Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pre-season rankings for 181 Yugioh Archetypes

We are on the eve of a New Year and playas and pundits alike are making their predictions.  Traditionally, the Yugiverse has done the same in response to the F & L list.  Alas, that vaunted list has little influence on the meta.  The modern game is dominated by the release of evermore powerful archetypes. 

Over the next three fortnights, Konami will disgorge themselves of Secrets of Eternity, Hero Strike, and Secret Forces.  While SECE will cause only minor ripples, Hero Strike and Secret Forces will cause seismic shifts in the game.  Heroes return with a searchable Macro Cosmos and the Secret Forces will establish the primacy of Nekroz with their reincarnate Trishula.  Furthermore, these latter sets will be readily accessible.  While I decry the haste of their release, I am grateful that these cards will be affordable to most doolists.  All of the investors in Burning Abyss should be prepared to get burned by a bargain deck.

My quarterly lists remain popular posts and seem to garner the most comments.  Commenting on eBlogger is cumbersome and not reader friendly.  I suspect more try than succeed.  Nevertheless, I will try to post any comment that is not vulgar as quickly as possible.  That said, one should realize this list is a somewhat ironic statement about the nature of prediction in general.   Preseason polls are little more than fodder for barroom conversation. My list is also intended for such conversations whether they take place in bars or elsewhere.

This list was made with the following observations:
  1.  I am including Secrets of Eternity and Hero Strike but not Secret Forces.  In other words, this list is a prediction of the meta until February 12th.  This choice is somewhat random but it reflects my desire to prepare for YCS South Carolina on February 1st.
  2. Graveyard dependent decks will get hit.   Dark Law will be the new law in town.
  3. Light themed decks will trend up slightly with Honest at two.
  4.  Several lower tiered decks will get a small boost from SECE.  Unfortunately, none of this additional support will move these decks into competitive contention.  However, they should inject a little bit of fun into some beloved archetypes. This list includes X Sabers, Zombies, Symphonic Warriors, Dragunities, and winged beast themed decks.
  5.  Be wary of two rogue strategies!  Monarch support has been slowly increasing over the past year.  The less dependent monarchs are on the little froggy, the better they will be.  I also think Koa’ki Meiru Overdose will add greatly to the Rock Stun strategy.
A few notes on this list:
  • The larger numbers on the left are my predictions for the first 4 - 6 weeks of the meta. 
  • The smaller numbers on the right were my predictions following the last F&L list.
  •  I update this list with the institution of each new F&L list.  I do not delete my older posts.  
  • I have dropped my tongue and cheek tier ratings since this seems to be a point of contention among the Yugioh faithful.
  • ... and yes, please tell me why Gimmick Puppets should leap above Galaxy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

To be Honest: Thoughts on the F & L List

The F&L list is out turning weeks of speculation into weeks of kvetching and komplaining.   Yes, Virginia, Skill Drain is still a thing and no, I will not return your Emptiness.  

Once again, Konami freed one seemingly random card from Forbidden Prison.  Goyo and Raigeki were among the recently emancipated.  This year’s winner is Snatch Steal, a card that will give some 11 year old boy a chance to turn one of his elders into a pillar of salt.  Unlike its predecessors, there have been enough reprints to make it accessible to nearly all doolists.  The card may see some play by Noble Knight doolists using Hidden Armory.  The rest of us are looking for a savior who plays Bad Reaction to Simochi. 

Limiting Moralltach means the Artifact presence will continue to evaporate.  This decision may be a preemptive strike against Satellarknights since their new support will give them access to rank five monsters.  Tellar players will simply have to be happy with Triverr. The rest of us will be free to waste one of those excess MSTs on our opponent’s back row.  

The newly unlimited cards will have a limited effect.  Reborn Tengu may make a top 16 Regional list since it is a Tenki target.  Despite the current Summonpalooza, synchro monsters remain some of the game’s best.  Nevertheless, the strategy will be rogue at best.  Gale suffers from Normal Summonopathy and only the hypnotized would play Reasoning.  Abyssgunde will give Mermail players a lift until the Super Bowl.  After that, Dark Law will make the deck all but unplayable. 

For the most part, the F&L list does little more than provide fodder for the Yugitube and Yubiblog community.  Its impact on the game has been considerably diminished.  Most of the cards taken off the list are irrelevant and most of the limited cards are unsearchable (with my apologies to Iron Blacksmith Kotetsu).  The game is currently dominated by the release of new product.  This trend will continue with the release of Nekroz and Dark Law.  
The section of the F&L list that may have an impact is the Semi Limited list.  The graph to the right shows the odds for drawing a card as a function of the turn.  These numbers are based on a six-card hand (i.e. for players going second) without any deck-thinning*. The results are rather striking. By turn 11, there is a 40% chance of drawing into a singleton compared to a 65% chance of drawing into a card with two copies.  In other words, you have increased your odds by one in four.  

While “Double D Hole” may add some suggestive smirkiness, double Honest will carry some real clout.  The primary beneficiaries of this change will be Satellarknights for the following reasons:
  1. Honest is a difficult card to defend against.  Cards that stop Honest are limited and/or not played.  Debunk fell out of favor with the passing of the Droolers; Mind Crush may help the clairvoyant.  For the most part, Honest will have free reign until Dark Law.
  2. The bluff is real.  Getting over a lowly Tellarknight with one backrow set was generally done simply running over the monster.  In this way, one could avoid getting Nova’d.  Such a strategy can lose you the game if they have Honest in hand. 
  3. He’s baaack.  The trend in Tellars is to play three Oasis and three COTH.  This strategy will allow them to summon Honest and put him back in their hand. 
  4. Double your pleasure.  Honest is one of the most difficult cards in the game when it comes to rulings.  Mirror matches may boil down to which doolist says “Honest” first.  Nevertheless, I think you can play one Honest after another Honest.  In any case, the card is sure to give judges some headaches. 
* A topic I will write about later

Monday, December 15, 2014

Show Up and Share: A Plea to Save the Dying Local Tournament

I would like to say I found “Tellar Triumph” this weekend at my locals. While I did go undefeated, it was something of a specious victory.  I was the only one in attendance.

Granted, it’s not a large shop and turnout tends to drop during the holidays.  However, this is not an isolated incident.  I regularly go to tournaments at three card shops and all three have had difficulties attracting enough players.  Attendance is so sporadic at one of the shops that the owner is considering dropping Yugioh altogether. 

I have been playing this game long enough to recognize that local attendance can be cyclical.  However, I think there have been recent changes that threaten the health of local stores.  The first is the growing complexity of the game. While the PSCT changes are welcome, the newer archetypes and the addition of pendulum summoning can be mind-numbing. This complexity discourages casual players and those trying to learn the game.  While experienced players may treat these groups with disdain, they sustain local shops.  

The second trend is the growing influence of on-line stores and gaming.  For those below the age of thirty, on-line gaming is a fact of life and not a trend.  I realize DN and other forums have been around since the game’s inception. However, they do steal players from local shops.   On-line play testing is faster, more convenient, and often can be done with better competition.  On-line vendors offer product at lower prices and EBay can make unloading unwanted cards profitable.  Together, they lower the incentive for both trading and playing IRL. 

Local shops have had to deal with the game’s mutability and the internet for years.  These factors have always made running a local shop a precarious economic venture.  The final straw may be the rise of large “cash” tournaments.  

Before you dismiss this opinion, you should realize that I enjoy big tournaments.  At the very least, the current Swiss system insures that I will spend a day playing good players who know the game.  However, these tournaments tend to be inaccessible to new players and most casual players will find them quite discouraging.  In the meantime, they are drawing players away from locals.  

The long term consequences of this trend could be devastating.  Players are introduced to the game through locals and most will only continue to play if these early experiences are enjoyable. I can fondly remember my first local tournament.  I played Robert, a big gregarious fellow who patiently explained how each of his cards worked.  His ready laugh and lack of condescension made the dool fun.  Despite losing to everyone, I wanted to come back.  To this day, I try to treat less experienced players with the same attitude.  The future of our game depends on it.  

I realize my influence in the Yugioh world is small.  Still, I would like to propose a few changes to save the game. 

  1. Konami needs to reward players who attend local tournaments.  This can be done in two ways.  First, they can increase the number of valuable cards in each pack.  Having decent cards in one of every five packs rather than one in every 40 packs gives new players a chance to have access to these cards.  Such a change will make receiving a “Consolation Pack” worthwhile.  Second, they should offer invites to those players who regularly attend local tournaments.  My experience at nationals was a highlight of my Yugioh life.  There is no reason this experience can’t be shared with more players.  Besides, if you play in thirty-six local tournaments, you probably have enough experience to make a go at nationals.  I wouldn’t expect these players to win, but I would expect them to continue playing the game. 
  2. ARG and Konami need to bury the hatchet and coordinate their tournaments.  Both organizations are contributing to the demise of local tournaments by offering more premier events.  In this area, such tournaments have been within driving range for the majority of weekends in the past several months.  Local shops cannot continue to offer tournaments if they only have players once a month.
  3. Experienced doolists need to support their local stores.  It’s time to give something back.  We should encourage younger and less experienced players.  Our lack of participation reeks of selfishness.  Instead, we should embrace the motto, “Show up and Share”

I do not pretend to speak for all players.  Your local may be healthy and thriving.  However, I am sure there are those that have made the same observations.  Comments are welcome from all. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Receding Waters: The F & L list for 2015

I once read a Pojo Forum thread entitled “What do you tell your friends when you go play Yugioh”.  Answers ranged from Poker to rock wall climbing. Only one intrepid doolist said he played Yugioh. While the game is enthusiastically embraced by the young, older players are imbued with a sense of guilty pleasure. Hence, there is a degree of irony when I say I feel guilty about my fondness for certain cards. I have found guilty pleasure in a part of a game that gives my guilty pleasure. 

Skill Drain is a card universally decried by most experienced players but secretly loved by me.  The card reduces the game to a mano a mano slugfest with no frilly effects and girly-man dodges.  It creates old fashioned duel monsters.  Besides, some of my most effective anti-meta strategies have revolved around this card.

Unfortunately, my advocacy will do little to keep the card viable.  Like many commentators, I suspect it will wind up on the F & L list since it cripples profitable archetypes and give Qlipharts a cheap advantage.  After all, advantage must come with a premium payable to Konami.  
Say Good Bye to an old friend

The most likely announcement will limit the card to one, which is the equivalent to banning the card.  In a game where searching accelerates the game state, limited unsearchable cards are useless.  This adage can be substantiated with a quick perusal of current crop of limited cards. The two most potent cards in the current format are Raigeki and Soul Charge. Yet, these cards are used only by tier 2 decks trying to make a run at God’s triangle.  Soul Drain is arguably one of the best cards against Burning Abyss, but it barely gets a mention.  If you can’t search for it, it’s not there.  Even at three, unsearchable cards are somewhat unreliable.  At one, they are non-existent.  So be prepared for Skill Drain to join Eradicator Epidemic Virus, Geargiagear, and Macro Cosmos as great but irrelevant cards. 

The dooling community has equal enmity for Vanity’s Emptiness.  Perhaps a portion of their ire is due to the high cost of the card.  Reprint hype gave a brief glimmer of hope for those who believe in equal access for all cards.  Unfortunately, that reprint only lowered the cost by $20.  It is still rather pricey.  This card may get the same treatment though it is not as great a threat.  Personally, I think its self-destruction clause makes it reasonably balanced.  As a result, it will likely get semi-limited and remain viable for most decks.  

The new  Emptiness?
Do these changes mean the flood tides are receding?  Not entirely. Floodgate cards will remain popular anti-meta strategies.  The mechanics will likely shift to monster effects like those used by Monarch decks.  However, one flood gate card is poised to emerge and that card is Mistake.  

The needle on the Whine-O-Meter spiked pretty high when Mistake was revealed.  Commentators across the Yugiverse talked about this card as if it was the end of dooling as we know it.  However, the release of the card was little more than hiccup.  After spiking in price to $30, it is now in the $4 range.  

The problem with the card is that it locks out both players.  Unlike Emptiness, one cannot easily get rid of it.  Playing Trap Stun works though this is a rather inconsistent two-card combo.  Burning Abyss players should consider it against Nekroz since the card allows you to add from the graveyard.  

Currently, I have it sided in Satellarknights.  While the card eviscerates Deneb and ROTA, the deck remains quite playable.  I’ve made life a little more bearable by playing three Trap Stuns and two Magic Planters.  Besides, the ubiquitous presence of MST means that the card is not around for long.  However, the card causes real problems for Qlipharts.  Who knows?  With Skill Drain and Emptiness at one,  Satellarknight players may get a real though brief boost. 

If I was a pragmatic person, I would sell Emptiness and buy Mistake.  But, I am more sentimental than pragmatic.  Reason flees where guilty pleasures thrive.