Straight Forward Dueling
Deck design for younger duelists
In general, younger players (ages 6-12) have a tendency to make mistakes, or more commonly, miss an opportunity for a key play. The play they made was okay, but could have been much better.
A Dartmouth College study reveals there is a significant shift in a person’s brain after age 12, when the individual is entering puberty, at 18 when emerging into young adulthood, and at age 25 when the brain is fully developed.
Prior to puberty, children struggle with Decision Making, Rational Thinking, and Integration of emotion & critical thinking.
This study provides insight into why young duelists aged 6-12 make less than ideal plays. The reason is that young minds lack the cognitive ability to form complex strategies and envision multi-move plays.
Having played many duels against my son and having watched him play even more duels against opponents his age; I have noticed several mistakes that this age group consistently makes. They can be categorized into five main types:
- Set a trap card and forget to activate it.
- Obtain a less than ideal card from a deck search
- Forget to activate effects that happen during the draw, standby, and end phases.
- Miss the timing and/or completely forget about graveyard effects
- Fail to use flip effect of flip effect monsters
Oddly enough though, younger duelists tend to have a great memory of individual cards that remain on the field. They can remember all five effects of Ancient City – Rainbow Ruins, but manage forget Sangan’s effect. They usually are able to play cards from their hand without difficulty. It appears that if they can see the card face up in their hand or on the field, they have a much better chance of properly using it.
Understanding the above strengths and weaknesses led me to create decks for my son using what I call Straight Forward Dueling. The concept is to create a deck that focus on the child’s strengths and tries to mask (or at least minimize) the weaknesses. In general, this is accomplished by choosing monster and spell/trap cards that are easy to use, can be activated from the hand, are face up on the field when activated, and allow the player to push the action.
As a quick example, younger duelists will struggle with X-Saber and Zombie type decks because they involve multiple searches; and Infernity, Dark World, and Lightsworn decks because they have unusual game mechanics. Gladiator Beasts are probably the worst deck for this age group because it involves searches, unusual game mechanics, and high trap support.
Conversely, Black Wing, Cloudian, Crystal Beast, and Six Samurai decks generally prove better because monsters are summoned in face up in attack position, there is little graveyard interaction, and they are supported by continuous spells.
Here is a sample deck that highlights the strategy: These decks are generally 40 – 41 cards in size and feature about 20-21 monsters and 20 spells and traps.
3 - Cyber Dragon
3 - The Tricky
2 - Krebons
2 - Exiled Force
2 - Battle Fader
1 – Dark Resonator
The monster line-up is simple and extremely straightforward. Special summon a 5 star monster, normal summon a 3 star tuner and create an 8 star Synchro. Failing that, summon a monster in face-up attack position that should survive until the next round or at least force a one for one trade. Battle Fader is the only exception, but fits well because it is played from the hand. The twenty-first monster would probably be Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness or is usually the child's favorite monster.
3 - Fissure
1 - Heavy Storm (or a 3rd MST)
1 - Dark Hole
1 - Monster Reborn
1 – Mind Control
The spell line-up is also straightforward. There is plenty of monster removal via Fissure and Dark Hole. Swords and Burden provide some protection. ROTA has limited in targets on purpose.
1 – Waboku
1 – Mirror Force
1 – Magic Cylinder
You may take immediate exception to the trap lineup. Why not play with zero traps, or substitute the ones listed with 3 Royal Decree? The simple answer is yes, they can be replaced with nearly anything with little loss to the overall effectiveness of the deck.
Again, younger duelists will activate traps, just not consistently. It seems that these duelists are more likely to activate a trap in response to an attack than in response to a monster summon. This is the reasoning behind the selection of traps such as Magic Cylinder and Mirror Force instead of Bottomless Trap Hole.
The extra deck should include straightforward monsters that are a mix between what you can afford and what the youngster can properly use. Stardust Dragon, Colossal Fighter, Red Dragon Archfiend, Scrap Archfiend, Black Rose Dragon, and Gaia Knight the Force of Earth are good examples and should form the core of the extra deck. Stronger synchro monsters such as Brionac or Ally of Justice Castator can be added if money permits.
The extra deck doesn’t necessarily need to contain 15 cards, but should have at least one synchro monster at each level in the 5-8 range. The above deck should have a preponderance of level 8 synchros though. Limiting the number of choices tends to allow the child to make better decisions concerning which monster to summon under what circumstance.
Unfortunately, the side deck also falls victim to the same issues of the traps. Because it stays out of sight, it is rarely used. That said though, a full, competitive side deck should be created with the expectation that it may not be fully utilitzed.
In summary, the principle of Straight Forward Dueling is to create a deck as easy to use as possible. If s/he cannot use a particular card or combo properly and consistently, replace it with something else. I believe that a younger duelist can be more competitive with a weaker deck that he knows how use versus a stronger deck that he doesn’t.
The author, Jeff Sims, has been dueling competitively for 8 years at local tournaments throughout Northeast Ohio; almost always with his young son in tow.