Monday, September 22, 2014

Gentleman, Start Your Engines!

One of the greatest privileges of aging is the opportunity to complain.   What is “bitching” when you’re young becomes “reproach” when you’re older. Young people are whiners; old people are curmudgeons.  Like those in my epoch, I have embraced this role, particularly in criticizing the lack of creative deck building. 

Before you dismiss this post as another missive against the young, please understand that I do not blame the players.  In fact, I marvel at the genuine ingenuity in the builds by some of today’s top talent.  The problem is with card design.  The newer archetypes leave little room for imagination. Decks come together like pre-assembled Lego kits. Gone are the days when most young people created using generic bricks.  

One solution is to simply mash the kits together.  Who wouldn’t want to see a combination of Cinderella’s Magic Castle and Dragon Mountain?  The same fun can be had in Yugioh deck building by combining different “engines”.

In Yugi-speak, an “engine” is a subset of cards that function well together.  For example, one can consider three Armors, two Accelerators, and three Arsenals as the Geargia engine.  This eight card combination efficiently searches and summons two level four cards that can be used for a rank 4 XYZ play.  Since the number of cards is small, this engine can be combined with other engines to make a workable deck.  

When done right, the combination is more successful than the individual archetype.  For example, Geargias bring consistency to Karakuris by providing a ready source of Synchro materials.  The combination works because Geargias are Earth Machines, which is required for the summoning of Burei and Bureido.  In other words, the engines are synergistic.  Recognizing this synergy is the key to combining different engines. Always ask the question, “What am I getting from the combination that I don’t get from the single archetype?”
Creative deck-building can be considered as an exercise in combining engines.  I began this process by listing many of the current engines and a few salient characteristics.  I focused on those archetypes that promote XYZ summoning and noted their types, attributes, and their effect on card advantage.  The result is given in the following table: 

This list is more illustrative than exhaustive.  I realize that Gadgets are not included even though they combine nicely with Traptrix.  I should also point out that some of the listed engines quite unwieldy and make for poor partners.  Madolche and Evilswarm are large engines that can only be combined with the smaller ones like Traptrix, Hands, or Star Seraphs.  

Whether you should combine these engines is a question of synergy.  In fact, most of these combinations won’t work.  The chart below gives my impression of the 50 combinations of Rank 4 engines.  Those listed in Red are not worth considering.  Who wants to play an Evol/Hunder deck?  Those in Yellow seem a bit sketchy. I haven’t seen and Fire Fist/Satellarknight mix, but someone may have tried it.  The ones in Green seem interesting and worth a test.

To that end, I actually took a SatellarGear deck to a recent regional.  While I have been thinking about this deck-building strategy for many weeks, I didn’t have the pluck to use it until I read posts by Einsam_Delphin on Pojo.  His talked about playing a deck quite similar to mine.  Unfortunately, my bottle-nosed friend changed his mind at the last minute and went with pure Satellarknights.  Too bad, this deck actually runs pretty well.  Pure Satellarknights tend to run low monster counts.  As a result, they can be left staring at a lot of dead hands.  The addition of the eight-card Geargia engine not only increases the chances of summoning a monster, it gives the deck access to Tin Goldfish and Cycle Reader.  
This is a "tweaked" version of what I took to Fredericksburg. I went 5-4.
Perhaps, it may not be the strongest deck around, but I did enjoy watching my opponents reaction when faced with both Gears and Knights.  Strike one for creativity. 

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