Welcome back everyone for this week’s addition of Beyond the Top Deck! There were some fantastic comments last week about the introduction and I am excited to start writing some articles with substance like this one. Feel free to give me some feedback in the comments section below, I’d love to know how well (or poorly!) I was able to convey this topic and if there are areas where I can improve in the future! Without further ado it’s time to discuss well… everything you do.
Each game of Yu-Gi-Oh entails a myriad of different variables including the decks involved, cards drawn, side deck choices, time spent and of course – the players. But hidden beyond the simple skill level of the players involved are the human tendencies associated with their actions. Understanding the consequences of one’s actions and how to uncover free information are paramount to improving as a Yu-Gi-Oh player. You never want to sit down with the odds stacked against you. And you most certainly don’t want to do so when most of the top tier decks in the game today are inherently inconsistent in nature. So what exactly am I referring to?
The simple concept that every action has a subsequent reaction or consequence should the basis for everything you do in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh. Far more often than not when a player loses a game of Yu-Gi-Oh they cite inadequate draws, a lucky opponent or an inability to finish the match in the appropriate time. But how about instead we talk about the decision to use Solemn Warning in the early stages of the game; when later on down the line you were unable to play aggressive due to a fear of Gorz the Emissary of Darkness. Or even as subtle of a decision as to how you would remove your deck from your deckbox.
Beyond the actual in game decisions made by a player there are a series of important precautions players seeking to reach the next level need to be making. For example, have you ever thought about the potential of revealing the bottom card of your deck to the opponent because you placed your deck back in an awkward manner? Seems harmless right? You casually finished a few test games in the final minutes before a YCS and threw everything back where it went ready to start round one. You sit down and pull everything back out nonchalantly but in the process reveal to your opponent the copy of Wind-Up Hunter on the bottom of your deck. Next thing you now you find yourself starting game one going second and your opponent’s turn one Rescue Rabbit suddenly turns into Evolzar Dolkka and not Laggia – why would they be doing that? Could they know you’re running Wind-Ups – a deck with a critical weakness to Dolkka’s imposing ability? Something so subtle as a flash of a card and instead of potentially being able to bait out a Laggia negation and take control you’re forced to scoop game one and dig into your side board. Tisk, tisk tisk… Don’t play with fire unless you’re prepared to be burned.
Ready for one that might blow your mind? Rewind a little over a year ago at YCS Dallas where Legendary Six Samurai Shi – En and his package of triple Gateway of the Six ran rampant. What is the universal method of tracking counters accumulated by Six Samurai United and Gateway of the Six?... Dice. Now in general most players you play are going to sit down with have a nice collection dice – and especially so if you’re playing someone who has been around the block a few times. But do you know who is never going to show up to the table without them? The guy ready to pile them up on their unfair continuous spell cards. So what are you going to think when the person you’re playing sits down and asks you, “Hey man, can I borrow one of your dice to see who goes first?” Think you have an idea? I know I did at YCS Dallas. While I certainly played my fair share of Six Samurai mirror matches there were a handful of times I played against Blackwings, X-Sabers, Gravekeepers and Stun variants. You want to know one common thing across the board? Never once did someone without a visible amount of dice on the table come out running Six Samurai. Starting to see why literally everything you do matters? And I haven’t even hit the good stuff yet.
Enough of the outside influences – unless of course people are curious enough for me to think of more because I bet I could. Let’s break down some in game decisions and analyze the consequences.
You run Tour Guide from the Underworld, I run Tour Guide from the Underworld, he, she, we all run Tour Guide from the Underworld. Tour Guide from the Underworld is the most powerful card in the game today, yet it seems as though only recently have players begun to understand a minor way to extract more value from the card. Let’s assume for the sake of argument you draw and opening hand consisting of Tour Guide from the Underworld and determine that the most optimal opening play is to summon a Level 3 Dark Fiend from your deck and exceed into a copy of Wind-Up Zenmaines. If you did not draw any other of your Tour Guide targets what monster should you be special summoning virtually 100% of the time? The answer isn’t another Tour Guide from the Underworld in order to leave Sangan in your deck. The correct answer here is to special summon Sangan and use them both to exceed into Wind-Up Zenmaines. By making this single decision you have directly altered the contents of your deck in such a way that the game might hinge on that choice. In the subsequent turns of the game, after your opponent has dealt with Zenmaines and mounted their own threat on the board, you may suddenly find yourself in the position of needing to draw a live – and powerful card. Assuming you rid yourself of the second copy of Tour Guide, you’re suddenly wishing to rip the final copy and do so before you draw Sangan.
Here is a simple situation where one must consider the risks of their actions. Assuming you left Sangan in your deck after summoning your first copy of Tour Guide from the Underworld, the most beneficial outcome over the course of the game is to hit the 50/50 proposition of drawing Tour Guide from the Underworld before Sangan. But the odds simply do not warrant making such an unnecessary risk and in the long run you’re going to find yourself winning more games because of the consistency of grabbing Sangan off the first Tour Guide and leaving yourself with two powerful draws in the deck. Imagine you were sitting at table 10 in Round 11 of YCS Long Beach with your tournament life resting in the fate of the top card of your deck… how would it feel if you flipped it over and found the Sangan you were too greedy to search out on turn one instead of the Tour Guide from the Underworld that it would be?
Ahh, decisions, decisions. The amounts you make over the course of your Yu-Gi-Oh career are going to be vast and virtually impossible to keep track of. But stop yourself at the next tournament before you sit down and think, “Am I in a position to not mistakenly reveal my deck with how I remove it from my deckbox?” Perhaps you want to always keep Dark Hole on top from round to round *hint*hint*. But beyond the physical interactions, stop and think before you activate whatever the next card you happen to play is and ask yourself, “Am I aware of the consequences of this action, and am I prepared to continue on a path to victory if this situation goes against my better interest?” Depending on the answer to that question you may want to reconsider.
Now I could just go on ad nauseam with different circumstances about where free information is revealed or examples of in game sequences but where is the fun in that? We need to save the intense stuff like pupil movement or body language for the advanced discussions. I just want you to walk away from this admitting to yourself that everything you do has a consequence and be willing to come back in the next installment of Beyond the Top Deck prepared to grow on that conclusion.
According to my notes the next topic in line is The Concept of a Misplay. Now as most of you know YCS Long Beach is in a few weekends and there may be the possibility that next week my article focuses on how to prepare for that event! So please leave some feedback, I am always curious to hear what everyone thinks and remember…
The idea of continually improving all aspects of your game is undeniably vital in evolving and progressing as a player.