Saturday, March 22, 2014

In-Depth April 2014 Banlist Discussion

Hey guys, here's my analysis of the April 2014 banlist. Since there were only 10 total changes, I'm going to go ahead and discuss each of the most interesting changes separately. If you need to see the list, you can view it here. Let's begin!

1. Morphing Jar and Morphing Jar #2

I'm pretty sure that MJ#2 was banned to prevent Jackpot 7 decks from existing, but it's weird because Jackpot 7 already exists in the OCG and yet they haven't touched anything. As such, I think Konami's TCG banlist department deserves a pat on back for taking care of this. As for the original Morphing Jar, I actually don't really know why it was hit. Maybe it was also used in Jackpot 7 decks. Who knows? I will say that I won't miss it though; its effect is really powerful and it's really strong in Dark World decks though they usually choose not to run it. It also made Empty Jar decks possible, which I obviously don't agree with.

2. Coach Soldier Wolfbark and Mermail Abyssgunde

What I think these two choices have in common is obviously that they're Special Summoning engines for the two most popular decks in the TCG, Mermails and Fire Fist. However, this is a very awkward situation since both of these hits are really great choices, but it looks likely that neither of the affected decks will drop out of competition as a result of them. Very strange spot to be in.

I'm honestly not overly concerned about Fire Fist as they're a pretty "fair" deck (in terms of the meta), but I'm very unhappy that Mermails appear to still be playable after, what, four of their cards have been Limited now? (Dragoons, Diva, Tidal, and Abyssgunde.) Seriously, when will it end??? If anything, I think Konami decided not to go gung-ho on hitting these decks because new cards from Primal Origin may be powerful enough to kick them out of the meta anyway. We'll just have to wait and see how the format shapes up.

3. Rekindling and Infernity Barrier

I've talked for possibly years about how Rekindling is not a good card design, and I'm so unbelievably happy that Konami has finally done something about it. What I'm not quite sure of is why they chose now to do it. I always knew that they would do it, I just didn't know exactly when. Could this be a hint that some powerful new Fire cards are coming out soon, or was this meant to be a secondary hit to Fire Kings? If the latter is true, then it's kind of weird that they'd go after Fire Kings like that considering that the deck hasn't exactly dominated the meta. Then again, we are living in a post-September 2013 world, and Konami is not nearly as bad as it used to be. It's not outrageous to suggest that maybe they just felt like hitting Rekindling because they knew it was unfair and it started seeing more table time than it used to.

Infernity Barrier on the other hand isn't so confusing. Throughout this format, it seemed that Infernities were grabbing a somewhat consistent stream of Regional tops here and there, and they did manage to top both YCS Atlanta and YCS Berlin. The deck is simply not fun to play against; instead of setting Traps at a normal pace it just explodes out of nowhere and produces multiple monsters while searching its defense straight from the deck at the same time. Like I said, this is a new era, and hitting Rekindling and Barrier is proof of it.

The rest of the list isn't too interesting to comment on specifically. I wish Hieratics had suffered a stronger hit, because I seriously don't think Convocation becoming Semi-Limited does anything significant. Of course, it does affect the deck from a statistical point of view, but I don't think it significantly alters how the deck will be played. It feels like they wasted a chance to, you know, actually do something.

As always, some of the most interesting aspects of the list are the cards that weren't even on it:

1. Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind didn't become Semi-Limited, despite a fresh Super Rare reprint in Astral Pack 4 and new Blackwing cards coming next month in Dragons of Legend. Although I am a Blackwing player I'm personally not bothered by it, but it's still weird because I totally expected it to happen.

2. Dark Strike Fighter also hasn't been unbanned yet, so I guess we'll just have to see if they plan to release it by surprise and make an "emergency" update to the list mid-format, or if he just won't be reprinted with his new errata until after this list expires.

3. Geargia was pretty popular this format, but didn't suffer a single hit whatsoever. In fact, you could argue that they might have been indirectly bumped up due to Mermails and Fire Fist becoming worse. Maybe they're planning to release the OCG's exclusive Geargia cards in an upcoming set and didn't want to interfere with profits from that. Dan of YGOrganization thinks this could be the case:

4. Fire Formation - Tenki is still Unlimited, which isn't too surprising now that the Fire Fist Special Edition and its Super Rare reprint of Tenki have been unveiled, as well as the Gold Rare reprint of Tenki coming in Premium Gold. Also, Konami seems to really like Bujin, and they haven't won anything yet apart from ARGCS Las Vegas (which wasn't even a Konami event). If Bujin do relatively well next format, Tenki might be hit on the next list, but for now this situation is still pretty frustrating.

5. The "Hoban cards," Upstart Goblin and Reckless Greed, were not hit at all. Upstart is another example of a very awkward situation: I don't personally think it should be on the list from a sheer power perspective, but anytime something becomes an automatic three-of almost regardless of your deck choice, Konami likes to consider hitting it to make people stop doing the same shit over and over again. Reckless is a lot clearer - that card should at least be Semi'd to make it less likely to stack its effect. But in both cases, nothing happened. I think it's reasonable to expect one or both of these cards to get hit sometime in the future if their usage remains constant, though.

My overall take on this list is that while it has a few steps in the right direction, it didn't really change anything substantially: a few popular decks became weaker while some alternate win decks got wrecked. It just seems like business as usual, and while I'm sure that everybody can appreciate the good parts of the list, it would've been more interesting if we had a completely different meta for the period of time before Primal Origin drops. But I guess Konami is just going to rely on PRIO to remake the meta and keep us engaged, which probably isn't a terrible idea considering how influential some of its cards are. As always, I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Anyways, thanks for reading, and be sure to leave comments about what you think of this banlist.

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