Modern Goat Format: An Introspective (Part I)

Scapegoat-DLG1-EN-SR-UEHey guys, Kiley Davis here, back again with another article. This week, I’m actually discussing one of my favorite things in Yu-Gi-Oh!: the April ‘05 Goat Control format! Goat Format has been gaining some momentum in the past years, since major players like Kris Perovic and Pat Hoban have written articles praising the format as a whole. And even more recently, many locals have been adopting Goat Control tournaments (including Hotsaucegames!), causing cards like super Magician of Faith and Metamorphosis to steadily increase in price. The fact that Goat Control is increasing in popularity in the mainstream Yu-Gi-Oh! community is amazing because it can hopefully make Goat Format tournaments a thing at future premiere events.

In the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a handful of messages from duelist friends of mine asking to share some of my Goat wisdom, so I feel that I should share this knowledge with my fellow Hotsauce readers. While other professionals have written persuasive and historical articles about how or why to play Goat Format, I’ve decided to write an article that would summarize the state of Goat Control in 2014. In this article, I’ll mention a few ways the format has evolved over the course of time, and how these evolutions have changed the way the format is interpreted as a whole.

But before I dive into any of that, I’d like to first give a bit of my own personal history with Goat Format. I was actually playing Yu-Gi-Oh! back in 2005, although I was nowhere near playing competitively. Unfortunately, I think I just missed attending an actual Goat Control tournament by just a few months; my earliest competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! memory is actually going to a Regional at Pasttimes in IL right after Cybernetic Revolution had come out. I remember scrambling right before the event to hunt down Exarion Universes, D.D. Assailants and Smashing Grounds, since I already had the Cyber Dragons thanks to the Sneak Peek I had attended shortly before this Regional. But none of that is important.

Although I had missed Goat Format during its actual lifespan, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t thoroughly aware of the cards that were released at the time. Honestly, I think that’s one of the reasons I was able to get into Goat Control so easily back in 2013: I was able to easily recall the cards that existed during ‘05, because it’s grouped in with all the memories of my childhood. Like I said, I was first introduced to Goat Control back in Spring ‘13 by my buddy Ryan Drake. I was getting somewhat bored of the Dragon Ruler / Evilswarm / Spellbook format, but my boy Drizzy was especially frustrated with it. In response to the doodoo format, he suggested that we both pick an old format and play matches of it. Since we were hardly the first people to play Goat Control after ‘05, Ryan and I quickly found posts on Pojo and Duelist Groundz about people’s builds and stuff. We took some notes, like initially basing our decks off of builds like Nareg Torossian, but this was merely a starting point. Throughout the course of the following year and a half, our builds change greatly before we came up with the current builds we have today.

I’d like to briefly mention that a lot of what I’m going to be explaining in terms of current Goat Control is not necessarily from my own head, but a joint effort between a large group of friends, which was also collaborated using the internet. This means you may read things that you’re already aware of, but it also means that I might not necessarily be able to credit the appropriate people for coming up with certain ideas. I just don’t want people to think I’m necessarily bringing all this innovation to the table based on my own experiences, that’s just a factor of it.

Like I’ve done in the private conversations I’ve had with some friends, I’d like to give you guys my current Goat Control decklist, and then discuss why I play some of the cards that I do.

‘14 Goat Control




When I asked Drizzy for his decklist, he told me the following:


  • Magician of Faith
  • 2 Skilled White Magician
  • Morphing Jar
  • D.D. Assailant 


  • 1 Metamorphosis
  • 2 Book of Moon


  • 0 Dust Tornado
  • 3 Gameshoot

Based on his list, it’s safe to assume the rest of his cards are staples. I could get his entire list, but this snippet provides enough of the key information to understand what his card line-up is.

TrapDustshootDT04-EN-DNPR-DTSo, let’s dive right into the explanations and reasoning. First and foremost, I play 40 cards. While in modern Yu-Gi-Oh, you ideally want to play 40-card decks because it’ll help you draw your combo pieces quicker (unless you’re Billy Brake and win a YCS with a 60-card deck!), there are logical reasons why you’d want to play either 40 or 41 cards in a Goat Control deck. For example, one might want to play 41 cards because Goat Control mirrors are typically long duels, and cards like Morphing Jar may be real in their meta. However, one might opt for a 40-card deck because they want to draw into specific cards more often. I chose to play 40 cards because I want to see my three copies of Trap Dustshoot as quickly as possible so that I can start playing Modern Goat Control. Honestly, though, the chances of drawing a certain one-of are not affected much when you play 41 cards over 40; a one-of card is 2.5% of a 40 card deck and 2.44% of a 41-card deck (for additional reference, it is 2.38% of a 42-card deck). And since I’m playing three copies of Dustshoot, Dustshoot takes up 7.5% of my deck. Which is great.

300px-BlackLusterSoldierEnvoyoftheBeginning-PGLD-EN-GUR-1ENow, before diving into my specific monster choices, I’d like to mention what the numbers 6/6/5 actually mean. This is a theory that was brought to my attention by a few friends of mine, and has definitely been a lasting superstition ever since. Basically, you play six Lights, six Darks, and then four Water/Earth monsters and a Black Luster Soldier. The math behind this is pretty harmonic, because both Light and Dark monsters take up an even 15% of the mainboard. The specific monsters that occupy these 17 slots is pretty much up to the duelist, although we have a somewhat limited competitive cardpool. And while I’ll be talking about my specific card choices, I’ll also briefly touch on some alternate options.

Let’s start with Light monsters. After a lot of testing with different combinations of Lights, I felt that this was arguably the strongest combination in testing. We honestly didn’t have a whole bunch of good Light monsters at our disposal at this point in Yu-Gi-Oh, and the ones that were good were at one! Back then, if you were playing Light monsters, it was hard not to be playing monsters like D.D. Warrior Lady and Airknight Parshath, because we seriously had next to nothing to choose from.

MagicalMerchant-SP14-EN-C-1EIn my current build, I play a single copy of both Magician of Faith and Magical Merchant for a few simple reasons. I’ve messed around with playing only Merchant or only Magician, since both cards are amazing for their own reasons (Merchant will fuel your grave and help you dig to an awesome Spell/Trap, while Magician will help recycle your pieces of trinity), I felt that playing a single copy of each is best primarily because it inadvertently beats Nobleman of Crossout, since your opponent won’t net any inherent plusses that they would if you played multiple copies of your flip effect monsters. Props to my buddy Kyle Solner for bringing this idea to my attention. It’s awesome.

Next, I play a single copy of Airknight Parshath and Zaborg the Thunder Monarch because they’re both amazing tribute monsters. I was originally playing double Airknight, because trampling and drawing cards is absolutely ideal, but our meta had evolved to the point that we were all playing monsters with a large enough defense that they could withstand an Airknight attack. However, if you’re meta is still playing Traditional Goat Format, you can capitalize on this by sideboarding a second copy of Airknight.

ZaborgtheThunderMonarch-BP01-EN-C-1EZaborg the Thunder Monarch is an awesome alternative to playing two Airknight because he acts as a third Nobleman of Crossout. If you’re worried about a facedown Magician, Spy, Jar or Merchant, Zaborg is especially useful because he can pop the threat, and then continue to attack your opponent directly. If you’re not experimenting with Zaborg, you should certainly start.

Like I said above, my local meta had evolved past playing double Airknight because of the rise in high-defense monsters. The idea behind playing Skilled White Magician is that it does exactly what we want a “vanilla” monster to do in Goat Control: have a high enough defense to be able to withstand attacks from Airknight Parshath, but also have a high enough attack to be able to destroy a majority of monsters in battle. When looking at our severely-limited cardpool of Light monsters, we quickly realize that our only real option is Skilled White Magician with 1700atk and 1900def. As you can see, I opted to play one, but my boy Drizzy plays two. This card is real, but your results may vary.

AsuraPriest-BP01-EN-C-1EFor a while, I was playing a copy of Asura Priest, but I put him into the sideboard because one of the most important things in Goat Control is having your monsters stick to the board. That’s why Spirit monsters, although useful, are ultimately weak in Modern Goat Control; they eat up your normal summon, and don’t even stick around during your opponent’s turn. This is why I ultimately cut Asura for the Skilled White. In addition, I was also playing the single copy of Blade Knight in the main, but decided to put it in the sideboard because I have other cards that deal with a wider variety of facedown threats more effectively.

In terms of Dark monsters, I’m again working with a limited card pool, meaning that our better cards choices are somewhat more obvious. I play x2 Exarion Universe for the same reason that I play the single copy of Skilled White Magician, except Exarion also can trample over weak things like Magicians and Scapegoats for some really easy damage. Just like Skilled White, you can set Exarion in defense mode to gobble up attacks, and it’s almost guaranteed to stick on the board for at least a turn.

Breaker the Magical Warrior and Sangan are both essential. However, Jinzo and Tsukuyomi  are both arguably preference cards. I play the single Jinzo so that I can deal with the standard traps of the time, this basically goes without saying. Regardless that he has 2400 attack like Zaborg, I only play one because he doesn’t do much else outside of be a beatstick and negate traps. Of course, just like Zaborg, Jinzo can lose to Book of Moon because it has such a weak defense.

donzalogI was originally playing two copies of Tsukuyomi, but ended up trimming it to one copy for the same reason that I cut Asura Priest: although their effects are good, they are normal summons that inherently don’t stick to the board, which I consider a negative aspect for a card to have. While people have fiddled around with Tsukuyomi to manipulate Magician of Faith or something, I feel that these ploys are gimmicky and should not be the foundation for what you want your cards to do. If you find yourself looping you Magician with Tsukuyomi in a competitive match, good for you. Just don’t play multiple Tsukuyomi and Swords of Revealing Light to make sure that it goes off.

Although I’m not currently playing it, I also really like Don Zaloog and Spirit Reaper as Dark monsters, since you can typically pluck several cards from your opponent’s hand before they get your monsters off the board. If you were to play Don and Reaper, I’d suggest playing more copies of cards like Sakuretsu Armor so that you can protect your own dudes and get rid of your opponent’s dudes, so that you can hit their hand easily. Smashing Ground isn’t that bad of a card to combo with Don and Reaper, since it’ll one-for-one over monsters so that your Don and Reaper make your opponent minus.

Yu-Gi-Oh-Pharaonic-Guardian-Gravekeeper-s-SpyAnother Dark monster worth mentioning is Gravekeeper’s Spy. This was Max Suffridge’s super secret tech when he won Nationals in ‘05. While I don’t play it in my current build, that doesn’t put the card down by any means. Like a friend of mine exclaimed earlier, “It’s an Upstart Goblin, and not one, but two 2000def monsters?” It’s awesome for a ton of reasons that are all pretty obvious. For example, having 2000 defense means that, like Skilled White and Exarion, it’ll only be destroyed by Jinzo/Monarchs and Luster Soldier. Otherwise, your opponent is going to be forced to waste resources just to deal with your +1. This means that your Spies are going to stick to the board for a while, potentially letting you stall until you start getting the cards you want. I’m not playing it, but the Spy engine is real. If you wanna spice it up even further, try Gravekeeper’s Guard too.

Tribe and Sinister are the only staple Water monsters. You play them because they’re both at one, and in early Yu-Gi-Oh, all the good cards are at one. You’ll typically want to Sangan the Sinister, because you’ll want to have access to it as a discard outlet, tribute fodder or as a Metamorphosis target. There’s no reason to not play these cards. If you want to play other Water monsters, you could also look at Mobius the Frost Monarch, but I think he’s better off in the sideboard.

In terms of Earth monsters, we again have a very limited card pool. In my current build, I opted to play Big Shield Gardna and Mystic Swordsman Lv2 over cards like D.D. Assailant for a handful of reasons. I play Big Shield Gardna for two major reasons. First, he’s able to eat up Nobleman of Crossouts for lunch, since they simply cause him to get flipped face-up. On top of that, he’s got a gigantic defense that will force your opponent to either take some battle damage to put it into attack mode to attack over, or force them to use some alternative means of getting rid of it.

MysticSwordsmanLV2-LCYW-EN-C-1EMystic Swordsman Lv2 is amazing in the mainboard because he’s a single-out to literally every single facedown threat, just like Nobleman and Zaborg. Not only does he get rid of stupid threats like a Magician you have no way of dealing with, but he’s also a great way to get rid of cards like Exarion that you don’t want to waste your Nobleman or Zaborg on. I play Mystic Swordsman Lv2 over Sasuke Samurai literally because he’s got better stats. But if you wanted to play a goofy Konami reference, you totally could.

Like I said above, one of the other Earth options is D.D. Assailant, who is great because he can get rid of threats in a similar way to D.D. Warrior Lady, although it sacrifices its utility for increased stats. One of the reasons I don’t necessarily like Assailant is because it’s somewhat implied that his summon won’t stick to the board. Although you can definitely use Assailant as a beatstick and force your opponent to use their resources to deal with her, I don’t know if she’s necessarily staple in the mainboard. However, she’s useful in the sideboard for reasons that I will get into later. Alternatively, you could play Exiled Force, but it’s bad for the same reason: it doesn’t stick to the board, and it’s a Smashing Ground that gobbles up your normal summon.

MorphingJar-TP2-NA-UR-UEThe other Earth option is Morphing Jar, although I don’t really like this card that much. However, Max Suffridge played it, Kris Perovic played it, etc. I personally think that more often than not, a skilled player will be able to read when an opponent has set a Morphing Jar. This means that when you play it, people will be able to read when you have one set. Of course, you can catch people off guard and net some plusses, but in Modern Goats, I think players should be prepared to deal with facedown threats pretty easily. I personally don’t think this card is that amazing, but it might work for you.

TrapDustshootDT04-EN-DNPR-DTIn terms of traps, I’ve basically compiled a basic laundry-list of great trap cards at this time in Yu-Gi-Oh. However, in 05, we were completely oblivious to how busted of a card Trap Dustshoot is. While this card was hardly anywhere in people’s decklists back then, this card has become the ultimate blow-out card of Goat Control. Seriously. There’s no reason to not play Dustshoot. “Oh, I opened with the Dustshoot? Not only do I get to get rid of a card in your hand, but I also get to memorize your hand and I now know four of your five cards when you start your turn.” This card is absolutely disgusting. Like I’ve been telling my friends: Mainboard the three Dustshoot, sideboard the three Mind Crush. Don’t believe me? Just try it.

Most of the other trap cards are really staple, like I’ve said above. You can play around with the amount of Sakuretsu Armors that you want, or experiment with Dust Tornado, but these are very fine tweaks that will suit each player on an individual basis. Although it’s a card, I would recommend not playing Magical Cylinder in the mainboard, because it inherently does nothing. However, in the sideboard it’s kinda cool for when you inevitably go into time.

When you look at the Spell lineup, you find yourself with the same problem you had with your Traps: there’s a pretty limited card pool. Everyone would argue that the following Spells are staple, and there is no reason to not be playing them:

  • Graceful Charity
  • Mystical Space Typhoon
  • Snatch Steal
  • x2 Nobleman of Crossout
  • Premature Burial
  • Heavy Storm
  • Delinquent Duo
  • Pot of Greed

Metamorphosis-CP01-EN-SR-UEFrom there, we’re allowed to make some decisions. How many Metamorphosis and Scapegoat should you play? When I started playing Goat, I was playing triple ‘Goat and double Meta like Max Suffridge was, but I learned really quickly that these cards are not essential. In my current build, I’m playing one ‘Goat and two Meta. This is mostly because ‘Goat loses to a whole bunch of trample cards (like Airknight). While Scapegoat isn’t that great of a card, Metamorphosis has a variety of uses beyond just making Thousand Eyes Restrict. The most important examples include turning Airknight and Zaborg into Dark Balter the Terrible, and turning an opponent’s Black Luster into Last Warrior from Another Planet. Although these seem like goofy things to do, one of the better plays in Goat is using Meta on an Airknight during your main phase 2, after you’ve already attacked and gained a free card. Dark Balter is nasty.

There are several optional Spell cards that you can experiment with, like Lightning Vortex and Enemy Controller, but I think that it is difficult to find room for these sorts of cards. Unless you’re playing a build that can capitalize on these cards, I don’t think they’re necessarily busted. I’m not playing Giant Trunade currently, but that card is also really great. We didn’t realize how great it was back in ‘05, but it does exactly what it did in modern Yu-Gi-Oh: get rid of your opponent’s backrow so that you could push for game without any worry.

300px-BookofMoon-YSYR-EN-C-1E (1)The last card in the main deck that deserves some attention is Book of Moon. While Goat players like Kris Perovic and Max Suffridge played two copies of Book, I would personally suggest playing three, since it is one of the best outs to your opponent’s cards. Honestly, Book of Moon became one of my favorite cards in the game after seeing how well it can utilized in Goats. I would highly recommend that you play two Book at least, but playing three has been awesome for me so far.

And that’s about it, you guys! While I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of the depth of Goat Control, I hope that this will help you guys come up with your own Goat builds. I plan to make a mini-series of Goat Control articles, so check back again soon!

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