Spar-Spangled Banter: Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards – Fusion Monsters

Hello, Gaspar here again.

As I have mentioned in my previous article, I am now writing a series that deals with Yu-Gi-Oh’s monsters. Today’s part deals with Fusion Monsters, how they have been like throughout the game, and some… extra commentary about them.

Let’s get onto it.

Fusion Monsters

Going by a crude definition, Fusion Monsters are created through using several monsters plus an appropriate Fusion-themed effect.
You would think that, given that they have been around since the very beginning, they would not have a lot of problems. But, I am afraid they do.

First of all, the Fusion Monsters themselves.
The vast majority of them do not make sense.

Off the top of my head I have Mystical Sand, Aqua Dragon, Fusionist, Rose Spectre of Dunn and Musician King. You know, Fusions with specific materials.
Most people would whine about how most of them are not worth using even with Instant Fusion. But my issue with these is that they are all nonsensical and arbitrary. Fusing a defensive elf with magical powers and a defensive golem gives me… a witch made of dust with no magic who has less DEF than either of her materials? Fusing a living palm tree and a gremlin gives me a rose demon? Fusing two sorceresses gives me a guy who is a rock star? How did any of these come to be?

In other cases we have Fusions that do make sense, but they are not actual Fusions. You get one monster riding the other. Like Dragon Master Soldier, or Dark Blade the Dragon Knight, or Gaia the Dragon Champion. That… that is not really fusing.

I just noticed these three examples feature knights riding dragons. It was not intentional.

Nowadays, we are dealing with a different take of the first issue: Fusions that are too generic for no real reason beyond Konami not knowing how to card design.

Shaddolls are the most glaring example because they have 6 Fusions whose materials are all the same: 1 Shaddoll monster plus 1 monster of a specific Attribute, with everyone Fusion asking for a different one. But why are they so generic if they are clearly made out of specific monsters? Why is it the same for Winda to be summoned with 2 Shaddolls or 1 Shaddoll and 1 Thousand-Eyes Idol? Why are Trishula and Treeborn Frog the same thing to Anoyatalis?

There is also Elder Entity Norden, who might be summoned through Instant Fusion 99.9% of the time but its actual Fusion Materials are any combination of 2 Synchro and/or Xyz Monsters. Why the materials? Why is it the same thing to fuse 2 Synchros or 2 Xyz if those monsters are not the same thing? And why does its effect make it be little beyond a Rank 4 enabler?

Or First of the Dragons, a Level 9 Dragon-Type Fusion with 2700 ATK. It is summoned with any 2 Normal Monsters, and it cannot be destroyed by battle with non-Normal Monsters or be affected by monster effects other than its own. The effects make enough sense if you interpret it as PRIMAL POWAH, but what does not make sense is the freedom with the Fusion Materials. It might not look like any particular combination of monsters, but why would The Wretched Ghost in the Attic and Blue-Eyes White Dragon be the same thing for this monster? And why does it discriminate against Non-Effect Monsters that are not Normal Monsters?

Why does its head look like Poseidra’s, anyway?

My point here is that Fusions this generic do not make sense. Why is fusing 2 weak monsters the same as fusing 2 strong ones? Yes, it makes the Fusions themselves more playable, but it makes no sense for it to happen. Why does fusing 2 Sheep Tokens give me the same thing I get by fusing Tri-Horned Dragon and Gogiga Gagagigo?

Let’s go back to the El-Shaddoll Fusions. How do they work? Are they meant to be a Shaddoll monster infused with the power of an Attribute, as Shaddoll Core’s art and effect implies? If so, why can we use whatever we want to summon whatever we want as long as the second monster’s Attribute matches the Fusion’s? And why do they look like specific monsters being fused if they do not ask for anything specific? And why do the effects of some of them allude to the non-Shaddoll material’s original effect according to the Fusions’ artworks?

Now let’s give a look to a similar set of Fusions – the Elemental Hero Fusions from the GX manga. You know, the ones that involve an Elemental Hero plus any other monster, giving you one of six results depending on the second monster’s Attribute.

Yes, I know, Zero asks for any Hero. Konami be Konaming.

These Fusions actually do make sense. The Heroes already use the elements in their Fusion Summons. To perform these Fusions, the Elemental Hero does not fuse with the other monster, but with the other monster’s elemental power.

So, it is not impossible to make a Fusion with non-specific materials that does not feel arbitrary. It does require some context beyond just happening though.

On the material-specific side we have Dark Paladin. It is a Fusion using Dark Magician as the base, with Buster Blader being fused onto him. The result is a Dark Magician with enhanced magical power and Buster Blader’s swordsmanship skills against Dragons. This also shows up in Super Roboyarou and Super Robolady: one of the monsters is the base, while the other is fused onto the base. The Fusion process enhances the first monster’s powers in a distinct way, and you get a different result if you choose to empower Roboyarou instead of Robolady. Both of them being Machines that outright state they upgrade by fusing with each other also helps. And of course we can also outright combine specific monsters into one, like fusing 2 copies of Thunder Dragon into Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon.

“Choose your own materials” Fusions are harder to make “right” without becoming random things, but Chimeratech Overdragon hits it spot-on. It is a Fusion between a Cyber Dragon and any number of other Machines. It is usually summoned via Overload Fusion: a card that literally melts down and combines a Cyber Dragon with other Machines to create a powerful mechanical hydra, tying its use of “scrap” to the Attribute associated the most with the Graveyard and to its rather overkill effect combination. Its very summon causes your field to be torn to pieces due to the monster’s brutal mindset, and it becomes more powerful the more materials you used for its summon. We also have Worm Zero, which is simply an incredibly huge amount of sentient Worm monster mass: you use any number of Worms to summon it, and the more monsters you use, the more powerful it becomes.

That’s enough complaining about this. Let’s move on.

 

Next stop in your misguided rant tour: archetypes, with more than only complaints.

How is a Fusion-focused archetype meant to be handled?

Let’s go back to Shaddolls one more time for a bit. Yes, it’s to complain about them again. That is what happens when you take a mechanic and then do everything in your power to design cards that do nothing but cheapen that mechanic: someone reacts badly to it and tears it a new one.

See how everything does stuff no matter what you do or do not do? Well, that is how NOT to do a Fusion-focused archetype, because the monsters cheapen every move. I’ll set a monster and get an effect whether you attack it or not, but if you do not attack it I have free Fusion fodder. I’ll send a monster to my Graveyard and get an effect. I’ll fuse two monsters and get at least 1 effect, then I’ll get my Fusion’s effect, and I’ll recover the Fusion card when it inevitably hits the Graveyard. What is the deal with that? Why is the Deck a perpetual motion device?

See how Shaddoll Falco is a Tuner? That is another thing that should NOT happen in a Fusion-focused archetype. Enabling the archetype themed access to a summon mechanic that is not the archeype’s own supposed focus is bad enough, because not only does everything fuse with everything but now they also have access to a second toolbox which is even more generic than their original one. And that is before getting to the part where Shaddoll Falco’s two effects are revival for either itself or another Shaddoll so that you can float and keep on floating.

See Shaddoll Dragon? It should NOT be a 1900-ATK beatstick and removal if flipped face-up and removal if sent to the Graveyard by a card effect.

That’s probably more than enough ranting about Shaddolls than you shall ever need in your entire lifetime. So let’s be “positive” for a while.
There are two “ideal” ways to go with a Fusion-focused archetype: focusing on fully-specific Fusions, or being half-specific and half-generic while not going out of the theme. Both ideas would focus the Deck on Fusion Summoning, with the first idea focusing on versatility and the second one focusing on being less straining on your card advantage. And in both cases, the Fusions would be your “boss” monsters and main way to win duels. No thing such as cheating your way out of everything with Castel.

I instinctively picked the TCG art of Burstinatrix. Maybe I am a bit of a prude…

Do you remember the first batch of Elemental Hero monsters? They are all needed to summon specific Fusions, and they are all highly searchable. But they do not have every possible Fusion combination available to them. Why is that? Give them those combinations. Give the players the possibility to fuse any 2 Heroes they want. And the Heroes you are fusing together? They should have some repercussion on the Fusion. Heck, some of them do do that already. Fusions involving the 2000-DEF EARTH Hero Clayman (Thunder Giant and Rampart Blaster) have higher ATK and/or DEF than usual for Elemental Hero Fusions, while half the Fusions involving the FIRE Hero Burstinatrix (Rampart Blaster and Flame Wingman) deal damage in ways beyond mere battle damage. Expand on this. Give particular traits to the monsters so that the Fusions in which they are specifically involved inherit those traits. Avian is WIND and is stated to wheel through the sky? Have the Fusions which list Avian as a material be winged monsters which have effects related to this, like attacking directly or being able to avoid some attacks or effects. Burstinatrix and Avian have low ATK and DEF and are unlikely to be used as anything beyond Fusion Material? Then their traits should be better than those of Clayman and Sparkman, both of which are much more likely to actually survive a Battle Phase. Make all the monsters useful in some way. No thing such as making Steam Healer have a worse effect than Flame Wingman and then also give it worse stats.

As for the Attribute-based Fusions, they should not be stronger than the Fusions which ask for specific materials. It only makes sense that dedicating yourself more to something gives you a better result. And maybe they should only be summonable by fusing Elemental Heroes of specific Attributes instead of whatever you want, but scaling them down in power would probably be enough.

This is not going to end well for the guys on top.

The second idea was basically Fluffals and Edge Imps: a monster (namely, the Fluffal/s) who provides the fluff (pun not intended) and another monster (an Edge Imp) who shapes it into something bigger and tougher, giving different results according to the Edge Imp used. And probably not giving you too many results that cover several scenarios like Edge Imp Sabres almost does. And those who would want to try their hand at “cheating” for the summon of Chimera would have access to cards like Frightfuloid and Frightfur March.

And, of course, we also have the alternative to simply not have a Fusion-focused archetype and instead create Fusions that are for general use as long as you are willing to commit your Deck to summon them.
O-okay, put down the torches and pitchforks. We can have them all! Right?

Fusions between specific unrelated monsters have more of an imposing presence if they are “strong” by themselves, like Rainbow Neos. But of course you could also do the exact opposite – fuse two specific “weak” monsters into one that justifies you running them and fits the same general theme its materials do, like Thousand-Eyes Restrict. The aforementioned Super Roboyarou and Super Robolady also fit the idea, even if they have been underpowered since day one… which is another issue Fusions had back then: it was simply not worth it to spend a Fusion Spell plus two specific cards to summon a monster that had less than 2200 ATK and did not have an effect, even when no removal effects like Smashing Ground were involved. The Fusion mechanic itself is fine, but the vast majority of things you would summon with it were not.

For those really bent on having Fusions with generic materials, the closest there is to that while still sticking to the Fusion idea is having to use a specific monster as a mold of sorts and then empower it with the rest of the materials. Something like Gaia Drake, the Universal Force should not ask for a non-Effect EARTH Synchro Monster, because it means you can fuse Gaia Knight the Force of Earth with another Gaia Knight, or a Gaia Knight and a Scrap Archfiend. It should ask for Gaia Knight and a Beast-Type (and probably also Synchro) Monster. Supreme Arcanite Magician has the solution spelled out in his name: it really should just ask for Arcanite Magician instead of any Spellcaster-Type Synchro Monster. Fusions that have a defined form yet are made out of whatever thing you want do not make any sense, no matter how much “IT’S MAGIC!” you throw at my face as an explanation. Even in most of works of fiction, people conducting experiments or creating monstrosities use specific resources to obtain specific results.

 

I just noticed Chain Material’s cards have their text in English in the TCG artwork.

Let’s talk a bit about Fusion-related shortcuts and alternate methods now.

Metamorphosis took a lot of wind out of the idea of Fusion Summoning back then, because it does not ask you for anything specific beyond a Level. Just throw it into a Deck that can summon a monster of that Level and you suddenly got access to the very first instance of Extra Deck toolboxing: Thousand-Eyes Restrict, Fiend Skull Dragon, Dark Balter the Terrible and Ryu Senshi were only 1 tribute of the most-played Levels away from your grasp. Magical Scientist costs LP instead of a monster and only summons Level 6 and lower ones, but back then that was all you needed to take control of the field and nowadays it would be a mass Xyz enabler. Summoner of Illusions can also toolbox through Fusions, and even moreso than either of the two previous cards, but it is tolerable by virtue of being a Flip Effect monster that needs another monster under your control when it flipped face-up in order to use its effect, and the summoned Fusion is given a lifeline that lasts until the end of the turn only. Of course there are a couple of facilitators and a few Fusions that either ignore the destruction or trigger their effects when destroyed, but Summoner of Illusions cannot be simply thrown into any Deck and do well.

Fusion Gate banishing the materials instead of letting them hit the Graveyard is fine, as it is not just a bogged-down Polymerization: it gives you a way to Fusion Summon several times using only 1 Spell at the cost of having your Fusion Materials being unusable with cards that fuse from the Graveyard. It could probably do with some restriction to not simply let it be a Fusion vomit enabler though, as it is pretty one-sided by default.

Cards like Miracle Fusion and Dragon’s Mirror and Frightfur Fusion would pretty much be the “good” take on a Fusion-related shortcut. It does feel weird how they all do the same thing to summon different monsters though.

Cards that fuse from the Deck do not really… work for fusing. Future Fusion was just a mass dump tool, even when the game was not as excessively Graveyard-based as it is now, and you never actually expected to summon anything with it. Brilliant Fusion is its more Fusion-focused version, and it summons the monster inmediatly at the cost of dropping its ATK to 0… but it is still able to summon Gem-Knight Lady Brilliant Diamond who does not care about the ATK drop, and it can even restore the lost ATK for no actual cost. Shaddoll Fusion can use any number of materials straight from the Deck if the opponent controls a monster Special Summoned from the Extra Deck, which means the opponent is punished for trying to get around Winda’s lockdown effect as well as letting you trigger whatever second effect of a Shaddoll you feel like getting. Red-Eyes Fusion is the only example of “fusing from the Deck done right”, and does it via only letting you use Normal Monsters as the Fusion Material… as well as not letting you summon anything else during that turn, which probably means it is actually overly restricted.

Fusion Substitutes (the monsters, not the Spell called Fusion Substitute) are fine mechanically, but they do not really make sense if you try to understand how they work in the Fusion process. King of the Swamp is the same as Versago the Destroyer who is the same as The Light – Hex-Sealed Fusion who is the same as Dark Magician for summoning Dark Paladin? Maybe they should have some sort of “drawback” or “downside” to their use, like having Versago turn the resulting Fusion into a Fiend or reducing its ATK or DEF. Then you could have the players trying to cope with the downsides or even try their hand at turning them into an advantage. The Hex-Sealed Fusion monsters should only be usable in Fusions involving their own Attributes. King of the Swamp, being a slime monster, could be used as a substitute for any Fusion, but being a slime means the Fusion’s stats should not be as high as they should due to not being very solid and stable.

Does Instant Fusion make much sense? I am not sure. It is not a shortcut or alternate method: it simply gives you a Fusion as fodder to do whatever. Sure, the Fusion itself is probably something like Fusionist (which is another issue altogether) but is it okay to make Fusions blanket fodder? Should it be restricted in its usage somehow, such as making the monster be good only as a Fusion Material for Fusions like Shining Flare Wingman? And why is it a cup of ramen, anyway? It would be more meaningful if it were, let’s say, a test tube from Magical Scientist’s lab. Oh, and cards should not be designed specifically so that they are good only for Instant Fusion. Why should you be rewarded better for using the shortcut than for doing it properly?

Chain Material, by itself, does not Fusion Summon – but it does let you Fusion Summon using materials from your hand, field, Deck or Graveyard every time you would use a card effect to Fusion Summon that turn. Whatever Chain Material helps you summon is destroyed at the end of the turn, and you cannot attack the turn you activate it. Chain Material is rather infamious for its loop-based applications because you can still do whatever you want with the summoned monsters and Fusion Gate lets you summon repeatedly, but let’s forget about that for a moment. Can we really consider this card “Fusion support” when even nowadays there is only a handful of things that would survive the turn if you do not use them as fodder to summon something else? Let’s assume Chain Material did not destroy the monsters – would it be greatly cheapening a “boss” monster’s summon, or would it be fine?

 

This is De-Fusion, or Fusion Cancel in the OCG. Its effect, well, “cancels” a Fusion: it returns a Fusion on the field to its owner’s Extra Deck and then, if that monster was actually Fusion Summoned and every monster used as a material for its Fusion Summon is in your Graveyard, you can Special Summon them to your field.

Ideally it should be mandatory to revive them, ideally it should revive the materials from the opponent’s Fusion to their field as well, and ideally it should also not be that much of a pretentious wording mess, but that is not the point.
The point is that, when Fusion Summoning, you are actually disposing of the Fusion Materials instead of keeping them “alive” as part of the Fusion.
It does not really make sense that you can, say, use Polymerization to summon Frightfur Wolf by using Edge Imp Sabres and 2 Fluffals, then follow up with Frightfur Fusion using the same Edge Imp Sabres and 2 Fluffals for a second Fusion Summon. I literally just fused with them and the Fusion they were used to summon is still there. Why can I do this? It is even more glaring when the resulting Fusion Monster is an upgrade of one of the Fusion Materials.

A possible idea to prevent this from happening is… *cringes* taking a page out of the Xyz Monsters’ book and make the monsters used as Fusion Materials be, for lack of a word, “attached” to the Fusion Monster they were used to summon. In the case of De-Fusion, you would not summon the Fusion Materials from the Graveyard – you would summon the monsters that are “attached” to the Fusion at the time, and if it has no monsters, it was most likely not Fusion Summoned. In the case of something that would banish the materials when using them, the materials would be banished as soon as the Fusion no longer existed on the field instead of removing them when initiating the Fusion.

Okay, that is enough raving…
Note that, despite my many complaints, I have never said the Fusion mechanic is a complete failure. It has felt like that for a long time, but that is because Konami took a tremendous amount of time to actually pay it any actual attention… all while making everything else better and creating more and more removal, leaving Fusions in the dust because there was not much of an incentive to use them beyond shortcuts and being a death trap for card advantage otherwise. And then they suddenly shoved Shaddolls upon everyone’s face and Pendulums that Contact Fuse. Because middle points do not exist. Oh well.

That’s pretty much it for Fusions in general, but there are still a couple of things left.

 

Contact Fusion

 

“Contact Fusion” is a not-really-official-but-it-might-as-well-be method to summon certain Fusion Monsters. These Fusions summon themselves from the Extra Deck without having to activate an effect to perform the Fusion Summon. Their materials have to be under the control of the player who wants to conduct the summon (except for one case) and the card itself tells you what is done with the materials.

There is this… problem I have with Contact Fusions.
Most of them feature a merge of the monsters used, mechanical or not, or a combination of having one monster riding the other… but, we had already seen examples of both of those things in Polymerization-based Fusions before. So, it is rather hard to see a justification for the difference. Gladiator Beasts are the exception to the usual Contact Fusion rules but they are nonsensical due to having Fusions but those never being explained or not even having cues between themselves and their materials… and the Ritual Beast archetype (there are no words for this name) revives the Shaddoll dillema in that it has 3 of their 4 Fusions summoned through any Tamer and any Beast, yet they are clearly made out of specific monsters in their artwork.

So… I do not really have a lot to say about it. It is pretty much an arbitrary mechanic for most of the cards involved in it. Neos and the (VW)XYZ are the only ones that pull it off rather smoothly: Neos’ signature power is combining with Neo-Spacians, and the VWXYZ are combining robots that work with both Contact Fusions and Unions. And even then, those are the less playable ones…

 

Mask Change


And finally, Masked Heroes. Who are Fusions only when it comes to cardboard color. They have no Fusion Materials or anything that makes anyone think they are the Fusion of anything. Because they were not Fusions in the series they were used, but a summon mechanic exclusive to them: Transformation Summon. You know, Kamen Rider. But “creating new mechanics just because the main character from the GX manga started using a different Deck as part of his character development” is not a good enough reason to make them their own thing, unlike creating a new series.
Yeah, I do not like them as Fusions. Their mechanic is not too bad though. It works, at the very least.

 

And there. That ends the Fusion article.
That was long… And I feel I complained too much while saying too little…
Next time, I’ll be talking about something that goes in the Main Deck, probably Ritual Monsters.

Advertisements

One thought on “Spar-Spangled Banter: Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards – Fusion Monsters

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s