September 2016 Ban List – Commentary

Overload

It’s (a little after) September 5th, and that means that the newly released ban list is active in the JP game! Welcome to the 9th CX ban list commentary article, where we’ve gathered opinions from our team and beyond!

Featured in today’s article we have:

Felix (9th CX)
Melanie (9th CX)
Johnny (9th CX)
Travis (9th CX)
Clinton (Reigning EN World Champion)
Andrew (2014 NA WGP Champion)
Bren (2015 NA WGP Champion)
Russell (2015 NA WGP Qualifier, Las Vegas WS Community Organizer)
Michael (Glasses™)

Michael’s Note:

To get this article started, I reached out to everyone and began a massive Google doc for us to all put down our thoughts. I used some questions to seed the discussion, and here they are:

About the ban list as a whole- do you feel it is a necessary evil or just evil? (Or neither?)

I made this a loaded question because the ban list tends to have a lot of bitterness associated with it. Therefore…

For each card, does each change or lack of change make sense?

Presented without comment.

What were your primary targets for restrictions with this update?

i.e. Did you have anything you hoped would get banned/restricted?

Are you personally satisfied with it?

As we see the list as players outside of JP, do you feel ignored or overlooked?

Was there in your mind something that went criminally unanswered? Do you foresee any consequences or improvements based on the changes?

To the end that finishers such as Yami and Arle were not restricted at all, do you feel the game has come to a point where that kind of power is acceptable, or to a point where the kind of threat is simply too common? (Or neither?)

For reference, Yami & Arle are the finishers from TLR and Puyo Puyo which have a CX combo that results in a double cancel burn. They were thought to be prime candidates for restriction by some players. The question was narrow by design.

We’re going to be using some nifty new spoiler tags so you can check out everyone’s thoughts one at a time.

 

This is strictly an opinion piece, and everyone’s thoughts are presented here without any adjustments. (Minor text fixes though)

Here we go!

Felix

Expand - Felix

A ban list is 100% required for a game that is one large eternal format. There is going to be inevitable power creep in either direction. The ban list serves as a way of making sure overpowered sets don’t run away with every tournament. Then, when the meta changes or when a bunch of old banned cards are not as broken, they can be taken off safely. What the banlist isn’t for, is to cater to people who cry because a set wins locals (unless it’s a large turnout locals).
It is quite normal for a consistent set to be able to win 3-4 rounds in a row, but if it can consistently win 6-9 round tournaments going X-0 then there’s a big problem. Also, it isn’t very difficult to say “Ooops we overlooked something when banning/unbanning so we’re fixing that now,” if [Bushiroad] wanted to experiment with putting some cards on or taking some cards off the banlist, as long as it doesn’t happen every year. If it happens sparingly and if Bushiroad didn’t take a long time to update the banlist, then I don’t think that many people will have a problem with it. They could easily just bring Yami to 2 and see what happens. Yes, there will be people who panic sell, thinking the set is unplayable, but there will be people who are willing to test out new builds which might be more in line with what Bushiroad wants, and can perform decently enough. If the Yami at 2 thing falls flat, raise it back up after a while.

One thing I would like is more transparency from Bushiroad regarding banlist updates. While the explanations sometimes (Splinter Twin made Temur tempo unplayable????) at least the Magic banlist comes with “reasoning” behind each ban. There are various bannings that I would like Bushiroad to explain, such as why is Misakuro ok at 4 now but not the previous update/why are you allowed to choose if you want to play Xylophone in your deck but Rest! is banned etc, even if their reasonings are just as bad as WotC (Wizards of the Coast, makers of Magic: the Gathering). However, the current banlist is relatively small, so it’s not a huge issue.

It would also help if Bushiroad put out more event data from any tournaments they hold. Numbers such as total player count, # of players playing a specific set, what sets have the best records before top cut etc would help the playerbase understand why they ban certain cards a little more. Unless they do disclose these numbers, but no one bothers to look, we don’t know if there’s 80% of players in a room playing TLR or if it was one really good and lucky player who made it all the way to first place.

(Editor’s Note: Yes, BSR does publish some limited percentage data, but it happens so rarely that it does not contribute to transparency in what Felix considers a meaningful way.)

I’m OK with Yami being unbanned, even though she is a little overtuned, (watz an arle :v) because nowadays it’s all about being able to close a game out rather than durdling at level 3. Personally, I feel it is better with more finishers in the format (as long as they aren’t become grossly overpowered like Marika or if they print a cx combo that gives a regular cancel burn and a musashi burn on all characters :v) compared to heal loopers. One thing I feel is disliked about certain finishers is how consistent they are. I.e. Combos with a gold bar, ETB (on play) draw discard, look at X on play etc effects, contribute to how consistent a finisher is. There needs to be more tradeoffs with good finishers to have a balance. A card whose CX combo can only be used the turn it’s played without providing any kind of digging for it, or a card with very lower power (so either your opponent keeps their characters if you fail to end the game or they run you over so you can’t reattempt the same level of damage as easily) or just something along these lines would probably be a way of bringing finishers in line.

Melanie

Expand - Melanie

The ban list is a necessary evil. Due to a lack of research and development, especially when mixing series together, the game tends to use its player base as the test market. At some points a card just dominates to the point that it needs a restriction to keep the play atmosphere healthy. There are many downsides, though, including upsetting players who have invested money in a set and also the loss of money when expansions to a set come out because fear of “breaking” the set again usually leads to weaker sets and shaken buyer confidence.

The older cards that came off of restriction in both Neo-Standard and standard for the most part make sense. As time has progressed, especially in the past 6 months, the game has undergone an unprecedented power creep. This is in the form of Level 1 plus combos, Level 1 power levels, and, finally, the addition of the “must-have” over-the-top damage push finisher. The cards that came off are powerful in their decks, but a bit lack luster by today’s standard. The ramped-up printing of anti-damage events, over +3000 power counters, and increased Level 3 powers make MisaKuro a bit harder to pull off than she was back in the day. Laharl’s heal loop, arguably, can be countered by anti-heal in sets like Kantai, Little Busters!, and Rewrite (which is getting support in the near future).

The added cards for the Monogatari series and The [email protected] Cinderella Girls are nothing but slaps on the wrists for the series being popular in Japan. Due to the lottery system and how some tournament structure is handled, the sets were earmarked and pinged to prevent them from being “over-represented” in Japan this upcoming WGP season. The cards in Monogatari series don’t synergize at all, and many other sets have far overpowered finishers in comparison. The [email protected] Cinderella Girls bans simply were meant to slow down the Level 0 tech-ins to the popular “Trancing Pulse” deck. The set has other ways to guarantee its late game, both at Level 0 and 1, by running other cards. These bans do little to balance the meta. They will barely affect most player’s builds, will drive up the price of an older Bakemonogatari RR that is already high (3/2 Hitagi from that set), and have simply served to make a large segment of the community angry.

The issue here is that the only tournament reports that Bushiroad had in governing their ban list update were from recent events held only in Japan. They are not able until WGP season to look at the global implications of some sets like To Love Ru Darkness and Puyo, which with their overpowered finishers are incredibly popular over here in North America. What is also irritating to many players, is that similar sets in the past (i.e. Kantai Collection and Nisekoi), were swiftly smacked with a ban list when their end games and consistency seemed too strong. Now the new thing that has been introduced is putting sets “on watch”, like To Love Ru Darkness. Why? My guess is that they didn’t want a loss in sales on To Love Ru Darkness 2 (see Nisekoi Extra Booster and Kantai Collection 2 as examples of this in the past) and are trying to mitigate that past damage. The new additions and lack of some in a few cases as simply served to fire up the community even more. In the past [week], on popular forums, ban list discussion, articles, YouTube videos, and conversations are still at the top of these pages. Tiptoeing around the ban list is never the way to go. Slapping players’ wrists for liking, supporting, and playing a series, isn’t the way to handle things. The anger toward this update, in my opinion, is far greater than any of the ones made because cards were actually broken in combination, because it strikes not at balancing game play, but an agenda.

Personally, I think that To Love Ru Darkness at this point in time is almost fine. However, Arle’s combo with a +2 soul needs to go in my opinion. I feel that the 3/2 and the +2 soul should have been put on a choice one of 2 list.

(Editor’s Note: Bren pointed out in the doc that Bushiroad bans by card name, so this kind of ban would need to be a card-number-specific ban, if it were to happen.)

With Yami and Arle running around, and the sickening increase of anti-damage/stand counters seen in the past year, I feel that Nisekoi and Kantai Collection’s lists deserve a second look. Compared to some of the stuff out there at the moment, some of the Choices of 3 could become Choices of 2.

The banlist should be used to balance cards that are overall too powerful for majority of sets to deal with, rather than to punish players because they liked a certain anime and elected to play the cards from it. A banlist probably isn’t ready for an update when you only have data from 2 organized events as well. Honestly, I feel that this update should have been timed for the end of WGP Nationals season when a larger body of data was available.

Due to the unfair forcing of Spring Fest in NA and EU being English Only in some cases, there is no data to represent the Japanese Weiss players outside the JP region until the fall WGP season. To continue updates of the ban list in August I would voice the recommendation of a Spring Fest or organized event that allowed for Japanese Weiss to be played. Unfortunately, the recommendation for a mixed format Spring Fest is almost impossible to make due to the translation, card pool, and ban list issues on the English side of the game. With an organized event in the Spring for Japanese Weiss players, a better data pool would be available to make updates and recommendations to the ban list. Two events in one country is not enough to base these types of decisions on. The data is too skewed.

(EN: Egg, meet chicken. Chicken, egg. Who’s first?)

In a research based environment, two events is not enough information or data to base decisions on. You need at minimum 10 events in most cases to recognize trends. In the past, Bushiroad seemed to be doing this (see 2014 Kantai and Nisekoi ban lists). But recently, the past report has done away with this, basing statistics and decisions on 2 events.This should not be. Banlist updates should probably not have occurred until WGP season was complete.

I feel that the [Arle + Yami] effects are overpowered for the other decks out at the time (in Arle’s case, the comboing with the +2 soul is what kind of breaks it for me). Prisma Illya’s new Illya 3/2 burn finisher also somewhat fits in this category, despite being harder to pull off. On the other hand, Bushiroad seems to continually be pushing the finish end game over the stall, delay finish seen in older sets that had heal loop, top check and toss, and anti-front effects. Hence why older sets that rely on Heal Loop at Level 3 (not 2) and sets like Charlotte have struggled a bit in some player’s hands.

If Yami and Arle are going to exist and remain unchecked, it is my feeling that Akagi from Kantai can come off the ban list and Marika from Nisekoi could probably be tested as a two-of in Nisekoi decks. Why? Because other decks are running around right now and pushing just as many, if not more, instances of damage at Level 3. Yami, with 3 in the front row, has the chance of up to 8 instances of damage in a turn. Arle has 9 potential instances. Triple Illya has the potential of 9 instances of damage. Akagi only has a potential for up to 6 (not including the clock kick), and 2 Markia with a 3rd character on the board would be at the 9 possible instances Arle has.  I feel at some point the math needs to be considered and some of these other 3/2’s need to be evaluated at potentially having restrictions eased. If Bushiroad is going to keep printing the finish push end game (which they are), they need to keep continuing to evaluate older set restrictions and taking some off a bit more quickly than they did with MisaKuro.

Johnny

Expand - Johnny

I think a banlist is necessary because once in a while, Bushiroad likes to print something stupid like Marika or Yami, and that needs to be addressed. As for the banlist itself, Laharl and Misakuro were fine to take off the list. I didn’t see a problem with them in this meta. The CG one was interesting, I didn’t think people used Miria in TP but they did use Koume. And having played the deck I can attest that Koume is pretty OP in that deck with its millions of other ways to mill. And the PoS Rin is just a really good finisher. As for the Monogatari one that took me by absolute surprise and it kind of didn’t make sense to me. Monogatari has a lot of good on play abilities so they probably didn’t like how people were using that Shinobu to bounce say, clock kickers or Akatsukis.
As for changes I was hoping for, I mainly wanted Yami to go to 2 and since they’re kind of similar making Arle go to 2 as well. But, both of those did not get hit so I am not satisfied with the list. Personally I don’t feel ignored or overlooked. It’s likely Bushiroad knows we exist but the problem isn’t that they pay attention to the JP meta but it’s the way they determine what gets hit. They base their banlists off of representation and victories instead of individual broken cards. Monogatari is a good deck because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While in TLR, Yami IS the whole. So instead of basing hits based on how good or represented the decks are they should shift focus to how broken individual cards are. Sometimes I question if they even playtest these things before printing them. Another reason their hits might seem off, and this is just a guess, is that the Japanese players play differently than us over here in the US (I say US because I haven’t played anywhere else). Maybe over there they don’t field three Yamis and slam down a CX, and just settle for one, maybe 2. If that’s the case, I want to play in that meta. As stated above the thing that was criminally unanswered was Yami and her lesser twin sister Arle. Consequences would probably just be more TLR or all TLR at Regionals and Nationals here, because who doesn’t want an easy win with an autopilot deck? As for why Yami and Arle weren’t restricted, I don’t think that power is acceptable because based on the power and abilities of (some) recent lvl 3s being actually balanced and well designed. And for the sake of the game, I hope that kind of power is not going to be common because then it wouldn’t be fun anymore.

Travis

Expand - Travis

Honestly, as much as I hate living in fear of one of my sets getting hammered, a ban/restriction list is needed. For example, back before Marika was restricted to 1, who would want to sit in front of a field that was supposed to take you from level 2 to dead? It was oppressive and it was overpowered, and most tournaments, it was either play Nisekoi or don’t play. In a format where sets do not cycle out of rotation, the list needs to exist to give every set a chance instead of the same set taking the top spots every year, *coughkantaicough*, and after a set period of releases or time, let some of the restricted sets have their full power back.

Having a choice of 3 in Cinderella Girls makes sense. Miria doesn’t really affect the top CG decks, but the Koume and Rin restander do play a part. Players either have a choice of a free look at top 4 for a climax and only have to discard if you choose one, or a 3/2 restander that can pay half her stock cost on play. That much makes sense. Monogatari’s restrictions however, I cannot understand. The two cards on the pick 2 don’t even combo off each other, it almost feels like that the decision was just put there because Bushiroad was bored and decided to pick a set to give issues. I believe my statement early showed how I feel about MisaKuro and Laharl being unrestricted finally.

The main cards I wanted to see on the list was a choice of 2 between “Bayoe~n” Arle, or the +2 soul Variant of “Bayoe~n”(if such decision was possible). I’m perfectly fine with Yami because it isn’t as much of a threat to me as Arle is. A cancel burn on play that gets a second stack of cancel burn and +2k to your entire field that combos with a +2 soul is way too powerful, more powerful than Yami. Simply because you’re eating 4+ damage or taking two shots of cancel damage. I almost forgot to mention that depending on attack order, your front row is dead to rights. That is by far more powerful that the single instance of cancel burn Mayoi generates.

I’m neutral on the ban list, it doesn’t really affect me so much as it baffles me onto why some of the choices were made. However, I feel that NA and EU players are almost overlooked when these decisions are made since the choices for the ban list is based on the lottery system that Bushiroad runs instead of a Top 8 modified swiss. If the tournament format changed in JP, I could see a lot of cards being added/removed from the current restriction list. I just wish BSR would give better reasoning to their bans and restrictions instead of pie charts that don’t really tell anything to us in NA or EU.
Considering how some level 3 cards look now, I really hope that kind of power Arle has isn’t going un-watched. Considering nothing of those levels has been printed for a while, I’m hoping that other sets are getting enough utility so in the case they do have a run-in with these finishers, that they will be better prepared so finishers such as Yami and Arle don’t run rampant in tournaments.

Sebastian

Coming Soon

Clinton

Expand - Clinton

EN: Remember, Clinton doesn’t play JP at all.

Ban lists are a necessity because they are essentially apologies for poor design. Games have died from their respective companies not making timely changes to alleviate a problem(s) in a meta.

I am happy with cards coming off the list. Many might have been too dominating in the past, and as the game progresses and other cards catch up, they can return to the game.

As someone who doesn’t play JP, I find it very laughable that people can complain that the EN side does not have a restriction list. After seeing how BSR determines what needs to be targeted (through popularity and not actually looking at what could be or is too strong), it would result in a horrendous list in English. Imagine a world where AoT and SAO have arbitrary restrictions, not because they have any really busted effects, but because they are played the most. Especially in EN, card availability and pricing affect popularity, and a list that focuses on popularity is like a tax on the poor.
I think it is very hypocritical to not want games to not take too long from too much healing, restrict certain finishers, and then print even better finishers and let them go unanswered. It looks bad on a design, research, marketing, and a trust standpoint.

Andrew

Expand - Andrew

I will keep it short and sweet.  After playing this game for several years I believe my hopes for Bushiroad to make this game more relevant and more competitive is a dying dream.  Their approach to the game seems to run counter to what they want to achieve.  They have a massive tournament circuit every year but make decisions due to “being popular” rather than what needs to be balanced.  The power creep in the last year in a half shows this very trend.  If you are going with the mindset of making it a casual game, why eliminate those who play the game because of their favorite series?  #salty4life #quitingJPforEng

Clinton: Don’t believe you one bit Andrew lol.

Bren

Expand - Bren

Bushiroad is a unique company in that they tend to not outright ban cards unless there is either a change in design philosophy, a design mistake that was not caught in design, or a card was misprinted and there are reasons it cannot be errata’d or limited.  (For instance, there are a few cards that are banned not because they are powerful but because they extend tournament times and cause logistical issues with the playing area, and some other restrictions are made not to heavily dampen the power level of the deck, but to diversify the decks being played in that series.)  Instead, they like to use what is known as the Choose system, which allows a user to pick one of two or more cards that have been selected so that players have more deckbuilding freedom.  But humans are humans, and they are bound to make mistakes.  The option of a ban list is a tool for a company to stop a problematic card.  It is akin to a fire extinguisher in that it’s there to protect when used fast enough, but you really hope you don’t have to use it.

Let’s cover each card point by point, starting with the unbannings.

(Under One Roof, Misaka & Kuroko) – This card has had a long time vocal fanbase eager to have this card removed, and while it may not have been done with the timing Railgun players were hopeful for, it finally has been removed from the list.  It was first restricted in August of 2011, which makes it 5 whole years this card has been on the ban list.  What it did back then is hardly noteworthy now, but it is worth noting that Railgun at that point in time was taking the majority of top cut positions, and continued to compete even after this banlist to the point it got restricted further the following year.  The card was first put on the banlist for being the only non-Climax Combo card that had a reliable finishing effect, and while this is still a good card for Railgun, the single point of damage isn’t as powerful as many of the finishing effects nowadays.  The combination of being a finisher and heal still isn’t that common, though, and while [Last Shot, Sinon] may boast a better combination of abilities this card could come in at Level 2 and still has a niche even today as being one of the finishers of choice (the other being Touma) for the Index deck.

(Supreme Overlord Laharl) – This card has seen some tumultuous twists and turns, going from a restriction of 2 in August 2012 to being completely banned the following August, all for being the only set to counter Rewrite.  In December 2014, it had a slight release in the midst of all the Nisekoi carnage by being allowed at 1 again, and almost two years later it’s finally off.  Laharl’s powerful toolboxing and healing was the main reason it got hit in the widesweeping bans of August 2012, and jockeying with Rewrite caused it to get an even harsher hit.  The Choose 1 of 3 has been lifted since then, but it took this card some time before it finally came off.  Anti-heal effects, found in Suisei no Gargantia, Vividred Operation, Kill la Kill, Kantai Collection, Rewrite, and Little Busters have been very powerful and popular, especially Kantai’s since it doubles as an advantage engine and it was the Choose 1 of 3 choice more often than the other two.  This diminishes the power of Laharl, and the toolboxing effect in a set that really doesn’t have many finishers means that it essentially stonewalls against anti-heal.

Next, let’s cover the cards that got added.

(Smiling Until Her End, Mayoi Hachikuji) – Mayoi was really added here to force a few different options into the deck.  As one of the few finisher healers, she was vital in keeping yourself out of kill range while punishing an opponent all in one card, especially since she could target who got the Shot effect, which in most cases was (Tales of the Past, Shinobu Oshino), a card that couldn’t be targeted by an opponent.  In addition, Mayoi sent herself to memory afterwards, which would prevent clock kick or on-reverse effects during the opponent’s turn, despite not comboing with the other card on the list.  While she may be weaker in context to the next card, it is difficult for Monogatari players to choose between the two due to Mayoi’s role in the deck.

(Middle School Student, Shinobu Oshino) – Her second effect is the main reason to play her, though being a Level 0 attacker isn’t that bad either.  Shinobu is clearly the better card of the two, allowing Monogatari to reuse their Mayoi Level 0 if need be, saving characters from on-reverse effects (while adding to hand), and reusing on play effects like Heal late game.  Considered to be a staple by many, it’s understandable why she’s on here.

(Power of Smile Rin) – This is a dangerous card, despite anti-damage.  If you start the turn with 7 stock, you can play 3 of these, play the climax, and have enough stock to utilize all three Rin’s restand effects.  Her on play draw 2 ditch 2 stock 1 also let you filter out cards you didn’t want while giving you a slight refund on stock, effectively going three cards deep into the deck.  The mainstay finisher of the Triad Primus deck, this card went on to define the powerful endgame that deck had.  If it weren’t for Koume, Rin would be undeniably the go-to card for many players of Cinderella Girls.
(Miria Akagi) and (Loves Horror, Koume) – Both cards need to be talked about at the same time, because together they provided a dangerous engine.  Miria Akagi can grab Minami Nitta from the deck, while Koume can grab her climax, which made it a very consistent early game. It’s worth noting that Koume has no real direct replacement, while Miria’s job can be done by the Yellow Producer and Power of Smile Rin’s job can be done by Anastasia, both of which are slightly weaker, but at least there’s a comparative role.  Koume’s ability was the first free mill/search effect that had no upfront costs.  If you wanted to mill 4, you usually had to pay 1 stock for a Brainstorm, or discard a card to utilize an Azusa-clone effect.  Also, having no upfront costs made Koume a dangerous card, and a key card in Triad Primus decks, where having the correct climax at the right time was important.  Together, they made decks too consistent and too easy to play, and while Koume was rightfully added Miria was added alongside to prevent non-Triad Primus decks from abusing their combination together.

Now, for the cards that are still left on the list.  These will be brief.

(Anzu in a Swimsuit) – You can’t really talk about the reason this card is on the Choose 1 of 2 list without talking about the other card, (Xylophone Fortune Telling).  Anzu’s ALARM allowed you to heal her if she was the top card of your Clock, and normally this would be occasional, but Xylophone Fortune Telling let you pick any two cards from your Clock to heal, and you could easily combo the two to heal 3 if she wasn’t at the top card but very close to it.  This combination was put on February 2013 for reasons related to making the game last longer, and hasn’t been off since.

(Take a Break! [Commonly translated as Rest!]) – This card’s been here since August 2010, the very first Neo-Standard ban, and it’s never coming off.  This is an efficient heal that compresses and lengthens the game in high amounts, which is one of Bushiroad’s reasons for banning or restricting a card.

(World with Faded Colors) – Haruhi’s had this on the Standard Banlist since August 2010 but it got banned in Neo-Standard in August 2011 because it would loop Trouble Girl, Haruhi for healing.  While Zero no Tsukaima’s Event has been taken off, this one will stay for a bit longer.  For some who aren’t familiar, this Event could sacrifice and bring back the same <Brigade Chief> with a field combo so it would effectively read, Pay 1, salvage 2.  This is the main reason why it’s still banned, though it has the potential to come off and be limited.

(A Maiden’s Heart, Marika) – Yeah, this one’s not coming off for quite some time.  The end result of what made Nisekoi powerful (though it was not the driving engine, just the finisher), this card was hit in the only emergency ban ever in December 2014, and while it was allowed in a mono-Marika deck at 4-of for a bit it also lost that right and now sits at 1-of unconditionally.  While anti-damage and sacrifice Backups are present Marika’s damage potential is still looming, and it’s for this reason that Bushiroad is very cautious when considering whether to limit her to 2.

(Pendant of Promise) – There’s five links in the name depending on where you click, there’s so many of them.  Anyways, in addition to Marika causing havoc, a Choose 1 of 3 was implemented for the series as well.  This card is so vital to the deck that it effectively banned the other two cards in the Choose 1 of 3 in the <Key> deck, (Two of a Kind, Raku) and (Angel in White, Kosaki), though with the Extra Booster the <Sweets> deck now runs the latter.  The cards chosen were very important, as they still wanted the deck to shine and thus did not ban perhaps the most defining card of the deck, (A Maiden’s Heart, Kosaki).  This Choose 1 of 3 is effectively a ban for the main deck, though, and remains as an example to Bushiroad.

(Akinari Kamiki) – A pre-emptive ban from Bushiroad at August 2012, given what they knew about the Persona 4 Ultimate Booster, since it contained a card that could potentially be used with Akinari to perform a lesser version of the most dangerous deck in Standard, which is still destructive.  It’s never coming off for the foreseeable future.

(Changing Clothes, Cyrille) – Cyrille’s reason for being on the banlist since August 2012 was because she took up way too much time in tournaments.  When a cancelled attack meant a heal, even for 2 stock, it’s obvious it’ll take up a lot of time.  It’s there for that reason, and I don’t see it ever coming off.

(Cordelia’s Garden) – Yeah, same reason as Take a Break!  It’s not coming off despite the extra stock to play just because it’s a heal card that extends games and slightly compresses.  Not happening.

(2nd Hiyou-class Light Aircraft Carrier, Junyou) – Kantai’s drunk Light Carrier can go home because she was just too good.  At a time when Level 2 was a transition level even fodder like utility 1/0s had 2 soul for one total stock, and being untargetable put it over the edge.  It was first put on a Choose 1 of 3 in August 2014 alongside the next card, but December 2014 put an end to her reign.  May she drink at home in peace.

(Akagi-class Aircraft Carrier, Akagi Kai) – Correctly identified as the go-to finisher alongside Musashi, Akagi Kai was a dominant force because not only was it a dangerous Clock Kicker but its draw 2 ditch 1 ability allowed the player to draw into Compass more often than not.  And given how cheap the Compass was, even with Akagi Kai draining the stock each turn, you could survive more turns to dominate the board.  The reason this stayed on the list while Musashi did not is because with anti-damage creeping up in the format, Musashi’s inability to side attack hurt her brand, despite comboing well with anti-heal.

(7th Kagerou-class Destroyer, Hatsukaze) and (2nd Akatsuki-class Destroyer, Hibiki) – The two anti-cards that were part of a dominating Kantai performance in 2014.  These two were finally hit in February 2015, as Bushiroad tried to let them evade the banlist twice because they really wanted these abilities to be utilized.  In the end, Hatsukaze’s natural support with her anti-salvage, and Hibiki’s practically free anti-heal combined with a pseudo-change made the deck too consistent and rigid, and had to be restricted to allow more cards to see play.

(Sealed Fist, Action Mask) – This card was an awkward one.  Before even hitting the playable market it got an immediate restriction.  Normally, Bushiroad would errata a card if it was not printed the way they want it to be, but this one happened to be a special promo: a Blu-Ray promo.  There wasn’t going to be any way to redistribute this one, and thus the 1/0 with one more soul than was intended was restricted to one.

I tend not to have a major opinion on a banlist.  Typically, I see it happen, try to understand the reasonings behind it, and play to it.

Bushiroad has several branches, but there is no way that the any part of the world can compete with the number of players Japan has.  Despite being based in Japan, Bushiroad does keep an eye on overseas playing habits, but since Japan is the region with the most players it makes sense to gather data from the area with the most players.  In addition to being local, the fact company members attend the events allows the data collection to be in-depth and trustworthy.  Not to say that reports from outside of Japan are untrustworthy, but they don’t have a staff member at every single Level 2 or higher event to watch and take notes outside of Japan.  This obviously has the unfortunate side effect of having the majority of Japanese thought control the banlist to a degree, but it’s the most reliable way Bushiroad can obtain the data necessary to make changes to the banlist.

[Regarding Yami + Arle]:

(Golden Darkness) – To Love-Ru’s signature finisher, so much so that there are vocal minorities that have called for this card to be restricted or limited in a Choose 1 of X.  While the latter can indeed happen, I don’t expect this card to be restricted to anything but 3 copies, if there are any, and here’s two reasons why.  Firstly, it’s the Resonance card you have to reveal for a few cards.  If you restrict this card down to 2 (and even 3) copies or lower, you don’t just ban one card, you ban several.  It’s too broad of a change.  Secondly, similar to the limitation of Misakuro, what then?  What does the deck have left?  It’s the lifeblood of the deck and one of the reason it works, and restricting or banning the card effectively bans the deck.  I don’t see Golden Darkness ever hitting any restrictions, and would be a massive nerf for the deck if it was chosen as one of the Choose 1 of X.

(“Bayoe~n” Aruruw) – Pardon my transliteration of the name, every time I see her name I’m reminded of Eruruw’s sister from Utawarerumono.  Anyways, Arle doesn’t really have the problems of Golden Darkness.  She’s not the Resonance target for other cards, and can be limited to 2 without much problem at first glance.  But why would she not be hit in my mind?  It’s because she’s a combo card.  While stronger than Golden Darkness in offensive power and in Shots (there are 6 of them with 3 Arles as opposed to 5 with 3 Yamis), the thing that comes to mind is that she needs to combo and isn’t a one-card engine.  Arle needs you to have the climax in hand already since she doesn’t dig for it, and you need 2 (Whimsical, Carbuncle) in the back row if you want all 3 Arles to be untargetable like Golden Darkness is.  The fact you need all of this set up to be able to perform the same as playing 3 Golden Darkness is what makes me think that it is not a key card to be hit in a Choose 1 of X or restricted.  Similarly to TLR, I can see cards in Puyo Puyo I would put on a Choose 1 of X if I wanted to restrict them, but neither Golden Darkness or Arle would be touched in either case.

Russell

Expand - Russell

The current banlist is taking a turn for the better, releasing cards that should have been taken off such as Misakuro and Laharl. It seems Bushiroad is taking a slow and steady approach to freeing up some of the older sets; the meta has changed quite a bit since the reign of some of these cards. I would say it is safe to loosen up some of the other restrictions as well such as Cordelia’s Garden and the World of Faded Colors. The new restrictions on Monogatari and [email protected]:CG don’t ruin either series by any means. Monogatari quite honestly don’t need either card to be successful and there are enough options in the set to replace the missing slots. The choice of the 2 really comes down to your playstyle and potential deck synergy. [email protected]:CG is pretty self-explanatory; Triad Primus decks choose Power of Smile Rin, while the other decks choose between Akagi Miria or Loves Horror, Koume. Admittedly, Triad Primus decks will miss Koume but the Miria restriction won’t set them back too far, some Triad Primus decks even forego the Miria. Bushiroad taking Laharl and Misakuro off the restriction list was long awaited. Misakuro is rather lackluster compared to all the modern finishers. Laharl has a powerful effect but he won’t impact games the same way he has in the past.

I am personally satisfied with the unrestrictions that Bushiroad has put in place. The new restrictions are a little questionable since both the series have plenty of alternatives and don’t hinder the decks too much. It’s just nice to see Bushiroad approach this list rather smoothly without disrupting too much. The meta is actually great right now and there is a lot of diversity in terms of sets being played.

Regarding being a player from NA and not JP, I do not feel overlooked in any way. Although playstyles in Japan differ from America, the sets being played do not for the most part in NA Japanese tournaments. The Japanese prioritize different effects while the Americans have their own preferences. For the most part, the Level 3 lineups for most of the modern decks are relatively similar. Many of the gripes we have, the Japanese share (although we may be more vocal haha).

I’ve been asked before if I feel like certain sets need to be toned down such as To Love Ru’s Yamikan. While I do agree that the deck is incredibly powerful, it has its share of weaknesses that are rather exploitable by a good player. Yes, it probably has one of the best finishing potentials when the opponent is 3-2 and on, but it is hardly unbeatable. I can maybe see the Darkness Plan counter going on a Choice of 1 restriction list with Level 3 Yami in the future. All in all, I believe that in the future, Monogatari can come off the Choice of 1 list since those cards aren’t too oppressive by any means.

The current meta has many different and powerful finishers such as Yami, Arle and Illya. I just feel that this is a natural meta shift. We strayed from a heavy sustain meta with minimal finish potential to a meta filled with many different finishers. The point being, games may be much faster and at times feel overbearing, but that does not mean the game is less enjoyable. Living through a barrage of Yamis is a pretty good feeling regardless of what deck you are playing.

The one thing that I am glad about is that Bushiroad is finally balancing the Azusa/Akatsuki level 0 ditch a card, look at top 4 effect. They are starting to reprint the ability in Level 1s or restrict the color that similar cards can find. It makes it so that players have to commit to a color to get the effect rather than just dropping 4 in every archtype from that set (Kantai lol). Also shoutouts to my set finally getting an expansion, I’ve waited years for this! (Accel World)

Hime is best girl, best wife, and is life <3

Michael

Intensify Glasses

Ah, my turn at last!

I had the pleasure of editing the whole piece and I’ve gotten to see the whole kind of spectrum of salt in terms of how players might feel about the update.

There was a great temptation to provide clarification, analysis, and so on, but this is an opinion piece and so I’m going to put here what I think.

To be clear, I’m going to be speaking my thoughts as a player, and only a player. I’ve spoken my mind about Bushiroad’s challenges in the past and I don’t think those things bear repeating for now.

As someone who’s played several card games, I think ban lists are indeed necessary evils. A friend of mine actually, was a designer for the Naruto TCG, and could tell at length the struggles of coming up with good cards. While in my mind I think I know what would make a ‘fair’ and ‘balanced’ card in the language of WS and other card games, I know that in practice, it’s very trying. That said, we really do have to wonder sometimes about why people thought that cards like Marika, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and so on, were OK. If we wanted to go super deep, we could hypothesize that a designer has always had this dream of creating the greatest card known to the game, and by some series of accidents, that kind of card occasionally sees print.

Card for card, I think of any new restriction as a new challenge or puzzle to solve. In WS, you can potentially afford to ignore the changes in sets you don’t own and/or intend to play, which is kind of nice. Other games are usually not this forgiving. If Puyo Puyo, a set that I play with a lot, was hit with some kind of restriction, I would either shelve it or think of other ways to optimize it. I don’t really have an opinion on the card selection. Unfortunately for me, it looks like the cards that were hit are from series that I do not play (Gasp), but I have had sets I play with get hit in the past: Nisekoi & KanColle. My feeling back then was that the restrictions were justified, but because I was not directly affected this time around, I’m not exactly comfortable with passing judgment. I will opt to defer to the other contributors here for their views.

The JP game outside of Japan proper is marred by hideous fragmentation. Indeed, it is quite fun, but inconsistencies, language barriers, training barriers, and most importantly, the business language barrier, all contribute to this lovely clown fiesta. I will acknowledge and be thankful for the fact that a system even exists. I also acknowledge that there is sacrifice involved in hosting and managing such things, even as distant and fragmented as they may be.

I will not ever pretend to be satisfied with the way the JP game is managed. I think that the EN market provides a great, limited field test for what would happen if the JP game was to either have seasons and/or no restrictions. The lessons learned from it may not be 100% applicable, but I would really like to believe that someone is paying attention and planning to act on them. Part of the cultural mismatch here is the arrogance or perhaps just sheer ignorance that is presented by Bushiroad. What is presented as an expectation that all people know that in Japan, high-level decisions are kept behind closed doors and senior members. That is, “what transparency?” Now I find that kind of practice to be very dated and highly annoying. (Remember the excellent Pokemon Go fiasco when there was no communication from the company? WS players could probably take note of what happened)

I think Yami/Arle are here to stay, and for now are serving as new benchmarks for finishers. You know the phrase, “Le roi est mort, vive le roi!” (The king is dead, long live the king!)? It’s always difficult to see new cards take the throne as the ones to beat, because transition in itself is uncomfortable. While I think that these kinds of effects might be watered down a little bit if they are to appear in future sets, Bushiroad has shown that the kind of effect is not as insanely powerful as Marika, Junyou, etc. I’m looking forward to future sets to see how they might reinterpret the effect. If we were to see the exact combination again though, I would be a little annoyed at what I would see as lazy design.


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