From Denial to Acceptance

Following my previous article (found here), I decided to play a real deck at my local. At least, as “real” a deck as I could manage without owning any “Tour Guide From the Underworld.” I had sold my playset following YCS Columbus, as the next premier event I am likely to enter is the 100th SJC/YCS in Long Beach CA next year. My weapon of choice? Karakuri, a deck which can adjust itself to play at various speeds according to the matchup in question. Karakuri is favored against slower decks, as it plays many “floaters” such as “Karakuri Merchant mdl 177 Inashichi” & “Genex Neutron,” much in the same vein as a traditional Gadget deck. Monsters with effects such as these insure that the Karakuri player is able to both find specific answers to on-board threats, as well as maintain important field presence. At the same time, the deck has the ability to Synchro Summon several large monsters per turn, keeping up with the speed and Special Summoning ability of Plant & Dino Rabbit decks.

When I begin to fine tune a deck, I will typically choose an appropriate list from a recent YCS event, play it without making any changes, and take note of certain cards (or quantities of cards) that I was particularly happy or unhappy with. In this case, I used Oliver Lukenda’s build from the Top 16 of YCS Brighton:

Oliver Lukenda - Karakuri

Monsters: 23
3 Karakuri Komachi mdl 224 "Ninishi"
1 Karakuri Strategist mdl 248 "Nishipachi"
3 Karakuri Merchant mdl 177 "Inashichi"
2 Karakuri Soldier mdl 236 "Nisamu"
3 Karakuri Ninja mdl 919 "Kuick"
1 Karakuri Watchdog mdl 313 "Saizan"
3 Maxx "C"
2 Thunder King Rai-Oh
2 Cyber Dragon
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
2 Genex Neutron

Spells: 11
2 Pot of Duality
2 Enemy Controller
1 Dark Hole
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Book of Moon
1 Mind Control
1 Heavy Storm
1 Monster Reborn

Traps: 6
1 Solemn Judgment
2 Solemn Warning
1 Trap Dustshoot
1 Mirror Force
1 Torrential Tribute

Extra Deck: 15
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Steelswarm Roach
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
1 Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
2 Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido"
1 Scrap Dragon
1 Stardust Dragon
2 Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei"
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Naturia Landoise
1 Naturia Beast
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Chimeratech Fortress Dragon

At first glance, the 2 copies of “Thunder King Rai-Oh” seem to clash with the aforementioned Monsters whose effects add cards from the deck to the hand. That being said, Thunder King is an incredibly powerful monster in the current format, playing an especially important role in the Dino Rabbit matchup by threatening to negate the summon of opposing Evolzar XYZ Monsters. It is also a great 1st turn follow-up to “Pot of Duality.” As such, I tried the deck as is, and did not find these contradictory abilities to be enough of an issue to warrant lessening the deck’s power level by cutting Thunder King.

The deck by and large did what it was supposed to do, starting out of the gate slow and building up to a game-ending swarm of Bureido Synchro Monsters. However, I took just as many losses to Rabbit decks as I did playing Final Countdown & Chain Burn, ending the night with a disappointing 2-2-1 record and missing out on the store credit given to the Top 8 players. “Rescue Rabbit & Tour Guide are sooo broken! They’re both 1 card XYZ summons that let you negate other cards (Laggia & Dolkka), Special Summon more dudes (Leviair), and straight up run over anything else that can be Normal Summoned. It’s ridiculous that Konami continues to print these cards that you have to have to win, make them Secret Rare…”

And on, and on, and on. Had I been listening to my “bad beat” stories from the outside, I would have rolled up my sleeve and slapped some sense into myself. I sounded like someone on Pojo’s “Forbidden/Limited List” forum trying to argue for the banning of every card in the current meta. While I do personally believe that these two cards are “overpowered,” could it be that my perspective is warped by the fact that I’ve been playing the game since its U.S. release?

Overpowered, or Evolution?

Magic: The Gathering players often comment on how much the game has evolved since its inception. The power level of cards in early sets such as Ice Age & The Dark pales in comparison to those in newer releases like Scars of Mirrodin or Innistrad. Creatures have generally gotten cheaper to cast, and have better stats and more potent abilities. Sound familiar? YGO has followed the exact same trend, beginning first with the gradual increase in ATK power of “vanilla,” or normal, LV 4 monsters. 1800 ATK was the first benchmark for how powerful a non-tribute monster could be (“La Jinn the Mystical Genie of the Lamp,” “7 Colored Fish”), rising to 1850 (“Mechanicalchaser”, the 1st real “money card” from Tournament Pack 1), 1900 (“Gemini Elf”), and finally 2000 (“Gene-Warped Warwolf”). Cybernetic Revolution’s “Cyber Dragon” broke the 2K barrier with its 2100 ATK, also ushering in an era of Special Summoning that has continued to the present day.

In TCG development circles, this phenomenon is referred to as “power creep.” In essence, cards from subsequent sets need to be “more powerful” than older cards, with the argument being that if older cards were “strictly” better, no one will buy the new ones. It makes sense from a business standpoint, but can quickly lead to stale formats and even the death of games entirely. This almost happened in YGO upon the release of Invasion of Chaos, a set which brought forth so many “broken” cards that the Forbidden List was introduced. Banning can fix mistakes made in development, but also negatively impacts player trust, as buyers cannot be sure of the sustainability of their investment (collection).

Whether or not “Tour Guide From the Underworld” & “Rescue Rabbit” need to be banned, restricted, or some combination is a story for another day, as are the potential implications of reprinting these cards in exchange for leaving them at their current numbers. The point of this article is to draw attention to the fact the MTG, a game which has survived many ups and downs for almost 20 years, has seen the same increase in overall card quality as YGO. Sure, TGU seems hella-busted when compared to a card such as “7 Colored Fish,” but its really no different than placing “Beaver Warrior” & “Snipe Hunter” next to each other. Earlier sets simply come from a different age in the games history, and like it or not, we’re really not playing the same game that we were during the heyday of Metal Raiders, Spell Ruler, and other such “vintage” releases.

Play by Format, not by History

To properly judge the power level of a card or deck, one should look to its relevancy to the current format, rather than its place in the annals of competitive play. It would obviously be unfair to compare a Tier 1 Warrior Toolbox deck to a Tier 1 TeleDAD deck, as the two come from completely different formats with vastly dissimilar card pools. This does not mean however that Warrior Toolbox was a bad deck, as it stood upon the top of its respective format “pedestal,” just as the DAD decks did in their own era. Flashing forward to today’s metagame, players must be willing to accept that TGU & Rabbit are here and are very relevant, and must be ready to either utilize their power or combat them with other available cards.

TGU has unfortunately caused a bit of a monetary barrier for those looking to jump into the competitive scene, but it hasn’t necessarily hurt the format’s diversity. Plants, Dark World, Agents, & others all take advantage of TGU, accepting the fact the she is currently an integral piece to the meta and embracing her power rather than ignoring it. Eschewing TGU in a deck like Plants would be akin to omitting the head of Exodia from an Exodia deck, simply because one “couldn’t afford it” or “wanted to be different.” It just doesn’t work, and like it or not, that’s the current Advanced Format. I enjoyed this format prior to the release of “Rescue Rabbit,” as TGU was powerful but did not prevent me from trying a myriad of different competitive builds. Rabbit on the other hand has begun to stifle creativity, as it is showing itself to be the “best deck” by a considerable margin.

Yes, it ticks me off, and it maybe it ticks you off too. But we really only have two options:

  1. Wait for the next format, where TGU and Rabbit may or may not be banned/limited/semi’d
  2. Play and have fun in the current format with or without TGU & Rabbit, accepting of the fact that they are two of the best monsters in the game right now

I’m not going to quit YGO because of these cards… I’ve been playing for 10+ years and have seen worse (:cough: “Yata-Garasu” :cough:). Not only that, but every format comes to an end, and there few YCS tournaments prior to the next changing-of-the-guard. I recommend trying some “silly” decks if you are unhappy with the current environment, and if the losses still frustrate you as they have me, take a break or try a different game (check out Cardfight!! Vanguard). Do not make the same mistake as your friends by selling all of your stuff! I cannot stress this enough… If you love YGO but are discouraged by a certain format, simply cool your jets and step away for a month or two. If you short-sell your collection for short-term gain, you’ll have to buy back EVERYTHING upon your inevitable return, and you’ll find yourself in quite the monetary hole. Probably enough to where you could have bought those TGUs anyway 😉

Play Hard or Go Home! (Seriously, stop whining about the format!)

~Paul McCann~