Yu-Gi-Oh! History: Life After Goats
- Ryan Atlus
If you regularly watch Yu-Gi-Oh! content on YouTube, you will definitively have come across the term "Goat format" before, referencing the state of the game in the summer of 2005. However, not many people are familiar with how the game progressed afterward. What changed after Goats?
A Quick Summary of the Goat Format
Let's not dwell too long on this, since that isn't what this article is about. Content on the Goat format is everywhere, so there is no need to go into too much detail here. Goat format is the format that existed during the summer of 2005. While a few extremely powerful cards had made their way onto the forbidden list, like Chaos Emperor Dragon - Envoy of the End, plenty of extremely powerful cards that remain banned until today were legal. Despite access to these cards, the overall lower power level of mid 2000s Yu-Gi-Oh! kept the decks ceilings fairly low, so even though there were singular powerful cards, they were seldom an "auto-win button."
The general pace of the format was very slow, with battle traps, flip effect monsters, and tribute monsters seeing play. While there were plenty of different decks that could be played, the "standard" Goat lists developed by Kristopher Perovic featured the combo the format is known for: using Scapegoat in combination with Metamorphosis to bring out Thousand-Eyes Restrict.
Modern Goats, as a historical format, gained popularity early last decade, when player groups became tired with oppressive boards and hand loops, and longed for simpler times. While "standard" Goat decks never fell out of fashion, variations such as Chaos and Zoo (which features Beast monsters like Berserk Gorilla) saw more popularity than they had back when Goats was actually going on.
Why Did the Format End?
A format is usually defined by two aspects: the total pool of available cards, and the restrictions to the card pool in the form of a Forbidden & Limited List.
The October 2005 Forbidden & Limited List was an unforgiving one. All the cards in the classic Goats-Meta-TER combo got limited to one, alongside other flippy-floppy format staples like Tsukuyomi, Night Assailant, Magician of Faith, Nobleman of Crossout and Book of Moon.
Even harsher were the newly forbidden cards, with cards from every card type getting axed. Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, Tribe-Infecting Virus and Sinister Serpent were newly forbidden, and Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity and Delinquent Duo would cease messing with the laws of card advantage. Mirror Force and Ring of Destruction also left the game. It's pretty hard, now, to imagine a card like Mirror Force getting the axe, while seeing zero play for the last 5 years.
In terms of new cards, there are two main releases at play here. The first is the 2005 Collector Tins, and they're a highly controversial topic among Goats enthusiasts. While the official release date for these tins isn't until early September, plenty of people remember their local game shops selling them weeks before that date, which allowed players to add the powerful Exarion Universe to their deck. There are good arguments both in favor and against its inclusion in the format, but that's not my focus today. Besides, if I were to pick a side, the comment section would probably eat me alive for it.
A slightly bigger impact was made by Cybernetic Revolution. While Goat format was a slow format where special summons were not as common, the absolute unit Cyber Dragon was an easy special summon that dealt with almost all monsters played by the opponent on their opening turn in the format. Besides Cyber Dragon, the format was also graced by the arrival of Cyber Twin Dragon, which turned Metamorphosis into an even bigger threat. That only lasted for about a month, since Cyberdark Impact came out at the start of August. Even after BLS Meta for Cyber Twin was no longer an option, Cyber Dragon would stick around as a prominent format staple.
For the rest, Cyberdark Impact was filled with iconic cards such as Jerry Beans Man and the Soitsu-Doitsu duo, and plenty of cards from the GX animated series like Drillroid. With the exception of a handful of playable cards, the majority of the set is actually pretty underwhelming.
Filling the Void
With so many cards gone and new challenges to overcome, players had to re-evaluate the cards they had available. The answer? Warriors seemed to be a pretty great answer. Reinforcement of the Army was still at two copies per deck, and many of the best warrior monsters actually saw play during Goat format, or only just missed out on deserving a place in main decks. Cards like D.D. Warrior Lady, Don Zaloog, Exiled Force, and Mystic Swordsman LV2 suddenly found themselves back on the front lines.
Nobleman of Crossout being limited was huge, and players seemed less hesitant to play defensive monsters such Newdoria and Mystic Tomato. Tomato, in particular, was a great inclusion, seeing as some Monarchs were finding their way into the format. Previously, Zaborg the Thunder Monarch was commonly seen due to its light attribute, but Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch and Mobius the Frost Monarch saw play again as well, seeing as they were stronger than Cyber Dragon, and their fragile defence stats was going to become less of a burden without Book or Tsukuyomi flipping them face-down as often.
Reading through some old coverage of SJC Chicago, held in October 2005, makes it obvious that the format was particularly aggressive. While the format was still slow, players were itching to make swift card advantage exchanges both through battle and removal cards such as Smashing Ground and Sakuretsu Armor. This playstyle is one that survived through most of 2006 as well, with decks like Machine Control and Treeborn Monarchs having a similar type of gameplan.
Is There a Verdict?
While Goats was an immensely interesting format and can definitely be enjoyed, the formats following Goats are definitely formats to be considered for casual play as well. Goats has its rough edges, and while they worked within their format, it is a nice change to see players not getting punished for failing to draw their Goats thanks to the October 2005 List.
The introduction of Cyber Dragon is often seen as a massive impact to the speed of the game, but objectively speaking, he was merely an unsearchable beatstick that didn't eat up the normal summon. For that time, this was surely a huge leap forward, but it's definitely no Crystron Halqifibrax that aggressively warps the format. The power level of newly introduced cards during the late 2005 and 2006 period was definitely lower than the period preceding it, which makes for over a year's worth of very similar gameplay at a pleasant tempo.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.