Yu-Gi-Oh is slowly becoming a ‘more’ luck-based game #Yu-Gi-Oh!

Yu-Gi-Oh or YGO, pretty sure what first comes into your mind about this word is the Yu-Gi-Oh anime, since this blog mostly talks about anime. However, this time it’s not, this post will discuss about the actual YGO game, the Trading Card Game or known as TCG.

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I’m a duelist (what YGO player call themselves), who has been playing YGO in real life since 2011 and competitively since 2015, but these days I don’t really enjoy playing this game. The reason? Well, you will soon find out while reading the rest of this post, let’s get into it.

Note: This post will assume the readers are duelists (YGO players in real life who understand most of the terms which are used in the game)

YGO is a trading card game, it means as all the other tcg-s are, you need a bit of luck to win in it. But, as far as I know, YGO is one of the tcg that needs the least of luck to win because most of the time it is decided by other factors which are more important than luck alone, such as your skill to play, deck-building, and overall experience. However right now, YGO is starting to feel like a more luck-based game than it usually is. Here in this article, I will explain my insightful reasoning.

In recent years, especially the last two years, a deck should has the ability to create an unbreakable board to be considered as a competitive deck. It’s obviously not the only thing you need though, but most of competitive deck will always have a way to make an unbreakable board.

‘Making an unbreakable board means you don’t let your opponent play. In other words, your opponent can’t create a play unless they get rid of that board or prevent you to make it. How to prevent it is by using a lot of hand traps.’

So, this is the structure of the main problem, and I will explain it in details below.

1. Brainless deck

  • Continuing from above, to create an unbreakable board, there must be a play-pattern you need to follow (for example the steps to do a combo), that means you will repeat the same pattern every game. Repeat the same pattern means you only need to remember the pattern. Remember the pattern means you do the plays based on the pattern. So you don’t need to think hard to create an unbreakable board, remember the pattern is all you need (just in case, you also need to remember what will you do if your combo is disturbed by your opponent’s hand traps).
  • Shortly, remember the pattern can win you the game.

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2. Hand traps

  • Staple cards right now is so strong that it actually can single handedly win you the game, especially the cards that can be activated from the hand a.k.a the hand traps. Activating card’s effects from hand has superior advantages, because it’s hard to counter it (almost impossible pre-Called by the Grave), and has a luxury that you can’t have from normal trap cards, which is you can disturb your opponent’s play in their first turn without setting it first.
  • Hand traps aren’t really a problem at first because it has a lot of weaknesses back then. For example, Effect Veiler isn’t really effective against control deck (deck with a lot of backrow), and D.D. Crow isn’t effective against non-grave based deck. It creates a problem when the hand traps becomes effective against all kinds of the decks, the best example is Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring! It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s strong against everything which makes it a no-brainer to use it at 3 in your main deck.
  • Then, if most players already use a lot of hand traps in their deck, that means the interactions between archetype cards (non-staple) will be rarely seen. That’s basically what makes the game more less-interactive, because the interaction involving hand traps is super easy, yet super effective. You only need a little bit of your head to think how to use it. If you know the timing, you can’t fail.
  • I still remember when one of my opponents said this to me when I activated Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit to disturb his play (afaik, he’s just coming back to play YGO recently at that time). He said ‘One hand-trap right now actually can transform my best possible opening board into worst possible board’

3. Lack of interactions between each archetypes

  • Interaction in YGO right now mostly involves the hand traps. Interaction between each archetypes is only like ‘formality’ to finish the job hand traps has done in the game.
  • For example, your opponent won the dice-roll and choose to going first, he start making a play but you disturb him with hand traps, he can’t make a play anymore and decide to end his turn. In your turn, the condition is, your opponent doesn’t have any real threat to prevent you to make a play. Then, you do your usual play and make a good board to make sure your opponent can’t recover again.
  • You can see clearly how big the role of hand traps became in this game right now.
  • You won’t find the same condition in picture below frequently anymore in YGO these days. When the battle was between Archetype VS Archetype not Hand traps VS Hand traps, good old days.

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4. How to decide win or lose is basically just waiting

  • Winning or losing dice-roll has been one the biggest factors to win the game, even until now. However, with the luxury we have with all these hand traps right now (insurance for going 2nd), it’s not exactly same anymore. But, that doesn’t mean luck plays a smaller role either.
  • This is practically same with the example of condition above, If you win the dice-roll (mostly choose going 1st), you can win easily if your first five-drawn cards can do some combo plays and create a decent board, but your win-condition can be turn-tabled with only one hand trap if your opponent activate it in the right time and you can’t recover from that (If you have no more card to extend your combo play).
  • And vice-versa, if you lose the dice-roll (usually will get 2nd), and your opponent first five-drawn cards can make a great opening play, you must have the hand trap(s) to prevent him from doing some combos, or a certain card to break their board (something like Raigeki and Kaiju-cards), otherwise, you’re likely to lose or your only hope is to wait for your opponent to brick (can’t make a play).
  • It’s not that simple? Yes, I agree, but most of the time, this is the most often condition you will see in YGO right now. Hand traps rules!

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What I think Konami should/keep doing:

1. Leave the ‘unbreakable-board’ trend, and bring back ‘grind-game’ trend

  • The reason why I think grind-game is healthier than unbreakable-board meta because of the differences of their interaction in the game. Meta with unbreakable board will forces you to use a lot of hand traps, and interaction between hand traps is pretty much not interesting because you’re using it at the obvious timing. But, if the deck (archetype) itself who interacts between each other, the game will become more entertaining and mostly be decided by skill and your card choices.
  • Well, of course interaction between archetypes I said above is something like grind-game, for example : DUEA-format (between Shadoll, Satellar, and Burning Abyss)
  • But the problem is, the only way to kill hand traps right now is only to ban it, because no matter what trend we play in right now (either unbreakable-board or grind-game), hand traps will always be used because it’s already beyond good.

2. Make the game slower

  • Slower? Why Slower? From my experience, if the game is quite long (like grind- game), the biggest factor to win the game will be your overall skills, which the winner should be decided with. Making the game faster isn’t really doing any good for the game itself.

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3. Don’t make ‘one-deck’ format

  • Why do you think YGO is an interesting game? Because you have so many options to create your own deck and let your creativity go wild. This is just a bullshit, because most players will copy the champion’s (or top player’s) decklists. That’s why if there’s a deck who can only be beaten by itself, everyone will play the same deck (one-deck format), and luck will the biggest factor to decide the winner (I’m not ruling out skill, and experience though, but there’s a limit of how you can take advantage of your skill and experience, because we know top players definitely have that while luck is a different matter).

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  • ‘But, if the format is based on, for example three-deck format, it will be same because everyone will just copy-paste it’ It’s not exactly the same condition, because you have to choose from those three decks, and the decision will be taken based on your understanding of the game, so skill and experience matters.
  • Moreover, I believe most players will always prefer variants-deck format than one-deck format, so it’s also better from marketing’s perspective.

Additional note (before someone mentions it) : From other’s perspective, one-deck format can become a good format if a certain card isn’t the one who decides the winner (something like Wavering Eyes in Pendulum match-up and Maxx “C” in Zoodiac format), because the big gap of skill and experience will punish the one who has less (But I still stand with variants-deck format > one-deck format).

4. Stop limiting a strong staple card, better ban it or make it to three

  • Limiting certain strong cards which can be used in every deck (like staple cards) is a wrong way about how to approach this game.
  • Remember Zoodiac format? That’s the perfect example of this problem. The deck is pretty much auto-pilot. Super linear play-style, but the biggest problem is Maxx “C” at 1. One Maxx “C” is all you need to stop Zodiac’s play. So in mirror-match, basically the one who has Maxx “C” they already have 1 game-won in the bag. That’s a very bad decision coming from Konami to limit Maxx “C”, but finally after several formats, Konami has realized their mistake and already ban that card.
  • It is always better to ban strong card than make it to three (but still, making it to three is far better choice than limiting it to one), because the interactions between ‘less-strong’ cards are always more entertaining than between strong cards.

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I really love this game, this is the first time I’m very serious with a game (has spent tons of money), and this time is also the first time I don’t really enjoy this game. It’s not the only factor tbh, there’s more like: Cards become super expensive right now (If you don’t have these cards, you have less-advantages than the one who has it). Fortunately, I have enough money to cover all of the expensive cards, but I was annoyed by the fact I need to spend that ‘much’ money for a game. You need at least $500-700 to buy playset of strong staple cards every year (or sometimes every format). Well, this is not the first time playing YGO needs a lot of money, but the fact that in the last 2 years you need $500-$700 consistently to play competitively is hard to accept.

I want to explain this more thoroughly, but it will go too far from the main topic, so maybe later (including the explanation of the usual-pattern Konami used back then, which is much better than now).

Back to the topic, maybe this is always has been the problems at YGO in general, and how the format was played in the last 2 years make it more obvious.

I’ve felt this condition since Zoodiac format, but the one who make me realise this as a whole is SPYRAL format. Unbelievably consistent and overpowered opening board. That’s basically tell your opponent just surrender if they don’t have the hand traps.

I want to remind you that I don’t say YGO has became a luck-based game, but I think the percentage has just increased, from maybe 20%-ish to 30-40%-ish. Skill, deck-building ability, and your experience are still considered as important factors, as it’s always been.

Closing :

I hope this game won’t die until I lost my interest to play it, maybe I just need to take a break for now, and I don’t think I will quit this game anytime soon because I haven’t been satisfied with my achievement so far. All of this is purely my opinion, so if you got yours, share it with a comment below!

Thanks for reading, always keep dueling!

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