Yugoh TCG Card Types Explained

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Types of cards

Monster Cards

Attacking with monster cards is the main means by which a player reduces the opponent's Life Points to zero. These cards are also used defensively, since the opponent's monsters cannot attack your Life Points directly as long as you have monsters in play (unless specified otherwise by card effects). Furthermore, most monsters cards have their own effects (just like Spell and Trap cards), and can be manipulated by other cards. Before discussing their many functions and varieties, we will outline the common components of all monster cards.

  • ATK and DEF points: These are short for "attack" and "defense", and determine the result of a battle between two monster cards (see more about attacking below). When a monster is involved in a battle while in Attack Position (whether attacking or being attacked), only its ATK points are applied and its DEF points are ignored. The reverse is also true: when a monster is attacked while in Defense Position, only its DEF points are applied and its ATK points are ignored. Monsters summoned in Defense position are placed face down unless otherwise stated (for example, monsters that are special summoned from the Extra Deck in Defense position are summoned face up), and remain face down until it is targeted by an opponent's monster or changed into Attack position. This is known as "flip summoning", which can activate effects in certain monsters. During the Main Phases of each turn, players can choose to change the battle position of their monsters that were not summoned that turn, unless that monster has already changed its battle position that turn or has already declared an attack. Unlike monsters of other categories, Link Monsters have no DEF points listed and can not be placed in Defense Position.
  • Level / Rank : This is indicated by the number of Level Stars shown under the monster card's name. With a normal summon, players can summon one Level 4 or lower monster card to the field. A player can also perform a Tribute Summon, which is necessary to summon monsters that are Level 5 or higher. In a Tribute Summon the player tributes monsters already on the field to the Graveyard. Level 5 and Level 6 monsters require one tribute, while Level 7 and higher monsters require two tributes. Some monsters may require a different amount of tributes than their Level would suggest due to card effects. Levels are also important in other ways, such as summoning Ritual or Synchro Monsters. Xyz Monsters do not possess Levels but instead hold Ranks, indicated by black and yellow stars on the left of the card, relevant to the levels of the monsters required to summon it. As such, Xyz Monsters are unaffected by effects which target monsters with Levels and cannot be used for Ritual or Synchro summoning, just like Link Monsters who have neither Ranks nor Levels.
  • Link Number: Link Monsters have neither Ranks nor Levels, but Link Numbers listed at the card's bottom that indicate the minimum number of Link Material Monsters needed to tribute in order to summon them. Link Monsters can replace multiple Link Material Monsters for another Link Summon if elegible, in a number not higher than its own Link Number.
  • Attribute: A monster card will have either a Light, Dark, Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, or Divine attribute. This is indicated by an icon at the upper-right corner of the card. A monster card's attribute has no inherent significance (for example, a water-attribute monster has no advantage over a fire-attribute one), but is relevant in the context of other cards' effects (e.g. the Spell card Umiiruka adds 500 ATK points to and subtracts 400 DEF points from all water-attribute monsters).
  • Type: Unlike the mere seven possible attributes, there are 24 different types which may apply to a monster card (Dragon, Spellcaster, Zombie, Warrior, Beast-Warrior, Beast, Winged Beast, Fiend, Fairy, Insect, Dinosaur, Reptile, Fish, Sea Serpent, Machine, Thunder, Aqua, Pyro, Rock, Plant, Psychic, Divine-Beast, Creator God and Wyrm). All monster cards have one type, indicated in text form just above the card text. Like attributes, a monster card's type has no inherent significance and becomes relevant in the context of other cards' effects. Additionally, cards may have a secondary type, typically one of the following: Toon, Spirit, Union, Gemini, Tuner, or Effect.
  • Description: Each Monster card features a box of text at the bottom of the card. Monsters that do not possess any effects of their own, such as Normal monsters, will feature a description of the monster written in italics. For monsters that do possess effects, the text box will describe their effects, including any specific summoning conditions it may require (for example: a Fusion monster may list the required material monsters needed to summon it). Pendulum Monsters have an additional description box which may list a Pendulum Effect that applies while they are in a Pendulum Zone.
  • Pendulum Scale: Pendulum Monsters possess an additional value called Scales, which are applied when they are placed in the Pendulum Zones. These values determine which monsters the player can special summon through Pendulum Summoning.

Monster categories

There are several categories of monster cards, which are color-coded and vary in the methods by which they are summoned. Generally, the monsters with more difficult summoning methods will have higher ATK points and better card effects. Normal and Effect monsters can be Normal Summoned, Tribute Summoned, or Special Summoned by card effects. All other types of cards need to be Special Summoned by fulfilling the summoning requirements detailed below. Fusion, Synchro, Xyz and Link Monsters are stored in an Extra Deck separate from the Main Deck (where destroyed Pendulum Monsters are also placed). These cards may be resummoned from the graveyard provided they were successfully summoned beforehand, though if they are returned to the Extra Deck, the player will need to fulfill the summoning requirements once more to summon them again.

There are several types of monsters, which differ mainly in the methods by which they are summoned:

1. Normal (通常 Tsūjō?, yellow)
A standard monster that can be Normal or Tribute Summoned from the hand once per turn, as well as Special Summoned under certain conditions. Normal Monsters do not have effects of their own, instead bearing a description of the monster in its card description.
2. Effect (効果 Kōka?, orange)
Similar to Normal monsters in the manner that they can be summoned, Effect Monsters have a special effect listed in its card description which can be used under its given conditions. Several of the other monster types listed below may also possess effects. While most Effect Monsters can be Normal or Tribute Summoned, some monsters may list specific summoning conditions in its card description.
3. Fusion (融合 Yūgō?, purple)
A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by using a card with a Fusion effect, such as "Polymerization", with monster cards listed in the Fusion Monster's description. The specific conditions, such as the types of monster required or where the material monsters are sent, vary depending on the Fusion Monster's effect.
Example: Using the "Polymerization" spell card and sending "Dark Magician" and "Buster Blader" from the field and/or hand to the graveyard allows the player to special summon "Dark Paladin" (Fusion Monster).
4. Ritual (儀式 Gishiki?, blue)
A monster that is stored in the Main Deck and can be summoned from the player's hand by using a corresponding Ritual Spell Card and tributing monster cards from the hand and/or field according to the card's instructions.
Example: Using the "Black Luster Ritual" spell card and tributing monsters from the field and/or hand whose total levels equal eight or more allows the player to special summon "Black Luster Soldier" (Level 8 Ritual Monster).
5. Synchro (シンクロ Shinkuro?, white)
Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's anime series. A monster that is summoned from the Extra Deck by sending a "Tuner" type monster and one or more non-Tuner monsters from the field to the graveyard, whose total levels equal the level of the Synchro Monster you wish to summon. Under normal conditions, only one Tuner Monster can be used per Synchro Summoning (that is to say, a player cannot perform a Synchro Summon using only Tuner Monsters). Some Synchro Monsters may require certain types of monster to be used as Synchro material.
Example: Sending "Junk Synchron" (Level 3 Tuner Monster) and "Speed Warrior" (Level 2) from the field to the graveyard allows the player to special summon "Junk Warrior" (Level 5 Synchro Monster).
6. Xyz (エクシーズ Ekushīzu?, pronounced "ek-seez", black)
Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal anime series. Xyz Monsters are summoned from the Extra Deck by "overlaying" multiple monsters (as described in the card's effect text) with the same level relevant to the Rank of the Xyz Monster the player wishes to summon. Material monsters are not sent to the graveyard but instead become "Xyz Material" (also known as "Overlay Units"), which are placed underneath the Xyz Monster in the Monster Zone and sent to the graveyard in order to activate the Xyz Monster's effects. As Xyz Monsters possess Ranks instead of levels, they are unaffected by cards involving a monster's level and cannot be used for Ritual or Synchro Summoning, the exception to this rule being if they are artificially assigned a level via a card's effect. Some card effects, such as Rank Up Magic spell cards, also allow certain Xyz Monsters to be summoned on top of existing Xyz Monsters on the field (in this event, that Xyz Monster and its remaining Xyz Material become Xyz Material for the newly summoned Xyz Monster).
Example: Overlaying two Level 4 monsters on the field allows the player to Special Summon the "No. 39 Utopia" (Rank 4). The material monsters become No. 39 Utopia's Xyz Material and are sent to the graveyard in order to activate its Xyz Effect.
7. Pendulum (ペンデュラム Pendyuramu?, green gradient)
Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V anime series. Pendulum Monsters are variations of the above monster types, represented by a green gradient over each type's respective color (for example, Effect Pendulum Monsters are orange/green while Xyz Pendulum Monsters are black/green). They are stored and summoned in the same manner as their original counterparts, but are sent to the Extra Deck face-up when they would be sent from the field to the Graveyard (monsters sent from the Hand or Deck will still go to the Graveyard). During the Main Phase, players can place any Pendulum Monsters in their hand into any open Pendulum Zones, where they become treated as spell cards and can utilise a Pendulum Effect listed separately from any Monster Effects (some Pendulum cards may not necessarily possess a Pendulum Effect). Pendulum Monsters possess indicators known as "Scales", which are used to perform a Pendulum Summon. Once during a player's turn, if there are Pendulum Monsters with different Scales in both Pendulum Zones, the player may Special Summon multiple monsters from their hand, as well as any Pendulum Monsters face-up in the Extra Deck, whose levels are in between the two different Scale values. Pendulum Monsters that are stored in the Extra Deck face down must first be summoned using their respective summoning methods and can only be Pendulum Summoned when they are face-up in the Extra Deck (for example, an "Xyz Pendulum" Monster must first be Xyz Summoned before it can be Pendulum Summoned).
Example: If the player has "Stargazer Magician" (Scale 1) and "Timegazer Magician" (Scale 8) in their Pendulum Zones, they can Pendulum Summon multiple monsters from their hand and/or face-up Pendulum Monsters from the Extra Deck with levels ranging from 2 to 7.
8. Link (リンク Rinku?, blue with a honeycomb pattern)
Introduced with the Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS anime series. Unlike other monsters, Link Monsters have no Level or Rank and have "Link Markers", arrows pointing to at least one of eight directions (forward, backward, left, right and the four diagonals). Each Link Monster has a "Link Number" and can be summoned from the Extra Deck by tributing a number of Link Material Monsters listed on the card equal or larger than the Link Number. A Link Monster in the field with a Link Number of 2 or more can be used to replace an equal or lower number of Link Materials for another Link Summon if eligible. At first, Link Monsters can only be summoned in the Extra Monster Card Zone, but as long it is on the field, any monster Main Monster Card Zone pointed by a Link Marker becomes "linked", and linked Monster Card Zones can be used to summon any kind of monster, including other Link Monsters. If two Link Monsters share Link Markers pointed at each other, they are considered "mutually linked." Mutual Links play into the effects of certain link monsters. Link Monsters also have no DEF points and thus can not be placed in Defense Position.
Example: Two or more Effect monsters are tributed to Link Summon "Decode Talker" (Link Number 2) in the Extra Deck Zone in front of the 2nd Main Monster Card Zone. As long as this monster is on the field, the player can summon any kind of monster in the 1st and 3rd Main Monster Card Zones, as they are now linked to it, but the opponent can also summon any monster in the linked Monster Card Zone in front of it. Having a Link Number of 2, "Decode Talker" and a second monster can be tributed to Link Summon "Gaiasaber, the Video Knight" (Link Number 3).
9. Token (トークン Tōkun?, grey)
Commonly a low-powered monster that is stored outside of the playing area and can only be summoned through a card effect, typically used for defense or tribute purposes. The type, attribute, level, ATK, and DEF of Token Monsters are determined by the description of the card that summoned them. Token Monsters can only exist on the field and are removed from the game when leaving the field (unlike standard cards, Token Monsters are not sent to the Banished pile). As Xyz Material is not considered to be on the field, Token Monsters cannot be used for Xyz Summoning. In addition to official Token Monster cards, players may also use other objects such as coins or card sleeves to represent Token Monsters, provided they can be positioned in a way that can represent both Attack and Defense positions.
Example: If the player uses the spell card "Scapegoat", four "Sheep Tokens" will be summoned to the field.


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