Based on the cards which appeared on the Duel Masters anime, which in turn were based on the Magic: The Gathering cards that appeared on the manga, the Duel Masters TCG proved popular enough on its own to compete with Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering as one of the most played trading card games.
Gameplay-wise, it is quite similar to its Spiritual Ancestor Magic: The Gathering, having 5 Civilizations (Fire, Water, Light, Darkness and Nature) with cards that should be played by 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 by allowing players to put any card into the Mana Zone for 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 variation is the absence of Life, which is replaced with 5 Shields, and players themselves. Players can only be damaged after all Shields are broken, and landing any amount of damage on a player will result in a One-Hit Kill. Victory can be obtained via 2 ways: destroy all your opponent's Shields and ultimately, do damage to them, or when the opponent runs out of cards in their deck to draw from.
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 TCG.
Not to be confused with Duel Monsters
This game includes tropes of:
- 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.
- Evolutionary Levels: Ken, Crimson Lord and its four evolutions.
- Expy: The five civilizations are Expies of the colors of Magic: The Gathering.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Hanusa, Radiance Elemental. The Light Civilization in general prefers laser beams.
- 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.
- Humans Are Warriors
- 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.
- Nonstandard Game Over: Bombazar, Dragon of Destiny, Suva, Emperor of the Gods, and Gabriella, Holy Princess.
- Our Angels Are Different: Angel Commands.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Mmhmm.
- 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.
- The Phoenix: Well...kind of. Most of them are pretty far from traditional Phoenixes, crossing into Eldritch Abomination territory in quite a few cases.
- 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.