Evolution of Yu-Gi-Oh! After the 2020 Master Rule Revision
- Sherif Lewis
Every new Yu-Gi-Oh! anime brings with it a different mechanic, but recently Konami is taking a break from adding more summoning methods. Let's look at the more subtle adjustments that Konami has been implementing since the Vrains series ended. Let's talk about what they are doing and what the benefits are.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is constantly evolving. Some rules change, a new mechanic is introduced, or new zones are added to the playing field. With the Master Rules 2020 Revision, Konami decided to give us a small adjustment and then a break from continuous changes for a while, rather than surprising us with a new card type or mechanic.
Every time a new Yu-Gi-Oh! television series starts, we get a new mechanic. The original series introduced the first summoning methods—fusion and ritual summoning in addition to normal summoning, setting, and special summoning main deck monsters. The GX series focused on fusion summoning and took it to new heights with the HERO and Cyber Dragon themes. The 5Ds anime introduced synchro summoning and the Zexal anime gave us xyz summoning. Arc V gave us the pendulum mechanic and added new zones to the playing field, while Vrains attempted to put the above extra-deck summoning methods in check by making the link mechanic almost mandatory and again made adjustments to how the playing field looks.
Fast forward to Master Rule Four which was introduced at the beginning of the link era. After the ending of the Vrains anime, the strangest thing happened. In spite of much anticipation, hype, expectations, and lengthy wish lists, we only got a revised master rule that restored the flexibility of using extra deck summoning methods. Except for pendulum summoning, they are back to how they originally were without link monsters being a prerequisite to having multiples of other extra deck monsters on the field. We did get a new anime, but it contained an entirely different game with newly designed cards and rules than the one we play. Konami stated that cards related to the new Sevens anime will be exclusive to Japan—for now at least, as they recently announced that the new anime will get an English dub soon.
So what does this mean? First, it means that for the next two or three years we will be stuck with the current master rule, which is not a bad thing as there is a good diversity of playable summoning mechanics to choose from. Also, since there are no new mechanics for a while, Konami has the opportunity to do many things that we will discuss below, some of which have already begun taking shape.
Making the Game More Interactive
I admit that five-negate boards are not exactly the textbook definition of player interaction, but Konami is taking measures in this regard with the recent banning of Linkross for example. The sole purpose of using Linkross was to help players end on multiple-negation boards that typically could not be achieved with most decks, yet Crystron Halqifibrax and Linkross made the same board accessible to any deck, which is something unhealthy for the game. Another adjustment was the hit to Infernoble Knights as going first and getting rid of most of the opponent's hand meant that players did not have a way to fight back even before their first turn ever started.
Another point is that it's been a long time since we got archetypes with boss monsters that are immune to most forms of removal such as Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King or Apoqliphort Towers. It is true that we got Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon, which fits this category of boss monsters. However, it is not archetype-specific, which gives any deck—whether meta, rogue, or casual—the ability to incorporate it for another power boost.
Apart from Dragoon, there are two problematic cards that currently see play. The first is True King of All Calamities, which will get hit one way or another as it is a card that gives an unfair advantage to its controller. Virtual World is still a new deck but eventually will be nerfed through Calamities. The second card is Number S0: Utopic ZEXAL, which gives Numeron deck variants a similar unfair advantage like Calamities. However, it is not as bad since Numerons are not considered a problem this format so far. Drytrons on the other hand are relying on two game winners, Vanity's Ruler and Herald of Ultimateness. Luckily we have Kaijus, Lava Golem, The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode, as well as Super Polymerization to counter such monsters.
Decks up until recently were relying on such monsters in addition to negates to control the game. Nowadays most decks rely on interruptions. For example, Prank-Kids do play hand traps but mainly depend on disruption via their built-in Raigeki and Harpie's Feather Duster. Eldlich relies on interruptions using its own trap cards in addition to utilizing secondary engines such as Zoodiac or Dogmatika to disrupt opponents, while Dinosaurs rely on sheer board-breaking power.
Experimentation and Combination
Konami is releasing archetypes that are decent on their own, but combining them with other engines or decks yields some favorably unexpected results. Remember how Invoked was splashed into many decks? The same can now be said for Dogmatika and Eldlich. Both can be played on their own, but their real strength lies in what you combine them with. A small Dogmatika engine helps solve problems depending either on what you send from your extra deck or what you intend to negate with Dogmatika Fleurdelis, the Knighted. Eldlich is a control deck, but it can be paired with whatever players believe is a good fit. It is that flexible. Numerons are also very splashable in many decks as they do not take a lot of space in the main deck and can act as a way to control the game going first or a way to end the game going second.
Also, Konami has started to experiment with merging archetypes together. Phantom Rage gave us cards that can be used in both Raid Raptors and Phantom Knights like Raidraptor's Phantom Knights Claw as well as cards that can work in U.A. and F.A. decks such as U.A. Hyper Stadium. Whether the goal was to support different decks while taking up less slots in released products or whether the intention is to have different decks combined and played as one is yet to be seen, depending on what Konami will do in the near future.
Legacy Support/Mechanics Support
With the game slowing down in terms of new mechanics being introduced, Konami has been giving players fan service in terms of legacy support. Everything from Shaddoll to Fluffals and Phantom Knights to even U.A. have been getting decent support recently, just to mention a few. The trend is continuing with other legacy support that we will be receiving soon for Ice Barriers, Bujin, and even Metalfoes. Even beyond legacy support, some older cards are starting to get their own theme like the Gaia theme, which previously had a couple of scattered cards here and there but became a unified theme in Rise of the Duelist.
As for mechanics support, just have a look at the ritual decks! With the exception of a couple of strategies—Nekroz and maybe Gishki—they didn't really take off because of the inherent flaw in the mechanic, which requires using at least two cards to summon one ritual monster. This changed with the introduction of Megaliths and Drytrons. The former had its time in the spotlight for a while, and Drytrons are currently one of the decks to beat this format.
In addition to ritual strategies, it is noticed that Konami is no longer actively pushing link summoning. Despite having no link monsters, Eldlich, Virtual World, and Dinosaurs are all current meta decks that do not really rely on—or in Virtual World's case, cannot use—link monsters. Also, pendulum strategies are starting to receive more attention from Konami. A new pendulum theme will debut in the Ancient Guardians set while Metalfoes will make a comeback in Blazing Vortex. I believe Konami is trying to be fair in terms of dividing its recent card designs to feature all the different summoning methods in order to give players a wide choice of strategies that suit their own preferences and playstyles.
Konami seems to be trying to slow the game down a bit in terms of development to allow players an extended break from new mechanics. Also, this would help new players as they can take their time to understand and master the game in its current form before the next evolution happens. Personally, I would love to see more support for older decks and I hope that no one specific summoning method ends up overpowering the others. After all, the beauty of this game lies in its diversity and almost infinite combination of playable cards.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.