The Loss of Logic – Understanding Players’ Decision-Making

Welcome Yu-Gi-Oh players! Welcome to my 1st article on Alter Reality Games. Let me get things started by saying that like many other players out there I did pick up this game right at the Yugi and Kaiba structure decks release. I remember busting open my 1st booster pack of Metal Raiders and pulling a Suijin and saying “This card is broken,” as my brother pulled a Black Skull Dragon out of his 1st pack. I remember not reading the rulebook and just summoning Suijin whenever I drew it then losing to my brother when he just would summon his Black Skull Dragon. I remember going to my 1st ever local tournament and having to tribute summon for Blue-Eyes White Dragon (Yes, I am a Kaiba fan) and attacking right into a face-down Labyrinth Wall. But as much as I love the memories of old Yu-gi-Oh the game has evolved so much since then and I started playing competitively right around 2007-2008, right about the same time when Destiny Hero’s were dominating the game. Just like the game, I to, have evolved as a player. I’m still not amazing at this game by any means but I continue to learn a lot through players such as Austin Kulman, Jonathan Weigle, Michael Anderson – Boyd (aka Goofy), and Chris Hentz. Being a part of Team Fusion I was able to befriend other great players like Ryan Spicer, Billy Brake, Michel Grüner, and Claudio Kirchmair. Being friends with these guys has led me to become a much better player and get a couple of regional tops and some pretty good finishes at premier level tournaments despite not making the top cut. But enough about me let’s talk about the topic of today’s article: Understanding Player Decision-Making. For this article I will use two scenarios that I recently came across while playing: Enjoy!

Scenario 1 – Dark World vs. Rescue Rabbit

I start this game with a hand of Dark World Dealings, Trade-In, Dark World Dealings, Grapha, Reckless Greed , and Trap Dustshoot. I open play by setting the Reckless and Dustshoot attempting to draw out an early Heavy Storm or a quick Mystical Space Typhoon. Now my opponent opened his turn by summoning Neo-Spacian Grand Mole (which I assume meant he was playing Rescue Rabbit). I decided not to flip the Dustshoot right then because there seemed to be no immediate threat at that particular moment. He swung at me for 900 and I let it through. But then he goes and sets 4 back rows to my 2 face-down cards. Now some people might say that it was a misplay by not flipping the Dustshoot (because now it remains dead on the field) but that was a chance I was willing to take. With him now having 4 back rows I automatically assume he has either Solemn Judgment or Starlight Road to protect his cards so I took the opportunity to get the most out of Grapha at this point so I activated Dark World Dealings discarding Grapha and using its effect to pop one of his back rows (I hit a Dimensional Prison). I drew Sangan for my turn so I just wanted to attempt to make my Dustshoot live again so I summoned Sangan and attacked to put the Neo-Spacian back in his hand. I only made this play because I destroyed a Dimensional Prison with Grapha’s effect so the chances of him having another were slim. Now at this point he had two cards in hand and he drew Rescue Rabbit for the turn. He proceeded to make Evolzar Dolkka and he attacked me for 2300. Now I won’t go into detail for the whole game but in the end he did end up winning the game and afterwards he revealed his back rows to me. They were a Bottomless Trap Hole, Mystical Space Typhoon, and a Solemn Warning which I had forced earlier in the game. So immediately I thought “What would my opponent have done if I had a Heavy Storm in my hand?” This is where I begin to question some of the player base in Yu-gi-oh because I believe that making Evolzar Laggia would have been the smarter play to protect him from Heavy Storm. If I indeed would have had the Heavy Storm then it would have been very easy to clear his field and simply summon a Dark World monster to bounce back for Grapha and swing over the Dolkka leaving him behind in card advantage. And as most of us know, it is really difficult for Rescue Rabbit players to deal with heavy hitters. So my question remains, “What was my opponent thinking? Should he be rewarded for not fearing a powerful card like Heavy Storm?"

Simply put, in this scenario my opponent is solely relying on chance that I may or may not have Heavy Storm in my hand. This is not very good play because if I have the Heavy Storm then he loses. If he had say a Mind Crush to protect himself from it, okay fine or even a Solemn Judgment / Starlight Road. If you have the resources you should always play safe. It's not like he was backed into a corner. He had control of the match pretty much the entire game. The whole theory of "risk it to get the biscuit" is not going to see any player much success in a complex game like this.

Scenario 2 – Dark World Mirror Match

Now there are a lot of players that always says that this particular mirror match is a complete toss up but I find that if you are able to draw out the game and play a little more conservatively then this match is not as hard as people think that it is. Honestly, it reminds me of how Tele-Dad mirror matches used to be. Anyway, he opens the 1st turn by playing Allure of Darkness and removing a Broww (keying me into that it was a Dark World mirror match) and finishing out by setting two face-down cards. Now something that I do is I assume that every person I play against has at least a general knowledge about the game and what they are doing. So I read his two back rows as a Trap Dustshoot and a Mystical Space Typhoon. It’s a pretty standard opening play if you happen to have those two cards in your hand. My opening hand is Tour Guide of the Underworld, Tour Guide from the Underworld, Snoww, Grapha, Trap Dustshoot, and Sillva. And I realize that this hand is a fairly weak so I’m going to have to be a little bit more aggressive with the Trap Dustshoot if I wanted to win this game.  So I press into a Tour Guide + Sangan play and I attack right into two back rows only because I know that Dark World decks do not play a lot of defensive type cards. Sure enough, I connected for 2000 damage but something that caught me off guard is that my opponent chained Trap Dustshoot to my attack. I reveal my hand of Snoww, Grapha, Tour Guide, Trap Dustshoot, and Sillva. As I shuffled back my Tour Guide I asked him why he chained it to the attack and his response was simple. “I thought you were playing Rescue Rabbit and I didn’t want you to set 3-4 back rows and have my Dustshoot be dead.” Now, me personally, I will hardly ever set 3-4 back row unless they are all chainable or I have Starlight Road / Solemn Judgment to protect them and knowing how explosive Dark World decks can be there is no justification for me to set that many back rows if I was in fact playing Rescue Rabbit. I do understand his logic to a certain extent, however, if had been playing Rescue Rabbit wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to attack the Sangan and wait for me to search out Rescue Rabbit and then flip the Trap Dustshoot to rid me of it? Continuing into the game I flip the Trap Dustshoot immediately in his Draw Phase because my hand was very weak so I needed to be aware of all the options that my opponent had in his hand. I left him with a hand of Solemn Judgment, 2 The Gates of Dark World, and Dark World Dealings. Remember, he knows my entire hand is nothing but Dark World monsters and he knows that I cannot make a huge push because I have nothing but monsters in my hand. But regardless of all the information my opponent had he still activates his face down Reckless Greed. I quickly scan over his graveyard to see that there is no fiend type monster in his graveyard. So I ask him, "Kind of a greedy play, don't you think?" And he responded with "Not really, because I don't have any other option." I was quite baffled by this. I already know that he has to draw a Dark World monster to make his hand playable or he has to draw Tour Guide of the Underworld and another Dark World monster to make use of his Gates in his hand. Sure enough he did not do that and now he’s forced himself into a situation where he can’t draw for 2 turns and is forced to play Dark World Dealings for him to try and draw an out. So once again I’m left to wonder “Why would my opponent flip Reckless Greed, locking his draws, when there was no immediate threat on the board or in my hand? I proceeded to beat him because he forced himself to play Dark World Dealings and I discarded Sillva from my hand using its 2nd effect to put two cards from my opponent’s hand to the bottom of the deck. In the end, he was left with three cards in hand to my four with no playable cards and no draw for two turns.

In the 2nd scenario, there was no reason for my opponent to flip his Reckless Greed that quickly. He could have afforded to take another hit and even if I had been extremely greedy and summoned the Snoww for extra damage. While I could have been lucky myself and got a Gate of the Dark World for my next draw that doesn't justify him forcing himself in a bad position.

These are just two simple scenarios where I have questioned my opponent’s decision making while playing during either a local tournament or even a premier level tournament. Despite me being a veteran player ranging from locals, all the way up to SJC's/YCS's, I still don't understand how some people justify their play style to this day. As much as people say that this is a children’s card game and such comments I have to disagree tremendously. There is a certain degree of skill and critical-thinking involved in this game. I am always one to help people in any way to help them better themselves at this game but it appears to me that the logic has been lost amongst a good majority of the player base. Anyway guys, I hope you were able to take something away from my 1st article and I will catch you guys next time. Until then, play smart and have fun!!!

Jarrod Roth

Home Store: Game On in Puyallup, Washington