On the surface, Yu-Gi-Oh looks a lot like other creature-based card games.1 You’ve got monsters that fight each other, you’ve got non-monster cards to make them stronger or destroy them, that sort of thing. But, many people who are familiar with other card games find Yu-Gi-Oh borderline incomprehensible, and that’s because if you peel back even a little you’ll find Yu-Gi-Oh isn’t like other card games at all.
So, I present to you a perfectly normal Yu-Gi-Oh play. This is from 2012, so the plays they get up to these days are even crazier, but just know that what I’m about to describe was in no way special or a deviation. It was the best common opening from the top deck of the format, and everyone playing seriously in the fall of 2012 could do this in their sleep. Enjoy!
The Magician/Shark Opening
1. Normal Summon Wind-Up Magician from your hand
2. Off of the Normal Summon, trigger the effect of Wind-Up Shark, Special Summoning it from your hand
3. Off of this effect’s resolution, trigger Wind-Up Magician, Special Summoning a second one from your deck
4. Activate the effect of the on-field Wind-Up Shark, changing its level to 3
5. Off of this effect’s resolution, trigger the second Wind-Up Magician, Special Summoning a Wind-Up Rat from your deck
6. Overlay the two Wind-Up Magicians to Xyz Summon Photon Papilloperative
7. Detach one of the Wind-Up Magicians from Photon Papilloperative to activate its effect, targeting Wind-Up Rat and turning it to Attack position
8. Activate the effect of Wind-Up Rat, targeting the Wind-Up Magician in the Graveyard and Special Summoning it
9. Overlay the Wind-Up Rat and the Wind-Up Shark to Xyz Summon Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity
10. Detach either material from Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity to activate its effect and Special Summon the third Wind-Up Magician from your deck
11. Off of the resolution of this effect, trigger the effect of the second Wind-Up Magician and Special Summon Wind-Up Rabbit from your deck
12. Activate the effect of Wind-Up Rabbit, targeting itself, to banish it until your next Standby Phase
13. Off of the resolution of this effect, trigger the effect of the third Wind-Up Magician and Special Summon a second Wind-Up Shark from your deck
14. Overlay the two Wind-Up Magicians and the Wind-Up Shark to Xyz summon Number 16: Shock Master
15. Detach any material from Number 16: Shock Master to activate its effect, declaring Spell as the card type.
16. Set any relevant spells or traps you may have in hand, and pass the turn
This combo leaves you with 5900 ATK on board, with an additional 1400 coming back when the Wind-Up Rabbit returns next Standby Phase. This puts you at 7300 ATK on board; you can then activate the effect of your Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity to summon any Wind-Up (usually another Rabbit) from your deck to get over 8000 ATK and threaten a game-winning attack. To stop your opponent from easily responding, we have the lingering effect of Number 16: Shock Master, which prevents a powerful spell like Dark Hole from ruining our fun. We have our strong assorted backrow to meddle with any monsters they may try to summon, and next turn we’ll be able to call Traps with Shock Master to stop a well-placed Mirror Force from turning the tides. It’s not an unbeatable setup by any means, but it’s quite strong, especially for its era, and a great way to open a duel.
Anyway, I must once again stress that this isn’t some legendarily powerful deck or anything. This is probably the weakest “best deck” from my time playing. This is just what Yu-Gi-Oh’s like.