One question that I’m sure everyone has been asked before by casuals, non-players, or new players, is “what is the best card in the game?” I have always considered that to be a bit of a trivial and unimportant question, one that really strays from the ideal of Yugioh. This is a game about strategy, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. An individual card, even a playset, does not make a deck.
Still, as this format drags on, I can’t help but feel that one card has dominated the metagame in a way that few others have. While cards like Dark Armed Dragon, Judgment Dragon, Rescue Cat, and many others have built up new strategies and tore down existing ones, their impact on the game has been relatively limited. Decks are fickle, and exist in moments of glory before fading away after a banlist, or when players throw their side decks and counter tech picks at them. Other cards have proven their worth over time, including staples like Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, Solemn Judgment, and other widely used game-winning cards.
To me, the best card in this game is not something that makes a single deck amazing, or a card that in itself will win duels, but something that has a positive, metagame-wide impact across hundreds of different strategies. In my opinion, Pot of Duality IS that card.
Tell me something I don’t know.
Before you run off to the comments and yell about how everybody knows Duality is “teh l337 cardz”, understand that this article is not about that. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you know just how good Pot of Duality is. The card is everywhere in competitive play, so I won’t waste another second of your time talking about its applications there. Instead, I want to talk about the impact it has had in the metagame, which is a different story entirely and has enormous ramifications with the upcoming reprint and the September banlist.
There are times when a card is released, and suddenly, a strategy or a theme becomes very strong. Worms, Gravekeeper’s, and very likely Zombies after Generation Force are examples of this. The catch with Duality is that it not only provides something important to decks, but it provides it for so many decks. This has had a major impact on what people are playing, and looking at the whole of the format, Duality is responsible for about a third of the decks being played right now.
On Creativity and Diversity
When you don’t have a key card to make a specific deck, you just don’t build it. That is often the thought process of a lot of players, and rightly so. X-Sabers with Giant Rat instead of Emmersblade? It’s okay, but don’t expect to top a regional with it. How about Tengu Plants without Trishula? That strategy uses Trishula quite often as a game winner, so you could assume that without it, the deck would win considerably less.
Duality is one of those cards that make you think “if I don’t have it, I can’t run X deck”. How many times have we all heard that? Let’s face it, nobody wants to run Anti-Meta, Stun, Naturia, Worms, Heroes, X-Sabers, or countless other decks without Duality. It’s almost like Solemn Judgment when that was played at three. Some players used an entire playset, while others used none at all, and very often duels were decided one way or another based on that decision. The same situation persists here, where duels can be determined in mirror matches simply by who is, or isn’t, running Duality. Okay, that’s a little alarmist, I know. Pot of Duality is great, but it’s not a “run it and you’ll always win the mirror” type of card. Still, that added consistency makes a difference.
Here’s the real kicker. The idea that players will not use certain strategies because they lack Duality works both ways. With Duality in the hands of more people, they will be more likely to pick up decks like those mentioned above. Suddenly you have a competitive environment that is experiencing an influx of rouge decks that simply could not be played effectively before. At the local level, imagine that the new Super Rare Duality causes two players to pick up Worms. This is an archetype that profited an enormous amount from the release of Nebula, and with Duality to search it effectively (similarly to Flamvells searching Rekindling) it becomes a very dangerous deck. As a player, your side deck is going to change, and you will need to learn the matchup.
Still, players using different decks at local tour is one thing. They might not do all that much better than when they did not have Duality. After all, there is no guarantee that they will draw it. Where this trend really starts to become apparent is at large events such as a regional or YCS. When five out of two hundred people are running Worms suddenly becomes twenty thanks to Duality, you’re going to see some major changes in what tops. In addition, matchups change. More players running Gravekeeper’s with Duality means more first turn Royal Tribute or Necrovalley. I don’t need to tell you what this means for Tengu based decks. The same issue at the local level still exists of course, but when you look at these decks from a large tournament perspective, that consistency adds up.
You end up with a format filled with many different decks, builds that would otherwise be tier two or three, but stand a fighting chance thanks to the extra consistency of Pot of Duality. Even if it does not give the individual duelist perfect results, it will affect the whole of competitive play. Of course, it already has to some extent, but that will be nothing compared to the mass reprinted waiting in August. As I said earlier, players do not want to play decks that they don’t have the cards for. When the floodgates open and access to Duality becomes much easier, the variety of decks being played will also increase. Ideas that were ‘just’ not there will very quickly become something to look out for.
So we have an increase in variety, which in my opinion is a great thing, but what about creativity? If everyone is running a playset of Duality, and it becomes a staple, there are going to be people who complain about it. Book of Moon, Reborn Tengu, and Solemn Judgment have similar connotations when it comes to creative building, but really, Duality does something a bit different. It boosts creativity by allowing people to run different decks, even slower paced ones, in a competitive environment. How many times have you thought up a deck or strategy, only to realize that it would never work without a Duality playset (assuming you did not have them). For many budget players, that is going to be a thing of the past soon.
There is one more point I want to make. Obviously September holds another banlist for us, and the unlimited status of Pot of Duality is up in the air. Will Konami see it as a staple that needs to be taken away, or a card that has a beneficial and positive effect on the metagame? They have made numerous questionable decisions in the past, and running this game for money is not beneath them. I can’t say one way or the other, so put simply, I won’t. I DO think that it would be a bit of a loss to see it Limited.
Was that wall-o-text a bit too much? That’s too bad if it was, but if so, here’s a brief summary. There is more to Pot of Duality then “it’s a good card that gives you better consistency”. Its ability to affect deck choices on a massive scale has shaped the way this format has been going for the last year. Take a moment to consider what new decks will be played, and in greater numbers, when Duality is reprinted in August. If September is kind to it we face an interesting, low-cost format filled with variety and creativity. I don’t think you could ask for much more. Until next time then.