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“Goats,” the fan name for the format that occurred between April and August of the year 2005, has become a popular alternative for players disillusioned with either the pace or balance of modern Yu-Gi-Oh. The format is much slower, with games usually taking more than ten turns, and has the reputation of being more skillful. While some players would dispute the latter claim, citing the presence of unfair, instant advantage-generating cards like Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity, and Delinquent Duo, I believe that the skill of a Goat player shows in the way that a player handles the following:
Managing card advantage, carefully considering plays as either positive, negative, or even.
Reading opponent’s bluffs and making your own.
Utilizing unique tech choices and deckbuilding theory.
An article—indeed, multiple articles—could be written on all three of these elements of play, but here I will only focus on tech choices that often go overlooked by people playing the format. These choices are niche, but have solid, theory-based reasons for inclusion in your Goat deck.
While a monster that has only a drawback as an effect may seem underwhelming in a format dominated by cards with powerful removal and advantage-gaining effects, Berserk Gorilla has one major thing going for it: it’s BIG. With the exception of Zombyra the Dark and the Goblin Attack Force-type monsters, Berserk Gorilla is the strongest normal-summonable monster available without a tribute. Unlike these larger level fours, though, its negative effects do not affect its ability to remain a dominant presence on the board for multiple turns. It can attack over anything found in a standard Goat Control build other than Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, Chaos Sorcerer, and Jinzo. Once Berserk Gorilla hits the field, it must be dealt with.
This is where the true strength of the card lies. It makes the opponent waste resources to get rid of it. Since it cannot be attacked over, it becomes a magnet for Ring of Destruction, Sakuretsu Armor, Mirror Force, Snatch Steal, and D.D. Warrior Lady, one-off removal cards that the opponent would rather spend elsewhere. Summoning Gorilla as bait is a great play to make if you have a Black Luster Soldier or Airknight Parshath play ready for the following turn. Your opponent will use a one-for-one or two-for-one removal play to get rid of Gorilla, and any monsters the beast kills before it goes down can be added to its overall impact on card advantage.
The Gorilla is not without weaknesses. Tsukuyomi can flip it down and attack over it, Enemy Controller kills it outright, and Book of Moon makes it easy to run over. Black Luster Soldier and Chaos Sorcerer make short work of it, too. The biggest slight against it, though, is its attribute: EARTH. Many powerful tech monsters have attributes that are not LIGHT and DARK—the essential attributes—and players set on including staple monsters like Tribe-Infecting Virus and Exiled Force in their decks may find themselves lacking Chaos fodder if Gorilla is included as well.
Summoning Berserk Gorilla is a tempo play. It forces the opponent to act. For this reason, it partners well with an End Phase Dust Tornado or Mystical Space Typhoon, because if Berserk Gorilla is on the field, the set card your opponent just placed is certainly not a bluff.
Berserk Gorilla is most potent in decks dedicated to the “Beastdown” strategy, but even outside of those builds it remains an unexpected and effective tech when included at one or two copies.
Mystic Swordsman LV2
Mystic Swordsman LV2 is hardly unknown; recent price spikes on the Ulti make that clear. In fact, it was a common side deck card during Goat format. While it has far less attack than Berserk Gorilla, this little Warrior-type Monster fills a similar role: it’s a threat that demands an answer. Maindecking it is a less conventional but nevertheless effective choice. Consider the following…
Flip Effect Monsters are everywhere in Goats. Up to six deck slots in common variants are devoted to some combination of Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, Magical Merchant, Night Assailant, Gravekeeper’s Spy, and the staple Magician of Faith. Preventing these effects from resolving can be devastating to an opponent trying to gain a lead in advantage or fix a lackluster hand. For this reason, every deck maxes out on Nobleman of Crossout, and smart players hold their FLIP monsters until they are sure that their opponent is not in possession of the card. It is equally important to eliminate the opponent’s floaters like Pyramid Turtle and Mystic Tomato, or strong defensive sets like D.D. Warrior Lady, Spirit Reaper, and Exarion Universe. Nobleman blows these monsters off the field; Mystic Swordsman LV2 does the same, with the added bonus of maintaining field presence and keeping up pressure.
Think of Mystic Swordsman as a searchable Nobleman of Crossout. (Sidebar: It should only be run with Reinforcement of the Army as part of a Warrior toolbox so that it is searchable.) Pull it out when you read the presence of a potent set monster and watch your opponent’s face drop. All of this adds up to one conclusion: this little guy is a big threat to common gameplay strategies. Like Gorilla, an attack from Mystic Swordsman LV2 is sure to draw the attention of backrow. If your opponent has no answer to Swordsman on the initial attack, combo it with a set Book of Moon for even more value on the next turn.
This type of combination is important, because Swordsman has one significant weakness: its paltry 900 ATK. This is why I am discussing Mystic Swordsman instead of the nearly identical Sasuke Samurai, which is even weaker. It’s child’s play to run it over, so unless you provide some backrow backup, it’s not going to last more than a turn. If you’re preventing Magician of Faith from retrieving Pot of Greed, trading the Swordsman might be worth it. In most other cases, you’d be better off holding it for later when you have some defense.
If only this monster was a LIGHT or DARK, it could have potentially reached staple status in a format so dominated by FLIP effects.
Last Will is a card that is hella banned. Like, it’s never coming back. Can you imagine?
Anyway, during the April 2005 format, this card was Unlimited and saw no use. Admittedly, there is good reason for that. Last Will is a situational card, no doubt. It depends on either a) you having it + another card to trigger it or b) your opponent’s card triggering it. Last Will can be bricky, but let’s analyze it and see just how many useful interactions it has.
First, let’s go over how Last Will functions, because the card text can be somewhat confusing. If at any point during the turn you activate Last Will–before or after it resolves–a monster goes from your side of the field to your Graveyard, you can summon a monster with 1500 or less ATK. This effect can be used immediately after Last Will resolves or later in the turn, including the Battle Phase and End Phase. This is not a quick effect, though, and must be Chain Link 1.
Last Will’s condition can be met by TONS of stuff in the Goat metagame. Trigger it yourself with a tribute summon for Airknight Parshath or Jinzo, Exiled Force‘s effect, or Metamorphosis. Use it Main Phase 2 after your opponent has blown away your monster with Mirror Force, Sakuretsu Armor, or Ring of Destruction. Recover from a Torrential Tribute. It won’t sit in your hand very long.
Second, let’s look at useful targets to summon. Go aggressive with Don Zaloog. Shore up your defenses with D.D. Warrior Lady. Do both simultaneously with Spirit Reaper. Set up for advantage with a floater like Sangan or Mystic Tomato. Search your Sinister Serpent. It is a flexible card that digs out a lot of your deck’s powerful assets.
This card can be a dead draw, but it can also be a powerful combo piece that can put you several turns ahead of your opponent by fishing for important effect monsters, or turn the tables on what they felt was a secure defensive position.
It has been twelve years since Goat format, and if we have one advantage over the players of 2005, it is hindsight. We can learn from their builds and their theory, and add a decade’s worth of thought to that pool of knowledge. Yu-Gi-Oh was a different game back then, but one thing has remained the same: the players who innovate will tend to perform better, and, perhaps more importantly, have more fun. I hope this article has inspired you to take a look at your Goat Control list and consider some lesser-used tech choices. If you have some card choices you would like to see discussed, mention them in the comments below so that we can help each other innovate!