Understanding the Worst-Case Scenario

christianWelcome back, duelists!  Today I'd like to cover a topic that causes some players problems, both in deck building and actual playing.  It came to my attention during a conversation with my teammate, Gordon "Gorby" Hunt.  We're both pretty active on YouTube, various forums, and the Facebook fan page for Kaijudo, so we see a variety of decklists from a large group of players.  We were talking about how a lot of these decks fail to work like their designer intended.  No matter which type of deck we were talking about, it was often the same problem that prevented them from functioning to their full potential; they were so focused on the best-case scenario that the worst-case scenarios were completely overlooked.  I'll give a few examples.

In Deck-Building:

Hammer Dragon Foulbyrn, a promo from the Dragon Master Collection Kit, initially received a lot of hype.  In the best-case scenario, it attacks and you summon a dragon for free from the top of your deck.  Sounds pretty good, right?  The problem with a card like this is that you have to consider how much is actually required for that to happen.  Then, you have to weigh the effectiveness it has when it does go off and decide if it's worth it.

For Foulbyrn specifically, though it may look like a great support card for dragons, its effect is very hard to pull off in practice.  For starters, its just about as difficult to summon as any of the other big dragons, such as Tatsurion the Unchained, and it lacks the come-into-play effect of a card like Unchained.  Then, unless Hyperspeed Dragon is in the battle zone, it has to live for a turn without being Rusalkad, Terror Pitted, or even tapped with Lyra.  Then it has to attack and you have to have a dragon on top of your deck that's worth all the setup I just described - the majority of the time, that will not be the case.  There are often just more efficient ways to put yourself in better situations than going through all that work.  This is a major reason cards like Foulbyrn never really live up to their expectations after people try decks built around them.

Another card that has seen this type of hype is Bottle of Wishes.  I actually have seen people say that this card will be the card that makes WotC implement a banned/restricted list for Kaijudo (I have seen the same kind of posts about Infernus the Awakened and Andromeda of the Citadel, which are substantially better in my eyes, but will still probably never get touched by a potential banlist).  Bottle of Wishes looks a lot better than something like Foulbyrn on paper because it requires no setup whatsoever, whether you get it in Shields or you play it from your hand.  However, it's also completely unpredictable, and that's the thing that makes me steer clear of it in most Aggro and Control decks that strive for consistency.  It's a card that can win you games, and yes, it does technically turn any card you happen to hit with it into a Shield Blast if you got the Bottle in Shields, but the problem is that you never know what you're going to hit.  If you get a removal spell like Terror Pit when you cast Bottle and your opponent has no creatures, you're forced to activate the Terror Pit and it's effectively wasted.

Of course, like every card in the game, Bottle has its purposes.  For example, a Water/Light deck built to abuse the card could be pretty successful since it can be built to hit the majority of the deck and makes up the lack of Shield Blasts in those civilizations, but I see it being splashed in everything which is incorrect in my eyes.  Such an unpredictable card has no place in a control deck that strives for consistency in my opinion, and a card like Crystal Memory becomes infinitely better the vast majority of the time because of its controlled versatility.  A lot of times when Bottle is included in such a deck, the builder simply didn't account for those worst-case scenarios when its rendered completely useless by the card it hits.  That being said, the card can't be discounted; people should test cards like this in various strategies to find out what works, but looking at all the positive potentialities of something without the many potential negatives is a sure way to be disappointed in a card not living up to the hype you attached to it.

In Playing:

It's possible (and important!) in almost any given in-game scenario to look at all the potential positive outcomes of any play you make.  That doesn't mean you should forget the negatives in the least.  This is another reason it's important to be aware of all the different types of decks out there and what they include.  Familiarity of the metagame, which I'll write more about in the future, allows you to assess many possible responses your opponent could have in his or her deck to combat whatever move you make.

Let's say you're playing a Dragon deck with Fire Birds such as Lux and Nix.  You're up against a deck with Fire, and you were lucky enough to have the progression of turn two Lux, turn three Nix and turn four Lyra.  after you play the Lyra and tap something, you debate whether or not to attack Shields with your Fire Birds (let's say the creature Lyra tapped was more powerful than either of the birds).  You haven't seen your opponent play any copies of Barrage in mana, but you decide that taking your opponent down to three shields and potentially setting yourself up for game next turn is still the correct option.  This is an example of someone looking at the best case scenario and disregarding all the potential negative outcomes.  If the first shield hit is Barrage, both Fire Birds are instantly banished and your opponent is free to get rid of Lyra with a ton of potential removal options over the following turns.  In addition, you'll only be at five mana on your next turn, and with no birds left, any plans you might have had to follow up Lyra with another Lyra or a different high-level dragon are neutralized.  It's completely up to the player to weigh the risks and rewards in any given situation, but overlooking a simple risk like that which could prove so devastating can be a recipe for disaster.

These kinds of risks and rewards are important to weigh at all times during both deck-building and playing.  They're important when deciding on a consistent strategy and when deciding which tech cards are worth the space and how you'll get the most out of them.  Of course, every play you make should always be decided on by the same thought process.  Through learning how to weigh the outcomes, you'll find that your decks and playstyle becomes more consistent as a whole, and it all begins with learning what the worst-case scenario is and attempting to be prepared for it.  Be sure to leave a comment down below if you have any thoughts on the topics I discussed in this article, and I'll see you all next week!