Taking the next step in the game (From a Judge, and a Player)

Hello everyone. Some of you may already recognize me by face, those of you who don’t, my name is Michael Ward. I have played this game since way back when it was all about who could summon their Dark Magician or Blue-Eyes White Dragon the fastest and then use the most equip cards. This game as evolved in so many ways, taking the time to talk about them all would literally leave us here for days. Through the development of the game itself, as well as the changes in the meta, and even through the Konami takeover we as players have been exactly what has carried this game to where it is today. But what next? From my research, the average age for a Yu-Gi-Oh! Tournament player last year (2010) was 19. That would put the majority of the players in their 20’s this year. I’m not saying that when you get older, you quit. That is evidenced by the older generations that still play/have began playing this game.  I’m expecting to see the average age drop, due to the introduction of the Dragon Duels, duels for children 12 and under. But what about those of us who are reaching mid to late 20’s? This game is a great hobby, but what are we doing to preserve it? Think on that, and we’ll return to it later.

I began thinking about the future of the game while at Nationals this year. Many players will agree that today’s game is largely based upon who goes first, and if its game 2 or 3, whoever draws their side cards first. However, there are many of us who agree that a good player can trump that theory, and it has been shown through and through with several of this past years events. I happened to have done rather poor at nationals this year, not winning a single die-roll all day. It was extremely disappointing, but somebody has to lose, right? (*flips Kozaky’s Self-Destruct Button*)

But we have all seen it coming. Ever since UDE was banished (youseewhatIdidthere?) from leading the Yu-Gi-Oh! Community, we have seen the prices in cards drop, and the accessibility of said cards increase. This pattern will only continue with the announcement of the new Yu-Gi-Oh! Megapack and also the new Special Edition Tins, along with the most interesting reprint: Pot of Duality. In the coming months, the game will be undergoing such a major shift, I’m not sure many players are aware yet exactly how explosive this next format will be. But what do we do from here? Here are some tips to prepare yourself for the upcoming events in the Yu-Gi-Oh! World:

  • RESEARCH! I cannot stress enough how much easier it is to think about combos and possible future decks and understanding new aspects of this game when you have a database of cards that is accessable and sorted. The more cards you read, the better arsenal you equip yourself with for brainstorming.
  • Reflect The past has always been known to repeat itself. Many deck strategies, and many successful new decks have been based upon those that have been used in the past (don’t forget that the Japan, or OCG, meta is months ahead of ours!)
  • Restock Of course, the only way to stay current, is to buy new packs! But be wary, it is cheaper to buy in bulk when you’re just pulling for fun, but if you need specific cards, sometimes individuals are the better route!
  • Never give up There isn’t a reason I can think of for anyone to give up hope on a deck, or themselves as a duelist. If you’re playing this game to be named the best, and that’s it, I’m sorry to say but you’re in it for the wrong reason. This game is mostly based on luck, and when it’s not, there is always someone better than you, or one step ahead of you. Don’t be afraid of never winning, be afraid of never having fun.

As a judge, I have learned more about the game than I could ever have whilst just playing. I have judged everything from locals, to Nationals, and everything inbetween. The judge program is an incredible opportunity for those players who may want more insight into the game and how the tournament scene runs. I highly recommend everyone take the judge test, when/where available, and to help out at events whenever possible.

Back to my original thought: What can we do to preserve the game the way WE knew it, and know it now, so that future generations and future players can enjoy it just as much? Take the time to share your thoughts! This past weekend at Nationals, as I said, I had done terribly day 1. But I was able to Judge on day 2 for the side events, mostly the Regionals, but I also was involved in setup of the Dragon Duels. It was more rewarding to work with the Dragon Duelists than it was to work with any of the 13 and up players, HANDS DOWN. They honestly, and without malicious intent, are interested in the game and how their cards work. They really want to understand as much as they can, so they can have an edge over their opponent. The wonder and pure excitement in their eyes when they draw the right card, or when the win the match, simply goes without comparison.  Very shortly: this game has become FAR TOO VICIOUS. There shouldn’t be ‘pros’ and ‘noobs’. We are all Duelists. Some of us are Champions, some of us are National Qualifiers, and others are the best in town. Then there’s the rest of us, the real players. Those that continuously try and those that never give up. To all of you, I salute you.

My point is this: this game is about the kids. Without them, this game has a very dim future. Think about it as recruitment, and retention. The ability to get a child interested in the game is a tremendous feat, but keeping them interested is even more difficult. If we can teach, share, and impart our knowledge onto the future generations, it will make all the difference. With  that, the next time you’re at an event, or you’re at your locals, take the time to talk to someone younger, maybe someone new, that you’ve never spoken to, and offer them some help. Something easy: when you open packs, and this happens more often at events, don’t leave the cards you don’t want on the table. Find a younger player, and offer them the cards. I can almost bet you it would make their day. Then imagine they give cards to another player, and so on and so forth. Pay it forward, it will pay off.

Until next time, Play hard, or go home.  (just make sure you take it easy on the kids!)

-Michael Ward