Sneak Peek Auxillary: Secrets of Eternity

It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t attend the Secrets of Eternity Sneak Peek.  I was really hoping to write another report and analysis from experience like in my previous two Sneak Peek articles.

That said, I’m going to do something else.  I’m going to look at the set and take my best guess at what the sealed event might have been like.

First off, any Sneak Peek sealed event is going to be dominated by common cards, simply because everyone is going to have seven or eight per pack.  The best strategy when building your deck is to use the most generic stuff you pulled, any cards that can work well together, or at least won’t trip each other up.  I also firmly believe one should stick with the 20-card minimum allowed for Sneak Peek sealed tournaments.  Fear of decking out- that is, losing because you must draw a card when you cannot- is not a good reason to use more than twenty cards.

Run the minimum number of cards allowed.  If you draw into what you need sooner, you can get over your opponent faster.

Okay, now.  The actual format.  A full set list of Secrets of Eternity can be found on the Yu-Gi-Oh! Wiki.  Cards will be listed in Konami’s official database after the official release date of the set.

Most of the Performapals were printed as commons in this set, so I would fully expect them to make an appearance.  Most of the commons are pretty handy in this format.  I’m a bit on the fence as to Performapal Spikeagle‘s usefulness since it only gives one of your monsters piercing.  Weighing in at only 900/900 doesn’t really help either.  Performapal Stamp Turtle also doesn’t seem very handy here, but at least it can bump up the Levels of two monsters by one each turn, similar to Constellar Kaus.  The other Performapals are much better here, so I would expect them to see play in many matches.

The Superheavy Samurai don’t make quite as big a showing in this set as they did in the last two.  Only five Superheavy Samurai cards were released in this set, and of those five two were commons.  The other three were Super Rares.  And the commons?  Both of them provide exclusive support to the archetype and wouldn’t be of much use in a sealed event.

Two new Dododo monsters make their TCG debut in this set: Dododo Swordsman and Dododo Witch.  Swordsman is basically the Big Benkei of the set, acting as a wall and potential board-clearer/beatstick.  Witch isn’t that useful on her own, so I would not have expected her to be played by anyone who didn’t also pull Swordsman.

Three of the Infernoids were printed as commons, but I also wouldn’t expect to see them played because of the summoning mechanics employed by the archetype.  All three cannot be Summoned, except by banishing 2 “Infernoid” monsters from your hand or Graveyard for their Special Summons.  Powerful as the effects of Infernoid AttondelInfernoid Piaty and Infernoid Seitsemas are, the requirements to summon them are too situational for sealed play.  A smart player would avoid using them if they didn’t get loaded down with Infernoid monsters and support cards.

Very few other monsters strike me as usable in the common areas.  Toy Knight would open up a few plays if you were behind on field presence, and Raidraptor – Vanishing Lanius could definitely be handy if you pulled at least two.  Since the max-3 rule does not apply in sealed formats, getting loaded down with 4 Vanishing Laniuses wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

The common Spells are also severely lacking here.  Only two strike me as even remotely useful in sealed format: Pendulum Shift and Illusion Balloons.  The first lets you target a card in either player’s Pendulum Zone and change its Pendulum Scale to any number from 1 to 10.  This card can easily stop Pendulum Summons, or it can enable huge Pendulum Summons!  To stop one, pick a card and change its Pendulum Scale to be the same or one off from the card in the opposite Pendulum Zone.

The second card, Illusion Balloons, is a bit more useful if you pulled a decent amount of Performapal monsters.  It can only be activated during a turn in which a monster was destroyed while you controlled that monster, BUT it can be activated at any point during that same turn.  You don’t have to play it right when that monster is destroyed!  (Is anyone else reminded of Last Will?)  When you play Illusion Balloons, you excavate 5 cards on top of your deck.  If there are any “Performapal” monsters in there, you can Special Summon 1 of them.  Whether you Special Summon or not, the remaining cards are shuffled back into the deck.

Now the common Traps are where things get interesting… and nasty.  Echo Oscillation can be used to draw additional cards if you managed to get a ton of Pendulum Monsters.  Even just a few can fuel this card’s effect.

The Performapals received two common Trap Cards: Last Minute Cancel and Performapal Call.  I can see both being used by anyone who received a decent number of Performapal monsters.  The first puts all of your monsters in Defense Position, and can even be used without Performapals.  The second can negate a direct attack and add up to two Performapals to your hand from the deck.

Mischief of the Gnomes is a very interesting card.  It’s a very serious Level disruption card, and can even be used twice in a single turn!  If you’re expecting Xyz Monsters, this is a great card to have.

Wall of Disruption… by the God Cards, this thing is amazing.  When your opponent attacks, all Attack Position monsters they control lose 800 ATK for each monster your opponent controls.  800 ATK!  For each monster they control, regardless of position!  So if your opponent has three monsters, two in Attack Position and one in Defense, the two monsters in Attack Position will lose 2400 ATK when you activate this card, while the one in Defense Position is unaffected.  Anyone who pulls this is more than ready for most attacks by big monsters!

The last Trap I want to look at is Soul Strike.  It’s not very useful until the late game, but it’s still pretty handy at that point.  If your Life Points are at 4000 or lower when someone declares an attack involving two monsters battling one another, you can pay half your Life Points to play this card.  Your monster then gets an ATK boost equal to 4000 minus your current LP.  So if you’re right at 4000 when you play this card and you activate it, you would pay 2000 LP, and your monster gains 2000 ATK.  Cool, huh?  To balance this, you’re only allowed to activate 1 “Soul Strike” in a turn.

The Rare cards are the next most influential group in a sealed tournament.  You’re guaranteed one in every pack, even if you pull a Super, Ultra, Secret, Ultimate, or Ghost Rare.  That extra-shiny card will replace a common card instead of a Rare.  There are plenty of Rare cards that would make a nice impact on the game, so let’s have a look, starting with the monsters.

The promotional card, Dragoons of Draconia, is also a Rare card in this set.  It’s a Normal Pendulum Monster, so it has no monster effects, but 1800 ATK and a Pendulum Scale of 2 make up for this.  Its Pendulum Effect won’t have any effect on the game if you don’t end up with more than one copy of this guy, but Scale 2 is reason enough to put it in a Pendulum Zone.

Frontline Observer is a card that I would definitely watch out for.  It has two powerful search effects.  The first is activated in the turn it was Normal Summoned, and lets you add an EARTH Pendulum Monster from your deck to your hand.  Plenty of those about these days.  The second effect can be activated in the End Phase of your next turn if it lives that long.  You Tribute it as a cost and add any EARTH monster from your deck to your hand.  At only 1000 ATK, this would be hard to pull off, but the first effect should be plenty for most players.

Dragon Dowser is a nifty little Wyrm-Type monster that lets you Special Summon an EARTH Pendulum Monster from your deck if it’s destroyed by your opponent and sent to your Graveyard.  The monster you summon is placed in Defense Position and is destroyed at the end of the turn.  A good way to mount a defense, especially since it weighs in at an even 1500/1500.

Two of the Burning Abyss monsters are also worth looking at here: Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, and Libic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss.  Farfa has a solid 1900 DEF and can banish a monster for one turn if it’s sent to the Graveyard.  You can take advantage of this by Normal or Flip Summoning Farfa while you have a non-BA monster in play (yes, this includes face-down monsters).  Use this to temporarily remove a problem, and either go for game or do something else that gets you closer to game.

Libic isn’t quite as useful, but still pretty handy.  If it goes to the Graveyard, you can Special Summon a DARK Level 3 Fiend-Type monster from your hand, but its effects are negated.  If you just need Libic as a wall, or you have a Cagna, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss on you, you can use Libic to play it without it self-destructing when it’s got company.

The only Spell Card I would expect to see is Void Expansion, and that’s solely for its ability to generate Tokens.  There isn’t anything else in the Spell/Trap department for Rares that’s worth running in a sealed event.

Before I move on to Super Rares, I should probably cover the short-print commons.  While these cards are technically common cards, they are actually few in number.  You won’t come across these as often as you will other commons.

First on the list is Marmiting Captain.  The Marauding Captain of ages past was also apparently one of the army chefs.  This retrained version allows you to shuffle a card from your hand into your deck, then draw a new card to replace it.  If the card you draw is a monster, you also get to Special Summon it.

Next up is Legendary Maju Garzett.  I would fully expect anyone who pulled this monstrosity to make good use of it.  It’s massive ATK potential coupled with its ability to inflict piercing Battle Damage make this card a deadly force to be reckoned with in any sealed tournament.  I’d have been extra careful around this thing.

Extra Net is another short print card, but I wouldn’t really expect to see it very much in a Secrets of Eternity sealed tournament.  If a player Special Summons any monsters from the Extra Deck, the OTHER player gets to draw 1 card.  I might side it in if I find my opponent can make good use of Pendulum Summons, but don’t really see a lot of other uses in this format.

The last short print is Double Trap Hole.  I’m pretty sure this card was designed to be anti-Shaddoll and anti-Pendulum, but I doubt it would have much use in a sealed format.  Basically, it banishes any monster or monsters that your opponent Special Summons in Defense Position.  After looking at everything else in this set, I wouldn’t see this card as very useful in sealed.

Now for the Super Rare cards.  When it comes to the higher rarities, you have to bear in mind that most of them are designed to help existing archetypes that are topping in Tier 2 events.  Even if you DO pull one in a sealed event, don’t expect it to be very useful in that event.  And if it is useful in sealed, chances are it won’t be great anywhere else.

First up is Satellarknight Rigel.  A Level 4 monster with a whopping 1900 ATK is actually pretty handy here.  He also has the added effect of boosting another “tellarknight” monster’s ATK by 500 points, but that monster is sent to the Graveyard in the End Phase.  Because the effect is optional, Rigel makes a great beater, and can also be used as a one-time out to bigger threats.

Infernoid Antra might be one of the few Infernoids to be played in a sealed event, if not the only one at all.  It’s easier to summon than most other Infernoids, only requiring that you banish 1 Infernoid monster from your hand or Graveyard.  It has a solid 2000 DEF and the ability to return 1 face-up card your opponent controls to the hand once per turn.

We’ll skip the Superheavy Samurai cards and Jinzo – Jector because they aren’t that useful in this sealed format.  The next card we’ll look at is Skilled Blue Magician.  Neither of its effects are going to be useful here, but it has pretty good stats at 1800/1800.

Lightning Rod Lord is Konami’s latest abomination in their line of “You can’t play Yu-Gi-Oh!” cards.  It’s a Level 4 Thunder-Type monster with 1800 ATK and an effect that would make even the pettiest of the Greek gods call foul.  “Neither player can activate Spell Cards during Main Phase 1.”  No doubt whoever came up with this card and Denko Sekka is getting a raise for helping to maintaining the current control format.  Now, unless my 20-card deck seemed especially reliant on Spells, I wouldn’t worry too much about this thing.  But if Spells are my only way out of a bad situation, you can bet I’ll be putting a lot of effort into killing this thing so hard, it’ll be in the Graveyard at the start of Game 2.

The only other Super Rare monster worth looking at is Qliphort Cephalopod, and that’s solely because you can Normal Summon it as a Level 4 monster with 1800 ATK, and it’s unaffected by effects of monsters whose Level or Rank is lower than Cephalopod’s current Level.

I would not expect to see any of the Spells or the Trap from the Super Rare cards.

The Ultra Rare cards are even harder to acquire, obviously.  However, this does NOT mean you should discount them.  Even in a sealed event, Ultra Rares can and will appear, and can have a huge impact on the game.  Let’s look at the ones from this set.

Swordsman of Revealing Light is a new spin on an old card and makes an excellent blocker.  Not quite the caliber of Gorz the Emissary of Darkness, but still powerful if you pull it.  It can not only intercept a direct attack, but will destroy the attacking monster if that monster’s ATK is lower than the Swordsman’s 2400 DEF.

Caius the Mega Monarch is the newest in the line of Konami’s Mega Monarch series, and this one is a doozy.  As with each Mega Monarch, it can be Tribute Summoned with only 1 monster, provided that monster was also Tribute Summoned.  If you Tribute Summon it, you can banish 1 card on the field and deal 1000 damage to your opponent- regardless of whose card it was!  If the card you banished was a DARK monster, you also get to banish every other copy of that card your opponent has that isn’t on the field.  Yes, Extra Deck too.  And on top of all this, you can target 2 cards instead of 1 if you used at least one DARK monster for its Tribute Summon.

Infernoid Harmadik is another banish-1 Infernoid monster, making it easy to summon as well.  It has 1600 ATK, pretty average here, and the ability to destroy any monster on the field once per turn.  Not too shabby!

Qliphort Stealth is another Ultra Rare card, but I still wouldn’t play it myself if I didn’t also pull Cephalopod or Monolith, except as an 1800 beater.Just doesn’t seem worth it in a sealed format.

There’s a Level 6 Synchro called Metaphys Horus with pretty generic conditions- 1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters.  If you got a Tuner and this card, go ahead and run them because it’s a pretty solid monster.  If you use a Pendulum Monster to as Synchro Material, you even get to use two of its effects instead of just one!  Awesome, right?

A Rank 2 Xyz Monster made it into the Ultra Rares.  It’s called Sky Cavalry Centaurea.  It has 2000 ATK and can’t be destroyed by battle so long as it has Xyz Material.  Now, I know what you’re thinking: There has to be a Tiras-like downside, right?  Nope.  The only time you detach Xyz Materials from it is when you activate its effect after it battles another monster- and activating this effect is COMPLETELY optional!

The lone Trap Card among the Ultras is Eye of the Void, but all it does is let you summon an Infernoid for free while its effects are negated for that turn.  Not that big a threat if that player didn’t also pull a really good Infernoid.

Finally, the Secret Rare cards.  Remember what I said about not discounting Ultras just because they’re hard to get?  Yeah, same thing applies here.

Honestly, though, there are only four Secret Rare cards that could be any kind of useful here.  The first is Qliphort Monolith, and that’s solely because it’s a 2400 ATK monster.  Not much else going for it in sealed, really.

Next up is the great Pokemon reference, A Wild Monster Appears!  This would actually make a lot of unplayable monsters you pulled pretty useful since it can summon one from your hand, ignoring its summoning conditions.

Pot of Riches is next, and is great Pendulum support.  If you get this and a decent number of Pendulum Monsters, it’s a good idea to run it in your Main Deck.  If not, oh well.

Soul Transition is the last of the useful Secret Rares for sealed format.  If none of your monsters were Special Summoned, you can Tribute 1 face-up Level 4 monster that was Normal Summoned or Set to draw 2 cards.  Its two downsides are that you can only play 1 copy of Soul Transition per turn, and you cannot Special Summon in the same turn.

Overall, this set seems pretty balanced between attack and defense, so I’d expect a lot of back and forth action here.  There’s also a few control elements, so the clever players would likely rise to the top.  Lucky pulls will also have a huge influence on the outcome, as always.

The point of this article is to show you that you can still analyze the cards in a set and be prepared for a sealed tournament.  Be prepared.  Know what to expect and build your deck accordingly.  Go for cards with generic effects first and foremost, and then use support cards if you have a ton of cards from that series, such as Performapals.

No way I’m going to miss the next Sneak Peek.  Cover monster of Crossover Souls is called Clear Wing Synchro Dragon, and anyone who knows me knows how much I love Synchro Monsters.  Until next time, play fair, and have fun!

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Sealed Strategy: Sneak Peeks

For my newest article, I’d like to focus on something else: Strategy.

This past weekend was the Duelist Alliance Sneak Peek event. At my local store, I participated instead of judging. I’m proud to say that I won the sealed event and earned the prized playmat.

But how I won may come as surprise to many of my readers- it certainly surprised many of the people I defeated, and they are some of the best friends I’ve ever had. You see, I didn’t get very lucky with my pulls. In fact, the shiniest card I got was a Hypnosister, a mere Super Rare and not one that’s likely to be very popular in the tournament scene. Every other pack contained only a single rare card and eight commons.

So how did I win the Sealed Event? Well, I should probably preface this with the rules of the event. In this tournament, you are allowed to build a deck with the cards you received from the packs as well as the promo card. You have 46 cards total to work with. But you only need to have 20 cards in your Main Deck. Any Fusion, Synchro, or Xyz Monsters you get must be placed in the Extra Deck. Any cards you don’t put in your Main or Extra Deck are placed in your Side Deck, ignoring the 15 card limit. Players are also allowed to ignore the 3 card rule for deck construction, meaning if you pulled four or more copies of a single card, you are allowed to use all of them. Between Duels in a match, you are allowed to utilize your Side Deck in ways you never could in normal Matches: In addition to switching cards between your Main and Side Decks, you are also allowed to increase or decrease the size of your Main Deck (so long as you never go below 20 cards).  And from my understanding, the changes you make can be permanent.

I took advantage of this format in a way that no one else in the store considered: I stuck to the absolute minimum deck size at all times. You see, I firmly believe in a philosophy when constructing decks: The fewer cards you have, the closer you are to what you need. It’s a simple matter of statistics, really. By using only 20 cards in my Main Deck, I was always much closer to the cards and plays I needed than my opponents were.  On top of that, running only twenty cards would dramatically increase my odds of pulling off certain combos sooner.

But this was only half of my strategy. The other half was to use the most generic cards I pulled, cards whose abilities I could use in the most situations, combining them with one another as well as playing them on their own. I had many cards to consider, both for my own strategy and in accounting for opposing tactics. My main concerns were actually common cards: Superheavy Samurai Swordsman, Superheavy Samurai Blue Brawler, U.A. Perfect Ace from the new Ultra Athlete series, and certain Spells and Traps. The archetypal cards I simply didn’t fear because they could only be best used in a full deck based on the cards they supported.

With all of these things in mind, I chose the following cards for my deck.

Monsters: 17
1x Battleguard King
1x Superheavy Samurai Big Benkei
1x Dragon Horn Hunter
1x Performapal Kaleidoscorp
2x Aria the Melodious Diva
2x Performapal Hip Hippo
2x Sonata the Melodious Diva
1x Gaia, the Mid-Knight Sun
1x Hypnosister
1x Performapal Skeeter Skimmer
1x Performapal Turn Toad
1x Performapal Whip Snake
1x Shaddoll Squamata
1x Superheavy Samurai Swordsman

Spells: 1
1x Hippo Carnival

Traps: 2
1x Battleguard Howling
1x Battleguard Rage

Extra Deck: 2
1x Cloudcastle
1x Pilgrim Reaper

Side Deck: 24
1x Artifact Chakram
1x Artifact Lancea
1x Batteryman 9-Volt
1x Djinn Demolisher of Rituals
*1x Dogu
*1x Gaia, the Polar Knight
**2x Nefarious Archfiend Eater of Nefariousness
*1x Re-Cover
1x Shaddoll Hedgehog
*1x Satellarknight Unukalhai
1x Curse of the Shadow Prison
2x Dracocension
1x Feast of the Wild LV5
2x Hymn of Light
2x Stellarknight Alpha
1x U.A. Stadium
1x Yang Zing Prana
1x Chain Dispel
1x Stellarnova Wave
1x Yang Zing Unleashed

Cards in the Side Deck are marked with stars if they had been swapped in or out during the tournament, with one star per copy used.

When it comes down to it, I didn’t really pull any money cards. I didn’t care that much. I was there to win me a mat, and win a mat I did. Despite lacking any ability to Pendulum Summon, I outperformed everyone there, taking first place and the coolest mat Konami has released thus far. Not that I didn’t earn it, oh no- everybody I faced gave me a run for my money. They all played well and every duel was incredible. So if you’re reading this and faced me, do NOT be discouraged- you were great and made me work for it.

The core strategy was beatdown with a sort of control element. The key cards were the Performapals, with each one giving support to the overall consistency of the deck. Performapal Whip Snake and Performapal Turn Toad both allowed me to take out plenty of monsters in a single turn. Performapal Skeeter Skimmer gave me a solid defense, as well as extra offense when combined with Whip Snake or Turn Toad. Performapal Kaleidoscorp gave a power boost to Gaia, the Mid-Knight Sun and the Melodious Divas, which was very important in this format. Even Performapal Hip Hippo was important and allowed me to recover my footing in many duels by allowing me to sacrifice a monster that had lost its ATK and DEF to Superheavy Samurai Swordsman’s effect for either Superheavy Samurai Big Benkei or Battleguard King, without costing me another monster that hadn’t lost its strength.

Dragon Horn Hunter was always played as a monster, while Kaleidoscorp and Turn Toad were always in the Pendulum Zones. Without a Flash Knight, I had no reason to use Hunter as a Pendulum Spell, but 2300 ATK for a single Tribute was still handy, especially when a Swordsman had weakened one of my monsters. Hypnosister herself was a beatstick, shooting up to 2100 ATK every time I played her by simply having a card in a Pendulum Zone. Squamata was in there primarily to handle Superheavy Samurai Blue Brawler, but 1800 ATK wasn’t a bad move either if I could Flip Summon it. I pulled a single Swordsman, and he served as both defense and offense (when combined with Snake or Toad).

Seventeen monsters to one Spell and two Traps. It might not seem like the most fantastic ratio, but let’s not forget that most of my Spells and Traps just weren’t meant to be used on their own. Take Feast of the Wild LV5. How many Level 5 monsters do you see up there? Two, right? There’s a problem, though: They’re both Fairy-Types, as are all the Artifacts. Incompatible with Feast of the Wild LV5. Another example is Hymn of Light. It’s the Ritual Spell for Saffira, Queen of Dragons. Not a single copy of the monster showed up, so the Ritual Spell was relegated to the Side Deck.

Now, what about Curse of the Shadow Prison? Or Chain Dispel? Surely I could’ve tried those, right? I had considered swapping in Curse in the event that I ran into someone actually using U.A. Stadium, but I highly doubted I could ever utilize the ATK decrease effect, so I didn’t put it in the Main Deck. Chain Dispel was also put to the Side Deck because I wasn’t confident I would ever run into a deck actually running multiple copies of any Spell or Trap Card, and if I did, it wouldn’t be more than two copies.

As for the one Spell and two Traps I DID run, well, it should be fairly obvious why.  Hippo Carnival makes for a fantastic defense, forcing my opponent to attack tokens during the turn that it’s played.  Very handy if I didn’t want a certain monster to be destroyed right then.  And the Traps?  They both support Warrior-Type monsters, and there were actually very few compared to the rest of the deck.  In fact, aside from those in the Side Deck, there were only three Warrior-Type monsters in the Main Deck, and two of them required Tributes to summon.  In spite of this, those two Traps were never dead draws.  Why?  I have the small deck size to thank for that.  Three cards may not seem like a lot, but in 20 cards instead of 40, it’s actually a pretty large number.

Now for the deck size itself.  I know the obvious criticisms.  In fact, one of them was in my Extra Deck: Pilgrim Reaper.  Look, I wasn’t worried about the Reaper because it requires two Level 6 monsters to summon.  I only had two myself.  What were the odds of other people actually being able to summon it?  Not much higher than mine.  And as for actually decking out due to stall, well, I wasn’t worried about that either.  I had Shaddoll Squamata for that.  The only thing that could have been my undoing would have been two copies of Superheavy Samurai Blue Brawler.  I only ever encountered one.  My only other major problem was U.A. Perfect Ace, but I already knew how to deal with that.  It shared a weakness with one of my favorite cards in the game.  I simply had to bluff it out and then destroy it.  Failing that, I could always hit it with Battlegaurd King.

But what if I HAD encountered a Blue Brawler lock?  Well, it’s likely I would have lost that duel, assuming my opponent had more cards in their deck than I did.  I believe I could have come back from it, though.  One duel isn’t the whole match.  I would simply have to try to be faster next time.

I hope you found this article insightful and helpful, and I hope it helps you in the next Sneak Peek event three months from now.  Trust me when I say this: The New Challengers is going to be a REALLY good set!

As for me, stay tuned.  My next article will be covering probably the most confusing card in Duelist Alliance: Superheavy Samurai Big Benkei!

Card Sleeves – The Late Update

By now, most of you have probably heard the news about the update to Konami’s policy regarding card sleeves and the Extra Deck. If you have not, you can find all relevant Tournament Policy documents here: http://www.yugioh-card.com/en/gameplay/index.html.  You’ll find them in the section labeled “Duelist Resources”.  These documents can be viewed in your browser, but can also be downloaded for free if you like.

The rule that card sleeves had to match for all three of your decks- Main, Extra, and Side- has been in place pretty much forever.  It only recently came to light when a lot of people were complaining about their Extra Deck cards getting mixed up with their Main Deck.  While I can certainly understand the frustration, anybody running 15 cards in their Side and Extra Decks should not have this problem.  Have I done made the mistake of shuffling a Synchro Monster into my Main Deck?  Of course.  It still happens to this day.  But as I said in my previous article talking about sleeves, anyone who can count to 15 shouldn’t have this problem very often.  In a tournament, this can also be a bad thing.  If you happen to draw an Extra Deck card from your Main Deck, you must reveal that card to your opponent and call a judge.  In most cases, the card is placed in the Extra Deck, you get a warning, and you draw a new card.  If you suspect that more than one card is in there, you should count your Extra Deck and ask the judge to sort through your Main Deck for any other stragglers.

Well, the Powers That Be have decided that the practicality of different sleeves for the Extra Deck outweigh any other significant reason for uniform sleeves.  Are they wrong?  I don’t think it’s my place to say.  A judge I may be, but I don’t write the tournament policy.  I barely have a grasp of how big a tournament can get; I can’t even imagine being in charge of the tournament scene for an entire country or continent.

Let’s be clear about this rule, however: This rule only allows players to use different sleeves for their EXTRA DECK.  Your sleeves for the Main and Side Decks must still match.  Even if you have Fusion, Synchro, or Xyz Monsters in your Side Deck, they must still have sleeves that match the rest of your Main and Side Deck cards.  Furthermore, if you DO use different sleeves for your Extra Deck, they must all match.  So you can’t use ten black sleeves for your Xyz Monsters and five white sleeves for your Synchros.  It’s either fifteen of the same black sleeves, or fifteen of the same white sleeves- or no sleeves at all, if you prefer.

So what does this mean for you as a Duelist?  Well, for newer players, this is a godsend and I won’t argue with anyone who says that this helps them.  Young or old, newer players have a lot of things in the game to get used to- three different decks with their own set of rules is one of them.  More experienced players might also find this to be a great convenience to them given the time constraints of tournaments.

However, there are some players who might still prefer to have uniform sleeves all around, and for any number of reasons.  It could be that they want their Extra and Side Deck sleeves to match because they have Extra Deck monsters in their Side Deck; having the same sleeves means you don’t have to take cards out of sleeves and switch them, saving precious seconds (no, that’s not sarcasm; every second counts in the tournament scene).  There might also be strategic reasons for this, such as concealing the number of Extra Deck monsters that are actually in the Side Deck.  That is, hiding this information from your opponent.  To a certain extent, this IS legal; and you don’t want to give away too much information.  You never know what they might use it for.

I mentioned in the last article a little card called Magical Hats.  This card wasn’t seeing much tournament play, even in Geartown decks.  However, it IS seeing tournament play in Harpie decks thanks to their favorite new Spell Card: Hysteric Sign.  In most cases, you won’t be hiding an Extra Deck monster anyway, and if you do, it’ll be an Xyz Monster, so the Xyz Materials will be placed underneath the monster once you’re done mixing up the hats.  Yeah, I know, it sucks.  But this is still a good strategic reason to use uniform sleeves, at least in the event that you happen to summon a non-Xyz Monster from the Extra Deck, or you hit an Xyz that has no more Xyz Materials attached to it.

This is only advice and opinion.  If you don’t want your Extra Deck to match your Main and Side Deck card sleeves, you no longer have to (just so long as the Extra Deck sleeves you use are all the same).  This might make your tournament experience much easier for you.  In all honesty, I hope it does.

Until next time, folks, keep dueling!

Card Sleeve Conundrums: Uniformity

The first big tournament that I judged at was a Regional Qualifier in September 2013.  It was the best thing I’d ever gotten to do.  Between helping players and learning how to improve as a judge, I also got to see things that were rare in tournaments or that I hadn’t considered.

But there was one issue that was highly controversial during the entire event, and that was the issue of card sleeves.

According to the tournament policy documents, players must use the same card sleeves for the Main, Side, and Extra Decks.  This is not a new rule and has been there for a very long time.  It seems that players (and judges) were only just now noticing it due to recent enforcement.  A lot of players were wondering why it even mattered.

Believe me when I say that it matters a lot.  There are a few very good reasons why this rule is in place.

Argument from cards

The first argument I’d like to present is one that uses specific cards as examples.  Let’s start with Magical Hats.  This is a Normal Trap that is activated during your opponent’s Battle Phase.  You select two non-monster cards from your deck and shuffle them with one of your monsters, then Set the three of them in face-down Defense Position (the non-monsters are treated as Normal Monsters with an ATK and DEF of 0, but no Type, Attribute, or Level).  Your non-monsters are destroyed at the end of the Battle Phase.

Now, suppose you have a Synchro Monster in play.  Your opponent attacks it and you activate Magical Hats to hide it.  If you’re playing with different sleeves for your Extra Deck monsters, your opponent’s going to know what it is anyway and destroy it.  Strategically speaking, this puts you at a disadvantage.

(Unfortunately, Xyz Monsters aren’t as easy to hide since the Xyz Materials must be put underneath the monster when you’re done shuffling the three “hats”.  This ruling is still being debated by some judges, but it makes the most sense with regards to the rulebook and other cards.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “But nobody plays Magical Hats!  Using that as an argument is like saying you shouldn’t mess with the Graveyard in case someone plays Question!”

And to that, I have a few things to say.  First off, I’m genuinely surprised that Geartown decks don’t play this card.  It would be a very fast way to instantly summon two copies of Ancient Gear Gadjiltron Dragon.  Under ideal circumstances, your deck becomes thinner by four cards, and you have two huge monsters in play!  Ojama decks can also benefit from this card with Ojamagic.  Two copies get sent to the Graveyard, and your hand size suddenly increases by SIX CARDS.  Granted, they’re all relatively weak Normal Monsters, but Ojamas have their own tricks.

Second, Question is a perfectly valid reason for not messing with the Graveyard.  So what if it never tops?  If we only took into account the cards that topped, a lot of judges would be stumped on less powerful stuff when it inevitably came up- because not everyone has the money to play meta, and some folks just don’t want to anyway.

Third, as I hinted above, we have to take everything into account.  The rules must encompass all situations.  Using cards as examples for why a rule is in place is a perfectly valid argument, no matter how obscure it is.  Why?  Because the card exists and is tournament legal.  That means it CAN show up in a tournament, and occasionally it will.

Argument from expediency

Did you know that you can put Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz Monsters in your Side Deck?  That’s right.  After the first and second duels, you can swap out cards in your Extra Deck for other such monsters in your Side Deck.

But if you’re playing with different sleeves on your Extra Deck, this is going to take up extra time that could be used for other things, like shuffling or finishing the match before time is called.  You have to take your Side Deck monster out of its sleeve, your Extra Deck monster out of its own sleeve, and then switch the two, putting them into each other’s sleeves.  This is an enormous waste of time.  You might not think so, but those seconds really add up.  If you have to do this twice in a full match, you could end up using several minutes’ worth of time.  It would be far better spent SUMMONING those monsters instead of having to switch their sleeves.

Argument from uniformity

It’s actually rather rare for two opposing duelists to have the same sleeves on their cards.  With this in mind, mixing them up is often a simple thing to fix.  If your opponent takes control of one of your monsters with Number 11: Big Eye, or maybe switches one of his for one of yours with Creature Swap, then it’s most likely going to be an easy thing to get these cards back to their owners after the duel is finished (if they didn’t end up in the Graveyard during the duel anyway).

I won’t deny that sometimes two people dueling each other will have the same sleeves.  If this happens and your cards get mixed up, my advice is to use your deck lists to sort it out.  Before going to any tournament that requires deck lists, write up a second copy for yourself.  I advise that you also write the Set Numbers and rarity of each card on the list to further help in case of a mix-up.

Argument Against: That Card Doesn’t Go There!

The most typical argument- and really the only one I’ve ever seen- against this policy is that Extra Deck monsters can easily get mixed up in the Main Deck if all of your cards have the same sleeves.  Yes, this happens, but it is still your responsibility to make sure that it doesn’t.  You cannot blame the tournament program’s designers for this.  It’s happened to everyone, even people who don’t have uniform sleeves.  In the end, it is YOUR responsibility.  So take my advice and CAREFULLY sort through your Graveyard, your banished pile, and your other cards before shuffling your deck.  Make sure that your Extra Deck and your Side Deck both have the correct number of cards that they started with and you should be good to go.

I hope that this article is both enlightening and helpful to you.  I’m researching other things right now, but if I don’t find anything, then I’ll just write up articles on the TCG exclusives from Shadow Specters when they are announced.

Until next time, keep dueling!