Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Pass ONLINE (An NoF Portal)

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Duel School

In order to open up Yu-Gi-Oh! more for the masses, there needs to be some sort of dissemination of knowledge. It seems to me that games like this are like best-kept secrets that are greedily protected by their protectors. Our goal with this area is to concatenate some of the tips we’ve posted elsewhere on the site or have developed along our encounters. Now, I will personally tell you that I do not pretend to be the best duelist or even one of the best but, with my unique perspective on the game, I hope to help folks find their own approach. The beauty of Yu-Gi-Oh! is that it is very simple and easy to learn yet there is sooo much depth to the game thatthe strategic variations alone are endless. Now let’s get you all “edumacated” – du’yuck!!

*** Table of Contents ***
The Road to Yu-Gi-Oh!
Crash Course: Basic Yu-Gi-Oh! Concepts
Getting Started: Yu-Gi-Oh! Online
Lost In Translation
Yu-Gi-Oh! Storytelling
The Art of Deck Molding
Bulletproofing Your Deck
Let’s Duel
The Waiting Game

The Road to Yu-Gi-Oh!
My personal love for the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG started many moons ago when I created my own TCG and eventually jumped on the MTG bandwagon (briefly). One of my gripes with MTG was that it seemed that they kept releasing boosters, over-complicating the rules, and getting too expensive. With that game, it feels like only those that spend lots of money on super rare super-limited cards can be good. Yu-Gi-Oh! is designed in a way that makes the game seem overly-simple but, in actuality, it is a very deep game. The complexity of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, both in face-to-face and online encounters, comes in the strategy, not merely creating over-powered expensive decks. MTG, to me, has been filled with too much snobbery and, because of it, many of old-school MTGers are moving to YGO.

Now, believe me, there is room to play every TCG under the sun since they all offer distinct elements but I think YGO is very balanced in that it is fun for novices, amateurs, and professionals alike. Other TCG’s have become very elitist and I personally feel Konami is trying to open up the game to the masses, though the cartoons and merchandising still focus more on the younger generations, of course. Do not believe the myth: Yu-Gi-Oh! is not just for kids; heck, most kids I’ve known play with all the wrong rules!

Crash Course: Basic Yu-Gi-Oh! Concepts
A basic familiarity with TCG’s can be very helpful but certainly is not necessary. You have to be ready to lose a few duels, maybe several, and learn from your mistakes. Keeping an open mind is huge. From there, you will learn everything from experience. The initial tricky areas to familiarize yourself with include, but are not limited to:

  • Duel phases and turn limits.
  • Card speeds and timing.
  • Combos/chains and their conditions.
  • Official rules versus house rules.
  • Semi-limited, limited, and forbidden cards.
  • Card positioning and field lay-out.
  • Duel etiquette and table talk.
  • Card description and key terms.
  • Card attributes, types, and stats.

If you enjoy story-telling and score-keeping, a Yu-Gi-Oh! face-to-face duel can just the thing for you; otherwise, I really recommend getting your feet wet by playing online. The basic flow of the game is easy to pick up and the little nuances become familiar with just a little duel time under your belt.

For you guys out there, I know that we do not like to read manuals but, really, the manual that comes with a Starter Deck does a pretty good job of summing up the game. The online game is automated and gives you free duel points with the creation of a new account so that’s another good way to learn the basic mechanics. I highly recommend my buddy Steve’s Duel Guide at Yugioh-World.com for a quick Yu-Gi-Oh! crash course.

Getting Started: Yu-Gi-Oh! Online
The developers behind the Yu-Gi-Oh! Online have really added a lot of nice features to the new version of YGOO. Duel Evolution offers many rich collaborative and community tools but, as seems to be the case with a lot of the smaller Konami software projects, the UI (User Interface) is a bit cumbersome. Knowing where to start can be a nightmare, especially if you are a more casual gamer or a completely beginner/novice. Don’t worry: we got your back!

Upon creating your account and logging on, you’ll be placed in a room that is remniscent of the dorms seen on the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX cartoon series. Take your time to figure out what is clickable and get comfortable with the strange control scheme. Holding the right mouse button will allow you to run around with your little avatar/character and, as usual, left click is where most of your actions get done. You’ll want to start by clicking on the duel discs to create your character design and costumes. If you like customization, you’ll be pretty happy with the many options you have here.

If you do not watch the cartoon, the uniforms may throw you off so I’ll break it down for you: red jackets are the low-level duelists, yellow jackets are intermediate duelists, and the blue jackets are the supposed creme de la creme. This system is more of a reflection of experience than skill level so do not let this or the level numbers intimidate you. Generally speaking, Yu-Gi-Oh! has a very reasonable learning curve so even new players can give seasoned vets and professionals a real run for their money.

First-time players will be given a started deck of about 40-45 cards. In the beginner lobbies, where you’ll be forced to play until you reach Level 2 (after a few duels, typically around 15), you’ll face off other people that have the same or similar decks. Only players of Level 2 or higher can trade (for now) so the playing field will be pretty level. I suggest taking advantage of being in the beginner area by playing as much as possible in the beginning. Once you hit Level 2 or higher, there is no going back and it’ll be harder to duel more reasonable (or less cheesy) opponents. I highly-recommend at least purchasing one or two Duelpasses so that you get yourself a good 30-60 DP (Duel Points), good for 30-60 single-round duels or 10-20 three-round matches, respectively. This way, you can enjoy uninterrupted fun, rather than get into it only to realize you have no more DP (10 DP can run out really fast if you play lots).

Moving on… Deck building should be your next focus after customizing your avatar and perhaps tweaking your comments and profile. When you go into the deck creation screen, you should see all your cards (your trunk) on the right, along with a set of filters that will let you sort out your cards by type, attribute (element), keywords, and more. Light brown/yellowish cards are monsters, orange effect monsters, green magic/spells, pink/redish traps, and purple fusion monsters. To understand the significance of these categories and distinctions, you may want to play one of the Nintendo GBA or DS games (or check out our suggested links for “How to Play Yu-Gi-Oh!”). Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2007 comes out March 20th and will feature Wi-Fi play so check that out (by the time you read this, it should be out, actually).

Entering the deck building screen is as simple as clicking the yellow-orangeish button on the bottom left. This button is accessible from most in-game screens and is essentially how you get around. As I said, in this screen you’ll see the filters and trunk cards on the right pane. The middle pain will provide you with your staging areas for the main deck, side deck, and fusion deck. As with the traditional Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, you can have as many cards you want in your fusion deck since they don’t really count as cards. Your side deck is limited to 15 cards and is only useful for tournies and match play, so you can make main deck adjustments between rounds. Your main deck is where you want to focus because these are the cards you’ll be using most. Your must have 40 or more cards in your deck, but not more than 80. As a general rule of thumb I recommend that new players keep their decks below 50 cards to ensure consistently-good draws. Balance is very important. Unless you are very advanced, most people will have more monsters in their deck than spell and trap cards.

We’ll revisit the concepts of duel preparation, deck building, and the like throughout your lessons here and in other places but, for now, let’s look at other key features to YGOO (Yu-Gi-Oh! Online). If you have your deck ready, the next thing is to find duels. There are many ways to do this but, for the most part, auto-dueling is the easiest way to get lots of action and not have to go through the tricky stuff. To learn more about the color designations of active duelists, check out our Yu-Gi-Oh! Online Duel Evolution (YGOO2) Game Review. For now, suffice to say that, if you see lots of people with their names in green, they are auto-dueling and probably waiting for someone to create a duel that meets their criteria.

Once you are in an actual duel, you will have a different set of options in that ubiquitous bottom-left-corner options menu/button. The most note-worthy is “auto-tracking” – disable it (trust me). If you duel and find yourself getting frustrated, be sure to create your own duel and set level limits. Timers are also good so that you don’t just lose by wondering how to “unfreeze” or enter the next phase in a turn. Understanding basic Yu-Gi-Oh! flow is important but the online game also has it’s own flow and nuances, which take getting used to. Typically, when you get into your 7th or 8th duel, things should feel a lot more natural.

An important thing to note when searching for duels is that you do not need to physically be next to a duelist to challenge them, add them to your friends list, trade, or view their profile. There is a player list pane on the left that can be toggled to be collapsed, semi-extended, and fully-extended. This list shows you who is in a duel (red names) and who is just hanging about (black names). Only people that are not looking to duel can be sent friend and trade requests. Be aware that you cannot trade until you hit Level 2. Until you hit Level 2, just duel as much as you can, learn from your mistakes, borrow techniques from others, and don’t be afraid to lose. Just have fun with it and it’ll all come to you little by little!

Lost In Translation
Read the cards carefully. Imports tend to lose things in translation but, fortunately, you get to see how cards are supposed to work when you play online since everything is automated. You still get the “Engrish effect” but it’s not as bad. Things to look for when reading card descriptions…

  • Original ATK points versus otherwise.
  • Opponent’s effect.
  • Card effect versus battle damage.
  • Post and pre-damage calculation effects.
  • Flips and flip summons.
  • Special summon dynamics.

If you played the old YGOO, you’ll notice that there are a lot more cards out there now (over 650 NEW cards so far, to be exact). Chances are that you may see a card you’ve never played before or the mechanics of a card you used in face-to-face duels do not play out the same online. This is part of the old official versus house rules issue that we touched upon earlier. When you play people “in real life”, they tend to twist the rules around and don’t even get me started with tournament rules and the abominations you see there!

In the end, your only recourse is to play the game and learn about all the little nuances, the potential pitfalls, that are likely to happen when you least expect. Card descriptions have become a lot more detailed, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes these card descriptions read like furniture assembly prints – it’s all part of the fun!!

Yu-Gi-Oh! Storytelling
Storytelling in Yu-Gi-Oh! is a good skill to develop, especially for the face-to-face gatherings. A good duelist is able to narrate his moves to add to the build-up of a battle. It may sound cheesy but this makes the flow of a battle more natural and also makes the terminology/jargon more of a second nature to you. If you are learned in the ways of D&D, then the narrative elements of the game may very well be what draws you in.

That being said, there are some players that would rather just play the game and skip the supposed “cream puff” elements. The power in narrative play is that it helps you use more of that left-lobe brain activity. You can foresee more possibilities, including things that may not be as evident, and prepare for them better. Aside from that, it keeps gameplay from getting stale though there’s always water cooler discussions about your favorite shows, comics, sports, and what-not.

The Art of Deck Molding
I usually prefer the term “deck building” but, here, I choose to go with “deck molding” because it sounds more personal, intimate even. When I say that that deck molding is an intimate process, I mean that it is something that reflects what kind of person you are, not that it is “sexy time explosion” (LOL). The temptation for duelists is to follow the latest trends or go by some list/recipe. You can become a good deck builder by following what others do but, in the end, molding the deck to your unique style and keeping the element of surprise on your side can only happen if you do your own thing.

By community standards, the rules of thumb are as simple: keep your deck between 40 and 50 cards, try to have more monsters than you have spell/trap cards, and try, whenever possible, to incorporate cards that help you in “bad draw” situations. We all know how it can be when you have a bad hand and you can’t seem to draw the card you need and that is exactly why throwing in some chaos, reload, or free draw cards goes a long way.

I believe that a good deck should have cards that have multiple uses. Such deck flexibility ensures that you are not limiting yourself to small windows of opportunity. For example, if you have a 60-card deck and your main strategy relies on getting two exact cards in your hand, you already give yourself around a 3-12% chance to pull off your winning combo, at best. I will not bore you with some overly-complicated formulas but the realization here is that you create a deck that can help you out of the most-typical binds and gives you some sort of escape rope when you are in a worst-case scenario.

Deck molding is often a trial-by-fire process. You take a concept, build a core, build around that core, and then you make adjustments after a few rounds of battles. Be careful not to become a perfectionist and make changes to your deck after every duel. Give your deck a chance to “marinate” and don’t pre-emptively write it off as bad just because you lose a few duels; sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting to know your deck better!

As you perfect your custom deck, be sure to consider the biggest counters to your core strategies. For example, if your deck’s effectiveness is determined by your ability to flip or flip summon monsters, you’ll need to make sure you can counter things like Nobleman of Crossout, Book of Taiyou, and Sasuke Samurai (all of them are pretty potent but watch out for the original and #4). If you have a beatdown deck, you want to be able to summon your monsters and attack freely to control the field and overpower your opponent. Countering Trap Hole, Magic Cylinder, Book of Moon, and other pesky anti-summon cards then becomes critical.

If you don’t know where to start, watch what other duelists do and see what you like about their style and how you can put your own personal touch on things. Fortunately, there are plenty of sites that provide information on basic Yu-Gi-Oh! dueling strategies. The best tip I can give you at this point in our training is this: do not look at cards individually because, really, there are lots of cards that are awesome out there. Instead, consider which cards work best together and you’ll find that building decks becomes a cinch.

Case Study: Zombie decks come in and out of popularity all the time. The reason for this is that zombies offer some unique advantages that other monsters don’t usually provide. There are several zombie-type monsters that have powerful ATK but low DEF and, because of their imbalanced stats, only count as Level 3 placements. This alone creates great opportunity to use things like Gravity Bind and Skull Lair due to the reduced “upkeep”. Zombie support cards are also quite bountiful and range from cards that allow you to revive dead zombies to cards that let you place extra monsters on the field to cards that only empower zombies with greater attack strength. Anyone that has ever seen a zombie deck in action can attest that Vampire Lord, Patrician of Darkness, and Pyramid Turtle alone can be quite effective (and annoying). If you need more draw opportunities, Des Lacooda works well in this build. With a zombie deck, you have lots of room to get creative so get jiggy with it!

Remember: deck molding is not to be confused with mere deck building. When you mold a deck, you build it around a concept and make it yours. Your deck may be a direct counter to others or perhaps it just follows a clever theme or approach that people may not have considered. Avoid the hot trends and, instead, combine best-of-breed techniques and you’ll find that your decks will naturally evolve.

Bulletproofing Your Deck
Since some people take things too literally and we *ARE* an international site, please note that your deck will not protect you from an onslaught of bullets coming your way. Bulletproofing your deck means tweaking it, fine-tuning it, making the adjustments to adapt your deck to the most likely of encounters and scenarios. At every level of competition, you’ll find that there are cliche and predictable techniques, combos, and cards. All you need are a few duels at any competitive level to see what the popular things are at any given time. From there, just make the simple adjustments.

Let’s paint a more concrete picture here (in the spirit of FCBC, please send me any ideas and feedback that you may have, folks) by getting into some of the basic techniques and counters. Here are some of the things you should prepare for, and some suggestions for counters:

{ Summon Prevention – Trap Hole }
Description: Trap Hole is old-school and very much effective if you are not careful.
Counter: Vampire Lord laughs at card effects so this may be a good card to pack into your deck. If you do not have good monsters, there is always the check summon: summon a monster of ATK 1000 or higher but keep your stronger monsters in-hand. Try to get your opponent to waste his trap. If you find this being counter-countered, your best bet is to incorporate anti-trap cards such as Solemn Judgement, Dust Tornado, or Trap Jammer.

{ Persistent Little Guys }
Description: With Spirit Breaker, Obnoxious Celtic, Injection Fairy Lily, and Marshmallon being pretty popular these days, especially online, chances are that you may have an impenetrable defense. Direct damage cards can easily subdue such a strategy but not everyone has those in their deck (can’t blame them)…
Counter: If you have a cast where a monster cannot be destroyed due to battle damage, your best counter would be to use a card that freezes the position of the monster, such as Flint or Spellbinding Circle (HINT: the latter card works REALLY well with Giant Trunade). If you freeze the monster in attack position, you pretty much have an open door to keep inflicting damage to your opponent. Be wary of tributes, of course. A safer technique may be using Creature Swap or Fissure but make sure that possible spell counters are not in-play or in a quick-play position.

{ Beatdown Barrage }
Description: Old-school duelists will tell you that a good beatdown deck can sometimes totally annihilate you without giving you much of a chance to do anything. If you have relatively weak monsters, you can be strong-armed by such a deck. In the barrage approach, the smart duelist saves traps for your strongest monsters, thus leaving your remaining monsters to succumb to superior muscle.
Counter: Once again, Trap Hole comes into play as a beautiful card to have in a smaller deck (50 or less). If you can’t get Trap Hole into play before a really powerful monster comes onto the scene (or your Trap Hole is countered), Fissure is a great backup. Since most duelists have some sort of means for monster revival/return in their decks, taking control of their diesel monsters may be smarter. Snatch Steal and Creature Swap are both awesome cards on this end. There are other cards that can work here but that’s just too many to list! The trick is to wait for your opponent to get over-confident and, when he summons what can very well be his most powerful monster, get rid of it or take control of it.

{ Burnination }
Description: There is this dude that goes by the nickname “Trog” sometimes. He likes to burninate. His technique is crude, annoying, and effective: use only direct damage cards and monsters. He may take lots of damage but, since his opponent takes more damage than he does (and at a faster rate), he wins.
Counters: The smart burn deck (as some people call ‘em) user knows to employ cards that keep you from attacking via conventional means. Swords of Revealing Light, Nightmare Steelcage, and Gravity Bind may be some cards you’ll have to counter if you want to use beatdown tactics. I like to keep Emergency Provisions and Solemn Wishes as ways to offset ongoing damage by way a continuous card effect, direct damage spells, or direct damage monsters. There are many variations to this opponent strategy so you’ll have to mix things up a bit. Either beat the opponent at their own game or find a way to minimize the damage done, stall, and get your damage in first. A good route to take may be including Mirror Wall with those health bonus cards so that you can cut all monster damage in half. Of course, these are all the beginnings of a solid counter strategy. Your homework now is to figure out how to fill in the gaps!

…As you can see, there are many cards in here that become core components to any of your decks. Identify those cards that make you feel the safest and build around them. Just be careful not to jump on the bandwagon like other duelists may do. Regardless of how good or cool your deck may be, you’ll always have to adjust it to changing times if you want to stay competitive. Just be original and have fun with it!

Let’s Duel
Well, you’ve covered most of the fundamental principles of Yu-Gi-Oh! so now it’s time to get more into the battle tactics. One thing I’d like to warn you of is believing the cartoon show or manga too much. These things are dramatized and leave out some core mechanics so don’t try to learn new moves by following the stories too much. By all means, enjoy the show and/or manga but take it all with a grain of salt when it comes to dueling know-how. Just as a side note, I totally prefer “Let’s Duel” over “Game On” but that’s neither here nor there.

Everyone has their own special approach to the game, even the recipe users and unoriginal duelists, but there are several laws that bind duelists. Let’s look at the things a good duelist has to always consider and employ to remain effective:

  • Deck balance.
  • The luck of draw.
  • Field control.
  • Diversion.
  • Potential risk versus potential reward.
  • Opponent strategy.

If you ask me, those six items are the main things any duelist needs to be succesful on the battlefield. It’s not about who has the strongst monsters, the coolest cards, or the most expensive deck, though some people can skate by on that alone against the average duelist.

Most of these items are pretty self-evident. Let’s knock out the simplest components of dueling first. Why does opponent strategy matter? It’s simple: knowing enemy strategy allows you to develop counters. If you see very common techniques, you can come up with ways to avert them in future duels. A lot of duelists are one-trick dogs so, if you knock out their supposed finishing combo, they will usually go down easily.

Measuring potential risk and potential reward is imperative. Sometimes you need to sacrifice to win a duel, which may mean taking damage, losing a monster, or doing something that may otherwise seem “newbish”. These situations become more clear the more you duel, especially if you keep experience as recent as possible and are focused. When you build up momentum and get that fire going, you’ll be able to see opportunity even in the most dire of situations. As you’ll see in the next section, patience and playing the waiting game definitely help a good duelist avoid self-destruction.

Diversion is a skill that helps the good duelists keep their opponents off-balance until they mount their real combo or finishing blow. The concept behind diversion is simple: do things that conceal your true intentions. Draw your opponent to play according to your rules. Manipulate your opponent so that they think they have control but really do not, but be ready for them to do the same back to you. The best diversionary strategies take into account what cards you have in your hand, what you are likely to draw, and which cards you can sacrifice while still having enough plays to work with. Sacrificing cards can keep your real winners from being targeted and keeps you in the game. For example, placing your weakest monster in face-down defense position to see if you draw out a Nobleman of Crossout can be a great way to set the stage for the flip effect card you really want to use in a given scenario.

If you let your opponent dominate the field, he or she essentially controls the flow of the game. For our purposes here, we’ll say field control is purely in reference to how many playable monster card positions are available. Typically, a duelist will try to muscle out a win by populating as many monster cards on the field as possible. More monsters on the field means more chances for high-level summons and chained combos. The last thing you want is for your opponent to real strong monsters on the field along with possible flip monsters; that essentially means a dominated win for them.

To attain field control, one must simply keep the enemy from placing monsters on the field or just get strong monsters out on the field. In both cases, having the right support cards in terms of trap and magic cards, once again, becomes a focal point for the evolving duelist. Mirror Wall, Trap Hole, Mirror Force, Magic Cylinder, Negate Attack, Fissure, and Creature Swap are some of the many cards that can help you ultimately control the field. I can’t stress enough that playing into the strengths of your deck is very important. You can’t make your deck be everything because it doesn’t work. Every card has both literal and hidden costs of use, an upkeep, if you will, so you have to balance your deck so that your main strategies will be covered and not easily countered.

If only we could control the luck of the draw. Drawing the right cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! is arguably more important than in a game of Poker or Spades. Even the most balanced decks can give you what many may consider a “garbage hand” so one, as a smart duelist, must prepare to put probability and luck on their side. Decks that have some sort of hand refresh or free draw components are almost always winners when balanced properly. Consider cards like Des Lacooda, Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity, Freed the Matchless General, or maybe one of those spiffy Wu warriors that has the effect of drawing cards!

If all else fails, your only real option may be to keep your opponent from getting or using the good cards. As we saw earlier, Inspection and Exchange are just two of the many cards that can come in handy. As always, be wary of the possible counters and ways certain strategies can backfire on you, especially when using cards like Drop Off, Card Destruction, or Exchange. Reload, Monster Recovery, and Morphing Jar are fun cards to put to work for you when you need last-resort drawing action.

Above all, deck balance is always he make-or-break factor when creating a powerful deck and dueling effectively. Balancing your deck can be as simple as making sure the number of trap and spell cards that you have in your deck do not, when summed up, exceed the sum of monster cards you have (that means both effect and normal monsters, since fusion monsters are not drawn or summoned via more conventional means). There are many variables to consider but that is the general rule of thumb. If you stack any single type of card, be sure to think about every possible repercussions because those are the hardest decks to put to work during a duel.

The beauty of understanding these concepts is that it helps you get more into the mind of your opponent and develop more effective counters. Most of the decks you will see employed will be based off of popular recipes or strong themes. Once you see a few cards played, you can pretty much figure out what to expect from your typical duelist; of course, it could all be clever diversionary tactics as well. In my experiences, the duelists I have battled rely more on the strength of their cards than the heart of them, as cheesy as it may sound. Once you realize learn the dynamics of dueling, you’ll be able to take the worst of situations and turn them around.

Duel strategy is really a huge topic in itself so let’s get back to the tactics. Be very careful with timing of attacks and special conditions when playing on Yu-Gi-Oh! Online. I’ve seen it all too often (heck, I do it myself): people get excited, don’t read the card properly, try to execute a combo, and it backfires. A good example is the ‘ol original ATK versus current ATK (after equip cards and other effects are taken into account). If you have a card like Megamorph in your deck, you may be tempted to play it just because it can give you a huge crushing blow to smack the opponent up with but the reality is that, if your original ATK is something like, say, zero points (LOL @ my Copycat mishap a few days back), you effectively made your monster into a walking target… and probably gave the tactical advantage to your opponent along with the rest of the game.

Face-down defense position may seem safe but do not be fooled into believing this tactical myth. Face-down monsters are susceptible to Nobleman of Crossout, Book of Taiyou, and Sasuke Samurai, to name a few potential perils. These days, you may be more likely to be see these cards more than Trap Hole, Bottomless Trap Hole, and more “old school” cards. It’s really a gamble but what I’m saying is that you need to be ready to counter your opponent if they foil your initial plans. I can’t stress enough how much diversion plays a huge part in tactical efforts. It’s essentially what makes a good Poker player into an excellent Poker player – keep that poker face on and don’t let your bluffs obvious!

The Waiting Game
As I mentioned above, knowing when to hold them and when to fold them is part of the constant weighing of risk-reward probabilities. One of the typical situations where you need to be patient is when you only have one or two monsters in your hand. You may see that none of your monsters are strong enough to hold up against an enemy monster but you may not want to sacrifice them because if you get that one lucky draw, you can take advantage of special combos. The question then becomes: take some damage and wait for the combo that may not present itself or put up some defense, just to stall a bit and hope for a magical card to save you from peril? The waiting game can be very daunting and is very much a core component of Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG and Online alike.

I won’t get into too much detail here because this is one of those things that you can’t really be taught. You have to get out there and learn hard lessons to undersand the delicate balance of risk and reward, then make decisions on-the-fly. The general rules of engagement were discussed in the previous section. Field control and keeping your opponent from pulling off combos is key. There are many, many cards you can use just as part of a disturbance strategey. These are the types of cards that you may want to save when the well runs dry or you see your opponent setting up for a big combo (such as a two-monster tribute summon, or worse).

Now, when considering disturbance strategies and keeping your opponent off-balance, my favorite strategy is what I call “snatchies” – steal your opponent’s best cards or at least keep them from being able to use it. Inspection, Drop Off, Creature Swap, Snatch Steal, and Exchange are all good options on that end, amongst otheres. Be careful with Exchange because you may give your opponent a card that may actually be useful to him!

In conclusion, being patient is very, very important. It may be tempting to be gung-ho and try to go for what may seem like an easy kill but you need to think about what options you have if your current attempts get reversed or stopped somehow. At any given time, cards on the field and/or in your hand can be destroyed by any number of effects that exist out there. If you don’t think about the probabilities of your next draw or two, at least, then you will be easily thwarted. Never count the opponent out – overconfidence kill otherwise good duelists. Always try to see the “big picture”…

The Balancing Act Revisited
One of the most common questions I get here on DPO and offline is how to build a deck affectively so that you draw good hands more consistently and, by extension, win more! I’ve been getting back to building decks around structure deck cores (or completely from scratch). It’s been great fun and it’s helped me get more in tune with the many changes in the professional Yu-Gi-Oh! dueling arena. Even if you’re a casual or recreational duelist like I am nowadays, I’d like to share some of my findings from the past several years (I’ve been dueling for over 10 years now – WOW)!

Balancing your deck is not an exact science and it’s something we revisit often here because there are so many ways to approach. As such, what I will do is feature deck recipes from myself and duelists that I know both online and offline, then give you some insight on what works and what doesn’t. Even the strongest deck has it’s weaknesses so don’t get discouraged!

The first tip I would say is ALWAYS think about what your initial hands will likely look like. If you rely on effect monsters to do your dirty work, but your hands typically are mostly, if not completely, spell and trap cards, that can start you off in a poor situation. No mulligans here – you HAVE to play that crappy hand. While every hand has the potential to have a viable play, getting better hands to boot usually gives you a jump start.

With that in mind, keep the ratio of cards in mind. I’ve said this in my Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist Journal too – it’s THAT important! Trust me, it stinks when you have a sweet deck but constantly struggle in those first rounds. Cards like Pot of Avarice, Reload, and Morphing Jar can only save your behind so many times!

68 Responses to “Duel School”

  1. […] Duel School […]

  2. DynastyX said

    ya i have another question what are those points im seeing at the end of my duels? 40 for singles and 88 for matches, what are these for and where are they building up?

  3. Yogizilla said

    Hello again, DynastyX!

    Nice to see you actively perusing our latest work.. I believe what you are citing here may be your experience level for dueling. With duel ratings of 40 in singles and 88 in matches, I’d say you are doing better in the three-round duels than in the single-round duels. That probably means you adjust to your opponent well and/or have a killer side deck, which speaks volumes on your behalf.

    Seems like your dueling skills are definitely rock-solid. Keep up the good work and, if you ever want to share your story with the rest of our readers here, perhaps we can do a little guest blog here. Let me know if you (or anyone out there) are interested!

    Make sure you plug into the WordPress community to browse, subscribe to, and syndicate other killer Yu-Gi-Oh! blogs on here. =o)

  4. shaina said

    Wow thanks 4 the tips.I have only losted 2 times.But i think thanks to site i will win the next time i duel.Have can you give me more info on how to come a member.I will be thankful thats 4 sure.

  5. shaina colby said

    Hi how ya come member.This is realey cool site.I love yu-gi-oh game.I am a good duelst.Pl tell me how i can how a member.

  6. DJ said

    How do i be cme a member

  7. Yogizilla said

    No membership is required to view this site, though it is recommended to become a WordPress user so that you can get your own custom avatars and other little goodies. If you are trying to use our duelpass shop site, you can go to http://www.yugioh-duelpass.net and sign up! A valid e-mail address is needed to do so, which means no mass-distributed free e-mail addresses. More information on that is available on our DuelPassOnline (DPO) FAQ. =o)

  8. andrew said

    yo yogizilla how do i battle online

  9. Yogizilla said

    Hi Andrew! If you’re interested in playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Online, there are many ways to do it, including websites and webcam challenges. Feel free to contact the players that have requested duels here on our blog or go to the official site for Yu-Gi-Oh! Online. One of the neat NEW features of Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Online is the fact that you can battle NPC players (or bots). Good training. Check it out and let us know what you think! DUEL ON!!!

  10. brinz said

    hi ive been looking for sum online yu gi oh game were i can deul people and i want to become a member how can i do this

  11. Yogizilla said

    Hi Brinz! The official home for Yu-Gi-Oh! Online is http://www.yugioh-online.net – it is ran by Konami and is a pay-to-play game. We are not affiliated with the project but we do help out the community by providing information on how to buy duelpasses, play the game, and the like. Hope that helps – GAME ON!! =oD

  12. Hy all what`s up here ! the first time here i think YDE2 rocks .,.,:O ~•*•~ ., why we can`t read the tips on http://www.yugioh-online.net
    that`s sucks ., when i were the begin*** was totally bad ././
    and Konami you really dosen`t help the beg of YDE2 !?

  13. lola girl said

    i`m Lelies so you`r bad Drago

  14. Drago•*• :P said

    well hi all .,,,.!:O ~`•*•`~ ,.i think that YDE2 rocks how long is this game can anyone post me plz :O why Konami doesn`t help the beg of YDE2 ,/,., !?

  15. smokey6052 said

    how do i join

  16. Dan Tarbell said

    hello, my deck is the basic formation of the new deck dragon lord but with more cards, about 54. do you think it is to much? i win most of my duels, about 72% is me wining.

  17. Yogizilla said

    I see that a lot of folks find that the game does not have any real helpful tips or training opportunity. For this, I recommend the latest Yu-Gi-Oh! game for the Nintendo DS plus many visits to our sites. We haven’t updated TOO much lately but, if you send us your questions and ideas, we’ll certainly start developing more content! =oD

    Smokey, our Duel School requires no enrollment. Simply e-mail your questions and/or leave comments and we will develop lessons to address your specific needs! =o)

    Hi Dan!

    Great question! It’s the best question we’ve had lately, most definitely. My general answer is that the 40-to-50 card limit is a big myth of dueling.

    In your case, Dragon Lord decks haven’t been that prominent on YGOO so it’s something the average duelist is not preferred for. Winning 72% of your matches is quite good, way better than average even. The only way to know for sure if your deck needs adjustment is by figuring out how often you get “bad hands”.

    See, the one issue with Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG is that you do not get mulligans, at least not when you play online. If you get a really poor first hand, that can end your game early. With more cards in your deck, you add a lot more risk but the risk is only great if you are a one-trick Charlie.

    Most decks I have seen, both online and offline, try to counter any spells and traps a player will typically deploy. This will allow for the right draws to come into play. Ultimately, duelists rely on one end-game move, which may take place, on average, in 5-to-7 turns, maybe more, maybe less. If you happen to counter this move, they’re usually at a loss and it comes down to a stall or burn strategy of some sort. Maybe they’ll go for the gusto with a mill strategy, effectively making you run out of cards.

    I feel that having more cards prevents strong-arm tactics. You can maximize draws by integrating similar cards and having backup strategies. This will allow you to create the illusion of one key strategy while really preparing another end-game strategy.

    In short, if you are building around the Dragon Lord deck and throwing in support cards, that works, but be sure to give yourself some backup strategies. I find that winning with monster cards can be tough. If you rely on that one killer monster, you’re introducing unnecessary risk to the game, no matter how unstoppable that monster may be.

    If you find that you consistently draw the cards you need, then you’re fine. If you feel you get a lot of junk hands, you may want to trim down or reconsider your core strategies with this deck. Hope that helps!


  18. Levithan said

    No I am a 8 time Yugioh champion from all differnt places. I have done hobby and store league tournaments. What i find for the keys of making a good deck is balanceing your cards. I mean if u made a 45 card deck you should have at least 20 level 4 or lower monsters at least 5 high powered monsters and 10 magic and traps. And as the leader of my crew I find useful not to give information about your deck. Like what kind of deck do you use. Or what are some of your combos. I would not tell you because if it is a combo no one heard of or thought of doing then I would only keep it to my self. The only information I am going to give you about my deck is that it is completly rebuilt and it is the new Gladitor Beast deck.

  19. Yogizilla said

    Levithan brings up some good points. Like I always say, balance is the key but what does that really mean? Being ready for anything and not relying on a single “trumping strategy”. All the champs say about the same thing but in a different way, really.

    I honestly feel that anyone that is afraid to give up some combos is a one-trick dog. I’d gladly give up a combo to someone I think is worthy of knowing it, simply because the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe is very finite and, eventually, anyone who duels enough will see it all.

    The trick is not so much in the combos as it is in how you employ your cards and what supporting cards you throw in. I mean, some people will take more collateral damage than others, just to avoid sacrificing a key play. Others are munch more cocky and gung-ho, assuming most adversaries are unprepared and untalented.

    In the end, even the best get defeated so learn to tune your gut instincts, above all. In multiple-round duels, you have the advantage of being able to retool your deck. With that type of dueling, you are able to observe more and perhaps throw your opponent some “bones” to see how they react. It is that type of technique that is learned and cannot be taught. Anyone that tells you that simply having the “best cards” and the “strongest monsters” is all you need, probably doesn’t have much finesse in their dueling game, IMHO! ;o)

  20. Yogizilla said

    Also, let it be known that there are players that can win with almost all magic and trap cards. Balance is relative, then, to the type of duelists you are facing or at least your “average duel” but such a balance can never be 100%. It’s more a matter of being ready for realistic situations and, again, employing multiple strategies through a single deck. That’s not just balance, that’s deck flexibility! 8)

  21. shamar said

    stop wasting your time whem you guys are in im going to wipe you all you guys out and guess what im a chapion of 1000 people you dont stand a chance against me mu ha ha haa

  22. shamar said

    im a nice person when a duel is on my mind im a whole nother person. ever sence i’ve been dueling i’ve never lost i promise and i also promise you that i will not lose to any of you

  23. shamar said

    one more word of advice don’t espect me to go easy on you. you goy that kid?

  24. Shamar said

    yes im a noob that cant duel

  25. Shamar said

    cmon guys admitt i suk

  26. fugi said

    hit me up

  27. fugi said

    wus crackalackin yall

  28. joshy said

    you all know this dude

  29. defy said

    you goy that kid. haha what a loser

  30. defy said

    shamar i challenge you to dule you’ll never forget

  31. defy said

    i can understand that your scard because you only won a pity 1000 duels but wait until you face the holder of 17,847+ then youll realize that your not so tough! also keep on hiding behind your screen dueling these computer geeks but when you feel like coming out of the closet and dueling me in person you wont make it past your third draw/ when ever where ever

  32. ray said

    i have a couple decks i would like to try out. i made them myself they might be makeshift but they are good. i have a Soul of Darkness, Dragons Dreames, and Heros Destiny. my Heros Destiny deck has 2 of the 3 Egyptian Gods Oblisk and Ra. i would like to know if the god cards are tourine legal.


    • Yogizilla said

      Egyptian God cards are currently forbidden in most sanctioned Yu-Gi-Oh! Tournament play but this mainly applies to the cards with no description. They are still collector’s items and fun to use in house play. The problem is that their backs are different colors so you’re almost forced to use card sleeves, which you probably want to do anyway. =o]

  33. fahadi said

    crazy boys try to win me !!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. fahadi said

    heyt defy says want to duel the master

  35. ralph said

    i just wont too play with pepole online for fun and free
    use my deck but dont know how do you

  36. none said

    ok where is that duel school can i join?

  37. fire rusty said

    i am the 15 best player in Yu-GI-oh cards i can beat 2,500 people and my big bro Tyler his the best one you can’t ever beat him and me rusty

  38. fire rusty said

    i can beat any one whose think they can beat my team of rare cards and i offer 5 of my best cards i even have the wicked dread root he is unstoppable he the 2 best cards i have the right to beat all of you with my awesome yu-gi-oh i wish to challenge who will not lose to like of you kids you got that dorks i will be waiting for for your best team ever one by one i am will get the title of the
    best cards in the world so tell your friends i will be coming for you and your cards.

  39. yo said

    can u put your real life deck into the game by punching all the cards by their codes in the corners?

  40. shadow said

    hey my dark destructoin set (made up) has 89 card and three great cards DARKNESS NEOSPHERE 4000/atk 4000/def RED-EYES ZOMBIE DRAGON 2400/atk 2000/def and BERSERK DRAGON 3500/atk 0/def can you help me get a form of combo i can use in a combo

  41. shadow said

    oh and darkness has 14 stars red eyes has 7 stars and berserk has 8 stars

  42. heath said

    have a good one lol good luck

  43. I Dont Know said

    someone help me im not the best duelest or the worst but i cant find people to duel who can i duel??

  44. cool

  45. Booom Boy said



  46. exodias best controler said

    you loser could not stand a chance agenst me and exodia

  47. exodias best controler said

    yayaya praise me i am the best

  48. exodias best controler said

    if you think you can beat me tell me and well dule on this

  49. exodias best controler said

    come on some one reply

  50. exodias best controler said

    come on ill go esay

  51. As a newcomer in this field I am constantly on the lookout for insightful content on the subject. Your blog has filled my need to a great extent.

  52. I just stumbled across your site from a friend’s digg profile. Bless him. Web sites like yours are seriously rare in a webspace full of crap and spam.

  53. Ajstyls said

    yo man how do u battle webcam online and stuff?

    • Yogizilla said

      Webcam battles are doable but it’s tough because you have to discipline yourself to keep your hands visible; otherwise, people try to sneak in cards to turn the tide of the game. Honestly, with so many options for digital battles, it’s best to do it online. Traditional and webcam duels are great but they’re far more involved.. Surely, you can’t replace the value of face-to-face encounters but you can get a whole lot more practice in playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Online (PC) or Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s Decade Duels (XBox 360) online. I hope to tackle some of the pros and cons of different duel formats in the months to come.. So much to do, so little time! 8)

  54. I like this weblog so much, saved to bookmarks .

  55. I’ve to admit that i’m totally agree with you. ! Good weblog ! If you want to change your hair , check my weblog, maybe you will find some concepts, especially Medium size hair types for skinny hair 🙂

    • Yogizilla said

      Even though this is yet another shameless plug in the form of generic praise, I had to approve this one simply because the “skinny hair” reference was HILARIOUS!! =oD

  56. You should start a fan page on facebook for your web site. Or is there already one which I haven’t discovered yet? 😀

    • Yogizilla said

      You’re right – good thinking!

      We’re actually looking to migrate to a new domain, expand the staff, and do some big things with the site. Maybe I’ll get the fan page up now anyway.. So much to do, so little time!

      Anywho, I hope to update the Duel School and Duel Challenges areas, maybe implement some badges and leaderboards. Building in a duel system would be cool but it’d take a long time, even if it were mostly text.. So, yeah, we got lots in the works.

      What would you like to see more of? 8)

  57. Ben Wilson said


    • Yogizilla said

      Tell us about the deck and we can discuss. Without knowing the specifics about a deck, I can tell you the following:

      * Look at cards that have very specific requirements before they can be used. How probable is it that those cards will have use in most duels?
      * If you have a big deck (I tend to make decks between 45 and 60 cards), consider adding flexible cards that allow you to draw and swap cards and hands alike. These are GOLD in just about any deck!
      * Identify your key cards, the ones that usually win you duels, and make sure you support them with counters, equips, and the like.
      * Build a strong core around your key cards by adding support cards and ensuring a balance between monster, spell, and trap cards. A good ratio of monsters to trap/spell cards can be around 1:1.2. If you feel adventurous, a predominantly spell/trap-card deck can really throw even veteran duelists off (most of us plan against beatdown tactics but forget the rest).
      * Take advantage of synchro cards since they do not go into your main deck and can help you get out of tough jams. I’m not one for fusion and ritual summons these days, but synchro summons have saved my behind many times!

      Hope those tips help! Invite some friends here.. The more ideas and best practices we can bounce around, the more we can expand upon Duel School and other site features here on DPO.

      Thanks for visiting and I hope we chat more – I LOVE talking about Yu-Gi-Oh! duel strategies and deck building, even when I don’t get to duel as much (due to my busy work schedule)! 8)

  58. […] Duel School […]

  59. Yusei Moua said

    ay u guyz ever get lucky getting A Ghost

    • Yogizilla said

      A ghost? Is this from the new generation of Yu-Gi-Oh cards? I’m still catching up. All these gemini and XYZ monsters escape me. So complex… Haha!

      I dig Gemini monsters most. Converting them from normal to effect monsters (and vice versa) saves your behind in many ways. 8)

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