Rahul Pandya here this week bringing you an article on how to navigate through the change in ban lists, while staying competitive until the new Meta shakes out in a format. What this means, is how can you make sure that you know what to do when a new list is revealed, and how you can make sure that you can have the cards you need, to play after a new list takes effect. This skill is very useful because it can help you to prepare for the initial event after a new list comes out, or so that you do not purchase or trade for a card at an increased hype price.
One big part of playing through multiple ban lists and formats, is deciding what type of player you want to be. You can be an ultra-competitive player and play what you think the best deck is at any given moment, a competitive player who plays a deck that is competitive or a player who plays for fun and on a more causal level. For the competitive players it is often times better to wait, until you see results from events or to playtest a lot with decks after the list, so you have the best idea of what will be and how to play the best decks of a format. For the casual player, you can just change your deck around so that it fits under the ban list.
When formats change it is a time where you need to be financially responsible, and not to buy into hype. An example is a few formats ago, everyone thought Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier, was going to go from forbidden to limited on the ban list, this led to an increase in the price of the card. Leading up to a ban list, cards increase or decrease in price based on the hype of the card. Therefore, if you want to buy or trade for cards, it is always a good idea to wait until prices settle, or you could end up overpaying for a card or a deck that is not that good. For instance, when Black Whirlwind went back to unlimited on the ban list, the Super Rare editions jumped to 100 dollars apiece from the 30 dollars they were before that. The card becoming unlimited was not as big of a deal as people thought, as the deck really did not do a lot after Whirlwind went back to being unlimited. The card ended up settling around 25 dollars, as people realized the deck wasn’t as good as they initially thought it was. Now that ban lists are every 3 months, it is more important than ever to make sure that you do not spend money frivolously or that you do not buy into hype and pick up cards that will end up dropping. During the time when the ban list is changing over it is sometimes smartest to play low-rarity versions of cards so that you do not lose money if the deck you want to play ends up being not as good as you thought.
The ban list is the roughest time to have a trade binder because you never know what will get hit and you could end up losing cards or trades to the ban list. You must always remember that if you played the best deck of any given format, there is always a chance that on the next ban list the deck may get hit in some way. The other mistake that people make is getting rid of a good deck at the change in format because one or two cards in the deck get hit in some way on the ban list. Speaking from personal experience, you should hold onto your deck, unless it is hit to the level of being unplayable, until you are sure that it is not going to be competitive. When Dragon Rulers first came out, with the Baby Dragon Rulers and Super Rejuvenation, the deck was very good. On the September 2013 ban list, the Baby Dragons and Super Rejuvenation became forbidden, and many people jumped off of the Dragon bandwagon. However, the Dragon Ruler deck was still the best deck after the list, and was played in a different way.
Then on the January 2014 ban list, all of the Dragon Rulers became limited, along with Sacred Sword of the Seven Stars, and Dragon’s Ravine and Return from a Different Dimension being banned. Still, the deck changed, and even to this day Dragon Ruler deck variants are playable, and competitive. Many decks have gone through phases like this and many decks have been touched by the ban lists quite a bit. Another example of a deck that has been touched by the list multiple times is Spellbooks. On the September 2013 ban list, Spellbook of Judgment was forbidden and in January 2014, Spellbook of Fate was limited. Still the deck is good, and still it is competitive even though it has been touched by the ban list multiple times. Holding onto what you have is often a good idea when a new ban list comes out so that you can keep what you need, and get rid of what you do not when prices settle.
The other major thing about the change in format is that in an undefined Meta, decks that are often times seen as week or dead have a chance to do well and sometimes even win events. For instance the first Yugioh Championship Series of the September 2013 format, a Blackwing deck got top 4, at the first event after Black Whirlwind became unlimited again. There are many examples of decks doing well at the beginning or end of formats, because of people not being prepared for the deck, or people not knowing how to play against the deck. The last YCS that Wind-ups were able to play Wind-up Carrier Zenmaity, there were quite a few decks that caught people by surprise and ended up doing well, and the YCS happened to be right before an event. The fact that a X-Saber deck did well at the event does not mean that X-Sabers are the best deck, rather that people not knowing how to play against it and that with the format changing in a few weeks, many people may have been testing stuff for the new format.This process of managing yourself during ban lists is ever growing and nobody really knows how to make sure they are in a perfect position to capitalize on it.
The other thing important thing to remember when it comes to ban list time is that just because a card is very strong, or has been used to great success in the months leading up to the ban list does not necessarily mean that something will happen to the card. In the months leading up to the July 2014 list, Fire and Ice Hand, Soul Charge, Artifact Sanctum and Artifact Moralltach were being used very effectively, including the deck winning the North American Yugioh World Championship Qualifier, and players wanted those cards to be on the ban list. However, because the cards had only recently come out, they remained untouched on the list and have continued to see play. So what this means is that, especially with the three month ban list system, that newer cards and decks will likely be hit the second ban list after they come out instead of the first ban list. So as the system changed players have had to learn to live with the fact that some very good cards will be around longer than people would want.
The last important point about ban lists is that cards that have been forbidden in the past may become limited, semi-limited, or unlimited. Just as new cards become forbidden others may no longer be banned, and as a result the list is ever changing. For instance, on the July 2014 list, nothing was forbidden, and Goyo Guardian went from being forbidden to being limited. As the game evolves more and more, cards that were banned when they were very strong in their prime, will come back. For instance Magician of Faith has spent time dancing from forbidden to limited to semi-limited since early 2006, and currently is semi-limited, and is not making a significant impact in the meta. Oftentimes, when a card moves from forbidden to being no longer forbidden it is when the card is not as strong as it once was. Goyo Guardian has not contributed a significant amount to the meta. When cards come off of the forbidden part of the list the prices often times as players are excited that they are allowed to come back and are able to play them again.
Playing for and navigating through a variety of formats is something every player has to learn to do. If you follow the basic rules mentioned above you should be able to adapt to new formats easily. The time around a ban list change is very tense for any card game player, and if you learn how to manage the time around the change you should be able to be competitive, while making sure you do not overpay for cards. This is something I have learned to do while playing the game and I hope you will as well.