Tag: Yu-Gi-Oh Cards

A pre-preparation of rites

A pre-preparation of rites

Like I mentioned in my post showing off the character sketches from my novel-in-progress, this Friday I will be presenting my Senior Honors Project at the Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference.

We got the official email with the final schedule brochure and everything. It’s happening.

Not only is it happening, it’s coming up at full speed.

So most of my day has been spent preparing the Powerpoint I’ll be using. A few weeks back the Honors Program Director Sandra Perez asked me to help another student who wanted to do a creative writing project, as she said the pre-preparation I’d done was impressive.

That experience wound up being my lightbulb of inspiration. I realized that my project was better grounded in a Pre-Preparation of Rites than “I wrote part of a book.”

By the end, I’ve come to find that a whole lot of preparation was involved in my novel.

Most of it is stuff I’ve discussed on the blog before. The character sketches, map-making, research into Dungeons and Dragons and plotting out the story among them.

But then there are more exotic elements to the process as an overarching narrative — Such as my inspirational material, John Scalzi’s Redshirts and the prep work on earlier creative writing pieces.

And let’s not forget the elements I have yet to talk about.

Notably backend research into creating believable cultures for my fantasy world. I asked my old professor Paulo Simoes for some advice because a lot of his background involves researching ancient societies, figuring out how they tick.

He recommended trying to model my fictional cultures and the events that characterize my world off of real-world societies.

After all, he says it’s a successful strategy for shows like Game of Thrones, which modeled its famous Red Wedding scene after massacres in Scotland.

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Image courtesy of Game of Thrones Memes and Quotes Blogspot

Game of Thrones is in vogue to reference right now, yeah?

I’d hope so. Because I’m more than happy to capitalize on that, even though I haven’t personally watched the show.

For my project, however, I am not utilizing Game of Thrones in any capacity. Rather, I’m using “The Story of Civilization” collection of historical novels to base parts of my book on periods of history. As suggested by Dr. Simoes.

Along the way, I’ve been trying to craft the oral part of the presentation:

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I have 15 minutes to present, and then I’ll have to be ready for five minutes of audience questions. I’m hoping I’ll be all put together and confident by then.

While getting prepared, I took some time off with my Mom to go out and put something sweet together with the drawings from Elizabeth:

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Just a little something to help remember the project by. Doesn’t it look nice?

I think it looks really nice, personally.

Chaos in flight in Fire Emblem Heroes

Chaos in flight in Fire Emblem Heroes

In times long abandoned, the Goddess of Dawn split her being in twine. She feared her strength after nearly flooding the planet to prevent war between her creations.

Out of that split came a Goddess of Chaos, the manifestation of shed emotions, and a Goddess of Order, who believed life could only be perfect if chaos was destroyed.

But her followers advised she instead seal chaos away in a medallion.

A medallion which would become known as Tellius’ “Fire Emblem.”

When a new war breaks out years later, Yune takes shape as a small bird and befriends a persecuted girl, helping her lead the crusade for peace so they can prevent the Goddess of Order from passing judgement on all living beings.


YuneChaos Goddess

  • Chaos Manifest (Might = 14, Range = 2)
    • Grants Resistance +3. If a penalty inflicted by a skill like Panic or Threaten and/or a negative status effect (preventing counterattacks or restricting movement) is active on foe, grants Attack +6 during combat and unit makes a guaranteed follow-up attack.
  • Glacies (Cooldown = 4)
    • Boosts damage by 80 percent of unit’s Resistance.
  • Attack/Resistance Bond (A Skill)
    • If unit is adjacent to an ally, grants Attack and Resistance +5 during combat.
  • Sabotage Resistance (B Skill)
    • At start of the turn, if any foe’s Resistance ≤ unit’s Resistance -3 and that foe is adjacent to another, inflicts Resistance -7 on that foe through its next action.
  • Chaos Named (C Skill)
    • At start of the turn, if foes within three columns have Resistance ≤ unit’s Resistance -3, inflicts -5 on their highest stat through their next actions (When calculating, treat Attack -15. Calculates each stat penalty independently).

Told you guys I would try to do lore for Mythic Heroes.

I’ve never played Radiant Dawn, so everything here is based on cursory research. Hopefully I did the story justice!

I have a bit more of a connection with the chaotic entities related to Black Luster Soldier from Yu-Gi-Oh!. However, Yune has an interesting backstory — and is a cute character.

Her skills also feel properly ‘chaotic’ in their design to drop a variety of stats based on her superior Resistance.

Yet I’m not sure I’ll be putting a whole lot of resources into summoning our first Dark Mythic Hero. Flying green tome is a unit type I could use (only having the outdated Spring Camilla), but not enough that I’m looking to blow my orb stash.

Especially considering her entourage:

I have all of these units outside of Lewyn and Mia.

Or… I did before summoning on the banner.

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Now I’m only missing Yune and Mia.

Considering I only spent about 20 orbs to get this guy, I’ll probably lay back and let Yune pass. I’m not sure she alone is worth risking the waste of orbs.

Especially considering green stones were a rarity in my few summon attempts.

If nothing else, I got to see this sweet bit of pretentious Goddess dialogue in her Legendary Battle Map introduction:

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So I’ve got that going for me.


Gotta love these Legendary/Mythic Hero banners. Easy to write and quick to set before I go to bed.

Though this one is underwhelming enough that I may also wrote a piece about my interview for Gladeo later — considering I’m conducting it around the time this is automatically set to post.

But if I don’t, I’ll see you all tomorrow!

In the meantime, let me know what you think of Yune. I don’t have much experience with her, but I do think she’s a cute little thing.

I’ll just be over here waiting for Naga or Mila to show up as Mythic Heroes before I get really excited.

Or Fomortiis/Lyon if you want to get crazy.

‘Dark Magic Destruction’ deck profile — Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

‘Dark Magic Destruction’ deck profile — Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

Duel Links has kind of fallen out of favor in my phone app priority list for some time now.

It’s not that I don’t still love the game. I do. But Konami has a tendency to… Power creep a little faster than I’m comfortable with as a free-to-play user.

By power creep, I mean they add a new box of cards about once every two-to-three weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why that’s the decision they’ve made. New boxes mean a host of new cards that redefine the Player vs. Player metagame and keep the community thriving with new strategies.

It makes sense and is arguably a good business decision.

But because I don’t pay to buy the new boxes out, I wind up still stuck using a slowly accumulating set of gems to buy out older boxes while people are kicking everyone around with the newest stuff. While I still love the game for the computer-driven content that’s also constantly being added in, having myself be stuck in place on the PvP ladder because I can’t get past the newest, strongest card combinations without dumb luck is frustrating.

The PvP is half the draw of Duel Links, as it’s the real place to test out decks and earn good rewards. So it’s a shame that being so frustrated with it has taken away some of the fun of the game for me right now.

However, in the face of that frustration, I’ve decided to take a different approach than just giving up.

On April 26, the character level cap for every Legendary Duelist in the game was increased from 40 to 45. This meant a number of things for the game, but most notably: More gems and a new character-specific card for each duelist.

Many of the new level-up cards are just okay at best in my opinion. But two of them specifically stood out. Yami Yugi and Arkana both received a new support card for the Dark Magician archetype.

Seeing those two additional cards and remembering how much fun I used to have playing my Dark Magician/Dark Magician Girl combo deck inspired me to try to play a fun, nostalgic deck again rather than a purely meta-driven one.

Thus, my ‘Dark Magic Destruction’ deck was born.

It’s not the best deck in the world, but it has a bunch of super fun combo pieces that I’ve been enjoying playing more than most everything else since counter-fairies got a short-lived buff a few months back.

Because I’ve been having so much fun with the old DM, I wanted to bring back something from the days of old on my blog: Deck profiles.

I only did one about a year ago for a Bakura-driven fiend monster deck that I used during the 2017 World Championships. Seems fitting to have that format return now that I’m hitting the 2018 World Championship Qualifiers with a brand new, classic deck.

I’m looking to write a lot over the summer, and I’m going to  try new things with this post in particular using the knowledge of formatting I’ve accumulated via Fire Emblem posts and using my newfound video powers.

So perhaps deck profiles are something that can see a return more frequently with new decks I try out over the next few months. Let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing!

For now, with that prologue about my current Duel Links journey out-of-the-way, let’s jump in.


The Basics

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Welcome to the dark carnival, everyone.

Obviously this isn’t your daddy’s Dark Magician. No no, this is the special red Dark Magician, utilized by Arkana the Rare Hunter during Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Battle City arc in the original anime.

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For all intents and purposes, red Dark Magician is exactly the same as the original Dark Magician. Same stats, same description, same level, everything. The red guy is basically an angsty, cool teenage reprint of the classic monster.

A cool reprint with probably one of the best play mats in the game. Just saying.

So why use him instead of the classic, iconic DM?

Well… This version of the card has a special animation when summoned by Arkana specifically. And we’re using Arkana today, not Yugi.

See Arkana has a special skill called ‘Master of Magicians’ that helps grease the combo wheels of this particular deck. It allows him to draw one of three cards from outside of the deck (Dark Magic Attack, Thousand Knives and Dark Magic Expanded) after losing half his life points.

As you’ll see, it works perfectly with Dark Magic Curtain, one of his signature cards.

Now that you understand the skill helping drive the deck, let’s break down the actual cards making up that deck.


The Monsters

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How could I start with anyone else?

Dark Magician is a normal monster that typically requires two monster tributes to summon. However, given the fact that it became the de facto mascot for Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole through its use by the original protagonist Yugi Muto, the card has received a heaping helping of support throughout the years that makes it a still viable boss monster to bring out.

In Duel Links, that support has slowly come out through things like the level-up rewards for Yami Yugi and Arkana, as I mentioned before, as well as in part through support via Tea Gardner and Yugi Muto.

Most of the strategies he uses involve cycling through spells that both allow for easier summoning, for drawing cards and for dealing with the opponent’s board.

My deck is something of a mix of all three.

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Skilled Dark Magician is one of the newer cards added for Dark Magician through Arkana level-up rewards.

He’s an effect monster that can be immediately summoned with a fairly chunky 1900 attack and 1700 defense point spread that allows players to tribute him off when three spell counters are placed on the card (via separate spell cards being used while he’s on the field) to summon DM from the hand, deck or graveyard.

It’s the ‘deck or graveyard’ part of that statement that makes our skilled friend here so special. In a deck that utilizes combining and chaining spells for large plays, it’s rather easy to build up those three counters in the right circumstances, which means you can have a powerful unit early duel that has utility and revival capabilities late in the game.

Trust me, when I explain how the spells work together, you’ll see why he’s such a good card. I do wish there were three available, but two is a solid amount for now.

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Now THIS is the real combo-maker of the deck. Magician’s Rod is a fairly unique support monster for the Dark Magician deck that facilitates a lot of different things because it has a number of effects — more than making up for the somewhat slim 1600 attack and downright disgraceful 100 defense.

First and foremost, summoning the Rod allows players to pull a spell or trap from the deck that lists ‘Dark Magician’ in some capacity. In my deck specifically there are three spells that do so, and each are important at different points in the duel.

In other words, this is the card you want in your opening hand to start working a bunch of different combos, but when late game comes he becomes more of a liability due to that low attack.

The secondary effect is less useful, but it has potential to help. When Magician’s Rod is in the graveyard, if a spell or trap is used during the opponent’s turn (except during the damage step), the player can tribute one of their monsters to add the Rod back into their hand.

There’s some synergy to this effect in conjunction with the next card on my list, Blue Dragon Summoner. However, more often than not one use of the Magician’s Rod will lead to the exhaustion of most of its combo-making cards, so there isn’t a whole lot of point adding it back to your hand when there are no more cards to draw with it.

In other words, don’t be dumb like me and accidentally tribute your Dark Magician during your opponent’s turn to leave yourself open for the kill. Bad idea.

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As I mentioned before, Blue Dragon here has some synergy with Magician’s Rod because of its primary effect: allowing players to add a normal monster (Dragon, Warrior or Spellcaster) from the deck to the hand when it’s sent from the field to the graveyard.

Obviously Dark Magician is the target for this effect. Being able to add that sucker to the hand is more often than not a benefit because it gives you a boss monster to summon and thins out the deck — or gives you cards not during your draw phase, thus making it more likely to draw other cards during said draw phase.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game of statistics, man.

What makes Blue Dragon special is that the drawing aspect works for both battle destruction and card effect destruction. Thus you can get a Dark Magician by using the Summoner as bait for an attack just as easily as you can get one by making him tribute fodder for something like Mgician’s Rod.

Theoretically Legion the Fiend Jester could also be an apt card to fill this slot over Blue Dragon, as he has the same draw effect and an extra assistance effect for tribute summoning.

But I have a soft spot for Blue Dragon, he’s an old favorite of mine. Plus his 1500 attack allows for a little more battle utility than Legion’s 1300.


The Spells

In this Dark Magician deck, there are three spell cards that are useful specifically for the Magician himself, those that can be drawn out by Magician’s Rod. I’m going to go over those first in the order that I’d argue they’re useful to have throughout the duel.

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Another Arkana level-up exclusive card, Dark Magic Curtain is a magical (pun slightly intended?) playmaker to have in your opening hand for a duel.

By paying half of their life points, a player is able to summon Dark Magician from the deck. However, for the rest of that turn, no other summons can be conducted — though monsters can be set.

If it’s turn one and this card is available, not only can you thin your deck one card by pulling out a Dark Magician, you can instantly summon it and start the duel with a 2500 attack monster on deck.

On top of that, this card is the primary reason to run the Arkana-varient of the Dark Magician deck. The average 2000 life point cost (half of the 4000 starting point) is just enough to activate his ‘Master of Magicians’ skill, which instantly adds an extra card into one’s hand.

As amazing as all of this sounds — and frankly is through proper execution — there are downsides. For one, if all of your Dark Magicians are already in the hand or on the field, Curtain becomes an instantly dead card unless somehow the boss monster gets shuffled back into the deck.

On top of that, not being able to summon for the rest of the turn kind of sucks. It means players need to choose between using the Curtain or playing a number of other combinations at once. Though Blue Dragon is a good card to set, to be fair.

Long story short: If you have this card starting out or can use Magician’s Rod to grab it right away, you’re golden. If it’s stuck at the bottom of the deck until its time has passed, it’s worth nothing.

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This card is the newest Yami Yugi level-up reward that essentially inspired me to make this whole deck in the first place.

With Dark Magic Inheritance, players can banish two spell cards from the graveyard to add a ‘Dark Magician’ or ‘Dark Magician Girl’ centered spell or trap from the deck to the hand.

Because of how many spells are in this deck, it’s not hard to get two of them in the graveyard. Until you manage to do so it’s a dead card, but the second it isn’t a dead card it becomes a great way to thin the deck given that it’s a quick play spell, allowing one to activate it easily during whichever phase of the battle they prefer.

In my experience, the best practice with Dark Magic Inheritance is to summon DM using Curtain, then either activate the spell Arkana draws through ‘Master of Magicians’ or use an Enemy Controller, and afterward you’ll be able to draw out Dark Magic Attack from the deck for more deck thinning and the chance to wipe out the opponent’s field.

Unfortunately, the window to use Inheritance is a bit small considering there’s only two other cards in the deck it can draw, but that’s more on my personal decisions for what to include than on the card itself.

If you want to add more DM cards into the deck, it becomes wildly more useful. Nice returns on investment.

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Honestly there isn’t much to say about this card. When you control Dark Magician, you can wipe out your opponent’s back row of cards. Every spell and trap they control.

Simple. Clean. Effective.

So effective, in fact, that I decided to use this instead of the similar monster-based equivalent, Thousand Knives. That spell allows you to destroy one monster on the field, which has much less utility in the long-run than a board wipe in my opinion.

Sure there are cases where the opponent can still activate their spells and traps in response to this wipe and mess with your turn, like using an enemy controller to stop you from attacking. But in my opinion, forcing those kinds of plays rather than letting them utilize the cards at an opportune moment is always preferential.

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Now we’re into the spells that aren’t necessarily Dark Magician-specific.

Even if for the purposes of this deck, Ancient Rules may as well be.

Level-up rewards from Seto Kaiba’s younger brother Mokuba, Ancient Rules simply allows the player to special summon a level five or higher normal monster from the hand. Have a Dark Magician in hand? Well now it’s on the field. Plus you can normal summon that Skilled Dark Magician you’re holding onto for a totally fatal knockout.

Again, simple. While it may be another card that’s ‘dead’ with no Magician in hand, the deck has enough drawing power in my experience to make up for that.

Though I will admit at this point in the profile that a lot of the deck’s contents can be considered dead cards. Which is a seemingly unfortunate reality of playing around a single big boss monster.

So this card is here to help mitigate the risk:

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I’ve talked about Enemy Controller a few times now, and that’s because it’s essentially the staple card that can be placed on any and all decks in Duel Links.

Few other cards offer as much utility as this. Change your opponent’s card to defense or attack position when desired. Tribute your own monster to steal an opponent’s monster. Complete either task during basically any part of the battle due to the quick play aspect of this spell.

It’s just endlessly useful for protection and offensive strategies. Always a good choice when thinking of something to add into a deck.


The Traps

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Champion’s Vigilance is another card that’s essentially dead when not used in conjunction with Dark Magician… But I love it so much that I couldn’t not include it.

When you have a level seven or higher normal monster on the field, anything your opponent does can be negated once.

They summon a monster? Negate and destroy it.

Activate a protecting spell card? Negate and destroy it.

Try to lower your attack with a trap card? Negate and destroy it.

I’ve had so many clutch moments where a field wipe with Dark Magic Attack leads to an immediate victory because you know the first thing they do next turn, likely summoning a monster, will just be a waste.

I do understand how unfortunately limited the card’s utility is, however. Not only is it a dead draw without Dark Magician available, but even if he’s available you still need a turn of placed face-down waiting before being able to activate it.

That’s why I only included one, to mitigate the risk of starting with three Champion’s Vigilance in an opening hand.

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The last card on my list here is another solid, generic defensive card.

When Wall of Disruption is activated, every face-up attack position monster your opponent controls loses 800 attack points for each monster they control on the field.

Though that means defense position monsters are safe, anything not in defense position can lose up to 2400 attack, which will neuter essentially everything in the game. That includes any monster that would negate directly targeting cards, since the Wall is non-targeting.

So take that White Night Dragon.

I mostly just have one of these here since Dark Magician being the strongest thing on the board is a risky thing more often than not.


Gosh, that was a slog to write out. Hopefully it’s just informative and explanatory enough to help anyone who doesn’t regularly play the game, though!

As I briefly mentioned way up at the top of this mountain of words, part of the reason I went through with this small project was discovering the ability to upload videos to YouTube for my own personal use here.

But not just that. In this case, I also figured out a way to record what’s happening on my phone screen.

As a result, please enjoy this sizable duel that I recorded as an example of the Dark Magic deck succeeding:

Though I didn’t have the opportunity to utilize my 1-2 combo of Dark Magic Inheritance in this match-up, I was able to pull off the Skilled Dark Magician tribute, which is a much more rare occurrence in my book.

Plus it’s a good example of Enemy Controller coming in clutch and saving the day.

Of course the magic of editing and selection means you all don’t have to see the many, many loses I accumulated before getting this successful match-up. As I noted throughout this post, many of the Dark Magician-specific cards are dead draws if their combo pieces aren’t available.

Despite those loses, I still think the deck is a lot of fun. And boy is it fantastic when you happen to draw just the right opening hand to demolish an opponent.

For example, this other duel I happened to save:

On the one hand I feel bad about how quickly I was able to demoralize this Bonz.

But on the other hand… God what a satisfying victory.

Also, side note, amazing how both videos wound up with the same thumbnail image. Totally didn’t plan that out or anything.

With that said, I suppose that wraps up my thoughts and advice on using an Arkana Dark Magician deck in Duel Links. Hopefully someone out there found this interesting and helpful, and if you did please let me know in the comments down below!

At the same time I’m interested in doing some more of these, so if there are any decks or cards anyone out there wants to see utilized in some way, shape or form, I’d love to take a crack at it. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated!

… So long as I actually have those cards, of course. But I’m sure you knew that.

If you made it this far, thanks so much for sticking with me! Hope you have a great rest of the day.

 

The True Cost of a Shadow Game — Gaming Economies

The True Cost of a Shadow Game — Gaming Economies

I’ve wanted to write something on this topic for some time now, and after I declared Duel Links my favorite game of 2017 I figure it’s as good a time as ever to do something with the game. As strange as it sounds when mentioning that I’ll be talking about a nostalgic anime-based card game simulator, Duel Links in particular has piqued my interest regarding the different versions of in-game economies utilized by microtransaction-based games.

I can actually pinpoint exactly when I decided I was interested in delving into this topic. It was on October 23, when I took this screenshot of exactly what inspired me:

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For those of you who don’t play Duel Links and don’t understand exactly what this shows, I’ll elaborate on the subject in stages to give everyone a full understanding.

The main economy in Duel Links is based on gems. They are arguably the most valuable collectible in the game because you use them to purchase packs of cards from boxes.


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What are Card Boxes?

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a card game with a long, long history and easily hundreds of thousands of cards in its overall catalog. These cards are released in boxes that often correspond to one theme or another, and those themes can contain a variety of cards that fit together in closer-knit groups called archetypes.

As an easy example, a card pack that’s themed around Spellcasters might contain a number of monsters, spells or traps that support the Dark Magician archetype (made popular by the headlining character of the original anime series).

The mobile game Duel Links works in the same way, with Konami releasing boxes of cards at least once a month to try and catch up to the amount available in the real life trading card game. These boxes switch off on each release between a full box and a mini box. They are headlined by one monster that tends to have the most additional support in the pack. However, in full packs especially there are often a number of archetypes given support.

Servant of Kings was the seventh mini box in the game and one of 17 available as of December 31. It features Dark Magician of Chaos, which ties into the Dark Magician archetype I mentioned earlier, but beyond that frankly has a much more eclectic range of supportive cards than most mini boxes do.

With that general game context out of the way, now I can delve into the economy itself.

When buying card boxes, gems are your best friend.


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How are gems utilized?

The two kinds of boxes in Duel Links are similar but ultimately different animals.

~ In a single main box, there are 600 cards available which are split into 200 packs that players can open. Of the four card rarities, things break down like this:

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Cards from the “Galactic Origin” Main Box
  • 10 cards are “Ultra Rare” with one of each kind of UR card available
  • 24 cards are “Super Rare” with two of each kind of SR card available
  • 192 cards are “Rare” with six of each kind of R card available
  • 374 cards are “Not Rare” with eight or nine of each kind of N card available
  • Regardless of rarity, there are 100 unique cards to get in the box.

~ In a single mini box, there are 240 cards available which are split into 80 packs that players can open. Of the four card rarities, things break down like this:

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Cards from the “Echoes of Silence” Mini Box
  • Two cards are “Ultra Rare” with one of each kind of UR card available
  • Eight cards are “Super Rare” with one of each kind of SR card available
  • 70 cards are “Rare” with five of each kind of R card available
  • 160 cards are “Not Rare” with 10 of each kind of N card available
  • Regardless of rarity, there are 40 unique cards to get in the box.

Each individual pack contains three cards and can be purchased for 50 gems. A single pack purchase is always available to players, but as more gems are collected a larger collective buying option becomes available.

By that, I don’t mean you get a discount for larger purchases. Purchasing discounts are exclusive to spending real money on cards.

Rather, you simply get to do larger pack opening sessions the more gems you have. When you have 100 gems you can open two packs at a time, when you have 150 gems you can open three packs at a time, and so on. There’s a cap at 10 packs, which costs 500 gems.

In one sense, it seems strange to cap things off there. Yet 10 packs is a perfect place to cap things off because it breaks down the boxes in a digestible way.

Under the way this system has been set up, 500 gems becomes a recognizable baseline that players (or at least that I) aim for before opening packs.

By waiting to get to 500 gems before buying, the 600 cards in a main box are distilled into 24 pack opening sessions and the 240 cards in a mini box are distilled into eight pack opening sessions. That kind of bite-sized dividing is very clever because it gives players a goal to work up to and makes an intimidatingly large task into an easier, far more enjoyable series of tasks.

After all, it’s much more of an accomplishable idea to collect 500 gems eight or 24 times than it is to collect 4,000 gems for a full mini box or 12,000 gems for a full main box. Add onto that the graphical interface involved with each pack opening and you get that small scale addicting purchase system mobile games like this are known for.

That said, I haven’t even mentioning the fact that every box, in theory, should be opened three times.

In Duel Links, the deck you can build based on the cards you collect are limited.

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There’s a maximum of 30 cards usable per deck (with five extra deck cards for fusion monsters), and you can only have three of a given card in each deck – with the exception of a few cards that are on a limited list, of course.

When you start a duel, each player’s deck is shuffled and four cards are drawn. As a result, a deck should be built to offer the greatest odds of having cards that are needed to win in an opening hand.

As the game’s metagame had come to dictate, that means decks typically stick to the minimum 20 card requirement and have two-to-three copies of the important cards.

So, if you want those three copies of the ever-present Super Rare card Wall of Disruption in your deck, you need to reset the “Servants of Kings” mini box three times, since each box only has one copy. If that Super Rare is the last card you pull in all three of those boxes by sheer dumb luck, you’ll have to spend 12,000 gems in all.

Of course that also means it might not take every pack in the box to get all of the Super Rare and Ultra Rare cards, you could get them all right when you start opening packs for a given box.

That’s where I cycle back to what inspired me to do this post in the first place.

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In this run at the “Servants of Kings” box, I wound up having to spend exactly 4,000 gems to clean out everything because one of the two Ultra Rare cards was the last one I needed. Instead of getting a veritable bargain of 3,950 gems, I got stuck with full price.

Something about that really got into my head, and I decided to analyze this economic system after getting stuck in that position. I find that overall Duel Links has a far more reasonable economy in place than most mobile games, despite the fact that this project’s inspiration began with my being screwed over.


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How can you collect gems?

There are many ways to collect gems in Duel Links, and I would argue one of the best aspects of the game is the fact that there are certain means of collection that are limitless.

The chief means of collecting gems is leveling up.

Players advance through a series of stages in the game, with multiple missions offering challenges that impede advancement. These missions always include one that provides gems for completing every other challenge in a stage.

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However, the biggest collection of gems come from leveling up Legendary Duelist characters.

There is currently a level 40 cap on these characters (which has the potential to increase). As they advance through these levels players gain access to multiple rewards, including new cards and skills to fit that character or related archetypes, multiple concurrent deck building options for the character and gems.

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Levels 28 through 30 are the most satisfying when it comes to gem collecting.

All together, each character can gross 2,290 gems by leveling up to 40. With the recent additions of Bonz and Arcana as playable Legendary Duelists, there are 25 characters available in Duel Links.

Thus, you can get a grand total of 57,250 gems by leveling up each character to the max. Plus a couple dozen extra gems from overall player missions that additionally reward leveling up these characters.

While this is the primary pool of gems available in Duel Links, at the end it amounts to the equivalent of completely buying out four mini boxes if a player wants three copies of the Super and Ultra Rare cards.

In hindsight, not necessarily the most lucrative deal in a game with eight mini boxes and nine main boxes, with more being released about once a month.

Luckily, more characters are released fairly regularly and there are plenty of other gem deposits available to cash in on.

One of the more valuable but less consistent sources of gems are special giveaways for holidays, in-game events, the release of a new box and compensation for mistakes Konami has made (such as the game going offline unexpectedly).

 

A cache of gems also becomes available every month when the Ranked Dueling arena resets.

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As you play against other duelists around the world, you can get gems through ranking up and as rewards for reaching a certain amount of wins in a season. In fact, once you get the final displayed reward at 120 victories, every couple dozen victories will also give you 30 gems at a pop.

Similarly, a number of gems become available as periodic score-based rewards during things like Duel-A-Thons, Duelist Chronicles or limited time character unlocking events.

 

Beyond that, there are three “daily” small sources of gems to make use of.

I use daily in quotes because technically only one of these sources is a truly daily activity. That activity is watching a random duel recording from a match between two other players.

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Learn all the fanciest Player-versus-Player duel strategies from this fancy television box on the PvP Arena screen.

The other sources are technically daily but with some technicalities.

In the Duel School, players can take on a duel with a borrowed deck once a day that offers a random reward. On occasion, that reward is three gems:

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The other rewards this challenge cycles through includes 20 general keys, seven colored keys and 5,000 gold (easily the most useful of the three).

Not a lot, but it’s something.

As an added note, the Duel School also opens a few missions allowing players to practice new strategies available when a new purchasable card box opens.

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The new card box challenges include full duels with loaner decks and limited turn tests meant to show off specific combinations of cards.

The third “daily” source of gems is tapping environmental features on each screen of the overworld.

 

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  • The fountain next to the Legendary Duelist gate
  • The lanterns in front of the PvP Arena
  • The hologram card on top of the Shop
  • The trash can in front of the Card Studio

As an added note, the pictures I’ve displayed are from the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX world. The objects I mentioned are exactly the same in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! world.

These four can be activated at least once a day to get between one and five gems each, with the objects refreshing multiple times a day. That means if someone is lucky they can get 20 gems in a shot throughout the day.

Fair warning, however, more often than not each object only gives one gem at a time.

What really makes the system of gem collection in Duel Links special, however, is the fact that farming Legendary Duelists at the Gate offers an infinite source of potential gems.

When you spend a certain amount of keys collected by dueling Standard Duelists, you can battle one of the Legendary Duelist characters from the first two anime series. Duking it out with these higher level Duelists has a random chance of providing players with boxes of five, 10 or 15 gems a pop in their eight potential assessment rewards.

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The chance of getting gems is increased when considering the fact that bonus gems are rewarded in place of a skill that had already been unlocked.

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Even if this kind of gem earning is considerably more tedious than something like leveling up a character for large stipends, as I mentioned before one can battle Legendary Duelists as often as they want so long as they have the keys to spare.

Trust me, after a fair amount of time has been invested in the game, keys are no longer a concern.

If a player desires, they can grind up gems infinitely between taking on Legendary Duelists and Ranked Duels. When that idea meshes with the finite amount of collectibles available in Duel Links at one time, the true genius of the system shines through.

While nobody will likely ever collect every box-purchasable card through grinding alone because of how long it would take, it’s entirely possible to do so. The goal is achievable because you’re guaranteed to get everything in a given box eventually.

It’s way different than the system in other free-to-play mobile titles where random number generation applies to what you get at one time during a purchase, but the amount of options that random generation chooses between stays in a large pool each time.


Currently, this kind of system where I can consistently set goals and earn my way up to them in bits at a time is my absolute favorite form of microtransaction-based gaming because when I do feel frustrated seeing this:

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Recurring through-line for the win.

I’ll always know that I’m guaranteed to get that Man-Eater Bug in my next purchase no matter what. Then, once I have all three of them in my collection, I never have to look at that particular box ever again.

In my head, that’s a real, tangible sense of accomplishment.

Plus, let’s not forget that even if you don’t want to spend any gems, you can get tons of cards through Legendary Duelists, leveling up characters and through special events. These cards can either stand on their own or support card archetypes in certain boxes, so a player can pick and choose what boxes they want to buy from to build the decks they want.

I don’t throw the term around that often, but it’s a fairly genius way to handle things in my opinion.

Even if Konami releases card boxes a bit too frequently to make total purchase completion an achievable goal in a set timeframe without potentially spending some money anyway.

As one final note for any players curious about jumping into Duel Links: Do not ever look at the incessant phishing offers in the global chats.

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Those are always scams. End of story.

Based on this (I believe fairly comprehensive) guide I’ve put together on the economy of Duel Links, what do you think of the system they’ve put together?

In your opinion, are there other games that do the microtransaction push more fairly for players?

This kind of analysis is a longer project that I’m interested in delving into for other games as well, so if you enjoyed the post or have suggestions for how to make it better, please feel free to let me know!

Sick days and trading card games

Sick days and trading card games

I haven’t been feeling so hot today, so most of my morning and afternoon has been spent sleeping.

However, the part of my day that hasn’t been spent sleeping (or writing this, to be fair) has been spent taking a little trip down memory lane. After getting my friend addicted to Duel Links – you’re welcome by the way, Sam – she dug up some of her old physical Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.

So I did the same thing:

Turns out these things weren’t quite as deeply buried in my closet as I thought they were. Though clearly I was not all that organized when I played Yu-Gi-Oh! some time ago, as I left the cards in my box in utter disarray.

Obviously that meant it was time to spend the next hour or so looking through what cards I have and organizing them for potential future use.

The first step I took when approaching the problem of sorting such a large, disorganized collection was splitting them into cards I recognize from my time playing Duel Links vs. cards that were completely new to my current understanding of the game.

Piles of cards from Duel Links (left) vs. Cards not in Duel Links (right)

This first step was eye-opening in a number of ways. For one thing, it helped to show me just how many cards I own – which is way more than I expected honestly. I know I was really into the cards at one point, but I didn’t realize I spent this much money buying packs and such.

Going through each and every one of the cards I own also gave me a bit of a deeper appreciation both for Duel Links and for the time I spent playing the game as a kid.

When I was younger, I collected Yu-Gi-Oh! cards but honestly never had any idea how to play the game. Outside of watching the original anime series or playing what I remember to be a dumb Yu-Gi-Oh!-based game for the Gamecube, I never spent too much extra time actually learning the rules for how everything works in the card game.

In fact, I distinctly remember having a Yu-Gi-Oh!-themed birthday party one year in elementary school where my friend Chris Beattie brought over some instructional video so my group at the time could watch it, learn the game and actually play with our cards the proper way.

We never did, since I also remember the rest of us rejecting the idea in place of playing more of that dumb Gamecube game. Part of me wonders if I would have stuck with the game more consistently if we had learned way back then, but I suppose that delves into endless Butterfly Effect territory that I’m not really here to analyze.

Now that I do understand how the game works, I honestly appreciate the sheer complexity of how everything works so much more. There are plenty of cards in my left-hand piles that I actually use on a daily basis in Duel Links, so knowing that I had them way back when I didn’t even understand the rules is kind of mind-boggling.

On top of that, the size of my collection on the right-hand side, all the cards that aren’t currently in the mobile game, blows my mind just in that there’s so much more potential for the game to grow. I’m sure I don’t even have a decent percentile of all the cards that have ever been put into production, and in a way that makes me excited to see more cards added to the mobile game so I can learn how they all interact and create cool decks.

Once I finished separating my cards once, I decided to do it a second time into six different categories: Normal Monsters, Effect Monsters, Ritual Monsters (and Ritual Spells), Fusion Monsters, Spell Cards and Trap Cards.

Oh, and I also separated out the instructional manuals and play mats:

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Made them into a cute little triangle. Because why not?

I could have been way more specific and deep with my divisions, splitting up the monster cards by type and attribute or splitting up the spell cards by type, for example. But I’m still pretty tired, so I decided not to go quite that deep. Maybe I’ll take things a step forward in the future.

So for now, I’ve left things at this:

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Major categories with brand new dividing cards. Far more pleasing to the eye and easy to identify than what I had originally. Originally, the best I could comprehend was that Sanga of the Thunder was sitting on top of everything else on the right side.

Real helpful, past me.

Speaking of Sanga of the Thunder, one thing I found while sorting through my cards was that I seemed to be ready to play the Paradox Brothers-themed deck well before I knew that was a themed deck to play.

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The only thing I’m missing is a Gate Guardian card. If I had that, I could probably build a pretty cool deck with these cards and whatever else I have buried away.

This isn’t the only cool set of cards I was able to find in my collection.

Here’s some Red-Eyes and dragon-related cards that I was able to find. Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon was actually one of the first things I saw, and I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be willing to shell out money to get copies of it in Duel Links to use for myself. It looks absolutely amazing.

I also wouldn’t complain about having three copies of Stamping Destruction in the game, since it’s a pretty hard to get Ultra Rare card.

But oh well, I’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, check these out:

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These three Sphinx cards look wicked and have some crazy effects. These three and the Red-Eyes Darkness Dragon are definitely the cards I’m really hoping these show up in Duel Links so I can use them.

A bunch of the cards I found have strong sentimental value just from being iconic in the anime. Swords of Revealing Light definitely hit me the hardest, though I can’t deny that the old school art for Dark Magician is seriously wicked.

You could apparently get this old version of Dark Magician in Duel Links if you were playing at a certain point, but I was not playing at the time. So… Oh well. Missed opportunity for me there I suppose.

Also, while we’re on the subject of those cards, I apparently have a wide breadth of cards Yugi Muto used:

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I build all sorts of decks with these cards nowadays, so it ties into the idea of knowing I had them way back when and respecting them that much more now.

Another good example of cards I’m using now comes in an actually very relevant form.

When I found A Legendary Ocean in my collection, I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically. The deck I’m showing on the right was actually just built yesterday when I began to grind Mako Tsunami up to lv. 40. The timing of that specific card showing up right after I pulled together something to showcase that card is just too perfect.

Some of the more interesting cards I have are those printed in foreign languages.

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I have no idea why I have cards in any languages other than English, since I don’t really speak any languages other than English and a few sentences in Mandarin. It’s strange, as I have way more than the two I’m showing above. Yet, I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. If anything, it makes these cards a little bit more unique.

In other interesting card print differences come these ‘magic’ cards:

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I’m so used to just calling these ‘spell’ cards that seeing ‘magic’ instead really caught me off guard. I suppose that’s just what they used to be called or something. Having the cards written like this is probably more valuable as a result, I’d think.

Also speaking of unique, valuable cards, I had a good set of highly coveted prismatic print cards hidden away just ready to be rediscovered.

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The title for my favorite prismatic card definitely goes to Nightmare Penguin.

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Seriously, just think about it. First things first, its name is Nightmare Penguin. That’s incredible in its own right. The art doesn’t disappoint either, evoking images of Oswald Cobblepot in the best possible way. On top of that the card has a pretty cool ability and nice defense for a four star monster.

So basically I lied earlier when I said I just wanted to see the Red-Eyes monster and the sphinx monsters in Duel Links. I want to see Nightmare Penguin get added too, Konami.

Finally, I also found my prized Egyptian God Cards: Obelisk the Tormentor and Slifer the Sky Dragon.

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Or, at least, they were some of my most prized possessions at one point in time. I remember shelling out extra at card shops to get these and having week-long arguments with my Yu-Gi-Oh!-playing friend group over whether or not they were legitimate or not.

I always adamantly argued they were real, of course.

However… Now that I’m older and looking at them next to the rest, I have to admit that they look pretty fake. It’s a shame when considering how much I stood by them growing up, but honestly it’s not all that unexpected.

Oh well, either way I’ll still have the memories with these being wicked cool. They still look pretty rad too, so I’ll be happy to show them off for the sake of those memories at least.


I know this medium of talking about things after the fact with screenshots and some text isn’t necessarily the most dynamic way of experiencing these sorts of things, but I hope you all enjoyed going through these old Yu-Gi-Oh! cards as much as I did! Obviously I didn’t show off all of them, since that would probably take a few years, but the highlights are great either way.

Since I’m so into Duel Links and talk about it here on occasion, I figured these real card memories would be a nice thing to share on here as well.

Even if my rambling might be a little more incoherent than usual since I’m not feeling great.

Just in case it did bug some of you, I’ll leave things off on this note. Some of my favorite ‘funny text’ cards:

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Oh I’m sorry, what was that? You say there was a piece of Exodia slipped into that small slideshow somewhere?

A piece of Exodia not chucked into the ocean by Weevil Underwood?

Huh… Strange.

#1pieceof5 #humblebrag

The sweet taste of success

I’ve been playing Duel Links even more obsessively than usual since the 2017 World Championship Qualifiers began last Wednesday, determined to hit Platinum Rank 1 so I could get the mysterious Super Rare card reward. It has been a long, hard road so far, as it seems like everyone has been bringing out their best decks for the competition.

However, thanks to hard work, plenty of determination and – most importantly – the reminder to believe in the Heart of the Cards from my buddy Aaron (a funny and great guy who is also a pretty phenomenal copy editor that I’m sure is going places now that he’s a Cal State Fullerton graduate, so check him out on twitter), I finally did it:

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Finally reaching this goal is especially exciting as it’s the first time I’ve ever made it to a rank this high! It was a fairly lofty goal I set for myself at the beginning of this event that I’m happy I was able to reach.

Granted, the last victory I got leading to it was from the rage quit of a guy I got a really solid opening hand against…

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But hey, a victory by default is still a victory, right? I’d say so, especially when that victory leads to the big prize.

One thing you might notice in that victory shot is the lack of Yami Bakura and the fiend deck I spent so much time talking about in my last post. Well… As it turned out, that deck was far less perfect in execution than it was on paper. I’m looking into some possibilities for making it better, but what I have at the moment didn’t take me that much further than the early Silver ranks. At the very least I need more powerful fiend monsters to fill out my ranks, which I’m working on now.

Luckily, I had a deck using Hammer Shark summoning tricks as Mako Tsunami and a very meta-saturated “Gravekeepers” archetype deck with Yami Yugi to carry me through.

Don’t worry, I won’t subject everyone to my long-winded discussions of the cards in each of those decks. Those can potentially be subjects for another day. Just wanted to say that those are what ultimately got me to my prize.

Now just what was the prize I was working up to in the end?

As it turned out, what I thought was the promise of a brand new and unrevealed Super Rare card was actually the opportunity to choose a Super Rare card for free out of a pre-determined list.

The list of cards to choose from came from the available pool of Legendary Duelist rewards and from the cards available to obtain via the Card Trader. Thus, they’re all theoretically able to be earned in other ways… But considering how difficult many of them can be to get, it’s still a welcome and much appreciated reward.

My only real problem with the prize was the sheer amount of choices to pick from. I counted it out, there were 115 possible cards. Seriously, you never truly come to see the problems with having an abundance of choices until you have to pick one out of 115 options.

Eventually I did come to a decision and chose my third copy of Enemy Controller, which is a Super Rare reward card you can receive from dueling Seto Kaiba.

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Enemy Controller is arguably the best, most versatile spell card in Duel Links. Both of the effects it can activate (at close to any time you want since it is a Quick-Play Spell) are useful in a variety of situations. The first, switching the battle position of an enemy monster, can save your side from attack or allow you access to their weaker stat spreads. The second, tributing your own monster to take control of an opponent’s monster, has a hugely diverse range of possible effects. Tributing your own monster can trigger a number of things in its own right, but then once you have the opponent’s monster in your possession you can activate any effects they can use, attack your opponent with their own power or tribute it off to summon a different powerful monster.

It’s a great card overall, and having three of them will give me plenty of usability going forward, even if it meant sacrificing quicker access to more Gravekeeper monsters or cards I don’t yet have like Sage’s Stone.

Now that I’ve hit that benchmark I’ve been desperately clawing my way toward, I’ll likely continue to see if I can get to King of Games… But the amazing decks everyone seems to own at this stage of competitive play certainly won’t make that easy.

For now I’m just happy I was able to make it to the personal goal I set. To celebrate, I even made myself some homemade burgers.

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These cooked slabs of ground beef, like my victory over a small army of duelists, taste oh so sweet.

Qualifiers begin: Will I have the Heart of the Cards?

Qualifiers begin: Will I have the Heart of the Cards?

I have been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links since Spring Break, and in that time I would argue that I’ve gathered a good amount of cards and have become fairly competent at pulling decks together to play with.

Thus, I think it’s about time that I try my hand at a pretty serious event that just began, an event serious enough that I feel it’s worth talking about.

The qualifying rounds for the Duel Links division of the 2017 Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championships have begun, signified by the iconic Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon hanging out omnipresently across the Duel Links hub world:

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Thar she blows, cap’n.

More complete details of the World Championships can be found here (for the Duel Links division) and here (for the Trading Card Game division), but the part I’m interested in boils down to this.

Starting today, June 1, the usual ranked duels player-versus-player portion of the Duel Links multiplayer hub has been replaced with Qualifier Duels. Anyone who reaches the highest duelist ranking (King of Games) by June 9 will advance onto the Final Qualifiers, which last until June 11. Winning duels during the Final Qualifiers earns a player points, and at the end the top ranking players will get to attend the World Championships in London, England.

Only 12 players will get to go to the Championships in August, with usership divided by world region. Two players will get to go from North America, which means that out of the untold number of players on this continent, I’ll be competing for two spots.

To be completely honest, from everything I’ve seen from players who are way better than me… I’m not holding my breath. I’ve never made it to King of Games even without the added flare of competition this will obviously drudge up, so I would be surprised to get anywhere close.

But hey, a trip to London wouldn’t be so bad… So what the hell. I’ll do my darnedest.

Even if I don’t make it to the coveted Final Qualifiers, there will be prizes available for my troubles all the same. Every player who competes in even one Qualifier duel will receive a fancy Game Mat and Card Sleeves themed after the World Championships, and depending on what rank a player reaches they also receive a number of other prizes on the way up.

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For the uninitiated laypersons I’m sure are among you, the gems that are rewards for Bronze, Silver and Gold ranks are used to purchase card packs from a number of packs currently available in the game. Nothing special necessarily, but they are the building blocks of this free-to-play title and are highly coveted as a result.

Reaching Platinum earns players a Super Rare Card that, naturally, we aren’t being told about ahead of time. Total mystery, likely something super good. I haven’t made it to Platinum before, so that’s currently my main goal. I’m always ready to get new cards.

Reaching King of Games nets players an Ultra Rare Jewel, which can be used to buy Ultra Rare Cards from the game’s Card Trader (which cycles through new stock every 12 hours). Also, it allows advancement to the Final Qualifiers, like I said before.

That’s really about it to be honest. Nothing too complicated, it’s just an exciting chance at something big on the heels of the last big event, which was the arrival of a new Legendary Duelist (The Paradox Brothers, for anyone who has a nostalgic interest in the show like I do). So, it’s about time I quit writing about it and get busy pushing toward my goal of at least hitting Platinum Rank 1 for the first time in my history of playing.

Okay, so I still have some more I’d like to write about. Namely, I have a whole big display about the main deck I’m planning on using for the Qualifiers. However, I know that’s getting into the nitty gritty of things that a lot of people aren’t going to want to sit through, so I’m going to put it below a read more. That way, anyone interested can read on, and anyone who isn’t can just go on with their lives. A win-win, I’d say!

So, until next time, wish me luck on competing, and tell me all about what your favorite games based on things that are nostalgic to you in some way in the comments below! Duel Links definitely hits that itch for me, so I’m interested to hear what you all might have to say on the matter.

Continue reading “Qualifiers begin: Will I have the Heart of the Cards?”