The Top 3 Most Influential Cards of 2017

Doug Zeeff

12/13/2017 11:00:00 AM

2017 was a pretty crazy year for Yu-Gi-Oh.

We saw not one, but two different formats where one deck took up almost an entire Top 32 at a YCS. Zoodiacs with Elder Entity Norden and SPYRALs prior to the November F&L List were both overpowering, to say the least.

But despite those formats, we saw a ton of innovation through the year, as well. Old cards like My Body as a Shield and Shuffle Reborn made repeated championship appearances. Side Deck cards came in and went out of style instantaneously, too. Despite similar decks winning most events, tech choices were hugely beneficial to many top players.

Today, I wanted to look back at what I feel are the most impactful cards of 2017. To me, there were a lot of criteria for a card to make that list. I wanted to pick cards that affected all levels of play: locals, Regional Qualifiers, and YCS tournaments. I also wanted cards that directly affected deck building: both the cards you played and didn't play, as well as the deck choices themselves.

Lastly, I wanted to pick cards that were relevant for multiple F&L Lists, not just a single format. Longevity's hard to come by in Yu-Gi-Oh, so a great card would likely transcend F&L Lists until it wound up on one. Without further ado, here's my Top 3 for the year.

 Evenly Matched
Evenly Matched148377
Set Circuit Break
Number CIBR-EN077
Type Normal Trap
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

At the end of the Battle Phase, if your opponent controls more cards than you do: You can make your opponent banish cards from their field face-down so they control the same number of cards as you do. If you control no cards, you can activate this card from your hand.

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Dragonslayer Games Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $57.99
Shawns Card Shop 1st Edition - Lightly Played 1 $59.05
RIW Hobbies 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $59.97
Mystic Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $59.97
lumina 1st Edition - Near Mint 4 $59.99
ShenanigansTCG 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $60.00
Galaxy Games LLC 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $60.50
realgoodeal 1st Edition - Near Mint 14 $62.16
Near Mint Games 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $62.25
Metis Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $62.50

Despite only being released for a couple of months, Evenly Matched has taken Yu-Gi-Oh! players by a storm. Hyped from the moment of its first reveal, it debuted with minimal impact at the first YCS it was legal; many players only ran copies in their Side Deck. But that all changed with the November F&L List, and now we see Evenly Matched in almost every Top Cut list, often Main Decked.

Evenly Matched aims to eradicate an ongoing issue in Yu-Gi-Oh: going first is an advantage in any card game, but it's especially important in one as fast as ours. Konami made the change in 2014 that the player going first doesn't draw their six card, but that wasn't enough. Even cards like Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit and Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring weren't enough. It seemed like no matter what tools you gave players, going first was still too good.

Evenly Matched is designed to punish big boards. It's a perfect going second card. The drawbacks are basically nonexistent, and any card that has the potential to get you something like a +10 in card advantage is always worth a look. It's difficult to say whether Evenly Matched overcompensates. I think of a world where it's a regular trap card and wonder if it would still be played. As it stands now, Evenly Matched is essentially a Quick-Play Spell.

What I've noticed is that Evenly Matched, while great against the best decks, is also a nail in the coffin for many rogue strategies. When played correctly, a deck like SPYRALs can come back from losing their board, as long as they held onto some of their resources. But a deck like Frog Paleozoics or any theme running Card of Demise doesn't have the luxury of holding back. Evenly Matched isn't quite the end to all backrow decks, but it sure feels like it sometimes.

Prior to Evenly Matched, Solemn Strike was the new best trap card to warp formats, giving players negation capabilities that weren't previously available. But Evenly Matched skips the negations and goes straight to dismantling your opponent's board one card at a time. It will without a doubt be a popular card until there's a serious metagame shift, or until it winds up on a future Forbidden & Limited List.

 Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King
Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King131141
Set Maximum Crisis
Number MACR-EN024
Level 8
Type Effect Monster
Monster Wyrm
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 2950 / 2950
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

To Tribute Summon this card face-up, you can Tribute Continuous Spell/Trap Card(s) you control, as well as monsters. Unaffected by the effects of cards with the same card type (Monster, Spell, and/or Trap) as the original card type of the cards Tributed for its Tribute Summon. Once per turn, during either player's turn, if you control this Tribute Summoned monster: You can banish 1 Continuous Spell/Trap Card from your Graveyard, then target 1 other card on the field; destroy it.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
Deck Techs 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $3.25
Yatalock 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $3.39
CardShackLLC Unlimited - Near Mint 2 $3.98
OverdoseGaming Unlimited - Near Mint 3 $3.99
Pro-PlayGames 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $4.24
fangproductions 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $4.36
PaipayBrothersGaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $4.37
CDgames 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $4.38
SnowManEaterGames 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $4.50
IDeal808 Unlimited - Near Mint 2 $4.75

Players had to deal with Kozmo Dark Destroyer for a solid year, and that was tough for a lot of decks. Dark Destroyer couldn't be targeted by any of your effects, which left a lot of players wondering how to deal with it. Unless you drew Dark Hole, Raigeki, System Down, or a Kaiju you'd often lose to a flurry of Special Summons.

Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King only ramps up that protection ability. The majority of the time, Master Peace will be protected from two of the following: monster effects, spells, or traps. There are situations where it's only able to dodge one of those instead of two, but those instances are few and far between. For the most part, Master Peace is unaffected by 2/3rds of your deck, and it pops a card during either player's turn. Compared to Kozmo Dark Destroyer, it has better protection and it actively affects the field each turn, whereas Dark Destroyer only had the destruction effect when it hits the board.

The decks playing Master Peace were also infinitely more consistent than Kozmos, with access to Dragonic Diagram and Terraforming. The only good thing about staring down a Master Peace is that you know it doesn't have a graveyard effect to benefit off of when you tribute it for a Kaiju.

While Master Peace wasn't necessarily the best card of any format, it was insanely difficult to deal with. Whenever it saw table time, you had to be running Kaijus to counter it. Even if you only ended up playing against a few decks actually using the card, the threat was enough to warrant running a few outs to it in your Main or Side Deck. Plenty of Master Peace-like cards have come out in the past five years, but none were as easy to run. There's an argument to be made about how Master Peace can always be affected by either a monster effect, spell, or trap, but not every deck has a wide enough range of spot removal to hit all those marks.

In some ways, Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King is an example of how powerful Tribute Monsters need to be if they're going to survive. Not only does it come with a protection effect and a free destruction every turn, but you also don't even have to tribute monsters to summon it! Outside of True Dracos from this year and Monarchs from a while back, Tribute Summons have been out of the competitive scene for a long time. I'm sure that they'll be another Master Peace down the line, and I can only wonder how much Konami is going to amp it up just to keep Tribute Summons alive.

 Zoodiac Drident
Zoodiac Drident127308
Set Raging Tempest
Number RATE-EN053
Level 4
Type Xyz/Effect Monster
Monster Beast-Warrior
Attribute EARTH 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

4 Level 4 monsters
Once per turn, you can also Xyz Summon "Zoodiac Drident" by using 1 "Zoodiac" monster you control with a different name as Xyz Material. (If you used an Xyz Monster, any Xyz Materials attached to it also become Xyz Materials on this card.) This card gains ATK and DEF equal to the ATK and DEF of all "Zoodiac" monsters attached to it as Materials. Once per turn, during either player's turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card, then target 1 face-up card on the field; destroy it.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
The Gypsies Den Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $0.98
JonathanHTX Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $0.99
Gamers N Geeks Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $1.00
Funertia Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $1.00
XtremeGames Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $1.12
XtremeGames Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $1.18
GameTimeCC Unlimited - Near Mint 3 $1.24
TactiX Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $1.25
Neverland Games 1st Edition - Lightly Played 5 $1.32
HeartOfTheGame 1st Edition - Lightly Played 2 $1.39

I whole-heartedly believe that Zoodiacs weren't played after their most recent F&L hits because of Zoodiac Broadbull was Forbidden, not Zoodiac Drident. Broadbull was an integral part of the deck that simply couldn't be replaced, and the best proof of that was the OCG format where Zoodiac Drident was Forbidden and the deck still thrived.

But Zoodiac Drident was absolutely the most game-changing card released in 2017. There's a lot of reasons for that, so let's go down the list. First of all, Drident gave every deck a free piece of disruption. While Master Peace isn't that difficult to summon, you can get the same destruction effect for much less effort by just summoning any Zoodiac monster and making Zoodiac Drident.

Second, Drident made a lot of decks unplayable because it was basically a more reliable trap card that you always had access to. In ye' olden days of Yu-Gi-Oh, trap cards were the only real way to interact with your opponent on their turn. Eventually we got more and more effects that offered more interactivity, but usually they weren't difficult to play around, or once you did play around them you didn't have to worry about them anymore.

Zoodiac Drident was the total opposite: it was a card that your opponent made with minimal investment and it was summoned every single turn. Because of all the recycling in Zoodiacs, getting rid of one, two, or even three copies of Drident wasn't enough to stop your opponent from summoning it again.

That brings me to my third point, and that's that whenever you built a deck while Zoodiac Drident was around, you absolutely had to make sure you could play through its effect. Even Master Peace didn't have this sort of impact on the game, partly because the deck it was in wasn't as consistent as Zoodiacs and partly because once you got rid of it your opponent usually had to build up resources again to summon a second copy. But if you looked at any board during Zoodiacs' reign, there was bound to be a Zoodiac Drident on the field.

If Zoodiac Broadbull, Zoodiac Barrage, and Zoodiac Ratpier were the cards that pushed Zoodiac to being the most played deck, Zoodiac Drident was the card that stopped people from playing anything else.

I always remind myself that this year's top decks are always next year's rogue strategy, but I find with each year that it becomes increasingly difficult to accept. We're pretty much past the point of having to worry about Zoodiac Drident and Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King, for instance. Overall, I'm excited to see what 2018 brings to the table, and I can't wait to try out all the different strategies that Konami gives us!

-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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