Yesterday marked the long-awaited reveal of a new banlist, restricting four cards and bringing seven more off the list entirely.
Three of the previous format's biggest problem cards are now gone: Union Carrier, Number S0: Utopic ZEXAL, and True King of All Calamities are all banished to the shadow realm. The changes are more than welcome - we've all had our pitchforks out for those three cards for weeks, and lots of people were pretty confused when the previous list tried to deal with Union Carrier solely by Forbidding Dragon Buster Destruction Sword.
Those three changes impact a number of strategies, but the three biggest are Virtual World, Numeron, and Drytron. At this point, Numeron and Drytron may be complete writeoffs - time will tell. Meanwhile Virtual World can survive, but the deck will probably replace True King of All Calamities with the lower impact Sacred Tree Beast Hyperyton, and it may just become a hand loop deck build around XX-Saber Gottoms.
Meanwhile Eldlich, Dragon Link, and Tri-Brigade are entirely untouched, each a high-profile strategy from last format that could take over as the new deck-to-beat. Dragon Link's seeing the most discussion in higher competitive circles, and that may be in part for its ability to abuse the returning Dragon Buster Destruction Sword.
While no Union Carrier means no more easy plays for Dragon Buster Destruction Sword with Crystron Halqifibrax, players in the know speculated hard yesterday on DMZ Dragon, a card that offers a more specialized path to the Dragon Buster Destruction Sword lock. Whether it'll actually prove optimal for Dragon Link - or Dragunity once the new cards arrive in product-hover id="228256" - is up in the air. But for now, we're already seeing big demand for Dragon Buster Destruction Sword.
So what were people buying up when the new banlist hit? Let's count down the Top 10 and see what we can figure out about the first weeks of the new format.
Spoiler: Eldlich was huge. Not only did a trio of the deck's key cards take the first three spots in our Top 10, more Eldlich staples almost made the cut. More on those later. For now, it's enough to know that the one-two punch of Eldlixir of Scarlet Sanguine made it one of the hottest cards of banlist drop day, and its value could climb toward the seven dollar mark.
Note that the number of Eldlixir of Scarlet Sanguine being purchased here didn't suggest speculation. At an average buy of just under two copies per buyer, these were likely players who'd never built Eldlich before, preparing to take the undead plunge.
Cursed Eldland was even more popular, and that created a huge price spike. Cursed Eldland debuted in April of last year at about $1.25, and even as Eldlich became more and more popular, it was less than four dollars until October. Its price crept to nine bucks and change by the weekend of the Maximum Gold Release weekend, highlighted here in red.From there Cursed Eldland exploded, as players discovered that Eldlich the Golden Lord wasn't just in the set, but was actually a pretty easy pull. That spiked demand for Cursed Eldland, driving the card to huge new highs that approached 40 dollars. That price fell below the 30-dollar mark in two to three weeks, bounced back up to 36 dollars, and then fell back to the 22 to 25 dollar range in the last weeks of February.
But flash forward to yesterday, and the news that Eldlich escaped the banlist just skyrocketed demand again, pushing Cursed Eldland just a few dimes shy of its all-time high. Now, on Friday afternoon, you can't find a copy for less than $45. Even rougher, there are effectively no price walls beyond ten copies around 50 dollars. At this rate we could easily see Cursed Eldland bought out entirely.
So how does the price of Eldlich the Golden Lord compare? Thankfully it hasn't moved much. As a two-of instead of a three-of the demand is lower, and the Maximum Gold reprint anchored Eldlich the Golden Lord to a consistent six or seven dollar bucks since its release. It might seem a big weird that the two-of Eldlich the Golden Lord would outsell the three-of Cursed Eldland, but realistically we see this all the time; players buy the cheaper cards when they think they're at a price floor, and they try and shop around for the bigger stuff (or trade!).
Moving on, a ton of players picked up a copy of Rank-Up-Magic Argent Chaos Force. As far as I can tell there's no killer app for this yet, but it's never been reprinted since its release in 2014's Premium Gold, and that makes it an obvious target for buyouts. I think a lot of people were just making sure they wouldn't fall behind the curve should it ever become relevant. That demand alone doubled the price of Rank-Up-Magic Argent Chaos Force overnight.
One of the defining tournament performances of the last month was Cesar Gonzalez's 1st Place finish at the February Remote Duel Invitational with Subterrors, carried to victory by Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon. Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon arrived with more of a whimper than a bang when it dropped in the Tin of Lost Memories last year, and it continued to be irrelevant until… well, until it wasn't. With the last banlist severely limiting the power of Crystron Halqifibrax, the power level of Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon was a bigger deal, and that made it more competitive.
That said, it still wasn't good enough to warrant action on the F&L List, and when it survived the format update on Thursday lots of players scrambled to finally get their copies. Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon spiked from 50 dollars to 72. It was back to 50 dollars as of this writing, but there were so few copies under 70 dollars that it might be back up whenever you're reading this.
Sacred Tree Beast Hyperyton
The speculation on Sacred Tree Beast Hyperyton started almost as soon as Blazing Vortex went on pre-sale, when it immediately started looking like the heir apparent to True King of All Calamities. At the same Rank, with generic Synchro Materials and an effect that works much like an omni negate, the appeal's easy to understand. Demand for the card slowed down a bit in the last week or so, but with True King of All Calamities officially on death row, players and speculators were picking up copies all day long.
Sacred Tree Beast Hyperyton still in huge supply, and it's got a long way to go before it escapes penny stock territory. But the sustained interest in the secondary market at least demonstrates that it might see play in upcoming events.
Of course, this card might prove to be the bigger threat in the Virtual World Arsenal. XX-Saber Gottoms anchors some hand loop plays that are getting a lot of attention in competitive circles, as Virtual World players work to figure out what the deck's best options are moving forward. The result was a lot of legitimate player interest, and price spikes all around: the 2009 Tin Secret Rare jumped from six dollars to ten, the original Ancient Prophecy Ultra Rare's spiked from seven dollars to seventeen, and the Ultimate Rare's already 40 bucks for a Near Mint copy.
At this point, we can expect to see the Virtual World hand loop deck be a factor next weekend at the Remote Duel Invitational Qualifiers.
If there's anything on this list that might be a mistake, this is it. As mentioned earlier, a good number of players are interested in running Dragon Buster Destruction Sword with DMZ Dragon. It's sort of a weird situation, because while most gimmicky strategies really only get one shot to prove themselves, the DMZ combo deserves two: first in Dragon Link, and once again when product-hover id="228256" introduces the new Dragunity cards.
Opinions on the DMZ Dragon combo are really varied: to some, Dragon Link's already the de facto deck-to-beat for the new format, and this card plays a role in that. To others, the combo seems overly complicated and largely irrelevant, in both Dragon Link and Dragunity. We'll have to see if the hype delivers at the RDI Qualifiers and the next Remote Duel Extravaganza.
We saw a huge surge of interest in The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche at the start of last format, when it escaped the banlist and returned to Limited status. In our first look at the secondary market after the last list dropped, way back in September, Rusty Bardiche spiked all the way to Number 2 on the sales charts. It proceeded to do next to nothing in competition.
Flash forward five months: The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche jumps to 3-per-deck, and it's once again the second hottest card coming off the new banlist. No surprise here: that's chiefly because of Phantom Knights. Julio Mendoza didn't have a great day at the Remote Duel Invitational Qualifier in February, but the performance that won him his seat, taking 1st Place at his RDI Qualifier, really boosted the public perception of the Phantom Knight deck. What difference two more copies of The Phantom Knights of Rusty Bardiche will really make is up in the air, but the deck was untouched by the banlist, and that alone gives it a leg up.
And finally, Firewall Dragon sold like hotcakes. There are so many of the 2018 Mega Pack Secret Rares that the price didn't move an inch, but at ten dollars a pop - and the incoming product-hover id="228256" reprint being a luxe Ghost Rare - it was clearly a must-buy for anybody who didn't have their copy yet.
What else was big this week? Conquistador of the Golden Land and Huaquero of the Golden Land both fell just short of the Top 10, coming in at Number 11 and Number 12. Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer clocked the Number 13 slot, The Phantom Knights of Torn Scales finished at Number 14, still under 25 bucks. And finally, True King's Return ended Thursday at Number 15.
That's it for me, but join us Sunday for something totally different! Franco Ferrara's back with a really amazing article investigating the secret symbolism and hidden history of Yu-Gi-Oh's World Championship prize cards, and there's some REALLY mindblowing stuff there!
See you then!