Hey guys! I’m back with another article today and this time I’m going for the gold and trying to win ARG’s Holiday contest. Please don’t shy away from feedback and constructive criticism. It’s been a while since I wrote my last article and since then I had some recent success at YCS Columbus where I placed in the top 16 with my ‘Miracle Gemini’ deck! Sadly I won’t be attending YCS Atlanta, but you can all expect to see me in full force at the 100th YCS in Long Beach!
Today I’d like to discuss something that I think is extremely important in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh, and that is consistent deck building. Now these concepts may not necessarily apply to each and every deck, or every player; however, if you look at top decks from the past, these concepts are for the most part, applicable.
First off I think we need to identify what makes a deck consistent. I believe it’s a combination of three main factors: Flexibility, aggression, and speed. All three go hand in hand. If you look at all of the ‘tier 1’ decks from the past and present, you will find traces of each of these significant factors.
Flexibility is, in my mind, the most important factor to building a consistent deck. If you find yourself facing a traffic jam and the only way you can go is further into the jam then your not going to be a happy camper. If you have the ability to take a few side roads to avoid the jam you will be a much happier person at the end of you're trip. More choices are always better. The same applies to Yu-Gi-Oh. Having multiple options at any given times is the best situation to be in. It means that at any given time you can possibly have an answer to any scenario your're facing. This is the main reason why the ‘Tengu Synchro’ deck is, bar none, the best deck of the format right now. Between Reborn Tengu combo’s with Enemy Controller, making multiple synchros to deal with practically any problem card, slowing the game down with Thunder King Rai-Oh, and what ever else you can come up with, the deck can play out of almost any scenario. It’s a modern day ‘tool box’. It has the ability to make any level synchro 2 through 9 (with the exception of level 3) at any time in the game. This gives the deck endless possibilities of being able to overcome just about any problem it faces. It also helps that the deck naturally fits in Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, which is arguably the strongest card in the game right now.
Having flexibility means your deck can play aggressively or passively given the scenario your facing. Without sticking to the popular 'Tengu Synchro' deck for every example, let's take a quick look at the always consistent X-Saber deck that was a popular pick last format by veteran players such as Billy Brake and Adam Corn. This deck was a prime example of having the ability to play the aggressive game or the passive game. The deck played cards such as XX-Saber Darksoul, XX-Saber Emmersblade, and Super-Nimble Mega Hamster. All these cards allowed the deck to, in a sense, 'stall' the opponent until you can set up an aggressive play. It gave the player the opportunity to play out of bad situations, bad hands, and absorb power plays from the opponent if they happened to open really strong. Having a strong backbone is one of the healthiest things a deck can have.
Now, on the other hand, the deck had an equally strong aggressive game thanks to cards such as XX-Saber Boggart Knight, XX-Saber Faultroll, and Gottoms' Emergency Call. Between these three cards the deck could explode and any time. It made the deck very dangerous. Cards such as XX-Saber Hyunlei put you in a situation where you didn't want to over commit to the board, but by doing that you made yourself vulnerable to being completely over powered by monsters, and having your hand picked away at by XX-Saber Gottoms. Your cards weren't safe no matter where they were! The deck was also proven to make Naturia Beast and Naturia Barkion extremely easy; probably easier than any other deck at the time. Both of these cards allowed for added aggression. You could push for as much damage as you possible could without fear of traps, and you could feel safe about ending your turn thanks to Naturia Beast. If you couldn't deal enough damage to get the win you were in a very good position since your opponent would not be able to use any spells to overcome your board. They would be limited to only monster cards which limits their decks flexibility to answer your field. The deck also ran multiple Effect Veilers just for situations like this as well. It gave your field added protection in a scenario in which the opponent could only use monster cards to try and mount a comeback. Although the deck was arguably under-represented last format, there was a reason why veterans like Billy Brake, and Adam Corn chose to play it, and why they, in their eyes, thought it was the best deck.
The final factor, in my eyes, that makes a deck consistent is speed. Speed can be interpreted in a few different ways and may be perceived differently depending on the type of deck your playing, but in the end it's the same principle. Being able to access the heart of you're deck in a relatively easy manner without relying on the luck of the draw phase is the basic principle of speed. This may be the result of playing plenty of draw cards, searchable cards, or a combination of the two. This was one of the main reasons 'Tele-Dad' was arguably the greatest deck this game has seen post Forbidden List. It won more events than any other deck, and consistently took 13-15 spots of the top 16 in multiple SJC's. The deck had the ability to play six major draw cards. Three copies each of Destiny Draw, and Allure of Darkness. This allowed for the deck to dig for it's main power cards, which were Dark Armed Dragon, Emergency Teleport, and Crush Card Virus. Between Emergency Teleport and Reinforcement of the Army the deck was able to search for two of the most important cards in the deck, which were Krebons and Elemental Hero Stratos. Elemental Hero Stratos made your Destiny Draws live, which put a Destiny Hero - Malicious in the graveyard so it could combo with Krebons to make a Stardust Dragon. The Stardust Dragon would protect your aggressive plays with Dark Armed Dragon and allow you to push for the win. 'Tele-Dad' had the best flexibility, the best aggression, and access to the best playable speed cards at the time, resulting in its dominance for an entire format.
In closing, a deck's consistency is the leading factor to having superiority. If you closely examine the most dominant decks of their respective formats, you will see traces of all of these three main factors of consistency. Next time you are building a deck I'd like you to keep these factors in mind. Ask yourself, can your deck answer many scenarios in multiple different ways? Can it be aggressive enough to pressure your opponent into bad positions? Finally, is your deck fast enough to access your power cards in a timely fashion to outpace your opponent? Keep all of this in mind next time you build a deck, and I'm sure you will be impressed with your results!
In honor of Alter Reality Games, play hard or go home!
- Daniel LaMartina