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Jae Kim: Theory and Practice
JK13: To: Konami (re: Forbidden List) and a big P.S. To Upper Deck

February 2, 2009

I'll start with the P.S. to my open letter in JK12 First:


P.S. Hey Upper Deck, please stop promoting your terrible new trading card game (Hunty's Magical Kingdom) and your terrible fading card game (World of Warcraft- “hi our game can't sell with the best license and money pulls in the history of TCG's) on your website. It makes the other content a real eyesore to get to. Thanks.


For this article I want to bring up my thoughts on the Forbidden List and the state of Yu-Gi-Oh! Based on conversations I have had with Konami, they seem to have a very strong plan in place for the development and betterment of the game. Of course, most of this rests on the shoulders of a new Forbidden list.


The complaints of many people can actually boil down to two main (legitimate) gripes:


1)      The game has grown far too expensive and spending upwards of 800 dollars on a top tier deck just is not feasible both for new players and less fortunate regulars.

2)      The game has grown far too luck-based with one-turn-kill (OTK) set-ups happening with frightening regularity in the mirror match between Dark Armed Dragon (DaD) decks.


Problem One: The Price of the Game


I fully agree with the first sentiment. I do feel stable, high card values are actually good for the game (I mean 40-50 dollar chase cards), because it increases the perceived value of the game to any new or continuing player (it is very demoralizing to see your entire collection become worth 1/10th of its purchase price a year later). However, cards that have moved up to the 125 dollar+ range (Judgment Dragon, Dark Armed Dragon, Crush Card Virus) are simply ridiculous.


Here's to hoping that the new wave of prints from Konami include reprints of common deck-building staples such as Solemn Judgment, Royal Oppression, Mirror Force, and other cards. I have no qualms with reprints of those older cards, but reprinting new collector's items so quickly (like Goblin Zombie and Necroface) is not the best approach because it makes people wary of buying new sets.


How about gradually reprinting everything older than say, PTDN, including Destiny Draw and Malicious as commons, and leaving the newer stuff frozen in time for a year or so? (This will spur players on to buy lots of packs of new sets, knowing they are safe for a year and a half or so). It's not like anyone is opening boxes of Metal Raiders any more to pull Solemn and Mirror Force, right?


You can then anchor new product lines like Dark Legends with promos such as Gorz. I bet if Gorz was a pull from the set rather than a throwaway hobby card, you would see far more people buying the packs. This is balanced by the reprints from way back becoming commons.


Currently, there's no rhyme or reason to reprints. Every new announcement leaves collector's scared as all hell ready to dump their inventory at the drop of a dime. Why not make things more consistent?


Problem Two: Adjusting the Forbidden List


Now the main problem with the game, the Forbidden List, actually runs deeper than you may think. While average to bad players feel they are losing because they have bad luck, the consummate professional player realizes this format has the largest skill gap between great and good/average ever seen in the history of the game. The cards that have seen popularity in this metagame are renowned for their versatility (handling Monsters, Spells, and Traps). Games are far more explosive so more planning and math are required, along with reads of your opponent's hand and sets. Finally, summons are far more important, namely because of two important factors. First, you only get a limited amount of normal summons per game so you have to make sure every single summon is the right monster for the situation. Second, the Synchro mechanic has led to a wide array of options from the Extra Deck. In a format where game can happen any turn, you better pick the right monsters every time to have an edge.


Consistent errors players make (I get into these more in-depth in actual strategy articles, not opinion columns like my Pojo work):

-        Getting out the wrong Synchro

brief example (SJC SF): “I read your PWB set, and I have 5600 life points, so I will bring out Thought Ruler Archfiend and attack your Stratos.”

-        Not knowing when to push game-ending damage

            brief example (SJC Houston): I am at 4000 life points with Stratos and Malicious. My    opponent has Malicious in the graveyard. He summons a Malicious, teleports a Krebons, and       Brain Controls Stratos. Rather than sync Malicious + Krebons and swing for game with Stratos     + Colossal, he syncs Stratos for Goyo Guardian (???)

-        Misusing PWB, Solemn, Grepher, Allure, Storm, etc. etc.

-        Not knowing when they aren't safe at all

brief example: You have Scapegoat and Solemn Judgment set versus your opponent's one spell or trap card and you both have five cards in hand. When he draws and sets a second spell or trap card, you are NO LONGER SAFE. Realize this and do something about it your next turn, or you will lose.


Note: I have been talking with TCGPlayer's Yu-Gi-Oh! team again to provide strategic insight about the game. We're running a series right before Upper Deck day that should hopefully help a lot of players. Check it out (my name is Jae Kim).


So since the best players have such a remarkable skill edge, they are both consistently placing in the top sixteen (or top eight) of every big event and *more importantly* refusing to play anything else because Tele-Dad is the most powerful archetype in the history of the game.


This clearly needs to be addressed. Join me in a few days when I post my ideal Forbidden list (it will be well-reasoned).



Jae Kim is a creative contributor to Pojo.com. You may contact him (every e-mail will be answered) at JAELOVE@gmail.com. He can also be found contributing to the Message Boards and the Card of the Day.




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