Preparing for Events

Hello everyone, my name is Max Reynolds and this week I’ll be discussing the many things you should be doing when you prepare for an event. When an event is announced and you know you’re going to attend it is important to do these four things.

  1. Know Your Bad Match-Ups
  2. Know How To Side Deck
  3. Know What Your Deck Is Capable Of
  4. Know Rulings on Your Cards


Know Your Bad Match-Ups

Once you decide what deck you want to play for an event you should begin playtesting with your friends or online to figure out what decks give you a problem. While you’re testing you will come to find out which decks give your deck issues. Once you have identified the decks that give your deck issues you should focus your testing primarily on your bad match-ups. As you test against your bad match-ups you should begin to notice what cards give you problems and adjust your side deck accordingly. Often times you will discover side deck cards that can be put into your main deck. A prime example of this happened when Burning Abyss players began to main deck Vanity’s Fiend. Vanity’s Fiend was effective against the Shaddoll match-up because most Shaddoll main decks failed to main outs to this card. The consensus to run Vanity’s Fiend in the main deck was most certainly the result of playtesting against bad match-ups and directly illustrates how playtesting before an event leads to success.

Know How To Side Deck

Identifying your bad match-ups is only half the battle; preparing a good side deck is one of the most important things you have to do when preparing for an event. After playtesting you will understand what decks give you problems, which will allow you to designate how many cards you want to side for these particular match-ups. It’s also very important that you don’t side too many cards for one match-up because then you won’t be prepared for the rest of the field. Siding one of a certain card isn’t very effective either because then the odds of actually drawing it when you need it diminish immensely. Siding two to three of a single card is the most optimal way to side deck because then you will actually draw the cards against your bad match-ups.

Once you decide which cards you actually want to side deck, a really good way to prepare for an event is by making a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet of all the cards in your side deck. You should list all of your bad match-ups in the horizontal columns and the cards you are side decking in the vertical columns. It will look something like this.

Shaddolls Burning Abyss Qliphort
X Card Yes No Yes
Y Card No Yes No
Z Card Yes Yes Yes

After you have the above set up, list how many of each card you want to side in for the particular match-up and which cards you would want to take out of your main deck. This will make it easier to side at an event because you won’t have to worry about what cards you want to side in or out because those decisions will already have been made. Often times when I’m playing my opponent’s will say, “I’m not really sure what to side.” This is obviously something you want to hear from your opponent, but not something you want to admit to your opponent. Knowing what you’re going to side deck going into an event will give you an increased chance of success.

Know What Your Deck Is Capable Of

Knowing exactly what your deck can do is something that will become evident in playtesting. When I say, “Know what your deck is capable of,” I’m not talking about reading your cards, rather understanding how they all interact with each other. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’re opponent opens up their most optimal hand and you have no idea what course of action to take or if your deck has an answer to the particular situation. The same logic applies when you draw extremely well, but do not get the most value out of your cards because you haven’t playtested enough. A prime example of this was in the September 2012 format when Wind-Ups were the most dominant deck. If you opened up Wind-Up Magician and Wind-Up Shark you had the power to create a devastating field with Shock Master, Photon Papilloperative, and Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity.

combo picture


This was a very standard and easy to memorize combo containing only two variables, an X and a Y, but what if a new variable were to be introduced? In 2012 you were allotted six cards if you went first as opposed to the five you are given today. Out of these six cards only two contributed to making the Shock Master Field, which meant there were a total of four unaccounted cards that could improve the play. If you were to open Magician, Shark, and Wind-Up Factory your play would be even more devastating, but only if you knew the end point of the play. If you start a play without a vision of where it is supposed to end you will misplay and give your opponent a chance to capitalize. Knowing what your deck is capable of is especially important when making a push for game.

If you were to open up with Wind Up-Magician and Wind-Up Shark and you went second, you would have a vast amount of options to explore but only one correct one in the certain situation. Lets say your opponent left their field open and passed. You could either set up a Shock Lock play or put 9100 points of damage on board. The correct route is obviously putting 9100 on board because both of the plays begin by normal summoning Wind-Up Magician and then revealing Wind-Up Shark. At this point you could assume that your opponent might have an Effect Veiler or a Maxx “C” in hand because they left their field open, but that wouldn’t matter because both plays have the same point of origin and are both vulnerable to these hand traps. Being able to identify these scenarios and make the best play is something most people only learn from playtesting. Knowing the ins and outs of your deck is one of the most integral things in this game, which means you should practice as much as you can so you can play your best.

Know Rulings on Your Cards

The fourth and final thing you should do when preparing for an upcoming event is understanding the rulings on your cards. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you want to make a play but aren’t sure if it is a legal one. This will not only put you in an awkward position but will give your opponent the knowledge that you are underprepared for the event. Knowing rulings on your cards is also very important when you want to catch someone off guard. At my locals a few months ago my friend Steven was playing Yang Zings. His opponent attacked his set Yang Zing monster and during the damage step Steven activated Yang Zing Creation. His opponent was certain that Steven could not activate Creation in the damage step so he called a judge to come sort out the situation. To Steven’s surprise, the judge ruled that Yang Zing Creation could not be activated during the damage step. Frustrated Steve went on his phone and showed the judge the ruling on the Yugioh Wikia page and sure enough, the play was legal. His opponent was bewildered by this ruling and went on to lose because he went on tilt. Understanding the rulings on your cards is another thing that should come to you while you’re playtesting online or with your friends.

Playtesting ties into everything I mentioned because it’s just that important to having a successful day at a Yugioh event and without playtesting you probably won’t do as well as you’d like to. There is a book written by Malcolm Gladwell that uses parallel thinking to mine and conveys a very interesting message. In the book Outliers the author, Malcolm Gladwell, states that it takes 10,000 hours to fully master something. The whole premise of his book is to study those who are a cut above the rest, and find out why they are so successful. Gladwell comes to the conclusion that those who power through adversity and commit countless hours to something will master it and become an outlier. I talked to Patrick Hoban after his win this past weekend at ARGCS Raleigh and he told me he playtested for 36 hours before playing in the event. With this amount of dedication to something it’s difficult to not be great at it, and Patrick has demonstrated time and time again how important playtesting is if you want to win an event.

It’s all about being a dedicated player and committing lots of time to the game. If you really want something, take it; don’t wait for it to come to you because more often than not it won’t. You need to set things in motion yourself and become the conductor of your own symphony. Next time an event rolls around I hope you will consider everything I’ve said while you prepare and as always Play Hard or Go Home!


Maximillian Reynolds
Maximillian Reynolds

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