How to Be a Budget Player in an Expensive META

Tour Guide from the Underworld costs $160.

It’s heartbreaking, but true. The one card that near everyone in the game wants, and only those who can afford it have.

The price is high, but not without reason. Tour Guide’s versatility gives it a good reason to be played in virtually every deck. Plus, with Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning back again this format, the need for DARK monsters in your deck is even greater. LIGHT decks such as Agents and Lightsworn use it for this reason, while other decks, such as Dark World, use it to help bring out key combo cards like Broww, Huntsman of Dark World. Still more decks use it to either Xyz Summon a Rank 3, or to use it to help speed up Synchro Summons, in a deck recently coined the “Synchrocentric” deck by Konami.

Were you to look at the Top 32 Decklists from YCS Kansas City on November 20th, you would see 3 Tour Guides listed in 27 of the 32 Lists, and another with just 1 Tour Guide. Add them all up, and that’s 52 Tour Guides in the Top 32, meaning that the value of just the Tour Guides in that playoff totals $8,320. And that’s not even counting the rest of their decks.

The average Yu-Gi-Oh! player probably does not want to drop $160 on a single card. And Tour Guide isn’t the only expensive card that’s commonly used. Lots of people use Maxx “C” in either their Main Deck or Side Deck, others use the new Rescue Rabbit, and most people like to keep a Steelswarm Roach in their Extra Deck, just in case. All of these cards are over $50 each as well, so when you add up the total amount of money needed to build a high-end deck using cards like these, the price can be a little overwhelming.

But just because these pricey cards are good doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win with a budget deck! Here are some great ways to help you win, while keeping your wallet fuller:

1)      HOLO DOWN

Sure, everyone likes to show off their Ultimate Rares, Secret Rares, and Ghost Rares. But in terms of function, lower rarities of the same cards are no different. They are, however, very different in price. For a Dark World duelist, an Ultimate Rare Dark World Dealings is about $25, while the Common is just a dollar or two. An example that applies to a wider range of people is Pot of Duality. The Secret Rare version is about $40 more expensive than the new promo Super from the Collector’s Tin. Making your deck the lowest possible rarities helps you to save money on your deck and keep the game on a budget for you, or help you to afford the big-money cards that you might not be able to get otherwise.

2)      Play an Older Deck Style

Popular decks that have been around a while always have tons of reprints. The reprints make more of the card available, and help to keep the price down. Some cards, such as Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch, have as many as 6 different prints. Building a deck like Monarchs is easy and inexpensive when most of the cards it uses now have a common print. Newer deck styles tend to skyrocket in price when they first come out because they only have one print and everyone is looking for them. Waiting even a few months to make yourself one of those new decks can save you hundreds.

3)      Find Your Own Techs

Tech Choices: the decisions that can make or break your tournament success. They’re great when you can surprise your opponent; they’re not so great when your opponent knows what’s coming. While collaborating with other duelists who play the same deck as you is a great thing and can really help improve your play and give you great ideas, if too many duelists all decide to use the same expensive Tech Choice (like Maxx “C”), two things happen. First, your play becomes predictable and the card becomes more widely known as a card that your deck uses. Second, everyone who plays that deck starts to decide that they want that card for their deck, and thus the price goes up. Picking your own Tech Choices gives you the element of surprise and the satisfaction of knowing that you picked a great card to tech.

4)      Try It Before You Buy It

There’s no worse feeling than buying a card and playing with it in your deck, only to realize later that the card doesn’t work as well as you thought it would, and you’ve wasted your money. To prevent this, there are two great methods. Duelists have flocked recently to the popular online Yu-Gi-Oh! community of Dueling Network. This site lets you create your own decks and duel against people from all over the world. Using this, you can find which cards work well with your deck and which don’t before you spend any money on them at all.

5)      Find Replacements for Expensive Cards

Some important cards like Heavy Storm there just aren’t any cards that can match that kind of strength. Others, however such as Solemn Warning, have a lot of “cousins” that effectively do the same thing. While some cards, like Saber Hole, are archetype-exclusive, others, such as Bottomless Trap Hole and Black Horn of Heaven are not. Both of these cards can get rid of the monster that your opponent is trying to summon before it can do anything to your field or life points. Solemn Warning can negate an effect that would Special Summon as well, but at the cost of 2000 Life Points and $70 before its reprint. Now, the Super Rare from the tin is under $10, but even that is still more expensive than Bottomless or Black Horn.

These are five good tips to help you to stay on the lowest budget you can, but they are by no means exclusive. There are tons of great ways to play the game without spending hundreds and thousands of dollars, and every duelist does it differently. So go out there and try these tips today: keep your wallet full, and have fun.

Anthony Brown

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