Just Chuck It In, an In-depth Guide to the Benefits of Archetype Mixing

The COVID-19 era of Yu-Gi-Oh! is bittersweet. While we haven’t been able to attend any legitimate events, the metagame is at a pretty exciting point. Despite the presence of some combo decks like Infernoble and Dragon Link, many of the decks seeing competitive play at the moment are comprised of multiple different engines all working in tandem. Engines like Invoked, Eldlich, Dogmatika, Rokkets, Zoodiac and even Sacred Beasts have all helped to create engine-mashed decks. Mixed strategies are a godsend for people interested in the finer points of deck building as they highlight some really key weak points of traditional deck building. Being the pretentious bastard that I am, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make my self seem smart by discussing some in-depth deck theory.

For the uninitiated with the colloquial terms used in deck building we’ll quickly run through them so we can get into the juicy stuff quicker. In his novel “Road of the King” Patrick Hoban discusses the idea of card roles. He proposes it as an alternative to viewing the cards you put in your deck; instead of examining them in terms of monsters, spells and traps he argues we should see them as starters, extenders, defenders, bombs and combo requirements.

Starters he argues are cards that you always wish to see. They are what begins your plays/combos e.g. Tour Guide of the Underworld. In this category he argues you should limit it to 4-5 normal summons.

Extenders are cards that help continue your plays if your starter is stopped or cards that can further extend the strategy if drawn e.g. Danger!? Jackalope!?

Defensive cards are cards that are used to disrupt your opponent but don’t necessarily contribute to the strategy e.g. Ash Blossom and Joyous Spring.

Bombs are cards that you don’t want to see immediately but can very quickly influence the state of the game if drawn on subsequent turns, e.g. Pot of Avarice.

Combo requirements would be what you would usually consider Garnets, things like Speedroid Taketemborg.

Furthermore, some cards can share multiple roles such as Speedroid Terrortop being both a starter and an extender. For those of you who are already aware of this, I apologise for rambling, but for those of you yet to implement this into your deck building, you’re now 50% better as a player, you’re welcome. So what does this all have to do with archetype mixing?   

A lot of the archetypes designed by Konami fail to assess the decks by this measure. Even some of our greatest decks of all time fall short by this metric, sky striker being too full of defenders, Zoodiac containing to many hard normal summons etc. The benefit of archetype mixing is to be able to combine certain decks and strategies in order to optimise your ratios of card roles. If you chose to play a deck like Zoodiac, a great way to offset the lack of extenders is to play a Dogmatika engine so that you can still have a play if your first gets negated. This is crucial in deciding what deck you wish to play and how to build it. Arguably more important than the power of your cards.

This may sound quite simple on paper, but it is important to not just recognise the benefits of archetype mixing. To truly build your deck according to this philosophy, make sure that the engines you are splashing don’t just complement each other in terms of playstyle but also in terms of card roles. There is no point in building an Invoked Zoo deck as both are starter heavy engines.

I recently came across this phenomenon when I was attempting to build a Traptrix deck. The deck is naturally filled with large amounts of normal summonable starters and defensive options, but outside of The Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine, lacks extenders. It wasn’t until the release of Dogmatika that I was able to slot in some extra extenders.

Identifying card roles is only one step of the process. It is also important to cull the weaker versions of your card roles in favour of better ones. While Foolish Burial Goods may be an acceptable extender in Eldlich it is often outclassed by cards such as Nadir Servant or even Magicians’ Souls. While there is nothing wrong with Foolish Burial Goods it would be foolish to make it fill the role that could otherwise be replaced.

While I’m aware all of this may seem redundant to many of my readers I really see the upcoming format as a great way for us all to practise this skill. So many great engines are available to us and we have an unspecified amount of time until our next event; it would be great to be able to report on some optimised decks come our first event. And for those who may have been hearing about these concepts for the first time, I implore you to try and implement them in your next deck and discover the difference for yourself. 

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