The Importance of Reasoning in Deck-Building

cvhHello again, duelists!  Today's article covers aspects of deck-building that I find particularly important as well as a pet peeve of mine, but first I think I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention some of the exciting news the Kaijudo community received this week.

As you're all probably well aware, the first Kaijudo Championship event is just a little over two weeks away.  With the first season of Kaijudo Master Challenges wrapping up and the Championship drawing near, the community was wondering what would come next for organized play.  The answer came in this week's update on the second season of Kaijudo Master Challenges is right around the corner!  With KMCs being held at local stores again starting in September leading up to a November Championship, it was shown that WotC intends to do multiple Championships a year, drawing comparisons to their Pro Tour system.  While the first season of KMCs was the most important, I'm sure whatever they have planned for the second season as well as the future will blow us away.

The second piece of news regarding tournaments actually game from this very site!  Alter-Reality Games was proud to announce their new ARG Open series, which will feature a 5k tournaments for Yu-Gi-Oh! as well as a 1k for Kaijudo!  All the details can be found on the main site, and the first one is already scheduled for September 21-22 in Fort Worth, TX.  This is an exciting addition to the already great event schedule and I'm sure the series will become big in the future.  Don't miss an opportunity to attend if one happens to be scheduled near you!

With all that said, let's get into the meat of the article.  The topic of deck-building has been discussed time and time again in not only my articles, but others as well, because it's just that important.  Making the wrong meta call and running a deck that loses to a popular deck can ruin your tournament experience, but it's important to not overlook the small things, either.

Reasons For Every Card

The pet peeve I mentioned in the beginning of this article was the idea of preference in deck-building.  Obviously we all have certain preferences, such as a player being more inclined to run aggressive decks, but there are personal reasons for those.  I dislike when I ask someone why they're running a certain card, and they reduce the whole decision-making process to a matter of "personal preference."  It's not that preference doesn't play a part, it's that I already know you prefer the card choice you made because, well... you're using it.  If I can't think of a reason beyond "preference" for one of my card choices, I clearly hadn't thought about it enough to come up with something more than a cop-out answer.  I insist upon delving deeper with every card choice.

A single missed card choice can mean an unexpected loss, possibly affecting your entire day.  This has happened to me before (and I assume it's happened to everybody at some level) when I didn't run a [ccProd]Waterspout Gargoyle[/ccProd] at the KMC in Asheville, NC a couple months ago.  I was running an [ccProd]Issyl of the Frozen Wastes[/ccProd] and a [ccProd]Spy Mission[/ccProd] in addition to my three copies 250px-Waterspout_Gargoyle_(3RIS)of Logos Scan that day.  The cards were good, as were most of my card choices, but Waterspout single-handedly lost me the mirror match in the top eight after I was previously undefeated.  I obviously hadn't given enough thought or testing time to how good the card could be in that meta, and I paid the price.  I had reasons for my card choices, such as having an extra dragon to draw off [ccProd]Nix[/ccProd] among other things that were valid, but weren't the right ones for the day in the long run.

So how do we as deck-builders mitigate this problem and always come up with the correct card combinations?  To put it simply, we can't.  I'm of the mindset that perfection is impossible, but through continued playtesting and debating of theory, we can hopefully create the best possible combinations for a tournament.  We first have to get beyond preference and look at why we want to run certain cards.  Let's talk about hypothetically running less than three [ccProd]Stormspark Blast[/ccProd]s in a control deck while maxing out [ccProd]Piercing Judgment[/ccProd].  Instead of saying "I'm running more Piercings because they're better," try to come up with more adequate reasons to make sure you are, in fact, making the right decision.  Take its benefits into consideration, such as its level as well as the application its two effects can have to counter common early-game progressions.  Then compare it with the benefits a card like Stormspark brings to the table and decide based on all the above factors which could be more important.

Of course, the task isn't over.  Making the correct meta calls is just as important in assessing a card's value.  One example I can give is in my LWDN control deck for the PA KMC.  If you look at the deck list in a previous article of mine, you'll notice that it only had five blockers out of 54 cards.  It also had cards like [ccProd]Razorkinder Puppet[/ccProd] which typically haven't been seeing much play.  Some control decks there were running as many as nine blockers, but I made the call that it was more important for me to dedicate the majority of my space to the control mirror match.  I knew there would be a lot of control decks there and I wanted an edge.  In that one decision, I probably sacrificed every potential rush match that I could have played that day, but it turned out to be the correct call in that case and it paid off.

Now we're getting somewhere; we've assessed a card's worth based on its benefits as opposed to other cards and its potential payoff against foreseen threats.  That's great, but we're still in the realm of theory, which can never substitute for actual practice.  Something can seem great on paper and then turn out to be abysmal in playtesting, just as a card choice you hadn't even taken seriously could work wonders when you slap it in there just to see what happens.  The only way to see if an idea actually pans out is to play - and you need to play a LOT.  It would be very unfortunate to scrap an idea after getting 2-0ed in your first match of playtesting, as there's always the possibility of you coming back to win the next ten games to find that certain cards have given you the advantage in that match-up.  We, as players, need good theory to250px-Logos_Scan_(8TRI) back up our plays and card choices, but practice is key.

So, what's the point of all this?  The goal is to get away from the deck-building mindset of "oh, this is a good card, I'll run it," and really evaluate everything.  Even the seemingly-obvious decisions deserve revisitation.  Remember, there was a time when you could ask someone why they ran three copies of [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd], and their answer would usually be, "because I run water."  A card that was so clearly good in so many decks for so long might have been used forever if no one ever said, "wait, why DO I run three copies of [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd]?"  There have been quite a few decks seen in major events that [ccProd]Logos Scan[/ccProd] simply doesn't fit in depending on the meta, and these are the kinds of questions you have to ask yourself regarding every card.  You decided to add them all for a reason, and hopefully it wasn't "because I run X civilization" or "personal preference."  Analyze everything in relation to every other possible option, figure out the meta, test hard against it, and you're sure to be on the right track - and until next week, don't forget to Play Hard or Go Home!