Every recreational duelist or duelist shuffling one's deck for the first time has encountered this scenario. You walk into your local gaming shop on Friday, Saturday, or whatever day you enjoy hanging with your fellow enthusiasts. You've spent your time researching a deck archetype you love and decide to give it test run after using it with your friends with average results. You sign-up for the tourney of the day, chatting, playing, arranging trades among your friends while excited about finally giving your new deck a trial through fire. The judge quiets down the rowdy crowd and gets everyone seated; you sweat with nervous, jubilant anticipation. Then your opponent sits down. He looks at you as a human views a fly touching his cheeseburger. Your match begins, and in if-you-blinked-you-missed-it OTK style, this guy with a cookie-cutter deck replicated from a Regionals forum slaughters you, jokes about your weak tactics to his friends, while those friends laugh and look through your cards, giving you suggestions as sweet as a parfait of razor blades. However, you'll be the one laughing next time, considering you'll have read this article. By understanding the art of Side Decking and what cards cripple dominate decks, one can stay a powerful force in the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game.
Side Decking: The Trap Behind the Trap Card
A Trap Card remains a potent way to hit your opponent with something unexpected, yet many players underestimate the potential of their Side Deck. For those unaware of its existence, the Side Deck is an additional 15 cards a player can use to substitute for any card in one's Main or Extra Deck between Duels. In more informal settings, Duelists simply place their Side Deck cards within the card sleeves of the cards they wish to supplant them with, but in an official tourney the Side Deck remains separate from the Main and Extra deck. The potential within the Side Deck relies in A. Being prepared by knowing what decks one's most likely to face B. Knowing what cards are needed to disrupt those decks, and C. Knowing which cards one intends to replace in the Main or Extra Deck. You must realize step C is just as important as A or B, because taking out the wrong card to hurt the opponent can greatly injure your own strategy! Since the Side Deck represents another unknown besides one's central deck mechanics and the traps laid face-down, Trap Cards should be at the apex of the list for replaceable cards; cards that don't cause much damage to your opponent's strategy should be considered next. For example, a deck that relies heavily on Monster effects doesn't need much Trap countering, even if the deck you're dueling has formidable traps. In such a case, substituting your Seven Tools of the Bandits for Effect Veilers would be the best move. Similarly, if you face a troll or anti-meta deck filled with annoying Trap Cards, substituting the Seven Tools of the Bandits for Royal Decrees would be best. However, let's say you love D.D. Crows because of nasty experiences with Gladiator Beasts or Inzectors, yet you find yourself staring-down a Different Dimension (D.D.) Deck. Taking out the D.D. Crows for the Royal Decrees would be wisest. Just remember to always have in your mind specific cards your willing to swap for cards from the Side Deck, preferably traps, going only for Monsters in the Main Deck when some Monsters prove useless against your opponent's strategy.
Gladiator Beasts: Too Scared to Stay and Fight
The Plague: If this writer hears the phrase, "I tag out..." one more time, I'll make my opponent play 42 pick-up with his own deck. Even with the advent of Xyz Monsters, if you're running with a deck that isn't Meta or one that Syncs, these guys still pose a threat. The Glad Beasts specialize in attacking you, going back in the deck, and then grabbing a different one that can either destroy Monsters, Spell/Trap Cards, banish cards, or drag out their buddies with improved attack or defense. To worsen matters, this bunch can Contact Fuse, meaning if two of the necessary materials are on the field, you can return those two to the deck to grab a stronger Glad Beast from the Extra Deck. Add in that annoying Test Tiger card, and you have a recipe for your deck's disaster. Unless...
- Stop them from attacking: I once played a guy who bragged about winning tournaments with his Gladiator Beasts. I played him with my Final Countdown/Stall Deck and he tapped-out, both rounds. Gravity Bind, Threatening Roar, Level Limit B if you're playing a deck with low level monsters, Swords of Revealing Light, Book of Moon, or Enemy Controller will stop them from attacking, making it so they can't tag-out, cutting the deck's speed. Swift Scarecrow and Battle Fader for those who prefer monsters.
- Negate their effects: This applies more for Test Tiger than the others. Test Tiger doesn't need to attack to tag-out a friend, so keep a Fiendish Chain or Effect Veiler on standby for its appearance.
- Negate their effects when they appear: The BEST card for stopping Gladiator Beasts... Corridor of Agony. This card was made to cripple the Glads and makes any monster they run and hide to useless. Collect them just for that player who sits down and hits you with, "So... ready to get... BEASTED on?"
FYI... The Gladiator Beast Chariot is annoying, but I'd argue the effects of the monsters and the Contact Fusions are worse. One of the Glads can even add the Chariot back to the hand from the Graveyard when tagged-in, so it's best to deal with the Chariots as they come but to stop the tagging all together.
Lightsworns: So Self-Righteous They Abort Their Brethren to Kill You
The Plague: They're fast, they're annoying, they're suicidal, they're the Lightsworns. Before their allies can even taste the blood of your deck's monsters, they are so certain of victory they throw their buddies in the grave to ensure you get there. With Spell Cards that mill and search, Lumina to revive a level 4 friend from the grave, and the ability of each one to mill at the turn's conclusion, Lightsworns were speed fiends, or should I say saints, until Xyz Monsters arrived. Then there's Judgment Dragon. 4 of his buddies with different names dead later, he can fly to the field from the hand, and with 1000 Lifepoints, he can destroy everything on the field with his beam of "For the greater good my friends were sacrificed". Did I also mention he has 3000 attack? Him with two of his hommies can jump you for an OTK, or he can call his cousin Lightpulsar Dragon and his stepfather from the Southside, Dark Armed Dragon (D.A.D) in the Chaos build, for a three-way beatdown you'll never see coming. Considering Lightsworns' splash-ability with any deck to increase its speed, you'll probably see them more often than you'd like, and require a method to deal with them. Keep your eyes open for these guys especially in Zombie, Plant, and Chaos Decks.
- Assist their suicide: They like milling so much, so you can be kind and help them do it. If you play in an area where Lightsworns are the norm, side-deck some Needle Worms, or a Morphing Jar and Morphing Jar #2 to increase their chances of a Deck-Out, a loss by losing every card in one's deck, and Gravekeeper's Servant makes your opponent mill a card every time they attack. It is ill recommended to use cards that allow the opponent to draw for a Deck-Out, for such cards give your opponent hand advantage and backfire.
- Take out Judgment Dragon: A Lightsworn deck just loses its punch when lacking this guy, and chances are you won't see a Chaos Deck nowadays without him. Save your Solemn Warning, Solemn Judgment, Divine Wrath, Bottomless Traphole, or Blackhorn of Heaven for him. If you can't get a hold of these cards, concentrate on negating him with Fiendish Chain or Effect Veiler before he nukes you.
- Stop all their effects completely: Want to completely cripple these insane, kamikaze holy-rollers? Light-Imprisoning Mirror is the best card to side. It stops all their effects on the field and in the graveyard. Just make sure you're not running a Light deck yourself before side-decking this.
FYI... Ignore the Spell Card support, even though they draw enough to make you pull your hair out. Focus on stopping the monsters.
Dark Worlds: Trash also Rises
The Plague: Demons from the pits of Hell rising to avenge their dueling master? More like Oscar the Grouch's uglier cousins striking at the first thing they see from the displaced rage of being dumpster babies. The Dark Worlds crush with their ability to be discarded by card effect to draw, special summon themselves, and to destroy Monsters and Support alike. Add in Grapha, a monster with 2700 attack who can destroy a card when discarded from the hand to the Graveyard and can reappear on the field by returning a face-up Dark World on the field to the hand, and a new Field Spell that adds an additional draw per turn by banishing and discarding a Fiend, and most decks crumble before their speed and destructive capabilities. As horrible as they sound, a few countermeasures can keep these boogie men in your closet where they belong.
- Strike at their home: The worst effects of Dark Worlds activate in the graveyard. If you're running a deck with little use for the Graveyard, Dimensional Fissure or Macro Cosmos would prevent the Dark Worlds from going there, while Soul Drain would prevent their effects from activating once they get dropped.
- Stop Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World: This new guy will get annoying, I can promise you. Not only does he keep coming back from the grave, but also it only takes two to Overlay for some powerful Rank 8 Xyz Monsters. If not running with Dimensional Fissure or Macro Cosmos, side-deck some D.D. Crows to banish this dragon from the pits. Most Dark World players don't plan to bring back their monsters from banishment anyway.
- Stop their effects altogether: Remember the Light-Imprisoning Mirror that stops Light monsters? Well, use its brother, the Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror to stop the Dark Worlds. This is considered the best counter, unless you're running with a Dark themed deck as well. Negates Dark monsters' effects in the grave. 'Nough said.
FYI... Swap out your Card Destruction, Morphing Jar, and any other card that requires you and your opponent to discard and draw and replace them with... Anything else. Dark Worlds get additional effects when dropped by their opponent, and they're never pretty.
Elemental Heroes: The Toolset You Wish Duelists Would Leave Home
The Plague: Before there were Gagaga Decks, before the Quickdraws assimilated your buddies for their junk forms (pun intended), there existed another type of nuisance based on the elements who pretentiously named themselves "Heroes." The draw power, the search power, and the ability to meld your stronger monsters into their strongest makes the Elemental Heroes Aliens on crack, coffee, and After-Hour Energy. You'll find Deep Sea Diva, Elemental HERO Absolute Zero, " " Gaia, " " Electrum, King of the Swamp, and Destiny End Dragoon making you thrash your head, screaming, "Is this really happening?!" Well, fret not. Superman has his weakness, and so do these spandex wearing pansies that yell in their name, "Look at me! I'm a hero! You can never beat a hero!"
- Pick your battles: It's not the pawns you have to fear in an Elemental Hero deck, but the fusion monsters. You can simply combat this deck by reserving your staple destruction and prevention cards for the big heroes, especially Absolute Zero, Electrum, and Destiny End Dragoon.
- Prevent the Fusions: The Continuous Trap Card, Non-Fusion Area, halts Hero decks in their tracks, preventing the precious Heroes from ever donning their tights and capes.
- Be honorable and fight them head-on: The Kinetic Soldier has yielded the best results for this writer against Hero Decks. Even with the 1000 boost from the Skyscraper Field Spell, most Heroes can't swing over the 2000 additional attack Kinetic Soldier gains against Warrior Monsters. If you can't find a Kinetic Soldier, then wait for the fusion to hit the field, and play a Fusion Devourer instead.
FYI... Save your Mystical Space Typhoons for Skyscraper, and remember, don't waste a Solemn Warning or Judgment on a Wildheart, Sparkman, Stratos, or even Prisma.
And to be continued...
These decks may not need Synchro or Xyz Monsters, but they can still be formidable to a newbie or if someone cuts and pastes a winning deck list of these archetypes from online. There's nothing wrong with doing research to better one's deck idea, but the game gets ruined when players who use cookie-cutter decks want to insult those just having fun with the game. When the "Elite" of scene want to bully those who want to chill, relax, and spend their time with people of similar interests, nobody's having fun. Thankfully, there's a weakness to every deck, and hopefully those reading this hub will learn what they need to put the noobs with copied decks in their place. Part II will explore the weaknesses of more current Meta-Decks, such as Mermails, Fire Fists, Wind-Ups and the new, notorious Dragon Rulers.
More articles in the Defeating Annoying, Popular Decks Series:
- Part 2 (Fire Fists, Wind-Ups, Mermails, and Dragon Rulers)
- Part 3 (Qliphorts, Shaddolls, Yang-Zing, Burning Abyss)
- Part 4 (Kozmos, Fluffals, Monarchs, DracoPals)
- Part 5 (Zoodiacs, Majespecters, D/D/Ds, ABC-Dragon Buster)
- Part 6 (Spyrals, Odd-Eyes, Trickstars, True Dracos)
It's Time to B-B-B-Buy!
Zeron87 (author) on January 10, 2017:
Thanks buddy ^_^. When the Lightsworns came out a while back, I was skeptical on how randomly sending cards to the Graveyard would be a good strategy. Of course it's not as reliable as decks that search or send by selection, but what our suicidal, self-righteous dragon-worshipers had back then was speed: All of the cards in the archetype dumped cards randomly, and most of the cards worked with that mechanic.
Yes, Battle Fader would stop the Judgement Dragon onslaught. You just have to make sure you can deal with their high attack afterwards. That card would definitely allow you an extra breath though.
Jeremy Gill from Louisiana on January 06, 2017:
Nice job man. These guys are annoying, especially the Lightsworns. Never liked using them (no control over which cards are sent to the Graveyard, having to rely on luck), but they're always irksome to face.
Judgment Dragon is strong, but can only take care of cards on the field; a great Defense is Batlle-Fader, which can activate from your hand.
Zeron87 (author) on March 05, 2014:
Thanks for the comment, buddy. Hope these tips help you flatten the competition ^_^.
Atarii on February 25, 2014:
Hah, you're awesome.