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Video Game / Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

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Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links is a mobile game in the popular Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, specifically the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and anime. Set in the world of Duel Links, the VR world featured in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, you start as either Yami Yugi or Seto Kaiba and try to become King of the Duel World, dueling opponents from the obscure to the noteworthy.

Leveling up your character, Stage, and fulfilling certain requirements will unlock more duelists, as well as character-specific skills to give you an edge on the playing field. After unlocking other characters, you can play as them, duel characters you've unlocked, duel players online in real-time, save your best matches, buy cards, and other activities. The game released on November 17, 2016 in Japan and in January 2017 worldwide.

The game uses the Speed Duel format of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, originally introduced in the Duel Terminal arcade stations and also present in the Japan-only Nintendo 3DS game Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters Saikyo Card Battle before Duel Links.


While originally the game focused on just the original series, the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was added on September 27, 2017, a Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's world on September 24, 2018, a DSOD-based world on September 26, 2019, and a Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL world on September 29, 2020. The game came to PC on Steam on November 17, 2017.

This game contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Due to the mobile phone format, the Speed Duel format is used, where many elements of the regular TCG are simplified. Your minimum deck size and starting Life Points are half that of the TCG, you have one less card in your starting hand, you have 3 slots on the game mat for Monsters and Spells/Traps instead of 5, and every summon mechanic from Pendulum Summoning onward has been excluded for now.
  • Adaptational Badass: Important characters that don't usually duel are treated as this. For example, Téa Gardner/Anzu Mazaki, Tristan Taylor/Hiroto Honda, and Tori Meadows/Kotori Mizuki, characters infamous amongst the Yu-Gi-Oh fandom for being glorified cheerleaders, can duel just as well as the protagonists, even having the potential to become Lethal Joke Characters.
    Mai Valentine: My oh my, Téa. You're not the pushover that you pretend to be.
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  • The AI Is A Cheating Bastard: NPC Duelists have access to cards that are completely unavailable to players, though they'll always fit well in the character in question's Deck. This also applies to your partner in Tag Duel Tournament, which can lead to them becoming a Hypercompetent Sidekick.
  • Allegedly Free Game: In the early days it was possible to build a competitive deck without spending any real money, as cards were generally balanced and easy to get, and characters received powerful cards upon leveling up. Nowadays the Power Creep means competitive cards become increasingly difficult to find and what's good can change quickly, and level-up cards tend to be less powerful than before. Even worse if you need a card from early in the game as a majority of the cards from those sets are long outdated.
  • Animation Bump: Signature monsters, such as Yami Yugi's Dark Magician, get awesome special summoning animations. Except for Ojama King, which is more hilarious than awesome.
  • Anticlimax Boss: Invoked in the "Attack of the Tristans!" April Fools' event. Duel World glitched badly and clones of Tristan Taylor appeared everywhere, but when you clicked on him, his defeat animation played - implying that he is such a terrible Duelist that you didn't even have to try to defeat him.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • There's an auto-Duel option for standard opponents, which can be turned off mid-fight, an automatic Deck creator, which automatically uses your strongest cards, and a way to favorite cards so you can easily find them.
    • After the first Tag Duel tournament was criticized for difficulty and artificial stupidity, the second tournament added the ability to control your partner and select your opponent's difficulty level.
    • Dream tickets are given to players at extremely rare occurrences but of course make it easier for players to get a rare card of their choice, especially a card considered staple for most decks.
    • The first skill on almost every 5D's duelist allows them to throw in their signature Synchro Monster in the Extra Deck along with 2 copies of their signature Tuner Monster into the Main Deck. This feature exists to allow newcomers to get adjusted to the new summoning mechanic as well as provide them with a strong Synchro Monster. Later Yusei's skill would be buffed to include Formula Synchron and Shooting Star Dragon to ease players into Acell Synchros while Antinomy would come with an effect that would do the same.
    • Likewise, the ZEXAL Duelists' skills adds in their signature Xyz Monster in the Extra Deck. In addition, if that monster ends up in the Graveyard, the skill also allows them to put it back into the Extra Deck after a condition is met. This also allows them to play with Xyz Monsters before spending the resources to get them. In addition, Bronk and Tori naturally get their Xyz Monster at Level 21 which by then should allow you to branch out into different skills.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The auto-dueling feature can make very dumb moves at times, as can the AI.
    • Yugi's Level 40 deck revolves around spell counters, which he usually uses to power up his attacking monsters even when you've used Mask of Accursed to stop them from attacking. In some cases he'll use Wonder Wand to destroy the monster even if it's powered up, just to draw 2 cards.
    • Mai's Level 40 deck revolves around Amazonesses, including Amazoness Chain Master. If it's destroyed and she has enough LP, she will use it to steal a card from you even if it's worthless.
    • Para and Dox's Level 40 deck revolves around Kazejin and Suijin. Since their effects only work once per duel and the AI has no way to track this, they'll tribute a Kazejin and Suijin to summon another Suijin, even if you have a weaker monster than both of them.
    • After the 1.7 update, Yami Bakura gained the habit of playing Malice Doll of Demise in Attack Position even when your monsters are stronger.
    • Syrus Truesdale's Level 30 and 40 decks has Inverse Universe, a card that swaps ATK and DEF, which for whatever reason, he may activate even if it does not change the situation at all (the attacking monster still destroy his monster anyway, despite the change in stats). He also sometimes sets a monster in defense mode and then automatically destroys it with Shield Crush.
    • Black Dragon Ninja has an ability to banish any opposing monster for the price of a Ninja monster and Ninjitsu Art from your hand or field. However, this comes with a drawback; if Black Dragon Ninja leaves the field, it will Special Summon all those banished monsters back to the field. If there are no other Ninjas, the AI will sacrifice Black Dragon Ninja itself, ignoring the fact that doing so would cancel its own effect out.
    • The Auto-duel AI hit a big snag around the release of Blades of Spirits as it's gotten way weaker/dumber. Such maladies with auto-AI include occasionally giving purely beneficial equip cards to your opponent's monsters, just plain not using cards, summoning monsters like Sphere Kuriboh (weak monster works better as a hand trap than being summoned) or Labyrinth Wall (zero attack) in attack position, and using cards like Enemy Controller on things when there's no need to or it puts you in a worse situation. Considering the opposing AI never does this, it's clear that the auto duel AI was intentionally designed to be worse.
    • Tag Duel partner AI seems fine enough, but only when using their own cards. If you have specific strategies involving said card, chances are, the AI partner will misuse the card.
    • Against a Karakuri deck, they'll constantly attack you even if you have a facedown card that can turn the tides in your favor because of the effect of those monsters shifting them to defense mode. They'll walk right into all of your spells and traps easily.
    • NPCs in general seem to have an issue with cards that mill their own deck - they will use the card's effect just to reduce damage once or destroy 1 monster, regardless of the risk in accidentally milling important cards. They will also continuously spam the milling effect if possible, even if they end up doing nothing else on the same turn due to still being unable to break your board. This can result in them needlessly cutting their deck until they have only 4 or even 2 cards left, making it easy for them to Deck Out if you just stall for a bit more. Similarly, they will also keep spamming draw effect when possible, stopping only if their deck has less than 5 cards left, making it easier to Deck Out them.
    • Auto-dueling will also not use abilities even when the criteria fits, even when doing so could help them turn the duel around.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Level 10 opponents will continually Summon monsters in attack position even if they know theirs are weaker than yours. This still applies even if their monster has 0 ATK. In addition to that, they will Summon their Flip monsters in face-up attack position, even though those monsters generally have weak ATK stat and are only used for their effect, which requires them to be Set, not Summoned.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Decks that rely too heavily on Tributes, Fusions, or Rituals frequently end up unable to summon any monsters at all.
    • Yugi's skill Grandpa's Cards adds the five pieces of Exodia into your deck. However, the Exodia cards are added on top of the cards you already built. For example, if you have a 20 card deck, it increased to 25, thus deck construction must consider that factor. In addition, because you start with a four card hand if you go first, it becomes a lot more difficult to get the five cards while maintaining a defense, and searching for the cards is also difficult.
    • In general, with only 20 card decks, 4 card opening hands, and no Side Deck option due to no Match (best of 3) system, every card needs to be useful at almost all times, which makes more situational cards this. Cards designed to counter other cards, such as Gamushara and Magic Deflector, mean one less card to protect your monsters, and having such cards sit dead on the field can be fatal due to the lack of resources. Even Spell/Trap removal cards like Nobleman of Extermination, which would normally be a no-brainer staple in the OCG or TCG, can fall into this trope because they mean one less defensive card.
    • The Winged Dragon of Ra proved to be this. On top of its effect of reducing your HP to 100 being mediocre and making you weak to effect damage decks, getting it out is even more of a pain because of the three monster slots and unlike in the anime, it isn't immune to spell and trap cards, making it easy to play around despite its power. Yami Marik even claimed he would enjoy seeing you try to use it and fail.
    • All of the Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's characters have an ability that allows the player to add a free Synchro Monster (the character's signature monster) to their Extra Deck along with 2 free Tuners, even if your Extra Deck was at it's maximum already. Officer Tetsu Trudge's ability on the other hand, "Let's Go Goyo!", doesn't add his Synchro Monster, but instead replaces your entire Extra Deck with a single copy of Goyo Guardian, so you cannot summon any other Synchro Monsters, nor can you Fusion Summon at all. Subverted later as this skill was altered to work the same way as the others.
    • Jesse's Crystal Beasts can be used to Special Summon the powerful 4000 ATK Rainbow Dragon onto the field. To do so, seven different beasts must be on the field or in the Graveyard, which is supposed to be achieved with the Beasts' gimmick (they can be moved to empty Spell/Trap Zones as Continuous Spells) and card/monster effects that move Beasts between the Deck, field, and Graveyard. This is much harder to do in Duel Links' Speed Duel format, which restricts the number of total zones from ten to six, leaving the player with much less wiggle room to move Beasts around, and forces them to choose between having a free zone for Spell/Traps or moving a Crystal Beast there.
  • Badass Boast: Joey, the first boss, invites you to duel him with one of these. He immediately lampshades it and wonders to himself if you're afraid.
    Joey: Step right up so I can knock ya down!
  • Bag of Spilling: Characters will often lack any of the cards they used to Duel you when you unlock them as characters.
    • Lampshaded in the intro cutscene for the 5D's world. Jack tells Yusei that he won't duel Yusei yet, because Yusei doesn't have his full-strength Deck. Yusei looks at his Deck and reacts with shock.
    • Yuma managed to lose all of the Numbers (except for Utopia) again, which makes Bronk very exasperated.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Several events in ZEXAL world uses this to get the characters to take action. It's implied that the Duel Links version of ZEXAL takes place after the Duel Carnival, thus a lot of characters had undergone significant character development. Shark's event sees him pretend to be taken over by a Numbers card to make sure that Yuma is taking his job of retrieving Numbers cards seriously, Kite pretends to use his powers to forcefully take a duelist's Number only to allow Astral to take it instead, and Quattro appears to revert to his old self but instead simply duels this way to challenge others since Duel Links invites strong duelists.
  • Balance Buff:
    • Joey's Reinforcement, Ishizu's Prescience, and Odion's Endless Trap Hell Skills were all buffed in a May 23 update.
    • In an August 3 update, Ishizu's Fairy's Smile Skill was altered to give 1000 Life Points instead of 500.
    • Bastion's "attribute boosting field" skills were all made easier to bring out in a February 2018 update.
    • In an early 2021 patch, Aigami's Cubic Seeds and Jesse's Transcendent Crystals skills had their restrictions made less harsh.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The DSOD world has Kaiba plan to become the Pharaoh after defeating Atem, while the Japanese word used can mean 'King', 'ruler,' etc. and doesn't necessarily mean 'Pharaoh.' The official Transcend Game translation used 'King,' as Kaiba wanted to become King of Duel Links/King of Games.
  • Bonus Boss: Event duelists can be found at Level 50 or above after fulfilling certain requirements, with tendencies to use very strong traps and monsters and sometimes exclusive skills.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Normal Monster beatdown decks are relatively simplistic in deck construction and strategy, but they are low-cost, consistent, and that simplicity works best with auto-duel.
    • Fusion decks also work well in auto-duel, especially with cards that can act as Fusion Substitutes.
    • In competitive play, any of the top-tier decks used to get through the ranked duels will serve you well. Even if you don't win all the time, you just need the cumulative victories to get the more powerful cards.
    • Gladiator Beast Decks. Three Bestiari, Murmillo and Laquari with your choice of filler and standard protection. 100% Boring and 100% Predictable, yet almost 100% reliable barring really unique tech choices.
    • Sylvan decks. Three Komushroomo, Marshalleaf, Guardioak, two Hermitree, Rose Lover, World Carrotweight Champion, and a few techs of your choice. Once you see them, you know what they're going to do. Boring? Yes. Practical? Yes.
    • Fur Hire is similar to Sylvan in that it's really predictable what will happen the moment you see a low level monster Fur Hire being summoned. And just like Sylvan, as boring as it is, it's also so powerful Konami ends up having to limit a few of its cards.
    • Aroma is another fairly simple beatdown deck, but unlike almost any other deck, every single one of its key cards can easily be obtained from the Card Trader. Combine that with a built-in draw engine and great board control, and you've got a reliable archetype to build a farming deck around (especially with Ra due to their ability to stockpile LP), or you can play them on their own and still do decently well on the ladder.
    • A Legendary Ocean deck is an extremely simple beatdown Auto-Duel deck to use as all you need is a set of the tititular Field Spell Card, Warrior of Atlantis who searches the field spell, a strong Level 5 water monster as it can be summoned as a level 4 with the field spell out, and a plethora of strong water monsters and supporting spells and traps. Made even easier if you get a hold of Number 17: Leviathan Dragon, which considering you just turned your Level 4 monsters into Level 3 monsters, makes it easier to summon and it still gets the buffs from the card.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: After you level up enough, even standard duelists become quite difficult to duel against, especially ones that run Graveyard-based decks.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Bandit Keith wearing a cross was edited out of his character design, despite other games retaining it.
    • The Battle City Finals event changed the manga scenario where Ishizu wanted to stay on the island when it exploded if Marik wasn't rescued by having Kaiba ask her if she was okay with Yugi doing her work for her, to which she says any route is acceptable so long as the end goal's achieved.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: You can purchase gems, gate keys, and packs with real-world money to accelerate their acquisition process. Pre-made structure decks, as well as enemy NPCs that gives higher exp than normal, can also be bought this way.
    • Structure decks are particularly bad about this, as certain cards (often the most powerful ones) can only be obtained from those decks and you can only buy one copy of each deck with gems. Trying to build Ancient Gears? Hope you have some cash to spare for two copies of Ancient Gear Awakening, because otherwise you're stuck with one copy each of Geartown, Reactor Dragon, and Wyvern.
  • Broad Strokes: Like most Yu-Gi-Oh! video games, Duel Links mixes the manga and anime in terms of character designs, personalities, cards, and events.
    • Most of the characters have lines for monsters they only used in the anime or only in the manga, such as Tyrant Dragon for Rex/Ryuzaki and Fire Sorcerer for Téa, or Toy Magician for Yugi Muto. A bug in Mokuba's event ended up with him talking about using Noah's card, Shinato.
    • Bakura makes references to the Monster World manga arc when talking to Joey/Jounochi and Mokuba's level 30 deck, Poison Hamburger references the manga events of Death-T. Mokuba also mentions being a champion at Capsule Monsters when he beats you.
    • The Set Sail for the Kingdom event is mostly manga-based, but includes dubbed anime lines wholesale where appropriate, Keith's punishment is ambiguous enough that it can be seen as the hand-gun from the manga or the trap door in the anime, and whether Yugi and Joey dueled like in the anime or didn't duel like in the manga is never brought up.
    • The Battle City events include panels and dialogue from the manga as well as anime scenarios, including Arkana/Pandora's Dark Energy Disc threat from the dub and Yugi having seen Marik's mind-control powers when he was brainwashing Keith.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Joey. Whenever the developers need to show a Duelist getting humiliated or defeated, they will most often use him as an example, and one mission asks you to defeat him three times. Tea is also seen as a weak duelist, but she doesn't get it nearly as bad as he does.
    • Whenever Roland/Isono appears, he tends to get yelled at, whether by Seto or by Mokuba.
    • Daichi/Bastion Misawa nearly got left out of the Japanese release trailer for GX, only showing up at the end after everyone else was introduced together, and his fortune doesn't improve in the game proper. He's the only Legendary Duelist that doesn't have his own battle theme (instead using the Standard Duelist theme), and even Logan and Zachary, his Standard Duelist fanboys, forget his name. Even his unlock mission doesn't help him; it asks you to win 50 duels while having 3 or less cards in your deck, arguably a tedious enough requirement to deter people from trying to unlock him.
    • Bonz/Ghost gets it pretty bad too, from almost everyone being afraid of how he looks to others like Keith and Bakura who either humiliate him or flatly terrify him, Bonz gets the short end of the stick.
  • Call-Back:
    • Having Téa win against Joey has her say the same lines she used when beating him in the second anime episode.
    • Pegasus's Toon World event revolves around collecting Star Chips like in Duelist Kingdom, and a later event retold parts of Duelist Kingdom. If you approach him as Bandit Keith in the Toon World event, he mentions dropping Keith in the ocean like in the anime.
    • Yami Bakura's event revolves around you collecting 10-sided dice, a reference to the Monster World game from the manga/Toei anime.
    • If Mokuba summons Mystical Elf in attack mode he'll reference Princess Adena from the Legendary Heroes arc of the anime. Adena was a princess who looked near-identical to Mokuba but was Mystical Elf in disguise.
    • In Jesse's first event, Jesse says he can't stay and fight as the developers of the game haven't programmed Rainbow Dragon into the game, so he feels he can't fight with an incomplete deck. This ties into Jesse's first appearance against Jaden revealing that he doesn't have the dragon yet because Pegasus still needed to make the card for Jesse.
    • Dr. Crowler's battle theme is a remix of Season 4's final battle between him and Jaden before he summoned the Ultimate Ancient Gear Golem.
    • If a GX character battles normal Zane, they're going to comment on how much different he was in season 2 compared to season one... except Crowler who will comment on Zane's heart failure problems, the issue he had in season 3. If you defeat Zane in battle, his defeat animation is him clutching his chest near his heart. In addition, if Zane is defeated by Jaden, Zane will compliment that Jaden will be the best at the school... despite his grades, referencing Zane's graduation duel. If defeated by Aster, Zane will remember that he missed out on having any of the fun of dueling, the same epiphany he had against his duel with Yubel-possessed Jesse in season 3. If Syrus defeats him, Zane will be legitimately proud of his brother for surpassing him, a nod to season 4 and the climax of Syrus's character arc from GX.
    • The Tag Duel tournament borrows several cues from the Tag Force series of games. The starry background on the arena floor is reminiscent of the dueling background seen in the first three Tag Force games.
    • Jaden and Jessie's dueling theme is a remix of the tag force 1 through 3 dueling theme.
    • In the Tag Duel Master Class, Pegasus teams up with Mickey, but keeps calling him Sam. In the English dub of the original season, Sam was the name of the kid Pegasus called forth to defeat Bandit Keith.
    • During the Duel event to awaken the Rainbow Dragon, Zane will also show up as a roaming duelist to provide a ton of points. In the anime, Jesse dueled Zane to obtain a ton of dueling energy to send the dragon over the dimensional barrier to Jesse.
    • The Cyberdark Impact event introduces Genex (GX) medals needed to duel Zane, which were the medals in season 2's tournament. Also, Cyberdark Impact was the name of the pack the Cyberdark monsters joined the TCG in, and the name of the special fusion card used to special summon Cyberdark fusion monsters.
    • An August 2018 event has a Monster World themed event with Yami Bakura as Game Master, just like in the manga.
    • Yubel's duel arena in her event is reminiscent of the final arena her and Jaden dueled in during the Season 3 climax. For added bonus, the starry underground at the center of the arena can be a Tag Force reference and the other dimension his friends were sent to beforehand.
    • Should Zane challenge Sartorius in the field, Sartorius predicts Zane's self-destruction, which is what he's technically doing in the anime in season 2 and throughout season 3.
    • The final and semi-final match teams for the GX cup were the same teams in the tag duel finals of Season 4: Tyranno and Blair for the semifinals and Alexis/Jaden(Yubel) for the finals.
    • The background for the Duel against Determined Antinomy will be in space, the same as Yusei's final duel with him in 5D's.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: If Syrus defeats Zane, he'll tear into his brother about how far Zane sank just for victory and that Syrus will respect an opponent if Zane won't.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Joey's Last Gamble and the Paradox Brothers' Three-Star Demotion skills require spending your LP to use.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Ryou Bakura is mentioned but doesn't appear, though a DSOD version of him does in story events. Tristan Taylor was also subjected to this until he appeared for an April Fool's Day event, and later became a Legendary Duelist.
  • Company Cross References:
    • The Gradius monster makes several shout-outs to the video game Gradius in its dialogue, and the card sleeves won in its debut event are screenshots from the original game.
    • The August 2020 D.D. Castle event is a Whole Plot Reference to the Castlevania games, with Vampire Hunter ascending the castle with a whip to defeat a Dracula analogue.
  • Composite Character: Yami Marik is a combination of himself and regular Marik, having Yami Marik's bloodthirst and appearance and Marik's mind controlling ability and army of Ghouls and Rare Hunters, who had disbanded by the time Yami Marik appeared in Battle City.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Yami Marik's event is a loose retelling of Battle City, shortening the number of Rare Hunter fights and letting you face him early on.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Téa suffers the same problems she did in the anime's virtual world and the manga's Egypt arc, being registered as a duelist by accident and not knowing what her cards are.
    • Yami Bakura's event mentions several manga events like Ryou reclaiming the Ring from Yugi and the Monster World arc, but also mentions anime events like Pegasus and Keith being alive.
    • Mokuba's Level 30 Deck is a reference to the Russian Roulette Dinner he played with Yugi and Joey before Death-T in the manga, while his Level 40 deck includes both Luster Dragons, Alexandrite Dragon, and Kaibaman from the anime.
    • Most of Bandit Keith's skills are based on his tendency to cheat during his Duels in the anime and manga. His Bandit skill is an adaptation of his unreleased card of the same name (named Pillager in the dub), though it steals a card from the opponent's field rather than their hand.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Gameplay-wise, Anzu/Téa. Despite being mostly a non-duelist in the original canon, she has potent abilities in Holy Guard, which prevents her from taking battle damage during her turn, Life Cost 0, which allows her to use cards without paying their Life Point costs if she has less than 1000 LP and Duel, Standby!, which allows both players to start with an extra card in their opening hand. Life Cost 0, in combination with Cyber-Stein, means she can easily pulverize her opponents with Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragons, and Duel, Standby! makes any decks becomes more potent, as the fast pace of this game means getting a card early can be the difference between winning and losing. Also, due to the free duel nature of the game, you can use Téa to battle and defeat practically anyone she would never be able to defeat in any other media, such as Kaiba, Yami Marik, and Bandit Keith.
  • Dark Horse Victory:
    • The Feb. 2018 KC Cup had a diverse array of decks considered meta viable. Popular decks that were expected to reach the top include recent decks in Hazy Flame, which could swarm the field with untargetable beaters, and Gladiator Beasts, which had a variety of tag out effects to control the field. There were also established older OTK decks in Red-Eyes and Cyber Angels which brought to the Cup an already formidable reputation. Out of this field, which deck became number one? To many Duelists' surprise, it was Magnet Warriors, a deck that was previously dismissed as mere casual fanservice for Yugi fans, and that never placed high on anyone's tier lists, if it placed at all.
    • Happened again during Nov. 2018 KC Cup. The popular decks were Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Masked HERO, and Vampires, which all could swarm the field with powerful monsters and end the game quickly. The winning deck, however, was simply a mismash of 24note  good cards, and did not have any Special Summon monsters despite Normal Summoning only once per turn being seen as too slow for the current pace of the game. It triumphed with a slow-and-steady strategy of backrow removal, powerful defensive Traps, and monsters that could remove any opposing threats they battled with, using previously dismissed cards in Breaker the Magical Warrior, Dust Tornado, D.D. Assailant, and Wind-Up Juggler. The deck was so effective that it became the new top-tier deck overnight, especially after it got an upgrade in Armades, Keeper of Boundaries, which could freely attack without opponents being able to respond with effects.
    • The KC 2020 tournament. While Shiranui was expected to top, the third place deck was Megalith; a series thought to be filler at best, ended up doing very well in the tournament to the shock of many players.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Card Trader looks incredibly shady, but he's a perfectly harmless, helpful NPC.
  • A Day in the Limelight: You can invoke this by playing as a minor duelist like Weevil, Rex, or Mako. Konami themselves did this by giving Rex Raptor his own event, which includes a section in which he monologues about Dinosaur cards upon reaching certain point milestones.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts:
    • Yami Marik's Shadow Game skill drains LP based on how many cards are in the graveyard. While it usually isn't much on its own, it can add up over time and Cherry Tap you (or him) to death.
    • Mind-Controlled Joey can spawn Sparks and Hinotama cards from outside his deck every turn, leading to death via burn damage if you're careless.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Yami Yugi and Kaiba can lose to anyone in the game, leaving them incredulous that their opponent won.
    Kaiba: I lost to Joey Wheeler? JOEY WHEELER?!? This is a nightmare...
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Gem-Knights have to juggle fusion engines and a 20 card limit with protection. You can go pure beatdown, but if you wish to bring out the best of them, you're going to have to stick to one of the fusions and run an engine off of that to get the most of them. This still hurts them in overall play because they lose out on the extra fusions and backup plans needed if the current strategy with them doesn't work.
    • Lavals have monsters that either work with a ton of them in your graveyard or a ton of them banished. Figuring out a good mixture of your monsters is key to building a Laval deck; but when done right, Lavals can blow up entire fields and synchro summon very well.
  • Difficulty Spike: Once you pass Stage 38 in the DM world, Standard Duelists become much more difficult to beat and only get tougher as you progress.
    • The ZEXAL world does NOT play around. The AI have been reported at numerous levels using very dangerous Xyz monsters such as Tornado Bird, Castiel the Skyblaster, Evilswarms and full powered Madolche with their hilariously broken Madolche Salon and Puddingcess combo. The AI also is able to make multiple, complex chains of moves with the cards in mind. Even Level 33 Standard Duelists, which are still easy to beat in other worlds, shows a clear improvement in Zexal world when they are using Xyz-based decks, cleverly using monster removal and stacking ATK boosting effect to easily clear your field and inflict large damage.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Lampshaded in Rex's Dino Mayhem event, where he gets confused about what differentiates Dinosaur Cards from Dragon cards if they're both allowed to have wings.
  • The Dividual: Para and Dox duel as a one Duelist with a single deck. Same goes for Lumis and Umbra. Jaden/Yubel and Yuma/Astral somewhat counts too, due to Yubel and Astral both being duelists as well, although they are more passive when they are with their respective duo, compared to Para/Dox and Lumis/Umbra.
  • Double Unlock: You unlock some duelists as opponents by reaching certain stages, while you must meet other requirements in the next stage and beyond to unlock them as playable characters. Other duelists require specific conditions to unlock at the Gate, and become playable when you fulfill their unlocking conditions.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Primo’s unlock event has him targeting the Dark Signers, resulting in this trope.
  • Exact Words: In his Level 50 event, Yami Bakura says his deck isn’t the same as his Destiny Board deck, but his Destiny Board of Doom skill still activates.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Or rather defeat. On occasion, an AI opponent will just summon a monster in attack mode that has no way of winning with no spell/trap protection, essentially inviting you to deal the finishing blow.
  • Fake Balance: Archfiends fall here under the trope's "Fragile Balance" category. They're powerful, they hit immensely hard, have access to instant destruction and unlike other archetypes, they can revive constantly. However, the amount of fiends and recursion cards needed must be run in 3s or else faces deck inconsistency. As a result, they CAN be powerful and hit hard, but they're also open to getting hit with almost no protection (barring innate abilities in Archfiend cards) and they have a problem getting back up to speed.
  • Fake Difficulty:
    • Many Level 40/50/60 Legendary Duelists have powerful cards that the player has limited or no access to, making farming them a pain without a specific tailored deck. In events they also have AI-exclusive skills.
      • Mai Valentine has Amazoness Village, a Field Spell that replaces fallen Amazonesses once per turn and can easily overwhelm the player with them. She is somewhat doable if you run Spell/Trap removal; but the problem there is, as mentioned above, deck space to fit in spell/trap removal and protection in a 20 card deck.
      • Yami Bakura's event had him start with the Destiny Board of Doom skill that makes him automatically win in 5 turns, compounded with his rare cards, and since he always goes first you technically have to beat him or remove Dark Necrofear from the Graveyard in four turns. This was later mitigated slightly by him not using the skill for Levels 10-30, not always going first when it is active, and nerfing his Level 40 deck.
      • In the Set Sail for the Kingdom event, Level 40 Kaiba had the Blue-Eyes Advent Skill, which let him summon a Blue-Eyes before turn 1, and Level 40 Pegasus had the Unholy Advent Skill, which let him summon a Relinquished to the field after taking damage. The Tag Duel tournament gave Joey, Mai, and the Yugis similar skills which let them summon or replenish powerful monsters for no cost at all, on top of well-synergized decks.
      • Aster at level 30 has Destiny Hero cards, but is curved to be a fair fight. Aster at Level 40 runs three Destiny Draws and has Destiny End Dragoon, a monstrous fusion that can simply destroy a monster on the field and (if face up) burn you for the LP equal to the ATK of that monster. If you can't negate that fusion when it happens, you're as good as sunk. The reason why he's not consistently difficult is because the deck, just as it can be deadly, can also easily brick on him.
      • Level 40 Zane has his Cyber Dragons, which when combined via Power Bond can potentially Summon a monster with over 6000 ATK. Combined with Cyber Twin Dragon's ability to attack twice per battle or Cyber End's piercing ability, the ability to Special Summon Cyber Dragon from the hand, the Luminous Spark card, and spells to recycle his dragons, he can easily OTK you. He also packs Lightray Daedalus for Dark Paladin users, if you thought Dark Paladin's spell negation would help you.
    • Yami Yugi in the tag duels has an efficient spellcaster deck focused around getting out Dark Magician and blowing away enemies. Joey still seems to think cards like Baby Dragon are excellent attack power monsters that don't need protection and backup. Joey ends up being more of a hindrance in the tag duel tournament than the opponents, making the tournament challenging for all the wrong reasons. And then there is Kaiba, who comes up with strategies that would make Sun Tzu weep with misery such as "ram my 1200 ATK D.D. Warrior into my opponent's 2500 Dark Magician to get rid of it, other two monsters on the field be damned." with very poor protection (Enemy Controller can only do so much). The Master tournament also kicks you back to start when you lose as opposed to the other two tournaments, meaning you can lose if Kaiba decides to be like...well, like Kaiba.
    • Zane's Cyberdark Impact event introduces Underground Duels and Electrodes, where if you're hit three times you lose the duel regardless of remaining LP. His deck is loaded with monsters that can hit for 2400 without tributes, all of which can either go around your monsters, pierce them, or deal 300 LP damage as well as various negation and piercing tactics to drop either your LP or your electrode count to 0, and the Electrodes' effects don't apply to him.
    • The Vagabond frequently runs decks that have placed high within the duelist ranking board, a number of which are OTK decks that get around common defense cards. By itself this would be merely difficult, but these duels also impose restrictions on the player as well. If the restriction is particularly limiting, such as not being able to special summon or starting with one card, beating him boils down to luck. A patch made the Vagabond no longer apply restrictions, heavily dialing back the luck-based aspect of his Duels, although you're still at the mercy of the RNG as to whether he brings a top-tier deck that completely ruins you or a mid-tier deck that you can defeat with no real problems.
    • Subverted by the Dimensional Disaster events. While Aigami can summon high level monsters without tribute, has hundreds of thousands of Life Points, and after 10 turns ends the duel in a draw (though the damage you dealt remains after each duel), you can perform the same "Dimension Summons", and in the "EX" Dimension Duels, you gain access to a skill that allows you to boost your monsters' ATK by 5 times, in addition to the ATK multipliers on Dark Magician, Blue Eyes, and Egyptian God Cards (3 on Dark Magician/Blue Eyes, and 5 on Egyptian Gods).
  • Fanservice: Noticeably ramped up in the GX World as the female Duel Academy students have more revealing outfits and defeat poses compared to their Domino High counterparts in the original world. Asuka/Alexis's summoning and victory pose also draws attention to her large breasts.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Yami Bakura's event mentioned that Yami Marik would eventually appear in Duel Links, which he did. Arkana's appearance was also build-up for Marik's appearance, as he worked for him as one of the Rare Hunters and occasionally mentioned him in his dialogue. If you defeated him seven times, Marik got fed up and mind-controlled him.
    • Yami Marik's first event hinted that he'd use the Winged Dragon of Ra when returning for another event, which he did. His second event ended with Marik finally freeing himself, foreshadowing his appearance later on.
    • A shadowed Yubel was seen in a preview after the one-year anniversary event, and appeared in a mid-September event.
    • Officer Trudge's entrance into Duel Links hinted at an investigation of the Dark Signers arriving in Duel Links, to be featured later on.
  • Friendship Moment: Bella's lost card in Bonz's party event turned out to be Shining Friendship, and Bonz returning it to her helped everyone convince him to keep dueling.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Espa Roba can supposedly see your hand, but it has no bearing on his play style.
    • In the Battle City Chronicles, since Yugi Muto isn't one of the default characters, you get more points for beating the second mind-controlled Joey with Yami Yugi even though Yugi takes over for that portion of the fight.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Rare abilities are hidden for each character, including exclusive hidden abilities such as Mai's Harpie's Hunting Ground or Weevil's Moth to the Flame. Before September 2018 introduced a Skill list, the only way to know if they existed was to win one from Legendary Duelists, as Standard Duelists don't drop them.
    • Several Legendary Duelists' unlock requirements are extremely obtuse. Bastion Misawa requires you to win 50 total duels with 3 or less cards left in your deck, Luna requires you to win 100 duels as Leo, Crow Hogan requires you to get 5000 points or above on the Sector Security NPC, and Scud has you banish 300 cards.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Yami Marik at level 40 has The Winged Dragon of Ra: Sphere Mode, which he will use if you ever have three monsters out on your side of the field by tributing all of them, putting Sphere Mode Ra on your side of the field with the intention of special summoning The Winged Dragon of Ra on his next turn. If, however, you happen to have a Ra of your own in your deck, you can use Sphere Mode Ra to special summon it, with a whopping 4,000 ATK to boot, and turning Marik's entire power play on its head.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Yugi in the Kuriboh Cup of June 2018's Tag Duel tournament is a lethally effective partner, rocking the Silent Swordsman cards, all three Magnet Warriors (including Valkyrion the Magna Warrior), and even powerful cards like Monster Reborn and Swords of Revealing Light. He could easily solo many of the opponents you're up against, even at level 40.
  • Inconsistent Coloring:
    • Continuing the trend of the Bakuras' eye colors constantly changing, Yami Bakura has blood-red eyes here when they were different colors in other mediums. Ishizu's eyes are also magenta when they were blue in the manga and anime.
    • Yubel's design was changed so the male half is grey instead of skin-colored, looking more like armor.
  • Irony: For a long time, the Speed Duels that Duel Links has were longer (turn count wise, anyway) than the physical card game.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: After the release of Burning Nova box, Gem-Knights got unbelievably versatile. You can continue to focus on a particular fusion, gemini support, normal beatdown with Alexandrite and Crystal, use the Boss fusions repeatedly, Banish-Fusion style with fusion gate, or hybrid them into other decks like a thunder variant or a pyro variant.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Even taking his manga self into account, what Mokuba says after beating Joey is really cruel.
      Mokuba: Hahahaha! Poor poor Joey! Born a loser, always a loser!
    • In his Ra event, Yami Marik mocks Odion over not being an Ishtar and says he can become a tombkeeper in his next life.
    • Chazz's Serious Chazz event has him mocking the Ojamas and taking them out of his deck in his quest for the top, making them sad.
  • Large Ham: Background character Zachary from the GX world shouts every other line, win or lose.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: The Skill Grit allows you to survive with 1 LP for the rest of the turn even if you would take a fatal hit(s). This occurs randomly, with the Skill having a higher chance of activating if a player's LP are full at the start of a turn.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In his Dino Mayhem event, Rex laments that more people attribute Red-Eyes Black Dragon to Joey then him, forgetting that Rex originally owned the card. He also discusses the Dinosaurs Are Dragons issue when he notices that Two-Headed King Rex has wings, and notes that Two-Mouth Darkruler resembles a Dragon more than a Dinosaur (originally it was misprinted as a Dragon before being changed back).
    • The Superb Tea event had Joey complain about Tea's overuse of Spell cards instead of monsters, a complaint echoed by many players who suffered through Tea Burn decks. The use of Joey in the scene is also meant to be a funny nod to the one time Joey dueled Tea in the manga and anime, and lost after Tea used a Spell card on him.
    • Tori was criticized for sometimes doing nothing but say Yuma's name in Zexal episodes while not Dueling much at all. Duel Links has her defeat everyone around her in a snap...while yelling Yuma's name, which the characters note is strange, and it's revealed she upped her dueling game while being furious at Yuma for ditching her in the tutorial.
  • Lethal Joke Item: Massivemorph is a Trap card that doubles an opposing monster's ATK and DEF, but prevents them from attacking directly. The latter clause can prevent a powerful opposing monster from attacking for game if you have no monsters on the field. The other, more important reason is that Amazoness Swords Woman can redirect any Battle Damage to the opponent (and has 1500 ATK). In a format with only 4000 LP, and many decks running boss monsters with over 2000 ATK at its time of release, it only takes a bit of prior burn damage for her to finish an opponent off instantly. Massivemorph became so overused and was the subject of so many complaints about the card dragging duels out longer than they should be that it was later added to the Limited list.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Occasionally duelists will decide to go all-out and having a Super Mode action pose and adjective added to their name. They usually have tougher decks than normal as well as story segments.
  • Lighter and Softer: Most of the storyline events are Slice of Life hi-jinks featuring the Yu-Gi-Oh characters. Though this is not out of the ordinary in the GX universe, they are a lot lighter in tone compared to the Duel Monsters manga and anime, showing what the characters are like when not Dueling with the fate of the world at stake.
  • Meme Acknowledgement: The name of one of Tristan's skills, "Super Strength", is a reference to Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series.
  • Me's a Crowd: The April Fool's event featured multiple copies of Tristan appearing, who were all so weak the player defeated them just by interacting with them.
  • Metal Slime: The Vagabond appears infrequently and duels you using Ranked decks fielded by actual players. As such, he can be relatively difficult to defeat for the huge EXP bonus he gives, but losing to him still gives you a good amount.
  • Mirror Match: Online duels allow players to use the same character, leading to matches like Seto Kaiba versus himself. This can also happen in single-player on occasion when characters spawn outside the Gate to duel, or in events.
  • Money for Nothing: Gold is notoriously worthless, since it's only useful for trading with the Card Trader. Given the Trader's limited stock, the necessity of an additional resource in the form of stones, and the fact that many cards up for trade are worthless, it's not uncommon for players to go weeks or months without spending any gold.
  • Money Spider: The Treasure Room in board game events is full of Millennium Coins and costs only one die to roll, giving you many chances at the card lottery.
  • Mundane Utility: The Egyptian God cards are more often used for farming than in serious duels, since they give you a huge point bonus just for being played and can all easily hit for over 3000 damage. Slifer can also hit 5000+ damage easily by hoarding cards, while Ra drops you down to 100 for an easy LP on the Brink bonus, and if played with Marik's exclusive skill, it can easily reach 5-digit ATK.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Yugi uses Toy Magician, which he only used in Yu-Gi-Oh! R. He lampshades the general unfamiliarity of the monster in dialogue.
    • Mokuba's Level 30 deck's inclusion of Battle Steer, Bio Plant and Griggle may be a reference to the monster requirements for Hamburger Recipe in Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories, as well as the plant-themed decks he uses in other video games.
    • Tristan's dueling quotes for Shovel Crusher, Thunder Kid, and Thunder Dragon are a reference to when they were on his team in Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, a 4Kids-produced spinoff to the main anime.
    • Yami Bakura also used a Dark Master Zorc deck, complete with brainwashed dice, in the Duel Terminal arcade machines.
    • The lower guitar line in the Tag Duel matches is similar to the one in Seto Kaiba's theme in Forbidden Memories.
    • Karate Man's dialogue references several of the card's abilities and weaknesses.
    • Carly's Fortune Fairies (not the Fortune Ladies) get an introduction such as the monster's lucky number or other text. All of that references the original vanilla texts of the Fortune Fairy monsters from the anime and Tag Force series before they were given effects in the TCG/OCG.
    • May's D.D. Castle event has the titular castle look exactly like The Supreme King's castle from Yugioh GX. In addition, on the second tier and higher, you can fight a lot of his cronies such as Skilled Dark/White Magician, Chaos Sorcerer, and Skull Knight. You also fought Sky Scout on the lower floors as well.
    • Tori's voiced lines for monsters are for the Agent series of monsters. Tori did use them and Master Hyperion in the DS game Yugioh Duel Carnival; the only Zexal based Yugioh Video game.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Standard Duelists were given names in the English version, while in the Japanese version they were given descriptors, such as "Boy that enjoys dueling."
  • Near Victory Fanfare:
    • Jaden has a unique theme that plays if they're first to drop an opponent's life points to 1000 or below or summon an ace monster. It's more triumphant than the other 1000 LP themes, and it's also surprisingly long for a tune you're often only going to hear for a few seconds.
    • The 5Ds characters do this trope one better. Not only does every character have a fanfare (with Yusei getting a unique one), but they play any time they summon their ace or gain the upper hand. Also, while they are still often examples of Long Song, Short Scene, the regular 5Ds version plays its climactic notes immediately so that it has more impact.
    • The Zexal characters do the same thing as the 5Ds characters, Yuma and Astral also having a unique version.
  • Nerf: Anything not detailed in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links will be explained here:
    • Yami Bakura's event used to have every duel start with Destiny Board of Doom, even Level 10, but this has been relegated to Level 40 and up, and he no longer rigs the coin flips to go first. His Level 40 deck was also nerfed a bit.
    • Some event decks were nerfed due to player's complaints. For example, Epic Yami Yugi was a lot harder to farm at first, and then the nerf was nerfed to become less unfair.
  • Never My Fault: Keith blames Kaiba for rigging the rules against him when you defeat him for the first time.
  • Never Say "Die": References to the Shadow Realm are common with Bakura, Marik, and Arkana, as are threats like "Do you want to be gone from this existence?"
  • Non Sequitur:
    • One of Aster Phoenix's quotes can be this. While Dueling he can proudly proclaim that "My Destiny Heroes are far superior to the Elemental Heroes!" even if neither player is using Elemental Heroes, or Destiny Heroes. It's especially funny if he himself is using Elemental Heroes (Which his Level 10 AI deck does.)
    • Arkana's taunt button quotes frequently mention Dark Magician and Dark Magician Girl, also leading to this when neither monster is present.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: The infamous November 2020 KC Cup had been revealed to have players using cheating software that allowed the user of the software to look at the opponent's hand, prevent the opponent from activating cards, etc; that was only found out when a couple of said cheaters chose to become pariahs to reveal to Konami and fellow players how they've been getting by the game. This was apparently so rampant that Konami had to take time to rewatch duels upon duels before announcing proper winners. However, this isn't the only mod to do so, with others that allowed players to enact forced disconnects, for example.
  • Not Completely Useless: Booster packs contain mostly Vendor Trash for their Common and Rare cards, but several cards fall into this category. A few examples:
    • Possessed Dark Soul could steal any Level 3 or lower monster your opponent controlled. Because Level 4 is the most common level and lower-level monsters were generally too weak to be worth stealing, the card barely saw any play in the TCG and was also ignored when it first came out in Duel Links. However, it experienced a sudden surge in popularity near the end of the KC Cup because Relinquished, arguably the most powerful and popular monster at the time, was Level 1, and other meta decks had key Monsters that were Level 3.
    • Inaba White Rabbit is a weak 700 ATK monster which can attack your opponent directly and returns to the hand at the end of the turn it is summoned. While Noah used this card effectively in the anime most players saw it as a gimmick. However, it became a major pest in burn decks built around Weevil's Parasite Infestation skill because it can continually chip away at an opponent's Life Points over time, compounded with other burn cards and stalling cards. In addition, its drawback of returning to the hand became beneficial in this deck since that meant very few cards could kill it outright, and many players would be reluctant to waste their Spells/Traps on such a weak card. It also found usage due to Yami Marik's Right Back At You skill, which increases a monster's ATK by half of the Battle Damage received last turn by the last monster to inflict damage and further hastens the opponent's defeat.
    • Healing cards in general are primarily considered a waste of space for providing no direct field or card advantage. However, certain Skills rely on losing 2000 LP or more to activate powerful effects. Thus, cards like Supremacy Berry (heals 2000 LP) and Aegis of Gaia (heals 3000 LP) effectively allow a player to re-use their Skill whereas without them, they would only be able to activate the Skill once at most.
    • Several R or N cards for specific archetypes, could actually be their strongest cards. Perhaps one of the most famous example of this, is the R rarity Amazoness Onslaught.
    • Power of the Guardians is an N rarity Equip Spell card. It's also arguably the most useful Equip Spell card in the game, as the ability to prevent destruction by battle and effects is far more important in the Duel Links format.
  • Not Brainwashed: A running gag in the ZEXAL world is duelists appearing to be possessed by Number Cards when really they're just annoyed with Yuma to the point of having auras like when possessed.
  • Not So Above It All: If you lose to Kaiba using Pegasus, he'll brag about how his victory was like a good comic book, despite how much he hates Pegasus's Toons. He also goes Large Ham when summoning Kaibaman.
    Kaiba: It's like looking in the mirror! Here comes Kaibaman!
  • "Not So Different" Remark: If Kaiba loses to Joey, the former will remark on how it feels to be the worst duelist in the world like the latter.
  • Not the Intended Use:
    • Blaze Accelerator is a Continuous Spell card that destroys an opponent's monster if fed a Pyro monster with 500 or less ATK, and is meant to work with Volcanic Shell, which replaces itself in your hand once per turn. Many Volcanic builds in Duel Links ignore Blaze Accelerator's effect entirely, instead using the Spell Card itself as fodder for powerful destruction cards that require you to sacrifice one of your own cards first, such as Parallel Twister, Eliminating the League, or Divine Wrath. This works because Volcanic Rocket can recycle it from the Graveyard as well as search it from the Deck.
    • A few Skills are like this due to the lack of restriction put into them, allowing them to be used in ways Konami didn't intend. The most famous example is the skill Cyber Style. Originally meant to ease players into Fusion Summoning Cyber End Dragon, the monsters provided by the skill ended up being abused as free tribute fodder instead. Konami eventually restricted the monsters from the skill to be usable for Fusion Summon only. Other examples include the skills that allow you to consistently draw certain types of cards (or in Yami Yugi's case, any case in your deck with Destiny Draw) after losing a certain amount of LP. This was intended as a Comeback Mechanic, but ended up abused to make certain decks ridiculously consistent. Destiny Draw was used with LP gain cards to repeatedly abuse the skill in stall or burn decks (fixed by making it once per duel), and Sorcery Conduit was used with Cosmic Cyclone to instantly lose 1000 LP for a guaranteed draw of the notorious Aleister, the Invoker (fixed by increasing the LP requirement to 1500 LP).
  • Obviously Evil: Bandit Keith's intro has him planning to steal Duel Links' data and sell it to the highest bidder.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After telling Mokuba to get his own cards if he wants to duel, Seto gives him access to a powerful dragon-themed deck and even lets him use his Blue-Eyes.
    • Of all characters, Yami Marik has several moments where he's kind to Arkana, complimenting his skills during his Ra event and offering to make him second-in-command if you duel him as Arkana. If you win, he praises his skills and hopes he continues to serve him faithfully.
    • In his special conversation with Yubel, Dr. Crowler outright tells her that while he may not like Jaden, he will defend him from her.
  • Phony Psychic: Zig-zagged with Espa Roba. He enters the game vowing not to cheat... then realizes he can see people's hands somehow, causing him to think he really is psychic and gloat about it.
  • Power Creep: Inevitable, but almost every time new cards are released, older cards fall by the wayside.
    • Axe Raider was an Ultra Rare card in the first box and one of the strongest basic monsters at the game release with 1700 ATK, which was only matched by the Rare Random Drop Battle Ox. And then the 1750 ATK Jerry Beans Man was released... as a Super Rare. Followed by the 1800 ATK Dunames Dark Witch (a UR in her own box), then the 1850 ATK Blazing Inpachi (also UR in its own box). All of the above were supplanted one by one, as 1900 ATK vanillas as simple Rare cards became commonplace (Alien Shocktrooper, Luster Dragon...) and monsters with 1800 ATK and effects on top of that became Common cards. Now there's absolutely no reason to search for Axe Raider aside from completion.
    • Dunames Dark Witch is the most extreme example of this. In the year 2017 she's a UR rarity cover card in her own box, but her retrained form that comes with effect, Power Angel Valkyria, is a mere N rarity card in a year 2019 box.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Each character has lines that go off when they would deplete an opponent's Life Points with a monster's attack, with Yami Bakura's "You're teetering on the edge of the Shadow Realm" and Yami Marik's "Scatter into ashes!" being notable as actual death threats. Subverted with one of DSOD Kaiba's lines. "With this, you lose!" sounds like it would be an example, but it goes off whenever he initiates a direct attack, regardless of whether it would be lethal.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: The Vagabond is the protagonist of the Tag Force series of games, and is implied to be the hero in other Yu-Gi-Oh! games.
  • Puzzle Boss: Level 60 Sera starts with an 8800-ATK Duza on the field, so the player has to defeat it before turning attention to her other cards.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Thanks to a typo/glitch that was later fixed, Yami Bakura was listed at Level 200, 300, 400, and 600 on the lifetime missions for a while.
    • Played straight in the Dimensional Disaster events. The Cubic Monsters have levels from 100-1000 in increments of 100. Corrupted Aigami goes even further beyond by having a level from 2000 to 2300.
  • Recap Episode: Duelist Chronicles/Duelist Road events allow the player to experience a portion of the anime by playing a board game (the specifics differ between the two) and playing Duels relevant to that portion.
  • Running Gag: Since Kaiba made the game in-universe, characters tend to blame him when things go wrong for them.
  • Russian Reversal: Mokuba's dialogue when attacking with Hungry Burger is like this.
    Mokuba: Isn't it weird when food eats YOU instead of the other way around?
  • Science Marches On: In-universe, Rex's Dino Mayhem event has him note that latest studies show that dinosaurs used to have feathers, so he can look past wings on Dinosaur-type cards.
  • Sharing a Body: Since the Yugis share a body, even if you duel one as the other you don't get pre-duel or post-duel dialogue. However, this element changed once DSOD world was added, which brings with it the implication that DM world is simply a virtual recreation made by Kaiba.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Pegasus's event teases Téa/Yugi and Téa/Yami Yugi by having him refer to her as Yugi's girlfriend.
    • Joey/Rex is teased in the Duelist Challenges event, as they bond over finally having something in common, dueling by instinct and not book smarts. What really adds to it is that the sprites used for the interaction are the blushing sprites.
    • Joey/Mai, almost to Official Couple levels. Several of their normal duel dialogues are flirtatious, and the Set Sail for the Kingdom event seemed to go out of its way to include all of their Ship Tease from the manga and anime and add in a Luminescent Blush or two as well.
    • Weevil seems interested in Rex as more than a rival, making a suggestive comment at him when winning against him and shoving Joey aside during the Duelist Challenges event to talk to Rex just as the two become friendly.
    • Yami Bakura and Marik/Yami Marik were famous for having conversations full of innuendo, particularly in the anime, but Duel Links took it even further when they complimented each other's toughness and Bakura talked about them being connected by fate. In the second event, when they talk about the Winged Dragon of Ra it's even more suggestive. Their partnership in the Tag Tournament also has them enjoying causing pain together.
      Yami Marik: I brought [Ra] because I want you to experience ultimate pain. I hope you enjoy the suffering as much as I enjoy delivering it.
      Yami Bakura: ...Your Egyptian God is mighty. But Duelists here already know what it can do.
      Yami Marik: Who cares if they do? All cards are powerless against my Egyptian God!
      Yami Bakura: Ooooh. Then I better be careful not to get hit! Hahahahahaha!
    • Yusei/Akiza got teased right out the gate with their first conversation. Akiza had Anger Born of Worry at Yusei just disappearing without saying something, with Yusei apologizing for it. After their first duel Akiza asks if she can stay in Duel Links, with Yusei saying she doesn't need his permission for that and Akiza thanking Yusei with a blush. Akiza also has a line when she summons Stardust Dragon and says she feels at ease with Yusei's strength helping her.
    • Jack/Carly gets quite a bit of this, with the Dark Signer Carly event recreating many of their major moments from 5D's. Once Carly actually arrives, however, Jack harshly dismisses her and tells her to leave, though it's implied he is simply doing this to protect her from the dangerous events happening in Duel Links, which Crow later confirms. During Primo's unlock event, when he threatens to use Carly as bait to draw in Yusei after she mentions being friends with him, she tries to backtrack by saying she isn't special enough to hook Yusei, but concedes he would probably draw in Jack.
  • Shout-Out: The D.D. Castle Siege event has the Tour Guide reference the Mario series when she finds out Vampire Hunter went to the wrong castle.
  • Slasher Smile: The Vagabond does this as part of his idle animation on the Duelist Chronicles maps.
  • SNK Boss: Level 50 Yami Marik starts with Ra in Sphere Mode and can summon the Battle Mode on his first turn for a One-Turn Kill, and his other cards include Michizure, Mask of the Accursed, Dark Jeroid, and Viser Des to destroy or weaken your monsters/LP. The only saving grace is that you can fight him indefinitely until you win.
  • Something We Forgot: If Arkana's unlocking speech is any indication, which starts with him glassy-eyed and silent, Marik forgot about him completely and never released him from mind control/the Shadow Realm until after the tournament was over and/or the Items were scattered.
    • According to a conversation with Bronk, both he and Tori were this to Yuma. Yuma forgot the former in the real world and forgot Tori in the tutorial area when he first showed up.
  • So What Do We Do Now?: Lumis and Umbra's backstory. In their unlocking cutscene, they get a message from Marik that relieves them of duty, allowing them to do whatever they please... except the two of them have no idea what to do next, so they decide to just stick to what they know best: joining Duel Links to mug people for their rare cards.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • While he was killed in the manga and banished in the anime, never returning in either continuity, Bonz seems to have survived his ordeal and is back in the world of Duel Links.
    • Subtly done with Arkana. In the manga, Marik stirred up his worst memories so that he would be Driven to Suicide upon waking up, and in the anime he broke down mentally after realizing Marik lied about reuniting him with his lost love Catherine. In Duel Links Arkana feels a non-specific sadness in his heart and decides to cover up his depression and join Duel Links.
    • Any character that was killed/sent to the stars/sent to the Shadow Realm has a chance to be here and several have actually become playable, like Scud and Bonz, giving a possible implication they've been brought back to life.
    • Antinomy survives his Heroic Sacrifice from the 5D's anime. Justified in that his brain scans were uploaded into Duel Links, and he acknowledges that his existence depends on them not being deleted.
  • Taunt Button: Clicking your character's head mid-duel will bring up a list of unique quotes to taunt your opponent with.
    Joey: You're like the 21st person I've ever met who's makin' me break a sweat.
    Odion: Just when I think you couldn't play any worse, you prove me wrong.
    Kaiba: That's nothing special. I have 36 copies of that card!
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: A common sight in Tag Duel Tournament is teams which are anywhere from unfriendly to outright antagonistic with each other.
    Bandit Keith: You wouldn't know a strategy if it walked up to you and said "Hey, I'm a strategy"!
    Joey: You're one to talk! You know how many good moves you made? Negative six!
  • Temporary Online Content: Several events stopped happening once the respective characters were moved to the Gate.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Several otherwise useless cards find use in high score decks or in completing missions.
    • Mooyan Curry, which heals a pitiful 200 LP for either player. However, it is useful to make your opponent's Life Points higher than yours, before you makes a comeback and win on your next turn, which is required for the Comeback Victory bonus.
    • Gravekeeper's Vassal, whose unique ability to inflict his Battle Damage as Effect Damage makes him valued for completing missions that require you to inflict a high amount of Effect Damage. When used in conjunction with Union Attack, they make another example of this trope since Vassal is the only monster in the game that can bypass Union Attack's "No Battle Damage" restriction, so along with two monsters over 2300 attack, Vassal can net you half of the maximum drop prizes by himself by inflicting over 9999 ATK of Effect Damage, which gives both a 3000 Point bonus for the high damage and 1000 Points if you only dealt Effect Damage.
    • Piranha Army sees a lot of use in high-score farm decks due to the battle damage it inflicts being doubled if it attacks directly, meaning it only needs to gain 4200 ATK to deal the maximum possible damage, something achievable by bringing out a powerful Fusion Monster and using Gift of the Martyr to send it to the Graveyard while also giving its ATK to Piranha Army.
    • In what perhaps is the most amusing "farming deck" example, the effect version of The Winged Dragon of Ra is viewed as complete trash in the real life card game, but it, of all things, becomes the ace of farming decks in Duel Links, with decks such as Cloudian and Aromage easily building up field presence and LP for Ra to deal the final blow. This would normally be impossible in real life due to human logic and constantly updating meta, but against in-game NPCs, there is practically no issue at all. Bonus points for Marik also getting a skill that restores Ra's ability to gain the ATK/DEF of its Tributes, letting him easily bring it out with over 10000 ATK for huge bonus points.
    • Mystical Beast of Serket is Awesome, but Impractical in regular Duels, but only requires one Tribute to bring out and can unleash a Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon or Master of Oz, both with over 4000 ATK and ready to be sacrificed to give Vassal or Piranha Army terrifying power.
    • Card of Sanctity, which requires you to banish your entire field and hand (and you need at least 1 card in your hand) just to draw two cards, is considered one of the worst cards ever printed due to its hefty drawback. However, in Duel Links, it finds use in Burn Decks focused on depleting your opponent's Life Points as fast as possible, since such decks usually have no field presence and it allows a player to trade a card to get to their LP damage cards faster. It also works by the OCG rulings, meaning you only need one card in hand or field to activate itnote .
    • The Unhappy Girl enables several different farming strategies due to its effect locking down monsters it battles with and being unable to be destroyed by battle when in Attack Position. Combined with constant LP regeneration or Tea's Holy Guard skill that prevents any battle damage on her turn, this allows the player to stall while they burn through their Deck or get the cards they need for a combo.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Tristan was initially unmentioned to the point where Duel Chronicles: Set Sail for the Kingdom cut out his scenes entirely. The 2018 April Fool's event revealed that Tristan wasn't allowed to access Duel Links because he wasn't a Legendary Duelist, not even to cheer on his friends. However, since then he earned the right to be a Legendary Duelist.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Yami Bakura's event, starting at level 40, has him start with Destiny Board active and Dark Necrofear in his Graveyard to sustain it. If he goes first, you must defeat him or get rid of Dark Necrofear within four turns.
    • In the Dark Signer events against Rex Goodwin and Carly Carmine, both come with a hefty amount of LP and the 'Destiny Decided' skill, which will automatically end the duel on their 5th Draw Phase. The player is encouraged to put together a deck that will hit hard and fast. They can be rematched, and the damage carries over between duels, but the rematches cost resources.
      • The Dimensional Disaster duels against Aigami work the same way as the Dark Signer duels above. The encompassing term for them is "Raid Duel", intending to emulate the concept of a "raid boss" in many MMORPG games (given that other players can help you with their own "Assist Duels").
  • Title Scream: Starting up the game will have a randomly-selected character say "Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links!"
  • Token Evil Teammate: In addition to heroes and main characters, various antagonists also show up as playable characters:
    • The original world includes Pegasus, Weevil, Rex, Bandit Keith, the Paradox Brothers, Lumis and Umbra, Arkana, Yami Bakura, and Yami Marik.
    • GX introduces Sartorius, Yubel, and Zane (in his "Hell Kaiser" persona).
    • 5D's has Dark Signers Kalin, Carly, and Rex Goodwin as well as Primo.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Rex Raptor in the Dino Rampage event becomes less antagonistic and is simply portrayed as an excitable dinosaur fanboy. He even decides he'll let Joey have Red-Eyes as his signature card (and even before then, he bonded with Joey over being unable to solve the Duel Challenges). Notably, since the game primarily follows manga canon, it seems to ignore his Adaptational Villainy in the Atlantis arc, in which he was vengeful for losing Red-Eyes to Joey.
  • Tournament Arc:
    • February 2017 had the KC Cup event, which had Ranked Duelists participating for prizes.
    • June 2017 added the World Championship Qualifiers, colloquially known by the playerbase as "the second KC Cup tournament".
  • Translator Buddy: Tour Guide from the Underworld can speak to Duel Spirits and translates Gladiator Beast Andal's growls.
  • Trash Talk: The game's fully-voiced, and characters who are antagonistic to one another will deal this out in spades.
  • Truer to the Text: While downplayed to an extent, the English translation of Duel Links takes a lot more elements from the Japanese version that were left out or altered in the English dubs of the shows. Examples include Yubel's characterization being much more faithful to the original, as it restores their sympathetic backstory, sadomasochistic tendencies, and original design, Ark Cradle being used over its Dub Name Change to Divine Temple from the original 5D's dub, and characters having some summon chants and lines closer to their Japanese ones.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Duelist Chronicles events are board games where you roll dice to move across spaces and duel, collect coins for lottery prizes, and travel across themed maps. Monster World is similar, using tiled maps and dice battles as well as pre-made decks.
  • Unknown Rival: Standard Duelists Andrew and Zachary act like typical shonen rivals, but are background characters and completely unknown to the main cast.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Bandit Keith and Seto Kaiba will really gloat if they win a match, especially against Joey.
    Keith: I win! I wish you could see the loser look on your loser face, loser!
    Kaiba: You're a third-rate duelist with a fourth-rate deck!
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Generally, any duelist that engages in the above-mentioned Trash Talk can satisfy this.
    • Kaiba is the primary source of this potential, since nearly all of his lines (aside from in situations of desperation or defeat) are either denigrating insults towards the opponent's skills, bragging about his superiority, or both. It's particularly nasty against certain Duelists who did nothing to deserve such humiliation, most of all Bella, a little girl with self-confidence issues, or Yugi Muto, who becomes depressed and questions himself if he loses. This even extends to his victory quotes against Mokuba, his own brother.
    • Yami Marik's entry into the game introduces even more cruelty potential, particularly if he wins against Mai or Joey.
    • Bonz dueling Yami Bakura again is an exercise in this trope, especially if Bakura wins. Bonz is terrified the whole time and begs him for mercy when he loses.
  • The Voiceless: The Vagabond generally communicates in ellipses, his only lines being "Excellent dueling" and a generic friend invite message. He is also one of a few characters with no voice-acted dialogue, Marik's Rare Hunters and Strings the mime being the others.
  • Wham Episode: The September-October 2017 update schedule introduced several new gameplay modes and DM characters, but most importantly, a Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel World with new characters, story, and missions. Similarly, September 24, 2018 introduced a Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's.
  • Wham Line:
    • Up until Ishizu you could assume most of the characters are just logging in as themselves, but her introduction throws the whole game into question.
      Ishizu: I did not think I would ever stand on the battlefield again. This is most unexpected, Kaiba. And why do I have this Millennium Necklace? I gave it to Yugi during Battle City... Can it be that this world has recreated my abilities that I had during Battle City? If this world is a recreation... Does that mean Marik is here as well? Kaiba, must I relive the horrors I faced back then?
    • If you used either Ishizu or Odion to battle in the Yami Bakura event it triggered explicit confirmation that Yami Marik had returned. However, as possible consolation, the fact that Yami Bakura is an AI makes it possible this Yami Marik is also secretly just an AI.
    • Syrus's introduction to the game confirms the Tour Guide is an AI, not a Duel Spirit like many thought.
    • Yami Bakura's Monster World event ended with the revelation that his real goal with the games was to trick players into playtesting for the Ultimate Shadow RPG, a key component of the final manga and anime arc.
    • Dueling Yubel as Syrus reveals that from his perspective, Jaden's duel with her at the end of Season 3 already happened. Yubel is completely confused by what he's saying, implying she's just an AI version of the real Yubel, like Yami Bakura.
    • The end of Trudge's event reveals that the disturbance he was investigating was the apparent appearance of the Dark Signers.
    • When Sartorius was confirmed for Duel Links, his lines were all datamined, revealing names for additional Arcana Force monsters such as Hierophant, Tower, and the Sun, which currently don't exist in the OCG or TCG, or even the anime. This led to speculation of additional Arcana Force support to complete the tarot-themed archetype.
    • In a "blink (or rather, tap too fast) and you miss it" moment, a short, unrepeatable dialogue from Yusei at the start of Dark Signer Kalin Kessler's event has Yusei confused why Kalin becomes a Dark Signer AGAIN. The end of Dark Signer Rex Goodwin's event, revealed that the Dark Signers are indeed not the real one, and merely "echoes of the past", as Rex puts it.
    • The end of Antinomy's unlock event has two: Antinomy (as Bruno) survives his Heroic Sacrifice from the anime (as his brain scans were uploaded into Duel Links), and directly confirming that Aporia and Z-ONE will eventually appear in Duel Links as well.
    • The end of the D.D. Castle: Assault event.
    Axel Brodie: I'm getting closer to my target. I'm coming for you, Jaden. Or should I say... The Supreme King! (Cut to shadowy portrait of Jaden wearing the Supreme King's armor)
  • You Can See Me?: Astral is surprised that they're visible to people (or at least the player) in Duel Links, as evidenced by their Tag Duel Tournament Dialogue.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: The Different Dimension towers appear to end at floors 30 and 40, but while the D.D. Guide congratulates you it says that you have yet to reach the true top of the tower.


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