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 How to play pro: A guide to competitive play

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Join date : 2011-06-08
Posts : 59
Age : 30
Location : Pretoria

PostSubject: How to play pro: A guide to competitive play   Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:58 pm

This will be a guide to help beginners and non-beginners alike climb to the next step of competitive Yugioh. I will add some tips, opinions, and some general rule of thumb advice to really help guys starting the game. I’m sure alot of not-so-new players could also benefit from one or two things here. I'm mostly doing this because of the discussion of getting new players and it can be hard for beginners playing this game.

First off, let me introduce myself and a bit of background to make this information relative. I actually started playing Yugioh in 2004 for around 2 years. Unfortunately all my cards were stolen which were in a parents car that got stolen. This forced me to stop playing and it was only 6 years later that I started again online. I’m going to cut to the chase and just say that day in and day out I only play against top-level Japanese and Americans, Germans too but not as frequently. I’ve played YCS and YOC qualifiers and finalists alike, Konami head judges and so on. Every season other than last season I have been in among the top ranked players internationally. Below is some of what I know and have learned, it may not be a golden rule but just some personal experience.

Why a 40 card deck?
It’s true there are a ton of good cards out there which make it a difficult choice for beginners to keep the deck at the optimal size. There are a number of reasons to stick to the lowest card count, one of which is minimalises the luck factor. Luck is definitely a factor in this game and the more we can eliminate this luck factor the better. Running a 40 card deck over a 50-60 card deck means you have a 1/40 chance of drawing your strategy as opposed to a 1/50 or 1/60 chance. We can improve on this number even more when it comes to deck-thinning and tool-boxing which you can read about below.

Deck Thinning
Deck thinning is very valuable though not every deck can do it. This would be having cards that bring cards in your deck to your hand/field or graveyard and make the deck count even lower, influencing the 1/? Luck factor further. Deck thinning cards include Gadgets, Stratos, Upstart Goblin and other draw cards, the list goes on. If you were to run 3 Upstart Goblins it would essentially be like running a 37 card deck and having a 1/37 chance of drawing what you need. Remember the more we can lower this number the better and the less luck has to do with our deck.

This is running cards that allow you to search out specific cards. Zombies are a great example of tool-boxing, having cards that search and add to your hand or summon to the field such as Pyramid Turtle, Goblin Zombie. A generic card that provides tool-boxing would be the time-old Sangan. Tool-boxing both thins the deck, and gets exact cards to your hand/field thus eliminating the need for luck in drawing them. These cards can also give advantage in another way which will be discussed in the Plus-ing and Minus-ing section.

Don’t focus on Life Points
I’ve seen alot of people running Magical Cylinder and similar cards which do nothing more than deal LP damage. It’s not that these cards are bad, but there’s a reason they are not run in competitive decks and that is they do more harm to you than your opponent. It might be hard to understand why, but the reason chalks down to card advantage. Card advantage > than LP advantage. I’ll go into detail of this in the Card Advantage section. The reason cards such as Solemn Warning and Solemn Judgment are so power and so costly is because they stop plays. I don’t care if I just lost 4000LP, I managed to stop your biggest play which you were relying on and now I can easily make up that lost LP (possibly by just attacking once). Negation is just as, probably more, important than destruction. Throwing a spanner in your opponent’s plays is what turns games. Who cares if I only have 2000LP when you can’t even touch me? Of course you have to be very careful when using them; you have to exercise judgment which is why they are pro cards and are most effective in the hands of one. Cards like Magical Cylinder may deal LP but that can so easily be made up, so all you really did is minus yourself a card. As contradictory as this may sound, LP does not win games.

Plus-ing and Minus-ing
The title means exactly what it says... + -. This is in terms of card advantage and just HOW to get it and just HOW to take it away. It’s important to note that they directly influence each other, so minuses for your opponent are like a pluses for you, and vice versa. First off, you will get cards that give you pluses or your opponent pluses, examples of the former would be Stratos, Gadgets, Gravekeeper’s Spy, Gravekeeper’s Stele etc. Examples of the latter would be Dark Bribe. Then you get cards that minus yourself and minus your opponent. Examples of the former are Tribute cards, Synchros (2 cards to get 1, which is why 1 card synchros such as Blizzard and Debris are so good), Dark World Dealings, Hand Destruction, Card Destruction. Examples of the latter would be Heavy Storm (when used correctly), Dark Hole (when used correctly), Dark Armed Dragon, Celestia Lightsworn Angel etc. This plus-ing minus-ing all leads to advantage... hand advantage, field advantage. You also get cards that break even, some of which you can plus off of. Cards like Sangan, which if attacked, you lose a card, but also gained a card, you gained the advantage of searching for something needed, or something important. Draw cards like Allure of Darkness, You lose 2 cards (Allure + the removed) and you gain 2 cards, but you gained the advantage of thinning your deck and drawing through it. You also get exchanges such as one for ones and two for twos which you can plus off. MST would be a one for one, but you can plus off it. Gemini Spark is a one for one which you can plus off. Icarus Attack would be an example of a two for two that can also generate great pluses when used right.

Hand Advantage, Field Advantage
Ok for me this is what really wins duels and is the hidden fighting force in competitive format. You do not fight to lower LP, you fight for advantage, and as a by-product the LP will follow. Hand advantage is mostly generated with cards that plus and minus. Superior fire-power can also give pluses (destroy your opponents monster by battle and they are immediately -1). I’ve explained how you can get advantage and take it away, the rest comes down to skilful timing, judgment and skill.

Self explanatory but important none-the-less. In a format with heavy Storm, 2-3 Judgment Dragon, 3 Black Rose Dragons, and Dark Hole, over-extending is very bad. You don’t want to set everything you have on the field, only enough. So if you have 2 facedown monsters already, why do you want/need to set a 3rd? The only time you would do this is if you have to, or you can fend off cards, like its ok to set 3 spell/traps and 1-2 monsters if you have Starlight Road for example. Sometimes much of this depends on the duel, the deck you’re playing, the deck you’re against, and the player you’re against. So with experience you will learn better judgment calls.

Draw Power
Super important... provides you with options, the second best thing to tool-boxing, thins the deck, decreases the luck factor. What else can I say about this? There are decks that don’t use or need draw power, just because the tool-boxing is so good and the deck provides its own draw power rather than relying on other cards, such as Doppel Plants. If you your deck can support draw cards, then use them, just remember that it should still have good synergy with the deck. This brings me to my next section...

Deckbuilding is a whole new discussion so I won’t be getting into that, but one thing that is an important factor with any deck is synergy. On a basic level this boils down to the playstyle of the deck. Is your strategy aggressive, control orientated, stall etc? What you need to make sure is that the cards you choose to run in your deck support the playstyle of the deck. To give an example, I came across a Blackwing deck that was using stall cards, for the reason that the stall card was good. Blackwings are typically either aggressive or control orientated so as good as the card is, it’s not supporting the deck.

Side Decks
IRL is mostly always played in matches, so whether you’re pro or a beginner you should always have a side deck. These 15 cards you have tucked away can turn your worst match up into a victory for you. As far as I know there are two types of side decks: one that counters what you would come across in duels, the other changes your own deck around to throw your opponent off and/or escape their counters. Firstly you need to know what people in your area are playing. You need to counter what is mostly being played, and especially what you have the hardest time against. If you see that alot of people are running X-Saber but your decks does amazing against them, then you don’t need to go crazy with your side deck to counter that, since your deck almost already counters it. But if your deck does very well most of the time but just can’t seem to win against a certain deck type, especially one you run into regularly, then you need to side heavily against that to ensure winning. There are times when you won’t know what you could face, times like Nationals. You would mostly use judgment to know what the top few decks will be and side against those.

I hope this helps some players get better, or at least get off to a good start if they are new. I could go into ALOT more detail with all of these but I tried to keep it as short as possible. These points will only take you so far, from there it all comes down to experience and judgment. Deck-building is another big factor which itself requires skill and experience. I don’t recommend net-decking as you will not understand the reason behind certain cards in the deck, you will not know the playstyle of the deck or have the same playstyle and judgment as the guy who made it. What really ties a player to a deck is when he understands the reason behind every card in the deck and all the combos and potential it has. Copying a deck, even a pro deck, will not give the same results as it did for the one who made it.

If anyone has something to add or something they don’t agree on, let me know. When I list examples I honestly just listed the very first things that came to mind so you’re welcome to give/add better examples, I know there are some.

Good luck Very Happy


Last edited by Sabbaticus on Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Join date : 2011-09-06
Posts : 13
Location : Cape Town

PostSubject: Re: How to play pro: A guide to competitive play   Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:30 pm

nice read really good advice.... afro

don't you love it when you have utopia + triforce + machina Fortress in one turn Twisted Evil
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