Analyzing the Forbidden & Limited List: March 2017

Without any format changes in quite a while, many duelists were eager for a new F&L List. Zoodiacs had created a sort of natural F&L list all on their own, effectively pushing out many strategies that were once dominant and making nearly every deck want to run three copies of Zoodiac Ratpier.

But one strategy still thrived without them, as Paleozoic Frogs won both YCS Atlanta and YCS Prague, and came close to winning the UDS Invitational in Las Vegas as well. Regardless, the question of whether anything would be done to the Zoodiac menace has been on everyone’s mind. The fact that you can search Zoodiac Ratpier in almost every strategy is just a little too crazy; that one card means you’re always facing down a field of Zoodiac Drident along with a Rank 4 Xyz, all for just a one card investment.

Much more happened on this list than just a hit to Zoodiac, the biggest change being the return of several errata’d cards. A bunch of older stuff that used to be too broken for competition now have new text, with corrected reprints announced for release in Duelist Saga. They all got the same treatment earlier in the OCG, so it’s not too surprising. I’ve separated those cards into a separate section of today’s discussion, because I think it’s basically worth evaluating them as brand new cards.

MajespecterUnicornKirin-DOCS-EN-R-1ENewly Forbidden:
Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin
Every Pendulum strategy wanted to main Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin, it was that powerful. A threat that can proactively answer resilient problems while also giving reactive disruption is just too strong, especially when it can keep coming back from the Extra Deck off Pendulum Summons.

Limiting Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin only meant that you had four copies of it rather than six, thanks to Majespecter Raccoon – Bunbuku, and that meant every Pendulum strategy was running those four cards so they could have access to Kirin. It was really just a matter of time before it was Forbidden, simply because of its searchability and sheer power level.

The Tyrant Neptune
This one definitely had me asking questions when I first saw it on the OCG Forbidden & Limited List, but my questions were quickly answered when I read an upcoming card from Maximum Crisis.

Lyrical Luscinia – Independent Nightingale is a Fusion Monster that you can summon very easily thanks to Instant Fusion. It’s unaffected by card effects and not only gains ATK, but can also burn your opponent for 500 damage times its Level. The Tyrant Neptune can gain the effects of whatever it tributes, so if you use Lyrical Luscinia – Independent Nightingale, you effectively have an Apoqliphort Towers that can burn your opponent.

Does that sound like a lot of fun? Heck to the no, so I’m glad this was dealt with preemptively before it became a problem. Kaijus might be an easy out to that strategy, but anytime you don’t draw one to answer Neptune you’d basically be dead in the water.

300px-VanitysEmptinessSTBL-EN-C-1EVanity’s Emptiness
While it hasn’t seen a lot of play recently, Vanity’s Emptiness has been the bane of duelists for quite some time. Royal Oppression effects are very powerful, because you can run them in any strategy and get a huge advantage as long as you’re ahead in tempo. If you have a strong Turn 1 with a bunch of resilient threats – perhaps some that can even negate stuff or protect your own cards – you’re at way too much of an advantage when you flip Vanity’s Emptiness.

Any cards that stop someone from being able to play the game aren’t fun, so I’m glad to see Vanity’s Emptiness finally get the big hit. The bigger question moving forward may be how close Dimensional Barrier is by comparison; against certain strategies it’s even more powerful, since you can’t counter it by destroying it. There’s an argument suggesting that Barrier’s weaker because it only stops one type of summoning, but I think in the long run we’ll see it get hit too.

Newly Limited:
Maxx “C”

This one’s going to have a lot of people up in arms, primarily because it’s hard to decide whether this card balanced problems or caused them.

Maxx “C” can always stifle an otherwise crazy Turn 1, giving the player who didn’t win the die roll a fair shot. And in a die roll dependent format like the one we’ve been in for the last while, Maxx “C” is an absolute staple.

But much like Vanity’s Emptiness, Maxx “C” can become very dangerous when one player’s dictating tempo. If you have a strong Turn 1 with Maxx “C” to back it up, the duel can end very quickly. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from watching countless matches doing tournament coverage, it’s that the player with Maxx “C” always had a definitive edge over the player who didn’t have it, regardless of the die roll.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually saw Maxx “C” Forbidden.

Wisdom-Eye Magician

Wisdom-Eye got hit pretty early on because it was a powerful Pendulum Monster that could threaten to do a lot all on its own. However, I don’t think it’s strong enough in this environment to be much of a problem. Pendulums have gotten a lot weaker thanks to Dimensional Barrier, and many games are decided so quickly that the strong inevitability of Pendulum Summoning doesn’t really come into play.

We saw how powerful Wisdom-Eye Magician was prior to the release of Breakers of Shadow, but since then no Pendulum Magician strategy has had much success. Perhaps this could change things, but I think we’ll see Wisdom-Eye Magician removed from the F&L List entirely pretty soon.

Zoodiac Ratpier
We all knew that Zoodiacs would get hit somehow, but Semi-Limiting Zoodiac Ratpier was a bit of a surprise to me; I like it quite a bit. The Semi-Limiting definitely restricts what you can do, as Normal Summoning a Zoodiac Ratpier isn’t nearly as powerful as it used to be unless you have a way to field another Level 4 material.

Does this mean Zoodiac is no longer the best strategy? I’m not too sure, but I definitely don’t think they’re that much weaker. Basically you just have to accommodate for having one less Level 4 Material, so stuff like Summoner Monk and Instant Fusion get a lot better.

One Summoner Monk alone still lets you do a full Zoodiac combo, and Instant Fusion helps you get extra materials into play in much the same way. Lullaby of Obedience also becomes much stronger, since stealing your opponent’s Ratpier will leave you with two copies still in your deck; it means you can do a full combo without needing to produce an extra material. Once Maximum Crisis hits, things will get even better with Zoodiac Lyca, but we’ll save that discussion for another time.

InterruptedKaijuSlumber-BOSH-EN-SR-1EInterrupted Kaiju Slumber
This card is super unfair, and I expect it to be Limited eventually and possibly even Forbidden at some point. A Dark Hole that produces a monster on each side of the field seems fair on the surface, but when your monster’s always larger than the one you give your opponent then you end up having a Dark Hole that just fields a free monster for you.

When you combine Interrupted Kaiju Slumber with a way to destroy your opponent’s Kaiju before the Battle Phase, you have an easy OTK enabler. We’ve seen exactly that in current Zoodiac decks. And on top of all that you can even banish Interrupted Kaiju Slumber after you’ve used it to search a free Kaiju, turning your Dark Hole OTK enabler into an out for another threat later on.

Now let’s move onto the errata’d cards, which are all now Limited other than Sangan which is no longer on the F&L List at all.

Rescue Cat
The change to Rescue Cat negates the monsters you summon via its effect, which basically turns it into a way to generate materials and that’s about it. Previously you could do cool things like summon Sea Koala or Neo-Spacian Dark Panther to help you deal with an established field, but now Rescue Cat’s just an easy way to Synchro, Xyz, and – in the future – Link Summon.

The change was made chiefly to combat brokenness with Uniflora, the Mystical Beast of the Forest, which could give you three more Rescue Cat activations way too easily. Unless there’s a theme that wants to be using Beasts, I don’t think Rescue Cat will see too much play.

BrionacDragonoftheIceBarrier-GLD5-EN-GUR-LEBrionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
The change to Brionac limits its effect to once per turn, but you can still discard as many cards as you want. It means you can’t loop Brionac anymore, which was the biggest problem with the card in the past.

It was also very strong enabling graveyard-driven combo strategies like Zombies, but the inability to reuse its effect limits how far you can really go with it. I think Brionac will see play in current tournaments, but it takes a specific strategy to want any Level 6 Synchro, let alone one with this type of effect.

Brain Control
The change to Brain Control restricts what you can steal to monsters that can be Normal Summoned or Set, so it probably can’t steal your opponent’s best monster the majority of the time. I think at this point the card’s probably worse than Mind Control, because if you’re taking a monster that can be Normal Summoned or Set you’re probably using it as a material rather than attacking with it anyway.

If you aren’t attacking, then Mind Control’s just better; in other scenarios you can still take a more valuable monster with a worthwhile effect. I don’t think we’ll see Brain Control in tournaments for quite a while, unless it’s a very specific environment.

FutureFusion-RYMP-EN-UR-1EFuture Fusion
The change to Future Fusion slows it down substantially. Now you don’t send the Fusion Materials to the graveyard until your next Standby Phase, and you don’t get the monster until your second Standby.

Most of the time you want Future Fusion as an upgraded Foolish Burial, so you’ll really only need to wait until the first Standby Phase for it to make a tremendous impact. Infernoid Tierra lets you dump a massive number of Infernoids to the graveyard for summoning fodder, and Chimeratech Overdragon gives you a pretty scary way to abuse ABC’s since you can yard a Cyber Dragon plus three full sets of letter monsters.

Summoning three copies of ABC – Dragon Buster seems like a pretty easy way to win the game, and even if you can’t send all of the component monsters at once, you can just send every one you don’t draw for effectively the same outcome.

Imperial Order
The change to Imperial Order only impacts your ability to turn it off, which means it’s still very strong. Stopping all your opponent’s spell cards is crazy powerful; similar to cards like Vanity’s Emptiness, if you’re ahead on tempo then locking your opponent out of their spells is just plain unfair.

A lot of strategies heavily rely on spell cards, so Imperial Order will be in every Side Deck at the very least, if it’s not in the Main Deck instead. I think this card’s basically an auto-include in every strategy moving forward, unless it’s one that really needs spells over the course of multiple turns.

The change to Sangan stops you from using the effect of the monster you search on the same turn, which really limits the potential to abuse it. It’s still definitely a solid card, but it seems pretty slow right now if you’re just trying to Normal Summon it.

It could be a strong tool for Link Monsters in the future alongside Tour Guide from the Underworld, but for now I don’t think we’ll see much of Sangan unless it’s a strategy that really wants a monster with 1500 or less ATK and can compensate for being so slow.

Moving forward, I think that either Paleozoic Frogs or a That Grass Looks Greener strategy is probably the best bet for competition. I wouldn’t count Zoodiacs out, but the hit to Zoodiac Ratpier really cut down on the number of easy enablers in the deck’s arsenal.

-Robert Boyajian

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