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Hello all, and welcome once again to “Looking at the Past,” where we look at the forgotten formats of our history and break them down to their bones to see what we can learn from them. This article is going to focus on the formative months after the initial banlist, which came in October 2004. If you’ve been reading these articles, you no doubt know that the main reason why Chaos became prevalent is because it forced tempo changes on its opponent, allowing the Chaos player to essentially play the way they did. However, in this article, the Chaos deck is no more, and a whole new deck archetype reigns supreme.
October 1st, 2004: duelists across the country are waiting for this day. They watch their calendars, ticking off the days until their precious Chaos Emperor Dragons cease to be legal. And when the day strikes, duelists scramble to build new decks that will win like the old Chaos decks used to, play like the old decks used to and win like they are so used to winning. But the problem is that the new decks of the format don’t play like the old ones; they can’t control the tempo without their precious control cards, and they begin to flounder. To recap, here’s what was placed on the initial banlist:
Dragon - Envoy of the End
It’s a small list compared to the one we have today, but look at what it took away: all ten cards up there were used to control the tempo of the game. They were used to control your opponent’s summons and their Spell plays (actually, the term for “Spell Card” was actually “Magic Card” until the set Magician’s Force was released in late 2003). The banlist posted above decimated the hand control aspect of the game, and in turn the tempo, and it left players without some of their best cards. So, unable to rely on the classic combo of Chaos Emperor Dragon, Sangan and Yata-Garasu, duelists turned to other ways to manipulate their opponent.
One of the main ones was the Magical Scientist/Catapult Turtle combo. A simple combo, it relied on the Fusion Summoning power of Magical Scientist with the launching capabilities of Catapult Turtle. A wholly unnatural and vile combo, it was the bane of many players for quite some time, and it made Top 8 at multiple Shonen Jump Championships (the inaugural one being held in the middle of the October 2004 format). It was a broken deck, capable of winning under the most inauspicious of circumstances and decimating when the tides were in their favor. However, the Magical Catapult deck, as it was later christened, was short-lived; newer decks were popping up like jackrabbits, multiplying and dividing and rebuilding again and again. It was like a sick form of mitosis, where decks would split, forming new, mutated decks and more and more differences kept showing themselves at the higher levels.
One such deck was the Black Luster Soldier build. Known for its incredibly varied Monster Lineup (Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer and Blade Knight were known to run in 3’s), it’s unique Spell set and various Trap components, the BLS-Control deck (as it came to be known) replaced the idea of “tempo control” with “field control;” utilizing Monster and Spell/Trap Zones to their maximum efficiency, summoning high-powered monsters and having an answer to anything your opponent may play. Spells became less about controlling the hand then about helping your monsters on the field. Suddenly, with the advent of BLS-Control, the focus of the game shifted from the Spells to the Monsters, and players hopped on the bandwagon.
Plenty of players tried to keep the idea of tempo control from fading away, but these builds (mainly Warrior Toolboxes utilizing Don Zaloog, Mystic Tomato, Giant Rat and Exiled Force) were few and far between, often losing out to the much faster BLS-Control because they couldn’t overpower on the field. Sure, their opponent would drop to 1-2 cards in hand, but that’s nothing when your opponent is sitting with a 3000/2500 beatstick capable of swinging at you twice.
A third major deck that won consistently was a deck called Goat Control. Not fully gaining popularity until the April 2005 format (with the banishment of Magical Scientist), Goat Control relied on Metamorphosis/Scapegoat to pull Thousand-Eyes Restrict from the fusion deck and take control of the field by “sucking up” an opponent’s monster and using it as your own. However, Goat Control stayed in the background during the October 2004 format mainly because of how much faster Magical Scientist was at the time, and coupled with Black Luster Soldier, BLS-Control was the frontrunner throughout the format. But it wouldn’t be long until Goat Control became the deck to beat.
All three decks had one thing in common: they controlled the field incredibly well, forcing the opponent to react with quicker moves and longer combos. Magical Catapult was a simple concept: pay 1000 lifepoints, pull a 2100 ATK monster from your fusion deck, launch it with Catapult Turtle (thus dealing 1050 to your opponent), and kill them in seven launches. However, the setup for the combo was incredibly slow, which inevitably caused its downfall as a top deck. Goat Control relied on Metamorphosis to deal its damage, but again, the setup was too long and it lost out to the incredibly fast BLS-Control builds that were all over the place.
Duelists began to understand that it wasn’t so much the speed of the duel as it was the speed of the deck. The faster you could make your moves and throw your opponent off, the better the deck was as a whole. The more you could take your opponent’s monsters and control the entire field, the better your deck did against those that could not. In essence, players found that the field is what won games, not the hand or the deck. The more monsters you could put on the field in a turn, the better off you would be. And that’s what happened with BLS-Control, Goat Control and Magical Catapult.
However, there was another sect that made sure that they could counter those types of moves. Those who were loyal to the Chaos movement and the “tempo-control” crowd attempted to make wacky decks to try to shake up the metagame at the time. Occasionally, these “tech decks” would break Top-8 or Top-16 at regional tournaments, but for the most part the top three decks reigned supreme during the six-months the October 2004 format was in effect.
The October 2004
format was perhaps the most unruly format in Yu-Gi-Oh!
history. No established decks, no knowledge of what was out
there, and most importantly no concept of how a
control-based deck should be ran – but duelists came up with
stuff anyway. In a way, the decks of this format helped to
solidify the decks that came later, because as we go through
these formats you’ll begin to see patterns: top decks,
prototypes, etc. Virtually all decks from today draw on the
decks of this format and the following format (April 2005).
These formats, and the duelists who played in them, paved
the way for the modern metagame by showing us all just how
brilliant they all were. To come up with the decks they did,
and have their teaching followed over four years later is a
testament to what these duelists did.
Next time we’ll be focusing on the April 2005 format, covering the new banlist: what went on the list, what came off, and more. So stay tuned, and thanks for reading. As always, if you wish to contact me, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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