It's not fantasy football

Yu-Gi-Oh contestants engage in battle of wits

Tony Gallegos is all about games that have an element of strategy.

"I like games that keep your mind busy planning and calculating what you think the opponent might do," Gallegos said.

These days, Gallegos is into card games such as Yu-Gi-Oh for recreation.

He said playing Yu-Gi-Oh is better than chess for strategy, better than Risk for battle and more fun than typical card games such as poker or bridge.

Those who play such games are serious, dedicated and consider it their primary source of recreation.

"There are tournaments with million-dollar purses," Gallegos said. "A lot of energy goes into the collecting, trading, buying and selling of cards aside from the money."

Yu-Gi-Oh is based on an Egypt-ian card fighting game called "Duel Monsters." Yugi, a young Japanese man, reinvented the game,about 12 years ago.

In the game, different creatures battle in magical duels. Besides battling each other, they also have to contend with a changing battlefield that holds many dangers. When the battle is over, only one beast rises to be called Yu-Gi-Oh! (King of Games). One of the objects is to solve the secret of an ancient puzzle (Millennium Puzzle) and releases the spirit of an Egyptian King, Yami Yugi. With help from the King's spirit, the player sets out to become King of the Duelists.

Gallegos said competitors play a series of three matches, and the one who takes two out of three matches wins.

"Each player plays their own deck and tries to outwit each other in battle," he said.

One of the challenges is to build a deck that gives a player the power needed to solve the Mill-ennium Puzzle. Players work with 40 cards. Galleogos said it's pretty easy to get caught up in getting that perfect card.

"I paid $29 for a deck that had the one card I wanted, and I gained three other monsters," he said. "Now that deck is worth $150."

He said 40 to 50 avid players are in the area, and about twice that number are casual players.

"A huge part of the game is being with friends and seeing the new cards they've collected," he said.

Gallegos said his philosophy on playing was pretty simple.

"Take life points, force the opponent to run out of cards or make it so they can't draw any more cards," he said.

He said the game had no age barriers because it had enough fantasy to keep children interested and enough strategy and competition to entertain adults.

Gallegos said a tournament is held every other Sunday at the Holiday Inn in Steamboat Springs. The next one is April 10. Registration starts at 11 a.m., and competition begins at noon.

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