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sHecKii's Take
Rock, Paper, Soldier? [sHecKii’s Theory]
July 18, 2005

It’s been a LONG time since this sHecKii wrote an article and I hope you guys enjoy it.

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a child-hood favorite for most of us; betting for baseball cards, a simple piece of candy, and now being used for determining the metagame. Rock, Paper, Scissors is a Magic: the Gathering terminology and although I am not too familiar with the definition and its roots behind it but I’ve made my own Yu Gi Oh Rock, Paper, “Soldier” theory.

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a game based on the random probability of what the “opponent” may bring out to “counter” your move. For example, one will have to guess if your opponent will play Rock, Paper, or Scissors and if your guess is that since you’re going to play Rock, your opponent will most likely play Scissors or Rock because it will either win or tie. Your other guess is playing Paper, which beats Rock but will never beat Scissors and ties with itself. Now let’s say you want to change it up and randomly play Scissors, knowing your opponent will most likely play the Rock (and will never have a chance to win) and sometimes Scissors, but you might be lucky and win with a random Paper that your opponent plays. Confused? Haha, don’t worry because this is not an easy concept to get. The point is that for each decision boils down to a dilemma. Now let’s define the Rock, Paper, and Scissors to actual Yu Gi Oh themes.

The Rock is a solid, strong, and in this case the best Yu Gi Oh deck in the format. The Rock (which is an actual Magic: the Gathering deck type named because of its stability and consistency of the deck) is the strongest and most powerful deck a person could chose to play. In Yu Gi Oh, its most likely either Cookie-Cutter Chaos/Warrior and/or Scapegoat, or “goat”, control. The deck is synergetic and can be played by most “noobs” to great players with similar success. The Rock is so solid that going against itself is still not considered a bad match-up. These decks are considered to be the “most net-decked” decks and/or proven to be very consistent at every major event (Nationals, SJC, etc...).

The Paper, which is meant to counter the Rock, is the “meta-game call” decks. For example, even though I did not Top 8 at the SJC: Seattle, my deck was basically like my teammate Jae’s deck (we built it together on the car ride to SJC: Seattle) and it was meant to counter the metagame using a “Warrior Tool Box.” Other deck types include Beast-Trample decks (or decks that will deal with Scapegoats well), Soul-Control, other forms of Chaos decks, and the list could go on and on. This deck’s purpose is an educated guess, a hypothesis, about the metagame. Its strengths are obviously defeating the Rock but if your opponent is not playing the rock (especially if they are playing Scissors), your match-up is less favorable for you. Remember that these decks are not always Paper. If the metagame suddenly changes into Zombies, burner, or even Exodia, then Paper will have to adjust accordingly and so will the rest of the groups.

The Scissors, which is considered to be the weakest option, cannot beat the Rock but is heavily favorable against the possibility of going against Paper. These decks could be Burner, Speed Exodia (or any other forms of Exodia for that matter), and heavy combo decks. Honestly, this theory works in a metagame that has multiple tier-1 and tier-2 decks but in Yu Gi Oh, there isn’t multiple tier-1 decks (when I say multiple, I mean 3-4 tier-1 decks and 5-8 tier-2 decks) but let’s adjust it a little bit.

Scissors can be only played by expert players to win due to the complexity of the deck. These are the players that dedicate themselves on a unique/combo deck, but since most of the players at tournaments will want to play a deck that is either the best deck in the format or a deck to counter the best deck in the format, you can maybe get lucky and hope for a Paper match-ups and achieve your goal. Now this is not to say that certain Paper deck is actually an unfavorable match-up against Scissors, but most likely this unique deck will defeat Scissors.

So let’s basically sum this theory up: Rock is the best deck in the current format, which is weak against the current metagame call, but good against random decks and even the “mirror match (going against a similar deck).” Paper is the metagame call and hopes to play against the Rock every time, due to the mathematical odds of defeating it, while it can be surprised by a random deck. Scissors has a really hard time beating the tier-1 (Rock) deck but if one can guess how many people might take a Paper deck, it’ll do well.

Now the reason why the title is Rock, Paper, Soldier is due to the fact that many individuals will play what is considered to be the “best monster in the format.” hRmm, I wonder what that monster could be??? Yes, the Black Luster Soldier, Envoy of the Beginning, the most hated and loved top-deck in the current Yu Gi Oh metagame. In reality, this theory should be called Rock, Paper, Rock due to the fact that Soldier IS the best deck in the format and Rock is the most stable deck that can defeat a deck based on Black Luster Soldier, and no-one really runs a Paper (unless we count little kids with unsleeved deck and such).

At normal SJC or Nationals, even Worlds (any huge event), 80% of the players will play the Rock due to how consistent the deck is and the other 19% will play Paper, hoping to counter the metagame. Maybe only 1% will play a unique deck but honestly will never win (because this is Yu Gi Oh and to win with a deck like Burner is very hard). If you can correctly Rock, Paper, Soldier and hopefully the luck of the Swiss match-up pairs you with what you want to be playing against, you’d be the happiest duelist in the world. Let’s talk about Wilson Luc, who was the runner up for the SJC: New Jersey due to his Rock, Paper, Soldier estimate by playing the Rock (Goat Control) using Night Assailant, Slate Warrior, Tsukuyomi, and other “tech” cards like Royal Decree, Chain Disappearance, and Card Destruction. You can also look at a total Paper deck like Soul Control (which has lost some popularity lately but made by my teammate SandTrap) that can Top 4 at a SJC without using the Black Luster Soldier. But here’s an example that defies this logic and theory; a good player like Wilson Luc (who’s won a Cyber-Stein and also Top 8ed in multiple SJC and Regionals) at the SJC: Seattle who played a Rock (Tsuku-Goat control) but faced against a Scissors (Burner) but resulted in a loss, which then later turned into a 2nd loss, which lead him to place Top 16, and not Top 8. Obviously the Scissors is VERY VERY lucky since Wilson did play with 3 Royal Decrees in his sidedeck (one of them formerly being mine >_<) and still won with a Tremendous Fire with around 10 cards total on Wilson’s field and hand. There are cases like this but as you noticed, not a single Scissors (Burner, Exodia, etc...) ever Top 8ed at a SJC, Nationals, or even Worlds. I’m not implying that skills are not a factor in the metagame but choosing a correct deck is a very crucial part of success at tournaments.

I hope my article gave a new insight to the metagame. This is not a random theory I made up; this is a theory on what good players/teams think out but maybe never shared. Not like other TCGs, Yu Gi Oh decks cannot change too greatly but the “tech” cards or even the “tech” decks can change the outcome of a Swiss tournament, especially when it comes down to tiebreakers. Maybe you guys would prefer a Rock deck or a deck with other win conditions that may screw up the Rock like Paper, or even decide to run a unique deck like Scissors. It’s your choice and it’s just another fun thing to talk about.

E-mail me at jinutym03@cox.net if you have an opinion about this article and/or want to ask me anything personally. Thank you for reading this article ^^

- sHecKii aka Tony aka Proud Member of TEAM SAVAGE! ^^

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