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Competitive Budget Deck Masterpost (June 2020)
A lot has happened since the last budget post, most notably two meta-defining sets in SESL and ETCO, as well as the suspension of almost all sanctioned organized play. It's strange to be thinking of building on a budget during this time when most people are playing online, and it's also tough to scrape together results when YCS's and regionals have all been cancelled - but despite everything, we're still going. Special shoutouts to all the folks on Discord who helped out with this post, particularly Brendan for laying a lot of the groundwork while I was busy with RCS, and Gallantron for making+maintaining yugiohdeck.github.io. Shoutouts also to Konami for barely touching anything on the banlist so I didn't have to rewrite this entire post lmaooo
Finally, and to speak about something not-Yugioh for a moment - if you've ever saved money from a budget post recommendation, or if you have a few spare bucks lying around from not spending money on cardboard during this quarantine - please consider donating to BLM and those affected by the recent protests, whether it be to a memorial fund, local businesses, or organizations like the NAACP, particularly if you're in the US.
This post will give recommendations for decks that can generally do well while generally remaining in the $50 to $150 price range.
- Estimated pricing includes a sample completed main deck and most or all of an extra deck, but no side.
- Pricing is based mainly on singles and you can easily save a lot of money by buying cores for most of these lists all at once.
- Decks were chosen usually based on having some degree of success in previous TCG formats. Thus, many of the frequently recommended budget decks like Deskbots and Graydle Kaiju will not be on here.
- As we have had virtually no IRL events in the last few months, these deck choices and rankings are almost entirely based on online tournaments such as the Luxury Championship Series and PPG's weekly events/invitationals.
- Some decklists will include some middle-range power cards that might drive the price point up, such as Borrelsword Dragon and Crystron Halqifibrax. These can usually be cut for players on an extreme budget.
- Conversely, decklists are easily upgraded by adding power cards such as Infinite Impermanence and Pot of Extravagance.
Do feel free to leave suggestions for budget players, whether it's a budget tech choice for one of the decks on this list or whether it's a different deck that you think can compete in the coming months.
[Last updated: June 10, 2020]
Previous version: February 2020 Post
Updated version: October 2020 Post
S TierThe best bang for your buck. Decks in this category have the capacity to top premier events, though they're almost always supplemented with expensive power cards.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Link-based control deck with a lot of recursion and a special in-archetype technique, where 1 Link Monster is used as the entire Link material to summon another copy of that monster, granting bonus effects
- The deck is somewhat halfway between control and combo, establishing respectable boards turn 1 with a fairly compact engine, allowing many handtraps to be played. Their real strength comes in turn 3 and beyond, where their arsenal of free summons from the GY, coupled with their stellar resource recycling, easily overwhelm the opponent.
- Salamangreat cemented their place in the TCG as arguably the strongest deck for a few months, winning 4 out of the 5 WCQs and taking many EU national wins. They have been hit a few times since then, with both Salamangreat Gazelle and Circle being Limited, and then Miragestallio being banned on the January list. Still, Salamangreat have remained able to compete with Adamancipator and Eldlich, taking top cut spots in most online tournaments this format including a 1st place finish at a PPG weekend championship from Euros champion Gabriel Soussi.
- The majority of the deck is dirt cheap and is mostly able to be built with commons from SOFU+SAST supplementing 3 copies of Structure Deck: Soulburner. The reprint of Cynet Mining in Duel Overload also made Mining a viable option to play on a budget, greatly boosting the consistency of the deck.
- ETCO brought several new tools for this deck, including Parallel Exceed, Splash Mage, and Accesscode Talker. Parallel is standard in just about every Salamangreat list now, easily facilitating Abyss Dweller or Bagooska. Accesscode is an extremely potent option to win games, as it boards over 8000 damage when made with Update Jammer and can clear entire boards with its effect. Splash Mage helps ladder into these link 4s and provides another attribute for Accesscode.
- Other techs we've seen include Traptrix Rafflesia + Gravedigger's Trap Hole, another new ETCO card. This provides the deck with Nibiru immunity, a huge boon considering how much it struggles against Nibiru normally. Plenty of lists have opted not to run Rafflesia, though, as it eats up an extra deck slot as well as a maindeck garnet.
- Another tech card is Formud Skipper as a possible normal summon. Use it to summon Balelynx, then grab Parallel Exceed from deck.
- Accesscode is not at all affordable on a budget, so the sample list plays Zeroboros instead. To be honest, a huge part of Salamangreat's success online is in huge part due to how powerful Accesscode is as a card, able to ignorantly win games in conjunction with Update Jammer. Not having it for IRL play is a significant hit to its overall power.
- Since Salamangreat has been meta-relevant for over a year straight at this point, some players expect it to be killed for good by an upcoming banlist. Though we're not due for another list until at least September, it wouldn't be a good idea to pick this deck up if you want to invest in a main deck for a long time.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- GY-reliant Combo/control deck with a powerful DARK Link toolbox
- Orcust took a huge hit in January with the banning of Orcust Harp Horror. New cards from Duel Overload and Eternity Code have helped revitalize the deck, as cards like Lib the World Key Blademaster, Mekk-Knight Orcust Girsu, and surprisingly enough the Machina structure deck have all found their place into recent Orcust lists.
- Orcust have found modest online success, notably in the PPG May 16th weekend championship. Successful Orcust lists have been playing the new Machina engine, consisting of 3 Redeployment, 1 Irradiator, 1 Megaform, 1 Metalcruncher, and occasionally a nonzero number of Citadel and Fortress.
- The general combo is that Redeployment gets Irradiator + Megaform, which summons Metalcruncher, which reveals 3 copies of Scrap Recycler and adds one to hand. Since you still have your normal summon, you go Recycler into full Scrap combo afterwards, making cards like Lib along the way.
- Duel Overload's reprint of Dingirsu means budget players can easily play the standard 2 copies in the extra deck at very little price. Orcustrated Return and Mekk-Knight Orcust Girsu are unfortunately inaccessible cards in the main deck, but fortunately, Girsu does not seem to be a mandatory inclusion in Orcust anyway. It's a great card, but budget players can easily get away with heavily focusing on the Scrap cards.
- Players with extra room in their budget should look to pick up I:P Masquerena first and foremost, as it has excellent synergy with the entire Orcust engine. Accesscode Talker is, as always, also a great inclusion.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Dinos are a combo deck with consistent access to Evolzar Laggia/Dolkka and Ultimate Conductor Tyranno, a formidable boss monster with incredible OTK power and disruption
- Eternity Code saw the release of Animadorned Archosaur, a big power boost for Dinosaur in general. Though fairly expensive at nearly $30 a copy, many lists are opting to run only 1 copy, which is also what the provided sample list does. If Archosaur is out of your budget, you can easily play without it - though your overall ceiling will be lower.
- The Extravagance variant was the most common variant prior to ETCO. Currently, the deck is most often played as a Synchro combo deck, making use of Crystron Halqifibrax + Linkross like most other combo decks this format. These cards aren't played in the sample list due to the high price of Fibrax, as well as other cards required in typical Dino combos such as Jurrac Aeolo, Garden Rose Maiden, and Mecha Phanto Beast O-Lion.
- The combo variant was piloted to notable success by Jack Verma at LCS 3, where he finished top 8 playing a Fibrax-centered list running cards like Cockadoodledoo.
- Dinosaurs are pretty flexible, easily able to incorporate outside engines such as True Kings, Shaddolls, and even Paleozoic cards. An interesting tech from this format involves using Reprodocus to make one of your cards Winged Beast, and then making Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty, which brings out the WIND Barrier Statue in the End Phase.
A TierStrong decks, but limited either by a lack of access to powerful staples or by the natural ceiling of the deck. You could still top a regional with one of these decks on a good day.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Control deck with a focus on flipping monsters face-down and generating constant advantage with Subterror Guru
- One of the few decks that are capable of using Pot of Extravagance with almost zero risk, though Extravagance is not at all budget
- Generally does not need the extra deck, which can be appealing to budget players as well
- Like most control decks, Subterror can easily include Nibiru the Primal Being in the main deck. There's extra synergy in Subterror, as Nibiru only tributes face-up monsters, so a face-down Subterror Guru will remain on the field after Nibiru resolves.
- Though its game plan is very simple, Subterror can be extremely oppressive if it's allowed to establish its resource loop, particularly when backed up with There Can Be Only One.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Control + backrow deck with incredible recursion and the ability to come back from almost no resources
- Altergeist's success last year was mixed, as Salamangreat were generally a better deck. Their success included a win at German nationals, as well as two spots in the top cut at EUWCQ, and then several spots in YCS top cuts throughout 2019.
- Following the January banlist, Altergeist looked to be one of the more promising backrow decks of the format, boasting the ability to play a rather compact engine while still applying immense pressure if they're able to play the game. They won the PPG invitational in late January, despite SPYRAL dominating the top cut in terms of raw representation, and took multiple regional tops. After the April banlist, Altergeist have had a fairly modest showing online, notably getting top 32 at the third online Luxury Championship Series.
- The recent June banlist could be the push Altergeist needed, as Multifaker returning to 3 is a fairly significant power boost to the deck. Notably, since the budget list runs Desires instead of Extravagance, there is a significantly reduced risk of banishing all of your copies of Faker.
- Budget players are most hurt by a lack of Pot of Extravagance, Infinite Impermanence, and Evenly Matched. All three of these cards have reprints, with the Extrav reprint coming in Toon Chaos, but none are quite cheap enough yet to be easily accessible on a budget.
- Geist players should also be on the lookout for whenever Altergeist Pookuery gets imported to the TCG, possibly in a side set or the mega-tins this year. Pookuery is standard in OCG lists now, as the ability to make Hexstia on turn 1 and then trigger its search effect with Linkross is insane for the deck's consistency.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Deck focused on Xyz summoning, with its gimmick allowing you to use any Zoodiac monster as the entire Xyz material for the summon of a different Zoodiac Xyz monster
- Formerly an incredibly dominant deck in both the TCG and OCG, current Zoodiac has established a small niche for itself in the current meta despite having only 1 Drident. Part of this is due to the inclusion of Infinitrack Fortress Megaclops, which can be easily brought out through several one- and two-card combos. Megaclops can be immensely troublesome for many decks to out, and is extremely effective at closing games.
- Capable of playing a very compact engine combined with around 20 slots dedicated to handtraps, traps, and draw power. Makes extremely effective use of the recently unlimited Pot of Avarice, as you can simply stack Xyz monsters, link them off for Gravity Controller, and easily fulfill the activation requirement for Avarice.
- The provided list is more or less Zoo at full power in the current format - the only upgrades you'd make are stronger handtraps and power cards like Nibiru/Impermanence/Phantazmay.
- Has a fairly simplistic gameplan and struggles to play through much disruption if it isn't able to make good use of its power cards
- Did reasonably well early in the format, with a pretty solid winrate on the Duelingbook ranked ladder (based off YGOScope stats), claiming top 16 in Crush Card Cup, and doing fairly well in other smaller tournaments. Has fallen off considerably since then as the format has become more developed.
B TierLike the above category, but generally weaker, less consistent, and/or impacted harder by a lack of access to a certain card(s).
Imgur | DuelingBook
- TCG-exclusive Pirate archetype with ridiculous recursion and a unique tag-out and equip mechanic based on Attributes being used in the game
- The pirates become equips for one of (currently) three Patrollships, extra deck monsters that can all discard Plunder Patroll cards in hand to fuel powerful effects. The ships become stronger when manned (equipped with) a Plunder card, with bonuses such as ignition effects becoming quick effects, or being able to replace the discarded card with a new one from the deck.
- Prices on certain cards, namely Whitebeard, Redbeard, and Lys, have been fluctuating lately. At one point the sample list clocked in at over $200, but has since fallen to a much more manageable price for budget players.
- In terms of performance, Plunder has been doing decently at smaller tournaments (particularly PPG weeklies) but has failed to replicate those results in larger online tournaments such as LCS.
- Plunder players most easily bring out ships with the same attribute as that of a card on the field or in either GY. Since only LIGHT, DARK, and FIRE ships currently exist, certain matchups become surprisingly awkward. For example, Adamancipator almost exclusively summons EARTH monsters early on in its combos, which sometimes makes it annoying or outright impossible for the Plunder player to bring out a Patrollship that actually does something to stop their opponent.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Perhaps it'd be more accurate to say "WATER" at this point - Mermail Atlantean has evolved a lot since its inception, and is at heart an aggressive combo deck focused on WATER monsters, particularly the synergy between Mermail cards and Atlantean cards.
- Modern Mermail is commonly played as... wait for it... a Synchro combo deck using Halqifibrax. The version that's seen the most competitive success is the Auroradon variant that focuses on the True King of All Calamities combo using Garden Rose Maiden. The sample list is based on Pak Pamornsut's list that got top 4 at the May 30th PPG weekend championship. You can watch Pak's deck profile on his channel. He's since made a few modifications to his list to be more focused on Tuning + Jet Synchron, but I've opted to stick closer to the original list.
- The sample list is also quite expensive at around $150, largely due to the playset of Deep Sea Aria in the main as well as pricey individual cards for the Calamities combo like Fibrax, O-Lion, and Garden Rose Maiden. These can all be altered depending on personal preference, but do some research on what direction you'd like to take the deck before cutting cards, as it doesn't make sense to (for example) cut Fibrax but keep O-Lion in the main.
- There are several other ways to build this deck - go for a different Auroradon combo like Herald/Librarian + Savage, play it as a dedicated OTK deck with Desires or even Extravagance, add in Frogs with a focus on summoning rank 4s + toad, etc.
- Another example is a budget combo build without Fibrax, focusing on using Mermail Abyssmander to facilitate Calamities instead. You can see a great example of such a build on Abysshire YGO's channel, clocking in at around $80.
- Mermail's niche over other combo decks this format is its ability to snipe handtraps with Deep Sea Minstrel, and also its ability to combo + handloop with Moulinglacia. At the same time, it's not as robust of a combo deck as Adamancipator, and it doesn't have as strong of a follow-up as combo Eldlich.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Spell counter-based deck that easily summons multiple big monsters at once
- Despite multiple banlist hits, this deck continues to adapt and make use of new strategies. Modern Pendulum commonly uses Selene, Queen of the Master Magicians multiple times per turn to establish enormous boards
- Mythical Beast Jackal King and Endymion, the Mighty Master of Magic can both be brought out rather early, making this deck quite resilient against commonly played handtraps in the format such as Nibiru, Impermanence, and Effect Veiler. This also makes the deck surprisingly unreliant on its Pendulum Summon to make plays.
- Budget players will not have access to Magicians' Souls, which is a crucial card in most optimized Pendulum strategies. It provides a free body, extra draw power, and the ability to dump important Spellcasters to the GY on demand to be revived later with Selene.
- The general lack of handtraps in the main means that this deck can struggle going second against combo decks such as Adamancipator and combo Eldlich.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Spell-heavy control deck that usually maintains only one monster on the field at a time, in the extra monster zone.
- The banning of Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! was supposed to kill the deck's competitive viability, but in recent events it's shown that it's still kicking. Most notable is Ryan Yu's 1st place finish at the third online Luxury Championship series, defeating several Adamancipator and Eldlich playerds along the way. You can watch his deck profiles here or here. Since then, it's seen success at online PPG events as well, with players like Pascal Kihm and Alyse Davis getting 2nd on different occasions with a list fairly similar to Ryan's.
- Striker thrives in the current Nibiru-heavy format, as it's not really affected too badly by many of the commonly played handtraps and go-second tech cards like Dark Ruler No More. It no longer accrues infinite resources through resolving Engage multiple times, but instead is easily able to kill you with an Accesscode Talker push after whittling down your LP and resources for a turn or two.
- The standard combo involves making Halqifibrax, oftentimes stealing an opponent's monster with Shark Cannon or Widow Anchor. Fibrax fetches Effect Veiler, both are used to make Selene, Selene summons back Veiler, and those are used to make a 5300 ATK Accesscode. Since Striker plays so many different attributes of Links, Accesscode is more often than not able to clear the entire opposing board.
- Striker also matches up surprisingly well into the top two decks right now, particularly against Eldlich. It runs enough handtraps to stifle the opening play most of the time, and Shark Cannon is incredibly effective at denying Eldlich any sort of grind game, especially the Synchro Eldlich variants that oftentimes only play 2 copies of Golden Lord as opposed to the full 3.
- You may have noticed a problem: if you're on a budget, you can't use Accesscode. The deck still remains quite potent on a budget, but you have a less consistent win condition. The provided sample list uses some fairly common cards from previous formats, such as There Can Be Only One and the Utopia Double package, to help compensate for the lost power from losing the Fibrax -> Accesscode combo.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Versatile control-based Graveyard toolbox deck that has been swinging in and out of meta relevance since its release way back in 2014. It's been playable in dozens of ways and continues to compete in the current, combo-infested format.
- Was generally played as a combo deck from 2018-2019, incorporating a multitude of options. Recently thought of as a rogue combo option until Dinh-Kha Bui won a 130-player online German tournament in April with a trap-heavy version of BA.
- The strategy is quite simple - set up Beatrice on turn 1 with backrow set, try to search a Tour Guide for turn 3, and push to win the game on turn 3. The discard traps have good synergy with Farfa and Scarm in hand, and Fiend Griefing is powerful disruption this format that also dumps any BA, Rhino Warrior, Back Jack, or even Token Collector to stop Linkross combo decks.
- Dinh-Kha's list focused on playing cards like Karma Cut and Paleozoic Dinomischus that were powerful against Adamancipator while also being extremely effective at removing Eldlich the Golden Lord.
- Following that, Trap BA became the standard build of BA this format, with players like Farkion repeating DKB's success at smaller events like the May 28th PPG online tourney.
- Budget players will not be able to use I:P Masquerena, which is a standard part of the typical BA turn 1 end board. Opening Rhino/Graff and a Burning Abyss monster, or just Tour Guide by herself, allows you to end on IP + Beatrice. The IP is often used to make Knightmare Unicorn on the opponent's turn, which is potent disruption.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- An aggressive column-based control-based deck focused on maintaining its monsters (the Magical Muskeeters) on the field, which in turn allow you to play their ammunition (the Magical Musket spells/traps) directly from the hand during either players' turn
- Though this deck has always been viable as a rogue contender, its power skyrocketed with the release of Magical Musketeer Max in BLHR last year. Since then, it's claimed some success at smaller events, including a top 8 finish at PPG Philadelphia in August 2019, decent regional performances across the world, and finally a 9-2 finish from Joshua Oosters at YCS London where he was unable to top due to his tiebreakers.
- During quarantine format, Muskets were mostly quiet apart from one unexpected top at YuGiJoe's first online series, again by Joshua Oosters. This time, however, he was playing a Musket Eldlich deck, as opposed to pure. Pure Musket finally had its time to shine at Australian online nationals in early June, where it finished 2nd place, piloted by Jon Lowbridge.
- Reprints of Caspar and Starfire (the former two most expensive cards in the deck) in Duel Overload were a godsend for budget players, as both are now just pennies each.
- While the deck's strategy has slightly evolved past "open Caspar or bust", relying on Max can turn sour in this handtrap-heavy format. Despite 3 copies of Called by the Grave in the main deck, having Max get disrupted can be deadly, as a lone Max doesn't generate any advantage during the opponent's turn when cards are activated in its column.
C TierDecks in this category have the capability to be just as good as the ones above at times, but often tend to suffer from multiple problems including consistency and power.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Floaty destruction-based archetype that generates advantage when its cards are destroyed, enabling its gimmick of using your opponent's monsters to Link Summon
- The Unchained monsters coordinate well with each other to take apart the opponent's board, while the Dark Spirit monsters slot in nicely in the deck to provide unexpected disruption and surprising resilience + resource recursion.
- Can be built to go first or to go second, although the sample list prefers to go first since you probably want cards like Dark Ruler No More, Lightning Storm, and Evenly Matched for going second.
- Abomination's Prison is the priciest card in the deck, going for around $17 each in NA at the time of writing this post. Apart from that, though, budget Unchained is surprisingly feasible.
- Fairly modest online performance, doing alright at smaller events and more recently finishing top 8 at the second YuGiJoe online series
- This deck's best weapon is its opponents being unprepared for it. Playing improperly into Dark Spirits or Unchained floats can very quickly be fatal.
- Some decks, particularly the top decks, can out Unchained's threats without much trouble. Adamancipator can invalidate disruption with Koa'ki Meiru Guardian and then return floating cards to hand with Dragite instead of being forced to destroy them. Eldlich can remove threats with Golden Lord, though the pure version of Eldlich can have a surprising amount of difficulty outgrinding Unchained.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Intricate wombo-combo deck that uses Fusion, Synchro, and Xyz to bring out a variety of boss monsters, repeatedly reviving their monsters from the GY
- Gained online notoriety a few months ago after DuelingBook user kd#35 achieved rank 1 playing D/D. Shortly afterwards, Elijah Green finished top 16 with D/D in the second online LCS, a tournament largely dominated by Adamancipator. You can watch his deck profile here. The sample list provided is actually almost identical to Elijah's main and extra, with PSY-Framelord Omega replacing a Borreload Savage Dragon in the extra deck.
- Most of the deck is very cheap - in fact, besides for Fibrax, Cross-Sheep, and some main deck staples like Pot of Desires, pretty much every card in the main and extra is $3 or under. Fibrax can also be cut on a budget, though you'll have to fiddle with the combos a little bit.
- High learning curve when playing this deck makes it difficult to pick up, but rewarding to play
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Classic Fusion-based archetype from 2014, debuting in Duelist Alliance
- Somewhat of a midrange combo deck that can slow the game down with El Shaddoll Winda or be very aggressive with El Shaddoll Construct
- Received very decent support in the fairly recent Structure Deck: Shaddoll Showdown
- Winda is a troublesome floodgate that many decks struggle to out, including Adamancipator. However, Eldlich deals with it fairly easily using Golden Lord, which is the main reason that Shaddoll has more or less fallen off the face of the competitive scene this format.
- The provided list runs the Performage cards as another LIGHT engine that generates consistent advantage, but you can experiment with a bunch of different things. For example, Trickstar cards are a fairly common tech in OCG Shaddolls, although they have more copies of Light Stage than we do.
- The deck's biggest problem has always been its inability to consistently resolve a fusion spell on turn 1, and the structure deck doesn't completely solve this problem. Pure Shaddoll are somewhat prone to bricking on all monsters or all spell/traps.
Imgur | DuelingBook
- Traditionally an OTK deck, Crusadia cards also very easily enable Guardragon wombo combo strategies that aim to establish an oppressive board going first
- On a budget, the most common strategy is to make multiple Saryuja Skull Dread and to try to draw into Kyoto Waterfront, eventually setting up a 5-counter Gameciel that is very difficult to out.
- Maindeck Crusadia monsters are dirt cheap, allowing extra money to go toward consistency cards like Cynet Mining in this variant, which searches Formud Skipper
- Release of Parallel Exceed in ETCO allows Skipper to really shine, as it can copy the name of any Crusadia (besides Magius) to then link summon Magius, searching Parallel Exceed afterwards. Exceed then eventually turns into Traptrix Rafflesia, which protects your combo from handtraps like Nibiru due to the also newly released Gravedigger's Trap Hole.
- Cheaper versions can opt to ignore this entire package, allowing Cynet Mining as well as Gravedigger's Trap Hole to be cut, cutting the price of the deck almost in half, to around $50.
- Still cheaper is the caveman-style going second OTK Crusadia that doesn't play any Guardragon cards and can be built for practically no cost at all
- Even in the going first build, playing the typical Crusadia package of Regulex + Equimax means that you can sometimes pull off crazy OTKs going second as well, as the deck was intended to be played
Up-And-ComingDecks here will usually be decks that recently started seeing success, or upcoming decks that might become viable budget decks, oftentimes due to new support or even new reprints.
Unfortunately, as the vast majority of our events are online only, there's not much to say about this section. Budget isn't a factor in online tournaments, so it's hard to pick out wacky cheap decks like Tenyi and Giant Ballpark that have squeezed their way into regional tops. Consider checking previous versions of the budget post for some inspiration - in the meanwhile, I'm going to highlight new and interesting decks that have been doing fairly well online, but are just a little too pricey overall to make it onto the main post. Previously, Plunder Patroll was in this section, but since a bunch of its cards got a lot cheaper over the last few weeks, it's been promoted to the main body of the post and now sits in B tier.
- Madolche, Infernoid, Cyber Dragon, Mekk-Knight Invoked - Decks that are pretty good but are sorta in limbo due to some expensive individual cards, such as Madolche Anjelly, Cyber Dragon Nachster, Invocation, etc.
- Generaider, HERO, Prank-Kids, Paleo - Decks that are fairly decent but unfortunately haven't done enough this format to make their way onto the main post. Will keep an eye out for decks like these as the format continues.
- Cubics, Phantasm, Chain Burn, Evilswarm, Yosenju, Graydle Kaiju, Dinomist, Monarchs, and much, much more - Unfortunately, there is not enough room to cover every single decent, super-cheap deck.
I hope to keep this post updated for the foreseeable future. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions.
[Article] Tilting Your Perspective: A guide To Realistic Expectations
Since returning to the game I’ve clocked around 30 games and find myself firmly in mid gold. This has caused many problems for me- struggling with the fact that after a seriously long break from the game I'm like mid gold. For reference, I've been playing magic (and card games) competitively since I was 16, with a couple PPTQ wins under my belt and a few deeper runs at GPs. I have also been a mod here on /spikes for almost 3 years.
I quickly figured out that this attachment to ladder ranks is causing my focus to be on winning or losing, instead of the actual game, and after changing my perspective and climbing the ladder as a result- I’m here to share some of the advice I’ve picked up along the way.
This is something that I see players doing even inside of rounds, between game 1 and game 2. From a young age we are taught that winning is good and losing is bad. There is no denying that winning is what we are trying to do, ultimately. But for many players only the thought of winning, or, the thought of not losing is the driving force behind playing. The reason that this isn’t correct is quite simple, especially in Magic- sometimes that outcome is out of your control.
Tenacious, an accomplished arena grinder, said something on stream recently that stuck out to me. "The difference between a gold player and someone in mythic is that we're busy thinking about this Game 3 mulligan while the gold player is still thinking about how they didn't draw lands Game 2."
The nature of the game that we’re all playing is at its core filled with randomness, and while it is up to us as players to mitigate that randomness as much as possible, it is still there. There will be games where you flood, or draw the wrong answers, or keep a correct hand that doesn’t play out.
You can’t win them all. The issue is that having a view that is winning = good and losing = bad causes the losses that are out of your own control to keep you from avoiding the ones that are.
Where you’re at in terms of skill is irrelevant, this point of view happens even at the highest of ranks. A close friend of mine, currently top #10 Mythic and in previous seasons hit #1 twice in Arena and is known to tilt off the face of the earth sometimes.
When I tell you that carrying emotion from game to game is bad, I am not telling you to bottle it up. Instead I want to discuss some keys ways to manage those emotions through Realistic Expectations, Relaxing, and focusing on the process so that you can play better, learn better, and not tilt off the earth.
Arena’s ranked system is a little insane in terms of games needed to progress from tier to tier. This article by ChannelFireball outlines an above average players climb to mythic, and it's worth a read if you haven’t yet. The takeaway here for me is that it is 15 games to get from bronze to silver with an 80% WR, but my unrealistic expectations had me unhappy with being Gold in around 30 games. Realizing what is achievable in what amount of time that you can actually put forth is a big step towards shifting your perspective and actually improving at the game.
Be honest with yourself and what you can achieve. I encourage everyone to reach for the stars, but if you actually want to get “there,” you need to focus on building a rocket ship first. It can also be better mentally to surprise yourself, instead of draining yourself when you are unable to achieve what you set out to do.
In my example, after reading this article and knowing that I am looking at closer to 70-80 games to get to Platinum 4 it lets me adjust my goals and focus more on each individual game instead of far away ranks and ladder numbers. In the grand scheme of things these ranks don’t matter as much as your own play does and how to improve your own play should take priority.
Ladder anxiety is real, and so is tournament anxiety. “Tilt” is the word you will see used online but I want to talk specifically with you about relaxing and dealing with nerves. I did debate at a national level for many years, and I can tell you that it is okay to be nervous. It is important to acknowledge your nerves instead of shoving them aside. In fact, before stepping on stage for many years I would say “I am nervous AS HELL, and that is okay.”
I am sure that you’ve been told to just breath when you get anxious, it is common enough advice. But it is good advice! I am working towards becoming a Registered Nurse, and something we teach patients struggling with anxiety in the hospital is a technique called pursed lip breathing. This causes you to normalize you to normalize your oxygen intake when you aren’t breathing deep enough. Breathe in through your nose like you’re smelling roses, and then breathe out through your mouth like you’re blowing out a candle.
Smell the roses, blow out the candles.
Tournaments especially are a high-pressure environment that I think are best dealt with through acclimation, but there are many different opinions on the subject.
Here are some Smash Bro’s pieces that have relevant carryover.
- Here is ZeRo, one of the best Smash players in the world speaking on nerves..
- sleeepk has been posting guides for over seven years and he wrote one about nerves.
- Here is Zhandaly’s guide to hitting legend in hearthstone – one of the best pieces to ever get posted to /competitiveHS. Skip to Section: 3 “The Grind” for relevant information.
- Aleco’s Legend in the making guide has a great section on tilt.
- Talking about mindset.
- Here is wingman2011’s blogpost from SEVEN years ago that is STILL relevant, even if it was written for the FNM crowd.
- Will Jonathan has an article dedicated to tilt
“The most effective learners don’t focus on their results.” This is because the core of learning is not outcome based. I’m sure someone has told you at some point in your life that you learn the most when you lose. The idea being that when you lose you’re more likely to reflect on past events and learn. While this it is true you may learn more when you lose if you’re focused on results, learning is entirely process based.
In magic terms that is everything from whether or not you keep the first 7 all the way until lethal. Focusing on the outcome of winning or losing shrouds the details of that process to you. A focus on your process is going to help you deal with mistakes easier. This way of thinking is going to help you understand when those mistakes were your own vs when they were a product of a 60-card deck giving you all your lands in the top 12.
When you’re only focused on winning you’ll never take the chance to play in a different way that could wildly change your outcome. Like tapping your own guys with Tocatli Honor Guard on the field to play a Venerated Loxodon because maybe the 4/4 is relevant or the mana cost was relevant even though your guys don’t get a +1/+1 counter.
This is why some pros seem like they’re playing chess and you’re playing checkers. They’re just focused on their own process and they’ve gotten to those chess like plays through trial and error and many repetitions of their process. We all want to win but the most successful learners are those that are satisfied with the pursuit of getting better and not the rank or tournament results.
I have known yoman5 for a long time, and he is a prime example of a process driven individual. Yes he wants his top8s, he wants that PT win, but it’s not getting in the way of the process in front of him (but don’t tell him I said something so nice). Focusing on the game at hand and not the results as a whole put you more in charge of your own happiness, since it is not results oriented, and give you more freedom to enjoy what we all enjoy, Magic The Gathering.