Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is a great exercise to get yourself out there

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel reminds me that putting myself out there is a challenge. Whether you’re dueling regularly or for the first time in years, it’s surprising to put all your heart into building a deck and playing against a stranger online. What if my card synergy is not good? Is my opponent laughing at me because my card doesn’t fit the meta the best? What if… what if I lose? That fear can be surprisingly crippling and prevent you from enjoying the best aspect of the game: testing your skills against other duels. Even worse, it keeps you from getting better.

Fighting this mindset is something I constantly deal with. From 2003 to 2009, I was a Yu-Gi-Oh! player. I’ve never walked into the sacred halls of a world championship tournament or anything, but I’m a regular at my local comic/toy stores. I remember how nervous I was when I tested my deck, which I only played with a small group of friends; I assume strangers will erase me. Although I’m proud of what I’ve made, I can’t afford all the top level cards and having it exposed makes me feel ashamed. Anxiety almost made me want to avoid the public game in the early days. But my friend’s support and my passion for the game pushed me beyond the limit.

As I competed in more and more tournaments, my fear of embarrassment and loss lessened. At first, I got beaten up quite a bit, so I quickly learned to enjoy swallowing every spoonful of failure. More importantly, I realized that it doesn’t matter if I lose. No one called me out for smoking, I wasn’t sent to the Dark Realm, a loved one didn’t die, and my opponents rarely got jerks. I want to get a “GG” and move on. But I learned from those losses and came back better prepared. It also makes me more willing to experiment with my strategies. Sure, I’ll have to raise my eyebrows now and again for making an unorthodox game, but I don’t mind that much because I allowed myself to fail.

After taking a break from competing during my college years, I received the Yu-Gi-Oh! video game rock. I haven’t played actively in a long time, so I’m content with duels against AI opponents; My confidence to challenge strangers disappeared, and that nagging anxiety returned. From Tag Force to Duel Links to Legacy of the Duelist, I’ve been avoiding online matches like Lion Kingelephant graveyard. I’m always in my comfort zone tearing down Jaden Yuki’s predictable strategies over and over again. Playing these games gets me up to speed in the current format, but I’ve reached the skill level and not much better.

With Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, I challenged myself to step up against human players again and regain my confidence. I’m so glad I did. Not only was it a blast encountering so many types of gladiators, decks, and strategies, but it was also a mental exercise in getting my creations out into the world. While necessary, letting people judge something I did can tire you out after a while. I’ve been a writer for over a decade now and believe it or not I still get feature ideas or hit the publish button for the same reasons as I was shy to show off my Dark Magician deck previous years. It’s scary, but sticking your neck out, accepting the possibility of failure, and knowing that mess isn’t the end of the world makes life so much easier and more rewarding. But you have to keep doing reps and don’t allow yourself to get back into your comfort zone for too long. Go ahead and create, whether it’s a duel or a wild, world-changing idea, and throw it out there to see if it fits. Sooner or later you will score a victory, and there is nothing more satisfying.

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