Low-Level Multiplayer is the Best

A while back, I started playing the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, and I’ve learned quiet a bit about it in the year or so that’s passed since then. First, I’ve learned that just about any trading card game is going to be expensive to participate in. It’s amazing just how much money it takes to put together even an outdated deck (anywhere from $50 to $100), and that’s actually cheap compared to the costs in Europe and the Americas. Second, I’ve learned that playing at the highest level isn’t necessarily the most fun. In Yu-Gi-Oh! at least, the best duels are to be had are those between low-tier decks.

Now to be clear, this isn’t coming from someone who simply got frustrated by losing to the meta decks. Sure, I don’t like losing to something like Numerons or Tri-Brigades, but I’m not helpless against them either. My very best deck (Dinos) can compete with the best of them, and could perform even better if I wanted to take advantage of the current meta in Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel.

The thing is though, top-tier Yu-Gi-Oh! often isn’t all that fun, even when you win. Most of the time it goes down one of two ways: you/your opponent rushes out a bunch of boss monsters to immediately attack for game, or you/your opponent fill the board with a ton of negates on the first turn, preventing the other player from doing anything at all. Yep, at this level the duel is usually decided on the first or second turn, and I just don’t think that’s very fun. With low-power decks though, Yu-Gi-Oh! becomes a different game. You might even say it reverts back to the kind of game it’s supposed to be.

With the recent raking reset in Master Duel, I got sent back down to Bronze tier. This and Silver is where the lower powered decks tend to live, so you can enjoy using one yourself. You can even try some unusual strategies that just plain won’t work against truly strong decks. For example, recently I’ve playing with a Yosenju deck. Whereas most decks center around card destruction and negation, Yosenjus focus on card advantage and returning cards to the opponent’s hand or deck.

It’s something of a novel strategy because many decks out there rely on having cards on the field or having them destroyed/sent to the graveyard. If a card is returned to hand/deck, the player usually doesn’t get anything good out of it. There’s a big drawback to this deck though, as Yosenjus also return to the hand at the end of one’s turn. This would be an absolutely fatal flaw at higher-levels, but at low- to mid-tier, it’s not so bad.

If I played a stronger deck, I could probably win more often, but I’m absolutely loving the back-and-forth struggle that comes with playing a low-tier deck! The game isn’t decided on the first turn, and I’m finding that both I and my opponent wind up chewing through most of our plays until the victor finally emerges. I suppose all this is to say that sometimes there’s a lot more genuine fun to be found in a game’s lower ranks than in the upper-tier. Sure, it feels good to be one of “the best”, but I really do feel like something important gets lost at the high level. This isn’t just for Yu-Gi-Oh! either; I think this applies to just about any multiplayer game.

Low-level, low-pressure Halo tends to be more fun to. Everyone is just chilling and enjoying what the game has to offer rather than pursuing victory at all costs. It’s slower. Mistakes can be made, and more weapons/ideas can be tried. I don’t mean to say that playing competitively can’t be fun; there’re obviously a lot of people that enjoy that kind of gameplay. I just feel like high-level play is a bit restrictive when it comes down to it. It’s just how it is.

So yeah, I suppose I’m saying that you don’t necessarily need to feel bad about being “just okay” or even “bad” at a game. There’s potentially a lot more fun to be had at the lower-levels than higher-up. Winning is certainly fun, but not when it comes at the cost of simply being able to sit back and enjoy the game.

How do you feel about high-level multiplayer? Have you made it to the upper strata of a game before? How did you feel about it at the time?

Image from the Nintendo eShop page