Behind Bars: El Shaddoll Construct

The Forbidden & Limited List is an item of fascination for many duelists. Whenever the time for a new list rolls around, it becomes the main, if not only, topic of conversation throughout most of the community. Banlist predictions and custom lists litter forums and YouTube. It is the law of the land, determining which decks will rule next.

It is with this in mind that I embark on this series, “Behind Bars.” I will be looking at cards that currently appear on the list. The plan is to discuss why they’re on the list and their prospects of getting off of it.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at a fan favorite and casualty of the TCG F&L List: El Shaddoll Construct.

The Crime

Construct made her TCG debut with the release of Duelist Alliance in August 2014. The set became arguably one of the best all-time. It introduced Tellarknights, Yang Zing, Burning Abyss, and Shaddolls, which all saw some modicum of success. BA and Shaddolls would take the lead, and Qliphorts would soon join them in the next set.

Cards like El Shaddoll Winda and Shaddoll Fusion could carry the deck. Winda made mass Special Summoning difficult for the opponent. And being indestructible against opponents’ card effects made her tough to deal with. Shaddoll Fusion, on the other hand, brought Fusion Summoning to the next level, being able to send materials directly from the Deck. While this required that the opponent control an Extra Deck monster, the other meta decks made this easy. Opponents had to balance whether or not they should open up the Extra Deck or hold off momentarily.

However, Construct was the vital piece that put the deck over the top. Upon summon, she dumped any Shaddoll card from the Deck to the Graveyard. Depending on the game state, that could be a Shaddoll Dragon to pop a backrow, Shaddoll Beast to draw a card, Shaddoll Squamata to thin the Deck and fill the GY, etc.

On top of this, she could out practically any monster at the time. At the start of the Damage Step, she would automatically destroy any Special Summoned monster she battled.

And more than that, she used any Light monster as a fusion material. This detail made her extremely versatile, as she bridged the synergy between Shaddolls and other impactful archetypes of the time. Duelists mixed in Artifacts, Lightsworn, Chaos Dragons, and eventually Performages. All of these variants had their benefits, but ease of access to Rank 4’s would qualify Shaddoll Clowns as the best variant. This variant had the most success after Clash of Rebellions released. Dumping either Performage Damage Juggler or Performage Trick Clown off Shaddoll Fusion was very strong. In the OCG, Star Seraph (or Holy Lightning) Shaddolls had their time in the sun as well.

However, Shaddolls’ success began to taper off with the release of The Secret Forces in February 2015. And so began full power Nekroz format. The deck gained some ground after F&L Lists started hitting Nekroz and Performages lent a helping hand. But their success brought them to the chopping block, and the butcher aimed for the throat.

The Sentence

On November 9th, 2015, the TCG banned El Shaddoll Construct, effectively neutering Shaddolls.

Since then the deck’s success has been sparse. Despite Winda now having to shoulder the load and some relatively recent tops paired with Dinosaurs, the deck is a shadow of its former self. As part of the same F&L List, key pieces like Mathematician and El Shaddoll Fusion were limited to 1. But more importantly, the absence of Construct showed just how vital she was to the deck.

So why did they ban Construct? I see at least two major explanations.

As is customary with most meta decks, Shaddolls had seen success for over a year since its release, so Konami likely figured it was time for them to go (except you, Dante, you can stay). And although it had many fans, it can be nice to get a breath of fresh air.

In order to thoroughly hit the deck, a vital card had to bite the dust. Winda and Shaddoll Fusion could have been potential candidates. But if the goal was to leave the archetype still playable at even a casual level, Construct was the prime suspect. She just did so much for the deck, as noted above.

However, there is a very believable alternative motive. Product sales.

This is a business and new products have to be sold. Once Dark Destroyer debuted, Kozmo got set up as one of the next meta decks. Having access to Construct in tandem with Abyss Dweller would shut down their untargetable ships. This would have limited the effectiveness of Kozmo in the meta, making it a potential detriment to Kozmo’s rise in the meta.

The Future

So, can Construct come back? Although it is merely conjecture, I think so.

The most notable hint at Construct’s return is the OCG F&L List. As of October 1st, Construct is at 3. Also of note, it unbanned Damage Juggler. The format may be young, but I haven’t seen Shaddolls doing anything over there yet. Perhaps the TCG will recognize this and unban Construct for us.

Recently we saw another fan favorite card get unbanned in the TCG, Elemental HERO Stratos. Stratos had been in a similar situation. It is Semi-Limited in the OCG, but had been banned in the TCG since the September 2013 F&L List. Maybe Construct could get similar treatment.

Of course, there is also the possibility that this “hint” means nothing, due to the differences between the TCG and OCG formats. There have been plenty of cases where OCG changes don’t reflect TCG changes. For example, Infernity Archfiend, Inzektor Hornet and Dragonfly, and Shurit, Strategist of the Nekroz are all Unlimited in the OCG. But Archfiend, Hornet, and Dragonfly are Limited here, and Shurit is still banned.

Also, I don’t think the return of Construct would shake up the landscape of the current meta. Power creep exists in our game. It’s one of the reasons Stratos was able to come back. Getting a search off Stratos is great, but often times the better play is summoning Vision HERO Vyon. Decks like Sky Strikers and Goukis are simply faster and stronger. One Widow Anchor on Construct and you could be resorting to Set one and pass.

Of course, as someone who played Shaddolls in 2015, I’d love to be proven wrong in this case. Here’s to hoping.

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Yan OCann

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