Playing the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG as a kid was always a lot of fun, but it also led to tons of fights between friends. As a huge fan of the anime that premiered every Saturday Morning on Kids WB, I had a very different view of how the game was played compared to my “by-the-book” friends who actually took the time to read the rule book and learn the rules of the game.
Season 1, the Duelist Kingdom arc, introduced the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game with some ridiculous rules. Each duelist starts the match with only 2000 Life Points, as opposed to the 8000 in a real match. It’s possible that the show writers didn’t have enough time or creativity to come up with story arcs that lasted a full 8000 Life Points. There’s only so many times you can cut to Téa for a friendship speech in one duel.
The second biggest difference is the ability to summon just about any monster at any time. The Battle City arc fixed this to some degree, but in OG Yu-Gi-Oh!, Seto Kaiba can in theory summon a Blue Eyes without any sacrifices, attack his opponent’s 1000 Attack Point monster, and end the duel in one turn. In fact, very first episode of the anime shows Seto Kaiba summoning all three of his Blue Eyes White Dragon cards without sacrificing any monsters at all, only to be jebaited at the last minute by Yugi’s Exodia.
GUESS WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A TOTALLY LEGITIMATE STRATEGY IRL?
There I am with my base Kaiba deck–because only nerds bought the Yugi deck–featuring my shiny holographic Blue Eyes White Dragon in all its glory. 3000 Attack, 2500 Defense, and eight orange and gold stars at the top of the card that meant absolutely nothing to 8 year old me. Needless to say, my friends were not happy to see me destroy their Beaver Warriors and Feral Imps on turn one with the legendary dragon.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Season One had so much bullshit plot armor that my adolescent self swore was legit. After all, the card game was based on this show (SPOILERS: it totally wasn’t). Nearly every character in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime cheated, not just the antagonists. For a show that preaches about trusting the Heart of the Cards™, Yugi and pals seem to throw the rules right out the window and cheat their way to victory at every turn. Take Episode 13, “Evil Spirit of the Ring”, where PaniK plays Castle of Dark Illusions, which seems to hide all of his monsters in darkness, rendering Yugi’s monster’s attacks useless. In reality, this is total nonsense. The real card effect reads as follows:
FLIP: Increases the ATK and DEF of all Zombie-type monsters by 200 points. As long as this card remains face-up on the Field, the ATK and DEF of Zombie-type monsters continues to increase by 200 points during each of your Standby Phases. This effect continues until your 4th turn after the card is activated.
Not quite the “all my monsters are invincible now lol” effect that the anime would like you to believe. Don’t worry though, because Yugi counters with an equally bullshit tactic of his own. First, he uses the Swords of Revealing Light to cast light on all of PaniK’s monsters, making them vulnerable to attacks. Then, he uses his Catapult Turtle to launch Gaia the Fierce Knight up into the air to attack the floating castle, which collapses on the monsters that it once protected.
Now imagine trying to justify that to your friends and feeling completely justified after having watched it happen on the anime.
There are almost too many instances of the cards being played in ways that completely defy the rules of the game for the sake of plot progression, from Yugi destroying the fucking moon to dry up Mako Tsunami’s ocean field advantage to Pegasus claiming that only Toon monsters can hurt other Toon monsters. Needless to say, my relationship with my friends remains strained to this day, all thanks to Yu-Gi-Oh! Season 1’s ridiculous (lack of) rules.
Nostalgic for more Yu-Gi-Oh!? Tweet at @SuperPowerArmor with your favorite moments from the show.