Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Turning Point

As you guys can probably tell, I'm still in a period of limbo with Yugioh. As I mentioned before, it's been this way since about the end of March, after the April 2014 banlist was revealed, after I finally topped locals with Blackwings after five excruciating months, and after I realized that it was crunch time if I wanted to get decent grades in school last semester.

I seriously had every intention of returning to play as soon as the meta got better for my purposes, but as time passed, I started to realize that there is no actual time when the meta is actually really that good for me. It's less of a distinction between "good" and "bad," and more like "tolerable" and "intolerable."

I started to ask myself why. Why is it that I always have such a hard time enjoying this game? Eventually, I came to a turning point, and realized that maybe I just don't like Yugioh as much as I think I do. Sure I love the cards and decks, but do I really enjoy practicing, going to locals, or actually playing the game with anyone else at all? No, and I feel like I've always had at least some sort of aversion to these things.

The experience of playing Yugioh with someone other than myself may not be very enjoyable, but I doubt I would be on this path of thought right now if I a) had a deck to play, and b) were more than just an average player.

For those of you that don't know, I had a specific condition for changing what my primary deck was for tournament use. I wanted to stick with a given deck for no less than four months and no more than six, and top with it at least once. When I played Blackwings, an unusual number of strange occurrences, sometimes known as a downswing, combined with my lack of exceptional skill made it take an unusually long time to top with the deck for the first time.

By the time I finally did, I was exhausted, and I had come to really hate the experience of going to locals. Investing my money and time (although it only cost five dollars to enter a tournament, and I usually didn't have much else to do anyways) just to either scrub out or not top repeatedly really irritated me, and so I felt that I needed to make a better effort to choose a stronger new deck this time around, especially since money had become much less of an issue for me.

But for me, there's an underlying issue with deck selection. Most competitive decks fall into two distinct categories: those that are offensive and those that are defensive.

--I hated the experience of playing offensive decks (things like Mermails, Sylvans, and Dragon Rulers) because they were too technical for someone of my skill level. They typically lack a designated pathway of specific actions you should take in order to win the game; instead, you just create combos in order to play out of whatever situation you're put in. They give you too much room to misplay and usually not much room to recover from those misplays, making it easy to lose games for no good reason (other than just not being good). They're also usually a bit easier to successfully floodgate, so you can also lose just by not drawing an out to a single card. 

--I feel somewhat unique as a player because I also greatly hate using defensive decks (think HAT, Bujin, and Evilswarm). These decks usually take a lot less skill to use effectively, but they typically have no quick way of creating any advantage. As a result, they can be simply worn down to the point of topdecking, and their cards are usually unable to put up a serious fight without enough of them supporting each other. Sitting on a mountain of Trap Cards and waiting for my opponent to do something and then reacting to them is just not fun.

So as you can see, choosing a deck that strikes a balance between these two sets of flaws while still being competitive (and that I don't dislike using for the simple fact that I hate playing this game) is really fucking hard. And it's kind of hard to keep playing Yugioh when you don't have a deck to use. So as time passed, I eventually just got tired of searching for something.

But there's another critical issue that stops me from playing, and that is not being good. In my current train of thought, I feel like people only withstand the experience of playing this game over long periods for two reasons: they're either so good at it that the flaws in the game don't bother them that much because they're winning anyways, or so bad at it that they are unable to realize how flawed the game is in the first place. Everyone that pays enough attention to see how shitty this game is while simultaneously not being good enough to enjoy it in spite of these flaws is basically stuck, and for me, not even having a deck to play exacerbates that problem.

That's obviously a very watered-down, nuance-free way of looking at things. There are other things that can compel people to play; having a group of friends that enjoy the game is one I can think of. I don't have that anymore ever since I moved two years ago, but while it may not apply to me, I think it does apply to the vast majority of players out there. But it's definitely an extra level of challenge to do research into matchups and learn the right play patterns when you're on your own and not very good at playing. It's pretty much at the point of being impossible, unless you want to spend your entire life on Dueling Network. Even the best players almost all have a team, a testing circle, or a group of friends that figure things out collaboratively.

This is part of the reason why I think people should come together and create repositories of information on how decks interact with each other, because when you think about it, it's actually extremely impractical for every individual person or testing circle to figure out everything on their own. But my position on that will always meet some resistance from people who think that "spoonfeeding" is an issue that's actually worth any kind of thought, consideration or energy whatsoever. That's a topic best left for another day.

Anyways, the point of this post was to show you guys more of why I haven't been playing lately and hopefully expose you to some new ways of thinking at the same time. I still do hope to return to playing in the future, even if only occasionally. Thanks for reading!

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