The hardest (and the most fun for some) part of any TCG is the beginning – new players often lose themselves in the vast amount of cards / decks / game modes. While in some (Magic the gathering and, soon, Hearthstone) there are so-called “formats” that significantly reduce the card pool, our favourite Yu-gi-oh has no such feature. People that are about to start playing usually wonder: what kind of deck should I build?; how much money should I spend on it?; how it will perform at locals? I’m going to try to answer these questions by providing you with 3 decks that in my opinion are best suited to get in the game.
Lets start with the second argument, which in my opinion is crucial, because the amount of money that you are ready to pay determines the deck you will be able to make. As most TCGs, Yu-gi-oh can get pretty expensive, and of late, price of single cards has risen notably. I would strongly suggest you not to spend more than 100$ for your very first deck. A 100$ is already a pretty high amount for someone who never played TCGs before, but it should let you to build the deck capable of holding its own against average players. Of course you could start with a simple, pre-build starter-structure deck for 15$, but you would probably end up losing 9/10 of your games, not just because of your inexperience, but because those kind of decks, on their own, aren’t suited for a competitive playing. You would end up losing a lot of games, which isn’t fun at all, and because of that you would probably stop playing at all.
The best way to spend your money is to buy single cards that you need, either from other players or on the internet. For those living in Europe, I could even suggest my favorite american site that has nice prices on singles (they aren’t allowed to sell anything else in Europe), discounts and very low-cost shipping (like 6-12$ based on how many cards you’ve purchased), but I’m not here to do the advertising, so if you are interested – contact me at email@example.com and I will happily share it with you.
Buying boosters is a really bad idea. It is fun to open them, but you will hardly pull something that will get your 5$ back in cards value. There are however, particular boosters that are composed almost entirely of cards of a certain archetype or two, or three, anyway, by buying those you can obtain most specific cards needed for your deck.
However, the easiest way to start right now is to buy 3 copies of Emperor of Darkness Structure Deck, buy several single cards and voilà – your deck is ready. Emperor of Darkness is the newest structure deck that is based on the powerful “Monarch” archetype which is also very fun to play. Considering that each decks comes with 1 (rarely 2) copy(ies) of each card, you will need 3 of these decks in order to build something decent. Something like that:
- Erebus the Underworld Monarch x3 – boss monster №1, returns 1 card from anywhere to your opponent’s deck and recycles your monarchs.
- Ehther the Heavenly Monarch x3 – boss monster №2,
- Caius the Shadow Monarch x3 – IMO, the best “original” (2400ATK) Monarch out there as of today.
- Raiza the Storm Monarch x3 – in certain cases, he can be even more useful than Caius – by returning your opponent’s card on top of his deck you know what he will draw during his next turn, and you may even block him for a turn, by targeting something that he won’t be able to play (for example, if your opponent plays monarchs as well, and the only monster that he has on his side of the field is a Monarch, if you return it on top of the deck, he, most likely, won’t be able to summon it during his next turn).
- Eidos the Underworld Squire x3 – recycles Edea, gives you one more tribute summon per turn. Should be used alongside Edea for a combo described below.
- Edea the Heavenly Squire x3 – Edea / Eidos combo works like this: summon Edea, summon Eidos with her effect and get another tribute summon per turn. Now, by tributing these 2 monsters you can summon any Monarch you may have in your hand, and, you get to activate Edea / Eidos effects once they hit the graveyard, should you sacrifice them.
- Pantheism of the Monarchs x3 – probably the best Monarch spell card you get in your structure deck (not for nothing it is a SR). Don’t be afraid to discard your spell / trap cards to activate this one. Once it hits the graveyard, you can remove it, and pick any spell / trap card you want – simply remove it, pick either 3 copies of the card you need, or any combination of the card you need and Tenacity of Monarchs (hopefully you have a monarch in your hand), so that you either get it directly from Pantheism effect, or by activating Tenacity.
- Tenacity of the Monarchs x3 – searches any Monarch spell / trap card, very powerful.
- The Monarchs Stormforth x3 – an improved Soul Exchange.
- March of the Monarchs – pretty straightforward.
- Return of the Monarchs x3 – having Monarchs in your hand is essential for winning, so this card is essential as well. It can also protect your Monarchs from nasty traps such as Solemn Strike if you place Return of Monarchs as chain link 2. If you are a new player and the last phrase makes no sense for you – don’t worry, in time you will learn what it means.
- Domain of the True Monarchs x3 – reduces your Mega Monarchs lvl, shut downs your opponent’s extra deck, boost Monarchs ATK when they fight other monsters.
- The First Monarch x3 – this card is not that good, but considering that we don’t have a large card pool, it should do for now.
- The Prime Monarch x3 – now that’s a different story. This card is very important because it lets you to recycle your Monarch spell / trap cards and keeps your hand full. As a bonus, you can special summon this card as a monster, once it is in the graveyard.
Monarchs are powerful monsters that should be summoned by tributing other monsters, yours, and sometimes even your opponents. They all share same stats, 2400ATK /1000DEF or 2800ATK/100DEF, and each of them has the ability to mess in some way with your opponents hand / board / graveyard. Their effects activate only once, right after they hit the board by being tribute summoned, so it is a good strategy to keep sacrificing “old” monarchs for the “new” ones. In your structure decks you will find plenty of different monarchs and vassals, but most of them aren’t really good. I suggest you experiment with your monster line-up in order to understand why certain monsters are better than the other and to find the build that suits you – the one I gave you above is based purely on my own preferences.
Great thing about this deck is that it requires no extra deck, or should I say – some cards in this deck prevents you from playing with the extra deck. You get to save a lot of money because of that.
So far you’ve spent 40-50$ on 3 Structure decks, you’ve got 120 cards, some of which (like Mathematician or Soul Charge) you may exchange for something useful for your deck. Before making exchanges however, check every single card price on the internet, don’t let experienced players cheat you by saying something like “oh man, your card is a total crap, here, let me give you something much more useful” – ends up offering you a complete crap for something nice.
Next step would be improving our deck with some single cards in order to speed it up a bit:
Foolish Burial – lets you drop Erebus, Eidos or Edea from your deck to the grave and activate their effects.
Reinforcement of the army – lets you get your Edea faster.
Terraforming – searches for your Domain of the True Monarchs. Not essential, but get it if you can.
You can find the common version of the above cards for 0.20$ each, and I’m sure that some players would even give them to you for free.
Now, to something more expensive:
Thestalos the Mega Monarch x2 – very good, my favourite Mega Monarch. He may not seem like much, but his discard ability is one of the best in the game – you can completely destroy your opponent strategy by excluding a single card, and, you can also prepare for whatever he is about to throw at you during his next turn. The average price for Thestalos right now is around 10$ per copy, but try to get him – you won’t regret it.
Swap The First Monarch x3 for spells and 1 Raiza / 1 Caius for 2 Thethtalos’ like that:
That build should be sufficient for you to start playing the game. Try to learn as much as possible, play vs different opponents in order to understand your decks strengths and weaknesses. Once you get used to playing Monarchs, start searching for Kuraz the Light Monarch. This fella is a bit tricky to play, that’s why I don’t want you to get him before you start feeling comfortable with the deck. Kuraz might actually seem like a bad card at first: he can destroy up to 2 cards on the filed, but for each one destroyed, its controller gets to draw a card, and, Kuraz won’t be able to attack for the rest of the turn. So why not just use Caius / Raiza that simply removes that card for good without any consequences? Because:
- Sometimes one card is not enough, and you really need to remove 2 of them (for example to clear Pendulums).
- You can destroy your own cards, which in most cases will be your Monarch spells / traps, in order to get them to the graveyard, activate their effects from there / recycle them, and draw some cards.
- Kuraz effect activates even when he is special summoned.
- Escalation of the Monarchs lets you to summon a Monarch during your opponent’s turn. That’s a good way to disrupt his combo halfway through. I haven’t included this card in my build so far, because, just as Kuraz, it takes experience to play, to know when is the best moment to summon your monster and inflict as much damage as possible. Obviously, the above can be performed with any Monarch, but because Kuraz actually destroys 2 cards, the following strategy works better with him.
On average, Kuraz goes for 5$ per copy on the internet. Try to obtain as many copies as possible, I saw different players running different amounts of this cards in their builds. 3 are too many in my opinion, I tried it once and that was it. Right now I play 2 of them, which seems to be just fine.
The last I’d like to mention, which is really my own preference, you will hardly see anyone else running this card – Black Luster Solder. Dunno, I must be simply in love with this card, so I put him whenever there are both Dark and Light monsters in my deck. Very strong, actually much easier to summon with this build than it might seem. There are many different rarities of this card, you can buy a common one for 4$. This card can be played in so many different decks, you absolutely have to get it, even if you won’t play it in monarchs.
To answer the last question, “how would that deck perform in a tournament?”, in all honesty – poorly. Yeah, that sux, but you won’t win with it, because of 3 major reasons:
That deck might be good in its own price range, but remember that top-tier Yu-gi-oh decks are constructed with much better / more rare cards which cost a lot more (up to 600$ per deck). Obviously experienced players with such decks have more chances of winning vs someone who has just started playing with a <100$ deck.
- Related to the first one, but important nonetheless: side deck. In a tournament you play best-of-3 series and after each game you may swap up to 15 cards between your deck (main deck) and your side deck (which may consist up to a maximum size of 15 cards). Side deck is not used during the game itself, its only purpose is to let you pick some cards in order to counter your opponents strategy after the first game by including some “counter” cards. An example of such card is a “Mistake” which blocks both players from drawing additional cards from their decks. Such a card may be extremely useful vs certain archetypes, but may also result completely useless vs others. I haven’t provided you with the list of cards for a side deck in this article, because I believe that you shouldn’t think about it at the beginning. You will only use it in tournaments, so simply ignore it for time being. If you are interested anyway, you can find some suggestions for a side deck in this article.
- You won’t win, simply because you have to learn how to play first. Even if you had a top-tier deck, you wouldn’t know how to use it against your opponent, so there is no point in spending a lot of money on something that won’t benefit you. Tournaments are great for improving, but on early stages, you should spectate others, rather than participating yourself.
That’s it! I hope that this article will be useful for those who didn’t know how to get in the game, or for those looking to try some new deck without spending much money on it! Till the next time guys!