Beyond the Top Deck: Misplays

Welcome back everyone, hope you all enjoyed the article last week pertaining to Long Beach! Hopefully by this point the things I said ended up panning out and I didn’t look like too much of a lunatic with my suggestions! Anyway, today we are going to continue on discussing the timeless topics I think are necessary in order to progress as a duelist. On the docket today is the concept of a misplay and the different types of misplays. We will be discussing the varying degrees of misplays and by the end of the article uncover exactly what it is that distinguishes the consistent players with those who are seeking to achieve the same success.

First and foremost I need to open up and ask all the readers the simple question: What is a misplay? Do you think you know the answer? It’s time for a not so simple response to our opening – simple question.

In the game of Yu-Gi-Oh there are different types of misplays which cannot simply be struck with the title of a “misplay.” The two major types of misplays can be identified as an abstract misplay and fundamental misplay. Both of which are going to have serious effects on the outcome of the game you are playing and your overall Yu-Gi-Oh career. So what exactly do I feel is the difference between these differing types of misplays?

The Fundamental Misplay

Perhaps the most easy to understand, the fundamental misplay is something in which there is virtually no excuse for doing. Fundamental misplays are one of the most deciding factors in how consistent the top players in this game are. The game’s top players have become so natured in the dynamics of the game they limit the amount of fundamental misplays they make to an absolute minimum. By doing so they evade virtually all avoidable border line loses because they minimize the amount of opportunities the opponent has to capitalize on silly mistakes.

Let’s give an example of a fundamental misplay and perhaps you will understand where I am getting at here.

You have decided you are going to attack on this turn will all of your monsters. Your field includes an 1800 attack Elemental Hero Stratos, 2100 attack Cyber Dragon and a 3100 attack Colossal Fighter. By this point most players acknowledge the existence of Gorz the Emissary of Darkness and understand the simple rule of, “attack lowest to highest.” It has become fundamentally incorrect to attack directly with Elemental Hero The Shining because if the opponent were to have Gorz they would acquire a token too big for any of your remaining monsters to attack over. Easy right? We all know this – but we know this because it is fundamentally incorrect to do it any other way (of course barring multiple Enemy Controllers and things of the like but for this assume we have none).

But how about this scenario. You have a field of a 1800 attack Elemental Hero Stratos, 1900 attack Sabersaurus and 2400 attack Caius the Shadow Monarch. Same situation with you intending to attack directly this turn. What is the correct order of attacks? (assuming they are at 8000 and you have decided for one reason or another to attack directly with them all this turn) Here the answer is not actually Elemental Hero Stratos – the weaker monster. Fundamentally you can deal an extra 100 damage if they have Gorz by attacking with Sabersaurus first. But why is that fundamentally correct? Think from your opponent’s perspective. The attack and defense of Gorz the Emissary of Darkness is going to be stronger than the attack of all monsters on your opponent’s side of the field so the only decision they have left is when to drop Gorz. Their options are to either wait until you attack (or don’t attack) with the strongest monster – Caius the Shadow Monarch, or drop it on one of the weaker monsters. If they drop Gorz on one of the weaker monsters they full well know you will be attacking over the token created with Caius the Shadow Monarch so regardless of if you attack with Elemental Hero Stratos or Sabersaurus first they will drop Gorz – if that is their intention this turn. So understanding their perspective of as to when they would drop Gorz you can conclude that the fundamentally correct play is NOT to attack in the unwritten, “lowest to highest” order. Deal that extra 100 my friend – how many games have you lost with your opponent sitting at that!

Here is another easy one – again talking about Gorz the Emissary of Darkness although while you may be getting a lesson on managing your battle phase the point here is to show how fundamental some of the things you should be doing in this game are!

Here is the situation. You have a 1700 attack Reborn Tengu and a 4500 attack Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. Your opponent only has a 1000 attack Tour Guide the from the Underworld with no other cards on the field. What is the correct attack order?

When the opportunity to attack over an opponent’s monsters arises like this (with no backrows and such), you fundamentally want to attack over their monster with your strongest monster. This way when you then attack directly, with in this case is with a Reborn Tengu, you would only allow your opponent to drop a Gorz yielding a token with 1700 attack as opposed to a 4500 attack token.

Fundamental misplays can be difficult to recognize because most of the time their consequences do not arise. Under any of the situations above the opponent could have simply never had Gorz and the battle phase could have been conducted in whatever way the player wanted with no harm. What is absolutely vital to understand is that when you play in a premier event you are going to be sitting down and playing through over 10 rounds of highly competitive Yu-Gi-Oh. If you fail to recognize your fundamental misplays and continue to make them throughout an event you may not be punished round one or even two. But the same, avoidable, fundamental misplay will eventually rear its ugly head and cost you a match you should have assuredly have won. One of the main reasons you see the same names place in the top cut of premier events is because those players have progressed enough as players to grasp how to avoid fundamental misplays – and now even exploit the opponent when they do so.

The Abstract Misplay

As I imagine you can assume based on the name, the abstract misplay is far more difficult to grasp and understand.  Shouldn’t the name – abstract, give that away? The main difference between these two differing types of misplays is that there is no set barometer to measure if what you are doing is correct or not. As I briefly alluded to in the introduction to this article series, deciding exactly what to do on the first turn takes into consideration a vast array of variables. The decision to either set a turn one Snowman Eater or summon Tour Guide from the Underworld requires one to take into consideration the remaining four cards in your hand, expectations of what your opponent playing (or if it is game 2/3 the possible first turn you can expect out of them) along with a more sophisticated analysis of body language and player presence. The fundamental principles of the game have not concluded upon what is the blanketed correct play under the situation – unique in comparison to what we discussed under the fundamental mispla

Understanding how to dictate the pace of play and craft the game in your favor is an advanced technique that requires improvement in a countless number of dynamics. Luckily those will be covered in the upcoming weeks but for now what needs to be understood about abstract misplays is how influential they are in determining the outcome of a game. As we discussed fundamental misplays are for all practical sense – black and white. The abstract misplay on the other hand is a decision made by a player to either play a card, or progress through the game in a manner which is ultimately detrimental on their chances of victory. But the problem is that abstract misplays are much more difficult to pinpoint, and therefore are far more complicated in improving upon. It is easy to look at a fundamental misplay – acknowledge what you did was wrong and avoid doing it again. Looking back over three turns of play and finding out how a game slip out of your hands requires critical analysis of your plays but also the forces which led you to those conclusions.

Regardless of where you are on the spectrum of a player, the abstract misplay is the single most daunting roadblock in improving as a player. Players are often lectured about the correct and fundamental way to handle certain situations and like a sponge – they listen. But then proceed to fall short of their expectations on the local, regional, championship or national levels. Here we have unlocked the key to moving to the next level of Yu-Gi-Oh thinking. It is this abstract misplay where we see what is making a difference between consistent players and those striving to reach that level. You may be sitting there right now thinking, “Well I know how to avoid attacking into Gorz or how to deal extra damage here and there. Why does it not translate to championship success?” Well voila, like magic we have uncovered what has been plaguing your Yu-Gi-Oh career. What is contributing to the mindset of top players to consistently be able to do well at premier events… their decision making process. Everyone can improve upon their fundamental misplays, those ones are the easy ones. Abstract misplays separate the player population and that is what we need to start targeting over the next few weeks.

Isn’t it getting exciting? We are almost done building the foundation of what it takes to improve as a player. We should all be aware that what we do has consequences and that, the idea of continually improving all aspects of your game is undeniably vital in evolving and progressing as a player. But now we have discovered what it is we need to improve upon to do just that – progress as a player.

As I mentioned in my Long Beach Rescue Guide next week you should all be expecting an article pertaining to my time out in California! Hopefully I can improve my topping streak to four straight events and maybe walk away with the gold – wishful thinking I know.
Anyway, when we return next to Beyond the Top Deck we will begin looking at the decision making process and how that relates to abstract misplays. There are a few different topics I might write about, such as tempo and body language, but regardless the next article will begin keying in on some of the advanced theories I know we are all excited to talk about. Until next time check out Alter Reality Game’s store and remember…

The idea of continually improving all aspects of your game is undeniably vital in evolving and progressing as a player.

Oh, and I absolutely love to read the feedback you guys post in the comments below. I reply to them all so please let me know what you guys think!

Joe Giorlando

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