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Yugi Muto and Joey Wheeler playing Duel Monsters

Yugi Muto playing Duel Monsters against Ridley Sheldon in the Toei anime. The animation for this series suggests the game is still called Magic & Wizards, indicated by the MW on the card backings. However, in dialogue, the characters refer to the game as Duel Monsters.

Duel Monsters (デュエル モンスターズ, De~yueru Monsutāzu), originally known as Magic & Wizards (マジック (アンド) ウィザーズ or M&W (マジックアンドウィザーズ) , Majikku ando Wizāzu), is the card game played in the various Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and anime series. It was created by Maximillion Pegasus, who based the card designs on ancient Egyptian carvings and hieroglyphs.

The name Magic & Wizards is used in the Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and early portions of the English Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, while it was printed in Shonen Jump. The Toei anime and the other anime series, and reprints and new portions of the English manga, use Duel Monsters. Other dubs and localizations, such as the Swedish Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and anime, kept Magic & Wizards despite the change.



The Basic rules were used during Death-T and earlier.

  • There are two players in each Duel.[1]
  • Each player makes a Deck using 40 cards.[1] The Decks are shuffled before a Duel.[2]
  • There are two kinds of cards; Monster Cards and Spell Cards.[3]
  • Each player starts with 2000 Life Points. If a player runs out of Life Points they lose.[1]
  • At the beginning of a Duel, each player draws five cards, which become their hand.[4]
  • The players take turns. Each turn the turn player draws one card from their Deck.[1]
    • If a player cannot draw because there are no more cards in their Deck, they lose.
  • The turn player can Summon cards from their hand in Attack or Defense Mode.[1] Attack Mode is vertical. Defense Mode is horizontal.[3]
  • The turn player can attack with Attack Mode monsters.[3]
    • If an Attack Mode monster battles another Attack Mode monster, the monster with the lower ATK is destroyed and its controller loses Life Points equal to the difference.[3]
    • When Attack Mode monsters with equal ATK battle, both are destroyed.
    • If an Attack Mode monster attacks a Defense Mode monster and its ATK is higher than the defending monster's DEF, the defending monster is destroyed and no Life Points are lost.[3]
    • If an Attack Mode monster attacks a Defense Mode monster and its ATK is lower than the defending monster's DEF, neither monster is destroyed and the controller of the attacking monster loses Life Points equal to the difference in the ATK and DEF.[3]
    • If a player does not have a monster to defend from their opponent's monsters attack, the monster's ATK is deducted from the defenseless player's Life Points.[1]
  • Destroyed cards go to the Graveyard.[3]
  • The turn player can activate Spell Cards from their hand.[4]
  • Spell Cards cannot battle, but can be used to affect other cards or the players.[3]
  • Spell Cards can be played face-down on the field until they are ready to be used.[3]
  • Spell Cards are sent to the Graveyard after they have been used.
  • Some monsters have effects which alter gameplay.


The Standard rules contained the basic rules, with some additional ones. These were used during the Japanese National Duel Monsters Championship and the Duelist Kingdom tournament.

  • More types of cards were added, including Equip,[5] Trap[6], Illusion[7] and Virus.[8] Several hybrids, such as Trap Spell, also exist.
    • Trap Cards can be activated during either players' turn in response to certain actions. Only one Trap Card can be used per turn.[9]
    • Virus Cards are used to destroy cards in the opponent's Deck using a virus.[10]
  • Monsters were divided into Monster and Magic-User Cards.[11] This distinction is rarely mentioned.
  • Chart showing each element's strength. Magic-Users are on top. Other monsters are below.

    Monsters and Magic-Users have Elements, each with strengths and weaknesses.[11]
    • The Elements of Magic-Users are Black Magic, White Magic, Demon Magic and Illusion Magic. Black Magic is strong against White Magic, White Magic is strong against Demon Magic, Demon Magic is strong against Illusion Magic, Illusion Magic is strong against Black Magic.[7]
    • The monsters' Elements include Earth, Lightning, Water, Fire and Wood.[12] Lightning is strong against Water.[11]
      • Some video games expand on this to show all the Elements strengths and weaknesses and use another Element, Wind. Earth is strong against Lightning, Lightning is strong against Water, Water is strong against Fire, Fire is strong against Wood, Wood is strong against Wind and Wind is strong against Earth.
    • What happens when monster of opposing Elements battle is inconsistent. Sometimes the monster of the weaker Element loses half its ATK.[11] More often, nothing happens.
    • Land based monsters (warriors, beasts, beast-warriors, insects, etc.) are also weak against flying Monsters (winged-beasts, dragons, etc.) and sea-based monsters (fish, sea serpents, aqua, etc.), even if they are boosted by a Field Power Bonus they can still lose if they are in the air or water.
    • On the Duelist Kingdom island, monsters received Field Power Bonuses depending on the terrain they were played in.[13]
  • Monsters can be played in face-down Attack Mode.[11] However, this is rarely done.
  • Monsters can be fused together using the card "Polymerization".[15] "Polymerization" and the fused monsters are still in play after a Fusion. Unlike the OCG and TCG, monsters are not taken from the Extra Deck.[16]
  • Ritual Spell Cards can be used to Ritual Summon a monster by sacrificing monsters that meet a certain criteria.[17]


Dark Yugi and Kaiba using the Expert rules.

The Expert rules were used with the first version Duel Disks. This alters many of the previous rules and adds more.

  • Each player can only hold five cards at a time.[16]
    • If a player has five cards at the start of their turn, they cannot draw a card.[16]
    • If a player has less than five cards at the start of their turn, they draw until they have five.
  • The Duel Disk contains five stages; the main card stage and four sub card stages. The main card is played in the main stage. All the player's other cards in their hand are played in the sub stages.[10]
  • Monsters in the main monster can be played in Attack or Defense Mode. Monsters in the sub stages are all in Attack Mode.[10]
  • The main card gets special abilities and powers from the sub cards.[10]
  • Sub cards are face-down until used or attacked.[10]
  • Sub cards can be flipped face-down and shuffled.[10]
  • A player's main monster can attack their opponent's main monster or any of the opponent's face-down cards. Normal rules of battle are applied if they attack a Monster Card. Spell, Trap or Virus Cards are automatically destroyed if they are attacked.[10]

Super Expert

The Super Expert rules were introduced in the Battle City tournament, as well as the course of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. They are based on the standard rules, contain additional rules and alter previous ones. The Expert rules do not apply in Super Expert.

  • Each player starts with 4000 Life Points.[18]
  • A player's hand cannot contain more than seven cards, in the manga[18] or 6 cards, in the anime, like in the real-world game.
  • High Level monsters require sacrifices to be Summoned.
    • Level 5 and 6 monsters require one sacrifice.[18]
    • Level 7 or higher monsters require two sacrifices.[18]

Master Rules

The Master Rules are a modified version of the Super Expert rules with some updated terminology used starting with Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, and the addition of Tuner and Synchro Monsters for Synchro Summoning. The Master Rules remain to be used in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V and Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS with changes with each new iteration of Master Rules.


Other ways of playing Duel Monsters have existed throughout the series, usually using one of the previous sets of rules played under particular circumstances with additional rules added. These include:

Real World

The first actual Duel Monsters card game to be released was Yu-Gi-Oh! Bandai's Official Card Game, released by Bandai in September 1998. Only three Booster Packs were released before the license to produce a card game was sold to Konami. This game was never released outside Japan.

The video games Yu-Gi-Oh! Monster Capsule: Breed and Battle and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters by Konami included Duel Monsters promotional cards, which are not a part of Konami's later version of Duel Monsters (see below).

The current version of Duel Monsters is Konami's Yu-Gi-Oh! Official Card Game (OCG). This uses far more complex rules which were introduced in later parts of the manga and anime. The Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game (TCG) is identical in structure and rules to the OCG. The TCG was manufactured by Upper Deck Entertainment under Konami's direction until 2009, where the rights were taken back by Konami. Both versions mostly contain the same cards, but there have been cards exclusive to the OCG and TCG, and most cards, such as Booster Packs, Starter and Structure Decks, are first released in the OCG.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 9: "The Cards with Teeth (Part 1)"
  2. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 36: "Battle Beyond Hope"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 10: "The Cards with Teeth (Part 2)"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel 37: "To the Death!!"
  5. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 11: "Things that Don't Change"
  6. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 1: "Challenge!!"
  7. 7.0 7.1 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 3: "Countdown!!"
  8. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 51: "Toons Attack!"
  9. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 151: "The Trap in the Temple!"
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 43: "A Close Fight!"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 2: "Don't Draw That Card!!"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 7: "The Trap"
  13. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 6: "Let the Duel Begin!"
  14. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 30: "Duel Without End"
  15. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 9: "Demon Lightning"
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 46: "No Mercy"
  17. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 59: "The Legendary Swordsman"
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Duel 94: "Duel of Vengeance!"