The Scientific Method of Side Decking

Hello and Happy Holidays to the Yu-Gi-Oh community! You may not know me by name, nor by face; but I can assure you that you will soon. I'm Dominique Roberts, a player that has had his share of tops and close calls(9th Place when SJC used to cut to top 8 is bad, right?). Through it all though, I come to the realization that the side deck is by far the most important part of the deck you play. The majority of my matches won over the years are a result of my amazing knowledge of side decking. The plethora of ways that your deck can change by utilizing those 15 cards wisely is astounding!

The problem with most players, however, is that they lack the ability to build a side deck. Also, once they have it built, they get confused in between games as to HOW to go about this challenging process! If this is you, don't be alarmed, it happens to the best of us! In lieu of this, I have developed a scientific method of Yu-Gi-Oh! to put all your troubles to rest!

Now I present to you, the Scientific Method of Side Decking!

1. Ask a Question.

The question to ask here is: What decks could I play in this tournament? You always want to know what decks are credible when going into a tournament. Being able to realize what you might play is probably the most important aspect because it begins your decision-making process. So for the remainder of this article, we are going to use the 5 most popular decks: Plants, Agents, Dino Rabbit, Dark World, and Karakuri.

2. Do background research.

What this means in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! is figuring out how every major deck works. Every player accomplishes this in a different way. Some players read card for card and try to figure out ways around each major card in the deck. Other players may play against the deck time after time until they finally begin to see what they need to do to beat it. I personally build the deck and play with it very extensively. Once you play with a deck yourself, you know what plays that you don't want your opponent making. At that point, you're in a better position to make choices to take down that deck.

3. Construct a Hypothesis

This is the hard part! You're going to be constructing multiple hypotheses at this point; they'll be as follows:
- Side "X" number of single-matchup cards
- Side "X" number of universal side deck cards
- Which cards come in for which matchup
- Which cards come out for which matchup

Certain cards will be "Single-Matchup" cards. Cards such as Leeching the Light in our scenario will only be highly successful against Agents while a card like Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror will only work well and consistently against Dark Worlds. Sure, these cards may work against other, less popular, match-ups; but remember we're only looking at the top 5 decks here. This should be about half, or a little less than half of your side deck(6-7 cards).

The other cards in your side deck should be universal side deck choices. These are cards that will come in handy in any situation you may be in. Cards such as Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo, Doomcaliber Knight, and Chain Disappearance can assist you in multiple match-ups and not just a single deck. This should be a little more than half of your side deck(8-9 cards)

Learning what to put in and take out for each match-up is very tedious and takes some skill. But I promise, practice will make perfect when it comes to this. I'm sure you'll always know what cards you want to put in for each match-up, hence you making the decision to add them to your side deck. The problem now is what to take out? We'll say you're playing with plants game one and you're playing against agents and you win game one because of an explosive hand backed by Trap Dustshoot. Listen closely: You can NOT be drawn to Trap Dustshoot because it helped you win game one! That's a problem I see a lot of players go through. They don't want to take out a card in game two because it helped them win game one. These are two different games, in game two, if you won then you clearly aren't going first. Trap Dustshoot is awesome to open with, but mid to late game it's a not-so-good topdeck. Be prepared to take cards like this out in favor of cards that you'd want to draw ANYTIME from your side deck.

4. Test by Experimenting

This is the easy part, but also the loonnnggg part! This is where you test this side deck against the different decks that you've lined up and identified as threats. However you want to go about this is fine but this is how I like to test my side deck. I go ahead and side the cards I want in against the deck I'm about to play. "Why" you may ask, I'm sure. Well this is in order to see if my side deck works against the base strategy of the deck. Does it disrupt the flow of the original deck, before side decking? If the answer is no, then clearly my side deck cards wont work in game two once they've changed things up.

Then after I determine that the cards are useful against the base strategy of the deck, I play games with only the opposing already side-decked. Once this testing begins, I'm able to see how the things that they side deck disrupt my main strategy, and change my side deck accordingly as to make their side deck cards more useless. If they side into more Maxx "C"(Assuming they don't main 3), and I side out of my One for One and Debris Dragon, and into Vanity's' Fiend or Fossil Dyna, then their choices were in vain.

Once all that is done, test with both decks already side decked. This is the true test of your side decking decisions because this is what you'll be facing in games two and three of your upcoming event. Be sure to make a note of how well your cards perform in conjunction with your overall strategy. Don't side into something that disrupts your original strategy. It's just not worth it!

5. Analyze Results and Draw Conclusions

This is the easy part, figure out what works! If it doesn't work, then change it! It's really that simple this time. No complicated explanations or detailed synopses. Just figure out what cards work against your match-ups, and what cards don't. If they don't work, report to step 3 again and work back down from there.

6. Report Results

That's the last step of the REAL scientific method, but for us Yu-Gi-Oh! players that means take your newly completed side deck and side decking strategies to your next event and use them to overcome your toughest match-ups!

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed! If you did, leave a comment. If you didn't, leave a comment and let me know why so I can change things! I take constructive criticism very well.

Until next time, play smart, play often, and have fun!

Dominique Roberts

Tuscaloosa, AL

Crimson Castle Chess and Games

Dominique Roberts

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