One thing I think most people neglect to talk about when they talk about side decking is siding out. They’re all ready to tell you that they’re going to side in Thunder King against Wind-Ups or that they’re going to side in Dust Tornado against Dark World. They’ll probably even go into an unnecessary amount of detail as to why Thunder King is good against Wind-Ups and that you too should side it against Wind-Ups. But who are we kidding? Does it get more basic than that? Obviously Thunder King is good against Wind-Ups and that is not what this side decking article is going to be about. Instead I’m going to talk about what you’re going to be siding out to put in those Thunder Kings or Dust Tornados.
First vs Second
You need to be siding cards in not only based on whether you’re going first or second, but also siding cards out based on this. You might only side 2 Needle Ceiling against Wind-Ups if you are going first, but you might side all 3 copies in if you are going second. The same is true when you are siding out. For example, Bottomless is not particularly good against Wind-Ups. It’s not awful, but it’s certainly not amazing. It hits a few key cards like Zenmaity and Thunder King, but overall there are probably better cards that could be in its place. Sometimes you have to settle to leave cards like this in after siding because you do not have that much you want to side in. If you are only siding 3-4 cards in, Bottomless might not be your first choice to cut despite it not being amazing against Wind-Ups.
While it might not be awful when you go first, it certainly is awful when they go first. The idea of having Bottomless in your hand after they first turn Magician Shark you is laughable considering it shouldn’t be in your deck as it gets considerably worse when they have a free pass to summon the few cards it’s good against before you can set it. Even looking at a Bottomless in your hand against them summoning Thunder King first turn is rough. For this reason you’re going to want to side cards like Bottomless (not great, but not awful either) out when you’re going second and it’s going to be less important to side them out when you’re going first.
This, however, is matchup specific. Bottomless is great against something like Agents pretty much throughout the game. Them going first and summoning Venus while you have Bottomless in hand is going to be significantly less impactful than if that Venus were Zenmaity. Without dropping a couple of Hyperions they’re going to be getting nowhere fast. They only have a few boss monsters so hitting of them later in the game is going to be a lot more impactful than hitting a Leviathan in Wind-Ups a few turns down the road. They can just toolbox out another XYZ the next turn. Because Agents (and decks like it) don’t have the ability to do this, Bottomless should be kept in regardless of whether you’re going first or second.
Another important thing you want to keep in mind when siding out is your ratios. After siding always count your monsters, spells and traps. You don’t want to lose a game because you couldn’t draw any monsters only to find out you only had 16 post siding. Also remember you can’t count hand traps as monsters. You’re not going to be summoning a Maxx “C” and swinging for 500 too often. The same goes for traps. You really don’t want to be going above 12ish traps in most decks. Most of them do relatively the same thing and increasing that number will only add to the number of clogged hands you get. Because of this, you’re really going to want to make sure you have good ratios. For monsters 17 would probably be the lowest you could go without getting consistency issues and 21 would probably be the highest in most decks that follow normal ratio rules (obvious exceptions to this are decks like Chaos Dragons) with the optimal number probably lying somewhere in between.
Messing with Your Engine
This is very similar to not messing with your ratios too heavily when siding. You’re also not going to want to mess with your engine too much. It might be okay to side out a Wind-Up Rabbit or a Wind-Up Factory, but really that’s about it. When you start cutting Magicians and Rats you’re taking away from what the deck is supposed to do. For example, if you cut a Magician for a Thunder King and mid game you have Thunder King Shark, sure Thunder King is a good side deck card, but think about the alternative. Shark doesn’t have much synergy with Thunder King. Your engine is an engine because it has synergy with the rest of it. Don’t mess heavily with the synergy of it.
Something else that goes with not messing with your engine is the number of cards you side in. I’ve always liked siding 6-8 matchup specific cardsI just don’t find that possible with a deck like Wind-Ups. This is where we really have to differentiate between the types of decks. A deck like Rabbit can do that as outside of the Rabbits, the vanillas, and the Tour Guides, it’s free reign. Everything it’s doing is one card and not a combo or series of cards. Wind-Ups is just the opposite. Combo decks plays like this are all going to be combinations of cards. I find that you cannot side that many matchup specific cards when using a deck like this. Rabbit’s engine is only 8 cards. Wind-Ups is 14 at the least. If you side too many specific cards in decks like this you’re going to be forced to mess with the core 14. In decks like this I find it is better to side generic cards like hate for Gozen or Thunder King such as Trap Stun and Soul Taker and only 2-3 matchup specific cards like Cyber Dragon for Geargia or Needle Ceiling for Wind-Ups.
Reconsidering the Usefulness of Staples
This doesn’t happen as much and it’s something you’re going to have to consider before the tournament, but sometimes staples aren’t necessarily effective against all decks. For instance, how good do you think Dark Hole is against Wind-Ups? If they Magician Shark you they’re going to have Shock Master and call spells. Throughout the game they’re going to be making Zenmaines, Maestroke, and Tiras and floating more Rabbits than they would have game 1 because they know Needle Ceiling is a powerful card against them. They are going to be playing around it as best as they can. Rarely are you going to actually get much value out of Dark Hole against Wind-Ups games 2 and 3 except hitting an occasional Thunder King.
That about wraps it up for this week. I hope you guys find some of this advice useful. Until next time, play hard or go home!