The Yu-Gi-Oh! collectible card game has been around for a while, and has started to dwindle down in recent years. Everyone would rather play Magic the Gathering or Pokemon, and it's hard nowadays to find someone who plays outside of hobby shops.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a CCG where the main goal is to reduce your opponent's life points from 8000 (usually) to 0. That might seem menacing at first, especially to someone used to the 20-life system of MTG, but in time you'll find that duels will be resolved faster than you might think. There are two alternate ways to win the game:
If your opponent needs to draw a card, but there are no more cards in their deck, they lose. And...
If you can get the left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, and head of an extremely rare monster called Exodia, all in your hand at the same time, you instantly win.
So how do play the game? Well, there are some in-depth rules, and if you want them all, get a starter deck, which includes a pre-made deck, an instruction manual, and usually an extra booster pack or two.
For my condensed review, here's the basics:
Each player starts by drawing seven cards from their deck. Then they decide who goes first, by coin flip, dice roll, what have you. Then the first player draws one card, and their turn begins. During a turn, you may do a few things:
Play a monster: Every turn you may normal summon one monster, though some cards refer to a "special summon", which you may do any number of times in addition to your one normal summon.
Play spells and traps: Spell cards are the basic assist cards, and do anything from draw two cards to destroying all monsters on the field, to boosting the attack of a monster. Traps are like spells, but they must be placed face-down on your turn. You may not play a trap card that you set that turn.However, on any subsequent turn, even your opponents, you may activate it at any time by flipping it over.
Attack: Attacking is simple in Yu-Gi-Oh!. You take one of your monsters, and make it attack another monster. Now, monsters can take two positions; attack and defense. Only attack position monsters may attack, while defense position monsters protect your life points. That works out like this; If you attack an opposing attack position monster, take the highest ATK score between the two monsters: that monster wins the fight and the other monster is destroyed. In addition, take the difference between the two ATK scores, and deal that much damage to the loser's life points.
Example: If my monster has 1900 ATK and the target has 1400 ATK, then it is destroyed, and my opponent takes 500 damage to their life points.
But if the opposing monster is in defense position, and your monster has a higher ATK than the defending monster's DEF, then the defending monster is destroyed, but the opposing player doesn't take life point damage.
Example: If my monster has 1900 ATK and the target has 1300 DEF, then it is destroyed, but my opponent takes no damage to their life points.
And that's as far as I'll go into the rules.
This is a fun game to play with friends who have enough cards to change their deck after a duel. That to me is the point of a CCG. Simply using the same deck over and over again won't help if your opponent keeps shutting you out, so that's when you go out and get some booster packs to step up your game. Not a lot of people will be seen playing this, but if you can find a duel buddy that you hang out with a lot, take advantage before Yu-Gi-Oh! is completely eradicated from the CCG universe. I'm not saying that it will happen soon, but it is bound to happen eventually.
That being said, Yu-Gi-Oh! is my favorite CCG to date. That may be partially due to the fact that it's the only game any of my friends play. But still, give it a shot. You might find that you like it even more that Pokemon. (But no MTG player would ever do such a thing...)
If you have a Nintendo DS, you can play Yu-Gi-Oh with all the expansions without reaching deep into your pocket.