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TheMcShakeAlchemist on Yu-Gi-Oh!
Back to M'Roots: Card Advantage
February 24, 2012

     Hey everyone!  The McShake Alchemist here and I'm gonna start a series on the basics of Yu-Gi-Oh! and helping beginners understand why good decks are powerful.  For the first one I'm going to talk about something that many people may think that they understand, but really don't: Card Advantage.
     Card advantage can be summed up pretty simply; Having more cards than your opponent.  Right off the bat, I'm going to let you in on a little secret in Yu-Gi-Oh!.  Lifepointsdon'tmatter.  That's right,  I said it.  Card advantage matters so much more than life points in the game.  This is why generally decks that have loops such as Wind-Ups, X-Sabers, Infernities, and heck, Yata-Lock decks in the past have done so much better than burn decks. Card advantage is king.  Getting there, can be troublesome, because, in the long run, you and your opponent are both striving for it.  For newer players, phrases such as 'Two-For-One, Floater, and (+/-)1' may have little more meaning than something that players spout at one another while discussing strategy.  For this article, I'm going to go in depth about each of these and why they have such value in Yu-Gi-Oh!
--Two for one: There are actually two commonly used definitions of this, I'll go in to detail with both of them.
     The first common usage of "Two for One" is when a player uses one card to get rid of two of their opponent's cards.  The vocabulary uses a simple formula.
X for Y:  When a player uses y card(s) to get rid of x of their opponent's cards.
     This is really where you will get most of your value in Yu-Gi-Oh!.  It's why cards like Raigeki and Harpie's Feather Duster are banned. 
     The other common useage of "X for Y" is if one card can generate more cards than you spend on it.  Most monsters with an  effect similiar to this are called floaters, and we'll get to those later, but for now, think more of spell and trap cards.  Some examples of busted cards that generate more cards than they spend are Pot of Greed and Infernity Launcher, both of which are considered "Broken" by a large community of players.

--Floater:  A card that you will gain card advantage off of if your opponent spends a card to get rid of it, and, even if they don't, you don't lose any card advantage.
     The most common examples of floaters are: Monarchs, Gadgets, Reborn Tengu, Sangan, Tour Guide from the Underworld, and The Agent of Mystery - Earth.
     There have been entire decks just based around floaters that generate card advantage based on knowing your opponent will have to spend more cards than you just to deal with your threats (Gadgets and Frognarchs being the main two culprits).  Later I'll combine all of these things that I've taught today into a decklist that, while it wouldn't necessarily be great for a big tournament, also wouldn't be horrible for locals either, consisting only of commons and promos.
     The final term I'll discuss today is the idea of either a plus (+) or minus (-) X (where X is any given number of cards).  Generally people will use the plus or minus terminology to describe why a card is good or how much card advantage that single card will grant you.  I'll use a few cards as examples
Pot of Greed (+1)
You lose one card (Pot of Greed) -1
You gain two cards (Draw two cards) +2
(-1) + (+2) = +1
The Agent of Creation - Venus +3
You don't lose the original card (-0)
You gain 3 Mystic Shine Balls (+3)
(0) + (+3) = +3
lets take the previous formula with Venus a bit further, because generally, one doesn't play just the mystic shine balls, they play them with synchros and/or Xyz monsters.  Let's do a few examples with those.
First, let's start with our original formula
The Agent of Creation - Venus +3
You don't lose the original card (-0)
You gain 3 Mystic Shine Balls (+3)
(0) + (+3) = +3
Next, we have a few directions we could go just off of The Agent of Creation - Venus.  First, is the classic play with Gachi-Gachi Gentetsu
Venus into Gachi
You don't lose the original card (-0)
You gain 3 Mystic Shine Balls (+3)
You lose 2 Mystic Shine Balls (-2)
You gain 1 Gachi Gachi Gentetsu (+1)
(0) + (+3) + (-2) + (+1) = +2
     So, all in all, the single Venus gave you a +2, which, can be pretty brutal if you're going first, simply due to the fact that you have done all of this, and still have 5 cards in your hand.  This example also shows what a floater is.  Hypothetically, let's say your opponent summons Alexandrite dragon and attacks your Agent of Creation Venus (2000 atk because of Gachi).  Your opponent spent on card to get rid of one of yours that had already netted you a +2, therefore netting you even more card advantage because now it also took a card from your opponent.
     For the more advanced players that still read my articles, I'll go in depth now about why the Wind-Up deck is so good (aka expensive).  The following diagram is all based on having a Tour Guide to the underworld in your opening hand, with a Wind-Up Shark.
Wind up Loop
You don't lose Tour Guide (0)
You gain Tour Bus from the Underworld (+1)
You lose both (-2)
You gain Zenmaighty (+1)
You put Wind-up Shark into play (0)*
Detach TGU to get Wind-Up Hunter (+1)
Hunter sac Maighty to make opponent ditch (+0)** (1)****
(Tour Bus put Maighty bad in extra)
Shark level down
Overlay Hunter/Shark (-2)
Zenmaighty #1 (+1)***
Detach Hunter get mouse #1 (+1)
"Tap" Mouse to get hunter (+1)
Sac Maighty to make opp ditch (0)** (2)****
Overlay Hunter/Mouse (-2)
Zenmaighty #2 (+1)
Detach Hunter get mouse #2 (+1)
"Tap" Mouse to get hunter (+1)
Sac Maighty to make opp ditch (0)** (3)****
Overlay Hunter/Mouse (-2)
Zenmaighty #3 (+1)
Detach Hunter get mouse #3 (+1)
"Tap" Mouse to get hunter (+1)
Sac Maighty to make opp ditch (0)** (4)****
Overlay Mouse/Hunter (-2)
Zenmaines (+1)*****
Let's do a lot of math!
Originally this example gives us
(0) + (+1) + (-2) + (+1) + (0) + (+1) + (0) + (-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) + (0) + (-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) + (0) + (-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) + (0) + (-2) + (+1) =
Lets cut out the Zeros to simplify
(+1) + (-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) + (-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) + (-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) + (-2) + (+1) =
Still a long chain of numbers.  Let's break it down into groups of four
(+1) + (-2) + (+1) + (+1) = (+1)
(-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) = (+1)
(-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) = (+1)
(-2) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) = (+1)
(-2) + (+1) = (-1)
(+1) + (+1) + (+1) + (+1) + (-1) = (+3)
    Interesting how all of those exceeds turn into a simple plus one every time isn't it?  This whole example is assuming
A. They only have 1 Windup Shark
B. They don't have Pot of Avarice
C. They don't have Wind-Up Factory
D. They don't have Monster Reborn

*This is a 0 because it is from your hand, so it doesn't actually net you card advantage, it just develops your board more)
**This is 0 because both you and your opponent lose a card, therefore, it is a 1-for-1
***We shuffled the first one back in with Bus
****Number of cards your opponent has sent from hand to grave
***** Zenmaines is bonkers, but there is nothing wrong with getting Leviathan or Leviair here, depending on the situation

--Moving forward and applying card advantage to your strategies and decks.
     Generally speaking, you always to have be able to have card advantage in a deck no matter what it is, whether it be some sort of "engine" (Agents, Gadgets, etc.) or just a bunch of cards that will help you gain card advantage over time (Sangan, Dimensional Alchemist, etc.), card advantage is a very necessary key to upping your game in Yu-Gi-Oh!. 
For the decklist I promised:
5th Gadget (post March 2012)
Monsters (17)
3 Yellow Gadget
3 Red Gadget
3 Green Gadget
1 Neo-Spacian Grand Mole
2 Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo
3 Effect Veiler*
1 Blackwing - Gale, The Whirlwind
1 D. D. Warrior Lady

Spells (14)
3 Shrink
3 Mystical Space Typoon
1 Dark Hole
1 Monster Reborn
2 Smashing Ground
1 Book of Moon
3 Pot of Duality
Traps (14)
1 Mirror Force
2 Torrential Tribute
1 Mirror Wall
3 D-Prison
2 Starlight Road
1 Solemn Judgment
2 Solemn Warning
2 Bottomless Trap Hole
Extra deck cards that matter
2 Stardust Dragon
1 Black Wing Armor Master (DP counts as promo right?)
1 Black Rose Dragon
2 Utopia
1 Chimeratech Fortress Dragon
*Coming out Special edition in a month or so
     This deck is really everything I have been trying to teach in this article mashed into a decklist.  It has your basic engine in the form of floaters (Gadgets), your possible +1s (dark hole, mirror force, torrential, dyna, etc.), and a lot of 1-for-1's (Anything where you spend 1 card to get rid of 1 card)  The reason the deck is called 5th gadget is because there are 45 cards in the deck, and 9 gadgets, so, statistically, you should end up with 1 gadget per opening hand.  This gets your enginge started.  From there you basically get two cards every turn (gadget + normal draw phase) and because of this, you out-advantage your opponent.  The only cards in the deck that are technically -1s are effect veiler, and book of moon.  The two of them, though, stop big plays, and in a way prevent your opponent from getting large plusses on you.  In the long game, you will end up beating your opponent by gaining your gadget every turn, and using one of your other cards to deal with their cards.  One. At. A. Time. 
     I recommend the deck highly for any beginning player, as it teaches the grass roots of Yu-Gi-Oh!, as well as not having big complicated plays.  Generally you just play a gadgetm and protect the crap out of them via shrink, mirror wall, etc.
     Feel free to contact me via any of the social media sites!  I love to chat about yugi and would love to get to know some of the people who read my content, I wouldn't be anything without you guys, and you all make it fun to write.
Thanks for reading!
Sean H.  The McShake Alchemist

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