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Metagame Breakdown: Group Splitting Hypothesis, Schizophrenia and Yu-Gi-Oh!
February 1, 2007

Metagame Breakdown: Group Splitting Hypothesis, Schizophrenia and Yu-Gi-Oh!

Currently in psychology were exploring Schizophrenia, now everybody has a somewhat vague idea of what schizophrenia is, but odds are majority of you are confusing it with dissociative Identity disorder, that's not the point. The point is while I worked through various explanations of why Schizophrenia occurs, biological, psycho dynamic and others I came to a possible Evolutionary argument. The Group Splitting Hypothesis. Now please bear with me and I'll get to why this could relate to the Metagame later.

The group splitting hypothesis goes like this, Schizophrenia has developed in order to 'split' large groups. This idea came about as large groups are harder to sustain, large groups can't sustain themselves effectively: to maintain optimum numbers. Schizophrenia has evolved to 'split' large groups by going against what the current leader says, challenging the leader and effectively splitting a larger group in to two. This was proposed by Stevens and Price. Stevens and Price argue that schizophrenic traits frequently are found in charismatic leaders; namely, Adolph Hitler, Joan of Arc, and Charles Manson. These shaman-like individuals use paranoia, delusions, religious themes, and even neologisms, to fraction disaffected groups and to seed new cultures.

Now your screaming, that's great, I learnt about an Evolutionary argument for Schizophrenia, that's got absolutely zero to do with Yu-Gi-Oh! or has it? Think about it, can we compare symptoms such as neologisms, group splitting and delusions to Yu-Gi-Oh! deck builds?

Possibly one of the best ways of viewing this is chronologically. From the start of a meta to the end. Now think back (if you can) to about 3 months ago when you first tried to build your deck, I bet the majority of you out there tried to create a 'pure' theme, I remember it now, people were trying Earth based decks, Machine Based decks and even Darkworld based decks which were completely pure in theme, in short there are no hybrids. These 'themes' grew in size as people worked out what themes worked and what didn't. Now take a cursory scan of current decks plastered over forums, most the decks lack clarity of theme, and use cards from different 'types' of theme, there is no single dominating pure theme. Decks this far into the format have gone hybrid, but what happened to a reining pure theme?

Lets attempt to apply this to the previous idea of group splitting hypothesis, using the availability of cards as 'resources'. Only a certain number of proficient pure themed decks can ever be sustained in a single area, this is because all decks are limited to the availability of cards in that area (although there are more then 13 billion apparently world wide, still in any single area 100% of decks can't ever be the same). So we have ruled out people simply 'moving' their deck to the different theme, which also goes against ideas mentioned in my previous article on pattern recognition. But still, if a theme is that good we can assume that a large number of people would play this decktype for whatever reason. Now if the group has become unsustainable in terms of resources, how does this theme survive and prosper? Its here I suggest that people's decks display some Schizophrenic traits. I argue that people who use that decktype will either go two ways, modify their deck to include anti themed cards (literally 'attacking' the theme, in order to split the group) resulting in a modification to the deck, or attempt to continue with the current theme. So now applying the group splitting hypothesis to theme genesis we have come up with two opposing factions, both smaller then the previous larger group. This would happen repeatedly over a course of time, so 2 splits into 4, 4 into 8 and so on... now we can explain a trend in hybrids, with each hybrid comes the more sustainable sub group.

Or can we? Lets evaluate what I've said for a minute, I've attempted to explain hybrids through a theory of group splitting, is it overcomplicated for something as simple as 'this cards is better'? Well it really depends on what theory you subscribe to on how we learn, but lets see if other theories can explain hybrids. Bandura's Social Learning theory, the behaviourist explanation is the idea that we play in a sort of 'trial and improvement' and we do this through either being present and doing it ourselves or learning vicariously. This train of thought would explain hybrids as the improvement on the current dominating deck. This isn't sufficient enough to explain hybrids as it argues that every deck should aspire to be this 'ideal', but clearly every deck doesn't. The benefits of the group splitting theory is that it can explain every possible permutation of deck through a lack of resources.

Great you hail, that's brilliant, all this has done has told me how hybrids could have come about! I believe that understanding the metagame thoroughly leads to better duelists, and knowing how decks come about leads to an ability to effectively counter. Lets take the current metagame, and analyse it with this view. Gadgets are dominating, seemingly. There are limitations placed at gadget user's disposal so the original 'ideal' splits into differing fractions. This results in different decks which still hold the original 'mantra' of 'war of attrition' dear, but attempt this in different ways, be it 5th Gadget, Moarch Hybrids, X Decktype Hybrid. Now lets counter this, we know that a meta is saturated with gadget decks, which monsters mostly have an attack of less then 1500. This is the same for the other hybrids, the counter therefore for this meta would be Deck Devastation Virus. Now attempt to look at other decks with this view and find a common denominator and make a viable deck with this knowledge.

I've suggested to you a way in which decks develops and it highly suggested that we are doomed to hybridise our decks as we continue into the metagame. The point of this article is to dismay people people who constantly 'have a go at' people who argue that decks aren't pure, that because of that they are Cookie Cutter, especially at the end of a ban list era, and to encourage the formation of new decktypes. Ill leave you with this, with the next ban list fast approaching, will we display group splitting again?

Next Article: Metagame Breakdown: The Role of Control

If you want any questions answered by me, Love Mail, Hate mail, suggestions and ideas please email me at emuron@gmail.com.


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