Since there is relatively little information on older formats one of my goals is to archive each format starting with September 2011, but before I can start there we need some context about the previous format, March 2011. So this is part 1 of the format reflection series.
Three weeks before the new Forbidden & Limited list on March 1, 2011 Storm of Ragnarok (STOR) was released on February 7. STOR contained a re-vamp of Six Samurai and a new hand trap, Maxx “C”. Since Kageki, Kagemusha, Kizan, Enishi and Shi En were all released in STOR, it was basically a new archetype, but was able to benefit from some older archetype-specific cards that most new archetypes don’t have the pleasure of dreaming of, namely Gateway, United and Grandmaster.
Let’s quickly go over the new Six Samurai monsters:
Kagemusha, Level 2, Tuner, change a targeting effect to itself
Kageki, Level 3, When Normal Summoned: Special Summon a Level 4 or lower “Six Samurai”
Kizan, Level 4, if you control another “Six Samurai”, Special Summon it (from hand)
Enishi, Level 4, banish two “Six Samurai” from grave, bounce a monster (quick effect)
Shi En, Level 5 Synchro, Once per turn: Negate a spell or trap activation
While everything was still unlimited, Six Samurai just tried to summon Shi En, and sometimes another guy next to Shi En with traps to protect him. Other than Brionac, all the other Synchros were just potential options for rare scenarios. I see some old lists running the Level 6 Enishi, but I don’t believe that was optimal because it is a strictly worse Chaos Sorcerer, not that Chaos Sorcerer was even an option due to a lack of LIGHT monsters. Six Samurai were just tearing up the competitive scene with triple Gateway and a lot of Spell/Trap negation. March 1, 2011, Gateway of the Six was limited in addition to Cold Wave and Goyo Guardian being forbidden. Royal Tribute and Solemn Warning also moved down to Semi-Limited status. The decks behind Six Samurai were Synchrocentric, Fish OTK, Gravekeeper’s, X-Sabers, Blackwings and HEROs.
On April 19, 2011, Hidden Arsenal 4 (HA04) was released to the public. The only notable card in this 60-card set is Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier. This quickly replaced Mist Wurm as the go to Level 9 Synchro and still remains a very powerful Synchro Monster.
After three months of domination by the Legendary Samurai, specifically, Shi En, Extreme Victory (EXVC) was released on May 10, 2011. With it came many great cards, and a puzzling TCG Exclusive, Tour Guide From the Underworld. Six Samurai did, however, get a new toy, Elder of the Six Samurai. A Level 3 EARTH Warrior with 400 ATK and a Cyber Dragon effect. The EARTH attribute meant Six Samurai can make Naturia Beast now, and the 400 ATK meant Samurai can use Asceticism of the Six Samurai with Kagemusha to make Shi En. Or Nat Beast. Or Catastor.
Tour Guide, when Normal Summoned, Special Summons a Level 3 Fiend from your Deck, but it negates its effects and it cannot be used as Synchro Material. It was obvious Tour Guide had a lot of potential, being able to Special Summon any Level 3 Fiend from the deck, meaning every Level 3 Fiend that is printed needs careful evaluation.
Synchrocentric turned into Tengu Plants with the addition of Reborn Tengu and became a contender for Samurai. Trishula being printed also helped Tengu Plants. And Tour Guide being able to grab Sangan from the Deck didn’t hurt.
And until June, when the Lost Sanctuary structure deck, better known as the Agent structure deck, hit the TCG, Tengu Plants and Six Samurai were the top two competitors with Fish OTK, Gravekeeper’s, Blackwings, X-Sabers and Infernity doing their thing and scoring a few tops. The Lost Sanctuary structure deck included several new, powerful cards, such as Master Hyperion and The Agent – Earth, and easy to get reprints, like Solemn Judgment, Honest, Torrential Tribute and The Agent of Creation – Venus.
Level 8/LIGHT/Fairy/2700 ATK/2100 DEF
You can Special Summon this card (from your hand) by banishing 1 “The Agent” monster from your hand, field, or Graveyard. Once per turn: You can banish 1 LIGHT Fairy-Type monster from your Graveyard, then target 1 card on the field; destroy that target. While “The Sanctuary in the Sky” is on the field, you can activate this effect up to twice per turn.
The Agent of Mystery – Earth
Level 2/LIGHT/Fairy/Tuner/1000 ATK/800 DEF
When this card is Normal Summoned, you can add 1 “The Agent” monster from your Deck to your hand, except “The Agent of Mystery – Earth“. While “The Sanctuary in the Sky” is face-up on the field, you can add 1 “Master Hyperion” from your Deck to your hand instead.
So upon release Agents and Hyperion didn’t really do anything. Hyperion and Kristya were powerhouses, but the large amount of subpar, low-level monsters in the deck meant Agents had little success. If only there was something to do with monsters of the same level that didn’t require a tuner…
Xyz Monsters were introduced July 2011 with the Dawn of the Xyz starter deck a month after the Agent structure deck, Lost Sanctuary.
The first three Xyz Monsters were Number 39: Utopia, Grenosaurus, and Gachi Gachi Gantetsu. Nothing else in Dawn of the Xyz was worth noting, but the Lost Sanctuary structure deck just received what it needed, too bad there wasn’t a better Rank 3 monster available.
Agents, Tengu Plants and Six Samurai were all able to make use of the new Xyz monsters, but that was the point, make Xyz useable in every deck. Then, in August, Generation Force (GENF) brought some new Xyz to the table. The best ones were Number 17: Leviathan Dragon, Leviair the Sea Dragon and Steelswarm Roach.
The full Xyz pool was now 11 cards; one Rank 2, five Rank 3s, three Rank 4s and two Rank 5s. They all took exactly two materials, and didn’t have any restrictions on the summoning conditions.
Number 39: Utopia (Decent and 2500 ATK is nice)
Gachi Gachi Gantetsu (what else are you going to do with Level 2 monsters?)
Number 17: Leviathan Dragon (again, 2500 ATK is nice, and can go to 3000)
Submersible Carrier Aero Shark (bad)
Number 34: Terror-Byte (bad)
Wind-Up Zenmaister (not great, but it comes out at 2500 ATK)
Leviair the Sea Dragon (Special Summon a Level 4 or lower banished monster, pretty good)
Tiras, Keeper of Genesis (cannot be destroyed by card effects and destroys cards when it battles, good, but Rank 5 isn’t easy to make)
Adreus, Keeper of Armageddon (destroys a face-up card, neat, but again, rank 5)
Steelswarm Roach (stops summons like Thunder King, but doesn’t send itself to the Graveyard)
Shortly after GENF there was an official ruling regarding Xyz Materials and their location on the field: Xyz Materials are not on the field, but don’t leave the field, so when a card like Reborn Tengu is used as material, it doesn’t trigger, nor does it trigger when detached.
The TCG did not have much time to play these new Xyz before the next Forbidden & Limited List came out. But it did address Six Samurai, Fish OTK and Synchrocentric. Generation Force came out so late it may as well have not come out until the next format, September 2011: The True Advent of Xyz