Goat Format Players Are Partying Like It’s 2005!
Edit: More late answers from community member, Siwski!
Goat Format at its core is a relatively simple concept. Players simply play by the rules and card pool that were official during the time period of summer 2005. The format was named “Goat Format” due to the popularity of the card Scapegoat during that time. In practice, building a community around an archaic format is quite difficult. Keeping it welcoming and non-toxic is especially difficult. I caught up with ACP, Who is paying out a total of 100$ out of pocket for an upcoming online tournament, along with community members MMF, Siwiski and Spare to talk with me about the Goat Format subcommunity and why they feel that it’s an important part of the greater Yu-Gi-Oh! ecosystem.
But first, some details on the tournament you probably clicked on the article for:
When: Saturday 6/15/2019 at 1 PM EST (10 AM PST, 6 PM UK time)
How to enter: Entry will be in the #tournaments channel of their discord server. Signups will start approximately 2 hours before the tournament does. You must submit your decklist when you enter.
Decks: Locked. You cannot change any cards in your deck between rounds.
Rounds: Double elimination, no time limits. All rounds are played “live.” Once pairings are announced, you will have 20 minutes to find your opponent before you are given a match loss.
Prizes: 1st place = $75, 2nd place = $25, sent by paypal or another payment app of your choice. Players must submit a replay of the grand finals in order to claim their prize.
Glitch/disconnect policy: Any provable glitches that render the game unplayable will result in a redo of the game in progress. All disconnections will result in a game loss (unless they occur during sidedecking).
Expected total tournament duration: 7-9 hours
And if you’re interested in Goat Format, but don’t want to play in the tournament, you can still join their discord and hang out!
So let’s get started, shall we?
Satchmo: What is the appeal of Goat Format to you?
ACP: There are a lot of things about the format to me, but the biggest one is how diverse and complex the metagame is. Despite myths to contrary, Goat Format is not a “mirror match” format. There are 9 different top tier decks and a variety of viable rogue decks. In the seven years since the first revival of Goat Format started, the metagame has evolved tremendously, and people are still discovering new decks and tech choices. That’s crazy!
MMF: The main appeal of the format to me is the opportunity it provides to the players to shape their own, albeit limited, sector of the community. Third parties have been notoriously absent throughout most of YGO history; Konami itself (Upper Deck notwithstanding) has been directly responsible for the vast majority of events, coverage and content, and players themselves have never really had a say in the formats played at major events (with the exception of a brief experiment by third parties). This in itself is not a bad thing, but it does create a bit of a toxic relation between player and game; in my view, it gives rise to a particular form of laziness on the part of the players. Since 2012, Goat Format has been run by the players for the players; the format itself has remained relevant solely through its own popularity and the collective effort of the community.
Spare: I like that Goat Format can be quite unforgiving in that one bad decision can completely change the outcome of a game. Because of this, players are forced to think very carefully about which of their available plays is expected to give the best result. This involves considering not only your own cards, but also those that your opponent may have. This style of play can be challenging for players who are new to goats, but I find that pushing myself to play as well as I can is one of the most fun and rewarding things about the format.
Siwski: Longer, more interactive games. The possibility to come back in the game and win after being pushed back because your opponent drew better cards in the opening is really one of the defining features of the Goat Control deck, which gave the format it’s name. As many of you already know, the Goat Control deck itself gets its name from the card Scapegoat – this card on its own is the reason for the before mentioned possibility, as it allows the player who uses it to play from behind, survive some additional turns, thus giving him the opportunity to turn the game around with any of the deck’s signature plays; such as using Metamorphosis to bring out Thousand-Eyes Restrict. Resource management and predicting what your opponent’s cards on the field and in his hand are based on his plays and smaller actions (called »reads«) are also really important and are further emphasizing the skill of the player and lowering the impact of luck factor that every card game inherently possesses. To me, this is really important because it means that I am responsible for most of my both wins and losses.
Satchmo: Many people think that Goat Format is just Goat Control mirrors, however in my limited experience, I’ve seen a few different viable strategies. What is your favorite deck to play in the format besides the Goat Control?
MMF: Empty Jar is not quite the best combo deck in the format, but it will probably always be my favorite.
Spare: I’m definitely the wrong person to ask, as I’m pretty well-known for playing Goat Control almost exclusively. Sometimes I play around with Tiger Control, which is a type of aggro deck that aims to hard counter Goat Control. It uses King Tiger Wanghu to lock your opponent out of cards such as Scapegoat, Thousand Eyes Restrict and Tsukuyomi. It’s pretty helmet, but also reasonably competitive.
Siwski: Firstly, I’d like to say that there is no such thing as Goat Control Chaos. Those are two seperate decks: one is Goat Control and the other is Chaos Control. The main difference between these two decks is in the fact that Chaos Control aims to play Chaos Sorcerer, and to do so it usually has to increase it’s LIGHT monster count. Goat Control, on the other hand, prefers to play Airknight Parshats instead of Chaos Sorcerers and is thus more careless about its monster’s attributes.
(Editor’s Note: This part of his reply came from the draft questions where I mistakenly list Goat Control as “Goat Control Chaos”. I was corrected by another interviewee and it was fixed in before the article launched. However, Siwski’s correction gave some excellent insight into the deck building process between Goat and Chaos decks, so I had to leave it in.)
Siwski: There are also many other viable decks in the format, as you said. You can find most of them of the Format Library website. The interesting thing about this 14 year old format is that some of the best decks are really new, for example the groundbreaking »Noelle Reasongate Turbo« deck which was born in the early 2019 and followed its birth by first topping one and then winning the next FLC (Format Library Championship is online Goat Format tournament). As for myself, besides Goat Control and Chaos Control, I enjoy building various new decks and have some fun with them. Theorizing with new decks and concepts is really fun, even in this limited cardpool! I’d say that my favourite fun deck is probably Monarchs, but they can also be competitive as well if built correctly.
Satchmo: Do you prefer it to Goat Control?
ACP: Absolutely. I actually don’t like to play Goat Control a whole lot, unless it’s one of my own teched-out builds.
MMF: All things considered, I probably do enjoy playing it more than Goat Control, but the margin is small, and one of my favorite things about the format is how enjoyable it can be with such a wide variety of decks. I’ve been known to play Beastdown/Zoo, Reasoning/Gate, Chaos Recruiter, Rescue Cat, Stall Burn, and many others at various times in addition to my beloved Empty Jar.
Spare: No, Goat Control is by far my favourite deck in the format. The deck’s high skill-ceiling means I never get bored, since I always have room to improve.
Siwski: I do not, but I would like to mention that Goat Control and Goat Control players are really not that common in the online metagames anymore. I am one of them, though. The spotlight has been taken by various Chaos variations, as well as Aggro and alt-win decks. It would be interesting to see a survey about people’s favourite deck. My prediction is that Goat Control would be well below 50% of answers.
Satchmo: What tech options in Goat Format do you feel is under explored?
ACP: It’s hard to say. The format has been pretty thoroughly explored. I’d like to see Twin-Headed Behemoth get some action though. I feel like it has potential in an aggressive deck because it’s resistant to Sakuretsu Armor.
MMF: This is a difficult question to answer comprehensively because the answer is constantly changing with the evolution of the metagame. Right now, Cyber-Stein, Bottomless Trap Hole and Anti-Spell Fragrance are a few examples of underused sidedeck cards that should probably be seeing more play than they are.
Spare: I think that 3 mained copies of Scapegoat is something that people should experiment with more, especially in pre-Exarion goats. Most players have never considered running more than 2, probably because the “standard” is held in such high regard, but a third copy can be a good call in certain metas with a lot of aggressive decks. In addition, most players are comfortable to Heavy and go for game once their opponent has 2 Scapegoats in grave. An unexpected 3rd copy can seriously ruin your opponent’s attempt to go for game.
Siwski: I guess each deck has its own under explored tech choices. I am personally not a fan of tech choices in Goat Control, because the standard »Detox« Goat Control list has a pretty good reason for each and every one of the 40 cards in the main deck. You don’t want to miss a single one of them. However, other decks are not as explored and as »theory-backed« as this Detox Goat Control build, so there is much space for exploration. I think that Return from Different Dimension deserves a mention here; this card should be tried in various Chaos Turbo decks. Cyber Stein is also gaining more popularity, especially in the Side Decks as a means to counter different alt-win strategies by giving fast access to cards such as Dark Balter the Terible and Last Warrior From Another Planet.
Satchmo: What is your favorite tech choice in Goat Format you feel that is uncommon?
ACP: Right now, I’d have to say Drop Off. It’s not usually a maindeck card, but it’s a very good sidedeck choice against combo decks, which have experienced a bit of a resurgence lately.
MMF: I’ll probably always be partial to Nightmare Penguin as a wall against Beastdown and other Aggro decks that provides additional synergy with Tsukuyomi and Abyss Soldier.
Spare: I’m a fan of one mained Creature Swap in Goat Control, usually instead of a 3rd Metamorphosis. It’s nice to be able to use sheep tokens for something other than making TER – for example, trading a sheep token for an opponent’s flip effect monster. However, Swap is a risky card to play, as your opponent can disrupt your plan by chaining a Scapegoat of their own.
Siwski: Like before, each deck has different tech choices. Besides the before mentioned, I feel like Aggro decks could try to have some fun with Sasuke Samurai #4. I really like the card but I so far I never tried to build a deck around it. Maybe in the future!
Satchmo: What deck would you recommend to a new player coming into the community?
ACP: Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get help. There are a lot of people who are willing to help you get into the format. You just have to ask! Also be aware of how different Goat Format is, strategically speaking, from current format Yugioh. You probably won’t be a Goat Format superstar the moment that you start playing, and that’s ok.
MMF: As long as you’re willing to discard expectations and accept the losses that come with learning the format, play literally whatever you want.
Spare: I think every new player should start out with Goat Control, as it’s the best deck to teach you how to play properly. Once you have the basics down, there’s nothing wrong with trying out other decks.
Siwski: I actually have some experience with introducing new players to the Goat Format. First, of course, I would introduce them to the Goat Control deck, the basic ideas and concepts and so on. I do believe that they should then try to play few games with it, just to get the taste. But of course they will hardly see any immediate success by playing Goat Control, because the deck is hard to play correctly. More user-friendly decks are Aggro and Chaos Turbo, I think that newer players can learn to play them faster than they would learn Goat Control, and the decks themselves are good enough to compete and give back relatively good results.
Satchmo: Have you ever considered the idea of expanding the card base? What cards from outside of Goat Format would you consider adding to the format, if any?
ACP: It’s certainly been considered by some in the community, but there are a lot of reasons that I don’t think that custom formats are a viable idea. I want to unite our community behind a universal ruleset and card pool, not plunge it into a debate with regards to how the format should be changed. There’s no need to fix what isn’t broken.
MMF: Yes, quite a bit. I enjoy playing the “late” version of the format with Cybernetic Revolution, and I think the additions of that set have a much worse reputation with the community than they deserve. Ultimately, however, the community isn’t ready for a “custom” version of the format. This is something that should be explored farther into the future once a centralized, player-run authority has been established with the means necessary to universalize such modifications throughout the community.
Spare: I’m not really interested in adding cards to the format, as I would prefer the format to be as historically accurate as possible. If I had to pick one, I would choose Banisher of the Radiance. Being LIGHT is nice, and it would be a nifty side against Chaos Sorcerer decks.
Siwski: No! There are infinite problems with trying to make a historical format into a custom one. It’s better to just strive to historical accuratenesss. But, I once had a conversation about adding Metalfoes Fusion to the Goat Format card pool because of it’s graveyard effect. Of course it’s just a funny thought.
Satchmo: What are your views on the Duel Links and Speed Duel formats?
ACP: I think it’s great that Konami was willing to take the risk of creating a new way for people to play Yugioh. Not everyone likes advanced format. I also think that there is a decent amount of overlap between the type of player who would like Duel Links/Speed Duels and the type of player who would like Goat Format.
MMF: I haven’t touched Speed Duels yet, but I have been playing quite a bit of Duel Links, most recently with a top 100 finish in the North American WCS qualifiers. Duel Links is the future of the TCG, in my opinion, and will only grow larger with each passing year. Paper TCGs are rapidly growing obsolete, and DL provides YGO with an opportunity to compete with popular Digital Card Games and other mobile apps that the TCG itself simply can’t offer.
Spare: Never looked into either of them, Goat Format is all I need <3.
Siwski: I have never played any of these two formats.
Satchmo: Can you explain the “fail to search” rulings for our viewers at home? I’m sure many of them are unaware
MMF: Sure. Under Upper Deck’s rulings in 2005, with the sole exception (as far as we’re aware) of The Agent of Creation – Venus, effects that search the Deck can and will resolve without effect if (and only if) they have no targets present in the Deck. The most relevant example of this is “failing to find” with Thunder Dragon, e.g. discarding Thunder Dragon to search two more from the Deck, then discarding one of those two later on to get an additional LIGHT in the grave for Chaos monsters like Black Luster Soldier or Chaos Sorcerer. This also works on the DARK side of the spectrum with cards like Dark Mimic LV1 and Skilled Dark Magician (with three spell counters, of course).
Satchmo: What about the Apprentice Magician/Creature Swap Ruling?
MMF: For whatever reason, Upper Deck thought in 2005 that Apprentice Magician’s effect activated and resolved on the field. This means that not only does it not share the same synergy with Creature Swap as “recruiters” like Shining Angel and Mystic Tomato, but it can also be negated by Skill Drain (but not by The End of Anubis).
Siwski: This comes from the fact that the text of Apprentice Magician says “when this card is destroyed by battle”, omitting the “and send to the graveyard” part. Which means that if I Creature Swap my Apprentice Magician to my opponent and then I destroy it by battle, my opponent will get it’s effect. >:(
Satchmo: Now for the hotly debated topic: Do you prefer Exarion vs No Exarion and why?
ACP: Believe it or not, this is not exactly “hotly debated” anymore. The community has largely unified behind playing with neither Exarion Universe nor Cybernetic Revolution. I could (and have) write an entire article explaining why, but I find it’s imperative people understand that most of the Goat Community isn’t really debating it at all anymore.
MMF: This isn’t really debated as hotly as it used to be, but Exarion should only be included in the format with Cybernetic Revolution, as CRV and the CT2 promos shared the same premier event legality dates, give or take one day. All of the most memorable events of the format, most notably the 2005 US National Championships, were played with neither of these additions.
Spare: No Exarion is way better imo. I enjoy playing with Exarion too occasionally, but he’s so good tends to make a bunch of other cool cards really weak. It means there’s less room for innovation, making the format more stale overall. To anyone who has never tried playing without Exarion, I’d strongly recommend giving it a go. I was reluctant to do so at first but can honestly say it’s more enjoyable.
Siwski: I don’t think this is hotly debated topic – at least in the communities where I hang around, it is common knowledge that inclusion of Exarion Universe in the Goat Format’s card pool was a “collective mistake”. I started Goat Format with Exarion included and when I switched over to Exarionless I prefered it, but not because of what is right and what is wrong, but because Exarionless allows for more versatility.
Satchmo: Segueing from that, there are some who are concerned that things like Exarion Legality and “honor bans” on certain types of decks like Empty Jar or Burn skew the format into being some sort of halfway custom format. What do you think about such concepts? How do you deal with them in your various goat format community?
ACP: Well right, that’s why most of the Goat Format doesn’t do the whole “Exarion without CRV” thing or honor ban any decks. We’re trying to play an accurate format. More to the point, Empty Jar and Burn are rarely played and not considered top tier by most of the competitive players. It’s better to educate people on how to beat these decks (it’s not very hard) than it is to ban them outright.
MMF: Like I explained earlier, I’m not completely and utterly averse to the idea of a “customized” Goat Format, but I just don’t think the community is ready for it yet. People need to have a single, simple ruleset and cardpool for the sort of shared experience that creates the foundation for a community, and my view is that breaking that mold too early could have disastrous consequences.
Spare: As I said before, I like the format to be as historically accurate as possible, so I’m not a fan of honor bans. In my opinion, decks such as Empty Jar and Burn are actually beneficial to the format, as they encourage people to construct good side decks and learn how to play many different matchups, making the format even deeper and more enjoyable.
Siwski: Yeah, I agree that banning deck types is a problem, but exclusion of Exarion Universe is not (because it is NOT a honor ban, it’s just historically accurate). In my local Goat Format community, as well as both major Goat Format discord servers, we stay away from banning deck types. Not only does this give us many difficult questions and problems, such as the one you stated above, but it also brings some imbalances to the meta and side decking (for example, if Burn is banned, then no one can punish you for not siding Royal Decree and then you can get away by using, for example, Aggro to Goat Control smokescreen tactics. Another example would be this: if alt-wins are banned (and no one uses smokescreens), then Control decks can just stuff their sides with counter to Aggro and Chaos Turbo decks and make them almost unplayable). The only community where I noticed that happening is a certain tournament-oriented Facebook group, but players there seem to prefer staying away from alt-win decks, so even in the tournaments where those decks aren’t explicitly banned, they are still very unlikely to be played.