Table of Contents
Welcome back – we’ve missed a few things
If you’re anything like me then you’ve just picked up Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution or tried your hand at Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. Armed with ancient, arcane knowledge you’ve confidently stepped forward to handle whatever life throws at you. After all, you’re a returning veteran.
It’s a Link monster, life has thrown a Link monster at you. You mistook it for a Ritual monster at first and had no idea how it was summoned without a Ritual Spell. No matter, it’s only got 1800 ATK, you’ve got this. It’s joined by its friend, the XYZ monster and you’ve just noticed the two outer Spell & Trap Zones have icons on them. After a quick online search, you turn your attention back to the game and there are suddenly no less than 4 monsters on the field and two face-down cards.
You look at your Berserk Gorilla (Level 4 and 2000 ATK? Hello!) and come to the realization that some things have changed. Don’t worry, friend, I know that feeling and we’ll get through it together.
Evolving through Link Evolution
Returning to the game via Link Evolution was an interesting process. I played for several years throughout secondary school and still had all of my old cards sleeved and ready to go. Needless to say, I was feeling very good breezing through the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters story section of the game. Putting myself in the shoes of my favourite protagonists and using their decks to pummel baddies was very satisfying. There are, of course, exceptions (make a deck with monsters below level 5, Joey, you absolute maniac).
I love the smell of boosters in the morning
Naturally, nothing gets a card game player going like opening a booster pack. Suffice to say my in-game funds where depleted as swiftly as they were accrued. I saw a lot of old school cards coming my way and nostalgia really hit me hard. You can’t see The Winged Dragon of Ra appear when opening a booster and not immediately want to build a deck with it (spoilers: don’t, it’s a terrible card). I even picked up some snazzy looking black cards, which I learnt are called XYZ monsters but are absolutely not pronounced that way. My new generic powerhouse, Cairngorgon, Antiluminescent Knight, quickly found a spot in my Extra Deck (no longer the Fusion Deck as it no longer holds only Fusion monsters).
Archetypes, the returning and the new
Perhaps the most exciting thing about opening all these boosters is finding out that archetypes now exist and are in fact a major part of Yugioh. There weren’t that many archetypes when I last played, though I have horrible flashbacks to Lightsworn, and not all of them made a lot of sense. That said, archetypes are now an unavoidable truth in this game and it’s mind-blowing to see just what they are managing to base them on. Just look at our Morningstar: much cooler than the show’s.
I soon found myself looking up archetypes with every pack I opened and even looking up which packs the other cards for the deck could be found in. Without a doubt, there is an archetype out there for everybody. Your victories may be few and far between in comparison to some stronger ones, but trust me when I say they will be the sweeter for it.
As I moved through the story I inevitably ended up playing HEROs whilst dueling the Chazz. This is where us returning players will hit our first road block. What do you mean we can’t summon Fusion monsters anywhere we want?
Mastering the Master Rule
That’s what we call Master Rule 4 (MR4) and it has swept through this game something fierce, much like a tropical storm through your neighbourhood or your ex-girlfriend through your circle of friends.
Luckily, it’s not nearly as devastating as either of those so let me get you up to speed.
MR4 basically states that any monster which is Special summoned from the Extra Deck must be summoned into the Extra Monster Zone (EMZ). They would be the two peculiar monster zones floating above the others (now called the Main Monster Zones or MMZ).
A simple yet radical rule, this made my trek through the GX storyline of Link Evolution a major challenge. As any fan worth his salt knows, most if not all of Jaden’s boss monsters are Fusion-based. This rule meant I could only have one of them out at a time. As a result, I had very limited access to many toolbox solutions I needed to respond to my opponent. I soon realized I had to get with the program if my comeback was to be succesful. The internet was to be my salvation.
I present to you: Link monsters. If you ask 2 Yu-Gi-Oh! players for their opinion on Link monsters you’ll get no less than 5 replies. However, Link monsters are a necessary part of the game, due to two key factors.
1. Powerful Generic link monsters that can be run in most (all?) decks. Take a look at the bad boy to the left.
2. Link Arrows. Any MMZ pointed to by a Link monster’s Link Arrows is also a viable location to summon an Extra Deck monster.
That’s right. Having a Link monster on the field with strong arrows basically unlocks 1, 2 or even 3 slots for other Extra Deck monsters. It comes as no surprise that they are the most heavily represented type of monsters in the Extra Deck in the vast majority of decks.
Armed with this newfound knowledge, I did what any sane returning Yu-Gi-Oh! player would do. That is, I ignored it and focussed my personal deck entirely on getting to Blaze Fenix, the Burning Bombardment Bird as soon as possible and coasting to glorious victory upon his fiery back.
Learn it, love it, deal with it
My nostalgia soon overpowered my common sense and I found myself reaching out to people I knew still played the physical card game. For me, playing Yu-Gi-Oh! on a digital medium is not nearly as satisfying as holding the actual cards.
Of course, I had to learn how to use all the types of Extra Deck monsters for this and Link monsters in particular. It was daunting at first and there are a few peculiarities regarding Link ratings but the pay off is well worth it. A wealth of amazing decks opens up to you and the world really is your oyster.
My friend suggested some archetypes to try and I really enjoyed playing a certain group of fiery, furry friends. How was I supposed to know they were meta and people would roll their eyes because they had already seen my Salamangreat Gazelle combo a million times before? My big debut was in shambles.
The odd one out
Honourable mention goes to Pendulum monsters. Who are succesfully managing to be that one boyfriend from high school that you really like but can’t bring home to mum and dad.
Pendulum monsters do not get sent to the graveyard when removed from the field, but instead go face up to the Extra Deck. Using the Pendulum scales (placed in the funky looking S/T zones I mentioned earlier), you can perform a Pendulum summon, which allows you to Special summon as many monsters as possible whose levels fall between their two values.
Any Pendulum monster summoned face up from the Extra Deck has to go into an MMZ pointed to by a Link monster while the ones from the hand can go in any slot.
Pendulum can be a confusing mechanic and there are a lot of ins-and-outs to them, but for today’s article this quick and dirty rundown will see you through the end. As for a tip when facing a Pendulum deck, activate Anti-Spell Fragrance on their first turn and chain link adding your name in the winner’s column to it.
We return precisely when we mean to
To say we’ve arrived at almost exactly the right time would be an understatement. Just as we’ve learnt everything there is to know about these new-fangled summoning methods, life throws us a curveball.
That curveball is called the Master Rule 4 Revision. It’s a straightforward and short revision to the current MR4, but one with significant impact. As of April 1st 2020 Fusion monsters, XYZ monsters and Synchro monsters can once more be summoned to the MMZ. At the player’s discretion, they can also be summoned into the EMZ if so desired. This change does not apply to Pendulum monsters and Link monsters, who continue to operate under the current MR4 rule.
Men punch walls, babies wail and in the distance: sirens. The world fears, but we do not. We can summon Fusion and Synchro monsters in their rightful place once more. Sweet familiarity further invigorates us. The future is ours.
The Return to the Normal
What does this really mean?
For the game as a whole, a lot of decks that were practically unplayable now have a chance at viability. Lacking easy access to generic Link monsters and indeed lacking an archetype-based Link monster, some decks were simply left out to dry. Especially Synchro based decks (who were waiting for Crystron Halqifibrax to really live again) can now come back to the forefront.
For us returning players, the game returns to the old ways, which we know better than the current one. It opens up a lot of older archetypes that might have some nostalgic value to us. Am I thinking about a Red Dragon Archfiend deck? Maybe. I’ll never tell.
Personally, I expect the metagame will shift even further into the unknown. It’s already been turned upside down with the previous banlist and we have decks like Invoked Shaddoll making a splash. Who knows what depravity will happen when they’re no longer forced to use Link monsters to enable their Fusions.
I am personally super excited about which decks are now a viable choice, even if they won’t be meta. It can only do the game good if more people can realistically play what they want to play.
I hope this write-up gives you that confidence boost you need to jump into the deep end. Stop sitting on that fence and just roll back into this game. Change is in the air and the ride is only going to get wilder from here.