January Banlist Discussion

Patrick HobanHey guys! It’s been a while since my last article. I’m going to make an attempt to get back on track with writing them weekly, so what better to start with than what I’m sure will be a controversial and highly debated one, a ban list article!


Konami surprised everyone with the September list. I think I had to have been the most surprised of all, but I think it was a really positive change that brought about a great format! Even if you dislike Dragons, it’s going to be really difficult to make an argument against the quality of it when you take a look at the list of champions from this format. On it, we’ve got Edward Kuang, Michel Gruner, Merlin Schumacher, Sean McCabe, Jerry Williams, Sam Pedigo, and I even managed to squeak out a win as well! That’s a really impressive list with most of them having around 10+ major event tops. A list of champions like that is something we should strive to continue, that’s why whenever I make a ban list article it is based on what I think the list should look like, not what I think it will look like (though September these two were pretty much the same!) This is important to remember as you read the article as I completely acknowledge that they aren’t going to be banning [ccProd]Elemental Hero Bubbleman[/ccProd], I’d just like to offer an explanation as to why I think they should. Without further ado, here’s the list!


Newly Forbidden:

[ccProd]Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos[/ccProd] [ccProd]Elemental Hero Bubbleman[/ccProd] [ccProd]Inzektor Hornet[/ccProd] [ccProd]Limiter Removal[/ccProd] [ccProd]Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms[/ccProd] [ccProd]Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls[/ccProd] [ccProd]Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders[/ccProd] [ccProd]Rekindling[/ccProd] [ccProd]Return from the Different Dimension[/ccProd] [ccProd]Royal Tribute[/ccProd] [ccProd]Sixth Sense[/ccProd]


Newly Limited:

[ccProd]Call of the Haunted[/ccProd] [ccProd]Deck Devastation Virus[/ccProd] [ccProd]DNA Surgery[/ccProd] [ccProd]Elemental Hero Stratos[/ccProd] [ccProd]Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo[/ccProd] [ccProd]Evilswarm Ophion[/ccProd] [ccProd]Geargiarmor[/ccProd] [ccProd]Gozen Match[/ccProd] [ccProd]Hieratic Dragon King of Atum[/ccProd] [ccProd]Hope for Escape[/ccProd] [ccProd]Imperial Iron Wall[/ccProd] [ccProd]Judgment Dragon[/ccProd] [ccProd]Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei"[/ccProd] [ccProd]Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido"[/ccProd] [ccProd]Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer[/ccProd] [ccProd]Lavalval Chain[/ccProd] [ccProd]Light Imprisoning Mirror[/ccProd] [ccProd]Mermail Abyssgunde[/ccProd] [ccProd]Pot of Greed[/ccProd] [ccProd]Rivalry of the Warlords[/ccProd] [ccProd]Royal Decree[/ccProd] [ccProd]Six Samurai United[/ccProd] [ccProd]Shadow Imprisoning Mirror[/ccProd] [ccProd]Skill Drain[/ccProd] [ccProd]Spellbook of Fate[/ccProd] [ccProd]Thousand-Eyes Restrict[/ccProd] [ccProd]Vanity’s Emptiness[/ccProd]


Newly Semi-Limited:

[ccProd]Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind[/ccProd] [ccProd]Dragon Ravine[/ccProd] [ccProd]Inzektor Dragonfly[/ccProd] [ccProd]Neo-Spacial Grand Mole[/ccProd] [ccProd]Reckless Greed[/ccProd]


Newly Unrestricted:

[ccProd]Burner, Dragon Ruler of Sparks[/ccProd] [ccProd]Lightning, Dragon Ruler of Drafts[/ccProd] [ccProd]Reactant, Dragon Ruler of Pebbles[/ccProd] [ccProd]Stream, Dragon Ruler of Droplets[/ccProd] [ccProd]The Transmigration Prophecy[/ccProd] [ccProd]T.G. Striker[/ccProd]



Cards that Don’t Let you Play


It’s certainly a lot of changes, isn’t it? I think what I’d most like to start with a group of cards, rather than going individually. These cards are DNA Surgery, Fossil Dyna, Evilswarm Ophion, Gozen Match, Imperial Iron Wall, Deck Devastation Virus, Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, Light Imprisoning Mirror, Shadow Imprisoning Mirror, Rivalry of Warlords, Royal Decree, and Vanity’s Emptiness. In my earlier ban list articles I talked about how I didn’t like the idea of cards that did not allow both players to interact. If a player had such a card up, they were allowed to play while the other person had to have an out or they would simply lose. In a format where we are trying to get the better player to win, cards like this cannot exist in multiples. Konami must not like these cards as well as you can see examples of them already hitting cards like this such as [ccProd]Soul Drain[/ccProd], [ccProd]Thunder King Rai-Oh[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Eradicator Epidemic Virus[/ccProd].

Sam Pedigo became the face of these trap cards when he won YCS Turin with a full set of 7 in the main deck and another 6 in the side deck. His strategy was to simply not allow his opponent to play while he could. While it was certainly a brilliant strategy, it’s not one that makes for a skillful format as skill is based off of card interactions. If you can’t even play cards, how is that skillful?

I debated the length I should take in removing these cards from the game. It’s entirely possible that it is correct to outright ban every card in this group and extend it to cards like [ccProd]Vanity’s Fiend[/ccProd] and[ccProd] Jowgen the Spiritualist[/ccProd].




While I do think Dragons have been good for the game, it’s probably time they leave us, primarily for the case of variety. The game will lose interest to people and become much more boring if they are allowed to stay. They’ve had their time, but I don’t think most people will miss them. Anything other than outright banning them leaves the potential that they will still be the best deck as they are 4 of the best cards ever printed. That’s why I went ahead and got rid of them all and unrestricted the babies as opposed to other options like hitting their engine of Ravine or Sword.


Unfair Cards

Two cards I’m sure we’d all like to see go in January are Return and Sixth Sense. Unfortunately there are a few more cards than that that I think should go along with them. Let’s hope that we’ve all learned our lessons with any card that contains the text “summon as many monsters as possible” with Return. Quite frankly I don’t care if Rekindling isn’t played or you believe Lavals are cool. Cards like Rekindling shouldn’t exist and most especially not at 3. It’s a themed Return from the Different Dimension. Can we agree to not have any more formats with any cards like this?


I was tempted to add Inzektor Hornet to cards that don’t allow you to play. It essentially punishes you for playing as it can destroy any card you do play. Are you just never going to commit to the field? Couple that with the fact that it allows you to easily OTK your opponent and it definitely meets my qualifications for banning.  I gave the deck a second Dragonfly so that people can take the deck in a different direction. Using him with Ladybug still gives you a rank 5 and a search from Centipede which is still very powerful.


Royal Tribute punishes you for playing Monsters in your deck. You can’t really just not play Monsters and the card is quite unfair.


Judgment Dragon is the best monster in the entire game and it’s currently at 3. Even without the new Lightsworn support, having a card that destroys your opponent’s field at such a minimal cost is simply not okay.


Ever since I’ve been making banlists I’ve included Reckless Greed. Until recently it never actually saw any play and most people were not open to the idea of hitting such an unplayed card. Well let me tell you that I got multiple tops this format solely because of this card and I can personally assure you that having multiples of this card is very unfair.


Geargiarmor. Really this entire format has been the culmination of what I’ve been saying in all of my ban list articles. They finally banned cards that have no place in the game such as Gateway, began hitting cards that don’t promote interaction such as Soul Drain, the thing about Reckless Greed, and now Geargia Armor. Yes this card is indeed unfair. It is a plus 1 every turn, toolboxes an entire engine, and threatens an OTK any turn it isn’t stopped. Sam’s results in Italy pretty much prove all of these to be true.

While we’re on the topic of Geargiarmor, I’d like to go ahead and talk about how unfair Call of the Haunted is. Specifically in Geargia, it means that you can’t safely get rid of Armor without being threatened with an end phase Call to flip it down and search on your turn. We’ve seen its power in Agents where the deck could play 6 [ccProd]Master Hyperion[/ccProd] through maxing out on this card. [ccProd]Monster Reborn[/ccProd] is banned for a reason. Having one that only picks from your grave isn’t restricting enough to leave the card at 3.


[ccProd]Hope for Escape[/ccProd] is a card that will draw you anywhere from 2-4 cards. It’s only played in degenerate decks that don’t wish to interact with your opponent. I’d love to hit the consistency of those decks and reduce how played they are even further.


I’m not entirely sure the best way to deal with Infernity, but the deck is certainly unfair. I believe it was the best deck prior to Dragons, so it is entirely possible it will be the first best deck in the post Dragon era. Something needs to be hit. I chose Lavalval Chain as a slight hit to consistency, but it’s entirely possible that a more restrictive hit may be necessary.


Spellbook of Fate is the last card I want to talk about in this group. I really didn’t really like I could leave Books untouched without them automatically becoming the best deck, so I knew I had to hit something. I’ll talk in the following section about why it wasn’t Secrets or Magician. That left Fate as the prime candidate. It keeps your opponent locked out of the game and having to deal with a live Fate every turn is nearly impossible. The deck loses more than you think when you can’t consistently back your powerful spells with a defensive card.


Hitting Consistency


I think these last couple of formats have proven that when both players have access to any card in their deck at any time, the better player will win. Dragons and Spellbooks from the last 2 formats don’t really play with 6 card hands, they play with 40 card decks. Because of this, I wanted to not hit cards that allow players to do this past a minimal level. The only two cards I hit under this list were Dragon Ravine and Six Samurai United. Dragon Ravine was too powerful with Dragons in the game, but is still an insane engine for Dragunity’s without them. Six Samurai United might be okay if the point of the deck weren’t to turbo into a monster that restricted your ability to play the game. If we were to outright ban [ccProd]Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En[/ccProd], I might be more okay with leaving this at 3.


Stopping OTKs


Putting 8000 on board in a single turn completely disregards the concept of player interactions and is very bad for the game. Because of this there are several cards that I wanted to hit to limit this. Limiter Removal, while not a played card, doesn’t serve any legitimate purpose other than to fuel this degenerate strategy.


Karakuri Burei and Bureido also allow you to OTK an opponent with ease. The deck doesn’t become completely unplayable as going Burei, Bureido, and a level 8 is still possible, which makes me wonder if this is enough of a limit as that can still be 8000. It at least assures that they cannot keep advantage through drawing multiple free cards from Bureido and limits how carelessly they can throw their hand on the board when they only have one of each.


Elemental Hero Bubbleman. I’m sure a lot of people went crazy seeing this card. Really though, I think there is a lot of merit to banning this card. Previously I was a fan of banning Stratos as well and in September, Konami finally did it. Then I reexamined why I wanted Stratos banned. It wasn’t that I thought his ability to search another Hero was too powerful, but that his ability to search Bubbleman and OTK you was too unfair. After looking at it like that, I decided that it might be better to hit the problem directly and go for Bubbleman. This would allow Hero decks to have Stratos back without being able to OTK on the drop of a hat.


Hieratic Dragon King of Atum is a card that affords Hieratics too many options to OTK. Spamming multiple copies of this card and then making Gaia Charger is in no way good for any player looking to play an interactive game.


Thousand-Eyes Restrict and Pot of Greed


I can see it now! “He’s trying to bring back Goat Control!” While it’s a cute concept, let me assure you that the idea of bring back Goat Control in 2014, a full 10 years later with a huge power curve, is entirely unrealistic. I brought back Thousand-Eyes because it will have no impact. The best thing that can be done is summon it off of Instant Fusion and take a monster and then tribute or Synchro off Thousand Eyes. That’s hardly a ban worthy card in today’s game.


Pot of Greed, however, I’m sure will raise some eyebrows. Why on earth would you want to bring back that card? As I talked about above, whether or not you like Dragon Rulers, they’ve certainly been good for the game as the eventual winner is almost always a great player. Why is that? It’s because Dragon Rulers introduced a unique way of playing Goat Control-like games. In Goat Control there were very few cards that were good in the early game. This meant players would sit there for a few turns and instead of having 6 cards each, the game would build up so that players had 9-10 cards each. At this point both players had more options available to them and the player that could most effectively trade resources with the other would win out. Dragons did a similar thing as having 6 cards in hand and 4 Dragons in grave meant you had 10 cards available to you. This made Dragon mirror matches very skillful, but made Dragons outright better than any other deck. If we take this concept of a more skillful game when both players have more cards, it doesn’t seem unrealistic to unban Pot of Greed.


Irrelevant Cards


The last cards on my list will likely remain irrelevant to the competitive scene and are only still on the list because of formats from a long time ago. Gale, Grand Mole, Transmigration Prophecy, and T.G. striker are all perfectly balanced with the power curve being where it is. There may have been a time where these were too powerful, but that time has past and it’s safe for them to come off the list now.


That about wraps up this week’s article. I’ll try to respond to whatever comments are made by people I felt actually read the article and didn’t just glance at the list. I hope to see you in St. Louis this weekend (December 14-15) for ARG’s final event of the year! I’m sure it will be a great one. Play hard or go home!


Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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