Hello, one and all. For my article, I shall be discussing the importance of the Side Deck in the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game. Although I’m sure you can apply some of these ideas to other card games that allows a “Side” of some sort as well. I shall also be discussing the reasons why Side Decking is important and why it is such a luxury to a player. Let’s begin with the basics: the Side Deck is a separate Deck of cards you can use to change your Deck during a Match. After each Duel in a Match, you can swap any card from your Side Deck with a card from your Deck and/or Extra Deck to customize your strategy and/or tempo of the duel against your opponent. The number of cards in your Side Deck must not exceed 15 and must contain 15 cards at all times. The number of cards in your Side Deck before and after you swap any cards must be exactly the same.
So, now we know exactly what a Side Deck in Yu-Gi-Oh is, but the question remains: why bother? Shouldn’t the Main Deck be strong enough without one? The simple answer: yes and no. The fact of the matter is, if your facing something that your deck has a good match up against, then you’re all ready in an advantageous position, usually meaning that you should be able to win without a Side Deck, or at least come close to victory (depending on the luck of the draw). Now, this isn’t the case for every duel; think of a Deck that can easily beat yours, then think, “What chance do I have to attain victory?” Then, you think back to the “luck of the draw” but that isn’t very helpful if they got a better hand than you did (or rather, a very bad match up for your Deck). Let’s disregard luck and think of solid and concrete ideas that will help you beat that Deck. If you make changes to your Deck that help you beat your bad match up, you just changed the Deck’s play-style and the consistency of your combos, etc., etc., possibly changing the whole strategy of the deck. This is where your Side Deck comes in handy. By simply adding cards to your Side Deck that you can use against harder match-ups, you should gain a leveled playing field. This is where you must think of your opponent and his play-style A.K.A watch his moves during the first game of the match. Say your opponent is playing Gravekeeper’s and you’re playing Plant Synchro, and you notice that he plays a lot of Trap cards, a lot more than you do. Royal Decree would surely help you in this duel, shutting down their large arsenal of Trap cards. Your deck is also capable to be played without the normal Trap card line-up, so it all works out. Then think of his monsters; what attribute are they? DARK; now what helps you defeat DARK Monsters? Consecrated Light, stopping DARK Monsters in their tracks. You may also notice that he Sets Monsters consistently. What else can “knock” down their defense? Nobleman of Crossout! As you can see, the answers are all there, waiting in your Side Deck. Then, you might say, “but what do I Side out?” Side out the cards that didn’t help you at all during your first duel. In my example, side out Trap cards in order to fit in Royal Decree, Nobleman of Crossout, and Consecrated Light (Also side out a Caius, The Shadow Monarch if you run three). The Side Deck is an invaluable luxury as you can use it to completely change your Deck and the duel’s outcome.
When choosing cards for the Side Deck, you must always think what everyone else is usually playing. For example, say your local tournament area is infested with Blackwing Decks and your currently playing a Gladiator Beast Deck. Your biggest worries are probably going to be Icarus Attack plays or their big back-row, usually consisting of Traps. You can’t really use Royal Decree, so what’s the next best thing? Trap Stun, Seven Tools of the Bandit, even Malevolent Catastrophe can aid you in this dilemma while not completely affecting you. Another choice for your Side Deck is Consecrated Light since a Blackwing Deck is a DARK attribute filled deck. Another possible choice might be Dimensional Fissure since it’s a bit Graveyard based since they usually run three Blackwing - Blizzard the Far North and one to two Blackwing - Vayu The Emblem of Honor. It can also be used against other Graveyard based Decks so it’s not Deck specific and can be used against many Decks, as well as Trap Stun and Seven Tools of the Bandit. As you can tell, this hurts their deck while not making an obstacle for you to deal with since Gladiator Beast Decks can usually do fine under Dimensional Fissure. This changes when the competition is something like a Regional Qualifier, Nationals or a Yu-Gi-Oh Championship Series tournament. For those tournaments, you have to be ready for anything. To construct a good Side Deck for those upper level tournaments, you must think of versatility and use your Side Deck to the fullest extent possible (as well as having the right mind set), in order to generate the best results.
The Side Deck in the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game is an invaluable asset that will only help you achieve victory. If you use it wisely and in the right manner, it can completely over through your opponent’s strategy and lead you to victory. The luxury of changing a Deck’s strategy and abilities is invaluable to a player; without it, deck building would be very different.
As Sun Tzu once said: “According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.”
Hope you enjoyed the read!