The latest OCG Forbidden & Limited Listis ushering in a new era of competitive play in Asian territories bytackling the game's most popular strategies.

Despite the separate card pools between the OCG and the TCG, there are somestriking similarities between the current crop of top level strategies inboth game's competitive fields. Thunder Dragons, Sky Strikers,Salamangreats, and Orcust are easily among the most successful decks inboth the TCG and OCG. Our TCG has already taken aim at each of those decks,but the recent OCG changes are easily the most aggressive attempt tobalance them against their competitors.

Recapping Card Pool Differences
The Danger theme,Crystron Needlefiber, and new cards from Rising Rampage represent the most impactfuldifferences between the TCG and OCG card pools.

While Danger largely supports Orcusts and Thunder Dragons here in the TCG,Needlefiber's almost ubiquitous among Link strategies or anything thathappens to be playing more than one Tuner monster. Its very existenceinforms the changes made on each F&L List, andearlier this yearit landed Blackwing - Steam the Cloak and Glow-Up Bulb on the OCG ForbiddenList. Both cards are still Unlimited in the TCG thanks to the ostensiblyforever-delayed release of Needlefiber, and at this point I won't mind ifit's never printed here.

It's also important to remember the cards the OCG has already moved off theForbidden List too. Harpie's Feather Duster is an extremely relevant cardthat can blow out backrow-heavy strategies entirely, and that could explainat least some of the changes regarding Solemn Judgment and Metaverse.Solemn Strike moved to Unlimited back in April in the OCG, and it's joinednow by Solemn Judgment: a Counter Trap that noticeably negates Harpie'sFeather Duster. It's a significant boost to Subterrors and Altergeiststhat's offset by the Limit to Metaverse.

Speaking of Metaverse, Terraforming is Limited in the OCG which has leftField Spell-focused strategies stuck playing its trap counterpart. But nowthat Metaverse is also Limited there's a massive deficit in cardeffects that search Field Spells.

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It's not hard to guess why Metaverse was Limited, and even without MysticMine there are plenty of other Field Spells that are exceptionally powerfulwhen they can be activated on your opponent's turn. Secret Village of theSpellcasters, Black Garden, and Necrovalley see a reasonable amount of MainDeck and Side Deck play in the OCG, and we're just starting to see BlackGarden show up in TCG decks for the same reasons.

I don't think anyone expects Mystic Mine to stick around forever, but willthe TCG attempt to balance it by attacking every method of searching FieldSpells, or simply Limit or ban it? The TCG doesn't have the samebackrow-clearing power that's available in the OCG, and that makes a hugedifference in match-ups against Sky Strikers.

On the other hand Special Summon-heavy strategies are kept in check by Maxx"C", which is shockingly still Unlimited in the OCG. On the competitivescene it might very well be the biggest difference maker in how themajority of duels play out, and it's certainly a major reason why deckslike Subterrors and Altergeists are succeeding so much more overseas.

Where Do Orcusts Go From Here?
Knightmare Mermaid landed on the OCG Forbidden List for one reason:Orcusts. Mermaid's ability to Summon Orcust Knightmare from the deck letplayers consolidate any two monsters they controlled with different namesto start up the entire Orcust engine.

In a vacuum that interaction's perfectly fine and even sort of unique as ameans of starting combos. Knightmare Mermaid hasn't seen much play sincelast year and its driven innovation in some cool directions, likeMermail Orcusts. But Mermaid doesn't exist in a vacuum, and it's an extra method ofstarting plays stacked on top of cards like Amageddon Knight, FoolishBurial, and Scrap Recycler. It's just too easy to follow-up on oneinterrupted play with another effect that accomplishes the same goal ofultimately Link Summoning Galatea, the Orcust Automaton.

Without Knightmare Mermaid it's much harder for Orcusts to push throughinterruption. Called by the Grave can only do so much, and if an OCG playernegates their opponent's Scrap Recycler there aren't many follow-up playsthat actually lead to an Orcust Summon. Extenders must be able to put anOrcust monster on the board to successfully Salvage the play, but effectslike Instant Fusion and Destrudo the Lost Dragon's Frisson won't deliverthe same results they once did. OCG players can still Summon a Link 2 –even a Knightmare Link 2 – but unless they're discarding Orcust Harp Horroror Orcust Knightmare the bulk of their Link Summoning power will still belocked away in their deck.

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We've already seen decks in the TCG that prioritize sending OrcustKnightmare to the graveyard with a Normal Summon Over Summoning it to thefield with Knightmare Mermaid, but those decks have always had Mermaid as aback-up. If the TCG follows the OCG's lead here it'd be significantlyharder to justify playing that deck at the competitive level.

It's simply too fragile to outlast the necessary number of opponents you'dsee over the course of a reasonably-sized tournament. The TCG has access tothe best set of extenders in the game, but those cards don't mean much ifyou can't get your first Orcust into play early enough in the duel.

Should it worry players in the TCG that the OCG chose to target KnightmareMermaid? It's absolutely too early to tell, but Mermaid does come up oftenin discussions about the TCG's future list. It's an astonishingly easychange that fundamentally shifts the design of Orcusts and instantly makesthe deck more fair, without actually affecting any of its on-theme cards.It might also let the Phantom Knight engine and The Phantom Knights ofRusty Bardiche to stick around.

Thunder Dragons & Salamangreats Take Losses
While no named Orcust card was hit on this OCG List there were a fewon-theme casualties from Thunder Dragons and Salamangreats.

Thunder Dragon Colossus landing on the Limited List is will force OCGThunder Dragon players to completely rethink their builds and combos. TCGdeck lists wouldn't be affected in the same way, and even the ThunderDragonhawk Limit isn't a deal breaker.

I think the takeaway for OCG players – at least for now – is to simplyshelve the deck until the Danger theme arrives. I have no doubt that theTCG will handle Thunder Dragons in an entirely different way simply becausethe most successful builds are vastly different between bothregions. At some point a Danger card will land on the F&L List, andthat will probably have a bigger impact that restricting any number ofThunder Dragon monsters.

Salamangreat Gazelle's Limit is the change that's more likely to make itsway to the TCG. Lady Debug's already Limited here, and the decision torestrict both Lady Debug and Gazelle in the OCG was probably informed bySalamangreat's continued success in the TCG despite that change. The deck'sstill far from out of the picture: Cynet Mining is definitely a must-playat this point, but will that be enough to keep OCG players interested overmore consistent decks?

The deck's more fragile now, and it relies on resolving Cynet Mining to getthe most out of its combos. But with that said all of its actual power isstill intact, much like Orcusts, despite its ability to play throughdisruption being curtailed.

Headed Towards Freedom
Most of the changes on the July OCG List let players run morecopies of certain cards. ABC-Dragon Buster is moving down the List ahead ofthe TCG, and Cyber-Stein is headed to two copies per deck while the TCG islikely to follow. Absolutely no one seems to be interested in playingCyber-Stein in the TCG and I can't see that changing whether we can run onecopy or three.

Dark Armed Dragon is also headed to Semi-Limited, and it's sparking painfulmemories of a long-past era where it dominated the competitive scene morethoroughly than any deck has since then. The days of Tele-DAD aredefinitely over, but seeing Elemental Hero Stratos and Dark ArmedDragon move down the OCG Forbidden List is still striking.

We'll probably see both changes come to the TCG eventually: Dark ArmedDragon is well past its prime and Stratos' return hasn't led to aresurgence for HERO decks. Maybe two or three copies of Stratos will changethat. SPYRAL, True Dracos, and Nekroz got another pass on this List aswell. SPYRAL Quik-Fix at two and SPYRAL Resort's Limit are now the onlythings holding the deck back in the OCG.

Meanwhile SPYRAL GEAR - Drone is Limited alongside both cards in the TCG.It's likely that we'll see a rollback at some point, but I wouldn't hold mybreath. These changes are going to take a while to arrive stateside.

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It's surprising to see Synchros moving down the OCG F&L Listespecially since Crystron Needlefiber is a real card for OCGplayers. T.G. Hyper Librarian's antiquated, but there's a very real threatfrom decks that can pump out multiple Level 9 Synchro Summons now thatTrishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier is Semi-Limited. Level 9 monsters havereceived a ton of support recently, and I can't help imagining that thischange is to help push both Synchros and Level 9 support cards in general.

No cards moved off the Forbidden List this time – I think we're starting toscrape the bottom of the barrel of cards that can ever be movedoff. The next likely candidates are the remaining three Dragon Rulers:Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos, Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls, andRedox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders are still Forbidden while their siblingTempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms sits comfortably on the Limited List.

With both Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon and Red-Eyes DarknessMetal Dragon Forbidden it's hard to imagine a dedicated Dragon Rulerstrategy competing against modern decks outside of Thunder Dragon variants.Maybe Guardragons are enough to keep the remaining Rulers locked away, butI suspect we'll see at least one more Dragon Ruler slip off the ForbiddenList by this time next year.

With twenty-three changes in total this Forbidden & Limited List ismassive – especially compared to eight changes on the TCG's most recentupdate. That said, it's probably not as transformative as our List outsideof causing a reshuffling of the format's top strategies. The biggest impactis probably in how players find their Field Spells, while our last Listcrushed Summon Sorceress and forced nearly everyone to reevaluate theirExtra Decks.

Almost nobody in the OCG emerged unscathed from this F&L List, and Ithink we'll see quite a few of these changes on our next post-WCQ update.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​​​​gamer and writer. You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​ ​​​​​​Twitter​​​​​​for more updates ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​. He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.