The most recent Forbidden & Limited List dropped a couple days ago, and I've got to say, it was a shocker. A lot of people expected decks like Burning Abyss and Kozmo to receive hits in some way but they both escaped into the WCQ season virtually untouched! I've seen a lot of people that are confused at some of the choices for this format, but I actually think it's one of the best Lists we've gotten in a really long time.

Monarch FTK and Draco Performapals have been the biggest problem with the game as of late; honestly you could probably argue that Draco Pals could be classified as an FTK as well. The deck was making fields of Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand and other powerful Xyz, Fusion, and Synchro monsters backed up with traps like Solemn Strike for a while, often backed up with other cards and a full Extra Deck to boot. The only strategy that could consistently break that kind of set-up was Monarchs, thanks to The Monarchs Stormforth played in conjunction with Return of the Monarchs, using resulting game mechanics to work around Solemn Strike.

With the release of Infinite Gold, those fields evolved into completely unbreakable boards anchored by Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy reinforced with Solemn Scolding. There have been decks that made huge Turn 1 fields in the past, but when that type of strategy has the consistency of something like Draco Pals then it becomes a problem.

Konami did a really good job handling those issues and did a lot more great stuff along the way. There's a lot to talk about, so let's get to it.

Chicken Game Forbidden, Upstart Goblin Limited
There's a pretty obvious theme with this list, which is that Konami doesn't want us to pack our decks with filler cards anymore. Even though there are costs associated with them, cards like Chicken Game and Upstart Goblin essentially break the rules of deck building. The rules state that your Main Deck must have a minimum of 40 cards and a maximum of 60 cards. But when you play Upstart and Chicken Game you're essentially creating a lower minimum card count for yourself, and Konami wanted to put a stop to that.

Hitting Chicken Game was a huge step in the right direction. That card saw the most play in degenerate strategies, most recently in Monarch explosion FTK's. Those types of decks that are based around abusing a huge draw engine to make one single degenerate combo took a significant hit, because another key card – Pseudo Space – loses its best target with Chicken Game gone.

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Other decks ran Chicken Game as a 1-of if they were already using Terraforming. That turned an extra Terraforming into a draw card if you'd already drawn your field spell.

I actually did like having Chicken Game as a 1-of in decks like Kozmos, because it adds some potential for consistency while softening the blow of drawing redundant Field Spells, at least a bit. There were still risks to Chicken Game, like drawing it after you've already played your Field Spell. Monarch duelists have been abusing it with Kuraz, which is definitely a powerful interaction, so I feel like that's why they didn't just Limit the card and Forbid it instead. I completely agree with that.

Wavering Eyes Forbidden. Ignister Prominence the Blasting Dracoslayer, Draco-Face Off, Wisdom-Eye Magician Limited
This was a huge hit to Pendulum decks! Some argue that the Forbidding of Wavering Eyes made Pendulums better against everything that isn't the mirror match, but the truth is that Wavering Eyes was recently being used more to boost consistency instead of hate in the mirror match. Forbidding it just means three fewer ways for Pendulum players to see Skullcrobat Joker or Performapal Monkeyboard. It's also a pretty nice preemptive hit to Qliphorts, which are sure to see a spike of play once Card of Demise arrives in Millennium Pack.

The biggest impact here has to be Draco Face-Off going to one-per-deck. It's definitely one of the most important cards in the Draco Pal strategy, and you could easily argue that it's the best card in the deck. Searching Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer from your deck was key to the Draco Pal player's Kozmo match-up. It was half of an out to Anti-Spell Fragrance too, since it could Summon a Level 4 monster to help you make Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer or Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer.

That was such an important benefit to Draco Face-Off, because it gave you a consistent engine that helped deal with floodgates. It also let you play around Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit because you could make Dinoster Power, the Mighty Dracoslayer to protect your Pendulum Scales from being destroyed. Face-Off just did so much, and replacements like Unexpected Dai and Rescue Rabbit can't fill that void in its entirety.

As if losing two copies of Face-Off wasn't enough of a beating, Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer's newly Limited status is going to make the Kozmo matchup even harder! If there's a Pendulum variant that survives these new restrictions they're going to have a heck of a time clearing Kozmo Dark Destroyer without Ignister, let alone grinding with Monarchs and Burning Abyss. The best cards that could put Ignister back in the Extra Deck – stuff like Jar of Avarice – conflict with the Pendulum mechanic as a whole, so there aren't many good ways to recycle it. It's quite the beating.

They even hit Wisdom-Eye Magician as another preemptive measure! I personally think as long as Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer is at three Pendulums will survive in some capacity… but the question of the strategy's actual position in the new competitive landscape is yet to be answered.

Reasoning Limited
Kozmos and Monarchs both use Reasoning really effectively, and since both decks became even more powerful with Draco Pals taking so many hits, knocking this card down to one is understandable.

Limiting Reasoning's an interesting approach, because it doesn't hurt the consistency of either deck. Instead it lowers their ceiling and stops them from being too crazy, and I really like that. In my opinion it's the perfect way to rein decks in, because if you do the opposite and make them less consistent instead, you're just introducing more luck to the game.

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Tournaments become a competition of who can draw playable cards more frequently rather than who can outplay their opponents. Reasoning's ironically a luck-based card itself, so the choice to Limit it instead of going after other cards like Pantheism of the Monarchs or Kozmo Tincan is just that much better.

Emergency Teleport and Allure of Darkness Semi-Limited
On one hand we have a hit to Kozmos, and on the other the deck gets a boost. Kozmo takes a slight hit to consistency with Emergency Teleport going to two, but it's not the worst thing in the world. The second copy of Pot of Gree... er, I mean Allure of Darkness is a really nice replacement.

Kozmo variants that use Kozmo Soartroopers to spam Rank 3's have already been picking up a ton of steam lately, and it's probably the best version of the deck; Allure of Darkness fits there perfectly. Alluring away a Kozmo DOG Fighter, Kozmo Soartrooper, or Kozmoll Wickedwitch only to get it right back with Kozmotown is a power play all on its own. It always puts the Kozmo player ahead and now you can expect that to happen a lot more often.

Overall I don't think Kozmos changed much with the new F&L List.

Elder Entity Norden and Thousand-Eyes Restrict Limited, Debris Dragon Semi-Limited, Dark Magician of Chaos, Tragoedia, Advanced Ritual Art, and Crush Card Virus Unlimited
I think these changes are largely irrelevant, at least for the time being. Most people only played one copy of Elder Entity Norden even with two ro three copies of Instant Fusion. Games just end so quickly nowadays that it's not very likely you'd need to use more than one copy of Instant Fusion in any given duel and you just run multiple copies to see it earlier and more consistently.

I'm not going to lie: being able to play Thousand-Eyes Restrict again is awesome, and running it alongside Instant Fusion is a childhood dream of mine that can finally be realized. But Thousand Eyes' time is largely overdue; it's not going to make much of an impact. It might as well be a Main Phase 2 Smashing Ground, since you can't take your opponent's monster to clear their board and then attack unless you can get rid of your own Thousand-Eyes yourself. If you were looking for a card that would change your Instant Fusion into 1-for-1 removal after your Battle Phase, you already had Panzer Dragon.

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It's really cool that you can bring out Thousand-Eyes, suck something up, and then summon Kuraz the Light Monarch and target Thousand-Eyes and its victim to draw two off Kuraz. And it's got some pretty cool synergy in Spellbooks, where you can revive it with Spellbook of Life. But sadly, Thousand-Eyes doesn't really have a place in competitive play right now. There isn't much to say about the rest of those cards either, since they seem to fall into the same category as Thousand-Eyes Restrict.

I'm sure you could tell by the way I was writing about the new changes that I really love how Konami approached the Forbidden & Limited list this time around. I'm truly impressed, and they did an amazing job. Just in time for the World Championship Qualifier season too!

I can honestly say I haven't been this excited and motivated for the WCQ in a long time. We have a diverse format, a large cardpool, and a really good format. What more can you ask for? If you're really dedicated and really want it, everything is set up for you to go out and make that 1st Place trophy yours this year! Go and do it!

-Mike Steinman