Friday, September 26, 2014

In-Depth October 2014 Banlist Discussion

Hello all! Here are my detailed opinions on the newest format list. If you need to review it, you can see it here. Let's get started.

0. Since nothing got banned for the second list in a row, I guess we'll just defer to my wishlist for discussion. As I've said before, I'm not exactly pissed that Judgment Dragon hasn't been banned or Limited yet, but despite my lack of emotion, I do still genuinely believe that it's a problem and I think they made a legitimate mistake by not doing anything about it. (We'll come back to Soul Charge in a moment since that actually did make it onto the list.)

1. First up under Limited, we have Glow-Up Bulb. This card was part of a pretty obvious and complicated problem (the Plant Engine) when it was banned back in March 2012, but the game has obviously changed a lot since then; since that problem doesn't exist anymore, there isn't much of a reason for this to remain banned. Really, we just have to wait and see if the present-day landscape of the game renders this card as 'too good' or simply 'very good.' It's also convenient to bring this back just in time for the 5D's Legendary Collection, isn't it?

2. Infernity Archfiend. There isn't much to say here; the playerbase has pretty much collectively decided that Infernity = cancer, so most people don't seem to care that the deck has been completely destroyed. I personally believed it was time for it to not be competitive anymore after over four years of randomly popping in and out of tops, so I'm very happy that Konami made this change. (Oh, and winning Worlds might've also helped.) Someone could probably still find a way to make the archetype playable in at least some capacity, but it will almost certainly be worse than the deck we're used to seeing right now.

3. Next we have Raigeki. Look, I'll keep this short: I may not play right now, but I do know that the current meta landscape involves a ton of floaters. However, I'm still pretty sure that that's not a good reason to bring back a card that wipes your opponent's monsters for free: how do you figure this will interact with the 97.7% of decks that don't have a ready supply of floaters coming out of their assholes? And if you only care about the meta, then what are we supposed to do as soon as the meta shifts and the popular decks don't have as many floaters in their bowel movements anymore? Jesus christ, this is just obvious common sense. I seriously think there's a good chance that this was a terrible idea.

4. We've finally arrived at Soul Charge! While you could probably make an argument that the power of this card alone probably makes Limiting it a better fit over an outright ban, what you have to consider is the game within the game.

Unfortunately, one of the best ways to fight a powerful field of monsters brought on by Soul Charge is to have a Soul Charge of your own, so it's pretty likely that some games will be lost now because one guy drew his at a time when his opponent didn't have a legitimate answer to it.

There's also the scarcity of the card affecting other decisions. While Unlimited, you basically HAD to play around it in certain matchups known for abusing it. But being Limited creates several situations in which you can't reliably expect to see it, so you won't keep playing around it as often anymore. That only makes it even more devastating when your opponent does draw that single copy.

But hey, at least we've got Raigeki now right? :D /sarcasm

Really, this card should have never been printed, but if you're going to make something blatantly overpowered, at least have the balls to admit that that's what you did and just fix it later on. Banning this card also really should've happened as soon as possible (JULY 14, 2014), but I digress. I know it sounds like I'm really unhappy, but in reality I'm overjoyed that they at least did something rather than leaving this Unlimited. I just think it's still worth pointing out how this isn't the absolute best choice they could have made.

5. Closing out the Limited section, we've got Super Polymerization. This change took me and likely a few other people by surprise, as it's traditionally uncommon for Konami to hit cards that "belong" to newer decks - even though this card doesn't exactly have Shaddoll in its name, it might as well ever since Shaddolls were released.

The real shocker here comes from the fact that players in the TCG have only recently realized how big of an issue this card is in a post-Shaddoll world. Basically, it's kind of weirdly sentient of Konami to hit it early on before it could do much more damage. It's almost like the people making these choices are actual human beings, capable of acting rationally! ...I wonder why that doesn't happen more often? Anyways, there isn't really much of a CCC (consumer confidence conflict) tied into this card at the moment, so the change really shouldn't surprise me as much as it does. But man... it really does.

6. Next up are Semi-Limits, starting with Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind. I'm obviously biased here, but this is probably WAY overdue. By Konami's own logic (well, what we think qualifies as logic), it would've made sense to give Blackwings this card back in April - around the time that Dragons of Legend was getting ready to come out and long after we already established that Blackwings weren't causing any kind of problems at high-level events, even with triple Black Whirlwind. So I'm not really sure what happened there, but hey, better late than never.

7. Now we have Gorz the Emissary of Darkness. It's likely that barely any relevant decks will play it, but Gorz can singlehandedly turn an entire game if you don't have the right removal or advantage on hand to deal with him. This is a painfully obvious thing to say, but I think that sacky things like that should be minimized as much as possible. One Gorz should be good enough.

8. I'm not sure why they raised Ceasefire; I guess it's to give you another side card for Shaddolls, but why would you use this when we have Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror (which is incredibly ironic, considering that permanent floodgates shouldn't even be in the game in the first place)? So I guess this really just makes burn decks stronger, and I don't think decks that are excessively easy or lazy to play should be getting any help.

9. The Transmigration Prophecy was originally Limited due to the existence of some infinite loops, but I guess they apparently aren't all that threatening anymore. So hello, newly viable Side Deck choice. (Seriously, you guys need to give this thing a try now that it's semi'd.)

10. Lastly, we have Unlimited cards. I'd be okay with Wolfbark being Unlimited if Tenki was Limited, but it's not, so I'm not. Sorry guys, I know that'll upset a lot of people who purposely want to see Fire Fist doing well again, but I'm just keeping it real here. I don't think Wolfbark is that unfair, I just think that Fire Fist needs to be in check somehow, and Limiting the one card that everybody uses to get a nut off in all sorts of different decks seems to be a fair way to accomplish that.

11. Magician of Faith is better now that Raigeki, Soul Charge, and Super Poly are all Limited, but it still won't see play until somebody finds out a really, really good way to use it.

12. I honestly don't have anything to say about Formula Synchron, lol.

13. Reinforcement of the Army becoming Unlimited may actually be on par with Raigeki becoming Limited, or even worse. Two copies are a bit too powerful; three is just bullshit. Changes like this actually make me extremely happy to not be playing anymore, because it's honestly really annoying that the company behind the game has such an obvious need to see decks like Noble Knights do well that they will intentionally screw things up in order to see that it happens. Here's an idea: If you want to see a deck do well and it doesn't, fucking leave it alone and move on to the next one. Don't ruin things for everybody else just so you can get the satisfaction of seeing two words appear over and over again in a YCS Top Cut.

I mean seriously, this tradition of intentionally changing the banlist in order to push decks that have obvious financial possibilities behind them is just ridiculous and I'm surprised that people don't seem to be fed up with it. You would think Burning Abyss would've made them happy enough with all its recent success, but apparently not, so now everybody can have fun getting fucked by bad players who love Six Samurai.

I really can't be bothered to write a full section concerning what wasn't on the list this time around. It's the same damn thing as always; there are tons of cards that I think should be hit to prevent the general power level of the game from getting too high or keep certain decks from being annoying without expending very much effort, but Konami either doesn't seem to share the same opinions, or they purposely don't want to act on them. It's depressing at its core and I don't really feel like I can spend time on it this time around. But I do think it's worth noting that cards like Vanity's Emptiness have the potential to force Konami into a position where they eventually have to address how stupid floodgates are, so that's a good thing.

tl;dr: They did a few things I really liked and a few things I disagree with. But only two of the choices I didn't like were terrible, so it's really not that bad of a list to me. I still think this would've been a great time to do housekeeping, but apparently Konami is still just too different from me on that front. Overall, this list was a rare half-bright spot for me in my personal post-play era, but not really the kind of push I was looking for to get back into the game. Of course I can always start playing again, I'm just not really excited about it right now; who knows if that'll change.

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