Rant Column
The Focus on Tournament Play and Rare Cards

Sometimes lately it seems like I'm one of very few online who consider this TCG to be about more than the tournament scene and the bleeding-edge metagame. Personally, I have only so far been involved in duels against people I know, and open-format public play sessions, and I very much enjoy both.

The thing is, in these kinds of environments, you are NOT likely to face very many Magical Scientists, you're not going to get Yata-locked, and nobody seems to have ever heard of Airknight Parshath. Just pulling out a Jinzo makes some of the kids say "wow" and offer to trade their entire binders for it (please don't be a con and accept the offer). In my experience thus far, Blue Eyes White Dragon still rules supreme as the monster everybody either wants or has, decks run anywhere from 50 to 100(!!!) cards thick, and there are some zany combinations of irritating traps and effect monsters.

Some people will say this is dated and silly, but I just consider it a different and completely enjoyable aspect of the game. In the casual play scene, any deck type is respected. Beatdown, Exodia, Fusion, Ritual. Whatever it is, you're not laughed at for trying it out, and you're not sent home after one round if what you thought might work doesn't. In this scene, you are much more free to experiment and have a chance to utilize ALL the cards you own, not just the 40 that are best tuned to the current tournament metagame. It also doesn't require you to be rich or really lucky with the booster packs, which staying competitive seems to require.

And that brings me to the second half of my rant, the emphasis on rare cards. Even in the casual scene, kids and adults alike are mostly interested in the rarest cards, even when they're not that good. If it has a holo picture and foil name, they'll offer to make really good trades for it, no matter what the effect is. The problem here is that people are focusing on the "wow" value of rare cards rather than the utility they can provide. With the recent release of the Evolution starter decks, I really think you can put together a solid deck with almost no rare cards in it at all -- some of the staples, like Pot of Greed and Swords of Revealing Light, are now easy to get, and they don't work any worse simply because they don't have an irridescent shimmer or a gold title. Granted, with some booster packs or singles, you'll do better. But the point is, you should primarily select your cards based on what they can do for your decks or how much you personally like them, and not how they look or how much they go for on eBay.

So, next time somebody pulls out a deck of 40 cards and none of them are holo foils, please don't ask, "Are those all starter deck cards?" like it's some kind of insult. That only demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of the spirit and mechanics of the game. And besides, the last guy to ask me that didn't walk away a winner from any of our duels.


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