Duel Masters is a Collectible Card Game jointly developed by Wizards of the Coast and Takara Tomy, based on the card game which appeared in the Duel Masters manga and anime. Despite being relatively obscure in the west, the game is one of the most popular collectible card games in Japan, and is popular enough to compete with Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering as one of Japan's most played trading card games.
Gameplay-wise, the game's core mechanics are derived from Magic: The Gathering, as a result of some interesting historical developments when Duel Masters was a Magic manga, which are overviewed on the franchise page. There are 5 Civilizations (Fire, Water, Light, Darkness and Nature), and playing any of the cards require paying Mana from your Mana Zone. Decks must have a minimum of 40 cards, and a maximum of 4 copies of an individual card.
One big difference from Magic is that it does away with Mana-supplying Lands; instead, any card can be put into the Mana Zone to generate Mana. This gives the game more flexibility against "dead draws" than almost any other card game, at the price of forcing players to make decisions on which card should be used for Mana, and which ones to keep.
Another difference is the absence of Life, which is replaced with 5 Shields, the top five cards from the player's deck placed face down in the Shield Zone at the start of the game. Shields are broken by creature attacks, and broken Shield cards are added to their owner's hand, or immediately played at 0 mana cost if they have the Shield Trigger ability. When all the Shields are broken, landing one more direct attack on the shieldless player will cause them to lose the game and grant their opponent victory. Running out of cards in a player's deck to draw from will also cause a loss.
It spawned a few games for the GBA and for the PS2.
While the game was canceled in 2005 in America (and worldwide), it still keeps on running in Japan.
Not to be confused with the American remake, Kaijudo.
Not to be confused with Duel Monsters.
This game includes tropes of:
- Adaptive Ability: Survivors share their abilities among each other.
- Angels, Devils and Squid: You can build a Deck like this if you mix Light and Darkness Civilizations and use some of the more Eldritch Abomination-type Phoenixes.
- Apocalypse How: As said in Quark, the Original God's flavor text, Original Heart attempted to bring about a Class 5 or 6.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Valkyer, Starstorm Elemental's flavor text."I fear no enemy. I fear no battle. I fear no sacrifice. I'm a little afraid of clowns, though."
- Awesome, but Impractical: Romanoff Kaiser NEX, the Super Enlightened requires you to evolve from a creature that evolves from a creature that evolves from a creature. Sarutahiko, the Great Hero makes things much easier, though.
- Badass Creed:
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Giant Insects.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The flavor text of Tulk, the Oracle.Light Bringers are forged in the crucible of dawn out of a cosmic mixture of the hope embodied by a brand-new day, the final kiss of a waning moon, the sigh of a cloud, the caress of a breeze, and a nuclear warhead unstable enough to blow a continent clear off the planet.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": On in this case, call an equipment card a Cross Gear.
- Canon Foreigner: Tatsurion, created for the North American reboot/Expy Kaijudo, has its own DM card in Japan.
- Cowboy: Jolly the Johnny is undoubtedly one.
- Cultural Translation: Later expansions start using flavor text based on the Gag Dub of the anime.
- Dracolich: Zombie Dragons.
- Eldritch Abomination:
- Enemy Mine: The storyline in the Dark Emperor pack has Light, Water, Fire, and Nature civilizations ally against the Darkness civilization.
- Energy Weapons: Hanusa, Radiance Elemental. The Light Civilization in general prefers laser beams.
- Evolutionary Levels: Ken, Crimson Lord and its four evolutions.
- Expy: The five civilizations are Expies of the five colors of Magic: The Gathering.
- Gag Dub: While the Japanese flavor texts of cards have a relatively serious tone, those of the English cards ignore translation and go for something sillier.
- Guest Fighter:
- Bass makes an appearance as a promotional card, as does MegaMan.EXE himself.
- Optimus Prime. True to his Transformers nature, he has a double-sided card for vehicle and robot modes.
- From Puzzle & Dragons: Red Dragon Caller, Sonia and Awoken Zeus Olympios.
- From Magic: The Gathering: Jace and Nicol Bolas
- From The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack Skellington.
- Historical Domain Character: Hanzou, Menacing Phantom and Shadow Sword "Yagyuu" Dragon.
- Instant-Win Condition:
- Monster Clown: Jester Brain depicts one.
- More Dakka: Almost every creature in the Fire Civilization.
- Magic Knight: Knight creatures and their "Magic Shot" spells.
- Non-Standard Game Over: Bombazar, Dragon of Destiny, Suva, Emperor of the Gods, and Gabriella, Holy Princess.
- Our Dragons Are Different: This game loves its Dragons. There are to date 40 races of them and they're often among the strongest creatures in the game.
- Out-of-Turn Interaction: While most card abilities in Duel Masters are available only on the player's turn, trigger abilities can be triggered outside of the player's turn, and breaking a shield with a Shield Trigger lets the player use it immediately, in the middle of the opponent's turn, at no cost.
- Random Effect Spell:
- Any spell that requires shuffling the deck before doing something. Mystery Cube is a good example
- GR Summoning. You don't know which creature you'll get from the GR Zone (12 cards, no more than 2 of each creature), but your odds are 1-in-6 at best that it's the one you want.
- The Phoenix: Well...kind of. Most of them are pretty far from traditional Phoenixes, crossing into Eldritch Abomination territory in quite a few cases.
- Rock Monster: The Rock Beast family of cards.
- Samurai: Samurai, obviously.
- Serial Escalation: Naturally, given the new mechanics and variants thereof when new sets are introduced.
- Evolution creatures, being one of the oldest mechanics, get the greatest number of variations. Originally, it involved placing a stronger creature on top of another. Then Vortex evolution was introduced, behaving like a Fusion Dance between two creatures. Then three creatures. Then evolution creatures that evolve specifically off other evolution creatures were introduced, etc. See here for a full list.
- For the first 10 sets or so each card could only belong to a specific Civilization. Then, cards of two civilizations were introduced. Then three (counterbalanced by the fact they cannot tap for mana), then five, and culminating in cards not associated with any Civilization at all.
- The earliest of the "breaker" keywords was double breaker, letting a creature break 2 shields at once. Then triple breaker was added in the fifth set to befit really grandiose creatures. It kept escalating until the biggest creatures now can break all your opponent's shields at once.
- Creatures with the God-Link abilities started with fusing with each other by the sides, attacking and blocking as one. Then the way future Gods could link got more elaborate, culminating in a 2x3 formation involving six Gods focused around Atom, the Divine Core.
- Psychic Creatures take this one step further. A Psychic Super Creature involves multiple cards (usually three) flipping at the same time and fusing into one tall creature once the condition is fulfilled, with stats and abilities that no normal creature would usually be seen having. Draghearts take this another step further, with All Over the World requiring FIVE different cards to flip at once, and all of them linking together in a V formation, which no set of cards has done before.
- The card art also gets more elaborate. Stronger, rarer, or promotional cards have art so elaborate that it bursts out onto the rest of the card and goes under the card text, which can make some wordy cards difficult to read. Creatures with God-Link have modified image borders such that when they're fully linked all card arts join together into a large mural. Psychic Super Creatures, once everything is linked, have three entire cards' worth of space to accommodate their art.
- Significant Anagram: The names of many, many cards in the TCG are anagrams of their Japanese names.
- Symmetric Effect: The "Galaxy Breaker" ability lets a creature break all of your opponent's shields in one attack, at the cost of breaking all of yours after the attack.
- Title Drop: Eternal Phoenix was released in the set... Eternal Phoenix.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Any Light and Darkness creature, naturally. Also, the Mystic Light creatures.