Breaking the Mold – The Deckbuilding Mindset

tyreeWhat’s up Yugioh players? I know it’s been a while but there has been a lack of topics to write about with Dragons running rampant this format. Today I’m back today to write about how players can “break the mold” when building their deck, this topic seems fairly appropriate with the way the format is right now with the same decks topping event after event.


With so many of the same deck topping event after event players tend to copy the decks of their favorite players that are put up after the event is over such as Billy Brake, Frazier Smith, or Patrick Hoban, a lot of the time card for card. Many players are content with the results they get with them; I feel this is the wrong approach to take most of the time. Rarely are decks that players top or even win with perfect, with the main, side, and extra deck all being the most optimal. Many times in a deck profile or interview you will hear the person who ran the deck wish they ran X card instead of Y or wish they didn’t run a certain card in their side. Out of my 21 regional tops and my YCS wins/tops there hasn’t been a time where I felt my deck was 100% perfect and wouldn’t change a single card in my deck. Even after each of my tops or wins, I looked back on my deck that I ran shortly afterwards and found that there was something that I wish that I did or didn’t run (for example Ally Salvo at Rhode Island 2011 or Tour Bus at YCS Atlanta 2012). Players shouldn’t be so content with copying decks card for card, with each event decks will change and certain cards will find their way in and out of decks to combat certain changes in the meta. For example, back in Tele-Dad format Jerry Wang and others started maining Royal Oppression in their Tele-Dad decks to give them an edge in the mirror and against Lightsworn, which in turn everybody else started maining Oppression as well and it became standard in the main. Making changes to adapt to the changing meta is what many of the great players do; this is why you usually don’t see people run the same exact decklist at the very next event that they attend. In the past you saw players like Adam Corn, Lazaro and Dale Bellido, and Jeff Jones constantly change and retool their decks after events, even now you might see some of the best players top with the same deck multiple times but you usually see a change or two on the decklist, those changes can be the different between losing on the bubble or going into the top 32 or better.


Not trying out new things in your deck every now and then can stunt your growth as a player. As you keep repeating the same process of copying over and over again, you stop thinking about the cards in the deck and the ideas behind why they are run in the first place. When I talk to somebody at an event and I ask them why they run a certain card and I hear them say “I don’t know, I saw that a guy topped with it at the last event and I figured it was good” really saddens me. It’s good to look at certain techs or one-ofs and question why they are run or even if there is anything else better to run instead. You might even find out through testing that a card that was ran wasn’t that good and there was something else that you wanted to run in its place. Many times you will watch a deck profile of someone who topped and you will hear them say that a certain card was awful and they wished they never used it. You won’t always be correct when taking cards in and out and might not get the result you want all of the time but that’s what testing is for, a process of trial and error and making your deck the deck the best it can be for the next event you attend.  There is nothing wrong with running the same deck as everybody else, but experimenting with different cards and changing things up will separate you from the rest. Getting together and talking with teammates or friends is a great way to get a broader view on card choices, since there always might be that card that you missed or didn’t even think about. A good example of this is Mike Steinman, Dalton Bousman and company discovering [ccProd]Mystical Refpanel[/ccProd] and making it a big side (or sometimes even maindeck) card in many decks. You might even see a deck come out of nowhere and become one of the best decks of the format because of a group of ideas that came together ( Sept 2011 Plants). Now if you’ve been doing great with your deck and the changes you made, going x-0 or x-1 at locals week after week or at regionals, don’t let people talk you out of it Friday night of a YCS because they said its “bad”, I’ve seen many people fall victim to this.  Now I’m not saying you have to shove a whole bunch of tech cards into your Dragon deck and hit up the next event near you, but just trying out different cards here and there when playing against friends or at locals to see if they work out can’t hurt.


Well that’s it for this article guys. If you can think of a time in the past where a player put a twist on a deck and that change became the norm for that format, post it in the comments below since I’m sure there are a good amount of them! The Circuit Series in Worcester, MA is coming up fast (Nov 16-17) and Shadow Specters will be legal for the event so I hope everybody is ready for all the new cards you might see at the top! From the looks of it, Shadow Specters seems like it will be a good set and I might write an article on it when more information is released. Until next time!



-          Tyree Tinsley

-          YCS Rhode Island 2011 & YCS Meadowlands 2013 Champion