land: Well, it's only advertised as a citadel, but if you look, it houses an entire little kingdom/village inside the magical barrier.
  • Magic Knight: Breaker the Magical Warrior, Dark Magician Knight and the ''Dark Paladin.
  • Magic Mirror: Fiend's Mirror
  • Magikarp Power: A lot of the LV monsters are weak in their initial forms but replace themselves with much, much stronger versions. One of the biggest Magikarps in the game is Winged Kuriboh, who, on its own, simply prevents you from taking damage for a turn. There's a card that can replace it with a "Winged Kuriboh Level 10", which makes every monster your opponent has on the field explode and damage them equal to the total ATK of the monsters destroyed, usually more than enough to finish them off and win the Duel.
    • There are also cards that slowly build up power over time - they gather tokens, so many turns need to pass, etc - with strong effects that trigger once they're charged up.
    • As a meta example, a lot of old weak archetypes (Gravekeepers, Batterymen, Frogs) will often receive new support cards in sets released years later that suddenly make them much more viable.
    • The Ojama own this trope. As if Ojama Delta Hurricane!, which obliterates your opponent's hand and field but requires the three Ojama brothers as an activation condition, weren't enough, the more recent additions to the family, Red and Blue, can mass-Summon fellow Ojamas from the hand and tutor Ojama cards from the deck respectively. Last but not least, Ojama Country can Summon Ojamas from the grave and flips the attack and defense of all monsters on the field. Run with Ojama King and other Stone Wall monsters and...
  • Magma Man: Lava Golem
  • Man-Eating Plant: Literally, but note that it is considerably less frightening than your usual Man-Eating Plant because it only has 800 attack points; on the other hand, we have the Gigaplant.
  • Married to the Job: Poor poor Kozaky...
  • Mask of Power: Not too many, but enough to count as an archetype.
  • Meaningful Name: Earthbound Immortals. Yeah, they're really Earthbound (as in bound to the Field Spell!).
  • Mechanical Evolution: Machine King. Its youngest form is labeled as being from the year 3000 BC! Interestingly, the chronologically earlier forms seem to have been created as an afterthought.
  • Mechanical Monster: Many machines resemble living creatures, like the Cyber Dragon line. On the flip side of things are the Scrap monsters, which clearly look mechanical but technically count as just about everything except machines—insects, beasts, dragons and so on.
  • Memetic Hand Gesture: Some players have adopted the practice from the anime of placing their hands over their decks to signify surrendering the duel, though it's obviously not sufficient to just do this for it to legitimately count as a surrender.
  • Metagame: Try to run a deck without cards like Heavy Storm, Lightning Vortex, or defensive traps such as Scrap-Iron Scarecrow and Mirror Force and count the time until someone says you can't run a deck without them.
    • The Forbidden/Limited lists that change every 6 months tend to both reflect and change the Metagame.
  • Metaplot: There was an attempt to have one for a while, based on the artwork of the Gagagigo, Inpachi, Goblin cards, Royal Cards, Different Dimension cards, as well as various monsters appearing in the art of other cards. The lack of flavor text on most cards meant that any story that might have been present was completely lost. More recent cards still reference each other in the artwork, but there doesn't seem to be any attempt to build a coherent plot. A fair chunk of fanfic is devoted to spinning a coherent story out of the various references.
    • The new Duel Terminal arcade game's card archetypes seem to have this going for them, as evidenced by a few cards both within the Duel Terminal and outside it. note 
  • Meteor Of Doom Destruction
  • Mighty Glacier: Some decks require a lot of set-up before you can bring out the big offensive guns. One example is the Destiny HEROs, who are almost all defensive monsters that help the player increase their hand and field presence. This is because their two trump card monsters, Plasma and Dogma, require three Tributes to Summon (but are so powerful they can really hamstring the opponent once finally out).
  • Mind Control: One of the main features of the Aliens is infecting opposing cards with A-counters (called "A-cells" in lore) which they can then take control of. Mind control effects are often limited in some way, so if you can avoid destroying your stolen monsters, they might come back to you.
  • Monster Clown: A literal example! Mystic Clown... Dream Clown... Crass Clown... Saggi The Dark Clown... as you might have guessed none of these guys are very pleasent. Luckily, most clown cards are fairly weak or have no effects. Most.
  • Mook Maker: Anything that generates Tokens regularly, like "Goka, the Pyre of Malice".
  • Mushroom Man: There are cards specifically named Mushroom Man #1 and #2.
  • Mutual Kill: Both monsters are destroyed when they have the same ATK and attack each other.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: A number of the new Psychic types from Extreme Victory practically exist to be sent to the graveyard. (Namely Serene Psychic Witch, Silent Psychic Wizard, and Hushed Psychic Cleric.) Overmind Archfiend also has this going for it, although it's powerful in it's own right.
  • Mythology Gag: Alligator's Sword and several other Normal Monsters released in Legendary Collection 4: Joey's World had their flavor text localized to Brooklyn accent.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: There's a list on the Trivia page.
  • Negate Your Own Sacrifice: The popular Stardust Dragon can sacrifice itself to prevent some other card on the field from being destroyed, but it can also bring itself back every turn it does this.
  • Nerfed: A really big Nerf occurred when Synchro monsters were introduced. The "Fusion Deck" became the "Extra Deck," and instead of having an unlimited number of Fusion monsters in it (barring the "no more than three with the same name" rule) players were now limited to 15 cards (Synchro or Fusion monsters). This is because Synchro Monsters are generally unspecific as to how they can be Summoned and it would be too game-breaking to allow an unlimited number of them in there, but this was a major blow to Elemental HERO decks, since there are way more than 15 different possible Elemental HERO fusion combinations.
    • Since they can't re-write the rules as written on a card once it's been issued, sometimes Konami will limit how many of certain powerful cards you're allowed to have in your deck, sometimes just 2, 1, or none at all. These "limited/forbidden" lists change every six months as new cards are introduced that change the balance of the game.
  • Never Say "Die": Any monster with the word "Death" in its name has it changed to "Des" as a deliberate transliteration, hence "Death Frog" is "Des Frog" (and "Death Koala" is "Des Koala").
  • New Season, New Name: After 5D's cards began appearing in the game, "5D's" was added to the name of the game in the box logo and in some other places. The same for Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Quite a few cards can be used to Special Summon a more powerful monster upon the death of the first. For example, Rise of the Snake Deity can be used upon the death of Vennominon, the King of Poisonous Snakes to Summon Vennominaga, the Deity of Poisonous Snakes which gets 500 ATK for each Reptile in the graveyard, can't be the target of abilities, can come back from the dead with the sacrifice of a Reptile from the graveyard and causes an instant victory in 3 attacks.
    • Yubel is probably the best example: If you attack it, then you take damage instead and Yubel itself survives. If you destroy it, then it becomes stronger. The only way to destroy it is... waiting: Yubel needs a sacrifice each turn to stay alive, and being destroyed this way won't bring up its stronger forms. Unless, of course, your opponent abuses the many reusable Tribute fodders in the game; then you're screwed.
    • The Meklord archetype is considered this if you are playing a synchro deck.
    • Also, Berserk Dragon can only be Summoned by a spell card that can only be used if one of your Level 8+ monsters is destroyed.
  • Nice Hat: Great Phantom Thief sports quite the piece.
  • Ninja: A whole lot of them, in fact. A trio of them even serve as a Shout-Out to Konami's popular video game series Ganbare Goemon
    • In Recent Packs, Ebisu has been added as "Masked Ninja Ebisu", which means you can now have the Main 4 characters from Ganbare Goemon
  • Non-Human Undead: Quite a few, including the recent variants of legacy cards (i. e. Summoned Skull -> Archfiend Zombie Skull, Red Eyes Black Dragon -> Red Eyes Zombie Dragon, etc.).
  • Non-Indicative Name: Some cards have them. For example, you wouldn't really think that a card called Psychic Overload would be a good thing, but it can actually be extremely helpful.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Thing in the Crater and Dweller in the Depths.
  • Not Quite Dead: Numerous cards allow other cards to return from the Graveyard (either to the field or the player's hand), though not so much that Death Is Cheap. In fact most Zombie monsters have effects like this.
  • Not the Intended Use: A number of instances. For example, Barrel Behind the Door was initially meant to bounce back damage done to you by effects. It works just as well bouncing non-cost damage from your cards to your opponent.
    • One of the most interesting examples is G.B. Hunter. As the name says, it was designed to defeat Gladiator Beasts, which return to the Deck to activate their effects. Turns out, she's great at preventing your monsters from returning to the Deck or Extra Deck. Monsters like, say, the Majestic Synchros, any Elemental Hero Fusion Monster with Neos in its name, or, ironically, Gladiator Beast Octavius.
    • One of the most unfortunate examples was the Forbidden Royal Oppression. It was meant as an anti-meta card to punish the highly Special Summon reliant Metagame. Instead, decks ended up using it to get out their big plays and then activated it to prevent the opponent from being able to respond as effectively. The card ironically lived up to its name as it primarily benefited top-tier decks and those who went first even more.
    • Equip cards that give monsters the "piercing" ability (doing damage to the opponent when attacking a weaker defense position monster) can be equipped to the opponent's monster, with the result that the opponent takes damage from attacking defense monsters.
  • Nuke 'em: Shown in the artwork of Final Destiny. Not to mention it is one of the very few cards that lets you wipe out the whole field.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: The Karakuri archetype. In Japan, their names are actually numbers: "Karakuri Soldier Nisamu," for example, is written with the kanji 弐参六 (236). In the US, the dual nature of their names is retained by translating the kanji as both a model number and the actual reading thereof (or a variation); e.g. "Karakuri Soldier mdl 236 'Nisamu'".
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: All except a dozen or so monsters only need one attack to be destroyed, regardless of how low or high the difference is.
    • And a few of them have effects where they are destroyed after they are attacked, regardless of ATK or DEF points.
  • Orochi: Yamata Dragon and Evil Dragon Anata
  • Orphaned Series: The physical card game is still ongoing, but the video game releases stopped short of the introduction of Xyz monsters and the Zexal series; this, after Konami released at least one or more Yugioh video games each year like clockwork.
  • Our Angels Are Different: In fact, some of them are Synthetic.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Mostly western dragons, though a few eastern dragons also appear. Some dragons stretch the definition of "dragon," like Black Rose Dragon, which appears to mostly be a giant rose with thorny vines and a dragon head.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Oh, yeah...
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Vampire archetype.
  • Oxymoronic Being- Behold the Anteatereatingant!
  • Personality Powers: Light-based monsters are often benevolent, or overbearing and intimidating. Earth monsters are usually unsubtle, but balanced and grounded. Dark monsters are often sinister, but sometimes more "crafty" than evil. (Especially if you associate dark with "magic"). Wind decks are often fast but flighty, and not always dependable; the vast majority of Spell and Trap destroying cards are named after wind effects. Fire decks love roasting the opponent and the "Backfire" card causes them all to be Made of Explodium (by burning the opponent when a Fire monster is killed), or else are highly aggressive and hotheaded, burning through their own cards. Water monsters can be weak with surprising Hidden Depths and clever utility.
  • Petting Zoo People: The Gladiator Beast monster archetype, and Beast-Warrior monster types in general.
  • Physical God: Obviously not to us, but within the cards there are the Egyptian Gods, Wicked Gods, Sacred Beasts, Earthbound Immortals, and Aesir monsters.
    • More recent editions include Master Hyperion and his Agents of the "Lost Sanctuary" structure deck, as well as the Fire Kings of the "Onslaught of the Fire Kings" structure deck.
      • To elaborate, Master Hyperion orders around the Agents, which are (very, very loosely) based on various Roman Gods such as Earth, Mars, and Jupiter.
      • Meanwhile, the Fire Kings are all referred to as "Avatars", with the most powerful amongst them being Fire King High Avatar Garunix.
  • The Plague: With a handful of virus cards to play with, very few of them don't dish out immeasurable damage to the opposing player. Crush Card Virus, Epidemic Eradication Virus, Deck Devastation Virus, and Cell Explosion Virus. Did I mention they have ominous names as well?
  • Poison Mushroom: "Parasite Paracide" is a card that gets inserted into the opponent's deck face-up. When they draw it, it gets Summoned to the field and they take damage. As a side-effect, it also causes all opposing monsters to count as insects (this was back when the main Insect strategy was to take advantage of an opponent's monsters also counting as insects).
    • "Mushroom Man #2" damages its controller at the start of the turn, but can be shifted to the opponent at the cost of some of your own life points. This card becomes an exercise in playing "hot potato" with the opponent and it's not very popular these days, since they could just tribute it for a Tribute Summon or use it for a Synchro Summon.
    • "Lava Golem" and "Volcanic Queen" are both very powerful monsters with high ATK—but you Summon them to the opponent's side of the field. The trick is that they burn their controller each turn (and you get to Tribute opposing Monsters to Summon them, getting rid of some of their cards), so if you're playing a stalling-based deck with indestructible monsters, they're stuck with something they can't easily get rid of that damages them each turn.
  • Power at a Price: Low-level monsters with high stats tend to have negative effects (and/or positive to the opponent).
  • Power Equals Rarity: ...and the rare cards get pretty expensive.
    • As of now there's only twelve Level 12 cards in a TCG composed of thousands cards, and arguably for a very good reason.
  • Power Limiter: Part of the backstory behind Gearfried The Iron Knight. When it gets released, look out.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Aside from the inherent almost Ritual-level difficulty of summoning a Chaos Xyz monster, several of them have effects that are worse than the original. The best example is Number C92: Heart-eartH Chaos Dragon. The original can banish nearly every card played in an opponent's turn, has protection from being destroyed by battle while redirecting battle damage to the opponent, and can revive itself with 1000 ATK times every card banished when destroyed with Xyz material. Its Chaos form? Loses battle immunity (while only having 1000 ATK to boot), gives your monsters Life Drain (which rarely makes up for the damage you take) and negates effects for a turn, likely only once. Not to mention it's hard enough to get the original out in the first place.
  • Precious Puppies: Outstanding Dog Marron
  • Precision F-Strike: Oh F!sh!, indeed!
  • Prestigious Player Title: You are a "Duelist".
  • Real Robot: About half of all machine monsters. The other half are Super Robots.
  • Regenerating Health: As long as you have "Marie The Fallen One" in your graveyard, you gain 200 LP each Standby Phase. A lot of other cards can heal as well, but they have to be on the field, where they are wide open to attacks or effects.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Alien, Venom, Worm, and Reptilianne archetypes. In fact, it's because of this trope that the Aliens and Worms (which are Starfish Aliens) are classified as "Reptiles," because they're so wrong.
  • Reset Button: The now long-banned card "Fiber Jar" resets pretty much everything in the duel except for Life Points and cards that were removed from play. Its only purpose is to draw out duels and make them even longer, so it was banned to prevent this.
  • Retcon: A few cards have been renamed outright in order to make them fit better with later-released archetypes: "Amazon Archer" became "Amazoness Archer," "Oscillo Hero #2" became "Wattkid," and the various "Heroes," such as the "Elemental Heroes," are now all officially "HER Os," since there are five different sub-archetypes which use the keyword.
  • Retired Badass: The set "Storm of Ragnarok" heavily implies that the support monsters for the Six Samurai archetype were the original members of the group.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: In every country besides the U.S., Barrel Dragon is known as Revolver Dragon. One look at the original OCG artwork shows why.
  • Riddling Sphinx: Ordeal of a Traveler forces your opponent's monsters to win a guessing game if they want to attack you; the art depicts a traveler being questioned by a sphinx.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Many low-level monsters, but special mention goes to the many Kuribohs, the Charmers' familiars, and the Neo-Spacians' Chrysalis forms.
    • The Watt and Naturia archetypes are made up almost exclusively of these.
  • Rock Monster: The Rock-type.
  • Samurai: The "Six Samurai" archetype and all its support.
    • Before them, we had the "Sasuke Samurai" cards, though this only consists of four monsters.
  • Satanic Archetype: While not outright stated to be the devil, Diabolos seems clearly inspired by the devil. If his name (devil in Greek) and the title "King of the Abyss" did not tip you off already, there's also a LIGHT version of him, indicating he did at one point fall from grace or possibly the opposite.
    • The manga, on the other hand, has a much more straight example. See there for said example.
  • The Scapegoat: Scapegoat
  • Scenery Gorn: A lot of cards have this, including a few (non-field) magic and trap cards.
  • Scenery Porn: Some Field spells are just gorgeous, and if not, the designs are at least very intricate and detailed.
  • Schizo Tech: Everything from stone clubs to Steam Punk ancient robots to the Perfect Machine King.
  • Schmuck Bait: The illustration of Reckless Greed shows a greedy man reaching for a treasure chest that is clearly over a trapdoor.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Seeing the destruction the war was causing, the Ice Barriers decided to unseal Trishula, the strongest of the Ice Barrier Dragons. It did NOT end well.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: Emulated in Different Dimension Gate. And yes, we see the pun in 'duel'.
  • Sequel Escalation: Remember the old days where Summoning more than one monster in one turn is hard to do? Now Summoning five monsters with over 2000 ATK in one turn while still having a healthy hand size is completely normal to be seen.
    • So much that you could parody the infamous Yu Gi Ohthe Abridged Series scene by matching two decks from two different eras.
      • Blackwings especially get that treatment when it's your first time playing them. If they don't FTK you, they must've gone first (and therefore could not attack).
      • Synchro Monsters in general are this. Now Summoning your deck's ace monster is usually done mostly with monster effects and is usually Summoned in your first or second turn. In the olden days, you were considered lucky to Summon any thing over a level six without deliberately stalling or using Foolish Burial + Monster Reborn.
  • Series Mascot: Kuriboh and Winged Kuriboh have been this for years, Stardust Dragon for the 5D's-era. Number 39: Utopia seems to be shaping up to be the one for the current ZEXAL era.
    • Kuribon and Kurivolt are the variations for 5D's and ZEXAL. They haven't been used nearly as much as the first two, being just special cards while Kuriboh and Winged Kuriboh had spirit forms. In addition to the Kuribohs, each series protagonist has a monster typically used most by them. Dark Magician, Elemental Hero Neos, Stardust Dragon, and Number 39: Utopia. These monsters always have 2500 attack and 2000 defense.
  • Set Bonus: Most archetypes rely on internal support.
  • Shared Life Meter: Life Points work sort of like this. Monsters battling each other remove Life Points from each player, and when a player's Life Points reach zero they lose, along with all the monsters they were controlling.
  • Shock and Awe: Thunder-type monsters. Additionally, a lot of cards that deal with destroying monsters happen to be named after or themed after electricity, like the Thunder Monarch, Raigeki and its variants, Elemental HERO Thunder Giant/Evil HERO Lightning Golem, and so on.
  • Sibling Rivalry / Sibling Yin-Yang: White Magician Pikeru and Ebon Magician Curran.
  • Sigil Spam
    • The Koa'ki Meiru monsters all feature their emblem somewhere on their person.
    • Gusto monsters all carry a metal amulet with a shuriken design on it.
    • Most of the cards that use the Spell Counter mechanic carry the sigil for that theme.
    • The Emblem for the Six Samurai appears in the background of every card in the theme, however the only member to wear the emblem is "Legendary Six Samurai - Shien".
    • All the X-Saber archetype have the emblem of an X somewhere on their person. Even more so, the XX-Saber all wear red capes as well has having the emblem.
      • Every post-Trishula Duel Terminal Archetype features a logo of some sort.
  • Snipe Hunter
  • So Last Season: Elemental Hero decks took a major hit when Synchro Monsters came out, and Synchro Monster support (and decks) took a huge hit when Xyz came out.
    • Formerly banned cards such as Tsukuyomi received this effect since their effects are far less devastating in a faster metagame where multiple Summons in a turn are prevalent.
  • Spider Tank: Launcher Spider takes this trope literally.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Alien archetype. Some of the bigger ones border on Eldritch Abomination. One of them is even cosmic horror by name! Also, they are the true masters of turnabout. Zeta Reticulant and Greed Quasar are not technically of the Alien archetype, but are still in the same visual class. The Worms of the Worm archetype are even more Starfishy, ranging from hideous blobs to rampaging chitinous monstrosities. The only common feature they have is a toothy, vertical mouth.
  • Steampunk: The Ancient Gear archetype, though bordering on Clock Punk.
  • Superhero: The Elemental HEROs
  • Super Mode: /Assault Mode for certain Synchro Monsters
    • And several for LV Monsters and cards like Vampire Genesis
    • Stardust Dragon and Red Dragon Archfiend also have a small handful of other advanced forms.
    • Classic cards Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Red-Eyes Black Dragon have a number of other, more powerful forms as well.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Whenever a card is declared Forbidden for being too powerful, Konami tends to release a watered down version of it. A couple of straight examples would be "Rescue Rabbit" for "Rescue Cat", and "Tradetoad" for "Substitoad."
  • Take Me Instead: There are a few monsters that let you send them to the graveyard to protect your other cards from being destroyed, Stardust Dragon being a famous example.
  • Taking the Bullet: My Body as a Shield and Astral Barrier have YOU doing this to protect your monsters, so to speak. This is also a recurring theme with the Six Samurai cards; each of the Six can destroy themselves to prevent another one on the field from being destroyed, or to protect Great Shogun Shien.
    • Players can subvert this in the case of Astral Barrier by coupling it with Spirit Barrier, where you and your monsters effectively protect each other.
  • Taking You with Me: Several ways. Activating Self-Destruct Button is one. Playing Ring of Destruction on a monster whose attack is more than both player's Life Points is another. Flipping a Morphing Jar when both players have less than 5 cards in their deck? Indeed.
  • Tarot Motifs: The Arcana Force monsters are based on tarot cards, including names and numbers, though not all 22 made the cut. There were also a couple of minor arcana thrown in: Ace of Cups, which randomly may let you or your opponent draw extra cards, and the anime-only Ten of Swords.
  • That Cloud Looks Like: A bunch of monsters!
  • Theme Naming: Many archetypes work this way. Those that don't just have common visual themes.
    • Some examples: Dark World monsters have a warped version of a color for a name ("Gren," "Goldd," "Silva," "Broww,"). The Worms have names beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, from A ("Worm Apocalypse") to Z ("Worm Zero"). Gladiator Beasts all have Roman or Greek themed names.
  • Tiered by Name:
    • The game has many monsters that act as variants of the same base monster, though not always stronger, with the connection being signified by a partial name change, such as Dark Magician to Dark Sage or Dark Magician Knight. Played straightest with the Gagagigo family, Gagagigo's card lore tracing his evolution into Giga Gagagigo, then Gogiga Gagagigo.
    • There's also the LV monsters, which are more this trope combined with Power Levels and/or Character Level. Examples include Armed Dragon and its more powerful forms Armed Dragon LV3, Armed Dragon LV5, etc., or Silent Swordsman and its more powerful forms, among others.
    • The Chaos Xyz monsters (Including the Chaos Numbers) also follow this pattern. Examples of the first type include "Number 39: Utopia/Aspiring Emperor Hope" which becomes "Utopia Ray" or if Ranked up becomes "Utopia Ray V" or "Utopia Ray Victory". Example of the variation include "Norito the Moral Leader" becoming "CXyz: Simon the Great Moral Leader".
  • Time Bomb: Blast Sphere, Adhesive Explosive, and Jigen Bakudan, though going by its rulings, the latter's effect is instantaneous.
  • Time Machine: As seen here.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential: The basis of the Gemini monsters, who must be Normal Summoned after already being on the field to gain their effects. There are cards to bypass this limitation, however, which may overlap with Eleventh Hour Super Power.
  • Toon: The Toon Monsters.
  • Transforming Mecha: The Morphtronics archetype.
  • Trap Master: He destroys traps rather than setting them, though.
  • Trickster Archetype: The Jars. The majority of them have game-breaking effects that can turn entire strategies upside-down...and the artwork indicates that they do it all with a huge, goofy smile on their face.
  • True Companions: The Six Samurai, who can sacrifice each other if another one would be destroyed.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Last Turn, which pits two monsters against one another to decide the winner of the duel.
  • Ultimate Universe: The Duel Terminal verse, with a cohesive storyline, (akin to Magic: The Gathering or Duel Masters) streamlined rules, and even an Ulti Matum analogue.
  • Underwear of Power: The Ojamas. All of them.
  • Un-Person: Konami has been taking the focus away from Synchros and Tuners ever since the debut of ZEXAL, all in favor of the new Xyz mechanic. The former two have also been hit hard in the banlists, in contrast to the latter. The still running 5Ds manga is the last refuge for new Synchros and Tuners for the real life game.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Dark Hole.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: A well-built deck that resolves around normal monsters are rather powerful at the cost of having no effects. It should also be noted that they are immune to cards that affect Effect Monsters.
  • Up to Eleven: Monsters that are Level 8 are usually the strongest Monsters you're likely to see in a deck, and they usually don't have an ATK of over 3000. Any effect monster with 3000 or higher ATK or a Level of 9 or higher usually has much stricter Summoning conditions or an Achilles' Heel, but they make up for it by being really powerful.
  • Vendor Trash: A high proportion of any given booster pack set will be this, especially in the early sets flooded with weak monsters that had no effects. Though as the game evolved, support cards such as Instant Fusion (used for easy Xyz Summons) and Advanced Ritual Art gave those previously ignored cards playability.
  • Villainous Rescue: When your opponent attacks one of your Fiend-type monsters, you can send that Fiend to the graveyard, as well as one in your hand, to bring out Darkness Neosphere, a monster with 4000 attack and defense that can't be destroyed in battle!
  • The Virus: Ekibyo Drakmord returns to its owner's hand (so long as it's not destroyed or the equipped monster is removed from the field), allowing it to spread to other monsters.
    • "DNA Surgery" can be seen as this, too, as its effect changes all monsters on the field to a single type (chosen by the cards activator). "DNA Transplant" does the same thing, but with Attribute in place of type.
    • This little bugger as well.
    • Tribe-Infecting Virus
    • The Alien Archetype is based largely on using this to weaken monsters.
    • The Evilswarm Archetype is entirely composed of previous monsters from the Duel Terminal world corrupted by some kind of virus, leaving the infected as mindless beasts of destruction.
  • Power of the Void: Several monsters' effects that simply remove cards from the field evoke this, such as Caius the Shadow Monarch, which banishes a card from the game (and all similar variations of this effect), and Steelswarm Girastag, which sends a card to the grave. Both cards evade effects that protect cards from destruction, which is considered very powerful in the game.
  • Wave Motion Cannon
  • Weak, but Skilled: In general, there are a lot of cards with low attack and defense points that have powerful effects. There's even a few archetypes based around Weak, but Skilled cards, like the Frogs, the Watt monsters, Ojamas, and so on.
  • Weapon of Choice: The common theme for the Equip Spell Card-based Guardian archetype.
  • Wind-Up Key: This spell card and the Archetype it supports
  • Winged Humanoid: The Harpie Lady archetype, Elemental HERO Avian, quite a few of the Blackwings, some of the monsters that look like angels and Yubel, or at least before she goes One-Winged Angel...
  • Winged Unicorn: Crystal Beast Sapphire Pegasus
  • Wolfman: Lycanthrope, and any with "Warwolf" in the name.
  • The Worf Effect: The Millennium Shield's flavor text states that it is rumored to be able to block any kind of attack. Despite this, all of the other cards that depict the shield show it in the process of shattering.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: "Toolbox" decks that are designed to be as adaptable as possible fall under this trope. Certain archetypes or well-built custom decks allow the user to Summon a Monster that they need at will to respond to whatever the opponent has out. "Legendary Six Samurai" and "Gladiator Beast" decks are particularly good at this.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Invoked by the Xyz Monsters. The original Japanese literally didn't correspond to any actual word known, aside from a term from a completely unrelated ATLUS game, and that term literally spawned a response of "it couldn't POSSIBLY BE THAT" out of the fanlators. That situation, combined with how Konami has made text errors in its printings before (re: the Zombie-Type's OCG name being "Undeat" rather than Undead thanks to such a mistake), made folks think of "Exceed" as a term that not only fit thematically but suffered from a hearty amount of Ascended Fanon. Cue the TCG release in which the very Konami article on the first ZeXal structure Deck included the name and the following line:
    'It's pronounced ik-seez'
    • Apparently the name is a reference to spatial coordinates, which would fit the backstory in which the Xyz monsters came through a black hole, originating from a dimension of reverse-time.
    • If you're curious, the initial fan translation (which is so ubiquitous that it is still in use by most fansubbers and lots of fans) was "Exceed Monster". This transliteration was supported by the end of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, where characters "exceeded their limits" roughly once an episode, coupled with the hypothesis that in-universe the Exceed (Xyz) Monsters were an alternative to Synchro Monsters.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: Chaos monsters, which are generally Game Breakers. To Summon them, you merely have to remove from play one Light and one Dark monster out of your graveyard. A nerfed version of them, the Sky Scourges, require a much heftier and more specific version of the same cost (three dark fiends and one light fairy, or three fairies and one fiend).
    • Later, there were also other Monsters also released with the word "Chaos" in their name; most of them involve some sort of combination of a Light and Dark monster. Chaos Goddess and Elemental HERO Chaos Neos are a couple of them.
    • There's also "Light and Darkness Dragon," which counts as both a light and dark monster; its main deal is that it blocks ALL card effects from happening, but becomes weaker each time it does; when it inevitably gets destroyed, you can choose any other monster in your graveyard to resurrect (and then blow up all OTHER cards you control). So it's protection, destruction, sacrifice and rebirth all at once—perfect for a creature of both light and darkness.
    • "Elemental HERO Darkbright," a fusion between a light and dark Elemental HERO monster. It has a powerful piercing attack, but makes itself vulnerable immediately afterwards by shifting to defense position. If it gets killed, though, you get to destroy an opposing card, too.
  • Yin-Yang Clash: Many examples, but one of the biggest is the ongoing and escalating Duel Terminal battle originally between the Steelswarm and the Vylon, which has now become a battle between the corrupted Evilswarm and the Constellar.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: And red...and green...and some purple...
    • The Dark Magician in particular is notable for having a different hair color in each of his five seperate artworks.
    • The Charmers' hair corresponds to their attributes.
  • You're Nothing Without Your Phlebotinum: Some cards have variable ATK and DEF, represented with a "?" instead of numbers. If they get hit with something that negates their effect, their ATK and DEF become zero. So they are literally nothing without their powers.

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