Welcome back, Kaijudo duelists! As you all know, Clash of the Duel Masters just released today. I know I said I was going to make this week's article about my predictions for the metagame, but since we just got the full spoiler for the set last night, I think it's a bit too early. After getting my hands on a ton of cards this weekend and dedicating a lot of time this week to playtesting with my team, I think I'll be more prepared to make those predictions. For this week, I'm going to be revisiting a subject that I wrote about a number of weeks ago regarding information. With the Kaijudo Master Challenges in full swing, it's more important than ever to get the most information possible, and use it to your advantage during a game.
Knowing Your Match-up
Match-ups determine more in this game than we give them credit for. Decks never do the same thing against every single opponent. They might have the same strategy, but you're going to need different combinations of cards at different times to successfully counter all the possible threats out there. Even a more streamlined deck like Rush has to live with this fact. The general goal may be to win by turn 5 every game, but there are some match-ups where you need cards like [ccProd]Comet Missile[/ccProd], and some where [ccProd]Comet Missile[/ccProd] is completely useless. Unfortunately, you're not always going to go into a match knowing what you're opponent is playing, but there are a few things you can do to help you find out.
Being friendly when you first sit down at the table can go a long way. In addition to making sure you and your opponent don't hate each other (which can make for a long and awkward 30+ minutes), it's a good chance to get some valuable information through smalltalk. Asking questions like "How are you doing in the tournament?" or, "So, what did you lose to?" can give you some pretty good results. Just remember not to give too much information out yourself.
Another trick I've started using is pile shuffling my opponent's deck before the match. I honestly don't know why I wasn't always doing this. In a game like Kaijudo, deck totals are a huge indicator of what someone is running. Rush decks and aggro decks stay at the 40 card mark almost religiously. Control decks usually stay in the upper 40s, in part because they're able to filter through their deck with ease, and in part because the control player doesn't want to be forced to throw down his or her only copy of power cards like [ccProd]Skull Shatter[/ccProd] into mana early on. In the pre-Clash meta, 4/5-civ Dragon decks were also on the higher end of the spectrum as far as card counts.
As an example of how card counting can help you, I was running LWD control at the last KMC I attended. Throughout the day, when I counted someone's deck and it sat somewhere between 46-50 cards, I immediately narrowed it down to two possible match-ups: 4/5-civilization Dragons and the control mirror match. Though I couldn't necessarily pinpoint which of the two I was facing until I saw the first couple mana drops, there were certain things I just knew to do against either of those decks. Blockers were generally bad in both of those match-ups, and removal such as Death Smoke and Terror Pit was really valuable. It really helped make the first couple mana decisions easier, and those can often come to bite you in the long run if you make poor decisions. If I had counted 40 cards, I would have immediately assumed I was up against a deck like Mono-Fire Rush or Dark Saber-Bolt. In both of these instances, cards like [ccProd]Scaradorable of Gloom Hollow[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Jade Monitor[/ccProd] would have been instant saves as opposed to early mana, so it would have completely altered the first few turns of the game. Every deck has its narrow cards, but they become a lot easier to use if you can get hints to tell you what you're up against.
Note-taking is currently allowed during a match of Kaijudo, and a lot of players who are doing well are taking advantage of it. There's really no reason not to, and it has helped me numerous times. Part of the reason a card like [ccProd]Razorkinder Puppet[/ccProd] is so great is beyond the simple discard. After you get the advantage off of its effect, you're able to play around everything else you saw that your opponent had because you were able to see their entire hand. Sure, it's possible to memorize their hand, and it's something I've done a lot at locals when a pen and paper weren't within reach, but there's really no reason not to write that kind of information down. Keeping track of all your opponent's options can give you a real edge in a game. This is sure to be even more relevant now with the addition of Mesmerize to the card pool. A level 3 spell with [ccProd]Razorkinder Puppet[/ccProd]'s effect, it allows you to start planning against all your opponent's options very early in the game.
There are other times when note-taking can be appropriate as well. My friend and teammate Spencer Swan, who recently got third place at the KMC in Asheville, told me after the event that he was using note-taking all day to mind-game his opponents. Five of his seven matches that day were the WDL mirror match, so a lot of copies of [ccProd]Crystal Memory[/ccProd] were played. Whenever his opponent would play [ccProd]Crystal Memory[/ccProd], he'd try to deduce which card they might have searched for (since he had a solid idea of what was in their decks), and then write it down. Of course, he wasn't right every time, but he was planning for what he believed to be the worst-case scenario and it gave him something to play around. I'm sure it also had to have frustrated at least a couple people when they looked at his notebook and saw he had written down what they had searched for without ever being shown.
Using these tips makes otherwise difficult decisions a lot easier to make. If anything is played that allows you to get a glimpse of your opponent's strategy, make sure to play accordingly. Everything from deck size to knowing what your opponent has in hand at any particular point can give you the edge you need to be in control of the game. Hopefully these tips can help you at your next local or KMC! Make sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts on the subject, and I'll be back next week with some opinions of the new meta after a good week of play-testing. Until then, Play Hard or Go Home!