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June 7, 2005 > Me and Yu-Gi-Oh!

Me and Yu-Gi-Oh!

by Jeremy Inman

Lately, many parents may find themselves wondering, "What is 'Yu-Gi-Oh!'?" The answer can be found by investigating the latest fad to sweep across school playgrounds and about to land at a community center near you.

According to the Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Rulebook, it is a trading card game, the object of which is to beat your opponent by winning a series of duels using the cards at your disposal. Yu-Gi-Oh! is among the recent wave of Japanese cartoons mesmerizing American children on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons. It is also a title of several successful, child-friendly videogames that have been released in recent years. The cards, videogames and toys - even a movie - are all linked by the Pokemon-inspired card craze capturing the attention of kids and the contents of their parents' wallets.

Potential duelists can purchase a "starter deck" of cards containing everything required to play a game of Yu-Gi-Oh! Neophytes should not expect to win many duels unless an opponent is using a starter deck too. Players are encouraged to personalize and increase the power of their deck by buying "booster packs" which contain cards not found in starter decks. Players and collectors can also be found at local comic book shops, hobby shops, and even certain videogame stores trying to locate and purchase single cards, which vary in price and rarity.

Each deck contains a mixture of the game's three distinct card types: monster cards, magic cards, and trap cards. Monster cards are used (or "summoned") in order to inflict damage on an opponent or his monsters. These are the grunts or warriors of Yu-Gi-Oh! and protect a duelist from his opponent. Monsters like "Flame Swordsman," or "Summoned Skull," come in a variety of types, including dragons, zombies, beasts, fairies, dinosaurs, reptiles, rocks, and plants. Each monster is assigned a level and two numerical values representing their attack and defense strength. High level monsters are more difficult to summon because they require "tributes" (or sacrifice). Summoning a monster of level five or six requires a tribute of one lesser monster, and summoning a level seven monster requires the tribute of two lesser monsters.

The second card type is "magic." These cards are used to produce desired effects that will sway the battle in a player's favor. For instance, many magical cards increase the attack or defense values of certain monsters, giving the player with the card a much-needed boost.

"Trap" is the final type of card used in Yu-Gi-Oh! These cards are set face down and are activated when opponents declare an attack. They have the ability to weaken an attack or sometimes completely avoid it.

Once a player has assembled a formidable deck, he or she is ready to begin a duel. Starter decks are sold with game mats with indicated spaces for all cards in play, helping to keep the game organized. There are five monster slots, five magic/trap slots, a slot for a player's deck and a slot for his "graveyard" - the place where monsters destroyed in battle are placed. By placing their mat and deck, and as the rulebook states, "politely shaking hands," duelists begin a match.

Each duelist approaches the match of three duels with no less than 40 cards. Players begin the match with a set amount of "health points." If a player's health points reach zero or the deck is reduced to zero, the duel is lost.

So far, the animated show remains a hit and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards continue to sell so duelists and hobbyists of all ages will continue to meet and compete on imaginary battlefields.


Union City will host duelists six years old and up on Fridays June 24, July 15 and August 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kennedy Community Center, 1333 Decoto Road. Cost is $5 for pre-registration and $10 for walk-ins. To register, call (510) 489-0360.

For more information on Yu-Gi-Oh!, visit

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