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Starlight Warrior

What Are the Principles of a Good Deck?

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I consider myself to be decent at this game, but I feel like, as of late, I've fallen severely out of practice.  In order to catch up with my friends, and the rest of the dueling world, I need help.

My main question is, what are the principles of building a good deck?  There are other questions, though.  What, specifically, should I know?  What tools should I use?  How do I discover/create new engines in the game?  Where can I go to study established engines and their interactions with other card choices/engines?  I believe there may be some very simple principles behind being good at this game, and in order to improve my skills, as well as my personal deck, I need to know what they are.  I have a few basics of deck-building and gameplay down: Keep your deck small, use deck-thinning cards when possible, focus on card advantage AND utility (having more cards =/ having more options), LP don't matter much, and search-before-drawing.

But what about the questions that I've already asked?  What resources are at my disposal to help me out with those, especially studying and discovering engines and complex interactions?

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dexer008    805

in regards in discovering new interactions, that's just mostly your own practice with yourself online or with friends and team mates. The likely hood of discovering something new and cool is very low until new cards come out though, point is don't feel like you "own" a idea and go around sprouting you created it, chances are someone else has already thought and tried it. 

 

Tools that can help you the most right now are team mates you can practice well with, as online dueling simulators have gone down the drain, the one still kicking (devpro) makes for shitty testing as you can miss interactions, misclick wrong options, and generally not be able to practice with a deck due to a timer which ends your turn at 2 minutes. That being said its the only online simulator you can really use, and makes for drawing test hands and get a feel for a new deck easy. 

 

Youtube as well as tcgplayer.com and facebook groups can help you get the latest deck lists to see what tops and the current trends are. In regards youtube several yugi-tubers do interviews with well known or past winning players, so you can listen to theory through them, almost like a podcast.

 

That's all I can come up with in terms of resources, hope its a start

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mark    3104

I've given my personal thoughts on it here;
 


If you have any specific questions or examples you can just post them in TCG Deck Garage and people will help you out as well. Another important thing is watch youtube matches/video's (for inspiration, and to see how people play decks), look at YCS decklists (Looking at ARG/CCG's, regionals, or OCG also works, in that order). You can't copy decks because people aren't flawless and formats change, but what you can do is look at what they do, how they build decks, ask yourself why are they doing what they're doing, try these things out etc. If you really can't get a deck to work, I'd say netdeck a version that just topped/won a YCS, watch some coverage so you'll get a feel on how it works, play 10 duels with it, and see what you'd change, what the strong and weak points are, etc. 

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»ACP    33378

There is only one principle of a good deck: it has good matchups against the expected meta. That's it, nothing else. Problem with looking for patterns with winning decks is that they are always susceptible to change. Even what seem like ironclad rules for building a good deck could completely be turned in their head in a few years. Remember when it was accepted by everyone that good decks needed to have card advantage? That advice would be terrible today.

 

This of course begs the question of what causes decks to have good matchups against other decks, and there is just no rule. It completely depends on the specific matchup. The only way to figure this is out is to grind the games yourself. Once you become experienced enough at the game, you will develop an understand of what causes decks to win and lose, and eventually how to fix it. It's a skill that you develop over time. Some players would like to tell you that there are shortcuts ie "always play at least this many search cards, this many draw cards, etc or your deck won't be good", but that is nonsense that is going to hold you back.

 

The same goes for finding new decks. The only way that they know how good they are is to build them and test them. In 2010, for example, there were a certain group of players who found out how retardedly good Frog FTK was before most people had caught on. How did they do this? But literally putting the deck together and testing games with it. That's about it.

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»ACP    33378
30 minutes ago, dexer008 said:

Tools that can help you the most right now are team mates you can practice well with, as online dueling simulators have gone down the drain, the one still kicking (devpro) makes for shitty testing as you can miss interactions, misclick wrong options, and generally not be able to practice with a deck due to a timer which ends your turn at 2 minutes. That being said its the only online simulator you can really use, and makes for drawing test hands and get a feel for a new deck easy. 

DuelistGroundz literally just released an online simulator with all of the features of DN and more.

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There's gotta be something, though.  There's always principles behind things like this.

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Gosick    49
4 minutes ago, Starlight Warrior said:

There's gotta be something, though.  There's always principles behind things like this.

maths > gut feeling/testing/preference/etc.

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mark    3104
30 minutes ago, Starlight Warrior said:

There's gotta be something, though.  There's always principles behind things like this.

The principle is that you think of cards you'd like to see in your hand, then decide how much copies you need to play to make this happen (40-card deck with 5-card hands means, you have to play 8 copies of a card or a similar version of it to see it somewhat reliably, because 40/5=8, although I'm just using a simplification here), then you go ahead and build your deck in a way that you draw what you need. So don't play 4-offs of cards you need to see if you can play more... don't not play Desires/Upstart etc. if they increase your odds of seeing what you want, don't play more than 10 copies of cards if you never want to see doubles, etc. 

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Okay, but what about engines?  Is there not a database of sorts for known card engines?  What even IS an engine in YGO?  How is it defined?

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mark    3104

How would you define it?

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»ACP    33378

In my opinion, you shouldn't worry about what the definition of an engine is. It's a vague buzzword that literally doesn't help you get better at Yugioh.

 

The problem is that you and many others are trying to apply what I call "vacuum theory" which is to look for patterns that help you build good decks in a vacuum, whereas I apply what I call "matchup theory" which is the study of metagames and matchups in order to solve a format. People like vacuum theory because it's easy and safe. You're basically following a list of steps that will result in building a good deck. The problem that I find is that vacuum theorists build a lot of good decks but not very many great ones.

 

It may be pure coincidence, but once I shifted my mentality from vacuum theory to matchup theory, I not only started topping literally almost every event that I went to (both regionals and YCSs), but more importantly, I felt like I understood the game on a much deeper level and was much more confident going into events as a result.

 

I could try to write about the advantages of matchup theory vs vacuum theory, but I might literally have to write a book to do so, which is not something that I have time to do right now.

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3 hours ago, mark said:

How would you define it?

 

I'm not sure.  I always thought of an engine as either a specific combination of cards used to achieve a goal (such as the Windwitch combo into Crystal Wing), or a group of cards which are used to perform a specific action, such as drawing cards, repeatedly in order to assemble a win condition.

 

3 hours ago, ACP said:

In my opinion, you shouldn't worry about what the definition of an engine is. It's a vague buzzword that literally doesn't help you get better at Yugioh.

 

The problem is that you and many others are trying to apply what I call "vacuum theory" which is to look for patterns that help you build good decks in a vacuum, whereas I apply what I call "matchup theory" which is the study of metagames and matchups in order to solve a format. People like vacuum theory because it's easy and safe. You're basically following a list of steps that will result in building a good deck. The problem that I find is that vacuum theorists build a lot of good decks but not very many great ones.

 

It may be pure coincidence, but once I shifted my mentality from vacuum theory to matchup theory, I not only started topping literally almost every event that I went to (both regionals and YCSs), but more importantly, I felt like I understood the game on a much deeper level and was much more confident going into events as a result.

 

I could try to write about the advantages of matchup theory vs vacuum theory, but I might literally have to write a book to do so, which is not something that I have time to do right now.

 

Well, if you can't compare the two, could you, perhaps, walk me through this matchup theory of yours?

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»ACP    33378

I haven't written about the entire theory as a whole, but I have written a couple of different articles/theory pieces that can be used as a starting point. The first of which is the Average Prize Model, a metric for determining how good your deck is. I consider this very gamebreaking as far as theory goes, as it completely redefines the way that we should approach a tournament.: 

Secondly, I wrote an entire piece about the meaning of the word "matchup" itself, as the word can take on completely different meanings in different contexts, which can be confusing to newer players: 

 

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mark    3104
18 hours ago, Starlight Warrior said:


I'm not sure.  I always thought of an engine as either a specific combination of cards used to achieve a goal (such as the Windwitch combo into Crystal Wing), or a group of cards which are used to perform a specific action, such as drawing cards, repeatedly in order to assemble a win condition.


Theoretically there is always going to be a combination of cards that will be the 'perfect' deck for a certain tournament, and our job is only to find out which one it is. Since we're not computers that can calculate the best combination of cards, we just simplifications so our mind can better grasp concepts. People think in groups of cards, because thinking about your deck as 40 individual cards will give you too much possible combinations of scenario's that can happen, to the point where you can't grasp it, can't form logical conclusions and you won't understand what cards you need to play and which ones you don't. Therefore we use simplifications of reality, if we see one deck win more often, then we think of that deck as 'better'. When we see a group of cards in a deck together, that seem to be working well together, we will call that an 'engine'. What is or is not an engine is debatable, but most people can agree that archetypes are engines, or cards that you would either play together or not at all (example: if you play Reinforcement of the Army + Armageddon Knight + Malicious to send to the graveyard, that's an engine, because playing either one of these 3 doesn't make sense if you're not playing the others as well). I personally consider every group of cards with similar purpose an 'engine', for example a deck in which I want ways to clear the field, I'll think of 'Raigeki, Dark Hole, Book of Eclipse, Swords of Concealing Light' as an engine, because they all serve a similar purpose: clearing the field. Others may disagree with me, but when it comes to playing 4 different copies of Kaiju, + Kaiju Slumber, they will suddenly see that as a 'Kaiju-engine', but in my opinion the kaiju-engine or the 'spells that clear fields'-engine are both the same thing. They serve the same purpose, and the difference lays only within which are more effective in doing their job, which depends on the meta, the fields you expect to face, and to what extend your deck can deal with these field itself. When people talk about 'engine-cards' in general, they refer to the cards that are characteristic for your deck: they make the plays, the fields, the monsters, and it's the entire combination of searchers/special summoners/enablers etc, that serve as one big 'engine' of your deck. If you want a database for all known engines you only have to check on yugioh Wikia, but 99% will be outdated. Power creep makes sure that, 99% of the time, old cards cannot keep up with new cards, either because old cards get banned or because newer versions of these cards have more powerful effects. There's not really a list of engines unless if you want to make one, but with a combination of creativity + looking at decks that do well + looking at which cards come out, should give a solid idea, and you can then either test your theory through playtest or theoretically decide if the deck is worth playing (yes both are possible, choose the one that fits you best, probably a combination of both). 

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