The Yu-Gi-Oh! Metagame

First of all, you are not having deja vu, I am just doing a second article for the contest.  So now that we have that settled, I'd love to talk about my favorite Yu-Gi-Oh subject!  Which is... the Metagame!  Now you probably aren't too excited since the title already told you what I was going to talk about or you think I'm talking about an old website(definitely not).  But this topic is very complex and not too many players talk about it on its own.  But understanding this, is like understanding any other facet of your gameplay.

As you most likely know, there are many contradictions within how the game works in a lot of different situations:  The constant battle between consistency and explosiveness within deck building which makes it hard to know where the arbitrary line between them is; The abilities and overuse of individual cards affecting an entire archetype; the innovation and the netdecking that individual players put into the game; the pack releases, contradictory rulings, and rarity upgrades between the OCG and the TCG.  These things may be contradictions and “problems” that we all perceive about Yu-Gi-Oh, but they are also the things that make us play the game.   They create the what we know to be the Metagame.  Topping an event because you took all of these factors into account, makes everything seem just part of the process.  So if it is these factors that help make the game into what it is, how do we solve them and how do we become knowledgeable of the game as it stands?

Let me give you a scenario to explain the process.  In the OCG, the Meta had been taking advantage of either Doppel Plants, Blackwings (They never quit there!), or Scraps with King Tiger Wanghu.  The Doppel Plants success was because they didn’t have Reborn Tengu, so a lot of decks couldn’t take advantage of it (including Plants), and also the card Shooting Quasar Dragon was extremely accessible with unlimited Formula/Librarians and semi-limited Lonefires.  The Blackwing and Scrap decks were taking advantage of ability of setting multiple backrow and not having to pay for it.  The last big event to happen for the TCG was YCS Providence with Tyree Tinsley winning with a variant of Galileo De Obaldia’s version of the Tengu Synchro deck.  And with Librarian coming out shortly before Nationals day, the deck was only going to get better.  What is a good player to do?  You could complain about the deck and begrudgedly play it or you could try to make a huge Meta call that shifts the direction of the game entirely.

The results of the U.S. Nationals were that the release of T.G. Hyper Librarian was immensely overshadowed by T.G. Stun.  Hansel Aguero and Jeff Jones took the deck to the top of the lists.  The function of the deck was to truly take advantage of your floaters, the lack of backrow destruction, and the amount of Monster Heavy Decks (The large showing as a result of the release of Hyper Librarian).  This is the Meta call that everyone wanted to happen despite the lack of skill that the deck requires of the player (what the skill of a deck entails is an article within itself).  Nobody wanted to see plants just dominate again, unless you were playing them.

Hansel's Decklist:

Monsters: 13
3 Reborn Tengu
3 T.G. Rush Rhino
2 T.G. Striker
3 T.G. Warwolf
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh

Spells: 8
1 Book of Moon
1 Dark Hole
1 Monster Reborn
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Pot of Avarice
3 Pot of Duality

Traps: 19
1 Call Of The Haunted
1 Compulsory Evacuation Device
2 Dark Bribe
2 Dimensional Prison
3 Horn of the Phantom Beast
1 Mirror Force
1 Royal Oppression
2 Skill Drain
1 Solemn Judgment
2 Solemn Warning
1 TG1-EM1
1 Torrential Tribute
1 Trap Dustshoot

The real question here is what made this Meta call so effective?  Everybody makes Meta calls all the time. For instance, I like running 3 Thunder King because it is a very strong turn one play and the card just controls the game.  But instead of the 3rd Thunder King, someone else might prefer to have a card more suited for the specific archetype or the archetype’s bad matchups.  This is a very small scale Meta call, but yet it is still a Meta call.  When you are talking about large scale Meta calls (a.k.a. Deck Building), you have to consider the entire Meta in a similar, but more specific way.  You need to look at key cards that affect the game and the effects of different card releases and events.

Major Events

~ Galileo De Obaldia wins his Nationals with a very consistent version of Plant Synchro

~Tyree Tinsley winning with similar deck Tengu Plants (People like the bandwagon so a player should expect a large showing of this kind of deck)

~Plants have infiltrated the Meta with different variants: Peter Nguyen/Monarch Plants; Jacob Haar/Debris Synchro; Tyler Kobrofsky/Chaos Plants; Alex Vansant/Ultimate Offering Plants; Jeff Jones/TGU Plants.  Which makes extreme overhype for plants and more people hop on the “Plant”wagon

~Six Samurai, X-Sabers, and Agents have been to sneak their way into top slots and are bound to make a big splash

~OCG is taking advantage of T.G. Variants, Icarus Glads, Scraps, and Ultimate Offering Gadgets with15+ backrows

~OCG has Doppel Plants dominating, which completely capitalizes on pluses from Hyper Librarian.

Key Cards

~Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier- This cards existence makes a lot of decks better than they were and the fact this card is unlimited makes the plant engine even better than it would’ve been normally.  It dominates a lot of decks that run out of resources quick and many decks can abuse it.

~T.G. Hyper Librarian-This card had been wrecking face in the OCG.  The fact that it is being released for the TCG should’ve made Plants Tier 0 and many other decks should've been made viable.

~Debris Dragon-Debris has been a nasty resource since the beginning of Plants.  Whether it is, top decking it, starting with it, or even using it as a wall, the card allows for too many pluses in plants.

~Giant Trunade-The only source of backrow “control”.  Only major out to the card played was Solemn Judgment, making the card very nasty to allow decks to set up (i.e. Six Sams).

~Heavy Storm/Cold Wave-The fact that neither of these cards exist allows for a lot of backrow control to happen in the game.  The TCG has yet to figure out that you can abuse it.

~Reborn Tengu-One of the best floaters in the history of the game.

~Pot of Duality-Searches about 1/11 of your deck turn one.  And in a deck full of three ofs you are often grabbing just what you need.  The card has systematically made many decks consistent that were never consistent before.

~Pot of Avarice-Unlimited recycling of broken Synchros and Tengus.  Nothing else really needs to be said.

~Royal Oppression-The Plant Killer.  This card plus Legendary Six Samurai-Shi En meant game.  This card pluses instantly when used, and not many decks had instant answers to this card every time.

Any good player can see how Hansel won here.  This happened to be the easiest analysis of a format ever.  The game has always favored floaters and as it turns out T.G.’s were just released as some of the best floaters we’ve had for a while.  Not to mention we now have Reborn Tengu, which is a Beast-Warrior and can take advantage of Horn of the Phantom Beast (Horn is being abused in the OCG with Scraps and T.G.).   That all of these monsters can abuse Naturia Barkion, Trishula, and T.G. Wonder Magician is just ridiculous.  So you have a consistent set of monsters that can abuse Horn of the Phantom Beast, Pot of Avarice, and Pot of Duality.  Then the realization that all of the Meta cards that have been perceived as problems can be solved by two cards is just icing on the cake.  These cards were Royal Oppression and Skill Drain.  But the problem was in order to fully take advantage of Horn, Oppression, and Drain you have to fight against Giant Trunade.  Unless you think you are lucky enough to have the Judgment every turn one, you have to solve this problem.  Knowing that Shi En and Oppression is game, what card can you replace Shi En’s mechanic with?  Dark Bribe stops Mystical Space Typhoon, Solemn Judgment, Seven Tools, and most importantly Giant Trunade for the simple cost of letting your opponent draw a card they most likely cannot use while Oppression or Drain is on board.  The only problem would be if he didn’t have the Judgment or Dark Bribe and they got off a Giant Trunade.  Well then he could always run Thunder King Rai-Oh as a walking Deck Lockdown/Black Horn of Heaven.  This would help in the mirror match as well as the successful Giant Trunade drops.

There are many more things that factor into how the Meta changed between YCS Providence and 2011 North American WCQ, but the point of me explaining this entire analysis of how Hansel won the Event was to show you how Meta calls should work.  You have to incorporate every conceivable variable and at the same time realize the implications of the most popular ones.  The game is very flexible and allows for many plays to extend beyond the conventional expectations that we have.  Who could’ve guessed that T.G. Stun dominated the Nationals Meta?  Personally I think it is one of the best Meta calls in the history of the game.

Understanding how the Metagame reacts and transforms will make you a better deck builder and a better player.  There are many players that have many more credentials than I do, and have probably not gotten this far in depth to understanding the game.  Regardless, I feel that the game would be even better if everyone thought about the game in these ways.  Can you imagine if everyone thought T.G. Stun was the best deck for the event?  Can you imagine if no one thought it was?  What if Jeff Jones never played Dark Skill Drain when everyone said Tele-Dad was dead?  What if Jarel “Pro” Winston beat Jeff Jones with Lightsworn in the Finals on that fateful day in Anaheim? How would the game look now if those things would've happened?  There are so many different possibilities if we recognize them.  The choices we make in every card and play, truly shapes the format and game to what it is.  I want to thank you guys again for allowing me to be on your website and I do have a segment on my Youtube account (GreatFailsMontana), called, “What’s the Meta?” talking about these issues often.  Have a wonderful holiday everyone!!!

Great Falls, Montana.

Action Card and Comics.

Cody Johnson

Cody Johnson

Youtube account is GreatFailsMontana
Cody Johnson

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