Top 5: Ways to level up your play

Because, ya know, top 5.
Because, ya know, top 5.

It’s been a while since I’ve written something a little more evergreen. It’s time for something not about current meta. Whether you’re new or you’ve been playing since the beginning, these are five things you really need to get down if you want to minimize your mistakes and maximize your win percentage. I see these ‘mistakes’ made mostly by new players and experienced players that get sloppy. Let’s get into five tips that helped me level up as a player.

FIVE: You don’t get a break.

exhaustingspell-dr1-en-c-ueEvery time you sit down for a match, you need to remain calm and do what you can to win the match. This does not mean cheating, but rather treat it like you get nothing at all for the whole tournament if you lose this match, even if everyone is guaranteed two packs at the end. If you seriously want to win more, you need to get serious about winning. You can still have a good time, don’t get me wrong, but you need to take the game seriously. Small local tournaments are a great place to have fun and try new things. If you paid money to enter a tournament and you’re not satisfied with leaving without any prizes, don’t underestimate any opponent and actually play to win. If you’re okay with not winning, it’s okay to not play like you need this win.

FOUR: Practice playing your deck.

theinexperiencedspy-ske-en-c-1eYugioh is a game. I can’t think of a single game where playing the game more and practicing more hurts you. (I’m going to pretend that inbred practices that show up in something like Magic’s draft don’t exist.) When I first pick up a deck, I make mistakes. It’s almost guaranteed. One of the first times I played Burning Abyss, I summoned Leviair and BLS. I then went to summon back the banished Cir and, of course, it killed itself. I forgot because the cards were new and I was new to the deck. Luckily, I was practicing online and nothing was on the line. Patrick Hoban refers to this practice as shortcuts, but they aren’t really shortcuts. They kind of are in that you’re not thinking of all the steps from Kozmo Ship, Fire King Island and Town to your ending field, but it’s just a good idea to learn your deck to minimize misplays. Learning your deck also helps you tune your deck better. In my first draft of a Blue-Eyes list, I had one copy of Upstart Goblin but I kept finding myself able to deal 8000-8500 and not finishing my opponent. I still won many of these games but didn’t notice any drop in consistency when I cut Upstart Goblin. I definitely recommend practicing and know that the more you practice, the better you’ll get at tuning your deck. If you’re not quite there and need a little help now, head over to Fiverr and I’ll take a look at your deck and tune it for your specific goals.

THREE: Practice playing other decks.

aluhar-ackbarQuick lesson on Vanguard. You have three guys. The left and right guys can die if they’re attacked, the middle can’t, but you lose if it’s successfully attacked six times. When I used to play, I was playing the best deck in the format that only had one semi-bad matchup but I kept losing to this other deck. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing so I asked my friend playing this deck if we could play a few games with each others’ decks. After two games, I learned what my deck needed to do in order to beat the other deck. I just needed to attack the side guys until he had none left. I made the mistake of always attacking the middle guy because that’s how you win. I pretty much have always played one of the best decks of the format and at least played a few games with every new jank deck. Even if you’re not going to actually play the other decks, practice playing against what you think you’ll see at your meta and ask your opponents what they’re afraid of and are just hoping you don’t do.

TWO: Keep track of your LP. On paper.

lpThis is super duper important. Let me tell you a story. I was playing Volcanics at locals and using a calculator for LP. My opponent was not keeping track of LP. I was playing sloppy and couldn’t remember what had dealt damage and what hadn’t. I had activated Volcanic Scattershot because he was at less than 1500 LP. I asked if he had a response because it was lethal. My opponent was not keeping track at all and when the tournament organizer came over because there was no judge, he had to side with me because even if I was wrong, which I could have been, I was at least keeping track. And when asked, my opponent couldn’t come up with a number for either LP, just that he wasn’t that low on LP. It’s also best to keep track on paper because policy is that a paper score trumps calculator and calculator trumps no score. At one regional, I was keeping track of LP on paper and my opponent was using a calculator. There was an LP dispute, and when I showed him that I attacked twice with my 2800 ATK monster both game 1 and game 2 and said we can call a judge, he signed the slip and left. Also, draw a 0 and cross out or circle the winner/loser so that it’s clear what game it is. What’s the lesson here?

Keep track of everyone’s LP on physical paper.

ONE: Communicate.

I know I’ve said this before, I’m aware, but it should be said here again. You need to say everything you’re doing. Just get into the habit of doing it and wait a second, then move on. If you get into the habit of doing this, you hide potential information and prevent mistakes. What I’m about to say sounds calloused if you’re not a competitive player but The Big Eye is mostly aimed at improving competitive play. Announcing everything gives you the right to say “No, you said no response, I can call a judge.” or “I’ve announced every single thing I’ve done this game. That was two actions ago, we can’t go back.” I don’t want to tell another Denko Sekka story. Just announce everything clearly. Draw Phase. Standby Phase? Main Phase 1? Announcing the phase means you’re trying to move into that phase and that the previous phase is ending. Not that you’re leaving the current phase. When you declare an attack say “Attack -name of monster- with -name of monster-.” When you activate something, say that you’re activating it. Once you get used to announcing everything, it’ll be easy and gameplay will just be smoother.

Did you learn something today? What’s your biggest level up moment? If you don’t have a notebook, I like this one. I’m trying to get more active on Facebook and Twitter, so follow me and provide a little incentive for me to be less social media lazy. Maybe I’ll return the favor and throw a few giveaways at my followers. Come back Monday for a card of the day that I didn’t want to do.

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