It's actually been done before: the art of Summon Gate describes the Limiton Thousand-Eyes Restrict and its departure from the Forbidden List. In thebackground other Forbidden monsters wait to earn their freedom, and youcould easily imagine a future card with artwork featuring the remainingForbidden Dragon Rulers.
Even before Tempest returned to Asia's Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG there were plenty ofdiscussions about whether the Dragon Rulers could ever be moved off theForbidden List safely. Some players have proposed a rotating schedule ofDragon Rulers where no more than one of them would be legal at a time.Having seasonal Dragon Rulers is a fun concept, but it could be confusingkeeping track of which Ruler is okay to play. Ultimately the four monstersaren't created equal. We've seen Konami restrict individual members of atheme before – True King Lithosagym, the Disaster is the only ForbiddenTrue King – so it's likely that Tempest will be the only Limited DragonRuler for a while.
But could the other Dragon Rulers make their way to the Limited List atsome point? There are enough differences between the Dragon Rulers to keepone or two of them on the Forbidden List while Limiting the other half.Tempest has had virtually no effect on competitive play so far, butbringing another Dragon Ruler into the Advanced Format might lead tosynergies that blow the game wide open.
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Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos is an incredible blend of raw ATK andproactive removal. It boasts the highest ATK of the Dragon Ruler family andhas one of the better discard effects. Blaster quickly became one of myfavorite cards back in 2013 as a tech pick for Fire strategies like HazyFlame and Fire Kings. Back then, Blaster's removal helped load thegraveyard with targets for Rekindling and Circle of the Fire Kings, and itsutility as a free 2800 ATK monster during the Battle Phase made it amust-play in Fire themes. It's hard to imagine a Fire deck today thatwouldn't benefit from playing Blaster.
Salamangreats are by far the best Fire strategy in the game right now, andBlaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos has its merits in the deck. It's not aperfect fit, but its utility in turning Salamangreat monsters in hand intostraight card removal is worth discussing. Unfortunately the Salamangreatdeck isn't exactly in need of more discard outlets, and Summoning Blasterpresents its own challenges. There are plenty of Salamangreats that end upbanishing themselves after their effects are used, and you won't want tobanish the ones that do stay in the graveyard.
Infernoids could use Blaster's discard effect to get their monsters to thegraveyard, but Fire monsters in the graveyard are typically used to SummonInfernoids first. Blaster won't be high on the priority list unless you canOTK or make a Rank 7, and there are much better cards the deck could beplaying.
After siding you'll probably find yourself playing Dinowrestler Pankratops,which largely covers the primary benefits of Blaster anyways. Outside ofniche strategies like Shiranui there isn't much potential for Blaster to beabused on its own. It's a great monster, but it won't blow out the formatwhen better options exist.
Could Blaster return to the Limited List on its own? The potential forabuse isn't as extreme as Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls or Redox,Dragon Ruler of Boulders, and despite having excellent stats it doesn'tcontribute much in an era where Extra Deck monsters like Borrelsword Dragonexist.
There's nothing worth searching with its on-banished effect other thanFlamvell Guard, and Unexpected Dai already has that covered. Even if it sawmore play than Tempest I highly doubt it would cause any serious unintendedconsequences. Blaster is the most straightforward monster of the family,and I think it's the next safest Dragon Ruler to pull off the ForbiddenList.
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Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls is much more concerning than any of theother Dragon Rulers. It's slightly weaker in raw stats than Blaster, butits discard effect is arguably the strongest of the bunch.
You can tech Tidal into nearly any Water theme as an extra copy of FoolishBurial. There are strong targets for Tidal's effect in Water decks,including Ronintoadin and Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz. That said,neither Frog Paleozoics nor Nekroz are in a position to start dominatingthe game if Tidal returns. In fact, Paleozoics lack the monster count tosupport Tidal anyways. That leaves Nekroz, Atlanteans, and a handful ofexceedingly rogue strategies where Tidal might make a splash.
Mermail would see an upgrade with a single copy of Tidal in the Main Deck,but it's not likely to break the game. Chasing Rank 7s isn't as valuable asit once was, and again, there are plenty of cards that provide Linkmaterial without requiring a developed graveyard. Tidal's role intriggering Atlantean effects is by far its best role, and there are plentyof cards it can toss into the graveyard to help extend combos. Glow-Up Bulbgives access to Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier with a Level 7 Mermailand Neptabyss, the Atleantean Prince, or you can Synchro Summon BorrelSavage Dragon using a Level 7. It's handy, and of course discardingsomething like Atlantean Dragoons will trigger its search effect.
Atlantean Mermails have seen occasional success at Regionals this year, butthe Atlantean engine is also an option for Orcusts. I suppose Tidal makesthat engine a little more explosive without breaking it, and I think thesame can be said for virtually any water theme that could play Tidal. It'san improvement to those decks that doesn't necessarily change theircompetitive prospects. Tidal Mermail would be a viable Regional choice, butsince Tidal itself is hard to search there's little chance that playerswould drop Thunder Dragons, Sky Strikers, Orcusts, or Salamangreats to playit.
Despite all of Tidal's potential I think it could safely return to theLimited List without making much of an impact beyond helping AtlanteanMermails top the occasional Regional. I see that as a positive, andhonestly it's a bit surprising that all of Tidal's potential for abuselargely amounts to nothing. It's a sign that even the Dragon Rulers havebeen power crept, at least in the context of teching them into variousnon-Dragon strategies.
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Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders is the weakest attacker among the Level 7Dragon Rulers. Its once-impressive DEF has been matched by Destrudo, theLost Dragon's Frisson, and there are strikingly few Earth strategies thatare interested in playing it right now. Even if Redox's discard effect wasuseful – and it can be for decks that can't run World Legacy Succession –you'd be hard-pressed to find a theme with enough Earth monsters to supportit. Subterrors don't have the monster count to prop it up, and Subterrorplayers aren't running Monster Reborn or World Legacy Succession anyways.
Redox seems like another safe bet, and at this point we've covered everyDragon Ruler from the perspective of introducing them one at a time. Butwhat if they were all legal? Wouldn't Dragon Link and Guardragons explodein popularity? According to the evidence we have on hand the answer is aresounding no. Look no further than OCG Dragon Link lists and TCGGuardragon strategies for the reason why Dragon Rulers aren't in danger ofovertaking the game again: virtually no one is playing Tempest.
The reality of the Guardragon engine is that Summoning Level 4 or lowerDragons is such a strong priority that high-Level Dragons often miss thecut. Chaos Dragon Levineer is an exception, and Destrudo becomesaLevel 4 or 3 monster most of the time. Dragon Rulers would contribute verylittle to starting the Guardragon combo, and while they could be extendersthere are plenty of other options that also act as a stepping stone towardsyour initial Link Summons.
It's unlikely that Dragon Rulers will become a cohesive strategy outside ofsome future Dragon theme with insane synergy. Gold Sarcophagus is Limitedyet again and Rank 7 Xyz Summons aren't what they used to be. The wind hasbeen taken out of the sails of the Dragon Ruler theme, and outside ofUnlimiting them I don't think we'll see any serious effort to piecetogether a dedicated Dragon Ruler strategy.
Dragon themes have better options, and Dragon Link will avoid themaltogether due to their Level. I'd agree that Unlimiting all four couldcreate a dedicated theme with serious teeth, but as long as they remainLimited I don't think there's any threat of bringing them back to the game.
That said, there's no telling what the future holds. An upcoming themecould break a card like Tidal relatively easily, and if leaving them on theForbidden List keeps Dragon Ravine at three I'll immediately take backevery word I've said so far. In the immediate short term I don't thinkthey're dangerous to release back into the wild, and I'm hoping we'll atleast see them hit the Limited List in stages starting later this year ornext year.
Until next time then
Kelly Locke is a West Michigangamer 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.