Playing Yu-Gi-Oh the Manga Way

There’s Yu-Gi-Oh the manga, which begat Yu-Gi-Oh the trading card game. Yu-Gi-Oh as a TCG has a ton of rules and cards, and the game is enjoyed by many, but you always get that impression that what’s happening in the real life TCG isn’t quite lining up with what’s happening in the original comic or its anime adaptations. The disparity comes from two points. 1) In the original stories, the cool strategies are always played at vital moments to add tension and 2) the cards in the actual TCG are based upon cards whose powers were simply made up by the author without concern for balance or those silly things that a game needs to actually be competitive. The solution then is to make a system to play Yu-Gi-Oh the Manga Way. Best part is, you don’t even need Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

Two players have their imaginary decks with the minimum amount of cards necessary a draw the right number of cards. Use whatever rules you want, but they have to be established ones, like Battle City or Duelist Kingdom for example. When they play a card face up, they declare it to be whatever they want. If they play a card face down, the card in play is not actually determined until it’s flipped up. This means it can essentially be anything before it’s revealed. The same goes for the cards in your hand. They can be anything until the cards are actually shown. Of course this means if there’s any cards if one player has that forces the other to show their cards, then the identity of those cards becomes locked in place.

Still, with the ability to make cards whatever you want, the game could quickly become unplayable. The key then is that every time you do something drastic, it takes away from the amount of “miracles” you have. A miracle is basically believing in the Heart of the Cards, or in the will to victory, or using the power of Plot Devices. It’s the meter you have for pulling off the most ridiculous moves possible and turning the whole match around, or even just coming back a little from a disadvantageous position. The more powerful the turnaround, the more quickly your miracles deplete. If you’re out of miracle power, then you’re victim to your opponent’s. Playing longer, more complex miracles that use multiple cards will not cost as much as playing single game-changing cards though. And there’d be a way to build up meter as well, possibly by taking hits and allowing yourself into a disadvantageous position, or to simply let things happen as they should.

Manga-style Yu-Gi-Oh becomes a game of rationing your “luck” while being faithful to the canon you’ve established for each individual game. Do you press your luck early on? Do you wait until you’re low on life for a big comeback? Do you perform small miracles consistently in order to keep in an advantageous position? Do you trick your opponent into using their miracles at the wrong time?

I’m sure this game isn’t actually balanced but I can pretend it is.