Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has a big problem, but Battle Packs are the solution

Konami /

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is Konami’s response to Magic: the Gathering Arena. While Arena is a problematic way to play a great game, Master Duel is the exact opposite: it’s a great way to play a problematic game.

That’s not to say that the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game isn’t enjoyable, but there are some glaring game design issues that keep people from playing long term. Namely, power creep. It’s so atrocious in Yu-Gi-Oh! it’s a core feature, not a bug.

This can lead to great fun. When your deck goes off, you feel invincible as you rip through your cards and work your way to play out your flashy boss monsters. On the other side of the field, your poor opponent is waiting 12 minutes for you to finish your turn.

From Steam reviews and the opinions of fellow players I’ve asked, returning players feel like the game is completely different than the one they grew up with, whether it be the original Duelist Kingdom era to Zexal.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has a big problem, but Battle Packs are the solution

The combination of power creep and a predatory reprint policy for the paper game results in a heavy attrition of players quitting due to them having to buy new, expensive cards to keep up and then have those investments be meaningless when Konami reprints or straight up ban those same cards. Master Duel is free and easy to access, and could very well be the solution to getting players back into the game. That is, if the game is worth getting back into.

In its current state, Master Duel is a virtual simulator of the tabletop game using its own, slightly modified banlist. For better or for worse, this is Yu-Gi-Oh! in its current state: essentially weaponized solitaire.

There’s a lot to learn with the new archetypes, especially for the many players returning to the game. What if you want to have a fresh experience while retaining the classic Yu-Gi-Oh! gameplay of old?

The solution is to revive Battle Pack draft.

Battle Packs are a series of sets designed for sealed play. The core of a “limited” format like sealed is that you play with cards designed to play with and against each other in a fair, controlled format. For example, the second Battle Pack, War of the Giants, did not feature Extra Deck cards like Synchros and XYZ and was meant to simulate the early days of the game.

Typically, Limited formats test your fundamental skills more than constructed formats can. Games of regular Yu-Gi-Oh! can feel like your deck goes on auto-pilot, with lines of play that are practiced and established. That speed can be exhilarating, but often it feels like the game is out of your control.

We’ve seen the success of a slower Limited pool of cards in the wildly popular Duel Links. It’s accessible to more players, and returning players aren’t overwhelmed. It’s my preferred way of playing the game.

Master Duel is perfect for a sealed or draft environment. With an emphasis on ladder climbing, I could see a new limited pool for each ranking season. It would keep players coming back for more, and the online nature would allow Konami to make emergency adjustments.

The issue comes with monetization. It’s in Konami’s best interest to have players buy more cards. I feel Master Duel’s Gem system is fairly generous early on (compared to other free-to-play games), but I could see some problems if Gems were used exclusively for sealed buy-in. There’s some ways Konami could implement sealed play that would fit naturally within Master Duel.

At the top of each season, every player could receive one sealed pool for a league. They then could have the option to pay with Gems to get a new pool and play in another league. Sealed entry tickets could also be a prize for high placement.

In this case, options are better. For players who want to keep the cards, there could be a Gem or Gem-bought ticket/subscription system. For others who just want to play, a “phantom” (to borrow an MTG term) event could be used. A “phantom” event is when you play as usual, but you don’t keep the cards when you’re done. This is a great way to get returning players back into the ecosystem.

Trending. Sony acquires Destiny dev Bungie. light

People want to play Yu-Gi-Oh! and there needs to be more options for those players wanting to re-experience a beloved childhood game. Master Duel  is a fun game that is easy to burnout on, a problem the paper game constantly deals with. It’s a great client that is a golden opportunity for Konami to revolutionize the game and its player base.