Review: Dueltrial, the Loaner event!
The new Master Duel event is upon us: Dueltrial! In this new event you can only use Loaner decks, decks pre-made by the Master Duel team. In a perfect world this means a format with no floodgates, no unfun decks and just decks that are fun to play against each other - a finely crafted experience, like picking a character in a good fighting game.
Unfortunately Dueltrial has many, many problems in it, from the rewards to the decks. Thankfully, however, this event is separated into three parts: Tryout Duel 1, from Mar 2 to Mar 6, Tryout Duel 2 from Mar 10 to Mar 13 and Tryout Duel 3 from Mar 31 to Apr 3. This means that while Tryout Duel 1 may have been a dud there is room for improvement on the next 2 events. Let's talk about it.
The Fumble of the Event
Tryout Duel suffers from many flaws but there's one that sticks above all others: The decks just aren't fun to play.
The biggest sin the loaner decks commit is that there's not enough consistency. Most of your wins in this event will be because the opponent bricked and you didn't and vice-versa. The decks have extremely little searching and draw power, made even worse by the fact they're all 1-ofs. Drawing the cards needed for a good combo is practically impossible and whenever you do make a combo you just win on the spot - there's no interplay or interesting gameplay. You either win or lose based on the draws, no skill involved. And that sucks.
To make it even worse, the card choice for the decks is abhorent. The Stardust deck for example runs Swords of Burning Light. Why? Why would the creators of the event add a loaner with a literal floodgate in it? There are also no generic synchro monsters for levels 5 to 7 in the Synchron deck, greatly restricting your plays. Most of the synchros are locked to specific tuners making the already bricky deck brick even more.
As an added punch to the gut the rewards are horrendous: You only gain one of Sprites of Miracle. No gems, no titles, no cosmetics, nothing. Just a pack. You're not even guaranteed to pull any SR or URs, either, making it all the more pointless.
The Potential of the Format
It's really a shame because the idea of Loaner Duels is really, really cool and has a lot of potential.
There has been tons of historic formats people look back on because of how fun they were to play despite a very small deck diversity: Dragon Ruler format, Nekroz format, even Tearlament format is looking to go down as one of the classics. There definitely is space for no deckbuilding formats in YGO.
Imagine, a format with no floodgates and where every deck is handcrafted to be fun and interesting. Oftentimes building the best deck means cutting fun and interactive cards with boring but effective cards; a Loaner-only format would solve that issue, in addition to being extremely replayable. Even more, if you build a set of loaner decks in real life you and your friends could play YGO even if they didn't brought their decks, without a worry about keeping the decks updated for the new meta or banlist since they'll only play against each other.
The Future of Dueltrial
However, it's not all over yet - unlike other events, Dueltrial will come in waves, and we're just in wave 1.
With wave 2 and 3, on Mar 10 and Mar 31 respectively, Konami can improve and tweak the event, with better, more fun decks and more rewards. The towel is still in the air if Dueltrial will go down as one of the worst events in Master Duel history or if they'll manage to stick the landing with the latter 2 waves. Wave 1... still is a mess. Bad rewards, bad loaners, this in itself is a bad event. Thankfully it's the shortest event yet on Master Duel, from Mar 2 to Mar 6 - only 5 days of event! Let's hope waves 2 and 3 also don't give just a pack as a reward.
Still, even if the event isn't very good, the idea of loaner duels certainly is; it can bring a whole new style of play like draft, cube, prog, etc in a replayable and budget way. The event may have been fumbled but the spirit it has could certainly be scavenged to something new and exciting in the future.
I'll give this event a 2 out of 5. Bad rewards, bad gameplay; only redeeming feature is the novel idea and the chance for improvement. We'll have to wait and see if it'll fumble the bag but until then, good luck with your one pack of Sprites of Miracle.