Getting Started in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

Dan GreenJanuary 29, 2022
getting started in master duel

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has been with us for a bit over a week now, and many of the most excited YGO fans have jumped on and played the heck out of it! As it turns out, Konami’s free to play competitor to MTG Arena and Pokemon Online TCG is – surprisingly! – fairly generous with its card-purchasing currencies, at least with a fresh account. Of course, with any F2P game, you want to make good decisions with what currency the game gives you to get the most mileage, so we’ve compiled a list of tips for those starting their online duelist journey to get you making solid choices with what you’ve got, and get you ranking up faster.

We’ve also provided a few solid decks to build with your starting currency – these decks can get you high in the ranks and aren’t completely filled with URs, so you can get them built quickly and without spending any cash.

Tip #1: What to do Right Away

The first thing Master Duel will have you do is run through some tutorials. These can be skipped, but if you haven’t played Yu-Gi-Oh! in a long time – or ever, you’ll probably want a little refresher on how things work. It doesn’t explain everything in depth, but don’t worry, you’ll be able to figure it out as you go in the Solo mode!

These early practice missions will get you started with a deck of your choice – the decision isn’t really important as you’ll be able to earn the others – and then will earn you some solid cards that you can use to fill out your early lists, like Raigeki and Monster Reborn.

Once you’ve finished the practice duels, you’ll need to build up some gems! You can start to build up your collection and currencies by dueling in the Solo mode to complete those missions, as well as earning some extra cards and getting to try out some loaner decks along the way.

The Solo mode runs you through a list of archetypes, giving you a brief story for flavor, a practice round to show you one of the main plays or combos in the deck, and then a game where you get to try the deck out yourself. For some of the missions, you can complete them both with the loaner deck, and with your own deck (playing against that archetype). None of them are so hard that you can’t brute force your way through with any of the starters, so feel free to play through as much of the solo mode as you like right away, until you’ve earned plenty of gems and are ready to start building a stronger deck.

Tip #2: How Gems Work and What to Buy

Gems are the main currency for purchasing packs and other goods in Master Duel, and are purchasable with cash as well.

Players have a limit of 10,000 FREE gems at any time. If you earn any more gems through gifts or rewards, you cannot collect them until you’ve made room for them by spending some gems. You won’t necessarily lose gems that would push you over 10,000, but they will sit in your gift box and, while in there, they will expire and then be lost if not collected within 30 days. So you can’t hold your free gems forever!

If you’ve started to accrue some gems and want to get the best bang for your buck, make sure to pick up the Gold Duel Pass, which, if you can advance through it, will earn you back all 600 gems plus effectively double the rewards you get for dueling against other players.

Don’t just start buying packs as soon as you have a few gems!!

Next, yes, you should spend your gems on booster packs to build up your collection! However, not all booster packs are equal here. Don’t just start buying packs as soon as you have a few gems!! More on that below, but we want to point out that, at the time of writing, there are three bundle deals available to buy for a little over 2 months. These bundle deals each include 10 Master Duel packs, which pull from the entire pool of Master Duel cards, and give you one bonus UR card – Solemn Judgment, Lightning Storm, and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring. These are all highly playable and useful cards, and you actually get a discount on the 10 packs as well by getting the whole bundle for 750 gems. When you are ready to build your deck, these are what you should buy first!

Finally, gems can be spent on various cosmetics, however, if you are a F2P player, I wouldn’t recommend this unless you really see no need to build new decks in the future.

Tip #3: How and When to Buy Packs

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has a unique system of acquiring packs. At launch, there are 3 types of packs available  to purchase at all times – including the Master Pack, which contains the majority of cards in the game – you’ll pull from a pool of 6,750 cards. The other two are themed Selection Packs, which are currently Revival of Legends, focused on some key powerhouse dragons from different eras of the game such as Blue-Eyes White Dragon, Stardust Dragon, and Firewall Dragon, and Stalwart Force, which is a little more focused on popular cards people play such as Eldlich the Golden Lord, Pot of Desires, Sky Striker Ace – Kagari, and more.

With packs as filled as these, the odds of getting the exact cards you need to build your deck are slim, to say the least. However, Master Duel utilizes a system of Secret Packs as well – these are much more targeted themed packs, where you are guaranteed that half the pack includes cards from a much, much smaller pool of theme-focused cards. Whenever you obtain – through opening packs or crafting – an SR or UR from a Secret Pack, you unlock that Secret Pack for purchase for the next 24 hours.

So, what packs should you buy, and when? In general, you want to only spend your gems on Secret Packs outside of the Bundle Deals. I recommend that, when you are ready to build your first competitive deck after playing Solo mode a while, you have lots of gems ready so you don’t need to rush to grind them in 24 hours, then purchase the Bundle Deals and open your Master Packs. Doing so may unlock the secret pack you are looking for, if you are lucky, which you can then spend more gems to pull from until you have a lot of what you need to build the deck you want.

For example, if you want to build Virtual World, you would hope to open a Virtual World or Tindangle SR or UR from your bundled Master Packs. Doing so would unlock the Cyber City Guardians Secret Pack, which you could then spend gems opening until you have a lot of what you need for the deck. Once you are satisfied, we’d recommend you save your gems up for your next big deck building expedition, or for another good Bundle deal to show up.

If you aren’t lucky enough to pull a card to unlock a secret pack, don’t worry! You can also unlock the pack through the card crafting system. Let’s talk about that next!

Tip #4: How and When to Craft Cards

The final thing you’ll need to understand to get a deck together is card crafting. In Master Duel, you can dismantle cards for (generally) 10 “Crafting Points”, which are divided by Rarity – N, R, SR, and UR. You can get slightly more CP if you have a styled (foil, shatterfoil, etc) version of the card that you were lucky enough to open or craft! By spending 30 CP of the appropriate rarity, you can generate any card you want of that rarity.

As mentioned above, crafting an SR or UR that comes from a Secret Pack will unlock that corresponding Secret Pack for purchase for the next 24 hours. This means there are two primary times to craft a card: First, when you are trying to unlock a pack to spend gems on to build a new deck, or second, when you’ve exhausted the good odds on pulling cards you want from that pack, and you are ready to finish the deck.

One of the biggest gates to getting a deck finished is crafting URs, and to a lesser degree, SRs. You should be prepared early on to have to pick a deck to focus on, and it may be in your interest to dismantle URs that you simply are unlikely to use any time soon. Remember, you can always generate them again later – but getting going on a successful deck will earn you a lot more currency right now, so it’s worth it!

Tip #5: Playing on a Budget Early On

The final tip we have for new players is to not be afraid to jump in on a budget right away. While many highly competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! decks forgo generic reactive cards like Raigeki, Monster Reborn, and Mystical Space Typhoon, these are actually perfectly reasonable cards to fill in your slots in your early decks. Many of your lower ranked games will be with players in similar positions, or even playing Structure Decks, and you can get games that aren’t quite as cutthroat where those cards have a chance to be useful.

When you build your first decks, you will have a choice to make – there are a variety of cards you can choose to craft, such as Maxx “C”Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, and Called by the Grave, that are not at all integral to your deck’s strategy, but provide key interaction with opponents’ decks and can be played in almost any deck. Even though they aren’t going to be core to your deck’s strategy, we recommend crafting some of these to start, because they are largely not available in Secret Packs, and you you will get a lot of mileage for your CP as they can go in any deck and provide that important interaction.

Below, we’ve provided 3 solid lists that are starting points for any player just jumping into the game, covering a variety of playstyles. All of these decks are built to be a little more budget friendly and make use of some of the free cards you get early on to fill in slots. These will let you get started, and once you are comfortable with the deck and have built up more resources, you can feel free to tweak the deck to make it more competitive as you see fit.

For each deck, we’ve also provided a breakdown of how many higher rarity cards you’ll want to craft, and some of the most critical ones to craft (which are bolded) so you can make sure the deck functions the way it should right away!

Budget Deck #1: Sky Striker Ace

Gameplay Style: Midrange

Use Sky Striker Ace – Raye to change forms, keeping your main monster zones clear to empower your extremely strong spell cards. Sky Striker Ace decks can answer many, many problematic cards, and recover easily from destruction, making them a good deck for players who want to grind out advantage over multiple turns.

You’ll Like This Deck If:

  • You like to play games that go more turns, and find ways out of tricky situations
  • You like your deck to feel a little less traditional, or you like to feel like the scrappy underdog who surprises the opponent by winning
  • You like the waifu factor of Sky Striker Ace – Kagari

Deck List

URs: 17 (4 Critical)
SRs: 13 (8 Critical)

Main Deck

3x Maxx “C” – UR
3x Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring – UR
3x Sky Striker Ace – Raye – R
2x Sky Striker Ace – Roze – R
1x Raigeki – UR
1x Harpie’s Feather Duster – UR
1x Monster Reborn – UR
1x Reinforcement of the Army – UR
3x Pot of Desires – SR
2x Sky Striker Mobilize – Engage! – UR
2x Sky Striker Maneuver – Afterburners! – R
1x Sky Striker Maneuver – Jamming Waves! – N
1x Sky Striker Maneuver – Scissors Cross – N
1x Lightning Storm – UR
1x Sky Striker Mecharmory – Hercules Base – N
3x Sky Striker Airspace – Area Zero – R
2x Sky Striker Mecha Modules – Multirole – R
1x Mystical Space Typhoon – R
1x Called by the Grave – UR
1x Sky Striker Mecha – Hornet Drones – SR
2x Sky Striker Mecha – Widow Anchor – SR
1x Sky Striker Mecha – Eagle Booster – N
2x Sky Striker Mecha – Shark Cannon – N
1x Solemn Judgment – UR

Extra Deck

1x Sky Striker Ace – Kagari – UR
3x Sky Striker Ace – Shizuku – SR
3x Sky Striker Ace – Hayate – R
1x Sky Striker Ace – Kaina – R
1x Knightmare Phoenix – SR
2x Sky Striker Ace – Zeke – SR
1x Triple Burst Dragon – R
1x Knightmare Unicorn – UR
1x Borrelguard Dragon – SR
1x Accesscode Talker – UR

Budget Deck #2: Virtual World

Gameplay Style: Combo

Special Summon a huge amount of Virtual World monsters who easily synchro into powerful level 9 monsters, and can even overlay into True King of All Calamaties. Virtual World monsters can chain into each other by moving cards between the deck, hand, graveyard, and even banish zone, and while it takes a little learning to figure out how all the pieces move in the most optimal way for the strongest turns, there is a lot of effect redundancy, making the deck fairly forgiving for a combo deck.

You’ll Like This Deck If:

  • You enjoy the puzzle of how to play out each turn to get even bigger and more powerful combo results
  • You like Synchro and XYZ summoning and enjoy having a toolbox of options to dig through
  • You are OK with games going very few (or even just one!) turn, but those turns taking a long time to complete

Deck List

URs: 15 (2 Critical)
SRs: 17 (8 Critical)

Main Deck

3x Maxx “C” – UR
3x Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring – UR
3x Virtual World Hime – Nyannyan – SR
3x Virtual World Mai-Hime – Lulu – SR
3x Virtual World Xiezhi – Jiji – N
3x Virtual World Roshi – Laolao – R
3x Virtual World Kirin – Lili – N
1x Raigeki – UR
1x Monster Reborn – UR
3x Pot of Desires – SR
3x Virtual World City – Kauwloon – R
3x Virtual World Gate – Qinglong – R
2x Mystical Space Typhoon – R
2x Emergency Teleport – UR
1x Solemn Judgment – UR
2x Virtual World Gate – Chuche – R
1x Virtual World Gate – Xuanwu – N

Extra Deck

1x Stardust Charge Warrior – R
1x Coral Dragon – SR
1x Virtual World Beast – Jiujiu – UR
1x Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon – UR
1x Cloudcastle – R
1x Vermillion Dragon Mech – SR
1x Ravenous Crocodragon Archethys – SR
1x Virtual World Kyubi – Shenshen – UR
1x Ultimaya Tzolkin – UR
1x The Phantom Knights of Break Sword – SR
1x Constellar Ptolemy M7 – UR
1x Virtual World Phoenix – Fanfan – SR
1x Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger – SR
1x True King of All Calamities – UR
1x Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS – Sky Thunder – UR

Budget Deck #2: Eldlich

Gameplay Style: Control

Play all of the most powerful control traps in the game, use them to prevent your opponent from doing what they need to do to win, and then pitch them to summon your mighty level 10 Eldlich the Golden Lord. Eldlich decks can shut down absolutely anything, and sacrifice anything that would prevent them from going for the win when they are good and ready.

You’ll Like This Deck If:

  • You want to be in control of the pace of the game, and let it end when you are good and ready
  • You like playing lots of trap cards, interacting with the opponent constantly, and saying “no”
  • You have more fun when the opponent is having less fun

Deck List

URs: 17 (3 Critical)
SRs: 19 (9 Critical)

Main Deck

2x Maxx “C” – UR
3x Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring – UR
3x Eldlich the Golden Lord – UR
3x Pot of Extravagance – SR
2x Eldlixir of Black Awakening – SR
2x Pot of Prosperity – SR
2x Cursed Eldland – SR
1x Eldlixir of White Destiny – R
3x Torrential Tribute – R
3x Eldlixir of Scarlet Sanguine – SR
1x Solemn Judgment – UR
2x Solemn Strike – UR
2x Golden Land Forever! – SR
1x Imperial Order – UR
2x Rivalry of Warlords – SR
3x Skill Drain – SR
2x Huaquero of the Golden Land – R
3x Conquistador of the Golden Land – R

Extra Deck

3x Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Gustav Max – UR
1x Number 81: Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Super Dora – UR
1x Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Juggernaut Liebe – UR
10x Other Extra Deck Cards (Used for Pot of Extravagance)

We hope this guide helps more people get into and enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel! Now jump in and play – it’s time to Duel!

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