Behind Bars: Tribe-Infecting Virus

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 an old Goat Format favorite: Tribe-Infecting Virus.

The Crime

Tribe-Infecting Virus first appeared in North America in October 2003 with the release of Magician’s Force. Coming out just one-and-a-half years into the TCG’s existence, this card possesses a nostalgic value to both older players and those who still play Goat Format.

The card was very powerful for its time. By discarding one card and declaring a Monster type, you could destroy all face-up Monsters on the field of the declared type. Its ability to wipe a board placed it in a category alongside Raigeki and Dark Hole.

With such a powerful effect, it was quickly limited to 1 on the November 2003 F&L List. Though it requires a Normal Summon, the comparably slower pace of the game in 2003-2005 did not hamper its playability. Its downsides included being unable to destroy face-down monsters, your own monsters of the declared type being vulnerable, and its 1600 ATK not making it a target for cards like Sangan and Last Will.

Despite these drawbacks, Tribe saw a lot of play in decks like Goat Control and Empty Jar. It could out pretty much anything, even fields of multiple Monster types if you had enough discard fodder.

Tribe maintained its position in competitive play for two years, but eventually was moved onto the Forbidden section of the list.

The Sentence

As part of the October 2005 F&L List that essentially ended the most popular historical format, Tribe-Infecting Virus was banned. It accompanied Goat Format staples such as Pot of Greed, Delinquent Duo, and Graceful Charity, among others.

So why did they ban Tribe?

There are multiple possible reasons for its shift from limited to forbidden. One simple explanation is that the card was just too strong for the time. It could clear boards on its own and discarding cards was not always an issue. There were certain cards that you wouldn’t mind having in your Graveyard, like Sinister Serpent.

Many people also argue that having a card like Tribe banned is better than having it at one. It was quite common for both players to run a copy in their decks. However, being limited to one copy without reliable searchers made it “sackier” as you had to draw into it. Resolving Tribe’s effect could change the tide of a duel, so perhaps banning it took away this element of “sackiness.”

Another possibility is that, in 2005, a card like Tribe could limit card design. Releasing cards as part of archetypes became the norm in in the years following Tribe’s banning. Archetypes often contained only a singular monster type. In theory, this means you would only need to discard one card to clear your opponent’s board rather than having to deal with Monsters of various types.

Whatever the actual reason or combination of reasons, the October 2005 list bid adieu to Tribe and Goat Format.

The Future

As of this writing, Tribe still sits on the Forbidden section of the TCG list. So what are its chances of being removed from the list?

Based on the current state of the game and mostly pure speculation, I believe a future F&L List will unban it. I’m not saying it will happen on the next list. However, the OCG has moved the card up its list, going from Limited all the way Unlimited. In the year and a half it has been legal there, the card has made next to zero impact on the meta.

The reason why it has made so little impact is because of powercreep.

Plenty of existing decks rely or greatly benefit from their Normal Summon. They would much rather use that summon to facilitate a combo rather than summon Tribe. The higher density of cards that float on destruction also contribute to Tribe’s weaker position.

There are also numerous decks that end on boards with monsters of various types. Clearing such a board with Tribe would require multiple discards. There are a few decks that could benefit from this, such as Danger! and Mermail Atlanteans, but the alternatives to running it likely outweigh the potential benefit. For example, if you are playing the latter, you would much rather use your Normal Summon for something like Neptabyss, the Atlantean Prince or Deep Sea Diva.

Keeping the above in mind, I am of the commonly shared opinion that Tribe could have been unlimited years ago. After all, cards like Raigeki and Dark Hole don’t require a Normal Summon, are not banned, and still see very limited amounts of play in the meta game.

In the end, this is my opinion, but I would love to hear your thoughts. Should Tribe-Infecting Virus be forbidden, limited, semi-limited, or unlimited and why?

In addition, if there’s a card on the current F&L List that you’d like me to write about in the future, please comment about it!

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Yan OCann

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