Now if you’ve spent any amount of time on this site, you’ll come to find that the Yu-Gi-Oh card game (and the anime) is often a topic brought up here under less-than-pleasant circumstances. Most, if not all of the writers here have played the Yu-Gi-Oh card game seriously at some point, but have come to feel disenchanted with it for one reason or another. Whether you agree with the points we make here or not, it might be unfair to present such a one-sided argument. That brings us to this post, where I intend to explain what’s still good about the game. No, I won’t go into what was good, or what got ruined, but what is still unequivocally good. Forgive any passive-aggression you might detect in this, for it was likely not intended to be present. Now without further ado.
In looking through what could be considered truly stellar about today’s Yu-Gi-Oh, but not disregard statements made by myself and the other writers here, I came upon two general areas. Now, other card games may do these things, and may even do it better than Yu-Gi-Oh does, but that in no way means Yu-Gi-Oh also having these qualities, even if at to a lesser degree than other games, doesn’t take away the fact that it does indeed have these positives. I know, I know, I said “without further ado” but this is all just more ado. Well, the two general areas concern the deck and the gameplay. Let’s tackle the deck first, shall we?
In Yu-Gi-Oh you play with a 40-card deck minimum. That’s amazing, isn’t it? Usually, you see card games forcing you to play at least 50 cards in order to raise variance, which if you know my stance on variance, is a good thing. Now I know what you’re thinking, “isn’t this supposed to be about the good points of Yu-Gi-Oh?” I am getting there, young grasshopper. You see, the smaller deck size has a few advantages to it, and most of them help tie into the second general area, but more on that later.
- Side Decks mean more. This is the first point I’d like to talk about. When your deck is sixty cards and about a third of that is lands, if you open your side deck and put in 4-8 cards (basically, the maximum number of a certain card you can use in a Magic: The Gathering deck), you are likely to go the game without seeing any of the cards you put in since they make up 6-13% of the total cards you have. Now, when your deck is 40, suddenly 3-6 cards (basically, the maximum number of a certain card you can use in any Yu-Gi-Oh deck) means the side decked cards make up 8-15% of your deck. This means each card choice you make in your side decking matters a lot more than it does in other card games, which helps to accentuate the whole point of a Side Deck: that is, making strategic choices to counter an opponent’s strategy. Never drawing into any of those Side Decked cards kind of defeats the purpose of a side deck.
- Card choices matter more. When your deck is just 40, the cardpool is over 7000 cards, and there is no set rotation (or alternate formats to think about), the level of deck customization and optimization is something you have to be very cognizant of at all points of deck crafting. You generally want to play the minimum number of cards to raise your deck’s consistency, so this means the cards you include in the deck each matter to a greater extent than if the deck was, say, 60 cards. This ties into the Side Deck issue raised above somewhat as well, in that the changes you make during siding can greatly impact how your deck operates due to the larger effect each card has due to the smaller pool.
- Chance of “bricking” is greatly diminished. “Bricking” is a term that essentially means opening an unplayable hand. When your deck is just 40 cards, each optimized to play into your deck’s strengths, you’re very likely to always have something in your opening hand that can be used.
- Decks are easier to make. This one is more subjective than the others, but something that may hold true for a lot of players. With just 40 cards, that’s less space to fill than in many card games. This makes deck-crafting less intimidating and may make it more attractive to newer or less enfranchised players.
As you can see from the time devoted to it, the Deck’s size can be a massive upside, and from a certain perspective, it is a strong suit of the Yu-Gi-Oh card game. It also leads into the second point: fast and swingy gameplay. Let me explain how they tie into each other before I get into what exactly I mean. The smaller deck size minimum inherently raises the consistency of decks that adhere to it, and then that consistency is further increased by the deckbuilder’s choices, so these lead to games where decks do what they’re designed to pretty quickly and pretty efficiently.
- Fast gameplay. It’s exactly as it reads. Every theme in Yu-Gi-Oh has a search card specific to them, and then there’s more general search cards, there’s monsters that search a card from the deck when you play them etc. There’s just a tonne of ways to get your combos going, and often on your first, second or third turns. It’s not uncommon to put 5000+ damage on the board in one turn, which is about 63% of your opponent’s life points. It is not hyperbole to say games typically end in five to six turns, and that translates to about eight to ten minutes per game. This quick gameplay can be attractive to new players that aren’t looking to invest too much time into a game.
- Swingy gameplay. What this means is advantage can turn, or “swing” rapidly and without warning. A field can move from empty to representing 5000+ damage in one turn and big plays are common because you never run out of resources. This can create the illusion that you’re making thoughtful and impressive plays, and this adrenaline rush make the game more exciting. This, again, can be attractive to new players, and probably is to those that have stuck around with the game.
Well there you have it, readers. I, Terrorking, consider myself a fair and objective person, so it only felt right that I gave you points in defense of Yu-Gi-Oh. In many ways, this was the toughest article I’ve ever written because it required reevaluating the game from a perspective other than my own. As you can see in my post linked in the first paragraph, these points that I said are good are typically things I do not care for.
Well, see you next week where I tackle [REDACTED].