A First Turn Kill, or FTK, is similar to a One Turn Kill, but with the additional constraint that victory is executed on the first turn. To date, FTK decks win in one of three ways: either Deck out, Life Points through Burn Damage, or Exodia. A Duel can be won by several other means. Thus, future FTK decks may utilize other victory conditions besides the current three.
Because the rules prohibit Trap Cards from being activated on the same turn that they are set, FTKs centered on "Magical Explosion," "Blasting the Ruins," and other Traps as win conditions conclude the game in the Draw Phase of the subsequent turn. These strategies are still functional FTKs (and OTKs) despite victory not taking place in the span of a literal turn.
The history of FTK decks was most prominent before the advent of Advanced Format. "Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End" was central to the game's original FTK strategies before it was banned. The occurrence of an FTK has technically been possible since the game's inception, specifically, by acquiring the five "Forbidden One" pieces in hand within the first turn. This potential FTK was extremely improbable and only an incidental occurrence. Since FTKs are generally strategies that decks are entirely built around to execute regularly, "Exodia" did not constitute the first FTK strategy.
"First Turn Kill" decks that emerged early in the game's history include the "Magical Scientist FTK" and the "Dark Magician of Chaos OTK." The "Magical Scientist FTK" deck consisted mainly of Spell Cards that enabled the summon of "Catapult Turtle" to deal Burn Damage and "Magical Scientist" to maintain Catapult Turtle's costs. The "Dark Magician of Chaos OTK" abused "Dimension Fusion" and "Spell Economics" in tandem with either "Toon Cannon Soldier," "Cannon Soldier," "Catapult Turtle," or "Mass Driver." Empty Jar is another prominent FTK deck that has taken several forms throughout the game's history. Empty Jar has historically been the most widely used Deck out strategy.
The release of the card "Effect Veiler" in 2010 was a monumental turning point in the history of FTKs because it provided the non-turn player a means of interrupting and disabling FTK strategies. This enabled the non-turn player to prevent what would otherwise be a loss decided before he or she had to opportunity to take a single turn. Incidentally, "Effect Veiler" was released at the end of the only season of the game since the inception of Advanced Format during which an FTK deck was a dominant strategy at all levels of Organized Play. That deck was "Frog FTK," which is the only deck to have won a World Championship.
The use of FTK decks is frowned upon by many duelists because the manner in which these decks win or lose involves minimal interaction between the players' cards. The outcome of win or lose for an FTK strategy is predominantly decided by two factors: going first, and drawing an adequate combination of cards to execute the strategy. This is aberrant from games involving non-FTK decks, in which outcomes are typically determined by how two opponents use their cards to counteract one another's moves. Although FTK decks are generally not looked upon favorably, they still hold value, especially when seen as challenges in using probability to optimize the deck building process. The underlying math used to aid in the construction of certain FTK engines and in the playing of hands in perfect sequence presents some of the most complex puzzles in the entirety of the game.
The current card pool is so large that it would be exceedingly difficult to identify every FTK strategy possible in Traditional Format. It may help to think of general categories of FTKs in terms of the core engine that enables their ending win condition. For instance, variants of "Exodia," "Spell Counter OTK," and "Magical Explosion FTK" decks are usually built around a shared core engine that revolves around "Royal Magical Library." "Gishkill" and "Electrum FTK" are relatively recent FTK innovations that are unique in that they utilize a specific deck Archetype to reach their win condition. Note: Although "Gishkill" wins by FTK through Deck out, if often won matches through the unorthodox means of time-out in tournament settings.
The following list provides a few notable examples of First Turn Kills. Strategies that can currently only be performed in Traditional Format are noted. Some Traditional strategies were previously used in Advanced Format. Those that were not previously played in Advanced were either not yet reliable or not yet possible because key cards essential to the strategies did not exist or had not been released.
- Butterfly Dagger - Elma OTK (Traditional only)
- Dark Magician of Chaos OTK (Traditional only)
- Magical Explosion FTK
- Magical Scientist FTK (Traditional only)
- Frog Burn FTK (Traditional only)
- Spell Counter OTK
- Gallis the Star Beast FTK
- Empty Jar (Traditional only)
- Electrum FTK