Finding the Balance Between Creativity and Competitive

This is my third article for ARG and I have yet to introduce myself. My name is Christopher ‘T-Rex’ Moore and by now I am sure most of you have drawn your own conclusions and have decided if you guys like what I have to say or not, but I digress. I have been playing this game since I was in middle school, and have earned more than a couple of invites. Each time I earned my invite, I was playing some sort of monarch variant. The first was in the old days of Perfect Circle Monarchs, but I didn’t play the PC build. The most recent ones were during the quickdraw/plant format where I played a deck I had dubbed “quikdraw monarchs.” During both of these instances I played a deck very similar to what was considered the defining deck of the format, but my versions were highly teched out, to the point where you could call them a completely new deck. There has always been and always will be an argument about which is better, being competitive or being creative, but sometimes you can find a balance between the two and still find success.

After the format has defined itself, I pick up the top tier deck and play with it. As time goes on I either become bored with playing the deck or I find things I dislike about it and begin to change it. This is my first point; netdecking is actually good for the game. It lets you dissect the meta and it gives you a good starting point for your own deck. During the Quickdraw format I hated drawing Tytannial, Princess of Camellias, so the logical choice to me was to take her out and without Tytannial, Princess of Camellias I saw little to no reason to be playing lonefire, because I was not playing spore. I now realize some of this thought process may have been a mistake, but without these cards I was left with spots to fill and my quikdraw monarchs were born. I piloted my deck to three top 16 finishes in regional. I was able to do this because people assumed I was playing the standard quickdraw build and this lead to several incorrect reads and some questionable side decking from my opponents. Surprise and originality often wins games, but it will rarely win you championships. Finding the balance between Creative and good is often difficult, but it is never impossible.

To find your balance you have to understand your deck and yourself to the highest level. Just looking at decklists and reading event coverage or articles is a good way to start, but you have to actually have to play with and against a deck to understand it. Also, you can’t always be playing people below you to build confidence; you have to play people on or above your level to achieve a proper understanding of the game. After you have learned all the ins and outs of your deck and all the little tricks you have to take a look at yourself and understand your play style and your weaknesses. If you are a conservative player you should be playing a deck where you can control the game and make favorable outcomes. If you are an aggressive player you should obviously be playing a more aggressive deck that lets you have options, something like the popular synchrocentric deck, or perhaps you have mastered the art of inflection point play and know when and how to switch between being aggressive and being conservative. Once you understand your play style and the type of deck you want to play you can confidently build your own deck. If you have ever picked up a deck you are unfamiliar with and tried to play it in something major you were doing yourself a major disservice, which reminds me of something one of my friends once told me, “doing that is giving up your most valuable resource in the game, you.” Often times I would watch someone else try to play my deck and become extremely frustrated because they would make plays I disagreed with. After discussing it with one of my old locals he replied, “Chris, no one knows how to play your deck but you.” This statement is how Yu-Gi-Oh should be played. Again, netdecking serves some purpose to the game, but you can never capture the originators thought process and understanding of a deck.

While being creative and doing something off the wall is half the fun of this game, you have to know when to take a step back and realize things are not working the way you want them and won’t with the cards we have right now and give up on a deck. I know it is hard to give up on something you have sunk so much time and effort into, but you learned and gained some sort of experience from your ordeal. I have always prided myself on the decks I made and the victories where my opponent would stop me after the match and ask to see my deck because they were intrigued. If I ever tell you to put a deck down it is because I want to see you progress and grow as a player, instead of holding yourself back by playing relics of past formats. I understand being creative isn’t always a choice, but sometimes this game does come down to who has the bigger wallet or friends with better cards. I’m not saying I like it, I had to play without duality when it was big and have to make do without triple tour guide now, but it is hard to replace card like that. They have reached the height they are at for a reason, and often times it is because they are the only card of its kind. Sometimes you just have to give in to reach the balance of creativity and competitive. I want to end this articles with a couple of points I feel need to be stressed.

  • Being creative is good for the game, it helps the game grow and evolve.
  • You can be creative and still be competitive. Often times this is just a couple of tech cards, but little changes can make a big difference. Double Maxx “c” saw almost no main deck play until Brake won main decking two, now the card is run in triplicate in most synchrocentric decks.
  • I am not saying you have to spend big money to play the game, but sometimes having the big money cards makes the game easier and decks more consistent
  • Again, tech cards make a big difference, but sometimes decks come off a huge tangent and a new deck is born. I like to think of this as “slant decking” and it is something I do with almost all my decks.

I hope you all enjoyed the article. Comment below and share some of your favorite innovations or the best you have ever done with a creative deck. What I consider to be my personal best was at YCS ATL of 2011 where I was playing my Quikdraw Monarchs. I was in round 7 with an x-1 record in game three about to win, but I set a cyber dragon to my backrow instead of the book of moon I intended to. After a judge was called I got a game loss, I didn’t argue because I knew I had messed up, despite the fact it was an honest mistake. I was upset with myself for making a stupid mistake and I let it affect my game in the next round and I lost my chance at a day 2. My only regret about that event is not buying glow-up bulb before the event; not a stupid mistake, cyber dragon in the backrow, which cost me a round. It’s important to remember stuff happens, and you shouldn’t let it affect your game play. The world is mean enough there is no reason to make it worse for yourself.

Christoper Moore

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