Playing for your Opponent

Hey everyone. I’m back this week and I’m going to be talking about convincing your opponent to make plays that will benefit you.  For example, maybe you have a Torrential set and want your opponent to overextend and summon another monster. I’m going to be talking about what you should be doing and what you should not be doing in order to get them to summon that monster.

Determining Skill Level

The first thing you have to understand is getting your opponent to make a play that will benefit you is an art and there is no one specific way of going about it. What works on one player may not work on the next player. A good reason for this is because of the different skill levels two players might be at. That means that the first thing you are going to want to do is determine how good you think your opponent is. Without prior knowledge you shouldn’t automatically assume that they’re good or bad so you’ll have to use other factors. For example, maybe you’ve been going to the same local for years. Round 1 you’re paired up against a familiar face. You know he’s not very competitive and doesn’t really play much outside of the regular Saturday local. While not always true, you can probably label him as not very good. Since he goes to your locals, you’d know if he was an exception and there definitely are exceptions. On the other hand, let’s say that you’re playing in Top 8 of a YCS. You’ve never seen your opponent before, but they made it to Top 8. At this point it’s safe to assume that they’re at least decent since they’re sitting across the table from you in Top 8 of a YCS. Those are some pretty clear cut examples, but it gets a little more difficult when it’s only round 5 of that YCS and you and your opponent are both 4-1. Some things that you can do at this point would be to look at their overall demeanor or ask them where they are from. If they flew across the country and invested hundreds of dollars to come to the YCS, they probably take the game pretty seriously and are at least somewhat decent if they are investing that kind of money into it. It gets harder when they say that they are from 10 minutes down the road because that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. If they fly to every YCS, but live 10 minutes away they’re still going to be at this YCS. At this point pay more attention to their overall demeanor and how they present themselves. Are they confident or do they seem like they really don’t care to be there? Based off these things you can make assumptions before you even start the match about their skill level.  Once you get into the game determining skill level becomes a lot easier as you can note any misplays that they make and qualify them based on those instead of assumptions. Now that you’ve got a basic idea of how good your opponent is, let’s use it to force them to make plays that are in our favor.

Against Unskilled Opponents

It’s pretty easy to convince an unskilled opponent to make a specific play. In the opener I asked how do you get your opponent to summon that extra monster so that you can play your Torrential. Against an unskilled opponent you can seem frustrated with the state of the game and one of two things will happen. They will either summon regardless of what you do since they are unskilled and won’t play with much regard for what you have, or they will make a very basic read that you are in a bad position and they will be aggressive and summon into the Torrential Tribute.

Another example would be when you have Mirror Force set. You could ask them if they are attacking and pick up your monster as if you were putting it in the graveyard or reach over to pick your calculator up. Then when they say yes, you put the monsters or the calculator down and flip your Mirror Force.

Against Skillful Opponents

You can also trick skillful opponents into making plays that you want them to do, but it’s not exactly the same thing as with unskillful opponents.  Let me start with an example. In Top 32 of 2010 Nationals I was playing an X-Saber mirror match. It was game 1 and I didn’t really know much about my opponent other than the fact that he was sitting across from me in Top 32 of Nationals. This led me to believe that he was somewhat decent. I also knew that the thing to do at the time against X-Sabers was to not attack their set monsters.  This was very much common knowledge at the time and I assumed that he knew it since he topped. He started with an aggressive play by summon Boggart Knight and special summoning Fulhelmknight and setting several backrow. I started with a rather weak hand that included Cold Wave, Airbellum, Faultroll, and no other playable monsters. Since I assumed that he was good and knew not to attack face downs, I set Airbellum and ended. Sure enough, he didn’t attack and I sat behind the Airbellum for another two turns before drawing Rescue Cat and unloading on him. Had I been playing against a bad opponent, he probably wouldn't have played with much regard for the accepted right play and would have attacked and I would have surely lost with my weak hand. Since I knew the accepted right play and was able to make the assumption that he was good, I could use it to my advantage and win a seemingly unwinnable game.

Let’s fast forward to 2012 and we can see that the same thing can be applied to today’s format.  At this point, Snowman Eater is a very commonly played side deck card against Dino Rabbit. After YCS Atlanta I was playing someone in a three v. three match. It was game three and he started off really strong with Laggia and multiple sets. I set a monster and one or two sets before ending. Since he knew that if he attacked and it was a Snowman Eater, I’d destroy Laggia and would be in a decent position. He didn’t attack for several turns and I built up enough resources to deal with his field until I eventually won. The entire time my set was a Mystical Shine Ball. You can do the same against any good player playing Rabbit and it will probably work. If he doesn’t attack it also gives you valuable information. Since he’s not attacking, he can probably deal with Snowman Eater if you were to flip it, otherwise he’d just attack since he has no way of dealing with it if you have it at all. But, he’s not attacking. That’s probably because if you were to flip it, he could play around it. This probably means that he has either a Solemn Warning or Fiendish Chain set. Remember to keep in mind that this would only work against the good players. Don’t expect to set a Kabuzauls against a bad player and expect him to think it’s a Snowman Eater and play accordingly. It’s more likely that he’d play as if it were still game 1 and Snowman Eater essentially didn’t exist.

Mystical Space Typhoon

I think that by now, everyone knows that this is one of my favorite cards to discuss since there are so many ways to utilize it to get the most out of it. To conclude this article, I’m going to give you two ways that you can force your opponent to do what you want them to, one playing with MST and the other playing against MST.

The first nifty trick you can do is have your MST set with nothing else on the field. If they attack you directly you can respond to the attack with MST targeting their set card. This will immediately telegraph to them that you have Gorz and if they have a Maxx “C,” they will chain it to the MST so that they can draw 2 when you special summon it.  Well, what if you never had Gorz?  At this point, one of two things will happen. One you will have forced them to take a -1 and you will have eliminated Maxx “C,” a major threat, while having destroyed their set or you will know that they don’t have Maxx “C” and you will have destroyed their protection leaving you free to shift the momentum in your favor next turn.

The next play that you can do involves playing around your opponent’s MST. Let’s say that you believe they have an MST set and you have Mirror Force in hand you really don’t want to have it destroyed or you’ll probably lose the game.  You could set a second card and decrease the chances of them hitting it to 50%, but is there a way to almost guarantee that they won’t hit the Mirror Force out of the two cards? Well what happens if you set your dead Pot of Avarice first, think for a second and then ask to see their graveyard before you ever set your Mirror Force? At this point it comes off as you considering not even setting the second card. An out like Mirror Force? You’d surely set it immediately, right? That’s what your opponent would be thinking when they are debating which of your two sets to hit with their MST in the end phase. Now they just hit your dead Avarice and your Mirror Force is safe and you are ready to mount your comeback.

On that note, I’m going to have to wrap this up. Long Beach is next weekend and I look forward to seeing you all there. Play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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