In competitive play now more than ever at locals, regionals, and ycs’ the damage step has become the difference between a decent player and a good player. In this dice-roll format matches can go either way, but the more experienced and knowledgeable player usually can pull away with the win. The game can turn around in the damage step. There are a handful of cards that are game changers, monsters effects that activate in the hand boosting attack power with Honest, Blackwing - Kalut the Moon Shadow, and the special summoning/effect of Gorz the Emissary of Darkness. In addition monster flip effects/flip face-up effects like the popular Snowman Eater and Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter. We have all been tempted to activate Royal Oppression against Gorz and Gravekeeper’s Spy in the damage step, but you can’t. The best and only response is a counter trap Solemn Warning or Solemn Judgment (speed spell 3) negating the summon or effect that summons monsters. Another temptation that players want to activate is towards Snowman Eater, you attack and you respond with My Body as a Shield to Snowman’s destroying one face up monster and the opposing player says YOU CAN’T IT’S THE DAMAGE STEP… making you look like a scrub. One of my favorite tech cards to use is Greenkappa, especially in an Anti-Meta deck, since everyone is setting a million back-rows (spell& traps) especially Blackwings. Greenkappa’s flip effect occurs in the damage step which Starlight Road and My Body as a Shield can’t negate, and boom your opponent is at minus 2, destroying 2 face down spell or traps. You have no idea how many times players just want to scoop a game after Greenkappa destroys their back-rows, the card is just too much fun.
So you might ask yourself what cards can I activate in the damage step other than monster effects and counter traps. It’s simple quickplay spell-cards that increase or decrease the attack of monsters. Let’s say you control a Cyber Dragon and your opponent a Grandmaster of the Six Samurai, both equal in attack. Declare attack with Cyber Dragon, declare damage step and activate Forbidden Lance (Quickplay-Spell) on Grandmaster, reducing its attack by 800 and your Cyber Dragon stays on the board, simple. To be honest quickplay-spells that increase or decrease attack aren’t popular cards that are mained or side decked the format doesn’t allow room for these type of cards.
To review: A couple cards that help in the damage step include Chivalry, Solemn Warning, Solemn Judgment, Rush Recklessly, Forbidden Chalice, Forbidden Lance, Honest and Blackwing-Kalut the Moon Shadow. Know these cards well enough and you will most likely succeed in winning.
Remember a simple a mistake like activating a wrong card against an opposing player’s card in the damage step doesn’t mean you lost. In competitive play mostly at regionals players understand making a misplay. If opposing players aren’t douchebags they will most likely let you take back your card or reset it, your opponent has the advantage of knowing what the card is and can’t really complain. This idea somewhat changes if your playing game 3 at the top tables. NO I MISPLAYED, CAN I TAKE THAT BACK… You got admit your mistake and let the specific card go, you misplayed that’s why you go to regionals to learn more about the game and win of course. The game is a learning process; don’t rush to be a bad player when you can be a good player.
Constantly look up rulings on specific cards it’s the best way to be well knowledgeable player. I remember playing against Frog Monarchs and it was the first time I ever saw Light and Darkness Dragon, and I couldn’t win it’s effect was too much for me to handle. I accepted my loss, and that same night I looked up everything on LADD and I found its weakness it can’t negate more than 1 card in a single chain. After that LADD was a joke, activate Mystical Space Typhoon, chain Bottomless Trap Hole and LADD is removed, simple and easy. I know what your thinking I had to waste two cards to get over LADD, but if you know you can push for game during your next turn, it’s worth the risk. Knowledge is power always look up rulings especially damage step rulings because they are the trickiest one to remember. Always take a look at cards that you may not be familiar with that your opponent plays, card rulings are always changing and that could cost you the win, think before you act. Don’t be afraid to ask your opponent if an effect is a cost or not.
Remember the game is as intimidating as you make it to be, relax and have fun.