Every few months Konami releases a new Forbidden and Limited list that is supposed to mitigate issues in the prior format and orchestrate change in the following one. Lets examine the January 2015 ban list and take a closer look at the “changes” that were made!
At long last Super-Polymerization has finally been banned and for good reason! The October 2014 ban list limited Super-Polymerization following the abuse of the card at three in the Lightsworn-Shaddoll deck that displayed dominance towards the end of that format. Limiting Super-Polymerization did not resolve the issue that the card posed because limiting the card to one made the Shaddoll mirror match very unfair. Super-Polymerization degenerated the Shaddoll mirror because whichever player drew the card first could swing the tempo of the game in their favor effortlessly. Having played Shaddolls this past format and experiencing how unfair the card is in the mirror I would often ask my opponents if they wanted to side out Super-Polymerization to keep the match as fair as possible. More often than not my opponents would agree because of similar distaste for the card. Finally we can let Super-Polymerization rest in peace!
Dark Strike Fighter
The “Limited” section of the ban list is where I found most of my frustration to be concentrated. My frustration was primarily focused on what Konami didn’t put to one. Tour Guide from the Underworld should have been put to one because of how immensely powerful she is in the Burning Abyss deck. Tour Guide is a searchable card that increases the deck’s odds of opening multiple Dantes and invokes powerful established boards with the commitment of a normal summon. Along with Tour Guide, I believe Vanity’s Emptiness should have been Limited to 1 as well. Vanity’s Emptiness has seen a huge spike in play in the past few years due to its ability to prevent an opposing player from special summoning. In the past Konami has banned cards like Royal Oppression, Cold Wave, Shock Master, Yata-Garasu, and Thousand-Eyes Restrict because they prevented people from playing the game. What makes Vanity’s Emptiness any different? Enough about what should have happened; lets look at what actually did.
Konami took Dark Strike Fighter off the ban list following its errata in the newest Legendary Collection that was released on October 24th this past fall. Dark Strike Fighter was formerly a huge issue due to his simple effect that could end games in a one turn, but with his errata he is quite fair and not broken at all. Dark Strike Fighter could be unlimited and it wouldn’t change anything. The next card that was limited is Artifact Moralltach, which has been relevant ever since its release in the Primal Origin set on May 16, 2014. Artifact Moralltach cannot do that much damage on its own, but in combination with an Artifact Sanctum or an Artifact Ignition, Artifact Moralltach can swing the tempo of a game due to its effect that destroys a face-up card. More importantly Artifact Moralltach’s effect does not target, which prevents your opponent from being able to effectively respond to its activation (Unless they have some form of effect negation). The OCG limited Moralltach a few months before we did for the very same reasons.
The last limited card and by far the most controversial is Snatch Steal. I was not active in the competitive scene when this card was legal, and I always thought I would never be able to play it legally because of how unfair the card is. Konami removed Snatch Steal from the Forbidden List for whatever reason and now it will be an undisputable staple in just about every deck. I was discussing this change with Jeff Jones, and he mentioned that Brain Control should have come back before Snatch Steal. This has to go along the same lines of Dark Hole vs. Raigeki. If you are actually going to go by logic, Raigeki should never be in the game before Dark Hole is at 3. Snatch Steal should never be off of the Forbidden List before Brain Control is at 3, and THAT is something that should, never, EVER happen anyway. Similar to Super-Polymerization in the Shaddoll mirror match, could we potentially see people asking each other to side out Snatch Steal to keep matches fair? Jeff and myself have started asking our opponent's this in-between games, and most people have agreed that we both would like to agree to side out Snatch Steal.
The Semi-Limited section of the ban list was very interesting to say the least. Dark Hole was brought back to two because almost every deck plays floaters now, and as I said before it should have gone to three before Raigeki ever saw the light of day. In a Meta composed of Burning Abyss, Shaddolls, and Qliphorts, there isn’t a single one of these decks that mind having their field blown away because all of the cards will replace themselves. Honest going to two is slightly disheartening because the card can quite literally steal games. Whenever I play against a deck that creates a plethora of light monsters, I always do my best to play around Honest because that card can ruin your day. Honest could be used in Shaddoll decks as a strong light choice because you can use it to protect Denko Sekka or just finish a game even faster than the deck already does. The Satellarknight deck received the biggest boost from Honest going to two because all of the monsters in the deck have a light attribute. Satellarknights have essentially been handed another solution to El Shaddoll Winda, which poses a huge threat to them if they can’t get it off the field. The last card that was Semi-Limited is Goyo-Guardian, which in my opinion could go to three at this point and it wouldn’t really change anything. The only deck in the competitive scene right now that has the potential to make Goyo-Guardian is Shaddolls, and the preferred level six synchro in that deck is HTS Psyhemuth. Most extra decks are way too tight to fit in a second Goyo-Guardian, which is why it would be completely irrelevant if the card went to three.
Blackwing- Gale the Whirlwind
The Transmigration Prophecy
Last but not least, lets examine the Unlimited section of the Forbidden and Limited list! Mermail players can rejoice as Abyssgunde has finally been brought back to three! If you look at Burning Abyss, Cir is actually just a better version of Abyssgunde so it makes sense entirely for it to be at three. Abyssgunde’s return could help push Mermails back into the competitive scene due to its monster reborn ability. Abyssgunde also allows the Mermail deck access to discard traps like Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, Karma Cut, and Raigeki Break which can all be used effectively against most of the Meta decks. Abyssgunde can be used to foster OTKs and create very strong fields that feature Mermail Abyssgaios and Abyss Dweller, both of which pose threats to the majority of the competitive decks! Reborn Tengu was brought back to three because he simply isn’t as powerful as he used to be. Back in 2011, Reborn Tengu was used in the Plant Synchro deck to great effect and pushed that deck to the top of the tier list. In today’s game Fire/Ice Hand alongside Collapserpent/Wyverburster heavily outclass Reborn Tengu because of their floating abilities and more universal uses. Tengu most likely will not see play in any competitive deck this coming format despite most of the cards from the Plant Synchro deck being legal again.
Blackwing- Gale the Whirlwind going to three is something that will make Blackwing players very happy. Unfortunately Gale the Whirlwind going to three won’t be enough to push the deck back into the high tier list because all the new decks are simply too powerful and get too many free cards. Gale’s return to three was most likely a business move by Konami to help sell their new Premium Gold: Return of the Bling set because it has new Blackwing support in it. Reasoning going to three is similar to Gale and Tengu going to three in a sense that it won’t push any decks into the competitive scene without an addition of new cards. The last card that went back to three is The Transmigration Prophecy. The Transmigration Prophecy is a very fair card that allows its user to recycle cards in their graveyard or their opponent’s. This card was at one for a while, because you could loop multiple copies but that isn’t actually an issue. With this card at three it could be an interesting side deck option against Burning Abyss because of its ability to send the Malebranche monsters back into their respective deck and disrupt plays.
Overall the January 2015 list hasn’t really assessed any of the real issues and we should all expect to see a very similar list of decks topping heading into the new format. I encourage everyone to be patient for change in the game as I have noticed a decline in players at my locals and events. This may be because people are tired of seeing the same decks do well or because they don’t like any of the decks that are viable to play. This same thing happened when Dragon Ruler variants dominated the game for two whole formats and still popped up a few times even after they were hit twice on multiple ban lists. There are quite a few sets that are coming out during this winter format, please be patient for the change, as it is coming. I hope to see as many of you at ARGCS Orlando January 3rd/4th as possible! Will you play the same deck as last format, or try something new? Whether you are playing one of the tier 1 decks or something different, always remember to Play Hard or Go Home!