Once again we're brought to yet another long stretch of having no YCS or major events within the United States for some time now. And as anyone who's been playing this game for even over a year, you should know that many things can change just in a few months. A good example that comes to mind is the week before Raging Battle came out officially. Before that, many popular decks included Lightsworn and Gladiator Beast. However after Raging Battle and Crimson Crisis came out Blackwings were the new top speed deck. With such rapid changes like the one formerly mentioned, how do people that top consistently know what to prepare for and side deck appropriately? Here's my take on it...
The first thing that any good player that hopes to top a large event is research some of the strategies that may have become popular since the last large event. This can be done simply by going on the computer, looking at different cards that would be good in the newly popular decks and figure out what would be the best way to counter those decks exactly. Another good option is discussing strategies with friends that may be going to the next large event as well. They may have some good insight for you to increase your odds of countering the top decks with the best tool in any duelists arsenal, THE SIDE DECK!!
Of course, it all comes down to what you think are the best choices for your own deck. This article is more of a general guide to what a side deck should consist of after a big change has happened in the on going format. After doing some research, you should look at the cards you had in your side deck before and determine two things. 1) What cards are still relevant to the format, meaning, will any of the decks that were good at the last big event still be good at this event and 2) what are some cards that will be good against any new threats. A really good example in my opinion of people not knowing how to change their side boards for a new threat came at YCS Kansas City. Rescue Rabbit was just newly legal, and many had little to no experience against a deck that could XYZ like Rabbit could. Many were unprepared for the assault of XYZ monsters constantly and didn't know how to effectively counter a lot of the combos it had.
Now down to the nitty gritty. Trying to explain exactly how to make a relevant side for pretty much any deck that's popular out there. Honestly there's no one way to side deck, but there is a very effective method to siding for new threats and old at the same time. You can do this by simply fitting cards into your side deck that are good against the majority of match ups. The more cards that are good against the majority of match ups in your side, the better your chances of countering what your opponents going to put out on the field. Cyber Dragon, Fossil Dyna, Debunk, Mystical Space Typhoon (assuming only 2 are in your main deck), Dimensional Prison, Effect Veiler and Maxx "C" are all very good examples of cards that can counter multiple match ups a lot of decks have issues dealing with now a days.
Unfortunately, that isn't all there is to it. The cards you side must also "click" with the cards in your main deck. You can't go around throwing any random good card in your side deck without thinking about the consequences of what those cards may do to your main deck. For instance, let's say a Plant player is playing against another Plant player, which in and of itself is a very popular match up this format. Naturally both players side deck Debunk, Maxx "C" possibly, and D.D. Crow. Now, there's nothing wrong with this strategy at all. However, side decking so many hand traps and counter active traps against a deck that can go into beat down mode at any moment can mean a loss in game two or three. These are the things you have to consider. What will my opponent side? Do I have anything for their side deck strategy against my deck? Will this card weaken my deck if I put it in? How beneficial will this be during the ENTIRE duel? Questions like these should be going through your head while your building your side deck and side decking during your match.
I capitalized the word 'entire' for a reason. If a card is simply going to be a live card for only the begging of the duel, then the chances of it coming in to use are far less than a more versatile card. A card like Cyber Dragon is always great going second of course. If the opponent summons Wind - Up Zenmaines then you have an out to it with Chimeratech. If the opponent summons Thunder King, you have an out to it. That's what I personally look at when side decking, weather I'm going first or second game two and if i goes to game three. Making your opening hand as live as possible should be a major goal of siding in my opinion. You should be siding out the dead cards in your deck or more useless cards against the current deck your playing against and side in more useful cards. More often than not, newer players to the game always have trouble side decking as it can be a very tedious task knowing what will and won't counter certain decks.
However when worse comes to worse, use common sense and logic. If your opponent's deck relies on special summoning, side deck cards that negate special summons or limits their special summoning abilities such as Fossil Dyna and Black Horn of Heaven. If your opponent is running more of a beat down oriented deck and seems to be setting lots of back rows, cards like Cyber Dragon, Mystical Space Typhoon, Malevolent Catastrophe and other one for one destruction cards are usually the way to go. Common sense can actually be more useful at times than critical thinking in this game. People just need to take a deep breath if they lose game one, especially at a YCS or WCQ, and remember why you sided the cards you did and take it one game at a time.
Hopefully many find this article insightful or helpful or fun at the very least.
Once again, have happy holidays everyone!
~"Crazee" Adam Block~