Samuel Pedigo: Do playstyles exist?

Samuel PedigoHave you ever reflected on yourself and thought how dumb you were a couple of years ago? You’ve been through so much since then, though. Now you have a much better grasp on life; you’re more intelligent, wiser, less naïve and more prepared to deal with what’s coming. Be proud! But don’t be content—the you from the future thinks you are oblivious to so much right now.

The older you become, the less you congratulate yourself for how sage you have become and the more you realize how little you actually know.  You come to realize that life is a journey of continuous learning. If you don’t share this sentiment, you’re probably one of the many stubborn and arrogant teenagers playing this game that thinks they’re untouchable—but you’re not and you should start listening to your parents more often.

dark bribeBear with me here, your parents didn’t give me a Dark Bribe to write this article and I will actually be talking about Yu-Gi-Oh. The point that I’m trying to make is that, like in life, there’s too much even in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh to truly know and master everything.

In order to be the “perfect duelist” you would have to master entire fields of study:

  • Body language

Reading your opponent’s body language can give you clues within a duel. Think of all of the different ways your opponent could be unintentionally saying something: scratching, looking, touching, tapping, body positioning. Did you know that based on where each lobe is located within your brain, that when somebody is trying to visually remember something, they usually look towards the upper right? If they’re looking to the left, there’s a good chance they’re imagining something up and are going to tell you a fabricated story. Of course, your opponent could also be using their body language to try trick you by acting like they’re in a bad position so you fall into their trap! Being able to read through these is also another skill not easily mastered. Separate from these is learning how you can use it as a weapon against your opponent.

  • Mathematics and Statistics

Often times people use their “gut” to feel out what the right answer is or base a decision on what amounts to a small sample size. That’s when math comes in handy. An entire playerbase could be making incorrect assumptions about a card based on what seems right to them when, actually, the math says otherwise. That’s an enormous way to get an edge in deckbuilding. But sometimes the calculations are complicated and an advanced understanding of math is the most effective or only way of reaching the right answer. Familiarity with odds and calculating them is also helpful since it means you can use it to aid you in complicated decision making during a game without taking up too much time.

  • Magic

By magic, I mean tricks and techniques, such as slight of hand, which could be used in order to cheat. Understand that I’m not advocating cheating—rather I’m suggesting that if you really want to be able to counter it, then knowing the ways to do it is the most effective way of recognizing when somebody’s doing it to you.

That’s far from a comprehensive list but I feel as though it should get the point across: people commit their entire lives towards studying math, magic and body language. Applying them within a competitive environment is something experts in those fields usually don’t even study.

But even if you were able to master all of these, within the context of Yu-Gi-Oh at least, it’s impossible to completely understand all the different interactions within the meta game because it’s always changing so rapidly. To return to my parallel between life and our children’s card game, even if you could live forever—you would never be able to know everything! It changes too quickly. If you were to study architecture and “master” that, then learn all you could about vehicles, by the time you were finished, architecture would have already advanced beyond what you had previously learned.

Some duelists concede not knowing everything by learning just one deck and mastering it. Others dabble between multiple decks, gaining a more general understanding of them all. There are also duelists that enjoy magic but aren’t strong at math. Even amongst the Yu-Gi-Oh mathematicians, some are better than others. We each have our different strengths. My point is that there’s no way to learn everything in Yu-Gi-Oh. If nobody can know everything, then there’s no way for anybody to always make the right play based on all of the available factors that can go into making a decision and executing those plays.

The perfect way of playing only exists within Patrick Hoban’s imagination.

Rather, we each take what we know about areas like body language and math, playtest to gain a better understanding of the interactions within the meta, combine it with our own intellect and tendencies and that’s what forms our individual playstyle—at least for the moment. Remember that our playstyles are always evolving, just like us, and as we learn more our outlook on the game and on life changes.

You should notice, though, that even though they might disagree from time to time, most great players do tend to share the same opinion on what’s the best play pretty often. Having a unique perspective or playstyle isn’t enough to justify poor decision making in deck building or dueling. For more on that, I encourage you to read the “Deck Building with Purpose” article on the Yu-Gi-Cast website:

Thanks for reading and as always—play hard, play smart, or go home!

Samuel Pedigo
I began playing competitively at YCS Dallas in 2011 and currently have seven premier event tops, including a 2nd place finish at the 2011 NA WCQ. I pride myself on playing complex decks that often challenge the player with in-game puzzles to determine the optimal play. My friends make fun of me for creating spreadsheets detailing most (or all) of the combos in the deck that I'm playing. In addition to the mental stimulation, I feel as though these kinds of decks offer the most flexibility and gives the player a much higher influence on the outcome of the game. I'm also the host of the Yu-GI-Cast! It's a podcast dedicated to Yu-Gi-Oh. Although Billy, Scott and I aren't able to make podcasts very often, I try to update the page regularly with articles and news about the three of us. Here's the URL: PLAY HARD, PLAY SMART, OR GO HOME!
Samuel Pedigo

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