Now is probably the best time to be a fan of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. If you aren’t interested in playing with the physical cards you now have two options, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. Both are available on mobile devices and PC, but which one should you play? We here at High Ground Gaming have highlighted the differences between each game in this Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel vs Duel Links matchup. We hope that taking a look at all the angles with us will help you decide which Duel Monsters experience is worth your time.
While both games are available for PC and mobile devices, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has higher system requirements than Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is also available on home consoles like the Playstation 4/5, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. While Duel Links isn’t available for home consoles it makes up for it by having a better user interface for mobile players. If you’re looking to comfortably play Yu-Gi-Oh! On your phone, Duel Links may be your preferred option.
Both Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links are fantastic-looking games. They both have monster summoning animations and monster attack animations. Due Link’s monster summoning animations are all unique 3d animations, while Master Duel’s summoning animations are animated versions of the card’s official artwork. Master Duel has much more detailed monster summon, card activation, and card destruction animations.
Music and Audio
Both games have great soundtracks that set the right mood for the dueling experience. Duel Links separates itself from Master Duel by including both English and Japanese voice acting for the character each player is using. These are the official voice from the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime so they really sell the experience of playing as a character from the show. These voice lines trigger all throughout the duel and each character even has a unique victory and defeat line. Characters may also have unique dialogue with other duelists so this element of the game is a really nice treat for fans of the anime.
Single Player Mode
Both of these games offer the player some kind of single-player experience. Duel Link’s single-player experience is centered around clearing Stage Missions in order to unlock characters, skills, and utilities. Duel Links also has multiple events that take place regularly throughout the year that also offer new skills and characters as rewards for completing them. Most of the time these events will offer modified mechanics and have some fun story elements attached to them.
The Stage Missions mentioned above are generally pretty grindy, requiring the player to summon or use multiple of a specific card type to clear. Some missions will also require you to win a certain number of duels. These missions can be completed relatively easily using the game’s auto-battle mechanic. Most of the fun you’ll have with Duel Links will come from either event duels or PvP duels, since these are the only matches that will pose any real challenge to an experienced player.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has a bit more to offer in terms of single-player content but not by much. Master Duel’s Solo Mode allows you to learn elements of the game through duel challenges and tutorials, but it also offers lore for a lot of the different archetypes within the card game itself. This feature is actually unique to Master Duel. Much of the lore for the game’s different archetypes has pretty much been up to the viewer’s interpretation of the events in each card’s artwork.
Master Duel takes the time to properly explain the backstory and context behind an archetype’s artwork. These lore dumps are interspersed throughout the archetype’s Gate. Gates contain missions that introduce the archetype’s unique mechanics and playstyle. Most of these missions will require you to win the duel using a premade deck featuring cards from the specified archetype. A few of these duels can also be completed using a custom deck, but where is the fun in that? Each mission will give you a few rewards when completed. Completing the gate will reward you with more lore and additional items.
Unfortunately, this is where Master Duel’s single-player experience ends. At the time of writing this, there isn’t even a dedicated free-play mode for you to test decks against specific AI-controlled decks. If you want more, you’ll have to play a PvP mode.
Both Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel and Duel Links make use of a Gem-Pack system. This means you’ll need to acquire gems to buy packs in order to get cards. Card packs will have a specific card pool by which they draw from, and you will have a percentage-based chance of pulling cards of high and low rarity. Cards are broken into 4 rarities, Common, Rare, Super Rare/Secret Rare, and Ultra Rare. Cards of higher rarity have a lower percentage chance to be pulled from a card pack.
The two games differ a lot in how their stores work. Duel Links updates the games store with new packs every couple of months and these packs remain in the store permanently. Master Duel’s store isn’t as convenient. There is only one card pack that is permanent at this time, that being the Mast Pack. This pack will pull 5 random cards from the entire game’s card pool.
You can gain access to archetype-specific packs or secret packs by acquiring a super rare or ultra rare card from that pack. These secret packs will only remain in the store for 24 hours, after that, they will disappear and you’ll have to reacquire them all over again. Master Duel will also put limited-time Selection packs into the store every few months. These packs often contain the newest cards alongside reprints of cards related to the new cards, or popular old cards.
Master Duel makes up for its limited access to packs by including a card crafting mechanic. Players can dismantle 3 cards of a specific rarity to gain enough crafting material to craft one card of the same rarity. So, three ultra rares you don’t want can be turned into one ultra rare you do want. Cards with special coatings like glossy or prismatic will reward more crafting points than a standard card when dismantled. This system makes deck building much easier, and cheaper.
Both games are behind the TCG and OCG in terms of card pool. However, Master Duel has the most card between the two games. Master Duel is only missing around ten percent of the cards in the game, while Duel Links is missing about 40 percent of the cards. This isn’t really that big of a deal depending on which decks you want to play with. Another thing to consider is that some cards are just too strong to be in Duel Links. This is due to the game having slightly different mechanics compared to the TCG, OCG, and Master Duel.
Duel Links differs from the traditional Yu-Gi-Oh! experience in a few ways. Firstly, the game only has 3 main monster zones and 3 spell and trap zones. 2 link zones were added to the game with the inclusion of link monsters bringing the total up to seven playable zones for each player. This is much smaller than the 11 available to Master Duel and IRL players.
Duel Links also doesn’t have a Main Phase 2. To the inexperienced or more casual player, this might not seem like a big deal but if significantly limits strategy for many players. The concept of saving your normal summon until after your battle phase in order to avoid battle traps is gone in Duel Links. This does make for much faster Duels so that can be seen as a benefit for some.
Some of the game’s default settings are also less intuitive thanks to the inclusion of link monsters. You’ll need to go into settings and turn auto-place cards off so that you can manually select where you want your cards to go.
Two other elements unique to Duel Links is the minimum deck limit. Decks in Duel Links can only be between 20 and 30 cards in total. This means decks are generally half the size they are in the standard card game. This makes some decks much more consistent and really hammers home that anime vibe the game is going for, since you’re much more likely to see your staple cards, just like in the anime. Another element that mirrors the anime is the fact that each player starts with only 4000 life points instead of 8000. This also contributes to the game’s fast pace. Duels in Duel Links take far less time than those in Master Duel and IRL.
The last difference between Duel Links mechanics and Master Duel/IRL is the game’s inclusion of skills. Every character in the game has a list of skills that can be equipped before a duel. Each player can only have one skill equipped on a character at a time. These skills allow your character to effectively break the rules of the game.
There are skills like Destiny Draw which when activated allow you to pick any card from your deck as your normal draw for that turn. There are skills that activate cards from outside the deck at the start of the duel. Skills that allow you to special summon monsters without cost. The list goes on. These skills effectively make some of the weaker decks in the game much more viable and are generally really fun to mess around with.
Both Duel Links and Master Duel have ban lists that differ from those of the TCG and OCG. Master Duels ban list takes a lot of influence from the OCG’s but still differs from it in a number of ways. This makes Master Duel feel familiar to the TCG and OCG while still remaining fresh and unique.
Duel Links takes their ban list in a completely different direction. This ban list places cards in three categories. Triple-limited, semi-limited, limited, and forbidden. You can only use a certain number of cards in each ban list category. For example, you can only have two cards from the semi-limited list in your deck at one time. You can either run two companies of the same semi-limited card or one copy of two different semi-limited cards. This type of ban list ensures that decks can just run a bunch of powerful cards that are on the ban list. It limits the power of decks, which is generally a good thing.
Duel Links vs Master Duel: So Which Should You Play?
Both games are absolutely high-quality card game simulators, but each one appeals to different fans of the Yu-Gi-Oh! IP. If you love the anime and want a generally more casual experience, Duel Links is probably the best choice for you. If you want a game that is as close to the IRL card game as possible, then Master Duel is your best bet. Either way, both games are free to play so why not try both? Each one offers new players a generous amount of currency so creating a deck you want to play shouldn’t be a problem.
Join the High Ground
That about covers it for our Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links vs Master Duel comparison. Feel free to leave a comment letting us know which game you prefer. Looking for more Yu-Gi-Oh! related content? Consider subscribing to our newsletter and raise your dueling skill to even greater heights!