Why Is Heavy Storm Banned (But Harpie's Feather Duster Isn't)?
- Robin Schrecklinger
The most recent ban list update gave us back the infamous Harpie's Feather Duster. However, Heavy Storm remains banned to this day. In this article, we will tackle the question why Konami decided to leave Heavy Storm on the ban list but bring Harpie's Feather Duster back into the game.
Weathering the Storm
Heavy Storm was released in June 2002 in the Metal Raiders expansion. It is a normal spell card with the following effect:
Heavy Storm wipes both players' spell and trap cards off the board. Harpie's Feather Duster, on the other hand, is a normal spell card that only destroys the opponent's spell and trap cards. Both are incredibly powerful cards for backrow removal. The October 2004 Forbidden and Limited List was the first that actually forbid cards. Harpie's Feather Duster was one of the cards hit then, and it only became unbanned very recently, in September 2020, almost sixteen years later. The card has been banned since banned cards existed.
Heavy Storm, meanwhile, was only banned in September 2013, though it was restricted for many years prior to that. It remains banned, despite the unbanning of Harpie's Feather Duster. It's difficult to understand this decision when you compare the two cards. Feather Duster seems strictly better, as it only destroys your opponent's side. So why unban the "stronger" card?
One reason for the unbanning, as with several in the past, is that Konami simply wanted to bring back and old card that had been banned for many years. This has already happened in the past. Both Raigeki and Thousand-Eyes Restrict were banned for about 10 years. Yet, both finally came off the list without receiving an errata. Even though this might be one of the reasons why Feather Duster came off the list, it's not the only reason Heavy Storm has not received the same luxury.
The Power of Floodgates
Floodgates are cards that prevent players from performing certain actions. Some floodgates, like There Can Be Only One, Gozen Match, or Rivalry of Warlords dictate what monster types and attributes a player may control. There Can Be Only One, as an example, prohibits both players from controlling more than one monster of the same type. Such a card significantly slows down type-based archetypes. For example, a deck like Salamangreat, which consists almost exclusively of Cyberse-type monsters cannot even begin to perform their most basic combo while There Can Be Only One is on the field. Other floodgates such as Royal Oppression or Vanity's Emptiness have been considered so strong that they even justified bans.
Floodgates are usually balanced by being symmetrical. Heavy Storm makes these cards asymmetrical. You can set up several floodgates that prevent your opponent from playing the game, and then you're your turn, you Heavy Storm, clear everything in your way off the board and then you can combo off as usual. The downside of this is that it costs you card advantage, but in Yu-Gi-Oh, "combo" often means "win." Losing card advantage doesn't matter if you win. Many people might be saying, "this seems too inconsistent to matter." They would probably be right, and this is only one small advantage that Heavy Storm has over Harpie's Feather Duster.
Friends and Foes from the Past
One obvious advantage Heavy Storm has is that there are a lot of combos that developed with the card while it was legal. For instance, Performage Plushfire and Heavymetalfoes Electrumite both work extremely well with Heavy Storm. When Plushfire is destroyed on the field, it allows you to special summon a Performage monster from your hand or deck. This can be done more than once per turn. Thus, you can put a Plushfire in each of your Pendulum Scales and destroy both with Heavy Storm for two Performage monsters.
Electrumite ensures that you don't lose any card value, drawing you a card when you destroy cards on your field. If you destroy a Plushfire with Electrumite on the field, then you would both get the special summon and the draw and you would destroy their backfield at the same time.
I'm sure several of you are starting to pick up on theme here. Destroying your own cards isn't necessarily a terrible thing. But surely two cards aren't enough to justify its banning, especially when Feather Duster is legal. And to make matters worse, Electrumite and Plushfire are banned anyway, so why does it matter? Now let's look at some cards that are not currently banned.
Advantage Through Destruction
Actually, rather than talk about cards, let's talk about a whole archetype that benefits from its cards being destroyed — the Unchained. All Unchained cards do something when they are destroyed. In an Unchained deck, Heavy Storm can destroy the archetype's spells and traps. If either of Wailing of the Unchained Souls, Abominable Chamber of the Unchained or Escape of the Unchained is destroyed by a card effect, its owner can special summon an Unchained monster from their deck.
Even though these are all once-per-turn effects, you can set up two or even three, destroy them with Heavy Storm and still special summon multiple monsters from the deck. In an Unchained deck, Heavy Storm doesn't just clear the path for victory, it also enables the victory condition in the first place.
A Storm for Qlis
Another good example of a card that Heavy Storm enables is Saqlifice. If it is sent from the field to graveyard, it allows you to search any Qli monster in your deck and add it to your hand. Please note that in the case of Saqlifice, it already suffices if it is merely sent from the field to the graveyard. It doesn't need to be destroyed. There also isn't a once-per-turn restriction, so you can set multiple copies of that one card and get multiple searches.
Saqlifice isn't alone, however, as all Qli-pendulum monsters share the same restriction in their pendulum effects: You cannot special summon monsters, except Qli monsters. Because this locks the player into summoning only Qli monsters, it serves as a rather difficult restriction. However, with Heavy Storm at your disposal, you can use the scale effects of the Qli cards and do your pendulum summon and then, when you have finished, you can clear it away with Heavy Storm and go about summoning non-Qli monsters to your heart's content. For example, you could start making Xyz or Link plays after destroying the pendulum scales and build an even stronger board.
Also, there are plenty of other pendulum decks that benefit similarly, allowing you to do your pendulum scales and then clear them away so you don't have to suffer any downsides. It also sends the scales to the extra deck, allowing you to place more than one set of pendulum scales per turn. Moreover, since the pendulum scales destroyed by Heavy Storm go to the extra deck, they can also be special summoned out via a pendulum summon later.
A Smoky Storm?
Finally, let's look at a card that already sees play, but would surely see more in a world with Heavy Storm — Smoke Grenade of the Thief. If Smoke Grenade is destroyed while equipped to a monster, you can look at your opponent's hand and discard one of their cards. While splashing three copies of this card and Heavy Storm into a deck might not necessarily work, discards on demand are extremely powerful and even led to Trap Dustshoot seeing a ban at one point. Of course, this combo doesn't really matter if Heavy Storm is limited, as the chances of drawing it are low. But decks that already benefit from Smoke Grenade would gain considerable extra stock, having an extremely potent discard threat at their disposal.
Still though, there are plenty of cards that benefit from being destroyed or sent to the graveyard, and any of them that say "Spell" or "Trap" on them can be used with Heavy Storm. This must be considered before unbanning a card that dominated the spell-trap calculation for years until its eventual banning.
Can It Be Unbanned?
Over the course of this article, we've explored the ways in which Heavy Storm's symmetry provides the player with a lot of advantage when compared with the one-sided Harpie's Feather Duster. If you're just looking at the card's text and apparent use, then there is no contest between them, but Yu-Gi-Oh! is a different game than it was when Heavy Storm was printed. Destroying your own cards has never been better and the game has plenty of effective back row removal like Twin Twisters, Lightning Storm, Cosmic Cyclone, or Mystical Space Typhoon, all of which are completely unrestricted.
It therefore seems unlikely that Heavy Storm will come off the list any time soon, given how easily it can be exploited. As a side note, I want to point out that several of the above arguments can also be applied to Giant Trunade as well. However, Giant Trunade also enables other degenerate plays that Heavy Storm does not. This is a discussion for another article.
Are there any other combos or interactions with Heavy Storm that come to your mind? This definitely did not cover all of them, so feel free to share some more in the comments!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.