Greetings, duelists! I hope you’ve all been testing diligently! US Nationals is approaching with less than a month to spare, and if you have been paying attention to regional performances and the other WCQ’s around the globe, then you should know what’s been doing well. Obviously, Elemental Dragons and Prophecy are putting in all the work but other decks are topping here and there. For those of you who tested the format, you know how slow both of those decks are. That’s right, I said “slow.” It’s funny because these are two of the most powerful decks we’ve ever seen, and yet it takes them years to actually win the game a lot of the time. That doesn’t take away from their actual power, though, it just says that there’s a lot to think about when you’re using them or up against them. There’s also a ton of searching, keeping track of effects, shuffling, and other maintenance work that takes away from the actual game. These things consume plenty of our time as duelists, and with only forty minutes in a round, we will continue to see a lot of matches go into end of round procedures. Believe me when I say that you’ll want to take my advice in this article; learn to enter the Scoop Phase. Going into time is not fun. Even if you’re up in life, you know you have a chance of just losing to barbaric tactics like someone dropping their hand on the table and aping their monsters at you. I’m sure we’ve all suffered horrible losses in time that would have been completely different if the game played out accordingly.
Even players in the Top32 have had bad beat stories about going into time when they have complete control of the game, but still being unable to deal enough damage to win. Like I said, not fun. There’s also the reverse side of the coin where you have won games in time that you probably would not have if it played out. Regardless, I don’t think that’s any justification for wanting to go into time and it’s a scummy way to win if you stalled to get there. The truth is, if you know what you’re doing and you’re a good enough player, you’ll be able to win most of your matches without any help from the clock. If I could, I wouldn’t let the end of round procedure decide any of my matches—win or lose. But since we’re telling the truth here, and I have to be perfectly honest with you, I think that right now it just takes really long to do everything you need to do to win. This is why I recommend scooping when things get so out of control that you can no longer win the game. For instance, I am an avid user of Elemental Dragons, and every time I face a Prophecy player, I know that there is a high chance I will just flat out lose game one. I expect it almost. If I happen to open broken enough to steal game one from them, then great, but if not, I’m simply going to go to game two and utilize my side deck. You have to face the facts; some decks just have great matchups initially, which is why we side heavily for them. If my opponent resolves a [ccProd]Spellbook of Judgment[/ccProd] and ends up with +4 and a Jowgen on the field, I know that I probably have no outs. And that’s another thing: knowing your outs. You should always be aware of what cards are left in your deck that can give you a chance to win the game or dig yourself out of a bind. If there are none, enter the Scoop Phase, plain and simple. I never quit if I have a realistic chance at winning, so I’m not telling you to give up if the game takes one wrong turn. Sometimes you can make a comeback, but you know when you can’t. The more time you spend watching your opponent slowly beat you down with [ccProd]Spellbook Magician of Prophecy[/ccProd] while he has +6, [ccProd]The Grand Spellbook Tower[/ccProd], [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd], and Jowgen on board, the less time you will get to play out game three. If he will be going first in game three, that means he might end up with more turns than you, giving him a higher chance of setting up a strong foothold and locking you out from doing damage.
Draws are also terrible. I think the community has been disillusioned thinking that drawing in Yu-Gi-Oh is somehow a good thing. Let me be the first to tell you that it is an awful idea unless you are absolutely cemented into the top cut. I get a lot of questions at YCS(s) asking if it’s a good idea to draw the next round and my answer is always no. For one thing, if you get caught intentionally drawing the match, you will be disqualified or worse. And two, a draw is essentially a loss for both players. I absolutely hate it when it happens to me. I rather lose than draw because it hardly benefits anyone, and I’m not that bitter. I rather see someone go on with a win and have a better chance at topping. If your record is X-1-1 at a 10 round YCS, you can basically say that you’re X-2, because if you lose again you are out of the tournament. Very seldom do X-2-1’s top, so the next time you’re thinking about it, just play it out to the end. All of this can be easily avoided by entering the Scoop Phase. Every minute counts. And think about it like this, what if you get into a situation where you really need to think about your turn, because we all know how long those Dragon turns can take to plot out. Well if you take years to lose, you will stymie yourself from having more time to think later on. Games do not end when your lifepoints hit zero; that is a common misconception. Games end when you can no longer win the game. You ever been caught in the Wind-up loop involving Hunter? Why try to play out of that when you have no hand? Be realistic. Also, I believe Jeff wrote an article awhile ago saying that you should scoop if your hand is bad and/or if playing it out will reveal information to your opponent. He opens Magician Shark and you have nothing--why let the opponent know what to side against you? In today’s meta, it would be more like they open with [ccProd]Spellbook of Judgment[/ccProd] for 3+ and your hand is not very strong. Just enter the Scoop Phase. Thanks for reading! Remember, Play Hard or Go Home! -Frazier Smith -The Dark Magician