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YugiohPro! 1: Timeless
October 17, 2012

All top tier decks in Yu-Gi-Oh! must absolutely contain two features. The first is consistent access to powerful floaters. A floater is a monster that has either paid for itself already (i.e Monarchs, Elemental Hero Stratos, a flipped Dekoichi) or a monster that is implied to pay for itself at a future date (Sangan, Card Trooper).


Floaters can also be created when winning advantage through battle or other options. If your XYZ-monster gets an unprovoked swing at a non-floater of your opponent's, it has recouped its cost and is now floating on the field.


The second requirement of top tier decks is they must contain some sequence of explosive plays that can end the game on one turn. Let's dig into Yu-Gi-Oh! history for examples.


1. Every Top Deck has always had consistent access to a floater engine

2. In modern formats, every Top Deck can win the game in one explosive turn


The Scapegoat Era


In primitive, pre-Shonen Jump days, Yu-Gi-Oh! basically revolved around the two best floaters of all time (Witch of the Black Forest and Sangan). When the Scapegoat era began to take hold, coinciding with the start of the Shonen Jump circuit, the first “floater struggles” began to take hold.


In top competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! play, all turns leading up to the final explosive game-breaker (which can take place on the first turn, unfortunately) can be characterized as a struggle to create floaters without spending cards from hand.


Now in the Scapegoat era, the “one explosive turn” actually revolved around Delinquent Duo and Pot of Greed. A well-timed burst of the trinity could create an insurmountable card advantage. Players were constantly making rapid attacks to avoid such topdecks.


Other than trinity bursts, the game was very measured and floater struggles defined the Scapegoat era.

Basically, the struggle fixated on preventing Sangan's from searching Sinister Serpent (the ultimate floater), and preventing Magician of Faith's from fetching Power Spells. If you could manage these two feats, you would probably win.


The main advantage engines were supported by Scapegoat, which constantly protected the life points. Sheep tokens and Serpents were turned into Thousand-Eyes Restrict, a monster that instantly floated upon absorbing a monster and was immune to battle destruction (for some reason, Tsukuyomi wasn't teched until after Nationals).


Thousand-Eyes would be sacrificed for Airknight Parshath, another monster that would float upon a successful attack and create immediate pressure due to its effect. Rinse and repeat.


Goat Control

1. Floaters- Sangan into Sinister and Magician into Spell into Thousand Eyes Restrict. Thousand Eyes into Airknight. Game Blouses.

2. Explosive Turns- Pot Duo Graceful. Or BLS into 6k damage blaowwwwww.


Post Scapegoat


After this era, Yu-Gi-Oh! fell into a very dark era where every set sucked and players just traded Dekoichi flips and Spirit Reaper hits over and over. The game was literally just looping Dekoichis with Tsuyomi and summoning Spirit Reaper until it was limited.


Then, a few cards were released that affirmed the suspicions of classical Yu-Gi-Oh theorists. Both Gadgets and Gladiator Beasts actually end up testing floating theory (breaking news: it works).


When Gadgets were first released, I predicted they would be tier 1 or tier 2 until the end of Yu-Gi-Oh! Each Gadget floats upon summon. Success with Gadgets simply involves finding a way to create a few explosive turns (or grind your opponent down with forced simplification).


Gladiator Beasts also inadvertently tested floater theory. Because every single dead Gladiator Beast could later be retrieved by Equeste, any duel versus GB's was a race to down their life points before their floaters would take over your whittled down position.


Unlike Gadgets, however, GB's always had access to two game-breaking combinations. The first was the War Chariot lock. The second was the Secutor into Heraklinos + Chariot gambit, which basically ended the game. Not surprisingly, Gladiator Beasts were top tier through multiple formats (and probably still are if correctly built).


Gladiator Beasts

1. Floaters- Equeste looping everything.

2. Explosive Turns- Equeste + Chariot lock. Secutor into Heraklinos into game, blouses.


Next, Tele-Dad would come to feature the best floater in the game at the time, the burly 1800 ATK Elemental Hero Stratos. Stratos has basically anchored numerous top tier decks over multiple formats (the sure sign of a top card).


Disturbingly, the later builds of Tele-Dad that featured Royal Oppression actually started the trend of solitaire Yu-Gi-Oh!. Solitaire refers to spots where a player can win the game on the first turn (i.e modern Samurai decks, Infernity decks, Tele-Dad with Oppression).


By using Dark Grepher's special summon ability, a Tele-Dad player could create a board of Stardust Dragon + a few Synchros + Dark Armed Dragon with a set Solemn Judgment and a set Royal Oppression. Again, this was game blouses and a bit too consistent with three copies of RoTA and three copies of Solemn Judgment.



1. Floaters- Stratos, Sangan, Dark Armed Dragon

2. Explosive Turns- DaD followed by Solemn Judgment. Unbreakable setups with Stardust, Solemn, and Oppression.


By this point, Konami realized what top players realized. Every new set featured some method of obtaining floaters and then another boss monster (that was also a very powerful floater). Examples include lucksack Lightsworn with Wulf and Judgment Dragon, X-Sabers with Darksoul and Faultroll/Rescue Cat, Infernity with Launcher (again playing solitaire), Blackwings with Shura and Black Whirlwind, all the way to the modern game.


The modern game has taken the solitaire bit too far. The Gravekeeper play with Royal Tribute was outlandish. Dark World's ability to see the hand was also silly. The current Samurai plays (as evidenced at YCS Indy) are absurd.


In fact, while I'm done whining about design flaws in Yu-Gi-Oh!, I think the one thing they should fix is the ability to win the game on the first turn due to some absurd combination of special summons. A blanket prohibition on special summons during the first turn should to the trick.


I also find it very interesting (and poorly thought out) that Black Whirlwind was limited but now every top deck seems to have a card like Black Whirlwind. I think all cards that function similarly to Black Whirlwind (Windup Factory, Gateway of the Six, Gates of Dark World, etc let me know if I missed any since I don't play) should be limited or banned.


Anyways, thanks for taking the time to read this history. The goal was to basically affirm that top tier Yu-Gi-Oh decks require a combination of strong floaters and game-breaking win conditions. In the next installment, we'll see how we can use this information to make better decks and realistically identify if our favorite archetypes can win a YCS.




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