Doug On: What Link Monsters Need

Doug Zeeff

8/15/2017 11:00:00 AM

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was optimistic toward Link Summoning, but that I was also a bit worried. One of my final points in that article was how I didn't feel Link Summoning would do its job well enough to stop the current top decks. When the mechanic was first announced I saw a lot of people exclaim that Konami was trying to make Yu-Gi-Oh! slower by restricting our Extra Deck summons. I didn't really believe that, as I felt that Konami was just pushing our Extra Deck spamming in the direction of Link Summoning, not Xyz, Synchro, or Pendulum Summoning.

The issue now is that the best deck in the game at present - True Draco Zoodiacs - is largely unaffected by the restrictions. You can still make Zoodiac Hammerkong and Zoodiac Drident with any Zoodiac monster or Zoodiac Barrage, and the True Draco cards don't even use the Extra Deck anyways. If Konami really wants to push Link Summoning they'll have to give us a Forbidden & Limited List similar to the one from the end of 2015, where Shaddolls and Nekroz were slaughtered.

But I'm not one to speculate about F&L Lists, so today I wanted to discuss what I think makes a good Link Monster. Link Summoning is wholly underwhelming in its current state, and that's mostly due to how lackluster the new monsters are. Almost none of the Link Monsters available in the TCG are competitive right now, and the ones that are seeing play just pale in comparison to some of the early Synchro or Xyz – cards like Stardust Dragon, Thought Ruler Archfiend, Leviair the Sea Dragon, and Wind-Up Zenmaines.

More Than Arrows
Possibly the biggest downfall of most of the Link Monsters in the TCG is that very few of them do anything aside from opening up more spots for your Extra Deck monsters. I think the perceived power of Blackwing - Gofu the Vague Shadow being a one-card Decode Talker is a clear example of that.

Decode Talker's frustratingly mediocre. Its effect is a neat defensive trick, but not nearly as proactive or disruptive as you'd hope out of one of the most popular Link Monsters. It also takes three monsters to make unless you have a Link 2 monster; if you don't, you'll need to open with Gofu. And I know that Gofu was good enough to get Limited in the OCG, but let's break down that play:

You Special Summon Gofu from your hand when you control no monsters and Special Summon two Tokens. Both Tokens are used for two Link Spiders, and then you use the two Link Spiders and Gofu for Decode Talker, or just use the Link Spiders for Missus Radiant.

 Missus Radiant
Missus Radiant139218
Set Code of the Duelist
Number COTD-EN052
Type Link/Effect Monster
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 1400 /
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

2 EARTH monsters
All EARTH monsters on the field gain 500 ATK and DEF, also all WIND monsters on the field lose 400 ATK and DEF. If this card is destroyed by battle or card effect: You can target 1 EARTH monster in your GY; add it to your hand. You can only use this effect of "Missus Radiant" once per turn.

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If that seems broken to you, just remember you have to open with an unsearchable three-of, use three Extra Deck spots, and break even on card economy just to summon two monsters from your Extra Deck like the good ol' days. I get that in the context of Link Summoning that play is alright, but in the grand scheme of opening plays over the course of the history of Yu-Gi-Oh it's just so underwhelming.

Link Monsters need to do more than let you summon your non-Link Monsters from the Extra Deck. Many Link Monsters have defensive effects, which is nice, but not many have proactive effects to keep your combos going. Not to mention that the few Link Monsters that do have aggressive effects…

…Are Impractical To Summon Anyways
Firewall Dragon's the cover card of Code of the Duelist and the best example of how Link Monsters are missing the mark in this regard. Firewall has a great effect that can spawn a million different combos, many of which end in unbreakable boards, ridiculous gains of card economy, and only take a couple specific cards to start.

But Firewall Dragon turbo decks tend to suffer from the same pitfalls of most FTK's, like the Dark Synchro strategies that aimed to loop PSY-Framelord Omega over the past year. Decks like those look cool when they go off, but in a tournament setting with many Rounds of Swiss and a Top Cut, they usually don't have what it takes to win.

Players new to Link Summoning read cards like Decode Talker and Gouki The Great Ogre and say “Wow, this thing isn't overpowered, but it's pretty decent for something that takes two monsters to make.” Then you point out that while they take a minimum of two monsters, they're actually going to take three unless you can Link Summon beforehand.

Things tend to go South from there.

So… Are There Any Good Link Monsters Right Now?
I've mentioned several times that Missus Radiant is the best Link Monster in the game right now. I don't think that's a bold statement, but I can understand people's reservations with it. Missus Radiant's easy to summon: it only takes two Earth monsters. One Zoodiac Barrage can net you Missus Radiant and Zoodiac Drident, which is possibly the most practical use of a Link Summon in the game right now.

Link Spider's up there in terms of playability, which shows you how low the bar is set right now. Link Spider is notable because it only takes one monster to summon, and it's relatively generic. My gripe with Spider is that it doesn't actually open up any more spots for summoning from the Extra Deck, unless you're using it for Link climbing. But if you're only using Link Monsters to open up your Main Monster Zones for Extra Deck Monsters, making Spider only gets you one Link Arrow, which is the same number of spots you started out with before you made it in the first place.

 Link Spider
Link Spider138067
Set Starter Deck: Link Strike
Number YS17-EN043
Type Link/Effect Monster
Monster Cyberse
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 1000 /
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

1 Normal Monster
Once per turn: You can Special Summon 1 Level 4 or lower Normal Monster from your hand to your zone this card points to.

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Gaia Saber, the Lightning Shadow could have been nice if it only took two monsters to summon, even though it doesn't have an effect. Alas, it's basically a worse Decode Talker, trading an effect for the bonus of not giving your opponent a Link Arrow for free.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Decode Talker gives your opponent a Link Arrow for free? That's probably the worst part. By itself, Decode Talker isn't anything to write home about. But if you do manage to get it out on your first turn, you're letting your opponent Special Summon two monsters from their Extra Deck without having to Link Summon. Design choices like that make dedicated Link Summoning decks frustrating to pilot, because they reward your opponent for existing.

Looking Ahead
As with all new mechanics, Link Monsters will undoubtedly get better with time. There were plenty of bad Synchro and Xyz Monsters in the first few sets, we're just noticing it more with Link Monsters because you're forced to play them. I get that Konami doesn't want to immediately give us the best Link Monsters in the game because that would speed up the power creep too much, but when you force your players to use a mechanic it can be annoying if there's no monsters to support it yet.

For now, it ironically seems like the best decks in Link era are the ones that can get away with Link Summoning the least. That seems entirely unintentional, but I foresee it being this way until we get a Forbidden & Limited List that kills all of the current decks, or when we get better Link Monsters, or possibly a combination of both.

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered Yu-Gi-Oh! content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, Overwatch, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh. Click here to follow him and his adventures on Facebook!

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