The Five Steps of the Transition from a Casual to a Competitive Player

paul-clarke-150x150It was a beautiful spring day and the bell for recess had just rung. I ran for the schoolyard and saw my friend Brendon sitting down on the pavement playing a new card game cards with a kid named Mike. Upon further inspection, I found out that it was a card game called Yu-Gi-Oh! I had collected lots and lots of Pokemon cards in my past, so I knew a thing or two about card games, and this “Yugioh” really caught my eye. My friend Brendon was playing with his Kaiba starter deck against Mike who was running what looked like a Yugi starter deck with added Japanese cards. I thought the cards were just awesome and I had to get them. I remember that I couldn't wait to get home that day so I could beg my parents to buy me loads of new Yu-Gi-Oh booster packs. I was a spoiled rotten 11 year-old and needless to say I got what I asked for. I remember bringing in my deck the next day and having loads of fun playing with all of the kids in the schoolyard. Then I found out about the television show and I was just completely hooked from there.

Yugioh really caught on in my area and eventually I found myself going to my first local around a year later. I remember just getting slaughtered by all of the kids who were much better than me. I didn't know of any yugioh coverage websites or any cool yugitube channels, and you know why? It is simple really… they just weren’t existent. Yugioh was better back then; things were slower and easier to understand. Special Summoning was hardly a thing. There were no confusing cards, like Light and Darkness Dragon.

5exodiaMy Yugioh noob goofs:

- I once set all five pieces of [ccProd]Exodia the Forbidden One[/ccProd] onto the field turn after turn until I amassed them all together and I told my opponent that I won. He giggled and told me that I needed to keep then in hand. I practically cried in sadness as he eventually beat me.

- I once ran 3 copies of [ccProd]Sinister Serpent[/ccProd] in my deck. When I got 2 copies into my graveyard, my opponent called a judge on me and they gave me a game loss and told me to take the two other copies out of my deck.

- The Duel Disks were just released around the US so I decided to buy one, de-sleeve my deck and bring it to the next tournament. I remember thinking I was hot stuff. Needless to say, I looked like a fool and I probably damaged a few of my cards in the process.

Those were the days. I enjoyed playing the game casually with friends and having fun. Now here I am, 10 years later, reminiscing over my past Yugioh experiences and writing this article. I want to help those who are still in their casual phase of the game that would like to start in the competitive scene. I have comprised a list of steps in order to help those of you.

Step #1 – You have to actually care

Making a move because it looked cool in your head isn’t the right way to be playing. We should always be trying to make the most optimal plays in order to stay on top of our game. Take every game seriously and remember, just because you are at your local tournament does not mean you don’t have to think.

Step #2 – Play A LOT!

Playing games will help you understand your deck a lot better as well as help you improve yourself as a player. You will see lots of different interactions in various matchups and you will be able to further understand each of your matchups the more you play.

Step #3 – Learn from your mistakes

After you start playing a lot, you will hopefully catch yourself on some of the mistakes you make. This is very important when trying to get better at anything, really. You can’t keep making the same mistakes or else you will never get better.

Step #4 – Take advice

Don’t get arrogant and ignore the advice you are given. A lot of the time, you can learn a thing or two from your friends when they give you advice. I personally love getting into debates with my friends about certain plays we make and whether or not they were the correct thing to do at that particular moment.

raizaStep #5 – Trade, Trade, Trade

I know it sounds kind of stupid, but this can be huge for those who don’t actually have a lot of money to throw around at the game. A trip to a YCS can cost some serious dough and so can a top tier deck, so I would like to introduce an idea that can hopefully help you both build your collection and maybe even gather some cash to start travelling. The idea is something called “paperclip trading.” It was an idea that was brought to the Yugioh community in what I vaquely remember to be the year of 2008 by the brilliant mind of Vincent Tundo. Paperclip trading is pretty simple, really. Get yourself a single card and throw it into an empty binder. It can be a card of any value, but it will obviously be much more interesting to start with something of little to no value, like maybe a super rare [ccProd]Raiza the Storm Monarch[/ccProd]. You always want to make sure you are getting a good deal with your trades, maybe start off by trading your [ccProd]Raiza the Storm Monarch[/ccProd] for a copy of Trade-In and a [ccProd]Gates of the Dark World[/ccProd], from there you can trade your [ccProd]Gates of the Dark World[/ccProd] for maybe an [ccProd]Upstart Goblin[/ccProd] and a [ccProd]Dragon Ravine[/ccProd] and maybe trade your Trade-In for a Vanity’s Emptiness and a [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd]. In just a few steps, you have made your Raiza the Storm Monarch turn into: [ccProd]Upstart Goblin[/ccProd], [ccProd]Dragon Ravine[/ccProd], Vanity’s Emptiness, and [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd]. If you keep going with lots of trading, maybe you can turn your useless card into a fortune. I remember I once turned a [ccProd]Gemini Imps[/ccProd] into a $150 collection. This beginning part of paperclip trading will always be the most complicated, so make sure you don’t give up! It can be really fun so give it a try! I am not saying you have to start paperclip trading; I am more so trying to introduce the idea of “trading up.” Don’t go ripping everyone off, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for a throw in every trade. After all, throw-ins add up and that is how you can amass a nice collection.

These are the five easy steps to transform into a competitive player! I would like to note that it requires a lot of work and motivation, and it will always be easier if you have a group of friends who have the same goal as you. I hope you all enjoyed this week’s article! Until next time, play hard or go home!