Monday, July 29, 2013

September 2013 Ban List Discussion

I feel like I'm kind of late to the party in ban list discussion, usually I'm actually way early on it but for this format I just haven't felt the desire to go over it so early. Rather than presenting a formal "wish list" or "what I think they'll do" list, I just wanted to go over some of the things that have been happening in the game, upcoming product, and theory of how all that relates to the ban list. 

The first 3 months
The general feeling is that the ban list is derived from the results from events that occurred during the first 3 months of the game in the OCG. Whether this is true or not I have no real way of knowing, but logistically it makes sense as they need the appropriate amount of time for publication purposes of the Japanese V-Jump which contains the ban list. So any time I hear people say like "well the deck won Nats, that means it'll probably get hit" I just kinda roll my eyes because the ban list should already be well made by then. This is why in the past I tended to theorize about the ban list about halfway into the format. So looking through the first 3 months of deck lists on Shriek, clearly it is a lot of Spellbooks and Dragons, with some Evilswarm, Mermail, and Fire Fist peppered in. 

Judgment of the Light and Shadow Specter's influence
One of the problems assessing the future format is that it is hard to get an understanding of what could be utilized in the OCG from Judgment of the Light or Shadow Specters (which has been out for a week now). This is largely in part due to Dragons and Spellbooks' dominance, as neither deck is using stuff from those sets, even the Spellbook JD-esque monster from JOTL that people have been hyping. Master Key Beetle is used in Evilswarm, but other than that I really haven't see much hit the competitive game. This makes one question the impact the core set of JOTL will have. 

Out with the new, in with the old?
When we consider the format before LTGY, in OCG it was a lot of the aforementioned decks like Evilswarm, Mermail, and Fire Fist, which none of those decks got hit in the March list. At the time Mermail had a period of dominance both in the TCG and OCG; I remember a lot of people being quite surprised that nothing in the Water deck got hit in March, even though people should've known it was too new and more support was coming out for it and therefore it most likely wasn't going to get hit. So when we think about it, at the moment people are most concerned with Spellbooks and Dragons, just like people were most concerned about Mermails for the previous list. Going by this pattern you would think Mermails would get hit harder than Books or Drags, but this conflicts with the "first half dominance" theory. As far as I know Dragons aren't getting any more direct support, while Books still have their "JD" monster in JOTL (not sure about what else). This means that if they nerfed Books and Dragons and left everything else alone, theoretically the format would revert back to Swarm-Mermail-Fist since they were the top dogs prior (I know Swarm wasn't in TCG at the time, but comparing it to OCG is in essence the same now). Is the new stuff that's coming out better than Swarm-Mermail-Fist? Not from what I've been reading. Fire Fist are finally getting their Chicken, Wolfberk, and Vulcan the Devine, so that presents an argument that they won't hit that deck, but if it is untouched what happens beyond the release of JOTL, of which the Sneak is next weekend? All of the desired Fire Fist stuff will be released, and then they need to try and sell Shadow Specters and then Legacy of the Valiant. If people sit on their Fire Fist decks all throughout the September format, that's 2 sets that they don't need to put any money into. Is Konami going to let that fly? You wouldn't think so. I almost think all the Fire Fist stuff being dashed out right before the ban list is an indicator that it may actually get hit. People have also been sitting on decks like Dino Rabbit this format, which Laggia and Dolkka are still really great cards, but you would think Konami would do something so that people can't just keep sitting on these old decks that would still be completely viable in a format with no Dragons or Books. People love Rescue Rabbit but I wouldn't be surprised if it went to 1 or even 0 since that promotes all the old decks like Dino, Fire Fist, and Swarm. 

The tins
Everyone knows that each of the Dragons will be coming out in tins with Wave 1 being in August and Wave 2 being in November. People wanting the "Bigs" to go to 2 seem to forget this tough, as I'm sure Konami would want people to buy 3x of each tin instead of 2x of each. If Dragons got nerfed too hard, that inhibits the sales of tins unless the reprints were good enough to sell the product on its own. I mean I'm sure no one was really buying Zenmaister and Hanzo tins for the cover cards (well maybe Hanzo but still); if the reprints are good enough, the tins would sell even if the Bigs all theoretically went to 0. However leaving all the Bigs at 3 would help promote sales for the people that want to "bling" their decks by exchanging their Rare dragons for Secrets. I know that I'd personally want all mine Secret, but not if the deck is crap. 

Big Eye/Dracossack
People feel that Big Eye should be banned, and while I do agree that it is pretty damn good, one must also realize how hot of a card it is and the potential it has to sell product. Imagine, leaving Dragons as a relatively competitive deck, leaving Big Eye at 3, and releasing it in the November tins which conveniently is right before Christmas and 1 week before Black Friday? Hotcakes. People would be scooping those up just like they did the Hanzo tins. Now if Dragons is nerfed, Mermail is hit, Big Eye goes to 1, how sought after would Big Eye be? Not so much, and a great sales strategy completely wasted. Dracossack is in this boat as well; if "Rank 7" decks in general are hit too hard, how are they going to utilize a future Dracossack reprint to sell product? Who would want Dracossack if the decks that can go into it aren't any good anymore? Again they would have to be relying on reprints of "other" cards, when Dracossack itself would help push product if the "Rank 7" decks were left competitive (not to be confused with 'leaving as is'). 

Spellbooks is an interesting thought as it was a deck that always got the "rarity bump" treatment ever since REDU. Blue Douche, Priestess, Secrets, Master, Tower, and Judgment are all Ultra or Secret - you would think there would be some way to milk a mass reprint of these cards for those that always wanted to build the deck, but couldn't afford it, to do so, before they nerfed the deck. I've always felt that a Structure deck type of product that included 1 of each important Spellbook card minus 1 thing, let's say Judgment, would be a good product for people to get three of. Coupled with either a tin or a special edition for that 1 card they minused (Judgment in this example), would get people to buy that product to complete their "structure deck deck" which equals even more sales. You want to give people just enough for them to want more, if that makes sense.

Evilswarm has been around for quite some time now in OCG, and with everything finally being released in the TCG via HA07 and LTGY, and the only utilized future card for the deck being Master Key Beetle, I really think this deck is a high priority for Konami to dispose of. Ophion goes against everything Konami is trying to promote for the future which includes Synchros and the Blue Eyes deck. Naturally neither is a viable strategy with Ophion still running rampant. That deck isn't making Konami any money now and actually inhibits the potential sales for future product, it would be a deck people could still hold onto and remain competitive if left alone, which is why I'm fairly sure Ophion will get the limited treatment, and the deck may even experience more hits although I don't know in what way. 

I really think Konami has put themselves in a pickle for this list due to Tachyon itself. I'm sure they have some grand plan that will end up panning out for everyone in the end, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw the older era decks (Mermail, Fist, Swarm) get hit just as hard, if not harder, than the current era ones. This is simply because all those decks were left completely alone in the previous list, and them wanting to ensure stuff beyond JOTL in the TCG will sell, including product where sought-after reprints can be used to their utmost to help sales.

For those interested in an actual "wish/prediction" list, Danny has put up a video here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Skilled Player's Format?

Like I stated in my previous post, I am quite enjoying this format, much more than many others we've had in the recent past. Some like it, some hate it, that's really not the point as everyone will have differing views but I wanted to talk about why I am liking the game right now.

I remember not too long ago where formats were dominated by OTK (Chaos Dragon, Mermail), hand loops (Wind-Up), and we'll just say "utter lockdown" (Laggia + 4 backrow, Wind-Up Shock Lock). Somewhere in between all that would be Inzektors, which punished the opponent simply by playing cards. That deck, although it didn't dominate the TCG as much as the OCG, still completely warped the game as to what cards became playable and which didn't. Many of these decks' central strategies could create such an unfair game state that the di roll became a critical factor in deciding the outcome of a match. If your opponent went first, and you didn't open a Veiler for that Rabbit into Laggia, or Magician-Shark hand loop play, you were fucked and might as well go to game 2. I dunno, to me that feels more like playing that card game War rather than an intellectual game of Yugioh. Just flip your hand and see who wins. Fun stuff. 

Now I understand that some people actually like this version of the game. It requires little thought, they are generally cheaper formats, and basically anyone has a shot at winning. Yugioh should be a game where everyone can win and shouldn't be a stressful thing due to over-complexity right? Players that just picked up 3 Dragon's Collide structure decks and added a few staples could take out seasoned veterans of the game simply by opening Future Fusion, dumping the appropriate Light and Dark monsters, and special summon to their heart's content for the win. I know it wasn't so black-and-white, but everyone can admit that games/matches this format go much longer than in formats past. In any game, generally the longer it goes, the more opportunity there is for a player to make a mistake and thus the opponent to capitalize on. Chess is a good example of this, where the game in most circumstances is a grind and the player that is able to plan their moves ahead and capitalize on any mistakes should be the winner of the game. To me, this is what Yugioh should be about. Sure there will be those instances where you simply draw the nuts and win because of that, but that will always play a part in card games, especially TCG's like this one with no resource system. 

That is not to say this format is perfect though, as there are still unbalanced cards that can create similar lock-down strategies or overwhelming advantage. Jowgen, Spellbook of Judgment, Super Rejuv, Ophion, Dracossack, the list goes on and I'm sure everyone is very familiar with these cards by now. I can agree that Judgment and Rejuv are rather over the top, but are the other "top cards" of the format nearly as bad as what we've had in the past when you take into consideration the current card pool and all the hate cards that exist? Dracossack is very powerful and all but there is plenty of effect negation in the game now, and simple traps like Compulse, Bottomless, and Torrential deal with it just fine. In many match-ups I don't even believe Dracossack is all that good to go into, as a Veiler'd Draco can open you up to a Crimson Blader play, and if you make tokens against Spellbooks you are just asking to get Blue Douche + Power'd to help get their engine going. Players like to make blanket statements like "Dragons is all about Draco/Big Eye herp Super Rejuv derp" when I believe the deck is much more than that. It is like when people complained about Wind-Ups and Shock Master, but completely forget about when they lost to the simple grind and advantage game the deck provided. It was always just "oh I got Magician-Sharked" when sometimes that didn't even come up in two of the three games. Similarly, now it's always "he went into 2 Dracossack" or "that damn Big Eye". "Ban Big Eye!" Big Eye? You really think Big Eye is the problem?

Budget is always something that comes up in these types of formats and probably the biggest excuse players come up with when talking about how a format is bad. Much of the community regards Tele-DAD as one of the best formats in the game's history, but when you think about it it was probably the most expensive format as well. 3 DAD's and a CCV was basically $1000 right there, and while the economy is worse now than it was back then, how is it worse now than back then when the Dragon deck at it's peak was more like $800? During the Plant format, we had Tour Guides at $180 a piece. Pot of Duality used to be $130. Danny once brought up a good point that in a lot of cases if people sold their pet decks or cards or binders that contained a bunch of random stuff they never used, they would easily be able to afford at least a budget-ish version of the top decks that are out right now. Anyone with an internet connection and a spare hour or so can sell to one of the many vendors like CoreTCG. Of course it takes some effort, but when you're selling like $300-400 worth of cards in a single hour that's pretty damn good and well worth it. Even if you don't have an amazing binder, stuff adds up quick and you'd be surprised at how much Danny and I have ended up in relation to what was sold off. If your deck is just pure crap AND you're only able to total like $30 in vendor sales, well there becomes a point where you have to seriously evaluate your goals/aspirations in this game. I don't think people go to tournaments hoping to lose, but when you're in that kind of playability state, especially for this game, that is essentially what you're doing. I've seen people walk in to a tournament, buy the latest Starter deck or Premium Pack tin, when naturally there isn't a whole lot that is competitive in those things, and then complain about how expensive cards are. How does that make any sense? Save your money for a few weeks and afford those cards that are going to help your deck and win percentage in the long run. I know cracking packs is fun, but strive to crack open those packs from winnings, and not those that you got from raping your wallet.

For some reason, I believe there are players out there that just want to hate what is currently prominently winning for the sake of hating on something. When Mermail was the top deck, I remember a lot of people being like "oh blah Mermail, what a sacky piece of shit deck I hate that deck". And funny enough, some of the players that used to say this kinda stuff are actually running the deck now, have ran it and dropped it, or have considered picking it up. Same thing with Wind-Ups. What kind of sense does this make - does a deck have to drop down to tier 2 status for some players to consider playing it? People should do themselves the favor of keeping up with the format, rather than always playing one format behind. If you're going to play the deck anyway, why not play it at it's peak? Do yourself the favor of playing with the maximum possible win percentage instead of handicapping oneself all the time. Cuz I know once Dragons and Spellbooks aren't relevant anymore, that is when certain players are going to be picking it up. I don't need to delve further into this as Pat Hoban already wrote a stellar article on "the best deck" over on ARG.

One of the biggest indicators to me about this format favoring players with skill, is when you look at the results of who have been winning and topping events. There was a period of time where you'd get guys like Lazaro and Dale knocked out early in a tourney simply by being completely sacked in early rounds. Many of the top 32 would be "no-names" (I don't like that phrase, but you know what I mean) and someone might win the YCS and then never be heard of again. In this format, I think a lot of the more well-known players have been topping and our Nationals was a good indicator of this. Pat Hoban, although he has a lot of haters, I believe is one of the smartest people in the game right now. I remember seeing him barely miss the top cut in a lot of YCS's, and I think this format finally provided him with a format where skill played a much more prominent role than luck. I can't say for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that in the YCS's where he bubbled out, it was probably due to getting completely sacked in a previous round which ultimately led him to just going X-2 and not making it. Even in the local scene, and I don't mean to gloat, it has basically been me + a teammate splitting for 1st for the past several weeks. There is much less "sack factor" right now, which leads to players that have good underlying game fundamentals to win over those that don't. Now one can say "but you're playing Dragon's, of course you're going to win." That is a valid point but what about those matches where I'm staring down a Necrovalley, Mind Drain, some other hate card, and still winning and not because of Heavy Storm? That is called playing out of shit, which I've had to do a lot of with the Dragon deck. Real similar to Wind-Ups. That does not come solely from playing tier 1, that is years of experience and having a clear thought process in what needs to be done and how to play out of the situation at hand. Just because one plays with a tier 1 deck doesn't mean they play like a tier 1 player, as evident in some of the mirror matches I've played. I've had opponents go turn 1 Red Dragon Archfiend for no apparent reason (other than it's big I guess?), let me draw 4 from a Maxx C play and not OTK, continually let themselves open to get Crimson Blader'd, and the list goes on.

I guess it's a lot of rambling, but I honestly think this is one of the best formats we've seen. If it was the current format minus some amount of Super Rejuv and Judgment, it would probably be as perfect as it's gonna be. If OTK and sacking wins is your thing, then that's cool and all but any seriously competitive player could tell you that doesn't make for a healthy format or game. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Return

Hey everyone, my-oh-my it has been such a long time since I last posted, and I must say it has been way too long! First of all I wanted to apologize to everyone that read this blog for my continual decline of posts and eventual sudden departure to blogging. Admittedly for me it got to the point where blogging felt more like a job, rather than something I wanted to do as a thing where I just wanted to help the community, provide news and updates, banlist leaks, YCS decklists, that kinda thing. I felt a strong sense of self-induced writer's block because I didn't want to post just to post, and felt like I was really running out of things to say, especially toward the end of last format as the game had become rather stale. I also had to deal with a lot of personal issues in my life, including going to the ER as I went into organ failure due to being diabetic (obviously didn't know I was or had become one until it hit me), my father passing away, house landscaping projects, my dog having to get minor surgery done, and the regular stuff like school, work, on-the-side work, keeping up with the format, playing, etc. I think blogging just became my lowest priority and so I cut it, but I do feel bad I didn't even make a post saying I'd be going on hiatus. I guess I just didn't want to admit that I was going to do so, again I really apologize and hopefully I can regain the loyal readers I had but either way I'm intending to come back strong.

As for catching up with the local scene, well we've had a few new team members join and some have left, with a few potential people we may want to ask to join. I dunno I think it's a lower priority right now as a lot of our players are on the end-of-the-format break or their work schedules don't allow them to regularly play at the moment. Coupled with some people hating the format (though I personally love it), some people hating Team O, some people hating just to hate, our biggest tourney has come down a bit in attendance. We'll probably ride out this format as is and go hard once again when September hits. One of our members, Drew "The Boy Toy" Davis earned a top 8 spot with Mermails, I don't remember what month it was but it was Mermail format in Seattle when it was the Fire Fist mat. We're very proud of his accomplishment and he is yet another player that went from barely topping locals to topping a regional, with the guidance of Team O. Danny finished 9th at one of the Seattle regionals as well (Christ I'm bad with memory lol) though not at the same one, only losing to Jonathan Weigle and Harold (don't know his last name but he's fairly known in the northwest) who got very lucky with a top-decked Lightpulsar or something like that. This was when Wind-Up was still a deck. He also top 8'd a Magic Star City Qualifier (or whatever it's officially called), which is very impressive in his short Magic career. Roy Norman finished 13th with Dino Rabbit, this was at the most recent Seattle regional and also recently top 8'd a Magic PTQ. Unfortunately I haven't played in any premier events but I did get 1st at my first FNM after leaving the game for several years, I was stoked about that and even more stoked that they all knew I primarily played Yugioh and it was my first FNM back. Dat salt. I have recently left the game again and am awaiting rotation to occur and go from there. As someone that doesn't have an interest in Modern, I refuse to just hold onto cards that I know will just become worthless.

For the past few weeks I have started what I call the "Ruling Roundup" on our local YuGiOh Facebook group, I intend to start posting those on the blog as well. It's mostly to help clear up ruling issues that either come up regularly and go unresolved or people leave the tourney and aren't sure if they got the correct ruling or not on, stuff that came up during that week, or explanations of game mechanics that sometimes people aren't aware of or they come up so infrequently that people don't even think about it. I've always felt that one of the easier ways at getting better at the game is understanding some of the slightly more advanced rulings/card interactions in the game, which is what I strive for through the Ruling Roundup.

Recently Danny has started up his YouTube channel, PuertoRicanFace Mendoza, and this is probably one of the bigger reasons for me to get back into blogging. I'd like to produce content in tandem with the channel so we as a team have both a blog and a YouTube channel where consistent content is put out for people to enjoy. Danny has put in a lot of effort to put out meaningful content so please like, subscribe, comment, that whole jazz as I know as something as small as seeing 1 more subscriber or getting views can provide a lot of motivation to continually put out content. You can find interviews, matches, news announcements, local randomness, and the creature known as Shiggs, on the channel. Naturally it's still a learning process but when you start at the bottom you can only go up :) I'd also like to put out content from time to time just as he and others have posted articles on the blog. I did an impromptu video last night posting Pat Hoban's 1st place decklist which can be found here. I also tend to keep a sharp eye on product releases (like reprints), and these kinds of things will get posted asap on the channel, sometimes sooner than even the likes of Vexacus, CyberKnight, mkohl, etc, so again please check the channel out and subscribe. Sometimes that extra 30 minutes is all it takes in you being able to sell, or not sell, your card that's just about to get reprinted. Anyone that has read the blog before can attest to me putting out these kinds of things as soon as I see them, sometimes sooner than they reach the channels of the big-name YouTubers. Seeing content from multiple different team members who all have differing views on the game is important I believe since no two players are ever the exact same in their philosophies. Naturally one viewer/reader may be more inclined to have similar views as a different team member, so we're potentially reaching a larger target audience to a certain extent.

I'll probably post a separate post talking about the game specifically, but I have been playing Dragons this format and have loved and hated every minute of it all at the same time lol. I guess the thing I hate most is how I can draw into 2 Gold Sarc (of which I run 2) before ever drawing into one of the deck's 3 Super Rejuv's. Like mathematically that makes no sense at all but it happens fairly often sadly enough. This is why I think that even if Super Rejuv was banned, I honestly wouldn't even care that much as I win often enough without it. Who knows what next format will bring though but again all that will be talked about at a later time.

It's nice to be back, I have missed it, hopefully I can continue a consistent run once again!