Playtesting Effectively

What’s up Yugi-dudes, how’s it going? Today I’m going to talk about the ways in which you can utilize dueling network for playtesting and the differences between virtual Yu-Gi-Oh and in-real-life Yu-Gi-Oh. I’m sure most of us have a dueling network account, but if not you can find a link to the popular website here:

Playtesting is a great way to gauge the power of a new card or new deck entirely. With the help of the dueling network you can playtest with cards that you don’t own or cards that aren’t even out yet. I remember when the website was in its early stages before nationals and players were using T.G. Hyper Librarian before its release. It showed just how powerful the card was but it also showed how overhyped the infamous “Doppel Warrior” deck was in the U.S. While the deck had a huge impact on the Japanese meta, it did almost nothing in our own meta. However, without the dueling network, players wouldn’t have had efficient time to realize that the standard tengu plant deck was much better than doppelwarrior. I use the dueling network to test out my decks before every YCS which is something that you should be doing anyways if you do not already. I love to play it when I’m bored because you always see some crazy rogue decks and often times you will see the future of the game. In fact, if you have a tablet computer you can even use the dueling network on the go (except on iPads because they lack flash player). Honestly, I don’t have the time to play in-real-life Yu-Gi-Oh during the regular weekdays because I’m a full-time college student and during the weekends I go to locals, amongst other things.

First things first, find a great player that you know who is willing to playtest with you and run about 10 “game 1s” and 20 “game 2s.” If you’re wondering about the disproportionate number of “game 1s” compared to number of “game 2s” it is because you will often play two games with your side deck but you will always play only 1 game with your original main deck. Side decking is the hardest part of Yu-Gi-Oh right now because there are so many viable decks so you want to run this playtesting session against every possible deck. You should never scrap a deck because it isn’t performing well in game 1 because some decks have terrible matchups against certain decks but after a little siding you can quickly mitigate those weaknesses. For instance, I have been playing plants a lot during this format and every time I go to locals I run into a player using gravekeepers. Gravekeepers can outright win game 1 with royal tribute and even if they don’t draw that card it is highly likely that Necrovalley will be enough to seal the deal. However, I side closed forest, 2 dimensional prisons, the third MST, 2 cyber dragons, mirror force, and 2 bottomless trap hole's (which were all common side deck cards until recently). After testing this side deck on the dueling network with a close buddy of mine I realized that plants can easily win games 2 and 3 if you can draw some side deck cards.

A fellow member of ARG, Alistar Albans, wrote an article entitled The Antidote about a topic called “poison.” If you are unfamiliar with this deadly phenomenon I advise you check out his article on the website. The reason being is because the dueling network can be an antidote to that poison. Prior to YCS Ohio nearly every player, good or bad, thought that the new Dark World Deck would be extremely good and take up many spots in the top32. When everything was said and done it fell flat, taking 0 spots in the top. It not only didn’t live up to its hype but it also proved to just be kinda awful. The point is most of us found out that Dark World was crappy by playing it on the dueling network and seeing firsthand how much it underperforms. I remember playing the deck so much on the dueling network and testing every possible variant including skill drain, virus control, hand control, ceruli control, all of them together, none of them, etc. I did not like a single variant and I even went as far as thinking that I was just playing the deck incorrectly but after seeing some really good players use the deck and fail harder than Kim Kardashian’s marriage I quickly realized the deck just isn’t that good. I’m almost certain I would have used it for Ohio if it weren’t for the dueling network only because I like to use new/different decks and some of my friends were hyping it.

Discerning the difference between in-real-life Yu-Gi-Oh and virtual Yu-Gi-Oh is important for many reasons. First of all, things do not play out so cut and dry in real life. You can look at your opponent’s mannerisms and you can hear all of the grunts and sounds that they might make when they draw poorly. This will of course change the way you play. Not to mention the most important part of seeing your opponent face to face is the mind games that you can utilize. I love to play mind games in Yu-Gi-Oh. It’s one of the reasons why I win through seemingly unwinnable situations. There have been countless times where I can bluff a torrential or mirror force, or make it seem like I’m holding a card that simply isn’t there. These are things that you really cannot do on the dueling network because you can only see what the screen shows you. Body language is a big giveaway. It allows you to make reads based off of the confidence a player exhumes when they set “that” backrow or played “that” card. Also, and this is just me nitpicking, but I play very fast in playtesting duels. The dueling network is rather slow comparatively because you don’t get to check the grave as quickly or play your cards as fast as you want. It can also take a lot of time to get a response from an opponent. This is why I ONLY play with people that I know. You might find it frustrating to play a duel with random people if you intend to playtest a new strategy. Of course if you want to just have fun or if you’re looking for something to do to pass the time then the dueling network is perfect for that.

This is Frazier Smith reporting out, until next time Yu-Gi-Oh! World. Play hard or go home!

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Frazier Smith

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