Beyond the Top Deck: Introduction

Greetings again! I hope everyone enjoyed my first article and immediately jumped to Alter Reality Game’s store to stock up on some cards for the cube you are designing! This time around I am here to discuss the more abstract side of the game and begin a comprehensive analysis of a myriad of topics. My intentions are to discuss a philosophical topic each week with potential breaks to provide tournament reports or my thoughts on the current game state. Due to the exceptional skill level of all writers here I am emphatically confident that they will provide all of the essentials needed to succeed in the upcoming format. My hope with these upcoming articles is that they are able to exist as timeless pieces applicable for all formats to come. I’ve designed a growing list of over 20 topics ranging from the concept of a misplay to the importance of tempo. However, before absolutely anything is said the following needs to be recognized.

Yu-Gi-Oh is a game based on a series of play sequences and turns. As a game progresses each player continues to make critical decisions which dictate the flow of the game and ultimately the winner. What needs to be understood is that each decision you make within the context of the game has a lasting effect on both that game and the match, and unless you are a perfect person you’ve made a mistake in the past.

As innocent as a Normal Summon may seem, it has forever played a significant role in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh. In the early years of the game powerhouses such as Mechanicalchasher and Summoned Skull were being trumped by the likes of Trap Hole. As the game has progressed and evolved the roles of cards such as Bottomless Trap Hole, Solemn Warning, Solemn Judgment, Torrential Tribute, and other responses to Normal Summons, have become the norm. Virtually regardless of the format people have played immediate answers to Normal Summoned monsters upon them hitting the field. But why is that?

The answer to this question is quite simple. Normal Summons are the most absolute way to engage in monster interactions in the game. Unless you have been allotted additional Normal Summons through a card effect, you may only perform one a turn, leaving you with quite a decision at hand. Players have already identified that striping the opponent of their Normal Summoned monster is beneficial in their attempt to win the game. So where does your decision making go in that?

Sometimes in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh things are quite obvious. If you see an opening hand consisting of both Elemental Hero Stratos and Destiny Draw it would be difficult to argue upon using your one Normal Summon on Elemental Hero Stratos. Your decision here was made for you. But what about when you see a hand of: Mystic Tomato, Scapegoat, Spirit Reaper, Magician of Faith, Sakuretsu Armor and Graceful Charity. Your line of play here is far more complex as the possibilities are more diverse. Identifying what each card does with conjunction of one another you might find playing Graceful Charity and setting Magician of Faith as the best opening play. Yet, when I add that we are playing in the April 2005 format (often referred to as Goat Format where two copies of Nobleman of Crossout were legal) you might find it more appealing to hold off and try and bait out Nobleman of Crossout by setting Spirit Reaper or Mystic Tomato.

You see one simple combination of six cards and already when things aren’t as black and white as, “Summon Stratos search Malicious play Destiny Draw,” we have room to argue. It is in this gray area of argument that the most important premise of these articles is presented. Without acknowledging that you have room for improvement the contents of this information is worthless to you. Only one person can identify themselves as, “The best Yu-Gi-Oh player in the world.” Everyone else is left striving to reach that level. But what exactly needs to be done to reach such a level?

Unsurprisingly I am not the “The best Yu-Gi-Oh player in the world,” and quite frankly that title is one up for debate. So I cannot look back on my own experiences and outline how one reaches the absolute pinnacle of this game, but what I can tell you does carry weight. The idea of continually improving all aspects of your game is undeniable vital in evolving and progressing as a player. This statement will be echoed throughout these articles as I attempt to explore the numerous avenues one can improve their game, but those sections go hand and hand with understanding how to do just that – improve your game.

Ignorance is one of the most daunting roadblocks in improving your skills as a player. The inability to properly recognize your own imperfections as a player will stunt any and all growth available. Have you ever met an individual in your local card scene who refuses to admit their faults, even after the contentions of those around them? In the face of scrutiny these individuals will irrevocable attempt to refute all criticisms of their play and remain committed to their decisions. It should be of no coincidence that these individuals seem to stay capped by their idle skill level, never to improve upon where they are.

So as you sit here and read this are you willing to admit that you have made mistakes in the past and have room for improvement? If you identify yourself as the close-minded local player it is time to exceed beyond the glass ceiling you’ve been capped by for so long – let the Theory-Oh begin.


Be sure to check back next time as we discuss the idea that everything you do has a consequence! Have a safe week and enjoy the start of the March 2012 format (or your upcoming cube draft)!

Joe Giorlando

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