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 Norman Wilde on Card Strategies – “Adjusting your Deck to the Metagame”

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PostSubject: Norman Wilde on Card Strategies – “Adjusting your Deck to the Metagame”   Thu Mar 12, 2015 10:11 pm

Dear Yu-Gi-Oh Community,

Today I want to talk about a topic, some of you might never have considered so far: Adopting your tier 2 deck to the current meta-game. It’s basically for those of you out there, who do not like to play the new tier 1 decks and rather stick with their favorite deck or other decks, because they do not like the new decks – yes, there are people like this out there and I would consider myself as one of those.

Straight before YCS Prague my motivation to play Yu-Gi-Oh was at an all-time low. I had next to no play practice and did not enjoy to play any of the Tier 1 – Tier 1.5 Decks, namely Qliphort, Burning Abyss or Nekroz. Additionally, I was just too focused on managing the team and the tournament series, that I could not get my mind free to play some rounds on DN.

However, I had played earlier this year a lot of games in Goat Control. Drawing a direct comparison is certainly not fair, however, I felt like a small child again, when playing Goat Control. That’s when I realized that I should go back to a deck I enjoy playing, rather than running some power-creep deck. Goat Control is all about controlling the field and your opponent’s actions, plussing off the effects of your smaller monsters as well as waiting for your mass removals to go off. Because of that I searched for a deck that could provide me with the same kind of fun and card-interactions.

Therefore, I decided to play Satellarknight at YCS Prague, as you are able to play lots of defensive traps without interfering with the overall strategy of the deck. Basically “summon Deneb” is all you need to get the deck going and once it does, it’s hard to stop the snowball effect, or should I say Starball Effect? Here is the list I run.



Since its introduction to the game last year, I felt like the deck had been flying under the radar, because most of the players focused on obviously better decks, such as Shaddoll, Qliphort, Burning Abyss and Nekroz. There are next to no global communal testing effects a Satellarknight player could benefit from, since the deck did seldom top major events.
On very basic level, that’s the problem all tier 2 deck players are facing. That is the reason why, I developed, based on my experience with Monarchs, a 5-Step approach of how to adjust your deck to the current metagame.

1. Know your deck

That is basically common sense, but in order to play successfully at a competitive level, you need to know what your cards are doing. Additionally, when trying to adjust to your deck, it is essential to know, what cards are needed to set up your plays, your combos, which opposing cards interfere with your game plan or totally dismantle your plays. This looks basic at first glance, but the topic can get very complex. Whenever I face complex situations, I try to take a step back and the model the problem with graphs or other methods. In this case and I am sure others are doing it as well, I use card clusters, to identify what is the purpose of card x in my deck. The clusters I often use are:

The theme cluster – the core of your deck, in my case the Satellarknights + Satellarnova Alpha

The support cluster – any non-theme related card that supports the consistency of your deck (Reinforcement of the Army, Upstart Goblin, Pot of Duality)

The combo tech cluster – any non-theme related card that adds a combo dimension to your deck (Call of the Haunted, Oasis of the Dragon Souls, Soul Charge)

The defense cluster – any non-theme related card that can be classified as dealing with your opponent’s monster effects, spell/traps or attacks (Fiendish Chain, Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, Mystical Space Typhoon etc.)

The hate tech cluster – any non-theme related card that is specifically used against the most played decks in the metagame (Shared Ride, Mind Crush, Maxx “C”)

If you assemble all cards you can put them in the following chart, giving you an overview on how the deck is set-up and where it main strength is coming from.



In order to fill the chart, each card can get 1 point for each of the 4 clusters. For example Nekroz of Clausolas would get 1 point for Consistency (search effect) and 1 point for Hate (Extra Deck negate effect). Then you add up all points and mark them on the respective scale. You may start with core theme of your deck (blue lines). The bigger the diamond gets for your core theme, the stronger the theme itself is, meaning you can concentrate the rest of the clusters on the areas, where the deck is lacking effectiveness or needs adjustments via tech cards (see point 3). Afterwards you do the evaluation on the rest of the cards in your deck. The bigger area of the diamond gets (red), the higher is the flexibility of your deck to react to given situations.

2. Know your opponents deck

With now having an overview of how your deck performs and what it actually does, you need to do the same with your opponent’s deck. That’s a lot of work to do, but luckily for me before YCS Prague, my teammates already knew their decks in and out and I could ask them for the main combos (Djinn Lock), key killer cards (Trishula) and back-breaking scenarios (Floodgates, all mirrors removed from grave) for their decks, in the latter case Nekroz. Having a chat with so called Key Opinion Leaders of certain decks, will also support you on your way to the next step.

As an additional note, you can expect to benefit from the “loose to tier 2 – not me” effect. You can be assured your opponents are going to make mistakes against you, since they don’t know your deck or how to play against it. A good friend of mine always says “expect the dumbness of your opponent”. To make it clear, you do not stand any chance in a normal set-up against an experienced Nekroz player with a tier 2 deck. If all the Nekroz players I played, would have known that simply summoning Unicore against Satellarknights is often enough to win the game, I would have lost games, I won in the end.

3. Search for tech cards

That is actually the hardest step, because there are cards that appear great on paper only to fall short later on during testing and then there combination of cards that only shine if you adjust your play-style to them (see next chapter). In order to find them you need to know:

1. the different kind of tech cards: Floodgates (Macro Cosmos), card temporarily interfering with your opponent (Different Dimension Ground), cards boosting own card presence, often hand traps (Maxx “C”, Shared Ride), cards delivering on point solutions (Mirror of the Ice Barrier)

2. what kind of defensive line-up the current meta decks are playing against your cards, for e.g. if they run a lot of a z/f removal, it is better to avoid flood gates and search for other interactions OR increase the number of floodgates to a maximum


4. Adjust your deck and side deck

Coming back to point 1, it is useful to see the main strength of your deck laid out in the graph provided in order to see how the chosen tech cards will interfere with the overall deck set-up and flexibility. Remember when adjusting your deck to the current metagame you need to find the right balance too, in order to not fall short against other tier 2 decks.

This is known as the cookie-cutter paradox:
Your deck might be able to beat the strongest Deck X, but it will fail to beat any other deck due to being narrowed down and focused on only one match-up in the main deck

Now the following can happen: either you are only going to play against Deck X or you will meet some other decks along your road and eventually lose to them. For cookie cutter decks it is essential to survive the early rounds, because then probability increases that they are going to be paired against Deck X. They usually try to do this with siding against the other decks, but this ignores the case that Deck X players are facing their own paradox as well.

The mirror-match paradox:
You can either focus your deck on the mirror match and lose against cookie cutter decks or add some tech against cookie cutter decks that is useless in the mirror match.

When running a cookie cutter deck probability is also given, that you are going to face one of the Deck X pilots, who decided to tech his deck against named cookie cutter decks. This Mexican stand-off situation is difficult to resolve during pre-event preparation and it is often narrowed down to following parameters: match-up luck, in-game luck of drawing or not drawing chosen tech AND who is the better player at the end of the day.
You can often see the skill influence in side deck trends over the course of a format. At the beginning of a format people usually side floodgates and so called theme-killers (Iron Wall against Spiritual Beasts), but once players get to figure out the match-up interactions and their decks further they often use more generic side deck cards, which help them in the match to a certain extent, but are useful as well against other decks (Dark Hole).



Basically, you could potentially resolve the issue when calculating the following parameters:

Main Deck Flexibility/Main Deck Effectiveness
+ Side Deck Flexibility/Side Deck Effectiveness
+ Probability to play against Deck A(expected % of players running the deck)*Match-up against Deck A*Effectiveness of Side Deck against Deck A

5. Adopt your playstyle

Adopting your playstyle goes hand in hand with the path you have chosen in terms of deck building. If you decided to go with a floodgate/theme-killer approach you should focus your plays on getting to those cards as early as possible and then kill your opponent in achieved game-state as fast as possible. That is why Qliphorts or Burning Abyss can run floodgates fairly easily. The deck core is focused on consistency, so they can play their game with one or two cards fairly easily relying on the floodgates to keep the opponent in check, whereas a deck like Nekroz is a pure combo deck, needing to run rather flexible cards, that adjust themselves to the game-state itself, etc. Fire and Ice Hand.

If you have chosen the path of flexibility, you need to play in accordance what’s currently going on in the game and adjust the moment you use the cards, to gain the full momentum. A good example in this case is Dark Hole/Raigeki. In my games against Nekroz I often led them flood the field dealing with problem cards like Trishula or Unicore with Fiendish and then dealt with the field by summoning XYZs. Afterwards they had to fight back against my XYZs, probably investing more resources. Once they had done that, I cleared the field, went into Rhapsody and banished their last Ritual Spells, leaving them with no resources. In the BA match-up you often use Dark Hole as fast as you can to clear a potential Fire Lake play turn 1 or their field by turn 2 with Dweller making sure, they won’t plus off their effects.

Hopefully, this approach and the theories explained help you to adjust your decks even better to the current metagame. Enjoy building, play-testing and playing!

Author: Norman Wilde
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PostSubject: Re: Norman Wilde on Card Strategies – “Adjusting your Deck to the Metagame”   Sat Mar 14, 2015 11:13 am

nice and informative + a good read
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