The Gravekeeper/Samurai Paradox | The Irish Duelist

The Gravekeeper/Samurai Paradox

Michael Lux posted an interesting bit of theory/analysis on the current format over at DuelistGroundZ, something I think more people should take a look at:

We always want to build the most optimal build of every deck possible. This is generally determined by a number of things, card pool, the forbidden/restricted list, the current meta, etc. It's due to these things that certain strategies succeed or fail (for example, GBs maining Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror in the 2008 Nats format. X-1 going into the last round, why? Because Dark Armed was at 3 and seeing a distinct amount of play. A strategy like that would probably X-3 drop in 5 or 6 rounds at any given YCS now).

What I'm getting at is, certain deck building strategies and card choices are made based on the meta. The example I'm looking at specifically is "Do you run more of a given card, or less of that card and then add a tutor for that card instead". Example, in GKs, you have Commandants and Necrovalleys. It's been accepted that with 3 Duality, you can safely run 3 Commandant and 3 Necrovalley in a GK deck and not really worry about either clumping or not seeing either of them in your opening. Based on this information, you could potentially take out a Necrovalley if you DO find 3/3 is inconsistent, or you could even go as far as to add a Terraforming if you feel you aren't seeing them enough in your opening. You have that option, as a deckbuilder, based on the meta and the current card pool.

But you realize now that you would be very hard-pressed to exclude a Necrovalley, since it really is that important, and you don't want to run the risk of have two destroyed and not being able to access a 3rd copy. You also realize that opening with 2 Valley, a Terraforming, and a Commandant is complete ass, and you don't want to run that risk of opening that poorly. Each choice has it's pros and cons. And it takes extensive testing to determine which method is the most optimal for your build.

This brings me to my point, the paradox. This meta is quite different than any other meta we've ever seen. The die roll is a deciding factor now more so than ever before. Why? Because it's possible to cripple your opponent's setup before they even have the opportunity to have their first turn. As the GK player, you can open with Valley/Tribute and potentially discard your opponent's entire hand. As the Samurai player, you can open Shi En and a few backrows and have an incredibly firm grasp on your opponent's opening turn, with the following turn possibly bringing out another Shi En or a Barkion, depending on how well you opened. None of these plays are uncommon at all, and they are plays you WILL be faced with playing in any top level tournament.

The paradox is? One play cripples you due to the amount of monsters that you run, the other due to the amount of spells and traps you run. So for, say, the average duelist who is trying to optimize their build, there is no correct answer to. Example, in Sabers, based on the meta, you can either run 3 Fulhelmknight or 2 Fulhelmknight and a Reinforcement of the Army, pending on your build. In any other meta, the choice would easily be found through extensive testing to determine which is best. Sometimes you want the 3rd Fulhelmknight for certain matchups, sometimes you'd rather have the RotA for access to Pashuul and deck-thinning capabilities to increase your odds of drawing into your win conditions. If this were a Gladiator Beast meta, I'd tell you that 3 Fulhelm is optimal, because you run the risk of drawing into RotA with their Herk on board when a Fulhelm would've been a lot better. In a strict GK meta, I'd say 2 Fulhelm and Rota is optimal, because you don't want to run the risk of opening too many monsters and auto-losing to an early Royal Tribute. But both Shi En and Royal Tribute exist in this meta, en masse. You basically have to make a judgment call and hope your matchups throughout the tournament are favorable.

Granted, a lot of this can be fixed by a really good sideboard, but that's besides the point. We now play in a meta where you can't make an optimal build based on our meta, the meta conflicts too greatly. It's far worse than your basic meta RPS, like what we had last format. While one may criticize that such an insignificant decision won't affect your deck THAT greatly, it really does. Every card choice is of ridiculous importance, and for someone like me striving to build an optimal deck at every crossroads based on my testing, it distresses me to think that so much of my tournament results are based on things I have no control over, such as my dice rolling and my tournament matchups. Oh well, that's my two cents on my stresses of the meta. What do you think can be done about this? Not to fix the problem from a "ban this" perspective, since that's just a cop out. From a "through testing, I've found that X works best for X reason" point of view, to potentially determine a "best deck" or "best build of X deck" based on our findings.