Cross-posted from my work at TheDigiQuest.com
No matter how hard I try, I can’t kick this bad habit of mine. Despite Magic the Gathering being the better card game, I keep coming back for a new dose of punishment from this money grubbing card game seeped in the bad decision juices of Konami known as Yugioh. So I must say, God help us all.
Since its conception, Yugioh has been twisted and warped to be near unrecognizable by its young fans back in 2001, becoming more and more complex with each new iteration, even if needlessly so. New ways to summon new types of monsters eventually became the expectation of the game’s evolution. With each new era, traceable to the start of each new Yugioh TV series (Yugioh, Yugioh GX, Yugioh 5Ds, etc.), a new mechanic was introduced that became the main and sometimes the only way to play. For better or worse, every few years Yugioh goes through a massive overhaul and the start of the next new era is quickly approaching. Link Summoning, the new way to play, is why Rick and I are eager to take another stab at the toxic relationship we have with this children’s card game.
For Rick, our friend Dom, and I, the end of our time with Yugioh happened with the beginning of what was known as the Pendulum Era. Pendulum Monsters, a cross between Monster Cards and Spell Cards, were the tipping point that pushed the game over the edge and broke it beyond repair. The game of Yugioh became too fast, relying more on juggling your cards for five minutes before attempting to kill your opponent in one large swoop by turn one, two, or three, if you’re unluckly. But, with the introduction of this new era, Link Monsters may be just the remedy we need to bring the game back to a point that was both fun and interesting to play.
The New Mechanic and New Rules
Before I dive too deep into the new Yugioh mechanics and what I feel it means for the game, I’ve decided to provide a few resources detailing the specifics of how Link Summoning works and some new rulings surrounding them from ygorganization.com, a site I personally use and highly recommend as a Yugioh player looking for the latest information. These links will be more informative on the exact information versus my general explanations below.
In these modern times, summoning monsters from the Extra Deck, the 15 cards consisting of Fusions, Synchros, and Xyz you keep separate from your main deck of cards, quickly and effectively became the main way to win the game. Top tier decks have searchers and one-card extra deck summons that can be manipulated multiple times per turn. Speed was the name of the game before Pendulums broke the meaning of speed. Because of the speed of the game, Konami has introduced a few new rule changes along side the new Link Summoning that go hand-in-hand.
Change #1: Introducing the Extra Monster Zone
The Extra Monster Zone, a new 6th zone placed in between the field of each player has been introduced that is specific to summoning Extra Deck Monsters. Prior to this, extra deck monsters were summoned as apart of your five total monster zones but now these monsters can only be summoned into one of two Extra Monster Zones (each player receives one zone).
Change #2: Pendulum Monster Zones are now apart of the Spell and Trap Zone
Once, Pendulums had their own personal zones but from the start of the Link Era and onward, the Pendulum Zones will be integrated as Spell & Trap Zones. So, you may use them as regular Spell & Trap Zones or you may use them as Pendulum Zones.
Pendulum Monsters are taking the biggest hits from the new rules. Because of Change #1, Pendulums are now limited as dead pendulums that go to the Extra Deck are now considered Extra Deck Monsters that can only Summoned to Extra Deck Zones. This is a massive hit to their recycle-ability. On top of that, with the integration of the Pendulum Zones to the Spell & Trap Zones, Pendulum-based decks lose out on the number of spells and traps that can have out at once in exchange for using their Pendulums.
Link Summoning and Link Monsters
The new mechanic this time around focuses on limiting the games natural ability to summon from the extra deck with the use of Link Monsters. These monsters with no Levels or Defense come from the Extra Deck and have arrows around their portraits that point to specific zones on the playing field. To the right, is Decode Talker, a Link-3 Link Monster. If we take a look at his arrows, we see he points upwards to the opponent’s Monster Zone and diagonal to two of our Monster Zones. So, what do these arrows mean? Well, with the new change that Extra Deck Monsters can only be summoned to the Extra Monster Zone, there is an exception. If, by chance, you summon a Link Monster to your Extra Monster Zone, that Link Monster has the ability to increase the amount of accessible Extra Monster Zones are on the field. While a Link Monster‘s arrows are pointing to a Main Monster Zone, that zone can now have Extra Deck Monsters summoned to it in place of the new Extra Monster Zone. In short, Link Monsters now dictate how many and where you and your opponent can play monsters from your extra deck.
In order to summon one of these new monsters, you must perform a Link Summon by sending to the graveyard from your side of the field the number of monsters required to create the Link. So, let’s take Decode Talker again, a Link-3 Link Monster. In order to summon him, you must send to the graveyard, as specified by his summoning condition that is in Japanese, three Effect Monsters with a minimum of two. A simple way of putting it is it’s like a tribute summon but from your extra deck. Now, the other main difference is other Link Monsters can supplement the amount of monsters need to summon a higher Link Monster. For Decode Talker, you can send three effect monsters to the graveyard to summon OR you could send one Link-2 Monster, which counts as two monsters because it’s a Link-2, and one effect monster to summon it instead.
Effect Monster + Effect Monster + Effect Monster = Link-3 Monster
Effect Monster + Link-2 Monster = Link-3 Monster
Feeling Out Link Monsters and the New Changes
Link Monsters and the new changes to Pendulum Monsters are for one reason and one reason only: to slow the game back down. The game of Yugioh has gone out of control and these changes are a forced attempt to retcon a destructive mistake. Now, this method comes with it’s own share of problems of the likes we haven’t seen before. Prior mechanics never changed the way the game was played before but added new ways to play. Because of the new Link Summoning mechanic and changes to the rules/playing field, the old way of playing no longer exists. All decks are hurt by this change and it’s Konami who is charging us money to buy Link Monsters and start fresh. For players who never stopped playing, a good chunk of their investments have just gone down the drain. For players like me, I see a new opportunity to start to over and that’s why I’m interested in returning. It’s a mixed bag.
As for the meta game itself, slowing the game down and introducing these new monsters should hopefully feel refreshing. Decks will no longer be able to spam powerful Xyz monsters but, instead, carefully play responsive single extra deck monsters given the situation. For the first while, it’s likely we see quite a few decks that don’t make use of Link Monsters at all and rely on the main deck. Decks like Mermails may see a comeback while a current deck not so heavily reliant on the extra deck like ABCs may still have room to play. Trap cards may see a return after we hopefully move away from an OTK (one-turn kill) format.
In time, however, Konami will likely ruin the game once more. Overpowered generic Link Monsters will come out for $30+ a pop that will break the game. That’s just the way they are. They could easily use this new opportunity for a hard reset of the game as we know it but they won’t. For now Link Monsters are a bandaid to the problem but a bandaid I’m willing to take all the same. The start of an era has always been more exciting for me so I want to take this opportunity to get in while there’s still a chance we see a more thought-provoking format that fun to play.
Update: Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG New Master Rule (English Subbed)
Here’s an official Konami video explaining the new rules and field.
Thanks for reading and for more Yugioh Deck articles, keeping checking back in with this blog.