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  • Anti-Climax 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.
  • Breather Boss:
    • Out of the Legendary Duelists, Joey Wheeler, Téa Gardner, and Odion, even at Level 40, thanks to 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. Téa 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. 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 one 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 not found in any box prior including the valuable Dark World Dealings. Compounding the frustration was that the price per pack was 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.
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    • Cards introduced after the ARC-V era: A good chance to use some cards that weren't good enough in that era? Too broken for Duel Links, which doesn't mesh with slower demanding playstyles, such as Cyber Angels and Fur Hires? Or just terrible due to being part of an incomplete archetype, especially if the boss monsters are Link Monsters, an Extra Deck monster type not introduced in Duel Links yet?note 
    • 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.
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    • 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 many cards left from their respective archetype, that can be used as drops and level-up rewards.note 
  • Catharsis Factor: Playing almost any Yugioh character in a duel against nearly any other character in the franchise leads to some very satisfying matchups.
    • Players can use Joey to defeat Kaiba, leaving him in utter disbelief that Joey finally beat him. They can also use Joey to defeat Yami Marik which is very satisfying for fans who felt Joey deserved to defeat him in Battle City.
    • Playing as Mai and letting her get revenge on Yami Marik after the fate he subjected her to.
  • 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 into 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 which 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 Téa burn deck for high effect damage.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
  • 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 of them 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. Thankfully, the release of the ZEXAL world saw Circus Trick being severely nerfed, most notably removing Windstorm of Etaqua and Curse of Anubis and taking away its primary source of annoyance.
    • The "It's All Traps" NPC deck, at the same level, is also incredibly annoying due to its use of Trap monsters (especially the Paleozoic archetype, but also including Tiki Soul, makes for a Deck that can very easily Special Summon over, and over, and over, filling the NPC's field and making it very difficult to get an opening to attack). The kicker? It also runs Windstorm of Etaqua, which changes the battle positions of your monsters, which is an OP effect in the Speed Duel format. You practically need to build your Deck with that opponent in mind if you want to get anywhere. Good thing Espa Roba joined Duel Links with his trusted Jinzo!
  • 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 and a new GX world.
  • 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 has 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 and Arc-V world, when they are using Xyz or Pendulum-based decks, cleverly using monster removal and stacking ATK boosting effect to easily clear your field and inflict large damage.
  • 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 have 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.'
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Jim's absence from GX post-Season 3 is made even harder to handle after his event reveals he was so traumatized by his failure to defeat the Supreme King that he actually quit dueling all-together.
  • 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.
    • In 2021 a reddit user under the name Elfoman became one after a string of successful leaks of the next main and mini boxes (For context, Konami changed the way updates work in a way that boxes cannot be datamined anymore). Because of this he rose to the level of master hacker in the eyes of the community.
  • 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 an 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.
    • Microwave-related memes began to pop up in Summer 2021 after an update to the game caused an incredibly high amount of reboot errors, to which Konami's response was to make sure players' microwaves were not active close to their router or wi-fi device.
  • 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: Enjoy.
  • 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 Letdown 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 by 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 to the highest ranks in PVP, Platinum, Legend and King of Games. 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 are three levels in Legend. The worst part? If you get a three loss streak you drop a rank. The requirements have since been eased a bit.
    • 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 squanders chances of getting the limited edition cards available in a certain time-frame.
    • The 5D’s characters have their ace cards (save Leo, whose box just gave players his Power Tool Dragon, though eventually crept up when Life Stream Dragon was added) 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 because 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. Later skills that give ace monsters at least provide other benefits than just adding the cards to your deck.
    • The time limit in PvP mode is this to some. While it does start at 180 seconds (3 minutes), there is the annoying trait of it penalizing you depending on how long your turn takes. This can be especially frustrating for players who use slower decks and end up losing due to not having enough time to conduct their full strategies.
    • Another problem players have is the abundance of bots (CPU-controlled duelists in PvP mode), duelists who use decks with many powerful cards and more often than not have perfect answers to your every move. A lot of their decks include cards like Watt and Trickstar monsters that can attack you directly, three copies of traps like Floodgate Trap Hole and Paleozoic Canadia, and Golden Castle of Stromberg. There's no end to the number of bots in Casual Duels, although these days they also run rampant in PvP events too, which has the potential to ruin high win streaks if you can't defend yourself.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop:
    • The first D.D Tower event, FIRE Dimension, was Nintendo Hard. You did not recover Life Points between Duels, and if you lost all of them, you had to either wait until your LP fully recovered in 3 hours or use a limited-supply LP potion. Worse, the higher floors had monsters use proven metagame decks, and if you wanted all the rewards guaranteed, the missions gave exactly enough points to go through the rewards box three times, even though many of them are tedious or require a specific Awesome, but Impractical strategy. The follow-ups, WATER Dimension and all the subsequent Dimensions, made things a lot easier by reducing the strength of the decks, being far more generous with mission points, allowing you to play even with 100 LP, and introducing a randomly spawning D.D. Invader who you could defeat for mission points and a full health restore.
    • Duelist Chronicles underwent a similar difficulty drop from Duelist Kingdom to Battle City Begins. The former had buffed versions of characters' decks inspired by the metagame at Level 40, as well as powerful, AI-exclusive skills, while the latter kept the decks more accurate to the source material at the cost of difficulty. The best example can be seen with Mako's deck. In Duelist Kingdom, he ran field-swarming Hammer Shark and the field-destroying Levia-Dragon - Daedalus, making him a challenging fight, while in Battle City, his strongest monster is The Legendary Fisherman, which has lower ATK than Levia-Dragon and a weaker effect.
    • Also in Duelist Chronicles, the King of Games Bonus Boss in Battle City Showdown had the skill Divine Advent, which plays a random Egyptian God at the start of his third turn, potentially creating a massive, insurmountable advantage against unprepared players (at least, if it was Obelisk or Slifer). In the Society of Light event, the same boss had the skill nerfed significantly: it now only summons Slifer (which has variable ATK and isn't targeting immune, unlike Obelisk) and is now treated as a Special Summon, which means the summoned Slifer only lasts one turn.
  • Signature Scene: Even those with a cursory knowledge of the game will recognize Seto Kaiba's victory taunt, "You're a third-rate Duelist with a fourth-rate Deck!" Any scene that references Kaiba online will likely have someone in the comments making a reference to this quote.
  • 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 one 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.
    • Kite Tenjo at lv30 and 40 in his roaming event already runs a rather consistent Photon deck, able to bring out Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon easily, and at lv40, if you are not careful or not lucky enough, you could end up seeing him bring out Neo Galaxy-Eyes Photon Dragon. Farming decks usually have trouble if GEPD remains face-up on the field for a long time, and usually flat out fail the farming if Kite gets NGEPD out.
    • Level 40 Playmaker is stone-cold ruthless, capable of effortlessly spamming out the majority of his Extra Deck in a single turn while shredding through your field. Between multiple options to fill his board, Cynet Mining to search out whatever combo piece he's missing, and the trio of Code Exporter, Micro Coder, and Code Generator to gain massive advantage off his Link spamming along with Code Radiator to debuff your monsters down to nothing, once he starts his combos he'll probably finish you off within the turn.
  • 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, to fulfill the following quests: 1) achieve a comeback victory against her using Jaden, 2) summon Rainbow Dragon as Jesse while playing against Zane at level 30, 3) summon Cyber End Dragon as Zane against level 30 Jesse, 4) perform 2 fusion summons in one duel against Yubel as Jaden, and 5) summon Elemental HERO Neos 3 times in one duel against them at level 30. Adding insult to injury, this means unlocking Jesse and Zane; the former requires unlocking Pegasus, while the latter requires unlocking Syrus and Aster, as their unlock missions involve playing as the respective duelists.
    • 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.
    • Unlocking Leo is very simple, if a little time consuming depending on luck, but unlocking Luna requires you to WIN 100 duels as Leo.
    • Unlocking Syrus requires you to use Elemental Hero Thunder Giant against Syrus at the Gate. Problem is, it's an SR rarity card that is currently only available as drop from Jaden Yuki, meaning until you get lucky with the drop, you're not unlocking Syrus anytime soon.
      • Similarly, unlocking Zane Truesdale requires you to use Pair Cycroid against Zane at the Gate. Pair Cycroid is also an SR rarity card currently only available as drop from Syrus. Which means not only you have to get Syrus at the Gate first, you also have to be lucky with the drop first. You also needs to use Rainbow Dragon against Zane at the Gate, which requires you to unlock Jesse Anderson first, as the fastest way to get a complete set of Crystal Beasts necessary to summon Rainbow Dragon, is to use Jesse's level 4 skill.
    • Unlocking DSOD Yugi Muto is an ordeal that requires you to summon Deep-Eyes White Dragon against him while playing as DSOD Seto Kaiba. Deep-Eyes has a somewhat obtuse summoning condition of requiring one of your Blue-Eyes monsters to be destroyed by the opponent while it's in your hand, and since Yugi doesn't run removal cards as an AI, the only way to do this is to let him summon one of his big monsters, not get steamrolled by said monster, and let that monster destroy a Blue-Eyes monster by battle (which is another problem, since most Blue-Eyes monsters are bigger than anything Yugi runs) after you get Deep-Eyes into your hand.note  And to make it even worse, the only copy of Deep-Eyes White Dragon available in the game is obtained by getting DSOD Kaiba up to level 30. This also extends to Aigami, who requires you to fulfill certain conditions against him while playing as DSOD Yugi.
  • 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.
  • 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 OCG and 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 were not in TCG yet at the time the box is released, 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.
    • Jaden and Yubel were both expected individually; but getting Jaden/Yubel (Season 4 Jaden) was a welcome surprise with Matthew Charles doing a great job of conveying a more mature, yet heavily burdened young man.
    • Paradox was an unexpected addition for several reasons: there was no precedent for a movie villain like him to be added to the game, most of his cards had already been added long before him, and he had no previous sprites to draw from (Duel Links is his first videogame appearance.)
    • Aoi/Blue Angel being the first event character for the Vrains world was shocking for a multitude of reasons. The main girl of all the other eras was there when the world launched, and the first event characters were usually rivals to some degree (Zane, Jack, Shark, and Declan).
    • Soulburner wasn't very surprising when the VRAINS world trailer was shown off, as he's a major character starting from Season 2. What was surprising, however, is that when VRAINS world actually launched, he was billed as the first character and not Playmaker.
  • 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 served 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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