Monday, January 28, 2013

Beating the odds - Part 2

Hey everyone, shouldn't really be here right now as I've an 8-page report to do due in 48 hours but I have yet to start it :x

I had a little inspiration today to write on my Beating the Odds series, if you missed part 1 go check it out at

Today's Beating the Odds is about preventing getting baited into plays by someone supposedly at a "higher skill level" than you.

First, I'd like to highlight that though the difference between players and the results they produce are obvious and significant, things such as "skill level" is total bullshit, especially not in a game like ygo where your entire game can be decided based on a draw or two.

In my opinion, having this imaginary skill level is completely up to you, if you choose to ignore it and strip that person away of everything and stare deep down into his soul, you'll see nothing more than your average human with sly tricks. Now, I'm not saying that a champion is made entirely out of lies and isn't a cheater, but they are in fact just very strong in the mind, or in will.

Okay, so cutting to the chase, having this wit isn't exactly developed over night, each person has his way of strengthening his mind games similar to having their own unique playstyle. I'm pretty sure many have heard of these lines from their opponent during their games:

During your chance to use a card:

"Just open if you have ___"
"If you have ___ just use it"

During their chance to use a card:
"So many set cards, one is definitely ___"
"Must be bad hand since you didn't do (some usual play)"

Let me give you a quick reality check about your opponents, they don't care about the wellbeing of your hand, wake up, they're testing for your reactions to those lines.

I'll give a very obvious example, imagine you just set 5 spell/traps and ended your turn, he openly says out loud "So many set cards, one is definitely ___", it can go a few ways:

1) He's waiting for a reply to test if you have any answer to the next card he plays.
2) He's watching your body language for the next card you touch and he'll automatically assume that'll be the most important card you have, usually it being a card which isn't a fake, or is an out to several things for the coming few turns.

For number 1, the best thing you can do is don't reply, give a smile and be normal, obviously don't start trying to hide a sheepish smile or something and give one of your answers away.

For number 2, it's hard, these are usually the experienced ones who haven't fell short in seeing all kinds of reactions, just don't take it in so shocked and continue keeping your cool, usually if you were to struggle or repetitively check a certain card, it would have already given away your position and passed the mental advantage to him.

It could go deeper, supposed he asked if you had a bad hand since all you did was set all 5 and not doing anything else, he could be testing if your "bad hand" was lacking defensive spell or traps, or maybe even a monster if he digs deeper and asks "I wonder why you didn't summon anything." just keep quiet, maintain your body and laugh it away. Welcome to the world of fishing.

With that all said and done, it proves that YGO is indeed more complex than one thinks, it's no long putting pieces of cardboard on the table in the right order luckily and winning, the real battle takes place inside your mind.

I'm about to introduce something I've picked up for some time and still trying to learn everything of this tactic known as "counter-mind".

Counter-minding a person is the exact opposite of fishing, whereby you use their questions to learn more about their hand.

Let's use the same lines I used up there for example:
"Just open if you have ___"
"If you have ___ just use it"
During their chance to use a card:
"So many set cards, one is definitely ___"
"Must be bad hand since you didn't do (some usual play)"

I'll go through these one by one.

1) "Just open if you have ___"
Using some simple logic, this statement leaves them vulnerable. It tells you quite abit about their hand. It already obviously tells you that he has a card that is countered by that, e.g. Starlight Road to Storm. However, it also tells you something else depends on the card, it could mean that they're running low on a resource that is countered by that card they asked about. For example, if they say something about you having a Solemn Warning set, it's a giveaway that they're scared of losing a monster, and as such it probably means they have little to no monsters that is useable in that very situation. You can probably relate to more if you have.

2) "If you have ___ just use it"
This tells you quite abit as well. It means that they have an answer, and if he keeps tempting you to use it, he probably has another answer as a backup to that answer if the plan fails. e.g they have a Starlight Road set, they ask you about Heavy Storm, if they probe further seeing you have one card(potential Warning/Judgment) set, they have their own Judgment waiting for anything. Counter-minding this would be based on how deep one probes, the more they probe, the more answers they have. It could also mean the set were useless to them and they're trying to bait out to waste your Storm/Dark Hole.

3) "So many set cards, one is definitely ___"
Once again, testing for your reaction, this means that they want you to expose yourself. They ask for ___, and if you give either a positive or negative reaction, it'll spark off further thinking. If they ask for Warning, and you give a positive reaction, it'd mean they won't summon until they find a way to clear it, if it's negative, they'll know that you have one less answer to their summon and be more cautious in making other plays before they remove it. Through counter-minding, this will expose themselves based on how they follow up, if they really go ahead with a move that is countered by a card, it would mean they have no way to clear it, and you yourself can go ahead and roughly know that their hand has other plays but s/t removal, if they start clearing your spell and traps and find themselves making unorthodox plays, it would mean that their hand roughly consists of a combo that requires no interruption to be successful in their favor.

4) "Must be bad hand since you didn't do (some usual play)"
Similar to 3, it means that they're baiting for something, usually to check your hand this time, to see if you have anything such as a set up, or maybe even your own bait. Scenes would be a Mermail deck setting 5 spell/traps, Hero Beat summoning an Alius without spell/traps or just leaving your field empty. They'd be testing for Mermails having sided backrow or Hero Beat having Honest or Gorz in their hand. Counter-minding this is abit tricky but can be done, you won't find out much about their hands, but you'd be able to scare them into not attacking into an empty field or using a different approach to tackle that fishy situation.

Once again, this are really just the tip of the iceberg. Such basics could easily be seen and I strongly advise don't go around using this, failing and blaming me, this is just up here for your information and exposure to the depth YGO has evolved into.

That's about it for counter-minding and fishing. I'll probably write about another topic on potential card linkages the next Beating the Odds when I'm free. Simply put, an insight on how cards co-relate to each other and what can answer what cards and more. Till then.

Signing off,