A term I hear quite a lot is ‘floater’. What is a ‘floater’? What do they do? Are they good? Are they bad? The Wikia has described a floater as “a Monster Card which has replaced itself in some way, allowing the player using it to generate card advantage.” Most people think of cards that get another card when it dies, like Sangan, or Mystic Tomato, but it isn’t that straightforward.
The two examples that the Wikia gives are Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive and Gravekeeper’s Spy. Both are FLIP monsters and give you an extra card when they flip. These are pretty simple. They both give you a card when they trigger, be it a random card off of the top, or another Gravekeeper’s monster. But do not limit your thinking to just this.
I’m not going to go deep into the pluses and minuses of floating because a monster destroyed something by battle. Also, this theory is based on card quantity, or raw advantage. Not card quality, or true advantage. In a vacuum, a Blue-Eyes White Dragon is more valuable than a Sabersaurus. Conversely, in the hand, Sabersaurus is more valuable than the Blue-Eyes because you can Normal Summon it without using any other cards. But the main point of floaters is to provide card quantity over quality.
Let’s look at one standard play in a Monarch turn.
My opponent plays Pantheism and discards a Stormforth to draw Ehther and Edea. Pantheism then banishes itself to search another card. Edea is Normal Summoned, which gets Eidos and allows them to Tribute Summon Ehther. Edea gets back the Pantheism and Ehther dumps The Prime Monarch and Pantheism to Summon another Ehther. The Prime Monarch Special Summons itself banishing the Stormforth and next turn that Pantheism can get another Spell/Trap to use the Pantheism in hand.
Ending Field: Ehther, Prime Monarch (as a monster)
Ending Hand: Ehther, Pantheism
Ending Graveyard: Edea, Eidos, Pantheism
Ending Banished: Stormforth
So in terms of raw advantage, my opponent went +2. They have 4 cards when they started with 2. But is this floating? In a way, yes. The fielded Ehther is floating really, really hard. The cost was only Edea. And if we didn’t have anything banished, Ehther simply gave us access to Pantheism and The Prime Monarch. Both of which activate for free and give us cards. But everyone knows that The Prime Monarch alone won’t win games. You need something else to do.
But is floating actually important? Yes and no. Floating is important in that you need to generate enough card quality and quantity to close out the game. Floating doesn’t matter because only the future of any given game matters. Once something happens, it’s happened. Unless your opponent is a really nice guy, you won’t be able to back a turn and summon Ehther when you summoned Erebus because it would have won you the game. This is why people typically only think of floaters that give you something when they die. The T.G. monsters, battle recruiters, Sangan and the like.
Another problem with raw advantage is that it only counts the cards on the field and in the hand. Yugioh is a complex game with lots of cards with lots of effects in lots of places. Pendulum Monsters and monsters with effects in the Graveyard/Banished Zone throw card quantity out the window. Card quantity also gives each spell card the same value as a monster. And while cards on the field and in the hand are often more impactful to winning, you can’t not count Pendulum Monsters in my Extra Deck that I’m capable of Pendulum Summoning. Card advantage is a fine theory. It just doesn’t work so well with Yugioh. Thus, the problems with floaters.
You need to think about what a card can do. How a card helps you win. Usually, you win by attacking with monsters. Usually, you need to get rid of your opponent’s monsters to attack directly with yours. One of the best ways to do this is to trade your cards in profitable exchanges until your opponent has no cards left and you can attack for game. Traditional floaters, like Reborn Tengu, come in and allow you to use them as fodder for something, chump, or trade in battle and have them replace themselves to give you another card to use later. But a floater doesn’t make it more valuable. It makes a monster expendable. An Obelisk that tributed floating frogs to Raigeki isn’t more or less valuable. The potential is the same. Lavalval Chain and Daigusto Emeral are generally expendable once you’ve used their effects.
You need to stop thinking about what cards have done and start thinking about what cards can win you the game. That’s why people in 2013 were willing to invest four cards into a Dracossack. The Dracossack isn’t ‘floating’ until it’s killed four cards by battle or with its effect. That takes four turns. The Dragon Rulers gave you free monsters to use for attacking and Synchro/Xyz/Tribute Summons.
If I have 5+ Lightsworns with different names in my Graveyard, I’d rather have Judgment Dragon than Lightray Diabolos because it has more potential to destroy more cards and attack for more damage. However, if I have both and my opponent has cards, I’d be more likely to summon the Diabolos because it’s more expendable. Additionally, I have the ability to overlay Diabolos with a Dragon Ruler to make Big Eye or Dracossack and take even more cards from my opponent.
Is a Level 4 Normal Monster with 8000 ATK worse than T.G. Striker? Usually, no, because that 8000 ATK monster has more potential to end the game. That’s what competitive Yugioh is about. Otherwise, people wouldn’t play good decks.
Floater Theory is a solid theory, but when applied to Yugioh, it is heavily flawed and doesn’t consider card quality at all, which is often more important than raw advantage. Floater Theory falls apart because it states that every card that generates a 2 for 1 interaction is better than a card that does not. While in general, this is true, and the reason Kozmo Dark Destroyer is a good card. Floater Theory also fails to address the fact that winning the game is more important than card advantage.
Do you disagree? Let me know. And until tomorrow, click an ad, buy Big Eyes for your Summer 2013 format deck and share this with your friends.
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