It’s banlist discussion season (because when is it ever not), and one of the items on a lot of player’s agendas is Sky Striker. There’s been a lot of debate about whether or not Sky Striker deserves to be hit anymore. Quite a few people do not think so. They believe that Striker is not a problematic deck, and people want it out of the meta just due to fatigue.
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Sky Striker and the Banlist
It’s true that a lot of people want Striker gone. It’s also true that a lot of people want Striker gone just because it’s been meta for such a long time. The conclusion we should be drawing from this, however, shouldn’t be “We should ignore people who want Striker gone just because it’s been in the meta for so long.” It’s “Why has Striker been in the meta for long, and what does that mean about the metagame as a whole?”
Generally, a deck’s lifespan in the metagame is influenced by one of two factors. Either it’s overcentralizing and poorly designed and gets removed from the meta by the banlist, or it’s generally not good enough and eventually dies off naturally. Some decks are an amalgamation of both. They are not good enough to be meta on the whole, but survive due to a single extremely powerful card. These decks are eventually removed when the banlist removes the one poorly-designed and unfair aspect of them that allowed them to survive in the metagame (i.e. Trickstar Light Stage for pure Trickstar).
Too Fair to Hit?
Sky Striker has survived this long at the top of the metagame because it clearly isn’t the second possibility. It’s been better than everything released after it save Salamangreat and the Danger! Thunder abominations. This leaves the first and third possibilities. On first glance, the impression most people get of Striker isn’t that it’s some dominating, overpowering force that needs to be dealt with by the banlist. It’s not ridiculously oppressive like Gumblar Gouki or WCQ Danger! Thunder. Striker is often seen as a “fair” deck because it doesn’t build unbreakable boards or kill an opponent easily on turn 2. You have a chance to play against Striker, do you not? The deck appears to give you a fair chance at winning, so we can rule out the first scenario listed above.
This brings me to the third possibility. Relatively fair, un-oppressive decks that nevertheless are carried by an overpowered and degenerate card or strategy. The common comparison most people make with this card is Spellbook of Judgment, which single-handedly allowed the underpowered Spellbook deck to go toe-to-toe with Dragon Ruler at its height. The deck then disappeared from the metagame once Judgment was banned. Obviously I’m speaking of Sky Striker Mecha Modules – Multirole.
On the whole, I do not think Sky Striker is an unfair or oppressive deck to face. Cards like Sky Striker Mobilize – Engage! and Sky Striker Mecha – Widow Anchor are certainly infuriating. Ultimately, however, they are not awful card designs on their own. Multirole is different. I firmly believe that Multirole is the single reason Sky Striker has never fallen below tier 2 in its lifetime. The deck will continue to stay competitively relevant for as long as it exists at a number above 0. Generally card design revolves around a card being single use, unless a player has a card to recycle it. Most of these recycler cards are 1-for-1 at best. Sky Striker Ace – Kagari was limited for its recycling power and is only a 1-for-1.
Multirole ignores this card design guideline. It allows you to go +5 essentially for free, being only limited by the spells you’ve used in a turn and that exist in your grave. In essence, it turns every Striker spell into a second copy of itself in the end phase. This allows you to ignore deckbuilding restrictions by playing up to 6 copies of any other spell in the deck. This alone is awful card design; Upstart Goblin for example is limited because it breaks the fundamental rules of deckbuilding.
Yet Role then compounds its power by being able to turn any spell, not even specifically Striker spells, into a Spell Speed 4 card, essentially. Cards that promote a lack of interactivity are not healthy for Yugioh. Role alone can turn a game from a close contest to a blowout. A player can resolve the first effect to make his spells unrespondable, pick apart an opponent’s board without fear of counterplay, and then set all his spells again in the end phase to do it again next turn. It is a terribly-designed card that essentially guarantees Striker will never fall out of the metagame (barring some insanely overzealous hits like a Sky Striker Ace – Raye ban, obviously) as long as it is playable.
Multirole in Wider Metagame Context
All I’ve done so far is given my reasons why I think Multirole is degenerate. While Striker has Multirole at a number greater than 0, I believe it will continue to serve as a gatekeeper of the metagame. Multirole prevents more decks from existing competitively than would exist with Multirole forbidden. Decks that cannot remove Multirole reliably- through their engine and not a lucky Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit draw, and through likely at least 1 Anchor and probably other disruption- will never be able to match Striker’s grind game. Striker is favored in the mid and especially the late-game against practically every deck that has existed in the past year and a half. The only deck that’s really been able to match Striker’s grind is Salamangreat.
It’s true that Striker doesn’t create auto-win boards like Gouki did. However, the deck really only gives most opponents the illusion of victory. Staring down a of Multirole and four sets on turn five is just as much a guaranteed loss as the Knightmare U-board. The difference is that many players will think they can play out of their certain demise. Despite having no chance at victory, they will refuse to concede to the Striker player. This leads to Striker not being seen as particularly oppressive.
Striker having existed for so long is not inherently a bad thing. What is problematic is the fact that Striker has almost certainly held back the metagame by the simple fact that unless a deck either has comparative grind like Salamangreat, or is incredibly explosive like Gouki, it is unlikely to be able to exist in the same metagame as Sky Striker.
I do not want Striker removed from the metagame because I’m sick of seeing it. (I am sick of seeing it, but that’s irrelevant.) Striker is a relatively fair deck, for the most part. Nothing the deck does would be unfair or oppressive- were it not for Multirole’s existence. Multirole breaks the rules of card design and is an unhealthy card. Perhaps it is the sole reason Striker remains in the metagame. Maybe its banning would kill Striker as a competitive deck. That being said, that is no good reason to continue to allow a degenerate card to continue to exist. Multirole deserves to see the Forbidden List when next Konami graces us with one.