There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the December 2020 Forbidden & Limited List before Konami released it. Would it be like the June F&L List with barely any changes, or would it be like the September F&L List with tons of impactful moves?
In the end I think the latest list ended up somewhere in the middle; it did address some of the big problematic cards and it also unlimited some fan favorites, but it was lacking a certain "wow" factor. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course, but for a lot of players it seemed like this list played it a little too safe.
I'm extremely happy to see Smoke Grenade of the Thief, Dragon Buster Destruction Sword, and Linkross Forbidden, but it feels like some other cards should have been addressed. Today I'd like to go through what the December 2020 Forbidden & Limited List missed because these are cards that will likely have a huge impact in the upcoming months. I'm not only going to focus on cards that should've been hit, but I also want to discuss cards that could have come off, too.
By far the most controversial card that wasn't hit was True King of All Calamities. This is one of the most hated cards of the last format and it looks like it's here to stay. While True King of All Calamities has seen play in tons of different formats it was extremely dominant the last few months in decks like Virtual Worlds. It's entirely possible that Konami was unwilling to hit any Virtual World cards since they were just released in Phantom Rage not too long ago, but most players were expecting True King of All Calamities to be Forbidden.
True King of All Calamities is currently one of the most un-fun and un-interactive cards in the game. If your opponent summons it on Turn 1 and you don't have an immediate out for it then you might as well move on to the next game. There are plenty of cards that fit a similar category, but the difference is the sheer ease with which decks like Virtual Worlds can reliably summon it. Unlike Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon - which we'll get to in a moment - True King of All Calamities doesn't require any Main Deck bricks. As long as your deck can summon a few Level 9s you'll always have this game-winning option available.
When March 2021 rolls around I expect True King of All Calamities to finally be addressed on the F&L List, but for now it looks like it's going to stick around for a while.
Dragon Link's been a popular deck ever since the release of Striker Dragon and the Rokket Structure Deck, but even before that we saw Guardragon Elpy abused in Chaos Thunder Dragon lists. Guardragon Agarpain already Forbidden and a lot of players expected Guardragon Elpy to join it on this F&L List.
That didn't happen, of course, which is worrying. Dragon Link's proven to be extremely versatile over the last several formats, and it could be one of the best go-to combo decks in the new one. Losing both Linkross and Dragon Buster Destruction Sword hurts a lot, but I still think this strategy has a ton of potential. Without the ability to lock opponents out of the Extra Deck it can lose to cards like Super Polymerization, but that isn't the end of the world.
Dragons are one of the most supported types in the entire game, and they're constantly getting new monsters, so I think Dragon Link will continue to be a threat. Guardragon Elpy one of the biggest selling points of any Dragon deck, and as long as it's around I think players will try to find ways to abuse it.
At the beginning of last format Dinosaurs were everywhere. The deck's pretty much always been viable since the release of the 2017 Structure Deck, but it totally took over after many of the other top decks lost big on the September F&L List. Admittedly, Dinosaurs haven't been as popular lately as they were a few months ago, but they're still a force to be reckoned with.
It's far from the only great card in the strategy, but Miscellaneousaurus is one of the most threatening cards in the deck. It's not only a starter card to get to Animadorned Archosaur, but it's also a way to force your plays through interruptions. In the past we've seen Miscellaneousaurus Limited, including times when Dinosaurs were far less competitive than they are right now, but for some reason it survived the December F&L List.
Even if Dinosaurs don't take over the format I'd expect them to be one of the best contenders in competition for at least the next few weeks! Everything that made them great last format is still here, and there's plenty of room for innovation with different supporting engines. This might just be a case of differing F&L philosophies: should Konami just hit the decks currently doing well, or should they also hit the decks that are right behind the top strategies? It looks like in this case they're not too worried about Dinosaurs, but I think it's pretty likely that Dinos well see play once the List goes into effect.
Admittedly, control decks haven't been performing very well over the last few months. That's not to say they've been irrelevant, but the best decks of the last format tended to be combo strategies that aim to set up huge boards on Turn 1.
But the most recent lists all hit combo decks pretty hard, and control decks keep getting away scot free. I don't necessarily think that's a huge issue, but it could end up becoming a problem later on. So far we haven't seen any hits to Eldlich or Dogmatika, two of the biggest engines for slower strategies, and at this point I'm not sure what it would take for them to be affected on an upcoming List.
Eldlich had a bit of a rocky road this format. The loss of Jet Synchron on the September 2020 F&L List meant that you couldn't reliably play the old Crystron Halqifibrax combo variant of the deck. Recently we've seen Eldlich doing well in combination with Zoodiacs, but it's nowhere near as dominant as it was back when Secret Slayers was first released. If you're playing a slow deck then Eldlich is almost always the go-to engine, and that might get old after a while. It's quite possible that the recent Maximum Gold reprint of Eldlich the Golden Lord played a role in this theme's handling this time around, too.
The Dogmatika cards are newer than Eldlich so it's not a huge surprise that they weren't touched on this update. Still, it's one of the best engines for pretty much any deck that's not spamming a lot of Extra Deck monsters, and for that reason I wouldn't be surprised if Konami eventually Limited a few Dogmatikas.
The recent OCG F&L List Limited Nadir Servant, and honestly I could see that same change happening here in the TCG sometime in the future.
Once again, the key here is that control decks haven't been doing that great, so there might not be much reason to nerf them. I believe that a fun, balanced Yu-Gi-Oh! format involves both combo decks and control decks, so I do hope we see innovation over the coming months. Zoodiacs, both with and without Eldlich, were already looking strong, and I expect them to continue to see more play.
When people think of the "wow" factor of F&L Lists they're usually thinking of completely unexpected changes. The players never truly know what Konami's going to do but sometimes it's easy to predict certain updates. For example: pretty much everyone expected Toadally Awesome and ABC-Dragon Buster to become unlimited, so it's not that exciting. Similarly, Cir and Graff going to three wasn't too crazy because they hadn't made an impact at two copies.
One of the ways to really get the players talking about an F&L List is to move an older Forbidden card to Limited. On the September List we finally got back Harpie's Feather Duster and that was a big deal to a lot of people. It got old school players excited, it reintroduced an iconic spell to modern players, and it added something new to the format.
There are lots of cards that Konami could've unbanned, at least in my opinion: Cyber Jar, Performage Plushfire, and Yata-Garasu just to name a few. I'm not saying these cards should all immediately go to three copies per deck, but they could've at least Limited them to see if anyone was interested in trying them out. All three cards were frightening at their peak , but who knows how strong they'd be heading into 2021.
As we saw back in 2015 with Snatch Steal, sometimes Limiting old cards doesn't work. But most of the time it does, and it gets people excited to use their old cards. Maybe none of those three is the right choice to bring back, but I feel like Konami could've spent a little more time really looking at the Forbidden List to see if anything could come off.
The Forbidden & Limited List updates throughout this weird time in the world have been interesting, to say the least. The first F&L List post-COVID only lifted restrictions on three cards and made no other changes, but in September Konami proved they were willing to commit to a robust F&L List, even if there aren't a lot of in-person events. Official and unofficial online tournaments are still going strong, however, and I'm glad Konami''s willing to change the format to make it better for players in those events.
Remote Dueling in particular has really grown in the last few months, which is fantastic to see! We have no idea when the next in-person Regionals or YCS might be, but Remote Dueling's a great way to play with your physical cards against other fans of the game. This F&L List might not have been as crazy as some people would have wanted, but I think it's a step in the right direction.
Maybe we'll even finally see Crystron Halqifibrax Forbidden in March!