A Duelist’s Alternative – ARG Format

Last week, ARG released its very own Forbidden/Limited list. The community has been in an uproar ever since; some people love it, some people hate it, and others are indifferent, but I think we can all agree that it feels good to have options. Think of it like your extra deck— you may never have to actually use it, but it’s there just in case. Also, I am a firm believer in the theory that playing different games/formats can/will make you a better player overall. In fact, the same year that I started playing Magic the Gathering was the same year that I finally topped a premier event in Yu-Gi-Oh. One of the things that I respect about the pros in Magic The Gathering is how they are able to perform well across several different formats, and during the same time period. In Yu-Gi-Oh, you really only have to focus on one format every three to four months. Imagine having to test for a tournament in one format and then having to test for another tournament in a completely different format next week. You would have to memorize card interactions, relevant decks, different side deck options, ideal choices for going first or second, etc. I hope that by the end of this article, you will be able to see the benefits of having different Forbidden/Limited lists at the same time, and why that can be healthy for the growth of the game.

Djinn Releaser of RitualsSo, who enjoyed losing the game on turn one because he couldn’t special summon any monsters? Unfortunately, that was one of the most defining characteristics of the April 2015 Nekroz format. Every competitive deck had to be built around one nuisance of a card, and the cards that got rid of it were typically awful otherwise. It made deck building extremely frustrating as you would often play in events where you faced very few Nekroz decks, making those outs to the Djinn lock dead draws, or you would play against Nekroz and not see an out to it even when your opponent Djinn locked you. Tales of countless players losing in the top cut for the reasons listed above rang across the country. Imagine practicing hard for a tournament and then watching it all go to waste as your opponent played solitaire. Arguably, there have been other degenerate formats in the past, but you would think that the banlist committee should know how to prevent it from happening again and again…and again. At the very least, ARG is promising to emergency ban cards if things get out of hand, just as UDE once did when they had the rights to the game.

nekroz of TrishulaOutside of Djinn, there were other things that defined the last Konami format. Most notably: Nekroz of Trishula. Players opted to go second for the protection from the aforementioned blue menace and the fact that you get an extra card. When I think of this card, I think of how much it warps the game. You literally spent your turns trying to find ways to not get “Trish’d.” It was so devastating that having it resolve just once could potentially end the game. Most of the time, it was the end of the game. You literally couldn’t play certain decks because of Trishula; Lightsworn, Zombies, Sylvans, Water—all unplayable. The fact that those decks couldn’t empty their hands or clear their fields on turn one made them awful tournament choices. With Trish banned, people can build other decks and find out if something other than Burning Abyss, Qliphorts, Satellarknights, or Nekroz is a good option.

It would be a disservice if I didn’t mention one of the looming problems in the ARG format. With the release of Wavering Eyes, everyone everywhere has been talking about Towers Turbo. It’s exactly what it sounds like—you strap on your helmet, you draw your hand, and you play everything you drew in hopes of dropping Qliphort Towers on turn one. This is essentially the new Djinn Lock since you can win the game by playing solitaire as soon as it starts. As you know, there are very few outs to the 3000 beatstick, and he makes it harder to get rid of him with his other effect that keeps sending your monsters to the grave. I’ve noticed that some of the new Nekroz builds are playing two copies of Decisive Armor to compensate for this popular deck, and rightly so. The only problem is…you aren’t guaranteed to win even if you do manage to beat Towers. There are still swarms of monsters just waiting to touch your lifepoints, and they won’t be gentle about it either.

Fire Lake of the Burning AbyssSince Qliphorts are predicted to be one of the forerunners of the ARG format, I think Burning Abyss would be a really good meta call for the first event. Burning Abyss has Fire Lake, which is the bane of every Pendulum deck. The Pendulum mechanic literally plays right into the card, allowing it to reach full value every time it’s flipped. On top of that, it will ruin the hopes of all rogue decks like Wind-ups, Ritual Beasts, Inzektors, Mermails, Fire Fist, Sylvans, etc. Those decks cannot deal with having three of their cards taken away in an instant. They weren’t around for that type of power creep, and the foreign concept of losing a field so easily wasn’t a thing (unless you count Inzektors, which was never the best deck). In addition, Fiend Griefing is a nice little check to Satellarknights as it puts back the one card they need to see every game to compete—Deneb. At the same time, it sucks against Qliphorts so you might want to hold off on using a full playset until the meta settles.

I think Stick-Chair is another good combination that may see a lot of play in this format as players will be more inclined to commit to the field. It also makes Call of the Haunted a deadly card, prompting players to forego killing a Star Seraph Scepter if he or she doesn’t have an MST or a way to stop an End Phase Call. And since we’re talking about deadly combinations, I feel it’s only right to mention an old school favorite, Magician-Shark. Thanks to Daigusto Emeral tricks, you can take three cards from your opponent’s hand depending on which other combo pieces you draw with it. Between Wind-up Sharks, additional Sharks, and prior fields, things can get quite nutty. If you have Soul Charge…well, let’s just say the game is over.

This weekend will be the first event where we get to see the innovation stemming from the ARG format. Be sure to tune in to the live stream on Saturday and Sunday to see past favorites going head-to-head for $6,500 in prizes!

Until next time, duelists! Play Hard or Go Home!

-Frazier Smith

-The Dark Magician

Frazier Smith

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