Welcome back, Kaijudo duelists! This week has been a very important week for competitive Kaijudo players everywhere. If you somehow haven't heard by now, Wizards of the Coast has announced dates and locations for the 24 Kaijudo Master Challenges that will be happening across the United States and Canada from May to June. You can see all the information on Kaijudo.com. This first run of KMCs is where invitations will be given to the championship event held in Seattle. To celebrate this (and to celebrate my 30th article here - Yay, milestones!) I'm going to be starting a mini-series of articles on how to adequately prepare for these events.
Whether your local store has been selected to hold a KMC or not, whether you're traveling to five or only able to go to one, the fact remains that you'll want to do well. As for myself and my team, we live in Virginia, which was unfortunately passed over. We'll be traveling to quite a few of these events out of state, which makes it all the more important that our time and money spent traveling isn't wasted by not doing as well as we had hoped. For this first article, I'll be talking about one of the most common sense, yet also one of the most overlooked ways in which you can give yourself a head start going into these events: playtesting!
Going to Locals
In order to get the most from a testing session, one must first get to a testing session. It's easy to undermine the importance of locals, especially when you do consistently well at them. A lot of people might think, "Well, my local is small and relatively easy to win. What am I getting by playing there every week?"
The first response I have to this is that I've noticed that a local scene will grow with you. My local has gotten progressively more competitive over the last few months, and I have to go into every tournament with the right mindset and level of concentration if I want to do well. In addition, as more and more people have started showing up, a wider array of decks and playstyles have made themselves apparent. Local tournaments are the place where you can test different ideas against a (hopefully) wide variety of strategies. Let's say I want to tech a certain card or two against a certain matchup. If I do this at a local, I'll be able to see how my choices stack up against a microcosm of players running different decks, while at the same time not suffering a huge loss if the idea doesn't pan out. No one likes to do badly at a local, but it hurts a lot less than taking a chance at a Kaijudo Master Challenge you traveled to and having it blow up in your face. It's for this reason that I attend every local I can, and this is especially important in the weeks leading up to a major event.
Another thing to remember about the importance of these smaller tournaments is that theory can only get you so far. While it's a good idea to learn as much about the metagame and top decks as possible, simply having that knowledge might not be enough. I very strongly believe that knowledge can never substitute for experience. Even though you might not face a struggle every single match at your local tournament, simply playing the game that much more and opening up your eyes to new and different in-game scenarios is incredibly valuable.
Test With Friends
Even outside locals, testing can be done. In fact, a lot of the testing sessions I do with my team give me more help in the long run than some locals. I'm able to sit down with a deck and play certain match-ups over and over again until I get the hang of them, benefiting my deck and my play style. Of course, for this type of testing to be effective, it's important to have a few good players in your close group of friends, something I'm very thankful to have.
A major advantage to testing with friends or a team is that they'll be honest with you through the whole process. If you're thinking of building a new deck, they'll help you fine-tune the strategy or give reasons why you should drop it. They'll help work out the fixes in your deck list and tell you what they think is working and what isn't when you get around to playing. This kind of honesty is very important, and it can only really come from caring about each others' tournament success. Having people you can test with and fix the weaknesses in your decks consistently is a great advantage over those who might not have a group of people to play with regularly.
By this, I don't mean that you should only play one deck; getting a feel for how different strategies work and which ones you feel comfortable behind is very important. However, there comes a time in testing when I believe it's appropriate to find something you like and stick with it. For example, even though Kaijudo Master Challenges don't start for almost a month, I've been working on different versions of a deck with Carl Miciotto and we've already more or less committed to making it work for the first couple we attend, since those will be before the next set releases. This sort of thing is important because once you settle on a deck and commit to making it work, you can then dedicate time to looking at your results against different decks and making the small required changes, rather than switching out decks entirely. Switching decks last minute can be a very risky move, and something I try to avoid. Staying committed to one concept for weeks on end will make you incredibly comfortable with it, and you'll play better as a result. Even if you're running a deck that some people might not classify as tier one, if you know it like the back of your hand you could take it very far when it counts.
There are a lot of ways to stay connected within the Kaijudo community: forums, Facebook, YouTube, and even articles such as the ones here at ARG are all prime examples. Before YouTube, it was hard to tell what players in other areas were coming up with as far as strategies unless you just happened to know a lot of people. Nowadays, with a few clicks I can see matches from tournaments in Washington, Connecticut, and Texas all in the comfort of my own home. This makes it somewhat easier to know what to expect heading into an event held out of town. Even if you don't know what people are running in that specific area, being able to see so many different player bases so easily will help you figure out everything that's out there, giving you time to prepare. When doing playtesting, always think about building decks you see other people using and seeing how yours stack up against them; there's a solid chance you might see those same decks at a KMC.
All of these guidelines can go a long way in improving your overall tournament experience. Learning about what's out there, playing against people at your local, sharing advice among friends, and fine-tuning a specific strategy will definitely benefit anyone preparing for the KMCs, and they all really emphasize one point: involvement. If you're able to dedicate time to each of these strategies and put in the work involving yourself in the game, you're sure to get great results back. Be sure to leave a comment down below if you enjoyed the article, and stay tuned for the next installment next week. Until then, Play(test) Hard or Go Home!