How Dragon Rulers have evolved deckbuilding, playing, and card advantage in the game

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How Dragon Rulers have evolved deckbuilding, playing, and card advantage in the game

Mensagem por dracofu em Qui 06 Mar 2014, 13:25

How Dragon Rulers have evolved deckbuilding, playing, and card advantage in the game

In May 2013, the TCG was turned upside-down with the launch of Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy and the arrival of the most powerful force the game had seen up to that point, a force that would utterly dominate for the next seven months until the January 2014 banlist brought its reign to an end: the Dragon Rulers. These cards stormed tournaments with victory after victory, forcing other decks to either run cards with the sole purpose of thwarting their advantage engine or simply lose outright. Their closest competitor (or outright rival, depending on who you ask) was Prophecy during the latter half of the March 2013 format, thanks to its ability to keep cards consistently available through Spellbook of Judgment.
The reason I’m bringing up these two decks today is not only because they took over the game during the TCG’s March 2013 format, but also because their presence has created aftershocks that affect deckbuilding and gameplay even now.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, if you’ve played Yu-Gi-Oh! any time in these last seven months, chances are you’ve played a Dragon Ruler deck. You’ve seen Super Rejuvenation resolve for a whopping six-card draw. You’ve stared down a pair of Dracossacks. You’ve seen Spellbook of Judgment get three Spellbooks for free, followed by Jowgen brought out with a Spellbook of Fate to back it up. Why is this so important? These decks did something no other deck in Yu-Gi-Oh! has been able to do before: they gave both players unprecedented access to the contents of their decks at any time, so long as neither player made a dead draw. Conventional card advantage was thrown out the window. Duels became battles of position rather than battles of cards. Spellbook of Judgment and the Dragon Rulers let you trade your cards for your opponent’s cards and then replenish your resources with either Judgment, Rejuvenation, or the Rulers’ own effects. Your deck would constantly feed you whatever resources you needed. But the main point of this article, and the reason these decks were so powerful, is twofold: 1) this replenishing of resources came at almost no cost to you and 2) you always had a backup plan.
For the remainder of this article, we’ll be talking less about Prophecy; in the March 2013 format, the deck was very close to (if not at) the same tier as Dragon Rulers and the points I’m going to make in this article apply to it as well, but Dragon Rulers took a different turn in September, which is what I’m going to examine.
Let’s take a look at the Dragon Rulers in detail:

  • You can Special Summon them from your hand or Graveyard by banishing 2 monsters that are either Dragons or the same Attribute as them from your hand or Graveyard
  • If you Special Summon them, they return to your hand during your opponent’s End Phase
  • If they’re banished, you get to add 1 Dragon-type monster of the same Attribute from your deck to your hand
  • Tempest lets you search any Dragon; Redox lets you revive any monster from your Graveyard; Tidal lets you send any monster from your deck to your Graveyard; Blaster lets you destroy one card on the field. These effects are all activated by discarding their respective Ruler and another monster of the same Attribute.

These four cards are incredibly versatile. They all worked together and could search cards off each other when summoned, creating situations where every play you would make was free, your opponent would waste cards to stop your free plays, and your power cards would seal the game for you. Dragon Rulers specialized in being a deck that could produce an “out” in any situation, whether faced with the plethora of level 8 Synchros or cards like Dracossack and Big Eye which could single-handedly eliminate most threats. Other decks were forced to play cards that simply stopped Dragon Rulers from doing anything and pray that their opponent didn’t draw Heavy Storm.
Let’s flash forward to September 2013, which saw Super Rejuvenation banned and Gold Sarcophagus limited to 1. Did that stop the Dragon Rulers? Nope. Dragunity Rulers won YCS Toronto, and many more Dragon Ruler variants popped up between then and now. Two cards in particular gained a lot of popularity in the last four months: Raigeki Break and Phoenix Wing Wind Blast.
These two cards, in exchange for a single discard, can remove a card from the field either by destroying it or by placing it on top of the owner’s deck. Handy on their own, but Dragon Rulers made them insanely powerful: by discarding a Dragon Ruler, you could effectively use their removal for free, then later summon that same Dragon Ruler to the field with its effect or banish it to summon a different one. Decks everywhere began playing these cards because they had no other choice (Wind Blast is an easy way to get rid of Dracossack, Colossal Fighter, or Stardust Spark Dragon!), though not all decks were able to keep up with the discard cost. Prophecy decks played a few as a way to discard drawn copies of World of Prophecy, extra cards from free draws off of Tower, and dead Spellbook Library of the Crescents.
The Dragon Rulers still kept their main feature, which is the main reason I wrote this article: even if you have no cards in hand, you could still make plays with the Dragons in your graveyard (assuming no floodgate cards were preventing you from using them). If you ever ran out of resources, no problem – you could just continue summoning things from your graveyard. Topdeck wars (outside of Dragon Ruler mirror matches) were insanely skewed in favor of the Dragon Ruler player because Dragon Rulers technically had two hands to play with.
The point behind all this history is to highlight exactly what the Dragon Rulers have done to the game and to how we play Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dragon Rulers are now at 1 each and, for the time being, their dominance appears to have come to an end; they’re harder to get to and can’t replace themselves with copies of each other anymore. For the last seven months, I’ve been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! with the mindset of “if this play fails, I have three more I can make with free cards from my Graveyard” and “even if I’m topdecking, I still have plays from my Graveyard,” but in the upcoming format, players won’t have that luxury anymore. We will all have to remember how we played Yu-Gi-Oh! before the Dragon Rulers and Spellbook of Judgment – when plays weren’t always free and resources didn’t just replace themselves.


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