Goat Format: Not So Goaty Anymore

Some love it, some hate it, but we all know it: Goat Format—the most popular alternate format in all of Yu-Gi-Oh!—still sees widespread play to this day. However, contrary to popular belief, this niche corner of the game has seen a lot of evolution these past few years. Let's take a look at how and why it changed.


Ancient History

Let's start from the beginning. It's 2005, YouTube launches, there's like a dozen earthquakes, and George Bush starts his second term, but, more importantly, the ban list drops. Graceful Charity and Delinquent Duo come out to play, joining Pot of Greed in what would henceforth be called "The Trinity", because of their immense power. Maybe more important, however, were the extremely unfair cards that got banned like Confiscation, The Forceful Sentry, Painful Choice, or Magical Scientist, leveling the playing ground. On top of that, Sangan and Mirror Force came out of prison among others, all adding up to a more well-balanced format that rewarded smart play and good deckbuilding. Little did people at the time know, they were playing a format that would still be alive well over fifteen years later.

Goat history is commonly divided into three "eras": Historic, Exarion/Revival, and Modern, and we'll go into detail with each of them. The start of the format was tumultuous, a huge ban list had happened and everyone was rushing to try out different builds to see what clicked and what didn't. This is why early Goat Format tops were mainly comprised of decks like Zombies, Empty Jar, and other stuff that would not really show up for the rest of the year. Players, however, were quick to identify Metamorphosis as an incredibly powerful card in tandem with Scapegoat, and build a deck around recycling powerful spells with Magician of Faith and making Thousand-Eyes Restrict, with a Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning thrown in there for added pressure. Early Goat Control lists, however, were not that clean, playing stuff like Reflect Bounder (limited at the time), Sacred Phoenix of Nephthys, and Messenger of Peace. By summertime, however, Goat Control was a well-defined deck that was taking names left and right, occupying all top eight spots at SJC New Jersey 2005. Also, during this era, we saw one of the most important Goat players, Kristopher Perovic, earn his first tops in the format. Perovic would go on to become the name associated with Goat Control and, and he still plays to this day.

pot of greed graceful charity delinquent duo
The format is fair until you get hit with all of these on the same turn

Death and Rebirth

Goat Format ended, however; Cybernetic Revolution was a game-changer at the time, with Cyber Dragon redefining the format in its entirety, and officially ending what we now call the Historic Era of Goat Format. It wouldn't be until 2012 that we would see the format coming back in a relevant dimension, with the release of DuelingNetwork, giving rise to the Revival era. Most people nowadays are well familiar with the browser-based simulator DuelingBook, but first came DuelingNetwork, and it changed Yu-Gi-Oh! forever. Regarding Goat Format, though, it would reignite the spark of this long gone era of the game, with sites such as DuelistGroundz organizing tournaments through the platform, with really good numbers.

It was also around this time when Kristopher Perovic created what would become the most copied and played deck: Perovic Goats, or Standard Goats. A Goat Control list created through years of grinding away at the format, with vast experience and knowledge, which he piloted to a shocking 21-1 record in the 2014 Goat Format War League. From this point forward, all Goat lists would be either direct copies of Perovic's or built upon it, that's how impactful it was. Fun fact: in early Yu-Gi-Oh!, there was no limit on how many cards you could play in your extra deck. This is why most Goat decklists do not mention it, since it was always assumed you went with three copies of everything the deck needed. (The most common monsters were Thousand-Eyes Restrict, Dark Balter The Terrible, Ryu Senshi, and Fiend Skull Dragon, among others.)

You might notice something that this decklist doesn't share with the lists of the Historic Era of the game, and that is the presence of Exarion Universe. This card is an absolute powerhouse, a big body with the dark attribute that can pierce when hitting into a goat token, so why did nobody play it in 2005? Well, because it didn't exist. The legality of Exarion has been a contentious topic ever since the Revival Era (from the release of DuelingNetwork to its closure) to the present. Technically, the Exarion Universe tin was released about a month before Cybernetic Horizon put an end to Goat Format, but they came into legality on the same day. On top of that, there were no events where the card was legal for play. Still, during this second coming period, most players were running Exarion in their lists. This was until Allen Pennington published an article titled "A Treatise Regarding Exarion Universe" in April 2015, throwing the Goat community into turmoil, causing DuelistGroundz and Nostalgic Duelist (the biggest Goat gathering spots at the time) to go into conflict, with the latter vouching for Exarion's place in the format. With time, however, players have overall agreed to not run the Universe since it causes an overall worse playing experience.

Goat format was experiencing an immense popularity during this time, but it wouldn't last forever, as in 2016, DuelingNetwork shut down for legal reasons, causing Goat Format to shut down with it. This downtime wouldn't be for long though, as in February 2017, the developers behind this simulator also released its inheritor, DuelingBook, which included a Goat Format lobby that did not allow for Exarion Universe, giving birth to the Modern Era of Goat. And as Network did before, Book also reignited the interest in this niche format, to the point where even the Cardmarket Series hosted Goat Format events. Not only this, but there's a thriving community organizing tourneys every week, with a community-driven World Championship happening this October.

What Awaits You in Modern Goat

And you might ask, "Wait, these people have been playing the exact same format for over fifteen years? How does it not get boring?". Well, the answer might surprise you. The format has changed vastly throughout the years, especially in the last two or so. And it's a fact that during the pandemic, alternative formats became more popular than ever, Goat being no exception. With its highest popularity ever, it's only natural that the format would evolve as new people and strategies came into the limelight. Goat Control is far from being the best deck anymore. And I mean, far. Of course it still can compete and still sees a very reasonable competitive showing in top cut, even winning events here and there, but there's a new suite of decks to beat.

Chaos Turbo, a deck utilizing a suite of powerful flip monsters together with a Thunder Dragon package to fully utilize the extremely versatile Raigeki Break, is the new boogeyman— a deck so fast and powerful that it shatters any competition it might have. Right? Well, no. Actually, there's like a dozen more decks that share top cut with it consistently. Chaos Warriors, a version of the chaos deck running a warrior engine to be more aggressive. Warrior Control, utilizing stuff like Don Zaloog and Trap Dustshoot to set back the opponent. Rescue Cat, a 2-card OTK deck that utilizes Milus Radiant and Gyaku-Gire Panda, among many, many others. Even Goat Control has evolved past the "solved" Perovic list, now running Chaos Command Magician and Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer.

Not only that, but people realized that Historic Era players vastly undervalued certain cards. Trap Dustshoot, Solemn Judgment, and Upstart Goblin were all cards that saw little play back in 2005, but are now staples across most decks. And you might also ask, "Okay, Lepprince, why the hell should I care about all this?" Well, because this format has something for everyone. You like crazy complex combo decks? Play any first turn kill in the format like Empty Jar or Reversal Quiz. Enjoy burning your opponents out and stalling the game? Try out Aggro Bomb or a Burn variant. You like zombies? Vampire Lord is actually insane.

trap dustshoot upstart goblin
Few ran generic advantage generators in 2005

All in all, Goat is a format that is anything but dead, with a massive community and a really cheap entry price, especially since you can just use OCG cards or proxies (as long as your playgroup is okay with you doing so), as this is not a Konami-run format. Not only that, but it is the perfect teaching tool for someone who knows nothing about playing the game. Also, it's amazing for getting better at Yu-Gi-Oh!, learning resource managing and threat identification. On top of that, there are tons of resources to learn more, like GoatStats or Goatformat.com, making getting into the format the easiest thing you could imagine. So yeah, it isn't just "Goats" anymore, but a vast, expansive experience you should give a try!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.


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Paul-lore(22.10.2021 14:23)

Thank you for this interesting article about my most favourite format of all.

Umbstick(10.09.2021 18:01)(Edited: 10.09.2021 18:01)

Very interesting article! Thank you for taking the time to write it!

xJoker1988x(08.09.2021 15:49)

Pleasure to read! Great job! Love Goat!

PerfeqtfuL(15.08.2021 21:21)

Thanks for this dude ! It was a pleasure to read this ! Love the goat format

Ines7Lucilio(13.08.2021 18:59)

The only thing i dont like it in this format many times you are to dependent to your top deck,you have to keeping dragging the game, until you draw the broken card you are looking for to turn the game. Other times your op draws all broken cards first and are still screwed. The lack of recover and def from hand is problem to, theres a reason we have it in modern yugioh,even wasnt balance in some formats.

Venonat(12.08.2021 19:49)

Goat will keep changing. So many new decks created out of nowhere even just this year

BakaBaizuo(12.08.2021 08:31)

It's strange, can't say I'm a fan of modern combo decks with turns that can take over 10 minutes, but the classic "set 1 monster, pass" is a bit too slow for my taste.

Alphander(12.08.2021 09:27)

Dont worry, Goat Format is far beyond set 1 and pass. You have many explosive turns where you do a lot. I was sceptical at first as well, but the format is really fun!

RyanAtlus(12.08.2021 10:40)

I think many of the 5D's era formats are a great middle ground between those two opposites. Can definitely recommend Edison format if you're looking to scratch a nostalgia itch.

Iliaster(12.08.2021 16:23)(Edited: 12.08.2021 16:24)

RyanAtlus Absolutely, Edison-Format is great!

Meske007(12.08.2021 08:21)

Oh man, good times, that was yugioh!