Sunday, 29 January 2012

Introduction to Yu-Gi-Oh! Briefer

Hello, and welcome to another post in the Introduction to Yu-Gi-Oh! series. In this post we will be covering some common misunderstandings about our favourite card game on blimps motorcycles. When picking up the game for the first time, you may be attracted to cards that have shiny effects, or high stats. However, winning in Yu-Gi-Oh! is not about having better cards than your opponent, but rather about being able to execute your own strategy to win.

Misconception - Monsters with high ATK scores are always better
While it may seem tempting to put cards like Gene-Warped Warwolf and Chainsaw Insect in your deck, in most situations it is not a good idea. Though these cards are easy to Normal Summon, with high ATK to boot, in most situations they will let you down since they have no real positive effect - Chainsaw Insect even lets your opponent draw a card whenever it attacks, which just allows them to make plays faster.

Not as good as it looks

In the end, you won't win just by having cards that can overpower your opponent in battle. For example, one incredibly strong card in the metagame right now is Sangan - with a low 1000 ATK and 600 DEF, Sangan is one of the few cards rumoured to be Forbidden in the March 2012 banlist. Sangan is great because of its effect, which allows you to maintain advantage and hasten plays, which will be covered later.

However, just because a card has high combat stats doesn't mean you should shy away from it. Many cards have high ATK scores while also having very powerful effects, like the famous Thunder King Rai-Oh, who finds his place in many decks due to his powerful search lockdown, as well as being able to negate an inherent Special Summon. Cards like Thunder King Rai-Oh find themselves at the core of anti-metagame decks, as they can run over common low-ATK threats in the metagame such as Inzektor Dragonfly while still being able to stop plays.

A high-ATK threat
Misconception - Card Advantage
Card advantage is a term used to refer to how many cards one duelist has compared to his or her opponent. It is called advantage because if you have more cards than your opponent, you have more plays available to you and thus you are at an advantage. While there are cards with powerful effects, often they will come with a drawback, and that drawback is most likely to be a loss in advantage.

Raigeki's retarded little brother

Lightning Vortex, on the surface, seems to be a good card. It can destroy all face-up monsters your opponent controls, but at the cost of discarding one card. Depleting your hand like that, trading two cards in your hand for what may only be one monster on your opponent's side of the field. Tribute to the Doomed is even worse, only taking out one monster. A quick outline on card advantage follows:

  • When you or your opponent execute an action that would result in your opponent losing one card, or your gaining one card, it is said to be a +1 in card advantage, or a plus. The term "plussing" is used to describe a player who is rapidly gaining card advantage. An example of a plus is destroying a card in battle, such as Thunder King Rai-Oh destroying a Wind-Up Hunter in battle.
  • When you or your opponent execute an action that would result in your opponent gaining one card, or your losing one card, it is said to be a -1 in card advantage, or a minus. The term "minusing" is used to describe a player who is rapidly losing card advantage. An example of a minus is having one of your cards be destroyed in battle, such as Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer destroying your Junk Synchron in battle.
  • When you or your opponent execute an action that would result in both players gaining or losing the exact same amount of cards, it is said to be a "trade". There are cards in the game that usually remove one of your opponent's cards from the field. Such a card is Smashing Ground, which destroys one face-up monster your opponent controls with the highest DEF.
One of the simplest one-for-ones
And now, some common misconceptions made by new players related to card advantage:
  • Committing too many resources to taking down monsters - the biggest offender is Lightning Vortex. When you play a card to destroy a card, it is a one-for-one trade. If that card has a discard cost, you actually pay two cards to destroy one card, so you end up minusing yourself. This leaves you with less options to threaten your opponent with, an uncomfortable situation should they draw into something good.
  • Playing Ritual monsters that aren't Gishki or Herald of Perfection, and even then those archetypes are pretty shaky. Rituals like the regular Black Luster Soldier are just unnecessary minuses.
  • Playing Tribute monsters outside of Frog decks, or Caius the Shadow Monarch in Chaos decks. They are bad, and cause minuses. Additionally, none of them can really protect themselves.
  • Using Polymerization - the only viable Fusion deck right now is probably Gemini HERO or HERO Gate, both of which have ways of plussing and avoiding the minuses by using other Fusion cards.
  • Setting non-Quickplay Spell cards as a bluff. It is a desperation play, and should only be done as such, else you leave your backrow vulnerable to Heavy Storm.
  • Overcommitting to the field - things like Summoning another monster when your opponent is already have trouble with what you have on the field leaves you open to cards like Torrential Tribute. Why use that Spirit Reaper to Xyz if your opponent can't take it down anyway?
  • Valuing Life Points over card advantage. Life Points, with the banning of Cold Wave, in the grand scheme of things, are irrelevant. The 'Solemn Brigade', consisting of three very powerful Trap cards with high Life Point costs are run in almost every standard deck. 
I have talked a lot about how minusing is undesirable, but there are times in which it is acceptable to -1 yourself. These include the use of the card One for One, which, despite its name, is usually a -1. One for One can be used to discard cards you need in your Graveyard to accelerate some Synchro Summons, such as with Dandylion in the Plant engine.

Foolish Burial is another card that is a -1, but can turn into a plus, such as with the recently released Inzektors, which turn a -1 into a +3 in the same turn, and a +4 every turn onwards.

Bottom line - whenever you play a card, think of how many cards you lose from your field and hand when you play it, and how many cards your opponent will lose. If it's less than a +0, consider using different cards. Deliberate minusing is an advanced tactic and should be avoided by beginners. Good cards to substitute for supposedly powerful cards like Raigeki Break, Magic Jammer and Lightning Vortex would be Smashing Ground, Mystical Space Typhoon, Solemn Judgment, Torrential Tribute, Bottomless Trap Hole, etc.

Misconception - The more cards in my deck, the better
Most competitive decks run 40 cards. Some run 41. Fewer run 42. Only very rarely will you see a deck with 43 cards. Decks with over 43 cards are unheard of. The reason Duelists try to stick to the minimum of 40 is because every deck has a strategy they are trying to execute. If you can't draw into key cards, it's because your deck is bloated. 60 card decks will never win against competitive decks.

For example, say you are running a Dark World deck. It's a standard Dark World deck, except you've bloated it with cards like Brron, Mad King of Dark World, or you've crammed your Trap lineup with 'powerful' one-for-ones like Dimensional Prison. Even worse, you've added draw power in Into the Void and Pot of Duality.

Draw power is needed to thin a 40 card deck with little search options. Why would you want to draw one card if you could just take that card out and increase your chances of drawing key cards like Grapha or Snoww? What if your hand is clogged up with Spells and Traps, with no Monsters? 20 Spells are still 20 Spells, it doesn't matter what percentage of your deck that they represent.

If any of you have trouble getting your deck down to 40 cards, I advise building with the following formula:
  • Decide what archetype you want to run, and add key cards for that archetype. An example is the core 3 Venus/Earth/Shine Ball, 2 Hyperion/Kristya and Honest as the core of an Agent deck.
  • Add staple cards. These include Effect Veiler, Maxx "C", Spells like Dark Hole, Monster Reborn, Book of Moon and Heavy Storm, and Trap Dustshoot.
  • Flesh out the rest of the deck, making sure to cover threats and keep your card balance well.
You can always ask Alex or myself for help with getting your deck down to a good size, too.

Happy Dueling, and good luck!

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