Friday, December 19, 2014

In-Depth January 2015 TCG Banlist Discussion (plus a random rant)

Hey there! In Yugioh, we like to take one step forward and three steps backward.

Before I talk about the actual details of the list, I'm sorry but I have to get into a short discussion. Many people more important than me have said this before, but I just want to remind you guys of something before we go forward: Konami does not make weird and sacktastic changes because they're stupid. They do it because they want to make lucksacks easier and more available. As fun as it may be to pretend that we are all ruled by idiots and that any half-dead Yugioh player could run the game better, this is simply not true. These changes are not made out of stupidity. Konami usually has a good idea of the consequences that can come from any given list change, and they do it on purpose because they want those consequences.

Why? Because to them, this game is not meant to be solely based on skill. They make anti-skill changes in order to help worse players have a better chance against great players, thereby buttressing the size of the overall playerbase and protecting the company's profit motive. I'm not trying to say that this is inherently a bad thing, this is just how companies work: they try to protect their profits. (It obviously can lead to bad things, but we'll get to that.)

You would think that I, as an average player, would love these things. Konami says, "hey, wanna take home the greatest ass-kicking memories of your lifetime (that also just so happen to make you want to play the game more)? Take them! Take them ALL! In fact, we'll help you take them!" But no, I really don't love it. Getting sacked out of a game you deserved to win isn't something that only happens to good players - it happens to all of us, and when Konami makes these changes, they are only making it even easier. This is relevant in regards to every list, but this one in particular is especially significant due to things like Snatch Steal and Honest.

That being said, let me go ahead and give my thoughts on the actual changes. I'll summarize this since I took time for other things first. To review the list, check here.


Super Polymerization (1 to 0): Obviously a nice change. Cards that are this powerful and that can't be responded to are an issue, especially when prominent decks can abuse them.

Artifact Moralltach (3 to 1): I was starting to get scared that they'd never address this engine. Hitting Moralltach stops the engine while still allowing 3 Sanctum to help actual Artifact decks, so this is a great change. I'm not that mad for this not having come sooner, as we have learned to expect that Konami likes to provide a certain period in which new cards are nearly immune to unfavorable list changes.

Dark Strike Fighter (0 to 1): Looks like he's finally back after his errata crossed over to the TCG. The errata makes him balanced so I'm happy about him coming back.

Snatch Steal (0 to 1): Well, it was good up until now. See, this is why I said we take one step forward and three steps back. In the same fucking list, they took a stand against decks like Shaddolls being able to grab your shit without response, then simultaneously gave everyone the ability to steal nearly any monster for nearly any purpose whatsoever. Great! Can this be errata'd, please? It might suck but it'd definitely be better than doing this alone.

The existence of backrow removal does not suddenly mean that any card affected by it is fair. This is a card game, and you have to draw answers to these things for them to actually not become a problem. And I'm not saying this to Konami - as you could have guessed from earlier, we all know why they did this. I'm saying it to anybody that thinks this is a positive and healthy development for the game.

Honest (1 to 2): This is an absolutely awful and frankly sacktastic change, notable for how extremely difficult it is to counter with cards that typically see play. This is arguably the worst change on the entire list.

Goyo Guardian (1 to 2): Please stop encouraging people to steal monsters. It is literally one of the worst mechanics in the entire game. I'm not saying Goyo at 2 is the end of the world (far from it at this point), just stop making it easier for people to abuse this mechanic. It doesn't matter if it sees less play, please stop making it easier.

Dark Hole (1 to 2): I honestly don't think we need more "whew, if I hadn't drawn this giant red button I'd be fucked" cards in the game, but hey maybe that's just me. Most people won't pay much attention to this change since we have Raigeki, but I feel that this is a strong sign of how far afield Yugioh has gone over the past few years.

Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind (2 to 3): This puts a good deal more gas in the tank for Blackwings. But despite being a former Blackwing player, I can't be sure if it's a fair change. Gale is a Tuner, easy to summon, has a strong effect, and has relatively low ATK in terms of Black Whirlwind. Semi-Limited might be better if we weren't dealing with such steep power creep.

Normally I'd say this + Goyo is great for Blackwings despite being iffy for the overall health of the game, but having played the deck myself, I can sincerely say that Extra Deck space is a serious challenge and these new options definitely exacerbate that problem (though still making it better overall).

Mermail Abyssgunde (1 to 3): This change kind of reminds me of Gale, in that it's a big Special Summon-related boost to a deck that was once really good. I'm sure plenty of Mermail enthusiasts will have fun busting a nut on her executing cool combos with this card being Unlimited again. I actually still don't agree with the level of flexibility the Mermail deck is capable of, but hey since they're not topping right now I guess it's just not a big deal at all. /sarcasm

Reborn Tengu (2 to 3): One of my favorite cards and, at first glance, least favorite changes. It's funny and ironic how mindless this card is since one of the decks it supports the most is one that gives you plenty of options, thereby connecting it to skillful play. Of course, I'm talking about none other than Plant Synchro. But apart from Tengu's use in Synchrocentric strategies, or with multiple Tenki, I'm actually no longer convinced that it's broken. The problem is that both of these things are currently alive and fully capable of using this to bust a nut exploiting this in ways that are likely to be unhealthy (by my own definitions; obviously not Konami's). We'll just have to see.

Reasoning (2 to 3): As conservative as I am when it comes to the list, I actually think this should have been Unlimited a while ago. I'm not aware of any reliable and threatening way people can abuse this in modern times, so if something comes up then oh well I guess. But with what I know right now, it definitely should have left the list sooner.

The Transmigration Prophecy (2 to 3): This is another card I would've liked to see released more quickly due to its status as a skillful Side pick, but in this case I'm vaguely aware of some kind of combo loop you can create with this. However, I'm not sure if that's an actual problem. I also think it's pretty likely that newer cards could be abused with this, but I'll wait to see that for myself before reversing my positive judgment. So this is likely to be a good change in the mainstream, but very degenerate for the people who want to make it that way.


Alright, so the basic takeaway from this entire thing is this: Konami likes the sack factor. Even to the point where many of us think it's actually pretty unhealthy and not even fun anymore. Also notable is the fact that the top decks suffered very little as a group. You would think that four months (or whatever) since Burning Abyss came out would be enough by Konami standards to start giving them some kitten scratches here and there, but apparently not. I also think Qliphorts deserved a tiny nick to make them a bit less... well, the complete epitome of what this game has come to, but hey, whatever. Thankfully I don't have to care quite as much since I don't play anymore, but that doesn't mean that these changes are the right decisions.

Anyways, thanks for reading. I've also recently put out a new album for free on Soundcloud, so if you're into music and want to check it out, that'd be appreciated. Later!

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