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Beginners advice: how to build a good modern yugioh deck

7 posts in this topic

Disclaimer: the following advice is all subjective and up for debate, and I made this post by myself and I'm definitely not a pro at this game, but I see the same mistakes being made so often that I figured to have one thread for it. It won't always apply, but I think it applies most of the time and covers a lot of basic mistakes people seem to make. 

Play 40 cards, unless if you're playing some real weird deck where you can literally search everything, but even then, or if your name is Billy Brake, but even then. I have yet to see a format in which the optimal strategy was to play a 40+ card deck.

Play 3 Pot of Desires, unless if you play multiple one-offs that are absolutely necessary that you can't afford to banish. A small risk of banishing some cards is worth drawing 2 cards. 

Play Upstart Goblin, unless if play burn or something where LP actually matters, or a very slow format but even then it's debatable. 

Maximize the amount of engine cards you play, and don't side them out generally. If you don't want to play a lot of engine cards then your engine sucks and you should play a different deck. 

Minimize the amount of bricks you play (such as, if you play 3 Brilliant Fusion, the general consensus is to play 1 Garnet instead of 2, unless if you play a strategy where Brilliant Fusion is literally auto-win. This is generally true for all cards that you want to search but never want to draw: play one of them, unless if it's vital to your strategy, then play 2).

Maximize all good draw-cards and search-cards, as they are semi-engine cards, unless if you have good reasons not to do so. 'Standard' draw cards (such as Destiny Draw + D-Hero Diamond Dude) are not good, because it's a 2-card combo: when you draw it, it doesn't give you anything, but when you don't draw both, then one of them is just dead in your hand. Good draw cards are one-offs (cards such as Pot of Desires, Upstart Goblin, Into the Void(alright no one besides me thinks this is good, so take that one with a grain of salt), Chicken Game before it was banned), or cards that are always live (Allure of Darkness when you play 20+ darks. Darklord Ixchel if you play 20+ darklords), or cards that provide an additional advantage of some sort (think: Pantheism of the Monarchs for it's graveyard effect, Solar Recharge for the mills, any card that gets an effect when sent to the graveyard), but don't push it. It's still a 2-card combo, which is risky, and a 2-card combo should be either extremely consistent or provide significant advantage. People still haven't made up their mind on whether or not Allure of Darkness is actually good in big Burning Abyss, and there's a reason for it, although I personally lean towards yes if you play enough darks. Also don't discard cards you would actually prefer to have in hand, that is just stupid, you're discarding a good card to draw 2 possible bad ones. 

Think about similar cards as if they're the same: Dark Hole, Raigeki, Book of Eclipse, Kaiju, Twin Twister: they all serve the same purpose, to break boards with a simple spell when going 2nd. Think about how much of these type of cards you'd want to play, then fill them in with the ones you like best. It doesn't really matter all that much if you're playing 1 Dark Hole 1 Raigeki 2 Kaiju, or 1 Raigeki 3 Kaiju, etc. because their purpose is similar, they all have their pros and cons, but most of the time they will 'do their job' which is to clear problematic cards on the board. The same goes for traps, don't look at each trap individually, but think about them as a whole: how much traps do you want to play, then fill them in with the best you can find. What this means if is you want to play 8 traps, then it doesn't matter if the cardpool has 8 good traps or 25 good traps available, you're going to play 8 anyway. 

If a card is so good that you would always want to have it in your hand, play 3 copies of it. If there are similar cards or searches, then play 3 of each of these as well. For example, in Nekroz format, you had Manju/Senju, and people played 6 of them combined. But then people would lose so much games when they didn't draw either, that people decided to play Mathematician, which served a similar purpose (Mathematician->dump Glow-Up Bulb, make Herald of Arc, make a rank 4 with Unicore and search a ritual card. Same thing as Manju/Senju did: make a rank 4 and search a card). So people would play 8 of them. Keep in mind that you generally didn't want to draw doubles of this kind of card, because it's a normal summon and you can only normal summon once a turn. What this means is that people would probably play 10+ if it didn't have the 'once per turn' restriction. A more recent example is Union Hangar in ABC. That card is so good, (as Union Hangar+Gadget/Thrasher = ABC as I've learned in the ABC thread), that playing 3 Terraforming 3 Union Hangar is a no-brainer, in fact, I would rather play 10 than 5 if I could. Use the math tools to find out how likely you are to open cards, and aim for a 80/90% chance of opening with a card or a combo going 1st when possible. You can't win 100% of your games, but if you only open playable when you go first (50% of the time), and draw your combo (another 50% of the time), then realize that you only play optimal 25% of the time, which won't top you any tournaments. 

A card being situational is a huge drawback. All traps are situational, because they cannot be activated during the first turn, which can be crucial. They also don't help you break boards (most of the time), or make a field, so they are only good when you are already able to play, and to make a board, so that your traps can protect that board and nail the game, but only if your opponent doesn't have Twin Twister or anything. The more situational a trap is, the worse it becomes. Floodgates are better because they are high reward, when your opponent can't out them, you just win the game, where regular traps only serve a one-time purpose. Traps that serve multiple purposes and cover multiple threats are better than ones that don't: Dimensional Barrier can cover a wide area of decks, Call of the Haunted/Vanity's Emptiness have the benefit of countering Kaiju, etc.

The opposite of the situational card, is the searchable card. The most searchable card is any XYZ monster that your deck can easily make: for example a rank 4 monster in a rank 4 deck. The reasoning is that, generally, you'll always be able to make a rank 4 (because that's what the deck is about), so your extra deck can cover anything (Castel for things that can't be destroyed, Diamond Dire Wolf for backrow, etc.), so that you won't have the struggle of not drawing the cards you need, or drawing them when you don't need them. The second most searchable card is the card that is searchable by the entire engine, think about Trishula/Brionac being always searchable by Nekroz, or Metalfoes being able to search any Metalfoe, etc.)

Ideally, you would want to play an engine where you have both ways to break fields (by using the monsters themselves, or the extra deck), and to make good fields yourself with either: powerful monsters that prevent your opponent from playing(Vanity's Fiend/Jowgen), or that hinder them (ABC, Toadally Awesome), or that replace themselves when they die (Dante, any Pendulum mechanic deck). Then after that, ideally you want to make your field so that it's protected from common outs your opponent might have (such as anti-special summoning stopping Kaiju, Mistake/Thunder king stopping your opponent from searching their outs, cards not being able to be destroyed by card effect blocking Raigeki/Dark Hole, etc. Hope Harbringer stopping any kind of spell that could out your field). 

It is a good idea to have cards that can serve multiple purposes (such as Archfiend Eccentrick being able to both clear monsters, or backrows, depending on the situation, hand traps or quickplay spells being both useful going 1st or 2nd, contrary to traps which are only good going first), or to play cards that can search cards that serve multiple purposes (to give a classic example, it's better to play 3 Reinforcement of the army, 1 D.D. Warrior Lady, 1 Exiled Force, rather than to play 3 Exiled Force 2 D.D. Warrior Lady, because every time you draw Rota you can choose which one you need, making it more versatile). Searchers are in general just the most broken cards ever really, even better than draw cards, because you can't choose what you draw. Think about it, every good deck in yugioh has a lot of searcher cards: it's like an unwritten law that decks without searchers cannot succeed in the game. 

Power creep exists, exceptions exist as well, but generally newer cards are more powerful, so don't play old decks or old cards unless if they're clearly broken, or you have a really good reason to do so, such as an old deck having a really good matchup against the current top decks.

Playtest your deck. At some point you can become good enough to see if a deck is good just by theory alone, but often times, you're going to need to play 1000s of games before you get a 'feel' of the kind of problems that can occur. You'd be surprised by what works and what doesn't work, for example you can play 2-off a card but never draw it in an entire tournament. This is something you'll only know from a lot of experience, except if you're a math head. 

Also, playtest against the actual meta, not against yourself or your local friend who plays Fluffal control or exodia. Play against OTK decks and against trap decks, against the top deck of the format, and against rogue decks: see where the weaknesses in your deck lie, and try to solve them. 

Always look at the topdecks, try to learn from them, try to think of why they're playing what they're playing, but don't blindly netdeck them. Formats change, bad people top, and even good players can make mistakes. A deck is never perfect, and if you're going to play a deck just because Jeff jones/Billy Brake played it, it might not work for you because you don't yet have perfect technical play. Good players can make bad decks look good, don't fool yourself. 

On standalone cards that people play either 2 of 3 off, such as Instant Fusion, in general if it's a good card you'd want to play 3, except if you don't have the extra deck space for the 2nd fusion, in which case you may consider 2, but even then it's debatable. It depends on how good the card is, but don't play 2-offs because everyone does it: Jae Kim's 2-off theory was good, but that was 10 years ago, it doesn't cut it anymore. Also don't play a bunch of 1-2 offs just because you don't know what to play: if you can't decide between Dark Hole/Raigeki or Instant Fusion, it's best to playtest for a while with 3 Instant Fusion 0 Dark Hole 0 Raigeki, then playtest for a while with 2 Dark hole 1 Raigeki 0 Instant Fusion, see what problems come up and try then decide. Sometimes it's real obvious which card is better, but I promise you you won't ever find out when you keep playing 2 Dark Hole 2 Raigeki 2 Pot of Desires 2 Instant Fusion etc, because that way you won't win or lose a significant amount of games, and your deck will just be mediocre. That said, if 2 cards are about equally good but you'd never want to draw multiple copies of them (such as Pot of Desires/Instant Fusion), then you could play 2-offs. Don't overdo it though, this situation doesn't come up very often. 

Think of EVERYTHING as either a 1-card combo, a 2-card combo, or a 3-card combo. 4-card combo's aren't worth it except if they're part of the engine to the point where you can easily get either copy. It's obvious that a combo is only good when you draw it, so any 3-card combo you play must be very high reward, to the point where you almost win the game. It's also important to look at how easily you can get each card, for example ABC could be considered a 2-card combo (Union Hangar + Gadget), but because you can play 3 Terraforming 3 Union Hangar (6 cards) and 3 Photon Thrasher 2 Gold Gadget 2 Silver gadget 1 Reinforcement of the Army (8 cards), that makes it better then if you were to play a 2-card combo where each part wasn't searchable. There are 2 obvious reasons why you want to play combo's that require less cards and that you can easily search: the first reason is consistency, and the second reason is so that you'll have more room to play cards that serve different purposes (such as trap cards, spell cards that out fields, other engines, floodgates etc.). Calculate how often you'll draw a combo, and don't think you can sack your way through a tournament. I can't tell you how much 3-card combo decks I see that actually just suck. 

Don't build your deck assuming perfect situation. You won't always go first, you won't always draw good, and your opponent won't always have no traps and no floodgates no hand traps. Your opponent could draw the nuts as well. Make sure your deck has multiple layers of plays, multiple answers to a wide variety of situations that could occur. This is especially true for FTK strategies, they may look effective at first glance, but they can brick and are easily disrupted by anything really. Also don't play decks that lose instantly against side-deck cards, I think decks such as Burning Abyss/ABC would be better if 'Ghost Ogre Cheries' wasn't around. Yes, a single card can make that much of a difference, and it sucks, but that's just the way it is. If your deck loses to common side deck strategies, either counter them or play a different deck, Nekroz used to be tier 1 untill every played anti-Nekroz, at which point it became a inferior strategy despite it's extremly good engine. Build to beat the expected meta. 

Obviously if all of the above is obvious for you already, then just read articles / patrick hoban's book / discuss with top players / innovate etc. But I decided to make this beginner friendly, yet still competitive, because everyone has to start somewhere.

 

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Link to Jae Kim's 2-of theory? Even if it's outdated would be good to see if his reasoning is still applicable to something in today's game.

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54 minutes ago, Muntz said:

Link to Jae Kim's 2-of theory? Even if it's outdated would be good to see if his reasoning is still applicable to something in today's game.

I can't seem to find it anymore, it basically came down to you wanting to play 2-off of cards that you don't want to draw doubles of, such as is still happening in goat format etc. Formats were slower so if you played 3 of a card, you were likely to draw the 2nd copy at some point which was 'cloggy'. The opposite is relevant in today's game, you need to play a card 7+ times before reliably seeing duplicates. A more relevant article on a somewhat related issue would be:

 

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11 hours ago, Muntz said:

Link to Jae Kim's 2-of theory? Even if it's outdated would be good to see if his reasoning is still applicable to something in today's game.

 

The Two of Theory
This is a theory made popular by the great Jae Kim. This theory says that when building your deck, two is the opportune number of cards to include with the exception of staples that are limited to 1 or cards that you are almost required to play 3 of like Tour Guide from the Underworld or Reborn Tengu. The logic behind this theory is simple, if you play 1 of a card, you won’t see it when you need it and if you play 3 of a card, it will clump and become dead. Jae used this theory in regards to the side deck more so than the main deck. He wanted you to draw the cards that you sided in without them clumping. This theory still holds plenty of weight in the main deck as well. Look at the standard Plant deck. You will see that most of them play 2 Enemy Controllers and 2 Mystical Space Typhoons.

 

http://articles.alterealitygames.com/theory-oh/

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Theories based on anecdotes and gut feelings over logic and mathematics should be ignored until there is evidence to support them. Jae Kim is unfortunately another example of a very creative deckbuilder with some really bad theory at times. He was 100% convinced that playing 42 cards was correct in TeleDAD, for example.

 

Making general statements about whether 2-ofs are better than 3-ofs as a whole is nonsense, because it entirely depends on a bunch of other factors. Mark is right that 3-of is usually correct for Desires and Instant Fusion, because playing the max of these powerful cards will make our deck go off t1 a lot more, but we can't really extend that to say that 3-ofs are just better in general.

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if our most recent mafia game on dg proved anything it's that 2-ofs are key in triggering dg members as an undercover multi

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2 hours ago, ACP said:

Theories based on anecdotes and gut feelings over logic and mathematics should be ignored until there is evidence to support them. Jae Kim is unfortunately another example of a very creative deckbuilder with some really bad theory at times. He was 100% convinced that playing 42 cards was correct in TeleDAD, for example.

 

you know I always wanted to make a thread about that, decided to do so now

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