Why You Should Play Goat Control

There’s a lot of talk about why you should play Goat Format, but not so much about why you should play Goat Control, the deck. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

If you’re interested in Goat Format, and want to play it, you should play Goat Control. Card for card it is the best deck of the format. It has the highest skill ceiling of any deck of Goat Format, it emphasizes the fundamentals better than any other deck of the format, and it rewards skillful players far more than any other deck of the format.

Simply put, if you’re playing Goat Format, you should be playing Goat Control.

Why You Should Play Goat Control

Historically, Goat Control topped 90% of the tournaments between April and September of 2005. So you can argue that, in a historical context, it’s the best deck of the format. Over a decade of hindsight, theorycrafting, play, and discussion, however, has led to the supremacy of Goat Control being challenged. Newcomers such as Chaos and its many variants are making a run at the top. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play Goat Control.

It makes you think

There are a lot of reasons you should play Goat Control. Perhaps the most important is that it is the best deck to play if you want to master Goat Format. It is also the best deck with which to learn the fundamentals of the game of Yu-Gi-Oh!. Card value, advantage generation, patient play – all of these and more are hallmarks of Goat Control.

It takes an analytical mind that is able to see mistakes, theorize about plays made (and not made), and learn from them to truly master the deck – and the format. It requires thinking about how to approach each individual matchup that you may face and understanding their weaknesses. And it takes understanding what strengths Goat Control has in each matchup and learning how to exploit them.

Simply put, it makes you think harder. It emphasizes good reads and reactions, knowledge of the metagame, the mirror match, its weaknesses, strengths, plays, misplays, and so on. It makes you think. That isn’t to say that other decks of the format don’t make you think. But none of them reward you with better win rates for it than Goat Control.

It has the highest skill ceiling

Goat Control has the highest skill ceiling of any deck of the era. I won’t sit here and say it has the highest skill ceiling of any deck ever, but it’s up there. Having a high skill ceiling is important because the higher the skill ceiling a deck has, the easier it is to make mistakes playing it. And once you’re able to see your mistakes, especially in-game, you can more easily rectify them. That in turn leads to better play.

Goat Control’s skill ceiling is fundamentally different than the skill ceiling of other decks, especially ones from modern formats. It doesn’t have crazy long combos to memorize, or specific uses for cards that can single-handedly shut down an opposing deck. The format does (look at Skill Drain), but Goat Control doesn’t rely on these types of cards (the side deck is a different story). It relies on the versatility of its cards and knowing when best to play them. That’s card value in a nutshell. And that’s a big reason why the deck’s skill ceiling is so high.

For instance, you can use that Snatch Steal on your opponent’s spent Breaker the Magical Warrior, then use Tsukuyomi to keep it on your side of the field. But you could also summon the Tsukuyomi and flip Breaker face-down to run it over for free, thus saving your Snatch Steal for something better.

That’s an easy example. Truth be told, there are a lot of easy examples like that. But there are also a lot of difficult decisions to make when it comes to card value and economy. These decisions are why Goat Control has the highest skill ceiling of any deck in the format.

It emphasizes the fundamentals

I personally feel that card advantage tends to be the core fundamental of the game. No matter what format you’re playing, historic or modern, the idea of “pluses and minuses” is at the heart of Yu-Gi-Oh!. When the cards themselves are your only resource, it’s important that each card you play has the most impact it can have when played.

Goat Control emphasizes this more than any other deck of the format. It’s easy to know when to summon Chaos Sorcerer: does your opponent have a monster you either a) can’t get rid of, b) don’t want to hit grave, or c) you know you need to out? Play it! Chaos is built to go even or plus off most anything.

Goat Control’s pluses, on the other hand, aren’t so easy. However, they are arguably more devastating, especially if card value is maximized. It has a fair amount of “free” +1’s: Magician of Faith, Magical Merchant, Tsukuyomi, Scapegoat, etc. The core difference between Chaos and Goat Control is, really, investment. Chaos has easier pluses. Goat Control has more devastating pluses.

You’re going to take your lumps while figuring out how to maximize the value of each card. But once you do learn, you’ll find that you can dominate opponents who are relying on less versatile decks and cards.

It has more power plays than any other deck

Every deck in Goat Format relies on power cards. Delinquent Duo, Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity, etc. Those are easy. But what about a card like Airknight Parshath?

Right now, the big debate is Airknight vs. Chaos Sorcerer. Sorcerer is a free +1 on summon if you banish an opponent’s monster. It is a secondary boss monster behind Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, which is the de facto Goat Format boss monster. But outside of banishing on summon, Sorcerer can put pressure in via its very presence. It’s one of the main power cards of the deck.

Like Chaos Sorcerer is to Chaos, Airknight is one of the main power cards of Goat Control. And in my opinion it’s better than Chaos Sorcerer. When you get an attack off with Airknight Parshath and destroy an opponent’s monster, not only does your opponent lose a monster (-1), but you also draw a card (+1). This makes Airknight a +2 by battle. If you summon it with Call of the Haunted that’s an additional +1, making your Airknight play a +3 for the turn!

These are the fundamentals, and Goat Control teaches those fundamental pluses better than any other deck in the format. Remember, at the end of the day Yu-Gi-Oh! is a game of card advantage. If you can out-advantage your opponent, you’re going to win a lot of games. This segues well into my next point…

It teaches card value better than any other deck

Part of card advantage is the idea of card value. This, in and of itself, is pretty basic – how valuable are the cards in your hand? If you’re sitting on a Metamorphosis but nothing to use it on, you can argue that it’s value is low. But that doesn’t make Metamorphosis a card with low value – it’s one of the most powerful cards in Goat Control. So just because you can’t use a card that turn doesn’t mean that it has low value – it just has low value on that given turn.

In modern Yu-Gi-Oh!, card value is incredibly important in the beginning turns. This is because of how fast the game has become – if you can’t get the maximum value out of your cards immediately, you have a harder time winning. Goat Format is the exact opposite. With Goat Format and Goat Control, the value of your cards changes rapidly, usually on a turn-by-turn basis. That Metamorphosis that had low value turn 1 suddenly gains a lot of value as soon as you draw Scapegoat, doesn’t it?

Another great example of a card that has a high amount of card value is Tsukuyomi. As a stand-alone card, Tsukuyomi has more card value per turn than any other card in the format. It has the ability to recycle your Flip monsters for additional pluses, recycle Thousand-Eyes Restrict for yet more pluses, take out opposing sub-1100 DEF monsters (notably Breaker the Magical Warrior and Tribe-Infecting Virus) for free pluses, can be a useful stall card or bluff if set, and more. Tsuk screams card value.

And yet Tsukuyomi is a card that you only want to see in certain instances. It’s not a card you want to see two of in your hand. So its card value still has limits. Because of this, understanding when a card’s value is high and when it is low – and how to maximize that card’s value – is a core skill that Goat Control can teach.

It navigates complex game states better than any deck

A complex game state is one in which both players have access to lots of cards. Lots of monsters, lots of backrow, lots of cards in hand.  A simple game state is the opposite – one back row, one monster, one or two cards in hand. Those are simple game states. Complex = lots of cards. Simple = not a lot of cards.

Card advantage theory states that we want more cards than our opponent. This give us more options, and as a result, a greater chance to win the game. You could extrapolate that to say that we want to simply the game state whenever we can. But there’s something to be said about being able to navigate a complex game state and simplifying it systematically. This is achieved by baiting out backrow activations, forcing the opponent to commit more cards than you, and pushing at opportune times. Simplification you can control – that’s the goal.

Goat Control is built to thrive in those situations and those complex game states. This is an underrated aspect of Goat Control, but arguably one of its best traits. It’s in complex game states that the interaction and player skill that so well defines Goat Format comes to light.

This isn’t to say that other decks like Chaos don’t want to achieve the same. However they aren’t as versatile, and therefore less creative within that complex game state. This segues well into my next point, too…

It’s the most versatile deck in the format

Versatility is important. Versatility in card choice leads to more in-game choices, which places an emphasis on understanding card value and card economy. This is why I believe Goat Control is an inherently better deck than anything else – it’s one of the most non-linear decks of the format.

When I say that, I don’t mean it’s unpredictable. Standard Goat in Exarion Format, the Detox Build in Pre-Exarion – those decklists are well-known and unsurprising. You know exactly what cards they play. You know their power plays and common combos. And yet they still have the higher win-rates, historically, than any other deck in the format. A deck doesn’t need to be chock-full of tech cards and one-of’s to be versatile.

In fact, being too versatile can be a hindrance. A deck of nothing but one-of’s loses a lot of consistency. So the key is to find the balance between versatile and consistent. Goat Control has basically solved that. Other decks are catching up. Chaos is close. But at the end of the day, Goat Control won historically on its versatility and consistency, and it is the reason why it continues to win today.

It’s the best teaching method available

Ultimately the reason why you should play Goat Control is because it’s the best way to learn how to play Goat Format. It teaches you the most fundamental lessons. And it does this through rewarding you with a higher win-rate. The better you learn how to play the deck, the higher the skill level gets. The higher your skill level gets, the more you win.

Goat Control can do more things than Chaos. It puts you in more varied situations than Chaos. It is not as linear as Chaos, so you have to think more about your plays and your lines than you do with Chaos or any other deck of the format, really. Other decks can only teach so much – Goat Control can teach a little of everything.


Am I saying to never ever play another deck if you play Goat Format? Of course not. There’s a lot of viable decks in the format, and I myself have tinkered with plenty of other decks. But if I play competitively I play Goat Control. I play a deck I know gives me the best chance to win.

I play the best deck of the format.

That’s it for this time. If you have questions or concerns about this or any other article, feel free to contact me at [email protected] You can also catch me on Discord and on the forums right here on YGOPRODeck.com.

Latest posts by Anteaus (see all)


Writer for YGOPRODeck and POJO which mainly focus on the GOAT format.

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