With YCS Miami literally right around the corner, have you thought about what deck you are going to be playing? Have you considered options of decks you could be playing? Options of decks you could be facing? I sure know I have, I have ranged from running the Mermail/Atlantean deck to running Dark World. Even the newly popular Brotherhood of the Fire Fist deck has came into my path. But what is the method on how you choose your deck for an event? My method is simple, I find a deck that I am extremly comfortable with and practice with it. Very simple, very basic, but it works. The more you get comfortable with a deck, the more you learn about it and the more you find out about combos, strengths, flaws, anything you are looking to find out about a deck you can find out through practice.
Playtesting is key. Whether it be running solitaire hands by yourself, getting a group together for a session, or even playing over Duel Network. The latter being something I know everyone has experienced and also experienced the drawing system on there and how its a computer generated method. You can either draw the absolute nuts, semi-mediocre, or just draw extremely poor. Granted Duel Network is a great way to test variations of decks if you don't have the cards in your possession, sometimes the risk if worth the reward when dealing with a computer. Running solitaire hands is something that can go negative or it can turn positive. The negative aspect is that your not playing against an actual opponent, your only playing again thin air and your own mindset. You don't have the physical opponent across from you trying to outplay you and reach victory. The positives of solitaire is that you can take your sweet time and figure out combos. I remember doing a lot of this when I decided I wanted to learn the Wind-Up combos outside of Magician/Shark. I took a lot of time figuring combos so during a game in a tournament, I would not have to take so much time thinking about how to combo off since I already knew what I was going to do. Also when you get a brand new deck (lets take Fire Fist for example), you can solitaire hands so you can see possibly how consistent your hands will actually be. Consistency is a big factor when going into any kind of tournament. I remember when Joe Giorlando got top 4 with his Hero deck at YCS Long Beach and watching his videos/reading his article afterwards and he stressed how "consistency was going to be big going into this event, 1900 beaters and no hand traps added more consistency" I agree 100% with consistency in any deck. Without consistency, how can you try and win constantly?
When playtesting with a group of friends, it adds more of a "natural match" scenario because you have an actual opponent who is trying to outplay you and reach victory. But, the key word is "friend". When playtesting with your friends, I first hand experience know you sometimes goof around and joke around. Steffon Bizzell and I are known for being serious during our first 10 minutes of playtesting, then we get extremely goofy because we know how each other plays so it gets redundant. But whenever we got prepared for a big event, we got our serious faces on. When testing with a group of friends, its important to also incorporate side decking into the mix. Simply because your not going to play only game ones during a tournament, you need to get into the mind set of what cards to take out during certain matchups, how your opponent plays, if your getting close to time, whether you won game 1 or lost game 1. All these factors do play a big factor during a tournament, so try to eliminate the extra time side decking when you could figure it all out during playtesting. Side decking is one of the most important parts of the game like I have mentioned before in previous articles. Those 15 spots are all critical during a tournament so remember to use them wisely when preparing for YCS Miami if you are attending. Another important factory when playtesting with a group of friends, is you get to hear their input on a play they might have done differently or if you are just sitting on the sidelines and watching, you can learn a lot that way also. That is how I got to understand the Tengu Plant mirror match and understand a lot of combos using the Tengu Plant deck before Nationals 2011. I watched Steffon and Cesar play numerous matches where I simply sat there and learned what plays to do at the right time. Getting 3-4 people together is good but the more the better since the more people, the more opinions you can get!
When deciding on the deck you are going to play for an event, ALWAYS find the pros and the cons about it. An example being Dark World. Pros about the deck: It can draw the stone cold nuts and just destroy every matchup it plays against. Can draw Card Destruction which is basically the kill card of the deck. Swarm with tons of Grapha's and beat you down. Cons: It can just outright lose to Macro Cosmos. Get out swarmed quickly. Not draw the discard outlets it needs. Can draw too many abnormal hands and lose to itself. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy solitaring Dark World or having some fun with it on Duel Network. Even playing with it at locals once in a while to have some fun, but in my own opinion, the cons speak farther then the pros about running this deck at a high caliber event. This is all entirely my own opinion so if you want to run Dark Worlds and you are comfortable with it, continue doing so! I am a very strong believer in playing what you are comfortable with and I am not here to try and change peoples insight on playing a deck for an event. Just weigh in the pros and cons of the deck when playtesting. From my own testing with the Mermail/Atlantean deck, their are SO many pros about running the deck. But the two cons that will end up pushing me away from running the deck are: Drawing Genex Controller. And the water deck most of the time losses to one card at a time. What I mean by that is that if your opponent flips up a Macro Cosmos or summon a Thunder King, it slims down the chances of making a push because that single card can shut you down. Those are the only two cons I have experienced when playing with the deck. Its a very solid choice heading into YCS Miami even with the new Fire Fist deck causing trouble, the water can put out the fire.
I hope this gives you all a better understanding how to prepare for an event and a even better understanding on deciding on choosing a deck for an event. I will be at YCS Miami so if you want to come up and say hi or have a game or two with me, I'll be more then happy to do so if I have the spare time! Also be sure to check out Alter-Reality Games booth while your there and get all your gaming needs for the event! Be sure to get proper playtesting, become comfortable with the deck you are using, and most important, get lots of rest! Rest is very important for any event because during every game throughout the tournament, it can drain you mentally and physically so rest is key factor in reaching success. I hope to see everyone at YCS Miami! Until next time, Play Hard or Go Home!