Did you lose?

I pause to breathe and to take a close look at my field. I control Stardust Dragon,Colossal Fighter, Dark Armed Dragon, and Brionac. My opponent only has two cards in hand with an empty field. I smile in the face of certain victory. I enter the Battle Phase and declare an attack. He reveals that newly released card from his hand, Battle Fader, and I sigh. He gets another turn. He draws back to two cards, then plays Mind Control on Stardust Dragon, Brain Control on Dark Armed Dragon, destroys all my monsters and attacks for the 2800 damage needed to win.

I can’t believe it. I profoundly offer him a handshake, and he goes of to report his win. But in my mind thoughts are racing. I’m angry, sad, disappointed, shocked.

How could I lose?

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game of countering. He had Battle Fader and Brain Control. That was a perfect counter to Dark Armed Dragon. And he had Mind Control to seize my Stardust Dragon. I should have won. I mean, how often do the guy with the best card in the game along with 3 Synchro monsters on the field lose?

That was almost 2 years ago.

The most recent loss I can remember was against a T.G. Gadget deck. He had a 2 card hand, a field of Utopia and Macro Cosmos, against my field of Gorz and Token (1400/1400). I have Zombie Master, Goblin Zombie and Book of Life in my hand. I draw Caius the Shadow Monarch.

I almost instantly realize that I have to tribute the token to bring out Caius and then advance from there, but in the moment the summon is complete, I face a decision. What should I remove with Caius effect? After a brief consideration, I chose to remove Utopia and hit him down to 2900.

He draws, Special Summons T.G. Striker, T.G. Warwolf, and Normal Summmons a Gadget, makes Trishula and rips away Gorz, Book of Life and something irrelevant from my Graveyard. The moment I lost Gorz, I lost any chance of winning. I procceed to play the draw-set game until I lose.

At those times, it is easy to just back into a corner and blame Lady Luck for turning her back on you. But that won’t make you a better player. What if I had removed Macro Cosmos instead? He would have run over Caius, but he wouldn’t have been able to get rid of Gorz, and all my Graveyard Zombie shenanigans would have come online. Did I do the correct play and lost because of a top deck? Or did I simply fail to take into consideration the fact of him possibly having those 3 cards?

How many losses are because of misplays that you won’t admit? I once backed away from this. “I’m a good player, he got lucky.” It is far too easy to value your own pride over the prospect of growing. See where it all went wrong, rebuild, reconstruct, lose, and do it all over again, each time reaching further than before. Does a lucky/unlucky loss really exist? Is there truly a situation where nothing could be done? If there is, that situation is an unlucky loss. Otherwise, it is more probable that the wrong play was executed.

Imagine that you are facing an Anti-Meta deck, packing Royal Oppression, Fossil Dyna Pachychepalo, Solemn Warning and other cards which give your Tengu Plant deck a hard time. If you open with a broken hand of One for One, Reborn Tengu, Monster Reborn, Dandylion and the like, would you play it out first turn? Most good players would, because an Anti-Meta deck contains tools to prevent your plays, but almost no tools to stop you once you’ve started.

If it was a mirror match, your opponent has access to the almighty Brionac, which reduces your field to nothing in seconds, no matter how many Stardust Dragons you can drop for protection. Thinking outside the box is one thing, and adapting your strategy is another. You should know why it is unwise to open up with Tour Guide/Sangan against a Gladiator Beast deck, in the same way you know it is a good move to do that opening against Gravekeeper’s, or other decks which have no good way of forcing them of the field without giving Sangan his effect. Some players don’t think in this way, but simply does the “standard” play every time. Why, I do not understand. The decks are different. In the same way Bottomless Trap Hole is great against most decks, it should be sided out when facing Gadget, Empty Jar, or decks in those categories.

Backing away is an excuse. But it is done because, sometimes, the truth hurts.You lost because of your mistake or luck, but either way the world doesn’t end there.Reassess the situation as you walk away from the table. Did you make any obvious mistakes? Did your opponent do any? Could you have won if you did something different? If you could have won but did not, you either “got unlucky” or played bad. When deciding which one it was, be honest.

I had Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning in play, Beckoning Light set and a hand consisting of Wulf and Celestia. My opponent had 2 dead copies of Call of the Haunted, a set monster, and no hand. I was running Lightsworn and he was running T.G. Diva Synchro. He draws and Normal Summons Deep Sea Diva. Now I slap my face, because I had Effect Veiler in my Graveyard, and had I used Beckoning Light earlier I could have retrieved it along with Lumina (the other best target in my Graveyard), but after thinking hard I instead chain Beckoning Light and retrieve them. He gets a Gillman, flips a second Gillman, and starts thinking. After a long while, he decided to overlay Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction, the only card I can’t stop, and crashes into my Black Luster Soldier. I am still in the game, because I have Lumina and Effect Veiler, and a draw next turn to discard with Lumina if I want to. However, during my turn, I topdeck Monster Reborn! Drawing that very powerful card gave me the win, but I wouldn’t have lost without it either. He had no easy answer to the Garoth/Wulf brought back by Lumina, and I would be outracing him either way.

Have you perhaps heard about Pro Storm? For those of you who haven’t, it is the move of setting Heavy Storm face-down, usually along with some other easily activated card, such as Trap Dustshoot or Bottomless Trap Hole. Use that card, then watch your opponent set two cards and during your turn flip Heavy Storm. That move is game breaking, and puts your opponent at only 3 cards during your second turn and if you can follow that up with a Spirit Reaper discard, you might very well win the game outright. In fact, this move was executed at the Yu-Gi-Oh! 2008 World Championships Final by Kazuki Mutsuoka, the eventual winner.

When Harpie’s Feather Duster was first banned, people used Heavy Storm the way Harpie’s Feather Duster were used. Hold it until your opponent has two or more backrows, then use it and profit. However, people aren’t that stupid and started to set only one backrow each turn, which gave them better advantage since they could activate their trap each turn and replace it next turn while dealing damage each turn. So, therefore the general rule of only setting one more backrow than your opponent was formed, because that way no card advantage was lost even if they had Heavy Storm. Unless that backrow was Heavy Storm.

And what does this have to do with losing?
Well, that move isn’t common. It’s risky, it’s a gamble, and it might win you the game if you execute it, or might cause you to lose it if executed upon you. But it is an example of doing something that isn’t part of the standard gameplay of draw-activate-attack-end. There are more examples of doing things that aren’t common. Listing all of them wouldn’t help help much, but I’m going to give an example that I actually “invented”. Two of my friends were playing a casual match between a Final Countdown deck, and the other guy used my Zombie deck. His opponent used Final Countdown turn one, and he exclaimed “How am I going to beat this?”
I looked at his hand. Sangan, Morphing Jar, Caius the Shadow Monarch, Book of Life, Call of the Haunted.

Do you see it? The one way to win against a deck with 6 draw cards, 3 “win-cards”, and the rest one turn stall?

The answer lies within Caius the Shadow Monarch. Since your opponent already paid 2000 Life Points, get a Brionac going and after that you only have to get 5 other Dark monsters to remove for Caius effect before removing himself, giving you 6000 damage and the win. I surely can’t be the only one who has thought of this, but I can tell you that I sure as hell didn’t come up with it by trying to push through turn by turn like some kind of robot who can’t think outside its programming.

When in a position where you are under the impression that you can’t win, double check if you can make your opponent lose before you do anything else. When the dust has settled, and you didn’t exit as the victor, after looking over the entire game, reflecting the mistakes both players did or did not make, then, and only then, can you decide if you truly lost.

Jakob Silvmark

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