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Baneful's Column
September 22, 2014

Confronting Nostalgia Bias (Back In The Day)


This is the last article I'm penning for this first chapter of Baneful's Column.  I'll certainly be doing more writing for Pojo, though different kind of articles, geared more toward modern play and less on nostalgic tradition.  But at the end of all of this, I just have to reflect.  Nostalgia is a powerful emotion.


Nostalgia is an ever-present emotion in the human mind.  All of us miss and long for the things we used to have in our childhood.  Not for the merits of what we're longing for in itself, but rather the memories we associate with it.  Lots of things bring back memories for us: a song we listened to a lot in a crucial part of our lives, scent of a perfume that reminds us of someone, a souvineer of a vacation, a cartoon we used to watch when we were a kid or a food we used to eat when we were younger.  This can also apply to Yu-Gi-Oh.


Nostalgia bias is common, especially in YGO.  There's a tendency to idealize the past whilst being very critical of the present because it just doesn't live up to those golden standards.  Remember when the banished pile actually meant the card was gone, and not just that it was a second graveyard?  Remember when people only Special Summoned one monster per turn instead of five?


Playing Past Formats


One thing I enjoy doing is dueling people casually in past formats.  A friend and I each had Starter Deck Yugi and Kaiba respectively and dueled each other with it.  These decks were in the good old simple days when there were no mind-racking decisions on whether to Wiretap a Bottomless Trap Hole or not.  Turns out that the game was horribly (and I mean horribly) imbalanced. 


By drawing La Jinn the Mystical Genie of the Lamp before your opponent, you nearly guarenteed yourself a win.  Fissure, Dark Hole and Change of Heart can help you but those are 3 out of 50 cards.  Your only other options were to set useless defense monsters for La Jinn to destroy whilst your opponent can summon a monster each turn and swarm you.  Without much Special Summoning, you didn't have the ability to counter them much at all.  Life point changing cards like Dian Keto the Cure Master and Ookazi really didn't help you when you were getting attacked by two monsters, and single-tribute Normal Monsters just sat in your hand.


With the early sets (LOB, MRD, and MRL) out, it was still that basic beatdown format.  There was lots of easy removal, but it was mostly an aggro format where you try to get two monsters on the board and push for damage.  It was certainly fun but did not have much depth.


Let's also look at the famous Chaos Goat Control Era (2005).  Looking at it closely, it wasn't so impressive.  First, only Chaos decks really had a shot at being competitive.  If you didn't run Chaos, you couldn't win.  If you didn't spend $50 on Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, you probably weren't winning either.  There were a few Magical Scientist FTK's (which I hardly would consider healthy for the game) that topped.  Most unique was a Beast deck which made use of Enraged Battle Ox's ability to punish Scapegoat players, but that was the exception and not the rule. 


Second, much like the Metal Raiders era, there was still a very simple formula for winning.  So, there were options to handle Chaos – just not enough.  Non-Chaos wins were anomalies.  You either ran Chaos or you were a noob.  Or perhaps, you were one of the idealistic players who had fun playing with your theme deck but had no chance of winning tournaments.  There wasn't much variance amongst topping decks.  The Chaos decks were all of a very similar structure ; they all used 30 to 35 of the same cards. 


That's because most of the proportionately few good cards in that era didn't leave you much of a choice.  Today we have choices like Pot of Duality versus Special Summoning.  Back then you just ran Graceful Charity because it was really good, had no downsides and there weren't any better options.  Your choice was whether you wanted to focus more on Scapegoat combos or if you wanted to have a few more traps instead.  You got to choose between Phoenix Wing Wind Blast and Lightning Vortex.  You got to choose between a wide assortment of like 3 or 4 LIGHT monsters to feed BLS.  That's really where your choice begins and ends. 


Third and final point on this matter, lots of broken cards existed.  For its time, BLS was busted.  In a fun nostalgic reanactment duel, Delinquent Duo is fun.  Oh, no!  I got hit with a Deliquent Duo!  Haha!  But during the times where you actually paid money to enter tournaments and you were counting on skill to win you games, watching your opponent get the "holy trinity of card advantage" while you got a pedestrian hand was frustrating, and imbalanced.


The GX era was also bad because it was underpowered.  Sets came out with only 2 or 3 quality cards while already-existing powerful cards were banned.  It basically just LOB-IOC beatdown format 2.0, except a little weaker.  It was the 5D's Synchro format that boosted the energy and speed of the game again.  Yes, there were some obnoxiously broken months, but now things are different.  Due to all of the releases that are out, no matter what changes are made to the format, we will find a way to adapt.  Back in the beginning of the Synchro era, there were not many powerful cards to stop some of the more broken Synchro plays, because the GX cards were bad and the original series was really dated. 


Now, in the Zexal era, on to the Arc V era, we are resource-rich and there's much more room to accomodate a wider variety of playstyles.


The Beauty of Current Meta


We can always hate on the current meta due to our warm nostalgic memories, but in many ways it's been a good meta.  Let's even look at last format.  The top decks were HAT, Geargia, Bujin, Madolches, Fire Fists.  Evilswarms and Fire Kings werent too far around the corner.  Even decks like Chain Beat could win tournaments.  Yes, there was the unruly Dragon Ruler format (which was really no more dominant than cookie cutter chaos was in its time), but overall, there's been more diversity than ever.  Even today, the top deck may very well be Shaddolls but Burning Abyss and Satellarknights aren't too far behind.


In a resource-rich environment with plenty of tech cards available, no matter how strong a new threat is (within reason of course), there's always plenty of resources to handle them, which we will discover.  Vanity's Emptiness, for example, the notorious $40 common, was practically unknown until Special Summoning (especially via Soul Charge) became extra popular.  Also, the Extra Deck is another improvement to the game.  At a fair -1 cost, you can get out a monster that will break you even or even plus with skillful play.  It takes luck out of the equation.


If you decide to over-extend and play 4 spell/trap cards, it's not a matter of maybe the opponent might get lucky and draw Heavy Storm.  Its a matter of the opponent having Evilswarm Exciton Knight and choosing to use it if they wish.  Almost none of the big powerful Special Summoned monsters like (Beezle) is a problem, because there are ways around it such as Silent Honor ARK.  The fact that these cards don't exist in the main deck takes the probability and luck out of the equation.  You can get it out early game but you don't draw into it or brick your hand if you don't need it for the situation.


In this game, there's not really a trump card that can beat everything anymore.  Every card has an answer that's accessible with a fair cost.  There's just so many factors you have to consider when building a deck and entering a tournament because there's so many more options to succeed.  Which archetype will you play and thoroughly master?  What are your good matchups and bad matchups?  How will you gear your Extra Deck, for toolboxing or punishing the opponent?  Which of the many viable cards out there will be a part of your 15 card Side Deck?  There's just so many questions out there, and while the game may still have some flaws, its much more deep and complex than it ever was.


Ten years it had taken Baneful.  Oh, cruel needless misunderstanding.  The struggle is finished.  I have won victory over myself.  I love the modern meta.


The Story

I didn't just come here to write some random articles.  I came here to paint a portait and tell story, from the beginning, to the middle, all the way to today.  From youth, to mid-age to sunset.  From a stereotypical n00b, to semi-good player having fun, to someone winning tournaments, to some sort of an elder statesman like me who enjoys the game but is winding down and reflecting on it. 

My goal was to make a timeless column; not just a bunch of articles that will be irrelevent once a new banlist hits or a new set comes out.  I wanted to talk about ideas that people could still discuss and relate to years down the road.  If you are reading this in 2019, I hope most of what I wrote in this column is still relevant

I didn't just want to say "here's how you win duels" and "here's how you build a Warrior deck".  You can go on the forums for that, and by now (it's been so long in the game) you should know that stuff.

I wanted to not only ask the "how", but the "why".  Why is YGO fun?  What do we like about it, specifically?  How has it changed and evolve?  What greater meaning does it have and what does it say about us?  I hope I achieved that.

Granted, this column so far has assumed the reader to be as reverant of Pojo as I am.  For those who remember reading all of the featured writing on Pojo 10 years ago, just as I did, I hope this column has been a nostalgic buzz for you.  But as I look forward, I plan to expand and take on entirely new subjects. 

Pojo impacted me indescribably when I was a 13 year old kid.  Now, as I'm approaching 23.  For a site that impacted me so much as a kid, it hurt me to see it in decline.  So, I wanted to come back, revive the site, and give back to the site what it gave to me.  I wanted to make readers of Pojo today feel exactly how Jaelove and Pook made me feel back then.  Full circle.


Thank You

Anyway I thank you for reading my column, and especially getting this far.  I know the readership of this website is not nearly as big as it once was, but I'm still grateful for every view that I get.  I didn't get a ton of emails like my predecessors did, but I still appreciate every single letter I got.

It's been a great first chapter.  In the end, as things wind down, I reflect.  Not just my experience at Pojo, but my whole YGO journey that has accompanied literally half of my life.

And, don't worry.  You'll be seeing more of me in the future.  For now, though, I'm stepping away from my column for a little bit, at least until I figure out what's next for it.  Until then, enjoy.


- Baneful


(P.S. ; a poem/song to conclude things)








Back in the Day (Duel Monsters) by Baneful




I remember back in the day

We used to play in the shade

Tribute two; summon Blue-Eyes

What an amazing play!

In the backs of our yards

With no covers on our cards

No meta game to follow

We all dueled with our hearts


Duel monsters!!


Verse 1 


I remember back in the day we used to play in the shade

Outdoors, we held our cards so they didn't blow away

We took our decks everywhere - even buffets

No need to tribute for Blue-Eyes 'cause that was okay


Malevolent Nuzzler was a game-winning play

And cards like Hane-Hane were main-stays

One time I got 3 packs 'cause it was pay-day

I pulled Relinquished ; What an amazing day!


Though today Ritual Monsters are just child's play

And who cares now? It's a common anyway

Remember BLS? What an era! That's all I'll say

Then it got banned and things were not okay


Next, the Exceed's and Synchro's entered the fray

Some duelists decided to leave ; Others wanted to stay

I used to say I'll quit (never did) ; Though someday I may

Won't be surprised if I still play when I'm old and gray




I remember back in the day

We used to play in the shade

Tribute two; summon Blue-Eyes

What an amazing play!

In the backs of our yards

With no covers on our cards

No meta game to follow

We all dueled with our hearts


Duel monsters!!


Verse 2


Verse 2 is about to drop. 

Witch targets, I got a lot.

Warrior Lady. Sangan, maybe. 

What about a Yata lock?


If I set card face down,

Heavy Storm gonna rain down.

I'll lose my cards and get swarmed.

So what should I play now?


No field advantage. 

Only 2 cards in my hand

But I look at my graveyard. 

I got something planned .


Remove a DARK and a LIGHT. 

BLS continues the fight.

Pop. Pop. Double strike. 

Decisive win tonight.


Then, cookie-cutter got stale,

So I played Water and Beasts

The more creative I got,

The more I strayed from my peak


Out of touch with the meta.

But even in my losing streak

I always looked forward to compete

In the tourney at the end of the week




I remember back in the day

We used to play in the shade

Tribute two; summon Blue-Eyes

What an amazing play!

In the backs of our yards

With no covers on our cards

No meta game to follow

We all dueled with our hearts


Duel monsters!!


Verse 3


Building decks in my head

Because I needed the practice

Was daydreaming in class

While I was planning my tactics


When bullies harassed

And things weren't perfect at home

The comic shop was my safe haven

There I was never alone


Things are better ; I shaped my life

We've all grown

From keeping decks in our pockets

To rockin' I-Phones


From Instant Message, to Myspace

And now it's Facebook

From Photobucket, to Instagram, and Twitter

We're hooked


From dueling tournaments

To shopping malls and Starbucks

From Dark Magician and Blue Eyes

To Utopia and Stardust


Cycles and patterns repeat

Some things never change

But people do

Yet duel monsters stays the same


From start to finish

From cradle to grave

From beginning to end

The story remains


Full circle.

We all won.

Good game.

Well played


Like the duels we had...


As I remembered them back in the day.







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