Yu-Gi-Oh! The Basics, Part 4: Master Rules are NOT meant to be Broken!

This article was contributed by Team Silver Sea

In our previous series of articles, we’ve touched upon the different types of cards being Spell Cards, Trap Cards and most importantly, the Monsters themselves. But how do all of them come together? This week’s article introduces the most important concept of all: The Master Rules.

The Master Rules were introduced in 2008 with the advent of Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s. Before this, they were known as the New Expert Rules, which can be traced all the way back to the Battle City Arc of the original anime series.

The Master Rules have actually gone through several iterations over the past 9 years, changing with the release of new, different types of cards. The current version of the Master Rules is known as New Master Rules, which was released recently on March 25th 2017, but for convenience’s sake we will continue to refer to it as the Master Rules.

Master Rules

Our explanation will start with the most basic and familiar concept: Zones!

Zones are split into seven different kinds, listed below:

(1) Main Monster Zones

(5) Extra Deck Zone

(2) Spell/Trap & Pendulum Zones

(6) Main Deck Zone

(3) Field Zone

(7) Extra Monster Zone

(4) Graveyard Zone

Main Monster Zones

The Main Monster Zones used to be called Monster Zones and have remained constant in their limit number; 5, for both players ever since the original series. These zones are where players summon and place their monsters. A Main Monster Zone can become an Extra Monster Zone when a Link Marker on a Link Monster points to it.

Spell/Trap & Pendulum Zones

The Spell/Trap Zones have been merged with the Pendulum Zones from the previous set of Master Rules. Essentially, Pendulum Monsters that are Set can only now be Set in the Leftmost and Rightmost Spell/Trap Zone. Spell cards and Trap cards can also be set in those two zones. All in all, the rules for them remain unchanged from the original rule-set. This zone is also limited to only 5 cards, be it Spell/Trap or Pendulum Monsters.

Field Zone

The Field Zone remains the same, functioning as the only Zone where Field Spell Cards can be played. Only one Field can remain in play for each player, which differs from the old, original rule where only one Field can remain in play for both players.

Graveyard Zone

Monsters that are defeated on the field, discarded from the hand or milled from the deck are sent to this zone. The same applies to Spell or Trap Cards be it from the field or from the hand.

Extra Deck Zone

The Extra Deck (Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, destroyed Pendulum and Link Monsters) which as discussed in an earlier article, is placed in this zone.

Main Deck Zone

The Main Deck of a player is placed in this zone.

Extra Monster Zone

Link Monsters and Extra Deck Monsters are Summoned to this zone. Each Player can choose either one of the zones to begin their Summoning, leaving the other to their opponent.

Readers may notice that there’s no “Banish Zone” for cards that are removed from play! Well, usually players create their own extra “Banish Zone” next to the Graveyard to compensate for this. After all, banished Monsters are literally Removed From Play!

Deck Rules:

1. A player must begin with a Main Deck comprised of 40-60 cards, with a maximum of 3 cards with the same name.

2. A player can have an Extra Deck comprised of up to a maximum of 15 cards, with the 3 card rule applying.

3. The number of cards with the same name allowed in a deck is subject to the current ban list released by Konami every 3 months.

Before beginning a duel, both players shuffle their decks and draw the first five cards. Then  the player decides who goes first,usually by flipping a coin. Then the Turn of the player who goes first begins. The Life Points of both players begin at 8000.


Each player has a turn to summon their monsters, activate or set spell or trap cards or attack

their opponent. A Turn is split into several Phases:

Draw Phase

The phase where the Turn Player draws the top card of their Main Deck.

Standby Phase

The phase where specified card effects either on board or anywhere else activate for either players.

Main Phase 1

The phase where the Turn Player can summon monsters, activate or set spell or trap cards. As mentioned before, only one monster can normally be summoned per turn.

Battle Phase

The phase where the Turn Player can choose to attack their opponent’s monsters or if their opponent has no monsters, attack their opponent’s Life Points instead.

Main Phase 2

A secondary main phase where the Turn Player can conduct the same actions as Main Phase 1.

End Phase

A declaration of an end of a Turn, where both players may activate effects that are applicable.

Now that I’ve introduced the Field and the Turn, I’m sure newer players have a concept of how the game is supposed to work, and older players are brought up to date! In our next article we’ll discuss the most exciting part of Yu-Gi-Oh games: Battling and Victory Conditions!

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