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  1. #1
    Senior Member Master_Savage's Avatar
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    Play-Testing & Goals for Shadow Era.

    What's Up SE Players, My Name is Nick, But I'll just be going by SAVAGE in this game, Im ah Fairly new player to this game but I'm ah Vet when it comes to TCGs. I play Yugioh Professionally & I'm ah decently respected player in the community. I decided I could contribute to this game by writing Articles bringing my Knowledge gained from playing Competitive Yu-Gi-Oh into the Shadow Era Community. Today I will be talking about Something that Seperates the True Pros from everyone else, Something that is rarely done right...Play Testing.

    Everybody tests their deck, right? They build it, play it, try different matchups, and change it accordingly . Isn't that play testing ? Well, no: not really. I've discussed structured playtesting methods with other "Pro" players, recommending that matchups should be played one by one, repeatedly, in measured numbers. We've talked about the benefits of playtesting in “sets” and “reps.” In exercise and workout lingo, a “set” consists of repetitions (reps) of a given action: a set of pushups might consist of thirty reps, and over the course of a workout you might do three sets of thirty reps each, mixed with more sets of other actions – chin-ups, crunches, and what have you. In Shadow Era terms, I view each period of testing against a particular matchup as a set, and each Game within that set as a rep. So if I'm doing a three hour testing session, I might decide that my goal is to do a single set against Eladewon Board Control, Ah Boris Deck w/ Uniteds. , and Zaladar, at five reps each. Longer playtesting sessions may see me do more reps in each set, or more individual sets of each matchup.

    Why? Because consistent testing methods give consistent, meaningful results that are far easier to record and review. The more testing you do, the more accurate your results are going to be and the more observations you'll be able to make. If you play three games against a particular deck, and a freak incident happens in one of them, that seems pretty significant. But if you play ten games in the same matchup, that single incident looks suitably more like an anomaly. The problem is that testing takes time: if you have three hours to test a deck, at 15 minutes a game, you'll probably get through 10-16 games total. I don't know how much time you have, but I get paid to do this stuff and I don't have 3 hours every day for playtesting. Even if I did, finding someone to do that testing with would be tough. That's why it makes sense to break your testing sessions into sets played against different decks. It might not be quite as thorough as just doing an entire day of testing against one deck type, but you'll get a wider spread of information and experience. You also won't get bored as easily, and trust me – boredom and monotony are poisonous to playtesting across the long term. I'd rather diversify my testing to create a more balanced range of information, and ensure that I'm not turned off the idea of playtesting more in the future. Switching things up keeps you sharp, focused, and having fun.

    Most Players don't playtest with this kind of structure, or any comparable one; It's unfortunate, because this level of structure really doesn't take any effort. It might look like serious business, but it's actually going to ensure that you have more fun, and avoid getting bogged down playing the same dude, with the same deck, over and over. Whats the most important part of real playtesting? what you're aiming to get out of it in the first place.

    That's interesting, because if you talk to players and ask them why they playtest, you're usually going to get a short list of answers. Most people are going to say they get two rewards from playtesting: practice and betterment of their skills; and knowledge of what cards work or don't work in their particular deck. They're chiefly seeking to improve their general gameplay and their individual build. Some may also say that they're trying to get better at particular matchups, but that's actually kind of a rare answer: and why wouldn't it be? After all, most players aren't focusing their playtesting by choosing which matchups they test; they just play whoever's available.

    The reality is that playtesting has more specific benefits than most people realize, and if you don't understand them, you can't make the most of them. So today I want to look at the goals you should have in mind when you do structured playtesting, and talk a bit about how you can accomplish them in a time-efficient manner. If you do real, structured testing, and have a complete understanding of what you can achieve by doing it, I guarantee you'll find yourself in a position where you win or make the Finals of most Tournaments almost every time, Because seriously – nobody's doing this.

    Familiarize Yourself With The Deck
    When you start playtesting a deck you've never really played before, your first goal should be to get familiar with an accessible build. That means that if you're creating a new strategy, make it broad and consistent by relying on redundancy; lots of cards played in threes & Fours, not alot of tech. If you're playing a mainstream deck like Eladewon Board Control, just netdeck. I know, some people think net-decking is an offense to creativity and a crime against the spirit of the game, but honestly? That's some clown shit. If you're totally new to a deck, there's no way you'll competently create a new, innovative, teched-out build that performs consistently, without the knowledge that comes with basic play experience.

    You can get creative later. But for now, you have to walk before you can run. There's no point in trying to build a car before you've ever driven one.

    That's your first goal for playtesting: just playing with the deck and seeing what it can do. Reading about a strategy or watching someone else run it is really helpful, but in order to really get all the angles yourself, there's no replacement for actual playtesting. Pick a couple matchups for your first session, grab a buddy or a teammate, and do some sets.

    Learn Your Deck's Goals And Priorities While you're getting to know the basics of your deck in your first playtesting session, you should also be learning its goals and priorities. Ask yourself repeatedly: what specific moves does this deck do; how often does it do them; and how rewarding are those moves when they're executed? Which cards lead into your biggest plays; which have a visible impact on your chance to win; and which do you wish you could draw more often? From there, start to grow your understanding of the priority and importance of those moves and cards, and the relationships between them. Which plays are more important? Which moves are good, but not so good that you would make sacrifices to pull them off? Which are so good that they're worth chasing and setting up? It's important to note that at this point, you aren't going to add or drop cards from your build. You shouldn't be changing the deck at all. But you can keep notes on which cards and combos seem to work well, and which seem to be underperforming. Just be careful of confirmation bias: you want to keep an open mind, and a single Duel or one-time combo experience shouldn't be regarded as overly-significant.

    Learn Relevant Matchups
    As you become more familiar with your deck and start mentally (or literally!) charting its priorities, strengths, and weaknesses, you also want to start observing the way it interacts with popular strategies. It's really not enough to have a vague belief that certain matchups are “good” or “bad.” That kind of generalization isn't really valuable, You want to know which specific moves, cards, combos, and play patterns are difficult for your deck to approach in each matchup, and which patterns you can take advantage of.

    All those matchups details are alot of information to take in. But they're extremely valuable, because the situations you encounter in testing are situations you'll inevitably come across in Tournaments. Again, this is where testing structure really comes in handy, because it sets the stage for easy, simple note-taking. If your playtesting sessions consists of even just 5 games each against 3 different decks, you're going to emerge with too much of this information to remember it all. It's almost humanly impossible to process and retain all of that knowledge in one go, especially since some of it is going to reoccur more often, and much of it will occupy different levels of importance and priority. Write stuff down, and you'll find that you'll learn your relevant matchups alot faster. Don't worry - you'll leverage all this info straight into results later in the process.
    IGN: Master Savage
    - 1st Place in 7/26/13 BP Challenge Tournament #7
    - 1st Place in 6/13/12 Pop-Up Tournament.
    Un-official Tournament Organizer.
    Ranked 2nd in Minnesota for Yugioh.
    Warriors of the Blue Phoenix, Greatness Reborn.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Master_Savage's Avatar
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    Learn Opposing Goals and Priorities
    The last real step before you start changing cards and drawing “first level” conclusions from your first few playtesting sessions, is to learn your opponent's goals within the matchups you're testing. Just as you're going to be learning which moves your opponents make that can hurt you, or give you opportunities, your opponent will be doing the same. Grasping what your opponent's deck does in broad terms is a really valuable starting point, but understanding what they're specifically going to do against you to try and beat you is the next logical progression from that. Again: take notes. Don't be afraid to ask your testing partner what they're thinking; what their priorities are, and how their goals change. Your testing partner is not your opponent: they're there for mutual benefit, and they're on your side.

    Just as a sidenote along those lines: don't worry about who goes first in playtesting, and don't just let the loser go first as would normally happen in tournament play. Either make the decision of who gets the initiative for a purposeful reason (like “I want to practice going second”), or decide at the beginning of a set and then alternate who goes first in each game that follows (regardless of who wins or loses). There's no competitive aspect here, and one could argue that it's often more important to practice going second than it is to practice going first.

    Experiment With Substitutions and Rebalancing
    Once you've got some real playtesting under your belt and you actually know what you're doing, you can start using the information from your preliminary sessions to refine your deck. Which priorities did you find to be the most important and most rewarding? How can you play to those strengths to make your best moves, more often? On the flip side of the coin, ask which play patterns turned out to be major vulnerabilities, and which cards or combos didn't prove to be so important. Was there obvious dead weight? What becomes apparent when you review the notes you've taken, and discuss the playtesting with your testing partners?

    Only once you can answer these Questions intelligently, using evidence from your playtesting sessions, should you start making changes to your deck – especially if it was a Tournament-level build that you netdecked. If you want to try new stuff, that's Fine: but give yourself the advantage of a full knowledge base and a complete understanding of how the deck works before you start putting your own stamp on things. When you do decide to go for it, the first thing to play with is card balance and the use of on-theme cards that are commonly played. Only when you've explored those more mundane options will you be ready for the next step.

    Experiment With Tech
    There's a widespread impression that brilliant deck building is easily achieved by changing a few cards in a relatively standard list; making out-of-the-box picks to add a genius new element and surprise factor. In part, that's true: sometimes unforeseeable tech choices really do pay off, and the builder responsible creates something amazing. But understand that real breakthroughs rarely happen overnight.

    Tech is just turtle wax for an already-refined strategy: it's something you apply to a finished product to add shine and polish. To make great choices like that, you need to have a deep understanding of your deck already, and how it interacts with the decks you're likely to play against. That type of innovation doesn't just come out of thin air and drop Championship wins in your lap. It takes time, experience, and playtesting.

    Revisit Previous Card Choices
    As you continue rebalancing conventional card choices for the deck, and experiment with new, not-so-obvious additions, it's easy to forget one big point: often, the cards you ruled out previously take on a different tone later in that deck's development. As cards change in your build, and as you become a better pilot for that strategy, the roles and efficiency of certain cards can change. Don't give up on a card just because it wasn't right at some earlier point in development. Often, the best cards are ones that you've left behind.

    Even if you don't have the time, patience, or testing partner needed to do structured set/rep playtesting like I recommend, you can keep the above-mentioned goals in mind during your play experiences. It won't be as effective, but it'll keep your mind on the right topics, at the right time, to maximize whatever testing you are doing. The lessons here can benefit anyone, and the more you're aware of the priorities I've described, the better you'll do in your tournaments. Playtesting has a myriad of benefits: make sure you appreciate them all, so you can make them all work for you.

    -SAVAGE

    P.S. If anyone has any questions about anything, Or wants to do some testing, or even just play a friendly game, Feel free to hit me up on the Forums or if you see me on the IRC. & Be sure to be on the Look out for more Articles by me.
    IGN: Master Savage
    - 1st Place in 7/26/13 BP Challenge Tournament #7
    - 1st Place in 6/13/12 Pop-Up Tournament.
    Un-official Tournament Organizer.
    Ranked 2nd in Minnesota for Yugioh.
    Warriors of the Blue Phoenix, Greatness Reborn.

  3. #3
    DP Visionary Preybird's Avatar
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    Good read man! Very comprehensive.
    Extra Tough Claws - Proud Member of ETC

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  4. #4
    DP Visionary Atomzed's Avatar
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    Very good article! +1 to sticky!
    A1's Mustard-Seed Knight of Hope (IGN:A1 atomzed)
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Master_Savage's Avatar
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    Thanks, Appreciate the comments!
    IGN: Master Savage
    - 1st Place in 7/26/13 BP Challenge Tournament #7
    - 1st Place in 6/13/12 Pop-Up Tournament.
    Un-official Tournament Organizer.
    Ranked 2nd in Minnesota for Yugioh.
    Warriors of the Blue Phoenix, Greatness Reborn.

  6. #6
    Member Light0fHeaven's Avatar
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    An awesome Article is awesome...
    It concludes almost every aspect in all TCG
    GJ
    Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.



    Rubick
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Master_Savage's Avatar
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    Thanks, I'm glad you liked it.
    IGN: Master Savage
    - 1st Place in 7/26/13 BP Challenge Tournament #7
    - 1st Place in 6/13/12 Pop-Up Tournament.
    Un-official Tournament Organizer.
    Ranked 2nd in Minnesota for Yugioh.
    Warriors of the Blue Phoenix, Greatness Reborn.

  8. #8
    1.27 Tournament Champion Raphael Majere's Avatar
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    It's an excellent read, thank you.

    About me: An Interview
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Master_Savage's Avatar
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    No Problem, I appreciate everyone's comments, Ill Drop ah Few more articles this week, Than ill maybe Do ah Article like once ah week if I get good feedback on all of em.
    IGN: Master Savage
    - 1st Place in 7/26/13 BP Challenge Tournament #7
    - 1st Place in 6/13/12 Pop-Up Tournament.
    Un-official Tournament Organizer.
    Ranked 2nd in Minnesota for Yugioh.
    Warriors of the Blue Phoenix, Greatness Reborn.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Vitality's Avatar
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    Very good read! Thanks for posting
    A1 Vitality
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