Hello everyone at Alter-Reality Games, for those of you who do not know me, I am Connor Bazil. I am from New Hampshire, and I competitively play YuGiOh. Due to my location, I have only been to two Shonen Jump Championships/YuGiOh Championship Series, and I went to the 2009 and 2011 National Championships. I enjoy writing articles on YuGiOh, and I am glad that ARG is giving me the chance to do this. I also have a blog for YuGiOh which is called the Herald of Perfection which has helpful tips and news occurring throughout the game. Even though I have been playing this game since Metal Raiders, it was only recently that I began to dig deeper into competitive play. Beginning competitively in late 2008, I had not realized that the game had advanced so far past my expectations.
When I travelled to the 2009 US National Championship, the players there surprisingly had a small variety of decks. A majority of players were only playing between three to four common decks (I believe it was Lightsworns, Blackwings, Gladiator Beasts, and Synchro Cat). So players could easily prepare for these select match-ups, without concerning themselves too much of the random ones. Even in the past few years, the game has greatly expanded, further than the days where only a few decks would see the light of day.
Many players have such a wide variety of cards to choose from for making a deck. Players today have the potential to go far in any large event, but there is one key factor that has become progressively the key to succeeding: The side deck. With fifteen cards to serve as a sort of “secret weapon” to target the most destructive match ups, players gain an advantage when facing down the Meta in action. Within the first game, a player has a chance to observe the kind of deck their opponent is playing and the kinds of plays they make, creating an opening to side accordingly to target his/her key combos. This makes games two and three the opportunity to shut down your opponent, and make the correct plays to swiftly take control of the game.
Some common side deck cards of today are Cyber Dragons and Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo. Cyber Dragon is a great card because it is able to get around the popular Thunder King Rai-Oh, and is extremely vital in the Karakuri match up, since it is able to suck up all the Machine-type monsters on the field to make a Chimeratech Fortress Dragon, which could have several thousand attack and defense! Dyna is good against most decks this format because Special Summoning plays such a common role in any deck. With the right protection, it can stop most of your opponent’s best plays. Many people side deck similar cards, since the idea of net-decking is quite a popular trait in many players today (including me) and siding could be more difficult and unique depending on what your are afraid of.
With such a diversity this format, players are required to utilize their side deck according to their weaknesses. Personally, my fear in going to events before March is facing off against Rabbit decks that open with cards like Rescue Rabbit, Tour Guide from the Underworld, and the growing choice in most builds, Dimensional Fissure. If they win the die roll, it basically becomes a prayer for that they do not open with Rabbit and/or the best opener: Trap Dustshoot. So even though I would like to side in many cards for this match up, there are other s that need to be acknowledged. Some commonly seen decks at any event are: Plants, Rabbit, Agents, Dark World, Karakuri, TG, and many other “rogue” decks (decks that are known, but not popular such as Frog Monarchs and Blackwings). Fifteen cards do not seem like a good number with the diversity of the format.
Another factor that we need to include is the hand traps. Cards like Maxx “C” and Effect Veiler can lock down players from continuing their standard moves. If a Rabbit player gets hit with a Maxx “C” on their Rabbit effect, they are going to be in a situation where their opponent will get at least two cards off of it, since their dinosaurs will be destroyed if they stop. Agent players have to think when summoning their Mystical Shine Balls, for if they stop, their opponent can capitalize off of their little fairies, or keep going allowing the opposing player to draw multiple cards off of the one Maxx “C”. Plants also have to think when playing One for One or summoning a Tuner, since Maxx “C” will put them into a difficult decision. Most players now play at least two copies of Maxx, and the idea of playing Veiler depends solely on the player’s preferences. If not, players would normally side these cards so that within the first game, your opponent could have the false idea that you do not play Maxx "C"/Effect Veiler. Rabbit players can utilize Dimensional Fissures to stop these hand traps, but decks like Plants and Agents need to consider cards like Debunk to put into their side deck.
Every deck has specific cards that can effectively disrupt its flow of plays. Dark Worlds lose to cards like Dimensional Fissure, Gemini Imps, and Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror. Karakuris have difficulty playing around Cyber Dragon, System Down, and Chain Disappearance. Since there are five types of decks that seem to control most of the Top 32 at any YCS this format, many players will try and manipulate their side to include a small number of cards to specifically go against these, and then some cards that can serve multiple purposes.
As the game continues to evolve, so do the countless counters to all of the best decks. So remember to effectively use your side deck to its fullest. Do not be the player who gives up hope after the first game because they pulled off some great combo, just think of how you will counter it when it happens (if it even happens) again. Be prepared for a big event, and side according to the Meta, and to your weak points. Friends of mine are always giving me advice on it, so you should always accept some helpful criticism as well. So I hope all of you players out there reading this ready yourself for future events and enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Peace out readers!