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Jae Kim: Theory and Practice
Observations after my Return

March 24, 2008

JK3: Observations after my Return


I don't want to sound like a whiny voice that pleads for change, promises calamity, and pleads for the impossible.


The game is thriving. The most recent Shonen Jump Championship had a thousand participants, booster sales and the secondary market have surged incredibly from their pathetic Rise of Destiny, The Lost Millenium etc. lows, and the publishers of Yu-Gi-Oh! product clearly have huge momentum on their side.


The following words on this column may alarm some of you, but it must be said regardless.


Crushing Disappointment with the Metagame


One of the first things I did upon returning to the game and reading most of the match profiles at SJC Costa Mesa was build a Dark Armed Dragon deck with pieces of tech versus the mirror and practice it nonstop. I did not do this in real life, but used a program called Yu-Gi-Oh Virtual Desktop. I had numerous duels with very good players (they did not know it was me), and actually learned the mechanics of how the deck worked.


I'm not sure what general opinions are, but I'm here to at least offer my take that the Lazaro Bellido build is almost perfect. All of the cards pack incredible synergy with one another, and even the one-of choices such as Dust Tornado and Raigeki Break are incredibly well thought out. Versatile cards in the hands of great players multiply their utility tenfold, as evidenced by incredible plays such as chaining Enemy Controller, tributing his own Dark Magician of Chaos, in a chain to Dimension Fusion, or chaining Strike Ninja's effect to Dimension Fusion.


Now I made a few adjustments (no real need to go into them at this moment right before SJC Columbus). A few cards to match my playstyle, and a few cards that were too great to ignore. The deck is very solid. I feel I have a good fundamental understanding of how Dark Armed Dragon works.


After learning it, I custom-built a deck to counter it. The deck packed numerous pieces of tech, capitalized on a huge weakness of the metagame, and used different pieces of overlapping synergy to really "in theory" destroy the popular Dark Armed Dragon builds that popped up. I tested it online with two great players, Chris SoRelle and Brian Bodkin, and really tuned it to perfection. I believe it went 22-4 against some of the best internet duelists.


The deck was built from the ground-up to counter Dark Armed Dragon. Reliances on the Dragon itself, reliances on 1400 attack monsters such as Armageddon Knight, and a huge reliance on traps were all accounted for in my build. Power cards such as Crush Card Virus, Royal Decree, and others were all included.


Armed with this deck, I took it to playtest with disgraced and exposed Overdose superstar Emon (who now runs his own business and is doing very well for himself playing in seedy back alley Youtube matches with rising stars on the circuit), Adam Corn, and Hugo Adame.


Losing to Dark Armed Dragon Repeatedly


I expected many of the decks principle mechanics to work out and salvage a few games. However, the build was too fast and destroyed me. Even after running multiple copies of D.D Crow (as in three in the main-deck) and a heap of monsters that sped the game up, certain plays would smash me repeatedly.


In my sets with Hugo and Adam (who are both some of the best duelists in North America, if not the world), I was faced with opening hands that were impossible to climb back from. Destiny Draws or Armageddon Knight would pitch Disc Commander or Dark Magician of Chaos, who would then hit the field, only to hit the field again. By the time I removed a Dark from the graveyard to leave two, another Destiny Draw or Snipe Hunter would pitch another and then Dark Armed Dragon would hit the field.


Conceptually, a lot of the design elements that hurt Dark Armed Dragon, which may lead to bad hands, are actually worked around by most duelists through a clever, innovative concept that we call STACKING THE DECK (read: cheating). If you want any chance whatsoever against the big name duelists, and even the mid-tier ones, I would suggest eight pile shuffling repeatedly (my next article will discuss the issue of cheating).


After getting my hopes and dreams of DaD-worthy counters getting crushed by this new regime, I wanted to analyze the mechanics of advantage that underscore why the deck type is so broken. Somewhere out there, I hope somebody is listening.


I also have read numerous threads in the message boards where people claim either the deck-type, or the monster itself, are not broken. I find this ridiculous. Even names such as Jason Grabher-Meyer and Jerome Mchale (who admittedly, have vested interest in promoting game diversity and enthusiasm), claim Dark Armed Dragon itself isn't broken. Oh really? Let's discuss.


Before I start, I would like to state that the point of this article isn't to cry about Dark Armed Dragon dominating the metagame. Each format has a deck that dominates, and I have no problems with that. Heck, I can just play DaD myself at every Shonen Jump in the future. The problem, actually, can be described in another way.


Here is the problem: I think I am one of the best deckbuilders in the game. You can argue with my playstyle, reads, and general in-game ability all you want, but there is a sterling record of my written works that discuss deck-building, synergy, and tech that pretty much show I know what I'm doing. I put my head together with some of the best duelists in the nation to think up a pure counter to Dark Armed Dragon (this is a theoretical counter). It got smashed.


My journal is an anomaly. If the top Yu-Gi-Oh players can't devise strategies to smash Dark Armed Dragon consistently, what hope does the average kid going to a local tournament or regionals have? With the prohibitive cost of Yu-Gi-Oh product, I think this is just asking of trouble.


My next article will go into detail about the strengths and weaknesses of Dark Armed Dragon, and why countering those weaknesses is a lot more difficult than I imagined. I suspect it will have something to do with the deck dropping multiple 2800 floaters in a turn, while cycling through a quarter of the deck on a typical turn with all of its splashable drawing options.


Jae Kim is a creative contributor to Pojo.com. You may contact him (every e-mail will be answered) at JAELOVE@gmail.com. He can also be found contributing to the Message Boards and the Card of the Day.




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