Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dragon Ruler Theory and Infinite Choices

Over the past several weeks, I have been quite busy trying to figure out my ideal build for Dragons for our upcoming regional. We have had a few large events recently such as ARG Columbus, YCS London, and a few regionals like LA to help see meta trends and tech choices, but I still have been racking my brain about what direction I should take my build. While Dragons is still the top deck like it was last format, one huge difference is the variance in builds. What I mean is last format there was basically a standard 35-37 cards that composed the main deck, while the rest boiled down to basically your decision to main Vanity's Emptiness or Eradicator. Other small things like if you mained 2 or 3 Veiler, how many Sarco you ran, etc, but 95% of the deck was pretty much built and established. This format, however, is certainly not the case and it has been something I've been struggling with pretty much all of this format. There has been much discussion of a lot of these topics across the forums, but in this post I'd like to highlight some of these issues, compare/contrast them, and basically bring them out into the light. I do a lot of research but I'd love to hear your guys' opinions on them! Constructive ones, and not just shit like "I hate Dragons they take no skill or thought to play", etc. If anything, this post should show that we actually have a shit load to think about, at least for deck construction, which then inherently affects how we play and deal with our match-ups.

1. Dragunity vs Standard

While the Blue Eyes build was a fun option I played with at a previous Regional, it has basically fallen off the map. In retrospect I wish I had played "Standard" Dragons at that Regional, although I did enjoy the draw power of the Blue Eyes build. It just sucked when you'd have a Consonance+Blue Eyes, or a Trade-In+White Stone. That didn't happen a whole lot and I think I still did well at that event, but I know I could've done better. I still think "maybe I could've done better with Standard", but who knows, maybe I would've done worse. Anyways, with Blue Eyes pretty much out of the picture, focus could be placed on Dragunity variants and Standard variants. Both Pat Hoban and Frazier Smith have posted recent articles on ARG as to why they think each build is better than the other; Hoban's signature deck at this point is Dragunity Rulers, while Frazier opts for Standard. Naturally after picking up the Dragunity Synchros and Phalanxes, I gave the deck a try to see how it compared with Standard Dragons, and it seemed alright to me. I only lost to someone that decided to side in 3 Royal Decree (and drawing into all 3), of all things, then missed out on top 4 cuz of being down-paired basically all day and having bad tie-breakers, finishing in 5th. I only played with it for that one tournament since I pretty much had to make a quick decision since Danny needed to obtain a Gae Dearg in some way if he was going to play it for the regional. I felt that I simply had much more experience with Standard so it was fine if he borrowed my Gae Dearg. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to learn a new deck so I just wanted to nip it in the bud and focus on Standard. However, to this day I still think about if Dragunity will be better even though I made my decision to not play it (deja vu with my conflict of playing Standard or BEWD at that previous regional).

2. Card Trooper
Card Trooper, for me, has always been the card I love to hate and hate to love. I've played with it in Lightsworn/Twilight, Chaos Dragon, Plants, Inzektors, and Dragons, and there have always been those times where it's both absolutely brilliant and utterly garbage for me. This format I've played 0, 1, and 2 Trooper builds and as always, usually I mill complete ass with it but in those rare instances when I can mill 2 or even 3 Dragons with it, it's damn amazing. There was one time I knew that Roy was going to summon a JD so I pre-emptively Maxx C'd, got the draw off the summon, he used JD's effect destroying my set Trooper, and I topdecked into a Scarecrow which saved me that turn from his JD+Blaster and I proceeded to win the match. In the online community, the major thing that gets brought up is "Crimson Blader bait". While many argue that the mirror match isn't really about Crimson Blader anymore and it's easier to deal with it due to Dragon decks playing more backrow now, it's still something that you can't simply ignore because backrows are still able to be played around. I do like Trooper vs rogue decks and the free draw is nice, and the Blader aspect can be mitigated if you opt to main 2 Scarecrow, as Merlin Schumacher and a few others have done recently. With my tendency of milling all spell/traps and then drawing into a Dragon though, Trooper is still something I am hesitant on maining even though I comprehend the advantages that Trooper provides. It gets you essentially 4 cards deeper into your deck, is a 1900 body that can apply some pressure, is Redox food, etc. I get it, I just don't know if it's good for me.

3. Cards of Consonance
Early in the format this card was basically a no-brainer in that mostly everyone mained 2 or 3 copies. Still to this day we see a lot of players maining 2 copies. However, both Billy Brake and Robert Boyajian stated after YCS San Mateo that they would cut Consonance completely from their decks in future events, even after dropping to 1 copy mained for that event. The theory behind it is that the benefit of having the tuner available to make a Synchro outweighed randomly drawing 2 extra cards. It was similar to those that simply splashed in Trade-Ins and level 8 Destiny Heroes back in the day. Drawing just to draw and not furthering your game state was not optimal. Do you make a Synchro play and potentially risk having that Consonance be dead in hand for the rest of the game, or forgo the move and play Consonance and hope to draw something equally relevant? There is also the issue that one must ponder if they want to potentially "turn off" a color to simply make Consonance live. What this means is for example should one banish Tempest to search Corsesca because you have Consonance in hand, or pitch Tidal to use Ravine to search Corsesca rather than making another live color? More available colors equals more options next turn, but if they MST it you might not have a way of searching a Consonance target later. These arguments are completely valid, while on the other end of the spectrum people argue that it is better to have it as an option to help draw into non-searchable cards (Return, Sword, Sixth Sense, etc) and side-deck cards instead of just hoping to naturally draw them throughout the match and via Sword. I have played around with 0, 1, 2, and 3 Consonance over the course of the format and all I know is I don't like 3 with 5 targets. I've played 2 for the longest amount of time, and I can see that sometimes it sucks having in hand but other times when I play Consonance, draw into a Sword, which draws into a Ravine or Return, it just feels so boss. Still I try to not let this cloud my judgment, as whether I should main this card or not is still something I think about.

4. MST
Main decked MST, for the most part, was still a no-no in the early part of the format even with Heavy Storm no longer being around. The philosophy was expressed by Pat Hoban when he explained that MST is best when they bring in side cards for games 2 and 3, while for game 1 you should focus on doing Dragon-related things because those should win you game 1's since the things Dragons do naturally is better than things that other decks naturally do. Over time we saw an increase in main deck MST usage since Vanity's Emptiness was still very real and the field spell war became increasingly important. Billy Brake even went to maining 3 copies for San Mateo, with other players like Josh Graham saying, after the event, he should've mained all 3 even though he chose to ran 2 (or maybe this was at Toronto - I apologize but over time it's hard to discern what happens and who tops which events). Recently Trap Stun has been discussed and we saw the winner of YCS London main 2 copies and ran no MST's. This is because Trap Stun does a lot more vs a Return or Sixth Sense whereas with MST you would be hoping to hit it blind at an end phase. Theoretically it's easier to simply Trap Stun a field of 4 backrow and try to go off, rather than stare at your in-hand MST and try to push through that same field. MST is also not a "combo" card, for example if you opened with 2 MST that means you only have your other 4 cards to do combo-related things (like Dragunity wombo or Ravine->AFD-> Draco) and chances are you'll have a defensive card such as Maxx C or a trap in hand, essentially lowering your probability of performing your respective combo even more. Similar to Consonance, I have tried out maining all the different options. I started off at 0, and have tried 3 because I felt that I'd simply rather main cards that I have to always side in (because people go hammy on Dragon-hate around here) which would give me more sidedeck space. I hated losing to decks simply because I didn't have removal for their Soul Drain/Mind Drain/Iron Wall/Gozen/etc. Right now I'm torn between 1 or 2 copies mained. The issue is still very real because you can only run 3 MST, while they can run, you know, 10+ copies of those traps that essentially all say "you can't play Yugioh". People over-side, which should be costing them games, but sometimes they get rewarded and win out because of it. It seems like right after someone beats me at a local, they'll lose to Battlin' Boxer or some other deck piloted by a much less-experienced player. Oh ok. I guess Boxer is the true hotness.

5. Vanity's Emptiness
This card was a break-out star last format and over time catapulted to roughly $15, the most expensive common we've ever seen (until Sense came out). Players could be completely shut down from being able to summon, and then the person controlling the Emptiness could easily turn it off by playing a Sword and proceed to establish a field (unless the opponent had an Emptiness ready to go as well, of course). It became increasingly popular in rogue decks such as Constellars who could lock you down with Pleiades+Emptiness, or dark decks that could go Master Key Beetle+Emptiness. Then, in an instant, the notion that the card sucked became a discussion after Hoban and Graham said they wished they hadn't run it. Other players have also said the same thing in their deck profile videos. The argument was that Emptiness didn't do anything to help break up an already-established board. This is certainly true. It sucked to open both copies, and you had to play sort of awkwardly to both play around your own copy and make sure you wouldn't go minus by playing other cards (like Ravine). On the flip side, you still see people topping running 1 or 2 copies and in only a few days Stardust Spark Dragon will be released, and it, combined with Emptiness, could be even better than Pleiades or Beetle with the card. This is certainly an issue that will have to be acknowledged moving forward.

6. "Real" Traps
When the initial leak of the OCG list occurred, I opted to build a Dragon deck consisting of Cardcar D's, Pot of Dualities, Skill Drains, and real back rows like Solemn Warning and Mirror Force, going into a tournament that would be starting with this list (even though later in the evening that same day was the day the real TCG list was released). My philosophy was that Stardust+Skill Drain backed by backrow would be a good soft-lock, while Sword+Duality+Cardcar would provide me plusses, help me be ahead of my opponent, and most importantly dig for Return. I was criticized for this because it was a stark shift from the Dragon deck of the previous format that basically wanted to churn out pressure as quickly as possible and simply overwhelm the opponent. This criticism was valid, as we saw early in the format with Dragons running very little backrow besides Emptiness and Return. The emergence of usage of Raigeki Break and Phoenix Wing Wind Blast occurred, but this has shifted even more with Pat Hoban running many "real" traps such as Mirror Force, Warning, Compulse, Bottomless, etc in Dragunity. This trend is slowly being adopted into Standard Dragons as well now; Merlin Schumacher ran both Torrential and Mirror Force in his build, as did Frazier Smith, and many players from YCS London ran the lone Torrential. Perhaps I wasn't so far off the mark after all with my personal early-format philosophies ;) The current issue is which, if any, "real" traps do we elect to run? How does Stardust Spark impact this?

7. Raigeki Break vs Phoenix Wing Wind Blast
This is an age-old debate and one that I don't think will ever truly result in a final consensus. Historically the OCG has always preferred Raigeki Break, while the TCG has preferred Wind Blast. I have toyed around with Raigeki Break, as it was a good option to have to permanently deal with back-row threats or Crimson Bladers. Wind Blast has been great to turn off colors, be able to actually deal with a field that consists of a Stardust, and set my opponent behind a turn in spinning a set card. As to which one I prefer, it has actually been Raigeki Break simply because, like previously mentioned, all the hate people side in. Yes, being able to Wind Blast an Iron Wall is cool since theoretically you should be able to establish a field that would just make the Iron Wall dead for them next turn, but you know, Yugioh doesn't always pan out that way and it just so happened to be that their 3 other traps were enough to stymy my attempt of establishing a field and furthermore I have to deal with Iron Wall all over again next turn. If I had Raigeki Break, those other 3 traps still would've stopped my play and all, but at least I know I don't have to deal with that particular Iron Wall again (but chances are they would've just topped another hate trap card anyway so fml lol). However, I believe Spark+Emptiness will change the way we create our trap line-up. Many believe that Raigeki Break simply won't be a viable option once Spark is released; perhaps this is true, maybe it's not, I'm really not sure at the moment.

8. Terraforming
If there was one field spell I had to pick that defined this format, it would certainly be Dragon Ravine, followed by Grand Spellbook Tower. Ravine let you discard "free" Dragons to get even more free Dragons, thin your deck, and increase your odds of drawing power spell and trap cards. It also became a huge bane to Spellbook decks, which rely heavily on Tower to continue their flow of card advantage and loop plays. Once Trigon became more well known, Ravine's playability value increased even more. Terraforming comes into play in that theoretically 4, or 5, copies of Dragon Ravine should be better than just running the 3. After all we ideally would like to open the Trigon AFD combo, and by running more copies we'd increase our percentage of doing so. We have seen it all this format, with players choosing to run 0, 1, 2, and even 3 copies of the field spell searcher. Recently Claudio Kirchmair made an argument that Terraforming is not really needed, since we realistically don't need to "turbo" into an AFD play. The opponent could simply AFD back, get a free search, or simply play theirs over yours and result in your minus. And after you have gone through 2 Ravines via the combo, Terraforming is a fairly dead draw at that point. I have played 0, 1, and 2 this format. At 2, sometimes it plus a Ravine becomes cloggy, especially if you draw into another one later on. At the same time I've gone through games seeing 0 copies of Ravine or Terraforming. At 0, again, it's like "damn I wish I'd get my Ravine already" and you know you don't have a Terraforming to help search it. 1 has been OK, but I still see dabs of both issues from 0 and 2 while playing 1. Determining the right number has been an annoying issue.

9. The Extra Deck
In all honesty, I wish the "rule change" we were supposed to get was an increase in extra deck size. Throughout the course of the format, we've pretty much seen it all as far as extra deck options go. Plant versions (those that ran Dandylion and/or Scapegoat) would have to run Formula Synchron and Mist Bird Clausolas, which are both really great options, but naturally had to skimp on maybe an XYZ. Orient Dragon is a solid option but it's play has been rather sporadic since some believe there is always a better available play than simply banishing a Synchro. Two copies of Crimson Blader have treated me very well over the format, but I still see many decks just running 1 and many people saying "1 is all you should need", which sounds right, I wish I could just run 1, but for me people seem to always play around the first and having the second was what sealed the deal. Sometimes they even play around the 2nd, so it comes out a third time via Redox effect, or back when I ran DDR. Then we have other issues such as 2 vs 3 Dracossack and 1 vs 2 Big Eye. The standard is 2 and 1, but with the emergence of the Trigon + AFD combo, having 3 and 2 doesn't seem too bad. Frazier Smith made a remark after one of the ARG events that he wish he had ran a 2nd Big Eye since it would've made winning a particular match easier. We have other great cards such as Master of Blades which is great against rogue decks, but is basically a non-option since space is so very tight. Thought Ruler is in the same boat - the life gain has single-handedly brought me back into matches all on its own in the past, but is it good enough to keep in? If we still side Eradicator, is Red Dragon an option we'd want to have? Ideally you'd rather trib off an RDA instead of a Colossal, as RDA is a banish target and Colossal isn't. Ancient Fairy Dragon alone has taken away extra deck space, and now we have Stardust Spark to throw in. Does regular Stardust get cut, or is it too optimal to have for those certain situations/match-ups? One trend I noticed was that Angel of Zera has seen virtually little to no play in US events, but was incredibly popular among extra decks in YCS London. Is it's potential beefy attack too good to ignore and we should be running it, or does it just suck cuz it's not a relevant attribute or type? Should we play Darkspear so we can play Trident Dragion, a potential win-condition on its own, like Josh Graham did? There are a multitude of extra deck-related things we as the Standard Dragon player have to face, probably even more than the Rank 4 player has to face, at least until the new Nobleswarm guy comes out. I'm guessing the only other player that has to think about their extra so much right now is those still running Wind-Ups (#BoatToOnePlease).

10. The Future

If all these decisions weren't enough to think about (plus I intentionally skipped discussion on things like Fog King, Tetherwolf, DDR, Enemy Controller, Waboku, Dragon Shrine, Gold Sarc, Upstart Theory, Castle of Dragon Souls), we have cool Rank 8 options through Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand and Number 46 Dragluon. These are supported by the new Mythic dragons, Water and Tree. Simply adding 1 copy of each of these cards into our decks brings a slew of play-related questions we have to address. First, is the potential inconsistency Water and Tree impose worth it? How often should we cut off a color to search these guys and hope that our play sticks so it wasn't a complete waste? What extra and main deck cards get cut now? Do we actually have to play Battle Fader now, instead of Scarecrow, since Star Eater + Felgrand is a thing?

These are a lot of things to think about, and at times it can be rather stressful, but I have loved playing Dragons ever since last format. Unless they do something drastic like put each big dragon to 1 for next format, I do believe that some variant of dragons will be viable for next format. Even standard Dragunity has topped, so that should mean they'd have to hit Ravine as well, which I wouldn't think they would do. Like I mentioned before I'm not going to really speculate on that too hard though, as the whole list issue is pretty much up in the air especially when you take into consideration that the OCG didn't change a single thing in their November list, even though the games are completely different now due to the list differences.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Obligatory Sixth Sense Post

Well the talk in the dueling world today is definitely about Sixth Sense and it's legalization come October 11. I was quite shocked when I read not only was it going to be released to us via Joey's World, but also legal for us to use at 1! Naturally as a Dragon player I am excited about this but as someone that tries to stay unbiased (ie looking at it from the other side of the table), it is just completely busted and doesn't really have much purpose in the game other than it being completely sacky. I mean I play Dragons and can say that Return needs to go lol. Just as we got rid of Gateway, Card Destruction, Avarice, Reborn, etc, we get this forced on us. This card can go into virtually any deck and while not every deck wants to randomly mill up to 4 cards, it is certainly not terrible considering the percentage of the reward of being able to draw 5 or 6 off one card. I think this will bring about di roll cheating even more than it may have already been experienced, which is quite unfortunate. So now we have to worry about di roll cheaters on top of stackers, rule sharkers, and other-method cheaters lol.

Naturally this move was done to help the sales of Joey's World, cuz let's face it no one was buying this $30 product on pre-order based on the given information of the 2 promos, a straight-to-ban card, tokens, and the playing board. I think it'd still be friggin nice to get more info but with only a week until the release I'm guessing there won't be much. Maybe some more reveals throughout the week until Europe gets it early like they usually do and the contents are spoiled anyway. I anticipate this being similar to the CCV travesty where you'd basically get 1 CCV out of a case of Gold Series 1. We all know how much CCV's were at that period. I don't think it'll be quite that bad but with the $30 price tag, the set being 300-some cards, it being desired by both collectors and competitive players, of course it won't be cheap. The lucky people that pull well will probably buy 1 of the boxes and pull one while those like myself could buy 5 of these and pull none, that is why I won't be buying any of these and will just look to order it via singles, unless it is revealed to have a magically high pull-rate as a common or something.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Regionals Re-Cap & Moving Forward

During the Seattle Regionals I had every intention of making a full tourney report, wrote down my opponent's names and deck-types and everything, but as the event was 2 weekends ago and it sort of feels irrelevant at this point, I'll just be re-capping the event and how it went!

Quite a few people from the Spokane and Idaho area showed up for the event which was great to see. It was nice to have that feeling that we were all rooting for each other and wishing each of us luck before our matches; we came together and truly felt like a family which is why I love this game to the extent that I do. The event itself was slightly over 400 people, which is the largest Regional we've had in Seattle. Nine rounds of Swiss. At first I heard mention that registration would be cut off and people simply wouldn't get to play, but they made a few extra set-ups in the side room where the vendors were and the registration was. I think those late people got round 1 losses or something like that.

As for my matches, I played: 1 Scrap, 3 Mermail, 1 Blackwing, 1 Dragon, 1 3-Axis Fire Fist, 1 Spellbook, and something else I can't remember. It may have been another Mermail or Dragon match-up. The night before, I racked my brain if I wanted to play the "Standard Dragon" Rulers or the Blue Eyes build. The Blue Eyes build I did not have much experience with but I fell in love with it after trying it at the Tuesday tournament before the weekend. I knew the pros and cons of each build and it was getting late so I just said screw it and settled for the Blue Eyes build. If I drew bad all day then I knew from that point I'd just play the Standard build for the rest of the format.

I started the day 4-0, beating Scraps, Dragons, Blackwing, and 3-Axis. Then I lost to 2 Mermail match-ups in a row. Now this is not a match-up I consider difficult, but my losses came from either getting Blader'd followed up with an OTK and no Scarecrow in hand, or they opened Imperial Iron Wall and I had no way of getting rid of it in conjunction with a weak hand that needed my in-hand Sacred Sword to get moving. After the 2nd loss I was fairly disappointed since I knew my chances of topping pretty much went out the window. In the last round I was 6-2 and saw I was paired up against Kyle, one of our local Spellbook players. This is the match-up I hate the most because let's face it it's still a nasty deck. He opened up god against me game 1 but game 2 and 3 I could tell he opened pretty poopy so I won the match. I was glad to at least finish 7-2 and finished in 24th place, fairly low among the 7-2's, so of course due to tie-breakers. I saw that the two Mermail players I lost to also finished 7-2, one of them actually finishing in 25th or 26th place. Again I felt frustrated because while I would say they were OK with the deck, the deck itself just seems sub-par outside of the wombo Steus+Spirit+Ocea combo and random OTK ability. Like Mike Bonacini said, draw MST for the sided-in hate cards, or lose. I didn't draw MST so I lost. I think if I hadn't lost against either Mermail player I would've ended up topping, I can't really say for sure since who knows I might've played against all Evilswarm the rest of the day, but I dunno I just had that gut feeling. Everyone else finished 6-3 or lower, I think that Zach (Blackwing) and Corey (Spellbook) could've ended up topping as well but there's always those "rando" situations where you lose not because your opponent is good, but because there's some game-state (whether it be hand/draws, they dropped 3 JD, etc) that prevented you from winning.

Not a lot of ruling issues came up, but it was astonishing that all of the Mermail players I played against didn't know that Abysspike missed timing if I destroyed a Linde with Crimson Blader. Each time a judge was called to confirm. I even had to tell one of the dudes 3 times in our match that it missed timing since he kept summoning it off a Blader'd Linde. The biggest ruling issue I had was in my match against the Blackwing guy I think in round 3, in which I had a set Return and summoned Dracosack. He activated Icarus targeting my Draco and Return. I chained Return paying half my life and summoned 4 Dragons. Then he activated Torrential Tribute and I told him you couldn't do that. Two judges came over and I explained the situation, but all 3 of them (the player and the 2 judges) told me there was an "activation window" so that he could Torrential after the monsters were summoned. "The game-state is open" and some other fluffy-worded bullshit to make it sound like they knew what they were talking about. I explained that was wrong because Icarus had yet to resolve and he couldn't activate something during the resolution of a chain and I also said "then how come back in the day (DAD Return) people played Heavy then chained Return to play around the Torr/Bottomless?" They stuck to their ruling though and I should have appealed it, but just said whatever and still proceeded to win the match. Later on in the day that Blackwing player came up to me and was like "yea you were right about that ruling one of the judges found out and explained it to me." I knew I was right but it was reassuring that they knew I was right lol.

I think one the highlights of my weekend was meeting the infamous Squiddy, who I got my Garunix signed. I flipped through my binder trying to figure out what I should have him sign and remembered that I saw him playing Fire King quite a bit on DN so I chose the Garunix. Kyle and I were visibly excited to meet and talk with him while the other guys were just like "wtf is Squiddy?" Come on everyone that's spent any time on Pojo knows Squiddy lol. Squiddy was playing Blue Eyes Dragons as well and ended up in 4th place I believe. Chris Hentz won the event with Standard Dragons. I think top 8 was something like 7 Dragons and 1 Inzektor. After the event I checked out the ARG Open coverage and saw that Frazier and Billy were also playing the Blue Eyes build so it was reassuring to me that I didn't make a completely terrible deck choice and in retrospect I'm glad I played it. I was playing 3 BEWD and 3 Stone though so if there was anything I would've changed for the event it would be the 2-2 build. I noticed that playing the 3-3 build made it very difficult to side because theoretically (as Pat Hoban would say) you don't want to side out combo cards for non-combo cards.

As for the rest of the format, I am pretty sure we won't be having any Regionals in our area unless the events list gets randomly updated. I won't be going to San Mateo so it already feels like the end of the format for me, which we had a conversation about on the ride back home the next day. Three weeks in and it already felt like end of format lol. I'll be sticking with Dragons because there's honestly no reason for me to pick anything else up at this stage. I'll just keep trying to max-rarity my deck. Whatever I'd pick up would be in anticipation for next format, but with the whole separate lists thing and predictions always being so off it's really hard to tell what to do. So rather than stress out about it, I'm just going to ride out the format with the best deck for me and rake in as much prizing I can. I would assume that come Dec 31/Jan 1 they would nerf Dragons to being unplayable (I'm thinking each Dragon to 2 and maybe Sword to 1?) since all the holiday sales off the Redox and Tempest tin would be over with by that point. TCG-side, Dragons have a very strong presence, too strong in comparison to everything else.

Here was my decklist for the event, for reference:
3 Blaster
3 Tidal
3 Tempest
3 Redox
3 White Stone
1 Corsesca
1 Flamvell
2 Maxx C
1 Scarecrow

3 Sword
3 Consonance
3 Ravine
2 Trade-In

1 Raigeki Break
1 Vanity's
1 Return

2 Draco
1 Big Eye
1 Gaia Dragon (never went into)
1 Master of Blades (never went into)
1 Heliopolis (never went into)
1 Armory (never went into)
1 Black Rose
1 Stardust
1 Scrap
1 Colossal
1 Red Dragon (just for EEV)
1 Azure-Eyes (never went into)
2 Crimson Blader (always went into)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Seattle Regionals Bound

Well this weekend seems like it will be a pretty active one between the debut of the ARG Circuit Series in Texas and many regionals happening as well. It's nice to see that once again many local players will be making the trek from the east side of the state and Idaho over to Seattle for the regionals. Honestly I'll be glad when/if the Official Championship tournaments happen at our local area since that's 5 hours worth of driving we wouldn't have to deal with while still having the opportunity to earn an invite. I've been busy since the start of the format trying to find a build of Dragons I'm comfortable with but it has yet to really happen, mostly because I have seen the pros and cons that each variant has to offer and some of the cons among the decks really bother me. I think each variant is a good deck, but trying to determine the flavor that best suits my tastes has been quite difficult and something I still have to ponder as I make the drive over with some of my teammates and what ever testing we can do tomorrow night. Side-decking is also a strange endeavor as I really have no idea what to expect for the Seattle meta. Every Seattle regional I've been to has been fairly random as to what decks I played against. I remember past tournaments expecting to play a few X decks but not facing any at all throughout the day. This makes precious side-deck spots become wasted but it becomes a "you kinda have to" thing (ie how Evilswarms affects Dragons).

I wish everyone out there playing some competitive Yugz this weekend the best of luck and hopefully we (the east side of the state) can claim a few top 8 mats once again!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Player Entitlement, The Loser Mentality, and Internal Motivation

This post is inspired by a conversation I had with a fellow player at Tuesday's local tournament, which was originally planned as a box tournament but due to the poor turn-out (and the prize structure because of it), we reverted to just doing a standard weekly tournament. I don't remember the remark exactly, but it was something along the lines of "no body shows up because Team O is too good and no one gets any better playing here." I was kind of taken aback by this statement, I guess because I have a very different philosophy on the steps people should take to not only get better at this game, but really anything in general whether it be a sport, a job, etc. I proceeded to tell him that I believed one of the best ways of getting better was to simply "get your ass kicked" against players that were better than you, so long that you can take something away from it. Whether it be for just a playtesting session, a day, a week, months, years, whatever, playing against someone better than you will provide the learning environment to mimic similar advanced plays and strategies of that player. This, combined with an open mind, a genuine eagerness to learn, the ability to listen and incorporate given advice, and doing proper research are the keys to improving, in my opinion.

The classic example I gave to this player to illustrate this, was my friend Mikey from Texas. He went from playing rando Macro-Soul Absorption combo deck and basically only doing sub-par at tournaments, to becoming a regional topper across multiple games. We used to have weekly playtesting sessions, every Friday at my apartment, which basically was 3 or 4 hours of me beating him game after game, until a few weeks in when it all finally clicked in his mind about how to play properly, at least better. What I mean is just attacking if you already have 1 monster on board, as opposed to summoning a second and walking into a Torrential or Mirror Force. Not blind-MST'ing just to get MST'd back and taking the -1. Not setting spell/traps before attacking just to walk into an Icarus Attack/MalCat. There are many other examples of these kinds of things, basic things to advanced players but something that gets passed by to those that are "average" or below. Once he got to that realization point, he became thirsty to acquire more knowledge about the game and started watching relevant Youtube videos, reading articles, event coverage and feature matches, the whole nine yards. By the end of my time in Texas, he was going toe-to-toe with me at locals. While conversing with this player I even pointed to Vamp who walked by, and said how he has progressed so much as a player by learning through Team O and being on the team.

So going back to my conversation, I had to make it clear that players that played or didn't play in certain tournaments solely to avoid Team O were simply doing themselves a disservice. People don't get better by winning in irrelevant tournaments full of scrubby players; what good is it being "king of the losers?" Once he proceeded to say "well I don't like half of Team O anyway", I knew nothing I said from here on was going to get through his mind as he's already displayed a stubborn attitude toward the game and the player base. Naturally I got upset by this statement because I can honestly say we have grown a lot as a team and we are much different than what we were. The roster itself is different, some being the most helpful people in the entire community, and we're much older now so the "douchieness" level I would say is much lower than what it was. Sure there may be bouts of said "douchieness" but that comes with the territory of the game and for the most part isn't made out of ill will - it's good ol' fashioned "ribbing" you could say.

So after thinking more of the statement "people don't get better playing here" (ie playing people that are good at the game), I had to question myself how people actually do or expected to. Do lower-skilled players have some sort of mindset that the better players should be teaching them how to get better, out of some sense of entitlement? Is it my job or anyone else on Team O's to make the community good? Naturally my answer would have to be "no". Now don't get me wrong, like I said previously, many of the team have helped other players outside of the team at least to some certain extent. Whether this is just giving cards away for free to giving deck advice or game-play advice, taking players up directly under our wing to get better, we've done it all. Some people do so more than others, but I don't think it's right to blanket-statement that all of Team O is unhelpful when it may only be a few members, at most. I believe what it boils down to is the players themselves - after all, we all had to start from somewhere, on the bottom, so what's the difference between them and us? [And I'm not trying to put us on "pro" status or anything like that, but most couldn't argue that we aren't among the top players in our area.]

Herein lies the principle problem of average players, I think what keeps them in their state and slowing their progress to becoming good players: the inability or lack of willingness to listen. I thought of this quote as I was driving home from the tournament - "the players that need help the most, are the ones least likely to listen." Little Timmy would rather fight to the death to prove that one day his Chronomoly deck will win him a tournament than listen to anyone's advice telling him otherwise or giving recommendations on card choices. That player will always run Magic Cylinder because "they might attack into it for game" over a suggested Mirror Force which can potentially deal with the problems on board so he can win next turn (or at least not get killed by those monster(s) anyway). They'll play 55 cards and refuse to ever go lower because "every card is useful." This inability to listen and stubbornness is the biggest hindrance in players' ability in performing better at tournaments. Rather than listen to any sort of constructive criticism from someone that's been playing the game for several years, they'd rather do their own thing because in their mind their views and philosophies are always right.

The effect this inability to listen has on a player is further compounded by "the loser mentality", an attitude that these types of players tend to have. This topic was discussed in great detail in Danny's video so I'd recommend watching that to get his take on the issue. From my standpoint, an example of the loser mentality is when you sit down to play someone, they come down to sit, and go "oh god, I have to play you I'm going to get destroyed" in all seriousness. Some guy who I've never even seen before did that when he went to play me last Sunday - part of it is humbling but part of it is frustrating because people are mentally defeated in the match before they've even started shuffling! Another example is when people physically go out of their way to go to a tournament, but don't enter because they first observe who all is playing and deem the tournament to be too difficult and not "worth it" to enter. This leads to people quitting the game to try something else. Like Danny said in his video, the way that parents raise their kids contributes a substantial part to having or not having this mentality. A child that is raised by parent(s) who can instill confidence in them and a "keep fighting, don't give up" attitude will most likely see more success throughout life than one that is given the attitude of "well if it's too hard then it's OK to stop, how about trying something else?" This teaches them that if something in life is too hard, it's OK to just avoid it altogether rather than dealing with it head-on and trying to conquer it. Now I'm not a parent, but my parents never gave me an inkling of a notion that if something was too hard that it's OK to just give up. It's quite sad to see so many players around my area with this attitude.

Ultimately I believe you get out what you put into this game. What I mean is, someone that does a minimal amount of quality playtesting, no research, no collaboration, and only hits up that one weekly tournament with their pet funsy deck isn't going to see a great amount of success when compared to someone that reads up on the metagame, strives to build the top tier decks, reads articles, analyzes decklists, practices side-decking, etc. The best players in the game put in a lot of time to master their craft; it's the same with any job or people that play various sports on any sort of professional level. It's not simply a numbers game though; as my old drill instructor would say, "if you put two stupids together in a room nothing good's going to come of it." This means that just because you put in 100 hours of testing doesn't mean it'll amount to all that much if it's with fellow players that only have similar bad ideas/views of the game. The motivation that comes from oneself with a positive attitude and a willingness to listen are vital in that effort to becoming better, the best that you can possibly be.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

YCS Toronto Predictions

As the weekend soon approaches, so does the first YCS of the format, YCS Toronto. It also kicks off the new September format although I'm sure everyone has already started playing it at least to some extent. All of my locals have shifted over to the new format with much eagerness. While I do believe a larger variety of decks will be more viable this format, I don't believe everything under the sun will be, as much as people had hoped. I'm looking at you, Zombies and Blackwings. Naturally over time, the best decks of the format will become established and as those strategies become more refined, then side deck strategies can become more honed to deal with the other top decks and other rogue match-ups. I believe the format has already been shaping up, with the upper tier decks being: Fire Fist, Mermail, Spellbook, Dragons, Infernity, and Evilswarm. There are a lot of other potent decks though that can't be taken lightly; the line between the top tier and "the rest" is much smaller than it was last format.

I'd consider Evilswarm to be the low guy on the totem pole, but regardless of what anyone says, Ophion is one helluva card that can single-handedly render some deck strategies completely invalid. With the expectation that this format will see a higher trap count in peoples' main decks, Pandemic actually becomes a very viable card this format (as opposed to the last with much less backrow). Master Key Beetle + Vanity's Emptiness has also been receiving a lot of hype, I think this is definitely something that will factor in this weekend. However, I believe XYZ Encore will be the bane of Evilswarm, with any deck that churns out high-level monsters siding multiple copies of this card so it is hard to say exactly how Evilswarm will fare this weekend. Personally I always have 2 copies of this card handy with me to any tourney I go to after being completely shut down by a lone Rabbit into Ophion play a few weeks ago.

I believe Infernity is the "dark horse" deck going into the weekend, the one deck that nobody wants to play against, but also the deck that is probably the hardest to master. They have really great new additions in Archfiend Empress and Transmodify. You also have to consider that Canada is "Infernity country", as we saw in the X-Saber/Infernity format where Infernity didn't see a whole lot of play in the US but saw a lot in Canada. I am curious to see if this is currently the same story.

Regardless of all of these decks, I believe there will be that "one deck" that takes the tourney completely by surprise. Whether it be a new variation to an old theme, or a completely new deck altogether, I just have this feeling something "wacky" and under-the-radar will make its way into at least the top 32. Naturally this will be exciting to see and the secondary market will go bonkers.

Good luck to all participating at the YCS, I will be thoroughly checking out the coverage. On DGz of course, lol. Cuz f' Konami coverage :/

Thursday, August 22, 2013

New List Craziness

Never in a million years did I ever expect the ban list that we received. Here is a recap of how my last two weeks have gone: once the OCG list was pretty much confirmed by DGz's Organization, I scoured DN and DGz to see what people were going to be playing in the early format. The "Dragon Ruler Plant" deck was fairly known about by now, even though it seems like the general populace is just realizing it's a deck and I'm sure there are still those that are clueless. Beings as Dragons was the only deck I had from last format (sold basically everything else I had to afford that deck lol), I decided to test it out a little and told Danny about the deck and gave Mikey (my boy from Texas) my deck list I had been working on over DN. Fortunately I have a play-testing animal in the form of Mikey who was able to play probably about 60 games all in one day, and said he had about a 90% win ratio (sure it's DN but I don't care) and said he loved it. I was ecstatic.

After some more scouring in DN Unlimited, I came across Brandon Balls, who I believe is 'ygo duelist bodan' on DGz, although I had first thought it was Brandon Wigley but later found out his DN name is just his real name lol. So as I watched Brandon Balls play, I didn't see much out of the ordinary, until it hit me that he wasn't making any of the standard plant plays that I had been seeing up until this point. Some DGz members, most notably Pat Hoban, had indicated their opinion that the plant engine was kind of gimmicky, so perhaps this was the result of that philosophy. After watching a few more games I saw that he had essentially replaced the plant engine with Cardcar D's, Pot of Duality's, Skill Drain, and real traps (Torr, Force, Solemns) which I found to be ingenious. The problem I personally had with the plant engine was Card Trooper and my inability to mill well. In my testing I tended to mill Heavy Storm (mind you this was testing for the OCG list) way too often and other power cards and not mill enough Dragons or Dandylion. I also felt that it was more susceptible to getting Maxx C'd, so this "control" version incorporating back row was right up my alley. Sacrificing explosiveness for consistency and continual card advantage, I could live with that. The premise of the deck is to essentially +1 off Sword and then +1 via Cardcar, with the possible aid of Pot of Duality, set a few backrow, and then perpetually gain card advantage over the next few turns while thinning the deck via banished dragon effects. This way you could get to your power cards (*cough* Return *cough*) as quickly as possible. Tidal and Tempest's -1 abilities help aid in "color fixing" while Cardcar helped mitigate those -1's. I basically spent the next few days either stalking Brandon Ball's games or talking to Mikey who was putting in work through testing. Eventually I garnered probably 95% of Brandon Ball's deck list and decided that it would be what I would play for our local Gamer's Haven box tourney for JOTL which we had last Tuesday.

Going into the box tournament, I was rather excited because it was a completely new format but worried at the same time. After all, the last thing I wanted to experience was putting in hours of research, testing, theorizing, just for it all to not pan out and get stomped at the tourney. I had kept the deck a complete secret to at least have that "surprise factor" going into the box tourney. I won't do a whole tourney report because I can't recall specifics at this point, but I went undefeated through Swiss, won vs Corey AKA Spokane Vampire in top 8, and then top 4 decided to split because it was getting late and it was all Team O anyway. As I played through my matches, for the most part they all played out exactly how my testing and test hands indicated. A lot of early-game plussing, making good exchanges with Torrential and Mirror Force, making as few play mistakes as I could since I had so much practice with Dragons anyway, and setting up a Stardust + Return play for game. Even playing in the OCG list I believed Stardust would be very important in the upcoming meta, but I believe it will be even more so in the TCG one. Who knows when we'll get Stardust Radiance. So needless to say I was very happy with the deck and proved, at least on a small scale, that the Dragon deck was far from dead and I would say is a good candidate going into next format. I don't think it'd be played by so many 1700+ ranked players on DN if it weren't. I still feel it's quite adaptable and has outs to many of the commonly see plays that other decks can put out. It's just finding an ideal list that can handle the meta via the main and side that will be the difficult part. There are quite a few different variants of the deck so I can see that eventually becoming streamlined to an "ideal" version, much like how it evolved last format.

Speaking of the TCG ban list, I pulled it up during the tournament and clicked on it right at 6PM. I saw that Burner was banned and was like "OK looks like the same list" until I scrolled my eyes down to see E-Hero Stratos banned. I paused and was like W.T.F. and continued to see the crazy changes there were in the TCG list. Corey took my phone and started announcing all the drastic differences much to everyone's surprise and excitement. He eventually got to the infamous Gateway of the Six, announced that it was banned, and the whole room roared in cheer and applause all while staring at Shiggs who is known for "Shiggurai"/"Sackurai". It looked like he just found out his dog had to be put down; very sad. For the entire rest of the tourney everyone was either calling people talking about the ban list or talking about it at the tourney itself. Gone were those sacky cards which people have complained about for years with Konami doing nothing about it.

While it will be a heavier back row format with Heavy gone, on the surface it seems more manageable due to the limits on Bottomless, Compulse, and Torr. Mirror Force is a card people should have always played around, and I guess D-Pris seems pretty good but that is why cards like Lance, Trap Stun, 7 Tools, and Decree could all see a rise in play. Past that we have things like Fiendish, again hold your MSTs like you should rather than blind-spacing.

I don't have a whole lot of opinion on the list other than that, besides my apprehension that with the format so seemingly "balanced" and looking like a huge number of decks to be playable, siding will once again be a nightmare going into any kind of event. I wish they had upped the extra deck to 20 like many had hoped/speculated, but it was not to be. Eagerly awaiting to see what happens at Toronto!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Importance of Side-Decking

Before I delve into my post I wanted to recap my sneak peek weekend, it was an amazing weekend hanging out with friends outside the tourney. I split for 1st on Saturday with Kyle (he wanted the mat more so I got more packs instead), split for 1st on Sunday with Danny (both got a mat and equal packs) and won the one on Monday for a second sneak peek mat. Split for first last night (not a sneak) with Zach, gotta say Dragons been treating me very well but hey I've put in a lot of time with that deck and what can I say it's too good :) Danny has put up his video recap of the weekend here.
This post is one I've wanted to do for a long time now so I'm glad I'm finally getting around to it. Naturally this will be catered more towards people that are striving to improve their game, rather than the completely casual or top-tier competitive player; somewhere in between. Now I must admit, looking back at my years of playing, side-decking is something that I never really had a fantastic grasp on and I believe it's something that is almost entirely based on your perceptions of the game. Your play style and your "theory-oh" are big determinants for what you side and how you side. It's one of the most important aspects of the game but something that I also feel is the most under-looked, under-utilized, and under-practiced.

Whenever one goes into a tournament, it's almost guaranteed that there's at least someone that rolls in with no side deck. Now if I'm playing let's say Mermail and half my meta is decks that main Macro and have D-Fissures in the side they'll bring in against me and I have no side, chances are I'm at the very least going to have a very uphill battle throughout the tournament. Even before entering I've basically set myself up for failure. I believe the principal use of the side is to make your bad match-ups better; in a game where there are a multitude of decks and decks that could be considered bad match-ups for yours, improving your odds in winning the 2 out of 3 is vital. One shouldn't go into a tournament knowing they only have like a 40% win ratio against a certain deck game 1 and not having a side that can improve that percentage for game 2. On the flip side, let's say you're playing something like Spellbook that has a phenomenal game 1 match-up against most of the meta. If you have no side, you have no way of handling the inevitable side deck hate that people will bring in against you. Of course it might not even matter since Spellbook is so powerful anyway, but do you want to leave it completely up to chance? Of course not. What I think many people forget is that even if you win game 1, if you lose games 2 and 3 you lost the match. I know that's a "duh" statement but when you're coming into a tournament with no side, there's actually a lot of truth in that they forget that. This is compounded when all people do is practice game 1's when they play-test. What about games 2 and 3, which consists of potentially 66% of a match?

OK so now I've picked 15 cards for my side and have cards that can handle my bad match-ups and the ones that I'd most likely face. Good to go. I win game 1, go into game 2, and reach for my side - but, "oh crap, I have no idea what all I should be siding out. Wait, should I side this in because my opponent might side that card in? Ah screw it let's try this." Regardless of what happens beyond this point (either win out the match or end up losing), this is a perfect example of a lack of practice in siding and lack of thinking about siding. Having a side is great but just having the cards in there can only go so far if you yourself aren't comfortable with what exactly you'd be siding in, siding out, and handling the potential counter-side. At the local level this is very player-dependent; someone that plays in locals often will have a better idea of how each individual person who plays at the local sides or what they side in. If all I do is play on DN and expect to roll in and win the local box tourney, well that's going to be harder to some certain extent because I'd have a lower likelihood of knowing local players' play tendencies, siding strategies, tells, bluffs, etc.

Something I highly recommend doing to improving with siding is taking a piece of paper and pen (or a notepad program on your computer or phone), simply laying your whole deck out, listing out all the match-ups that you could realistically face, and writing out what you'd take out. Just focus on what you'd take out first and write the number of cards next to the name of the deck. Writing this all out provides some additional form of reinforced memory rather than going simply off the physical act of siding out and in. The more you can train your brain in different ways to help remember these things, the less chance there is of those instances of "oh crap, I forgot to side out Card Destruction and I'm playing against Dark World" and the like. Time is also a very important factor in the game right now as it seems more matches go into time than ever before. If you're in a match where you know you need to play faster than normal, do you want to be in a position where you're taking an excess amount of time during siding due to the lack of practice for what you should be siding in and out? No. The more practice you get, the quicker you can side, which could be the difference between winning or losing in time.

Once you're done listing what you'd side out, then you can focus on what you want to bring in. The first step of making the list of side-outs is important because let's say you have 5 cards that you'd comfortably side out vs a particular match-up - so what good is it to have 10 cards in your side for the match-up instead? If you're at the point of siding those 10 but could initially only find 5 you'd want to side out, well that's going into the unknown/chance territory which could just lead to making your deck inconsistent and losing because of that. I've heard of people siding 10-13 cards just for the Dragon match-up, that just seems crazy to me because I can't comprehend how a deck could retain any form of its original consistency after changing a third of the whole deck, outside of it being a transformation side. Sometimes I ask what all they side out and half the time I get the "uh I dunno just whatever" response. As one decides what all they want to side in, they must also consider what deck they're playing with. A perfect example of this is using Electric Virus against Evilswarm when you're playing some type of Rank-4 deck. I know it seems oh so appealing to take their Ophion when you know they can't do anything against that move, but..then what? Just give it back to them at the end of turn and still be locked down from special summoning? How is that play any good outside of using the Ophion for a tribute summon? I usually hear the "oh but it could help me OTK that turn" rationale, but that is situational at best and I don't believe in siding situationally. Then I hear "well I side in EEV too so I can trib the Ophion for it". OK, well chances are the Electric Virus isn't searchable and neither is the EEV, so kudos if you can consistently have those 2 cards at the same time. Again, situational. Avoid siding situationally and situational cards, go for the more consistent, albiet less of a blowout, cards as a general rule of thumb.

Another thing I see sometimes in post-side games is a "natural conflict" - one of the popular ones is an on-field D-Fissure with either a Thunder King on the field or a Maxx C in hand. These cards aren't always the most symbiotic together, but alone they can be crucial to help in a particular match-up. Having both might be a necessity due to improving your odds of opening with at least one or the other. Against Mermail, both Maxx C and D-Fiss are great. But if the D-Fiss is live, the in-hand Maxx C is naturally dead. The Maxx C is live once they MST that D-Fiss, but a dead card is a dead card and could have resulted in your loss at some point (like say due to topdecking it as they just beat on you with a Dragoons). I don't think there's a right or wrong way of looking at this conundrum, again it depends on what deck you're running and your philosophy of the matter. I'm just highlighting this point to raise awareness of noticing any "natural conflicts" you might be bringing upon yourself due to what you're siding in and your card selection of your side overall.

Next we can discuss the strategy of counter-siding. Sometimes, a deck is consistent and powerful enough that simply accounting for the opponent's side is enough to handle the match-up. An example of this is something like Mermail vs Heroes; rather than going ham and siding in Puppet Plants and Kinetic Soldiers specifically for the match-up, why not just handle their backrows through S/T destruction or lockdown since your monsters should easily be able to handle theirs? Just focus on the backrow that could potentially slow you down. Me personally, I know people go ham with the trap-based hate cards like Mind Drain, Soul Drain, Gozen Match, Rivalry, etc to slow Dragons down. But the more traps you side in, the better EEV becomes and MSTs and Decrees are always live. Gold Sarc for Heavy is always a play. My main preference for EEV is for Spellbooks, but it coincidentally also handles the trap-heavy decks. Sure I won't always draw into a way to handle the million traps you boarded in, but go with the percentages and math, and look at things in a broader and less-situational sense. Another thing I notice is that some of the cards that people side in are only good if they can open with it turn 1 - I believe Anti-Spell Fragrance is a perfect example of this, say you don't open with it and once the Spellbook player has gone off and established their traditional lockdown field, how useful is a mid-game top-decked Anti-Spell Fragrance? Not so much. Again, avoid the situational.

A side deck is as only as good as the match-ups you'll face, so what I usually do before a tournament is scope out who all is there. There's no guarantee that what I think they're playing is what they'll be playing, but going with some sort of odds is better than not. Bring side deck cards for specific match-ups/players, and build your side depending on who shows up, but still retain the concepts you've practiced when it comes to siding in and out. With enough practice you'll always have a sense of balance between under and over-siding even when you're constructing your side at the tournament. I guess this strategy could be considered kinda dirty, but if I know if there are no Spellbook players at the tournament, what's really the point of having the Puppet Plant-Horus side in my side? Basically none. Let's say I got dominated by Dark World last week and a third of the players were playing it so I have 3 Gemini Imps in my side. But this week none of them are here - naturally, no point in keeping them sided. If all the "top players" are playing Mermail, don't just sit there with nothing in your side for that match-up. But at the same time, don't dismiss the other 90% of the tournament and get beat by rogue because 80% of your side was committed for just 1 deck (which we know to avoid for reasons listed above).

Aside from the factor of luck, I believe if two players of equal skill with the same main deck play each other, the one who sides better and makes fewer mistakes should be the winner in the majority of cases. Sometimes we lose because we don't draw into any side, but that's just something that can happen with a game like this. Not drawing into side shouldn't be an excuse to validate over-siding though, because then when you get those hands where your whole hand is your side and not what your deck is naturally striving to do, you can lose just as easily, if not easier. If siding is something you don't practice at all, consider doing so if you'd like to do better at your locals. Not properly practicing and just bitching about the format instead is a cop-out and the lazy way of approaching the game, at least in my honest opinion.

On that note, I wanted to point out Danny's video on "the loser mentality" which I also feel strongly about. Many times I sit down and people are all ready to lose the match before it even began; I think being mentally pre-defeated can contribute to losses, at least to some certain extent. Go into it a winner, and either come out a winner, or do some sort of self-reflection (either on the match, a play mistake, an inferior main deck card choice, siding flaw, side choices, lack of ruling knowledge, etc) to help you improve your odds of being the winner next time.

Monday, July 29, 2013

September 2013 Ban List Discussion

I feel like I'm kind of late to the party in ban list discussion, usually I'm actually way early on it but for this format I just haven't felt the desire to go over it so early. Rather than presenting a formal "wish list" or "what I think they'll do" list, I just wanted to go over some of the things that have been happening in the game, upcoming product, and theory of how all that relates to the ban list. 

The first 3 months
The general feeling is that the ban list is derived from the results from events that occurred during the first 3 months of the game in the OCG. Whether this is true or not I have no real way of knowing, but logistically it makes sense as they need the appropriate amount of time for publication purposes of the Japanese V-Jump which contains the ban list. So any time I hear people say like "well the deck won Nats, that means it'll probably get hit" I just kinda roll my eyes because the ban list should already be well made by then. This is why in the past I tended to theorize about the ban list about halfway into the format. So looking through the first 3 months of deck lists on Shriek, clearly it is a lot of Spellbooks and Dragons, with some Evilswarm, Mermail, and Fire Fist peppered in. 

Judgment of the Light and Shadow Specter's influence
One of the problems assessing the future format is that it is hard to get an understanding of what could be utilized in the OCG from Judgment of the Light or Shadow Specters (which has been out for a week now). This is largely in part due to Dragons and Spellbooks' dominance, as neither deck is using stuff from those sets, even the Spellbook JD-esque monster from JOTL that people have been hyping. Master Key Beetle is used in Evilswarm, but other than that I really haven't see much hit the competitive game. This makes one question the impact the core set of JOTL will have. 

Out with the new, in with the old?
When we consider the format before LTGY, in OCG it was a lot of the aforementioned decks like Evilswarm, Mermail, and Fire Fist, which none of those decks got hit in the March list. At the time Mermail had a period of dominance both in the TCG and OCG; I remember a lot of people being quite surprised that nothing in the Water deck got hit in March, even though people should've known it was too new and more support was coming out for it and therefore it most likely wasn't going to get hit. So when we think about it, at the moment people are most concerned with Spellbooks and Dragons, just like people were most concerned about Mermails for the previous list. Going by this pattern you would think Mermails would get hit harder than Books or Drags, but this conflicts with the "first half dominance" theory. As far as I know Dragons aren't getting any more direct support, while Books still have their "JD" monster in JOTL (not sure about what else). This means that if they nerfed Books and Dragons and left everything else alone, theoretically the format would revert back to Swarm-Mermail-Fist since they were the top dogs prior (I know Swarm wasn't in TCG at the time, but comparing it to OCG is in essence the same now). Is the new stuff that's coming out better than Swarm-Mermail-Fist? Not from what I've been reading. Fire Fist are finally getting their Chicken, Wolfberk, and Vulcan the Devine, so that presents an argument that they won't hit that deck, but if it is untouched what happens beyond the release of JOTL, of which the Sneak is next weekend? All of the desired Fire Fist stuff will be released, and then they need to try and sell Shadow Specters and then Legacy of the Valiant. If people sit on their Fire Fist decks all throughout the September format, that's 2 sets that they don't need to put any money into. Is Konami going to let that fly? You wouldn't think so. I almost think all the Fire Fist stuff being dashed out right before the ban list is an indicator that it may actually get hit. People have also been sitting on decks like Dino Rabbit this format, which Laggia and Dolkka are still really great cards, but you would think Konami would do something so that people can't just keep sitting on these old decks that would still be completely viable in a format with no Dragons or Books. People love Rescue Rabbit but I wouldn't be surprised if it went to 1 or even 0 since that promotes all the old decks like Dino, Fire Fist, and Swarm. 

The tins
Everyone knows that each of the Dragons will be coming out in tins with Wave 1 being in August and Wave 2 being in November. People wanting the "Bigs" to go to 2 seem to forget this tough, as I'm sure Konami would want people to buy 3x of each tin instead of 2x of each. If Dragons got nerfed too hard, that inhibits the sales of tins unless the reprints were good enough to sell the product on its own. I mean I'm sure no one was really buying Zenmaister and Hanzo tins for the cover cards (well maybe Hanzo but still); if the reprints are good enough, the tins would sell even if the Bigs all theoretically went to 0. However leaving all the Bigs at 3 would help promote sales for the people that want to "bling" their decks by exchanging their Rare dragons for Secrets. I know that I'd personally want all mine Secret, but not if the deck is crap. 

Big Eye/Dracossack
People feel that Big Eye should be banned, and while I do agree that it is pretty damn good, one must also realize how hot of a card it is and the potential it has to sell product. Imagine, leaving Dragons as a relatively competitive deck, leaving Big Eye at 3, and releasing it in the November tins which conveniently is right before Christmas and 1 week before Black Friday? Hotcakes. People would be scooping those up just like they did the Hanzo tins. Now if Dragons is nerfed, Mermail is hit, Big Eye goes to 1, how sought after would Big Eye be? Not so much, and a great sales strategy completely wasted. Dracossack is in this boat as well; if "Rank 7" decks in general are hit too hard, how are they going to utilize a future Dracossack reprint to sell product? Who would want Dracossack if the decks that can go into it aren't any good anymore? Again they would have to be relying on reprints of "other" cards, when Dracossack itself would help push product if the "Rank 7" decks were left competitive (not to be confused with 'leaving as is'). 

Spellbooks is an interesting thought as it was a deck that always got the "rarity bump" treatment ever since REDU. Blue Douche, Priestess, Secrets, Master, Tower, and Judgment are all Ultra or Secret - you would think there would be some way to milk a mass reprint of these cards for those that always wanted to build the deck, but couldn't afford it, to do so, before they nerfed the deck. I've always felt that a Structure deck type of product that included 1 of each important Spellbook card minus 1 thing, let's say Judgment, would be a good product for people to get three of. Coupled with either a tin or a special edition for that 1 card they minused (Judgment in this example), would get people to buy that product to complete their "structure deck deck" which equals even more sales. You want to give people just enough for them to want more, if that makes sense.

Evilswarm has been around for quite some time now in OCG, and with everything finally being released in the TCG via HA07 and LTGY, and the only utilized future card for the deck being Master Key Beetle, I really think this deck is a high priority for Konami to dispose of. Ophion goes against everything Konami is trying to promote for the future which includes Synchros and the Blue Eyes deck. Naturally neither is a viable strategy with Ophion still running rampant. That deck isn't making Konami any money now and actually inhibits the potential sales for future product, it would be a deck people could still hold onto and remain competitive if left alone, which is why I'm fairly sure Ophion will get the limited treatment, and the deck may even experience more hits although I don't know in what way. 

I really think Konami has put themselves in a pickle for this list due to Tachyon itself. I'm sure they have some grand plan that will end up panning out for everyone in the end, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw the older era decks (Mermail, Fist, Swarm) get hit just as hard, if not harder, than the current era ones. This is simply because all those decks were left completely alone in the previous list, and them wanting to ensure stuff beyond JOTL in the TCG will sell, including product where sought-after reprints can be used to their utmost to help sales.

For those interested in an actual "wish/prediction" list, Danny has put up a video here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Skilled Player's Format?

Like I stated in my previous post, I am quite enjoying this format, much more than many others we've had in the recent past. Some like it, some hate it, that's really not the point as everyone will have differing views but I wanted to talk about why I am liking the game right now.

I remember not too long ago where formats were dominated by OTK (Chaos Dragon, Mermail), hand loops (Wind-Up), and we'll just say "utter lockdown" (Laggia + 4 backrow, Wind-Up Shock Lock). Somewhere in between all that would be Inzektors, which punished the opponent simply by playing cards. That deck, although it didn't dominate the TCG as much as the OCG, still completely warped the game as to what cards became playable and which didn't. Many of these decks' central strategies could create such an unfair game state that the di roll became a critical factor in deciding the outcome of a match. If your opponent went first, and you didn't open a Veiler for that Rabbit into Laggia, or Magician-Shark hand loop play, you were fucked and might as well go to game 2. I dunno, to me that feels more like playing that card game War rather than an intellectual game of Yugioh. Just flip your hand and see who wins. Fun stuff. 

Now I understand that some people actually like this version of the game. It requires little thought, they are generally cheaper formats, and basically anyone has a shot at winning. Yugioh should be a game where everyone can win and shouldn't be a stressful thing due to over-complexity right? Players that just picked up 3 Dragon's Collide structure decks and added a few staples could take out seasoned veterans of the game simply by opening Future Fusion, dumping the appropriate Light and Dark monsters, and special summon to their heart's content for the win. I know it wasn't so black-and-white, but everyone can admit that games/matches this format go much longer than in formats past. In any game, generally the longer it goes, the more opportunity there is for a player to make a mistake and thus the opponent to capitalize on. Chess is a good example of this, where the game in most circumstances is a grind and the player that is able to plan their moves ahead and capitalize on any mistakes should be the winner of the game. To me, this is what Yugioh should be about. Sure there will be those instances where you simply draw the nuts and win because of that, but that will always play a part in card games, especially TCG's like this one with no resource system. 

That is not to say this format is perfect though, as there are still unbalanced cards that can create similar lock-down strategies or overwhelming advantage. Jowgen, Spellbook of Judgment, Super Rejuv, Ophion, Dracossack, the list goes on and I'm sure everyone is very familiar with these cards by now. I can agree that Judgment and Rejuv are rather over the top, but are the other "top cards" of the format nearly as bad as what we've had in the past when you take into consideration the current card pool and all the hate cards that exist? Dracossack is very powerful and all but there is plenty of effect negation in the game now, and simple traps like Compulse, Bottomless, and Torrential deal with it just fine. In many match-ups I don't even believe Dracossack is all that good to go into, as a Veiler'd Draco can open you up to a Crimson Blader play, and if you make tokens against Spellbooks you are just asking to get Blue Douche + Power'd to help get their engine going. Players like to make blanket statements like "Dragons is all about Draco/Big Eye herp Super Rejuv derp" when I believe the deck is much more than that. It is like when people complained about Wind-Ups and Shock Master, but completely forget about when they lost to the simple grind and advantage game the deck provided. It was always just "oh I got Magician-Sharked" when sometimes that didn't even come up in two of the three games. Similarly, now it's always "he went into 2 Dracossack" or "that damn Big Eye". "Ban Big Eye!" Big Eye? You really think Big Eye is the problem?

Budget is always something that comes up in these types of formats and probably the biggest excuse players come up with when talking about how a format is bad. Much of the community regards Tele-DAD as one of the best formats in the game's history, but when you think about it it was probably the most expensive format as well. 3 DAD's and a CCV was basically $1000 right there, and while the economy is worse now than it was back then, how is it worse now than back then when the Dragon deck at it's peak was more like $800? During the Plant format, we had Tour Guides at $180 a piece. Pot of Duality used to be $130. Danny once brought up a good point that in a lot of cases if people sold their pet decks or cards or binders that contained a bunch of random stuff they never used, they would easily be able to afford at least a budget-ish version of the top decks that are out right now. Anyone with an internet connection and a spare hour or so can sell to one of the many vendors like CoreTCG. Of course it takes some effort, but when you're selling like $300-400 worth of cards in a single hour that's pretty damn good and well worth it. Even if you don't have an amazing binder, stuff adds up quick and you'd be surprised at how much Danny and I have ended up in relation to what was sold off. If your deck is just pure crap AND you're only able to total like $30 in vendor sales, well there becomes a point where you have to seriously evaluate your goals/aspirations in this game. I don't think people go to tournaments hoping to lose, but when you're in that kind of playability state, especially for this game, that is essentially what you're doing. I've seen people walk in to a tournament, buy the latest Starter deck or Premium Pack tin, when naturally there isn't a whole lot that is competitive in those things, and then complain about how expensive cards are. How does that make any sense? Save your money for a few weeks and afford those cards that are going to help your deck and win percentage in the long run. I know cracking packs is fun, but strive to crack open those packs from winnings, and not those that you got from raping your wallet.

For some reason, I believe there are players out there that just want to hate what is currently prominently winning for the sake of hating on something. When Mermail was the top deck, I remember a lot of people being like "oh blah Mermail, what a sacky piece of shit deck I hate that deck". And funny enough, some of the players that used to say this kinda stuff are actually running the deck now, have ran it and dropped it, or have considered picking it up. Same thing with Wind-Ups. What kind of sense does this make - does a deck have to drop down to tier 2 status for some players to consider playing it? People should do themselves the favor of keeping up with the format, rather than always playing one format behind. If you're going to play the deck anyway, why not play it at it's peak? Do yourself the favor of playing with the maximum possible win percentage instead of handicapping oneself all the time. Cuz I know once Dragons and Spellbooks aren't relevant anymore, that is when certain players are going to be picking it up. I don't need to delve further into this as Pat Hoban already wrote a stellar article on "the best deck" over on ARG.

One of the biggest indicators to me about this format favoring players with skill, is when you look at the results of who have been winning and topping events. There was a period of time where you'd get guys like Lazaro and Dale knocked out early in a tourney simply by being completely sacked in early rounds. Many of the top 32 would be "no-names" (I don't like that phrase, but you know what I mean) and someone might win the YCS and then never be heard of again. In this format, I think a lot of the more well-known players have been topping and our Nationals was a good indicator of this. Pat Hoban, although he has a lot of haters, I believe is one of the smartest people in the game right now. I remember seeing him barely miss the top cut in a lot of YCS's, and I think this format finally provided him with a format where skill played a much more prominent role than luck. I can't say for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that in the YCS's where he bubbled out, it was probably due to getting completely sacked in a previous round which ultimately led him to just going X-2 and not making it. Even in the local scene, and I don't mean to gloat, it has basically been me + a teammate splitting for 1st for the past several weeks. There is much less "sack factor" right now, which leads to players that have good underlying game fundamentals to win over those that don't. Now one can say "but you're playing Dragon's, of course you're going to win." That is a valid point but what about those matches where I'm staring down a Necrovalley, Mind Drain, some other hate card, and still winning and not because of Heavy Storm? That is called playing out of shit, which I've had to do a lot of with the Dragon deck. Real similar to Wind-Ups. That does not come solely from playing tier 1, that is years of experience and having a clear thought process in what needs to be done and how to play out of the situation at hand. Just because one plays with a tier 1 deck doesn't mean they play like a tier 1 player, as evident in some of the mirror matches I've played. I've had opponents go turn 1 Red Dragon Archfiend for no apparent reason (other than it's big I guess?), let me draw 4 from a Maxx C play and not OTK, continually let themselves open to get Crimson Blader'd, and the list goes on.

I guess it's a lot of rambling, but I honestly think this is one of the best formats we've seen. If it was the current format minus some amount of Super Rejuv and Judgment, it would probably be as perfect as it's gonna be. If OTK and sacking wins is your thing, then that's cool and all but any seriously competitive player could tell you that doesn't make for a healthy format or game. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Return

Hey everyone, my-oh-my it has been such a long time since I last posted, and I must say it has been way too long! First of all I wanted to apologize to everyone that read this blog for my continual decline of posts and eventual sudden departure to blogging. Admittedly for me it got to the point where blogging felt more like a job, rather than something I wanted to do as a thing where I just wanted to help the community, provide news and updates, banlist leaks, YCS decklists, that kinda thing. I felt a strong sense of self-induced writer's block because I didn't want to post just to post, and felt like I was really running out of things to say, especially toward the end of last format as the game had become rather stale. I also had to deal with a lot of personal issues in my life, including going to the ER as I went into organ failure due to being diabetic (obviously didn't know I was or had become one until it hit me), my father passing away, house landscaping projects, my dog having to get minor surgery done, and the regular stuff like school, work, on-the-side work, keeping up with the format, playing, etc. I think blogging just became my lowest priority and so I cut it, but I do feel bad I didn't even make a post saying I'd be going on hiatus. I guess I just didn't want to admit that I was going to do so, again I really apologize and hopefully I can regain the loyal readers I had but either way I'm intending to come back strong.

As for catching up with the local scene, well we've had a few new team members join and some have left, with a few potential people we may want to ask to join. I dunno I think it's a lower priority right now as a lot of our players are on the end-of-the-format break or their work schedules don't allow them to regularly play at the moment. Coupled with some people hating the format (though I personally love it), some people hating Team O, some people hating just to hate, our biggest tourney has come down a bit in attendance. We'll probably ride out this format as is and go hard once again when September hits. One of our members, Drew "The Boy Toy" Davis earned a top 8 spot with Mermails, I don't remember what month it was but it was Mermail format in Seattle when it was the Fire Fist mat. We're very proud of his accomplishment and he is yet another player that went from barely topping locals to topping a regional, with the guidance of Team O. Danny finished 9th at one of the Seattle regionals as well (Christ I'm bad with memory lol) though not at the same one, only losing to Jonathan Weigle and Harold (don't know his last name but he's fairly known in the northwest) who got very lucky with a top-decked Lightpulsar or something like that. This was when Wind-Up was still a deck. He also top 8'd a Magic Star City Qualifier (or whatever it's officially called), which is very impressive in his short Magic career. Roy Norman finished 13th with Dino Rabbit, this was at the most recent Seattle regional and also recently top 8'd a Magic PTQ. Unfortunately I haven't played in any premier events but I did get 1st at my first FNM after leaving the game for several years, I was stoked about that and even more stoked that they all knew I primarily played Yugioh and it was my first FNM back. Dat salt. I have recently left the game again and am awaiting rotation to occur and go from there. As someone that doesn't have an interest in Modern, I refuse to just hold onto cards that I know will just become worthless.

For the past few weeks I have started what I call the "Ruling Roundup" on our local YuGiOh Facebook group, I intend to start posting those on the blog as well. It's mostly to help clear up ruling issues that either come up regularly and go unresolved or people leave the tourney and aren't sure if they got the correct ruling or not on, stuff that came up during that week, or explanations of game mechanics that sometimes people aren't aware of or they come up so infrequently that people don't even think about it. I've always felt that one of the easier ways at getting better at the game is understanding some of the slightly more advanced rulings/card interactions in the game, which is what I strive for through the Ruling Roundup.

Recently Danny has started up his YouTube channel, PuertoRicanFace Mendoza, and this is probably one of the bigger reasons for me to get back into blogging. I'd like to produce content in tandem with the channel so we as a team have both a blog and a YouTube channel where consistent content is put out for people to enjoy. Danny has put in a lot of effort to put out meaningful content so please like, subscribe, comment, that whole jazz as I know as something as small as seeing 1 more subscriber or getting views can provide a lot of motivation to continually put out content. You can find interviews, matches, news announcements, local randomness, and the creature known as Shiggs, on the channel. Naturally it's still a learning process but when you start at the bottom you can only go up :) I'd also like to put out content from time to time just as he and others have posted articles on the blog. I did an impromptu video last night posting Pat Hoban's 1st place decklist which can be found here. I also tend to keep a sharp eye on product releases (like reprints), and these kinds of things will get posted asap on the channel, sometimes sooner than even the likes of Vexacus, CyberKnight, mkohl, etc, so again please check the channel out and subscribe. Sometimes that extra 30 minutes is all it takes in you being able to sell, or not sell, your card that's just about to get reprinted. Anyone that has read the blog before can attest to me putting out these kinds of things as soon as I see them, sometimes sooner than they reach the channels of the big-name YouTubers. Seeing content from multiple different team members who all have differing views on the game is important I believe since no two players are ever the exact same in their philosophies. Naturally one viewer/reader may be more inclined to have similar views as a different team member, so we're potentially reaching a larger target audience to a certain extent.

I'll probably post a separate post talking about the game specifically, but I have been playing Dragons this format and have loved and hated every minute of it all at the same time lol. I guess the thing I hate most is how I can draw into 2 Gold Sarc (of which I run 2) before ever drawing into one of the deck's 3 Super Rejuv's. Like mathematically that makes no sense at all but it happens fairly often sadly enough. This is why I think that even if Super Rejuv was banned, I honestly wouldn't even care that much as I win often enough without it. Who knows what next format will bring though but again all that will be talked about at a later time.

It's nice to be back, I have missed it, hopefully I can continue a consistent run once again!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Upcoming Format

Fortunately some of our locals have already switched to the new list a few weeks ago, even though that doesn't really matter anymore as of this post. I found it kinda funny when people were like "why is Sangan banned??" Um, cuz it only searches key monsters in a bunch of different decks? Even with T-King around, more often than not that critter was gonna get a search off in most cases. It's such an odd feeling being able to swing into a facedown and know that it's not gonna be Sangan! It's kinda nice to be honest.

While I was pretty disappointed by the initial reveal of the list, it was nothing unexpected. They have followed their general pattern of nerfing old decks and not touching new ones for the past several formats now. A lot of people wanted Dragoons to 1, but that would've been too big of a hit too soon in the existence of the Mermail deck. Speaking of Mermails, I gotta say I have enjoyed playing it a lot over the past week, but damn those side cards hurt, namely Soul Drain/D-Fiss/Macro. One thing I'm already tired of for this format is the rise of Six Sams at locals. While in most cases I feel that I can handle the average Sam player (since most aren't too good, at least around here) but there are still those instances that Gateway just outright wins the game for them. No matter how bad the player may be, if they have Gateway, a couple Sams, an Asceticism, they can simply derp a big field that'll OTK you next turn if you're not able to deal with it with the hand that you drew. It's retarded and I hate to imagine people sacking off with the miscellaneous combos that exist with the deck once HA07 comes out. Low probability or not, some players will definitely be getting it off more often than one normally would expect to. Leaving Gateway alone was a bad move in my opinion.

On the OCG side of things, it definitely looks like Spellbook has been making an impact, with Tachyon just being release over there like a week or two ago. I've been reading a lot on the forums that once May rolls around, the format will become "derped" and any slow-ish deck will just get out-paced by Spellbooks. I've seen the plus'ing that Judgment Day can do on it's own, and while mostly everyone dismisses the deck around my area, the rate of it topping in OCG is too high to simply ignore. There has usually always been a correlation of "what tops in OCG now will be what tops in TCG later". Of course exclusives play a pretty big role in that these days, but speaking in an "in general" case, I think this rule-of-thumb follows. I'm kinda confused on the whole "Dragunity topping" thing in OCG, but I guess we'll see how that whole thing pans out over the next few weeks.

As for my pet deck Wind-Ups, I went from "no hope" to "high hope" to "higher hope" then right back down to "no hope". I think it's something that I could still do well with at locals, but in terms of regionals and YCS, especially post-Tachyon, I just don't feel that relying on the grind game is the way to go. You have to figure, even with Mag-Shark derpiness last format, sometimes winning wasn't easy. Now that the derp has been taken out of Wind-Ups, for the most part, how could it consistently keep up with the decks that were already good but didn't get touched, and now have even more support? It just doesn't work. While I do still think that they are a good deck, it's not my nature to just settle for good. My main deck I always strive for it to be the best deck (with respect to my playstyle and preferences), and usually my second deck is within the top 4 decks of the meta. Below that, what's the point of having the deck built besides hoping to sell it?

Anyways, as with any crappy ban list, I try my best to make the most out of it and just adapt. At the moment I think any deck is beatable right now, just gotta hope you don't get sacked by Gateway/Card Destruction/etc. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tick Tock

Sold Wind-Ups, bought Mermail, don't like Mermail (for me,, now what to do. This is what I've been dealing with the past few days with the assumption that it was time to move on from Wind-Ups. I've also gotten to play some Magic using Danny's cards, and I must say it's quite fun. Using a mid-range deck definitely fits my style and the one Danny has built up fits perfectly for me. I'm still waiting on the next Standard event to see what cards I should be getting before I invest money into the game; I'd like to see what decks are currently good with the new set legal.

As far as ban lists go, so far I'm most inclined to think that the one with Goyo is the most realistic. My prediction on Rabbit and Factory both going to 1 and them doing a menial hit to Water (Diva to 1) all fits. Warning to 1 is kind of annoying but it's been a 2-of staple in any backrow deck ever since it went to 2. Time to make way for alternate backrow cards I suppose. The rest I won't delve too much into as I don't want to give my full opinions on a list that is by no means confirmed. Once a list with legit scans are up you can bet I'll post on it :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Small Updates, Regs in a week!

I think "busy" would be an understatement when it came to describing how I've been the past 2 weeks. Between school, work, wife, and the booming business that has become me and Danny, I really haven't had time for much lately. I can't even remember the last time I seriously playtested to be honest lol. Which is kinda bad in a sense since we have Seattle regs next weekend, but realistically the format is still fairly the same from what I have gathered from readings. The interest for Magic has once again piqued, but deciding which deck I'd like to pick up is rather difficult, especially with the new set coming out this weekend. It's refreshing but kind of annoying how the game seems to dramatically change after a set release in Magic; hefty investments must be made after all to start, and it'd be such a waste if a deck became obsolete just like that.

In a matter of a week I went from being excited about the ban list, to not really caring. The marketing tool the ban list has become is so transparent that one can basically guesstimate what will happen. Of course they won't hit new shit (too badly), stuff that's still good but is a year+ old will get hit, tier 2-ish decks won't be affected much, and random stuff will come off/on the list. Anything that might be limited/semi-'d and may be relevant in helping new decktypes, may go from 1 to 2, or 2 to 3. Again to help sales of the new decks.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Banlist; What should/needs to happen?

Even though we're just barely into the new year, I'm guessing in about 5 weeks we'll have leaks of the March ban list. Last year scans came out on my birthday, Feb 16, and they've been coming out around that time for the past few years now. As with every "leak season", I'm sure there'll be some fakes I fall for since it seems like people really invest time into Photoshop'ing good looking fakes. I can still remember the debacle that we had for our current list, with reputable guys like Cordero and CapitalG posting Youtube videos about the ones they'd find, only for them to end up being fake. I remember being very frustrated for like a week and a half straight lol.

So, what do I envision happening on the list?

First thing, the elephant in the room, Wind-Ups. Realistically what can they hit for Wind-Ups so that they are hurt but still remain competitive? Or, will they just not give a damn and try to nerf them outright? I feel that if the hits aren't too severe, they will still remain a viable deck. As a Wind-Up player of course I want it to stay a viable deck, but if it's no longer meant to be, I can very easily move on. Many thought Inzektors were dead in the water after the list was revealed, and I think I play against more Inzektors now than I did last format! Indeed, at the local scene, it feels like a re-hash of what we had last format; Dino Rabbit, Inzektors, Wind-Ups, Chaos Dragon, Samurai, etc. Many don't own Water due to Megalo's pricetag, even though it is falling from week to week. Madolche and Prophecy just didn't quite make it to "that" level, so those decks have gone by the wayside. I'm not sure what route they'll take in hitting Wind-Up, as there are many different ways to approach the beast, but I'll be optimistic (as possible) in trying to still make the deck work after March. But, if it's not meant to be (ie they use 2 hammers to hit the deck), it's not meant to be.

OCG side, it seems that Verz is quite the popular deck. Since Dino Rabbit is quite popular on our side, one hit that touches both decks is obviously Rescue Rabbit. As a deck that had its day as both an expensive deck and a budget deck, it feels that it's about "that time" the deck would be rotated out by the banlist. However I don't see them outright banning Rabbit, and simply putting it to 1 still allows both Verz and Dino Rabbit to be viable. So, this will be quite interesting to see how they approach the decks. Perhaps Rabbit and Laggia to 1? Of course, Rescue Cat is banned, so will its furry cousin see the same fate? Time will tell.

Newer decks like Water and Geargia, I don't imagine seeing any sort of hit. For water, the only real candidates are Undine, Salvage, and Diva. Undine seems like the most problematic card of the bunch since it nets so much advantage so easily, so perhaps it could be put to 1 or 2. At 2, the deck would still be really sick and I'd imagine it as the best deck of the early format especially if Wind-Up and Dinos get the hammer; not specifically Dinos, but what they represent, being a deck that is completely unhindered by the use of maindeck Macro Cosmos (Verz as well).

Inzektors present a very awkward scenario. They already "got nerfed", but clearly roaches can survive a nuclear bomb. What can they actually hit beyond this point? All I can see is Hornet to 0, but I don't see that happening at all. Centipede to 1 or 2, or Dragonfly to 0, just feels really excessive and I don't imagine them doing that either. Perhaps putting Call back to 1 is the needed fix? I don't know. If none of those happen, will Inzektors continue to present an underlying threat to the meta though if appropriate sidedeck considerations aren't made? Most likely so.

It's funny how just 1 additional Earth took Agents from seeing no play to topping YCS' (notably Simon He and Alistar Albans). A part of me feels that this deck gets kept in check simply with Evilswarm/Verz Ophion being a card though, which is probably why I haven't seen Agents top much in OCG decklists. They will probably leave Agents alone as well as Chaos Dragon, so a sigh of relief for you guys is fine, but do realize that Ophion hinders the whole concept of 'big boss monsters' all on his own.

Beyond that, we still have the BS cards that seem to dodge the bullet, list after list. Cards such as Reborn, Card Destruction, Gateway, Avarice, Rekindling, BLS, you know, those cards your opponent topdecks and you're just like "wow did you really just draw that?" At this point, I can't really hold my breath in seeing any of those cards hit/banned. Some people may be like "what's wrong with Rekindling? Lavals don't top. Neither do Sams so leave Gateway alone", but this is just such a poor way of looking at the game as a whole. Rekindling is basically a Return from the DD in spell form, with no LP cost! That is not OK to have 3 of those in a deck, especially when their graveyard-dump will be even quicker here pretty soon with HA07 (why is this not out yet?? -_-). I've seen Gateway completely change the tide of a duel, games that the Sam player had no business winning prior to simply drawing into Gateway.

Hopefully, just hopefully, Konami will "get it right" and we can finally see less sackiness in the game. I think they don't have a problem with "sacky" though, because that can simply be promoted as "heart of the cards" bs. "Anyone with the heart of the cards can win!" kinda stuff :/ I don't think there's anything else in this world that has this amount of bs associated with it, but is something that I still love.