Thoughts on the March 1, 2012 Forbidden/Limited List – Part 1
Almost three months ago, on March 1, the Forbidden & Limited Cards List was updated again. Now that things have settled down a bit, we wanted to share some of our thought processes behind the F&L List creation.
Why Have a List?
First, we’re often asked “Why have the F&L List at all?”
To answer that, let’s go back in time to 2003. A time before there were any forbidden cards.
Back in those days, when you built a deck, you would start by including Raigeki, Dark Hole, Monster Reborn, Harpie’s Feather Duster, Heavy Storm, Change of Heart, Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity, Sinister Serpent, Delinquent Duo, Confiscation, The Forceful Sentry, Painful Choice, Imperial Order, Tribe-Infecting Virus, Sangan, Witch of the Black Forest, Mirror Force, Ring of Destruction, and probably Mirage of Nightmare and 3 copies of Mystical Space Typhoon.
That’s 23 cards already… over half your deck… and you haven’t even added any of your main monsters… and you haven’t even started on your theme or strategy. But you’re already running out of room!
You could choose not to use these cards, of course. But when all of your opponents ARE using them, you need to put them in your deck too, or else you get clobbered. You have hundreds or even thousands of cards in your collection… but you feel like you’re forced to use just the same 20 cards, plus whatever monster theme you add in.
And since all your opponents are going through the exact same situation, they’re all playing with the same cards you are. So you keep seeing the same cards every time you Duel. And you keep using the same cards every time you Duel.
Same decks – same cards – every Duel. Sound boring? You’re not the only one who thinks so.
Why We Have a List!
To avoid situations like that from happening again, here are some of the many reasons why we have an F&L list:
- To prevent a situation where you feel “locked in” – where you HAVE to play with certain cards, or a certain Deck.
- To keep it so there are choices for what Deck you play. Avoid having 1 dominant Deck.
- To restrict “solitaire” play Decks. These are usually first-turn-combo Decks where one Duelist plays by themselves for 15 minutes, shuffling and summoning cards while their opponent twiddles his thumbs.
- To eliminate cards that are confusing, cause games to stall out, create infinite loops, or can otherwise interfere with tournaments and make them unpleasant.
March 2012 Changes
In light of these reasons, today let’s talk about some of the specific changes to the March 1 list.
Trap Dustshoot (now forbidden). This was a devastating card if you had it in your opening hand and went first. But later on in the Duel, drawing it from your deck could be a dead draw, since it became less likely your opponent would have 4 cards in hand. A limited card since 2007, this card had seen an increase in use lately, which meant more players were playing with a card they would either draw mid-Duel – and be pretty unhappy when they did – or else they would have it first-turn, and make their opponents miserable. This was lopsided: either too good on turn 1, or not useful at all later on. That’s a negative play experience either way, so it had to go.
Spore & Glow-Up Bulb (both now forbidden). Let’s break this down:
-Tuners are okay.
-Tuners that can be used for any Synchro Monster are okay.
-Cards you can easily search for or Summon from the deck are okay.
-Re-usable cards are okay.
-Re-usable cards with no cost are even okay.
-Synchro Monsters with powerful effects are okay.
-Synchro Monsters that can be Summoned using any Synchro Materials are okay.
Tuners that can be used for any Synchro Monster, are easily fetched from the deck, are re-usable with no cost, and can grab powerful Synchro Monsters that have no specific requirements… this turned out to NOT be okay.
Since they were introduced, Synchro Monsters have been a big factor in Duels. And we’ll keep making more of them.
But these Level 1 Plant Tuners and their supporting cards (Spore, Glow-Up Bulb, Dandylion, Lonefire Blossom, and One-for-One) were causing a large number of decks to be played exactly the same. It was reaching a point where deck construction started with these 5 cards, then you added more cards on top of that base. (Sound familiar? It’s similar to what we described at the start of this article….) And that’s the point where we have to step in and take action.
We looked at several solutions we could try, and ultimately decided to go to the heart of the problem, which we felt were the re-usable Tuners that were easily searchable and could be used to Synchro Summon anything.
Had Spore and Glow-Up Bulb missed even ONE of the factors mentioned above, they probably would have been okay. Plaguespreader Zombie, for example, is a re-usable Tuner that can be used for anything. It’s also easy to search out of the deck (although One-for-One is admittedly a lot more splashable than most cards you can use to fetch Plaguespreader Zombie). The key difference is that Plaguespreader Zombie costs you a card from your hand, so he isn’t free to revive. Plaguespreader Zombie is currently marking the line between what is considered okay, and what isn’t, and Spore/Glow-Up Bulb wound up on the other side of that line.
We talked about combinations of other cards we could hit, instead. But we felt that hitting One-for-One would unreasonably punish ALL Level 1 monsters. Hitting Lonefire Blossom would hit full-blown (legit) Plant-themed Decks. And hitting Dandylion would eliminate a versatile card that goes in lots of fun decks, but would actually be ineffective at stopping the core problem.
Additionally, whenever we pondered, “why are we even looking at restricting these other cards?” the answer was always, “we’re looking at these cards so we can find an excuse not to go after the real problem.” So ultimately, going after Spore and Bulb was the way to go.
Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner (now semi-limited).
Lightsworn monsters have an interesting history with regard to the F&L list. When they first came out, they got a lot of attention, but didn’t win a lot of tournaments and didn’t have much of a “bandwagon” effect. Meaning that Lightsworn continued to occupy a solid chunk of tournament slots for a long time. But they just weren’t winning, and the number of Lightsworn decks wasn’t going up.
There were some cries from players to do something about Lightsworn at the time, particularly because of the powerful nature of Judgment Dragon. But this is a good example of how we won’t go after a card just because it’s powerful. It needs to actually threaten the tournament scene to get hit, and Lightsworn weren’t doing that. Running into a powerful Lightsworn deck at a tournament could certainly ruin your day, but they just weren’t topping enough events, or growing in size, to mark them as a concern.
It wasn’t until players started combining Lightsworn and DARK monsters into Twilight/Chaos builds almost 2 years later that Lightsworn really started to build momentum.
Now that they’ve cooled off some, we’re looking at easing things up a bit, so Lumina goes back up to semi-limited.
Shien’s Smoke Signal (now semi-limited).
Similar to Lumina, Six Samurai had huge momentum coming out of the gate and needed to cool off a bit. Our options were to de-limit this or to de-limit Legendary Six Samurai – Shi En. We went with Smoke Signal because a double-Shi En on the first turn (which is very possible) can be truly miserable for the opponent to play against.
Torrential Tribute (now semi-limited).
Raise your hand if you remember when you could have three of this in your deck! We’re reviving TT as a potential counter to some of the mass-summoning and repeat-summoning effects players find so attractive these days.
T.G. Striker & The Agent of Mystery – Earth (both now limited).
These two decks were building up momentum in Asia, and threatening the tournament diversity there, so they needed to get reigned in a little bit. As an interesting note, AFTER the list was already decided, Marquis Henderson won YCS Atlanta with a T.G. Deck. A sign of what might have come? We may never know, but it lends credence to the idea that nipping this in the bud was the right call.
Level Limit – Area B (now semi-limited).
More and more players are using Xyz Monsters, which are immune to this card’s effects. It’s always nice to keep the F&L List as short as possible, so there’s less to keep track of. Therefore, we moved this to semi-limited.
Call of the Haunted (now off the list).
Once considered a staple card, we moved Call to semi-limited previously and very few players took advantage of the chance to play with 2. Maybe it will get some attention at 3, but it’s also possible that Duelists have decided that the sun has set on this card.
I hope you’ve found this enlightening! Check back tomorrow when I discuss the cards that didn’t have their status changed. Then again on Monday when I’ll talk about some of the hidden factors that impact our decisions – things that aren’t apparent to the average person.