Well for anyone who may have missed out on the news earlier today, Konami has officially posted the new ban list on their page, which can be found here. I actually wasn't quite expecting it to come out so soon, I was thinking maybe next Tuesday, but hey that is sweet of them, at least it gives people more time to test out the new format in preparation for ARG Orlando (I know Konami doesn't give a shit about that, but still).
Here are the changes to the list, for reference:
Dark Strike Fighter
No longer Limited:
Blackwing - Gale the Whirlwind
This list will go into effect until March 31, so we'll have another 3-month format. From looking at the list overall, it basically looks like the exact same format as the post-NECH one we're in now. No hits to Burning Abyss or Qliphort, Shaddolls lose a Super Poly, and Satellas gain another Honest, if they were even playing the 1 anyway. My prediction is that at the YCS and ARG level we'll see the same decks topping in similar numbers, and Nekroz will join the fray come February. I'm not sure how Heroes will do. People will try to get cute with Reborn Tengu, whether it be in a re-creation of the old Tengu Plant deck, throw a set into Fire Fist since it's a Beast-Warrior, or maybe something like Hand-Tengu-Traptrix as a floater-based deck. I think these strategies will fall flat though as they are rather outdated and don't really stand out as better decks than the "Big 3" we have now.
I guess I'll go through every change and give my opinion on it:
Super Poly banned
Overall I'm glad for this change, as I don't think there should be any card in the game that says "you can't respond to this." From my experience newer players would always get confused about it, like they would either Warning it or use Shi-En to negate it, and I've lost Shaddoll mirrors where I've been in control solely due to this card. It's a minor change but indirectly hits Shaddolls and Hero-based decks. I had predicted that BLS would be banned, but I guess he lives to sack through another format.
Moralltach, DSF, and Snatch to 1
Well I had predicted there would be no hits to the Artifact engine, and I was way wrong. I'm rather surprised by this because now if they reprint Sanctum in something no one is going to give 2 shits. Moralltach left at 3 meant a Sanctum reprint would've appealed to someone somewhere, but now, meh. Dark Strike could be at 3 and probably wouldn't affect anything contrary to how people make it out to seem. The errata was perfect to make it a relatively balanced card. Snatch Steal - god damn Snatch Steal. This change is probably the most shocking one and I can hear the words already - "Snatch for game?" I feel that Snatch is completely sacky and the balanced versions we do have like Mind Control, Puppet Plant/etc, are more than enough. Just because MST exists doesn't mean that Snatch is balanced. This will definitely impact the game.
Honest, Goyo, and Derka Hole to 2
On paper Honest to 2 is a pretty big change, as it gives decks like Lightsworn, Bujins, and Satellas more answers. The first 2 decks basically see no play, and like I said in a previous post, Satellas will be Satellas. I suppose this could also be a boost to decks running Denko Sekkas and gives them a "backrow" card to protect the Denko. I don't know how frequently we'll see 2 Honest in decks that top, but I know the singleton Honest was annoying enough to play against, and surely people will go hammy with an extra. Like DSF, I think Goyo could be at 3 and not do much besides make Blizzard a true all-star for Blackwings. With Raigeki having a "relatively playable" status, and everything being floaters right now, I don't think the second Dark Hole will make much impact. We will probably see more board "resets" but they won't be as back-breaking as they used to.
Gale, Gunde, Tengu, Reasoning, and Transmi to 3
I think Blackwings now have everything back except I suppose the 2nd and 3rd DSF's. Gale does run over quite a bit in the current game but I honestly think even if there was a rule that said "if you're playing Blackwings you are allowed to run 1 Pot of Greed", they still wouldn't do anything. Gale's not even being ran as tech like it used to in stun decks, but then again stun is a hard strategy to make viable right now especially with T-King still at 1. Gunde back to 3 gives Mermails more of a fighting chance, I could see more players picking up Mermails again but I think it is outclassed by the "Big 3" right now. I already talked about Tengu - in certain game states it will definitely be annoying dealing with its uber floater-ness but I don't think it will be a forefront strategy in the meta. Reasoning and Transmi are both "whatever" cards, they could've taken more things back to 3 but baby steps are still forward progress.
A Shift in Focus?
Ever since the TCG and OCG lists became vastly different, we've seen Konami do the TCG lists much differently than what we've been accustomed to. It used to be where you could see a deck be completely obliterated by the ban list (still happened to Infernity, but they've had it coming for years) basically a format or at most two after it came out, and now we're barely seeing any hits at all. Winda/Tour Guide/Dante to 1? Skill Drain or Emptiness to 1? Nope, not a single change. I think for Konami to re-instill some form of confidence from the players they have abandoned this old strategy of completely nuking decks. We saw overall fear by looking at the prices of hot cards over the past few weeks where they've continually declined because they "could get hit." I mean even I sold off Shaddolls and what I had for Burning Abyss "because who knows wtf Konami will do". I still don't think that's necessarily a bad strategy, but maybe we can all chill out a little bit in terms of trying to completely dump off stuff right before a new banlist. I do feel for the people that had the Artifact engine though- pretty soon you won't even be able to give a Sanctum away (sure you can but you know what I mean), let alone sell it. Overall though I think they are realizing that in order for people to keep interest in the game, they can't keep taking away their decks. They can keep making shit that's more broken than those decks and still "sort of" force players in certain directions (at least to be competitively viable), but not outright banning key cards of particular archetypes to essentially kill those decks outright.
The Backrow Dilemma?
Basically throughout this format I've thought to myself about how I thought MST was the most important card in the game. That is not to say I think that every deck needs to run 3, but it has gotten to the point where we need to worry about a plethora of cards that MST helps deal with, most notably Emptiness, Scout, and Fire Lake. Skill Drain to some extent. There is a paradox that exists simply because Fire Lake exists, in that it's always been seen as "bad" to randomly MST a backrow card at the End Phase, or especially during your own Main Phase, but sometimes a gamestate forces the player to ask "well can I afford to get Fire Lake'd?" If the answer is no then you may simply be forced to take that percentage chance of trying to hit it. It is basically why Night Beam has become viable tech, but you're still basically "blind Night Beam"ing. If you're playing a combo deck like Shaddolls or Mermails, MST's and Night Beams only hurt your consistency as all they do is simplify gamestates. But now, are they necessary just because of what we have to deal with? This ties very closely with Snatch Steal being reintroduced; "we have yet another card that we want to hold our MSTs for, on top of Emptiness' and Scouts in Qliphorts, but fuck I don't want to get blown out by Fire Lake so I have to end-phase MST". We're only allowed 3 MSTs, and no matter what people say Twister and Dust Tornado just aren't on MST's caliber. I've seen and experienced losing just because of drawing into too much Spell-Trap destruction with nothing to go along with it. Yes we will try to play around Snatch by holding our MSTs, but there's gonna be times we just lose because we didn't blind-space the Fire Lake or we had to use one earlier on an Emptiness or Scout. This isn't even taking into account any floodgates people can and will side in. It is quite unfortunate - to help out the game they should've hit more of these continuous cards, not give us more to deal with.