December 2009 | The Irish Duelist

"Game 2" (a work in progress)


As some of you may know, I'm currently in my final year of study at Limerick School of Art & Design, doing a Degree in Sculpture & Combined Media. For the past year or so my work's been based around games, and my first video "GameFace 9" was exhibited last April.

Here's what I'm working on at the moment. What I'm trying to do with this is to take the language and lexicon on Yu-Gi-Oh! from it's natural setting (the game) and place it out there in the wider domain. This is done by deconstructing the game so that only the words remain. What I'm hoping is that somebody who has no knowledge or awareness of Yu-Gi-Oh! will see this and go "hmm.. this is interesting. I wonder what they're doing, it seems to be a card game of sorts". I got that reaction with "GameFace 9" and I'm hoping that when this work is complete, I'll get a similar response.

Any feedback you may have is most appreciated, so feel free to leave a comment.

Recent SJC Deck Spread & Diversity


Kevin Tewart has posted up an article on Konami's official strategy site today, showing the spread of decks on show at recent SJCs, and it certainly makes for interesting reading, and should dispel some myths that "there's more than 50% Deck X at any event".

Check it out here.

"Whenever you compete in a major tournament (like a regional championship or SHONEN JUMP Championship) you fill out a Deck list. Ever wonder what happens to those Deck lists after the event? Answer: they get sent to us for analysis!

One of the big things we do here at KDE is take a hard look at all the Deck lists from each event. We’re especially interested in the ‘spread’ of what Deck types everyone is playing. This gives us a good idea of what Decks are popular, what kinds of themes people want more cards for, and gives us warning of when something might be dominating the scene, so we can bring it into line using the Forbidden & Limited Cards List.

Here’s a list of Deck spreads from the last 4 SHONEN JUMP Championships. To save space, we’ll list the Top 5 most popular Decks, and then lump everything else into ‘Other’. (If you’re not sure what some of these mean, see the Deck Glossary section at the bottom of this article.)

Deck Diversity
One thing we keep striving for is a diverse tournament format, where as many Decks as possible are competitive. This makes it more fun for everyone, in two ways. The more Decks are competitive, the more freedom you have to bring the Deck you want to a tournament. It’s not as much fun when you feel like you “have to” play with a certain Deck because it’s stronger. If the Deck you want to play is also the Deck you should play, then you’ll have more fun. Also, it’s more fun to go to a tournament and play against a lot of different Deck types. Playing against the same Deck over and over again isn’t as much fun.

We’ve been seeing a lot of Deck diversity in 2009. No single Deck has made up more than 25% of the Decks at a major event. Also, we aren’t seeing a situation where the same Deck is the most popular one at every event.

The ‘Bandwagon Effect’ Threat
The ‘bandwagon effect’ can be a big threat to Deck diversity. That’s when one Deck is considered so powerful that you don’t have any chance of winning unless you play that one Deck. So you feel like you have to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ and switch to the same Deck as everybody else.

The bandwagon effect is really dangerous because it can be self-fulfilling. The more people jump on the bandwagon and play the same Deck, the bigger the odds are that this Deck wins more and more tournaments, just because more people are playing it. If 99 people show up to a 100-player tournament with the same Deck, that Deck’s probably going to win.

The threat of the bandwagon effect is also a big factor when deciding whether to Forbid or Limit certain cards. Let’s take Lightsworn as an example. Suppose that “Honest,” “Charge of the Light Brigade,” and “Judgment Dragon” were all Forbidden starting tomorrow, making it so Lightsworn isn’t as strong as it is now. Right now, somewhere between 10% and 20% of the players use a Lightsworn Deck, depending on where you go.

All those players will probably switch to a different Deck in this imaginary situation. Let’s say Imaginary Lightsworn Player #1 turns to his friend and says, “Hey, we need to change our Decks. What do we do?” And then Imaginary Lightsworn Player #2 says, “I dunno. Hey, Blackwings look pretty good. They’ve been winning some tournaments. Let’s try that.”

Now repeat this conversation tens of thousands of times. If all of those Lightsworn players jump on the Blackwing bandwagon, suddenly every tournament is 35% to 40% Blackwing Decks. Blackwing Decks start winning more and more tournaments, just because there are more of them. Then the people playing Zombies and Chaos take a look and think, “Wow, those Blackwing Decks are really cleaning up. Maybe I should try it, too.” Pretty soon we have over half the Decks being Blackwing Decks. Then 60%. Then 75%. Now almost all the Decks that are winning are Blackwing Decks, and everybody else decides they have to follow along.

Hey, wait a second… where did our Deck diversity go?

Fortunately, there’s no indication of any bandwagon effect currently in place. At the last 3 events, since the September 1 Forbidden & Limited Cards List, the amount of ‘other’ Decks (meaning, not one of the Top 5) has been stable at around 40%.

Whenever a new Forbidden & Limited Cards List is introduced, people usually expect to see a lot of different Decks, as players try new things. But as the tournament season moves forward, some people expect that more players will shift to the successful Decks, and stop experimenting.

That isn’t happening, though. The amount of players using the most common Decks is staying the same, and the number of people trying different things continues to be very high. Maybe this is because of the exciting new cards we’ve seen released, like in Hidden Arsenal and Stardust Overdrive. Maybe it’s because more and more people are coming to big tournaments that haven’t been before, and they’re bringing fresh new ideas with them.

Whatever the case, we’ll keep an eye on the Deck lists as they come in. Including yours!

Deck Glossary
With so many strategies, cards, and Deck construction possibilities, labeling a Deck can be difficult. Here are the main Deck types discussed in this article, and how we define them.

Blackwings – Pretty straightforward, a Blackwing Deck consists mostly of Blackwing monsters. Blackwing monsters can also be included in other Decks, including Chaos, Twilight, TeleDAD, and Lightsworn. We define a Blackwing Deck as a Deck using almost entirely Blackwing monsters plus the “Black Whirlwind” Spell Card.

Black Salvo – A Deck that focuses around cards that are individually useful, without relying on too many combos. “Black Salvo” is a key card of this Deck, for easy access to Level 7 Synchro Monsters.

Chaos – A Chaos Deck combines DARK and LIGHT monsters to gain access to powerful cards like “Chaos Sorcerer.” A Chaos Deck that uses Lightsworn monsters for its LIGHT component is classified as a Twilight Deck.

Gladiator Beasts – Gladiator Beast Decks focus on the Gladiator Beast monster group, first introduced in Gladiator’s Assault.

Lightsworn – A pure Lightsworn Deck focuses on the Lightsworn monster group, introduced in Light of Destruction, and does not include many monsters from other groups, other than “Necro Gardna,” “Honest,” and “Plaguespreader Zombie,” which are included due to game mechanics synergy.

Synchro Cat – This Deck revolves around super-fast Synchro Summons. Key cards are “X-Saber Airbellum,” “Rescue Cat,” and “Summoner Monk.”

TeleDAD – Short for “Emergency Teleport” / “Dark Armed Dragon,” the TeleDAD Deck focuses on fast Synchro Summons backed up by “Dark Armed Dragon” and other DARK monsters. Usually includes lots of DARK monsters plus Psychic Tuners with “Emergency Teleport.”

Twilight – Defined as a Deck that is mostly Lightsworn monsters but also includes either “Chaos Sorcerer” or “Dark Armed Dragon.” Including either of these cards indicates enough of a shift in strategy and Deck construction to merit a separate category from a pure Lightsworn Deck, or an old-fashioned Chaos Deck, although it borrows principles from both.

Zombies – Identifying a Zombie Deck can be tricky, since monsters like “Mezuki” and “Plaguespreader Zombie” are used in many kinds of Decks. Usually we classify a Deck as a Zombie Deck if it includes “Mezuki,” “Goblin Zombie,” and “Zombie Master.” A Zombie Deck can include as few as 5 or 6 different Zombie-Type Monster Cards, especially variants like Destiny Heroes + Zombies, which can contain more Destiny Hero monsters than Zombie-Type monsters, so we classify those Decks separately from straightforward Zombie Decks."

Metagame Archive : Inflection Point Play


Here's a very worthwhile article that all competitive players should read up on, taken from the archives.

You can read the original version by Ryan Murphy here.

According to professional poker players (including the renowned Dan Harrington), understanding the theory of inflection points is the most important step to elevating yourself to the position of a great player. It is an absolute necessity to change your game depending on the circumstances which are set before you. Just like in poker, Yu-Gi-Oh! has classes of players with varying degrees of aggressive and conservative play habits. Normally, conservative play is deemed to be the more "correct" way to play, and those players are granted the most respect. Yet aggressive players are more numerous, and normally end up at the top of the bracket. However, there are a select few players who fully understand the necessity of varying their play depending on the exact state of the duel.

An inflection point is simply a point in the game where your play must change. At the beginning of a duel, conservative play is more rewarded. Players such as Augustin Herrera and Carlo Perez come to mind (possibly because, for me, they were the first symbols of conservative play). They use as few cards as possible early in the game and bait their opponent into playing his or her hand, then wiping out a ton of cards in the mid to late game. However, when testing with them or playing for fun, if early card advantage is lost, they’ll often scoop up their cards and simply move on to the next game. Among the most well-known aggressive players are Paul Levitin and Emon Ghaneian, looking to push their opponents into a corner from which they cannot fight back early in the game.

Both of these play styles are correct—as proven by all four of these players winning Shonen Jump Championships—yet I would like to be so bold (and, mind you, I realize just how bold it is of me to do so: yet for argument’s sake, forgive me) as to criticize their play styles slightly by laying the groundwork for the theory of inflection points within the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG.

There are several ways to categorize the steps of a Yu-Gi-Oh! duel. Often, we refer to the opening, early, mid, and late game as the four stages of a duel. However, these are time-based steps which may change according to each situation. They are too loose, and so I will (and always have) rely on life points to judge which state the game is in. We’ll call 6000+ the green zone, 4000-6000 the yellow zone, 2000-4000 the orange zone, 800-2000 the red zone, and 0-800 the death zone (catchy, don’t you think?). Strangely, I think many players already recognize these stages of the game subconsciously. They’ll grimace when realizing they’ve dropped below 4000, but they aren’t too worried. They’re still confident when above 6000, and we all know just how limited game play becomes when we drop to 800 or below. However, I wish to go in depth with the fundamental power a player’s life point status has over his or her actions, and how one should adjust his or her play style accordingly.

The Green Zone
This is, obviously, the most beautiful part of the game. Assuming you aren’t playing against a deck using Cyber-Stein (hurray for the Forbidden list!) or a Demise One Turn KO deck (hurray for . . . instant death), you aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. This is where players fight for superior game position. Control over the field is important here, but only as an indirect way of generating more options than your opponent. Should your opponent suddenly squeeze through a lot of damage really fast, you aren’t in too much trouble. Generally speaking, you can risk sudden vast life point loss if it means destroying your opponent’s cards and turning the tide of the game against an opponent with nothing.

This is the point in the game when using cards like Mirror Force, Heavy Storm and Torrential Tribute should only be done if it results in big strategic turns. You want to destroy at least two cards with each of these, giving you one more threat than your opponent can deal with when the game shoots to later stages. While gaining one card over your opponent may seem insignificant while in the green zone (and it usually is—having six cards while your opponent has five isn’t much of an advantage), as the game progresses and becomes simplified, maintaining that extra card could mean winning the duel (suddenly, your opponent has no cards and you have one, just enough to create a threat that can’t be stopped).

The green zone is where conservative players thrive, and rightly so. Here, every player should consider use of cards to be a difficult decision. If your opponent has Breaker the Magical Warrior or Elemental Hero Stratos and you have Cyber Dragon and Smashing Ground, just save that spell card and trample your opponent for 500 life points. While some currently accepted theories equates a card to 2000 life points (a theory which I am about to argue slightly against), use of the Smashing Ground will only deal an additional 1600. It’s a bad play and not worth dropping your opponent into only the yellow zone, where security is still a commodity he or she has.

Here’s where things get interesting, albeit a bit more in depth. This is where understanding inflection points will really pay off and make game play decisions easier (and we all like our decisions to be easy, don’t we?). I propose that each card is worth a specific amount of life points, which changes when you move from one inflection point to another.

Basically, your cards are worth a lot more when life points are plentiful. Here, however, you’ll be taking into account your opponent’s current inflection point, not your own. Your cards are basically worth a percentage of your opponent’s life points. Personally, I’ve found that each card, if used correctly, should be worth about one-third of your opponent’s life points. At the beginning of the game, that’s more than 2000 life points. You shouldn’t give up a card you don’t have to unless it will cost your opponent one-third of his or her life points. If your opponent is at 8000, that means you’ll need to drop him about 2700 life points to make the expenditure worth it.

The Yellow Zone
The yellow zone, as you may remember, is the point at which your life points have dropped to between 4000 and 6000. You’ve just taken a direct attack from a Monarch, you’ve had a Mirror Force you weren’t willing to use on a flipped Dekoichi or Stratos, or your opponent has bombed his or her hand in an attempt to put pressure on you. Either way, your play style is about to change slightly. Your rock-hard conservative play needs to loosen—now your focus starts to shift from gaining cards to applying enough pressure on your opponent to force him or her down the chain with you. Remember, you may be feeling the heat of the dropping zones, but so will your opponent. At this point, your rock-solid play has either afforded you some extra cards over your opponent, your hand was bad and your opponent took a quick lead, or your opponent is (as opponents sometimes will be) simply outplaying you and was more conservative during the green zone. All of these situations are winnable as long as you adjust your play.

First of all, should you get your opponent into the yellow zone with you, your cards are only worth about 2000 life points (perhaps a little less). However, you haven’t given up on conserving cards just yet. It’s the easiest way to win a game, and we’ve only dropped past one inflection point. Here, you are playing conservative, but attempting to maintain a strong field position. You shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice a card too easily, but it is an option (doing this now may lose you the game, but it is sometimes necessary if you are about to be dealt 3000 damage—remember, your life points are also worth about 2000 for every card!).

The yellow zone is where field position becomes key and begins to really start putting you ahead. Say you’ve just played Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch and your opponent destroys him with Sakuretsu Armor or (even better) Mirror Force. The opponent can’t drop that many life points, yet you’ve just put him or her in a position in which that player has to act to compete for field presence. If you were unable to outplay your opponent while in the green zone, this is really going to pay off. If you were, and this move is just increasing your lead, it’s probably going to be a short game.

The Orange Zone
The orange zone is when you’ve dropped to between 2000 and 4000 life points. The pressure is on, and it’s on now. At the lower stages of the orange zone, a single Zaborg or Raiza can wreck you. You shouldn’t reach this point of the game yourself, but if you have, you may have gotten there in a few ways: you’ve overextended early and are being punished (the worst situation, in which you will probably lose if your opponent isn’t in the orange, red or dead zone with you), you simply had a terrible hand and your opponent had a great one (it’s Yu-Gi-Oh! and it happens, but almost all hands right themselves eventually) or you’ve been overly conservative in the yellow zone and your opponent has taken control of the field.

While most of these indicate mistakes in your play style, I’ll be the first to admit that you are going to draw bad hands (just remember that your opponents do as well). It’s more constructive to simply assume you’ve made a blunder somewhere along the line and are being punished for it: this way, you might even learn something from the experience. I would like to note here that a single mistake in a game should make you lose—try to find it and learn from the experience.

Your focus now shifts to control over the field, because it isn’t about playing for benefits later in the game. This is the point in the duel you were trying to prepare for during the early stages. This is where one or two extra cards over your opponent will probably mean a victory. You will now (and as a naturally conservative player, I hate to say it) disregard card presence and simply focus on defeating your opponent. It doesn’t matter who has more cards (except indirectly), so never be discouraged. Assuming your opponent is also in the orange zone, your cards are only worth 1000-1500 life points. Here, you’ll have to rely heavily on reads to figure out whether losing a card is it or not. You want to put pressure on your opponent, but if it doesn’t finish him or her, and the opponent can stop your one shot, you will probably lose. This is the most delicate dance in the game and it’ll take the knowledge of conservative play but the bravery of aggressive play to pull you through.

The Red Zone
This is, most often, the final zone a game will find itself in. Also, it is rare for both players to find themselves here at the same time. Normally, someone dug his or her heels in during the yellow and orange zone and maintained control over the field. If you find yourself here, alone or not, you have to realize one thing: your only chance of winning is aggressive play. You’re going to have to take a lot of chances. If that means praying that your opponent can’t play either of the two remaining cards in his or her hand, it may be the correct move. Here, reads are going to be incredibly useful. If you were able (during the yellow and orange zone) to figure out what cards were in your opponent’s hand, you are going to be paid tenfold for your efforts.

Remember, a card is only worth about 500 life points from someone in the red. Whether you are there or your opponent is there, that’s all you need to justify your move. Dropping someone into the dead zone, even if it means leaving yourself open for a shot that could bring you to the red zone, is worth a card. With each inflection point, a player is under more and more pressure. This is how the life-point-to-card ratio is justified: it’s based on inflection points as well!

Bottom line for play in the red zone: aggressive, aggressive, and aggressive.

The Dead Zone
It’s rare for a game to actually drop to the dead zone: normally players lose from the red zone and skip this step. However, it happens. Not only does it happen, but winning games from this position isn’t impossible. As a matter of fact, if you adjust your play style accordingly, it isn’t even that remarkable!

Here, you’re going to need to make people’s ears bleed with how aggressive you are playing. The only thing in your sights is your opponent’s life points, regardless of how many he or she has. Here, cards are worth no percentage of life points. There is no justification necessary except survival. If you are in the dead zone, you need to eliminate your opponent as fast as possible with absolute reckless abandon. If that means summoning a monster that, should your opponent have a Cyber Dragon or Monarch would be trampled for game, you should be doing it. You need to keep your opponent from drawing cards, because he or she probably only needs one to defeat you. However, most players over-estimate the number of cards in an opponent’s hand during the late game that are playable. Normally, an opponent who has put a player into the dead zone was forced to do so at great expense. If you have the cards to finish him or her and defend your monsters in the span of two turns, I’d actually put this game on a coin flip.

Implied Inflection Point Plays
The final thought is a flaw I’ve seen in this theory, which can easily be fixed with the notion of what I like to call "implied inflection point plays." This is a situation I find myself in often (because my deck of choice is most often Gadgets). Assume, for instance, you have Solemn Judgment and your opponent only has three cards total. Also assume you have five total cards other than the Solemn (not an uncommon situation for a Gadget deck). You and your opponent have 8000 life points, but no one has a monster (the opponent played Mirror Force on your two Gadgets). Your opponent plays Destiny Draw, discarding Destiny Hero - Malicious. If you activate your Solemn, you will be paying 4000 life points (at this point, bringing you from green to orange) but putting your opponent in a difficult position. Should you activate the Solemn?

Not only is this situation not uncommon, it’s a decision I have to make almost every match. Solemn Judgment is perhaps the greatest and most difficult card in the game to play correctly. Naturally, it’s one of my favorites.

Unless I have a perfect read that tells me the other card in my opponent’s hand is playable, I will activate the Solemn Judgment and sacrifice two complete inflection points. Why? Because the inflection point rewards are implied.

The following turn, I’ll be dropping my opponent by at least half an inflection point. Almost regardless of what the opponent draws, it’ll be useless. Either it won’t be playable or I will stop it with my monster removal. The following turn, my opponent will be dropped into the orange with me. Now we are even, but I have way more options and complete control over the field. At this point, I am an extreme favorite to win the match.

Remember to take into account the implied earnings of your decisions, not just the direct ones. I hope (and am confident that) an understanding of inflection points in Yu-Gi-Oh! will help you improve your game. Whether you’ve won four Shonen Jump Championships or you haven’t won your local tournament yet, a complete understanding of something you’ve only known subconsciously (or not at all) will help improve your consistency as a player. Good luck, have fun, and remember to keep expanding your game.

—Ryan Murphy

Ender's Game : Heavy Storm


Alex Hayes, a player I've seen develop from an inexperienced casual to one who's done really well in 2009 (topped most of the big Irish events, and did well at the European Championships in Lille as well), has recently started up his own blog aimed towards the more competitive player. Here's his most recent article, taking a look at Heavy Storm, which can also be found in its original form here.

Heavy Storm is a staple. Period. It is one of the most powerful cards in any players arsenal, and it is a shame, because more often than not this exceptional card is often misused in the most ridiculous ways.

It is astonishing how often this vital card is misunderstood. If you are looking for some way to gain a quick plus over you opponent in card advantage terms then Heavy Storm is by no means the card to do it with. The amount of times I've see players waste Heavy Storm on their first turn to facilitate something as trivial as a Charge of the Light Brigade (and the obvious Lumina/Garoth play that follows) is incredible, and in a deck such as Lightsworn that needs as much means of clearing obstacles for game as possible it’s a cardinal sin.

If you play your Heavy Storm too early then that drastically alters the pace and flow of the game from then on, and you effectively hand your opponent the win, depending on their draws. The logical response to a Heavy Storm (mis)play (providing you survive your opponent’s turn) is to simply set every single trap and defensive spell (Book of Moon etc) you draw from that point onwards. This turns the duel into an uphill battle for your opponent, as it should, they should be punished for such behaviour.

The only time you should ever play Heavy Storm is if you can guarantee game (backed up by Solemn Judment to forestall any Threatening Roars etc for example) or game winning advantage/setups – Storm followed by something ridiculous (Stardust Dragon/Royal Oppression/Solemn Judgment/Book of Moon comes to mind). There is a reason that Heavy Storm is at one. But is there a reason it shouldn’t be?

Heavy Storm is a necessary evil. It preserves one of the few truly skilful aspects of the game. Consider, lets say hypothetically that Storm is banned, the logical course of action now becomes to simply set every card you draw without fear, much as you do now once your opponent’s Storm is played. There’s no risk, and ultimately no reward. The only real downside to its existence is the silly excuse that it 'causes one turn kills'. Considering cards like Giant Trunade and Cold Wave 'cause OTKs' in the same manner of Heavy Storm, without the tremendous benefit of the skill factor Heavy Storm maintains this is a pretty weak claim.

The mere existence of Heavy Storm forces players to be careful with their backrows, to perform a thoughtful, considered, dance of balance; if they set too many and over extend then a potential Heavy Storm could ruin them, if they set too little then their lack of defence may lose them the game. Elegant plays such as bluffing and baiting your opponent into destroying non-essential face down cards so that your important ones are free from destruction no longer apply.

Canadian legend Matt Peddle wrote a pretty decent beginner introduction to the intricacies being discussed here over at Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Strategy Site and it’s worth a look.

Heavy Storm is most certainly deserving of it’s current placed on the banlist, and to move it anywhere else would either be madness or chaos.

Limerick Winter Special - Top 8 Decklists

What Should I Keep In My Side Deck?

Before I post up my recent Konami article, just 2 quick shoutouts:

First to Alex Hayes, who's set up his own blog:
Second to Dr. Nick, who's also set one up:

Good reading to be had there, and I hope they keep up the good work.

Now, back to today's article:

Learning how to use your Side Deck can decide whether you win or lose at a tournament.

Side Deck basics are easy. You can have up to 15 cards in your Side Deck. After you finish the first Duel in a Match, you can take cards out of your Deck (Main Deck or Extra Deck) and swap them with cards in your Side Deck. At this point, you know what kind of Deck you’re playing against. So you can use your Side Deck to fix up your Deck in the middle of the Match, and put in cards that work best against your opponent’s Deck.

Here are some strong cards to keep in your Side Deck for use against some of the most common theme Decks you’ll see these days.

Side Decking vs. Gladiator Beasts
“Mirror of Oaths” is a card from Raging Battle that is very strong against Gladiator Beasts. When your opponent Special Summons a monster from their Deck, you can activate “Mirror of Oaths” to destroy that monster, plus you get to draw a card! Gladiator Beasts are all about tagging monsters in and out of the Deck, so “Mirror of Oaths” can stop their combos dead in their tracks.

Another good tactic is to stop a Gladiator Beast player from using any of their monster effects. “Skill Drain” negates the effects of every monster card on the field, so it’s another great candidate to use against Gladiator Beasts.

Side Decking vs. Blackwings
“Bottomless Trap Hole” is a great card to use against lots of Decks. But even if you don’t use it in your Main Deck, consider using 2 copies in your Side Deck to use against Blackwings. Blackwing Decks rely on “Black Whirlwind” to search for more Blackwings from their Deck. But if you can destroy a Blackwing when it’s Summoned (using your “Bottomless Trap Hole,” for example), your opponent won’t get to search for another Blackwing with “Black Whirlwind.”

“Black Whirlwind” also won’t work if the Blackwing monster is flipped face-down when it’s Summoned, so you could also try “Book of Moon” to keep “Black Whirlwind” from working. Most Blackwing monsters have very low Defense Points too, so you should be able to destroy them in battle with your own monsters.

Even if you can’t stop “Black Whirlwind,” you can still stop your opponent’s Special Summons with “Royal Oppression.” Blackwing Duelists can Special Summon 2 or 3 monsters in one turn, but you can stop all that with “Royal Oppression,” so they’ll just have their 1 Normal Summon each turn.

You can also try “Summon Limit,” which stops players from Summoning more than 2 monsters per turn. Blackwing Decks can use their Normal Summon and Special Summon to set up a Tuner and a non-Tuner in the same turn. But if “Summon Limit” is on the field, they won’t be able to Synchro Summon that turn, too.

General Side Deck Cards
There are many cards that work well against multiple Decks:

“Lightning Vortex” is good against Decks that Special Summon lots of monsters, like Blackwings, Lightsworn, and Zombies.

“Royal Decree” and “Jinzo” are great if your opponent plays a lot of Trap Cards.

“Dimensional Fissure” and “Banisher of the Radiance” can beat Graveyard-based Decks.

There’s a card out there to beat every other card, and using your Side Deck gives you access to the cards you need. Sometimes your Side Deck can get you out of Matches that seem impossible to win, so don’t be afraid to use it. Try out lots of different cards in your Side Deck and see what works best for you.

You can read this article and more on Konami's official strategy site.

Stardust Overdrive: Explosive Magician

For a long time, “Goyo Guardian” was probably the most popular Level 6 Synchro Monster. Until the recent release of “Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier,” once Duelists had used up their “Goyo Guardian,” there wasn’t much else to Synchro Summon at the Level 6 mark. The exception to this was Spellcaster Duelists. They’ve been lucky to have “Tempest Magician” in addition to “Goyo Guardian,” and now they get one more in Stardust Overdrive, the brand new “Explosive Magician”!

“Explosive Magician” isn’t a Synchro Monster that everyone can use. Your non-Tuner monster for the Synchro Summon has to be a Spellcaster. Spellcaster Decks will have plenty of Spellcasters, though, and with the right strategy, they can make the most of “Explosive Magician’s” effect.

Combining “Foolish Burial” with “Magical Exemplar” is a very quick way to Summon “Explosive Magician.” First you Summon “Magical Exemplar.” Then you play “Foolish Burial” to send “Night’s End Sorcerer” from your Deck to the Graveyard. This gives “Magical Exemplar” 2 Spell Counters, so you can use those with “Magical Exemplar’s” effect to Special Summon “Night’s End Sorcerer.” Since it’s a Tuner, you can now Synchro Summon “Explosive Magician.”

You could also use “Magical Exemplar” to get Spell Counters for “Explosive Magician’s” effect. Every time a Spell Card is played, your Exemplar gets 2 Spell Counters . “Explosive Magician” can use 2 Spell Counters from any card you control to destroy one of your opponent’s Spells or Traps. With these two monsters, every time you play a Spell Card, you can destroy one of your opponent’s Spells or Traps for free! The great thing about this is that “Magical Exemplar” gets Spell Counters when your opponent plays Spell Cards, too.

“Magical Citadel of Endymion” is another great card to use with “Explosive Magician.” Every time a Spell Card is activated, the Magical Citadel gains a Spell Counter. If you combine it with “Magical Exemplar,” you can get a lot of Spell Counters really fast. You can use “Explosive Magician’s” effect more than once each turn, so if you have enough Spell Counters, you can destroy all of your opponent’s Spells and Traps!

Don’t forget that “Explosive Magician” is still a strong monster on its own with 2500 ATK. And it’s a LIGHT monster, so you can use “Honest” to boost it even higher. But it’s the effect of “Explosive Magician” that really sets it apart, and gives Spellcaster Duelists a great reason to use their Extra Decks.

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