Should Broadbull Stay Banned?
- Thomas Rose
With the recent arrival of Phantom Rage, the TCG is seeing some new contenders to the heavy Dragon Link and Dinosaur metagame that preceded it. While some of the new themes introduced have been underwhelming, the set includes a wealth of support cards for pre-existing archetypes.
Some people are trying out new Phantom Knight strategies, helped by Torn Scales, or Prank-Kids after the introduction of that ever-powerful archetype support card, Prank-Kids Meow-Meow-Mu. Another popular deck getting reinforcements is Zoodiac, which is one of the best positioned archetypes to take advantage of Divine Arsenal AA-ZEUS - Sky Thunder and Alpha, the Master of Beasts.
After falling off the radar almost entirely since Drident and Broadbull were simultaneously forbidden back in 2017, the deck has seen occasional flourishes of interest, but mostly to no great impact. Earlier this year we saw a Forbidden and Limited update returning Drident from our binders to our deckboxes. She alone was insufficient to overpower the Eldlich and Adamancipator decks that were so dominant at the time, but things may be different this time around.
Just days after the release of Phantom Rage, a Zoodiac deck was able to win the main event at a Pro-Play Games regional championship in Florida. Anthony Colon was victorious with a streamlined pure-Zoodiac build, not too dissimilar to the kind of lists players were using when Zoodiac was so dominant three years ago. Main decked Solemn Strike shows how the deck plays a slightly slower, more control-based game than competitors like Dragon Link and Infernoble. The deck still offers explosive finishing potential from the link-climbing combo that turns any Crystron Halqifibrax materials into an Accesscode Talker.
|Zoodiac by Anthony Colon|
|Main Deck||Extra Deck||Side Deck|
Although the balanced deck composition with offensive and defensive cards is reminiscent of tier-zero Zoodiac formats, we're still a long way off seeing the deck back at full power. Barrage, Drident, and Ratpier are still limited, while Broadbull remains forbidden. If the deck doesn't overperform in the coming months, then Barrage may well soon be making its way back to three. It was limited as a precaution in the same give-and-take adjustment that saw Drident come back to one. By contrast, the restriction of the Rat seems completely unquestionable. Anyone who played in 2017 will remember just how many times in a turn you can summon even a semi-limited Ratpier. Broadbull, however, could be more up for debate. After all, it's just one search. How broken can it be, right?
Who Is Broadbull?
At first glance, Broadbull is a generic rank four Xyz monster that searches a Beast-Warrior. However, unlike many players once mistakenly thought, that search is not for any Beast-Warrior, only those which can be normal summoned or set. Wulf, Lightsworn Beast was not a legal search in 60-card Grass decks (no matter how many dead Solar Recharge you may have in hand), and I think we should all be thankful that Zoodiac decks never had access to a searchable Grandsoil.
On the face of it, this Oxen Xyz is not so different to Gallant Granite or King of the Feral Imps. Arguably the weakest of the three, he doesn't even share the others' 2,300 attack to back up his search effect. Attack isn't everything though. What he lacks in raw stats can be more than made up for by access to further tools. After all, you can't just slap a Drident on top of a Gallant Granite.
It might not seem fair to directly compare either of those Rock/Reptile Xyz to Broadbull and Drident combined, but it's not exactly new to see extra deck tools that require two slots. Number 39: Utopia Double and Outer Entity Azathoth aren't anything special without their corresponding other halves but still represent some of the most powerful rank four options Yu-Gi-Oh! has ever seen. For the same initial investment of two level-four monsters you get a search, an immediate removal effect to use right away, and even a piece of interaction to keep for next turn. If you're willing to commit even more extra deck space, then the same starting point can offer free link material from Chakanine or even the potential for a second Broadbull search if there's a Ramram in the mix.
Why Is Broadbull a Problem?
Perhaps the most worrying part of this Zoodiac tutor lies beyond what you can do with Zoodiac cards. From a game design perspective, any search/summon-from-deck effects that are not restricted to a named subset of cards can pose complications for future card design. The legality of cards like Elpy and Isolde puts restrictions on what can be introduced for Dragons and Warriors respectively.
These two powerful link monster come with restrictions to their summoning effects, but despite that both are dangerously close to joining the likes of M-X-Saber Invoker and Ancient Fairy Dragon. Where we see formats filled with these types of effects, gameplay can often become repetitive. Many decks find themselves making the same plays regardless of their starting hand. Decks end up being built around maximizing access to one specific combo entry point, which very quickly leads to games feeling all the same if left unchecked.
Better Off Banned
Extra deck monsters that allow a player to access cards from the main deck have always been a delicate balance. At the time of writing, twelve of the 25 currently forbidden extra deck monsters allow their controller to look through the main deck in some way. It is a slight factor in favor of Broadbull that his search target only gets as far as the hand. But him not being locked to Zoodiac cards, and having access to an entire toolbox of friends to overlay afterward, leaves me wanting to see the card stay banned. If anything, I would rather see more of the game's extra deck searchers getting banned rather than allowing them back into the fray.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.