Monday, 3 October 2011

Magic VS Yu-Gi-Oh, part one

Yu-Gi-Oh! VS Magic: the Gathering

A few words before I start. This could be an incredibly bias review of both systems, highlighting good parts of one and bad of another. But I won’t be doing that. While I have many more years experience in Yu-Gi-Oh! I feel that I am now at the stage where I can fairly compare them. It is also for this reason other TCG’s are not included in this Article such as Pokemon, as while I have had some experience I cannot give enough knowledge to ensure I believe what I say. I’m going to write about the various systems and comparisons, and eventually give a verdict. I will be assuming you know how to play both games to make for easier reading.

Mana system
Arguably, the biggest difference between the systems. Since magic has it, I will comment on this first – it is the games greatest strength yet also its biggest downfall. It’s wonderfully diverse in it’s use – It allows for different balance of cards by cost. This means that you must have an additional layer to your deckbuilding – can you get your cards out in time? Will you have the resources to choose from? My favourite thing about this system is that it allows cards of massively varying power levels yet all are useful. A 1/1 is pretty underwhelming by itself, but couple it with a decent ability and a low mana cost and it competes with cards such as get 13 2/2’s instead thanks to a lower mana cost. This allows for some crazy fun, expensive cards that simply couldn’t exist in Yu-Gi-Oh. While there is balance within the game, such as tribute summoning and effects that require certain conditions (such as 3 darks in the graveyard) allows for some balance for specific cards, but mostly the only way to have crazy cards that are not broken is with a very wordy explanation. In this respect, the mana system does justice to magic. However, on massive problem with it is… the lands themselves. You always seem to draw them when you don’t need them and vice versa. Losing a game because your land to actual card ratio leans one way or another is not very fun. And there’s little you can do to stop it – it’s going to happen and at the worst of times. Your powerless in deck building in that you have to have so many. There is a mulligan rule(get a new hand -1) to stop this, but even then luck can (and often does) relay the situation but with one less card to play with. Essentially, the player is being punished for a flaw in the game itself. Mulligan can have other uses other than to redistribute land numbers, but I’ll come onto that later. Yu-Gi-Oh has no significant problem. While a hand that leans heavily towards one card type can be frustrating, if your deck is built right it’s still playable – a two or five land hand is often not. Sure, it’s a card game so Yu-Gi-Oh is a card game so you’re going to get a dodge hand every now and then, but the frequency is much lower with proper deck building. However, Yu-Gi-Oh does have the disadvantage of cards being harder to balance, as there is rarely a neutral medium that allows for guaranteed balance. However, it seems that generally things go alright within each other.

Price and Cardpool
As I was writing these two seemed to merge, so I’ll cover them together. As in any game, how much it’s going to cost you probably matters. At the sealed level, price’s are relatively the same – Yu-Gi-Oh packs are generally cheaper, but have less commons as a result – and let’s be honest, people don’t buy packs for the commons. The sealed format itself is much superior of Magic takes advantage of these commons, but ill talk about that later. For the most casual of play sealed is probably where your going to get the majority of cards for your deck from. Here you may think Yu-Gi-Oh Probably has the better idea, with more rares, yet, I can’t say that’s right. In Magic, every card seems to have its place, whether in sealed or constructed or casual. A large majority of cards won’t see a competitive table, but at least they have a place. In Yu-Gi-Oh, it is incredibly common for a large majority of the cards in a set to be complete rubbish. In the most extreme of examples, you can point to the booster pack Cyberdark Impact – where only one “good” card was released, and at common. Perhaps this is a flaw with the system, as a large percentage of print is adapted from the tv series, which are made to fit, not be playable. Also, in Japan Yu-Gi-Oh packs are sold in lots of 5, so this system is far more forgiving to the rubbish commons – but people in the west pay for those commons, so why wouldn’t Konami want to make more money? I digress. The sealed contents of magic are far superior. But I must get onto another issue with the cardpool. One major gripe I have with magic is that the rarer a card is, the more leeway for power it has. You can compare cards such as Serra Angel to Baneslayer angel, look at the rarity, and justify that as fair enough. That’s just not right. I understand its benefit for sealed, but rarity should be the place for unique cards to take shape, not just outright – near – strictly better. There are gems at common such as Squadron Hawk and Ponder, but not as much of a balance as there could be. For non-sealed play, this is bad but does wonders for it, as my sealed section will cover. Now, Yu-Gi-Oh has a rather different view on the matter. The best cards in a set are often common, but again easily the rarest. A major gripe I have here is how the raritys of top cards are bumped up to increase there demand JUST for the western market. Yu-Gi-Oh does seem to balance good cards across raritys though. Now… the price of the second hand market. Yu-Gi-Oh is abysmal. A newly released card often can hit £100 if its particularly good, a ridiculous sum. Even lesser cards often stabilise at higher numbers. When I see people in magic saying “Walletslayer Angel” at about £10 it feels a bit ridiculous. Magic is not without it’s expensive, essential cards, but at lease Yu-Gi-Oh eventually re-prints cards to make them cheaper, the good-uns of magic generally stay high. I’m not going to comment on vintage, because that’s just ridiculous. Both games are expensive yes, but it seems Yu-Gi-Oh costs more for “standard” play. But the difference of format in magic makes the difference, as I will come onto now. A final word on the second hand market – with the rarest cards in the set. “Mythics” in Magic and “Secret Rare” in Yu-Gi-Oh. A large percentage of Mythics in a magic set are surprisingly often worth less than or with little difference to the pack itself. You may buy a pack for a chance for the rare cards – but that you can buy these for cheaper than the pack online seems silly. It is indeed good for the casual Mythics to get into the hands of their intended audience, but seems odd. This does not seem to happen in Yu-Gi-Oh, as far as I’m aware. And while it may seem odd to argue for more expensive prices.

TBC next week!

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