There are some serious changes coming to Yugioh. I first read them, didn’t completely understand the implications and thought that the game was going to shit. It’s not, if anything, it’s quite the improvement. There’s a lot to unpack with Link Monsters and Link summoning as well as the Pendulum Zone changes. I don’t typically like to talk about what’s coming from the OCG because if the head of TCG Yugioh wanted us to know, we’d know but the inverse is also true. If we weren’t supposed to know, there’s no way we’d know and Konami would clean up their game. Let’s get into the changes, allow me to explain what they are then I’ll explain what it means for the game.
The smaller change is that the Pendulum Zones are gone. Good-bye. Your left-most and right-most Spell&Trap Zones are still just that, Spell&Trap Zones. BUUUUT that’s where you can place Pendulum Cards and then they become a Pendulum Zone and you lose that Spell&Trap Zone, meaning if both Pendulum Zones have cards in them, you can only set three total Spell/Trap Cards, which is generally fine. I don’t think I’ve ever had all five zones filled except when I was playing a deck with 15+ traps. I also don’t think I’ve ever played a pendulum deck with a significant amount of traps that I want to set. These two zones are only Pendulum Zones when there’s a Pendulum Spell in them, otherwise they’re not. Just like Pendulum Monsters are never Spell Cards unless they’re in that zone, the same is true of the zones. They’re never Pendulum Zones unless there is a Pendulum Spell there.
Here’s a picture of a field with the new zone change. Please ignore the blue guy in the middle, we’ll get to that in a minute.
All right, let’s talk about that blue guy in the middle. That is a Link Monster in the Extra Monster Zone. That specific card is Decode Talker, or that’s at least the translation of its name. It’s a Link 3 DARK Cybers-Type Link Effect Monster with 2300 ATK and links up, bottom left, bottom right. It also has a bunch of card text but let’s unpack what these stats mean.
DARK Cybers-Type Link Effect Monster
Materials: 2 or more Effect Monster
(1) This card gains 500 ATK for each monster Linked to it.
(2) When an opponent’s card effect that targets a card you control is activated: You can Tribute 1 of your monsters Linked to this card; negate that activation, and if you do, destroy it.
First, we need to learn how to summon a Link Monster. It’s kind of like a Synchro Summon but doesn’t require specific materials, at least the first few mostly don’t. Like Stardust Dragon and Utopia, Decode Talker is fairly simple and mostly generic and I’m sure we’re going to get more complex Link Monsters. Link Monsters go in the Extra Deck next to your Xyz, Synchros and Fusions. Decode Talker is Link 3, which means you need to send three monsters you control to the Graveyard in order to Link Summon. We don’t have enough information yet, but it seems that Link Summons do not use the chain, just like Synchro and Xyz Summons. So I flip up Geargiarmor, search Geargiaccelerator and special summon it and the accelerator I already had in hand and send all three to the Graveyard and Special Summon Decode Talker. As far as I can tell, there’s no restrictions on what you can use as materials except for the requirements in the text box. Decode Talker asks for 2 or more effect monsters. You can use any three effect monsters to summon Decode Talker. Three Geargia monsters or King Magnus, Quasar and Nekroz of Sophia.
There’s more to Link Summons than just that, though. You need to add up to the total Link to perform a Link Summon and I don’t see any rules reason why the cap should be at five because you only have five Main Monster Zones, yes MAIN Monster Zones, I’ll come back to that. For a regular Link Summon, you need monsters equal to the Link number. For Decode Talker, that’s Link 3. You can also use Link monsters as material equal to their Link number. In Decode Talker’s text box it says ‘2 or more effect monsters’ which means you can use a Link 2 monster and any other monster. It’s unclear if you can overpay, for example, use Decode Talker and another effect monster to summon another copy of Decode Talker. You probably can’t because you can’t use extra Xyz Materials or extra Synchro Materials. You also cannot use one Decode Talker to summon another because it requires 2 or more effect monsters if you’re not using monsters equal to its Link number.
Link summoning is fairly simple but what does the part about Decode Talker gaining 500 ATK per monster in its Linked Zone? Enter the new Extra Monster Zone. There are two on the field and they are not part of your side nor your opponent’s. What used to just be the Monster Card Zones are now Main Monster Card Zones. If you want to perform a Fusion, Synchro, Xyz or Link Summon, you have to use the Extra Monster Zone and you can’t control both. Yes, this means if you Xyz Summon, you can’t summon another Xyz Monster because your one Extra Monster Zone is occupied. Again, we don’t have anything official in English but I have to assume the rules are the same as the old all your zones are occupied rule. If Synchro Summon a Level 7 dude, it goes to my Extra Monster Zone and I can’t Synchro Summon anything else unless I can get rid of my Level 7, but I can summon a Level 1 Tuner and make something like Stardust Dragon with that Synchro and my Tuner. You also Link Summon your Link Monster here first. You cannot Fusion, Synchro, Xyz or Link Summon to the Main Monster Zones.
You can also only use one Extra Monster Zone. It’s irrelevant that you can’t have both because that’s just the rule. You can’t attack on your first turn. It’s just part of the game now. I assume if you take an opponent’s monster you put it in any open Main Monster Zone you have because you’re not performing a Fusion/Xyz/Synchro/Link Summon, even if it is one of the above monsters. I made a handy dandy new mat image to help you. The scan from the magazine is helpful but is pretty cluttered. View below.
My Main Monster Zones are labeled 1 to 5. My opponent’s are A to E. L1 and L2 are for Link 1 and Link 2, they’re the Extra Monster Zones.
If you have a Link Monster in a Monster Zone, you can also perform the Extra Deck summons in the zones that it’s linked to, or is pointing at. I summon Decode Talker in Zone L1 and I can Xyz Summon in Zones 1 and 3. I assume my opponent can in Zone B because it’s linked but we don’t have official rules yet. Talker gains 500 ATK per linked card so if they summon something there, it’ll gain ATK.
I go first and Special Summon two Malebranches using their effects, so far this is not any different. I go to Xyz Summon a Dante but instead of going in the zones I’ve labeled 1 to 5, I choose L1 or L2 and finish my Xyz Summon and carry on with my turn but I cannot Xyz Summon another monster because I can only control one Extra Monster Zone and I already control one with a Dante in it. How can I go first turn double Dante? It’s really hard now, allow me to explain how Link Monsters unlock your Extra Deck. Decode Talker links to bottom left, bottom right and up. This means if I summon Talker to L1, it links with 1, 3 and B. Let’s summon double Dante now.
I summon Fiendish Rhino Warrior in zone 5, then summon three Malebranches and bin them all to summon Decode Talker in zone L1. I summon three more Malebranches and overlay two into Dante in zone 1, then the remaining Malebranche and Rhino Warrior into another Dante in zone 3. I now have Talker in L1 and a Dante in 1 and 3. I cannot summon additional Extra Deck monsters unless I summon another Link monster to a Linked Main Monster Zone that has left and right links.
Link summons are pretty simple and as long as Konami doesn’t mess it up by making too generic of Link Monsters with too low of a Link number, we should be fine. What does Link Summoning actually mean though?
Link Summoning means that you can only control one Extra Deck monster from your Extra Deck but you get an extra zone to do it in. When Yugioh was originally created, we can’t know how the game want meant to be played, but we didn’t have crazy turns that go summon Crystal Wing, Tzolkin, Drident, Shock Master, call spells, set two Warning and pass. If Link Summons always existed there would have been some serious hoops to jump through to do crazy things. Dragon Rulers would have had a harder time going double Dracossack and they can’t just summon Big Eye at will to steal your Dracossack. Six Samurai wouldn’t have been able to easily poop out three Shi En, set a Judgment and pass. Wind-Ups wouldn’t have been able to go Carrier into Papilloperative into Shock Master without jumping through hoops. Double Dante would have been nearly impossible because the Malebranches kill themselves. First turn Winda can’t be followed up by two Constructs directly next to it.
If your opponent’s one Extra Monster Zone is occupied, they can’t do more stupid things. If I summon Daigusto Emeral in Nekroz, I can’t stack my deck with Lavalval Chain until I get rid of the Emeral first, and likely my plan was to tribute both Emeral and Chain to Valkyrus to draw cards. That can’t happen anymore. If I’m playing Fire Fist and summon Wolfbark to make Tiger King, maybe I was going to make another Tiger King to follow up but instead I can’t and only have one Tiger King. Chaining Tiger King into Tenki into Wolfbark into Tiger King into Tenki into Wolfbark into Tiger King was pretty fair but wasn’t fun if you were trying to do things and you just couldn’t. And as far as I can tell, the rules don’t prevent you from doing the Super Quanatal Field Spell summon, Tzolkin or Beatrice because they’re not Fusion, Synchro, Xyz or Link Summons.
Link Summons make a significant number of decks much worse but from a competitive standpoint, that doesn’t matter because Konami is always going to make the latest set relevant to the meta because that’s how they make money. If you’re a through and through Spike, you’re still going to just be playing the best deck. If you’re a casual, I feel bad for you if your deck is something like D/D/D, Ritual Beasts, Wind-Ups, 3-Axis or PePe because those decks do get a lot worse unless a Link Monster is printed that works with these types of decks. In general though, moving forward, the game slowing down should help your casual decks be able to do more things because your opponent won’t be locking you out of the game so quickly and easily. In reality we’re likely going to get stupid broken Link Monsters that are too easy to Link Summon and give us too many Linked Zones.
Before we end, I just want to say that Link Summons aren’t broken, they’re fixing the game. Yes, you can still go Ratpier into Boarbow into Lyca and Special Summon Ratpier and Boarbow back then Link Boarbow and Lyca into Missus Radiant, which is a Link 2 monster and do typical Zoodiac things from there. That does not mean Links are broken, it makes Zoodiac jump through extra hoops, even if they’re not difficult. This shows that Zoodiacs are broken, not Link Monsters. In Magic, there’s a spell that lets you put any creature into play for a single mana, including a demon that costs eight mana. That doesn’t mean the mana system is broken, the spell that puts any creature into play for one mana is.
Link Summons are going to fix the game. I’m hype for them and just hope Konami stops printing stupid stuff like Ratpier and Xyz Monsters that can use a single non-Xyz Monster as the full Xyz Material. I haven’t played any games with Link Summons yet but I’ve played Vanguard and other games where positioning matters and it’s just something you get used to keeping track of.
How do you feel about Link Summons? Are you excited? Let me know on…