One of the most common questions I see in the Goat Community is "how do I side deck as x deck for y matchup"? More often than not, the answer people will get in response is "it depends", and that isn't because people don't want to help others learn how to side - it's because this is probably one of the most open-ended questions you can ask a Yu-Gi-Oh! player and depends on a variety of factors. These factors include things like how common a bad matchup is, how many cards you can afford to side in/out without making the overall strategy fall apart, and what you expect your local metagame to be.
Most people know that Goat Control is not the only deck in Goat Format, and yet many people act like it is. During Yu-Gi-Oh!’s initial revival of Goat Format in 2012, over 90% of the players used Goat Control; the others played various rogue decks that did not gain much traction. In 2019, Goat Control is still the most popular deck in most of the Goat Format sub-communities that you will run into, but it is usually less than half of the total field. It is certainly possible to go throughout a whole tournament without playing against Goat Control even once. If you want to win tournaments, you simply must have a solid gameplan for the other decks in the format.
Incorrectly using Dust Tornado against a Snatch Steal is one of the most common and costly mistakes that I see in games of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Goat Format, and yet it I never see it mentioned in discussions of “most common misplays” or during post-game analysis. (Note: Mystical Space Typhoon can be interchangeably used with Dust Tornado, but I will continue to simply say “Dust Tornado” throughout the remainder of this article, for ease of readability.)
So what is this misplay that I speak of? You might not even know that you’re doing it. Your opponent activates Snatch Steal, targeting your monster. You have a set Dust Tornado. You chain it, targeting Snatch Steal. Yep, that’s the misplay. While this can often be a good play, there are some good reasons to wait until the battle phase to activate your Dust Tornado instead.
As a Goat Control player, you cannot rely on achieving a high winrate by winning control mirrors alone. Anti-Meta Warriors, as popularized by Yu-Gi-Oh! players like Calvin Tahan and spankthemonkey, will not be leaving the meta anytime soon and is built to attack Goat Control specifically. One of our most important tools in this matchup will be the sidedeck, which is the focus of this article.
Riddle me this: If you could boost your winrate by 10%, but it would cause some of your peers to think that you were worse at the game, would you do it? Given that conscious decision, I think nearly every competitive player would say, “Hell yeah I would.” And yet, everyday I see many competitive players making the unconscious decision to prioritize looking good to their peers over being good.
Last week, our Discord users debated this topic: What is Goat Control's worst/hardest matchup? Assume that all players are competent and have fairly standard maindeck and sidedeck choices. For your convenience, we've given you a summary all of the impassioned arguments that our Discord users made below.
When most players are dealt a poor hand, they resign themselves to losing, whether they are aware of it or not. Some players freeze up, hoping the opponent also has a bad hand. Some players continue to play as normal, going through the motions. Some players even admit defeat far before their lifepoints are reduced to zero. In this article, I will explain why I believe all of the above are the wrong approach.
Author's Note: My article titled "Who's Winning?" was originally posted to The Game Academy's article hub (now defunct) in 2010. It became one of the most praised pieces of my article writing career for the way that it illuminated the both the most basic fundamentals of the game as well as the factors that should be used to evaluate a gamestate. This article has been given some contextual updates from its original form to reflect the Goat Format metagame.