A paradox is a statement that apparently contradicts itself and yet still might be true. When attempting to apply this to Yu-Gi-Oh, I have found myself to come to the following definition: When certain cards or a combination of cards exists, you are put in situations where you are unable to effectively play around another card, or combination of cards. You additionally want to play cards that are good when paired against a certain deck, but are not as good when playing against another.
The most obvious thing that has come to my attention this format has been the conflictions with your opponent always having a recurring [ccProd]Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls[/ccProd]. I find myself in situations where I could make one play, that effectively plays around my opponent’s potential cards, and still ends with the best outcome, but then this Tidal makes everything more difficult. For example, you have a [ccProd]Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Gorilla[/ccProd], and a [ccProd]Mirror Force[/ccProd] set face down as your only cards. Your opponent has two cards in hand and summons a [ccProd]Genex Undine[/ccProd] the next turn, and sends the Tidal to their graveyard, while adding a Genex Controller to their hand. They attack and you are forced to use this Mirror Force and hope to draw a monster. You happen to draw a [ccProd]Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Bear[/ccProd]. Of course you summon the Bear, attack, set your free [ccProd]Fire Formation – Tenki[/ccProd], and attack for free damage with the Gorilla. But when you enter Main Phase 2, what do you do? You can make [ccProd]Abyss Dweller[/ccProd], and use your Tenki to add a [ccProd]Coach Soldier Wolfbark[/ccProd] to your hand. But you are going to be forced to use the Dweller’s effect to stun the Tidal, at the beginning of each turn.
The issue arises when your opponent draws and sets a back row. When you draw for your turn, if you do not draw a [ccProd]Bottomless Trap Hole[/ccProd] or a card that can protect your Dweller from the Tidal, you know the next turn you will be forced once again to use the Dweller effect, burning up its XYZ materials. So you have to evaluate if it is worth it to summon your Coach, to make a [ccProd]Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Tiger King[/ccProd], to get to that next Tenki, which will get you the Coach for the following turn when their Tidal is going to be used OR just summoning another Abyss Dweller. This is an issue because their back row could potentially be [ccProd]Torrential Tribute[/ccProd], [ccProd]Raigeki Break[/ccProd], Bottomless, or anything that stops this Coach. If the Tidal were not there, you would not have the pressure of doing anything, but because it is there you almost need to summon Coach. This is not good because if the set card is not a bluff you prevented yourself from being able to draw a [ccProd]Forbidden Lance[/ccProd], or a [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] to counter the trap. If you hold the Coach, and did not draw the correct cards to effectively defend against this Tidal, you are losing your Dweller, and are now relying on the Coach to deal with the Tidal. You have also let them gain an additional back row, and will not have a Dweller to stun the cards they have been drawing for the past few turns. Most likely you will end up using [ccProd]Number 101: Silent Honor Ark[/ccProd] to take the Tidal, and they will be able to just clear that on their next turn, assuming you did not draw relevant trap cards.
Now this is where it gets really confusing for me. At the beginning of that entire scenario you could just use a [ccProd]Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Cardinal[/ccProd] to put the Tidal back into their deck. If this is the play you make, and their single card in hand was a [ccProd]Mermail Abyssteus[/ccProd], and they draw [ccProd]Mermail Abyssgunde[/ccProd], or [ccProd]Atlantean Dragoons[/ccProd], or any combination of these sort of cards, you are going to be severely punished for not making that Abyss Dweller.
Another scenario I have come across many times while testing is being susceptible to [ccProd]Evilswarm Exciton Knight[/ccProd]. If you decide to cut [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd]s from your deck for mind crush for example, the following situation that could arise. You are playing a mirror match and you are both top decking. You draw a [ccProd]Mind Crush[/ccProd], and set it. They draw and pass. You draw a Mirror Force and set it to combat a possible threatening bear. Your opponent draws and passes again. The next turn you happen to draw a [ccProd]Forbidden Lance[/ccProd], or Mystical Space Typhoon and set it because you need it in case they draw Tenki. Now they top deck a Wolfbark, and are free to use Exciton Knights effect to put you to 0 cards, while they still have their cards in hand. Now sure they just happened to draw better cards than you, but had that Mind Crush been an Effect Veiler, or a [ccProd]Maxx “C”[/ccProd] even, you would have had a much higher chance of winning the game.
This leads me into the issue with building your deck around these paradoxes that have arose. There are many cards you could choose to play that are really optimal in one match up, but cause you to sacrifice games in another match up. Mirror Force, Dimensional Prison or other attack stoppers such as [ccProd]Memory of an Adversary[/ccProd] have their huge contradictions. Aside from the situation described above they have their other issues. In the early game when you are playing versus Fire Fist they are amazing. They prevent an opponent's Bear from inflicting battle damage, therefore preventing its effect to get a Fire Formation. As good as they are against Fire Fist, there are still situations that arise where they are not as good. During the late game when they have access to Gorilla and Coaches, the attack stopping cards are no longer as useful. This is also an issue when playing against the other popular decks. When you have them versus Hieratics, they usually use [ccProd]A Wingbeat of Giant Dragon[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Hieratic Dragon of Su[/ccProd] to destroy your spell and trap cards before ever entering the battle phase. When you are playing against Geargia they tend to just add free cards to their hand off of their [ccProd]Geargiarmor[/ccProd], and making cards that replace themselves before attempting to go to the battle phase. Mermails have [ccProd]Atlantean Marksman[/ccProd] to clean up your backrows, as well as [ccProd]Black Rose Dragon[/ccProd], Exciton Knight, and [ccProd]Phantom Beast Dracossack[/ccProd] which are usually immune to these attack stoppers. Prophecy usually only allow an attack stopper to be used on [ccProd]High Priestess of Prophecy[/ccProd], but by the time you get to this point where the monster has been summoned, they already have a tutorable [ccProd]Spellbook of Wisdom[/ccProd] that makes this monster pretty difficult to stop. I am sure there are many other scenarios where these kinds of cards are optimal and suboptimal, but there were just a few examples to put this into perspective. The point I am trying to get across is that although we want to play multiples of these cards, you have to decide how many of them are actually worth playing, what combination to play, or if they are even worth playing at all.
The next huge conflict that has arose for me, which I have spoken about in my past articles, but still find myself having a difficult time deciding on what to do with, is Maxx “C”. It is the only real way, other than Effect Veiler, to stop water from developing that turn one field of Dracossack and [ccProd]Lavalval Chain[/ccProd]. The big difference is that Maxx “C” isn’t awful in the late game unlike Veiler. The first question that comes to mind when adding it to the main deck is, “What do you do with a Maxx “C”, when you are facing a Bear?” This question is another perfect example of a paradox. These issues are far from easy to fix, and cause me to put a lot of thinking into my card choices when trying to build a deck that can get through 11 rounds and actually make it to the top cut.
An extremely scary card causing a paradox of its own, that I can take some of the blame for, is [ccProd]Full House[/ccProd]. This card kind of brings back the same sort of issue from previous formats with [ccProd]Heavy Storm[/ccProd] and Mystical Space Typhoon. Back then, if you set one back row, you were susceptible to a single Space Typhoon destroying your only set leaving you defenseless, or you set two and get blown out by Heavy Storm. With Full House it is a bit different because you can play around it, unlike Heavy Storm due to its restrictive condition. The easiest thing that comes up is setting 2 cards to your back row. This way you will not be able to get Full Housed, but you still are not going to lose your entire defense to a single Space Typhoon. Where the real paradox comes into play, is with main decked Full House. This whole format, people have felt safe just setting their cards, and having access to whichever trap is most efficient in the scenario they are put in. But now, if you don’t know what you are playing against on your first turn it is difficult to decide which two back rows to set (if we are assuming you have to play around everyone main decking Full House). If you set Bottomless Trap Hole and Mirror Force and they summon a Bear the following turn, and you happen to have a Torrential Tribute or another attack stopper in hand, you could have played around a Forbidden Lance. By setting traps that function similarly you can play around [ccProd]Forbidden Lance[/ccProd]. For example, if your opponent summons Bear you can use Bottomless Trap Hole, then they can use Lance, then you can chain Torrential to get rid of the Bear. This would not be possible if you set an attack stopper and a summon response card. Deciding which cards will put you in the best situation against all these decks that could arise is extremely difficult.
These paradoxes seem to be common things that come up in every format, and are very difficult to find solutions to. A lot of the time I spend thinking is on trying to figure out what is more likely to happen, and playing as if that is what is going to happen. Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but other times you can set yourself up to win if X sequence of events happen. Additionally, I usually try to deduce the worst scenario that can come up, and play to the best of my ability to avoiding letting that happen. I also catch myself making rules for myself, like never setting Forbidden Lance. I do this because I prevent the Lance from being randomly destroyed. This is important because you usually need your summon to go through every turn to keep up. It also helps avoid letting your opponent kill another free card with Exciton Knight. There are always exceptions to these rules, but there is no way to absolutely avoid paradoxes. If you can think of any paradoxes like these, or have rules you set for yourself, I would enjoy hearing about them in the comments below! The Circuit Series comes to Las Vegas on March 15-16, 2014! Click the pic below for the details!