Saturday, January 4, 2014

Learning to Love the Devil

Many years ago*, I was watching TV with my dad when our show was interrupted by an advertisement for a retirement home.

“Now with full time security” the ad intoned. At which point, a crooked little man walked across the screen. 

“I feel safer already,” I quipped

“Yes” my dad corrected, “but he has a gun, the great equalizer.”

Somehow the elderly of the 70’s would feel secure in the knowledge that an old man and his peacemaker could take out a young man with a bat.  It was a gentler time. 

From its inception, Yugioh has had its share of great equalizers.  Dark Hole, the prototype monster wipe, was part of the very first set of Yugioh cards.  At three, you would have close to a 60% chance of drawing it by turn five.  That luxury lasted about a year and a half.  By September 2003, the card has been either limited (48%) or forbidden (52%).   When limited, the fifth turn of a duel will give you access to the card 25% of the time.  

Heavy Storm was released only four months behind Dark Hole.  Like its monster partner, the card was also limited on the very first F&L list. If you have played Yugioh since 2003, you have had access to one copy of the card 78% of the time.  It’s been forbidden the other 22%.  

Despite these restrictions, the good folks at corporate Yugioh wanted you to have these cards.  Dark Hole has been released six times including five starter decks.  Heavy Storm is even more common having been included in 19 sets of which 12 were starter or structure decks.  

These cards are limited for good reason: they change the nature of the game.  Those of you who played during the stormy times probably didn’t freely set backrow.  Rushing in so recklessly is a good way to give your opponent a three card advantage.  So you held back and played more deliberately - and this change in play style happened when we had only one Storm.   

Dark Hole brings a similar vibe. Spam if you want, but be prepared to be fried.  Spamming success takes the ability to read your opponent and the likelihood that they have Dark Hole.  As a result of this limited card, you will think twice about surplus summoning. 
Enter Evilswarm Exciton Knight, the ultimate chase card from Legacy of the Valiant.  Most of the current decks will have no problem spitting out two level four generic monsters at any time.  A 25% chance for Dark Hole by turn five will seem quaint in the days of Beelzebub.  Our little photon transformed friend should be considered as a response in almost any turn.  Do you want to take full advantage of all the pluses your deck offers without having an out to Exciton?  I suspect not. All they need is fewer cards and a piece of chain.  As a result, you will play a bit more conservatively and that’s not such a bad thing.  Playing around the threat of this monster adds an interesting dynamic to this game and has made me a little less supercilious. 

Of course, reading your opponent’s access to Exciton should be pretty easy.  Let’s see, 11 year old kid with no card covers, no mat, and the Blue Eyes Starter deck … probably no Exciton.  How ‘bout a 20 year old with  30 lbs of binders that include a playset of Ultra Rare BEWDs from the Swedish Shonen Jump magazine … probably has Exciton too. 

*A long, long time ago: Carter was president and you couldn't click the advertisement away after 20 seconds

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