The concept of a forbidden/restriction list in card games is nothing new. Any card game out there needs a banlist at some point. Either banning a card or restricting the quantity of it is a necessary evil. Even for Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, the same concept is no different.
Mobile game or not, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links finds itself at a point where a forbidden/restriction list is long overdue. When factoring in the game’s Speed Duel rules, individual cards suddenly become that more potent and efficient. However, the issue stems from these particular cards being TOO EFFECTIVE, especially in excess numbers.
The maximum number for any card is three by default, but I believe some cards should not get this luxury if they are (overwhelmingly) useful. Not restricting some of these cards in any shape or form causes more harm than good.
Below are three reasons, in no particular order of significance, as to why I believe a forbidden/restriction list is a must.
1. Lopsided Balance
In a game like Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links, competitive decks will naturally seek the cream of the crop. Of course, some cards are significantly better than others. Powerful cards, especially those universally strong, become “staples” in the standard metagame.
In fact, one of the most basic strategies of deck building is to craft strategies around these staples instead of the other way around – and this due to them being too good to pass up.
Rightfully so, an excellent card is an excellent card. But I find it off-putting when someone’s deck has multiple cards of a staple at their disposal. All of this just screams for a restriction.
Reducing some above-average cards down to a max number of two or one makes a big difference. It still lets players use these cards. Not to mention, the format can control their power if they are scarce in number.
If anything, I think this would make the staples extra special. You will be more mindful of activating them if you have a few copies in your deck instead of having so many to use at will.
Finally, outright banning a card should only be for extreme cases. Some cards without a doubt need the ban treatment, but only because they destroy the meta too effortlessly by themselves.
2. Deck Creativity Suffers without Restrictions
For someone like me who loves card games, I am keen on the idea of deck creativity. Seeing all kinds of different strategies and builds is what excites me. However, all of this creativity goes the window when staples take up precious deck slots.
After all, the minimum number of cards in Speed Duels is 20 with a max of 30. Even with just the bare minimum in mind, there is not a lot of room to work with – making every card count a lot more.
If staples eat up card slots in place of other cards without a banlist, many matches can become repetitive. You see the same go-to cards again and again. It gets real old. Where is the variety?
And sure, even with a banlist and restrictions, staples will still exist. But what I would like to see is the meta encouraging innovation instead of stagnation. Show me outside-of-the-box thinking. I don’t want to see a generic deck packed with staples for the nth time. Ad nauseum at its worst.
3. Fun Factor Threatened
Finally, one cannot rule out the fun factor. You know – the thing most people play a game for in their spare time.
Whether you are casual or a try-hard, fun should matter in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. For me, I lose interest when every match boils down to who plays more overpowered cards than the other.
This type of gameplay is incredibly dull, and it saddens me how so many staples dominate the format. Above all else, lots of matches turn into cheesy affairs of comboing staples again and again. There is no real “skill” when matches reach this state.
Limiting the strength of the obnoxious/top-tier decks needs to happen. Otherwise, it just drives people away from the game. In droves.
Ultimately, I hope Konami does the right thing by incorporating a banlist. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links continues to excel in the mobile gaming market, but it could be so much better.
Here’s hoping Konami makes it happen. Fingers crossed.
See you all in Duel World.
All Yu-Gi-Oh! card images and content belong to Konami (© 1996 Kazuki Takahashi).
Also published on Medium.