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A New Player's Guide to Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Introduction

Welcome to this guide! If you've found it, you likely stumbled across it through a YouTube or Twitch Duel Links channel, or through some other Duel Links community. While players are free to experiment and theorycraft their own decks, resources such as this website are helpful in gaining an early competitive edge in the game. This guide is intended to introduce you to the resources and examples that you can find to help you on your journey as a duelist.


How do I spend my time and money wisely in this game?

This game is free to play (F2P), and can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play Store and Steam. In the game are there two currencies.

The first is Gold, which is readily available to obtain all over duel world and is commonly used for the Card Trader. It is often considered a worthless currency, as its usage is quite limited and it is excessively distributed.

The second are gems, used to purchase card packs and structure decks from the in-game shop (your main source of new cards). These are also obtainable by simply playing the game, but are more sparsely distributed. In order to obtain gems, you will likely need to grind in-game events as well as level up Legendary Duelists. Cards can also be purchased through spending money, but it's important to know how to wisely acquire new cards.


Overview

Before you go crazy with your money and gems, listen to a budget player that has a significant amount of experience. First off, I have a six-step process of general investment in this game. After that, I will present a couple of examples of smart investments. Finally, I'll give you some tips and tricks to become a better player.


Step One – Do I need a new deck?

The first step in the process is to look at the Tier List and the Gem Guide. Ask yourself these two questions:

Do I have a competitive deck?

In Duel Links, like many competitive card games, decks will often be given a label that defines their power within the current "meta". The Metagame, or meta for short, can be commonly understood as the "Most Effective Tactics Available" (although it's not actually an acronym). In the context of Duel Links, the meta would consist of the most commonly used decks at a given time, which can be a week a month or a year. To stay up to date with meta shifts and changes, you can look at the DuelLinksMeta tier list, which is updated weekly by the Duel Links community's top players.

The tier list outlines the current meta, And decks are added to or removed from tiers based on their volume and performance in tournaments*. A deck's strength is typically defined by a number - Tier 1, 2 or 3 - or some other designation such as "King of Games Worthy" or "Rogue", which dictates that, while still good, it is outside of the main group of competitive decks. The following three definitions represent the criteria of each tier.

Tier 1 - “Expected to be a large percentage of the top cut** in a competitive tournament."

Tier 2 - “Expected to be in the top cut of a competitive tournament, but not a large percentage."

Tier 3 “Expected to be played in a competitive tournament, with the possibility of being in the top cut."

  • Note: while the format of DuelLinksMeta tournaments do not match the format found on the Ranked Duels ladder, decks that perform well in tournaments generally see similar results in Ranked Duels.

** Note: 'top cut' refers to the top 32 bracket of a tournament. In a Meta Championship Series tournament, this generally means performing with a minimum win-rate of 71%.

Is this a deck that I have fun with and/or can compete with?

If you are winning, hitting the highest rank and are having a good time that is awesome. But if your deck does not fall under the categories of Tier 1, 2, or 3, it would likely then fall under the category of "King of Games Worthy" (KoG Worthy) or "Rogue", which earlier was defined as good but not mainstream.

Arguably, any deck can hit King of Games. If your goal isn't to play competitively or enter tournaments, and instead to just play a deck that you enjoy, you are free to do just that. However, if you do wish to compete, a deck that is not tiered will have trouble making a deep run into a tournament. Of course nothing is stopping you from competing with said deck, but your tournament experience will definitely be more of a challenge.


Step Two – Which cards can I obtain for free in the game?

In Duel Links, when you defeat an NPC duelist, you are rewarded with chests, which can contain either resources or card rewards. These cards will often be of minimal use to you, but some of them are quite valuable and worth spending your time to get. In addition to the legendary duelists who are always available at the gate, you will often find Duel Links running timed exclusive "Events" in which you can further earn gems, cards, and even new unlockable duelists, which often come with unique cards and skills of their own. 'Farming' an event is a term used to describe the optimal method of obtaining rewards by obtaining a high Duel Assessment score.

Here are some examples of good cards that are freely obtained:

Sometimes are there are other methods of obtaining a particular card. Search on the DuelLinksMeta website for the specific card you are looking for to see if it is obtainable from a different source. One example is Enemy Controller, which can be obtained both by farming Kaiba and from tickets. The recommended way is to obtain it from Ranked PvP tickets.

These two methods of receiving cards are time-consuming, and not every card is good. Make sure to use the Gem Guide and Top Decks Page to see what cards are worth obtaining. In addition, look out for specific good event cards that can change the metagame. Dkayed and other top players in the community are likely to mention impactful new cards in their content.

You can also obtain cards from tickets, from the card trader and from leveling up your characters. Below are some high-priority cards (Useful for farming or in strong decks) that can be obtained from these various sources.

Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Gravekeeper's%20Vassal
Duel Links Card: Solemn%20Scolding
Duel Links Card: Legacy%20of%20Yata-Garasu
Duel Links Card: Hyper%20Psychic%20Riser
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Red%20Eyes%20Spirit
Duel Links Card: Destiny%20HERO%20-%20Decider
Duel Links Card: Cipher%20Soldier
Duel Links Card: A/D%20Changer
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis

Step Three – Do I have a special ticket?

Occasionally, Konami gifts "Dream Tickets" to players. These are SPECIAL TICKETS that are only given by Konami once or twice per year. Dream Tickets allow you to obtain any card of that rarity in the game, Including cards from BOXes

note: The UR and SR dream tickets often exclude the newest 3 or so BOXes from their catalogue

Are you saying that I can use a ticket for an expensive card?

Yes! This means that you can use your Dream ticket on a card from a box, allowing you to skip needing to dig through said box for a copy of that card.

How should I spend my dream ticket?

Here is a video from Dkayed about what you should spend your SR and UR Dream tickets on. This video is from this May. WATCH THIS VIDEO BEFORE USING YOUR UR DREAM TICKET. The examples given in the video are just examples, but the general theory behind the video will always be true.

Videos


Step Four – Finding a meta-relevant deck to play for little to no cost

Even as a F2P (Free to Play) player, you may want to consider purchasing one of the many "Structure Deck EX". To date, every single one that has been released has proven to be able to do extremely well, even without any other cards, though often they will become better as your collection grows. There is a caveat, however, in that these decks almost always require you to purchase three copies. For a minimal investment, you will have a strong deck for many months to come.

This deck, based on the Return of the Red-Eyes structure deck, is a good starting point on the ladder. Cards here are interchangeable, and the deck can be modified based on your personal collection. As an example of an improvement to this deck, I have replaced Cards of the Red Stone with Enemy Controller and Red-Eyes Toon Dragon with Red-Eyes Retro Dragon.

Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Wyvern
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Beckoned%20by%20the%20World%20Chalice
Duel Links Card: Beckoned%20by%20the%20World%20Chalice
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Toon%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Toon%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Toon%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Cards%20of%20the%20Red%20Stone
Duel Links Card: Cards%20of%20the%20Red%20Stone
Duel Links Card: Cards%20of%20the%20Red%20Stone
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Spirit
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Spirit
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Spirit
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Wyvern
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Retro%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Retro%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Retro%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Beckoned%20by%20the%20World%20Chalice
Duel Links Card: Beckoned%20by%20the%20World%20Chalice
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Spirit
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Spirit
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Spirit
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon

This deck is based on the Ancient Gear Awakening structure deck. This is a new player-friendly deck that can be built into a competitive deck. cards like Windstorm of Etaqua can replace Curse of Anubis or the Planet Pathfinder if you do not own them.

Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Gear%20Reactor%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Gear%20Reactor%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Gear%20Reactor%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Gear%20Wyvern
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Gear%20Wyvern
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Gear%20Wyvern
Duel Links Card: Planet%20Pathfinder
Duel Links Card: Double%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Double%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Double%20Cyclone
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Geartown
Duel Links Card: Geartown
Duel Links Card: Geartown
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Gear%20Fortress
Duel Links Card: Ancient%20Gear%20Fortress
Duel Links Card: De-Spell
Duel Links Card: De-Spell
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis

This deck is from the structure deck Neos Fusion. This deck will take some grinding and one card from a BOX, which excludes from the rule of no gems spent (Bacon Saver). This deck is still good for a budget player. Also provided is another variant of the deck, which does not require the structure deck. Other cards that can act as replacements are Skull Meister, Kuriboh, and Arcana Force XIV Temperance, since they all can be activated from the hand. Card options from in the last two builds are here from Revolver, a mod in the Duelinks Meta Discord.

Duel Links Card: Lava%20Golem
Duel Links Card: Lava%20Golem
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Bacon%20Saver
Duel Links Card: A/D%20Changer
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Neos
Duel Links Card: Elemental%20HERO%20Neos
Duel Links Card: Leng%20Ling
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Neos%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Neos%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Neos%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua
Duel Links Card: Lava%20Golem
Duel Links Card: Lava%20Golem
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Shield%20Warrior
Duel Links Card: Bacon%20Saver
Duel Links Card: A/D%20Changer
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Rainbow%20Life
Duel Links Card: Rainbow%20Life
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: Hallowed%20Life%20Barrier
Duel Links Card: Hallowed%20Life%20Barrier
Duel Links Card: Hallowed%20Life%20Barrier
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua
Duel Links Card: Lava%20Golem
Duel Links Card: Lava%20Golem
Duel Links Card: Stegocyber
Duel Links Card: Stegocyber
Duel Links Card: Stegocyber
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Edge
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Cyberdark%20Cannon
Duel Links Card: Shield%20Warrior
Duel Links Card: Bacon%20Saver
Duel Links Card: Rainbow%20Life
Duel Links Card: Rainbow%20Life
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: Hallowed%20Life%20Barrier
Duel Links Card: Hallowed%20Life%20Barrier
Duel Links Card: Hallowed%20Life%20Barrier
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua

The 'Aromage' cards are easy obtainable from the Card Trader. The exception to the rule in this case is that Naturia Rosewhip is obtainable from the box Dimension of the Wizards, which will improve your deck a lot. This is not my top recommendation, but it is a solid budget deck.

Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Bergamot
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Bergamot
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Rosemary
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Rosemary
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Rosemary
Duel Links Card: Rose%20Archer
Duel Links Card: Rose%20Archer
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Jasmine
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Jasmine
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Jasmine
Duel Links Card: Naturia%20Rosewhip
Duel Links Card: Naturia%20Rosewhip
Duel Links Card: Naturia%20Rosewhip
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Aroma%20Garden
Duel Links Card: Aroma%20Garden
Duel Links Card: Aroma%20Garden
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua
Duel Links Card: Lava%20Golem
Duel Links Card: Lava%20Golem
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Bergamot
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Bergamot
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Rosemary
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Rosemary
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Rosemary
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Jasmine
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Jasmine
Duel Links Card: Aromage%20Jasmine
Duel Links Card: Naturia%20Rosewhip
Duel Links Card: Naturia%20Rosewhip
Duel Links Card: Naturia%20Rosewhip
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Enemy%20Controller
Duel Links Card: Aroma%20Garden
Duel Links Card: Aroma%20Garden
Duel Links Card: Aroma%20Garden
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua

A better Red-Eyes deck - Here have I added a card called Power of the Guardians, from the box Dimension of the Wizards. This card is used in the optimal version of Red-Eyes. I am also using a warrior monster called A/D Changer which is obtainable from the Card Trader. This change is for little to no cost, and the deck instantly becomes much better.

Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Wyvern
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Retro%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Retro%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Retro%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: A/D%20Changer
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20B.%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Beckoned%20by%20the%20World%20Chalice
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Fusion
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Insight
Duel Links Card: Power%20of%20the%20Guardians
Duel Links Card: Power%20of%20the%20Guardians
Duel Links Card: Power%20of%20the%20Guardians
Duel Links Card: Curse%20of%20Anubis
Duel Links Card: Windstorm%20of%20Etaqua
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon
Duel Links Card: Red-Eyes%20Slash%20Dragon

Step Five – When Free is not enough

So you have read all this and are still thinking, "this is not enough, I want to make my deck better". The next question you want to ask yourself is do want to spend gems and money? If you answer I want to spend my gems, there are four ways to do it:

  • Main boxes
  • Mini boxes
  • Selection boxes
  • Mini Selection boxes

Look at the cards you have and see what deck you can mostly make. Then, add into the deck any relevant tech cards from your collection.

Follow this order to make the best decision:

  1. You are going to look at what cards are recommended to play
  2. You are then going to look at what cards you have and add them into the deck
  3. You are then going to substitute the cards that you don’t have with cards that you can play instead. There is almost always another option. For example, in Ancient Gears the recommended card is Galaxy Cyclone. You can instead play De-Spell, which you can obtain from leveling up your characters.

Step Six – Spend your Gems wisely

I recommend that you spend your gems wisely. When you need a specific card for a specific deck, don´t go for that card. If your are F2P, I would recommend you to wait on spending your gems until:

  • Wait until you have gems expiring. You can only fit 9999 gems in your inbox.
  • Or if you have a top event to do well in, like a big tournament or KC cup.

In both of these cases, you will have enough gems to buy a whole deck. Conversely, randomly spending gems could result in you being disappointed at the game for not giving you the right cards that you desperately wished for.

If you don’t have enough gems to buy a WHOLE tier 1 deck, then don’t buy it at all. Don’t spend one gem here and one gem there trying to chase part of a deck. Wait until you have all gems for the best deck. Double check with the Gem Guide to make sure that you go after the best deck that you can get for your gems. Remember, the Gem Guide generally overestimates the gems needed for a deck, and does not account for replacements. Follow the Gem Guide and the Tier List; they are there to help you!

A Cautionary Tale

I would not recommend buying from the Selection box, because you are generally less likely to get the card you actually want. Instead, go to the specific box and buy the specific card from there. In this case are you more likely to get the card. There are, however, a few exceptions, especially when the selection box consists of good cards from older boxes.

In Selection boxes, as with all boxes, you are never sure what you will get. You might spend $350 to hunt for a specific card and then might not even get the card you want. Let alone three copies of it. 2017 Duel Links World Champion Champion Timmy has said that he had spent this amount of money on the Selection box and was still unable to get the card he was hunting.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Here are some good ideas from two moderators of the DuelLinksMeta Discord

GrandHarrier

Agreed on the structure decks; a single copy just isn't worth it. I would also suggest highlight in the fact that players should focus on a goal, a single deck to build towards and then stick to that until completion. Don't go halfway into a deck and then stop. In fact, you shouldn't even go after a deck until you saved up enough gems that you have a realistic shot of finishing it in one go. They should focus heavily on farming for free-to-play decks like Cyberdark and Yubel.

Revolver

  1. DO NOT BUY STRUCTURE DECK UNLESS YOU CAN BUY THREE TIMES OF IT 2) Subterror is okay but new players won't have Lumis at this time so they need to try hard for Labyrinth Builder. They can use Sams instead. IT IS A SOLID TIERED DECK. 3) DO NOT BUY NEW BOXES IMMEDIATELY UNLESS YOU ARE A WHALE.
  1. Watch Dkayed stream on Twitch and his videos YouTube. Interact in the different Discords, like the DuelLinksMeta Discord.

  2. There are free gems laying around; If you watch a street replay you get free 5 gems, and there are hidden gems like the waterfall, the light, the shop, and the bin/trash can. You can also get free gems by doing duel quests and loaner duels. By touching the screen on these spots you will get them.

  3. Follow the Gem Guide and pick the cards that are usually played if your gems are expiring or if you are getting new staples to another deck.

  • Do you have a good back row card? If you have them, play them.
  • If you have better monsters to put into your deck, play them.
  1. Listen to reviews from the top players and ask questions in the Twitch chat, on the Duellinks Meta Discord or in the discussion below. Ask yourself and players that have tested the cards:
  • Is this main box worth it?
  • Is this mini box worth it?
  • Is this Selection box worth it?

Thank you to everyone in the DuelLinksMeta Discord and thank you for reading. Leave your comments below!! Especially a big thank you to GrandHarrier and EzeMc for reviewing this guide, and a big thank you to the website team for proofreading and building the thumbnail.

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