Toby Johnston of Nottingham in the UK writes,
Welcome back to the second, more in-depth part of my how-to guide to Yu-Gi-Oh!, in which I will explain the Extra Deck, Fusion Summoning mechanics and the Battle Phase, for if (hopefully when) you begin to actually experience the game for itself. Oh yeah, and if you haven’t read the previous one, I’d really recommend you do, because otherwise, none of this may make any sense whatsoever unless you have prior knowledge of Yu-Gi-Oh!
So, the Extra Deck. A varied toolbox of (usually) easily accessible cards, which further your gamestate and provide a wide scope of access for the owner. This mechanic is an integral part of Yu-Gi-Oh!, having been a part of the game since its very beginnings back in 1999 for Japan and Asia (the OCG – Official Card Game), and 2002 for the US, Europe and the rest of the West (the TCG – Trading Card Game). However, I will be using the TCG timings and dates for the rest of this piece, as that’s probably the relevant version for most of the people reading this (That said, if anyone is reading this, and lives in an OCG territory, shout-outs to you I guess?).
Anyway, in the beginning, there were Fusions. And only Fusions. From 2002 to 2008, these weirdly purple cards were the only possible thing to use in your Extra Deck, or at the time, Fusion Deck, a far cry from the varied toolbox of today. At the start of the game, the meta was simply Set 4 Traps, Summon La Jinn pass. That proved to be really boring, though, so most people clamoured for a deeper game (or so I’m told, I wasn’t really, you know, alive at that point). This arrived with the introduction of a new Normal Spell in the seventh set, Metamorphosis. This card let people summon Fusion monsters in a much simpler way, rather than the standard way, which was considered too negative in terms of card advantage at that point, and, in many cases, is still today. Speaking of the Fusion Summoning mechanic, let’s delve into the typically worst Extra Deck mechanic, what it is, and why it’s considered to be so bad…
Fusion Summoning, especially at the time around its release in the first set of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Legend Of Blue-Eyes White Dragon (2002), was inherently a bad trade in card advantage. This is because, to Fusion Summon, you need the materials listed on the card, as well as Polymerization. Polymerization is a Normal Spell card (Fusion Summon 1 Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck, using monsters from your hand or field as Fusion Material). For those of you who don’t understand the gibberish that is Yu-Gi-Oh! card text, this basically says, “send monsters from your hand or field to the graveyard, whose names are on a fusion monster’s requirements, then summon that monster.” The reason that this is a typically bad mechanic, is that, to Summon 1 Fusion monster, you lose 3+ cards, the Polymerization and the 2+ monsters used to Summon it from your hand or field.
The aforementioned Metamorphosis was the herald of a very popular format, even amongst players today (I don’t really get the excitement about it, but still), along with the Quick-Play Spell Scapegoat (Special Summon 4 “Sheep Tokens” (Beast/EARTH/Level 1/ 0 ATK/0 DEF) in Defense Position. They cannot be Tributed for a Tribute Summon. You cannot Summon other monsters this turn, but you can Normal Set), that specific format being GOAT Format. This format lasted from June to September 2005, and was initially heavily focused around Scapegoat and Metamorphosis, seeing as you could activate Scapegoat during your opponent’s End Phase, then on your turn, use Metamorphosis to Summon Thousand-Eyes Restrict. (Level 1 / 0 ATK / 0/ DEF:“Relinquished” + “Thousand-Eyes Idol“. Other monsters on the field cannot change their battle positions or attack. Once per turn: You can target 1 monster your opponent controls; equip that target to this card (max. 1). This card’s ATK/DEF become equal to that equipped monster’s. If this card would be destroyed by battle, destroy that equipped monster instead.) In simple terms, this card basically steals a monster, takes its ATK and DEF and then uses it as protection if it is destroyed.
This card was integral to the best deck of that format, GOAT Control, because of Metamorphosis alleviating its naturally difficult materials to acquire, along with an easily accessible Level 1, in a Sheep Token. After Metamorphosis was Banned in the next Forbidden & Limited List (A feature in Yugioh which restricts the amount of a certain card players can use in their Decks), Fusion was immediately picked back up again with the release of Cyber Dragons, who didn’t care about the natural minus in card advantage of Fusion Summoning, as they could end the Duel very quickly with monsters like Cyber Twin Dragon, which could attack twice and Cyber End Dragon, which dealt piercing damage.
Speaking of battle, the Battle Phase is the main method of inflicting damage in Yu-Gi-Oh!, and, as such, the main way of winning the game. After your Main Phase 1, the turn player can enter the Battle Phase, in which you can attack. Monsters in Attack Position can declare one attack during their controller’s Battle Phase, unless their text says otherwise. To attack, first, you must declare which monster you are attacking with, and which monster is the target. At this point, players can activate Quick Effects, which don’t have to affect the battling monsters, but are able to. Then, if the target is in Attack Position, the monsters’ ATK values are compared. Whichever monster has the lower value at this point is destroyed, and its controller takes damage equal to the difference in ATK values. If they have the same ATK value, both monsters are destroyed. If the target is in Defense Position, the attacking monster’s ATK is compared with the target’s DEF. If the DEF is lower, the target is destroyed, and no damage is taken. However, if the attacker’s ATK is lower, it is not destroyed, but (if anyone reading this has watched the ARC-V anime) you still take damage (equal to the difference between ATK and DEF values).
Following Thousand-Eyes, other prevalent Fusion Monsters in the Yu-Gi-Oh! meta game have typically found ways within their archetypes (An archetype is a group of similarly named Monsters/Spells/Traps e.g. “Shaddoll”, “SPYRAL”, “Sky Striker”) to prevent the negative card advantage, such as: the Shaddoll archetype, specifically Shaddoll Construct, which could use Fusion Materials from the Deck through their specific Fusion Spell; the Gladiator Beast Fusions, which used Contact Fusion, a method of Fusion without Polymerization which fuses with only monsters from the field; and Invoked, a deck which could search its Fusion Spell from the key monster used to Summon all the Fusions, and the ability to recur that monster again and again.
And now, after my ramblings on the first of 4 (technically 5, but Pendulums are complicated) Extra Deck Summoning mechanics, I will, once again, pass the turn to you, and start writing up the how-to on Synchro Summoning, a somewhat more successful mechanic throughout Yu-Gi-Oh!’s history.
Toby Johnston is a student in Nottingham who can only dream of being bitten by a radioactive spider. His exposure to comics, games and geek culture as a whole originated when he met his uncle during his first weeks on the planet. Now, most of his time is spent between trading card games, building some sort of competitive Pokemon team, and devouring as many comics as Uncle Rich can throw at him. He’s also finally catching up with Marvel, DC TV, Doctor Who and “classic” sci-fi films, which could take him a while.