The sky is dark with storm clouds as you make your way to your local tournament store. Your friends greet you at the door, but they're quieter than usual. A mysterious new duelist has arrived, wearing a hood that obscures their face. Nobody knows them, but as the first round pairings go up, you realize you've been chosen to face the unknown. Your friends watch from a distance as you sit down at the table, exchange formalities, and begin playing. Thankfully, the familiar setting of a duel is relaxing and eases the tension.
Your worry is melting away when, in their first turn, the mystery player summons a Fusion monster you've never seen before. You ask to read the card — but before the question leaves your lips, a chill travels down your spine. As your opponent turns the card over to you, it's clear that something's wrong. You blink, but you can't escape the feeling that your eyes have glazed over. The card text is a blur. You can make out the card name, Cyberse Clock Dragon, and little else. The pieces come together slowly, as the dawning realization leaves you horrified.
The text isn't blurry. It's six lines long, and over a hundred words.
Even as you start to read beyond the Fusion summoning materials, it's clear you won't make it through. You can't. Sweat beads form on your forehead and you lose your grip on your own cards. Your hand falls to the table as the book-length monster effect overwhelms you. Your voice is caught in your throat. You'd scream, oh, if you only could.
Cards with excessively long text have always been a pain point for newer and veteran players in Yu-Gi-Oh. They're not quite worthy of a horror story, but it's definitely not fun spending half your duel reading cards as if you're prepping for an exam. Card text length has been a problem in Yu-Gi-Oh dating all the way back to the game's earliest days. Thousand-Eyes Restrict originally had six lines of text before Problem-Solving Card Text shrunk it down to five with a significantly larger font size.
Even with larger text boxes and more keywords, the issue of text creep is definitely still apparent in modern Yu-Gi-Oh. Pendulums are the biggest offenders thanks to their second effects, but other cards like Cyberse Clock Dragon are close competition.
This week we're taking a look at ten cards with terrifyingly-long text. I didn't want to exclusively talk about Pendulums, so I've thrown in a few cards that aren't just long reads, but also feature complicated effects that you'll be forced to read again and again.
The Suship Normal monster Gunkan Suship Shari holds the record for the longest text of any Normal monster in the game. It has more than double the words of the second place Normal Monster Clavkiys, the Magikey Skyblaster. For whatever reason, this card contains an entire food blog review of "premium 'Shari'" that's apparently very delicious, but also somewhat inconvenient to eat at sea. The text itself is a joke within a joke, a bit like the wrapped food featured on the Suship cards.
The extremely long monster effect of Chaos Emperor, the Dragon of Armageddon is worth highlighting alone. It's the second-longest monster effect in the game behind Cyberse Clock Dragon. Between its summoning condition and field wipe effect, there's a ton of ground that's covered by those seven lines. I don't think it helps that both its monster and Pendulum effects feature its already-lengthy name. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Chaos Emperor's Pendulum effect isn't terribly long, which leaves it just shy of the card with the most effect text in the game.
There's definitely a connection between cards with relatively-long names and lengthy effect text. Rank-Up-Magic Argent Chaos Force has eight and a half lines of text that look significantly more intimidating than they really are. This one isn't scary: it summons a 'Chaos' Xyz that's one Rank higher than a Rank 5 or higher Xyz you control by using it as a material. Then, Argent Chaos Force returns to your hand from the graveyard when a Rank 5 or higher Xyz is Special Summoned to your side of the field. These things aren't complicated, but there's a boatload of descriptive text that goes into the actual rank-up process.
Black Garden isn't among the top five spell cards in terms of its effect text word count, but it's probably in the top ten. It has eleven fewer words than Argent Chaos Force and the same number of effects, including a long description of the Rose Token that its first effect summons. However, Black Garden does a lot with those two effects: it halves a summoned monster's ATK and summons a token to the other player's field. This effect is mandatory and will activate first in the summon response window, which used to cause all kinds of chaos with the old ignition monster effect priority. It doesn't take long for both players' fields to be jammed with Rose Tokens, monsters with halved ATK, and inevitably weird ruling questions.
The word count high score for traps belongs to Pendulum Dimension, which is basically a worse version of Cross-Sheep for Extra Deck summons that use Pendulum monsters as materials. It's a potentially amazing card in the right setting, but it's limited by the fact that it's a trap instead of a Link monster. Naturally, it's a card that references a scene from the anime, so it wasn't explicitly designed to be competitive anyways.
Ready for Halloween? The D/D gang definitely are! D/D/D Oblivion King Abyss Ragnarok doesn't just look intimidating in the card art — its Pendulum effect is one of the longest in the game. Surprisingly, that lengthy textbox contains exactly one effect that lets its controller summon another D/D monster from their graveyard. The effect trigger, condition, restrictions, and mention of Abyss Ragnarok's name push it to over sixty words. That's tiny for monster, spell, and trap effects, but it's a massive amount of word for a Pendulum effect.
I've already mentioned Cyberse Clock Dragon a few times in this article because its text size is so comically small. At 130 words, it has the highest word count of any non-Pendulum card — at least as of the time of writing. Monsters are always going to have slightly more squished text thanks to their monster type box taking up space at the top of the effect box, and Extra Deck monsters need at least one more line for their summoning conditions. Combine that with more words than any other non-Pendulum card in the game, and you can quickly see why Cyberse Clock Dragon is approaching unreadability.
Remember those moments in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime where duelists would reveal some hidden effect about their card at the precise moment it became relevant? Golden Castle of Stromberg fulfills that fantasy by discouraging players from reading it in full. Stromberg's ridiculously long text includes less than two lines about its final effect, which destroys your opponent's attacking monsters and deals damage to your opponent equal to half of that monster's ATK on the field.
How many times did players start reading this thing, get through the first two effects, assume the last bit wasn't relevant, and attack anyways? Probably at least a few, leaving players with a big surprise and way fewer Life Points.
Endymion Pendulum monsters are stacked with numerous and lengthy effects that make them an absolute pain to play against. Magister of Endymion is among the top five cards in terms of word count with four separate effects. It's honestly hard to keep some of these cards straight: Servant of Endymion is also loaded with text and carries multiple effects, and as we'll discuss next, Endymion, the Mighty Master of Magic is somehow even more absurd.
It probably won't surprise you to learn that Endymion, the Mighty Master of Magic has the most words in its effect text of any card in the game. Endymion's Pendulum effect alone has the most words of any Pendulum monster in the game. There's a lot of text to cover, but it definitely pays to take the time to read each line. Buried deep within its monster effect is a continuous effect that makes Endymion immune to destruction and targeting effects while it has a Spell Counter. I'd guess that this particular effect has gone unnoticed by players on both sides of the table a considerable number of times.
Long card text is necessary to create dynamic design with unique and interesting effects. That said, Yu-Gi-Oh's increasingly-lengthy card text is getting just a little out of hand. Yu-Gi-Oh cards are smaller than many other card games, and the lack of major keywords is definitely causing bloat. Phrases like "You can only use this effect of" could still be compressed into a single keyword that indicates how often you can activate a certain card or its effects. Problem-solving card text was a great first step, but there's still room for improvement.
Until next time then.