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TCG Article - Card Advantage


Akira

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I decided to write this simply because the understanding of card advantage in the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG is one of the most important fundamentals of becoming a strong player. I hope it proves useful to all players, regardless of skill level.

 

What is Card Advantage?

 

Card Advantage can generally be summarised as the number of cards you trade off for a play in relation to the profit that the play generates. For example, the card Smashing Ground is considered a "1 for 1" in card advantage - you have traded 1 card in your hand in exchange for removing 1 card from your opponent's side of the field. As a rule of thumb, cards or combos that leave you with negative card advantage are not recommended (Two Pronged Attack for example).

 

Why does it matter?

 

This is probably the most common question asked by less experienced players of the game. The answer is simple: the more cards you play out and use up, the fewer options you'll have later in the duel. For example, you use Dark World Lightning to destroy your opponent's set monster and you discard Brain Control. This play has cost you a -1 in card advantage, as 2 cards are gone from your hand but only 1 from your opponent's side of the field. However, you could achieve the same result by using Shield Crush instead, but also avoid the need to discard a card.

 

When is it ok to use cards that lose you Card Advantage?

 

Normally, if a card has a discard cost then it is usually slightly stronger or more versatile than a card which does not, but this is not always the case. Cards such as Two Pronged Attack are a blatant loss of card advantage and should be avoided at all times. However, the trade-off of card advantage for high versatility can sometimes be worth it. Smashing Ground and Mystical Space Typhoon are both 1-for-1s in card advantage that destroy monsters and spell/trap cards respectively. Raigeki Break has the ability to destroy either monsters or spell/trap cards, so this raises a further question for deck builders: "If I want monster removal as well as spell/trap removal but I don't have much room left in my deck, do I run the 2 cards that don't cost me card advantage, or just use the higher utility card that costs me -1?" Usually the answer to this question is to stick to the cards which do not cost you, but there are exceptions which will be covered later.

 

In some situations, it is worth sacrificing card advantage simply because if you don't you'll be even worse off if you don't. If you have 4 set spell/trap cards and your opponent plays Heavy Storm, you activate Dark Bribe to save the other 3 but forfeit card advantage by allowing your opponent to draw. However, if you had not activated it, then all set spell/traps would be destroyed, which would be considerably more costly.

 

Take note that discard costs don't always generate negative advantage - if you play Lightning Vortex against an opponent's full field of face-up monsters, then you're trading 2 cards for 5. For this reason, overextending is usually a bad idea.

 

How can I cheat Card Advantage?

 

Discard costs are not always bad, because they often fit in perfectly well with the deck's theme. Phoenix Wing Wind Blast requires a discard, but sees a lot of top level play for several reasons - the cost can be used to discard cards such as Necro Gardna which are useless in the hand but function in the graveyard. Not only that, but Phoenix Wing Wind Blast spins the opponent's card to the top of their deck instead of sending it to the graveyard, thus slowing their draw down for 1 turn and preventing graveyard utility - another example of the loss in card advantage potentially being worthwhile in a competitive situation. You won't always have a card in hand that you want to discard, but losing dead cards such as a copy of Reinforcement of the Army with no targets left in your deck is always a viable option as well.

 

If a cost requires you to tribute a monster on your side of the field, then another way to maintain card advantage is to tribute a monster such as Sangan. This transforms 1 card on the field into 1 card in the hand, which of course is better than losing the monster you have on the field for no additional gain other than to activate the card that required the cost in the first place.

 

Playing Conservatively - Card Advantage V.S. Life Points

 

In most scenarios, card advantage is more important than life point advantage. You want to be looking for a game winning situation at all times, and wasting cards that could prove useful later in the game will only detract from this. Wasting a removal spell on an opponent's monster when your own monster had enough ATK to run it over anyway is a mistake, unless attacking directly will win you the game. Many players make this mistake due to overconfidence - you think that you're in a game winning position, but your opponent pulls off a killer move that leaves you pressured, and you wish you'd played more conservatively and kept those useful cards in your hand rather than wasting them earlier.

 

Well, thanks for reading and I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions, believe I've missed something important, or just want to comment, please go right ahead!

 

[spoiler=Update: werewolfjedi's Field Advantage Section]

field advantage, if the name didn't tip you off, is about how many more cards you have on the field than your opponent.

 

trading away field advantage for hand advantage from your own doing is generally a bad idea. the two are NOT equal. however gaining hand advantage from loss of field advantage is not a bad thing. hand advantage allows you to come back from a field advantage loss.

 

however field advantage is what is going to increase your hand advantage by forcing your opponent to use up their hand to remove it. this is basic knowledge, but is often overlooked, where people often look at the field when trying to figure out how to use their field and hand. while this is true, it is often the only focus on your turn. what has happened is that people expect that their opponent is going to just wipe your field completely on the next turn, when often times that is not true at all.

 

now what might have been said seems like a contradiction, where I said that the hand is going to going to be used up to kill your field, and then saying that it doesn't happen often, is not as paradoxical as it seems.

 

the truth of the matter is that hand advantage is used to create field advantage, which is then countered by your opponent's hand advantage, but how it is done is not the same. sometimes it is a direct use, like a destruction effect spell, and some times it is by generating field advantage of their own.

 

field advantage has two parts, one time use and constant generation. one time use is generally the realm of spells and traps. you set them, and that gives you one time response type field advantage. one time use is the lesser of the two, as it quickly is used up, but it often can use itself to cause or be used to prevent constant generation type loss, and it often is the point of such cards.

the constant type is generally the realm of monsters, and continuous spells.

for example, gene-warped war-wolf has 2000 ATK, and is hard to get rid of without an effect, however, just by being played he has not gotten rid of anything, and so provides minimal field advantage. however, if he attacks every turn, and survives for say, 3 turns before being taken out by smashing ground, he has generated field advantage and hand advantage every turn because they have had to play a new monster to defend every turn, while you have not. this constant generation is important because it can, unless countered somehow, effectively win you the game.

 

however all field advantage is not all actually " on the field"

 

the graveyard is part of the field advantage as well.

cards in the grave can be brought back, and some even have effects in the graveyard that are powerful enough to equal true field and hand advantage.

for example, necro guardna can block an attack by being on the field (say from the war wolf), and then another by going to the grave and using it's effect. he still has field presence, and therefore gives advantage, even though he left the field and was sent to the grave. grave based field advantage is often the specialty of zombies and some warriors.

 

field advantage interacts with hand advantage every turn, because each one covers the other. the way this works is about the need to play cards. if I have nothing on the field, but a full hand, I can come back on my turn strong, but if I do so, I lose my hand advantage. however, I gain field advantage. If what I gain is something such as swords of revealing light, I have used hand advantage to buy time for more hand advantage.

 

however, if I play smashing ground and war-wolf, I trade hand advantage for field advantage, and don't need as much hand advantage anymore. this of course makes the game mechanics come into play. you draw every turn, and the longer you can sit there with your current field, the more hand advantage you can gain.

 

this creates a cycle of hand advantage -field advantage- hand advantage.

 

but here is the important part of field advantage; rarely do you automatically gain it, and it is the only thing that can keep you alive in most decks during your opponent's turn. and that is where the common ignoring of hand advantage comes from.

 

hand advantage means nothing 90% of the time if you can't survive to your turn to use it. but without it, you can't increase your field advantage and get closer to winning the game.

let me take chess for example. in that game, you have everything on the field already, and will gain nothing more. but lets add in the ability to gain new pieces during your turn and play them 1 at a time on your turn. this creates the power to defend yourself continuously.

the only way to get around that problem is to make it possible to remove more than one piece a turn. and that is how hand advantage and field advantage interact, by creating that possibility.

in chess, you can only make one move at a time. lets say that placing a piece on the field in chess game now costs you your turn. once you gain advantage, it is hard to lose it.

now make it where while it costs you your turn, you can place more than one piece a turn. that creates balance between the two again.

because you still only gain 1 piece a turn, but if you can play as many pieces as you want, you can make the cost of not being able to take a piece worth placing 5 or 6 at once. but you can't do that every turn. but every turn you gain another piece to play, and the group you put down will last for at least 5 or 6 turns.

 

that is sort of how hand advantage and field advantage work together.

 

of course, in that way of playing chess, the only way to win would be to capture the king, which kind of like how life points play a roll in yugioh.

 

in yugioh, hand advantage and field advantage must cause at the end some sort of win condition progress. most of the time this is the reduction of life points, but there are other ways as well, namely special win and deck out. every move that does not lead to one of these three ends only provides minimal advantage, because there is nowhere to take that action. this is actually the end effect of overextending. with cards such as roar and waboku, it doesn't matter if it was 1 monster or 5 monsters, it has stopped them all. however, if turn after turn you have played monsters and gain field advantage, you have gotten closer to your goal. on the flipside however, several of the most used cards clear your field of monsters, making it meaningless to play so many without someway to assure victory. however if no one did play multiple monsters at once, these cards would not be as useful, as they are fairly constricted to how they can be played. it would make more sense to play another single killer than to have lighting vortex in your deck.

 

now, field advantage is at the end, more important than hand advantage, because field advantage is in play, and most of the time costs are already paid.

take any monarch. in the hand, it is a card you have over your opponent, but you can't play it right away, you have to pay some card advantage to do so. the same monarch on the field is worth much more field advantage than hand advantage, since it has gotten its effect, and can attack every turn. this is why sending and spinning costly cards back to the deck or hand is a good way to generate field advantage AND hand advantage, and consequently, pure card advantage.

 

this gets into dead cards. dead cards generate minimal hand advantage because you can't use them, and you have to wait until a card that needs a cost that it can pay for comes around. don't worry to much about dead cards however, they can easily "come back to life" once the needed situation has been met, and only you actually know what cards are dead for you, so that hand of monarchs can still make your opponent play it safe for what might come next, and that second village could allow you to play monster reborn after all your spellcasters are gone.

 

field advantage is important, it is what keeps you alive, but without frugal use of it, and combining it with hand advantage, you can't win with just that alone.

 

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I think it should continue on to how card advantage and field advantage are different than hand advantage.

 

we of course know what card advantage is, that is how many cards you have to use compared to your opponent.

 

however field advantage should be discussed more in depth, and how the two interact.

 

I can help if you wish.

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Card Advantage encompasses both the concepts of Hand Advantage and Field Advantage - I talked about trading off cards in hand for cards on the field, but if you think I could go into greater detail then go right ahead, I'm always open to ideas to make the article as good as it can be =]

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field advantage, if the name didn't tip you off, is about how many more cards you have on the field than your opponent.

 

trading away field advantage for hand advantage from your own doing is generally a bad idea. the two are NOT equal. however gaining hand advantage from loss of field advantage is not a bad thing. hand advantage allows you to come back from a field advantage loss.

 

however field advantage is what is going to increase your hand advantage by forcing your opponent to use up their hand to remove it. this is basic knowledge, but is often overlooked, where people often look at the field when trying to figure out how to use their field and hand. while this is true, it is often the only focus on your turn. what has happened is that people expect that their opponent is going to just wipe your field completely on the next turn, when often times that is not true at all.

 

now what might have been said seems like a contradiction, where I said that the hand is going to going to be used up to kill your field, and then saying that it doesn't happen often, is not as paradoxical as it seems.

 

the truth of the matter is that hand advantage is used to create field advantage, which is then countered by your opponent's hand advantage, but how it is done is not the same. sometimes it is a direct use, like a destruction effect spell, and some times it is by generating field advantage of their own.

 

field advantage has two parts, one time use and constant generation. one time use is generally the realm of spells and traps. you set them, and that gives you one time response type field advantage. one time use is the lesser of the two, as it quickly is used up, but it often can use itself to cause or be used to prevent constant generation type loss, and it often is the point of such cards.

the constant type is generally the realm of monsters, and continuous spells.

for example, gene-warped war-wolf has 2000 ATK, and is hard to get rid of without an effect, however, just by being played he has not gotten rid of anything, and so provides minimal field advantage. however, if he attacks every turn, and survives for say, 3 turns before being taken out by smashing ground, he has generated field advantage and hand advantage every turn because they have had to play a new monster to defend every turn, while you have not. this constant generation is important because it can, unless countered somehow, effectively win you the game.

 

however all field advantage is not all actually " on the field"

 

the graveyard is part of the field advantage as well.

cards in the grave can be brought back, and some even have effects in the graveyard that are powerful enough to equal true field and hand advantage.

for example, necro guardna can block an attack by being on the field (say from the war wolf), and then another by going to the grave and using it's effect. he still has field presence, and therefore gives advantage, even though he left the field and was sent to the grave. grave based field advantage is often the specialty of zombies and some warriors.

 

field advantage interacts with hand advantage every turn, because each one covers the other. the way this works is about the need to play cards. if I have nothing on the field, but a full hand, I can come back on my turn strong, but if I do so, I lose my hand advantage. however, I gain field advantage. If what I gain is something such as swords of revealing light, I have used hand advantage to buy time for more hand advantage.

 

however, if I play smashing ground and war-wolf, I trade hand advantage for field advantage, and don't need as much hand advantage anymore. this of course makes the game mechanics come into play. you draw every turn, and the longer you can sit there with your current field, the more hand advantage you can gain.

 

this creates a cycle of hand advantage -field advantage- hand advantage.

 

but here is the important part of field advantage; rarely do you automatically gain it, and it is the only thing that can keep you alive in most decks during your opponent's turn. and that is where the common ignoring of hand advantage comes from.

 

hand advantage means nothing 90% of the time if you can't survive to your turn to use it. but without it, you can't increase your field advantage and get closer to winning the game.

let me take chess for example. in that game, you have everything on the field already, and will gain nothing more. but lets add in the ability to gain new pieces during your turn and play them 1 at a time on your turn. this creates the power to defend yourself continuously.

the only way to get around that problem is to make it possible to remove more than one piece a turn. and that is how hand advantage and field advantage interact, by creating that possibility.

in chess, you can only make one move at a time. lets say that placing a piece on the field in chess game now costs you your turn. once you gain advantage, it is hard to lose it.

now make it where while it costs you your turn, you can place more than one piece a turn. that creates balance between the two again.

because you still only gain 1 piece a turn, but if you can play as many pieces as you want, you can make the cost of not being able to take a piece worth placing 5 or 6 at once. but you can't do that every turn. but every turn you gain another piece to play, and the group you put down will last for at least 5 or 6 turns.

 

that is sort of how hand advantage and field advantage work together.

 

of course, in that way of playing chess, the only way to win would be to capture the king, which kind of like how life points play a roll in yugioh.

 

in yugioh, hand advantage and field advantage must cause at the end some sort of win condition progress. most of the time this is the reduction of life points, but there are other ways as well, namely special win and deck out. every move that does not lead to one of these three ends only provides minimal advantage, because there is nowhere to take that action. this is actually the end effect of overextending. with cards such as roar and waboku, it doesn't matter if it was 1 monster or 5 monsters, it has stopped them all. however, if turn after turn you have played monsters and gain field advantage, you have gotten closer to your goal. on the flipside however, several of the most used cards clear your field of monsters, making it meaningless to play so many without someway to assure victory. however if no one did play multiple monsters at once, these cards would not be as useful, as they are fairly constricted to how they can be played. it would make more sense to play another single killer than to have lighting vortex in your deck.

 

now, field advantage is at the end, more important than hand advantage, because field advantage is in play, and most of the time costs are already paid.

take any monarch. in the hand, it is a card you have over your opponent, but you can't play it right away, you have to pay some card advantage to do so. the same monarch on the field is worth much more field advantage than hand advantage, since it has gotten its effect, and can attack every turn. this is why sending and spinning costly cards back to the deck or hand is a good way to generate field advantage AND hand advantage, and consequently, pure card advantage.

 

this gets into dead cards. dead cards generate minimal hand advantage because you can't use them, and you have to wait until a card that needs a cost that it can pay for comes around. don't worry to much about dead cards however, they can easily "come back to life" once the needed situation has been met, and only you actually know what cards are dead for you, so that hand of monarchs can still make your opponent play it safe for what might come next, and that second village could allow you to play monster reborn after all your spellcasters are gone.

 

field advantage is important, it is what keeps you alive, but without frugal use of it, and combining it with hand advantage, you can't win with just that alone.

 

that treeborn frog is still weak without the monarch to use it for.

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