Welcome to the Format Archive, where I go a format, one at a time. Last time I covered the September 2012 format and today I will cover the March 2013 format. Everyone just calls this the Dragon Ruler format, but more things happened than just Dragon Rulers and I’m here to tell you about those things.
Wind-Ups, Fire Fist and Mermail were the best decks with a ton of decks that could still compete for the most part. Konami wanted to sell new product, so, as per usual, Konami had to hit everything, then power creep the rest.
Listed are only the changes to the previous list and an asterisk means it moved up. Moving up means you can now play more copies that you used to be able to.
Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity
One Day of Peace
Thunder King Rai-Oh
Advanced Ritual Art*
Blackwing – Kalut the Moon Shadow*
Lumina, Lightsworn Summoner*
Shien’s Smoke Signal*
So with these changes, it’s clear Mermail and Fire Fist were the top two contenders. Wind-Ups weren’t good anymore, but with Volcasaurus right around the corner, people were hyping up Rank 5 Wind-Ups. Check back next format for Rank 6 Wind-Ups? Can’t wait until we get to Rank 12. It’s a shame Wind-Ups stopped being good. That wouldn’t sell new product, though.
Zexal Collection Tin (ZTIN)
This is the tin that brought us 11 new cards and 10 reprints. Among the good cards were Volcasaurus and Freezadon. Starliege Paladynamo and Ultimate Rare Giga-Brilliant are neat, too. But people bought the tins for Volcasaurus. In the end, Wind-Ups didn’t do much. I tried playing them because I still had them, but it just wasn’t good any more.
Hidden Arsenal 7: Knight of Stars (HA07)
Did you know Hidden Arsenal sets have names? I never actually realized they did. Hidden Arsenal packs contain 5 cards per pack. One Secret Rare and 4 Supers. HA07 is no exception. HA07 supports Lavals, Gem-Knights, Gishki and Gusto. And by that they mean Lavalval Chain and Daigusto Emeral. Finally, they’re legal for tournament play. Also the Lswarm and Constellars are new. Ok, Lswarm isn’t new as we’ve had Steelswarm for some time. Still, Evilswarm are.
Evilswarm and Constellar are two Xyz archetypes that kind of mirror each other. But really they don’t. They’re more like opposites.
The good Evilswarms are all Level 4, while all of their Xyz are Rank 4. They have a 1950 Normal for Rabbit to Summon. And before the next set, LTGY, Evilswarm also played Sabersaurus to Summon Laggia/Dolkka. Evilswarm Castor lets your Normal Summon another Lswarm if it’s Normal Summoned. Thunderbird acts like Wind-Up Rabbit, but comes back at 1950. And Mandragora can Special Summon itself if your opponent controls more monsters than you. Not the worst Rank 4 engine. But does it have themed Xyz? Yes, pretty good ones.
Ouroboros was feared as it’s Trishula. Literally, it’s Trishula. All of the Evilswarms are corrupted versions of other Duel Terminal cards. Also they all have XX50 ATK. Super annoying. Ouroboros has 2750 ATK and takes any 3 Level 4 Monsters. Once per turn it can detach 1 material, bounce an opponent’s card, make them discard a card or banish a card in their Graveyard. And to make it even worse than Trishula, each effect can only be used once while it’s face-up. At least it has more ATK than Trishula. But Trishula would remain irrelevant until some a little blue warrior revives it in 2015.
Ophion is Gungnir, but is nothing like Gungnir. Ophion require 2 Level 4 “lswarm” monsters and while it has Xyz Material, Level 5 or higher monsters cannot be Special Summoned. This is the plan. Every game. Summon Ophion. Don’t let the opponent play. Win? Just like Ouroboros, Ophion has 50 more ATK than Gungnir, which puts it at 2550. Also, its other effect lets you detach 1 material to search an “Infestation” Spell/Trap. Only Pandemic and Infection were used. Pandemic is a quickplay spell makes your face-up “lswarm” monsters unaffected by Spells and Traps while Infection is a continuous trap that shuffles back an “lswarm” to search another.
Next up is
Brionac Bahamut. Bahamut doesn’t act like Brionac at all, but it does have 2350 ATK. Bahamut is also restricted to “lswarm” monsters. What it does though, is detach 1 and discard 1 “lswarm” to take control of an opponent’s monster. AND Bahamut can still attack. Neato, but not fantastic.
Pre-LTGY Evilswarm sometimes summoned Laggia, sometimes Ophion. The main problem was protecting Ophion from getting destroyed. The solution was a combination of Forbidden Dress*, Black Illusion* and Infestation Pandemic. Some people ran Dark Armed, or the Sabersaurus, but not all.
Constellar are all different types, like Evilswarm, but unlike Evilswarm, they are all LIGHT. They’re also named after a star in each zodiac symbol and the Xyz are star clusters, neat. Pollux is Castor. Or rather Castor is the corrupted Pollux. Pollux, just like Castor, lets you Normal Summon again if you Normal Summon it. Algiedi on normal summon lets you Special Summon a Constellar from hand. Sheratan is Level 3, but searches for another Constellar on Normal summon. Zubeneschamali also searches on summon, but is Level 5. And can’t Special Summon itself. Gross. Kaus is the really interesting Constellar. Like Pollux and Algiedi it’s Level 4, but up to twice per turn, you can increase or decrease the level of a Constellar by one. This allows you to make Rank 5s and 3s with your Level 4s.
Pleiades is a Rank 5 that requires 2 Level 5 LIGHT monsters. Once per turn, during either player’s turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from Pleiades to bounce any card on the field. This is amazing. It’s a quick effect that can bounce any card for next to no cost. And it’s 2500, which is pretty legitimate.
Praesepe isn’t called Beekeeper in English, but it can boost a Constellar by 1000 during the damage step. Neat, but not broken by any means. It is 2400 meaning it can go to 3500 to bop over a bigger monster. Hyades is bad because it’s Rank 3. M7 is pretty damn good. It’s Rank 6, but can go on top of any Constellar Xyz, but can’t activate its effect that turn. And at 2700 very few things were challenging it in battle. It’s effect is pretty simple, but very good. Once per turn, detach 1 material, return a monster on field or in grave to hand. M7 is super simple but really good. Pleiades is out of material? Slap M7 on top for 200 more ATK and an ignition bounce.
The Constellar game plan was to summon an Xyz every turn. Usually, Pleiades if they could. And since Kaus was a Beast-Warrior, you want to search it. Why not Tenki? If you’re running Tenki, why not Bear? At the beginning, Constellar was actually Bear + Tenki feat. Constellars. They got more support in the next real set, LTGY, but were super power creeped.
Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy (LTGY)
(the start of Dragon Ruler format)
Oh boy. This set had so many things in it. This is the set that people said broke the game. This is the set that pushed everything else out of the meta. This is the set that created the Dragon Ruler format.
Before I talk about what broke the meta, let me explain what the rest of the set was. Constellar, Evilswarm, Geargia, Madolche, Harpie, Mermail and Fire Fist support all came in LTGY. It also brought us Spellbook of Judgment, the Dragon Ruler series, Battlin’ Boxers and Mecha Phantom Beast. For those who played Vanguard in the early days, LTGY was Yugioh’s BT05 of the English meta. Outside of the really good cards, it was a huge mess of meh and ok cards.
Constellar got Omega and Sombre. Omega was a Rank 4 Beast-Warrior with 2400 ATK packing a pretty good quick effect. Its quick effect detaches 1 material, then all of your Constellars are unaffected by Spell and Trap effects that turn.
Evilswarm only got Kerykeion. Wait, didn’t you mention sombre then not talk about it? Yes, because Kerykeion and Sombre are the same card. Both in lore and effect. Sombre just is for Constellars, Kerykeion for lswarms. The following applies to both monsters.
-Each effect can only be used once per turn.
-The turn it was sent to the Graveyard you can Normal 1 lswarm/constellar for 1 less tribute
-you can banish 1 lswarm/constellar from Graveyard, add another lswarm/constellar from Graveyard to hand
-then it gains this effect, this turn you can normal summon 1 lswarm/constellar
Kerykeion is 1600/1550 breaking the 50 ATK trend. Sombre is 1550/1600. Kerykeion is Sombre. Both archetypes were waiting for their one card recovery Xyz. It pushed Evilswarm to a point where they could compete but just barely.
Geargia got Geargiagear, which summons 2 Geargianos from your deck, then makes them Level 4. This card is the card that makes Geargia good after the format slows down. Madolche got Hootcakes, which summons a Madolche from the deck. More on this in a year. Harpie got Harpie Channeler, neat but not good enough. Abyssbalaen was the new Level 7 Mermail that can summon itself from hand. Too bad it needs to discard 4 Mermail monsters. Such trash. If it discarded 2 WATERs it would be decent. But it isn’t. At least it looks cool. All of the Fire Fist stuff except Leopard and Cardinal are bad. Cardinal shuffles back two fire formations from your grave/field to shuffle back two cards of your opponent’s. Leopard tributes any Fire Fist to set any Fire Formation. As for Mermial and Fire Fist, they simply got power creeped. They couldn’t compete anymore. Everything else was too strong.
Now that we have the jankiest jank out of the way, let me talk about the new cards. Battlin’ Boxers and Mecha Phantom Beasts.
Boxers were Level 4 FIRE Warriors. They were pretty garbage. I did manage to go undefeated 3 weeks in a row with them at locals, but that was because their boss Xyz basically can’t be destroyed and I was playing against Utopia.dek and Six Samurai. Also, Blaster is pretty good. Mecha Phantom Beasts are all WIND Machines of varying levels. They liked tokens. They summoned their own tokens. They couldn’t be destroyed while you control a token and they increase their levels by the amount of tokens you control. I really wanted to like them because their theme is cool, predator animals as military air vehicles.
Their boss, Dracossack, is pretty good. Generic Rank 7, 2600/2200, WIND Machine. Once per turn you can detach a material, summon two Level 3 Mecha Phantom Beast tokens. Once per turn: tribute a Mecha Phantom Beast monster (including the tokens it summons); destroy a card on the field. Also, while you control a token, it can’t be destroyed by battle or card effects.
All right, now we really have all of the jank out of the way. What sold boxes upon boxes of LTGY was Spellbook of Judgment and the Dragon Rulers.
Spellbooks only received 2 cards in LTGY, only one is any good. For the unaware, Spellbooks are a series of Spell Cards that mostly search themselves. Secrets searches any Spellbook card. Master copies any Normal Spellbook Spell Card in your Graveyard. Eternity adds back a banished Spellbook. Power gives a spellcaster 1000 ATK and if it kills something in battle, search a Spellbook. Wisdom is quickplay and makes a spellcaster unaffected by spells or traps. Crescent reveals 3 Spellbooks from deck, then randomly adds 1 to hand. Towers is a field spell that during the Standby Phase puts a Spellbook from grave on the bottom of your deck and draws another card. Star Hall is continuous and gains counters for each Spellbook activated, your spellcasters gain 100 ATK for each counter. Fate is quickplay and banishes 3 Spellbooks from grave to banish an opponent’s card.
Next up is Judgment. Spellbook of Judgment resolves during the End Phase and doesn’t start a chain then. During the End Phase of the turn it was activated, search Spellbook spells up to the number of Spell Cards activated that turn. Then you can Special Summon 1 spellcaster from deck whose level is less than or equal to the number of cards added. It’s also quickplay. Once, I had someone Mind Crush Spellbook of Judgment during my Draw Phase. I then chained the Judgment and he took a -2 while I went +5.
With the amount of spells activating, we’re going to be searching at least 3 every single turn. But we can’t win only by card advantage, and many of our Spellbooks require a spellcaster. In come Spellbook Magician, Priestess, Kycoo and Jowgen. Spellbook Magician only has 500 ATK, but is searchable off Secrets and on summon searches any Spellbook spell. Priestess is Level 7 with 2500 ATK. She can summon herself by revealing 3 Spellbooks. She banishes a Spellbook from hand/grave to destroy a card. Kycoo is pretty old, as is Jowgen. Kycoo prevents your opponent from banishing cards from the Graveyard and Jowgen prevents all Special Summoning. Paired with Spellbook of Judgment it looked like nothing could challenge these spellcasters.
Much like the Dark Magician vs. Blue-Eyes White Dragon, the only way to combat the Spellcasters was with a dragon. But one dragon wouldn’t cut it, we needed four. Thankfully we got those dragons in LTGY to fight the strength of Spellbook of Judgment. There were actually eight Dragon Rulers, two of each not LIGHT/DARK attribute, one Level 7 and one Level 3 or 4.
The Level 3s and 4s were called the babies and they all discard themselves and a dragon or monster with the same attribute to summon the corresponding big from your deck, but it can’t attack that turn. You’re going to just Xyz with them, then Summon the Dragon Ruler back from your Graveyard.
The big Rulers each had 4 effects. Only one effect of each Ruler could be used per turn, and only once that turn. The Dragon Rulers were the first cards to have that clause. This clause meant we could get cards with better effects and more varied effects. These are the effects the Rulers have, with the last effect being different for each one. Note that attribute simply means the same attribute of the dragon.
-summon from hand/grave by banished 2 dragons/attribute
-during opponent’s End Phase, if Special Summoned, return to hand
-if banished, search 1 attribute dragon
-discard this card and 1 attribute to do the thing below
FIRE: destroy a card
WATER: foolish burial
WIND: search any dragon
EARTH: monster reborn (only your Graveyard)
So the Dragon Rulers were capable of Summoning potentially 8 Level 7s in one turn. But what Rank 7s are we going to use? Big Eye and Dracossack of course. Big Eye takes all your opponent’s monsters, and Dracossack out grinds anything that isn’t Spellbook of Fate or Big Eye. In the mirror match, you had to be careful not to leave anything with less than 2800 ATK or DEF on the field, otherwise, you’ll get Crimson Blader’d.
While Dragons did generate massive advantage and did out advantage everything not the mirror or Spellbooks, Dragons were able to OTK with actual battle damage. Spellbooks could plus so hard in one turn that the game is effectively over, but they didn’t deal much damage. The main monster has 500 ATK, and the other monster has more at 1800, but plusses and not letting the opponent do things won games, not battle damage. Star Hall helps alleviate the small monsters by giving them a boost even though it largely didn’t matter. Since many people started to main Eradicator Virus, I chose to run Starlight Road because if I have two face-up Spells, I can Starlight Road it. Starlight Road also helps against Deck Devastation and Dark Hole. And Heavy Storm. All of which were problems for the deck.
Spellbooks plan was to activate a ton of spells, set Spellbook of Fate, search a bunch of Spellbooks and summon Jowgen out of your Deck. Then Dragons can’t Special Summon. Then you just Fate away any cards they do have. Kycoo also prevents the Rulers from banishing dragons from the Graveyard. And in the mirror, Kycoo stops your opponent from using Fate, which is the key card in the mirror match.
All dragons aimed to do was summon some dragons, summon Dracossack and attack until you’re dead. This was a pretty simple strategy, but got complicated quickly with Super Rejuv, Gold Sarcophagus and only being able to use each Ruler once per turn.
Evilswarm snuck in a few tops here and there, but not because they were good. Evilswarm were pretty slow and a fair decks. Fair decks are never good enough. Ophion, however, was not fair. An Ophion with material meant the dragon player couldn’t summon any of their dragons. An Ophion also meant your opponent could have an Eradicator Virus set. That meant Spellbooks weren’t safe either because Eradicator would devastate them for 3 turns. But because Evilswarm were fair, they almost always lost out to Books and Dragons.
The format changed a lot even though new sets weren’t coming out. Dark Hole went in and out of the main deck of Dragons to out Jowgen. Priestess saw play when Dragon Rulers started playing Light and Darkness Dragon. Sacred Sword of Seven Stars was played between 1 and 3 copies in different decks even though it’s a +1 every time it resolves.
Patrick Hoban won the American WCQ with David Keener getting second. David Keener also got second place at Worlds.
Number Hunters (NUMH)
NUMH dropped right before the American nats with a lot of garbage in it and a couple good cards. The set wasn’t legal for Nationals, but it brought a new Rank 7 for Dragon Rulers to play with, a generic Rank 4 Eradicator tribute, and a few other cool miscellaneous cards that would never see play.
Number 74: Master of Blades was hyped up to change up the Dragon Ruler mirror significantly. If Master of Blades is targeted, you can negate the activation, destroy that card then you can destroy another card on the field. Master of Blades trumps both Big Eye and Dracossack as it has 2700 ATK and both of their effects target. In reality since Blaster is 2800, just summon Blaster and attack over it. Crimson Blader, Scrap Dragon and Colossal Fighter are also all 2800. That doesn’t even include other tech choices like Light and Darkness Dragon or Red Dragon Archfiend. If Master of Blades had 2900 ATK it would have been amazing. Master of Blades has 2700 ATK and isn’t amazing.
The other notable card from Number Hunters was Number 85: Crazy Box. Crazy Box only requires 2 Level 4 monsters and has a whopping 3000 ATK, but can’t attack. What’s up with that? Doesn’t matter, just tribute it for Eradicator Virus if you’re playing a deck that can make Rank 4s that isn’t Evilswarm. Crazy box has an interesting effect, though. It’s almost never used because it requires a die roll. You can detach a material and roll a die, then apply the result
1: Halve your Life Points.
2: Draw 1 Card.
3: Your opponent discards 1 card.
4: Negate the effects of 1 face-up card on the field until the end of this turn.
5: Destroy 1 card on the field.
6: Destroy this card.
If you do manage to roll a 4, it can attack. If you flip up Skill Drain, it can attack. Otherwise you’re only going to tribute this for Eradicator Virus.
Judgment of the Light (JOTL)
This set came out at the very end of the format and had almost no impact on the format. It was another one of those sets that came out at the end and wouldn’t make an impact until the next format. JOTL brought the TCG Fire Fist Rooster, World of Prophecy, Bujins, Yaksha and Wolfbark. Transmodify and Xyz Encore were also pretty hyped up. And I almost forgot about Key Beetle. Key Beetle came out in JOTL and made the Safe Zone + Emptiness lock a thing. Not consistently, though. Star Eater, Psyhemuth, Armades and Mist Bird Clausolas were more good generic Synchros. Always welcome. Masked Chameleon was just waiting to be abused.
Fire Fist got Boar, which was a battle recruiter and is a tuner. Boar being a Level 4 tuner meant Fire Fist could now make Crimson Blader and Fire Fist Kirin. Not that Kirin was super good anyways. Rooster was a Level 3 that paired well with Spirit from CBLZ. Spirit summons Rooster, which searches Spirit, then they make Horse Prince or a Rank 3. It was pretty effective for the three weeks it was playable.
World of Prophecy is Level 9 and on summon adds back 2 Spellbooks from your Graveyard, then you can Reveal 4 Spellbooks to destroy all other cards on the field. Much better than DMoC. Also, World has 2900 ATK. There are three scenarios in which DMoC is better than World. One, you run reasoning. Two, you run Reaper of Prophecy. Three, you want to get back Book of Moon.
Bujin is a pretty janky helmet deck. The term helmet didn’t come around until the next summer, but Bujin are the epitome of helmet. They’re also slower than an old person at the grocery store with a bag of coupons.
Yaksha gave Fire Kings a small boost, but Wolfbark is the better new Level 4 FIRE Beast Warrior. Once per turn you can summon another FIRE Beast-Warrior from your Graveyard, but its effects are negated. This split Fire Fist into 4-Axis, which focuses on making Rank 4 plays, and 3-Axis, which summons a Rank 3 or Horse Prince every turn. 3-Axis had more explosive plays while 4-Axis was more control oriented and consistent.
Xyz Encore is not Spell Speed 4. Xyz Encore is Spell Speed 2 because it is a quickplay spell. Xyz encore cannot be responded to by cards or effects. Now that that is out of the way, Encore detaches all material from an Xyz, puts it back in the extra, then summons the detached materials to your opponent’s side of the field and reduces their levels by 1. This was really only ever used by Dragons to not lose to Ophion, but not until the September format. Fun Fact: Number 86: Ronald McDonald gets REKT by Xyz Encore.
Nothing in JOTL actually saw any play until after September. And September shook everything up. It destroyed Dragon Rulers, Spellbooks and anything else you might want to play. R.I.P. Dragon Ruler format (part I)
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