As I’m sure most of you know by now, in almost exactly 1 week week we will be seeing the start of the first-ever January Format. And quite frankly, I can speak for most people when I say that a ton of things were switched around that weren’t quite expected. This article will be diving into the nitty-gritty changes coming in January, analyzing which decks are getting their own Christmas Present this year! Let’s jump right in!
First Off: Please be aware that this is an opinion piece, you don’t have to agree with everything I say, nor do I expect you to!
Before continuing on, here is a full list of the changes of the Forbidden/Limited list for your reference:
Return from the Different Dimension
Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos
Magician of Faith
Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders
Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms
Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls
Divine Wind of Mist Valley
Sacred Sword of Seven Stars
Spellbook of Fate
Tour Guide from the Underworld
Constellar Ptolemy M7
Fire Formation – Tenki
The Extermination of the Dragon Rulers:
Quite frankly, this was the intent of a large portion of the Forbidden and Limited sections of this banlist. I really shouldn’t have to explain why losing 16 cards is such a big impact, but don’t underestimate the new take on the deck. With the Mythic dragons and the Blue-Eyes engine, the Dragon Rulers have simply adapted into a more Rank 8 Centric deck compared to the Rank 7 deck we have all grown to hate these last few months. But the bigger question that’s on a ton of people’s minds is a short one: Who benefits the most from this fall of the Dragon Rulers?
Firstly, in this new format, decks will not have to worry about an endless stream of 2400+ attackers that can be summoned at no loss of advantage, allowing certain new archtypes to step up to the plate that simply couldn’t keep up with the constant boss spamming. Dark Constellar and Dark World won’t have to worry about one Blaster running over Pleaides or Grapha without the field spell, something that has plagued both decks heavily. Speaking on the topic of the interaction of Dark Worlds and the loss of the Dragon Rulers, the Fiends now do not have as many ‘dead’ viruses in certain matchups. Tributing Graph for Deck Devastation Virus and Eradicator Epidemic Virus to limit the opponent’s options has been the core focus of the deck in recent times, and the loss of powerful dragons that ran a limited number of spells and traps helps that strategy out quite a bit.
Last but not least, the fall of the Dragon Rulers has also helped rogue decks jump up a spot on the totem pole, simply because they are no longer out-sped nearly as much. In this September format, the only decks that stood a chance, like Evilswarm, Geargia or Constellar had to be able to spam on a dime AND limit the other player’s options in order to be able to stand any chance in a tournament. As a result, we may see a few shifts in the meta as more decks step into the realm of possibility, like Gladiator Beasts or Madolche as examples.
Newly Limited: Magician of Faith
This little Spellcaster has held a spot in the Limited section in prediction lists for at least the last 5 or so formats. Considered to have a ‘slow’ effect, this little magician takes a turn to set, then the opponent has to either let it live a turn or attack it for her to add a Spell in the Graveyard back to the hand. Another big note considering her, is that Magician of Faith simply doesn’t have the caliber of targets anymore. There is no more Monster Reborn, Heavy Storm, Pot of Greed, etc. Add in the other fact that she can’t do anything alone and requires the Spell in the Graveyard to recycle, and you got yourself a card that has potential, but has a lot of prerequisites and conditions in order to pull off and actually affect the outcome of the duel.
So who benefited the most from gaining this Spellcaster? I share the public opinion that MoF can introduce a new strategy to Prophecy using an Apprentice Magician engine to bring out Spellbook Magician of Prophecy or Magician of Faith as needed. Prophecy decks did lose Spellbook of Fate to the limited list, but that alone will not cripple the potential of this deck to slowly gain resources before making big plays to seal the duel in their favor.
Newly Semi-Limited: Chaos Sorcerer
While Magician of Faith fits in nicely with a current meta contender, Chaos Sorcerer really doesn’t have that at the moment. There really isn’t a mainstream Chaos deck that can contend in the meta, and the closest thing is probably Twilight builds as soon as the new Lightsworn monsters are released in the TCG. In my opinion, Sorc to 2 could fuel the revival of Chaos Dragons, but it is still too early to call if TGU to 3 and Sorc to 2 is enough to revive the deck that used to thrive off of an entire setup through Future Fusion and multiple Red-Eyes Darkness Metal Dragons. Whether this deck will simply be a shadow of its former self or not, we still could have the privilege of fighting Dragon decks in the meta!
Newly Semi-Limited: Lonefire Blossom
In my opinion, the question of this little plant’s future is still up in the air, even past the release of the Sylvan archtype. Obviously moved up on the list to promote the upcoming archtype, Lonefire serves as a tutor for any Plant-type monster straight from the deck. All it takes is a tributed Plant, which can be itself. Many people are calling for Plant Synchro to return as a contender due to this card while others think that it can possibly fuel the rise of the Princess-Centric plant deck and less the Plant Synchro we used to know.
On this question of which Plant deck will prove more effective, I have not been sold either way. It is certainly true that Plant Synchro got neutered and thrown out to dry following the tragic restricting of a ton of essential cards, but Lonefire just might give the deck a spark of hope to return to the battlefield! On the other hand, the Plant Princess deck just got another searcher for their Level 8 monsters, on top of a new Princess arriving in Legacy of the Valiant, Chirubimé, Princess of Autumn Leaves, that specials any other Plant from the deck when it is destroyed by the opponent. Lastly, Sylvan have the potential to stand on their own, but I have never been one to favor luck-based decks, even if they have their own ways to improve their chances!
Newly Unlimited: Archlord Kristya
Wooohoo! Let’s have a great round of applause for the triumphant return of everyone’s favorite Fairy-type monster! …(dramatic pause)… What do you mean you want to send him right back!? To be blunt, the Public Opinion on this card seems to run as follows: “I have absolutely no clue why Kristya came off of his deserved place at 2 on the F&L List. Agents just pave the way with 4 easy fairies in the Graveyard too well to have him running around at 3, and his effect can just shut down an opposing strategy outright. WHAT WAS KONAMI THINKING!!??”
Don’t take the opening the wrong way, because I actually like the fact that he is back to 3. With his return, he allows for non-Agent Fairy-decks that have good control over the Graveyard to become rogue threats, such as modern Spirits following the release of Nigitama in Legacy of the Valiant or Herald of Perfection Turbo decks. If you are questioning my judgement on this, take a look at the amount of dead draws that can already happen for an Agent deck on turn one. Every Agent deck runs 3 Hyperion, 3 Shine Balls, 2 Krystia, Genex Ally Birdman, Honest. On top of that, some chaos builds also run 2 Tragoedia, BLS-Envoy, and Chaos Sorc. That’s a total of 9.5 ‘Dead’ cards to open with in any build, or 13.5 ‘Dead’ cards to open with in a chaos variant. (I’m counting Honest as a half, because it can be useful early, but it doesn’t necessarily do anything without the help of another LIGHT). With another Krystia, the deck simply increases the amount of dead cards without bringing any additional utility, speed, or search power to the table, it’s not an amazing choice for the deck. Personally, I am expecting to see Agent builds stick with the 2 Kryista for this reason alone.
On a secondary note, some are saying that Krystia moved up to promote the new ‘Artifact’ archtype, but as of the time of writing, all Artifact monsters include some sort of Special Summoning and are level 5, so Krystia doesn’t work all that well with the archtype. I’m pulling for the return of Herald, despite everyone’s hatred for the deck, I think we may be entering a format with 2 ‘competitive’ Ritual variants!
Newly Unlimited: Mezuki & Plaguespreader Zombie
I am quite sure that noone expected this two-handed punch to come simultaneously. Some predicted Plague returning at 3, others predicted Mezuki, but both are back. Sadly, we may just have to live with them until the next list arrives. The power of a Zombie-type deck is not to be underestimated, since Lavalval Chain ensures almost endless loops of Xyz’ing. The current loop already could make your opponent’s turn 5 minutes or more, but now with 3 Mezuki, that loop just might be going on for much longer. Plague on the other hand, I am suspecting that this little tuner will have a rougher time jumping right into a competitive deck at 3, mostly due to the absence of powerful level 6 Synchro monsters. Zombies are known for their level 6 Synchros, and in their prime, they had both Brionac and Goyo that could turn duels around on their own. Without these two Synchros or really any that can contend with either’s power, I fear that a Zombie Synchro variant is going to have to go all in with Level 8 Synchros, such as Void Ogre Dragon with the upcoming Beelze, King of Dark Dragons.
In short, Zombies gain 2 of their best monsters back from the banlist, but I am predicting that only the return of Mezuki to 3 will have a legitimate impact on the meta.
Newly Unlimited: T.G. Striker
This little tuners finally be released from the shackles of the list, and it’s back to make T.G. Agents a thing once again, but don’t count him out from other competitive options! By adding Striker alongside Earth in an Agent deck, the duelist is able to use the free Shine Balls from Venus as Synchro material for anything from level 4 to level 9 Synchros. Adding in T.G. Warwulf to the mix allows for the Agent user to make a level 8 Synchro, Gachi, and have fuel for a chaos summon off of the 2 T.G.’s, a Venus, and a couple of Balls from the deck. This is the newly unlimited option that I am sure will impact agents the most, simply because the T.G. Agent deck is almost back to full strength (just waiting on Trishula).
In terms of another deck that may just use Striker to join the meta, Madolche surely come to mind. Using T.G. to open up combos for Naturia Synchros or even using him to search out Warwulf for the OTK’s, Madolche have a ton of options. Add in the upcoming Anjelly that makes the deck abuse Hootcake super fast, and we have ourselves a perfect recipe for a meta contender. Just as long as you don’t try to take a bite out of those delicious-looking cards….
Newly Unlimited: Tour Guide from the Underworld
Out of all the cards on the unlimited list, this is the only one I saw coming from a mile away. The age of the Wind-Up Hand loop, the age of Dino Wabbit, the age of Leviair Plant Synchro, those have all gone and passed. With all those three still with integral components pitching a tent on the F&L List, TGU arrives as a 1-card Rank 3 option that also benefits Fiends in general. Personally, I am really optimistic about Archfiends in this upcoming format. They’ve lost their bad Dragon Ruler matchup and even got an additional TGU to summon Hieress straight from the deck to gain advantage off of a Fortune Tune or Zenmaines effect. The deck finally might have the additional consistency to keep up! Another deck that should be on your radar, Dark World gains ANOTHER boost from this guy returning! With the ability to pluck Broww out of the deck or even Special Summon back banished Dark Worlds from Gates, the advantage engine keeps churning with the help of their beloved deity, Grapha.
Next up on our ‘Awesome boost list’, Tour Guide to 3 allows for a Chaos resurgence in general. Being DARK and getting out a 1-card Leviair is just awesome for a deck that banishes to win. I am definitely going to call a chaos variant acting as the Dark Horse in this new meta, whether it be Chaos Dragons, Chaos Monarch, or something that hasn’t been seen just yet. Finally, Tour Guide to 3 helps out Ghostricks. By being a 1-card Alucard, she allows for the deck to get their boss out easily and effectively, something that the theme struggles with in general without heavy defenses. And one Alucard summon when the opponent has a set card is a least a +1, because you invested a TGU into destroying a card AND adding back a Ghostrick card in the Graveyard to the hand when Alucard bites the dust.
Tour Guide to 3 was one of the best decisions Konami made, simply because it is not a part of any deck that is considered ‘meta’ now: it only promotes new players to join the fray! Besides, you know me by now, it’s always a better format when underdogs come out to play with success!
Newly Unlimited: Constellar Ptolemy M7
I honestly cried when I saw this change. Not out of happiness, even though Constellar has always definitely been my 2nd or 3rd favorite deck, but because it marks the return of Hand loops. Hieratic-Gishki hand loops to be precise. And here I was naive enough to think Konami cared about destroying those turn 1 loops that left you with 1 or 2 cards to begin the duel on your first turn. While this monster’s return also helps Constellar and Pure Hieratics and even Archfiends to an extent, I am not sold that this decision is healthy for the game. It may introduce a new strategy, another Ritual deck to competitive play, but it restricts slow-starting decks from doing much of anything unless they opened Maxx “C”.
Newly Unlimited: Fire Formation – Tenki
We’ve saved the biggest change for last, and I believe that this also could be the most controversial change on the list. I was one of those many people advocating for the return of Reinforcement of the Army to 2. Tenki was at 2, and it was an easily searchable version for a different type, it could be recycled and even used by other effects after searching, why wouldn’t Konami give a boost to Warriors which had been extinguished from competitive play with the fall of the HEROs? And I couldn’t have been more wrong.
With Tenki to 3, it boosts a multitude of already competitive options for the new format. Constellar just got themselves ANOTHER piece to increase the chances of a Turn One Pleaides. Fire Fist just got another whole-archtype searcher. Bujin just got another way to get Yamato on the first turn. Oh boy, this new format is going to be a blast. All 3 of the above decks are powerful enough already, and all require different counter strategies. For Bujin, you have to have non-targeting mass destruction, or non-targeting removal, both of which can be hard to come by and/or pull off many times to avoid Turtle’s evil effect. On the other hand, Constellar requires you to avoid Synchro or Xyz summoning, since Pleaides just bounces it back, and they also have the lovely option to get out Omega to defend their Stellar from Spell or Trap effects. Last but not least, Fire Fist forces you to destroy Tenki or the other Formations before they get their effects off. And don’t forget the ever present threat of Cardinal coming in and ruining your day!
All 3 of these decks were strong already, all 3 of these decks make a significant impact on side deck choices AND the meta in general already, yet they just all got a buff. I know I will have to live with this change for the upcoming format, and the only positive in my opinion to come out of this change is that the destroyed 3-Axis Fire Fist variant just might have enough going for it now to be an option. Spirit to 1 kills the deck from ever outdoing their 4-Axis friends, however it might be a fun causal option once again.
Deck Shuffling Overview:
Hurt by the List:
- Dragon Rulers
- Obviously losing so much hurts.
- Fate to 1 restricts the deck’s ability to interrupt the opponent, and fate is the deck’s best card.
- The major counter to Dragon Rulers just lost their best matchup, and they will be writhing in pain from the increased power of Fire Fist and Constellar and Bujin.
About the Same:
- This deck managed to have an impact during the reign of the Rulers because it could tech so many degenerate tech options. It can definitely do so again, just tuned to the changed meta.
- This deck also had some opportunities in the Ruler format flexing its muscles and making sure that it was feared as a deck. With the major banishing counters and Soul Drain on the limited list, they have the potential to remain a threat to be reckoned with.
Assisted by the List:
- Tenki to 3 improves the consistency alongside Ptolemy back to 3; however, I think that the other contenders will have tons of ways to deal with Pleaides.
- Tenki to 3 speeds their Yamato fetching up; however, they also lose out of locking Dragon Rulers out of doing their Thing
- Mythic Dragon Rulers
- Felgrand is now one of the best Xyz monsters in the game, and this deck has such easy access to him. Pushing this variant as the main ruler variant will have an effect on the meta, for better or for worse.
- Striker will help the deck speed back up, and Krystia COULD make an impact on an Agent’s ability to prevent the opponent from making big plays
- Striker to 3 will definitely help the deck until it receives its Fairy godsend, Anjelly.
Major Gains from the List:
- Fire Fist
- Tenki to 3 was nice for the other 2 decks for searching out one or two important monsters, but Tenki to 3 in here lets them search the entire archtype, gives them 3 Tenki to pluck from the deck, AND get Wolfbark faster and more consistently than ever before.
- Fire King
- Losing the terrible Dragon Ruler matchup was a godsend, and the recent release of Yaksha in tandem with Tenki going to 3 is AMAZING. The boost in power for this deck will allow it to compete at least at the tier 2 level if not higher.
- Dark World
- TGU to 3 and the fall of the Rulers? Sign me up, cause I can’t wait to run these fiends again!
- Yeah, this may be one of those ‘biased’ picks, but that doesn’t change that Tour Guide back to 3 will improve the deck SO much. Also Ptolemy to 3 combos really well with the recent TCG release of Archfiend Commander!
- Whichever build of Plants will reign supreme, they got a lot of help just from Lonefire’s increase.
- Need I say any more than I said above?
Thanks for reading over my impressions of how the banlist helped out a TON of decks! Please leave feedback below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of these radical changes to the game!