Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Tribute to SSJason19

I’ve watched more Yugitubing than home movies, local news, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine combined. 

Perhaps that’s not saying much.  Nevertheless, I have consumed a large amount of Yugioh content in 10 to 15 minute video bites.  The most recent binge came with a contest sponsored by Underworld6667 who brought 32 aspiring videographers together to vie for the title of the Next Great Yugituber.   While the contest had the alacrity of a US Presidential election, it did reveal three promising Yugitubers.  However, none of them rose to the level of my favorite, SSJason19. 

At his best, Jason does what few Yugitubers can, namely explain the game of Yugioh.  YouTube is rife with self-appointed experts offering such cutting commentary as “This card is broken” of “That deck sucks”.  However, few can give cogent reasons for their passionate statements.  Even fewer offer principles that can be applied to the game in general.

For those of you who have yet to click on the link to his channel, here is a small sample:
  • The neg 1 exceed: Playing two cards from your hand to make one XYZ monster is a Neg 1 Exceed.   This simple rule explains why 80% of the archetypes in Yugioh are bad. It also explains the potential perils of cards like Satellarknight Vega and Tin Goldfish.  Vega works well with Deneb as does Goldfish with Gadgets.  However, most of the time you are giving up card advantage and making yourself vulnerable to one-for-one removal.  
  •  MST is bad: Jason created more than a little stir by suggesting MST be taken out of the main deck.  Nevertheless, his point was quite valid.  Drawing into an MST can be a problem in the latter portion of the duel.  With the exception of Qlipharts, you generally need to deal with monsters and not spells and traps.
  • Cake and Crap: A couple of months ago I wrote a post about combining different engines.  While this method can create some interesting decks, the usual outcome is a deck that underperforms.  The reason is that most hybrids use an excellent engine (i.e. the cake) and combine it with a deck that needs help (i.e. the crap).  As SSJason colorfully points out nobody wants to eat cake with crap in it. 
The Yugitube world seems to be divided into analysts and entertainers.  The division is somewhat arbitrary since many analysts entertain and vice-versa.  I make distinction based on my motivation for clicking on a video.  Do I want to be amused or do I want to learn something? I learn from analysts. 

Unfortunately, the careers of analysts are often much shorter than the careers of entertainers.  Perhaps their understanding makes them more aware of the game’s problems.  I suspect this is the case for Jason.  His prodigious video output has taken a significant drop in the past several months as the game has introduced archetypes and mechanics that make concepts like “card advantage” irrelevant.

I hope Jason continues to make videos.  His slightly subversive style combined with an endearing Scottish brogue will always be welcome.  

My YouTube Recommendations:

  • MegaCapitalG: Cap may be one of the best analysts in the game today.  His duel commentaries are far better than those used by Konami or ARG.  My only criticism is his penchant to butcher the pronunciation of card names; but as a hometown guy, I’ll cut him some slack.
  • Lithium2300: While I may be drawn in by the gravitas of his Belgium accent, I still believe Lithium offers outstanding analysis of up and coming archetypes.  He does have a penchant for Monarchs, but this may be the best rogue strategy in the game today. 
  • Cimoooooo: If you like Yugi-enthusiasm, you will love this channel.  Cimoooooo provides some of the best tech analysis in the game. 

  • GalacticGod: As the veritable grandfather of the Yugitube world, GalacticGod reminds us what is fun about this game.  
  • YourYugiohChannel: High quality, well edited videos + a likable host = a very successful Yugitube channel.
  • TheRJB0: Robert is one of the few Yugitubers that defies my classification.  He does entertaining analysis or analytical entertainment. 
  • Duelrock88: Along with RJB0 and Cimoooooo, Duelrock made the hours of Underworlds contest worthwhile.  As a host, he is quite likeable and he benefits from his association with team UNITED GOSUS.
  • dpYGO: Those of you with delicate sensibilities would be advised to avoid this channel.  Everyone else should click on an ad so that he can pay the rent. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The ARG CS Comes Home

The ARG Championship Series came to Raleigh and brought a little home field advantage with it.  I didn’t have to drive for hours, spend the night in a seedy hotel, or deal with unfamiliar accents.  Surely, this southern boy could give these foreigners a good ‘ole Dixie whupping.  

Uh huh …

Unfortunately this tournament was in the right place at the wrong time.  Had it been a week earlier, I would have had a shot. Instead, the tournament was coincident with the release of Next Challengers, which forced me to deal with an even stronger contingent of Shaddoll and Burning Abyss monsters.  

Of course, the astute doolist was either playing one of the archetypes or had traded their mother for Qlipharts.  Since I had to make mortgage payments, I was forced to continue with the decks I already had.  Besides, our home already had a Burning Abyss player.  Given these constraints, I decided to go with an updated Geargia Karakuri deck.  Perhaps, a $9 set of Augers could add enough speed to make the deck competitive again.  

Round 1-2: To paraphrase the late Johnny Cash, my little Gears and I quickly fell into a burning lake of fire.  While it may be pricier to pick up the inferno’s intrepid tour guide*, Fire Lake is the card that dictated my doom.  On three occasions in the opening rounds, my opponent went plus 3 or more with this card.  

I was able to slow my 2nd round opponent down with Rivalry of Warlords.  However it was not a particularly wise choice.  When you are staring at X-2, there is a temptation to side in too many cards. Desperation can push you to dump the cards that make your deck work.  In retrospect, I would have been better off to side in the three Shadow Imprisoning Mirrors and left it at that.  0 – 2

Round 3-4: My third round opponent played Yang Zings.  I jumped out with a large field of monsters early in the duel. Normally, this array of Karakuri power is enough to end the game in a turn or two.  However, this is not the case when Yang Zing Creation is on the field.  Those pesky wyrms kept coming back like a Yugi edition of Wack-a-Mole.  Nevertheless,  I was able to win game 1 in time. 

I played Satellarknights in round four.  Having instant access to Cycle Reader makes this match-up a bit unfair.  Still, I was glad to have an easier win. 2 – 2

Round 5-6: I have to thank my 5th round opponent for showing me the true futility in playing a tier 2 deck.  Between Foolish Burial, Mathematician, or Sinister Shadow Games, Shaddolls can start the graveyard train effects by turn one or two.  While Yugioh has had more annoying openings (e.g Wind-Up Loop), this combination is very difficult for the average deck to overcome.  

The 6th round paired me with a very pleasant Geargia player.  Perhaps, he was just glad to see someone else playing the deck.  He played a rank four build that used Machine Dupe and pulled off the triple Auger once.  Nevertheless, the Karakuri monsters were a bit overwhelming. 3 – 3

Round 7-8: I was hoping to finish 5 -3, despite knowing that this record would not get me remotely close to the top.  In a repeat of round 5, the Shaddolls dashed even this small dream.  I did manage to win round 8 against a Burning Abyss player.  He summoned Majesty’s Fiend in game 2 but this turned out to be a bigger problem for him then me.  I simply played a bit of defense, gathered my resources, and went in for the kill once I drew into Breakthrough Skill.  4 – 4.

Final Thoughts:  It is not a coincidence that my losses were to Shaddolls and Burning Abyss and my wins were against other decks.  The Yugioh Meta is quickly becoming a three dog race between Shaddolls, BA, and Qlipharts. The best counter to the first two decks is sitting in a structure deck box to be delivered in January**.  Unfortunately, our hero does little against the third dog.  From time to time, you will see a rogue strategy amongst the winners, but don’t kid yourself.  Diversity has been replaced by a three-headed monster, which is precisely what Virgil found at the end of his trip.  

* Virgil is the tour guide for Dante through the Inferno
** Masked Hero Dark Law will be in the Hero structure deck in January

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Yugioh Meta: Stable as a House of Cards

One of the distinct disadvantages to aging is the inexorable sense that time is accelerating.  I’m sure you’ve heard some baby boomer begin a sentence with “it seems like only yesterday”.  There is a biological basis for this observation.  As the human brain ages, gaps in perception are spliced out.  The result is our yesterdays are closer to us than your yesterdays.  

Still, it seems like only yesterday we were opening Duelist Alliance sneak peak packs.  

Regardless of your age, you may feel that the game has become somewhat unstable.  However, this is not due to the tempo of pack releases.  I would argue it’s the impact of those sets on the game. 

The Duelist Alliance set fundamentally changed the meta.  Nearly three quarters of all of the top performing decks did not exist until DA was released.  Are you still struggling to tell the difference between Graff, Cir, and Scarm?  You’re not alone in your unfamiliarity.  These cards have only been with us for three months.  Those that are well versed with the deck either play it or have a lot of on-line experience.  Some of us are still picking up the cards and reading them. 

I came to these conclusions by analyzing 191 decks that topped regionals, YCS, or ARG CS events from August to October.  Decks that included more than one archetype were categorized by their predominant card type.  Of these 191 decks, 76.1% were based on cards from Duelist Alliance.  This percentage did not significantly change when looking at results from September or October (79.9% and 75.8% respectively).  In other words, the F & L list had no impact on the meta.  There was also no change when one looks at the top 8 finishers.  Since August, 72.5% of the top eight decks were based on Duelist Alliance cards.  

The breakdown of the individual archetypes should not be particularly surprising to anyone who plays the game.  Shaddolls topped 39.2% of the time followed by Burning Abyss (25.3%) and Satellarknights (14.9%).  There were no dominant archetypes among the non-Duelist Alliance archetypes. This list included 21 archetypes, of which Mermails were the most common at 3.1%.  

This is not the first time the game has been so dominated by a single set.  However, the dominance of these sets tended to last.  Do you know what the most dominant archetype was at this time last year?  The answer is Dragon Rulers, which came to us in May 2013.  Six months ago, the top deck was Mermails, which was released five months earlier.  Unfortunately, this current crop of Yugioh defining decks may have a much shorter lifespan.  Of the current DA decks, Shaddolls are likely to be the most persistent.  The future of Burning Abyss is a bit harder to predict since this deck is not a part of the OCG.  However, we should all shudder a bit when we see an OCG meta dominated by Qliphoths and Necloths.