Black and White: Deck Lists!

Joe Frankino

3/29/2017 11:00:00 AM

Organized Play for any TCG hinges on a fair tournament experience for all players involved. At its very core, part of that fair play experience is that everyone is on the same playing field and following the same rules, and that those rules are enforced as equally as possible.

For the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, one of the most basic elements of that fairness is requiring all players to have a deck that matches the format for the tournament, and to that end, there are deck lists. Tier 1 events like your weekly local tournament don't require them, but any Tier 2 tournament needs all players to submit a list of the cards they're playing before Round 1 begins.

This week on Black and White: we talk about the ins and outs of deck lists!

Deck Lists
As you might expect, a deck list is a list of what's in your Main, Side and Extra Deck. You can find a blank copy of a Konami deck list on this page. It's recommended that you use this form as it's neatly formatted and makes sorting the lists way easier for the judges if they're all laid out in the same way.

When filling out your list, there's a few required fields on the top of the page: your name as it appears in Konami Tournament Software, the tournament name and date, your Konami player ID (COSSY ID), your last initial (… the first letter of your last name) and your Main Deck total.

Believe it or not, I've had players hand me a complete list but leave off their name and COSSY ID, making the entire thing worthless. If you're at a computer, you can download the form and fill out the entire thing in Adobe Reader and print it! The totals for monsters, spells, traps, Side Deck and Extra Deck will automatically update as you're typing everything out, so you'll know if you accidently miss a card – that obviously won't help if you mess up on card amounts in a very specific way; you'll still need to take some amount of care.

Otherwise, the rest of the list is self-explanatory: monsters go under the column for monsters, and likewise for spells, traps, Side Deck and Extra Deck. If you accidently put your Extra Deck where the Side Deck should go, let a judge know and they can usually make an easy correction to the list.

Tips and Tricks!
The Extra Deck and Side Deck areas are exactly 15 lines each. That makes counting the number of cards in each column very easy! If you run only one copy of 15 different Extra Deck monsters, you can get all of them in the area assuming your handwriting allows you to dedicate one line for each card.

One easy way to count the Extra Deck is to count how many cards are listed at more than 1 and for each one that's above one, that's how many extra spaces you should have in the Extra Deck area. For example: if you run one copy of 13 different monsters but two copies of some other monster, there should be one blank line on your list. If there isn't, and each monster name takes up one line, you messed up somewhere. This method isn't as useful for the Side Deck since a lot of Side Decks are two or three of a single card, so adding up the totals from zero is easier than subtracting from 15. (If you're a judge, this is a useful shortcut if you need to verify deck lists quickly.)

If you use Konami's card database, you can print a deck list from that webpage! You'll need to log into the database using your COSSY ID number and password. When you do, you'll have access to a few relatively unknown features including saving ten separate decks and a have/wants list for collection management and trading.

When you create the deck using the database, you can search for cards by text and the database will give you visual warnings if the list you've saved isn't legal for whatever reason – not enough cards in the Main Deck, too many Forbidden / Limited / Semi-limited cards, and so on. Keep in mind that the printed decklist from the database is formatted a bit differently than the PDF available on the gameplay page.

Other Do's and Don'ts
Do print out multiple copies of your list! Doing so lets you keep your list as a reference during the tournament if you need to look at what your Side Deck is comprised of in the middle of the tournament. This is also a very effective time-saving measure at a YCS when you're grinding at 16-person Regional Qualifiers and need to get back in line to register if you've been eliminated from your event. And if you happen to be one of the fortunate duelists to be called for the Public Event playoffs, you can simply hand in one of your already-prepared lists and be ready for the next two rounds of play in hopes of getting yourself a prize card!

Do make sure your list matches your actual deck before you hand it in. Once it's in the tournament staff's hands it's gone forever. You can't make any changes to your list unless your list is illegal – in other words, the list doesn't match the format, or doesn't follow game rules.

If that's the case, you'll likely incur a penalty of some kind. Make sure your list is good before you hand it in. (If you don't have time to check your list because you're dashing up to registration to get into the tournament before the registration cutoff… plan better.)

Do read Konami Tournament Policy regarding deck lists! You can find the policy documents on this page. As such…

DON'T abbreviate cards in such a way that a judge can't determine what the card is supposed to be. “ROTA" isn't an acceptable abbreviation for Reinforcement of the Army, “MST” isn't ok for Mystical Space Typhoon and I'm only mentioning this next one because it actually happened, “ASW” isn't an appropriate abbreviation for Amazoness Swords Woman.

An abbreviation is acceptable if it's used consistently throughout your list. So “Graff M of the BA”, would generally be an acceptable abbreviation for Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. If you wanted to use hash marks (two little vertical dash marks) or arrows to indicate repeated text down multiple lines, that's generally acceptable too.

DON'T leave off words from your card names. I once had to witness a player get a Deck Error – Major (Game Loss) for writing “Elemental HERO Shining” on his list. The player was using Elemental Hero The Shining but left off “The”, and that was critical because there are three different cards in the game that use the words “Elemental”, “Hero” and “Shining” in their names; Elemental Hero The Shining, Elemental Hero Shining Flare Wingman and Elemental Hero Shining Phoenix Enforcer.

Looking back on it now, Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning was responsible for so many Game Losses back in 2011 when it was removed from the Forbidden List. Because while BLS-Envoy was in a whole bunch of players' decks, their lists reported them as running Black Luster Soldier – as in, the Ritual Monster. Womp.

 Black Luster Soldier
Black Luster Soldier81561
Set Duel Terminal 7
Number DT07-EN030
Level 8
Type Ritual Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 3000 / 2500
Rarity Rare
Card Text

This monster can only be Ritual Summoned with the Ritual Spell Card, "Black Luster Ritual".

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Do have legible hand writing. Having undecipherable chicken scratch on your deck list is actually a tournament infraction: Deck Error: Minor (Warning). It's a lame way to get a penalty, so avoid it if possible.

Do list all card names in the same language, preferably the local language. Even if you have foreign versions of cards, list the cards in the same language.

Do make sure you're using actual card names on your list.

The following is a list of non-existent card names that have appeared on lists over the years. It's unknown if the players involved we trying to be funny or if things went horribly wrong, but these are words that actually appeared on deck lists over the years.

Ancient Gear Beast -> Ancient Bear Blast

Dragged Down into the Grave -> Dragged Down into the Gravy

Trap Dustshoot -> Trap Duck Shoot

My Body as a Shield -> My Body as a Child

Maxx “C” -> Matt C

Raigeki -> Ron Giori

Forbidden Chalice -> Fedora Celsius

Interrupted Kaiju Slumber -> Interrogation Kilt Slumber

And my favorite… (because it's one of mine) (yes really)

Stardust Dragon -> Stardust On It?

A point of advice for everyone: typing out a deck list at 3am after being awake for 24 hours is a horrible idea. Then again, doing anything at 3am after being awake for 24 hours is probably a bad idea.

If you have questions about deck lists, card interactions, game mechanics, or tournament policy, send me an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to and your question could be answered in a future edition of Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino

Joe is a Yu-Gi-Oh! judge and player from Long Island, New York. You can read his non-card game things at and watch his video game streaming things at

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