As a duelist it’s very important to understand why certain things work like they do, and not just regurgitate information that others have told them. Many a time, I have seen average duelists that read-up on the deck they want to make, practice common scenarios, and do successful against predicted match-ups. But when they are paired up against a lower tier deck or run into a scenario that wasn’t accounted for, they freeze-up, misplay (either by continuing to play by-the-book or using poor logic), and attribute their loss to “luck”. Why is this? Because before they are playing their tier 1 vs. tier 3 match-up, they forget they are playing Yu-Gi-Oh.
What do I mean by this? Try this for me; play a deck built from a random stack of cards the next time you duel your friends. Let’s see why this would be difficult; you don’t know what cards you are playing, therefore you can’t tell what kinds of combos or plays you should be making to suit your deck and overall strategy. You don’t really know what you can do until you draw the cards as you play. So what knowledge does that leave us with? The answer is simple: Yu-Gi-Oh. There are basics and tactics in this game that are so simple or fundamental that people tend to forget or incorrectly build this knowledge that they have minimized in their minds, instead focusing on the more complex parts (like tier match-ups for example). In order to play this game successfully, you need to be able to build a strong foundation of knowledge for the game itself and be able to fall back or access that knowledge when needed to. This deep understanding of the general mechanics of all Yu-Gi-Oh games allows for the better player to be able to succeed in multiple scenarios, because they aren’t just playing the match-up: they’re playing the game.
This can also apply to deck-building as well. Before frog monarchs were successful, I built a deck with a lot of frogs, a little bit of monarchs, and 7 trap cards. I realized I had to have so many defensive frogs because I couldn’t always rely on Treeborn Frog to tribute monarchs, since I ran a lot of traps. As for why I ran so many traps? I felt like conventional deck building forced me from branching out to the idea of having a deck with little-to-no traps and still be successful. As soon as the more popular build came out however, my logic was changed instantly; these traps weren’t helping me, they were holding me back! I could achieve just as much protection with Battle Fader/Tragoedia/Gorz the Emissary of Darkness/etc. that I could with those traps without interfering with my Treeborn Frog tributing plays. As frog monarchs got more popular with the public, heavy monster builds in-general started collecting more interest, starting a new trend in a logic that was once set in stone. When you understand the information that you learn and hear others, you can begin to apply it more accurately to your own situation.
So how can you improve this basic knowledge of playing and deck-building? The best thing I can tell you is to learn actively. Let’s consider a classroom setting. In most classes, a teacher will be in front of you and a group of other students, lecturing you while writing things on a chalkboard that she or he thinks is important. Now let’s say that you just listen to all of the teacher’s words, write down the notes, study from the book, and call it a day: this is what would be considered as passive learning. On the other hand, instead of just sitting there like a block of wood absorbing water, you can ask the teacher what she means by certain things, why we consider these things instead of others, and how this applies to everyday life. But just like in Yu-Gi-Oh, you aren’t always going to be fed an explanation and must search for it yourself. This questioning and the search itself is essentially learning actively. You can do this by looking through multiple different articles, seeing different arguments, keeping an open mind, being willing to change and not afraid of being wrong, and more. Build up those different perspectives and conclusions with arguments as strong and as sound as you can make them, and when you feel that it’s enough for now, you can start tearing down those arguments until the strongest one stands tall: with that block you can build your foundation.
Next time, we’ll talk about solidifying your logic, and moving past the foundation and up through this metaphorical pyramid of ours.
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Until next time duelists: duel hard, stay sharp, and take it easy!