With the 2016 World Championship in the books, players and judges alike started to look towards the future of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG by wondering when the next big format shakeup was going to come. Last week, we got that answer with a Forbidden & Limited List update that took effect on Monday after YCS Toronto.

While I haven't written about my thoughts on the Forbidden & Limited List for a long time, I'll be exploring this list in great detail since I plan on playing in the UDS Invitational in a couple of weeks. So this will be as much of a benefit to me as it will be for you.

Newly Forbidden
Performapal Monkeyboard was a staple in any Performapal strategy, giving you a reliable low scale and a free search - often leading to a Performapal Pendulum Sorcererplay which would turn into two more searches. We saw the power of this card when YCS Las Vegas champion Adam Belohradsky was topdecking and managed to pick up Monkeyboard, allowing him to go from one card to a full Pendulum Scale and a huge Pendulum Summon that swung the duel back into his favor.

So why the Forbidden status now? My guess is that Monkeyboard's ability to complete a Pendulum Scale all by itself was a problem, because why would you play any other Pendulum-based deck if it can't do what Monkeyboard does? Straight up, you wouldn't. Forbidding Monkeyboard will give players the opportunity to look at alternate Pendulum strategies going forward – including but not limited to Metalfoes.

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Kaiser Colosseum, on the other hand, was likely Forbidden for an entirely different reason. Colosseum isn't all over the competitive scene at the moment, but it comes up every now and then in a wide variety of decks: Bujins played it in threes when the deck was seeing big play in late 2013 and early 2014. Qliphorts could main or side the card based on player preference, and certain Kozmo builds have succeeded with it as well.

Kaiser Colosseum grinds the game to a halt really easily, requiring you to find spell and trap destruction or accept a sub-optimal position where you can't Summon monsters. And from a player satisfaction standpoint, that could be seen as bad. The main problem with it that I noticed wasn't its power level, but another factor entirely, namely… getting people to agree on how the card actually works in the modern age of Yu-Gi-Oh.

Since Kaiser Colosseum came out in Magician's Force almost 13 years ago, the game's seen numerous additions to the long list of ways monsters can be Summoned, namely Synchros and Xyz. And with that, any question regarding Kaiser Colosseum was always the same. "Can I Xyz Summon this monster if he controls X monsters?" "Can I Tribute Summon under Kaiser Colosseum? Can I use The Monarchs Stormforth then Tribute Summon while Kaiser is out?" Those were questions that were always asked by players when confronted with Kaiser Coliseum, and it's clear to me this card is a relic of old habits in card design that just don't work now.

Newly Limited
All things considered, Burning Abyss got off easy. Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss went from Semi-Limited to Limited, making it a smidge harder to endlessly recycle dudes and keep a field presence while your opponent is wasting resources.

Normally I'd say that with one less Cir, it would harder to recycle Dantes into other Beatrices, but that point's largely irrelevant now since Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal's also Limited; you can no longer set up a nearly unbreakable field with two Beatrices, each using their effects and toolboxing cards from your deck during your opponent's turn… because clearly THAT was fair when it was possible. Now with only one Beatrice, you have a fighting chance against it and the resulting Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss that will follow.

Ehther the Heavenly Monarch, The Monarchs Stormforth and Pantheism of the Monarchs were all Limited to 1 and you can't be too surprised by that. Pantheism's power as a draw spell is unparalleled, drawing you two cards and then adding another card to your hand which you pretty much get to choose. Ehther's ability to set up the graveyard with the correct spells and traps while also fielding another Monarch that you'd play next turn was difficult to work around unless you had a hard negation for it. Also, Ehther's own ability lets you Summon it during your opponent's turn, giving you access to Kuraz the Light Monarch's destruction effect at a time when it's incredibly difficult to account for unless you had negation at the ready.

Combine all of that with The Monarchs Stormforth, a searchable Soul Exchange that doesn't target, and the fact that it could be used during either player's turn and doesn't consume your Battle Phase… Well, it's easy to see why Konami would want to curb the Monarch deck now that it's had a good deal of time at full power.

Combined with the forbidding of Monkeyboard, Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin and Pendulum Call each went to 1. As with Monkeyboard, Pendulum Call by itself – along with its discard cost – can set up a full Pendulum Scale by itself. In fact, it can set up a generic Scale 1 and Scale 8 in Dragonpulse Magician and Dragonpit Magician.

Pendulum Call was easily splashed into other Pendulum decks with the Magicians just to set up scales, so limiting Call may have been a proactive move to encourage other options for deck building purposes. Kirin, however, has become a near-staple in any Pendulum strategy, allowing for non-destruction removal during either player's turn, so Kirin going to 1 is also not surprising.

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Sadly, we had to expect Kozmo hits since our TCG World Premiere cards are no longer Kozmo but instead SPYRAL and Subterrors. Kozmo Dark Destroyer played at three was a staple, so losing two of them is difficult but not insurmountable since you can easily send it to the graveyard with Kozmo Tincan and then get it back to the field with Call Of The Haunted or Oasis of Dragon Souls.

… Well, it would be easy, except that Emergency Teleport, which went from Unlimited to Semi-Limited in April, took another hit and is now limited, making the optimal opening with Kozmo Tincan on Turn 1 even more difficult. If you weren't running One for One before, you may want to consider it if you're prioritizing the Turn 1 Tincan play.

Newly Semi-Limited
Maxx "C" has been a great defensive card since its release in Storm of Ragnarok, forcing your opponent to either stop Special Summoning or give you a whole bunch of cards in the process. Semi-limiting it means you won't see it as often in your opening hand.

With only two allowed in each player's deck, everyone can be a little bit more comfortable attempting to build their optimal field without fear of giving your opponent an additional X cards in the process.

The next two are certainly the more interesting choices on this list. Thunder King Rai-Oh was limited in September 2013 when the TCG's Forbidden & Limited List became deparate from Japans, and it's been limited since then, but with it back at two, players will take a second look at it. If Thunder King starts seeing a lot of play, it may force competitors to consider a lower reliance on search effects in favor of more monster destruction, removal or draw power to get around it.

Wind-Up Magician moving to Semi-Limited seems like a standard move where a card doesn't necessarily need to be Limited and can be brought up to two or three to see if it's still a problem. I don't expect Wind-Ups to see much play in the upcoming season, so it might go to three in the next F&L update.

Newly Unlimited
So while Kozmo had two of its key cards limited, Allure of Darkness is essentially Pot of Greed in a Kozmo deck since you can get back the Dark monster you banished with Kozmotown. If anything is going to keep Kozmo decks competitive, it's Allure at three.

That will also boost other strategies heavily reliant on Dark monsters; stuff like Dark Magicians, and Blackwings.

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Gold Sarcophagus to three is another interesting choice because it was limited a while ago likely because of Dragon Rulers but it stayed limited for a while after that. With Thunder King Rai-Oh at two, Gold Sarcophagus could see play again if games last long enough to get to the second Standby Phase. Thousand-Eyes Restrict saw some play at one, but nothing game changing or problematic, so seeing at three isn't too much of a concern.

I can't find too much I disagree with on this Forbidden & Limited List. It hit what it needed to hit, gave back some cards, and allowed for a little bit of experimentation with some new options available.

And while I totally understand if you don't like the list because it hit your deck more than others, it's always good to remember that Forbidden & Limited List adjustments are always about the big picture. The little adjustments every four months or so are what's needed to prevent big problems that require correction every six months.

Does it suck when your deck gets hit? Sure! It's happened to me on more than one occasion. But that just inspires me to try and make the deck work regardless, or try something else. Essentially, the list adjustments are a part of what keep the game interesting for me, so I don't begrudge anyone when it happens that my deck is one that gets hit.

If you have any questions about my take on the Forbidden & Limited List, tournament policy, game mechanics or card interactions, send me an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to askjudgejoe@gmail.com and your question could be answered in a future edition of Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino


Joe is a Yu-Gi-Oh! judge and player from Long Island, New York. His current deck didn't get directly hit by the newest F&L list update, but he still has to be wary since players can find answers to the deck if they look carefully enough. What deck am I talking about? Find out when I play in the UDS Invitational on September 17th and 18th!