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Combined Card Design Guide

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Updated: 3/21/2016


This guide is to help you understand how to design cards in the Advanced section.


It is a bit long (and attempts are being made to shorten it for ease of reading), but should explain the basics.



"The path to cardmaking is long and difficult. While you will fall a few times along the way, it is important that you do not waver in your quest to become the best card maker that you can be..." - Sakura Haruno






A lot of us aren't the best artists in the world, and so we end up having to use other people's images. Thankfully, there are a variety of options that you can use to find suitable pictures for cards.


A few places you can find suitable pics are below.

  • deviantART - The world's biggest art site and community. There's a lot of artwork to choose from, although you may have to scour a few pages before finding one you like. (Make sure that you are permitted to use certain images, because some of them are not for public usage.)
  • JazinKay's Albums - JazinKay was a member on this site who compiled a large collection of art and even cropped them so that they are perfectly square and easy to use. Note that the art is sorted into albums on the side. Just be warned that some images come from other card games, but don't let that fact stop you.
  • Safebooru - Anime art site.
  • Danbooru - Larger version of Safebooru, except there is some hentai (anime porn).
  • Magic Deck Vortex - A large collection of cards from Magic: the Gathering.
  • Pixiv - A Japanese art community, there's plenty of anime art, but there's non-anime art as well. Just know that the site is in Japanese, so unless you're fluent in the language or have auto-translate, you might have a hard time looking for stuff.
  • Kyng's Card Art Dump - Kyng's card image gallery; contains around 1700 pictures at this time.
  • CFV Art - Full-art images used in CardFight! Vanguard (this is not be all of them, either past or current cards)
  • Toyo's Art Vault - Toyo's stuff
  • Aix's Collection - Aix's stuff
  • Sword-Summoner's Albums - Koko's stuff
  • Kingdom Hearts Keeper's Card Images - Kingdom Lombax/Samhain's stuff
  • M M - MM's stuff
  • hunduel's Deviantart - Hunduel's stuff
  • J-Max's YCM Archives - J-Max's stuff

Keep in mind that these are not the only places you can find suitable pictures from, but rather as some known places you can find stuff.


You're also free to do your own images if you possess adequate skill, either hand-drawn or done with graphic programs. Some of us are capable of doing our own pictures. Otherwise, just ask someone in Showcase to make you one. There are some image galleries around Showcase if you're interested.


If you need to use images from other card games, then that's perfectly fine. Some members may have objections to you doing so, but if anything, they need to focus on the card itself (and not whether you used a picture from a particular other CCG card that they like).


If you cannot find any images that suit your liking, there is NO shame in making a Written Card.



[spoiler=OCG (Official Card Grammar)]

Basically, this dictates how the card is to function when used. Like standard English, there are terms that you need to use when describing effects.


It's important that you try your best to word your effects properly, as how/when your effects trigger/work depend on such wording. However, we know that OCG is one of the harder things for a new member (and even for some veteran members) to do; as such.


The main thing here is make sure we can understand what you intended for the card to be doing. If you need fixes, then one of us will be happy to give you some.


There is a guide in this section to help you write things, but do note that Konami is sometimes inconsistent with their own wording. Having perfect OCG is not a prerequisite to good cardmaking (especially in light of this fact), but bottom-line, just make sure we understand what the card does.



Card Design


Advanced Cards should be designed with the current metagame in mind, but indeed it proves to be rather daunting for some members.


We reference a few things in the game on occasion, so it's important that you have a general idea of what's happening. A good way to get acclimated to the metagame is by browsing TCG from time to time.


All cards are held on the same design principle.


This means that good cards done by members are entitled to receive the same sort of reviews as a card that require improvements. If a card is good, then don't be afraid to compliment the member.


While some of you may be hesitant to do so because of the Advanced Clause, just explain a bit about why you like the card and you'll be fine.


[spoiler=Base Stats]

As a general rule of thumb, your card's ATK/DEF should be 300-400/500 x its Level/Rank; however, note that there is some degree of leeway in here.

If your card must have higher than usual ATK/DEF for a monster of equivalent Level/Rank, consider the following:

  • Giving it a negative effect. Note that cards like Goblin Attack Force, Giant Orc and other monsters with 2200+ ATK for a Level switch themselves to Defense Position. Or in Giant Kozaky's case (2500 ATK), it blows up if its source card is no longer present.
  • Require Special Summoning conditions. The Machine Emperors are an example here; Wisel/Skiel both have +2K ATK/DEF at Level 1, BUT require that a card you control be destroyed by an effect before you Special Summon from a fixed location.
  • In the case of Extra Deck, have the monster require 3+ materials and/or certain Attributes, Types or archetype monsters. If necessary, require a combination of these factors.

However, note that stats are not the only thing that determines a monster's power.


If your card has a rather powerful effect for a monster of its Level/Rank, you may wish to set your stats on the lower end of the spectrum. This counterbalances the card so it's not overpowering.




HEROs/Numbers are known to have some of the highest numbers of members inside them. However, keep in mind that they are linked to the plotline of the series and/or part of the main character's Decks.


On average, you should design your Archetypes to have no more than 10-15 cards (there is some leeway, but 20 is an absolute max). Go farther than this, and you run the risk of having your cards do too much; that, and people will be less likely to grade them.


If you design cards for an Archetype or series, make sure that they have some reasoning behind their design.


Ask yourself this question: "What do I want them to do as a whole?"


If you opt to design cards based on other media (sports, actual events, etc) and/or deities from other religions (besides the original gods, Nordics, Shintoism, etc), make sure that the design adequately reflects the principles you've chosen.




In a lot of cards, there is a backstory behind them, as shown by similar artwork and effects.

For reference, you can use the Tospedia translations found on Yugioh Wikia.


If you choose to design cards based on characters/events in other anime/manga/television/comic series, it is important that you incorporate notes from the character in question. However, you must do so while also retaining balance (see the below section).


For instance, if you opt to translate a CFV card into Yugioh, take into consideration that unit's abilities and figure out the best way to replicate it using our mechanics. The same goes for translating Pokemon into Yugioh cards (which is certainly possible).



Balance and Fairness


(Thanks to Gadjiltron)


Ask yourself these questions when designing the card.

  • Is your card strictly better than something that has seen play in the past few formats?
  • Is it very similar to something that's currently Limited or Forbidden?
  • If you were the opponent, would you have a major problem trying to play around or get rid of this card?
  • Can it cause an OTK, starting from a nearly empty field?

If the answer to any of these questions is "Yes", consider toning down the effect or applying restrictions.

If you're in doubt, just tone it down yourself. If it needs to be buffed, then we'll suggest things that you can do.


Yugioh is NOT solitaire, so do not design your cards to be as such.

Nothing is worse than having to watch your opponent play a long chain of cards, and OTK you right afterwards.



I'd like to give credit to Aix and .Saber for writing the original components of this guide, which can be found here and here.


If you have any questions/comments about stuff presented, please don't hesitate to ask.



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Although I agree it's overdone, I don't think fabled is bad design for the reason you wrote since they're usually weak and thus useless without proper support cards or strong synchros. It's true that it can allow you to easily summon overpowered synchros such as quasar but the problem is the synchro itself rather than fabled design. Personally I simply hate using overpowered cards and have many times forfeit a game when the other guy would use such card (like "Beelze of the Diabolic Dragons" or "Stardust Dragon/ Assault Mode"). I would mention Gladiator Beast as a bad Archetype design since you can easily summon pretty much any monster you want, plus they can deal with pretty much any strategy with cards like Bestiari, Hieraklinos, War Chariot and Gyzarus. Gyzarus and Hieraklinos are definetly bad design.

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Just as a sidenote, this thread just combines two of the older guides together; as to save some space + keep things organized.

I only wrote minor things, but not that area.


(Did you not read the top half of this guide for the sources?)


You might wish to talk to Aix about that; he probably wrote the chunk of this guide you just mentioned.

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  • 2 months later...

Revised the guide, so it's more accessible to newer members and less of a mouthful to read.

Some things from the old version have been omitted, since they're basically repetitive and/or common sense by now.


Also, a few things were from last year and stuff; updated it with more current stuff.



tl;dr, original guide was 17 pages on a standard word document (Times, 12 pt font); this one comes out to about 8 pages.

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I'd also like to raise the mentality of expecting your own cards to be Limited or Semi on release. (No sane person would intentionally create a Forbidden-worthy card outside of Joke/OP cards.)


Some might disagree with me, but I think expecting your own custom card to be Limited or Semi-Limited the moment it enters the game is just a bad excuse to try and justify not sufficiently balancing the card. You created the card, you know its power level, so if you have suspicions - or already know - of your card being too powerful, rein in the card yourself, or ask for suggestions as to how to do it.

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As a note, Nekroz are not the proper deck to use for explaining 'solitaire'. They actually have a relatively high level of interactivity, and they don't really spend so much time searching that it causes a problem. A better example would be Infernity, which is literally sitting around and doing a set sequence of plays off one card. The term solitaire isn't based on time, it is based on interactivity.

Also, you implied that Dragon Rulers are better designed than Qliphorts and Shaddolls. Lolwut? I think you are confused.
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No, I implied that Rulers are on the same level as Qlips/Dolls; in which the design is bad. I never implied anything about them being better designed.

They're in that order by their release date.


As for the solitaire thing, that can be changed.




(Apparently the order that things are mentioned makes a difference, unless it's explicitly mentioned that it's not a indicator of what's better designed.)

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  • 2 months later...

Yeah, I should've caught the grammatical thing earlier.

Wouldn't really make sense as it was written, unless I rewrote it to "Does this card do something better than ..."


Changes have been made.



For everyone else, a lot of things were cut out due to being common sense things.

Also put some things in spoilers, so easier to scroll down and read.


DP section cut out, although I think I left a footnote about it.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...
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Is the reason for the number of cards for an archetype being 10-15, is it for one post or is it for the maximum ideal number of cards within a archetype?


One reason for it is to make it easier on members critiquing your sets (if you make too many cards, then we have to grade each one with respect to each other [and the current gamestate, which is very time-consuming]). Another one is making sure that your Archetype has enough cards to function properly, but not have redundant support or otherwise, a response to whatever counter an opponent can bring against the Deck (that's why you carry support cards). 


There's no rule saying that you cannot go over 15 cards, but like I mentioned, some of the cards you make either don't support the Archetype or just end up being duplicates of stuff they already have. 20 is an absolute recommended max, but only go there if your Archetype really needs it (most of the time, you should be able to keep it with 10-15). 


You may know that HEROs and Performas indeed eclipse this threshold, but that's generally due to them being linked to the main characters using them. In that regard, a lot of the cards in there aren't really used, either because they've fallen out of favor with the times OR simply offer nothing/little of value. 

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  • 1 month later...
  • If you were the opponent, would you have a major problem trying to play around or get rid of this card?
  • Can it cause an OTK, starting from a nearly empty field?

I think these two are sort of hard to size up unless you test the cards. I made a card that I thought was perfectly balanced, but apparently made my opponent unable to play Yugioh.

They could perhaps be post-testing notes to consider.

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  • If you were the opponent, would you have a major problem trying to play around or get rid of this card?
  • Can it cause an OTK, starting from a nearly empty field?

I think these two are sort of hard to size up unless you test the cards. I made a card that I thought was perfectly balanced, but apparently made my opponent unable to play Yugioh.

They could perhaps be post-testing notes to consider.



That could work; granted, you should be thinking about possible combinations when you're designing it in the first place, but there may be some card combos that weren't plain obvious and things happen when they mix. It happens quite a bit, hence why format testing / banlist stuff takes a while to figure out what cards can be abusive in there. 


I know one of the cards I submitted to 2099 during the previous state (before they reset the pool and all) had a small loophole after some testing on DP (though Darkness told me about them via PM; I didn't actually do it due to being unable to use DP on my normal computer). On the surface, it would've seemed fine.


Most of you guys use DP since it's easier to try out cards (albeit you have mostly customs factored into there), as opposed to YGOPro which requires some coding to play around with (albeit you have the existing card pool). Or proxy if you have to on DN, assuming opponent is fine with it (apparently some users don't like the idea). 

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