In the world of video games, Yu-Gi-Oh! It hasn’t seen as much success as its physical counterpart, except for Duel Links, which isn’t a great representation of the physical card game.
Konami has now released a more realistic take on the card game with Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is a free-to-play game that emulates the physical card with twists. But is Master Duel a good game or just another cash-grab?
First, what is Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel? It’s a free-to-play card game available on consoles, PC, and phones from Konami. Unlike Duel Links, Master Duel is a more “realistic” representation of the card game in its modern form. That represents both the good and bad aspects of the game. At the same time, it’s not perfect in that representation, as it’s a mixture between the TCG and OCG, but it’s still unique and the most accessible for old and new.
All the cards look great and are very well detailed. The duel fields look good and even have destruction animations as you lose life points. In addition, some cards have animations when summoned, each one unique. The animations are quick but give some life to duels.
The music is oddly fantastic and changes as the duel progresses. Starting as a calm melody but changes into a fast tempo when you have low life points.
There’s not much to say as it’s Yu-Gi-Oh! In a digital format. Suppose you’ve ever played Yu-Gi-Oh! You’ll get the hang of it quickly. If you haven’t played, don’t worry; you’re immediately given a tutorial on the basics when you start the game. After the tutorial, you choose between two decks, and you’re off.
There are two modes to choose from duel and solo. Duel is the standard rank where you battle against other duelists worldwide and become the master duelist. Solo is kind of like a story and tutorial mode for various cards. You are given multiple challenges in this mode, and you must beat the AI. There are different scenarios, teaching you some of the more advanced tips of the game, such as link and pendulum summoning. For new players, I recommend playing this mode. Other modes are the shop and deck building. You can also create duel rooms to compete with your friends and can spectate live duels at any time.
Is it Free-to-Play?
Master Duel is still your typical free-to-play game at the end of the day (see here). However, you can spend real money to purchase virtual currency, which is gems. Gems are used to buy card packs, mates, duel fields, card sleeves, etc.
Buying packs is one of the easiest to get new cards. Some of those cards will unlock secret packs when you get new cards. These secret packs are more specialized to the specific monster and make it easier to obtain a particular archetype.
At first, the game is very generous and gives you many gems and cards. Finishing the tutorial provides you with staple cards such as Monster Reborn and Raigeki. Playing more of the solo mode will offer more gems.
The game then becomes less generous the more you play, but you’ll be able to create some good decks. For example, I developed four viable decks to play in ranked. I made these decks due to the game’s other system, “crafting.”
Crafting is stable in many free-to-play games, where you use your excess copies to break down into materials to create new items. It’s the same for Master Duel. You can break down your extra cards to create new cards. The crafting system in the game is quite generous since some cards; you can only have one or two copies in your deck.
The systems spilt into four different categories: common (N), rare(R), super-rare (SR), and ultra-rare(UR). Breaking down cards belonging to these categories will give materials to create those cards. For every dismantle, you get ten materials unless it’s a shiny foil, where you get 15 materials. Still, every card needs at least 30 materials to create one copy. So it allows you to create a wide range of cards. I developed four viable decks for ranked, all without spending a dime with this system.
Master Duel is in its infancy, but issues plague the game. First, the reward system is quite bad for rank, especially in higher tiers. Second, there are only ranked now, and currently, no events are taking place, making it dull. So, playing ranked can be tedious. Third, there is only a solo mode for offline play and no place to practice or test new decks with other players. Finally, the meta can make the game boring, as almost everyone is playing “Maxx C” or “Ash Blossom.”
You also can’t make tournaments with your friends; well, you can, but it isn’t well optimized. Secret packs also have a time limit on them, forcing you to buy or craft cards to gain access to those packs again. Once again, the game is still in its infancy, and most of these issues can be added and fixed. We’ll have to see in the future.
I’ve had a lot of fun playing Master Duel and can see a lot of potential in the game. It may not be a 1:1 representation of the physical card game. Still, it is easily the best and most accessible Yu-Gi-Oh! game in years.
Last Updated: February 17, 2022