Card advantage is usually defined as how many more cards one player has over the other player. Cards that gain card advantage may not put you ahead in total advantage, but are the cards that get you there. Many card games let both players start with the same amount of cards. Some don’t let the player who goes first draw for their first turn. Some games don’t let the player who goes first attack on the first turn. Yugioh does both of the latter things. While raw card advantage is important, card quality is often more important.
Parity means my opponent and I are equal, or I am where I was before I did a thing. Advantage means I have advantage over my opponent, and gaining advantage doesn’t exclusively mean I was behind and then gained advantage over my opponent. Gaining advantage means I’m closer to parity with my opponent, or I’m pushing myself further ahead. Disadvantage is the opposite of advantage.
That time you needed to draw that certain card for your turn or you’d lose the game was card quality. If your opponent has both Vanity’s Fiend and Majesty’s Fiend on the field, and you have literally 30 Malebranches in your hand, you have card advantage, but you can only Normal Summon or Set 1. The other 29 are useless.
For those unfamiliar, Nekroz is a ritual-based archetype with three Ritual Spells. Each one can only be activated once per turn. This means I can only Ritual Summon three times each turn. If I have open Brionac, Shurit, Mirror, Mirror, Clausolas, I do have the ability to Ritual Summon multiple times, but I can only use one Mirror. Usually, this hand is actually four cards. The same is true of any card that you can only use once per turn.
A long time ago, Elemental HERO Stratos was unlimited. If you had two Stratos in your hand, chances are the second one is dead for that turn. Stratos does gain card advantage, but if you’re searching a card for the next turn, it doesn’t help you win this turn. When Stratos was unlimited, setting up for the next turn was more important. Performapal Skullcrobat Joker is often compared to Elemental HERO Stratos. Ignoring the fact that Joker is limited, can’t search itself and only works on Normal Summon, it’s similar enough to Stratos to compare. With two Stratos, the second is unusable. With Joker, you’re able to use the second as a Pendulum Scale or you can Pendulum Summon it.
Why am I telling you that Joker is less useless in multiples? Because you could lose a game if you forget that. Card advantage only means something when you can do something with those cards. I don’t care if you have 15 cards in your hand if you’re dead or not allowed to play. One of my favorite examples is Lightsworn. They don’t care if they throw their hand away because they just want to throw triple Judgment Dragon on the table and attack for 9000.
In 2013, the Dragon Rulers and Sacred Sword of Seven Stars were all unlimited. Sacred Sword of Seven Stars draws two cards, then the Dragon Ruler searches another dragon. If you searched another copy of itself, you wouldn’t be able to use it that turn. You’ll be up a card, but at card parity for that turn. So you use your two cards and the next turn you have an extra card. Or, you could discard the extra card with something like Dragon Ravine or Raigeki Break. Now we have Twin Twisters, too.
In addition to the cards you can and can’t use, you also have to consider the quality of the card. Even if your Fossil Dyna is preventing me from Special Summoning, it’d be easy to run over. Vanity’s Fiend is harder to deal with simply because it has more ATK. Sometimes you’ll give up a card (or multiple) if it means you’re getting a really good card or getting rid of an opponent’s good card. The best example for both cases is King Magnus. King Magnus may be unbeatable with enough Xyz Materials, so it can be worth dumping your whole hand to make it.
Conversely, if you’re going to lose, it would be worth the raw card disadvantage to make Utopia the Lightning to attack over King Magnus, or give your opponent a Kaiju. Gameciel, typically, is only 2200, is affected by card effects, can be destroyed by battle and can be targeted. In other words, it’s easy to get rid of. If I’m running Burning Abyss, I’d much rather my opponent have a Gameciel than a Dark Destroyer or Monarch. In most decks, I’d rather my opponent have a 2200 guy that doesn’t do anything than a bigger guy that does something. Book of Moon (in formats where things can be targeted) functions similarly to the Kaijus. A strict minus 1 that lets you keep playing when you otherwise wouldn’t, or stops your opponent.
Cards like Upstart Goblin and Pot of Duality are often included to “run less cards.” But it’s not exactly that simple. Upstart Goblin itself doesn’t do anything. All Upstart Goblin does is get you a random card out of the remaining cards in your deck. Random is another topic, for tomorrow. Players like to play cards like Upstart Goblin because they’re “free cards.” Upstart Goblin is not free. Ignoring the life gain, which is largely irrelevant, Upstart Goblin lets you run 40-X cards, where X is the amount of Upstart Goblin. Currently, Upstart Goblin is limited, likely because of FTK decks. So, I’m allowed to run 39 cards in my deck. But that’s saying that the 40th card is more important than having the absolute minimum. Players like Billy Brake are known for playing more than 40 cards because he deems that those extra cards are worth the consistency loss, or because he wants to draw certain cards less because everything searches everything. All of the Nekroz cards (for the most part) search another Nekroz card, which is why players were running 43-44 cards when THSF came out.
In Yugioh, it’s less clear. In Magic, Ornithopter is a creature that costs 0 and has a Power/Toughness of 0/2. If it was a Yugioh card, it would be something like a Level 1 monster with 0 ATK and 2000 DEF that can Special Summon itself from hand for free. It would have a place in certain decks, but you’re choosing to run Ornithopter over a card that can do something. I know Ornithopter is good in Affinity, I kind of know Magic’s meta (not really) and I know a monster that could Special Summon itself for free would be decent in Monarchs. But in Burning Abyss, Pendulums or Kozmo? Not really. I can’t know what the future of Yugioh holds, Spyral might be good, might be garbage. Presumably, Pendulums and Xyz decks will be somewhat good to an extent in the future, and a Level 1 that doesn’t do anything else isn’t very good in those decks.
Open Office tells me that the above is over 1000 words. So to summarize, don’t just count how many cards each player has. Think about what cards can do what, what cards can gain advantage, what cards let you do other things. A hand with Ehther and Edea would be down one card because you can only Normal Summon once per turn, but Edea lets you get Eidos, which allows you to Tribute Summon Ehther.
One last thing, you usually have to spend a card to draw a card. When I talked about Card of Demise in Qli, I said that it is a +2, referring to Card of Demise, but mentioned Pot of Greed in the same paragraph. Due to English, it could be misconstrued that I said Pot of Greed is a+2. Pot of Greed draws two cards but is only a net +1.
Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about sufficiently randomizing your deck. Until then, click an ad, buy an Upstart Goblin if you don’t have one and share this with your friends.
Tomorrow’s article is basically just saying riffle shuffle 7+ times every time – your deck and your opponent’s. More if you see someone pile shuffling.