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Baneful's Column
By Baneful
January 30, 2017

Goat Format: Checks and Balances

Today I’m going to talk about the popular Goat Control format (which I presume includes The Lost Millennium and Exarion Universe but not Cybernetic Revolution) which all started with the April 2005 ban list.  At that point, 17 cards were banned: Chaos Emperor Dragon, Yata-Garasu, Fiber Jar, Makyura the Destructor, Magical Scientist, Butterfly Dagger - Elma, Witch of the Black Forest, Harpie’s Feather Duster, The Forceful Sentry, Mirage of Nightmare Monster Reborn, Painful Choice, Imperial Order, Change of Heart, Raigeki, Dark Hole and Confiscation.

In nearly all cases, you’ll find at least 3 of following factors in common:

     Fuels degenerate OTK’s, locks and loops.
     Provides easy card advantage.
     Does not require much skill to use.
     Has no weaknesses
     Already exists a strong staple card that does the same thing but not as overpowered.

How does the Goat Format have such powerful cards yet remain balanced?  The pace is​      on the slow side, even the slightest card advantage matters, errors of judgment are heavily punished, players can bounce back from a bad situation and games last relatively long.  This is because power cards were used in context of each other ; one is used to counter another.  As a result, the player must make the most productive use possible out of their less powerful cards so that they can save their more powerful cards for later.  The goal is to pressure your opponent to use up theirs before you use up yours.  There are also opportunity costs; do I use my Sinister Serpent for Graceful Charity or Tribe-Infecting Virus this turn?  And yes, you can get back Pot of Greed with Magician of Faith but maybe it’s better sometimes to give up that +1 to retrieve the Nobleman of Crossout for an aggressive play or Metamorphosis for field control.  

Patience is rewarded in Goats.  You can use your Tribe-Infecting Virus to demolish their D.D.

Warrior Lady, but then you wouldn’t have it to take out bigger threats like Black Luster Soldier or Thousand-Eyes Restrict.  You are free to use Graceful Charity the second you draw it, but your opponent may choose to wait until Sinister Serpent is in hand so they can +1 or they might wait until they can dump their Jinzo in the graveyard and revive it with Call of the Haunted next turn. You could use your Mystical Space Typhoon, Heavy Storm or Breaker the Magical Warrior to clear their face-down Sakuretsu Armor so you can land a quick shot at the opponent’s life points, but then you wouldn’t have anything to counter the opponent’s Premature Burial and Snatch Steal.

Life points matter.  Of course, card advantage is the main factor and giving up your card advantage for temporary life point advantage does not bode well in the long run for Goat. However, there needs to be a balance.  If you take several direct attacks early on so you don’t waste removal, then that means your opponent is always 1 or 2 power plays away from winning and they can afford to make a move that’s inefficient on resources if it meant putting your life points in serious danger.  Premature Burial being a staple, in addition to two players having Ring of Destruction, limits how many cards with life point costs you can use.  Brain Control is at 3 in Goat Format, yet many don’t use it because the costs add up.  Solemn Judgment is great but risky.  Royal Oppression, My Body as a Shield and Autonomous Action Unit have very useful effects but are also very demanding on life points.  

Imbalances of Goat Format  

For all the merits of Goat Format, the one aspect I didn’t like was the lack of diversity.  Nearly all competitive decks shared the same 20 cards at the very least, and 30-35 at most.  Most Chaos decks are really just Kris Perovic’s deck with a few cards swapped out.  In hindsight, I wish Konami released more alternative to the staples.  For example, we can have detailed discussions about Bottomless Trap Hole’s speed and banishing ability versus Sakuretsu Armor’s reliability.  In other aspects, there’s no such discussion.  If you want to get rid of Defense Position monsters, it’s Nobleman of Crossout or nothing.   

Ban List Proposals  

I want to stay as true to the nature of the format as possible, so my changes will be focused on reducing the amount of options of that disrupt or discourage skillful game play; I don’t think hitting BLS or TER is a good idea because new decks would emerge and the meta would be too different.  However, rogue decks which require little skill only serve as spoilers, so I will address them.  You don’t have to agree with all of my proposals but players should at least have a spirited discussion about what’s meta-healthy and what isn’t.   

Forbidden: Pot of Greed, Last Turn, Self-Destruct Button

Limited: Royal Magical Library, Book of Taiyou, The Shallow Grave, Gravity Bind, Level Limit

Area B, Giant Trunade, Dimension Fusion, Exarion Universe, Trap Dustshoot Semi-Limited: Messenger of Peace, Exiled Force, Lightning Vortex  

1.    Pot of Greed is on the list, not because it is the most powerful staple, but because it requires no skill to use 99% of the time, provides an effortless +1 and takes up a deck slot.  I look at everything from a Ground Zero Philosophy.  This means if Pot of Greed weren’t in the card pool, would it be urgent to add it?  Not really.  I’m not giving it a pass just because of tradition.

2.    Banning Last Turn and Self-Destruct Button is a corollary of cards like Makyura the Destructor and Fiber Jar already being banned.

3.    I hit Empty Jar and Stall.  Neither decks are skillful, interactive nor fun to play to against. Most of my hits on them are limits, so those cards can still be splashed in for legitimate purposes. If you want to play those decks, have a degenerate deck party, invite your friends over and have a blast, that’s fine with me.  But I wouldn’t waste my time playing against those decks personally.

4.    Exarion Universe was a nice addition to the monster line-up, but between the high ATK, high DEF, being a DARK and piercing, it does a bit much.  Multiple copies made cards like Enraged Battle Ox, Spirit Reaper and Gravekeeper’s Spy somewhat obsolete.  Limit is fair.

5.    Giant Trunade and Dimension Fusion contribute themselves to too many OTK’s.  I don’t want to ban them because it’s okay for some decks to have an aggro edge, but decks that base themselves entirely on an OTK combo are not healthy for the meta.

6.    Trap Dustshoot wasn’t discovered during its time, but if it were, it would’ve been limited. 

7.    I semi-limited Exiled and Vortex to give some more outs to TER and BLS.  Both of these card are balanced with their own pros and cons, so there’s no real problem.



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