Yu-Gi-Oh! – The Hidden Side of the Game

Plant Synchro and Agents – these names dominate the list of the top 32 winning decks at the recent Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series: Columbus. This comes as a blow to a lot of us. We like diversity in the game. We love our local Yu-Gi-Oh! leagues because we don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy the game there. We can play Ice Barrier decks, or Banisharks, or Uria decks if we want to. Too many people feel that in order to excel at the game, they need to imitate winning formulas and play a carbon copy of the last deck to top a tournament.

Regardless of anyone’s point of view on “netdecking,” there’s a certain sense of accomplishment that accompanies successive victories against “top-tier” decks while using something of your own creation, be it a new spin on an old deck, or a hybrid you came up with on your own. Not everyone has the money to spend on a playset of Rescue Rabbit, a trio of Tour Guides, or a blinged-out Extra Deck, making it all the more satisfying to dominate your friends with a budget-centric deck.

There are multiple options for those of us who can’t afford to spend our life’s savings on our deck. There are, of course, the Structure Decks released recently, which contain high-tier cards allowing budget players to compete with friends who may be more dedicated to the game, or have a bigger budget for it. But for those of us with an unruly inner hipster, we crave our own, unique style.

There are some gems hidden in our shoeboxes filled with old common cards, like Geartown – this little field spell packs a hell of a punch and makes opponents pay for playing the back row destruction they’re all too eager to use now that Heavy Storm is back in nearly every deck. When it’s destroyed, you’re free to summon any Ancient Gear monster from your hand, deck or Graveyard without cost! A free Ancient Gear Gadjiltron Dragon is nothing to laugh at – three-thousand ATK points and your opponent can’t even respond to its attacks with the likes of Mirror Force and Dimensional Prison.

What’s more, is that you don’t even have to wait for an opponent to play their hand to destroy it if you need a monster on the field. Simply set another Field Spell while Geartown is active or set, and it’s considered “destroyed,” activating its effect. As if all this wasn’t enough to make Geartown such an incredibly powerful card, neither Geartown nor the actual summon of Gadjiltron Dragon can be negated with Solemn Warning!

This engine is actually a common sight in Malefic decks, since Malefic monsters require an active Field Spell to survive. Using Geartown as that spell means that if the opponent tries to rid your field of a Malefic by destroying their vital field spell, they’ve just traded one problem for another. I personally use a hybrid of Malefics, Agents, Darklords, and, you guessed it, Geartown. As strange as that mash-up sounds, it’s actually extremely powerful, and can certainly compete with the good ol’ meta.

Another style of play that costs much less than the common meta decks out there is anti-meta. Though anti-meta has to change each format to counter the new metagame, ultimately, you’ll still end up spending less on the deck you choose to build, and you’ll frustrate opponents for sure. Utterly nullifying a Tour Guide from the Underworld with a simple Skill Drain, or banishing a Dandylion with Dimensional Fissure is an inexpensive way to ruin somebody else’s day, and get you that much closer to topping a YCS.

The current meta is speed-obsessed and Graveyard-reliant. Anti-meta has cheap counters to this, such as Necrovalley, preventing Glow-Up Bulb and Spore from escaping the Graveyard, Skill Drain, preventing Tour Guide from accomplishing the instant-Xyz Summons she’s known for, and even Compulsory Evacuation Device and Neo-Spacian Grand Mole, which are the ultimate pain-in-the-rear for Xyz and Synchro monsters.

If you’re playing anti-meta, it’s important to remember to include some win conditions. You can always poke the opponent to death with a Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer or similar monster, but don’t forget that if you give your opponent half a chance, they’re liable to make an explosive comeback, and the odds of such a return increase with every turn you can’t end the game.

This is where Geartown becomes extremely useful. Turn one – set Geartown, set Necrovalley over it, and you’ve already set up your Graveyard lockdown and have a boss monster on the field. If you can protect your assets (Dark Bribe is extremely useful for this, regardless of the fact that it’s technically a +1 for your opponent) then your opponent will have a severely difficult time contending. Do remember that you’ve always got Terraforming to search your field spells instantly, too!

None of this is to say that the metagame can be beaten with just a few dollars in your pocket and an antagonistic attitude towards the Graveyard. Plants and the like top everywhere for a reason – they’re good decks, and you need to hone your strategy skills, as well as your ability to predict your opponent’s moves if you want to beat the meta. Nothing can replace hard-earned experience, and that’s something you’ll definitely need regardless of the deck you choose to play.

Knowing the ins and outs of your own deck is vital, but it’s only half the battle. You need to be just as knowledgeable about your opponents deck, so there is certainly something to be said for playing the common, “tier-one” decks before moving on to anti-meta. There are ways to play the decks without emptying your wallet, bank account and pillowcase, though without playing in real tournaments, it can be difficult to earn that vital experience.

Locals are a great place to practice, and you can always borrow cards or use proxies (they’re just substitutes that you use if you don’t have the actual card – you can just stick any card into a sleeve backwards, maybe with a slip of paper that says what the card is) in unofficial tournaments. Just make sure you get permission from your opponents if you want to use proxies, and take good care of anything you borrow.

Don’t forget that the decks that top tournaments do so because they’re extremely good, and just because a deck you invented is powerful and consistent doesn’t mean you’ll top a tournament instantly. You’re still up against time-tested formulas and strategies that have successfully squashed everything in their way to get to where they are. If you want to really “beat the meta,” you’ve got your work cut out for you, but it can be done!

Don’t give up on those weird deck ideas, and keep dueling!

Americus, Georgia

Luke Barner

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