For me, Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of the most popular games that I know very little about.
It's time for that to change.
I spoke with local Yu-Gi-Oh! player Daniel Tate of Team Mynt. He's been playing the game since early 2014, and in that time has established himself as a pillar of the Melbourne Yu-Gi-Oh! Community- even though he may be too humble to recognise that.
In my time working at Good Games, I've witnessed Daniel's kind and endearing attitude toward this game about making monsters kill each other. He truly loves the game on a deep level, and that shows in his candour when speaking with both new and established players alike.
If you're like me, and never thought of playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, a single conversation with Daniel Tate could turn that right around.
'I played it casually with friends on and off in Primary School and High School.' Daniel said, remembering his pre-2014 tenure with the game. 'I think it's a common theme with today's Yu-Gi-Oh! players- that they played when they were younger, but returned now that they're more mature.'
While most games have a playerbase with a similar backstory, none is so true as Yu-Gi-Oh!. Routinly we have “new” players enter the store who are lamenting their past life as a teenager flipping trap cards and summoning monsters.
Those players are always the quickest to pick up a new structure deck, and sit back to have their minds blown by 15 years worth of innovation and new rules
But what if your interest in Yu-Gi-Oh! is not driven by nostalgia? What if you've just seen it played on occasion, but ultimatly don't know what the game is about?
'If I had to describe Yu-Gi-Oh!, it would be as a showdown between two Duelists, using their own personally chosen cards to battle with Monsters, Spells and Traps.' Daniel told me.
The main difference Yu-Gi-Oh! has to other card games is in it's resource system- it doesn't have one. Not in the same way that Magic, or Pokemon or event Final Fantasy does.
In Yu-Gi-Oh!, you are limited only by the power level of the cards in your deck, and your own tactical acumen.
It can be a lot. Especially given that the inherent similiarites between the other TCG's on the market make trying a new game feel like slipping on an old show- albeit a shoe of a different design.
Luckily, Yu-Gi-Oh! has a passionate and established community in place to aid with any transition. Even if you're not just there to play the game, Yu-Gi-Oh! has a number of ways to explore.
'The three best things about the Yu-Gi-Oh! Community?' Daniel considered. 'The competitive players who are willing to put in the long hours of practice required to perform very well at tournaments.
'The collectors who love to showcase some of the best looking cards around.
'And the judges who use their breadth and depth of Yu-Gi-Oh! knowledge to inform and educate others.' Daniel told me.
'The fourth thing,' Daniel went on, 'is the kind players among us who are willing to sit down with a new player and introduce them to the game.'
'For a new player I'd recommend picking up a structure deck to start playing.' Daniel said. 'The rule book will also be very helpful to start learning.
'Once you are comfortable with how your cards work, head to a local tournament and start duelling. You definitely learn the most by playing. Also the most important piece of advice to any new player is to read every card that is played in the duel.
'You will grow to understand so much and knowing what cards do is vital to later success.'
Like Magic and Pokemon before it, Yu-Gi-Oh! is rife with premier events, big annual releases and exciting promotions to keep the players engaged and looking forward to what's coming next.
'It's hard to pick a specific Yu-Gi-Oh! thing I'm looking forward to.' Daniel said, when asked the near future of the game. 'We should be getting an Australian YCS early next year.
'[YCS] is a massive tournament attracting some very good players from across Australia.' Daniel went on. 'That will be a lot of fun to attend and play in.
'There are of course new sets coming out such as Chaos Impact and the latest Legendary Duellists. I like when new cards are released as you get to see which will be played and how they will alter the meta strategies.
'And Regionals will also be starting soon and they are great tournaments to attend as well.'
If you're at all like me, you'll recall the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime from the late 90's/early 00's. I always wondered just how accurate the show was to the experience of the game- obviously ignoring the massive arenas where the monsters seemingly come to life in order to do battle.
'If you like the Anime but haven't played before there are definitely still things to enjoy.' Danile said. 'It is true that the meta decks you see nowadays are far removed from what you might have watched as a kid- However there is support for older decks available in the Legendary Duellists sets.
'In addition, the Speed Duel format is a good way to play for those looking to re-live some of the old Anime nostalgia.'
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game with far more depth and intracacies than most people would think on first glance. From the anime, to collecting, to big events, to multiple formats and what is, at it's heart, a truly unique rules set, Yu-Gi-Oh! is worth trying out whether you're a returning player looking for nostalgia, or are just curious about what the game has to offer.
'My favourite thing about the game is the cards themselves.' Daniel told me. 'They are fun to use, to collect or even to trade.
'The more you have, the wider variety of decks you can build.' Daniel went on. 'There are always new cards coming out that can make older cards useful.
'The people you meet are also very important.' He said. 'I have personally made some lifelong friends through the game.
'I know that even if they don't play right now or have moved to a different continent we will remain friends and I have Yu-Gi-Oh! to thank for that.'
Are you ready to dip your toes back into the Yu-Gi-Oh! waters? Speak with your local Good Games store today about Yu-Gi-Oh! locals and structure decks! And be sure to check our Daniel's YouTube Channel, Team Mynt!