Ever since we've switched over to the "four-Forbidden-and-Limited-Lists-per-year" way of doing things, we've seen a trend toward low-impact Format changes. Back when it was only two lists a year we'd get a whole mess of cards shifting around, but these new lists seem to stick within the range of a dozen or so cards. Comparatively speaking, that's quite modest. Now that October's finally rolled around we're playing under the most recent F&L List, and wow; for such a small number of changes, there's a lot to discuss.

Glow-Up Bulb's finally back, for better or worse. We're treading awfully close to Plant Synchro territory all of a sudden, and as someone who lived through that format, I don't know if I should be terrified or not. The deck can't capitalize on three Soul Charge since Charge is now Limited, but Formula Synchron shot back up to three copies, so there's that. Blackwings saw a minor power spike with the Semi-Limiting of Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind, which probably had a few people excited. There's some buzz about it around my locals, and I'm certain plenty of others; how that pans out for the competitive circuit's still up in the air as far as I'm concerned.

Magician of Faith back to three? Gorz the Emissary of Darkness up to two? Those sound ridiculous in the context of previous formats where those cards were in their prime, but maybe not so bad now. I'm not saying that you'll see an article from me about every one of these changes, but maybe keep an eye out in the future.

For this week there's one card that I can't pass up. When I saw it come back to Limited status, I felt twinges that could only be described as PTSD from the earliest days of the game. I'm talking about "the forbidden spell" itself: Raigeki.

Can we just acknowledge for a minute how crazy it is, that there's actually a card CALLED "Flash of the Forbidden Spell" based on Raigeki, as though it really was just known as "the forbidden spell"? Of all the spells that were Forbidden, Raigeki was "THE"?

On a scale of one to even, I cannot.

It's Electric
Even though Raigeki was among the most powerful spells in the game in its time, it seems like the duelists whom I've discusses it with are torn into two camps. On one side of the issue, players that think Raigeki's the first sign of the apocalypse, and we're in for a format of crazy sacking and topdecked comebacks. It's hard to blame them, considering people said the same thing about Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning when it was first brought back to the game, and they weren't wrong. There were definitely an overwhelming number of games lost to lucky BLS rips; that's just the nature of the card.

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As it stands in the other group, there are people that think Raigeki's archaic now, and just hasn't managed to keep up with the pace of competition. Because of the huge number of monsters that either replace themselves on destruction or resist being destroyed outright, Raigeki's definitely not in the same condition that it used to be. Bujingi Hare and Bujintei Kagutsuchi walk right through it; Forbidden Lance can save one of the monsters that would have been lost; the Burning Abyss don't really mind losing their field; and Satellarknights unilaterally carry three Call Of The Haunted and three of their own on-theme Debris Dragon.

El Shaddoll Winda can't even be destroyed by effects, and any face-down Shaddolls Raigeki takes off the field get their abilities. El Shaddoll Construct pulls Shaddoll Fusion back from the graveyard to mitigate your loss there, too. Not to mention all the rogue cards that give destruction effects a bad time: Musakani Magatama, Stardust Dragon, Stardust Spark Dragon, Beelze of the Diabolic Dragons and a ton more.

Given the right setup, a bad matchup, or a couple of turns to recover, it's true that Raigeki's nearly useless with the way the game's developed so far. But at the same time, I can't help but feel that people are missing the point almost entirely. The logic that Raigeki doesn't hit hard enough to leave a lasting effect on the state of the game isn't flawed overall, but it's built from the wrong perspective. When Brain Control and Change of Heart were legal, you wouldn't just throw them out there for the -1 to make a direct attack; you made a play to take advantage of the sudden shift in momentum.

Often those cards worked out like more flexible Soul Exchanges, or came out to literally finish the game. Taking your opponent's monster and hitting them for game with it right then and there was unreal, because it was totally safe and unpredictable. There's no commitment, no real cost, and no drawback – you dumpstered someone, or they had an out as a 1-for-1 and things wound up in your favor anyway because you'd simplified the game in ways that generally favored you.

To me, it seems like Raigeki's going to be used in almost the exact same way. Don't get me wrong, you can't take a monster and Tribute Summon with it, or use it as Synchro or Xyz Material, but you can mash through your opponent's monsters all at once and punch for game after you exhaust the opposing backrow. Everything about Raigeki screams "mid-game knockout tool."

Keeping Current
For that reason exactly, I don't think Raigeki's really applicable as a universal toy for every deck. If you can't flood the field all at once for big damage a lot of that mid-game potential goes out the window, and Raigeki becomes little more than a better Mirror Force. Burning Abyss don't really have the kit to unload a big field of Xyz Monsters and try to make an OTK, so they're a good example of what I'm talking about.

Opposite that, Satellarknights have the luxury of Normal Summoning Satellarknight Altair, bringing back Satellarknight Vega, dropping Satellarknight Alsahm from their hand and ending the game. The quick 1000 LP burn, on top of attacking for damage between can either be a kill shot in the mid game, or do just enough that your opponent has to struggle to use Soul Charge and Solemn Warning. Satellarknights can generate a tremendous amount of damage for a stupidly small investment, and Raigeki can help make sure that play lands safely. Backrow's still something to watch out for, but if you're making that kind of push in the mid-game your opponent's probably burnt through at least some of their defensive line. That makes it much more likely you'll score the win.

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I don't talk about them nearly often enough, but Six Samurai could also put Raigeki to work as a steady ace in the hole, thanks to Grandmaster of the Six Samurai and Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan making explosive fields out of nowhere. With Legendary Six Samurai - Shi En in the mix, your very real concern of traps that would trip up your battle phase melts away. With Double-Edged Sword Technique and Backs to the Wall on the bench to swarm from your graveyard, coupled with the immense threat of monsters dropping en masse from your hand, that's a horrifying fear for your opponent to have to deal with.

Shaddolls don't really have the same swarming power, but El Shaddoll Construct and Shaddoll Dragon can swing in for a respectable 4700 battle damage. If the game's been dragging on for a while, that's not an unrealistic amount to attack for game with. Flipping Shaddoll Falco on the same turn and pumping out a Synchro alongside that Construct can really tip the damage in your favor, hitting 5600 total if you make a Goyo Guardian.

Lightning Returns
There are plenty of other decks that can push damage onto the field reliably enough that Raigeki could see a switch from being a simple piece of monster removal to being an opportunity-producing game ender when it's backed up by a couple of monsters. Even beyond that, the fact that Raigeki exists in the game at all might have the same kind of effect that Heavy Storm does whenever it's legal; with Heavy around players avoid committing multiple cards to their backrow in the early game, because losing your traps to a lucky Heavy Storm is a worst-case scenario that most people try to dodge. Raigeki might be an anti-swarming card that slows down the pace of monster aggression in the format. It's not all that likely, but it's likely enough that it could happen.

Beyond that, we can't just pretend that there's only one Raigeki, either. Thanks to the triplets of Magician of Faith we now have access to, that's as many as four Raigeki in one game, though recycling it that much is probably unlikely. The option's still on the table though, and Magician of Faith is a pretty solid Light material for El Shaddoll Construct. Hopefully I didn't just give anyone any ideas they didn't already have with that one, but if I did then I guess I should apologize now, in case that becomes super nutty in the future.

Did you already have a similar idea? Where do you stand on Raigeki being back in the game after so many years off the table? Are you going to use it yourself, and if yes, in what deck? This one's actually a lot deeper than its face value might suggest, so I'm really interested in hearing a lot of opinions. One thing's for sure; I'd expect to see Raigeki on at least a local level for the rest of the time it's legal.

-Beau