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Baneful's Column
By Baneful

September 6, 2017

A Discussion on Goats Minus


Minus formats are mostly 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.  However, unlike “plus formats”, minus formats are at least possible to execute.


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”.


But 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?


Having online tournament matches be best 3 of 5 (instead of best 2 of 3) would be a way of reducing the impact of decks that win by luck or surprise factor because it would also test consistency and side-decking ability.  This method puts less strain on the ban list for solving a format’s issues.


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.  And this is where the debate comes in.  A player who wants diversity and equality between deck types will disagree with banning Sorcerer while leaving the much more powerful BLS Envoy untouched.  However, this list succeeds for his intended goal of eliminating low-skill decks which rely on Chaos Sorcerer.  Recruiter Chaos is very linear, predictable and not very complex.  Flip Effect Chaos is swayed too easily in either direction due to luck.  However, in my opinion, this list could be far more agreeable if it simply compromised and put Chaos Sorcerer to 1 instead of banning it, as a way to enable Chaos variants but punish decks that rely too much on it. 


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


On the other extreme, too much trivia is not good.  Some players suggest banning cards which are unhealthy but overall sub-par, unimpactful and rarely used (i.e. Royal Oppression in Goat Format).  Some players suggest putting cards like Vampire Lord and Lightning Vortex to 3, since they’re underpowered anyway.  I don’t inherently disagree with any of these decisions.  But it’s not worth the time or energy to push for those changes that won’t make a discernible impact on the format anyway.


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.


 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 exhaustiveness.


ˇ         To be used alongside the April 2005 Forbidden/Restricted list.

ˇ         Usable in either Exarion or no-Exarion Goat format

ˇ         Objective: Apart from imposing a ceiling on Magician of Faith’s recycling ability, the goal is keep the format mostly the same while also reducing unnecessary inconsistencies.

ˇ         Forbidden (to 0): Card Destruction, Cyber Jar, Cyber-Stein, Delinquent Duo, Dimension Fusion, Last Turn, Pot of Greed, Self-Destruct Button, Trap Dustshoot.

ˇ         Limited (to 1): Armed Samurai – Ben Kei, Giant Trunade, Gravity Bind, Level Limit Area B, Ojama Trio, Rescue Cat, Skill Drain, Wave-Motion Cannon.


Qualitative comments:

ˇ         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.

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

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

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

ˇ         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.  However, having 8 battle floodgates is ridiculous. 

ˇ         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.

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

ˇ         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 has 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.



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