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 Modern Deck Building Fundamentals Part 1: The Main Deck

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PostSubject: Modern Deck Building Fundamentals Part 1: The Main Deck   Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:56 am

Modern Deck Building Fundamentals Part 1:
The Main Deck

Sup companions, today we are going to learn how to become better deckbuilders. Patrick Hoban himself said that deckbuilding is the single most important area of the game and while I have to disagree (even though deckbuilding is where I excel at by far), I must say that his statement is true to some extent. Good deckbuilding can make in-game skills less relevant or almost irrelevant for that matter. When done correctly, it gives you an unfair advantage over your opponent, it makes (using a chess analogy as an example) so you have 3 Queens to his 1, or in the case of a great meta call, a full chess board against his King. You can and will defeat people who are more skilled than you, just because you have the better deck.

This three-part series will cover the Main,Side and Extra Deck respectively. It will give you insight into the basic thought process when approaching a deck and discuss all the essentials. One important thing before we get started: The advice that I give you will seem to be awfully generic. That's because I haven't focused on solely one archetype, my rules can be applied to any deck in the Advanced Format! The spoilers show how I put the theory into practice.

Let's jump right into building a main deck:

Pick a theme and win condition

A deck without a theme is like a ship without a compass. One cannot just throw some cards together and play them randomly without purpose. Every competitive deck should have a win condition, because the purpose of the deck is winning, right? Decks beat you differently: Satellarknights beat you by slowly outgrinding you, Shaddolls generate a ton of advantage and throw floating Fusions on the table, et cetera. You see, the release of theme decks made deckbuilding a lot easier in that regard. You just pick every good card of a certain archetype, put in the staples and voila, you have a playable deck. Don't be fooled though: Just because we have a premade card pool, doesn't mean that there aren't various versions of one deck available. Madolche before Duelist Alliance was first a balls to the wall aggressive combo deck , then developed into more of a grind deck. Shaddolls come in many shapes and forms: Dragon Shaddoll, Lightsworn Shaddoll, Thunder Dragon Shaddoll, some mix of those three or even another crazy variant. Hybrids between Shaddoll, Burning Abyss and Satellarknights are entirely possible. So don't assume those things. Have an image of a winning scenario in your head before you start building the deck, then build the deck around said scenario. Just remember, that the cardpool, the format and your deck's win condition can and will change over time. It's not as easy as it sounds, even for experienced players.

The best deck

If you are a beginning competitive player and your primary goal is to do well at the next tournament you enter, it is highly advisable to play the perceived best deck of the format. The best deck already has proven itself in competition after competition, it has the best matchups across the board.  Since the deck established itself, it is much easier to build and more rewarding to play as opposed to other choices. It is the perfect tool to develop your playing skills. Opinions on the existence of playstyles differ and so do card and deck choices. This is not your business in the beginning. Right now, you have to familiarize yourself with the meta and the provided cardpool. You have to find out which strategies are better than others, which cards are valuable or useless. This is impossible to find out if you use a losing deck and keep scrubbing match after match.

It is not skillful to play something inferior. It is not skillful to blame your losses on your poor deck choice, then when it wins, you obviously have exceeded everyone's expections. It creates a ceiling for you and prevents you from getting better. It is not wise to bring a knife to a gun fight. It's stupid and dangerous. Same goes for deck building. It is not wise to bring a Tier 3 deck to  a YCS. You will get murdered, in the YGO sense.

Just by picking the best deck you already have a huge advantage over the field. "But what about your in-game skills? The better player should always win!" Well breaking news for you buddy: Skill hardly matters if your deck is trash. If I use Shaddoll against Billy Brake's Gladiator Beast Blackwings, I will win most matches. Point blank. Save meta calls and rogue decks for later, when you are more experienced, when you've seen some success. Applying this rule to this format means exactly one thing for a beginner: Play Shaddoll

80 % Success Rate

Your deck has to be built with an 80% rate of success in mind. Why's that? A large tournament like a YCS usually consists of 12 rounds, 11 of which must be passed to top the event. Topping means going at least 9-2, so your deck should win at least 4 out of 5 games to be considered tournament worthy. The way I see it, the very basis of YGO consists of 3 factors: Luck, Deck Building and Skill. By picking the best deck, as well as following the rules of this guide you should hopefully have the deck building part covered. Your in-game skill can be developed through lots of playtesting, reading articles, playing tournaments,etc. That leaves us with luck, which out of your control. There is no deck with a 100 % success rate, because luck and in-game skills are involved. Your job is to make sure that your deckbuilding and skills win you 80% of your games. Otherwise you set yourself up for failure if you plan to enter a tournament. For advanced players this means: Don't pick a rogue deck that wins many games against the best deck, but loses to anything else.


40 Card Limit

Keeping your deck at 40 strenghtens your deck's ability to draw what you need when you need it. Just running 1 card more, 41, throws off the percentage by a minimal amount and that minimal amount might be enough to catapult you out of the tournament. Nothing is more frustrating than to lose by finding out that your next card would have saved you, but
you didn't get a chance to see it. Be very strict with this, not 42, not 41, not 40,5 , exactly 40. In which kind of deck will you more likely see your 3 copies of Soul Charge, a 60 card one or a 40 card one? It's a simple concept.


3 ofs

Running a full playset of a card means that the card is vital to your deck, you want to see it as much as possible. The card is also either good in any stage of the game, early, mid, or late game and even when you're losing,(Tour Guide, Deneb) or the card is just to good not to play at 3. (Stellarnova Alpha, Shaddoll Fusion) Running lots of 3 ofs greatly increases your deck's consistency, you will see the same hands over and over. 3 ofs clog, so you will see 2 copies of a certain card quite often. Thus, cards that you don't wanna see in multiples shouldn't be run at 3. Probability of opening one copy of a 3 of: ~39%


2 ofs

2 ofs are the support cards of your deck. You want to see the card every once in a while, but you want to avoid seeing multiples, although it can happen. (but rarely) The card is good in most situations, but not so great in others. For example, I opt to main only 2 MSTs, just because I don't wanna see multiples. MST is good for sniping Emptiness, but if I wanted to get rid of other traps, most of which are chainable this format, I'd rather run Wiretap or Trap Stun. Probability of opening one copy of a 2 of: ~28%


1 ofs

1 ofs are powerful cards that are only useful in certain situations. You never want to see multiples, that's why you use only 1 copy. (Shaddoll Falco's flip effect is very slow, it has to be run though, just because the second effect is useful and Falco is the only tuner of the Archetype) Using a lot of 1 ofs decreases the deck's consistency, but increases it's variety. It gives your deck the ability to be less predictable and adapt to a variety of situations. Tech cards also fall into this category, since they are only useful in specific situations against certain matchups. Probability of opening a 1 of: 15 %


Don't be stuck in one realm and always try to improve your game. I'm a serial 3 of user for example, because I love consistency and my decks look smooth and beautiful on paper. Gallade on the other hand likes to play one of techs and weirder ratios. It is until after a lot of testing and losing that I finally threw my stubbornness away and realized that 2 ofs and 1 ofs are sometimes better than my favorite ratio. Some decks look good on paper, but are garbage in reality and the other way round. Just because it looks ugly, doesn't mean that it doesn't work.
(different deckbuilding styles might be a topic for another article)

What about Staples?

Yes, I mentioned staples above. No, I don't think they exist. In this day and age, the game changes too abruptly and drastically to consider any card a "staple". Every set release brings new strategies, the banned list changes 4 times a year. Yugioh is a lot harder in this respect than in the past, where absolutely every deck ran Raigeki and Harpie's Feather Duster. Staples are just very good cards, until a better replacement for those cards is found. I've seen Shaddolls top without running Shadow Games. Torrential Tribute was considered a staple until Duelist Alliance hit, now it's nowhere near as useful as before, just because it is ineffective against the numerous floaters of this format. Through lots of playtesting and research, it is your job to find out which cards are more useful than others. And then, all of a sudden, everything can change just because a new deck entered the scene. You have to be very adaptable and always be one step ahead, which is a big big plus of today's YGO.


The 8/40 rule

The 8/40 rule suggests that every 5 cards of a 40 card deck should have 1 opening play.(a 40 card deck can be divided into 8 piles of 5 cards, hence 8/40 rule) Going against this rule will tremendously affect your deck's consistency, your opening hands will be unplayable every once in a while and you will lose single games because of that. On the surface, Satellarknights seem to go against this rule, because they only use 3 Deneb and 3 Unukalhai as viable opening plays (and maybe Vega if that even counts) However, they play 2 copies of Reinforcement of the Army and 3 copies of each of Pot of Duality and Upstart Goblin to dig into those cards, so they are fine. I saw a Batteryman deck some time ago and all the dude used as openers where 3 Micro-Cell and 3 9-Volt. No Artifact engine or something else. He will autolose games just because of that.  Never put less than 8 opening plays into your deck and if you do make sure you can get to them on a reliable basis.


Keeping track of your normal summons

Pay attention to your normal summon count. Because you can only conduct one normal summon per turn, every additional one is a -1 sitting in your hand for this turn. It differs from deck to deck and I can't really give you an exact number here. Through playtesting you have to find out which number of normal summons gives you the most live hands in a match. Don't over-theorize this, Satellarknights use normal summons differently than Burning Abyss. One thing I'd like to add is that it is sometimes ok to draw more than one normal summon, depending on your deck you might be out of plays for a few turns , if your initial summon gets stopped. A couple of turns is more than enough for your opponent to take over the game.


Cutting down cute and situational cards

Don't use cards that are only effective  in one special scenario, but suck in every other situation. This is violated by many players who want to win in an exciting manner. Yes, we want to win in a dominating fashion, but we want to win consistently , so these choices don't fit our agenda. Using combo cards decreases your decks consistency by a bit, but make sure that those combo cards aren't sitting ducks 99% of the time and can also be used in other situations.  A good example for this is Shaddoll Core: It's only good if you have Shaddoll Fusion, either to summon Construct or to send it via Construct's effect to retrieve Fusion. Otherwise it completely sucks.

Win more cards also fall into this category. A win more card is a card that makes good hands better and bad hands worse. Let's take a look at Short Circuit: It has a devastating blow-your-opponent's-field-up effect, but requires 3 Batterymen on board. If you already went off in Batteryman, Short Circuit is just icing on the cake. If on the other hand you drew a couple of Chargers and Fuel Cells, Circuit worsens the situation even more. Unless there is a consistent way to make the card playable, it should not be used.

Cut all that from your deck, it's unnecessary.


The Upstart Theory

The Upstart theory implies that every deck should run 3 copies of Upstart Goblin. I previously mentioned that you should run 40 cards, because the minimum is best and you will see your needed cards more often. Using Upstart Goblin takes this a step further, it's shrinks the deck's size from 40 to 37. Upstart Goblin isn't a card, it's your next card. 37 is mathematically always better than 40. You also have the added bonus of seeing your side deck cards faster in games 2 and 3. Essentially, Upstart Goblin breaks normal deckbuilding rules. What you do with this rule is up to you and depends on your deck choice. There are other factors involved like giving your opponent life points for Soul Charge, milling via Dante and the Lightsworn monsters, so Upstart Goblin doesn't matter, or your deck revolving around an OTK. Would I recommend this theory to a beginner? Absolutely. A beginner should cut the 3 worst cards of his deck and replace them with Upstart Goblin.

Auto-Wins/Balance consistency and power

An Auto-Win is a certain combination of cards that when drawn and played out uninterruptedly, wins you the game. Any competitive deck should have this feature, because it will (slightly) increase your win percantage. Instead of having to interact every single game, you will just win randomly because your drew your combos. It is true that consistency is a vital part of deck building. But consistency isn't everything.  If consistency was everything, Fire Fist or Satellarknight would be the best decks, because they play the most standalone cards. A deck without powerful combinations or automatic win conditions is a fair deck. Fair decks have to work hard for every win and don't randomly win games. While this seems to be a good thing, fair decks will have a disadvantage against unfair decks, who are a bit less consistent but have the ability to just nut on you and win right there, because they drew X combination of cards. Fair decks only have the advantage, if they can cripple the unfair deck's consistency or if every other deck in the format is fair, too, so auto-wins don't matter anyway. Don't be afraid to make your deck more inconsistent by adding combo cards, as long it doesn't affect your win rate.


Basic consistency test

Divide your 40 card deck into 8 piles , each pile consists of 5 cards. Those piles resemble your opening hands and should have a playable combination of cards in them and those who don't should be good to go in a couple of turns. Remember, not every hand can be playable all the time, but most should be. This method can also be used to apply the 8/40 rule.


The whole deckbuilding process in one spoiler:


That's it. Those are the deckbuilding basics. Master them first before you move on to your own crazy ideas. If you are a beginner, go ahead and take the above advice literally. It will greatly help you. Anyways,I hope you enjoyed this and I explained everything well enough.

The next part will revolve around side decking, so stay tuned for more!
See Y'all. Wink


Scorpion67: im so gangovered !!! im  starting to hate alchoool

Last edited by gutsberserk on Mon Sep 29, 2014 6:49 pm; edited 9 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Modern Deck Building Fundamentals Part 1: The Main Deck   Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:07 am

that's a very nice guide guts, thanks alot !


Credit goes to SD (iMina) Very Happy
Credit for avy goes to Alice_k
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Modern Deck Building Fundamentals Part 1: The Main Deck
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