Minus formats are variants of formats which ban and/or limit certain cards.  Organizing the infrastructure to get many people to play a modified format is difficult even for well-known pro players.  The best way to propose a minus format is to clearly define the goal and prove how the proposed changes work toward achieving that goal.  Otherwise, we can spend hours debating on what’s “better” or “more fun”.

There are some dillemmas and differences in philosophy.  Should changes to the format be minimalist for simplicity and agreeability?  Or should a wide variety of degenerate cards get hit to make the minus format as skillful as possible?  In a minus format, should OTK/stall decks be a completely improbable threat or should the player assume some of the responsibility for learning how to counter these decks?  These are subjective.

For those in favor of a more relaxed approach against degenerate decks (like burn/OTK/stall) is to make online tournament matches best 3 of 5 to reward consistency. 

Perovic’s List

Kris Perovic proposed a Goats Minus format which would ban the following cards: Delinquent Duo, Dimension Fusion, Chaos Sorcerer, Card Destruction, Giant Trunade. 

A very minimalist list.  He defined his goal to increase the skill level of the format at the expense of diversity.  Some would argue that banning Sorcerer and leaving BLS untouched is inconsistent from the perspective of wanting all cards to be balanced.  However, if your goal is to remove low-skill decks that depend on their ability to draw Sorcerer, then it does accomplish that.    Recruiter Chaos is very linear, predictable and simplistic.  Flip Effect Chaos is swayed too easily by luck.  Perhaps Kris’s list would be more agreeable if Sorcerer were only put to 1.

Some omissions are questionable though.  Many players (myself included), however, find far greater frustration in playing against degenerate non-interactive decks (like Stall, Burn and Last Turn) than low-skill tier 2 decks.  If someone refuses to enter a tournament because it doesn’t allow Last Turn plus 5 battle floodgates, they’re most likely not a serious player anyway, and the tournament is better without them.

Borderline Cases

I’ve decided that focusing on trivia to make a perfect list is counter-intuitive.  It would just result in more arguing, less resolution and an infinite amount of lines which could be drawn as to what should be moved and what shouldn’t.  A card like Royal Oppression is unhealthy but rarely used and non-impactful, so it’s not worth the energy to try to convince a Goats Minus tournament to ban it.  Cards like Lightning Vortex and Vampire Lord could also go to 3, but as I said before: low impact, not worth the effort.

Understanding the Ecosystem

In many cases, I’ve seen proposed changes to the Goat format, that, while well-intended, would warp the format undesirably.  It’s important to understand the effects that one change can cause to an entire ecosystem.  A limit of Royal Decree sounds good on paper for reducing floodgates, until it is realized that the change may make stall/burn decks even stronger by removing a good side deck option against them.

Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning
Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning

A ban on BLS Envoy is something that seemed like a good idea to me when I had a superficial understanding of the format 10 years ago, but now that I have much more experience in Goats, I realize that it is an essential card.  Yes, it is significantly more powerful than most monsters in the game, but it gives the format structure.  It legitimizes the card Scapegoat in two ways.  First, Scapegoat is a reliable defense again BLS.  Second, players who try to get rid of Goat tokens too quickly by attacking them with a swarm of weak monsters can get punished by BLS.  BLS Envoy is a punishment to players to players who use their removal cards sub-optimally early on rather than conserving them.  Also, BLS Envoy has the role of ensuring that card advantage is not the end-all-be-all.  If your opponent is several cards ahead of you, you can’t win in a war of attrition, but if they are reckless in their pursuit of their card advantage, you can exploit that.

Koala-Bane Goat Minus List

A player that is very skilled and experienced in legacy formats, Atheist Koala (active on Duelingbook), and I, discussed this matter for about an hour and we agreed on an excellent minus list that balances minimalism with attention to detail.

* Amends the April 2005 Forbidden/Restricted list.
* Can be used for Exarion or Exarion-less Goat formats.

Objectives: Nerfs Magician of Faith’s recycling ability.  Reduce stall.  Remove FTK decks.  Raises the skill floor.  Reduces unnecessary inconsistency.

* Card Destruction
* Cyber Jar 
* Cyber-Stein 
* Delinquent Duo 
* Dimension Fusion 
* Last Turn
* Pot of Greed 
* Self-Destruct Button
* Trap Dustshoot

* Armed Samurai – Ben Kei 
* Giant Trunade 
* Gravity Bind
* Level Limit – Area B
* Ojama Trio 
* Rescue Cat 
* Skill Drain 
* Wave-Motion Cannon

Qualitative comments:

·         While Delinquent Duo can be used skillfully, it leaves too much to luck.  The opponent can be hit with it on turn 1 and lose 2 Spells/Traps without having any opportunity to respond.  It’s usually an effortless +1, sometimes a 1-for-1 and tracely a -1.

·         Cyber-Stein was not widely available at the time, and only has viability as an OTK card.

·         99% of the time Dimension Fusion is only used in OTK decks.

·         Only a player without serious intention will object to not being able to use Self-Destruct Button.

·         With Messenger of Peace at 3 and Swords of Revealing Light at legal, there are plenty of battle floodgates for decks that want to keep the pressure off temporarily.  Having 8 battle floodgates is ridiculous. 

·         The limits are for cards which have a plausible reason to exist as tech, even if the argument for it is glib.  If a smart-alec really wants to use a copy Ojama Trio or Ben Kei as tech, that’s their prerogative because they’re not broken at 1.

·         Skill Drain is at 1 so that Zoo decks still have it, but decks cannot base around 3 copies of Skill Drain.

·         Trap Dustshoot is probably the most debatable choice on the list.  Would it be harmful at 1?  Maybe not.  But is it healthy at 1? 

To the argument that this list would require a ton of testing before being viable, I agree to a limited extent.  We would have to test the hits on Dustshoot, Pot and Duo.  Worst case scenario, if Magician of Faith is proven to be too weak, we could begrudgingly emancipate Pot.  However, there have been ample testing on Dustshoot-free games.  And I’ve also played hundreds of games with the omission of the stall/burn/OTK cards: I never once missed them.  Since most of these revisions are only focused on hitting rogue decks, they categorically will protect the meta without warping it.