A lot of the time, when I sit down to pour over deck lists and research the state of the game, I pick out a handful of relevant cards and decide which ones are worth talking about. Sometimes it's a matter of highlighting why competitively strong cards are where they are on the power scale, because it's more important to understand the Reasoning for a card's use than just to know that it is used. The last couple of cards I talked to you about are good examples of that; check 'em out if you haven't already seen them. They're right here (Upstart Goblin/Reckless Greed) and here (Call of the Haunted).

Other times, I see a card that either gets no competitive play, or so little that it might as well not be there, and it blows my mind. When that happens, I do what seems logical and come to you, almost to ask why it isn't popular, but also to explain why I think it should be. This is one of those times.

We're playing in a format where Special Summoning isn't a problem, and shoving monsters onto the field is so common that an empty field usually means it's Turn 1; there's always something on the field to set up for a push or defend against one. Looking through the most recent Regional Top 8's we have in the Deck Archive, only four decks in the last four recorded Regional Top 8's used Mind Control, and that makes no sense to me.

Allure Of Utility
Literally none of the decks in the Archive from YCS Sao Paulo used Mind Control in the Main Deck or Side Deck. In fact, it hasn't been widely played in such a long time that appearing in four decks all at once like that is sort of extraordinary. Why now, when nothing's really changed, at the tail-end of a format?

At first it seemed like a case of some friends making Top 8 together and affecting a single event's metagame, but the decks are actually from Portugal, Canada, and Nevada. That rules out the first possibility. There was a chance that it was just a single strategy that gets good mileage from Mind Control, and it happened to Top 8 in a few places at once, but there were two Karakuri Geargia, one pure Geargia and an Infernity deck. If you've played those three strategies, you know they're not similar.

If you haven't, they're still not similar.

#####CARDID=11292#####

It's not an isolated incident, not in an isolated location, and isn't confined to a single deck type. Knowing that, Mind Control must be seeing play on its own merit; there's no fluke that happens four times in one day, in three countries, in three strategies, piloted by duelists who've never met.

Realistically, nothing in the format ever strayed away from Mind Control being a powerful card. As long as Xyz Summoning exists, Mind Control has the power to rip away an opponent's monster and give you free Summon fodder. Nearly all of the monsters in Fire Fists are Level 4, Mermails have plenty of Level 4 and 7, Geargia have Level 4's everywhere, the occasional Dragon strategy has enough Level 7's to work with, and virtually every deck in-between has strong Level 4's that sit on the field. Thunder King Rai-Oh's all over the place, which Mind Control can take, giving you a way over it without much fear of over-commitment. I'd have to check prices, but two cards to get rid of Rai-Oh and put out an Xyz sounds like a good trade.

Xyz Summoning isn't Mind Control's only strength right now; Synchro Summoning's still alive and well too. Actually, Synchro Summoning seems to be a big part of the reason that Mind Control was even used recently. Two Karakuri Geargia players were both playing it for fast access to Karakuri Shogun mdl 00 "Burei" and Karakuri Steel Shogun mdl 00X "Bureido" while ripping cards away from their opponents. When your boss monster's already got a built-in refund like Burei or Bureido, breaking even on their Synchro Summon actually works out to be a +1 or more for you. Taking your opponent's Geargiarmor even lets you flip it to use the search effect for yourself.

It's fair to say that Xyz Monsters are a double-edged sword for Mind Control; they make it better just by being in the game, but they're generally awful targets for it. If you pull an Xyz over to your side of the field, there's nothing you can do with it after that, other than maybe activate an ignition effect to burn away its materials. Monsters like Gaia Dragon, the Thunder Charger and Number C39: Utopia Ray can overwrite specific Xyz, but generally you'll just give them back at the end of the turn. Since they don't have a Level, you can't Synchro with them, and Tributing's off the table. You can open up a hole in your opponent's field to attack directly, which is nothing to underestimate, but the Xyz you took wouldn't be able to attack, so it's also not overwhelming.

Establishing Control
One of the most powerful aspects of Mind Control isn't even a part of the card; it's the completely generic nature of Xyz. They're boss monsters that you can play any time, no matter what monsters you're using in the Main Deck, as long as the Levels are right. You can play any Ranks you feel like, regardless of which specific monsters you're using, and as soon as your opponent plays a monster with a Level you can capitalize on, the game-winning exchanges start happening. In line with that, Mind Control makes your mirror match, almost regardless of what you're playing, instantly easier. You're running all the same monsters as your opponent, so you know the Levels match up, and you know which ones to take to make those trades hurt the most.

Despite being able to squeeze Mind Control into anything, there are some decks that inherently use it better. Bernardo Cardosa's Regional Top 8 list from Portugal only packed it in as a Side Deck choice, presumably for the mirror match. With three Upstart Goblin in his spell line, it's obvious his goal was to play as aggressively as possible, and Mind Control does come with a certain element of opportunism that doesn't lend itself to that playstyle. If you're trying to explode against an empty field with no monsters to steal, it's basically a dead draw. Cardosa was probably attempting to win Game 1 as often as possible; with that playstyle, Mind Control's better for Game 2 and 3 where you're expecting to go second after picking up Game 1. You know your opponent won't leave an empty field Turn 1, so there's an exceptionally slim chance it won't be live if you open with it. Considering the most likely defensive play for a Geargia duelist is to set Geargiarmor, Mind Control and Karakuri Strategist mdl 248 "Nishipachi" are deadly, with not very much commitment of resources.

#####CARDID=10886#####

Sergiy Budylin's Top 8 list went the opposite direction and put Mind Control in the Main Deck, skipping over Upstart Goblin in favor of a stronger Turn 2. Removing Upstart and putting in a card like Mind Control that isn't good going first is a decision that shows Sergiy expected to lose a lot of die rolls during the day. Whether that was the case or not, it paid off. Mind Crush at two in his deck solidified the concept of playing from a reactionary standpoint, wanting to use his opponent's actions against them as much as possible. When your opponent searches for anything, you can snipe it out of their hand and pick up pivotal information about their deck for Games 2 and 3. Everything about these tech choices screams "I want to win by outplaying you on a technical basis," and Mind Control can help with that.

Swinging away from Karakuri, Michael Ouellette's Infernity deck made Top 8 with Mind Control in his Side. It's another case of planning for the mirror match, but this time the implications are a Little Different. Infernity are a good example of a deck that doesn't mind taking Xyz Monsters, at least in some instances. In the mirror match, leaving Lavalval Chain on the field becomes a dangerous Gamble, since Mind Control can snag it, letting you burn away its Xyz Material to advance your own strategy.

Milling away a Stygian Street Patrol so you can Special Summon your Infernity Archfiend is flashy, and sending Archfiend straight to the graveyard lets you make use of an Infernity Necromancer that was otherwise dead in your hand. Not only that, but Mind Control targeting your opponent's only Infernity monster forces them to negate it with Infernity Barrier or risk you going off right then while they can't stop you. It becomes the ultimate example of bait, at the cost of a 1-for-1.

Spelling It Out
YCS Chicago's just two days away, and most of the trends that we've seen over the course of the last few weeks are probably going to continue: Upstart Goblin and Reckless Greed are going to be prevalent in the Top 32; Fire Fists, Mermails and Geargia should take up a lot of the Top 16; and there's a good chance people are going to overlook Mind Control again. It's a generic piece of spot removal against anything that isn't an Xyz Monster, lets you use up your opponent's Xyz Materials, clears the way for an aggressive play, and works toward the resource game if you don't feel like making any explosive decisions.

It doesn't make much sense to me that Mind Control wouldn't be seeing heavier play right now. A little of it could be due to Dragon Rulers just kind of not needing it, and people not paying attention to it for a while. There've been cyclical cards like that in the past that rotate in and out of the spotlight, so maybe it's one of those situations. Do you play it, or see it much in your metagames? I'm expecting it to keep seeing outlying use on a Regional level at least, but it really should be more popular than that for how strong it is. If you're not using it, go ahead and try it out.

-Beau