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YMMV / Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

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  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • The Strings Duel in Duelist Chronicles: Battle City Begins was an attempt to re-enact the iconic Slifer the Sky Dragon stand-off, except his deck barely had any way of amassing the 3 Tributes necessary to summon Slifer since he only ran 5 monsters total in a 20 card deck at Level 40. Most Duelists would have to deliberately stall the Duel out in order to see the Egyptian God Card. Another sour note is that there is no FMV for the summoning, like if Rex were to summon Tyrant Dragon.
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    • Yubel's Level 40 deck has powerful spells and annoying monster effects, but only 1 monster with attacking power, Mystic Tomato. All others, including the various Yubel forms, have 0 attack and defense. When combined with Yubel and Yubel - Terror Incarnate's effects, which destroy her monsters in the end phase, she can easily run out of monsters to hit you with and do no damage as long as you don't attack. Even Yubel - The Ultimate Nightmare's effect is neutered if your monsters aren't on the field, and if she uses a card to bring back Grave Squirmer, it defaults to attack mode and allows you a free hit. Even her Level 50 and 60 decks can be stalled out if you don't set monsters on the field.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Quite a few since inception. These are showing that the developers and Konami are taking those surveys seriously.
    • The constant nerfs/buffs to character skills and the in-game banlist are the most obvious example, adressing overused skills and cards while also trying to give a chance to those less popular.
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    • A June 26 update addressed complaints players had with the game, adding the ability to upgrade cards' rarity to Glossy and Prismatic, updates to Ranked Duels, lowering the Card Trader's hours to update his stock, and giving you event items when you lose to NPCs as well as when you win.
    • The 1.7 Bakura event introduces EX Jewels, which are a resource that can be traded at the Card Trader to obtain event card drops and rotated-out Card Trader cards.
    • A July 4th update reformatted Ranked Duels to include incentives for playing online, including coupons that can be redeemed for previously unavailable cards and Legendary Duelist drops.
    • Related to the above, one of the most prevalent complaints the game received was that Red-Eyes Insight and Red-Eyes Spirit, two crucially important cards for the most dominant deck at the time, were only given out through a limited-time only Luck-Based Mission in farming Super Joey (to the point that even one of the WCS Finalists didn't have a single copy). Konami eventually addressed the situation by making the cards available through Ranked Duels rewards, and later, Semi-Limiting Red-Eyes Spirit in an attempt to hinder its dominance.
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    • Destiny Heroes were lambasted for having very poor offensive options and no real plays to make or bide time for. As of 3/1/18, Konami released a structure deck full of Destiny Hero support and Vision Hero Trinity to give Aster's Destiny Heroes some much needed punch. And then Valiant Souls came out, giving them an extremely potent new One Turn Kill tool in Mask Change and Masked Hero Anki, that catapulted them to become one of the top decks.
    • An emergency ban was implemented on Woodland Sprite and the Golden Bamboo Sword for its ability to use the Bamboo Sword cards to draw the entire deck and burn the opponent for the entire duel without retaliation (provided the starting hand was good).
    • The skill Power of the Tributed, introduced in the third iteration of the Yami Marik event, restores one of The Winged Dragon of Ra's abilities in the manga / anime that was cut from the printed card in that it gains ATK and DEF equal to the sum of the monsters used to Tribute it. This not only makes Ra usable as a finisher monster instead of being a hollow shell of its manga / anime self, but does so in a way that makes thematic sense (since only certain Duelists with Ancient Egyptian lineage can take advantage of Ra's full powers).
    • Crystal Beasts were not able to make much of an impact on first release. Konami released a second event for Jesse to give players not only a second chance to unlock him, but chances to win the much coveted Rare Value card. In addition, they updated the card trader to give him access to Crystal Raigeki and Gravi-Crush Dragon to give the Beasts much needed offensive options.
    • Two months after the release of the monsters 'Fur Hire', which had been dominating PVP since the moment of their release and quickly became one of the most loathed decks in the history of the game and even included an abusable effect that could completely lock down an opponent and prevent them from attacking, Konami announced a nerf by Limiting Dyna, Hero Fur Hire (the key to the aforementioned abused effect), and semi-limiting Donpa, Marksman Fur Hire, who could instantly destroy any card on the field. The deck is still perfectly usable, but no longer an absolute Game-Breaker.
    • Taken a step further with the October 2018 banlist that restricts "Amazoness Onslaught" to 1, while semi-limiting "Amazoness Princess", "Wiz, Sage Fur Hire", "Hey, Trunade!", and "Treacherous Trap Hole", forcing players to run other cards instead. Unlike other banlists where players usually hate the change, this banlist is met with open arms, as players are finally happy that not only the problematic decks are finally addressed properly, but also, now players can run other cards instead of feeling forced to run multiples of the staples or lose.
  • Breather Boss:
    • Out of the Gate Duelists, Joey Wheeler, Tea Gardner, and Odion, even at Level 40 and even with the more limited card pool at launch. Joey runs Fusion monsters with weak materials. His only strong non-tribute monster is Gearfried the Iron Knight, so the mission to win against him 3 times consecutively is far easier than for Mai and Kaiba. Tea runs weak Fairy-Type monsters apart from Dunames Dark Witch with equip spells, and her Life Gain strategy doesn't help much when she can easily deck herself out or prevent her monsters from attacking with Cards from the Sky. Odion runs weak Zombie monsters with equip spells, with even his Tribute monsters only having 1800 ATK at most.
    • Out of the Roaming Duelists, Carly Carmine (the regular one, not the Dark Signer) particularly stands out as this. As befitting her anime appearance, she relies entirely on Fortune Fairies which have 0 ATK/DEF and effects that have minimal impact on their own. She's entirely reliant on Miracle Stone (gives 500 ATK/DEF for each Fortune Fairy on the field, maxing out at a mediocre 1500) for any form of offense, and defensively, she only has one copy of Reverse Glasses, which is a worse Mirror Wall.
  • Broken Base: The first Selection Box was this for some players. One selling point of the box was that it would have cards perfect for newer players just starting to get into the competitive scene and ranked duels quicker. While that's fine if a bit redundant, the sticking issue was that there were also some cards offered in the box that were not in any box prior including the valuable Dark World Dealings. Compounding frustration was that the price per packs were more expensive (though you get more cards in a pack compared to normal) and that it would be taken off the shelves after a set amount of time caused players to claim that the best way to get the cards needed before they were gone is to activate your credit cards.
    • Cards introduced after the Arc-V era: A good chance to use some cards that weren't good enough in that era? Or too broken for Duel Links that doesn't mesh with a slower demanding playstyle, such as Cyber Angels and Fur Hires?
    • The reveal that a Zexal world would be delayed for one based on the Dark Side of Dimensions movie brought a ton of this. Some feel it's a good thing to potentially make the game slow down a bit, while others point out most top decks run modern cards anyway, and Xyz monsters wouldn't do much harm. That's not even getting into people who prefer the season to the movie and vice versa.
    • There is also the inclusion of Arc-V era archetypes in recent boxes. One side is happy that they can play the cards sooner, while the other side feels that it would actively harm contents for a future Arc-V world, as now important Arc-V characters don't have much cards left from their respective archetype, that can be used as drops and level-up rewards.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • The Paradox Brothers' skill Elements Unite allows you to start with the necessary setup to summon the 3750-ATK Gate Guardian on turn 1, at the cost of not having a hand and being reduced to 500 LP. The skill is next to useless in PVP but extremely useful in PVE, allowing the Brothers to easily defeat every opponent without monster removal or effect damage in their decks, as no CPU-controlled opponent has a monster over 3300 ATK without specific equip cards.
    • Battle position change cards. With the game format putting emphasis on battle and limited summons in a turn, putting an opponent's monster in defense position can often spell defeat. Cards such as Enemy Controller, Windstorm of Etaqua, and Sphere Kuriboh are highly valued and find their way in top-tier decks thanks to how easily they can turn a game around. Meanwhile, monsters such as Trance the Magic Swordsman or Summoned Skull are looked down upon because of their terrible DEF score that makes them easy prey to these kinds of cards.
    • Decks made to farm specific opponents or fulfill specific mission requirements on autoduel are fairly common, such as an Unhappy Girl deck for farming, a Mythical Beast Cerberus deck for high battle damage, or a Tea burn deck for high effect damage.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • Kaiba and Keith's Jerkass statements when aimed at the little kid NPCs.
    Kaiba: You're a third-rate duelist with a fourth-rate deck!
    Keith: I win! I wish you could see the loser look on your loser face, loser!
  • Demonic Spiders: One thing almost everyone agrees on regarding the Standard Duelist decks is that the level 27 deck Circus Trick is the absolute worst to face, forcing players to run decks specifically built to deal with it. This deck contains Blade Rabbit, Crass Clown, and Dream Clown, which can destroy monsters when their battle positions are changed, backed by a metric buttload of traps that change battle positions, including Windstorm of Etaqua and Labyrinth of Nightmare. End result: every time you try to attack, your monsters get changed to Defense position and then get helplessly destroyed by the opponent's monster effects, until you run out and your opponent is free to slowly grind you to death with their weenies. It also makes grinding much more tedious since using Auto-Duel against this deck will result in you getting slaughtered.
  • Epileptic Trees: The fact that the Paradox Brothers, who were not able to be challenged at Jump Fiesta like Yami Bakura, Yami Marik, and Pegasus, were added opens up endless possibilities for other characters from the manga or anime to be included as well. Spinoffs are also speculated, as Para and Dox appeared in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX as well as the original series. This was later confirmed with the addition of characters like Arkana and Bonz, as well as a new GX world.
  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • Duel Links being created by Kaiba in-universe means that things that are out-of-place or out-of-character can just be how Kaiba sees them.
    • While implied, Yami Marik isn't explicitly confirmed to be an NPC, as he asks Kaiba if he revived him and Kaiba says if he did he could erase him on a whim. Given Kaiba's obsession over resurrecting Atem in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, including making a virtual copy of the Pharaoh, either way it could be practice for that attempt.
  • Fridge Horror:
    • Ishizu invokes this in her appearance, berating Kaiba for recreating her Millennium Necklace and Battle City, as it means that Yami Marik and the misery that followed has also been recreated.
    • 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.
  • Game-Breaker: So many it has its own page, though not all of these apply at any given time due to updates.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • A Mokuba audio glitch resulted in his attacking dialogue for monsters getting mixed up, with the Luster Dragons swapping roles and Alexandrite Dragon becoming Shinato, a card Noah used in the anime.
    • A Yami Bakura glitch on day 1 of his Destiny Board event in version 1.7 resulted in him breaking the ratings scale for levels before it was fixed.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Some players are only here for the ability to play as their favorite characters and to see the characters interact.
  • Les Yay: Standard Duelist Jess professes her admiration for whichever Duelist you're playing as in her introduction, and her voice and dialogue is on the flirty side with them. It becomes this trope whenever you're playing as a female Duelist.
  • Memetic Badass: Thanks to a typo/glitch in version 1.7's first Destiny Board event, Yami Bakura has been imagined as a duelist so difficult he starts with 5 Exodia pieces and losing to him deletes your account.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Beaver Warrior is talked about as if he was the best card in the game, similarly like Jerry Beans Man in the TCG (the latter being Hilarious in Hindsight considering he did end up becoming the #1 used card in the first KC Cup).
    • Chazz posting which usually consists of Chazz writing poems to Alexis.
    • Jaden being the true master of magicians after a event gave him a Skill that belonged to Yami Yugi and related to Dark Magician.
    • "Apologems" is used every time there's server maintenance or just said at even the slightest annoyance on the game as a way to try to get free gems.
    • Another 4chan meme is "Jack Fatlus" which is Cloudian Altus with Jack Atlas hair.
    • "You're a third-rate Duelist with a fourth-rate Deck" has become a popular competitive gaming taunt and Kaiba's fanon catchphrase for being such a Jerkass thing to say that it Crosses the Line Twice.
  • Narm:
    • Yami Bakura and Yami Marik are notorious villains and threaten their opponents accordingly, but none of the Standard Duelists seem to take them seriously. Most of the time, they simply comment about having to do better at their game even though they're being threatened with a trip to the Shadow Realm, and others wish these mass murderers good luck or remind them to have fun.
    • Never Say "Die" is generally in play, which leads to Marik making awkward threats like "So do you want to be gone from this existence?"
    • The taunt button can invoke this in serious duels, like having Jaden tell Yubel "The egg-wich is mine!" or having Arkana talk about Dark Magician when it isn't on the field.
  • Narm Charm: Invoked by the English translation. Although a lot of lines are more faithful to the original Japanese manga/anime, it also inserts many of the lines from the 4Kids dub to appeal to nostalgic English dub or Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series fans, such as Arkana's Dark Energy Disks or one of Bonz's victory lines being "You didn't stand a ghost of a chance!"
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Unlike most dueling themes, the Rare Hunters' theme is low-key and creepy, with ambient noises and an Ominous Music Box Tune. Marik mind-controlling them causes even scarier music to play, and when he controls Joey in the Battle City event it's even worse.
    • Yami Bakura's Destiny Board event turned the sky into Dark Sanctuary, covering it in red clouds full of eyes.
    • Unintentional, but Bonz has a smiling face complete with blush in this game, and it's far creepier than any other face or act he's put on.
    • Should Syrus challenge Zane, Zane makes it plenty clear that in his broken state of mind, Zane's going to maim his little brother in a duel. The Cyberdark Impact event on July 23 introduced electrodes. Three reductions to your LP and you automatically lose the duel because the pain of the collars knocks out your character.
    • Yubel's event replaces the music with a low, melancholy string and piano piece, and the sky turns purple, complete with a Giant Eye of Doom looming over the skyline. Duel Ghouls of standards duelists appear, with distorted smiles and deck names depicting their Horror Hunger. Alyson Leigh Rosenfield, normally cast as cute children or rebellious teens, absolutely nails Yubel's yandere Interplay of Sex and Violence tendencies.
    • Like in the anime, whenever Electromagnetic waves are around Tyranno, he loses control and reverts to a primal form. In Duel Links, this is represented by Tyranno becoming Ultimate Tyranno Hassleberry, in which you have five turns to take him down (complete with a Ultimate Tyranno in the background as a friendly reminder) or else you automatically lose from his rampage ability.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Ice Barrier monsters in the traditional card game were essentially forgotten about save for their Synchros. Ice Barrier monsters in Duel Links, by contrast, see more than their fair share of play due to a great magic card in "Magic Triangle of the Ice Barrier," powerful two tribute monsters with great effects, excellent drawing power/potential and good synergy among its decks. It's not exactly top tier, but you'll see quite a few online duelists use them regularly.
    • In the same vein, while HEROs aren't low Tier-Induced Scrappy status and are arguably the other way around, first generation Elemental HERO monsters were for being unnecessarily gimmicky. While they aren't top tier either, the reduced deck size makes it easier to get the materials you need for their fusions and also allows for a much more focused deck. In addition, they released the more useful and streamlined cards like Blazeman early and gave Jaden a skill to drop Skyscraper on the field to help ease the problem.
    • Yubel in the real-life card game is considered an Awesome, but Impractical gimmick at best and a bricky mess at worst. Duel Links solved those problems with the reduced deck size, making it much easier to draw the cards you need, and also gave Yubel (the character) a skill to shuffle the evolved forms, which otherwise sit like bricks in your hand, back into your deck and search the base Yubel in their place. Combined with Fire King and Nephthys support to destroy Yubel in your hand, you can easily get Terror Incarnate onto the field without having waste resources summoning the base Yubel, making the deck vastly more consistent and powerful.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Certain rare, powerful cards can only be won from defeating a Legendary Duelist and getting lucky with the card drops, with a higher chance on higher level duelists. The problem is there are tons of Junk Rare cards that they all possess that you're likely to get tens and hundreds of before you even hope to see one of those cards. Luckily, a July 4 update allows you to trade Tickets from Ranked Duels to obtain Legendary Duelist cards.
    • The four/five victory streak needed to progress at the highest ranks in PVP, Platinum and Legend. You need to be lucky enough to not get paired up against a deck that outright counters yours, get a good starting hand in each duel, and don't get screwed by the exploit-abusing duelists. While the Platinum ranks are more lenient with the requirement, for the Legend ranks you need a five win streak to climb to the next rank and there's three levels in Legend. The worst part? If you get a three loss streak you drop a rank.
    • A subtle one, but some cards will follow rulings from the OCG as opposed to the TCG rulings, which can trip up a few TCG players. For example, "Fusion Tag" has its effect able to be used, correctly, for when the target is used as a Fusion Material, not just for a Fusion Summon (there's a difference - Contact Fusions such as "XYZ-Dragon Cannon" use Fusion Materials but aren't Fusion Summons). The latter case was incorrectly printed on the card in the TCG.
    • The card trader is becoming this to some, as with many updates to its stock the card rotation is random and there are players upset at seeing repeats of cards they already have 3 or more copies of while others (especially for sets like Gemini or Aromages which have a lot of their support be exclusive to the card trader) can go weeks or even months without appearing. The Regular Inventory feature helps with this, but the issue still remains for newer cards that are not in the Regular Inventory yet.
    • Any event in which the prizes are up to the lottery. The issue fans have with the lottery is the placement of gold or keys in the drawing, which squander chances of getting the limited edition cards available in a certain time-frame.
    • The 5Ds characters have their ace cards (save Leo, whose box just gave players his Power Tool Dragon) locked behind a Skill that adds two Tuners and one copy of the ace dragon to the Extra Deck. These Skills screw up deck consistency (unless you build around it) and force players to fatten up their decks for no reason. Trudge's Skill is even worse in that it removes all OTHER cards in the Extra Deck just to run one Goyo Guardian, making it worthless. While Jutte Fighter itself is fine for a generic Tuner monster, players still don't see this as a fair enough trade-off. At least, until Konami updated Trudge's Skill in May 2019 to no longer remove all the other Extra Deck cards.
      • To be fair, these skills are mostly there to ease players into Synchro Summoning for those who are not too familiar with it. That being said, players now have access to all of the Signer Dragons via boxes, Jack's Red Dragon Archfiend can also be obtained from a structure deck, and Kalin's Hundred Eyes Dragon is obtainable from the Earthbound Immortal event.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Yugi's lines when you beat him are pretty upsetting, especially if you're Yami Yugi.
    Yugi: Am I not good enough? Maybe I can't win on my own.
    • Dueling Kaiba and winning as Pegasus brings back bad memories of Duelist Kingdom. (This matchup became particularly common when Kaiba's Beatdown and Pegasus' Mind Scan were easily the two most used Skills in PVP)
    Kaiba: (pre-duel) You've tried to destroy everything I care about! And for that, I will never forgive you!
    Kaiba: [loses] Mokuba... Forgive me.
    Pegasus: Poor Kaiba boy. You let everyone down. I will spare you the agony of carrying on in this world... by imprisoning your soul within a card!
    Kaiba, post-loss: No... This can’t be the end...
    • Dueling or defeating Ishizu or Odion as Yami Marik will make you feel horrible for winning, as they blame themselves over not being able to save Marik.
    • Arkana's unlock speech is rather sad. While he is free from the Shadow Realm, all he remembers is a deep pain before choosing to ignore it and hide his pain behind his mask.
    • When defeating Dark Signer Kalin with Yusei, Yusei calls out Kalin's name with concern. In Japanese, Yusei yells Kiryu's name in an emotional breakdown.
    • Speaking of Dark Signers, Dark Signer Carly's event is played out similar to her battle against Jack, and then ending to her event plays out the same way, with Carly fading into the netherworld. This doesn't end here. Dueling her at the tag event still has her meekly hoping that Jack will save her from being a Dark Signer, and she even has more than a few quotes begging for her freedom.
  • That One Boss: Several Legendary Duelists at max level, primarily for having powerful cards unavailable to the player.
    • Mai Valentine at Level 40 (and even Level 30) is one of the hardest Legendary Duelists to beat, let alone farm for Random Drops, because her Amazoness Village can replace any fallen Amazoness once per turn, she runs plenty of Trap Cards to revive them from the Graveyard, and she has cards like Amazoness Fighting Spirit and Amazoness Spellcasters to overpower most monsters you could throw at her. Unfortunately, two late-stage missions require you to win 3 consecutive victories against her and achieve 3 Quick Victories with Joey Wheeler (in two of your turns. Fortunately, these don't have to be consecutive) respectively.
    • Ishizu Ishtar's Level 40 deck, much to the chagrin of those seeking to build a Gravekeeper deck. It features Necrovalley to boost her Gravekeepers by an unprecedented 500 ATK and DEF, as well as a hard-to-defeat boss monster in Gravekeeper's Visionary, which gains power for every Gravekeeper in the Graveyard and can protect itself from destruction by discarding Gravekeeper's monsters. Gravekeeper's Assailant also has its effect readily accessible to strike your powerhouses at their (usually) weaker DEF.
    • Seto Kaiba's Level 40 deck is regarded as one of the hardest to beat. He runs the 1900 ATK Vorse Raider, as well as Cost Down to easily bring out a 2400 ATK Luster Dragon #2 for no Tribute or his signature Blue-Eyes White Dragon for only 1. And in case you try to overpower him with a monster, he also runs D.D. Warrior to remove any of your monsters or Enemy Controller to steal your monster and finish off your Life Points, or protect himself from attacks by switching your monsters to defense mode. Unfortunately, the latter is also one of his drops and a metagame staple. Also, like Mai, you have to win 3 times consecutively against him for a late-stage mission.
    • Level 50 Yami Bakura runs a Dark Master Zorc deck revolving around disruptions, Dark Necrofear, Zorc's dice rolls, and Destiny Board. Destiny Board of Doom is also in effect, forcing you to play on a time limit if you're unable to remove Dark Necrofear from his graveyard. His Level 40 Evil Incarnate Deck in his Zombie mini-event was also notoriously difficult, running multiple copies of Tribute to the Doomed, Book of Life, and Sakuretsu Armor to stymie whatever the player tried along with 1800 ATK and up monsters.
    • Alexis Rhodes is no joke. If you can't negate her rituals or have a backup plan to destroy them, they're going to hit hard, instantly destroy your monsters, and be well protected by their Ritual spell card. She also has Gemini Elf to back her up and other monsters with effects to irk and annoy you.
    • Level 50 Yami Marik starts with Ra in Sphere Mode and can summon the Battle Mode on turn 1, and his other cards include stuff like Michizure, Dark Jeroid, and Viser Des. The only saving grace is that you could fight him indefinitely until you defeated him.
    • Level 40 Zane not only has his Cyber Dragons, as in the original ones, the ones that Special Summon themselves, but also has Power Bond and the Cyber Dragon fusions. If you do not have anything ready to stop his monsters, chances are he will OTK you with Cyber Twin Dragon's second attack or Cyber End Dragon's 8000 ATK with piercing.
      • During his Cyberdark event, Level 40/50 Zane's Cyberdark deck allows him to lead with a 2000+ ATK monster, usually alongside a Field Spell that offers great protection for his Cyberdark monsters. Unless your opening hand is good, you most likely will have no way to deal with his Cyberdarks quickly, which usually means a loss for you.
    • Level 30 Aster's strategy focus on keeping Clock Tower Prison on the field with enough counters, preventing you from dealing damage to him. Level 40 Aster added a ridiculously powerful Fusion monster on top of that. Sure, Level 40 Aster sometimes bricked, but if he gets the combo going, you might as well just give up and take the loss.
    • In the Tag Duel Tournament event, Joey and Mai are the bane of many players seeking to win Master level despite being only the second of five opponents (and if you lose any game in Master level, you have to start from the beginning). Mai runs a deck similar to her Level 40 Amazoness deck, including the reserve-spawning Amazoness Village, except it's even worse since she also has Amazoness Heirloom, which gives an Amazoness the ability to destroy any monster she attacks while protecting her from destruction by battle once per turn. Plus, both of them have a Skill that revives once of their partner's monsters once per Duel. All these factors make their monsters hard to overcome. Notably, Konami nerfed Mai's deck one day after Master level was released, but their That One Boss status remains.
    • Inglorious Bastion's level 40 deck has been proven very difficult to farm against; combined with the speed at which he mills himself can prove fatal to either yourself if he brings out Kasha or himself if he decks out, preventing you from obtaining the maximum amount of points against him. Even his level 30 deck can bring out a huge beater directly from the Deck easily - depending on what farming deck you use, it's very possible he can take you out in the first three or five turns.
    • Epic Yami on day one had proven to be so powerful that not even a single current farming deck was able to take him out consistently without massive luck. Even then, his deck had answers for almost every currently known variant. Konami had to nerf his deck so that players can actually beat and farm him.
    • Dark Signer Kalin runs a near-full-power Infernity deck, including the key cards that made it a long-time Game-Breaker in the OCG and TCG. Infernity Launcher allows him to summon 2 monsters from the Graveyard once the handless condition is fulfilled, and Infernity Archfiend searches any Infernity card from the deck when Special Summoned, including Launcher (and Archfiend also comes with a Miracle effect in which it Special Summons itself if it's the only card in hand during the Draw Phase). This means he can easily put out a full board of powerful monsters with alarming regularity, and if a player is unlucky enough, he can even do it on his first turn with the right cards. This was particularly bad during the Earthbound Immortal event, where he became a Goddamned Boss due to having Life Points inflated to Raid Boss levels (40000-70000 LP normally, with Lv. 500 and Lv. 1000 variants going up to 125,000 and even 250,000 LP), a 5 turn limit to deal damage to him, all while taking a very long time to complete his Infernity combo chains each turn and repeatedly summoning a full board each turn after fulfilling the handless condition.
  • That One Level:
    • Missions 57 and 58 require the player to win against Mai at level 40 and Kaiba at Level 40, respectively, 3 times in a row.
    • Mission 59 requires the player to summon Perfectly Ultimate Great Moth, a 3500 ATK monster who can only be summoned through very weak cards staying on the field for up to 5 turns. It's slightly easier if you have Weevil's skill that halves the time limit or play a low level gate duelist, but getting the card is a pain in itself. It gets better, using Cocoon of Ultra Evolution doesn't complete the mission.
  • That One Sidequest: Several Duelists are an absolute pain to either unlock or make playable.
    • Unlocking Bastion requires you to achieve 50 wins total with 3 or less cards remaining in your deck.
    • Unlocking Scud requires you to banish 300 of your opponents' cards total.
    • Making Yubel playable, at least after the event that introduced them to the game, requires the player, as Jaden, to summon Elemental HERO Neos 3 times in one duel against them at level 30. Neos can only be found once via level-up. Extra copies can only be found via Ultra-Rare tickets that correspond to character prizes.
    • Making Jaden/Yubel playable requires the aforementioned Yubel. Further, they also have the stipulation of summoning not just Yubel in battle against a level 30 Jaden but also the boosted forms of Terror Incarnate and Ultimate Nightmare. If the player failed to get them during the event they debuted in, or joined the game after the event, then the only way to obtain these cards are through ultra-rare prize drops via Yubel or Ranked Duels. If players manage 100 Ranked wins then they can get an Ultra Rare ticket but this only resets at the end of the month.
  • The Scrappy:
    • GX Standard Duelist Zachary is a smug, obnoxious elitist scrub that believes himself above everyone else and rubs your defeats to him in your face, but when he loses, he'll start whining or blame it all on his cards. He also seems to have trouble learning a lesson. Long story short, he's Obelisk Blue Chazz before his Character Development, only worse and with a more annoying voice.
    • DM Standard Duelist Andrew is an Insufferable Genius, and it's grating to lose against him.
    • Scud, a character from the Dark Side of Dimensions movie, was already clearly designed to be unlikable and not someone you'd feel bad about being erased by the villain, but players of Duel Links found more reasons to dislike him once he was added to its world as an LD. Among those are him being added as a full character when more popular ones haven't been (even within that world he's playable before Yugi, a main character), his tedious unlock requirement detailed just above, and feeling like a waste of effort since he barely has any unique lines, no interesting drops, and unique skills that are worse versions of common ones. Very few non-ironic fans of his inclusion have been seen so far, at least among Western players.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Relinquished became this as soon as it debuted in the Toon World event. Despite being a Ritual Monster that takes three cards to summon, its ability to absorb enemy monsters more than makes up for it, especially since such unconditional monster removal is rare in the metagame. Even though there are ways around it, is an amazing come-back card that also serves as a win condition in itself. It's also very accessible to most players, since it can only take a few tries against max level Pegasus to get two copies of his signature monster and its Ritual Spell. The first KC Cup event fully solidified its status, as it was easily integrated into most decks, and even with plenty of potentially devastating counters, it was still considered the most powerful card in high-level play. The top deck in the Asia/Oceania region was dedicated entirely to getting out and protecting Relinquished.
    • Sphere Kuriboh. Available from the very first pack as a UR, it became a competitive necessity due to its primary effect, which discards itself from the hand to prevent a single attack—something that's more than a little annoying to face and almost impossible to prevent. On top of that, its second effect allows the player to banish it from the Graveyard to add it to a Ritual Monster's Tribute... which makes it ideal for use as the only Tribute to summon Relinquished, both cards being Level 1.
    • Mai and her Harpie's Hunting Ground skill ended up as one. As described on the Game-Breaker page, the deck's powerful Spell/Trap removal and access to 1900 attack beaters such as Sonic Duck, makes it extremely powerful. The deck being easily able to blend with the aforementioned Relinquished and becoming its skill of choice after the Switcheroo nerf didn't help matters. It ended up being the most overused deck in the second Kaiba Cup.
    • Tea/Anzu Burn decks, augmented with the Duel standby skill. Tea players would either win on their first 2 turns or squirm around trying to do it. The perceived lack of skill to pilot the decknote  and how playing against it couls easily ruin a win streak ended up making it the most hated deck for competitive and casual players alike until it was nerfed.
    • Toons became this as soon as Toon Kingdom was released. The Field Spell not only renders Toons effectively impervious to battle, but also renders any cards with targeting effects useless. This meant that once Toon Kingdom was played, Toon Monsters could take advantage of their shared ability to attack your Life Points directly while the opponent could do almost nothing to stop them if they couldn't remove the Field Spell. Such an action often requires specialized counters that weaken the deck's consistency against anything else, so often, the only option players have is to simply hope Toon Kingdom doesn't show up. Because of its solitaire-style Luck-Based Mission gameplay and the aforementioned difficulty in countering it consistently, it had become the most reviled deck in the game at the time it was commonly used.
    • Red-Eyes Insight/Zombie decks have become heavily disliked for being promoted and focused on compared to other archetypes, gaining a lot of support cards while having next to no counters and other archetypes had no support. Eventually, Red-Eyes Spirit was Semi-Limited to give other decks a chance.
    • Cyber Angels immediately took over the ladder as soon as they were released. Though they were Alexis's signature archetype in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, they were actually released in the Arc-V era and buffed accordingly to account for Power Creep. The result was a hyper-consistent deck with searching and card recycling prowess far surpassing any other deck of the time, easily allowing them to get out and reuse Cyber Angel Dakini, a monster with 2700 ATK that could remove an opponent's monster on summon and recycle Ritual cards each turn. In addition, their Ritual Spell, Machine Angel Ritual, also protected them from destruction, making them hard to remove by conventional methods. Konami instantly took note of this and Limited Machine Angel Ritual merely weeks later due to immense fan outcry. However, this did little to stop them, as Machine Angel Absolute Ritual could use monsters from the Graveyard to fulfill its summoning condition and swarm the field. They completely took over the November KC Cup to the point that almost nothing else could compete except for a similarly reviled Ninja deck that abused the 3-Star Demotion skill to get out its boss monsters instantly, in contrast to previous formats. Cyber Angels can also take 2-3 minutes each to complete a single turn due to their long combo chains.
    • Sylvans are unbelievably fast (quite ironic as speed wasn't one of the deck's strengths in the TCG when they debuted), their monsters have great stats, and with Rose Lover, they've got enough synergy to mill their heavy hitters (such as Sylvan Hermitree or one of the Flower Princesses), revive lost monsters with Carrotweight Champion, or just pick apart your field piece by piece with multiple Komushroomos or Marshalleafs. Much of the player base refers to them as "Skillvans" because of how easily they can get their combo pieces in the Graveyard to devastate their opponent's field and OTK with minimal input required from its players.
    • Lava Golem has become infamous for being the primary win condition of Burn decks. It removes two of the opponent's monsters to Special Summon itself to their side of the field and inflicts 1000 damage to them at the beginning of each of their turns (which is huge in a 4000 LP format). Even though it's a 3000 ATK beater, Burn decks run multiple cards to disable it and other monsters from attacking, all while whittling down the opponent's LP through other means to reduce the amount of turns Lava Golem's controller has to survive. The Golem is also hard to get rid of in decks that don't run Tribute or Ritual Monsters (and even then, they still have to take 1000 damage before they can Tribute it), as Enemy Controller is the only card most decks run that Tribute their own monsters, and that can be countered by the Burn deck player simply not playing any monsters for the opponent to take.
    • Flamvell fall on the lower tiers here as well, with almost all monsters having only 200 DEF leaving them vulnerable to Enemy Controller/Pulse Mines. Furthermore, they have no access to their boss monsters or ace cards like Rekindling, Flamvell Firedog or even Flamvell Counter and Flamvell Commando.
    • Ghostricks relied on main phase 2 to use their effects, which is absent in Duel Links, so their only real option is to mill the enemy's deck with Ghostrick Skeleton.
    • Woodland Sprite's burn effects were so complained about that almost immediately after it was released, Konami took notice and made an announcement about a nerf.
    • The 'Fur Hires.' Along with being an inexpensive deck to build (all of the key cards are either Normal or Rare, with only one card being Super-Rare), they took the meta by storm the day they came out, due to their ability to swarm the field with their special summoning effects, which allow them to instantly summon heavy hitters like "Dyna, Hero Fur Hire" and "Wiz, Sage Fur Hire" directly from the hand, with "Beat, Swordsman Fur Hire" even able to search the deck for them. That alone would have put them on par with the Sylvans, but combine their Zerg Rush abilities with the ability to draw monsters out of the graveyard, banish opponents' monsters from their graveyard, negate spells and traps effects, and even instantly destroy cards that are either face up or face down, all simply by utilizing their special abilities, and you have a deck capable of first-turn kills with remarkable consistency. Players were screaming for a nerf practically from day one, especially after the Duel Island - Gladiator event. In August of 2018, Konami obliged, Limiting Dyna, Hero Fur Hire and Semi-Limiting Donpa, Marksman Fur Hire. They took a further step in October of 2018, by Semi-Limiting Wiz, Sage Fur Hire.
      • Notably, the deck 'Fur Hire' is often complained to be a deck that should not be on Duel Links already, considering it's a deck released in real life during 2018, making it extremely new and thus has effects that accounts for real life Power Creep (similar to the Cyber Angels entry above), meaning they're very powerful compared to the much older cards in Duel Links.
    • Treacherous Trap Hole is a prime candidate for the most hated backrow card in the game. Upon activation, it instantly destroys 2 monsters on the field, practically for free. For perspective, you can only have a maximum 3 monsters on your side of the field, which makes it close to a total field clear, and most often, it's used to intercept the opponent's plays so that they will be forced to end their turn with no monsters to defend themselves from a likely One Turn Kill. Try to evade the card by playing only 1 monster? The opponent can just destroy one of their own monsters to take out yours. Even its supposed limiting condition of requiring no Traps in the Graveyard to activate it is made trivial by the multitude of decks that don't have room for Traps anyway, run Quick-Play Spells as defensive cards instead, or use the Endless Trap Hell skill to empty the Graveyard of Traps. Also, since the minimum deck size is a mere 20 cards, players got used to seeing this card often. Since it can singlehandedly win games on its own and widens the gap between high and low tier decks by discouraging anything that requires building up field presence to make plays (including the widely-anticipated Synchro monsters introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's update), players have constantly called for it to be placed on the Forbidden / Limited list, speculating that Konami is reluctant to do so in fear of losing trust from players that spent a lot of currency to get a Super Rare Box card. In the October 2018 banlist, Konami finally obliged, adding Treacherous Trap Hole to the semi-limited list. Then people started requesting to go a step further and for it to be outright banned, simply because any new deck without something on the limited list will gladly run it even at two copies, meaning it will always be a problem barring a total ban.
    • Amazoness was initially a weak archetype mostly filled with only beaters, but when Amazoness Princess, Amazoness Queen, and Amazoness Onslaught are introduced, the deck immediately sweeps the metagame due to how powerful the new cards are, making the deck far stronger than most other decks, eventually requiring Konami to hit the deck with the banlist not just once, but twice.
    • Brave Neos, a fusion released from an EX Structure deck, has probably hit this point as well. On his own he isn't that great a card, being a generic beater that gets stronger if Elemental Heroes are in the graveyard, and being able to fetch a card related to Neos when he destroys a monster. The problem is he also came with Neos Fusion, a spell that fuses monsters from the deck, and Brave Neos himself having a requirement of Neos and any effect monster that's level 4 or less. Any monster, mind, meaning it became commonplace to cram Neos and several copies of the fusion spell in any deck that wants to send a monster to the graveyard - which is a lot. People quickly grew sick of Brave Neos showing up in decks he has no business in, as well as the idea you have to run him if you want a generic way to fill up the graveyard. Eventually, Neos Fusion got put on Limited 2 due to this... which barely dented his usage in decks that didn't already have cards on the list, who gladly ran one Neos Fusion and one Treacherous Trap Hole.
    • Aleister the Invoked and Invocation. A two card engine that had made everyone sick of seeing him and his Invoked Fusions in many hybrid decks. On the November 2019 KC Cup, the Invoked somehow managed to tier in all three categories: Pure Invoked/Invoked whatever (tier 3), Invoked Vehicroid (Tier 2) and Invoked Elementsaber (Tier 1). Having Sorcery Conduit hasn't made the pain any less easier, as all it takes is one Cosmic Cyclone to trigger the search to get the heavy hits coming. The impact was such that in the December 2019 banlist, Kiteroid got semilimited alongside Invoked Magellanica, which killed the Invoked Roids variant altogether.
    • Red-Eyes again after the release of their structure deck, due to two cards: Red-Eyes Fusion and Red-Eyes Slash Dragon. Like Neos Fusion, Red-Eyes Fusion allows you to fuse directly from the deck, and Slash Dragon has the fairly lax requirement of Red-Eyes B. Dragon and a Warrior monster, giving them a lot of deck-building freedom alongside their dedicated support like Red-Eyes Gearfried. Yes, this includes Neos, and yes, this means people ran Brave Neos and Slash Dragon in the same deck. The card itself is no slouch either, being a 2800 ATK beater (which spends more time at 3000 due to its effect) that's also basically immune to targeting, and even if it dies, it can easily be brought back by Red-Eyes Spirit, which had long since been taken out of Limited 2. Oh, and Red-Eyes Fusion is searchable by Red-Eyes Insight, meaning Red-Eyes Slash Dragon can easily hit the field early. Cue the ladder being flooded by Red-Eyes decks.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • With Yugi and Yami Marik being the only characters in the initial roster that nobody had, many were surprised to see the Paradox Brothers added to the game before their potential events. Tristan was also unexpected, as he didn't duel at all in the manga and only dueled once in the anime.
    • One of the cards the player can win from Chazz is Ojamandala, a Spell card that gives you back each of the three Ojama brothers if you pay 1000 LP. Ojamandala is an anime only card; it's never seen proper circulation in the TCG. While anime-only cards aren't a new thing in the games, many weren't expecting a card like that in Duel Links, which up until the Chazz event, only features cards that are already printed in real life. Since then, many more anime cards started appearing in Duel Links.
    • Similarly, up until the implementation of the "Future Horizon" box, Duel Links usually only feature cards that have been printed in both OCG and TCG. However, the box features a surprise appearance from not just one, but TWO Superheavy Samurai monsters who are still not in TCG yet even to this day, making their appearance in Duel Links the first time their TCG name and text are seen.
    • Almost no-one expected Lumis and Umbra to be added as characters, as most of their cards had already been added to the game and they hadn't appeared during the first Battle City event. This ended up being a pleasant surprise for most however as there was some genuine effort behind their inclusion, with all new sprites for the duo (since they hadn't appeared in Tag Force unlike every other playable character) and a nice animation if they to summon Masked Beast Des Gardius, who is notably more animated than the other monsters.
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • A lot of old-school Yu-Gi-Oh fans picked up the game not only because it featured the original cast, complete with voice-overs, but also serves as a return to a less special-summoning focused format for those disenchanted with the regular game's Power Creep or new summoning methods. Cards introduced from GX onward are selected so as not to overpower the original generation cards, and power cards from the original game have been excluded (e.g. the strongest instant-kill cards are single-target with various conditions or costs). Thus, cards and strategies that never saw any competitive use in the TCG, such as Flash Assailant or Guardian Statue, end up being extremely useful or even the focus of their respective decks.
    • Another charm to the game is the speed duel format. With half a deck size, LP count, and no Main Phase 2 available to the player, it's a different style of dueling that when combined with the card pool, forces players to think up fun new strategies or make do with what is available. Furthermore, cards that were introduced such as Gladiator Beasts or Mermails are surprisingly balanced against other decks (with few exceptions) promoting a game that a lot of players can enjoy.
  • The Woobie:
    • Roland gets yelled at if you click on the KC status reports when nothing new's happened.
    • Bella is a little girl with self-confidence issues, which can make you feel awful if Kaiba, Keith, or Yami Bakura defeats her.
    • Evan is a confidence-lacking Slifer Red Student, without much money to afford a competitive deck. He can be extremely disappointed with himself on defeat, sometimes even asking you to give him your Deck out of despair. This is even worse if you use Kaiba against him, because Kaiba's not afraid of showing all the money he spent on his Deck.
    • Bastion starts to really doubt himself and creates his new Yokai deck from the GX Manga in hopes of being remembered by everybody again. Beat him; and he'll wonder if he's really a failure
  • Woolseyism: The Standard Duelists in the Japanese version had generic names such as "Student who likes Dueling" or "Energetic boy." They were given proper names for the International release, which made them stand out as distinct characters, particularly when they started participating in event skits.


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