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  Advanced Yugioh Fundamentals - In Five Thousand Words

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PostSubject: Advanced Yugioh Fundamentals - In Five Thousand Words   Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:58 am

I have written many articles that I chop up and edit out much larger portions or solid Yugioh strategy for the sake of dumbing down for my audience. Most players simply do not know the wording for fundamentals they know, or simply have no idea how easily grander aspects can be applied to the game to increase deck building and playing. When we live in a world of mathematical logic, it is moronic to not address the fact it may be useful in Yugioh. Or for that matter, the fact words like Utility serves a fundamental role in the game and such words are not abused is equally stupid. I do apologize for my level of audacity, but it is simply necessary.

Yugioh Terminology One: Utility

Utility is the quality of objects usefulness, in a general sense. In Yugioh, some cards have various values of Utility based upon game situation, field condition, and the overall tempo of the game. Decks also hold a Utility value based upon the turn. Knowing how your deck and how your cards utility interacts is most definitely an important portion of the game. Without simple yet efficient examples, how would I ever explain this term appropriately?

The first aspect of Utility I will address is deck utility. Some decks are predisposed to a utility value which determine how well it will do in specific situations and turns. First Turn Kill decks are the simplest type of decks to apply Utility values to. A FTK deck should have an extremely high Utility value early game, peaking at turn one, despite the game state or condition. The highest Utility FTK will be the deck which FTK’s on a consistent basis. If the Utility value is only medium turn two, your odds of winning in turn two is 50%. As the game progresses, this value should decrease for a FTK deck. Naturally, the best FTK deck will have a very high early game Utility value, and for a turn value will have a high turn one Utility value.

If you apply Utility to a deck like Final Countdown, it should have high Utility at each game phase for consistency sake alone. Utility does not in any way link to winning unless it is an OTK/FTK deck, but is more a correlation to how well a deck does in application without any other factor. The better the deck is built, the better the decks Utility becomes. But the fact is, some decks have a lower/higher Utility based upon the turn or phase of game play. An efficient example for this is a LightSworn deck. LS decks peak in Utility once the deck dumps enough cards to have options. To that avail, the deck has decent Utility in a turn one situation, thusly can OTK. But the Utility increases each and every turn as the grave will full with more monsters fueling the mechanics of the theme to pull off plays. But the deck can and will deck out by mechanic, so the Utility drops to zero late game.

So how is Utility in application to a deck in total important? Because in LS, you should run cards which has the most Utility early game, as you will not have a late game. In a FTK deck, your Utility needs to peak at turn one, so any card that doesn’t have optimal early game Utility is automatically void from the deck and the card pool selection. This is not always the case, but is a useful tool when picking tech. Do you want to main deck a Gorz in a FTK deck? Never. It’s a good card, sure, but it doesn’t help the deck nor does it have high Utility turn one.

Utility also is applicable to cards based upon game phase. Tragoedia has a high early game Utility, but little to no Utility late game, making it ideal for decks which also works under the same level of Utility. Additionally, Utility for a single card is only ideal when it is also live, or always has high Utility. The question to ask is, if you top deck it will it be live at any point in the game. Running the lowest amount of cards which do not fit this bill is ideal. A cards individual Utility is what tells you how useful a card is in a formal systematic way, so although a card may be obviously live at all times, like a staple, designating a formal system like Utility does allows for all cards to filter though the same rational to Weed Out bad apples when making final decisions to optimize your deck.

Yugioh Terminology Two: Synergy

Synergy is best described as two forces whose combined efforts are greater than that of the singular force. Combination decks, Themes and Recruiter’s all have built in synergy. Synergy needs to be known in a simple sense because in some formats, and in many past formats, synergy is what won tournaments. The deck with the most synergy would win. Cards which happened to work together flawlessly would win. Now players build for sheer explosiveness, and themes are increasingly broken.

Understanding Synergy in a general sense explains why some decks are good. The perfect example and case for Synergy in the modern age of playing are Gladiator Beasts. The tagging mechanic allows each card to work within the theme flawlessly. The theme exerts the definition of synergy with the Extra deck. Gyzarus and Heraklinos are the culmination of the synergy of the Gladiator Beast theme. Pumping out Gyzarus allows for instant pulses, and Heraklinos is a wall that most deck has a great struggle with getting over.

Synergy is an important concept in Yugioh because understanding this point puts justification for themes and the intricate role they have in Yugioh. A theme void of synergy will fail. When themes get support and become synergistic, they are playable. Two examples come to mind for this point of new support. X-Sabers and Zombies. It took formats for Zombies to get new support which added synergy and stability. The deck attempted to make a comeback with Il Blud and Zombie Master, but the deck was still not able to be consistent. X-Sabers were arguably sacky and just a rush deck until Darksoul was releases added a simple toolbox element to it which added a great level of consistency.

Without Synergy, a good player will write off a theme entirely. This is the correct response because a theme which is sacky needs a lot of attention and outside support/hybrid deck building to make is consistent enough to counter themes which have synergy already. A solid theme will be worked on by a good player to add more power cards and attempt to generate a better win condition. A bad theme will require more time and still need to work on adding a more stable win condition rather than the natural condition provided by a theme, which most often is control or beat down, which is a challenge in any fast based environment.

The best example of a good theme, with synergy, which has only added broken elements and cards, would be Black Wings. It is a theme which gains natural advantage, is a challenge to side against, has a built in Honest and watered down Cyber Dragon. If you look at themes with this as a standard for judging, the bar is set high. If the theme doesn’t compete with such a theme, thusly having the same level of synergy, it should not be used. This is because as long as the aforementioned other avenues of support exist which can make a deck better. Some themes will already have a leg up on others. Such support would be Dark Armed Dragon, Allure of Darkness, Skill Drain and Royal Oppression. They are cards which work perfectly with a BW deck, making it far superior to most themes without reducing Synergy when built correctly.

Synergy is also the standard for decks which are deemed ‘Sacky’ and inconsistent. If a deck or theme has low Synergy, they are Sacky. It is plain and simple because the deck doesn’t interact well together. LightSworn sits on the balance of this most often. If you draw specific cards the Synergy is zero, but if you draw other cards they Synergy is higher than any other deck. Using Synergy as a measurement you also easily label such a deck as luck based deck because Synergy varies with the hand. Top player avoid LightSworn like it is the plague in most situations for this, the deck is very prone to luck determining its inherent Synergy. They may not refer to the reason as Synergy, but the symptoms are still the same. To the same avail, with enough time and dedication one can minimize the effects of bad hands, but this is not always a point to which time should be spent.

Yugioh Fundamental: Game State and Advantage

I never thought I would write a segment on neither advantage nor game state as I figured it was basic knowledge. If you have played any strategy game, ever, you should know that if you have more resources than your foe, you are in a better position to win. But I am increasingly shocked that players struggle with both concepts. This is because the Yugioh realm ends before chess starts and Game State/Advantage are nothing but an afterthought. It is a disappointment that such huge fundamentals of play are completely ignored.

Game State is best defined as the current condition of the game. Plain and simple. How many face downs, monsters, cards in game, life points, monsters in game, cards in deck, cards in hand, and cards removed from the game. Knowing the specifics of these elements immediately give the player a direct line into strategy and how the opponent will play. I know everyone just LOVES my over-use of examples, but why fix a method of education if it is not broken? Let’s say an Infernity player has not drawn or played a Dark Grepher. You know he has one card in his hand and has held it. He has 2000 life points left. In addition, he needs to pitch a Beetle to get an OTK off. The game state tells you he has or should draw Dark Grepher soon to OTK, as he is in a position to lose if he does not.

Beating the dead horse, a LightSworn player has one card in hand; two JD’s in his grave he continuously looks for, a Lyla out, one facedown, and has five cards in his deck left. One should assume, based upon the game state, that he has a facedown Beckoning Light. This could be called the worst case scenario, but it is not. Torrential Tribute would stop his milling or a Celestia in hand would destroy your field and swing for game. But depending on the Game State, this is not logical. Using the game state to dictate the next move of your opponent is the most simple way of telegraphing plays. You telegraph what the card could be, and you telegraph based on the player’s demeanor and mannerisms if it is in fact correct. But the prediction fails without knowing the Game State.

Next is Advantage. The simple +’s and –‘s are only the starting point. Advantage is a broad term meaning any benefit which is favorable to the desired outcome. Most players use the +/- method of Advantage to be the be all end all solution for the game. Although it is true, getting a plus on an opponent is a direct form of the definition of Advantage, it is not practice for attaining victory nor does it fully describe the role of advantous situations.

Gadgets are the end all be all of Advantage in Yugioh. The brain-less ‘+ 1’ summoning a Gadget does sum up one end of Advantage, but it does not cover any points of the rest. Advantage would be a condition, ANY condition which adds to your odds of winning. In a Gadget deck, you get a Gadget which is a plus, but you also thin your deck out a normally worthless monster. This increases your odds of drawing not only something better but an answer. This also adds to the aforementioned Game State which makes it a larger challenge for an opponent to make reads. Sure, they know what one card is, but it’s a floater. It is an extra card, which is a less card in the deck meaning any card drawn mathematically, or presumptuously is an answer card in Anti-Meta Gadgets. Furthermore, it is an additional card which adds to your win condition, pecking at the opponent’s life points and also wasting an opponent’s resources, or going One for One in resources. Gadgets personify the meaning of Advantage because they hit up each element of Advantage to give you a clear edge over your opponent, helping your win condition, getting an extra card, thinning out your deck, or any card which promotes game mechanics along these lines.

Yugioh Fundamentals: Simplification and Complication

I have written about these topics before, but it is still not understood, and in a format where Complication in a field sense is Null and Void due to Mist Wurm spam, I think it is under appreciated. Complexity is not one dimensional as in a lot of monsters on the field. On the other side of the coin, Simplification is not always about just reducing the resources of your opponent as low as possible. Figuring out what the terms mean in a broader sense will make a difference in a game.

First is Simplification. To define the term, it means to make a situation easier or plainer. The key to the term now is easier. In the acceptable terms now, Gadgets approach to go One for One with an opponent’s resources makes the game state plainer, but not easier. You still have just wasted your resources as well, to which it is not easier to win. It is much harder to look at Simplification in that light. Gadgets do in fact personify this prospect of Simplification as well. The win condition of Gadgets is not to peck at life points, although that is how they are used. The goal is to simplify the game state into a top decking war, to which the Gadget deck should win due to the mechanics it plays under.

It becomes much easier to win with Gadgets when the game state becomes simpler. You can accomplish this in many ways, but an underused method is complication. A player who is forced to waste resources to topple a card simplifies the game state though making the field complex. Complication, by definition, is an element which is unexpectedly added which introduces difficulty. Gadgets run this as tech with Spirit Reaper. Decks have very few answers to such a card, so it is a card which creates a more simple game state when used. To pin this example on another deck type, Quickdraw also works off of a similar mechanic in terms of Simplification and Complication.

Quickdraw has the goal of getting out Stardust Dragon and Light and Darkness Dragon. They instantly complicate the game state. This Complication forces players to waste a lot of resources to propel their win condition foreword. Light and Darkness Dragon is hands down the best monster for this. The rest of the Quickdraw deck is built around Simplification to push with big monsters. Ryko, Dust Tornado, Drill Warrior, ect. The goal is to create a game state in which you can swing for large amounts of damage.

Yugioh Fundamentals: The Rope – A – Dope Mentality

For those who don’t know, I am an Armature Mixed Martial Art fighter in Michigan. I started as a boxer. One of the most impressive elements on the boxing world comes from Muhammad Ali, and is easily exploited in a Yugioh sense. Rope – A – Dope is a term coined by Ali in this 1974 fight against George Forman. Forman was a much more powerful striker. To beat him, Ali laid against the ropes in a guard stance, forcing Forman his use all his strength to give some damage to Ali while in his guard stance. By round five, Forman was exhausted. Ali then held the stance and attacked when the ideal moment presented itself. Ali won by knockout in round eight due to this.

Now, why did I share this story? It is the perfect strategic position. As a player, you need to know when you and your deck are outclassed. Top player know this, and in this point of the game switch gears. Rather than attacking, they use Book of Moon, Enemy Controller, and his monsters to force his opponent to do as he wants. It is best analyzed by summoning a Sangan in attack position while having a facedown. You easily have forced your opponents play by informing them the facedown may be a Ryko, but the Sangan may help you win the game, forcing the opponent to play to your defense, and to play as you wish.

This is a Yugioh fundamental for sure. You should force your opponent to play as you wish. If you will lose, force the game to draw out to learn all the cards possible in your opponent’s deck. By doing this you can efficiently learn the entire strategy of an opponent because you have taken the road that you, or your deck, is not as powerful as an opponents, and rely on strategy to get tactical advantage to win. In this format, it would be like a Gadget deck vs. an X-Saber. Gadgets need to play defensive and wait for the X-Saber player to simply run out of pushing options. Although now it is a challenge to do so as decks like X-Sabers can push for several turns in a row, a good player can last long enough with a balanced deck to use an opening to push or counter all together.

Yugioh Fundamentals: Math

Math can be used in Yugioh. Heck, it is actually one of the most important elements of the game. If you look deeper than a simple plus and negative aspect, you can figure the odds of drawing any individual card, and put away luck as a factor with consistency. If you build a deck with the mathematical backing of drawing odds and card ratios, you have a much higher probability of drawing the way you predict. It is not probable to predict drawing a Dark Armed Dragon, but it is not out of the mathematical probability to draw a Kalut on your opening hand and draw.

Here is the basic probability formula:

1 - (Total # of cards in deck that are not the desired card / Total # of cards in deck) x (# of non-desired cards remaining in deck after first draw / # of cards remaining in deck) x (repeat steps for each additional draw)

So lets plus in a Six Card Hand when running three copies of a card, lowing down to two, and to one:

1 - (37/40) x(36/39) x (35/38) x (34/37) x (33/36) x (32/35)
= 1 - (34 x 33 x 32) / (40 x 39 x 38)
= 1 -.606
= 39.4 %


When running two cards, your odds are 28%, one card is 15%. Adding five cards to the deck increases the odds about 4%, and adding a single card sums up around 1% odds off.

Now, certainly the variables exist that if you draw one or draw one searcher the probability of drawing another is much more different. But for an opening hand, this is the golden formula.

Lets put this into perspective of a Black Wing deck. The odds of drawing Kalut on your opening hand is just under 40% (The actuality of getting it is about 39.4%) and of getting whirlwind is 28%. Subtracting a card from the deck makes about a 1% shift in the decks contents, and as such running one Upstart Goblin gives you better odds for drawing cards like Kalut. Adding three brings the odds up to 43%. The 43% is nearly every two games you can open with Kalut.

That gives you the same respective chance of having Battle Fader, rounded out of course. But lets assume you want an out/stop to a OTK. So your cards decked are 3 Battle Fader, one Gorz, and one Tragoedia. Adding additional probable options changes the formula,

1 - (35/40) x(34/39) x (33/38) x (32/37) x (31/36) x (30/35)

This greatly increases your odds of assuring you get a desired card in your opening hand.


Each additional card you draw should increase your odds of drawing a card by about 5% to get a specific card. So using formula one, you can increase odds to draw into one of the three cards to nearly 45%.

But the fact remains it a general deck building sense to dictate what you can draw. Let’s say you want to see your odds of drawing your tech. Your odds of drawing one Dark Armed Dragon are about 15%. These and many more values are easy to determine with a little bit of leg work.

Looking at the probability formula in a deeper sense, you can plus in variables for late game. If you went through about half your 40 card deck.

1 - ( the last few draws you took x # of copies) / ( the first draws you took x # of copies)

If you have three copied of a card in your 40 card deck, your odds after going though just about half your deck are over 84%! These odds are simply amazing. Odds are in your favor late game to draw into a card, and this makes figuring what you will draw easy.

Now, why are these values a challenge to players and an asset to prepared ones? This is much more simplistic than the actual equations. The odds of drawing into two exact cards, drawing Dark Armed Dragon, drawing two/three answer spells or into the one Lumina are extremely slim, for you and your opponent. You will never assume that an opponent will have such cards, it is not mathematically probable. A lot of ‘Pro’ player’s state is a challenging match-up to play against non-‘Pro’ players because they play in an unconventional manor. I disagree. It is just easier to play against yourself. If you build your deck mathematically sound, and so does your opponent or you know the statistics, you make different plays. You never assume it is the worst case scenario, but rather a more plausible answer. The player who has no idea the odds often will rely upon top decking and not conserve the ‘boss’ card as often, hoping they will draw another.

But in the total scheme of things, better player will save an answer card for a problem they know they cannot beat. Worse players will waste resources to topple such an issue and use one of few answers instantly. This has the benefit of giving better players dead cards a lot, but eventually they will become live, and then superior to the hand of an opponent. But playing against an equal player will make the same conservative assumptions you will, making games go to time or force you to make the best of every resource.

Knowing the odds simply allows a player to have certainty that when playing against a Perfect Harold deck, they will have just about three answers to several locks. Forcing them to waste resources early to make a play means if you last to a late game, you will win. Being a prepared player, combined with Meta knowledge, wins the game. By simply knowing the odds of getting into such a card you can make better decisions as per your aggression. My formula's are not exact (I have been using them for what, ten years?) but they were are the most simplistic way to address this. You can get more specific mathematically, which is fine. But often, due to other variables as far ranging as card thickness and sleeve size, it is impossible to get an exact figure of how likely you will be to draw a specific card. For generalization sake, my figures are fine.

Next Mathematical Rule: 8/40 Rule.

Simplified, 8/40 is 1/5. Or you will draw one of the eight cards in your opening hand. This is the premise behind Fifth Gadget. 45 card deck, nine Gadgets, or one fifth of the deck will be a Gadget. This is the golden rule of Mathematical Yugioh. No matter what I, your math teacher, Jae Kim, or your parents say, this is the single rule you must adhere to. If you want a way to get a card in all opening hands, you run three copies and five ways to draw it. It is that simple. This is an advanced concept, right? Not quite, but the outlets to get into those eight are.

This brings me to the role of Floaters. This portion would have a better role in Advantage, as a Floater is a monster which replaces itself. Sangan, Mystic Tomato, Gadgets, Machina Gearframe, Stratos, Shining Angel, ect. Floaters allow a player to toolbox. It is effectively a tool to get any desired card. Old school decks, in the age of control or beat down, abused the concept of Floaters. They did not want to thin into a win condition put to have advantage for pressure. Surely you can follow why, no broken win conditions means that the simple plus should give you the mathematical win. But floaters now have a different role entirely, a role in the 8/40 rule.

Floaters can now help your opponent. BW Shura and Flamvell Firedog capitalize off of floaters, and Frog-Archs just use them to pump out a monster via Soul Exchange. Due to this, the mathematical advantage is nullified due to the superior advantage the common beating monsters provide. This makes a few match-ups unfavorable for the mathematically sound player. To counter act this, you need to give your floaters a higher purpose. A higher purpose in terms of getting not only mathematical advantage, but giving you a superior condition than my aforementioned common monsters provide.

I best use Machina Gearframe to describe the perfect role of a floater now. It gets you Machina Fortress. Machina Gadget decks stick to the rule of 8/40 in most situations currently. Two Machina Peacekeeper, Three Machina Gearframe, and Three Machine Fortress. Eight ways to get Fortress. This is a superior condition than Shura or Firedog can provide, as simply put, Fortress is the bigger and more deadly card in all situations, and provides amazing pressure and control. Peacekeeper is a terrible card by all means, but its ability is amplified due to its role in the mathematical principles behind assuring Machina Fortress. All decks which run floaters need to stick to such a principle to win games, if not the floaters will do more harm than good.

Back to the 8/40 rule after a slight detour into the floater world. If you construct a deck to give you the golden 1/5 rule in all situations, you can all but assure you will have the card you need to win in all games. This is much more fundamental than the first mathematical principle of figuring the odds of drawing one of your tech cards; this is rather the way to assure your engine will go off each game. To exemplify this point I will venture onto a deck which uses specific win conditions. LightSworn is that such deck. In the past the singular theme of LS had two win conditions, Lumina and Judgment Dragon. Hybrids had the range of three to five. But for simplicity sake, we will use standard LS. Three Lumina, Two Judgment Dragons, Three Charge of the Light Brigade. Standard LS assured they would have a win condition in a frequency of 1/5, meaning the deck could get a way to win turn one, each game.

Using this rule is the golden standard to show you if your deck will be able to win on a consistent basis. Other mathematical theories have a non-direct approach to a win ratio, but this is the most direct method. If you can get your boss monster turn one, you already have a leg up on your opponent. This 8/40 rule should be memorized by all players for this simple reason. If your deck doesn’t have access to a way to win in this frequency, another deck will. On the opposite side of the coin, if you draw it in too much frequency (Thinning in addition to floaters/searchers), your deck will be inconsistent and cloggy. It is more than ideal to stick to the 8/40 rule at all times.

Advanced Fundamentals.

Yugioh, like all games of chance, can be forced to use Mathematical logic. Abusing this means the difference between building a solid deck and a sacky deck. Additionally, knowing Yugioh terms such as Utility, Game State, Synergy, and Advantage simply give you an edge walking up to the table to play. Table top skills come through playing, but you can do a lot before so. And unlike learning the Meta or working on reads, you never forget what this article covers. If you write down the formula, like all mathematical equations, it can be changed to fit the needed situation. Using this to help you build a sound deck will help your game. And in a format where any deck can win, giving your theme even a slight edge will make a huge difference. Yugioh is an ever changing game, even the best can learn and should learn to adapt to an ever changing playing environment. Ignoring this truth separates the levels of players.

Some basic rules apply to all decks. Odds cannot be beater. Ratios can’t be avoided. If you do not want to fall victim to common pitfalls of playing traps, mathematical inquiry and the factor ‘luck’ can have, it is best to arm yourself with all the tools possible. Assembling them was a long and tedious process, but one I felt was needed in the competitive environment. Just like cheating, you will not know how to avoid bad luck unless you know how to create an environment best suited to feel the positive effects. These are Advanced Yugioh fundamentals for a reason; these are the tools players need to know to advance in this game.

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