The state of the game, as it is right now on the 24th of April 2014, isn't what many would call "toxic" or in dire need of repair. That may or may not continue to be the case come tomorrow, when Dragons of Legend hits shelves.

Historically speaking, there have been times when cards were released that changed the very way the game was played; I talked about that last week in an article on Ghostrick Alucard if you're interested in specific examples. Either way, it's a light read with some good information, so you can read it right here if you missed it before. Those problems were usually handled with the Forbidden and Limited List playing superhero, or even more absurd cards coming out that made the previously nutty releases obsolete. When the Yata-Garasu lock strategy came around, the F&L List had to be created just to keep people from getting ravaged by one of the most painful ways to lose ever. You didn't die immediately; you had to watch turn after turn as you were pecked to death for ten minutes.

Cyber Dragon touched the F&L List briefly, but the power curve of the game just didn't let it stay competitive. Short of using your futuristic, holographic-imaging company's absurd profits to travel the world in search of the cards you don't want to deal with, systematically destroying every copy except a playset for yourself, there isn't really any other way to deal with these kinds of problems; you adapt, wait and they sort themselves out.

Make no Mistake, Dragons of Legend has all the makings of an interesting set, poised to drop lots of healthy and cool cards into the game, like Mathematician, Ice Hand, Prominence Hand, Kuribandit and a bunch of others. Unfortunately, it's also looking to be the herald of a card that I personally can't wait to not have to deal with anymore come next format: Soul Charge.

Charge Of Literally Every Brigade
I often talk about cards being completely generic, and how that can be (and usually is) a tremendously positive point. Either as tech, a staple or a solid Side Deck option, cards with healthy design that happen to be playable everywhere usually flourish as the game grows. Bottomless Trap Hole, Mirror Force, Dark Hole, Mystical Space Typhoon and a ton of other great cards have been around since the start of the game thanks to a lack of prerequisites for use. On the other hand, some generic cards are too ridiculous to stick around: Pot of Greed, Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End, Sinister Serpent and Change of Heart are great examples of "whoa, we messed up."

Monster Reborn's another example. It's been on and off the list a few times, being Forbidden as far back as September, 2004. It makes perfect sense that it would be gone most of the time, considering how unfair it can be. You can bring back any monster in either graveyard, with no restrictions, limitations or downsides. It's not pricy to activate and it doesn't require you to run any particular deck theme. Monster Reborn's the definition of splashable. If there was a beater you wanted back to ram down the field, a utility monster like Sangan, a Tuner, a non-Tuner, an Xyz Material… anything at all, it could jump onto the table and do whatever you needed. That's extremely key, though: it Special Summoned one monster. Flash to the present and we're about to see Soul Charge hit the game like a bag of Mack trucks.

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Soul Charge can't grab monsters from your opponent's graveyard, and it does have the pricetag of 1000 Life Points per monster that you Special Summon with it, so it's not free. That Life Point loss isn't a cost nor is it formally considered to be "damage" either, so you can't avoid it with Spell Economics or Prime Material Dragon. Instead, it's like the old monster The Immortal of Thunder, where those LP mysteriously vanish into the shadow realm, never to be seen again. That's a pretty important distinction to make before you take some super cheesy build to your locals and try to spam out Soul Charge for free – I saw what you were planning, but I got your back.

Yeah, you.

Oh, and no Battle Phase on the turn you activate it. So there's that. Other than those things, Soul Charge is a Monster Reborn that uses steroids instead of milk for its Cheerios every day. You can snag back as many as five monsters at once for a +4 Fatality. More important than the monsters you bring back, you get to use those monsters for anything you want, including Synchro and Xyz Summoning, Tribute Summoning a God Card, banishing for Destiny Hero - Plasma or any other thing you can think of.

One of the most catastrophic results of Soul Charge is the extreme ease with which you can bring out monsters that were never meant to be put onto the field conveniently. Shooting Quasar Dragon can be Synchro Summoned with just two cards, using Soul Charge and a single Lonefire Blossom. Seriously, hear me out:

1) Summon Lonefire, Tribute it for another Lonefire and Tribute that for a Dandylion.

2) Activate Soul Charge and Special Summon both Lonefires back.

3) Tribute Dandylion for Lonefire to get Spore, putting two Dandylion Tokens on the field.

4) Tribute Lonefire for Nettles.

5) Synchro Summon T.G. Hyper Librarian with Lonefire Blossom and Nettles.

6) Synchro Summon Formula Synchron with Spore and a Dandylion Token. You get to draw two cards, making this whole thing already free.

8) Banish Dandylion to Specal Summon Spore as a Level 4 monster.

9) Synchro Summon a Level 5 like Ally of Justice Catastor with Spore and the other Dandylion Token. And draw another card with Librarian. Because why not?

10) Use all three of those monsters for a Shooting Quasar Dragon, that came to the field as a +2.

You could just as easily replace Shooting Quasar Dragon with T.G. Halberd Cannon if you wanted to, or just Soul Charge all three of the Synchros you used for Quasar to make Halberd the following turn and end up with both. Or another Quasar. Of course, that's under the assumption that you have a Lonefire Blossom and a Soul Charge to start and pick up another in your top four cards, but it's not like the second Soul Charge is really important at that point. The profit of card economy is so incredibly real.

Excluding the unbelievable OTK's and things like +2 Quasar, Soul Charge is good for more practical setups. Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand, Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack, Stardust Dragon and Stardust Spark Dragon are all way more destructive when they're put onto the field without a huge card investment, and they take enough work to remove from the field in the first place that you'll have more plays waiting by the time they're in the graveyard. If you have the stuff to make a Black Rose Dragon, you can nuke the field for one card.

Worse for your opponent, you could make a monster like Stardust Spark along with your Black Rose, nuke the field and still have a 2500 ATK body lumbering around the field to rail in damage. It seems pretty likely that we'll see that sort of play in the near future, so expect to see more destruction-stops or way more Effect Veiler if it catches on.

Soul Searching
In the same way that I try to avoid over-romanticizing a card and making it sound more appealing than it might actually be, I don't want to try to put a stigma on Soul Charge as the ragnarok of Yu-Gi-Oh. The big Life Point payment's probably going to keep it from being used in triplicate, even if two's likely enough to end the game. That means there's going to be an inherent risk to running three copies in hopes of drawing it more often: it'll be dead weight if you draw too many at once, or when you're too low on LP.

Like Solemn Warning, Soul Charge creates a kind of threshold that you can bust your opponent down to in hopes of making it dead or less useful. It was 1900 LP with Warning because it had a static cost: Soul Charge is a Little Different, but trying to crunch down your opponent's LP as quickly as possible's going to limit the number of monsters they can bring back and how many Soul Charges they can even use without knocking themselves out.

Burn cards and dedicated burn decks are a strong option against Soul Charge, too. Burn decks can make Soul Charge worthless and teching cards like Magic Cylinder and Doble Passe might lead to stolen games against opponents that flush away too much of their own life. Chain Burn already saw some success competitively last format, and that was with hardly any cards with LP costs floating around.

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The Transmigration Prophecy, D.D. Crow and Crevice Into the Different Dimension could all be powerful counters to Soul Charge. Because of the wording on Soul Charge, banishing some of your opponent's targets doesn't stop the rest from hitting the field, but it will make things a lot less devastating. If they target two monsters to make a quick Xyz or Synchro, or try to bring back a pair of Lonefire Blossoms, you can shut things down completely. Beyond that, even if they're getting three or more, ripping two of them out of the equation isn't a bad thing. Your opponent can't attack on the same turn they use Soul Charge, and that means you definitely aren't losing on that turn, so you get a chance to mount a counter-offensive. Remember that negating Soul Charge's activation lets them use another, but tearing the monsters out of their graveyard won't. They also won't lose any Life Points, but that's a small exchange for preventing a +1230978 of card economy.

Positively Insane
There are a couple of other funny plays that you can make, though they probably won't end up being hugely responsible for Soul Charge's power level. Bringing back Sacred Crane or Molten Zombie lets you draw a card for each, effectively doubling your gain, and Sacred Crane has the bonus of working well in Chaos strategies with Summoner Monk for huge swings in card presence. A Spellcaster deck can Soul Charge three Level 4's back to make an Alchemic Magician, then use it to set any spell from your deck. Those plays aren't great, but they are absolutely hilarious.

At the end of the day, the most powerful use for Soul Charge is going to be pushing boss monsters with built-in protections onto the field, since you can't push for game in battle on the same turn. At the very least, it's a Monster Reborn with a 1000 LP penalty tagged on, and that's not such a big deal.

How do you plan on using it? Big and flashy Xyz and Synchro plays, or more practical one and two-monster Special Summons? It's hard to imagine people not playing Soul Charge in everything, so there's no real right or wrong answer. Either way, expect the game to be very different as long as this card stays legal.

-Beau