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.

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