Why My Friend Left Yu-Gi-Oh (Link Format Woes Part 1)

Introduction

I’m going to try to keep this organized and focused, because there’s way more that I could say than anyone actually wants to read. But I feel like I need to get this written down.

When Link format hits, I’m not playing Yu-Gi-Oh anymore.

I already stopped playing in paper, dissolved my decks, and sold some of the more expensive stuff. I’ve kept playing a bit on YGOpro, because some habits are hard to break. But by the time this article is posted, I’ll have uninstalled that as well.

To understand why, I have to get into why I was playing the game. In terms popularized by Mark Rosewater here, I am a Johnny with a bit of Spike. That means that the enjoyment that I get out of card games is focused around creating something that is my own, and more specifically, something that is at least a little competitively viable.

For most of the six years I’ve played this game, that’s been possible. It’s certainly been difficult, and easier at some times than others (compare HAT format to Dragon Ruler format). On the whole, though, I’ve been able to play something that’s able to take games from top decks, and it’s been something that was wholely mine. I’m going to briefly talk about what I’ve played, because it might be relevant later. If you already know, or just don’t care, feel free to skip the following section.

Potatoes and Ghosts

In recent years, I’ve focused on two decks that I considered competitive. The first was originally created in the summer of 2014 as a Monster Mash deck. It’s progressed a lot over the subsequent years, but some aspects have persisted. I gave it the name “Potatoes” (Monster Mash > Mash > Mashed Potatoes).

When I finally stopped playing it in paper, it looked like this. It had transformed into an all-in OTK deck. I truly believe that this is the only form this deck can take. Any combo-oriented deck like this that isn’t meta probably can’t set up a strong enough turn 1 board consistently, because if it could, it would be meta. It probably also can’t play the long game, because you don’t have the resources to beat tier 1 strategies. As a result, the optimal way to win is to do it in one turn.

I didn’t like doing that. It generally is solitaire. The times when your opponent has interaction that it is possible to beat but non-obvious are few, so with enough practice I can essentially just play on auto-pilot around 90% of the time. It was the only way to stay viable, though.

To contrast with this strategy, I had made Ghostricks. This deck is generally considered a gimmicky stall deck, and I agree that it is often built that way. I think that’s very incorrect, though. I built it as a tempo deck, keeping your opponent off-balance for long enough to swing in with your Ghostrick Angels and the occasional beater provided by Rank-Up-Magic: Limited Barian’s Force. Somehow, when building it, I always ended up about 15 cards short, and there were a number of engines that could slot in. I liked Darkworlds, seen here.

Matchups varied widely. My favorite was against Shaddolls, pre-Construct ban (so 2015). The games tended to go into time, as both decks ended up playing the grind game, but I considered myself generally favored, with better recursion and innevitability.

Both of these decks are fun to play. I made both very much my own. I spent months on Ghosts, and years on Potatoes. And once the Link rules become official, neither will be playable anymore.

The Rules Change

So what’s so bad about Link summoning, anyway? I lived through Pendulum without quitting; what makes this different?

The difference is the rules change that’s accompanying the introduction of Link monsters. There are a number of subtleties, but the important point is that it is now basically impossible to have two extra deck monsters on your field without Link summoning. If you’ve ever seen a Yu-Gi-Oh video I’ve made, that’s kinda… all I do. Both of those decks and most of my others, my favorite things about this game, are dead to the rules change.

Now, I could work around it. Maybe I could update the decks to incorporate Link (which would involve drastic and difficult changes), or maybe I can make something new that’s my own in this new format. Personally, I find both those options very unappealing. Let’s talk about why.

Konami’s Precedent

As much as I can’t stand Konami’s policies and strategies when it comes to creating and banning cards, I have this to say for them. If you are a casual player, you’ve largely been left intact. It’s the competitive players, the tournament chasers, who get hurt by the banlists, by the poor card design and worse balancing. They know what they’re getting into. If you’re playing kitchen table Yu-Gi-Oh so to speak, the game is basically unchanged. Maybe it was hard to get used to the first-player-doesn’t-draw thing. Maybe it was confusing when a card that you used fairly got banned. What Konami has done here is far, far different.

There’s very little precedent for what they’ve done here, so it isn’t easy to evaluate all the implications, but it doesn’t look great.

What Could Have Been

Let’s pretend for a second that this change wasn’t purely profit-driven.

It’s nice, right?

One could imagine this being a way to slow the game down. Properly executed, Link rules could have made OTKs, extra deck lockdown fields, and similar completely impractical. I might have supported such a change. Make no mistake, though, this is not that. All the things that have sped Yu-Gi-Oh up over the past years are still present; the difference is just that in order to play them, you probably have to buy some link monsters. (As a side note, I know that not all tier 1 strategies use the extra deck. I’m mostly talking about those that do.)

The Power Gap

I don’t really mind power creep. The OTKs, the hard control decks, the combos… they’re all basically fine. What bothers me is the power gap. This is the difference in power level between tier 1 and tier 2, the difference between netdecking and brewing. It’s been widening. The prices of staples has gone insane in the past year, thanks to Konami’s tendency to push staples to secret rarity here in America. The power level of splashable engines hit a new high with Zoo, dominating the tournament scene and asking every duelist the question: “If you aren’t putting Zoodiacs in your deck… why aren’t you?”

For someone trying to do their own thing on the cheap, hoping to keep up through clever deckbuilding, tight play, and a bit of luck, this is a nightmare scenario.

Does Link summoning help the situation? I think not. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. But I’m not sticking around to find out.

Homogenization

I’ll preface this by admitting that I haven’t really read most of the Link monsters. Hopefully that’s understandable. My understanding, though, is that the generic ones are… very generic. Requirements like that of Decode Talker (2+ Effect Monsters) and Proxy Dragon (2 Monsters) are additions to a trend of generalization that’s been active since 5Ds era.

Fusion monsters generally require 2+ specific monsters.

Synchro monsters are more generic, but have level requirements and must include a tuner.

Xyz monsters are more generic, doing away with the tuner.

Pendulums are more generic, replacing the specific level with a level range.

Why is this a problem? Well it isn’t really, but it is to someone who plays the game to create something for themselves. When the requirements to play the most powerful extra deck cards in the game are relaxed, there is little reason to play any but the best cards in your main deck. I consider this a more long-term part of why the power gap is widening. Compare the simple, brutal efficiency of rank 4 toolbox decks against the closest equivalent deck in the synchro era, Plant Synchro. The hoops the plant pilot had to jump through, and the delicate tuning of deck construction, far outweigh the considerations of the rank 4 player.

Again, I don’t really know if this will happen in the TCG metagame. I hope it won’t. But I’m still not sticking around to find out.

I’m Out, But You Don’t Have To Be

Listed out like this, there’s… a lot that can go wrong here. The thing is, though, most of it isn’t a problem for a lot of people.

I’ve kinda pigeonholed myself into the Johnny/Spike demographic, and looking back on it, Yu-Gi-Oh isn’t really the place for that kind of player. In retrospect, I’m surprised I lasted this long.

Most of the people I played with in person consistently are close to pure Spikes. They care about the competition, about getting the better of their opponent, proving themselves. For them, I expect Link format will be a lot of fun. The one outcome of the rules change that I consider positive is the drastic rise in complexity to the gameplay. Outside of deckbuilding, piloting a deck in this new era becomes more difficult, which provides more room for improvement, which provides a way to prove superiority through gameplay.

I wish them the best of luck. I’m not that kind of player.

The last thing I’ll do before uninstalling YGOpro is make a video as a summary of my Yu-Gi-Oh career. It’s been fun. I want to remember it. You can find that video here.

Hour of Devastation Pre-Release Summary: The day the Second Sun Approached us with an army of horses…

I entered the Hour of Devastation 2-headed giant pre-release earlier today. I was sold on this set for its flavor and story (mostly established characters like the gatewatch getting owned), unlike Amonkhet which was the first Magic Pre-Release I had skipped since I started playing.  This summary is going to be pretty brief also.

Our Decks:

My partner played Green/White Midrange and I played Red/Black Control. MVP of my deck were the 4 copies of Open Fire.

Our Match-Ups:

Round 1: Vs 18 land UW Approach and 15 land WB Zombies

We started out in the standard sealed boardstall. They cast Unconventional Tactics on Wildfire Eternal which hit us allowing them to cast Approach of the Second Sun for free. We tried to race the Second Sun, but they stalled us out by combining Crested Sunmare with Mirage Mirror to make an army of indestructible horses. Eventually they drew into the 2nd sun and a 7th land defeating us.

Loss 0-1

Round 2: Vs Esper Gideon and Red/Green Midrange

I messed up this round and thought that Without Weakness could be used on any creature. I used it (2 of them in fact) to protect our Crop Elite from an Open Fire and an Invocation Slaughter Pact.  None of us released this error for 2 turns and by then he had a huge lead. I should also point out that despite being Esper, our opponent never drew into land other than Swamp.

Win 1-0

Round 3: Vs White/Black Zombies (Also featuring Gideon) and Red/Green Aggro

The Red/Green player kept a 1 lander and never drew a 3rd land. Our opponent’s only creature was the Maruading Boneslasher which could never block so we just kept attacking them.

Win 1-0

19866812_10211405673035817_491315395_o

We won 6 packs, opened nothing to really warrant writing about and went home. This set is very cool in terms of flavor, not so much in terms of monetary value. Regardless it was at the least an interesting experience.

19859358_10211405627994691_2137031572_o

Thanks for reading as usual.

When the Ban-Hammer Strikes Again (July 2017 Yugioh OCG Ban list Reaction)

They banned even more cards in Yugioh while I wasn’t looking too. This time in the OCG where Link Summoning somehow did nothing to stop Zoodiacs…

That is until now…

Forbidden:

Zoodiac Broadbull

You know, I thought banning Drident and Barrage was harsh. I thought the deck didn’t deserve such treatment to stop it.

I was wrong. These series of cards actually wrecked Yugioh more than almost any series before them. Zoo became (and has become) standard. You add Zoodiac to any deck and its ceiling raises. Everyone is playing it. Variants of it are among every top cut finish. It’s just an utter nightmare.

Banning Broadbull kills the deck though. I wish there was a way for zoo to exist without being leagues ahead of every other deck. It pretty took the torch from Burning Abyss in that regard of being on another level of consistency. Anyway, Broadbull’s death SHOULD be the end of Zoodiac being a top deck in the OCG, bar some new combo I still haven’t heard of yet.

 

Limited:

Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King

Basically what I said before applies to the True King deck outside of the negative impact on the game (monopolizing the meta). This deck is just very strong and also doesn’t use Link Summoning. Konami wants ppl to use Link Summoning. Ergo we have to hit True Kings. This hit should not kill the deck, but will hopefully give the new cards a chance to shine.
Fairy Tail – Snow

Snow is the most powerful card in self-mill decks. It’s a proud member of the Lightsworn-Infernoid-Zombie family. Also Snow maybe the single best card to mill off of that Grass looks Greener/Lawn-mowing. Realistically an errata to be “Once per turn” would’ve fixed this card, but putting it to one works too.
Dragonic Diagram

So my rationale for True Kings being ok despite this and their boss monster being hit is that this is searchable off of Terraforming, which is somehow still at three… OH WAIT-

Maybe True Kings are ruined now…

 

Semi-Limited:

There are a billion of these new semi-limits so I’m going to be pretty brief)

Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer (Pendulums have been nerfed by the new rules, thus Sorcerer is fair)
Witch of the Black Forest (I’m sure they mean with the same errata as Sangan… right?)
Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss (BA is… dead…)
Rescue Cat (Errata has made the card fair)
Burial from a Different Dimension (Uhhhhh, this seems like a terrible idea, but I guess this card doesn’t scream combo piece like most do)
Card of Demise (NOOOOOOOOOO, and so the dream of just playing the same stun/trap card deck dies)
Preparation of Rites (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, the Nekroz fanboy in me intensifies)
Saqlifice (People deserve to pay 800 and feel great again, oh wait that’s Scout isn’t it?)
Dark Hole (Like…. what?)
Terraforming (Oh, well this is embarrassing I legit didn’t remember this hit when writing the earlier part of this reaction. Anyway if they stop making field spells solitaire then maybe terraforming wouldn’t be broken… oh ok that’s a lie. Terraforming will always be broken)
Union Hangar (ABC will be good forever, no meta perhaps but still good)
Wavering Eyes (Again Pendulums are dead, I guess that makes this fine)
Dragon Ravine (The Dragon Rulers got this banned and all the Dragunity players died out waiting for it to come back)
Solemn Strike (OH LOOK THEY REPRINTED SOLEMN STRIKE IN A STARTER DECK AND THEN LIMITED IT. I WONDER IF THIS WILL HAPPEN HERE TO-

*gets punched out for spamming caps lock/being annoying

Anyway, we all knew Strike would be limited someday. It has to follow the trajectory of Solemn Warning.

 

Unlimited:

Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning (You know what? I don’t want to live in a world where BLS is at three. Regardless of how much play he sees this card should stay at 1 on principle. I mean why on earth would they put him at 3?!)
Wisdom-Eye Magician (Nuff said)
Armageddon Knight (Well ok then, I assume Dark Synchro decks are just nerfed now. I don’t recall anywhere else that Armageddon knight is commonly played)
D/D Swirl Slime (Poor D/D/Ds never got to a meta threat in TCG like they were in the OCG. It feels like they should be dead with links regardless)
Goyo Guardian (Hah! Remember back when Goyo was a threat?)
Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer (Wow, he’s back now that it’s too late to be relevant)
Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier (It’s the guy who lost his job to Coral Dragon)
Brain Control (Yeah, this errata was a mistake. The card is unplayable. You might as well as flipped it to only take Extra deck monsters)

And so ends my random, unprofessional and very sporadic review of the banlist for the card game I really only collect from at this point.

Thanks for reading as usual. jail

 

 

When the Ban-Hammer Strikes (June 19th Magic the Gathering Ban List Reaction)

If a card gets banned and I’m not around to hear it…

ulamog2

So Magic as part of their big week of updates (last week) delivered the swift banhammer blow to Aetherworks Marvel. This deck was a powerhouse in Standard mostly due to its ability to cast Ulamog for free. While the deck was not oppressive. It did upset a large amount of the standard players in the same way that the felidar saheeli combo did.

capture

The deck has quickly been replaced by energy “good stuff” decks alongside the already popular constrictor and zombie strategies.

I am happy that Marvel is banned only because standard is meant to have games not decided on turn 4. The mere chance that a deck in standard can craft an effective win that fast is enough reason for me to want it banned. Hopefully, this banning and the upcoming Hour of Devastation set spice up Standard (which has been stale of late).

I basically skipped Amonkhet incidentally. School was hard at that time and if I wanted to play card game that had allusions to Egypt well…

Anyway, thanks for reading as usual.

Jori En – A Primer: A Self-Conscious EDH Storm

(Hello. I’m the same guy from the Grenzo thing. Big thanks to TooManyCardGames for hosting this deck tech.)

Storm is fun. For the pilot. This is a constant in all formats in which storm is viable, which is most of them. Better players than I have demonstrated exactly how true this is in Commander, with lists like this one. While all-in Grixis Storm decks may be the most viable way to win with a high storm count, they have some inherent problems for anyone playing outside a hardcore competitive metagame. Specifically:

  • Maintaining a three-color manabase in an archetype reliant on High Tide is not cheap, and can be inconsistent.
  • They can be incredibly intimidating, and immediately become the threat at the table.
  • They don’t play nice with others.

That last point is key. While there is a decent amount of interaction in Jeleva Storm and similar, most lists aren’t designed for the long game, and don’t have a comfortable plan outside of storming off. This is a huge deal, because there are absolutely tables at which an early storm kill is the least fun thing to have happen. So what can you do? Just not play storm unless your meta is purely competitive? I’m here to present another option: play storm in a combo-control shell.

The theory behind this is pretty simple. The deck has two stances: aggressivly play for the combo turn, or be the control player. Why does this matter? Well, the main problem storm has is the raw time it takes to resolve the winning turn. If you’re winning turns 3-5, and most of the early turns are land-go, you’ve just dominated the total time taken by all players with a five minute turn in a ten minute game. Do this an hour in, after controlling the board and keeping a few other players from winning, and this doesn’t seem quite as bad.

Of course, I can’t guarantee that this won’t still give people the feel-bads. Storm is not something everyone enjoys playing against, and for some people, the mere fact that it is your win condition will be enough for them to hate you and everything you represent. Unfortunately, this seems to be true of practically any deck one could play, so I’ll just be moving on.

Okay, so now we just need to figure out how to play control and combo with the same deck. To be honest, the control part on its own is not an easy task. In a four-player game, the only real types of controlling interaction that scale well are stax and board wipes. Stax is probably going to interfere with our storm plan, and board wipes can be dead or ineffectual against a variety of types of decks, so we will have to rely on traditional countermagic and spot removal as well. Both of these scale… poorly. Holding down an entire table is incredibly difficult. We need a commander that can recoup some of the advantage lost from spending our cards defensively. My weapon of choice: Jori En, Ruin Diver.


Jori is unassuming. She’ll generally draw you a card per round, sometimes two, and occassionally none. The interesting thing here is that as you try to control the table, she’ll often be drawing cards in proportion to the number of threats that must be dealt with. Every time you interact on an opponent’s turn, you have an opportunity to spin it into card advantage. This can actually be enough to tip the scales to where controlling three players is possible. The other key points Jori hits: she is not necessary for the storm plan, so casting her is usually not seen as threating; and she has relatively low mana cost, allowing her to be played while players are still developing.

Jori isn’t exactly conventional, so let’s compare her briefly to the other options.


Alternative Commanders

Mono Blue

Baral, Chief of Compliance and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy are both fairly viable for this archetype. Each filters your draws in some way, getting you to the card advantage needed to control the board, and each contributes to the storm plan (Baral by being a cost reducer, Jace by flashing back a critical spell, often High Tide). That said, they don’t directly contribute card advantage, and being mono blue removes Past in Flames and Yawgmoth’s Will as options, cutting some resilience from the storm plan.

Blue/Black

Dralnu, Lich Lord presents an interesting twist on Jace, but the high mana cost and harsh risk make this option unappealing.

Oona, Queen of the Fae is an infinite mana outlet in the command zone. Aaaand… That’s it. For the archetype we are playing, a commander who is only useful when you are ready to win is not a great commander.

Blue/Red

Keranos, God of Storms provides some of the same goodness as Jori, by either drawing a card or controlling the board each turn. Unfortunately, at five mana, the benefits Keranos provides are not sufficient. The majority of the time, this is a lightning bolt once per turn, which is just not enough.

Mizzix of the Izmagnus, and to a lesser extent Melek, Izzet Paragon and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, can be powerful commanders, with abilities that contribute directly towards the storm turn. Unfortunately for the latter, they cost six mana, and unfortunately for Mizzix, he is very much a known quantity. Mizzix is incredibly dangerous to leave in play, and as a result, he dies. A lot. Further, Mizzix is highly build-around, so if he is not in play, the deck becomes significantly worse. This is just not what we’re looking for.

Nin, the Pain Artist is probably the closest to Jori En, and it would not be unreasonable to run her. At worst, she’s a slow Braingeyser, but when you have other creatures in play, she is repeatable instant speed card draw. Even better, she’s an outlet for infinite mana, and can act as spot removal in an emergency.


Decklist

Let’s assume you accept that Jori En is a viable commander for a control/storm deck. Let’s take a look at such a deck.

Win Conditions

Ultimately, almost every win this deck gets will be through Aetherflux Reservoir. This card makes achieving lethal storm far easier than cards with the actual storm mechanic. This win condition, and to a lesser extent Grapeshot, is supported by two combos, both relatively well-known at this point.

Imprinting Dramatic Reversal on Isochron Scepter with mana rocks gives you arbitrarily large storm, and with mana rocks producing three or more total, infinite mana. Though this does not win the game on its own, in many circumstances, it is easy to transition this into a win.

Having Helm of Awakening, Future Sight, and Sensei’s Divining Top in play will allow you to repeatedly activate top and recast it for free, effectively drawing your deck and building a massive storm count.

Everything else

I’m going to break down most of the deck into several categories.

Counterspells

The countermagic suite includes cards that fulfill at least one of the following requirements:

  • Mana efficient (Mental Misstep, Mindbreak Trap, Swan Song, Rewind, Counterspell)
  • Highly flexible (Disallow, Cryptic Command, Unsubstantiate, Muddle the Mixture)
  • Draws cards (Arcane Denial, Remand)

Keeping roughly to these guidelines lets us split the difference between storm and control. Mana efficient can often mean that Jori En draws more cards, and that velocity is super important.

Removal

The exact mix of removal spells is something I’m constantly messing with, but here’s some examples:

  • Spot Removal
    • Creatures (Lightning Bolt, Pongify, Snap)
    • Artifacts (Dack Fayden, Shattering Pulse, Vandalblast)
    • Flexible (Chaos Warp, Metamorphose)
  • Mass Removal (All is Dust, Blasphemous Act, Cyclonic Rift)

Since it’s rare to get removal mixed into card draw in these colors, I focus on extreme mana efficiency for Jori, with the exception of the more flexible answers in these colors.

Draw/Filtering

There has to be a lot of this, to smooth the divide between combo and control.

  • Cantrips (Brainstorm, Opt, Peek, Quicken, Ponder, Preordain, Gitaxian Probe, Impulse)
  • Tutors (Mystical Tutor, Gamble, Merchant Scroll, Personal Tutor, Whir of Invention)
  • Larger Draw (Fact or Fiction, Dig Through Time, Windfall, Reforge the Soul, Recurring Insight)

These serve drastically different purposes depending upon the circumstance. Cantrips allow Jori En to consistently build card advantage cheaply or velocity when looking for a combo, while deeper digging spells search for either answers or fuel for the storm turn.

Storm

These cards are primarily useful as setup, fuel, or payoff for the storm turn. As always, there is some overlap (in fact, the more useful these cards are elsewhere, the better). The win conditions already listed above are omitted.

  • Mana Production (High Tide, Mana Vault, Frantic Search, Turnabout)
  • Payoff (Grapeshot, Mind’s Desire, Past in Flames)

You may notice that the cards dedicated just to the storm turn are few. This is intentional. There is enough draw and filtering to find them when the time is right, and the majority of the list should be flexible enough to be useful both when looking to combo and when just kicking back.

Ramp

Both forms of ramp are essential to this deck. Cost reducers lead to turns similar to the modern Past in Flames deck, and turn certain spells mana-positive. Besides the general need to get ahead on mana common to all EDH decks, running the Reversal/Scepter win condition requires some dedication to mana rocks.

  • Cost Reducers (Baral, Chief of Compliance, Goblin Electromancer, Helm of Awakening, Sapphire Medallion)
  • Mana Rocks (Wayfarer’s Bauble, Thran Dynamo, Sol Ring, Mind Stone, Izzet Signet, Gilded Lotus, Fellwar Stone, Chrome Mox)

Lands

First thing first: High Tide is a good card, and to use it we need islands. Second, we intend to be relying on not “whiffing” during the storm turn, which can be caused by drawing too many lands with wheel effects and other card draw. As such, we want a low land count. The high density of cantrips and the engine Jori En provides somewhat compensates for this. Everything else should consistently provide two colors and arrive untapped, with the possible exceptions of Izzet Boilerworks (which works very well with untap effects) and at most one basic Mountain. My current list looks something like this:

20x Islands (including shocks and fetches)

8x UR Lands

1x Bounce Land

1x Mountain

Reading the Table

With the list established, it’s time to talk about what I consider the most important part of playing this deck: figuring out what your opponents want. There are players who want to play against the best you have, and others that would rather the game go long and everyone get a chance to play. As the pilot of this deck, you have the opportunity to give both types of players what they want. Figuring out what’s going on at your table is essential to having a good game of EDH for everyone, and it’s worth going into some of the subtleties.

Commanders

As anyone who has played against multiple opponents knows, the commanders your opponents choose can either be highly indicative or highly misleading. Take the information you have, but don’t make hard assumptions. Certain commanders, like Jace, Teferi, and Zur, can be strong pointers that your opponents are trying to win. Others are more ambiguous, like Breya, Jeleva, and Animar, each of which have viable competitive builds and casual fun modes. Still others are indicators that your opponents aren’t trying to optimize to win, like Norin, Kynaios and Tiro, or Kangee (sorry man).

In short, the information you get on turn 0 is the first clue as to what you should be doing. If this isn’t enough information, you’ll have to move on to the next indicators.

Talking

I know, crazy, right? Full disclosure, I’m generally against fishing for information in a tournament setting, but this isn’t quite the same. Everyone’s here to have a good time, and it’s in everyone’s interest that players be on the same page. If the guy across from you shows you General Tazri, allow yourself to show some natural fear that this may be Food Chain Tazri, and you’ll be dead on turn 4 (you won’t be, most likely, we have a lot of interaction to prevent that sort of thing). You may get a response along the lines of “Don’t worry, I don’t play combos,” or “Haha yeah,” and you can feel free to treat them appropriately.

By the same token, if someone asks you what you’re doing, don’t lie. Honesty in your expectations for how the game will be played is the best way to get the game everyone wants.

Card Choices

If all else fails, the cards don’t lie. From the overt (Mana Crypt, ABUR duals, revealed combo pieces) to the more subtle (cards like Preordain are often overlooked by new players in favor of splashier effects), it should be possible in the first 2-3 turns to figure out roughly what people’s decks are like.

When Not to Win

Okay, look, I know this sounds bad. I don’t at all mean to say that this deck is super competitive and has to shoot itself in the foot in order to not utterly overpower your local scrubs, because that is absolutely not the case. What I mean is that there are ways in which you can win that result in only you having fun, and if you’re like me, that probably means you aren’t having fun either. As you play the deck more, you’ll start seeing windows to go infinite relatively fast, because it turns out Dramatic/Scepter is pretty good.Don’t do this if you don’t think the table would be okay with it. By the time you have the opportunity to go for it, you should have an idea whether people are playing fair or not. Ending the game suddenly, especially if most of what the other players expect from a game hasn’t happened yet, will likely not make you many friends.

What I’ve found is that a natural storm turn can actually be more interesting to less competitive players than an easy combo. This is especially true late game, when a couple other players have already tried to push their advantage. As mentioned above, this isn’t always true, but it’s something to consider. The most important thing to remember here is your time. Play fast. Make mistakes. Apologize for taking time, if you have to think for more than a few seconds. You’ll get better at the deck and mess up less eventually, but until then, don’t waste everyone’s time by trying to optimize your every move.

This leads to the most important thing to remember. It’s okay to lose. It’s even okay to lose if you could have won. Unless everyone’s showing up to the table with the explicit intent to compete to the best of their ability, you have nothing to prove. Against non-competitive tables, racing to the kill is like trying to win a figure skating contest by speed skating.


Budget Concessions

As with Grenzo, this is not a fully optimized list. Obvious additions given a higher budget include Volcanic Island, fetches, Mana Crypt, and Wheel of Fortune (though Reforge the Soul does have interesting synergy with Jori En). Other more marginal omissions include Ancient Tomb, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Wrapping Up

TL;DR: It is possible to play storm at tables where nobody wants storm and come out not looking like a jerk. I think this is a pretty good way to do that.

Thanks for reading, folks. If you enjoyed this, consider checking out my youtube channel 1600 Horsepower or my website here.

Elder Entity Norden has finally been BANNED! (Yugioh June 12th Banlist Reaction)

Apparently, the only force capable of getting me to post is the ban hammer.

Banned:

The only thing that really matters 

NordenBanned

I have been calling for a ban of Elder Entity Norden for years. It would take Zoodiac variants winning all 32 spots of YCS Pittsburgh last weekend to finally seal the coffin of this blight on the game though. Fusion Substitute broke Norden in Zoodiac by letting them recycle his use (which invalidated limiting him to 1 copy per deck). Norden has been the key piece in degenerate combos since his printing. This is one of the best ban lists in ages just for this one hit. I am biased I admit. I’ve personally thought Norden deserved a ban so much that I never bought another copy after selling it with my ABC deck.

 

Limited:

Speedroid Terrortop

Terrortop is one of the best one-card combo starters in the game. A lone terrortop leads to more plays than any one card should, especially without using your turn’s normal summon. This darn toy while loved by all, deserves to finally be shelved.

That Grass Looks Greener

When grass actually resolves, it generates enough card advantage to win games by itself. I like that Grass made playing more than 40 cards a viable option, but the blowout potential of this card is just too great. It engendered a brief period where people played 60 card decks just to make their opponent’s copies of grass dead. No one card should affect deck design this much. Limiting grass to 1 per deck is yet another good hit.

 

Unlimited:

  • Performapal Skull Crobat Joker
  • Wisdom-Eye Magician
  • Pendulum Call

All of these are just Konami letting full-power pendulum decks be a thing before the rule changes of Link Format kills the mechanic. I’m certain that devoted Pendulum Magician fans are happy that they get one last hurrah with their deck though.

And that’s it. I think these hits were great. I generally hope that they beat back Zoodiac. The deck feels like the new Burning Abyss. Limiting Ratpier to 2 did nothing to stop the deck. Zoo also just seems better than everything else that the game has to offer. Anyway, that’s enough of my bias/salt.

NordenBannedJail

Where you belong old man!

Thanks for reading as usual.

Apparently Felidar Guardian x Saheeli Rai is no longer canon (April 24th Banlist Addendum)

Wizards of the Coast literally 2 days after the initial ban and limited list has added Felidar Guardian to its standard ban list.

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I agree fully with this ban (long diatribe about the combo preventing diversity and linking it to the old Splinter Twin combo). The only issue is that this entire situation makes the WoC game devs seem bad at their jobs. If they were considering banning Felidar Guardian, there was no reason to wait 2 days after the normal ban announcement. This whole situation was likely just a reaction to the negative publicity surrounding them NOT banning Felidar Guardian in the first place. It also made me have to post two days in a row on the same topic (those fiends).

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Anyway, thanks for reading as always. Standard most likely saved now… hopefully…