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Yu-Gi-Oh 101 The Art Of Side Decking

Updated on December 9, 2014

Side Decks Vary From Player To Player

Play what works for you but hurts the opponent.
Play what works for you but hurts the opponent.

Side Decking Explained

My Side Is Killing You

Today's yugioh game has evolved leaps and bounds from the simpler days where a blue eyes white dragon meant you had the game in the bag. Today's game is a strategic battlefield full of surprises and stunning combinations that make for not only entertaining but stressful gaming experiences to boot. We are here today to discuss one of the often overlooked yet highly vital aspects of the yugioh game dynamic. That aspect is side decks.

First let me explain a little bit. You have a few different decks in the yugioh game. The first is your main deck which features 40 to 60 cards. This is the bread and butter of your deck and will be what you draw from throughout the game. Next you have your extra deck. The extra deck is where your special summons like XYZs, synchros, and fusion monsters wait to be called out to battle. Lastly you have the side deck.

In a tournament play you will face the same opponent more than once. If you are not happy with how the round went the first time you can pull from your 15 card side deck and replace cards in your main deck. This is what side decking is all about. You take out what is not working for you and side in something that might make the battle a little more even sided or in best terms go completely your way.

How do we know what to side? That is the golden question and one that really haunts the duelist. You really don't unless of course you know exactly what decks you will be pitted against all the time. That is why it is always good to side cards that are effective for multiple deck combinations. We will get in detail here shortly on that issue. So let's explore some options for side decking.

Mirror Force Can Save The Day

Dust Tornado

Never underestimate this card!
Never underestimate this card!

Safe Side Bets

There are cards that are universally considered useful as side cards. These cards are not designed to inhibit any specific card or deck but are useful in a broad range of situations so they work well for sideing when you have no real grasp of what you may be playing against. Most of these are what we consider staple cards. Staples are cards that go in any deck and work just the same.

Most decks in today's format main deck one or two mystical space typhoons (MST) as opposed to the three you are allowed to main. This makes one MST idea for side decking. It is super effective for popping back row and also getting rid of pesky field spell cards that are driving the new lay outs in today's play. Another really cool use for the mst is to hinder the all powerful Qliphort deck. Today's meta is defined by qliphort. Qliphort runs off the new pendulum summon engine and this means monsters that activate in the pendulum zone making them activate as spells thus being able to fall victim to the mst.

On the same accord dust tornado and twister are seeing a great deal of use in side decks. Dust tornado is a bit like mst except it activates as a trap card instead of a spell. I am seeing a great deal of players side three of these in just to deal with the OP (over powered) ability of the qliphort deck build.

I am also seeing mirror force get some heavy siding because of this and the other heavy hitter of the current meta shadolls. I have actually included a video of my watt deck in which I show just how effective mirror force can be to eliminate the shadoll mass field control ability. Mirror force is at three but most players still like to main only one and go to two only if they know they will be pressed under swarming decks.

These cards are great for general side decking but sometimes you have to get a little more creative, especially with meta decks. Let's look at a few creative ways we can deal with those decks from a side deck perspective.

My Watt Deck

Dealing With The Meta

Meta has always been the bane of the yugioh player on a budget. I am a budget player being that I run watthunder but I have always been fascinated with ways around the current meta. When I started it was mermales and e-drags but of course at the writing of this text it is qliphorts, shadolls and burning abyss that are gaining victories worldwide as the top of the top. These decks come hard and bring a lot to the game but that does not mean they are without flaw. When side decking for these decks you simply need to know your enemy.

Take qliphorts. They are machines who can spam the field and inflict mass damage in a hurry which means you need to be equally aggressive if not more so in your strategy against them. Knowing they will utilize the pendulum zones means you want to take those out of the equation with cards like mst, dust tornado, and maybe even the all mighty anti-spell fragrance which makes players have to set spell cards before playing them and since pendulum monsters can't be set as spells you have knocked them out of the loop/ (this ruling is still questionable). Qliphorts relies real heavy on their cards as spells so why not take them out of the game with cards like cursed seal of the forbidden spell which allows you to toss a spell to the grave and negate plus destroy a spell card the opponent has. They can no longer use any card of the same name for the rest of the game. This will really put a hurting on qliphorts in the long run. Knowing they are machines you can use system down to banish all face up machines on the field and really put a damper on them as well. I would also suggest you look into spell shattering arrow, fairy wind, and maybe even consider looking at some of the cyber dragon cards as a means to avoid OTKs. This deck is brutal but it is not unstoppable.


Gravekeeper's is making a comeback bt you can end that quick with the right cards.
Gravekeeper's is making a comeback bt you can end that quick with the right cards.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Darker decks like shadolls and gravekeeper's require a little different approach. With shadools you need to know they are going to fusion like mad. That is the basis of their deck. This means you can really make use of dark bribes and wire taps to hurt them but also remember bribe will let them draw a card which can hinder you in the long run. Non Fusion Area is a prime card to throw at shadolls as it will prevent fusion summons from happening. Talk about wrench in the machine work. I like this card and it can hinder the flow of shadolls. Anti-fusion device is another prime card that can make shadolls very frustrated and really increase your chance of winning.

With dark decks like shadolls and gravekeeper's cards like shadow imprisoning mirror which negates their effects you can pretty much shut them down and stop their engine from getting rolling. By the time they can around your trap you are going in for the kill. Debunk is also a good bet considering it will negate effects from hand or graveyard.

These are cards that can really cripple a dark based deck if you can get them out quick and start your offense early on in the duel.

There You Go

This was a short lesson. Next time around we are going to really get into what cards can make a deck more powerful and how to anticipate which side deck cards will work for more than one type of teck. Until next time happy dueling.


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