Occasionally, I judge at local store events or attend events that just sound fun. So when I heard there was a tournament store here in Southern California that was running an All Commons Yu-Gi-Oh! Tournament, I decided I would check it out. Upon walking into the store, I could tell there was a little confusion about just what was a good common or a good card in general, not to mention how to put 40 of them together into a suitable deck. See, no one had any of their standard Raigeki, Mirror Force, or Jinzo cards, because none had ever been a common at anytime. This, of course, was the storeowner’s intention. He wanted the kids to look at all the cards and become familiar with the different sets. But when you operate within a narrow scope of visibility when it comes to tournament play for a long period of time, it becomes difficult to see what can be of actual worth in the different sets. Today we're going to discuss just what makes a good common and what doesn’t, and how to focus your deck into something tournament-viable without the big budget.
A good common can be defined as something that maximizes your chance of accomplishing your goal—reducing your opponent’s life points to 0. A good common will also further the theme of the deck that you run. It can also provide a variety of tricks that your opponent most likely won’t be able to cope with at the time. The same can hold true for about any card that you put in your decks. So how do you know if it’s maximizing your chances? Well, there are four things which any tournament worthy deck should be doing, barring special victory condition decks such as an Exodia deck.
1. The deck should include monsters for sheer beatdown power. The higher the stats, the better. Be careful of monster level, as it greatly affects gameplay and the number of times you will actually see a monster on the field. The lower the number of monsters that you have without larger stats, the fewer times you're going to be able to draw a monster that will let you either push through enough damage to finish off your opponent, or be able to get through your opponent’s monsters.
2. The deck should include “recursion effect” cards. To recur something is to revive it from the graveyard to the field or hand. Because in Yu-Gi-Oh!, there's a one monster per turn rule, it makes it hard to get enough monsters on the field to finish your opponent off swiftly. Recursion card effects such as Monster Reborn, Magician of Faith, Mask of Darkness, and Autonomous Action Unit are good examples of this.
3. The deck should include cards to “thin” the deck. Certain effects allow you to draw more cards or put cards from your deck into your graveyard. The reason to have these cards in your hand is because hand advantage plays a vital role in the game. It is in part a psychological bonus that you have over your opponent when your hand size is bigger, because your opponent knows that with a bigger hand size comes more options to undo his or her carefully laid plans. Beyond just the psychological bonus is the in-game advantage I just spoke of. More options mean greater potential for victory.
4. The final thing your deck should include, and the most important, is monster removal effects. That’s right—cards that destroy your opponent’s monsters without having to attack them are the biggest key to victory in Yu-Gi-Oh! While having monsters with high stats does help, you never know what your friends are going to throw at you. Maybe it’s going to be a Blue-Eyes White Dragon attacking, and you only have a Gradius in your hand—you can’t exactly stop something of that magnitude without a little help. So make sure to include monster removal, or you will be hard pressed to win when your opponent throws something major at you.
Based on this definition, let’s take a look at some often-overlooked cards and how they can strengthen not only the common deck, but also how they can strengthen your overall gameplay. Let’s begin by analyzing some of the monsters:
In addition to providing heavy hitter support, Hysteric Fairy's life point gain effect helps you out when your opponent is overrunning you. Life gain doesn’t win you the game, however, and there’s only so long that you can stall before your opponent will find a way through, so take the initiative and attack with this freaked-out Fairy, which is its better purpose.
Spear Cretin has to be one of the most overlooked cards in the whole game. It can act as a wall against your opponent’s attacks, it provides recursion for your monsters, and it will speed up your deck as a whole. There are several combos that have been based around this card, such as Card of Safe Return in an Exodia deck. But the best thing this card lets you do is special summon your monsters in face down defense position. This is important, especially when you play with other flip effect monsters. It allows you to reutilize certain monster card effects, such as Cyber Jar.
Jirai Gumo had its heyday back when Metal Raiders was released. It was the largest attacking monster at the time, but since then, we've gotten such monsters as Goblin Attack Force, Giant Orc, and Armor Exe, which have replaced it as the highest–attack value level 4 monster. This does not negate its usefulness; because Jirai Gumo has an extraordinarily high attack value, it can serve as a wall against your opponent’s attacks. It is also good as a finishing blow, when your life points are no longer a concern. And sometimes, it's even worth the gamble to attack, just because the damage is so great.
4-Starred Ladybug of Doom
In Constructed format Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments, most of the monsters in a person’s deck will usually be level 4. Quite simply, 4-Starred Ladybug of Doom destroys all level 4 monsters. This means that you have a good chance of doing some serious damage to your opponents' strategies when this flip effect is activated.
And now, on to the spells . . .
Often overlooked or passed up for seemingly better cards, Bait Doll has only seen mediocre play in its short life span. But a reevaluation is in order. First of all, Bait Doll prevents you from “decking” yourself, because when you activate it and it is not negated, it always returns to your deck. Bait Doll is fantastic spell and trap card removal. Because of its reusability, you don't have to fill up your deck with a large amount. In fact, one will usually suffice, which means you have room for more cards in your deck that you might otherwise have passed by.
Okay, this card is just flat-out amazing! While life-gain cards won’t win you the game, they can certainly buy you time or give you that extra boost to activate cost effects such as Injection Fairy Lily, Seven Tools of the Bandit, or even Solemn Judgment. Let me explain this card a little better. Emergency Provisions is a quick-play spell card. When you activate the card, you send spell and trap cards from your spell and trap card zone to the graveyard. When it resolves, you add up the total number of spell and trap cards you sent to the graveyard and multiply that number by 1000. So let’s say you sent three spell or trap cards to the graveyard as part of its cost. You would multiply 3 x 1000 = 3000 life points! That's nothing to scoff at, especially when your opponent’s deck doesn’t have a very good late game element to it or you are on the ropes because your opponent got out a great early game that you just weren’t able to cope with effectively. Beyond just this, you can chain Emergency Provisions to cards you just activated within that chain and send them to the graveyard. For example, I activate Raigeki, and my opponent doesn’t respond, so I chain with Emergency Provisions from my hand and send Raigeki to the graveyard along with a face-down trap card. When the chain resolves, Emergency Provision provides me with 2000 life points, and then Raigeki resolves and destroys all my opponent’s monsters! Let me explain a little more clearly. Cards don’t usually go to the graveyard until their effects resolve. But even though Raigeki, in this case, is sent to the graveyard, it does not stop the fact that it was activated, and hence it will still resolve. Because this is so, Emergency Provisions turns your normal spell card or trap activation into potential life gain on top of its effect.
And last, we have the traps:
Just like the picture depicts, I’m more than sure a few are quite confused as to why I would evaluate a card like this. It can only be activated when your opponent attacks, and only if you have an available monster card zone because it needs a place in which to special summon the Mirage token. The Mirage token is an exact copy of the monster’s ATK and DEF. Because a new monster was summoned to the field, a replay is triggered, and the opponent gets to evaluate whether or not to attack again with that monster. But if you time it right, this little baby can put an effective stop to all of your opponent’s attacks for that turn. Let’s say that your opponent attacks with his Summoned Skull, which has 2500 ATK and 1200 DEF, and a horde of 1800–1900 ATK monsters, you have no monsters on the field, and Physical Double is in your spell and trap card zone. Your opponent attacks with Summoned Skull, and you activate Physical Double. Physical Double resolves and special summons a Mirage token, which mirrors Summoned Skull’s ATK and DEF and triggers a replay. You’ve now forced your opponent into a difficult circumstance. Does he attack the Mirage token with his Summoned Skull, the general of his armies, which would then be destroyed along with the Mirage token? Or does he hesitate and not attack again because he doesn’t want to lose that one card which could potentially give him the most advantage over you and swing a victory his way? Decisions, decisions . . .
Fairy Box is a continuous trap card effect. Whenever your opponent attacks, he or she has a 50 percent chance of doing absolutely no damage and/or having their monster destroyed and receiving damage from the attack. Essentially, it creates a situation where your opponent will be wishing that they hadn’t wasted spell and trap removal early in the game on cards that seemed more powerful. This card effect becomes even better when combined with Second Coin Toss, which allows you to negate the first coin toss result and re-flip the coin. Two chances equals about a 75 percent chance of actually getting the effect. Fairy Box also allows you to be able to minimize the use of other monster removal cards, which could prove devastating against your opponent in the late game.
So, we’ve evaluated certain individual cards, and now you feel confident that you understand some of the card abilities and what to be on the lookout for. Let’s build up our deck.
All Commons Deck
40 cards total
3 Hysteric Fairy
3 Giant Orc
1 Witch of the Black Forest
3 Spear Cretin
2 Zombyra the Dark
2 Jirai Gumo
1 Summoned Skull
2 Amazoness Fighter
2 Old Vindictive Magician
1 Man-Eater Bug
1 Change of Heart
2 Autonomous Action Unit
1 Bait Doll
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Offerings to the Doomed
1 Dark Hole
2 Fairy Box
2 Trap Hole
1 Skull Lair
In the monster category, Giant Orcs will provide stability in the high attack, level 4 range, as will Jirai Gumo—or they can act as a wall against your opponent’s smaller monsters. Summoned Skull is simply the highest attack value monster for the level 5–6 range, and it has proven itself time and time again in tournaments that seemed lost. Amazoness Fighter prevents damage to the player’s life points if it gets attacked. This qualifies it for a slot in the deck as it has reasonable ATK and a fairly useful effect, especially if your opponent attacks it with Injection Fairy Lily! Man-Eater Bug and Old Vindictive Magician are automatic shoe-ins for their monster removal effects.
Amongst the spell cards, you want to focus on monster removal, as that is where the crux of the game lies—controlling the number of monsters on your opponent’s side of the field. So we throw in such cards such as Dark Hole, Fissure, and Offerings to the Doomed to provide the monster control. Autonomous Action Unit dishes out the tricks for the deck and will always surprise the opponent when he sees his or her own monster beating down his or her door. And then we have the spell and trap removal provided by Bait Doll; only one was included because it keeps returning. There are also two Mystical Space Typhoons, which provide quick-play support when you need to prevent your opponent from pulling off a trick on his or her turn.
In the trap card category, we have some stall to keep your opponent from getting a chance to swarm you should things go awry. We include cards such as Fairy Box, which doubles as potential monster removal as well as stall, and Waboku, which is a one-turn delay for your opponent. Trap Hole adds additional support in the monster removal category, and Skull Lair turns all those dead monsters of yours into a nightmare of monster removal for your opponent.
Now you are ready for your own All-Commons Tournament. So all you have to do now is muster all of your newfound knowledge of the cards and send your opponent back to the Shadow Realm!
For those who are curious about any other cards, I have included an extensive list of commons you might want to consider in your next Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament deck. Give them a try. Or build the all-common deck and tell your local tournament organizer to have an All-Commons Tournament of his or her own.
Dream Clown–Monster Removal
Man-Eater Bug–Monster Removal
The Unfriendly Amazon–Beats
Thunder Dragon–Deck Thinner
Witch of the Black Forest–Deck Thinner
Magical Scientist–Fusion Beats
Big Eye–Deck Manipulation
La Jinn the Mystical Genie of the Lamp–Beats
Hysteric Fairy–Life Gain/Beats
Zombyra the Dark–Beats
Mask of Darkness–Recursion
Magician of Faith–Recursion
Electric Snake–Side Deck
Maha Vailo–Equip Power-Up
Time Wizard–Monster Removal
Amazoness Fighter–Damage Prevention
Old Vindictive Magician–Monster Removal
Magical Marionette–Tribute/Monster Removal
4-Starred Ladybug of Doom–Monster Removal
Eternal Rest–Monster Removal
Share the Pain–Monster Removal
Malevolent Nuzzler–Equip Power-Up
Sword of Deep-Seated–Equip Power-Up
Pigeonholing Books of Spell–Deck Manipulation
My Body as a Shield–Prevention
Wave Motion Cannon–Direct Damage
Poison of the Old Man–Life Gain/Direct Damage
Autonomous Action Unit–Recursion
Different Dimension Capsule–Deck Thinner
Emergency Provisions–Life Gain
Vengeful Bog Spirit–Stall
The Dark Door–Stall
Bait Doll–Spell and Trap Removal
Chain Energy–Direct Damage
Dark Hole–Monster Removal
Mystical Space Typhoon–Spell and Trap Removal
Soul Release–Side Deck
Change of Heart–Monster Control
Offerings to the Doomed–Monster Removal
Trap Hole–Monster Removal
Enchanted Javelin–Life Gain
Fairy Box–Damage Prevention
Skull Lair–Monster Removal
Solemn Wishes–Life Gain
Pineapple Blast–Monster Removal
Physical Double–Damage Prevention/Tricks
The Spell of Absorbing Life–Effect Prevention/Life-Gain
Rivalry of Warlords–Tricks