A New Era for Kage-Style Yu-gi-oh?
Introduction and History
Iím sure there are many people here who have been on XC for less than three years that are going to scratch their heads and wonder just what in the world I am talking about. Before I begin, I should warn the person reading this that Kage-Style is not an official format in Yu-gi-oh for real-life tournaments. Kage-Style is purely a fan-made format created by the Kagemusha clan to promote a more diverse meta and anti-meta for fans. But before I begin to explain Kage-Style strategy and why I believe that from my observations, now is a better time than ever to reinstate Kage-Style as an XC alternative format, I will catch up those of you who have been around XC for less than three years on a little history.
Kage-Style was first invented by the Kagemusha clan in 2004. Iím its creator, and GothicBlue, the first leader of the Kagemusha clan, was the main promoter. This was during a time in Yu-gi-oh that saw an arising of a meta that consisted of one deck: Yata-lock. Duels became a race to determine who could summon their Yata-Garasu first and catch their opponent with an empty hand. If they didnít have Yata, it was simply a matter of getting the biggest beatstick on the field and pray to God your opponent didnít Raigeki or Dark Hole you.
Many had complained about the lack of diversity in the game. Several formats were brought up in XC articles to make the game better. Reis Bell invented Limit 5, which restricted the # of limited cards to five. Kagemusha invented Kage-Style. MykeXero pushed Tribal, which forced you to have only one type of monster in your deck. There was much protest from UDE at the time to create a banned list, and at the time they were very hesitant to do it, possibly because of the devaluing of cards like Raigeki and Harpieís Feather Duster. Kagemusha had a tournament at the time to determine who would be on the clanís team for clan wars, and the last thing we wanted to play was Yata-Locks until the brink of dawn. Many members of the original Kagemusha used original decks that looked great if given enough time to synergize, such as Draigonís life gain deck. So when authorized to start the tournament, I had concocted a plan to eliminate the need for the banned cards.
Now mind you, at the time, this changes the meta of the game completely. An average of 27 restricted cards, TWENTY-SEVEN OUT OF FORTY were considered Ďstaplesí of the game. Thus, Kage-Style was created. The original Kage-Style had banned all restricted cards. Later, it was modified to allow for the five pieces of Exodia. It was later modified during the days of the birth of Advanced format to restrict semi-limited cards from 2 down to 1.
The birth of Kage-Style introduced new opportunities to other decks, especially with the release of Magicianís Force, Dark Crisis, and later Invasion of Chaos. The meta turned from Yata-lock or CED/BLS-beatdown to an array of decks such as Fairies, Metamorphosis, Dark Magician, Pyro, Zombies, and so on. The first tournament consisted of every single deck of the 16 or so that were in the tournament being a different deck. The only thing I recall is that two of them had the same theme, but used a different strategy. I remember them both using Fiends I believe.
Anyway, UDE eventually gave in about a year later and created an Advanced list. When the Advanced list was made, few people saw the need for Kage-Style anymore because there was a banned list. The format slowly started to die out as an XC alternative on the ladder, and Advanced was made the standard bearer in XC formats. Promotion of the Kage-Style format to other Yu-gi-oh forums proved unsuccessful and a small reemergence during the XDF also didnít help it much. Another reason for its fall was the lack of response to restrict (and in Kage, ban) cards that were not quite as powerful but still whipped the momentum too fast, such as Mystical Space Typhoon.
First, the basic rules of Kage-Style is easy. The game works just like regular Yu-gi-oh. However, you are not allowed to have banned or restricted (limited to 1) cards. Cards that are semi-restricted (limited to 2) are limited to 1. Unrestricted cards remain three copies.
While the meta of the Advanced YGO format will never be as insane as the olden days of Yata-locks and CED/BLS beatdowns, it is clear that the format has a meta of two to three types of decks that simply dominate other decks. In the pre-March format, it was Lightsworn, Zombie and Twilight *shiver* decks followed by Blackwings. This format, it is looking to be Blackwings and something else involving Light. While Iím sure Konami has tried their best to diversify over the last few years, it has become clear that the YGO Advanced format is always doomed to having so many dominant formats available.
While that is not to say some decks in Kage YGO are better than others, Kage YGO provides a far more diverse ďtop tierĒ of decks. Iíve named around eight decks so far from duel-testing in the Kagemusha Sentai tournament that would be ďtop tierĒ decks, duels that truly go down to the wire. Gravekeepers, Six Samurai, Fairies, Plants, and even a Thunder deck could belong in this top tier. Conceptually, ANY deck in Kage-Style that is built correctly with a smooth enough theme and enough synergy has a chance of victory. This is because cards that swing the momentum of card presence rapidly are almost nonexistent without a cost. An example of this is Heavy Storm not allowed in Kage-Style, allowing the better use of traps. Lightning Vortex is allowed but comes at a fairly heavy price of one card, and in the game of Kage-Style, discarding a card to play a spell is a lot more expensive than in the Advanced format where you have other staples to catch up.
Granted, there will always be several cards that will be considered Ďstaplesí in Kage YGO such as Smashing Ground, Bottomless Trap Hole (1 copy only), Dust Tornado, Mask of Darkness, Lightning Vortex, and Dimensional Prison. However, as much as people claim this makes Kage no better than Advanced, not having them does not put you at any real disadvantage, and having all of them is a foolish tactic that ruins the synergy of many themed decks that now contain far more powerful effects than when Advanced Format was created. With the exception of Lightning Vortex which comes at a VERY heavy cost, most of these Ďstaplesí simply either even your card presence (Smashing Groundís 1 for 1) or give you a slighter edge by getting a card back (Mask of Darknessí +1 trap to hand).
Kage-Style is Slower than Advanced?
Games in Kage-Style have always been longer, yes. While I had first recommended best-of-5 matches, best-of-3 seems long enough as many games take twice as many turns as the average Advanced-format game. However, without the ability to top-deck a card that wipes out your opponentís spell/trap cards or bring back a HUGE monster you discarded with no strings attached, the game now becomes a matter of how you can increase your card presence over your opponent and building up your own presence on the field to counter his.
The game now is similar to that of a chess match, where every move counts. You not only have to think about what your opponent did last turn (traps) and what he will do next turn, but a couple turns after. Strategies do not break in Kage-Style at the stroke of a single card and play is nowhere near as aggressive as the Advanced format (and donít even get me started with Traditional). It has always been like this, but formats during the beginning of the Advanced kind of started tilting Kage against that with the ability to add 3 Smashing Grounds, 3 Fissures, and 3 Mystical Space Typhoons. This problem has since looked to be fixed.
Why Reinstate Kage-Style?
Kage-Style was originally created as a way to break from the Yata-lock meta. The TCG heard the call and built the Advanced format, doing a fairly decent job of trying to break away from those unfairly powerful metas, for a while. Kage-Style looked like it was no longer really needed because cards like Mystical Space Typhoon that had much turn freedom were still allowed in threes. Also, the lack of support of many of their types and the lack of a number of synergized decks (Crystal Beasts, Elemental Heroes, Destiny Heroes, etc.) did not help keep Kage for very long.
Today, there is viable support for almost every kind of deck you can imagine in Yu-gi-oh. Cards that are considered extremely unfair end up on Konamiís list, and almost are never played in Kage-Style because they are either banned or useless with just one copy. In Kage-Style today, any deck could considerably defeat another deck at any given time with the right strategy. The power to change the game is taken off of the cards and into the players. How the players play the cards, yes, including the Kage-staples, determines how the game is played. While some restricted cards in Advanced like Mirror Force and Call of the Haunted require timing as well, they usually have a no-strings attached ability that completely changes the momentum of the game. In Kage-Style, virtually every card is either one-for-one (or bring back one card) no-strings attached, or multi-for-one with a high price (Mobius tribute, no traps in graveyard, gotta have four monsters, discard a card, etc.).
Why Not Make a Semi-Restricted Kage-Style?
Kage-Style is not perfect. And there are a few cards that could benefit from being restricted to just two copies. However, it is not our opinion to judge. The meta would become far too complicated to have a special list of limited to two copies. The game would simply become what the creator believes the game should be, and that bias could endanger the Kage-Style meta in favor of decks favorable to the creator(s).
I believe that Kage-Style should be reinstated as a format in XeroCreative, if at the very least as an alternative tournament format. It provides a game with deeper strategy and a lack of game-changers that renders built strategies by both duelists useless. Games only rely on topdecking when duels are down to the wire, and any number of decks can remain competitive in this format.
A New Era for Kage-Style Yu-gi-oh?
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