Side Deck Theory: Reacting To The F&L List

Kelly Locke

8/30/2016 11:00:00 AM

The new Forbidden & Limited List is finally here! It's time to reevaluate our Side Decks as we head into the new format.

Unfortunately YCS Toronto and Rimini were played under the old F&L List, so we still won't have relevant deck lists to analyze until the first batch of Regionals next month. In the meantime we can discuss how the List changes the game's biggest match-ups and its impact on specific Side Deck cards.

Monarchs Dethroned?
Limits to The Monarchs Stormforth, Ehther the Heavenly Monarch, and Pantheism of the Monarchs have significantly reduced the competitiveness of Monarchs. Pantheism was previously Limited in the OCG so its Limit here was widely anticipated. The impact should be roughly the same: losing a key spell will drastically slow the deck, crippling its consistency and forcing players to prioritize the recycling of their only copy.

Pantheism's Limit exacerbates the hits on Stormforth and Ehther. With fewer draw and search effects at their disposal it's even more difficult for Monarch players to search key cards and fix their subpar hands. Monarchs need those kinds of effects more now than ever before, so it's going to be their biggest Stumbling block going forward. Fewer copies of The Monarchs Stormforth means your monsters are safer and less likely to be gobbled up in a Tribute Summon. A Limited Ehther drastically reduces your opponent's ability to interact with you on your turn. No matter how you look at it the hits are a big deal for Monarchs.

How will Side Decks react to Monarchs becoming less competitive? For starters Mask of Restrict will probably decline in play. It's not a terribly useful card in other match-ups and only showed up in meaningful numbers due to the widespread use of Monarchs. If you take Monarchs out of consideration there's almost no reason to side it. That's a solid boost to decks that need to tribute to function. Blue-Eyes, Amorphages, and Majespecters will all respond positively to Mask of Restrict's exit.

 Magic Deflector
Magic Deflector67278
Set Abyss Rising
Number ABYR-EN076
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Common
Card Text

For the rest of this turn, negate all Equip, Field, Continuous and Quick-Play Spell Card effects on the field.

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Magic Deflector loses much of its match-up utility under the new F&L List. Not only is it less important due to a lower incidence of Monarchs, it's also slightly less effective against Kozmos where there's one less Emergency Teleport to negate. Kaiser Colosseum's Forbidden now too. It's still great against Field Spells and Twin Twisters, but I'm not sure if that's enough to keep it in Side Decks when better options exist.

Kozmos nearly walk out of this List with a net positive: they lost two copies of Dark Destroyer and a single Emergency Teleport, but their worst match-up was hit at least twice as hard. I might even be willing to argue that Kozmos are better off this format. I'm not totally convinced just yet, but given some time to see how the first batch of Regionals plays out I think we'll see just how effectively Kozmos can adapt and outplay the competition.

Fewer Monarchs means less worry about The Monarchs Stormforth, which means Kozmo Dark Destroyer's survivability just shot up. That's great for Kozmos, especially now that they only have one Dark Destroyer at their disposal. But Kozmos aren't the only strategy benefiting from the decline of the Monarchs. Virtually every Extra Deck-heavy theme and every Pendulum strategy is now poised to pump out Fusion, Xyz, Synchro, and Pendulum monsters without running head-first into Domain of the Monarchs.

One Less Floodgate
Kaiser Colosseum caught my eye about a week before the F&L List when I noticed a few videos describing lockdowns using it with Kaijus. Colosseum was Forbidden before I had a chance to test it myself, and I have to admit that when I saw the news I immediately thought Konami was preemptively hitting some weird Kaiju-Colosseum interaction. There's a theory that it was hit due to ruling conflicts and for generally causing confusion, but I think the more likely case is that the card might have simply been too strong this format.

Kozmos could have sided Kaiser Colosseum against...everything. Blue-Eyes, SPYRALs, Subterrors, and Metalfoes need to take it off the field to make the vast majority of their plays. From Konami's perspective there's no sense in keeping this card around if you're going to be aggressively pushing new themes.

Whatever the rationale was the end result is the same: we have one less floodgate at our disposal.

I've been outspoken about floodgates in the past, so if you follow my articles you can probably guess my opinion on Kaiser Colosseum being Forbidden. I really, really like the change. Rivalry of Warlords has already replaced it as the go-to floodgate for limiting your opponent's commitment to the field. Overall it's not a huge change now, but I'm certain we'll miss it in a future format.

Maxx C Down To Two
Another hugely popular Side Deck card was hit on this F&L List: Maxx C. Its Semi-Limitation is a bit awkward as it isn't enough to significantly reduce its play, but it's just enough that you can usually expect not to see it in the early game. Many players were already running two Maxx C, so the change here won't really impact them. For example, Shunsuke Hiyama's World Championship list included two Maxx C, two Effect Veiler, and two sided Ally of Justice Cycle Reader.

Maxx C might not have the match-up utility to be run at three right now, but for how long will that be the case? We could find ourselves in a format where Maxx C would be played at three, yet due to the F&L List it remains squarely at two. Does that give Special Summon-heavy strategies an advantage? Absolutely.

 SPYRAL Super Agent
SPYRAL Super Agent121342
Set The Dark Illusion
Number TDIL-EN086
Level 4
Type Effect Monster
Monster Warrior
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 1900 / 1200
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

If this card is in your hand: You can declare 1 card type (Monster, Spell, or Trap); reveal the top card of your opponent's Deck, and if you do, Special Summon this card if it is a card of that type. If this card is Special Summoned by the effect of a "SPYRAL" card: You can target 1 Spell/Trap Card your opponent controls; destroy it. You can only use each effect of "SPYRAL Super Agent" once per turn.

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If you're playing Burning Abyss, SPYRALs, or a Synchro strategy the last thing you want to see on your first turn is a Maxx C dropping out of your opponent's hand. It's unbelievably annoying to open the duel with a busted hand, then discover you can't use it, and promptly lose the next turn because you had to make a poor opening play. That'll happen less frequently while Maxx C is at two.

I tend to view Maxx C as a soft floodgate. It doesn't outright stop your opponent from making plays, but it does discourage them to the point where it might as well be a hard limit. Maxx C has the stopping power of Vanity's Fiend, Royal Oppression, and Vanity's Emptiness with none of their vulnerabilities and it's packaged as a chainable hand trap. It's been a defining card since its release in 2011, and for now it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. There could be a small bump in the play of other hand traps to compensate for the missing copy, but I think we'll be seeing more hand traps this format anyways.

Return Of The King
Thunder King Rai-Oh makes its return! The king of stun took a step down the List as it moved from Limited to Semi-Limited. It's the only positive change for Side Decks on this List, but easily the most irrelevant. There's a reason why Rai-Oh hasn't been seeing play even as a one-of: it's just not that good anymore. Effects that block deck searching aren't popular right now, and cards that negate Pendulum Summons are much more valuable than other forms of Summon negation.

It's hard to name a match-up where Thunder King Rai-Oh is better than any number of other Side Deck choices. You could side it against Blue-Eyes to block Sage with Eyes of Blue and Melody of the Awakening Dragon, plus negate the Special Summon of Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon and any Synchro or Xyz Summon. There's a decent amount of coverage, but simply Normal Summoning a Special Summon floodgate would be just as effective at stopping your opponent from committing anything meaningful to the field.

Metalfoes, Kozmos, and Burning Abyss largely don't care about Rai-Oh. It doesn't have the stopping power it used to have when Pendulum Summoning didn't exist. Remember that Rai-Oh hasn't seen play since early 2014 and even then it was a rare sight. Mistake and Solemn Strike work better with Card of Demise already, and while it's convenient to have a card that's something like a 2-in-1, Rai-Oh leaves much to be desired. Strike has so much more coverage against Pendulums and monster effects, and Mistake isn't necessary as it is. There's no current reason to actually side Rai-Oh, so I expect it'll make the jump to Unlimited on the next List.

Side Decks for the new format probably won't be much different from those we're used to. Anti-Kozmo, Burning Abyss, and Pendulum Side Deck cards will be as popular as ever. Among those options are plenty of techs with additional match-up utility against Blue-Eyes. The Limit on Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal could bring certain banish effects back into the game, and Pendulums in general will likely start siding harder for Burning Abyss to account for Majespecter Unicorn - Kirin's Limit.

Expect underplayed Side Deck cards to start popping up as players experiment with different options. There's a little more room in the Side Deck as Monarchs move off the top spot, and many more opportunities to exploit new vulnerabilities in Kozmos and Burning Abyss. I'm actually excited for once to see what ends up being played.

Until next time then


Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student with too much free time on his hands. Besides playing Yugioh, Kelly posts Let's Play videos of Minecraft on his Youtube channel and plays a possibly unhealthy amount of Destiny. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.

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