New Yu-Gi-Oh! The game is a magical arena for the Konami crowd

Screenshot: Konami / Kotaku

I love the mechanics of Konami’s long-running trading card game Yu Gi Oh!, but I’m too eager to wade through mundane anime stories of pointy-haired teenagers learning about friendship and sportsmanship in order to get my trading card game fix. Yu Gi Oh! Master Duel, the free-to-play game released this week on PC and consoles, skips all the cartoon nonsense and gets straight to the heart of the cards, Magic: The Gathering Arena style.

There is no Yugi, Joey or Seto Kaiba. There’s no wandering around town to challenge random cartoon characters to card battle. Yu Gi Oh! Master Duel gives you a small collection of over 10,000 cards, walks you through the basic game mechanics, and then sends you playing. You are free to jump online and compete against other players from around the world or fight your way through a series of cleverly designed single-player adventures to help you learn both the game mechanics and the lore behind it. the cards’ eye-catching illustrations.

Before going online, you’ll want to get some cards and build a deck, because the starter deck provided by the game is incredibly basic and will kick your ass every time. Fortunately, Konami is very free with gems, Master Duelin-game currency. Just completing the tutorial and playing the first solo adventures has already helped me earn around 20,000. A pack of eight cards costs 100 gems in the in-game store, so at this point, I swim in different types of blue eyed dragons.

Disclaimer: Opening decks of cards is incredibly enticing. Cards spring from an open deck in a flash of color and light. They spin like Wheel of Fortune tiles, revealing their nature. Ultra and super rare cards wiggle around a bit at first, letting the most basic cards be revealed first, teasingly. Some maps even come with keys that unlock secret packs, special limited-time map packs themed around particular maps or strategies.

The Yu-Gi-Oh Master Duel Secret Pack Store, where players can purchase limited-time card packs.

The game plays fast and free with the term “Secret Pack”
Screenshot: Konami / Kotaku

If I had downloaded this free game only on several dozen map packs, I would have been satisfied, but Konami also included map battles. Build your deck from scratch, buy a pre-made structure deck from the store, or download a public deck recipe from the internet. There is a seemingly endless number of public decks available. Do you have a favorite card? Put his name in search and find a deck built around him.

Once you have a deck you’re comfortable with, go to the Duel menu, where you can go online and completely destroy that new deck in a single turn, like I did in my first battle in line. I placed a monster, passed the turn to my opponent, and they then spent a ridiculous amount of time summoning monsters, sacrificing those monsters to play even stronger monsters, and continuing this pattern until my side of the board is empty and their side has over 10,000 damage ready to freely apply to my meager 8,000 life pool. As a good sportsman, I conceded before they had the satisfaction of seeing their big project come to fruition. I could almost hear them monologue each card played, Yugi style. We won’t have any of that.

To be fair, my opponent’s slowness could also be due to lag. The connection in online games, especially when playing against cross-platform opponents, can be rather spotty. Two of the few online wins I have under my belt are due to my opponent losing connection, which is completely unfair, but I take it.

A screenshot of the Yu-Gi-0h Master Duel battlefield showing the Gem Knight Lapis card.

It’s the crystal gems, they always save the day
Screenshot: Konami / Kotaku

Connection issues aside, the presentation of duels is excellent. The playing field shakes with the impact of attacks as small, collectible pets stand on the sidelines and cheer you on. Rare and powerful summons rock nifty animations, letting players know when the big guns come into play. The cards look good, and information about what they do and when they do it is readily available in bold, easy text. to read. Winning a round cracks your opponent’s side of the playing field in an incredibly satisfying way, which is nice, because winning should be nice.

As a more laid back Yu Gi Oh! player, my favorite feature of Master Duel is the solo content. Once you’ve passed the tutorials, there’s a series of challenges based on different groups of cards and deck builds. For example, there is a challenge called Ruin and Demise. It begins with a small introduction to the cutscene introducing players to the characters behind Ruin: Queen of Oblivion and Demise: King of Armageddon. They are a pair of powerful deities, both vying to end the world in their own way.

A screenshot from Yu-Gi-Oh Master Duel showing how the story mode teaches players about the cards.

Learn something new every game
Screenshot: Konami / Kotaku

After the cutscene, there’s a practice round that demonstrates how particular card mechanics work in a set scenario. After training is complete, you battle against an AI opponent using a Demise and Ruin deck, bringing together history and lesson in one neat package. Once completed, these themed single-player missions reward you with some of the featured cards, so you can put all that learning to good use.

I like this mission structure. It brings me closer to the cards, giving them meaning and significance beyond just being rare and powerful. I’ve unlocked 13 single player missions in total so far, and I’m hoping to unlock more or Konami will add more as time goes on Master Duel evolved.

And Yu Gi Oh! Master Duel will continue to evolve. There are plans for special online tournaments and live events. More maps will be added as the physical game expands. Although the game is currently only available on console and PC, it will be coming to iOS and Android devices in the near future, so anyone can play just about anything anywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of them all Yu Gi Oh! Games. Up to Master Duel came out, I was getting a quick fix from Rush Duel: Dawn of Battle Royale, a game with a pointy-haired hero I don’t care about and a fast-paced gameplay variant that trades strategy for speed. But I don’t need that anymore. Master Duel is all Yu Gi Oh! I crave the dumb plushies from anime without any.

About Douglas Torres

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