Saturday, August 30, 2014

Such a Bargain!

I may have a few readers that remember a mention of my time in finance.  These readers either have savant-like recall or are way too interested in my life.  For those of you who are not part of Creepy-Sect, I worked in mortgage-backed security arbitrage for a Savings and Loan in New York.  It was the 80’s; times were good.  Today, this admission is the equivalent of saying I worked in hull design while they were building the Titanic.  

Nevertheless, I did learn that prices in competitive markets are not arbitrary.  This price may not necessarily match value.  Securities could be worth more or less than their price.  While the difference in price and value opens up trading opportunities, one has to ask why the market is discounting (or inflating) the price of a commodity. Understanding these market forces is the difference between good and bad traders. 

Yugioh is no different than any other market, which is why I wondered about Castel’s falling price.  $10 to $12 seems like a great deal.  After all, the advantages of this card are fairly well known.  Our little musketeer returns cards to the deck and nullifies the ever-enlarging horde of graveyard effects. Furthermore that effect applies to any face-up card, which opens up Safe Zone plays.  Finally, it’s fodder for Diamond Dire Wolf and Icarus Attack.  

With all this going for the card, why is it equivalent to a movie admission?  Here are some possible answers to that question and the effect of that answer on the future value of the card:

My Extra Deck is full. Yugioh players have a large selection of OP cards to put in their extra-deck.  While Castel is good, he is not good enough to take up two slots.  A quick perusal of the OCG shows that few doolists are using more than one.  Less demand and more supply means a lower price.  Verdict: Remains between $10-15. 

(Fill in your favorite archetype) took my money.  Duelist Alliance had an unusual number of desirable archetypes.  Doolists found themselves dropping cash for Sattelarknights, Shaddolls, Dueling Abyss, and Yang Zing monsters.  Once you’ve paid $150 to play a deck, there is little appetite for more cards.  If this is the case, the demand for the card will pick up.  Verdict: Increases to $20-25. 

Ohhh … Exciton Knight. Just as we got done unwrapping our Duelist Alliance packs, Konami hits us with The Mega-Tins.  Finally, those OPOP cards are available to everyone.  Konami has essentially flooded the market and washed Castel away.  Verdict: Increases to $20-25.

Castel who? Local tournament play may be quite slow so that most doolists have not yet faced the archetypes released by Duelist Alliance.  As a result, they haven’t experienced the rather extreme graveyard recursion of these decks.  Once they do, they will be begging for Castel. Verdict: Increases to $25-30.

I do think that the card will rise in price since most cards do in the weeks following their release.  Tightness in the Extra Deck will keep the demand down somewhat, but it is a solid card.  I pulled one (yay) and will likely pick up 1 or 2 more because of my fondness for Harpies and Mist Valley monsters. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Good, The Bad, and The Trugly

Trugly [trǝ-glē] adjective ( truglier, turgliest): (in Yugioh) infuriating yet ineffectual; purposely unpleasant; intentionally disagreeable and unaesthetic.  Contraction of troll and ugly.  “Can you believe he played Self-Destruct Button? It’s trugly”.  

After only a handful of duels, I have come to one rather obvious conclusion: Destroying a card and sending it to the graveyard is a bad idea.  Remember when this was the object of the game?  Now when you run over a monster you go – 1.  The graveyard has gone from a source of occasional monsters (e.g. Zombies) to a second hand (e.g. Droolers) to the land of magical effects.  Any doubters should feel free to take on the Yang Zing, a name more befitting the Chinese mafia than mirthful European dragons.  

The best tech cards against these archetypes have been (surprise) limited.  It’s as if the haruspices at Konami prepared us for this revolution by reigning in D Fissure, M Cosmos, and Soul Drain.  Still, there are over 6,000 cards in the Yugiverse.  Maybe a few were overlooked.  So with my rage-against-the-machine mindset, I set out to find cards to shut these decks down.  

My search for the next great tech card began by looking at all the cards with “return” or “to the deck” in their description.  This strategy revealed 573 cards.  348 of these cards were monsters, which I set aside for another post.  That left 225 candidate spells and traps.  This list was further pared down by eliminating archetype specific cards such as Spellbook of Fate and anything to do with Glad Beasts. The card also had to include monsters as targets. 

I was left with seven spell cards, none of which are worth playing. The list includes four cards that are specific for Extra-Deck monsters (De-Synchro, De-Fusion, XYZ Encore, and Intercept Wave) and Quill Pen of Guildos.  I also came across Dracocension, which gives Wyrm-type monsters the ability to put opponent monsters back in the deck.  Mercifully, it requires a tribute of a dragon-type, which probably makes it too awkward to use.  Out of the Blue was the only truly trugly card.  This continuous spell card can return all of the graveyard cards back into the deck.  It’s a card that creates wonderful Yugi-fantasies against decks like the Satellarknights that are prone to abusing COTH.  However, it is too situational for competitive play. 

The trap selection was a bit more promising. 15 traps put cards either back in the deck or in the hand.  These break down as follows:

The Good:  Good cards are good, which is tautologically equivalent to saying good cards are played.  This list is well known to anyone who has opened a pack in the past six weeks.  It includes CED, Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, and Time Space Trap Hole.  However, there were a few hidden treasures.  

 Liberty at Last! is my favorite.  The card declares your freedom against the tyranny of graveyard effects!  Few cards allow you to put cards back into the deck; never mind two of them.  It is a battle trap but this card had real potential.

Battleguard Howling and Rage are designed to help warriors.  Of the two, I like Rage better since it is a continuous trap card that boosts a monster’s attack points. Imagine Absolute Zero with 3500 AP.  The monster that is being attacked is neither being targeted or destroyed by this card, which gets around a bucket full of monster effects. 

The Bad:  Most of the bad cards earn their spot on the list by making you lose card advantage.  If that’s not bad enough, they also tend to be situational.  Forced Back only applies to normal and flip summons; Spiritual Wind Art, Super Rush Recklessly, and A Major Upset all require specific tributes.  Mispolymerization has minor potential as a CED against Shaddolls.  I suspect it will lose to the faster De-Fusion, despite that card’s talent for bringing back materials.  Cash Back gets a few points for being a counter-trap but then loses them to its situational play.  How many monster effects require the controller to pay life points?  
The trugliest of them all

The Trugly: Face it – most troll cards are continuous.  Cards like Skill Drain, Macro Cosmos, and Dimensional Fissure all say “You can’t do anything until you deal with me”.  Unlike cards you can only activate once, these cards take little skill.  Draw it; play it; and laugh.  

The trugly return cards are also continuous traps.  This list includes Dice-nied, Ordeal of a Traveler, and Begone, Knave.   The first two are too strange even for me.  Begone, Knave, on the other hand, has always piqued my curiosity.  The card made a brief appearance with Mist Valley Falcon.  Declare an attack, put B Knave in your hand, attack, and then reset B Knave.  I would call the experience infuriating and ineffectual. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summon the Heroes

So campers, can Heroes have an impact on the current meta?  I’m not interested in some virtual, OCG-defined diversion.  I’m talking about a game with real TCG cards played against real TCG people.  In other words, can our Heroes overcome all that the Duelist Alliance will throw our way?

Before answering the question, one has to get past all the whining about the imprisonment of Stratos and the delayed arrival of the structure deck.  There is little to be gained by wishing for cards that don’t exist in a language that can be read by most of the people on this continent.  Take it from someone who waited nine months for Tin Goldfish only to have their precious gadgets blown off the tables by the Droolers.   Real men don’t play proxies. 

The Heroic Anti-Meta
I believe Heroes can be a force with the currently available card pool.  To do so, the deck will have to overcome the Shaddolls.  Soon the card formerly known as Midrash will slow special summoning to a crawl.  This dark deck has the capability of neutering Satellarknights, Gears, Sylvans, and even the ever-invincible Infernities.  However, this restriction means little to Hero players.  All it takes is one well played Miracle Fusion to turn the duel around. 

So with an anti-meta mindset, here is my deck list:

Monsters: Alius x 3, Bubbleman x 2, Photon Thrasher x 2, Evocator Chevalier* x 1, Fire Hand x 2, Ice Hand x 2, Kuribandit x 2

Spells: Miracle Fusion x 3, E Call x 2, ROTA x 2, Pot of Duality x 3, Gemini Spark x 3, Dark Hole x 1, Forbidden Chalice x 2, Forbidden Lance x 2

Traps: Solemn Warning x 1, CED x 1, Skill Drain x 3, Summon Limit x 3

Extra Deck: Shining x 2, Abs Zero x 2, Escuridao x 1, Nova Master x 2, Gaia x 1, Exciton x 1, Ark x 1, Abyss x 1, Castel x 1, Emeral x 1, Black Ship x 1, Crazy Box x 1 

Side Deck: DD Warrior Lady x 1, Maxx C x 3, MST x 3, Super Poly x 2, Parallel World x 2, M Cosmos x 1, D Fissure x 1, Dark Bribe x 2

The real ace of the deck is Skill Drain.  This card shuts down so many mainstream decks that its unrestricted status seems like a cooperate oversight. Pay 1,000 LP and watch your opponent weep.  Furthermore, most other Skill Drain decks are a thing of the past. The one exception may be Dark World, but Hero players have a way around that deck as well. 

Summon Limit is the second best anti-meta tech. In many ways, this is the trap version of Winda.  I like it’s stability compared to Vanity’s Emptiness.  While it is dead against Shaddoll’s, it is quite live against the rest of the spam-happy meta. 

A Little Help from Dragons of Legend
Search cards mean a great deal to Hero players as evidenced by the nostalgia for Stratos and yearning for Shadow Mist.  Drawing the right spell can mean the difference in winning or losing.  Part of the consistency problem is overcome with triple Pot of Duality.  However, I really like Kuribandit in this deck.  The little fur ball can get you to Miracle Fusion, Skill Drain, or Gemini Spark. 

Ice and Fire Hand are also nice adjuncts.  These cards can set up a wall of sorts and let you draw into your bigger plays.  They are also unaffected by Skill Drain and serve as materials for Nova and Absolute Zero. 

Flexible Side Deck
While Skill Drain is great for the field, it does little for the host of cards that activate in the graveyard.  Once again, Heroes demonstrate unparalleled flexibility.  After siding out Fire and Ice Hands, one can play D Fissure, M Cosmos, and Parallel World Fusion.  I do keep Kuribandit in so that I can get to D Fissure and M Cosmos.  

Then there’s Super Poly!  I don’t main it because the cost is rather high.  However, the card is a great out to problem monsters.  More importantly, it doesn’t destroy the opponent’s monster and it is a downright an indefensible play.

The only unusual side deck card is Dark Bribe.  The last time this card saw light outside my binder was with my Malefics.  Usually, I really don’t like giving up advantage.  That said, spell cards are becoming much more common.  Not only do we have Shaddoll Fusion but we also have The Monarchs Storm Forth and Artifact Ignition.  While stopping traps has become commonplace, stopping spells remains problematic.  The card also can protect Skill Drain from MST.  So it’s back in the side deck.

Here's to the Heroes! 

 * I could be talked into dropping Evocator and a Spark for two Barbarros

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sneaking for a New Partner

… and they’re off!

Feeding on the pent-up demand from months of virtual play, doolists anxiously scooped up cards at this weekend’s sneak peek.  Most of our intrepid brethren knew exactly what they wanted.  They would not be lured away by the odd dragon in their quest to fill their playsets.  It mattered little that no one could pronounce Unukalha or that TCG translations were all but unrecognizable.  They were ready to spurn their HATs and CATS for dolls and knights. 

However, some of us were not so single-minded. Quite frankly, my time with Geargias has been so enjoyable that I did not want to sequester them in a binder.  Of course, I knew about the new archetypes; I just wasn’t ready to make a commitment.  As a result, yesterday’s sneak peek felt like a speed dating event.  

“Hello, I’m a Samsara … I like bringing monsters back from the grave…”

I was hoping to pull a card that would push me to playing Shaddolls or Satellarknights.  As it turned out, I pulled Castel.  While it’s one of the best cards in the set, he’s not helping me decide between the two dominant archetypes. So I turned to the next best indicator … money.

The table below lists the commonly played cards in both Shaddolls and Satellarknights.  These are sample lists gleaned from the OCG and are not meant to be definitive deck lists.  The cost for each card is listed in the column to the right.  These prices were determined by the current price on Ebay.  I should quickly point out that these prices are likely to drop in the near future as the hype dissipates a bit.  These lulls in the market are rather predictable but not stable.  Many cards will begin to escalate within weeks of their release.  

I should also point out that the premium price for Shaddolls is probably deserved.  This deck has more viability in the coming Qliphoth storm.  That said, the Satellarknight deck is pretty strong.  A friend of mine finished second with this deck despite missing several of the cards scheduled for later release.  Besides, the Geargias have provided me with a nice stable of rank 4 XYZ monsters.  And now I have Castel who can step into the place of the retiring Geargigant X.