Hey there! Another format is ending, and another banlist update has come out. Thus, it's time for me to release a new review of what I personally think about the changes.
As is the case with the past couple of lists, since I don't play anymore any specific speculation on where a given deck or card is going to end up because of this new list should be taken with a pretty big grain of salt.
I'm going to do a LOT more grouping when discussing the changes this time around, since there are a lot more changes than usual and many of them are related to each other. If you need to review the news update covering the list changes, click here. Let's start!
1. Four adult Dragon Rulers [Blaster, Tidal, Tempest, and Redox] (1 to 0); four baby Dragon Rulers [Burner, Stream, Lightning, and Reactan] (0 to 3); Dragon Ravine (0 to 1); Sacred Sword of Seven Stars (1 to 2)
I have very mixed feelings about this. While it's good that the four adults can no longer pose the threat of coming back as a deck or transforming other decks (like Lightsworn or Hieratics) anymore, I think it does suck that the power they could individually bring to disaffected strategies and the potential for creativity in general is no longer there.
Since the Dragon Rulers are now officially dead (and not dead in the sense that ygo players mean it, which is when something has simply taken any kind of hit whatsoever), Dragon Ravine is back, but I'm not aware of any deck that really gets off on this card other than Dragunities, and I'm pretty sure that deck wouldn't even be viable nowadays.
Also in the wake of the great Dragon-slaying, Sacred Sword is moving up to 2, which is another case of a card that's pretty useful in the right hands, but for whom there may not be any hands willing to pick it up at this point.
2. Snatch Steal (1 to 0); Goyo Guardian (2 to 3)
This is another mixed bag. On the one hand Konami "realized their mistake" with Snatch Steal and re-banned it, which is great news. The reason for my obnoxious parentheses up there is because, as my regular readers probably all know, I'm very skeptical of the notion that each of Konami's bad list decisions are all mistakes and not just purposely trying to make the game sackier in order to make it easier for worse players to stick with it. I'm guessing they either a) always planned to bring it back for just one format to shake things up, b) realized that it was just a little bit more than they were comfortable with, or c) decided to take player input/complaining into account, which DOES happen from time to time, believe it or not.
Goyo Guardian on the other hand has become fully Unlimited, which doesn't happen to matter much right now because it seems as if very few worthwhile decks want to play it. Also, even fewer decks would have the space to play 3, assuming they even wanted to play it in the first place. I hate to be a buzzkill (not really), but this card is still obviously powerful and there may come a time in the future where a deck is able to truly abuse it again. If that happens, I won't say I told you so, I'll just say "tell Konami to put it back where it belongs."
3. Sinister Serpent,
Temple of the King, Crush Card Virus, Exchange of the Spirit, and Ring of Destruction (0 to 1)
I'm only mentioning these at all because I just want to say that I wish Konami had left these cards where they are and simply made new ones if they wanted these kinds of effects to be playable that badly. I think they care too much about making the list as short as possible. Despite being watered down, each of these cards appear to still be playable in specific ways (except for Exchange of the Spirit); whether or not that translates to the most relevant decks in the meta during this upcoming format remains to be seen.
4. Tour Guide From the Underworld, Preparation of Rites, and Saqlifice (3 to 1)
These are all grouped together because they are each Unlimited-to-Limited hits that affect a premier deck in the outgoing format. Tour Guide becoming Limited has been in the works for quite some time now; if you couldn't see that coming you might want to step your article reading game up. Many are saying that Burning Abyss are still very playable without it, but if you can't admit to the fact that this limit hurts the deck then you're not being honest with yourself. Meanwhile, good ol' Preparation H getting hit makes Nekroz less insane, but they also remain extremely usable (and are even likely to remain the dominant deck regardless), and Saqlifice is, by contrast, actually a somewhat heavy-handed hit to Qliphorts (or at least that's how it looks to me). To be clear, Saq was always a weirdly good card and very emblematic of the power creep the game has been sustaining lately, but this hit in concert with other changes presents very severe challenges to the current Qliphort playbook going forward.
5. Skill Drain and Vanity's Emptiness (3 to 1)
I've talked before about how floodgates should probably come with a timer installed, and failing that, they are probably best kept at Limited status when they're as powerful as stuff like Skill Drain. Good riddance to this piece of shit card.
I have mixed feelings about Emptiness, though: while it is much more powerful than most floodgates since Special Summon restrictions hurt a LOT of decks, it's also way easier to get rid of. Still, I think it's philosophically good that this is getting Limited even though it likely means Nekroz will have even less standing in their way now.
6. Qliphort Scout and Nekroz of Brionac (3 to 2)
Another pair of hits aimed at two of the biggest decks in the game right now. Interesting that these are both searching cards and both taking the same changes.
7. Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En and Charge of the Light Brigade (1 to 2)
I'm actually really disgusted with these changes, which should be unsurprising given how much you guys have seen me rail against these kinds of sacky "go big or go home" strategies throughout the history of this blog. I'm literally so disappointed (but not surprised) in Konami's will to overfeed bad players by making their shitty lovechild decks better (instead of, you know, educating them) that I won't even talk about these cards in specific terms.
8. Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Spirit and Gladiator Beast Bestiari (1 to 3); Lonefire Blossom (2 to 3) and Symbol of Heritage (3 to 1)
This is (mostly) another set of relaxations intended to help people play their pet decks more easily, but I'm not exactly grossed out with these unlike in the previous section. I do think changing Lonefire to 3 is really, really ridiculous, but hey, it's whatever. I'm pretty sure they'll have to knock it back down to two within the next year anyways. It's also likely that they hit Symbol of Heritage precisely because of the truckloads of fertilizer that were brought in with this list, because Heritage and Lonefire are both very loop-friendly cards.
Meanwhile, I think Spirit at 3 is massively fair (probably even too fair; I re-read it and wtf is up with those restrictions???) and I'm personally not aware of any good reason why this shouldn't have happened sooner. On the other hand, I've never liked Gladiator Beasts so I'm not happy that Gyzarus spam is potentially a thing again, but at least they made the Gladiator players wait a long damn time before finally giving it back to them.
9. Gorz the Emissary of Darkness and Hieratic Seal of Convocation (2 to 3)
While I don't think Convocation moving up is a big deal considering that the Dragons are gone (in fact, this change is probably a direct result of the Dragon-slaying), I'm not fond of Gorz at three. It's another case where not many decks can really exploit the full three copies and many of those same decks probably don't even want to, but I don't really believe it should be an option in the first place. You can check out my October 2014 list discussion for a little more on it, but the basic gist is that I feel it's too easy to turn a game around with this guy for this to be healthy in multiples. Just get your ass kicked enough, and boom: free beater with token at your service. That's a nice comeback to have around at one, but more than that seems like too much to me.
So that's it! We've covered all 32 of the changes, and I have to say, I am really impressed this time around. It's unfortunate that Nekroz may remain unchallenged at the top of the meta totem pole, but I really do think this is a good list update and I praise them for touching Nekroz even though the deck hasn't been out that long. Since I like this list so much, it definitely feels awfully ironic that this'll be the anniversary of the list that helped play a big part in pushing me away from the game