If you play current format Yu-Gi-Oh!, learning the rules of Goat Format will not be difficult. Believe it or not, the vast majority of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s rules have not changed at all over the years. The differences that do exist are in many cases quite subtle. They are listed below. It's important to note here that if a rule is not explicitly listed here is being different in goat format, you can assume that it works the exact same way as it does in the current format. For specific card rulings, see our Individual Rulings page.
Goat Format Rule #1: Start With 6
Unlike in current Yu-Gi-Oh!, the player who goes first will draw a card at the start of their first draw phase. This means that they will initially have 6 cards in their starting hand.
Goat Format Rule #2: Unlimited Fusion Deck and Main Deck
Before Synchro Monsters were introduced to the game, the Extra Deck was called the Fusion Deck, and it could contain as many cards as you wanted! For "manual" online dueling simulators that restrict you to only 15 cards, use the following convention: Add the 15 Fusions that you think you will be most likely to use, and then if you happen to need one that you didn't add, simply use a different Fusion as a proxy.
Additionally, in Goat Format, the Main Deck was allowed to be unlimited as well. One person even took a 2,222-card deck to a national tournament! Unfortunately, however, most online dueling simulators will not allow more than 60 cards to be placed into a deck, and there is no easy work-around. Finally, Side Decks were treated slightly differently than they are today; players were technically not allowed to use Side Decks with more than 0 but less than 15 cards. But this is rarely, if ever, enforced today.
Goat Format Rule #3: One Field Spell to Rule Them All
It is not possible for both players to control a face-up active Field Spell card. If the activation of a Field Spell resolves while the opponent controls a face-up Field Spell, the previous Field Spell is destroyed. It's worth noting that Field Spells must remain face-up in order to resolve.
Goat Format Rule #4: Priority for Ignition Effects
Priority is often misunderstood by newer Goat Format players, but it's actually not very complicated. The current format rules on what Konami calls "fast effect timing" and "open and closed gamestates" can be found here. This is the same mechanic as what people in 2005 called "priority." Believe it or not, with one exception, everything that you will find on Konami's chart is the same in Goat Format.
In current format Yu-Gi-Oh!, when a Chain or Summon has finished resolving, the turn player can activate a "fast effect" (Spell Speed 2 or higher) before the opponent can. In Goat Format, when a Chain or Summon has finished resolving, the turn player can activate a "fast effect" or a monster's Ignition Effect before the opponent is allowed to respond. This change does not affect how Trigger Effects work.
For more detail on this frequently misunderstood game mechanic, see: 6 Facts That You Should Know About Priority.
Goat Format Rule #5: Replaying Attacks
In Yu-Gi-Oh!, a replay occurs when the number of the opponent's monsters changes during the battle step of the turn player. The attacking monster may then decide to attack the same monster, a different monster, or not attack at all. In current format Yu-Gi-Oh!, this replay mechanic is considered to be a "redirection" of the same attack, whereas in Goat Format, play rewinds back to the beginning of the Battle Step where the attack may be re-declared. This means that if the attacking player decides not to attack at all with the monster involved in the replay, it may attack again later in the battle phase.
Example 1: Player A controls an Airknight Parshath and a D.D. Warrior Lady. He declares a direct attack with Airknight Parshath, and Player B activates Call of the Haunted, Special Summoning Dark Magician. A replay occurs, and Player A attacks Dark Magician with D.D. Warrior Lady, using its effect. Then Airknight Parshath attacks directly.
Example 2: Player A attacks directly with D.D. Warrior Lady. Player B activates Call of the Haunted, Special Summoning Sangan. A replay occurs, and Player A has D.D. Warrior Lady attack Sangan. Player B activates Sakuretsu Armor to destroy D.D. Warrior Lady.
Goat Format Rule #6: Continuous Traps with Ignition-Like Effects
Unlike in current format Yu-Gi-Oh!, Continuous Traps with Ignition-like effects cannot be flipped face-up and use their Ignition-like effects at the same time. They must be flipped face-up "pre-emptively" so to speak. This is best demonstrated by example.
Goat Format Rule #7: Verifying Hands and Decks
Effects that require hands or decks to be revealed in order to ensure that they have resolved correctly must always be carried out, even if knowledge of the games rules or forbidden/limited list already provide you with enough information to verify that they have resolved correctly.
However, it's worth noting that tournament policy at the time stated that the purpose of checking private information locations was not to memorize the entire contents of the opponent's deck or hand and was to be conducted in a quick fashion so as not to interrupt the flow of the game. When playing Goat Format online, players are able to screenshot each other's decks or hands in order to gain perfect information without anyone knowing, violating the spirit of the rule regarding hand or deck verification. Because of this, when playing online, it has become standard conduct to not verify each other's decks or hands for cards such as Nobleman of Crossout and Mind Crush. Instead, to ensure that these cards have resolved correctly, players can simply use the replays at the end of the match.
Goat Format Rule #8: Failure to Find
Cards that search the deck can be used without any legal options. The one weird exception to this rule is The Agent of Creation - Venus, whose effect still requires Mystical Shine Balls in the deck to be used.
Goat Format Rule #9: The Damage Step and Its Discontents
The Damage Step is notorious in the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG for its complexity. The rules governing the Damage Step changed many times in subtle ways throughout the history of the TCG, but as far as Goat Format is concerned, you really only need to know the following three things.
9A: Damage Substeps and Distinct Timings
Most of the complexity of the Damage Step arises out of its unique series of distinct timings at which cards and effects can be activated. While this vocabulary became antiquated in later years, these were colloquially (and unofficially) referred to as "substeps" in 2005. In current Yu-Gi-Oh!, the Damage Step has five such "substeps" or timings. In Goat Format, on the other hand, there are six:
9B: One Shot, Do Not Miss Your Chance to Blow
In current Yu-Gi-Oh!, an unlimited number of Chains can be activated during the Damage Step, in the "before damage calculation" window. These Chains generally involve Spell Speed 2 effects that alter the ATK and/or DEF of a monster. In Goat Format, this works slightly differently; all such "modifiers" must be activated during Damage Calculation, not before it. And only one Chain can occur during Damage Calculation (unless the resolution of one Chain triggers some other effect). So if a player's Spell Speed 2 effect to boost their monster's ATK is negated by a Counter Trap, that player has lost their chance, so to speak, to activate more Spell Speed 2 effects of this kind.
9C: No Spell Speed 2 Spells or Traps, Monster Effects Only, Final Destination
In current Yu-Gi-Oh!, barring Trigger Effects and effects with specific rulings to the contrary, players are generally limited in the Damage Step to the activation of three types of effects: Spell Speed 2 effects that directly alter the ATK and/or DEF of a monster, Spell Speed 2 effects that negate activations of cards or effects, and Spell Speed 3 cards. In Goat Format, this is only slightly different: players can only activate monster effects that negate activations, not Quick-Play Spells, Normal Traps, or the effects of Continuous Traps.
Goat Format Rule #10: The Match Draw is a Lie
This can be a confusing topic for some people, because the rulebook that was distributed at the time during Goat Format actually contained incorrect information about draws that was not applied in tournaments that were ran during this time.
Although the rulebook stated that a match could end in a draw (e.g. 1 win + 1 loss + 1 draw = 1 match draw), this was not applied at tournaments, as it was literally impossible to enter a match draw into the tournament software. Matches must always be played until one player has won 2 duels.
Goat Format Rule #11: Dude, Where's My Trigger?
In Goat Format, triggers can be recognized as being met in the middle of a Chain, whereas in current format Yu-Gi-Oh! this is generally not the case. Tricks involving moving monsters to a different location to prevent them from triggering will not work in Goat Format. Also, unlike in current Yu-Gi-Oh!, Trigger Effects can be met while the monster is in the deck.
Goat Format Rule #12: Monsters Equipping Monsters
In Goat Format, if a monster like Relinquished or Thousand-Eyes Restrict tries to equip an opponent's monster to itself, and an effect is Chained that causes Relinquished/Thousand-Eyes Restrict to be removed from the field or flipped face-down, the opponent keeps their monster (it is not sent to the graveyard). On the contrary, in current format Yu-Gi-Oh!, the monster would in fact be sent to the Graveyard.
Goat Format Rule #13: A Cure for the Summoning Sickness
In current format Yu-Gi-Oh!, the battle position of a monster can never be changed during the turn that it was Summoned. In Goat Format, there is one weird exception to this rule. If you take control of one of your opponent's monsters, you will always be entitled to your manual battle position even if it was just Summoned that turn. In other words, a monster's position cannot be changed manually if it was Summoned that turn by the turn player. But if a monster is summoned by the opponent of the turn player, its battle position can be changed on the same turn.
Goat Format Rule #14: The Other Guys
This one is short and sweet. In current format Yu-Gi-Oh!, when two Attack Position monsters with 0 ATK battle each other, neither one is destroyed. On the contrary, in Goat Format, both monsters are destroyed in battle. This, however, comes up very rarely.
Goat Format Rule #15: Killing Yourself to Live
In current format Yu-Gi-Oh!, if you have a card or effect with an activation cost involving the payment of Life Points (LP) and you have exactly enough LP remaining to pay that cost, you can activate the card or effect, pay all of your remaining LP, and immediately lose the game. In Goat Format, this is not the case; you must have a higher LP total such that you can pay the cost while remaining above 0 LP in order to activate such a card or effect. Similarly, if a card has a mandatory LP maintenance cost, it will not force a player to pay all of their remaining LP in this situation; these cards will simply be destroyed as if the player had less remaining LP than the amount required by the cost. This comes up rarely, but can be relevant with a select few cards that involve maintenance costs, such as Archfiend monsters.
A similar quirk exists with draw effects when the player's Deck has too few cards remaining to fully resolve the effect in question. In current format, you are generally prohibited from activating such effects in these circumstances. But in Goat Format, you can always activate an effect that will deck a player out. This was and remains key for Empty Jar combos, wherein the Empty Jar player will frequently use Card Destruction and Serial Spell to win the game by decking the opponent out.
Goat Format Rule #16: Infinity Wars
The Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG has always enforced special rules and policies for the handling of infinite loops. But like so many other things, these rules and policies have changed throughout the years. In current Yu-Gi-Oh!, when an infinite loop is created, no matter how, a rather nuanced procedure is used wherein players and judges determine which card is the "primary cause" of the loop; that card is then sent to the Graveyard by game mechanics. In Goat Format, this is true for "involuntary" infinite loops, e.g. when an infinite loop is initiated by game mechanics and not by the action of a player. But a voluntary action that would cause an infinite loop is simply illegal. This is best explained by example:
Goat Format Rule #17: State of the Unions
In current Yu-Gi-Oh!, multiple Union Monsters can be equipped to the same legal target at the same time. In Goat Format, this is not the case; a monster can only be equipped with 1 Union monster (through its Union effect) at any given time. Additionally, in Goat Format, most Union monsters can be used to prevent the destruction of the equipped monster by battle, but not by card effects (even where recent errata would suggest otherwise). Since both of these changes were implemented in the current Advanced format through the use of extensive card errata, these issues can get confusing when playing on certain online simulators that display up-to-date card text. But for all intents and purposes, you can assume every Union monster in Goat Format is printed with the "old" type of effect text (with the one-Union-per-monster and destruction-by-battle limitations).
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