You've probably seen some discussion of the April 1st, 2020 Forbidden & Limited list that just dropped last night. While only a few hours have passed at the time of this writing, the reactions have been mixed at best so far. Let's dive into the changes, and I'll give you the rundown of my thoughts going into April.
We're going to go section by section, lumping the cards together in terms of why they were placed where they are. Let's dig in.
- Blackwing - Steam the Cloak
- Destrudo the Lost Dragon's Frisson
- Glow-Up Bulb
- Lunalight Tiger
- SPYRAL Master Plan
Right off the bat, three very powerful and generic Tuner monsters got the axe. Crystron Halqifibrax's impact on the game will be much lower overall now, though it'll still be massive, without the consistency offered by simply Normal Summoning Blackwing – Steam the Cloak and playing it into a myriad of combos.
The same is true for Glow-Up Bulb, arguably the best Tuner that you could summon with Halqifibrax to extend your plays for free. Thank your lucky stars that Bulb's gone, or the summer would have been crazier than it's already going to be. Destrudo, the Lost Dragon's Frisson also managed to get voted off of Tuner island, as its Level manipulation and the fact that it's a free summon made it just a little too powerful. There were a scary number of ways you could easily get to Destrudo, and thus get to Halqifibrax (notice a trend here?). Being a Dark monster and a Dragon-type meant there was no reasonable number of copies of Destrudo that could be allowed, other than a big ol' zero.
Lunalight Tiger going straight from three to Forbidden is surprising, but in my mind it's correct. Tiger was a "soft" once-per-turn effect; the limitation to one activation per turn is only attached to each specific copy of Tiger, not all possible copies, allowing you to use multiple Tiger effects in one go. It was highly searchable, and it created consistent access to the Rank 4 and Link toolboxes. Together those factors were just too much for balanced competition.
Forbidding Tiger was also a fantastic way to blunt the impact of Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty, a huge card that lots of people have been talking about. Nobody likes seeing their opponent end their turn with multiple negations on the field, especially when the play that creates that set-up only cost them two cards. That's doubly true when you know your opponent can just leverage all the card advantage they accrued for bigger pushes on the following turn, finishing you off. And unfortunately, that's what was going to happen if Lunalights were left unchecked. Now, if any duelist is looking to make plays at such a high power level, they'll have to find another supplementary engine to do it. That engine will probably be far less consistent.
The final addition to the Forbidden roster is SPYRAL Master Plan. What is there to say about Master Plan that hasn't already been said? On one hand it's an engine requirement that came with certain risks, and on the other it would become an extremely powerful consistency booster if you summoned it. That's always a dangerous combination to see in a card.
Will SPYRAL be able to adjust and remain competitive, or will it be cast aside for other, more powerful combo decks? Personally, I was already of the opinion that the deck was poorly designed, depending far too much on high impact cards that suffered low utility. Losing such a key card to the strategy - while simultaneously gaining a card elsewhere, see below! - will likely push SPYRAL back into obscurity.
- Danger!? Jackalope?
- Danger!? Tsuchinoko?
- ABC-Dragon Buster
- T.G. Hyper Librarian
- Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
- Toadally Awesome
- Zoodiac Drident
- Instant Fusion
- Mind Control
- Zoodiac Barrage
Alright, onto the good stuff! The Danger theme managed to get yet ANOTHER slap, with two more of the theme's "good" monsters now Limited. Have you read Upstart Goblin? Imagine if it had legs and bonus effects. Good times right?
The Danger engine's been incredibly popular for the length of its run, though it's declined in use over the past several months. Now seems like the perfect time to continue to reduce the number of free summons you can generate with Dangers as we head into Master Rule 5; left unchecked, it's difficult to predict what the Dangers could have done in post-Link metagames.
Continuing on, ABC-Dragon Buster somehow found its way onto the Limited list, leaviing many players scratching their head. Was ABC seeing any success in tournaments? Not really. Could that change going forward? I'm inclined to think so, as Union Carrier managed to fix one of the deck's major challenges, helping you assemble all the correct combo pieces and boosting consistency.
T.G. Hyper Librarian and Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier were absolutely Limited to 1 to save our collective sanity going forward. Do you like having a hand? I do too! Trishula wasn't a fan of that though, especially with Crystron Halqifibrax being around. Trishula and Hyper Librarin were a duo of destruction in 2011, a time when Trishula was being looped in ways that aren't even the least bit socially acceptable nowadays, and refilling the pilot's hand along the way. Combining field clearing and hand manipulation while simultaneously drawing you cards just ripped apart any hope your opponent might have had of a comeback, and as we headed back into more Synchro-friendly territory that just couldn't be allowed.
Notice that five changes so far are all directly linked to Crystron Halqifibrax? Yeah, the card is THAT dangerous, taking cards that were already problematic and pushing them to the realm of not-even-slightly-okay.
Restricting Toadally Awesome to 1-per-deck is an interesting change, and it's probably owed to the upcoming Water support in Eternity Code. That said, you can't discount the sheer power of free, easily accessible negation effects. Though the Paleozoic Frog deck hasn't really seen much play lately, Toadally Awesome was getting thrown around into any strategy that could summon it, adding another layer of disruption. Which is ironically enough, Toadally not Awesome.
Seeing Zoodiac Drident at anything other than zero is a welcome surprise, as it hasn't really had too much impact in the OCG so far (where it's been legal for a while). It's interesting to see the trade-off of Zoodiac Barrage going to one as well; I expect to see the engine do next to nothing since Barrage is now at one, which is unfortunate. There's a lot of potential for some compelling combo decks that would run a small Zoodiac engine, so hopefully in the future we can see them!
Mind Control going to one is a bit of a weird call: personally I'd rather it be Forbidden altogether. Increasing the volatility of such a powerful card by turning it into a luck-based draw creates a far less stable competitive scene, because the Limited status not only decreases your ability to anticipate the card and play around it, but because it also reduces your ability to play it consistently and break up power plays. Hopefully it'll either go back to three, or find a home on the Forbidden List soon enough.
The final newly Limited card is Instant Fusion. Many players predicted this Cup-O-Chaos going to one for this list, though I've spent a long time being extremely outspoken that it's powerful enough to be Forbidden. When a card lets you bypass the Normal Summon restriction by giving you an additional monster of practically almost any type, attribute or Level, while also offering access to a Tuner Monster, all wrapped into one single resolution? You have a recipe for some delicious disaster.
Your opponent has a powerful monster you want to get rid of? Instant Fusion can do that, thanks to Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Need that second Warrior for Isolde, a Tale of Two Noble Knights? Don't worry, we've got you covered with Invoked Raidjin! And good news, it's packing an ability that disrupts your opponent's set-up. Need a Tuner? Sure! Sea Monster of Theseus is on the way. Oh, bonus points! It's a Zombie, and a Water monster! Want to play six copies of Called by the Grave? OH BOY HAVE YOU READ Instant Fusion!?
Being so useful while having no true drawback created a situation where Instant Fusion could (and SHOULD) be abused as often as possible. Interestingly enough, by limiting Instant Fusion to 1 there's now a serious trade-off required to run it. Even though two effect monsters basically let you search it whenever you want it, thanks to Predaplant Verte Anaconda, you have to weigh the cost of playing such a strong card against the price of splitting your Extra Deck: is it worth it to run multiple Fusions for Instant Fusion, at the cost of everything else you'd want to play? That was an easier call before, when you could know that you'd see Instant Fusion more consistently and perhaps even resolve multiple copies.
Thank goodness, I can sleep again.
- Destiny HERO - Malicious
- Sky Striker Mecha - Widow Anchor
Has any card ever bounced from Unlimited to Semi-Limited as much as Destiny HERO - Malicious? I don't think so. Finding itself on and off the list more times than there are Fast and the Furious sequels, Malicious to two's a very positive change. Heading toward an era of the game where both Synchro monsters and Link monsters are going to see huge table time, this guy was going to get windmilled to the field with shocking frequency. It's a very light hit to the HERO deck, which has seen so much popularity over the past few months.
And hey guys, remember Sky Striker?! That deck that hasn't done anything since the community got their holiday wish early when Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage! was Forbidden? Yeah, I didn't think so. If you're like me, seeing Widow Anchor in multiples unfortunately won't solve the issues Sky Striker has suffered since losing Engage. (If you're not like me, re-read that sentence and change "unfortunately" to "fortunately.") I'd expect to see Anchor go to three at some point while still making no real impact.
- Deep Sea Diva
- SPYRAL GEAR - Drone
- Pot of Avarice
Ohhh boy, remember when I mentioned Water support, and Toadally Awesome being played outside of the Frog deck? Yeah, blame Deep Sea Diva. With an attitude like that and a summoning effect to match, there are some wild plays about to happen. Being an incredible combo starter that helps search so many key cards, you can bet that you'll see all the Water players pop out from whatever moist depths they've been hiding in. Grab your life vests, the tide's officially rising.
Necroface going to three is, well… Pretty much irrelevant? The Gren Maju deck might be able to do some cool things with it, but it's pretty doubtful.
SPYRAL GEAR - Drone going to three is a nice gesture, after breaking the hearts of SPYRAL players everywhere by forbidding Master Plan. Perhaps someone will find a new, consistent version of the deck using multiple Drones. Probably not, though.
Finally we have Pot of Avarice. While this might seem like an awesome change on paper, something to boost all those cool combo decks, the reality is that these types of changes largely mean the card is so weak that for whatever reason it probably isn't worth playing three copies of anyway. In this case, consistency is the culprit. The game is just so much faster than it was in 2011, and the impending flop of Pot of Avarice is a perfect example proving that.
Looking forward to the new format, we have Invoked Shaddolls, Salamangreats, and potentially Orcust all looking like fantastic decks before Eternity Code arrives. One big thing you'll want to think about when you're considering what to play, is what strategy can make best use of the new cards from DUOV, since they're going to define the summer format. But for now, hopefully you all enjoyed my quick thoughts on the F&L List changes and I hope to see you all soon!