Yu-Gi-Oh! Theory: Stages of the Game | The Irish Duelist

Yu-Gi-Oh! Theory: Stages of the Game

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Yu-Gi-Oh! Theory: Stages of the Game
by MasterSimon

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a much different animal than a card game like Magic: the Gathering. The lack of a resource system makes the game more fluid. You can play many of your cards easily, without relying on mana, energy, or action points. Yet, like Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! still has well defined stages of play, with distinct strategies and goals in each.

There are three different stages, sometimes referred to as early game, mid-game, and late game. Each player doesn’t have to be in the same stage of play, one player can be in a higher stage than the other. Players can even be knocked down a stage. The player at the higher stage has an advantage.

Stage 1: Gathering Resources
In this portion of the game, your deck can’t really do what it is trying to do. Instead you are busy gathering your resources and putting them in places they are most useful. This is the portion of the game where card velocity is important. You are attempting to get to the cards that make your deck work. Using cards like Reinforcement of the Army, Pot of Duality, and even Foolish Burial, help you set your plan in motion. These cards also thin your deck, allowing you to hit more useful cards during your remaining draw phases.

The speed at which a deck can leave Stage 1 may tell you how aggressive the deck is. In Stage 1, the aggro deck already wants to start committing threats to the board. They are not necessarily waiting for a single turn to OTK you; instead they are trying to hit you early and often. Some aggressive decks may even have the power to set up an OTK very early and easily. Six Samuai for instance can go from Stage 1 to Stage 3 in a single turn thanks to Gateway of the Six, Six Samurai United, Shien's Smoke Signal, Legendary Six Samurai – Kageki, Legendary Six Samurai – Kizan, etc.

The midrange, and control decks are using this Stage to keep their opponent off their game, while acquiring the resources they need for their game ending set ups. This is when a midrange deck like Gravekeeper’s wants to use Necrovalley and Royal Tribute to generate massive card advantage. More control oriented decks, like Plant Synchro are using cards like Ryko, the Lightsworn Hunter to simultaneously get their relevant pieces to the graveyard, while prevent their opponent from exerting too much pressure. Monarchs will be using One for One, Foolish Burial, and Soul Exchange to set up their cards, and keep their opponent without any.

Every deck has a Stage 1. When building your deck you need to ask yourself what cards you should be using. This all really depends on the individual deck type. Ask yourself, “What is my deck trying to accomplish?” The answer may help you decide what cards and opening moves are best suited for your deck. Make sure you have a well established early game and game plan so you can make each move with a sense of purpose and certainty that it is the best one you can make for achieving your goal. Figure out if you are going to be throwing down threats form the get-go, or will need to sit behind some disrupting while you try to set up.

Stage 2: Positioning
This is where the action happens. In Stage 2 the duelists are battling it out to gain position and supremacy over the board. Similar to chess, the two players are attempting to put themselves in a position to win the game.

The aggro deck has already set up its field by this point, and is simply trying to protect its investments while it bashing the opponent in the face (assuming they did not already bash said face in). This means using removal to get ride of the road blocks, and disruption cards like Solemn Warning to prevent the opponent from mounting a counter-attack. To go back to the example of Six Samurai decks, Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En and Musakani Magatama are great cards for keeping your cards safe. X-Sabers can sit behind Naturia Beast and/or Naturia Barkion, if they missed an early game XX-Saber Gottoms. While control decks use disruption and removal as a means to keep their opponent from killing them early, aggro decks use it as a means to keep their opponent from throwing them off.

At this point the midrange deck is attempting to set up their field for victory. Much like the aggro deck in Stage 1, the midrange deck is committing its threats to the field in an attempt to defeat the opponent. Gravekeeper’s use the opening they got from their Royal Tribute to start amassing their army of 2000 ATK power beatsticks with little fear of retribution form a crippled opponent. At this point they have also switched to using their disruption for the sake of protection, because they want to win before the control deck can reach Stage 3.

During stage 2, control decks are still trying to push the game a little longer. Their win conditions are bigger, and harder to summon, so they need more time to prepare. During this stage they are seeking to gain inevitability. This is where cards that allow them to gain card advantage help them the most. During this stage a control deck like Plant Synchro maybe using Black Rose Dragon to help reset the field, gain card advantage, and push the aggro and midrange decks back down to Stage 1. Pot of Avarice also comes in handy for putting useful cards back into your deck and extra deck, and getting a little bit of card advantage. Here, Monarchs are using Treeborn Frog, or some other tribute engine to allow them to gain incremental card advantage over the opponent.

Again, good decks require a strategy. Making sure you can identify when you are in Stage 2, and what you should be doing during Sage 2 is important. This is the Stage where there is the most interaction between players. This is where the game is won or lost because of the high chance to make mistakes and get outplayed. If you are running the aggro deck, have cards that will protect you in this stage, and allow you to keep pushing the pressure. If you are the midrange deck, you need to figure out how you are going to win the game in this section. If you are the control deck, you need to figure out how you are going to gain card advantage, and inevitability.

Stage 3: The End Game
At this point in the game, your resources are fairly depleted, and your plans have been unfurled. The only thing left to do is win.

For an aggro deck to be in this position, your opponent must have had to stall the game up pretty well. The control deck's trump cards are pretty powerful, so you cannot simply rely on drawing a beatstick to win. This is where you need a trump card of your own. For Six Samurai decks, that card is Double-Edged Sword Technique, and for X-Sabers that card is Gottoms' Emergency Call. These cards allow the decks to give one last push to go over the top before their opponent can. Some aggro decks may not be lucky enough to have a trump card.

Midrange is pretty much trying to do what Aggro decks were doing in Stage 2. Finish up the game quickly before the opponent can use their trumps. Unfortunately there are not many cards for a midrange deck to rely on. The goal was to have already established card advantage, so you should be in the clear. Gravekeeper’s decks don’t really run any trump cards, but Royal Tribute is already a beating, and Necrovally keeps many decks from going trough with their own plans.

Control decks finally get to play their win conditions. After gathering resources, gaining card advantage, and jocking for position, the control deck finishes off the opponent with a haymaker. There is little worry of retaliation as you have already established inevitability; the only thing to do now is finish them. Plant Sychro does this by using Debris Dragon, Glow-Up Bulb, Spore, Plaguespreader Zombie, etc. to summoning up multiple powerful Synchro monsters in a single turn. It has additional trumps in the forum of Chaos Sorcerer, or any of the revival cards like Monarchs have Light and Darkness Dragon and Fishborg Blaster with Treebornfrog for Formula Synchron that can also summon more Synchro monsters. They can also simply attack with their Monarchs once they have established control. It is important to have multiple win conditions.

In Stage 3 Trump cards are key. When designing your deck, if you are the Aggro or Midrange deck, this is where you’re going to want to include a backup plan, just in case Plan A falls trough. This plan must be one that can be executed with few resources. If you are the control deck, stacking up multiple win conditions is the key here. Make sure they are not something meager either. The win conditions of a control deck must be substantial otherwise you run the risk of letting your opponent get back in the game.

I’m sure many people may already understand these theories, or have at least some notions about them. The trick is using them. You shouldn’t just understand what it is you are trying to do, but what your opponent is trying to do. This will give you the best plan for outplaying the opponent, and overcoming their deck.