March the 1st is upon us, which means it’s time for the new Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden & Limited list. These lists are rarely without controversy. Often as much for cards which don’t make the list, as those that do. This time the changes have been fairly light, with only one main deck taking major damage, and many more getting slight boosts. This list also bids farewell to a long time participant in the game.
Only two new cards have been Forbidden this time, one of which saw play in a variety of decks, the other only in a specific deck.
Sangan has been with us since Metal Raiders, with only a brief vacation in September 2004, when he last joined the Forbidden list. He returned during the following list, and has been Limited ever since. Throughout his time in the game Sangan has seen huge amounts of play, but this has often fluctuated based on what other cards have been good at the time. One of the most infamous couplings involved Crush Card Virus, allowing you to not only cripple your opponent’s plays, but also strengthen your own. Sangan has also proved useful for searching power cards, like Rescue Cat or Rescue Rabbit, giving decks quick access to some of their trump cards.
Most recently he’s been paired up with everyone’s favourite Tour Guide. This not only made searching for your power cards easier, but it also gave you a card to use with Tour Guide that you didn’t mind drawing during the rest of the game. If a deck ran one, you could just about guarantee it would run the other. It could be argued that Sangan going away was at least in part to decrease the power of Tour Guide, however this can’t be the only reason.
Sangan provided generic searching for just about any deck and it’s understandable why Konami would want to see it gone. One the one hand it weakens decks like Rabbit which can only search for their power cards via Sangan. On the other hand lots of decks have their own theme specific searchers now, and by getting rid of Sangan it might encourage their use a bit more.
The 2nd newly Forbidden card is Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity, which has been a central part of Wind-Up decks since it was released. Originally players had to deal with a whole format of Wind-Ups being able to strip away your entire hand thanks to triple Zenmaity. Following its restriction the Wind-Up deck instead utilised Zenmaity to help pull off a huge series of Xyz summons, often resulting in a Shockmaster along with backup. By cutting Zenmaity out of the game completely it takes these sorts of options away from the deck and prevents it from being as much of a dominant force as before.
This along with the Limitation on Wind-Up Magician cuts a lot of power from the Wind-Up deck, but probably won’t kill it completely. Some people will likely still stick it out with the deck, like they did with Inzektors and Chaos Dragons after the last list, but don’t expect to see it making up such a large fraction of the top decks again.
This time the Limited list had 3 cards added to it, two coming from Unlimited and the last being upgraded from Semi-Limited. Two of these were fairly generic whilst one was deck specific. Oddly we’ve also ended up with a selection that also covers all 3 main card types.
Up first we have Wind-Up Magician, the only theme specific card on the Limited List. Like Zenmaity who we saw a minute ago, Magician was also involved with swarming the field and building up an impressive army of monsters. This is of course to be expected given the fact that he summons other Wind-Ups from the deck, allowing you to toolbox nearly your entire deck. Since this included other copies of himself, with the right set up, you could build quite a field in one turn.
By restricting Wind-Up Magician the deck is still allowed to use him to expand their field, but they can’t abuse him anywhere near as much as before. Even with Magician Limited and Zenmaity Forbidden, some imaginative players have already come up with other ways for Wind-Ups to completely swarm the field. However I doubt it will have anywhere near the consistency the deck experienced this past format.
Probably the most surprising addition to the Limited list is One Day of Peace. The card has been utilised in a variety of stall decks, as well as One Turn Kill decks. Decks like Final Countdown or slower Exodia builds greatly benefited from gaining a free turn, whilst faster decks like turbo Exodia builds or the notorious Gishki deck out benefited from the extra draw power. Towards the end of the format we even saw decks like Dark World making use of it for that one extra turn.
Despite the fuss over decks like these, they were hardly that well represented at major tournaments, both in attendance or performance, so it comes as a bit of a surprise that the card was Limited. This could be down to a general dislike Konami seem to have for stall decks. Personally I think it might have something to do with the fact it basically stops you playing Yu-Gi-Oh! properly for a turn, and that there’s very little your opponent can do to stop it.
Our final Limited card is Solemn Warning, a powerful trap card that has seen lots of play since its debut. Originally we saw decks running this card in triplicate, which soon landed it on the Semi-Limited list. Following this it wasn’t uncommon to have the ‘Solemn Trio’ as a standard basis for your Trap line-up. Given the high use this card has seen, it’s probably not surprising that it has finally landed on the Limited List.
Apart from just seeing high use, it is of course also a very powerful card, capable of stopping pretty much any summon in the game. It can even touch summons during the Damage Step, which have usually been able to go off safely. The 2000 Life Points payment is fairly trivial when it can seal your victory or ruin your opponent’s plans.
Due to the Limitation of this card, it should become a little easier for decks to summon their trump cards, although I’ll leave that up to the reader to decide whether that’s good or bad. It also means people will probably be a bit more careful with the card, because they’ll only have one to rely on.
The Semi-Limited list saw 3 new additions this time. Two of which loosened previous Limitations, with the remaining one adding a new card to the overall Forbidden and Limited list.
First up we have our latest member of the Forbidden and Limited club, Thunder King Rai-Oh. Rai-Oh is undoubtedly a powerful monster, with two useful effects, and a big body for a Level 4. However I’m a little unsure about the need to be Semi-Limited. Rai-Oh has usually been used in Anti-Meta decks as a way to slow down faster decks, rather than as a tool in the main decks. Although it does for example find its way into their Side Decks sometimes.
On the cards merits alone it probably deserves its new status, but I wonder if it might be better left at 3 as a way of controlling faster decks.
Tsukuyomi returned to play last format after a long vacation from the game. When that list was revealed I wondered whether its ability to reuse effects and kill lots of monsters would find it in use again, or whether the game had simply sped up too much for him to make any impact. It would appear the latter was true, because Tsukuyomi saw practically no play during the last format.
Like with several cards, this change now seems to be testing the waters about whether moving the card to Unlimited would be okay. Since it seems doubtful that Tsukuyomi, even at 2, will negatively impact the game, I think we may see him at 3 next list.
The only mainstream deck that he’s likely to find a place in is Prophecy, where he can benefit from the Spellcaster support, and provide the deck with outs to threats like Naturia Beast.
Advanced Ritual Art was similarly once a threat to the game, via the Demise One Turn Kill. However the game has moved on, and Demise and Ritual monsters in general are barely on the radar anymore. Advanced Ritual Art really only saw play amongst those brave enough to give Herald of Perfection a go.
I think it’s likely that this was done to give Ritual decks a little more power, maybe with the intention to Unlimit the card next list.
No longer limited
Most of the cards that have become Unlimited this time were once key components of powerful decks. However those decks have now fallen into the background compared to newer more powerful decks. These decks are able to reclaim a bit of their power, but even then I doubt they’ll be the threats they once were.
Blackwings used to be one of the most popular decks, certainly in the OCG at least. Ultimately it took several heavy hits on the deck to stop its widespread play, and the deck has never recovered since. Giving the deck back Kalut makes it stronger again, but I doubt we’ll be seeing Blackwings at the top table again any time soon.
I do wonder if even Black Whirlwind would be that bad anymore, given that Wind-Up Factory is still allowed at 3, but I wouldn’t hold my breath about this being moved down the list any time soon.
Like Blackwings, Lightsworn were once a deck to be reckoned with, and as such took heavy hits in older lists. Now though as their own deck they’ve just about faded from play. Instead standalone cards like Lyla or Ryko see play mixed into other decks for their useful effects and their ability to mill your deck.
Putting Lumina back to Unlimited means the deck very nearly back to full power, only lacking 2 copies of Charge of the Light Brigade. I think it’s unlikely this card will move up from Limited any time soon though, more due fact it can be used in conjunction with Lightsworn in decks that need cards in their Graveyards, than for its use in Lightsworn themselves.
I doubt this change to Lumina will have any real impact on the game.
Once again, Spore was a card that got hit to limit the power of Plant decks, but has since been allowed back because their power waned. With a once per Duel limitation on the card anyway, it never made much sense to be Limited anyway, since it can never be abused too much no matter how many copies you play.
By allowing 3 copies again, Plant decks could play extra copies of Spore, to either make drawing it easier, or just using one copy as a way to fuel another’s effect. It helps plant decks slightly, but in general the difference won’t be noticed.
Once again, Samurai used to be a major threat, but after previous Limitations and the introduction of new cards, the deck has declined. It still sees more play than decks like Blackwings or Lightsworn though, and occasionally actually manages to make decent showings at tournaments. By allowing a 3rd Smoke Signal, the deck regains a bit of its consistency, but I doubt a change this small will be enough to negatively impact the game.
It’s Semi-Limitation a year ago, as with Lumina, seems to have been a testing ground for whether Unlimiting the card again would be wise.
The final Unlimited card is Mind Crush, which is the only generic card amongst them. It used to be a big threat thanks to cards like Trap Dustshoot allowing you to see your opponent’s Hand, but those cards are no longer around. As such its uses and power have declined. Now you’ll really only find it in the Side Deck, or in Decks like Dark World, which don’t care about the negative side of the card.
Putting Mind Crush back to 3 might be a way to try and keep in check search heavy decks like Prophecy, or decks which use effects to summon from the Hand, like Mermail. Like with the rest of the Unlimits, I doubt this will have a negative impact on the game.
The March 2013 list is remarkable in how little it actually does to the game compared to other lists. Only one deck, Wind-Ups, has been severely hit, and deservedly so. Whilst several other themed decks have seen their power increased by this list. Wind-Ups aside, it’s mostly been generic cards that have been moved up the list, rather than themed cards like in the past.
The big new or upcoming decks, like Mermail, Fire Fist and Prophecy have escaped the list, and will likely thrive for the next 6 months. Some would have liked to see these decks weakened, however I don’t think it would have been all that necessary. There has been a marked rise in diversity in the game recently, and Wind-Ups aside, there doesn’t seem to have been anything approaching a dominant deck. Without Wind-Ups around keeping everything else in check, it will be interesting to see whether anything might climb to the top.
One thing on the horizon to potentially worry about, is Divine Judgement of the Spellbook (or whatever its name might be), which could help push Prophecy over the top. Until the card actually reaches us though, it’s a little hard to judge whether it will ruin the game like some people say, or just add another powerful deck to the roster.
Personally I feel it’s good that the game is in such a place that several different themed decks can exist side by side, that are all powerful, but do different things, without one completely ruling over the others. It will be interesting to see whether Konami can keep this up in future, or whether we’ll once again see themed decks taken too far.