Bushiroad just announced the banning of Unlinking of Information and the placing of targets on Mikuru and Gilgamesh (on a watchlist, so to speak). These three cards have an obvious thing in common – interfering with your opponent’s ability to safely slam climaxes. While Mikuru is the overall strongest one, Gilgamesh isn’t too far behind (due to not needing to enter a combat step at all). The Asakura event counter is playable a level earlier and can interfere with the various [C] +soul climaxes in a damage race, which is the only boon it has over the Level 3s. That’s why I call it the least useful – this is a medium effect at best, and trades tangible advantage for intangible advantage. However, Bushiroad has decided that the event is the one most worthy of banning – either it is the strongest, or it is the most applicable. I believe that it is the latter, as any level of analysis whatsoever shows that it can’t possibly be the overall strongest. We’ll get into the later.
Before I go any further, I just want to say – I am a fence-sitter regarding this issue. We do not have enough information to decide whether this was a reasonable thing to do or not. I have my own reservations about it – particularly the timing of the announcement – but as for whether it was justified? We’ll have to wait and see. I can, however, dissect their announcement using current cardpool viewpoints – and I don’t like what I see.
Let’s first look at Bushiroad’s justifications for it.
For those who aren’t fluent in weebspeak, this basically says ‘Climax cards are hella important. We’re gonna be making good climax combos, so anti-climax cards are anticlimactic. That’s as many as four tens. And that’s terrible.’ Now, I can understand that they have a direction for the game. They want climax cards to be huge and swingy. They want climaxes to do heaps, and they want you to have security regarding your climax plays. In that case, just ban every sac counter, every healing counter, every antidamage counter, every antidamage support, and the Rei & Zen memory kickers as well. Hell, ban overspec counters as well, clock kicks should always land if you went to the trouble of playing a climax. This is flawed reasoning. The aforementioned list of counterplay does more to existing (and almost certainly future) climax combos than one series’ mediocre Level 2+ only event counter ever has or likely ever will. If you want people to experience the heat of card game climaxes (or whatever BSR SEA has as their slogan) then just get rid of all counterplay. Make the game that sackfest all the scrubs claim it is. Just completely remove one of the major draws to a series that desperately needs its time in the sun. A series that was once dominant, and has the chance to be dominant once more.
I am not opposed to them printing broken things. Experimental design is the way of the future. It is the way of progress. That is why we have banlists – damage control. What they’re doing now isn’t damage control, it’s bubblewrapping. You’re bubblewrapping the game of WS so hard that nobody will be able to recognise it from outside. Every set is blurring together, and then we’ll have nothing but Do-Dai mirrors. I would rather play Critfight Sackguard competitively than be subjected to that. I can understand that every set needs to hit a certain power level to be recognised as a playable modern series, but don’t get rid of the little remaining uniqueness that makes these older series what they are.
Now, onto actual thoughts regarding whether or not this ban is necessary from a power level perspective. Let’s dissect exactly why this counter isn’t particularly strong, even taking into account all the powerful on-reverse climax combos in the modern age.
1) Many climaxes render effects before the first counter step.
While there are plenty of on-reverse climax combo, there are a similar number of effects that don’t need to reverse, that give effects on attack, or even give effects on climax placement. The Haruhi counter hits none of those. Kuroyukihime ignores it. Rin plays around it with consummate ease. Even the newly spoiled Io completely ignores it. We can even talk about Level 2s. Multiple Kuro fields can play around it. Hanekawa completely ignores it. I could go on and on, but long story short, it doesn’t do enough to the meta at large to warrant a banning. Many decks don’t even play a climax combo finisher, despite having the option to. The counter doesn’t even remove the +soul effect of stock soul climaxes, which are rising rapidly in popularity. The counter just hits too narrow a distribution of decks to currently matter. It’s certainly possible that they’re about to print some really unreasonable stuff for Haruhi, and maybe some unreasonable on-reverse finishers to go alongside for other sets, but even so, that doesn’t justify this pre-emptive banning.
2) The most important climax combos are at Level 1.
It’s not even disputable, to be honest. The difference between To-Love Ru getting two Mikan reverses and not getting them practically means you’re playing a different deck. Sometimes you still sack into getting triple Yami, but you do so with no stock, a probable damage deficit, and hopes and prayers. This is opposed to doing so comfortably with 6 hand, a solid 6 stock post-Yami, a Darkness Plan in hand, a full field and the option to go single-Yami turn into triple Yami turn. If it can’t even stop the engine in the midgame, then the counter isn’t particularly special, because current WS is won in the midgame. Every good deck has a strong midgame plan, and climaxes at Level 1 are almost always a part of that. None of these anti-climax cards do jack against them.
3) It’s a non-searchable event that isn’t even guaranteed to be good.
Darkness Plan almost always finds a target. Healing Magic and Jupiter are on-turn heals at worst. Salvage events will always convert themselves into real cards. This card? Half the time it won’t do anything, and the other half of the time it ranges from moderately useful to a blowout. The problem here is that the blowout will only happen if you are ahead/at parity, and if your opponent isn’t thinking about it at all. The event is an actual draw to Haruhi, so any knowledgeable opponent will be thinking about it when fronting a SY deck. All other times it is pretty shrugworthy, and even moreso if the climax has already done its job (eg. the Kuroyukihime Wind, the Triad Primus stock soul… or any stock soul, to be honest).
4) You can play around it. Hard.
There are so many cards played in quote unquote meta decks that completely nullify this ability, and it is notable that they are all in sets that would otherwise be affected by the counter. Machine of Ice Sinon makes your double Last Shot field threatening again (even ignoring the fact the first one would go off regardless, and that SAO can play a heal that can buff soul without a climax). Go-to-jail Miyu turns Zweiform from a deck scared of losing its climax to one that is almost completely unconcerned (triple Zweiform almost never happens). Yui lets your clock kicks go off unmolested, and even ignoring that, Animal.dec has a finisher that doesn’t even need a climax. Need I go on?
I haven’t even gotten to the bit where side and direct attacks completely ignore the counter, and I don’t think I need to.
As for Gilgamesh and Mikuru? Well firstly, the whole watchlist thing is a farce. Their reasoning for restricting these cards at all is entirely philosophy-driven. That’s why they hit the weakest one – it is the most applicable, and therefore the one most likely to ruin their plans for climax combo world. The watchlist thing is a statement, and that’s all. I would be very surprised if Gilgamesh went on a banlist of any sort.
Gil doesn’t have a good shell at the moment. Every deck he can be run in has superior climax options, because those options are guaranteed to do something. God forbid you run into something like Milky or LB, which don’t even depend on climaxes lategame. To be more precise, every deck that can run Gil is far more interested in keeping up in the damage race, so 2k1s is marginal at best at helping with that, and needing to have one in hand the turn they play their Bayo’en? There’s a reason Gil saw little to no play, even when Fate/Zero BP was the only booster available in EN.
And Mikuru? She’s probably a shoo-in to the <SOS> deck if ther- wait. She’s not SOS trait? What? She’s in a set where almost all the current synergies are trait-driven, and where <Time> and <Animal> are only mildly supported? AND she’s worst girl?
Jeez. I hope the Haruhi PUP is insane.
There is actually one more major objection I have – probably the only real objection I have. Like I said at the beginning, there is a lot that we can’t see in regards to this decision. However, let’s pretend. Let’s pretend for a moment celebrex 100 mg. Suppose that Haruhi (or any upcoming set, really) is indeed going to have a broken combo that needs this counter gone. The Power-up Pack creates a situation where Haruhi is as dominant as Nisekoi or Railgun in their respective eras. There is somehow a ridiculous non-interactive combo with a climax combo that requires a front attack. Somehow, through antidamage in TLR, KC and LB. Somehow, through Kiznaiver’s bodyguard heal strategy. Somehow, through the complete nullification of the existing powerful sets. Even assuming that… why would you announce this ban pre-emptively, and why in the name of God would you announce it at all?
If it is indeed going to be unreasonably broken, all this will do is draw attention to the set. That’s ridiculous. You are actively encouraging the meta to become as broken as you believe it will be. Why not just monitor the effects and issue an emergency banlist? It’s not like you had qualms doing so for Nisekoi. Every single pre-emptive banning done by BSR so far has been unnecessary. Disgaea got exactly nothing from D2 and was pushed out of the meta for years. Shin-chan was not going to suddenly take over the meta if Action Bastard, an off-colour overspec, was allowed at 4.
This was a poorly-thought out decision from the very beginning. It might well be correct. The event might well need to be banned for their greater vision. However, they could have waited 3 months. Impatient bastards.