Friday, March 28, 2014

Predictions for All Yugioh Archetypes in the April 2014 Meta

Once again, I will attempt to predict the performance of all 168 Yugioh archetypes in the next meta. This list takes skill, insight, and above all, the belief that no one will really check to see if the Ally of Justice will outperform the Arcana Force.  

The changes wrought by the F&L list are rather meager.  Though Fire Fist players will bemoan the Wolfbark limitations, the deck will remain a dominant presence.  Mermails are also affected but you will see them at major tournaments.  Commentators, including myself, often overestimate the impact these changes.  

The real challenge of these predictions is guessing the cards that will be released in the next three months.  I have yet to see a complete list for either Dragons of Legacy or Primal Origins.  The latter, for example, totes support for 37 archetypes.  The impact of future cards can already be seen in the OCG.  The Chronomaly’s have tremendous potential if they can get their precious disk. 
With those caveats, here are my predictions:

1. The meta will remain diverse.  I was a bit hesitant to predict a diverse meta in December.  It appears that diversity is the new normal.

2. Bujins, Gears, and Maldoches will have their moment to shine. Don’t think of the future little decks, just enjoy what you have now.  

3. Sylvans are looking to be the new bully on the block.  The Mermails got me to hate the phrase “Pitch to Summon”.  Soon I will learn to hate the term “excavate”.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The April 2014 Forbidden & Limited List EXPLAINED!

Ever wonder how Konami makes decisions about the forbidden and limited list?  Wonder no more – all is revealed below.

1. Most decks are not degenerate … there also not that good.  Say hello to all the decks from Gagagas to Gadgets.
2. Here lie the ruined dreams of Gishki OTK, Self-Destruct Button, and Final Countdown. We can now welcome Jackpot 7.
3. No one can touch Exodia!             
4. Now Mermails and Fire Fists can join Dragon Rulers and Wind-Ups.  Our apologies to Lavals, they were just caught in the cross-fire aimed at the uppity Fire Kings. The Infernities are also here.  It was an honest mistake. No one really believed releasing Barrier would make that much difference.
5. Bujins have a little more time.
6. Do you want to know why Geargias and Madolches were left untouched?  Look at the next set of cards.  Their descent to #4 is coming.
7. What is the most important characteristic of a Yugioh card? The answer is the ability to take money out of your wallet.
8. Iconic cards get old players back in the game.  This is why Malicious and BLS came back and BOM remains at one.
9. Hmmm … a Hero structure deck is coming out … and Stratos is pretty iconic.  Buck-up Heroites , your favorite monster may be coming back after all.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Future of Geargias: Thoughts on the Upcoming F&L List

Most of my Yugioh days have been spent playing rogue, unconventional decks.  That is until Return of the Duelist, when Konami revealed a full lineup of Geargias.  For the first time, I saw my deck showing up on lists of regional and YCS tops.  I got to experience the privilege of flipping a monster and watching my opponent grouse about the deck.  Playing mirror matches became commonplace.  When asked, I could finally give a simple, one word answer to what deck I was playing. 

Now, the little gears are introducing me to a new facet of meta-life, ban list anxiety.  Konami’s insistence on archetype-specific card design has given them the power to shut down entire decks at will.  Bujins and Fire Fists are all one card away from becoming tomorrow’s Wind-ups and Glad Beasts.  Despite the clamor to bring back Bestiari, these cards tend to remain on the F/L list.  Most of the cards that have been brought back are generic.  Konami needs you to put away your old deck and buy something new.  

Fortunately, Geargias have not been completely dominating the meta.  More importantly, they have some new friends coming.  As a result, the little gears will probably be around for another format or two.  Nevertheless, I thought I would share my thoughts on what is to come.  

By each card is a 0 to 4 scale.  The bomb is the likelihood that the card will be restricted by the F/L list (0 = No chance, 4 = extremely likely). The skull and cross bones indicates the effect on the deck (0 = No difference, 4 = Not playable)

This card was not immediately embraced by Geargia doolists.    
Many players, including myself, were hesitant to add level three monsters and were concerned about drawing dead Geargiagears.  Over time, this card proved to be one of the most OP cards we had.  I am happy to sacrifice it to appease the F/L gods.  Removing it will likely bring some innovation and creativity to the deck.  


The heart of the deck revolves around this common card.  Armor or Auger to Accelerator is a + 0 play that can net you most Rank 4 XYZ monsters.  The deck plays quite well with 2 race cars and some players even prefer it.  On the other hand, the deck dies if this card is at 0 to 1.  


Though Auger threatens to supplant it, I think Armor is the better card.   1900 defense is still formidable. More importantly, it can grab more than one Geargia per turn.  Semi-limiting card would be a little sad, but not lethal.  Arsenal can get it out of the deck and Accelerator out of the graveyard.  


I have routinely played with two copies of Arsenal without much problem.  One reason for the card’s limited impact is that most Geargia monsters do not get effects on special summoning. MK-III will be the exception to the rule.  Nevertheless, I do not see the little tank in Konami’s crosshairs. 


Now that Konami has successfully sold their tins of Geargigants, they can afford to limit this card and make way for the rush towards Rank 3 Gears.  Semi-limiting the big cross would have little impact in a side deck that is already stuffed.  Limiting or, God forbid, forbidding it would slow down rank 4 builds.  We may see this happen so that there is room for XG.

Genex Ally Birdman  

Birdman has become the great OTK enabler.  While Geargiaists have come to accept Geargiagear, there are many who still hotly contend the value of this card.  It’s a great card with Accelerator and another Geargia on the field; it’s not if you have a handful of Traps and Spells. I’m happy to put the card away.


For the sake of our machine playing brethren, I hope these cards do not make it to the F/L list.  Konami would have to perform a rather dramatic paring down of the Karakuris to stop the Geargias.  Eliminating Birdman would slow down the deck and these monsters could be left alone.  


Limiting Geargiagear makes touching the Geargianos unnecessary.  Besides, Konami appears to be trying to force adoption of the Rank 3 build.  If so, April 1st will give us another three months of play before we have to live through the angst all over again.    

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Choosing Cards in Yugioh: Lessons from the Cyber Gears

I took the Cyber Gear deck to two locals and finished with a combined record of 8-3.  Sure, I had a few wins against RKD*s, but I also beat some experienced players with tier one decks.  The losses were to Infernities, Bujins, and Lightsworns. Overall, I was pleased but not satisfied.  So, I immediately went back to the garage to tinker some more.

The process led me to consider the criteria for good and poor card choices.  I can summarize my standards with the following two questions:

1.      Will it be live? Live cards have few if any conditions.  They are flexible and serve multiple purposes.  Usually they work as stand-alone cards or combine with nearly every other card in the deck.  Most of all, they are the cards that you want to see late in the duel.

2.      Does the card advance or interfere with the game plan?  This question presupposes that you have a game plan. Many people appear to build decks without them.  The plan for the Cyber Gears is to get rid of your opponent’s monsters with Chimeratech Fortress Dragon or overwhelm them with a large attack point monster. 

Applying these principles to the Cyber Gear deck led me to the following changes:

The Trap Trinity: Bottomless Trap Hole, Compulsory Evacuation Device, and Torrential Tribute are considered “staples”. Removing summoned monsters by banishing, without destruction, or in their entirety interrupts most plays.  These cards come with no cost and their resolution will likely make your opponent a bit salty … and by salty I mean prone to mistakes.

The three cards are always live and are generally welcome late in the game.  Of the three, Compulse is the most useful since it can get rid of a threat at the beginning of your opponents turn.  Compulse and BTH also advance the game plan by keeping Armor on the field.  Torrential, on the other hand, causes problems.  This deck wants your opponent to have a monster. It’s the summoning condition for Cyber Dragon.  Torrential removes this condition.  Therefore, it is a poorer choice.  BTH +1, CED +1

Return of Limiter Removal: Most players see limiter as a win-more card.  In other words, it won’t turn the game around.  However, this card sets up the game plan well.  Suppose they have several monsters poised to attack Geargiarsenal.  Limiter boosts Arsenal’s attack to 3400 insuring the loss of one of their monsters.  It is unlikely they will have another that can get over 3400.  At the end to the turn, Arsenal dies and the summoning conditions for Cyber Dragon are met.  Since there are 19 monsters in the deck, the card is usually live. Limiter +1

Shards over Planters:  My experience with Magic Planter has always been better in the abstract than in real life. This dichotomy is the result of the conflict between drawing with Magic Planter and letting the continuous trap do its job.  You don’t want to get rid of DNA Surgery when it’s active.  Planter does work well with Cyber Network, but that card also gets rid of DNA Surgery.  I removed all three.

Shard of Greed, on the other hand, is quite different.  Not only is it live all the time, it advances the game plan by drawing out your opponents MSTs.  Once the Planters were out, I had the freedom to remove other subpar continuous traps.  Removing Cyber Network left me with only 1 target for Cyber Core Dragon.  That problem was easily remedied by adding another Cyber Repair Network, a superior card until Cybernetic Fusion Support is released.    Shard +1; Cyber Repair Plant +1; Magic Planter -2; Cyber Network -1; Safe Zone -2

Flexible Draw Cards: Much has been said about Hobanization or the addition of Upstart Goblin/Reckless Greed.  In general, I am not a big fan.  Drawing Upstart late in the game gets you to the next card in your deck by giving your opponent 1000 points. Its only worth it if your deck only needs 37 cards.  Otherwise, you get to the next card for free. 

If you drop Swift Scarecrow, you will have a 38 card deck and Upstarts may be worth a try.  I went with CardCar D.  This card offers the flexibility of being fodder for Chimeratech and Power Bond.  However, I admit that these are the weakest cards in the deck.  Currently, the Scarecrows are in the side deck.  Hopefully, further tinkering will resolve this issue.

Here is Cyber Gears 2.0

Cyber Dragon x 3
Cyber Dragon Core x 3
Cyber Dragon Drei x 3
Geargiarmor x 3
Geargiaccelerator x 3
Geargiarsenal x 2
Cardcar D x 2

Power Bond x 2
Forbidden Lance x 3
Shard of Greed x 3
Cyber Repair Plant x 2
Limiter Removal x 1

Fiendish Chain x 3
DNA Surgery x 3
Call of the Haunted x 2
BTH x 1
Compulse x 1

 * RKD = Random Kid Deck