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Art of Dueling
v. II (In Development)
December 26, 2007
Table of Contents
I. From the Writer
III. Testing the Waters
a. Learn the Environment
b. Know your Objective!
IV. Stand first, then walk – The Art of Field Control
a. Take First!
b. Think Cautiously
c. Call in Reinforcements!
d. Aside from hand, conserve EVERYTHING
e. Reverse these for the enemy!
V. Stand first, then walk – The Art of Mind Control
a. False Expressions
b. Setup, or not?
c. Playing oddball
VI. The Concept of “Support”
a. Developing a Solid Army
b. Concept of “Deck Connection”
c. Card Fat
d. Card Fast
VII. Deck Predevelopment
a. Central Idea
b. Supporting Cards
c. Ways of Finding Supporting Cards
i. Unorthodox Methods
ii. The Common Way
VIII. Deck Development
a. Deck Ratio
b. Following Regulation
c. Sewing everything together!
IX. Deck Redevelopment
X. More Examples of Deck Developments
XI. D.P. Theory
XII. Duelist Tips
XIII. Words to Card Developers
a. About these new cards, and making the game better
b. Game Restrictions need some tuning up
XIV. My Personal Decks
From the Writer
For the years I have played this game, I must say, what an adventure. For those who are just starting, or for those who desire to become strong in this card game or other games that involve conflict and war, I have written this document for your education, and for your adventure.
I started dueling the summer the card game of Duel Monsters released in America; from then to about spring of 2004, I competed in tournaments every single weekend, and I abusively dueled online and offline with both friends and enemies.
There’s so many people I wish to thank, but listing their names would be very time consuming – but you know who you are – the ones who dueled with me, talked game with me, and experienced this venture with me throughout all these years.
I learned so much from then to now – I remember when I first competed in this game … I was terrible! It took many years of trial and error to learn the reason why I was terrible, and how to never be terrible again. I hope I transform your thoughts on this game … or at least, give you an idea that you can take and make your own.
Good luck whoever you are.
When one loses so many times, they either do two things: quit, or find a way to stop losing. Luckily for you readers, I took the route of trying to find the ways to quit losing. Now, one reason I lost was because my decks weren’t exactly … competitively normal. The first deck I ever ran was the beginner Kaiba deck that released along with Yugi’s – which got me into playing Seto’s cards for years till the banning age. I ran a deck that revolved around the 4 spirits: Fire, Earth, Air, Water (you should’ve saw my face when the next set released, with actual spirits). I ran FINAL, I ran a Muka Muka deck, and I ran a lot of other weird crap.
Anyways, the point is – I tried to play big tournaments with them. I faired well, and even won some, but against some of the big dogs, they just didn’t stand up – and I wanted them to stand up. I have so many old notes of devising ways to make those decks work – and one of them came initially from the fact that a lot of cards are very similar to each other, in ways that may not exactly be as obvious to some.
The pictures … there’s a lot of similarities.
So I started matching up stuff like this, and I found my deck working slightly better – it was as if everything was connecting more to each other. So, eventually I went beyond, and began matching things like card descriptions, ATK/DEFs, attributes, etc. I questioned everything to the ground, found out what worked, what didn’t … and I continuously praised the ideas to individuals who agreed with me, and helped me test the ideas with deck ideas, and against competitive tournament players.
You’re going to learn what has been learned and taught for so many hours a day, and for so many years. It took till late 2003 / early 2004 for the truth to be realized … the real secrets behind building the deck, and playing this game.
Grab a deck, get something to relax yourself – a hot drink perhaps – and use this guide to forever change your perspective of this game, and building a deck.
I know we don’t know each other, but all you can do is agree or disagree! All concepts are supported – if more support needs to be made, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will consider it for v. 3!
Testing the Waters
Learn the Environment
In battle, it’s great to know your environment. Without knowledge of the environment, you walk into a war zone of compete mystery, which is quite dangerous, may you agree?
This rule goes pretty far – we will connect it to the card game of Duel Monsters. Get your rule book, and get to studying. Go to tournaments, and help judge. Question things as much as possible – know this game like the back of your hand. Knowing the environment – the rules -- can save your life in a duel.
Study, study, study!
… In fact, don’t even read the rest of this till you know all the rules as natural as being able to count to 10.
Know your Objective!
Before you head out to war, you should surely know why you’re going to war in the first place.
Your overall objective is: to defeat your opponent. You are given many ways to win in this game, but for your sakes … think of the fastest and safest route. In real war, would you rather have everyone alive and the problem taken care of, or – having your men represent lifepoints – would you like making sacrifices to getting the win? Just like in war, sometimes sacrifices have to be made – but the less, the merrier. In this game, safest means coming out of battle without damage, and without much, or any, loss of resources (cards, lifepoints, etc.).
The best method of winning I see
is bringing your opponent’s lifepoints to 0, instead
of the other ways (Exodia, FINAL, Final Countdown, deckout,
etc.), which could take who knows how long due to so many
variables existing – a lot of them, sadly, being random.
Stand First, Then Walk -- The Art of Field Control
Also before you head out into battle … make sure you know how to battle. The individual who has field control will be dominate, and will have the better chance of winning. The ideal goal is to always have control over the field, and if things begin to get bumpy, you’ll have reinforced back-up to get you out of trouble (that’s another thing your hand is for).
When two duelists shake hands, and the duel begins … we have the problem of knowing who goes first. There are many ways to decide this: coins, dice, an agreement of some sort … but whoever goes first gets the field first. Some may believe it doesn’t matter who goes first, but to their dismay, it does. The individual initially gets control of the field, and if their hold is strong enough, they may be able to continue that hold throughout the game.
Anything can happen – this is not only a game of skill, but it is also a huge game of probability. You can never be arrogant with your motives … stay cautious, and when you make decisions, ALWAYS ask “what if …”
Call in Reinforcements!
Always keep cards in your hand – especially cards that can save you if things go wrong. Never go arrogant and throw down all of your good cards at once, unless you are 100% sure nothing can cause them to be destroyed or misactivated.
If you continuously find yourself low at hand (2 cards or less continuously), then you need to reevaluate your deck, and find out what is causing your hand to be destroyed so quick and easy.
Aside from hand, conserve EVERYTHING
Your lifepoints, your monsters, your support cards – you want them to be alive as long as possible. The more men that die in battle, the greater the odds of losing become. You know what happens when the entire army (deck) dies … you’re done.
Here are some tips:
Reverse these for the Enemy!
1. Make your opponent go SECOND, instead of going first, if you ever have the option.
2. Try to use the tips from “The Art of Mind Control” to cause your opponent to think arrogantly instead of cautiously.
3. Having a good back-up hand is good for you, and your opponent having one is also good for them – don’t let them build-up. The longer the game stalls, the more cards they get, and the higher the odds of them winning become. Keep them at the border to make them play cards to save themselves from losing – hence why the “fastest” route to winning is handy.
4. Don’t let their cards live, unless they really aren’t worth the effort to destroy. Make them waste all of their resources – the more they conserve, the tougher things may get.
Stand First, Then Walk -- The Art of Mind Control
This game is more than just physical – it is also mental. There are no rules that say you can’t use your mouth in this game – use it wisely, and converse with your opponent, because it is an effective tool that can aid you in gaining field control, and the game entirely.
Ever seen someone – or maybe this someone was you – who drew an ugly hand, and openly admitted it? How did the opponent react? Sometimes, the opponent may take that account in their heads, and act a little bit more aggressive – knowing that your cards, at the time, may not be powerful enough to stop their onslaught.
Imagine this same scene happening, except the drawn hand wasn’t actually ugly. The duelist who said the hand was ugly was lying, and the opponent believed it enough to still act aggressive with their moves – the duelist laughs at the opponent’s arrogance with a few counters that changes the whole course of the rest of the game.
Here are some tips for “False Expressions” – use some of them, or try making up your own!
Make your opponent feel as if they have the upper-hand by telling them – verbally or by facial expressions – how bad (read: good), your hand is! If they don’t fall for it, that’s okay, but if they do, prepare yourself and flip over the rug right under their feet!
Here we have the exact opposite – if your hand is bad, grin about it and pretend like it’s really going to make the game yours. Really express how powerful your hand is, and set your cards like they’re ALL mirror forces.
Typically, this may get your opponent to waste strong support destroying cards such as: Heavy Storm, or Mystical Space Typhoon. It may also potentially make your opponent cautious enough to not even make an attack – it all depends on how you play it out, and if they really care or not. Careless or not, it’s worth a shot – any psychological attack is better than none at all!
What do I mean by this? Well, ladies and gentlemen, and namely ladies, sometimes you may duel someone of the opposite sex (… or the same sex), and there might be times of attraction, or potential attraction.
If you play it sweet, and you act as if you’re a weakling, then your opponent might begin to lose their urge to immediately destroy you. For example:
Feelings can be dangerous. Use it wisely.
Now be very careful with this one, and I don’t exactly recommend it unless you rarely or never see the individual. If there is tension between you two, then you have the opportunity to feed the tension to the point where your opponent because aggressive/arrogant enough to make some stupid careless moves.
By feeding, I don’t mean calling them names – though, that can work, and also lead to bloody noses and being kicked out of tournaments – but … well … you come up with your own ideas with this one. It’s best to just poke fun at them while they’re already angry at you over something.
Setup, or Not?
The greatest fear man has is the unknown – if they know nothing about it, then they’re probably going to be very cautious when it comes to getting to know it. People who are afraid of snakes most likely aren’t too use to snakes – if they were stuck in a room with them, they’d eventually get to ease up with them, otherwise they’d be snake food.
Ever dueled someone who had a LOT of traps? Was you cautious at all about attacking them? It is scary to some duelists to be in the situation where they’re going up against more traps than they’d like to handle.
If you have enough back-up resources, just incase things get wrong (Heavy Storm), lay down about 3, 4, or 5 traps. Or, fake it and lay down some spell cards – this sometimes works great when it comes to stalling for a turn, for that heavy supported field is a bit risky to play offensive with.
Don’t be afraid to toy around with your opponent. When the opponent is confused, they are more vulnerable to defeat than ever. Every move starts from the thoughts – which is why this section of this guide is so important.
When I look at decks to review, I typically see a LOT of spells, but hardly any traps! Don’t underestimate the power of trap cards – I actually run the opposite, and it works effectively.
There’s some funky ways to make duels go certain ways, and that’s a very famous move I use to pull (successfully) on many duelists throughout my days. It is very confusing, and very odd, and this is how you play the game of oddball.
Be creative when it comes to this art, and make the mind game of Duel Monsters even harder for your opponent.
Keyword: Ignore. The only thing you should listen to when it comes to your opponent is what is actually on the field, and what is actually (where you can see) going on. Anything else – just blank it out, and play with these two elements in mind: FIELD CONTROL and WIN!
The Concept of “Support”
Developing a Solid Army
Support, support, support, support, support – I want you to write that on a large piece of paper, and post it up somewhere on your wall. “Support” will be the keyword here in building a deck -- your army.
I want you to take a look at this set of monsters, and tell yourself which does not fit in:
The answer is D.D. Crazy Beast. Can you figure why? Well, for one thing, he’s not supported by ANY of the monsters – he’s not a warrior, so Command Knight and any support cards that deal with warriors do not remotely touch him, and he doesn’t even have an effect, whereas all the other ones do! Sure, this monster proves good defense, but when it comes to finding cards that support a deck, you have to find the best one: Big Shield Gardna works well better than D.D. Crazy Beast.
There are some deck themes that have great support already made for them … namely the Gravekeepers, and water decks. Ever dueled one of these before? Not sure how hard they are to defeat now, but years ago, they were known to be pretty rough to handle – and why is that? The cards supported each other more well than other decks. The water monsters were all water monsters, and their support cards made them effective (Umi, Tornado Wall, etc.), and the Gravekeepers were all gravekeepers, and they also had some effective support cards for themselves.
Support, support, support – that’s the keyword to building a deck. Eventually, you’ll learn how to make an effective deck that ultimately supports each other to its max.
Concept of Deck Connection
I love this metaphor. Your deck is like a rock, and it can either be weak, or it can be strong. How strong it is depends on how much your cards connect, or support, each other – and it also depends how strong your opponent’s deck connects, or supports it self.
Ever had a very very long duel? It might’ve been long because both of your decks had equal connection.
Ever had a very short duel where you were the victor? Chance is: your deck had better connection than your opponent’s.
Ever had a short duel where YOU lost? Your deck was weak, and had low connection – back to the drawing board for you.
If you ever want to enhance the “connection” of your deck, find a dueling partner, and continuously duel them. Whoever loses has to make changes to their deck. The goal is to reach equal connection between you two – and then slowly enhance both decks’ connections as changes are made to the point of where they are at their max. Now duel someone who is of low connection, and bam, a piece of cake!
I did this type of training with an old friend before. It works.
The more cards you run in your deck (read: over 40), the weaker the connection. Why is this? Half of this game is luck and probability, and by adding more and more cards to your deck, you slowly lower the chance you have of drawing a card, therefore making things slower and weaker, and therefore lowering the “connection” of your deck.
For some, its hard to go down to ONLY 40 cards – but trust me, it’s definitely better than having any more than 40 in the deck. Your drawing will be much better due to the higher chances of drawing cards, and your luck will also be at rise.
Another thing to increase connection and probability is to use deck thinning cards – but don’t use these unless they ALSO help you and support your monsters and other cards. If they don’t belong with your cards, then don’t use them. I use Nimble Momonga because not only does he give me 1000 LP, but he also thins my deck, and stalls for the rest of my cards. His effect nor type have anything to do with the majority of my monsters, but as I say: just have things support each other as much as possible. Sometimes you might have to add in a few odd things here and there, but try to make things support each other as much as possible for the sakes of: deck connection, and support.
You know your deck has card fat if any of these occurrences have appeared:
ˇ You drew a bad hand (not speaking ratio)
ˇ You are drawing bad/useless cards (not speaking ratio)
ˇ You find yourself waiting for other cards in order to use “something.”
Card fat is a card that basically slows down your deck and play. Typically, when one edits their deck, they may look for cards that they never use, or cards that just aren’t working – these cards, in our terminology, are considered “fat.”
Another type of deck fat may be cards that are:
ˇ Weakly supported
ˇ Support other cards weakly
ˇ “Require” other cards in order to fulfill their effect
Here is a situation that illustrates the idea of “deck fat.”
Can you identify the deck fat in this deck?
Now, just because a card is fat doesn’t mean you can’t put it in your deck. Some fattening cards can be made less fattening, otherwise some fusion cards and high-level monsters, like the cyber dragons, wouldn’t exist in tournaments!
To make a card less fattening, all you have to do is make its “target” broader. For example, if your fusion monster requires a certain fusion – run more of those fusion material monsters, and run a lot more of the cards required to fuse them (such as polymerization). Remember, this game is about probability, and you can strengthen the probability of drawing a certain type of card by running more of those cards, and running more cards like it.
Equip spell cards are automatically low fat because their target is VERY broad (most decks run 18 monsters or more), so usually in the first turn you’ll be able to equip something with the spell.
High-level monsters are automatically low fat because they also have a lot of available ways to be summoned.
Ritual monsters? Notice how they’re not used a lot – well, at the time I am writing this (January 12, 2007), they’re not. Why is this? Not enough support to get them out quick enough – therefore, these guys are automatically pretty much deck fat. I will talk more about cards not having enough support in the last section of this document “Words to Card Developers.”
The more speed your deck has, the faster you can get field control, and the faster you may also be able to win. Think about what you put in your deck – it can make a big difference. Remember these occurrences, and if you run into any of them in a duel, you need to make a change to your deck:
ˇ You drew a bad hand (not speaking ratio)
ˇ You are drawing bad/useless cards (not speaking ratio)
ˇ You find yourself waiting for other cards in order to use “something.”
This is exactly the opposite of card fat. If this card can be ran instantly, and aids in field control/winning, then this card is considered “fast.”
Remember the discussion about how making a card more “broad” will make it faster? Well, we can assume that all fast cards are already broad, and that idea is correct – here are some naturally fast cards (and also the reason why cards like these are ran so much, aside from how powerful they also tend to be):
Now, look at this deck, and take note of all the “fast cards” that exists. It’s the same deck as before, we’re just looking at different cards this round:
Don’t ever be afraid to do the same with your own deck on both deck fat, and deck fast concepts!
Winners tend to be organized fellas, so in this section, you will learn the three phases of building a deck: Deck Predevelopment, Deck Development, Deck Redevelopment.
Every deck starts with an idea. Try to argue that it doesn’t – every single deck starts in your head as an idea. In this stage, you will flesh out that idea on file, so you can see if it’s even possible to do before you head out into the real stage: the development stage.
Make this table on paper, or on the computer. You’re going to learn to use it:
Or you could write/type:
This is where you put your idea – that single thought that popped up that will hopefully eventually become a fully fleshed out deck.
There are a lot of ideas: combos, type-oriented, effect-oriented, attribute-oriented … the list goes on.
Whatever your idea is, write it down, and don’t forget it.
Here are some examples of Central ideas:
ˇ Different Dimensional
ˇ “A deck that simulates a virus, and slowly eats the opponent to death from the inside.”
ˇ Normal Monsters
ˇ “A burn deck.”
ˇ “A deck that has strong-defense monsters, and defeats the opponent from burning.”
ˇ Whatever you want!
Typically, the more specific, the better.
Now with your idea in mind, it is time to find cards that support the idea.
In this stage, do not be critical – that part is for the development of your deck. Allow anything, as lame as the card may seem, slide into your predevelopment deck outline.
Even if the card is banned in the latest restriction list, allow it in. The idea of this stage is to see all of the cards that support your idea.
Now, there are many ways to find out what cards support your ideas, and what doesn’t. I am going to show some ancient interesting ways I use to use, and then I’m going to tell the ways I use now, which is much more simple, and easier, and gets practically the same result!
[Writer: I write little by little in this article, and it has been a year’s+ project, due to the fact that I am just not motivated to continue. If you found any value from this, please e-mail me at email@example.com and I will be glad to finish it for you.]
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