Ever since the dawn of mankind, philosophers have pondered about the world and how it works. As with any strategy-based game, Yu-Gi-Oh! is no different. The greats of the of game have come up with several theories that they follow in the different areas of the game such as deck building, in-game play, and side decking.  These theories have been heavily tested and continue to apply as the game changes and evolve and today I’m going to share them with you!

Deck Building Theories

The Two of Theory
This is a theory made popular by the great Jae Kim. This theory says that when building your deck, two is the opportune number of cards to include with the exception of staples that are limited to 1 or cards that you are almost required to play 3 of like Tour Guide from the Underworld or Reborn Tengu. The logic behind this theory is simple, if you play 1 of a card, you won’t see it when you need it and if you play 3 of a card, it will clump and become dead. Jae used this theory in regards to the side deck more so than the main deck. He wanted you to draw the cards that you sided in without them clumping. This theory still holds plenty of weight in the main deck as well. Look at the standard Plant deck. You will see that most of them play 2 Enemy Controllers and 2 Mystical Space Typhoons. The goal of this theory is balance.

The One of Theory

This is a theory that the entire state of Texas seems to love. This theory is very similar to the two of theory, except that it says that you should only play one copy of most cards in your deck and side deck.  The main goal of this theory is variability. It allows you have multiple defenses against a particular deck without dedicating too much of your side deck to beating a single deck.

40 v. 41+

This theory has two opposing sides to it. I’ll start with the 40 cards theory. 40 cards the minimum number of cards that a player can run in his deck. The people who believe running 40 cards is the best number believe this because it allows you the greatest chance of drawing your power cards and the greatest chance of drawing a particular card in a situation where you need it.

The opposing argument to this says to run 41+ cards, but generally not more than 42. Running more than 42 really starts to detract from your overall goal of the deck as you are most likely running too many filler cards that could be cut to reduce it to 40, 41, or 42 cards. People commonly misinterpret this theory. For instance, someone might say they run 42 to reduce the chances of drawing multiple Tengus. While yes, upping the count does reduce your chances of drawing multiple Tengu, the percentage that it reduces it is very small when there is already a very small chance of opening multiple Tengu (roughly 5%). By upping the count to 42 you reduce the chances of opening multiple Tengus a fraction of a percent, but you reduce the chances of opening your 1 Dustshoot or your 1 Reborn or your 1 various other power card multiple percent.  For this reason, saying that you want to reduce the chance of drawing multiple Tengu is not a very valid reason. The correct application of this theory would be similar to the “One of Theory” in that running more cards allows you for some more variability and allows you to play some tech choices that you may not have been able to include before like Dimensional Prison or Spirit Reaper.

In-Game Theories

The Floater Theory

The floater theory involves only using cards that are floaters, cards that replace themselves, and don’t cause you to lose advantage when they are destroyed. Back in the day, this theory was huge. It went by the name “Protect the Dekochi” in which the goal was to set Dekochi and a defensive card. You use the defensive card to make sure that Dekochi survived the turn and then the following turn you’d flip Dekochi for a +1 and then tribute it for a Monarch. While it has been several years since Dekochi has been present in the metagame, this theory still remains. This theory won this year’s World Championship Qualifier in the form of Tech Genus, a deck entirely based around this theory. Plants also utilize this theory by playing a high number of floaters such as Tour Guide, Sangan, Maxx “C” and above all Tengu. Floaters are great because they are very low risk investments. Since they replace themselves, it often doesn’t matter if a floater is destroyed in battle. Then if your opponent wastes a real card on a floater, you get a plus because your card replaced itself while theirs did not. This theory brings me into the next one, “the Theory of Minimal Interaction.”

The Theory of Minimal Interaction

The theory of minimal interaction says that you want to interact with the game as little as possible. For instance, if your opponent has 1 set spell or trap and you have Sangan, you should continue to push with the Sangan. While 1000 life points may not be a lot of damage, it creates a situation they must deal with as those thousands will quickly add up. By doing this with a card like Sangan, you have made a very low risk investment that they are forced to deal with. Using this theory you simply want to grind out pluses like tributing Rai-Oh to negate a synchro that they used 2 cards to make. While you are gaining this slow advantage, you want to hold your power cards in your hand. This is so that you can let your opponent waste his more powerful cards on your weaker cards, then you will still have your more powerful cards in your hand. Zenmaines is a card recently released that can be used takes advantage of this theory. Simply summoning Tour Guide allows you to make him and your opponent will often have to waste multiple cards to get rid of him while you only used one to summon him. Two players utilizing this theory in a single game will often result in an attrition war where each player tries to deplete the other of their resources.

Shifting the Game in your Favor

Sometimes you will have an inferior hand to your opponent’s good hand. If this situation arises, your opponent is going to want to play a grinder game like what was described in the theory above. If you realize that your opponent has a significantly better hand than you do, you don’t really want to play his grinder game as he’ll almost certainly win it. In situations like this, it is much better to go for risky plays. While you may lose to a Torrential or Solemn Warning, you would definitely lose if you played his game and allowed him to grind away your resources.  This is often your best bet in winning a game where your opponent opens significantly better than you. Generally you wouldn’t want to stall out this game hoping to draw what you needed as they will be keeping pressure on you and will likely have grinded away most of your resources by the time you get what you needed.

Side Deck Theory

Siding for Going 1st/2nd

There are a lot of cards that are better when you are going first. For example, the best time to play Trap Dustshoot is turn 1. Not only do you get to see everything your opponent opened, but there’s a chance that they may set too many cards for it to be live the following turn if they went first and you open with Dustshoot. For this reason, it is very common to side out Trap Dustshoot if you are going second. While this generally holds true, Plants generally hold more than 4 cards in their hand. For this reason, I would not side out Trap Dustshoot against Plants, even if I were going second.

Dustshoot is not the only example of siding out a card for when you go first or when you go second. Another thing that is common for Rabbit decks to do is to either main 3 Dimensional Fissure or 3 Maxx “C” and side the other one.  They will then generally side or keep in Dimensional Fissure when they are going first or side in or keep in Maxx “C” when they are going second.  Personally I would main the Maxx “C”s and side the Fissures as “C” hurts more matchups and helps combat weak hands. Rabbit also loses to early aggression which can be stopped by “C”. I prefer Fissure sided for when I’m going first to stop opposing Maxx “C”s without the threat of Mystical Space Typhoon.

I also used this logic a great deal in Kansas City two weeks ago. I liked Caius when I was going first, but didn’t like it when I was going second. My solution to this was to main 1 Caius and side it out when I was going second and side a second Caius in when I was going first. I also sided out Heavy Storm against Plants when I was going first, but kept it in going second.

Thanks for reading my compilation of the different theories in the game. I hope you guys learned something and that you will keep some of these theories involved when dealing with the different aspects of the game, whether it be deck building, in game play, or side decking. Until next time guys!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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