Avoiding Rigid Thinking

It’s human nature to want closure in just about everything we do. It makes us feel good. We don’t like when things are left unanswered and we’d rather spend less time thinking about something difficult and more time thinking about enjoyable things. We’d rather spend 10 seconds thinking about a play and 10 seconds thinking about the movie we are going to see after locals rather than 20 seconds thinking about the play. This is comfortable to us.

This is not how we get better at Yu-Gi-Oh.

In order to take these shortcuts to give ourselves closure we ask questions that will give us definitive answers as to what the right thing to do is. It’s very easy to say “X is bad against Y” and completely leave it at that. This type of rigid thinking may bring us closure, but it does not bring us closer to being a better player. Instead of questions and statements that give us a hard answer, we should ask mind opening questions.

If we should not be saying “X is bad against Y,” what should we say? We should say something closer to “It seems as if X could be bad against Y.” It seems like we are just nitpicking as the two sound incredibly similar. But if they are not the same, what is the difference? The first one is dismissive. “Maxx “C” is bad against Heroes.” It leaves us free to think about other things. It leaves a significant amount of room for error. The second train of thought is a mind opening statement. It gives us room to reflect on why or why not something may be bad, but also the potential benefits it has.

This doesn’t mean take this to the extreme. After all, some things are absolute. It wouldn’t make sense to say “It seems like my standby phase follows my draw phase.” That’s just silly. It’s an absolute. Your standby phase is always going to follow your draw phase. Similarly if your life points hit 0, you lose. These are just facts about the game.

It is only appropriate to use this line of thinking when dealing with things that you cannot be absolutely certain about. “Maxx “C” is bad against Heroes.” Well it’s certainly not the best, but instead of thinking about what potential benefits it yields, you might exclude it from your deck entirely because it’s bad against Heroes.

Now the purpose of this article is not to defend the usefulness of Maxx “C” against Heroes. It’s certainly not the best card in that match up. However, I’d like to give you an example that I recently happened to me. Last weekend in Rhode Island I finished day 1 at a record of 7-2 in 41st place. I was using Wind-Ups. Also in my bracket was fellow writer Billy Brake who also finished 7-2 playing Inzektors. Saturday night I considered what I would do if I were paired up against him. My main deck seemed absolutely abysmal for the Inzektor matchup. I mained 2 copies of Dimensional Prison, 2 copies of Mirror Force, 3 copies of Wind-Up Factory, 2 Snowman Eater, 2 Spirit Reaper, and 0 Effect Veiler. It certainly did not seem like I had a favorable game 1 against his deck at all.

My game 2 and 3 did not seem to get much better as I only had 2 copies of Fiendish Chain and some generic Gozen Match removal that I could effectively side in the matchup.  I didn’t like the idea of being eliminated virtually automatically if I faced him or any other Inzektor player so I began to think about what I could do in case I was paired up with him.

At this point my deck was already locked in and nothing about it could be changed. It wasn’t possible for me to add cards to my side deck that would give me a better Inzektor matchup like Effect Veiler. I had to make do with what I had and on the surface it seemed like I had a considerable amount of cards that I wanted to side out, but only a few cards that I could effectively side in. The first thing I thought about was siding in Thunder King Rai-Oh with the idea that “at least I can attack for 1900 before he gets popped.”  Marginally, he would be better than cards like Snowman Eater which would be pretty much completely dead. Ultimately I decided that the benefit of attacking for 1900 was not good enough as the card has essentially no other applications in that matchup.

This is when I remember Joe Giorlando (also playing Inzektors) telling me that he took his first loss to someone who Dimensional Prisoned his Mystic Tomato when he went to ram it into one of their monsters to take control of the game in game 3. At the time I brushed it off as if he had bad beats. What business did his opponent have keeping in Dimensional Prison against Inzektors for games 2 and 3? Hornet loves to piece apart any card like Dimensional Prison.

Then I started to think about what happened to Joe with a little more depth. Realistically, if Hornet had free reign to pop my board, I probably wasn’t going to be winning that game regardless. Dimension Prison doesn’t stop Hornet, but neither do any of my alternatives. So, there would be essentially no point in looking at how bad Dimensional Prison is in that aspect as every other card was equally as bad with regards to stopping Hornet.

So if we’re not looking at Dimensional Prison in that aspect, how should we? Well since Hornet’s limitation, Inzektors rely a significant amount more on Mystic Tomato to get either Dragonfly or Hornet as quickly as possible. Dimensional Prison gains enormous amounts of ground here. You probably shouldn’t be blindly attacking their sets because if it is Tomato you might outright lose the next turn. This leaves them one alternative; ramming Tomato. If you can stop this you have decidedly shifted the momentum of the game in your favor.

Also I don’t think it would be out of the ordinary if the Inzektor player were to side Thunder King. If they did, Dimensional Prison would provide another out. They would also probably freely attack with Thunder King as they would assume that whatever Prisons were in my deck, would have been long since sided out.

At this point I began to wonder if I should also keep Mirror Force in as it deals with Tomato and Thunder King pretty much the same as Dimensional Prison does and I still had too many cards to side out and not enough cards to side in. However since Hornet is at 1, Inzektors play 3 Ladybug. This readily gives them access to rank 5s, specifically Tiras. Being able to make such a power card with extreme ease is obviously quite a threat, but not one that Dimensional Prison doesn’t take care of. Mirror Force on the other hand, does not handle Tiras and thus I decided I would simply keep Dimensional Prison in and take the Mirror Forces out.

Sunday morning came and as I walked to the pairings I was relieved to see that I was not playing Billy. My luck in this tournament had not been so hot as I had already played a National Champion and a YCS Champion. I sat down and introduced myself to my 10th round opponent who was from Brooklyn. He pulled out his deck and an Inzektor mat from Nationals. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself and sure enough, he was playing Inzektors. I opened well the first game and took it within a couple of turns. Game 2 I kept in the Dimensional Prisons just as I planned to do. I summoned Tour Guide and he activated Fiendish Chain. Next turn he went to summon Sangan and ram into my Tour Guide only to get Dimensional Prisoned. He had the most puzzled look on his face and I’m fairly certain he thought I was nothing short of awful. I went on to take the game and the match, largely in part to Dimensional Prison. It would have been easy to say “Dimensional Prison is bad against Inzektors” and leave it at that, but I’m not sure if I would have won round 10 if I did that.

That about raps it up for this week. Remember, closure questions make us comfortable. Mind opening questions make us smarter. Don't deal in absolutes unless you can be certain. Until next time everyone, play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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