Hey everybody! It’s ban list time once again. This week I’m going to be talking about just that. Last year I had a rather controversial ban list article. For that reason I’d like to go ahead and clarify that everything I am talking about in this article is what I think should happen, not what I think will happen. Those are two completely separate things. Konami often makes ban list decisions based on selling product. What may be best for the game may not necessarily be the most profitable for them. This can make them rather unpredictable. They might unrestrict a card to give support to an archetype coming out a couple sets down the road that we haven’t been told about yet. Ultimately, talking about the ban list isn’t going to change anything. For this reason, I’d prefer to talk about what they should do to foster a healthier game as opposed to what they will do to sell packs.
What exactly would a healthier game look like? Last year when I wrote this article I tried to address this question as well. I created a short list of 10 things I would like the ban list to do. I don’t think those goals should change, so I’m simply going to relist them.
- Increase the amount of interaction between players. Under this format I don’t want decks that play with themselves and care little for what the opponent might have.
- Vastly reduce the number of OTKs possible.
- Increase the amount of critical thinking required to win any given game.
- Take preemptive strikes against cards that will be released within the next 6 months to avoid decks that come out throughout the format from dominating over the current format.
- Place more of an emphasis on deckbuilding.
- Increase the length of individual games. If the games last longer there is more time for one person to misplay.
- Decrease the amount of stolen games.
- Eliminate any paradoxes that exist.
- Eliminate bad card design.
- Above all, create a format where the better player wins the vast majority of the time.
Using these 10 things, I’ve created the following list:
Elemental Hero Stratos
Heavy Storm (or Typhoon at 1)
Number 16: Shock Master
Call of the Haunted
Dragged Down Into the Grave
Evigishki Mind Augus
Fire Formation - Tenki
Grapha, Dragon Lord of Dark World
Hieratic Dragon King of Atum
Hope for Escape
Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan
Magician of Faith
Mystical Space Typhoon (Or Heavy Banned)
One Day of Peace
Rivalry of Warlords
Six Samurai United
Spellbook of Secrets
Deep Sea Diva
The Transmigration Prophecy
I’d like to start out this discussion by addressing the biggest paradox of the format; Heavy Storm and 3 MST.
As of right now, you are forced to set 2 cards. MST is at 3 and setting only 1 means that your opponent is far more likely to have MST than Heavy Storm. So you don't get blown out by MST and some follow up, you set 2. This means that when your opponent has Heavy and you set 2, you're being punished for making the right play.
1.) Ban Heavy Storm - This would obviously solve the paradox. My biggest concern here is that people will happily go back to the "Summon Tengu, set 5" phase. This is extra relevant with the impending release of Evilswarm Thunderbird. Summon that or Rabbit then set all your backrow doesn't make for an interactive game. You're just trading 1 for 1 removal every turn with your opponent's monsters while you deal between 1400 and 1950 damage to your opponent while your opponent is unable to play their traps on it. I also like that Heavy Storm punishes people for setting more than 1 if the correct play is to set 1. If it's gone, that can't happen.
2.) MST to 1 - The best way to make the correct play to set 1 is to put MST to 1. This gives you an equal chance of having MST or Heavy, making it better to set 1. The problem with this solution is Konami's release of Night Beam. If Night Beam sees play when MST goes to 1, putting MST to 1 won't be effective and you'll still have the Heavy MST paradox, except it'll be the Heavy Night Beam paradox. Despite the existence of Night Beam, I could see this working. For the first event or two, I think people would default to 1 MST and some amount of Night Beams as their only removal. Then some smart person would come along using cards like Messenger of Peace, Level Limit, Skill Drain, etc etc that are unaffected by Night Beam. Then people would realize that Dust is a better choice overall. This would make for a better format as it would slow the entire format down a turn. Instead of MST Magician Shark or whatever powerful combo there was at the time, you'd have to set Dust for a turn before attempting it.
3.) Ban Night Beam, MST to 1 - Now we get to the solution that won't happen, but would best fix the problem. They're not going to ban a card that sees no play, but if they did and they put MST to 1, it would eliminate the Heavy MST paradox and not leave room for a Heavy Night Beam paradox.
The next thing I want to do is go deck by deck explaining what I’ve hit from each deck to make the decks function more closely to our initial 10 goals.
Let’s start with the big one. I think Wind-Ups are the best deck for the game since Plants. Usually it’s a bunch of two card interactions that can easily be disrupted. They are all about resource management. Throwing Magician Shark into a couple backrow generally won’t get you very far. The problem is really only the first turn plays when they can’t possibly set those backrow. The way I see it is that Wind-Ups are the best deck right now, but only by a little. That’s with them autowinning about 20% of games because they open Magician Shark. Then there are the games where they blow you out with Factory. I think if you took these two types of blowout games away, Wind-Ups would still be a solid deck, but I seriously doubt they would be the best deck.
For this reason I wanted to put Factory to 1 to greatly reduce the number of games that you will get blown out by it. I also outright banned Shock Master and Hunter. Banning Shock Master takes away the ridiculous first turn plays the deck can create. Hunter will be the same thing in a couple of months when Emeral is released. That’s a preemptive ban more than anything. Also there’s the fact that Hunter is awful card design. It actually punishes you for conserving cards.
The last thing I wanted to do was semi-limit Shark. The reason I didn’t do Magician is because it’s awful by itself. Shark is also bad by itself, but it combos with just about everything else. Magician does, but only after it stays on the field for a turn. Taking away a Shark takes away a bit of the spam the deck can create, but leaving Magician doesn’t completely kill it. It still leaves room for an XYZ toolbox deck focused on those two card interactions. I think this would be very healthy for the game. And yes, Magician Shark would still be a power play, but a Maestroke and a Tiras doesn’t mean that you automatically win the game. Also with 1 less Shark and 2 less Factories it would happen a lot less.
Water is in a vacuum a very degenerate deck. It’s like the good version of Dark World. There is no such thing as slowrolling traps against that deck. If they discard Marksman for Megalo or Pike and you’ve got Torrential set, you have to play it. The way the deck is now takes away most of the decisions either player has to make. One of the ten goals of this list was to increase player interaction, so Water certainly has to be touched.
The only obvious hit seemed like Dragoons. It searches pretty much the whole deck. That kind of open access is definitely not good for the game. Realistically though, I don’t think hitting Dragoons is enough. If you watched Joe’s stream the other night where he played under his ban list, Water was still extremely degenerate and overpowered. I don’t think I would necessarily hit Undine because I like the idea of having to play bad cards to play good ones. It forces tradeoffs. That’s why I didn’t hit Undine. I did hit Diva as an attempt to make Water not simply that much better than all the other decks in the format. Once again though, I don’t know if that’s going to be enough. Really I think Marksman might be the real problem card. It’s the card that makes the deck degenerate. It alone can attack for 32 and force you to not be able to hold trap cards. While hitting Dragoons seemed obvious, hitting Marksman seemed like overkill. Perhaps it wouldn’t be though, it’s definitely a tricky balance. Not hitting one card could easily make the deck the best deck (see Wind-Ups this past format) and hitting one too many cards could easily kill it.
As I said above when I was talking about Undine, I really like the concept of being forced to run bad cards to play good ones. Not that the normal are particularly bad, I just think Rescue Rabbit is a very well designed card. Throughout this past format, Rabbit has continued to be a good deck, but certainly not overpowered. It’s very tedious as well. There are tons of small things that you can do wrong with the deck. I like where the power level of this deck is right now and I think it’s completely balanced.
Hornet is an awful design for a card. It actually just punishes you for playing cards. I really don’t think that type of interaction should exist in the game. Because of this, I outright banned it.
I think Fire Fists in their current form are very balanced. Most of them run Rabbit which means they have to run Normals as well. They also give your opponent a lot of information which can make them easy to play around. The problem becomes when they release Wolfberk and Chicken. That’s when the deck gets dumb. I don’t think they actually need to hit any of the monsters, but I’d like to go ahead and limit Tenki on this list. As I was talking about with Water, I don’t think cards that give you access to your entire deck are very good for the game. It also puts an interesting limitation on future cards. They can never print that good of a beast warrior again as long as this card is unlimited. Could you imagine if Wind-Up Shark or Rescue Rabbit had been a beast warrior and then they released this card? Limiting this would take some of the limits they now have to place on themselves off.
Continuing with the idea that cards that let you search your entire deck are bad for the game, we have to address this deck especially with all the added support they are getting in the near future. It’s got a searchable boss monster that can be brought back multiple times. While the deck may be rely a bit too much on a specific sequence of cards to be competitive right now, the cards themselves are absolutely insane. Giving this deck one more good card could always push it over the top where nothing else could compete. For these reasons, I preemptively limited Secrets.
This is absolutely one of the most degenerate decks in the history of the game. It has a searchable boss monster that can be brought back every turn. It cares absolutely nothing about player interaction as it can pop any threat and simply pluck the best card out of your hand. Every time they go first they sit there are play solitaire with themselves for a few minutes. They’re the FTK deck that doesn’t FTK.
Banning Card Destruction was in part to hit this deck, but mostly for the Gishki FTK deck and future FTK decks. I limited Dragged Down because it was the absolute best card in the deck. They advance their gamestate while robbing you of any good cards. And the fact that Grapha was so reusable and searchable meant that I felt he deserved to be limited as well.
Geargia Armor has awful card design. It gives the deck that same search ability that I think is bad for the game and takes flip effect monsters to a whole new level. The single reason the deck is not very competitive today is because of how Water absolutely destroys it because they don’t have to attack into Armors.
A tutorable +1 that searches all of your monsters? I think Stratos has been around too long. All the Bubbleman decks that care nothing about player interaction is just more reason to get rid of him.
This deck is one of the ones that I’m worried about that would ruin this format. They’d absolutely use Night Beam if MST went to 1. Thus the paradox of Night Beam and Heavy. Additionally, they don’t care about the player interaction either. They just want to throw their hand down and OTK. For this reason I think Atum needs to get hit.
I don’t think Shi En is all that bad when you make it through Asceticism and Elder. It’s only a problem when you have the Uniteds/Gateways and most of all Kizans to go along with it. I felt that a themed Pot of Greed had no business at 3. This was also the reason Karakuri Anatomy is on the list. More than that though, I don’t like that Shi En and Kizan is a two turn clock with protection. Shi En is fine as you can grind out the resources and expand the game, but Kizan serves no purpose other than to not let the game get past stage 1 and to spam the board before you can come back. Grandmaster’s fine because there can only be 1 on the field.
I didn’t want to hit Agents too much as they are similar to Rabbit in that they have to run Normals to run their good cards. The problem is that they have good early, middle, and late game plays. I’m okay with boss monsters, but I don’t think they should have 3. At 1 they can’t just drop it and hope for the best. They have to save it. This is the reason I didn’t ban Bls. Yes, it’s a very good card. But it’s a power card and one that most decks can’t play. Usually you can’t just drop it and hope for the best. It becomes more powerful as the game goes on. Thus rewarding for good play. Same with Hyperion.
Additionally I put Call to 1, but that wasn’t exactly because of Agents. Agents losing it was more of a byproduct. I’ll talk more about Call later.
Lastly we have to talk about a few things that didn’t get hit specifically because of certain archetypes.
Limiter Removal – This card doesn’t really serve any purpose other than random OTKs. While it doesn’t really have any effect on the current format, I think it should have been banned a long time ago.
Call of the Haunted – This card has absolutely no business being at anything more than 1. Agents don’t need 6 Hyperion and Inzektors don’t need 4 Dragonflys. Once it’s been set it’s the same thing as Reborn. Because of the popularity of archetypes, you’re usually getting stuff from your graveyard rather than your opponent’s graveyard anyway.
Gozen Match and Rivalry of the Warlords – This is something I’m sure most people don’t think about, but these cards are absolutely awful for the game. There is almost no player interaction while either of these cards is face up on the field. Any deck that can side one of these says “I’ll play my cards while you can’t play yours.”
Hope for Escape and One Day of Peace – These cards being at 3 does absolutely nothing except promote decks like Exodia, Final Countdown, and the Giski FTK deck. All of which don’t care about player interaction. I’d rather eliminate these decks altogether.
Judgment Dragon – Judgment Dragon is one of the best monsters in the history of the game. Lightsworn may not be doing too much right now, but that’s not the point. The point of a ban list is to make sure that too powerful cards do not exist, despite how played they are. I don’t think this card should ever be above 1. There’s nothing positive about it. It’s just a late game bomb that is an absolute blowout. It’s requirements are not specific and it promotes uncontrolled milling (which in turn rewards for luck instead of skill).
Magician of Faith – I think that if this were to come to fruition, this card would have no impact on the game. I think archetypes would still dominate and I think most of them wouldn’t have a place for Faith.
Rekindling – Any card that starts with “Summon as many monsters as possible” doesn’t need to be at 3.
Solemn Warning – If you think your opponent has Torrential set, don’t summon more than you already have. If you think they have Mirror Force, switch a monster or two to defense. If you think they’ve got Prison, don’t attack. Exactly how are you supposed to play around Solemn Warning though? You can’t win the game without summoning. Solemn Warning puts increased emphasis on winning the dice roll. Let’s say a player starts with whatever strong opening is in the format. Perhaps Rabbit into Laggia. By winning the dice roll they’ve already ensured that there play would go through unopposed, but now they’ve gotten an opportunity to set Solemn Warning as well. If they have it in this scenario, it’s a bit unfair. Now they put you on a short clock and one of your best cards is gone (or they just wouldn’t stop it with Warning). With a Toru Guide you can play around Bottomless by making Temtempo and forcing Laggia or Zenmaines and forcing Laggia. Same with Prison, except they might let Zenmaines live if they have Prison. In which case, just don’t attack. Excactly how are you supposed to play around Warning though? It’s the catch all that can’t be played around.
Reckless Greed – I hate the concept of this card. It rewards for drawing multiples and punishes for drawing only 1. It’s an extremely luck based card. It’s also an additional way to hit Dark World.
Archlord Kristya – This card’s summoning requirements are very specific. It’s not even played at 2 in most Agent decks now. I think it can safely go back to 3 without causing any harm to the format.
Mind Crush – It’s a solid balancing card with so many searchers present in the format. It’s a lot more balanced under this list since Dark Worlds have been taken down a few levels. More than that though, it rewards for sharp reads, something the game doesn’t do enough of right now.
Scapegoat – The consensus last format when we all brought Scapegoat back to three was that we all wanted Goat Control back. That’s got to be some kind of joke right? Bringing Scapegoat back to 3 certainly won’t do anything to bring back Goat Control. What it will do, however, is one of two things. One, it will continue to see no play just as it does now. Two, people will play it and it will slow the format down a bit (considering how slow of a card it is), which is certainly a good thing. If it were to actually be played, it would increase the length of the average game. This was one of our 10 objectives for this ban list.
The Transmigration Prophecy – This card’s pretty awful. I would absolutely love my opponent to take a slow -1 to have a chance of redrawing some kind of power card. If that were in any way shape or form good, people would be doing it with power cards now. They don’t. Card’s awful. This card could go to ten and still wouldn’t see play.
That wraps up all of my explanations for why I think cards should be forbidden, limited, semi-limited, or unrestricted. I think this list does a fairly good job at accomplishing the initial list of 10 things that we set out to do.
If this list were to come to be the real list, I would say that the top decks would be Water, Wind-Up (maybe), Spellbooks (soon), Fire Fists, Rabbit, X-Sabers and Geargia (maybe). I think this would be a diverse format, but in the good sense, similar to Edison when Jeff won. There were a lot of good decks, but none of them were overpowered. Because of this there would be a lot of player interaction and none of the problems there are with diversity in a format like this one (can’t side for them all, can’t main certain cards because decks exist, etc) wouldn’t really be an issue. I’d be willing to try this list on Dueling Network if anyone is interested.
While this format is coming to a close, there are still 3 more YCSes to look forward to before it does. I’ll be attending both Miami and Germany, so I hope to see you at both. This format is certainly shaping up to have an exciting last few weeks behind it, but I think it will be a breath of fresh air when it is finally over. While I know the real list won’t look very similar to mine, I believe that mine addresses many of the major concerns that there are in the game right now. If you like the list, hated the list, or think I missed something, leave a comment down below and I’ll try and respond. Until next time, play hard or go home!