Yugs the Builder

Hello, once again, duelists! I’m back once again this week to discuss an important topic of draft and sealed (and even constructed) play – building your deck! We all have our own styles of play and probably have some quirky ways we go about constructing our decks, but building a deck in sealed is somewhat different in a few ways; you only have a limited amount of time to see your cards and build your deck, the card pool is not in your control, and your strategy will not be as well supported as it would be in a constructed environment. With that being said, I want to give you all some tips that I use whenever I play in any sealed event!


For those of you that have watched a deck profile on YouTube (I assume a vast majority of you), you’ll notice that the deck builder will present his or her deck in order of monsters, then spells, and finally traps. By segregating the cards in this way, it makes it easier for us to understand the concept of the deck, as well as the deck’s ratios between each kind of card. This tried and true method is exactly what your first step should be after opening all your Battle Pack: Epic Dawn packs for sealed play. Take all your cards and put them into four piles – spells, traps, monsters, extra deck. It is also useful to put any cards you pulled multiples of together.

Once you’ve finished organizing your cards into these four piles, the next thing you’re going to do is subdivide your cards again! This time, try to organize your spells, traps, and monsters into groups with synergy. For example, put battle trick cards like Forbidden Lance, Shrink, and Rush Recklessly together and beatdown monsters like Gemini Elfs, Alexandrite Dragon, and Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer together in a pile near your battle trick spells. By doing this, you will be able to see what kind of strategy your card pool is going to best support. One way to do this is to look at the one or two best cards you have in your pool. Those cards will usually be considered “bomb” cards – when they are played, they have explosive results to the game state, changing momentum in your favor or leaving your opponent in the dust if you are already ahead. If you think you can build a deck that supports those cards, you are on your way to building a strategy. An example of this would be if you had a copy of Yata Garasu in your packs and also pulled a fair amount of removal cards and strong monsters. If this is the case, your deck functions well on its own, and drawing a card like Yata will put you over the edge and ensure victory!

The First Draft

One your card pool is organized and you have an idea of what strategy you want to use, begin concentrating on the monsters first. For most strategies, winning by attacking is going to be the most likely path to victory. This means it is pivotal to start building your deck by looking at the monsters. Personally, I like to take all the monsters that I’m even half considering and put them into a pile. The remaining monsters I put aside; this way, I can feel less overwhelmed by the number of cards I’m working with. I then pick up the pile of monsters I’m considering and go through the pile exactly one time, cutting any cards that I think are subpar for my strategy, and put my refined list to one side (personally, I put cards for my deck to the left and cards I’ve eliminated to the right). Do not worry about the number of monsters you’ve chosen yet! That comes later.

My process for the spells and traps is exactly the same. Now that I have a strategy in mind and a rough monster lineup to work with, I can determine which spells I think are useful, and then figure out what traps I’m going to use after that. This gives me my first draft. Clearly, I wouldn’t title it the first draft if I didn’t have a second draft in mind!

The Second (and final) Draft

Now, the time to count has finally arrived! First count the total number of cards you have in your first draft of a deck. Hopefully it is close to the minimum card count for sealed play (I’m guessing thirty card decks will be standard). If you are over thirty cards, again trim down your deck by looking at monsters, spells, and traps. It is absolutely crucial, however, that you avoid cutting too many of one kind of card. If you go crazy cutting monsters from your deck, you will obviously have a tough time damaging your opponent during the game because you won’t see your monsters as frequently as is necessary. If you have too few cards, first consider which area (monsters, spells, traps) could use a little bit more support. Then go to the pile of cards you discarded earlier. If you followed the steps earlier, your cards should still be organized. This will make it easier to decide what cards to add to your deck. At this point, you will want to consider any cards that may counter some of your opponents strategies. If you think stall is going to be a popular deck choice in the event, make sure you have some spell and trap removal in your deck. It is just as important to consider your opponents' strategies as it is to consider your own! One issue many people face in sealed play is the time constraint associated with deck building. You may only get thirty minutes to open all your packs and build your deck. Any small bit of organization can help you save a ton of time.

The last thing you will work on is your extra deck. I HIGHLY doubt there will be more than fifteen extra deck cards to pick from, so this will be a non-issue. Just pack all of your XYZs, Synchros, and Fusions into your extra deck. Cards that do not make it into your main or extra deck will likely end up being considered your side deck, although, Konami has yet to leave explicit rules for sealed play with the Battle Pack.


One important thing to keep in mind when building a deck is the ratio of spell and traps to monsters. As of late, many builds play around a 50:50 ratio, meaning roughly twenty monsters and a combination of twenty spells and traps. Generally, these decks try to win through attacking, which will likely be your strategy in sealed play. Working with a thirty card deck model and the 50:50 ratio, we can conclude that fifteen monsters and fifteen spells and traps would be a good starting off point. Let’s take this a step farther and say your monster:spell:trap ratio is 15:10:5. One way to visualize this is to think of your six card opening hand. If fifty percent of your decks is monsters (3/6), thirty-three percent is spells (2/6), and seventeen percent of your deck is traps (1/6), then you can reflect that onto your hand. A hand of three monsters, two spells, and one trap would be a common occurrence. (Note: this isn’t EXACTLY true, but it is a good rule of thumb to use when building on the fly). When building your deck, try to keep your ratios in mind so you can have balanced opening hands.


I want to close with a few short helpful tips you can take with you when playing in sealed events. First, make sure you are constantly aware of how much time you have left to build your deck. If you take too long to construct, and time is called, you will be forced to either play with what you have (if thirty cards or over), quickly add cards that may be subpar to your strategy (if under thirty cards), or receive a game loss for not having a legal deck going into game one of round one. The next thing is to not get too caught up that your deck isn't a well oiled machine. It's a sealed event! It is very unlikely (near impossible) that you will have a build that is even close to what an ideal build in a constructed event would look like. Remember, you cannot control which cards are in your sealed pack; it is so important to learn to roll with what you've got. After all, sulking won't change your cards! Sealed play is (obviously) about building the best deck you can with the resources provided.

Do you have any tricks you use when deck building? Comment with them below!

Until next time,

Play Hard or Go Home!

-Tej T.

Tej Trivedi

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  • patrick murray

    I do not see the current format allowing much room for deck building as the meta is demanding that many use so many of the same tech and monster line up to achieve the goal of what has to be played to even stand a chance, Once they are assembled that leave little room for ramdon cards to make the deck truly yours. Most are copies w/ a ratio change or many a 1-4 card difference that is nothing more then a passing fancy.

    Without a durastice change to the cards that are forcing a same deck format to open the game to allow builders the room and time to put into action plays and combo’s that would widen the gap in the top tier decks. I would personally love to have it where duelist have a wide varity of decks to play from as it adds a greater challenge to the game to where you have to carefully consider the sides and extra deck to maximize the performance of your deck concept. 3-5 turn game enders are stale and leads to bad sportmanship as seen in my area which makes the top tables as fun as visiting family you never really liked in the first place.

    • MattyB

      Patrick, I think you may have posted on the wrong article? This is about sealed pack play with the upcoming Battle Pack, not advanced constructed.

      I liked the article it was well written, and I expect players will start looking for more of these after the set is released. One thing that may make a good article is maybe talking about some of the deck building traps that players will fall into with sealed, E.G. bending a deck around a bomb like Obelisk that you don’t really have the support for, when you could just have a much more consistent beat down strategy with your 5 combat tricks. I really like this series; I look forward to seeing more of them.

      • Tej T.

        thank you, glad you liked it! There are still a couple more to follow 🙂

        as for after set release, i agree that people will look to these articles more (hopefully). I think it would be neat to have sealed tournament reports as well, but that is a month or so away still.

        I agree with you on the obelisk example. some of the pitfalls in deck building can be catastrophic!

    • Tej T.

      @patrick murray

      I understand what you’re saying, but I disagree with some of what you’ve said. when you say “there is no room for deck building,” is not quite true. I agree that there is little room for completely offbeat strategies (crystal beasts, gustos, etc), but for this format, deck building is important with specific card choices. I recommend you read Patrick Hoban’s article http://articles.alterealitygames.com/?p=11584 which addresses this very issue. this article reflects on the issue you present very nicely. here is my favorite excerpt “One thing that you have to understand is that by losing innovation in deck types when formats like these exist, greater innovation will be born within these dominant deck strategies.

      It’s not so much that innovation is dying, it’s just that in one deck formats there is a shift from deck type innovation to card choice and play style innovation.”

      I agree that it is nice for the formats to mix things up every once in a while, but we see glimmers of hope even in this format. Consider the evol deck that topped ycs atlanta and the masked hero deck that topped ycs chicago. those two deck builders demonstrated a strong understanding of the format and made a good meta call.

      clearly, this is a loaded topic – one that would require thousands of words to even start to flesh out, but i hope this response helps 🙂

  • WJL

    I came here to read this article thinking it was about MTG limited. :/

    • jim

      I can’t figure you out…

    • Tej T.

      haha I’m sorry 🙁 Maybe some of the examples could be paralleled with magic examples, but i dont know enough about magic to try that