Giving yourself the best odds. | The Irish Duelist

Giving yourself the best odds.

Morning Duelists, today I've got another article by John Patrick Boring (aka JPB or InfusionsCap). You may remember him from the Skill vs Luck article he put together last month and he's here again today with another article, take a look:

Hello again. I wanted to take some time today to sit down and talk about some things going on in the game right now. It's a fresh format, and as a result there is always a lot to do to "stay ahead of the curve" as we like to say. New decks need to be tested, old decks need to be updated, and all across the country there are regional tournaments taking place with many competitive players in attendance, looking to make an early mark on the format.

This time is also particularly exciting, because YCS Charlotte is less than two weeks away. Anyone who is serious about heading to Charlotte has their work cut out for them simply because of the new format and all the things that adjusting to such a radical B/R list entail. I wanted to take some time to go over some things that I have discovered over the years in regards to giving yourself the best odds to succeed.

When I say "give yourself the best odds" what I actually mean by that is setting yourself up to be successful in whatever the next event you are planning to go to is, be it a regional, or the YCS tournament in Charlotte, NC. There are a few bad habits I see and hear about constantly on the tournament scene, and want to address some of them today for the benefit of anyone who is just getting into the competitive scene in YGO. This will probably not be of much use to a seasoned veteran of tournament play, but if you are just breaking into this side of the game, or would just like a refresher course in general, take the time to read through this, it just might steer you in the right direction.

Nothing ever just starts off working great, you usually have to build from the ground up. Maybe you already know how to play and hit up your locals a lot, but you want more. You want to travel and be a serious competitor. Assuming that is what you want to do at this point, I will tell you the basic steps to getting ready to make the leap into tournament play. The first thing you need to do is decide what decks appeal to you. Maybe you like really fast, aggressive decks like X-Sabers or Fish. Or perhaps you prefer control strategies like Gladiator Beasts or Gravekeeper's. Either approach is fine, and that's all personal preference.

Then you need to figure out what to play in this build. That's where the internet comes in. There is a lot of information out there to help get you started, but more on that later. You also will want to consider getting a group of people together to test with. Maybe this will be a team you are on, or will join, or you may end up doing like what happened with me when I began to play competitively and form a team at that time, as the guys I was practicing with were also making that leap at the same time and we decided to do that together. Whatever ends up happening, just make sure you are getting the practice in, because on the most important things you can do when getting serious about competitive play is to...

I literally can't stress this enough. As boring as it can be to run the same matchups over and over, it's necessary. You can't learn as much as you might think from one or two sets against a deck, and you certainly can't learn as much from one or two sets against a deck as you could from ten to twelve sets against that deck. I know it can get frustrating to keep seeing the same decks over and over, especially if it is a matchup that you hate or are an underdog in, but that's just the nature of competitive TCG's.

This is not limited to Yu-Gi-Oh, any TCG you play (Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, etc.) will have decks that are clearly dominant because they are the strongest combination(s) of cards you can use based off the available card pool. That has how tier placement is evaluated, and how meta is formed. Early in a format like this it's tricky though. The meta is not clearly defined. There are several viable options for what could end up being the top tier decks of the format, but there is no large event to base it off of at this time. YCS Charlotte will be a proving ground for some of these decks. The best thing to do in an undefined meta is test a variety of decks, find something that matches up well against a lot of the other decks that are currently getting attention, make sure you are comfortable with that decision, know how to side deck properly for the matchups you can safely anticipate, and gather as much information as possible about decks and "tech cards" that are already getting attention. This brings me to the next piece of advice...

There is a plethora of information right in front of you. Duelist Groundz is an excellent place to gather information about this game. If you're still reading this, then you are obviously interested in improving your game and your habits as a duelist. The desire to do this is the first step. The next step is to act on those desires by seeking out as much information as you can regarding the current state of the meta.

There are many very skilled duelists on this site. It is usually easy to find out who they are. While automatically doing everything they say is not necessarily the correct approach to take, keep in mind that they got to the point they are at through hard work, dedication, and experience. Ultimately there is no substitute for experience, but a helping hand from someone with that prior knowledge can certainly accelerate your "journey to the top." So what am I saying? Veteran and Pro players are not perfect, but they do have a lot to offer and a lot to teach, so don't be too proud or too stubborn to take advice. We all have to start somewhere, and for many long time players of this game it's a very rewarding feeling to lend a hand to an up-and-coming duelist. Don't feel like you will be "annoying" or "getting on anyone's nerves," just ask questions. That is the point of a discussion forum after all.

With all the Deck Discussion forums right in front of you, you can get a rough idea of what's going on with other decks. Maybe you already picked up on how strong the deck is probably going to be, maybe you knew about the deck but didn't give it much credit, maybe it's a deck you have never even heard about before seeing it on DGZ. Take the time to read over the information about the different decks. DGZ is a fantastic site for getting better at this game, but I encourage everyone to look around the internet for other sites with good information as well. The more you know the better off you are when it comes crunch time.

Now, nobody is perfect when it comes to this one. I'm certainly not, and I'll be the first to admit that this is probably one of my weaker areas. I'm not terrible at it, but I would not feel comfortable trying to be the head judge at the next YCS or something. YGO is such a vast game with so many complex interactions of cards that I'm not even sure it would be possible for someone to know every ruling on every card. However, the more information you do have the better off you are going to be.

There are judges at every sanctioned tournament you go to. If you have a question, you need to make sure to ask them about it. Don't ask your opponent for a ruling. Your opponent is there to beat you, not to help you. Don't trust anything your opponent says in regards to a "ruling." I know it stinks to have to be so distrusting, but that's the nature of competition. Nobody likes to lose, and dishonest players will stop at nothing to make sure they come out on top. Don't be embarrassed to call a judge over for help, that's why they are there. Pro level players still need assistance from judges every now and then. It's perfectly acceptable to ask them for help.

No matter how much you think you know about a ruling though, NEVER ARGUE WITH A JUDGE! I can't stress that enough. Even if you are 100% sure you are correct about something, arguing with a judge will not help you at all. Respectfully asking to appeal a ruling to the head judge is fine, and everyone is encouraged to exercise the appeal process. Arguing with a judge is disrespectful, and will usually only get you banned, not only from that event, but possibly future events as well. Getting in a heated debate with a judge will most likely not change their mind, and you will never come out on top in that argument, so just don't do it.


There are still some things you need to take care of before the big day. The large majority of your preparation should already be out of the way, but some things still remain. Here is some brief advice for the night before the big tournament.

You need to make sure you know how you are getting to the event. If you are driving, get directions the night before. Don't wait until you get up that morning. If you are catching a ride with someone, make sure you have already arranged when and where they are picking you up. Don't wait until the morning of the event to call them and set this up. Set alarm(s) for the morning of the tournament. Oversleeping can cause you to miss the entire event, or get there late and have a loss in the first round of the tournament. Nothing sets the pace for a frantic, hectic day like being late from the start.

YGO tournaments are long. Most of the time there is no actual lunch break given. Usually you have to try and find a vending machine or whatever the venue has to offer between rounds. There is not always time for this. The best thing you can do for yourself is allow yourself a little extra time in the morning to eat some breakfast. Playing all day is mentally taxing enough already, and doing it on an empty stomach only magnifies the effect of it all.

This one is super important. I understand that you may be anxious, and it can be hard to fall asleep when this is going on. But trust me, going into the event with your mental gas tank already firmly placed on "E" is not the best solution. All the time at events I hear people say "We didn't sleep at all last night." Or, "I only slept an hour on the way down here." It's going to be a long day, and all the sleep you can get in is going to help you out a lot. You should have all the testing you need to do out of the way at least a day before the tournament. Other than a few hands before bed, there is no reason to stay up all night working on your deck. It's not going to be quality work as soon as you start to get tired, and you will ultimately just end up hurting yourself for the following day.

Make sure all your cards and sleeves are in good shape. Marked sleeves is a serious penalty if you are caught, whether it was intentional or not. If your sleeves are bent and "dinged" up, but new sleeves as soon as you get to the event. Don't ever play without sleeves. This damages your cards, and any markings on cards are usually more obvious and apparent than markings on sleeves. Don't get a penalty for something that is so easily prevented. Don't give judges or other players any reason to suspect that you are trying to cheat in the event.

  • 1. Practice makes perfect.
  • 2. Knowledge is power.
  • 3. Taking advice is a good thing.
  • 4. Know as many rulings as possible.
  • 5. Never argue with a judge.
  • 6. Plan ahead whenever you can.
  • 7. Sleep the night before a big event.
  • 8. Anticipate long days at big tournaments.
  • 9. Check the condition of your cards and sleeves.
  • 10. Give yourself good odds. Set yourself up to succeed, not to fail.

  • Hope this helps anybody who is looking to take the game a bit more seriously. Next week I'll be back with business as usual, and something that is a bit more suited for a more general audience.

    Until next time, play hard and play well!