Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Discussing instant gratification and why players should avoid it

Hi, I'm Canadian doolist LFN

Recently, there have been a series of arguments and complaints plaguing various discussion threads on a certain competitive online forum. Rather than being exclusive incidents, it can easily be inferred that this is part of a larger problem, affecting a significant portion of the current player base.

The main issues revolved around ygo doolists feeling that reputable players have the obligation to help them and / or tell them things. This may sound like a compelling argument to some, their point being that if one is in possession of an ample amount of a particular asset (eg ygo knowledge), and has the ability to share it, then why would they be so hesitant to do so when asked?

Given that each YCS event's meta can differ from the next based on product releases, meta shifts, and innovation, information can easily become outdated, where conclusions based on data that is suddenly not as relevant anymore will understandably be less effective and can lead to an underwhelming performance.
Hence it isn't particularly hard to understand why certain players, who perhaps may lack the experience or patience to acquire things for themselves, may desire more potent information from those who hold it; like who wouldn't want to easily gain an edge at an upcoming event?

Specifically though, the better players, often those with a decently successful dueling career, tend to withhold decklists and certain tech choices. Note that if these lists or techs are believed to be crucial to one's success at an upcoming event, then it would make complete sense that this information be kept in the dark, lest they lose the advantage of surprise.
However in instances where they DO leak this info early, whether it be intentional or inadvertently, it invites situations where the receiving players miss out on the process: how were such conclusions reached? Why were certain builds built the way they were?

That's not to say that the approaches that these better players take were necessarily correct either, in that by revealing that there exists a potential edge that one can gain over others, whether it be a tech or a drastic modification to the structure of a deck(s), several varying results can be reached at that point.
Some may take it as encouragement, and strive on their own to reach a similar concept. Some may act indifferent, possibly treating it as a bluff or inferior to the established norm. However, there can be negative responses as well, where players demand that the answer be revealed, not bothering to instead ask for hints and guidance towards said answer.

Essentially, the amount you can benefit from this is in fact quite limited. It's akin to copying answers when doing assignments. You'll net the short term benefits in the form of high marks on said assignments, but will potentially, and probably, miss out on the bulk of the marks when it comes to a similar series of questions on an exam.

Relating back to yugioh, visualize a situation where you're provided the inside scoop on a hot tech or concept when asked. Having not done the work yourself, you may not necessarily be able to capitalize and subsequently max out on the value this information could have provided, had you put forth the effort to understand the strengths, weakness, and nuances to a given deck in order to understand the reasoning and intents behind said tech or concept.

Too often, whether it be on forums, youtube, facebook, and so forth, I see many people attempting to take the easy way out. They ask, or in some rare instances, demand, certain information, such as deck fixes for hastily assembled and obviously untested lists, advice on untested techs, and so forth, without providing concrete reasons behind their ideas.
These are examples of people wanting to be 'spoon-fed', as the saying goes. The desire for instant gratification, for favorable results, right here right now, with minimal input of effort (or none at all!).
How is it a good idea to ask others for advice on how an untested tech will perform if you yourself haven't even tried it yet? Their conclusions could very well differ from your own, after all.
Why are people suddenly obligated to aid you if you won't even help yourself?
Where did this sense of entitlement come from? This complacency?

Even on Dueling Network, where I put in admin work from time to time, there are users that PM me demanding (sighh) that I answer their questions, many of which can be instantly answered via a simple search on google, or even by just reading the card.
For example (true story):
I had a player ask me a simple question about X card.
I answered: Have you read X card? (note that reading the card text would instantly answer their question)
They then replied: Hurry and tell me I'm in the middle of a duel
Come on, doolist.

That being said, I'm certainly not here to preach from a high horse here either. I am by no means the be all end all of all things yugioh, far from it, actually.
I am but a mere ygo doolist as well, also setting forth on a journey from Pallet Town on the quest to become a ygo master and catch all the duel monsters (ok maybe not the latter. At some point I'm going to encounter way too many Skull Servants and Basic Insects :L ). I too make mistakes, and (hopefully) learn from them along the way.

For example, when I first acquired the cards for Wind-Ups back when Order of Chaos was released, my knowledge regarding the deck and its plays were based entirely off of what I had read online. How to play the deck, that is, how it runs, how to perform the devastating and obviously unfair hand loop, and what a 'standard' list should look like.
When it came down to actually playing the deck at a locals event though, not having practiced with the deck beforehand on Dueling Network, the theories that I was fed did not translate well over to actual practice, and I had no idea what to do when it came down to less than ideal hands and gamestates, as well as how to play out of them. I did win some games due to being a sack and having Tour Guide + Shark or Magician + Shark, or any of the other broken hands the deck had last format, but I was still very much clueless, and this didn't change for some time, until I had gained more experience. Even today, I'm still far from being a Toy master, as I'm pretty sure that I can't always envision and then execute the most optimal play given a large amount of variables (time, my resources, my opponents resources, etc), each of which must be taken into account, especially when constrained by pressure.

The age old saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" applies to life, and can easily apply to yugioh as well, assuming that the player is willing to put forth the time and effort to first listen, then do the work and progressively learn. They could very well end up inadvertently allowing the 'teacher', so to speak, to learn something in return as well, through thought-provoking discussions.

Seeking instant gratification doesn't help either player grow: neither the one asking, nor the one answering.
Through putting in solid effort, players can garner experience and the know-how they desire on their own, which can be applied in the future as well.
HMM what can I do to better combat this deck (or decks)? What cards or different approaches can I try to do so? Let's try them out against a decent sample size and find out!
Even should a player still not be able to find their way, I would imagine that those that do possess the means and information would at the very least be impressed by the effort invested and provide hints and encouragement, if not the answers desired, to get better at the game.
I don't think anybody likes to voluntarily invest time and effort into helping people that just won't listen nor learn, or are unwilling to work and reap the benefits in the long run from doing so.

Change in one's performance when it comes to yugioh won't come just by listening, it comes by doing. As such, I would encourage those that rely on instant gratification to play yugioh not to, as it probably won't help you get any better in the long run.

I'm pretty tired so I probably missed a couple points and didn't come off as being as concise and eloquent in expressing my opinions as I would have liked (Key word: "OPINION"), but hopefully the gist of what I wanted to say is clear.
Also I don't know if this sort of thing is prevalent in the OCG either. I hope not, but the common denominator is that we're all human, so the possibility does exist.

If you've managed to survive this huge wall of text (whether you agree with me or not), congratulations, you've earned some well-deserved duelist points. I think this has been the most I've typed up in a long time. Certainly not 3000-years-ago-in-ancient-Egypt long, but yea.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

YCS Providence 2012: Aftermath & Analysis

Hot on the heels of the release of the Atlantean structure deck was yet another YCS event, this time taking place in Providence, Rhode Island.1154 doolists were in attendance, many of which were no doubt seeking to transcend from being a mere yugioh doolist to becoming a yugioh master. Dreams would be realized, and in tandem, dreams would be crushed, as only 32 doolists can remain (and eventually 1).

The Top Cut
Just who would survive 5 rounds of single elimination to reach that (figurative) Pot of Gold Greed at the end of the rainbow?
[sources: DGz, Konami, etc]

As one can easily see, this was a fairly diverse Top 32, with the deck spread encompassing both established Tier 1 decks in Wind-Ups and Geargia variants, as well as less prominent but still lethal decks like Chaos Dragons, Dino Rabbit and Agents, and a good number of rogue decks like Zombie Monarchs, Sea Lancer Frogs, Fish, GB, and that random Machine Mash deck.
Wind-Ups were still the most numerous, having accumulated 10 of the Top 32 spots, but the playing field had been further leveled in comparison to past events this format, given the varied T32 deck spread.

European duelist (and member of the global team United Gosus) Simon He continued his streak of excellence, this time with Agents. He essentially went undefeated during Swiss Rounds, finishing with a 10-1 record, with his 1 loss attributed to deliberately forfeiting the 2nd last round a few seconds into the match. Allegedly, this was done so that the congregating spectators wouldn't know the exact contents of his deck prior to the conclusion of the event.

Zombie Monarchs making it comes as a big surprise, given how prevalent Raioh is this format, but piloted by former SJC champion Narog Torossian, it was able to eke out win after win to make it into the Top 32 cut.

That Monster Mash / Machine deck was also a big surprise. I'm pretty sure it was based off of the various ideas that DGz's Victor (also the creator of V-HEROes, the deck from last format that combined Dino Rabbit with Fusion Gates and E-HERO Sparkmen) had thrown together, where Cyber Eltanin acted as the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th copies of Dark Hole in the deck. I really liked the concept if only from a "fun deck" standpoint, but I had no idea that someone had taken it seriously and put forth the effort to make it a competitive, YCS-topping deck. It probably helped that it had the random factor going for it, in that most opponents probably had no inkling of what was to happen next.

Noticeably absent from the Top Cut were Grapha and his Forces of Darkness, the new kid on the block in Atlanteans, Inzektors (not everyone can be Billy Brake!), and the winning deck from the recent YCS Indianapolis, Six Samurais.

Following that, the Top 16 breakdown, as provided by Konami, was as follows:
5 Agents
2 Karakuri Geargia
1 Machina Geargia
1 Machina Gadgets
1 Sea Lancer Frogs
1 Dino Rabbit
1 Zombie Monarchs
1 Gravekeepers
1 Chaos Dragons
1 Wind Ups
1 Gladiator Beasts

All but one of the many Wind-Up decks were taken out, leaving Agents as the most numerous deck type in the Top 16 matchups, followed by Geargia variants. Many of the rogue picks were still in it as well.

However, in those very same Top 16 matchups, the last Wind-Up player, Garon Williams, was finally eliminated from contention, leading to the first Top 8 lineup in a long time that didn't feature a single Wind-Up deck. As revealed by Konami, the Top 8 breakdown was as follows:
2 Agents
2 Karakuri Geargia
1 Chaos Dragons
1 Zombie Monarchs
1 Dino Rabbit
1 Gravekeepers

After the Top 4 cut, it all came down to a final Yugioh match between LeBlanc's Karakuri Geargias, and Tuttobene's Chaos Dragons. LeBlanc was able to emerge victorious, securing a YCS win for the Geargia archetype.

Other Thoughts

The first YCS event post-release of the Atlanteans had them barely register as a blip on the radar, as lacking support, they were unable to achieve much. Wind-Ups were also dealt a huge blow, as a gradually decreasing number of them were able to top, and only 1 managed to survive to move on to the Top 16. It is clear that the deck, as explosive and full of options as it may be, needed to adapt in order to continue producing favorable results, and results here at YCS Providence made that glaringly obvious.
The various techs (main-decked Tragoedias, Card Car D's, and Messenger of Peace's) kept on the down low but leaked prior to the YCS were perhaps a step in the right direction, but failed to allow reputable duelists in Steinman and Weigle to further advance (whether or not they were lucksacked is currently unknown).
That said, despite the lack of results from the Top 8 onwards, Wind-Ups shouldn't be disregarded and thought of as being a second-rate deck; it just needs to adapt is all, to prevent itself from being overly predictable in its plays.

I'm not sure if this is going to be a growing trend or not, but the skill level of many of the current generation's doolists, relative to those of the past, can be brought into question, seeing as how 2 previous greats of the game in Levitin and Togorossian, both SJC winners back when the Top Cut cutoff was only to the Top 8 (though Levitin continued to play on, later achieving success with Gladiator Beasts in 2008-2009), were able to pick up decks, essentially enter on a whim, and Top after lengthy absences from the game of Yugioh.
The game seems to be a lot more lenient now, with Top Cuts extending to the Top 32 players (and 64 even, given an exorbitant participation rate), and the cardpool allowing for decks to churn out unproportional amounts of output for minimal input.
This relates to an excellent article that former Yugioh great Kris Perovic wrote of his own volition (no $ incentives!), which can be found here. It's a really good read and I suggest that everyone check it out.
I don't necessarily agree with all the points addressed, but it's a fine read nonetheless.

Finally, IMO the hands-down most amazing play/sequence of events of the YCS was as follows:

[from this feature match]
"Simon drew Mystical Space Typhoon. He activated it to destroy My Body as a Shield, then Normal Summoned Earth. Earth added Venus to his hand. He tuned Earth to Shine Ball to Synchro Summon Armory Arm, then Special Summoned Master Hyperion by banishing Earth. He equipped Armory Arm to Hyperion, and it attacked Obelisk! Thanks to Armory Arm and Gachi Gachi, Obelisk went down and William took 100 Battle Damage, then 4000 more damage from Armory Arm!"

(!!!) Europeans too guud

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Looking ahead to YCS Providence

Hello again.

I'm Canadian Doolist LFN

Yet another YCS is soon upon us, this time taking place in Providence, Rhode Island.
 The only real change to the game since the last event is the recent introduction of the Realm of the Sea Emperor structure, which brings the Atlanteans to the TCG. With their counterparts the Mermails to be released next month though, it remains to be seen what kind of impact, if any, the Atlanteans will have on their own. The cardpool of decent water monsters used to trigger their effects is quite limited at the moment, after all. I think the deck as it stands now can dominate slow and/or passive decks, but shouldn't be a  huge threat towards the more tried and true strategies.

Naturally, as per usual, the incumbent decks all have their own things to deal with or improve upon, in order to get a leg up on the opposition.
Wind Up decks, while still widely believed to be the 'best' deck, can probably expect that big fat target on their backs to be enhanced by laser sights or something, as they continue to plow through the hate thrown towards them. Their strength in numbers helps to alleviate that, given how cheaply the deck's parts can be acquired for nowadays, though it's not something that just anyone can pick up and immediately master.
There's some interesting tech choices for this deck that have been floating around lately, which were kept (relatively) on the down low among some of the more reputable players for some time, but now that they've been leaked (spoonfeeding the masses, etc), it'll be interesting to see how well they catch on, if at all.

Though I'm not quite sure why, the prices of the Geargia money cards have dipped slightly in value. I can theorize possible reasons, eg an increase in supply due to the release of the REDU special edition, their susceptibility to decks that can pop face downs with ease like Inzektors and Atlanteans, or people getting frustrated with the deck's inability to access Geargiarmor at times, but I can't say for sure. I still think the deck is very good, given how easily it can accumulate advantage, and Machina Fortress remains nothing short of great.

Speaking of Inzektors, I don't really expect the deck to do anything at Rhode Island, though it has apparently been securing top cut spots at Regional events here and there. Basically, not everyone can be a Billy Brake , and after its surprising finish at the previous YCS Indianapolis, I can see people bringing an increased amount of hate back into their side decks in case they run into those dastardly bugs, eg Shadow Imprisoning Mirror, which would also help against Dark Worlds, or upping the number of Effect Veilers between the main/side.
Similarly, I'm not expecting a repeat triumph by Six Samurai. (honorable duelists are welcome to prove me wrong!)

Moving towards dark horse picks, after accumulating 4 spots in the Top Cut of YCS Indy, I feel that most people are still underprepared for Chaos Dragons. Personally I still feel 'naked' when playing a deck without traps in a format such as this one, but there's no doubting that this is a very lethal deck that can overwhelm and OTK an opponent out of nowhere..... given that the pilot either accumulates good mills due to above average fortune, or has the ability to play out of bad ones.
I'm also still really liking Frog Monarchs. The deck excels in a slow-paced control game rather than a rush and OTK game, and doesn't do anything exceptional when compared to Wind Ups and such, but nobody really sides anything for this deck (I guess Chaos Dragons have got the mained Darkflares, and Dark Worlds have Dark Smog) beyond Veilers / Gozen Match, so it can potentially catch some unprepared doolists off guard.
Agents, HEROes, and Dark World could go either way, like they could do well, or they could flop, it's hard to say.

Later, duelists.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Doomcaliber Knight

I originally hadn't intended to make a post on this guy, thinking that I was the only one who thought that Doomcal is pretty legit right now, but I was wrong, as there are certain others that feel the same way.

He's a 1 for 1 at the very worst, and given that hand traps aren't in every duelist's deck right now, he can really get in there. It's true that duelists can sacrifice their worst effect monster available to deal with him, but that opportunity doesn't always present itself.

Against Wind Ups:
You'll be negating both the activation and the effect of the Wind Up monster, meaning that Magician and Factory won't be able to tutor a dude or search a dude respectively. This can be huge, but note that Wind Up players can play around him by sacrificing a Wind Up Rabbit or Wind Up Shark to trigger his effect, then retrieve that fallen Rabbit / Shark next turn with Rat.
It's also got a pretty big body, which may not necessarily be the easiest thing to deal with given how small Wind Up monsters are

Against Geargia:
Both Doomcal and Thunder King are decent against Geargia. Thunder King can instigate a waiting game of sorts, where its controller just lets it sit there, while the opposing Geargia player can't make a move either, as neither flip summoned Geargiarmors nor summoned Gearframes can search out cards. Conversely, Doomcal will make a beeline for the problem, ramming into and destroying Geargiarmor (assuming the attack went through), also being able to block off Geargiaccelerators from retrieving fallen comrades

Against Dark World:
Hurray! Doomcaliber also nets the 300 atk boost from the Gates field spell!
Conveniently, he will also trade off with a Dark World monster's effect, which isn't bad at all, as it means that they will have wasted a discard outlet

Against HEROes:
Probably one of the weaker matchups, I wouldn't side in Doomcal against HEROes for obvious reasons, but at the very worst, having a 1900 body is nice.

Doomcal isn't a fit for every deck, but in the decks that he does work well enough in, he can be very potent.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Return of the Doolist (not the booster set)

Hello again.

I'm Canadian Doolist LFN

Now that I've cleared up some things from my day-to-day schedule (more is on the way unfortunately :L ), I believe I will be able to re-integrate myself into ygo and blogging on a more frequent basis (relative to my week and a bit in the Shadow Realm of absence anyway).

I didn't miss much, from the looks of things.

More of the upcoming Wave 2 Tin promos were revealed, and it's cool that my predictions were spot on thus far (anyone with half a brain could have put 2 and 2 together tbh), though the hint for the remaining unknown promo (something about an invincible army, which can point towards Meklord Skiel / Granel / Wisel) isn't very obvious.

The new Legendary Collection 03 was also officially released in North America this week. My pulls were legit awful. I heard that vanilla monsters were supposedly harder to pull, but I ended up getting 5 of them through 2 boxes (none of which were Mystical Shine Balls), and I didn't get a single holo staple card. Not one.
sad duelist LFN
the saddest of duelists

I've also been toying around with various deck concepts and strategies, but none of them have proven to be capable of consistently going head to head against wind ups / geargia / etc, sadly