August Banlist Theories!

Written by Bailey Kehret and China Ross


With the so-called “emergency” banlist coming up on the 20th, the question has been buzzing on everyone’s mind: What’s going to get hit? Will Bermuda Triangle finally be dethroned? For Premium, will it still be stride-first-or-die? And there’s still the option that most people don’t want: Bushiroad hits nothing, or nothing of consequence. Bushiroad has a history of either waiting too long to hit things, or not hitting anything at all. Around half of their lists have been complete duds!


Much like everyone else who plays Vanguard right now, we here at Vision have been crafting our own ideas on both what’s going to be hit, and what would actually create the healthiest metagame. Keep in mind, these are all opinions based on our experiences and observations, so do with that what you will!


STANDARD


Standard right now is still fishing season. Everyone knows it. However, in the Japanese meta, the tops actually seem to be diversifying a bit. While Bermudas are still top dog, we see far more tops from other clans -- Royal Paladin, Dimension Police, even a few Pale Moons are sneaking by. Past Phantasmal Steed, the meta has shifted from BT and Messiah Hell to one where more clans are allowed to thrive. This is just one reason why we think that, for Standard at least, Bushiroad might not do very much at all. The only clan with a target on its head is Bermuda Triangle, as it still has no opponents that can truly be called “counters”, and still is/has been the most dominant deck since its release.


So how do we hit Bermuda?


We think that, while there’s nothing wrong with banlists and trying to balance the game, bans should not make a deck or clan completely unplayable. When/if BT gets hit, if you still choose to play it, it shouldn’t feel the same as it does to play Megacolony against literally anything. That sucks. Rather than booting a deck out completely, it should still be viable, but not AS strong as before. This is just us being idealists, however.


Let’s start with the biggest idea: limiting/banning Caro. First off, limiting Caro rather than banning outright seems more likely, as banning her makes the deck practically unplayable from a competitive standpoint. If she gets limited, calling a single Caro against any deck that has retire/bind capabilities (Messiahs, Narukami, Kagero, etc.) requires more planning ahead, as you can assume you won’t have it on the field for long. Say Caro gets limited to two. If one hits the damage, your chances of winning are already far lower. If both do, you might as well scoop. Caro adds so much offensive power to the deck -- hitting it will inevitably weaken it, and BT cannot sustain its spot as top dog if that happens.


Another theory would be hitting Sonata in some way. Limiting her would greatly impact the consistency of the deck. You most likely wouldn’t be able to call a full board of Melody a lot of the time, or call her to rear guard as often, since she’s still the optimal reride target. Grade 3 turns, and the deck overall, would be weaker but not unplayable.


As for the most balancing hit, we think it would be limiting Liselotte to one or two copies. She is so essential to the early game of BT, and BT’s strong early game is what allows it to kill on the first grade 3 turn (minus the occasional double critical with a Force II marker on vanguard). Opening a Melody unit off of Liselotte, no matter which one, is incredibly oppressive. Combining it with Eno creates so much pressure even on a grade 1 push; if the opponent doesn’t have cards to guard early, it spells doom for their dreams of winning. Hitting their early game means that you have a greater chance of surviving their grade 3 turn(s), since you’ll assumingly be at lower damage going into them.



It is also worthwhile to note that Bushiroad, first and foremost, is a company, and Bermuda Triangle is their poster child. Appealing to the waifu warriors everywhere, BT brings in a large amount of money. Hitting the deck means many of the competitive players have no reason to purchase that product anymore. Thus, BT may not get hit as hard. On the flipside, Bushiroad could be future proofing itself, since the clan gains support in January anyway -- hitting Caro might not be the worst of our problems if it gets replaced somehow in the next set.


PREMIUM


The Reign of Helmet Decks: Gold Paladin


For premium, there are several clans that we think could receive a ban or restriction in some way. The first of the few being Gold Paladin. Ezel in Premium has been a large contender in the meta since the release of new Ezel. The addition of Accel II markers, combined with the superior ride being much easier to accomplish in Premium with new Beaumains and old Kyrph, makes the deck a powerhouse to say the least. Since the release of Accel II, this deck has seen even more popularity and with that comes more people saying how overpowering it is.


For the restrictions, we believe that old Wonder Ezel is the main target. This is because taking away old Kyrph or Beaumains would stop the deck’s only real gimmick, superior riding to grade 3. Wonder Ezel has the ability to tutor for Raven-Haired or your Platina, finishing your one or two turn strings in a single main phase. Accel II has also made this deck a much larger problem than it used to be due to each Wonder Ezel giving you a +1 and an additional rearguard circle. Combined with the stride from Premium Collection, Spear-X, striding on Platina Ezel with three Accel II circles while your opponent is on grade 1 or 2 is very one-sided and gives no room for counterplay or a real chance to come back into the game. Hitting Wonder Ezel would leave the deck’s main goal intact while limiting how overboard or one sided the games become.


Helmet 2 Electric Boogaloo: Neo Nectar

The second clan that has a higher chance of being targeted is Neo Nectar. The PlantToken.dek sees a very large number of cards from Standard, being that it is a Standard+ deck. Restricting anything from Standard sets would be a much more far fetched idea as just about every card fulfills the same task of calling Plant Tokens. This leaves the “ban hammer” with one target, Maiden of Gladiolus. This card being set to one would hinder the decks ability to consistently get six or seven attacks per turn, in combination with Katrina, without taking away its main kill combo altogether. Leaving Gladiolus at one would give the deck its one first stride turn to do its six attacks, and then have it fall off in the following turns. A lot of decks already struggle to live the first Katrina turn due to its ability to push you to four or sometimes five damage before you stride, so we think only having one Gladiolus is a fairly justified restriction.


There’s also the option of limiting Katrina herself to two, but this seems unrealistic. She can flip anything, not just herself, for her cost, and the issue with Katrina is that her first stride is so powerful. Most of the time, players won’t even survive a single Katrina turn, unless they see multiple defensive triggers or heal out of it. We’ve yet to see a game where someone goes into Katrina a third time, much less a fourth -- the other two copies of Katrina are borderline irrelevant.


What DOESN'T need to be hit?


Many people think that Oracle Think Tank, or “IchiTom” needs to be hit, but we disagree. Being Ichi players ourselves, we know from experience that the deck is too slow for the current metagame of Golds and Neos rushing you down from turn 2. The oh-so popular Ryo build can’t stand up to Neos, as they have a far better grade 2 game and staying at three or less damage is near impossible, thus rendering the Bobo combo useless. Even with other builds, the rush factor is often too strong for OTT to keep up with.


Bermuda Triangle and Shadow Paladin also have no reason to be hit. While Bermuda has a superior ride, most players won’t allow it to happen, since it can be nullified by just counterblast denying the BT player in the first turn or two. BT doesn’t quite pop off until second stride, as Tirua’s restanding ability requires you to be at GB3. Luard is in a similar scenario. Morfessa is incredibly strong, but Luard’s grade 2 game creates small columns with weak numbers, as they are mostly grade 1s. Turboing to ritual ten is a strategy, but often can leave you with little resources if they survive your Morfessa turn. In the end, both decks are a little slow as it is, so we believe they don’t need to be on the restriction list in any way.


Conclusion


This banlist, if it actually limits/restricts cards, will inevitably change the meta drastically. In Standard, Messiah may turn out to be the best deck in the format, or maybe something else, who knows? BT most likely won't be top dog anymore, and other decks will finally get the chance to shine. In Premium, hopefully the first stride killings will lessen, giving slower decks more of an opportunity to be seen (Gredora the new queen bee?). We'll be back with updates on when the list drops, so stay tuned for that!


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