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Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament - Deck Builds From Game Design Team

UVS Game Design Team

With the imminent release of Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament, everyone is getting ready to sleeve up a flurry of decks they’ve been getting excited for ever since reveal season began. To get in on the excitement, we spoke to our own game design team about what some of their favorite cards and decks are that they’ve been playing themselves!

Shane Duckworth

Zeru's Flames is one of my favorite cards in Yu Yu Hakusho Dark Tournament.  It really shines mid-to-late game as an opener attack that can pin down your rival's entire board, leaving them defenseless for any follow-up attacks you have after.  Although you have to somewhat build around this card, one upside to this is that you should never have any problems breaking through late game walls and ending the game.

DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 010 Chu
DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 152 Zeru's Flames
DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 045 Unmatched Quickness

Keep in mind that you can activate enhance abilities on cards like Unmatched Quickness or Quick to Act, just for the sake of activating them for Zeru's Flames.  If you don't meet the conditions for the effect, then it will just fizzle.  This is different from a card like Talented Baker for example, which has the sentence "Only playable if..." which cannot be activated unless you have fulfilled the condition to play it.  With that in mind, let's move on to one of the six decks I took to the 2023 HLC for gunslinging!  I changed a few cards post-event, and this is a list I am very happy with!

(1) Character

1 Chu

(2) Actions

2 Barrier Shield

(16) Attacks

4 Zeru's Flames

4 Knife Edge Death-Match

4 Muscle Rush

4 Ignited Arrow

(42) Foundations

4 One Man Inferno

4 Quick to Act

4 Frightening Calm

4 Unmatched Quickness

4 Ice Gliding

4 Failed Role Model

4 Master of Drunken Fighting

4 Making a Stand

3 Urameshi Perseverance

2 Fast as Flame

2 Set the Record Straight

1 Rokuyukai Huddle

1 Warped Pleasure

1 Stopping For Breakfast

(61) total

The goal of this deck is to utilize the alternate win condition on Knife Edge Death-Match, with Zeru's Flames as the enabler.  Once you have built up a decent stage with lots of enhances, you play Zeru's Flames, commit your opponent's entire board, then follow up with Knife Edge Death-Match for the win!  You can use foundations like Ice Gliding or Fast as Flame to make sure it's not blocked, while using Stopping For Breakfast to cancel counterplay from actions such as Genkai's Guidance, Nullify, and Barrier Shield!

DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 012 Knife Edge Death-Match
UVS02 Crimson Rampage | 062 Ice Gliding
UVS03 Endeavor Clash Deck | 012 Fast As Flame

Muscle Rush and Ignited Arrow both serve as very strong pokes for Chu.  Muscle Rush almost always deals damage, giving Chu an easy way to snipe something with his enhance.  Ignited Arrow is extremely fun here, either giving me a target snipe with Chu, or milling my deck for a free attack, which could be Zeru's Flames or Knife Edge Death-Match!

UVS04 League of Villains | 040 Muscle Rush
UVS03 Endeavor Clash Deck | 007 Ignited Arrow

Frightening Calm is insane with Zeru's Flames.  You activate Frightening Calm, they commit 1 from Zeru's Flames, activate Stun 1, they commit 1 from Zeru's Flames, then Stun 1 resolves, a total of 3 foundations committed with the use of just 1 foundation!  Master of Drunken Fighting is incredible in this deck.  It “stuns” your rival for 1 on defense and stuns them for 2 on offense when paired with Zeru’s Flames.

Failed Role Model is super important to counter foundations with "Tenacious" effects, or playable while committed.  Making a Stand exists as free enhances to use with Zeru's Flames, but the momentum hate ability is very useful in a pinch to keep your rival off of their power plays. 

Urameshi's Perseverance plays an important role in this deck for grabbing either Zeru's Flames or Knife Edge Death-Match from the discard pile.  You should easily have the momentum to pay due to Muscle Rush and Ignited Arrow usually hitting.

DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 061 Frightening Calm
DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 015 Master of Drunken Fighting
DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 154 Urameshi Perserverance

If your rival stops at 7 foundations to avoid your alternate win condition, you just switch to a beatdown strategy instead.  Knife Edge Death-Match gets +4 damage if you took damage on your rival's previous turn.  If they aren't playing foundations, they are certainly playing attacks to hit you with!  You still commit them down with Zeru's Flames to leave them defenseless, then proceed to hit them with 9 damage headbutts (more if you have Making a Stand in your stage).  Rokuyukai Huddle can also significantly increase the damage of Zeru's Flames if you have it out.  Warped Pleasure can give a few stats in this scenario, rather than just being a free commit tool for Zeru's Flames.

DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 016 Rokuyukai Huddle
DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 063 Warped Pleasure

This was a very fun deck to play at the HLC gunslinging table.  I brought 6 Dark Tournament decks with me and the most common question I got asked was "Which one is your favorite?"  While I loved jamming each of them and couldn't necessarily pick a definitive favorite one, this Chu deck was always spicy to shuffle up as I knew it would put some eyes on one of my favorite cards from Dark Tournament.

Matt Smith

Yu Yu Hakusho: The Dark Tournament’s Design was complete by the time I got up to speed as a member of the Universus Design Team, but throughout my reviews of the set my favorite card was always Master of Drunken Fighting.

DT Yu Yu Hakusho | 015 Master of Drunken Fighting

A guiding design principle I've related strongly to throughout my career is “Easy to understand, difficult to master.” This principle is most relevant for games as a whole collection of game pieces, but one of the easiest ways to reinforce it is finding opportunities for the pieces themselves to embody the goal.

Master of Drunken Fighting (MoDF) is a foundation with just one ability. That ability is limited to Enhance timing, and it requires a commit, meaning MoDF is generally used once during a turn cycle and not repeatedly. The ability text itself is only five words, and results in your rival committing one of their own foundations… you as you did to activate MoDF, creating a symmetrical parity. 

Despite having just one ability made up of five words, MoDF has three distinct modes of use to affect the game:

The first is to use MoDF during your attack, committing your rival’s resources to make it more difficult to defend. In this instance MoDF functions as a pseudo “Stun: 1.”

The second is to use during your rival’s attack, committing their resources to make it more difficult for them to pressure you with more attacks. You can do this every turn cycle if you want, giving yourself a sort of pseudo “Breaker:1” each turn to slow down your rival. This is also the function that is most readily available immediately after playing then building the card during your turn.

Lastly, you can go for the kill. Using MoDF during your rival’s attack to commit one of their foundations, then on your own turn after readying MoDF you use it again on your own attack. This results in your rival having committed two foundations thanks to your single MoDF, Effectively Stun: 2, allowing you to leverage your resource disparity for a push toward victory.

It is the feature of this five word ability and these distinct play lines that makes Master of Drunken Fighting easy to understand, but difficult to master, and for that I consider it an A+ design, and my favorite in the set.

Jeremy Ray

Hello Yu Yu Hakusho fans! My name is Jeremy Ray and I was the lead designer for the Dark Tournament. It’s hard to pick just one card, but for me I’m going to have to go with Power of Youko. The Ally attack lineup gained a lot of exciting tools from Kurama’s kit and I think Power of Youko is the most versatile and fun.

Early on, you can use it as a high value poke, either following up after your opponent blocks an attack or clogging your opponent's card pool with things like Kurama’s character ability. If your rival uses a high difficulty card to block with, Power of Youko eats it and moves out of progressive difficulty, clearing the way for easy follow ups. Then it always gets you a quick momentum which you can use for immediate follow ups, the best options usually being Rose Whip Barrage, Double Trouble or Ojigi Plant Strike(if you are a character stacker).

Later in the game, usually backed by a few copies of Demon Plants, you can use Power of Youko as a game closer. Using your opponents blocks against them, and turning them into damage. You can also push that number even higher with cards like Twin Rose Toss, Legendary Bandit and Tape Stream Jab. If you are playing Kurama, you add a huge multiplier to the card, regularly getting its damage into the double digits. Power of Youko is the kind of card that can end up in any part of your attack string depending on the situation, in front as a value poke, in middle as a no progressive difficulty pressure piece, and at the end as a finisher(I like to use Agile Drop to use it as an opener AND a finisher in the same turn!). That’s why Power of Youko is my favorite card in Yu Yu Hakusho - The Dark Tournament!


4 Kurama, Youko Unleashed


4 Demon Plants

3 Youko Form

1 Urameshi Perseverance

4 Surprising Skill

3 The Return of the Kings

4 Nice Try!

4 Keeping Eri Safe

3 Friend Of Animals

2 Idol Work

4 New Training Method

4 Keiko's Aid


3 Ojigi Plant Strike

4 Rose Whip Barrage

4 Power of Youko

3 Agile Drop

2 Double Trouble

4 Command Pigeon Flock


3 Eri Smiles

And there you have it! Words right from the folks who have been testing and enjoying these brilliant cards for quite some time! What new fighter are you most excited to try? Will you be taking any cues from our design team’s decks?

Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament hits shelves on February 23rd! Make sure you’re in talks with your local game store and signed up for
Dark Tournament. You don’t want to miss out on getting into the Wish Tournament! Find events near you on the UGN.

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Product information: Yu Yu Hakusho: Dark Tournament Product Page

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