Normally, I'm a huge fan of "all or nothing" banlists: I usually think a card should either be unlimited or totally Forbidden. It's a theory that's been debated pretty heavily ever since the Forbidden & Limited List was created. Surer, in rare cases I'll approve of Limits on certain cards, but limiting things to 1-per-deck often neuters them in a really unfun way.
When the wrong card gets Limited, you wind up feeling like you might draw it or you might not, for reasons totally beyond your control. You're lucky if you can ever get the full benefit. But then when you DO draw it, you auto-win? Sometimes? How is that fair.
"Ban or do not, there is no Limit." -Master Yoda (paraphrased)
If a deck really, really, really needs one card… then mayyyybe I can let that slide. Sometimes it is more fun having a single copy of something, even if it feels like you're in no man's land. You'd think that would be my only soapbox of the day, but when it comes to how certain cards go from banned to unlimited, I get a bit testy.
Specifically I'm talking about erratas: instances where card text is changed from the original printing. I have a not-so-small gripe with erratas in Yu-Gi-Oh. Years ago, cards were originally change to cover up problems with the wording of effect text, or to cement player understanding of how a card was supposed to work. Take a gander at the original text of Amazoness Fighter from Magician's Force.
Not only was that text vague and unclear, but the card's ATK was actually wrong in the original printing. Now, the card has 1500 ATK and a much clearer effect; the new Amazoness Fighter functions as it was originally intended to.
But then there are cards like Exchange of the Spirit, Sinister Serpent, Ring of Destruction, Dark Strike Fighter, and Dark Magician of Chaos… cards that were errata'd not to clarify how they worked, but to change them on a fundamental level. In Yu-Gi-Oh, this kind of errata exists almost exclusively to make a card less powerful, and I'm in the camp that believes card text shouldn't be changed just because the powers that be realized a card was too good. That's not even an errata to me. It's more of an, "oops, we messed up, but we have omniscient power, so…"
Okay, rant over. My point with all that? I want to explain that if we'd have to change a card to unban it, I wouldn't support it. I'll fight against any of those changes until I draw my last breath, so you won't find any cards like that in today's discussion.
Ok, rant REALLY over this time, I promise. Let's get ready to rustle some feathers, with the cards I want to see off the Forbidden List!
I'm old enough to remember the terror that was 2013, when competitive Yu-Gi-Oh fell under the reign of the Dragon Rulers. That and… 2014… and 2015? Basically, until the four fully-grown Dragon Rulers were all banned - that's Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls, Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms, Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders, and Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos - they were a dominant presence in the game.
Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon was kind of the tipping point, but it's not like anybody really needed an excuse to punt these cards out of sanctioned play. Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms eventually came off the list, and it's left me wondering ever since: was that a sign of things to come?
I think it's time to release at least one more Dragon Ruler from the gates of the underworld. Theoretically you could "abuse" Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls a few different ways, but I heard the same arguments when Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms came back. And how much damage is Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms doing to the current meta? Heck, when was the last time you even saw a Dragon deck, even Dragon Link, that hinged on Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms return from the graveyard, or its searching power?
Never? Thought so.
I think my opinion is in the minority here, but Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls probably the safest Dragon Ruler to release, while Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders probably deserves the most scrutiny. The question's simple: which is better? A Foolish Burial for Water monsters or a Monster Reborn for everything? Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls certainly speeds up some powerful plays, but even in the deck where it'd shine the most - Mermail Atlanteans - I don't see it breaking the game. Maybe that'd be a different story in 2019, but the game may have evolved past the Dragon Rulers by now.
At least, to some extent. I'm not 100% crazy, y'all. I'm just not blown away by certain effects just because they used to crush the meta. Remember, Breaker the Magical Warrior and Magician of Faith used to be "too good" as well, so I think with enough time, virtually anything could come back.
Alright, so, if you thought my #10 pick was controversial, oh boy, does this list get even more divisive! Zoodiac Broadbull fills three roles, all of which have wide-reaching implications.
First of all, it's another name for Zoodiac Xyz Summons. You can only cheat out each Zoodiac with a 1-Material Xyz Summon once per turn, so having another differently-named Xyz Zoodiac naturally means more Xyz Summons. If you're familiar with Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder, then you understand that additional materials pose a bigger threat.
Secondly, Zoodiac Broadbull searches Beast-Warrior monsters. While that might not seem too wild given the small pool of monsters Zoodiac Broadbull can search, cracking open the deck so you an search for an entire monster type is a powerful move, especially when you can make Zoodiac Broadbull with just one measly Zoodiac.
It was downright nauseating to deal with Zoodiacs at full power back in 2017. Multiple copies of Zoodiac Ratpier, Zoodiac Drident, Zoodiac Barrage, and Zoodiac Broadbull combined with Elder Entity Norden and Instant Fusion often resulted in tuns that lasted 20 minutes or more, ending on five monsters with five set cards. It wasn't fun to play, and thankfully, most of those problems have been dealt with since.
Does a single Zoodiac Broadbull unlock those heinous sequences from years back? I want to say no, considering just how much competition has changed, along with the F&L List. I understand the concern some people would have, but those two core functions of Zoodiac Broadbull just aren't enough to warrant keeping the card banned.
Thirdly, outside of Zoodiac Drident, it's the only Zoodiac Xyz that can activate its effect immediately, sending crucial Zoodiacs to to the graveyard so you can revive them with monsters like Zoodiac Chakanine. It's really easy to Normal Summon a Zoodiac, overlay for Zoodiac Broadbull to search a Beast-Warrior, make Zoodiac Chakanine to revive your Zoodiac, and make a Link 2.
As I was writing that, I imagined where that sequence can go and wondered, is it really that fearsome? Zoodiacs are already a Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder Infinitrack Fortress Megaclops turbo deck, and bringing back Zoodiac Broadbull would just make them more efficient at delivering those monsters.
I'm really skeptical about the fears here. I've heard rationales for "better" cards that eventually came off the list and ended up doing diddly. People legitimately thought bringing back Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz and El Shaddoll Construct would ruin the game. Now both of them are back to three… and… well, Yu-Gi-Oh's still here.
Infamously, Yata-Garasu snuck into competitive play in the early days of Yu-Gi-Oh with what was called the "Yata Lock." While Yata-Garasu only deals 200 damage it stops your opponent from drawing, making for the longest instant win in the history of Yu-Gi-Oh, to the tune of 40 turns.
There are already plenty of ways to cheat the system in this game. Arcana Force XXI - The World lets you skip your opponent's turn entirely, not just their Draw Phase. I'll admit there are some cheeky ways to circumvent Yata-Garasu Normal Summon mandate, but there's another Spirit Monster that's arguably better than Yata-Garasu, at least in a vacuum.
In the right situation, Amano-Iwato and Yata-Garasu creates "automatic" wins. In Amano-Iwato case, keeping monsters from using their effects is 100% lethal against certain strategies. But literally no one in their right mind would ban Amano-Iwato.
Not drawing in your Draw Phase is basically like getting hit with Drop Off. Obviously, the Yata Lock can end games, at least if you can simplify the game to a point where it's just Yata-Garasu versus an open field, but… saying that out loud kind of proves my point. It's possible. It's technically lethal. But good luck winning games with it in modern Yu-Gi-Oh.
I'm pretty sure Sky Scourge Norleras OTKs are more consistent.
Yu-Gi-Oh's evolved so much that putting all that effort into a modern day Yata-Lock, requiring a successful direct attack with a tiny 200 ATK monster, hardly seems worth it. If you can simplify the game and somehow Yata-Lock your opponent on Turn 1, congrats, you've made an FTK! But fun fact: there are about 900,000 other FTKs that I guarantee you are more consistent than anything you could do with Yata-Garasu.
A 2021 Yata-Lock is outclassed by Jerry Beans Man turbo, in my opinion.
For the longest time, I thought every Jar card should stay gone; like, 110% permanently, infinitely dead. Turns out, Morphing Jar and Morphing Jar aren't impactful in the slightest these days, and my heart has softened to some of the other Jars as well.
While Fiber Jar may still be a bit too powerful, Cyber Jar feels a lot like Morphing Jar. Both are Flip Effect Rock monsters with meager stats, and both only have one use: you flip them and get five cards. Morphing Jar has the downside of discarding your hand first, while Cyber Jar forces you to place monsters on their field, but collectively their ability to thin your opponent's deck is the same.
While Morphing Jar repeatable, because it doesn't blow itself up, Cyber Jar does. That's a pretty big distinction between the two cards: decking your opponent out with Morphing Jar is easy enough in theory, because you'll constantly draw cards like Book of Taiyou and Book of Moon to manipulate it and reuse its effect. But Cyber Jar needs more help - you have to get Cyber Jar back on the field if you want to really abuse it.
The only reason to play Cyber Jar would be a deck focused around really exploiting it, but the same argument could be made for Morphing Jar, the more easily abusable of the two. The ability to Special Summon monsters while saving your hand certainly has merit, but it takes a lot of work to get Cyber Jar effect off even one time, let alone several.
I may be a bit biased here since Cyber Jar literally my favorite card to ever exist; but if Morphing Jar can come back with no impact whatsoever, the infamous devil of the Empty Jar deck-out strategy, I'm confident Cyber Jar can make a similarly safe return.
50% of you reading this are cheering, 50% of you reading this are booing.
And while Heavymetalfoes Electrumite might look pretty good with the current pool of Pendulum cards, I'd like to call for the controversial decision of banning everything else that would need to go to keep Heavymetalfoes Electrumite around. In the same way that I'd prefer to keep Crystron Halqifibrax, but ban things that go with it like Jet Synchron, I want Heavymetalfoes Electrumite to survive and see play at basically any cost.
I think Heavymetalfoes Electrumite can help all Pendulum strategies, and if it came back, any other cards that break certain Pendulum variants could bite the dust. It wouldn't bother me if the list had to hit Servant of Endymion, Performapal Skullcrobat Joker, Double Iris Magician, Astrograph Sorcerer, Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin, Performapal Monkeyboard, and Performage Plushfire, all cards thatt can create some extremely unfair situations. The reality that we've seen play out in recent years is that "bad" Pendulum decks needed Heavymetalfoes Electrumite to keep up, where "good" Pendulum decks needed those other cards to get ahead.
From the overpowered Magicians to the destitute Dinomists, Pendulum decks need something to keep them powerful and competitive. Master Rule 4 didn't eradicate Pendulums from competitive play by any stretch of the imagination, but they were severely crippled, in part because Pendulums were rendered extremely linear.
Basically, we need something that can help Pendulum decks compensate for their unfortunate state, or we need to just bring back Heavymetalfoes Electrumite. You could say that while I'm advocating for this card's return, it's with a huge asterisk next to it, because bringing it back would force other cards out of tournaments. But yeah, whatever other cards need to go for Heavymetalfoes Electrumite to come back, it sounds good to me.
I'll keep this one short - why not? Salamangreat went from dominant to barely relevant very quickly, and Salamangreat Miragestallio seems like the lynchpin that was holding the deck together. I'm fine with other hits to other Salamangreat cards if balancing needs to happen, and yeah, Salamangreat Miragestallio gave the deck life beyond exhausting resources early on, leading to some amazing boards, but… please?
I didn't get a chance to play much Salamangreat myself, because the deck went from a meta defining strategy to a useless brick faster than you can say "feast or famine." With Salamangreat Miragestallio back, perhaps the underperforming strategy would have to adapt with some crazy additions beyond whatever a "typical" Salamangreat deck was in days of old.
Don't worry, I'm not delusional. This card IS busted, and I'll admit that maybe there's something I'm not seeing here. But if Snatch Steal was allowed back for one format in 2015, why not test the waters with other cards that are on the border of reason?
Worst case scenario, you can emergency ban it, right? I'm not sure if I'm being overly optimistic or persistently pessimistic, but why not? I'll eat my words if Salamangreats miraculously become Tier 0 again. I mean, it won't happen, but sure. Safeguards abound.
I legitimately don't think Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! actually needed to be banned, even though Sky Strikers are creeping back into popular play as we speak. I think it was hit because, and I don't say this lightly, everyone was tired of Sky Strikers. (Konami included.)
In March of 2012, Spore and Glow-Up Bulb were hit alongside Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier, Reborn Tengu, and T.G. Striker. While yes, Plants and Synchro decks were the dominant strategies for a long time prior, I think the move was made more to push out the old and usher in the new. After all, that summer would be dominated by Wind-Ups, Dragons, Dino-Rabbit, and Inzektors, and I'm 100% certain that wouldn't have happened if Plants were at full power.
Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! can offer a stream of free cards for Sky Strikers, but it also helps them exist as a modern deck. Without Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage!, Sky Strikers in 2021 are very hit or miss - they can stop you with floodgates or ruin your day with Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor.
Personally, I enjoyed playing with and against Sky Strikers when Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! was around, provided that Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor and Sky Striker Ace - Kagari weren't problems. Those duels felt more like a chess game, especially in the mirror match. Nowadays you're dodging floodgates and monster stealers, and I'm not sure that's better.
It's just my opinion, but I liked playing against the other version of Sky Strikers because of the high skill level involved. Two players with the exact same deck could battle it out for supremacy in an articulated and methodical series of mind games, and I was there forr it.
Of all the cards that would dodge the "3 or 0" restriction I said I was attached to, I think Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! is probably the best argument for a Limited List. I really like this card at one.
Yes, I lived through 2012. Yes, I remember Wind-Up hand loops. Yes, to literally every complaint and retort you could push back on here. And you know what?
I don't care.
You can't convince me this card deserves to stay banned. I'm 100% aware of the existence of Wind-Up Rat, Wind-Up Zenmaintenance, Wind-Up Hunter, and the general concept of Level 3 monsters and Links. I know how easy this card is to summon. I know what "atrocities" this card has the potential of committing.
That said, please explain to me how this card is "too" good. We currently live in a world where Deep Sea Diva by herself can turn into Exodia . The amount of crazy OTKs and loops that exist in modern Yu-Gi-Oh would make the average duelist from ten years ago scream, and it's been close to a decade since Wind-Ups have mattered.
"But what if we unban boat," you say! Oh no! Summoning a Wind-up monster?! FROM YOUR DECK?!?!? THE SHEER TERROR, WHAT ARE THE DUELISTS GOING TO DO??!?! (Insert shrill screaming, while everyone runs for their lives and millions are left for dead.)
There's a .0000001% chance that Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity would wreck the game if it came back. And fine, if one measly copy of Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity somehow mysteriously defies all logic and miraculously breaks the game, then we can sacrifice Wind-Up Hunter to the Yu-Gi-Oh gods to allow Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity to stay. If it's a choice between Wind-Up Hunter and Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity, then I know I can't be in the minority in this battle.
I'd even bet money on this one, y'all.
Plenty of people have asked why Harpie's Feather Duster would be allowed to come back while Heavy Storm still sits on the sidelines. Both destroy spells and traps, while only one destroys your opponent's cards and keeps yours around. You'd think that saving your cards would be better than letting nature take over, right?
Well… kinda. Both nuke your opponent's cards, but Heavy Storm popping your own means you could use it proactively as well as a counter. A long time ago, blowing up your own cards wasn't the smartest of moves unless you were going in for the kill, but things have changed a lot since Metal Raiders.
Simply put, Heavy Storm enables degenerate plays and broken combos. There are plenty of cards now that like being destroyed, and can be abused, but there's one minor problem: Heavy Storm isn't very searchable. And if you're only trying to pop one card, something like Saqlifice then, well, you have other options. I'm not arguing that you should play Mystical Space Typhoon to destroy your own cards, but the biggest counter-argument keeping Heavy Storm Forbidden is what it enables.
I mean, I guess it's a good thing to blow up all your Unchained spells and traps with Heavy Storm, sure. But honestly, I think it's more fear mongering than anything.
Counterpoint, Giant Trunade. Bouncing your opponent's spells and traps is good for OTKs, but returning your own cards to your hand means you can readily abuse them. Giant Trunade like 47 times more exploitable than Heavy Storm, so let's go ahead and clarify that yes, Giant Trunade should stay banned.
I don't think the argument that Heavy Storm could be abused carries much weight, because there are so many other ways exist to destroy your own cards in a pinch. Maybe the naysayers are worried about having Heavy Storm AND Harpie's Feather Duster in the same format? Is that too much spell and trap removal? Again, the argument seems only partially justified at best, and blown out of proportion at worst.
Personally, I benefited from Spellbook of Judgment for quite a few months in its heyday. It didn't last more than half a year in the TCG, and despite my success I was actually happy to see it go. Every spell turned into more Spellbooks, which was nice in 2013.
If you resolve Spellbook of Judgment on your turn, wow, congrats! You'll add lots of useless Spellbooks to your hand in your End Phase. Good for you, 10/10, it's a play so broken I can't even fathom the reality in which you'd add Spellbook of Miracles and Spellbook of the Master to your hand and then do nothing! Golly gee!
When it comes down to it, the only part of Spellbook of Judgment that matters in 2021 is Special Summoning a Spellcaster. What are you going to do? Summon Jowgen the Spiritualist and set Spellbook of Fate?
To get the maximum benefit from Spellbook of Judgment, you'll have to play a lot of Spellbook cards. And as I've said before, all Spellbook cards are just a different flavor of Reinforcement of the Army, if Reinforcement of the Army searched more copies of Reinforcement of the Army. So in order to search a lot of bad cards, you'd have to play a lot of bad cards? Wow, so scary...
Honestly, we have better ways to shut down Special Summons. Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds and Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty are already best friends, and they're not tearing apart the meta right now either.
The argument for locks involving Jowgen the Spiritualist don't make much sense to me. I agree that you'd see the strategy popping up occasionally, as a bit of an annoying threat, but it would have to run a bunch of mediocre cards. As someone who's played Spellbooks so much that Doug Zeeff hated me for a while over it, I can say you have to play a lot of bad stuff. And when your deck's 85% fluff and a single Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring means you lose the duel right then and there? Maybe your strategy isn't all it's cracked up to be.
What cards do you think should be off the F&L list, whether moving to Limited status or coming off the list entirely? Plenty of cards are player favorites, but it doesn't mean everything deserves to be released… at least not just yet. Let me know on Twitter what you think should come off the list next!
Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.