The Cards Don’t Make the Player

Hello there fellow duelists! To start off, I would like to say that there is a strong chance that you have never seen my face or heard of my name. Although in comparison to the legendary roster of Alter Reality Games my name is lackluster, but as long as you can learn from this article or get something valuable from it, none of my credentials should matter. Let’s get to the real article now shall we?

If you have been researching the current format like every serious tournament player has, it is not hard to see that the format has been dominated with cards like Tour Guide from the Underworld, Reborn Tengu, and Maxx “C”. Now the question that has been presented, especially by Jarel “Pro” Winston in his “Pro Files” segment of YouTube is, “have these cards put the game in a negative or positive direction?” The answer? No one can really say. But we can derive one absolute truth; today’s dominant decks run all or some of these cards. These cards are very powerful due to the massive advantages that they create; a trait that is only mirrored by the versatility that they add to your deck’s strategy. I think that it is safe to say that these cards win games. However, everything has a drawback. In this situation, average players have adopted a poisonous mindset that having these cards makes them a better player. They make the psychological error of thinking that by owning these cards; they are automatically placed on a higher tier than others.

On a personal note, my main deck is T.G. Stun. I cannot tell you how many times I have played against players who are able to afford play sets of Tour Guides and friends; all of them thinking that they were going to have an easy match. Needless to say, it was an easy match. Not for them but for me. The reason I say this is that players have misinterpreted the format. They correlate Tour Guide, Tengu, and Maxx C’s power as their own, and as a result, they follow a strict playbook believing that the cards themselves are able to win for them. Players nowadays focus on combos and think that's all it takes to win. Look at the best players in the game: Billy Brake, Robert Boyajian, Jeff Jones, and etc. When you see them in interviews about the matches that they played, you NEVER hear this only, “Well I played card “X” here and then I did this. I won.” You do hear about their main plays yes, but, the other things that they talk about is what makes them the best. They talk about their opponent’s strategies, their body languages, and other finer points of the game. These perspectives fall short of the run-of-the-mill player who is trying to become better at this game. Average players focus on the cards on the table. Exceptional players look at everything beyond. But don’t get discouraged, we can try to make this transformation together.

So beyond basic things besides your deck, how can we start the process of becoming a better player? The first step in my opinion is to consider your opponent. There is always that guy at a locals/regionals/casual venue that never asks for your response, and always chains quickly to his own effects, and all in all plays as if you were never there. We all hate that. So why in the world would you have a play style that behaves in that fashion? Always take your opponent into consideration. In all phases of the game (early, mid, and late) you need to form your strategy around your opponent’s. Your play style needs to be able to adapt. If you are facing a control oriented deck, you must strike before they can control you. If you are facing an extremely fast paced deck, you must drag out their resources and force them to either burn cards or play sloppy. If you play the same way against every deck out there, I guarantee that you will be the first to concede.

The best way to successfully play around your opponent is to know his deck and card choices. Research is the only way you will be able to accurately read plays or be able to predict what they have. If they are playing Agents, know that their main strategy is Gachi Gachi Gantetsu and Agent of Creation-Venus (which sets up their graveyard for Kristya/Hyperion plays in the future). If you know this, do not burn cards to get rid of Gachi, but instead, stop it before it happens or get prepared for what comes after; set traps for them or be ready to disrupt them. If you are familiar with the deck then you will be familiar to what its win condition is. I am pretty sure that you have heard “if you have to read the card then you have already lost.” If not, then congratulations, you just learned a valuable lesson. Not knowing what a card does means that you are unfamiliar with the deck, you are unfamiliar with its win condition, and that your opponent will play aggressively knowing that you will be unable to intelligently respond to his/her plays.

To all of you players reading this article who already practice what I have written so far, I am sorry. But I can state that the following is something that no one has been able to master; reading your opponent’s body language. In a recent interview with Boyajian, he discussed a different kind of game other than what goes on the table. Instead, a good part of the video was about his opponent’s play habits. Boyajian stated that by observing how long/quick his opponent looked at or set a card, then, factoring in the conditions of the game (life points, advantage, etc.), he was able to make certain skeptical plays a reality. You might think that this is nonsense, but I assure you that it is not. This is what makes a player into a real “pro.” Yu-Gi-Oh is a lot like poker in a way. In poker you and your opponent(s) are dealt a hand, good or bad, and from that hand you have to convince your opponent that luck is on your side. If you’re playing poker and someone goes all in, how are you going to know if they are for real or if they are bluffing you? Maybe his eyes twitch, you can see him sweating, or maybe he doesn’t return eye contact. The same goes for Yu-Gi-Oh my friends. Confident people play fast and calculated. Cautious players take their time, and arrogant people play recklessly. When you are able to adapt your own play style, know your opponent’s deck, and know your opponent, the game is practically yours. Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear.” If you are strongly confident (not arrogant) in your own abilities, your opponent will doubt their own which will allow you to overpower him/her.

Lastly, before I finish this article, good players must be able to admit their mistakes. I believe that every game that resulted in a loss occurred because of a single flaw in the game. It could be when you Warning’ed the wrong monster, or didn’t save your MST. From that one mistake everything piles up on it until you are no longer able to withstand the pressure. When you lose don’t immediately explain to your opponent what you would have or could have done. You lost. End of story. Instead, you should ask your opponent, what did you have? Or, in your opinion, what lost me the game? Ask the right questions, only then can we as players better ourselves in this game.

Fredericksburg, VA

Little Fish Comics

Curtis Kang

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