Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The February 2014 OCG Banlist: Freezing in Place

More revolutionary ideas!

So if you pay a lot of attention to the online Yugioh world recently, you probably saw the most recent OCG banlist which presumably lasts from February 2014 to May 2014. For me, seeing this list has reminded me yet again of a fear that constantly exists in this game: What happens if a broken card gets de-limited? There's pretty much nothing the playerbase can do to respond to something like that, and it can easily ruin an entire format if they happen to choose the right card. What if Raigeki were to become Unlimited on April 1? I'm not saying it'd ever happen, but if it did, we have to deal with it if we want to play the game at big events.

Of course, everybody knows that this problem isn't exclusive to the OCG. The January 2014 TCG list featured one de-limiting that nearly everybody seems to agree is not okay: the Unlimiting of Fire Formation - Tenki. With even more Bujin support due to become legal within the next few days, there aren't many rational people out there who can defend this change as being fair, logical or good for the game. And that's not even counting the (so far, absolutely massive) impact of Fire Fist or the heaps of other decks that can use Tenki.

So what exactly is the "revolutionary idea" for today? Before I reveal it, I just want to warn you guys that it might make you shit your pants.

The concept, in a word, is freezing.

Under this system, certain cards on the banlist would be able to gain "frozen" status, which prevents them from moving from their current position on the banlist unless the playerbase votes to remove that status.

If Konami wants to change a frozen card's position, they'd have to conduct a Freeze Change Vote first. This vote would be released alongside an upcoming banlist, and the players would have one day to vote on the cards that are nominated for unfreezing online. Konami can only nominate a maximum of five cards to nominate for unfreezing at once, but if any nominated card receives 60% or more of the players in favor of unfreezing it, then the card gets unfrozen immediately and Konami is free to change it on the next banlist (or by emergency if they feel like it).

So, how exactly would cards become frozen in the first place? That would be a vote, too - the entire current banlist would be released as an online voting form in what I would call the Initial Freeze Vote. Any card that gets 60% or more of the players voting for it will immediately become frozen.

There is a somewhat obvious catch to the votes, though - any card that's currently Unlimited will not be included on the form, or else it'd be way too long. If you want to cast a vote to freeze a card that's currently Unlimited, you'll have to type it in yourself, and you can only cast a maximum of five votes of this kind. This empty typing area will also be included on any Freeze Change Vote (in addition to the Initial Freeze Vote), and on a FCV, you can use it to vote for freezing not only cards that are Unlimited, but also any other card in the game.

Obviously, there are some problems with this system. At its core, this is basically the introduction of a formalized democratic aspect to the game. Democracy only works when people are well-informed and rational: if the playerbase decides against their own interests on purpose or if the majority of people are completely misinformed or otherwise stupid (which, let's be real, is often the case), then there could potentially be a lot of cards that end up frozen or unfrozen that don't deserve to be. This is why I envision the vote threshold being 60% instead of a simple majority, in order to make it harder for these changes to happen while not impossible at the same time. It could also be a good idea to unfreeze every single card at the end of a given year or two, and conduct another IFV afterwards.

Also, Konami is a lot more similar to a dictatorship than a democracy - my guess is that they don't really want players to have the power to prevent them from wildly changing cards on the list. (I'm not saying that they ARE a dictatorship, only that they definitely lean more in that direction if you had to choose between one of the two. No offense, Konami.) And if they had to go through a vote in order to change certain cards, it'd be a lot easier for them to win if they actually explained WHY they want to change a given card. In the history of this game, there has literally only been ONE banlist that was ever explained. Call me crazy, but I don't think Konami really likes to release explanations for their actions very often.

It also takes a lot of time and energy to collect the results of a vote in a timely manner. Although I don't think the majority of the playerbase would give a shit about the process, there would still be enough people across the world who care to make tallying the votes a job that they'd probably need to hire a few new people to help out with, and I'm not sure that they'd be willing to do that, even if it's only for the span of a few days or however long is necessary to tally each vote. I mean, I guess they could do something like "only the first 1000 votes from a given country are counted," or "voting is only open for two hours" or something like that, but even then, that's still a lot of counting if they aren't going to rely on some sort of automatic software. And even if they do, somebody still needs to go through that "five written votes" portion.

But despite these problems, wouldn't it be so much better to not only be able to stop random shit like "hahaha Tenki's Unlimited now guys, buy some Bujin cards" from happening, but also to have any say in the direction of the banlist whatsoever? Right now all we can do is mass-spam them with emails if we're not happy about something, and even then they can easily just ignore it. But through this formalized system, we can bring stability to the banlist and have a chance to prevent random crap from ruining formats with no warning or representation. Again, it isn't perfect, but I'd rather have some influence than none at all.

I know this is a lot to take in, but I'm really interested in hearing what people think about this. Once you've got it all understood, I'd love to see a comment with your opinions. Thanks for reading!

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