Deck Design for Young Duelists
I remember a few years back (2005-2006 I think) when our local card store (since closed) used to have a 12 and under tournament at 10:00 am before the main tournament started at noon. I usually got stuck with judging the youth tournament because other parents and older siblings would hide at the back tables.
Two 7 year olds were playing and needed a ruling. The turn player drew a card and saw his Giant Rat in the graveyard. He then realized that he hadn’t summoned a replacement monster when it was destroyed last round, so he performed a deck search and summoned one then. His opponent activated Trap Hole in response. They were arguing (and rightfully so in my opinion) whether a make-up summon in the standby phase could be stopped by Trap Hole.
As I stated in a previous article and the above duel highlights, duelists in the 6-12 age range typically make the following five mistakes.
- Set a trap card and forget to activate it.
- Obtain a less than ideal card from a deck search
- Forget to activate effects that happen during the draw, standby, and end phases.
- Miss the timing and/or completely forget about graveyard effects
- Fail to use flip effect of flip effect monsters
My previous article focused on creating a deck that would allow young duelists to be competitive while learning the basic game mechanics of summoning monsters and attacking while minimizing their deficiencies. This strategy works extremely well against other novices and may even surprise an experienced duelist.
Eventually though, the youngster will understand the game well enough to realize that he needs a stronger deck to participate against more experienced duelists. Oddly enough though, they don’t seem to realize that what they need isn’t a stronger deck, but that they need to become better duelists.
Therefore, the next step in their development is to create a deck that now de-emphasizes the summoning and attacking game mechanics and forces the child to instead focus their attention on one or several of their deficiencies. However, designing these types of decks often prove more difficult than designing “real” decks because this deck still has to be easy to use and relatively competitive while forcing the child to try something new.
There are several decks that fit these demands. Final countdown, stall, burn, and mill are excellent examples. These decks all share a common theme – the person running this deck rarely summons monsters in face up attack position and even more rarely attacks.
Here is a sample Exodia deck that highlights forcing the player to set and activate traps as well as remember to use his graveyard. This particular build focuses on sending either Sangan or Emissary of the Afterlife to the graveyard to obtain an Exodia piece. The deck has 40 cards.
1 - Sangan
3 – Morphing Jar #2
Again, this is a sample deck. Tour Guide of the Underworld works really well in this line-up because you can obtain Sangan much, much faster. However, I personally wouldn’t trust my son with a playset of Tour Guide even if they were in a locked case hidden under his bed. I would suggest substituting them for Cyber Valley; or perhaps a slightly better choice would be Stealth Bird.
There are 15 monsters total, but only 10 should be played on the field. Morphing Jar #2 is helpful because it stops attacks and temporarily resets your opponent’s field. It also helps youngsters begin to use flip effect monsters. This one is nice because it can be set and can passively wait to be attacked.
Stealth Bird, if chosen, is a good example of a flip effect monster that can teach duelists to remember to activate flip effect monsters. They have to remember each turn to flip it over, inflict 1000 damage, and then flip it back face down.
1 – Dark Hole
1 – Monster Reborn
The spell line-up is straightforward. Wave Motion Cannon is important because it gives the deck a second win condition and also becomes an enticing target for the opponent’s spell and trap removal. If the opponent is forced to use a Mystical Space Typhoon on Wave, they will have one less available to destroy a trap.
Monster Reincarnation (and Backup Soldier below) are in deck primarily as protection against Dark World decks. These cards provide a means to get an Exodia piece back out of the graveyard in the event that it had to be discarded.
3 – Waboku
3 – Threatening Roar
3 – Thunder of Ruler
2 – Limit Reverse
2 – Magic Cylinder
1 – Mirror Force
1 – Backup Soldier
The second is to protect life points by stopping the opponent’s attacks and/or ending his battle phase. There are 13 trap cards, or roughly 1/3 of the deck, dedicated to this.
The third and perhaps most important function of the trap line-up is to force the child to begin activating traps. The deck should be played as follows: set a trap and a monster (hopefully either Sangan or Emissary) and end your turn. Let your opponent attack and destroy your set monster to obtain an Exodia piece. If you get overwhelmed, activate your trap to stop your opponent’s battle phase.
Having a field with generally only one monster and only one trap card focuses the child on those cards and dramatically increases their correct use. In summary, the next step in teaching youngsters how to duel is to develop their weaknesses through decks specifically designed to do so.
The author, Jeff Sims, has been dueling competitively for over 7 years at local tournaments throughout Northeast Ohio; almost always with his young son in tow.