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Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel Review: Is It Worth Downloading?

YuGiOh, in general, took quite a big hit during the pandemic for a good reason. After all, you can’t do face-to-face duels when even the slightest coughing can be a red flag. Combine this with social distancing, and you have a really bad thing for competitive card games. That doesn’t deter them, though, as YuGiOh Master Duel was just released, and boy is it great.

Now, let’s take a look at this addition to the digital CCG competition and what it offers to players.

 

What Is YuGiOh Master Duel?

YuGiOh Master Duel
Photo from Steam

 

YuGiOh Master Duel free-to-play, digital CCG created by Konami that follows after the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game. The game was released on January 19, 2022, on iOS, Android, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

Play it on PC today!

 

 

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel Review

Is the newest YuGiOh game worth getting? Let’s find out!

Gameplay

 

If the player has ever played a Yu-Gi-Oh! game in their life, then they’re pretty much good to go on YuGiOh Master Duel. The game’s mechanics are pretty similar to the trading card game that it’s inspired from. If you’ve played even a bit, then you’ll be able to get the mechanics easily.

However, for those that haven’t been in the game for quite some time, the myriad of new mechanics might be a bit of a weird thing to see. The game does have a tutorial alongside Solo Mode to help players acclimate. Still, here Are a few things that have been in the game for some time now that might need to be clarified for returning/new players:

 

The New Duel Field

Master Duel
Photo from Steam

 

Those returning to Yu-Gi-Oh! might have noticed that there’s a teeny-tiny difference in the duel field. First off, the Pendulum Zones, introduced before Link Monsters, are now on the left and rightmost portions of the Spell/Trap Card zones. This is intentional, as Pendulum Monsters straight-up dominated the field with copious amounts of summons. This is in addition to still having a metric ton of good spells/traps for them to use.

This means that if the player plays two left and right Pendulum Monsters and sets up the Pendulum Scale, a.k.a. having a level 8 Pendulum Monster on the leftmost side while a level 1 Pendulum Monster is on the rightmost side? This would limit the Pendulum Monster user with just 3 spaces in between for Spell/Trap Cards.

Next is the fact that the Monster Card zones are renamed. They’re now called “Normal Monster Zones.” In the TCG, players can no longer place Extra Deck monsters on the “Normal Monster Zones” willy-nilly. They now place them on the 2 “Extra Monster Zones” located above the “Normal Monster Zones”. That’s not the case in Master Duel though, as players can still place Fusion, Xyz, and Synchro monsters there.

In addition, don’t expect to use both “Extra Monster Zones” at the same time. This is because each player can only use 1 “Extra Monster Zone” at a time. Another thing that was added to the game alongside the “Extra Monster Zones” is the Link Monsters.

 

Link Monsters

These monster cards are one of the newer card variants in Yu-Gi-Oh! and have a dark blue card frame with hexagonal patterns. They don’t have levels; they don’t have defense values. This has a few interesting implications. They can’t be used in Xyz, Ritual, or Synchro summoning. Secondly, they can’t be placed in Defense Position.

These monster cards are placed in the extra deck and can only be specially summoned by sacrificing Effect Monsters equal to their Link Rating. So, for example, if a Link Monster has a Link Rating of ‘3’, the player must sacrifice 3 effect monsters to summon. However, players can use a Link Monster to summon another Link Monster, with their Link Rating contributing to the monster’s summoning. An example is if a player wants to Summon a monster with a Rating of ‘4’. Usually, they need to sacrifice 4 Effect Monsters to summon them.

However, they have a Link Rating ‘3’ Link Monster in their field. If they wish, they can use that Link Monster, with 1 Effect Monster to summon the Rating ‘4’ Link Monster. Simple stuff, and intuitive when you understand them.

Effects-wise, this is where the Link Arrows come in. These Link Arrows point to 8 different directions: top right, top, top left, left, right, bottom right, bottom, and bottom left. These arrows can then be unlit or lit depending on the Link Monster. The effects of a Link Monster, if they have any, will only affect monsters in the lit Link Arrows. So, for example, the bottom-left Link Arrow is lit, and there’s a monster there, that monster will be affected by the Link Monster’s effect.

In addition, Link Monsters can only be summoned on the Extra Monster Zone. The only way to summon them to the Normal Monster Zone is to use the Zones where the Link Arrows are pointing.

 

Game Modes

 

YuGiOh Master Duel has two official game modes when the game was released. The first is the usual 1v1 duels between 2 players, and the 2nd is Solo Duels.

The 1v1 Duels happen in two ways: the Ranked Duels where players fight to get to the top of the Leaderboard is #1. This is where players get the majority of their Duel Pass EXP, Mission completions, and several bonus packs. The higher players go on the leaderboard, the more Gems and bonus packs they get. The better their performance is during the duel, the more Duel Pass EXP they get, simple stuff.

Then there’s the Solo Duels, which teach players how to play the game and how certain Archetypes work. Currently, there are 3 Solo Duel campaigns available. These are:

  • Duel Strategy: Gives a tutorial for new players on how to do special summoning techniques like Xyz, Synchro, and Fusion.
  • The Warriors of the Six Elemental Lords: Teaches players about the Elemental Lords and their ability to change attributes.
  • The Absolute Monarch: Teaches players how to use the Monarch deck archetype to destroy their enemies.

 

Ways To Get Cards

YuGiOh Master Duel has several ways for players to get new cards for them to play. We’ll go over these methods below:

 

The Shop

 

We’ll start with the most obvious route, the game’s shop. Here, players can buy new cards from a rotating set that resets every once in a while. The shop also has several card packs that players can obtain through gems, which they can get by fighting duels or paying real-world cash.

Players can get new cards/card copies in three ways in the Shop: Structure Decks, Card Packs, and Bundles.

Structure Decks are premade decks with a certain archetype in mind. Do note that these Structure Decks come and go depending on what the shop has available. So, if you’re looking to create a good Blue-Eyes deck, for example, there’s a Structure Deck for it in the Shop. However, it’ll disappear, and a new structure deck will replace it eventually. In addition, there might be additional cards that’ll fit in your deck archetype in the Structure Deck you’re buying that you don’t have yet.

Next is Card Packs, which is a replica of actual Card Packs in real-life Yu-Gi-Oh. Opening Card Packs in the Shop can lead to some pretty tricky scenarios, specifically, Secret Packs. We’ll talk more about Secret Packs in a later part, but just know that you can get them by buying Card Packs in the Shop.

Lastly, there are Bundles that players can buy with gems to obtain powerful cards right off the bat. For example, there are packs for getting Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, a powerful effect monster that’s almost essential for a lot of decks.

 

Crafting

 

Next is Crafting, which is the one system in the Master Duel that a lot of free-to-play players will get intimately familiar with.

As per usual with a lot of card games, Yu-Gi-Oh cards have rarity. In the case of Master Duel, this means Normal, Rare, Super-Rare, and Ultra Rare card varieties are available. This is essential in this case, as Crafting will involve sacrificing a metric ton of card rarities to get better, more-powerful/necessary cards for a player’s deck.

To use Master Duel’s crafting system, players need to dismantle a card of any rarity. These cards need to be obtained through mundane means, AKA Starter Decks, Structure Decks, et cetera. Once a player has a card of their choice, they can then dismantle it to get 10 Crafting Points of the card’s corresponding rarity. For example, dismantling Book of the Moon will net you 10 Normal Crafting Points. Meanwhile, the more valuable Nibiru the Primal Being, an Ultra Rare, will net you 10 Ultra Rare Crafting Points. Cards with special foils can net around 15 to 30 Crafting Points to the corresponding rarity.

Once the player obtains 30 Crafting Points of the corresponding rarity, they can then choose a card they want to craft. Do note that these cards need to be the corresponding rarity of the 30 Crafting Points used. As a last note, players need to be careful on which cards they want to dismantle. This is because dismantling cards are non-refundable and the card in question will be lost forever.

 

Solo Mode

Another way of getting new cards is by completing Solo Mode campaigns. Every time one of them is finished, players can get cards of that campaign’s archetype. This includes structure decks. If you have the time, playing Solo Mode is a good way to expand your card and deck pool. In addition to this, players can also get gems to spend in the Shop.

 

Duel Pass

Next on the list is the Duel Pass, which is YuGiOh Master Duel’s Battle Pass equivalent. Buying a Duel Pass gives players extra resources and gems to play with, allowing them to get stronger faster. It’s one of the better ways to stay in a sort of free-to-play mode rather than spending a few hundred grand on gem packs to completely wipe out the Shop. Of course, you can’t get enough gems to do such a thing in the Duel Pass, but it’ll make a player’s life a lot easier.

 

Secret Packs

 

Last on the list are Secret Packs, which we talked about in the Shop section. First off, Secret Packs contain 8 cards each, with 4 of the cards in the pack being cards of the Secret Pack’s archetype. The last 4 cards are random cards that can be anything. This can lead to some utter shenanigans, like getting 1 UR Archetype and then 3 UR cards from other archetypes.

Anyhow, getting access to Secret Packs is both simple and complicated at the same time. Players just need to get an Ultra Rare or Super Rare card of a particular archetype. These can be done in 2 methods: getting them on Booster Packs, or crafting them. After doing this, they’ll be unlocked at the shop for purchase, costing 100 gems per Secret Pack.

This is where it gets a bit annoying. If the player hasn’t saved up gems beforehand, they’re pretty much screwed when they get a Secret Pack they want to buy. What makes this worse is the fact that Secret Packs are only available in the shop for 24 hours. Once 24 hours have passed, say goodbye. Of course, players can get them back if they pull the UR and SR cards of the Secret Pack’s archetype in question. But it’s really hard to do unless the player uses the Crafting system, which is a whole new can of worms. After all, you need to sacrifice 3 Super Rare/Ultra Rare cards to get 1 Super Rare/Ultra Rare card.

However, in those 24 hours, players can get as many of the Secret Packs in a particular archetype they want. If they have 10000 gems and they want to spend it all on the Neo Space Comrades Secret Pack? They can spend it all there and get the cards they want.

 

Card Collectability & Availability

Cards Collect
Photo from Steam

 

In terms of card collectability, YuGiOh Master Duel is a 75/25 mix of Pay-to-Win and Free-to-Play. If you’re someone that wants to ‘get them all’, don’t. Just don’t, you’ll just waste money and in-game resources. This is because each card pack only has a really low chance of getting Super Rare and Ultra Rare cards that players need. This is especially worse when crafting, as players need to spend 30 Super Rare/Ultra Rare materials to forge SR/UR cards.

Thus, it’s usually a good idea to just not spend on cards that you’re certain you’re not using in the game. For example, if you’re a Dragonmaid player, why are you making a Pendulum deck? You’re just wasting valuable gems and resources. If you’re looking for a specific archetype? The way to do so is pretty simple. Simply make an SR/UR card in that archetype and spend your gems on the Secret Pack that appears.

 

Microtransactions

In Yu-Gi-Oh Master Duel, players gain a premium currency known as Gems by doing certain actions. These can range from completing story quests to finishing challenges and in-game events. Of course, if the player isn’t in the mood to do this, they can always just buy a few gem packs in the store.

These are the gem packs and the corresponding price available for purchase:

  • 70 Gems: $1.50
  • 120 Gems (115+5): $2.50
  • 350 Gems (325+25): $7
  • 720 Gems (655+65): $14
  • 1420 Gems (1260+160): $27
  • 2400 Gems (2100+300): $44
  • 4920 Gems (4200+720): $90

In addition to this, there are also some instances when the Master Duel offers players limited-time packs. It’s usually a good idea to get them because these have good cards inside of them. Some of these limited-time packs cost gems, which means you either save for them by dueling and doing missions or buying them.

 

Online Functionality

YuGiOh Master Duel has Crossplay available throughout its various consoles. This means that PC players can play against those playing on PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, et cetera. If someone’s playing Master Duel, they can duel against others even though they’re on different consoles.

 

YuGiOh Master Duel vs Similar Games

Now that we’ve talked about YuGiOh Master Duel, let’s talk about other games like it. We’ll start with Legends of Runeterra, Shadowverse, Hearthstone, and lastly, Magic: The Gathering Online and Magic: The Gathering Arena.

 

Legends of Runeterra

 

First off is Legends of Runeterra, a CCG created by Riot Games to accompany their League of Legends MOBA. If you’ve played League, then Legends is a treat and a half as there are a lot of references to various champions and events in the CCG. This is, in addition to some incredibly delicious lore about the world of Runeterra.

If you’re a lore type of guy, you may want to check out Legends of Runeterra. There are a lot of cards there that reference new characters from the various locales, events, and even locations themselves. A particularly striking one is Cithria, a character that has a total of 4 cards in her name. Yes, 4. These are Cithria of Cloudfield, Vanguard Squire, Cithria the Bold, and Cithria, Lady of Clouds. And that’s just from Demacia. There are a lot of other cards like her in other nations as well.

Of course, there are also the various League Champions, each with a base form. However, they can evolve once they accomplish certain requirements. For example, Aurelion Sol’s evolution requires his allies, and himself, to have 20+ total power. Once that happens, his evolution occurs, with powerful abilities manifesting themselves. All champions have this, and their interactions can be serious, hilarious, or surprisingly romantic. I’m looking at you two, Garen, Katarina.

 

Shadowverse

 

Next is Shadowverse, which is just Hearthstone with a few additional tweaks here and there. Shadowverse has a lot of emphasis on its story, though, as its main focus is on the journeys of various characters. It’s still a TCG, but it has a story element that can be interesting to go through.

Don’t let that fool you though; Shadowverse’s gameplay state is a really good one. It has a lot of cool cards with nice esoteric effects. The various deck builds all have unique gimmicks to keep play interesting and varied for all players to boot. This allows players to choose whatever deck they wish to use when it comes to content.

Combine this with a healthy amount of good events and the occasional crossover, and you have a TCG. In addition to this, it has a lot of free content for players who don’t want to spend money. Simply go through the story quests to get new cards, and getting the currency only requires fighting enemy players. In addition, any card copies can be liquefied to get vials, and these vials can be used to create cards that suit your playstyle.

 

Hearthstone

 

Hearthstone was one of the first online card games to ever release, and its prestige is undeniable. However, its current state is bad due to multiple reasons. These range from Blizzard’s mismanagement of the brand, the scandals, and all the other things that happened over the past year. The game’s still good, with a lot of game modes for players and a diverse card system and gameplay. However, it’s already a bit in the recession after the past year.

Still, there’s something for everyone in Hearthstone, and the game does have a lot of references to Blizzard’s Warcraft games. However, it is just nostalgia bait at some point as the gameplay suffered due to powercreep and a hefty dose of mismanagement. There’s some fun to be had on Hearthstone, don’t get us wrong. But if you’re looking to go pro, you’ll need to spend a bit of money to get a lot of meta decks.

 

Magic: The Gathering Online

 

Next on the list is Magic: The Gathering Online, one of the 2 places where players can play Magic: The Gathering. Overall, if you’re a Magic: The Gathering fan, these are the two places you go to. Either way, it’ll be good as both games have their advantages and disadvantages.

First off, Magic: The Gathering Online is a more community-based experience with a lot of people trading cards between themselves. Secondly, Magic Online has all of the game formats. Vintage, Pauper? All there. There are a lot of game formats there for players to play with and people are also there for them to play against.

In addition to this, Magic Online’s card list is a pretty extensive one, as it has all of the cards in the TCG. All of them, no question. When new cards are added, they’ll be in Magic Online sooner or later. Overall, if you want to play Magic: The Gathering online, this is the best place to go. Sadly, its UI needs a massive overhaul due to how dated it is and it needs IRL money to get new cards. So If you’re not looking forward to any of those things, you might want to try out Magic: The Gathering Arena.

 

Magic: The Gathering Arena

Lastly, we need to talk about Magic: The Gathering Arena, the younger brother of Magic: The Gathering Online. Overall, it’s the same game with a few game formats and cards not included. Its main advantage, however, is the fact that players can go free-to-play in Magic Arena.

This is pretty big, as on Magic Online players need to spend some cash to get new cards. Magic Arena allows players to get cards simply by playing. It’s a slow process though, and it can take a bit of time to get to that point. However, if you’re patient enough, you can get the deck of your dreams there, unless the cards aren’t available. In that case, you’re screwed.

It’s also a good place to try and learn Magic: The Gathering as well. So, if you’re not liking the fact that Magic Online’s a bit of a mess in terms of UI and the fact that you need money to buy cards? Try out Magic Arena. At least here you can learn to play the game before going to Magic Online to try and play against older, more experienced players.

 

Try Out YuGiOh Master Duel Today!

 

Overall, if you’re looking for a good Yu-Gi-Oh! Online TCG, it’s a good idea to play YuGiOh Master Duel. It has a lot of the game’s cards, though some are still on the way to the game. Its tutorial teaches new players about how to play while allowing them to discover various intricacies of the cards they have. And lastly, if you’re good with your resource management, the game is free. A good TCG game for those looking for a bit of fun.

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