Yugioh used to be a simple game. If you won the dice roll, you went first. If you lost, you had an excuse for losing.
Today’s game has changed that simple formula. Many clever doolists are deferring their turn and letting their opponent go first. Since Yugioh players are not known for their manners, there must be a reason for this sudden rise in courtesy.
Choosing to go first or second has become a complex decision. Doolists need to consider what is advantageous to their deck as well as what may be detrimental to their opponent’s deck. This decision can be facilitated by understanding the advantages of going first or second. I categorize these advantages as follows:
- Card advantage
- Board Advantage
- Attack Advantage
Card advantage is pretty basic. Players going first get five cards and those going second get six. This difference means your chances for drawing a limited card increase by 2.5%. In other words, players going second will benefit from an early Raigeki in one game in 40. This advantage is greater for decks that run search cards. If Tellarknight players run three Deneb and three ROTA, their odds of opening with Deneb increase by 7.2% or one game in 13. All of the top meta decks benefit from this phenomenon, but, it may make the biggest difference to Qliphart players. Most will tell you that their deck is more consistent when going second as these numbers suggest.
Board advantage is the advantage that comes from getting your cards on the matt first. In general, this advantage goes to the player going first in exchange for card advantage lost to the player going second. Trap heavy decks benefit the most from board advantage. In fact, I suspect this rule change was prompted by the dreaded “Laggia/set four” combination seen at the height of the Dino Rabbit era.
This advantage is being diminished by the recent reduction in traps by the top decks. While Burning Abyss and Qlipharts have become nearly trap independent, the board advantage calculus has been changed the most by Shaddolls. This deck actually gains board advantage from going second, particularly if the opponent unwittingly opens with a special summoned monster. In short, the Shaddolls gain both card and board advantage by going second. While this deck may be the best at combining board and card advantage, other decks can do so as well by maining cards like Enemy Controller and Snatch Steal.
Attack Advantage is the ability to do life point damage first. In the past, this advantage was relatively small since the game focused on managing life points rather than crushing them. The Qlipharts have changed this prescription a bit. Their attacks are so massive and so quick that “managing” life points is like bailing out the Titanic. While most opponents will have the resources to deal with the deck, gathering these resources takes time. By going second, Qlip players can make sure these resources are never amassed.
Given the choice, I will almost always go second despite using a trap heavy Satellarknight deck. I mitigate the loss of board advantage by leaving out cards that are good openers but are poorer responders. For example, I play Enemy Controller instead of Bottomless Trap Hole. Nevertheless, the deck does have better first turn plays than most of the competition. So I’ll summon Deneb, set two, and say “Go”.