Misplays: Do They Exist in the Current Format?

The YugiBible – Sunday Scriptures: ‘Defining a Misplay – Do They Exist in the Current Format?’

G’day guys! Back today with another article for ya’ll to read. I intend to submit an article to ARG by every Sunday provided I have time between work, family and whatnot. I understand they will not always be published on Sunday each week due to the review process and so the title for this and future articles may be slightly off – but just go with it guys, I had no other ideas for a nifty title! I will endeavor to write an article and support it with a video on my YouTube channel for those who do not feel like reading them. I am unsure what the etiquette is for posting off-site links but the video that corresponds with this article can be found here. Generally I write an article before uploading videos anyway so this will allow me to cater to both audiences. I aim to upload on YouTube at least once a week and so the frequency should be the same here; provided the response continues to be positive of course!

This time, I intend to focus on the idea of misplays and if/how they exist in todays format. It is pretty obvious that making a simple misplay is perhaps one of the worst things you can do Yu-Gi-oh; besides cheating or just generally being an unpleasant person to deal with. However, in terms of general game-play I would say it is one of the easiest ways to instantly lose respect within your local community; especially if you continually make the same or similar plays and do not learn from them. Ensuring that you reduce making an incorrect play as often as possible will go a long way towards making sure you are in the best possible position to win any given game.

This is where we must decide how we are going to define a misplay. Obviously, making a play like using Monster Reborn whilst Necrovalley is active can easily be classed as a terrible play. Less obviously though, is making ‘Play A’ when you also had ‘Play B’ available a misplay if your opponent punishes you for it the following turn? Should you have been reasonably expected to make the other play based on the information you had? Therefore, we need to first develop a working definition of a misplay and how we plan on classifying them for the rest of this article. In order to do this I will borrow from Jarel Winston’s YouTube channel and his Winston ‘Pro’Files segments with some of the more well known players. Each of the players I will outline below were asked “how do you define a misplay?” and these were their responses:
(Click the names for a link to their corresponding videos)

Billy Brake

Billy defines a misplay as any play which does not put you in the best possible position to win any specific game. He suggests that making the best possible play in any given situation, even if it does not look like the right play, will allow you to avoid making a ‘misplay’. This is a good definition purely because he acknowledges that all playing well does is put you in the best position possible but it does not guarantee that you will win that game; or any others for that matter.

Dale Bellido

Dale is hesitant to discuss misplays as he believes that they almost don’t exist anymore; at least not in the same degree. He references older formats when he states that back in the day there were 2-3 power cards and you simply saved your better cards for theirs and could usually pull a game through. Nowadays, he uses a deck like agents which plays 6+ boss monsters on top of boss cards themselves and says it is next to impossible to factor everything in these days in order to make the best play. Agents are a slightly outdated example but the point remains and is relevant.

Cesar Gonzales

Cesar takes this a step further when he states that a misplay is any play that you make in which you get punished the following turn by your opponent. Essentially, this means you make a play that your opponent can take advantage of. Jarel and Cesar reference Courtney Waller summoning D.D. Crow on turn 1 or 2 against a Plant player in the finals of YCS Kansas as a potential example of this. However, Cesar goes on to say that these days misplays are rarely punished because there are so many power cards. Courtney went on to win that game and the YCS which supports Cesar’s statements.

Shane Scurry

Shane defines a misplay as anytime you do not make the best possible move that you could make in any given turn. If you realize the following turn, or at any point in the duel, that if you had done a specific move differently it would have put you in a better position, then that is a misplay.

Jae Kim

Jae Kim takes it into more detail when he states that Yu-Gi-Oh is a game of imperfect information. If you could lay both you and your opponent’s hands and field face up on the table, then there is always an ‘optimal’ or ‘best’ play. Therefore, any play that is not this ‘optimal’ one is a misplay. He goes on to reference that one of his worst misplays was against Anthony Alvarado in the finals of SJC Charlotte. He had a Morphing Jar and a Creature Swap and both players had lowered resources. He did not push for the Creature Swap + Morphing Jar play as he wanted to keep the card resources low. However, the following turn he was Delinquent Duo’d and Kycoo’d and subsequently lost. To him, this was a misplay because the play in not using Morphing Jar potentially cost him that game.

So it is evident that an assortment of pro players define a misplay as any play which does not put you in the best position to win any given game based on the information you have and the reads you make on your opponents cards. So, in order to avoid misplays, it is clear that you need to A) Think your moves through and make the best play based on the resources you can currently see and B) To make accurate reads on your opponents cards and therein make the best play. Admittedly, this is an extremely harsh definition because it acknowledges that you will not always have all the information needed when making a play and if you are punished because your opponent had ‘X’ card instead of the ‘Y; you were reading, then it would be a misplay under our definition. However, this ties in nicely with Dale’s opinion that misplays either do not really exist anymore or simply not to anywhere near the same degree as in previous formats. As you can see, it is here that a problem arises: because Yu-Gi-Oh is a game of imperfect information, making accurate reads on your opponent is oftentimes difficult; especially if your opponent is of a weaker caliber or new to the game.

My friend found me the following quote which I feel is extremely relevant to this:

“Basically in real life it's hard to make accurate reads because most of the players are really bad, run random cards, and make awkward plays on the regular that somehow end up beating you. All you can do for them is try and put yourself in the best position possible at all times. In general though the people that you can make accurate reads on usually exhibit the following symptoms:

1) They don't smell like week old swamp ass

2) Their deckbox/sleeves/playmat don't feature big titted anime girls. Look for official playmats (especially from other games) or custom ones that look presentable as signs of a competent player

3) They are able to carry out a normal conversation, usually without the use of memes

If they're of the other variety you'll probably end up doing yourself more harm than good trying to figure out why they did anything”.
(some language cleaned up. This was a quote on DuelistGroundz so I am sure you can already piece together the original language of the quote)

This is a relevant point because attempting to make a read on an opponent that frequently does not make the best or optimal play can sometimes cause you to lose the game. For example, one of my friends was at locals playing Chaos Dragons against Dino-Rabbit. I can’t remember the exact situation but essentially the crux of it is this: His opponent has a Laggia with materials that he had used Forbidden Lance on that turn dropping it to 1600 attack and a single backrow. My friend had an in-hand BLS and Lyla amongst other cards. He summons the latter and his opponent allows it. At this point, he makes the read that the backrow must be a Dimensional Prison/Mirror Force etc as he had not negated the Lyla summon and proceeds to destroy it and it is revealed as an MST. He cannot drop the BLS and loses over the coming turns to an in-hand Tour Guide. After the game, the Rabbit player states that he had “forgotten that Lance lowers the attack”. Technically, this is a misplay on my friends behalf based solely on the fact that he made a read given how one would expect a player to act.

Similarly, it reminds me of a situation that I had at locals. I was asked by another player why I wouldn’t play Saber Hole when we were discussing a Saber list. I explained that it is the kind of card that is too situational for me to run personally (and something like Black Horn is just better and still not played) but is the kind of card I will lose to because I make a reasonable assumption that their backrow is say a card like Bottomless Trap Hole based on how they toy with the card when I summon a monster and their Solemn Warnings are gone. I’ll make a Black Rose or something similar to play around the Bottomless and lose to a card like that because I happen to be in the one situation that it is useful. Is this a misplay? I suppose it technically is.

Basically, what I am getting at is it may be hard to define a misplay but they do still exist and it is important to realise this. For example, I was playing Gravekeeper’s and had a face up Descendant + Recruiter (no Necrovalley) and attacked into an open field and he drops Gorz. I flip Solemn Warning immediately because I was not paying attention and this left me with no backrow. The correct play, which I realised almost immediately, was to shoot off Recruiter to destroy Gorz and add Commandant into Necrovalley making my Descendant bigger. This would leave me with a bigger Descendant, a Necrovalley and a useable backrow. Luckily, I was not punished for this play but, had my opponent drawn into say Black Luster Soldier or Monter Reborn I could have lost that game. In most situations like this, I have seen people exclaim “YOU SACKED ME!” when their opponents draw the one card in a 20+ card deck and gets game because of it instead of analysing how the could have played better on previous turns. Did you really need to flip Torrential on their first monster when you had an in-hand monster that could have beaten it? Would that Torrential have saved you when they did top a card you then couldn’t deal with? They state “nope! He sacked me. That’s all there is to it” which is a dangerous attitude to adopt. If you close yourself off from admitting that you made a play that was less than optimal, regardless of whether you were punished for it or not, you will never be able to improve as a player. This reminds me of a quote by Patrick Hoban in his article here discussing 2005 Goat Format; a format regularly heralded as one of the pinnacle formats for skill in Yu-Gi-Oh. “As in any format, you don’t want to waste cards for no reason. Perhaps your opponent has Tribe Infecting Virus on the field and they are attacking you for 1600. You could play Sakuretsu Armor and not take the damage, or you could take it and summon your in hand Tsukuyomi and simply attack over it and keep your Sakuretsu Armor. It is very important to do the latter in this format as card advantage means everything here.” This is as relevant today as it was then; do not burn cards for no reason and then complain when your opponent punishes your lack of resources down the track.

I guess this wall of text now require a summation in order to bring it to a concise conclusion. In this game, there are going to be times where your opponent misplays and you play perfectly and still lose. That is the nature of luck and of power cards. The game now has more of both than it has ever had before. This allows Konami to keep making money as it entices more casual players to play as, given enough luck, they can beat any and all players. For example, I watched another friend lose to the same Rabbit player I mentioned above. After the game, he asked my friend “did I misplay at all?” to which my friend replied “Yes. However, you had Heavy Storm, Tour Guide and drew into BLS as your third card for turn so it was irrelevant”. So, yes, I concede that simply avoiding misplays does not guarantee that you will win a game but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The most important thing is that you acknowledge when you HAVE made a misplay and resolve to never make the same mistake again. This is the only way we will grow as players and improve our overall success rate.

Cheers guys and I hope you all enjoyed this somewhat!