Understanding Deck Types in Yu-Gi-Oh!

Each deck in Yugioh belongs to a specific typing based on a variety of attributes. Zac Hill, former designer of Wizards of the Coast (creators of Magic: The Gathering) outlined specific deck types and their ideal representation within a given format. Such deck-types are aggro, control, combo, midrange, and hybrid. In an ideal format, each type represents about a quarter of all competitive decks.

However, in the game of Yugioh, this is hardly the case, as one deck-type may represent about 35% of the metagame, regardless of format. Popularity rules in Yugioh, which inadvertently creates opportunities for less popular decks to thrive. Why? Each deck-type (if well balanced), has strong and weak matchups against one another. Listed below are each of the deck-types outlined by Hill, however within the context of Yugioh.

Aggro

  • Highest frequency of OTK’s
  • Removes or devalues cards
  • Linear
  • Lacks defense
  • Prefers opening second

Example Archetypes:

  • Blue-Eyes
  • Frightfur
  • Blackwing
  • Darklord
  • Mermail

Matchup advantage:

  • Control

Matchup disadvantage:

  • Midrange

Aggressive decks absolutely wreak havoc upon opponents with slow opening hands. Modern aggressive boss monsters feature high attack points and inherent self-protection effects, devaluing many, if not all of the opponent’s defensive cards. Furthermore, aggressive builds will attempt to remove or devalue as many cards on the field as possible opening the door for a one-turn-kill.

Unfortunately, aggro decks are often unprepared for a slow, grind-out game, as resources for recursion and defense are severely limited. For this reason, aggressive builds are largely limited to opening duels second for the highest chances of success. Additionally, aggressive builds will struggle mightily against highly versatile decks with consistent opening plays. Not every board is breakable, thus presenting long-term issues for aggressive users.

Control (Stun/Anti-Meta)

  • Capable of responding to large threats with minimal investment
  • Inherently disruptive, has multiple layers of defense
  • Slows down the pace
  • Lacks offensive firepower
  • Prefers opening first

Example Archetypes:

  • Domain Monarch
  • Paleozoic
  • Counter-Fairy
  • Yosenju
  • Gravekeepers’

Matchup Advantage:

  • Ramp
  • Combo

Matchup Disadvantage:

  • Aggro

Control decks revolve around highly disruptive cards. Generally, most control decks feature at least twelve to fifteen cards of the disruptive variety. Such cards may arrive in the form of traditional trap cards, hand traps such as “Honest”, graveyard traps, and so on. Slowing the pace of duels well below their average pace is the main objective of control decks. Additionally, control decks thrive by taking advantage of uneven trades with the opponent, dwindling their resources in the process.

For example, disruptive cards will only activate when the user knows their opponent has invested considerable resources in establishing a powerful monster. From here, the user has effectively traded one card for at least two cards from the opponent. Weary opponents will elect not to make big plays, which favors the control user’s tempo. From here, the control user will use low-resource monsters to peck away at their opponent’s life points.

Modern control archetypes feature a variety of boss monsters, often as a last-ditch means to counter any weaknesses the opponent may have exploited.

Combo

  • Relies exclusively on 2+ card combinations
  • High synergy
  • Multiple special summons
  • Prefers opening first

Example Archetypes:

  • Dark Synchro
  • D/D
  • Plant Synchro
  • Quasar decks

Matchup Advantage:

  • Midrange

Matchup Disadvantage:

  • Control

Combo-oriented decks live and die by the ability to extend multiple cards onto the field to summon powerful monsters. Modern combo decks require extensive usage of the extra deck, as many of the main deck monsters lack firepower. Additionally, the extra deck features cards capable of extending combos further, providing draw power and additional material. The consistency of combo decks ranges wildly, as many of the best plays involve specific cards, or three-card combos, which are very difficult to pull off.

However, unlike most other decks. Combo-oriented decks are highly susceptible to disruptive cards capable of interrupting plays mid-combo. Furthermore, the end monster is susceptible to cards and effects requiring far less of an investment. Such interactions with the opponents lead to uneven trades, resulting in a significant loss of resources. For this reason, users of combo-oriented decks will elect to open a duel first, for a higher chance of success without interruption.

Ramp

  • Focus on building a powerful mid-to-late game state
  • Plays involve multiple cards persistent on field
  • Vulnerable early, unstoppable later
  • Offense and defense is relative to turns passed
  • Prefers opening first

Example Archetypes:

  • Fire Fist
  • Infernoid
  • Metalfoes
  • Lightsworn
  • Dark Magician

Matchup Advantage:

  • Midrange

Matchup Disadvantage:

  • Control

Ramp decks are engine-based. In many cases, an engine may be as simple as adding a card from the deck each turn. In other cases, an engine may allow the user to special summon monsters from the graveyard, extra deck, or main deck each turn. However, a combination of continuous cards powers such engines. These cards may exist on the field, the hand, or in the graveyard. However, such engines provide continual card advantage for the user if left uninterrupted.

Ramp decks generally require an initial setup period of one turn. Here, the user is the most vulnerable to disruption and one-turn kills. However, the deck gradually escalates into an unstoppable force mid to late game when the engine persists. Here, opponents must disable or eliminate the engine in its entirety to achieve consistent success. Alternatively, opponents should attempt to push for as much damage as possible to defeat a ramp deck. Engines require a considerable amount of deck space to function with consistency, thus leaving most ramp decks with thin defenses. Take advantage.

Midrange

  • Moderate levels of searching and disruption
  • Simple, consistent, and powerful plays
  • Monsters are not as powerful as aggro decks
  • Highly versatile (Toolbox)
  • Does not mind opening first or second

Example

  • Battlin’ Boxer
  • Machina Gadget
  • Trains
  • ABC
  • Constellar

Matchup Advantage:

  • Aggro

Matchup Disadvantage:

  • Combo
  • Ramp

Midrange decks feature largely equal offensive and defensive capabilities. Additionally, such decks are highly versatile, as many of its main and extra deck components are capable of handling a variety of situations. Midrange decks feature basic searching abilities, along with powerful mid-to-late game options similar to ramp decks. However, midrange users can tap into basic plays summoning powerful monsters whenever required. Because of these factors, the midrange deck is often the most common and difficult deck to duel against, regardless of format.

Midrange decks have vulnerabilities in light of its wide range. Despite being capable at all areas, midrange decks lack any real specialties. Boss monsters rarely exceed 3000 attack points, and generally require a great deal of effort to summon. Additionally, defensive and offensive capabilities vary wildly based on the opening hand. Hard counters within the side-deck are advisable if the opponent is unable to exploit either vulnerability with consistency.

Hybrid

  • Features  traits of various deck types
  • Exists to compensate for an inherent weakness of pure typings
  •  May present significant matchup problems

Example Archetypes:

  • Magician Pendulum (Aggro/Ramp)
  • Tellarknight (Control/Ramp)
  • Bujin (Ramp/Control)
  • Raidraptor (Combo/Ramp)
  • Kozmo (Aggro/Control)

Hybrid decks attempt to combine the strongest aspects of various deck types. Some archetypes inherently belong to this variety. It is possible that some hybrid archetypes exist solely to combat popular decks in the current Meta. Hybrid decks generally resemble more of a pure build from the onset, with hints of another type mixed in. For example, hybrid aggro decks may include control elements to limit an opponent’s response. User-created hybrid decks have the potential to exist as some of the more powerful and difficult decks to combat. Exploits of card effects in ways outside of their original purpose is often a typical trait of user-created hybrid decks.

Hybrid decks may appear as an unstoppable beast. However, hybrids may struggle against pure decks of the same typing. For example, a hybrid aggro/control deck is likely to be slower and less consistent than a pure aggression deck. For other opponents, the side-deck is the best option in terms of disabling hybrids. This is due to most hybrids including cards that mitigate weaknesses. Thus, it is important to consider the main objectives of the deck and exploit any weaknesses that exist due to the inherent compromise of a hybrid build.

Quantifying the Meta

YCS Champion Deck Types from 5/15/10 to 8/27/16 

Deck Count Count Representation
Midrange 29 33%
Combo 21 24%
Aggro 11 13%
Control 11 13%
Ramp 9 10%
Hybrid 7 8%

Source: Yu-Gi-Oh! Wikia

Conclusion

In summary, understanding deck typings allows duelists to construct decks with a clear objective relative to the existing metagame. For example, strongest of aggro decks can exist as an unwise choice in a format dominated by midrange players. Additionally, there are common strategies when competing against specific deck types. Furthermore, the metagame may have radical shifts throughout the year, in which owning decks belonging to various types is a wise decision. Lastly, some decks are simply bigger than others, regardless of match-up advantages. Because of this, decks of today’s format will have a significant advantage over older decks and archetypes.

 

Ezell Frazier

Creator of the Deck Optimizer, I enjoy the analytics of Yu-Gi-Oh.

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Ezell Frazier

Creator of the Deck Optimizer, I enjoy the analytics of Yu-Gi-Oh.

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