How to play Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel like a card game pro

08:04 PM February 11, 2022

Yu-Gi-Oh! has been a staple in the trading card scene for a little over two decades, and with the franchise’s latest digital installment released last month, hundreds of thousands of players have been sucked in and have put their fate in the heart of the cards.

Konami released Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and mobile. With the amount of competition on the table, aiming for the top of the ladder sounds like nothing but a pipe dream, but it’s not impossible.

© Konami

Sat nicely on the upper levels of the Yu-Gi-Oh! competitive scene is Hiroshi “Hero” Odate. The Filipino star began competing in 2016 and has since amassed a fair amount of silverware with wins in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Asia Championship Philippines and the Duelist Cup, as well as multiple top finishes in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Asia Championship. Esports Inquirer caught up with Hero to talk about the decks he uses to climb in Master Duel, how he approaches his games, and his top deck recommendations for beginners.


So set aside your folly plans of pulling off a turn one OTK for now and find out how a Yu-Gi-Oh! pro plays the latest digital card game on the block.


Hero at Yu-Gi-Oh! Open Tournament Taiwan 2017

But what makes Master Duel different from previous digital Yu-Gi-Oh! games in the first place? According to Hero, it’s the closest thing to real life, tabletop Yu-Gi-Oh!. This claim isn’t entirely unfounded as Kenichi Kataoka, the senior producer for Yu-Gi-Oh! at Konami, has spoken about how Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links and Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution are more focused on being character games that immerse players in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! as seen in anime and manga. Master Duel, on the other hand, acts as a fully digital experience for TCG and OCG players. It will also serve as the official platform for competition of the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship.

Alright, so Master Duel is your ticket international to Yu-Gi-Oh! glory. The next step is to put in the work on the ranked ladder. But wait, what deck should you use? Might as well play the same deck the best players in the game use, right?

There’s no shame in net decking.

Hero shared that he initially used Sky Strikers in his ranked climb but later switched to Eldlich because it was more consistent and performed well whether you went first or second. Unfortunately, he doesn’t recommend these decks for beginners.

Sky Striker and Eldlich are both control decks. Their general playstyle is to control resources to gain an advantage. Both decks require the user to know how to play against a lot of decks to be able to counter them efficiently,” Hero explains. “I would not recommend them for beginners for the reason that these kinds of decks need a deep understanding of the game in terms of responding and timing based on certain situations.”

So what should you use? Hero provides some easier-to-pilot alternatives.

“I would suggest True Draco, Thunder Dragon, and Numeron. They are straightforward in their playstyle and the mechanics that the decks [possess] caters to new and returning players,” he shares. “Monarch is also a deck that is good for beginners [because] Master Duel gives some of their cards for free in the Solo Mode.”


Let’s back up a bit and talk about Hero’s preference for Eldlich because of its consistency. Like all card games, the effect of RNG in Master Duel can’t be understated. Regular card draw gives all the cards in your deck equal chances of being drawn, so it’s important that players take advantage of special card draw mechanics and card tutors to help them draw their win conditions.

“Consistency is all about seeing your key cards as much as possible. Usually, the most consistent deck is at the top of the meta because it has the power to do its plays efficiently and repeatedly while gaining an advantage in resources,” Hero explains.

First Turn Kill Exodia!!!

First Turn Kill Exodia!!!
Yu-Gi-Oh: Master Duel

Mega Draw Exodia Deck

Posted by Keb The G on Saturday, January 22, 2022


For new players who are determined to make it to Platinum and beyond, learning about the 10,000 cards available in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel might seem too daunting of a task. While being familiar with all these cards is indeed beneficial in the long run, Hero suggests not to zero in on studying all of them. “[For casual players, the number of cards] can be overwhelming, but if your focus is getting to the top you only need to look out for the meta decks. Meta decks are defined in every season, players just need to study and learn how they run.”

That’s sound advice for sure, but what if you’re a visitor from other card games or picking up Yu-Gi-Oh! again after a decade? How do you bridge the gap? If you tick either of these boxes, then we have just the right source of advice for you.

If you’re familiar with the local Hearthstone scene, or just collegiate esports in the Philippines in general, chances are you’ve heard of Patrick “Patrick07” Domantay. To the unfamiliar, the Oblation Esports star boasts multiple local tournament wins and has plenty of experience duking it out with the best players in the world with appearances in Masters Tour Dalaran and the International Esports Festival 2021. This season, he’s taking a well-earned break to go back to his roots with Master Duel.


Patrick07 qualified for Masters Tour Dalaran after a top ladder finish.

“I started playing Yu-Gi-Oh back in elementary school and now I’m back after being away from the game for almost 10 years,” Patrick07 shares. “It’s only natural that I run into plenty of cards and decks that are unfamiliar to me.”

There’s learning about all the cards you missed but collecting them is another struggle altogether. Patrick07 says free-to-play (F2P) players like himself need to focus on properly spending their gems to build decks that they find interesting one at a time. “Since I wanted to build a Lyrilusc Tri-Brigade deck, I make sure I spend my gems on packs that easily get the cards I need for my deck. It’s a good thing the game has secret packs.”

Secret packs are booster card packs that contain four of the eight cards featured in the preview. The packs consist of a smaller pool of cards that generally include cards from a specific archetype. For Patrick07’s case, it was the Moonlit Avian Dance pack. After opening secret packs for the Tri-Brigade package, buying the Duel pass, crafting UR cards, and with a bit of luck, the deck was more or less complete.

It took Patrick07 4 days to complete his deck and 8 days to reach Platinum 1 with it.

Now that you have your preferred deck, it’s time to d-d-d-d-duel! But can you count on your card game skills from other titles to help you navigate the world of Master Duel?

“I think one of the notable differences between Master Duel and Hearthstone is that Master Duel, much like Legends of Runeterra, offers a lot of chances for interaction on your opponent’s turn. This entails a lot of decision-making and forces you to focus even during your opponent’s turn,” Patrick07 shares.

“Another difference is that it seems like the first few turns in Master Duel are really important and could dictate the outcome of the game. Some archetypes work better going first while going second significantly decreases their chances of winning,” he continues.

Turn 1, by the way.

Since great minds think alike, Patrick07’s advice is very similar to Hero’s. “As a Hearthstone player, I think one of the most important skills that helped me in Master Duel is familiarization with the meta and the decks that I usually face in ranked. You need to consider a lot of factors such as the state of the board, your opponent’s hand, player HP, deck archetypes, to name a few.”

“I still don’t know how some of the archetypes work which is why I read all the cards that my opponents play as much as possible,” Patrick07 adds. “It consumes a lot of time but understanding what each card does is really important if you want to get better.”

So like all games, there aren’t any shortcuts to being the best. And like all games, there will always be people who simply play to have fun. If you’re the type of player who’s only interested in casual gaming with a ton of different decks, then there’s always the regular way of building up your collection.

Ah yes, the card championed by casuals and tryhards alike.


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TAGS: Hero, Patrick07, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel
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