The Playing Field is the area where Duelists place their cards. Gamemats (or Playmats) and Duel Disks are often used as Playing Fields. Each player has their own Playing Field with 5 Monster Card Zones, 5 Spell/Trap Card Zones, a Graveyard, and spaces for the Main Deck, Extra Deck, and a Field Spell Card.
The "field" referenced by card effects is the combination of each player's Monster Card Zones, Spell & Trap Card Zones and Field Card Zone. Thus, the field is shared and each player controls only one side of it, despite the common and incorrect habit by players of saying "your field" or "my field".
- The top left Zone is the Field Card Zone. Only 1 Field Spell Card may be active at any time, and any new card that is activated here destroys one on the other side of the field, if present. You may activate a Field Spell Card if there is one already present on your side of the field. Your previous Field Spell Card would be destroyed and replaced with the new one. A Field Spell Card may be also be Set here, instead of Activated. If it is Set, and there is already a Field Spell Card on your opponent's side of the field, that Field Spell Card is not destroyed.
- The 5 Zones in middle of the first row are the Monster Card Zones. Placing a Monster Card Horizontally represents Defense Position, and placing one vertically represents Attack Position. Defense Position monsters can be either face-down, or face-up, but can only be Set to the field face-down, unlike in the anime, where you could summon in face-up Defense Position. Attack Position cards can only be face-up, except by the effect of "Darkness Approaches". If all 5 Monster Card Zones are occupied, you cannot Summon another monster, unless you Tribute one or more first.
- The top right Zone is your Graveyard Zone, where your Graveyard is kept, also known as the "Discard Pile". Cards destroyed on the field, or discarded from the hand are sent here, unless specified otherwise.
- The bottom left Zone is your Extra Deck Zone where the Extra Deck is kept face-down at all times. Here is the only place you may keep Fusion Monsters, Synchro Monsters and Xyz Monsters prior to them being Summoned to the field. Before the introduction of Synchro Monsters, this space was known as the Fusion Deck Zone.
- The 5 Zones in the middle of the second row are your Spell & Trap Card Zones, also abbreviated as S/T Zones. They were originally called Magic and Trap Card Zones, or M/T Zones, before Magic Cards were renamed Spell Cards in 2006. Here, Spell and/or Trap Cards may be Set, and additionally, Spell Cards may also be activated. You cannot place any additional Spell or Trap Cards—except Field Spells, see above—onto on your side of the field if all of these zones are occupied.
- The bottom right Zone is the Deck Zone is, where the Main Deck is placed. You may draw one card from it per turn during your Draw Phase, unless a card effect specifies you may not do so.
- Conceptually, there is an additional space called the Banished Zone. However, it is never represented on Official Playmats, since it is not considered "in play". Most video games depict this zone as an additional zone positioned to the right of the Graveyard.