I’ve found two things to be true when it comes to friends and trading card games—playing a TCG is a great way to meet new friends, and it’s also fun to drag your existing friends in. In every group of friends, there are always one or two people who tend to be the trend-setters as far as activities go—but even if that isn’t your usual role, it’s still worthwhile to interest them in Yu-Gi-Oh! You never know, as they say in the lottery commercial. I do a lot of deciding what we’ll do when I’m with my friends, so it’s usually easy for me to convince them to try just about anything. If you enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh! and would like to get a few of your friends into the game as well, there are a few things you can do to help make that possible.
Before you start, though, think about why you want to get your friends involved. Are you genuinely interested in including them in your tournament routine—even if they become better than you—or are you hoping they’ll just be easy to beat?
If your motivation isn’t particularly friendly, you won’t have much success getting anyone to try the game and continue to like it. So give that a bit of thought before you begin your campaign.
The first thing you can do to interest your friends in the game is to teach them how to play it. That probably sounds very easy, but teaching someone how to play in a way that results in them learning the game, wanting to continue to play, and still liking you as a friend is harder than you might think! Just because you know how to play, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you know how to teach.
Since we want you to successfully teach the game without destroying your friendships—and then keep your friends interested in playing—here are some guidelines:
Don't patronize your friend.
Yes, you know how to play and he or she doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean you’re somehow intellectually superior. If you have a bit of an ego problem (by which I mean you think you’re inherently better than other people), find someone else to teach your friends how to play. Don’t talk down to your friends, insult your friends’ intelligence, or act like they’re stupid because they don’t immediately grasp the entire game. It’s just as likely that you’re not doing a stellar job of teaching. Oh, and I’ll just throw this out for what it’s worth . . . if you’re a guy and you’re teaching a girl how to play, don’t buy into the notion that girls’ brains don’t work very well. I’ve been using a girl brain for quite a while, and I’ve done rather well with it.
Don’t destroy your friend.
Don’t pull out your most competitive deck and then mercilessly grind your structure-deck-wielding friend to a defeated and sorrowful pulp. If I had a friend who did that, then my reactions would be a) I really don’t want to play this stupid game anymore and b) I don’t really want to be your friend anymore, you stupid jerk. If you’re the kind of person who hates to lose, and you only want to teach your friend to play because you figure you can beat him or her all the time, well . . . frankly, I’m surprised you still have friends. Play a deck that matches theirs, and teach as you play. If you make their first encounters with the game enjoyable, they’re more likely to want to continue to play.
Help your friend build some decks.
Once you’ve taught your friend how to play, help him or her build a few decks.
It can be difficult for new players to get into the game, since they often lack staple cards that were released a long time ago. They also have a lot of catching up to do as far as learning the current viable strategies. Help them out by giving advice, showing them your decks, and lending them some cards—and show them how to supplement their card pools with structure decks while you’re at it. There are plenty of cards that will come in handy in just about any structure deck—and new players often like the tins as well, to get cards from a variety of sets, a nice promo, and a snappy container to keep them all in. Point the structure decks and tins out, because someone new to the game might not know they exist.
Coordinate group activities.
The whole point of getting your friends to play is enjoying the game together—so do some coordination to make this happen. It can be as easy as just arranging rides to a local tournament or Hobby League, or it can be as hardcore as making a long-distance trip to participate in a Shonen Jump Championship together. You should certainly arrange some playtesting sessions while you’re at it. Make it easy for your friends to merge into the play environment, giving them the opportunities to have the same experiences you’ve enjoyed with the game.
Split big purchases among the group.
If everyone can afford to chip in, buy a box or so of booster packs and divide the spoils. It’s a lot less imposing when the cost is diffused among a few people, but this will only end happily if you are all able to decide in advance how it’s going to go down. Everyone is going to need to respect each other’s needs from a particular set, which takes some negotiating up front. Whether you decide to divide the sealed packs and keep what you pull, or let everyone place specific dibs on any given card, you only want to do this with friends you trust and get along with really well. Don’t split booster boxes with anyone who becomes envious easily or who can’t deal with the speed bumps of life (and I’m including you in this caveat).
Explain to them all that Yu-Gi-Oh! offers.
There are levels of competition from casual to high-stakes, all kinds of prizes, the opportunity to just goof off as a group and de-stress, and intellectual sport—each of these will appeal in varying degrees to different people. What appeals most to you might not hold as much attraction for one of your friends. If you are a dedicated competitor and your friends decide they really just like messing around and playing casually, don’t react with disappointment. Relax and kick back with them now and then—and don’t waste your breath smack-talking their beloved Alien deck because they’ll never Top 8 with it.
Getting your friends to play means more fun for you, bigger turnouts at your local tournaments, and more people to rely on for rides to events. Playtesting or forming a team is a lot easier if you hang out with the people you want to duel with anyway—just show them how much fun you’re having and they’re likely to want to join you. And if you’re going to ask your friends to try out an activity that appeals to you, reciprocate. Try something they enjoy that you haven’t done before. Trying something new should go both ways. Best of luck pulling a friend or two into the game—it’s always nice to see a new face at an event.