A look at the OCG Banlist | The Irish Duelist

A look at the OCG Banlist

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(Please note that this was written before SJC Indy took place and doesn't reflect any new trends/decks that surfaced at that event)


For the past week or so, ever since the Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championships finished in Tokyo, the focus of many duelists has been on the supposed 'leaked' banlist for the September 2009 format. Rumours about the list surfaced on Monday when various Worlds competitors hinted that they had seen the new list (the general consensus is that the Japanese players had the list, and spread it around the area) and by the end of Wednesday this 'list' had been posted all over the various Yu-Gi-Oh! forums (though Duelistgroundz.com did suppress the availability of the list on their forums).

On Saturday though, scans and photos of the latest V-JUMP magazine (the main source of Yu-Gi-Oh! news in Japan) began to surface and after comments from Jeff Jones and Kevin Tewart it was deemed that the pictures were indeed official and that we have our new list for September:


Changes to the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG Forbidden/Limited List for September 2009:


Forbidden Cards:
Card of Safe Return
Crush Card Virus
Dark Strike Fighter
Monster Reborn

Limited Cards:
Black Rose Dragon
Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind
Call of the Haunted
Cold Wave
Demise, King of Armageddon
Mind Control
Mind Master
One for One
Rescue Cat
Solemn Judgment
Summoner Monk

Semi-Limited Cards:
Bottomless Trap Hole
Chaos Sorcerer
Dewloren, Tiger Prince of the Ice Barrier (currently an OCG exclusive)
Lonefire Blossom
Mezuki

No longer Limited:
Breaker the Magical Warrior
D.D. Warrior Lady
Destiny Draw
Fissure
Green Baboon, Defender of the Forest
Raiza the Storm Monarch



While this is the list for the OCG it will (barring TCG exclusives and other possible minor changes) be the same for the TCG when it is officially revealed on August 20th. The changes here affect many of the dominating decks of the last six months and we will get to see the new format in action within a week of its legality at The Irish Open, which takes place on Saturday, September 5th. While most players will most likely adjust their previous builds so that they are legal again, the event should give TCG players a basic impression of what the next six months will bring.

The best way to see how the list affects the 'Big 4' (Skill Drain has died off since the European Championship and no other Dark variant has replaced it at the time of writing this article) is by taking sample builds and highlighting all of the cards that have changed. We'll start with Cat Synchro, which has been dominating in Japan since late last year.





Cat Synchro
(Charles Easton - Canadian National Championship)

Monsters: 20
2 Rescue Cat
3 X-Saber Airbellum
2 Summoner Monk
1 Sangan
1 Sea Koala
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
1 Neo-Spacian Dark Panther
1 Dark Armed Dragon
2 Mystic Tomato
1 Cyber Dragon
2 Gravekeeper’s Guard
1 Blackwing – Gale the Whirlwind
1 Rose, Warrior of Revenge
1 Ryko, Lightsworn Hunter

Spells: 14
2 Pot of Avarice
2 Cold Wave
1 Heavy Storm
1 Brain Control
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Mind Control
2 Gold Sarcophagus
1 Giant Trunade
2 Book of Moon
(1 Monster Reborn)

Traps: 7
1 Crush Card Virus
1 Mirror Force
1 Trap Dustshoot
3 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Torrential Tribute


Extra: 15
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Thought Ruler Archfiend
1 Red Dragon Archfiend
1 Colossal Fighter
2 Blackwing Armor Master
2 Dark Strike Fighter
1 X-Saver Urbellum
2 Arcanite Magician
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Goyo Guardian
1 Gaia Knight the Force of the Earth
1 Magical Android

Monster Reborn wasn't in Charles' deck as he forgot to write it on his decklist and subsequently couldn't run it, but it was a 'staple' in Cat Synchro (and pretty much every other deck) for the last six months. Now it's gone (and will most likely be replaced by Call of the Haunted) but this is a change that will affect every deck regardless. Most decks will just replace Reborn with Call but some decks (most notably Lightsworn) aren't as trap-friendly as others.

As for this decktype in particular, it's pretty much 'dead' as a Tier 1 option. The main engine components of Cold Wave, Rescue Cat, Mind Control and Summoner Monk have all been hit and the deck's reliance on Level 7 synchros (most notably Dark Strike Fighter) has also been tampered with. The fact that Cat Synchro's other 'go-to' Level 7 has also been limited makes the deck almost unrunnable.

Bottomless Trap Hole and Crush Card Virus have also gone down by one card each (CCV being banned changes the game entirely and I'll get to that in a bit) so the deck loses out on defensive options aswell. Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind was only a 'tech' choice and never really run in multiples so its limitation has a minimal effect on the deck.




Blackwing
(Matt Peddle - Canadian National Championship)

Monsters: 17
1 Dark Armed Dragon
2 Blackwing – Sirocco the Dawn
3 Blackwing – Gale the Whirlwind
3 Blackwing – Bora the Spear
3 Blackwing – Shura the Blue Flame
3 Blackwing – Kalut the Moon Shadow
2 Blackwing – Blizzard the Far North

Spells: 13
3 Black Whirlwind
1 Monster Reborn
1 Heavy Storm
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Dark Eruption
1 Mind Control
2 Book of Moon
2 Allure of Darkness
1 Brain Control

Traps: 10
3 Solemn Judgment
3 Bottomless Trap Hole

1 Mirror Force
1 Torrential Tribute
2 Icarus Attack


Extra: 15
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Colossal Fighter
1 Red Dragon Archfiend
1 Thought Ruler Archfiend
1 Arcanite Magician
1 Black Rose Dragon
2 Dark Strike Fighter
2 Blackwing Armor Master
1 Blackwing Armed Wing
1 Goyo Guardian
1 Sea Dragon Lord Gishilnodon
1 Magical Android
1 Gladiator Beast Gyzarus

After the release of Raging Battle in May, the Blackwing archetype hasn't changed much at all but rather gone through a period of refinement which culminated in the version listed above. Some variants ran different choices (such as Reckless Greed) but for the most part this is the 'typical' Blackwing deck.

It's safe to say that the deck's most important card's (Gale) limitation will have a significant effect on the way the deck is run. Gale was the primary search target for Black Whirlwind and fed into the decks primary win condition which has also taken a hit in the list (Dark Strike Fighter). Games will no longer be 'hit-and-run' for Blackwing players as the aggressive element has been toned down quite a few notches. The reliance on Level 7 synchros was based around Gale but that's been hit here just as hard as it has in Cat Synchro.

That being said, the deck could now be given a new lease of life what with the release of new Blackwing support in Ancient Prophecy and the focus away from pure aggression. Blackwing decks can no longer rely on a Gale or something similar to turn their average-looking field into a game winning powerhouse so players may attempt to turn them into an aggressive control variant, similar to Gladiator Beasts, but with greater offensive capabilities.




Gladiator Beasts
(Yohann Dudugnon - European Championship)

Monsters: 17
2 Gladiator Beast Laquari
2 Gladiator Beast Samnite
1 Gladiator Beast Bestiari
1 Gladiator Beast Murmillo
1 Gladiator Beast Darius
1 Gladiator Beast Secutor
1 Gladiator Beast Equeste
2 Rescue Cat
3 Test Tiger
1 Elemental Hero Prisma
1 Gladiator Beast Hoplomus
1 Sangan

Spells: 7
3 Book of Moon
1 Heavy Storm
1 Mystical Space Typhoon
1 Monster Reborn
1 Gladiator Proving Ground

Traps: 16
3 Solemn Judgment
3 Waboku
3 Gladiator Beast War Chariot
3 Bottomless Trap Hole
1 Mirror Force
1 Torrential Tribute
2 Dust Tornado


Extra: 15
3 Gladiator Beast Gyzarus
2 Gladiator Beast Heraklinos
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Magical Android
1 Dark Strike Fighter
1 Colossal Fighter
1 Thought Ruler Archfiend
1 Red Dragon Archfiend
1 Goyo Guardian
1 Arcanite Magician
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Blackwing Armor Master

It's been a difficult year for Gladiator Beasts, the emergence of TeleDaD knocked pretty much everything to one side for six months to begin with. Come the start of the current format though, there was no clear idea of what was going to be the dominant deck so the archetype was able to creep back up to the top tables. The release of Raging Battle and the birth of TCG Cat Synchro knocked them down again but they have always been there or thereabouts when the final rounds of a major event were taking place. The deck hasn't gotten worse (outside of the limitation on Gladiator Beast Bestiari), it's just that the other decks have gotten significantly better.

The new list could have dealt a fatal blow to Gladiators however, as its major strong-point (a very solid defensive control engine) has been hit big with the limitation on Solemn Judgment and the semi-limit on Bottomless Trap Hole. The loss of a Rescue Cat hurts a little aswell but I always felt that the deck was trying too many things at once by adding the Cat engine (and possibly X-Sabers and Monks to boot). Going back to the defensive hits though, I don't believe that the deck is as 'crippled' as many others do because of the loss of two Solemns. Yes, Solemn is a great card but the deck wasn't built around it. Gladiator players are now forced to innovate and still have plenty of potential in the new format, if they can keep up with the deck below that is..




Lightsworn
(Stefano Memoli - European Championship)

Monsters: 22
3 Honest
2 Judgment Dragon
3 Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner
1 Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress
1 Ehren, Lightsworn Monk
1 Garoth, Lightsworn Warrior
2 Aurkus, Lightsworn Druid
2 Necro Gardna
3 Celestia, Lightsworn Angel
3 Wulf, Lightsworn Beast
1 Plaguespreader Zombie

Spells: 11
3 Charge of the Light Brigade
3 Solar Recharge
1 Heavy Storm
1 Monster Reborn
1 Monster Reincarnation
2 Foolish Burial

Traps: 7
3 Threatening Roar
1 Crush Card Virus
2 Beckoning Light
1 Torrential Tribute


Extra: 15
1 Stardust Dragon
1 Colossal Fighter
1 Thought Ruler Archfiend
1 Avenging Knight Parshath
1 Goyo Guardian
2 Dark Strike Fighter
1 Red Dragon Archfiend
1 Black Rose Dragon
1 Arcanite Magician
1 Tempest Magician
2 Magical Android
1 Gaia Knight, The Force of Earth

Just one look at the above list and the changes it has to make come September 1st will be a cause for concern for many players. While Monster Reborn, Dark Strike Fighter and Crush Card Virus have all been forbidden these three cards were run in pretty much every deck and, as is highlighted in the two previous decks, were seen as essential components for success. In Lightsworn however, the loss of these three cards has done little to hurt the deck, in fact it may have made the deck stronger. The one main-decked card that Lightsworn players feared most was Crush Card Virus as the basic engine requires many high-stat monsters what would fall to the Virus, the deck never relied on Dark Strike Fighter to win (if it can get it out at all it's an added bonus) and every deck ran Reborn.

The limitation of cards that weren't used in Lightsworn decks also help them in a way. Outside of the threat of Monk, Cat and Gale which created the opposition it's the limit of Cold Wave that will be seen as a big boost to Sworn. A Lightsworn deck often needs a good run of spells to gain steam in the early turns before the monsters can do the rest themselves and the reduced frequency of their hand being 'frozen' by a Turn 1 Cold Wave will only make that run of spells easier to resolve. Black Rose Dragon was occasionally used to clear an already-developed field but its limitation means that a 'second wave' created by the Lightsworn player may be enough to finish the opponent off. The reliance on strong monsters meant that Bottomless Trap Hole could, if timed well enough, stop the snowballing of effects and its semi-limit cuts the odds of that happening in time down by at least a third. Solemn Judgment is seen by many as one of the best defensive options in the game (in general) and was often the opponents only out to a freshly-summoned Judgment Dragon. Its limit cuts off that protection and also has the knock-on effect of reducing the amount of available protection that's needed to keep key side-deck cards such as Light-Imprisoning Mirror on the field (the upping of Breaker the Magical Warrior from one to three also makes spell and trap reliance a nightmare).

If all of this wasn't enough to convince players to keep their Charges, Recharges and Honests there's also the increase in the number of Chaos Sorcerers allowed. Some people feel that two Judgment Dragons aren't enough 'boss monsters' for the deck and have often run Dark Armed Dragon and Chaos Sorcerer as extra win conditions. A second Sorcerer almost makes 'Twilight' (Lightsworn with the addition of various Dark support cards) a viable decktype in its own right, though five boss monsters may be too much for a deck that has enough consistency problems as it is. In fact, that's the only thing stopping Lightsworn from dominating the game. The combo-centric nature of the deck, combined with the 'milling' mechanic that it relies on will prevent Lightsworn from ever being a truly consistent deck. It is often noted that Lightsworn players (myself included) lose more games from bad opening hands than they do from being outplayed but with the chances of other decks to pounce on this reduced Lightsworn should be winning more and may finally get the major North American tournament win that it deserves for being on top for so long.




Other changes

Most of the major changes have been explained above, but there are many cards that still need to be talked about:

Card of Safe Return (along with Mezuki and Lonefire Blossom): This will seem strange to many as it was doing nothing in the game since TeleDaD format (when TeleZombie was almost as powerful, if underplayed) but I believe that this is a pre-emptive measure designed around future releases. If I remember correctly the upcoming Gemini support makes Gigaplant OTK more consistent so cutting off the major source of draw power (and semi-limiting the best themed recruiter in the game) is a sound move. The 'rebirth' (sorry) of Zombies thanks to Mezuki is another valid reason to ban the card.

Call of the Haunted: This will replace Monster Reborn in most decks (I don't see it being used in Lightsworn when they already have a themed version that sees minimal play). That basic switch slows the game down a little bit and tones down the overabundance of Special Summoning aswell. Reborn is the better of the two but Call has that added element of surprise. The 'chainability factor' will have various implications depending on what triggers it (one example would be a monster revived right after a Mirror Force and attacking anyway) and the fact that it's a trap makes it a bluff card that can still be a near-immediate threat.

Cold Wave: Given the card's design and the increased reliability on monster effects by various decktypes, this limitation makes a lot of sense. 'Freezing out' spells and traps for two turns is a dangerous effect and to abuse that lockdown with various monster effects (Rescue Cat, Summoner Monk) or excessive swarming (Blackwings, though the deck doesn't usually run Cold Wave) justify the limit.

One for One, Mind Master and Demise, King of Armageddon: I'll admit that I haven't paid much attention to Ancient Prophecy, Stardust Overdrive or recent OCG tournaments to give proper reasons for the limits on these cards but I heard something about a combo involving these three cards (among other things) that can lead to an OTK so it's another pre-emptive measure. I do know however that there is upcoming Ritual support in Stardust Overdrive (though I thought it was designed not to work with Level 8's) so limiting the best Ritual monster in the game makes sense if the support pushes it over the top.

Mind Control: This card plus a Tuner gets rid of almost any monster in the game while also allowing the player to drop a high-level Synchro so the limit makes perfect sense.

Dewloren, Tiger Prince of the Ice Barrier: I didn't even know what this card did until I checked it on YVD a few minutes ago but a quick read of the effect would show just how powerful it can be (if you can get it out). I also heard something from Rauzes about an OTK/FTK in the OCG but haven't had time to find out the actual combo yet.

The cards that have gone up to three have various degrees of importance. Destiny Draw has gone up since the engine isn't the unstoppable force it used to be. Fissure and D.D. Warrior Lady will help out 'stun' and anti-meta strategies a lot, as will the recent reprint of Doomcaliber Knight and the banning of Crush Card. Green Baboon's effect has been sort of 'neutered' since it can't be activated in the Damage Step so it's no longer strong enough to be limited.

The upping of Breaker and Raiza may have a big impact on the game, or it may do nothing at all. My initial impression is that face-down spells and traps need to be fairly 'live' at all times as anything with too limited a restriction (like needing to be triggered through battle; Mirror Force etc.) could be 'popped' or blown away. These cards going to three doesn't make a lot of sense considering the limitation on Solemn. With these at three I feel that Solemn would have been fine at three but what's done is done and we'll have to see how it plays out.




Crush Card Virus

This list will be remembered for one thing though; the banning of Crush Card Virus. Since its release it has dictated the way that decks are built and how turns are played out. Pretty much every competitive player in existence has lost to Crush Card at some point and the card has always had a notorious reputation in the TCG due to its unreasonable price-tag and game-winning effect.

The card was initially released as a Shonen Jump Championship prize card, limited to less than 30 players and costing upwards of $2,000. The reprint in Gold Series (2008) was welcomed by many initially and pre-sold thousands of packs but come release day the sad truth was finally revealed; the card was notoriously short-printed and up until a few weeks ago was still fetching prices of $250 on the secondary market. It was recently reprinted in the Turbo Pack (the latest incarnation of the Tournament and Champion packs) as a rare so Konami had a valid excuse for keeping it legal, but have fortunately listened to the complaints of the community and done what many deem to be the right thing in banning it.

Looking back you have to wonder what the creators were thinking when they came up with this. This game has always been about big monsters going face-to-face until 8,000 points of damage were dealt to a player and the very existence of Crush Card goes against what defines this game. For as long as it has been legal there have been many decks that could not be run for fear of losing to this one card and when it was at three in Japan everybody was almost forced to run Gadgets to get around it. It was at its worst during the DaDReturn format when the immense draw power of a complete Destiny Engine, combined with the massive advantage that Cyber Valley, Dark Magician of Chaos and the Return engine created meant that players were getting CCV off on their first turn with an alarming rate of consistency.

Now that it's gone though people can safely build Monarch, 'Stun', Six Samurai and many other decktypes that previously 'died to CCV'. An interesting theory recently surfaced regarding how Crush Card 'keeps the game in-check' by limiting the overuse of big monsters and while it can be a valid argument, I believe that the game will initially be better without the card as players feel relatively safe knowing that they can build more decks.



How these changes affect what is played

Outside of Lightsworn, all of the top decks have been 'hurt' in some way, shape or form while Lightsworn itself has apparently gotten stronger; Cat Synchro is 'dead', Blackwings need to re-invent themselves and Gladiator Beasts need to find a way to regain control of the game. The unlimiting of cards will allow new decktypes to potentially surface and form a new 'Big X'.

Perfect Circle Monarch variants got a big boost with their third Destiny Draw, the banning of Crush Card and the unrestriction of Raiza. 'Chaos Stun', a deck full of Light and Dark anti-meta monsters, backed by double Chaos Sorcerer, has been seeing a lot of development since the 'leak' of the list after Worlds and the reprint of Doomcaliber Knight. The new cards from Ancient Prophecy will have duelists working busily to innovate and gain an edge before the format settles and the initial tournaments could see a lot of upsets.

Here's how I expect the format to kick off, with The Irish Summer Open taking place on September 5th being the first real test for many Irish, British and European players:

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Closing thoughts

I usually like new banlists as they shake the game up a bit and force players to change their ways for the first few weeks and this list is no different. There are things that don't make sense though, mainly the lack of action regarding Lightsworn (though it may have to do with the fact that the OCG will soon get the TCG exclusives that make the deck so potent over here). The limitation on Solemn, combined with the unlimit on Breaker and Raiza is a bold move that will be interesting to see pan out and the banning of Crush Card and Dark Strike Fighter is enough to make almost every competitive player happy with this list. Should this list remain unchanged for the TCG (or even if additional measures are placed upon Lightsworn) I'd be very happy with it.

-PJ

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