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

Hello, Gaspar here again.

I talked about Ritual Monsters in the previous part. It’s now time for the fourth one, which is about something I had conflicted opinions about for a long time: Synchro Monsters.

 

Synchro Monsters

It is kinda funny, I do not know where to begin to talk about them because I do not have anything to complain about Synchro Monsters themselves, even if I am not a huge fan of most of them.

Mechanic-wise, they are fine. De-Synchro does make me feel Synchros could use the same treatment I suggested for Fusions, but again, that is a rather minor complaint.

Flavor-wise, they justify their tendency to be generic monsters well enough: the Tuner monster used for the Synchro Summon breaks down the rest of the materials and then combines with them, reconstructing all of them and becoming something new. Using certain things in the process lets you summon particular Synchros, while others are more specific in their requirements. And while you can indeed “use Synchro Monsters in every Deck”, using Tuners in a Deck that was not made with them in mind is going to suffer a loss in consistency that might make you consider to not actually use them. In theory.

So, I have already said I do not mind the Synchro Summon mechanic itself. What else could I be saying here? Well, there is more to Synchros than just, well, the Synchros themselves.

 

Tuners

Decks made with Tuners in mind should have Synchro Summoning as their way to access their strongest cards. I remember finding many Tuners “weak” back then, but it made sense later on: Tuner Monsters are not meant to be particularily good cards, as they are your gateway towards Synchro Summoning. You use your monsters on the field to summon one of many possible ones from your Extra Deck. It’s meant to make you ponder on risks and rewards. Tuner Monsters should NOT reward you for Synchro Summoning absolutely everything, nor have effects that make you gain easy meaningful card advantage, as enabling Synchro Summoning is what they are meant to do.

The main use for a Tuner Monster should be Synchro Summoning. That is what they enable. Tuners that you would use for reasons other than Synchro Summoning might as well not be Tuners.


See Blackwing – Gale the Whirlwind? It is a good example of how a Tuner should NOT be, because it can take down anything with 2600 or less ATK by itself as well as be the Tuner for whatever you want, all while being Level 3. It has too much utility.

Want another example? Very well. How about Effect Veiler? You can send it from your hand to the Graveyard during your opponent’s Main Phase to negate the effects of 1 opponent’s face-up monster for the rest of the turn. It is a very good effect, and cards that activate from the field to do the same thing are also used. So why is it also a Tuner? The card encourages me to use it for its effect more than for its Tuner status. Why is that? Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit is even worse because it actually destroys a card, it destroys more than just monsters, it has usable DEF so it is not even “bad” to Set, and its effect can also be activated from the field because it was designed to be used for Emergency Teleport.

That said, Tuners can devote themselves to Synchro Summoning way too much for their own good.

Glow-Up Bulb and Spore are Tuners you use explicitely because they have two lives, so to speak. Bulb is basically the perfect generic Tuner: perfect Level, no restrictions, no requirements for anything. Spore seems innocent enough because you have to dedicate your Deck to use it… until you remember it has no actual restrictions, that you would be using it alongside Lonefire Blossom – a card that searches it and fuels it, and it also fuels Debris Dragon while being able to search Glow-Up Bulb – and that it can go into higher-Level Synchros spending less cards than Bulb. And there is also Fishborg Blaster, which not only has no restrictions for its revival effect but it can also be used several times per turn.

I have complained enough about how Tuners should not be. Let’s say what they should be.

They should not have amazing effects. Making their survival during the opponent’s turn a bit more likely (like Dark Resonator and Reese the Ice Mistress) is fine. Being overly-easy level modulation (like Speedroid Red-Eyed Dice) is not. Doing something upon a successful a Synchro Summon is fine (like Changer Synchron and Soaring Bird over the Searing Land) as long as it is not just yet another zero-setup spam enabler that goes off in the Main Phase (like Karakuri Ninishi, although the Karakuri Shoguns are just as guilty there).

The earlier Synchrons were pretty cool in hindsight. They did not restrict you in any way. You could do whatever you wanted with them. You could even use only 1 of them instead of having to use the whole package like most things. Quickdraw Synchron did it the other way round while still keeping the idea: it could only go into Synchros that needed a Synchron Tuner, but it could be summoned easily at the cost of your hand advantage and you would have to tweak your Extra Deck in order to use it. In exchange for the versatility they handed you, they did not give you a billion free cards that do more things.

Until they did, anyway.
In a Structure Deck that claimed to be Yusei-style.
With cards that do not fit him due to being gigantic multi-purpose walls of text.
Then again, what did anyone expect?

 

Toolboxing

Is it okay to be able to toolbox in a Synchro-based Deck? Yes, but not in the way Konami says it is.

Let’s look at T.G. monsters. They have not-bad-but-not-amazing-either effects while on the field, and they add a T.G. monster with a different name than their own from your Deck to your hand at the end of the turn in which they were destroyed on the field. This gives you the possibility to match any combination of T.G. monsters for a Synchro Summon, although not immediatly, and you can also use the monsters in a more controlling approach when not Synchro Summoning.

Their two non-generic Level 5 Synchro Monsters, Power Gladiator and Wonder Magician, have average and below-average ATK for their Level, respectively, to compensate for the fact they are also floaters – they give you a free draw when destroyed. Power Gladiator deals piercing damage coupled with 2300 ATK, which is not bad but it is not amazing either. Wonder Magician, on the other hand, destroys 1 Spell/Trap on the field upon her Synchro Summon while also being a Tuner and being able to Synchro Summon during the opponent’s turn. This makes her key for the summon of the Accel Synchro Monster T.G. Blade Blaster, who makes use of the hand advantage to protect itself from Spells and Traps and uses the Graveyard to avoid effects during the opponent’s turn.
Their Level 2 Synchro, T.G. Recipro Dragonfly, is mostly good only to summon the Level 12 T.G. Halberd Cannon, which can negate 1 non-activated summon per turn and revives another T.G. Synchro Monster when destroyed.

Can T.G.s toolbox? Yes
Can T.G.s Control? Yes.
Can T.G.s summon Synchros fast? Yes.
Can they do everything at once? Not really. Using the monsters for a Synchro Summoning means you do not get their search/draw effects, which means you run out of steam faster. And at the same time, the non-Synchro Monsters are a tad too small to deal with most things when not assisted by backrow. Which means doing whatever you want just because you can is likely to bite you hard. You have the options to play the Deck at a slow pace and at a fast pace, so it’s a matter of analyzing how you should do it.

You have all the tools. Use them properly.

Now we’ll give a look at another of Konami’s original archetypes: Yang Zings, which are eerily similar to T.G. monsters. All their Main Deck monsters are expendable floaters: they inmediatly summon another Yang Zing from the Deck when destroyed on the field, giving you a line of defense that is pretty hard to break through, and one of their support cards is a Continuous Trap that gives you the same effect once per turn. The Tuners summon either themselves or other Yang Zings with their second effects. The non-Tuners all have a built-in Urgent Tuning which can be applied during the opponent’s Main Phase and Battle Phase, on top of also giving any Synchro Monster they were used to summon an extra effect like an inmunity to Spell Cards’ effects or being indestructible by battle. Their Synchro Monsters’ effects capitalize on the non-Synchros’ floating effects, letting their in-theory-one-for-one-exchange effects become even more plussing.

You do not make choices with Yang Zings beyond choosing the order in which you summon things. You get everything you could get no matter what you do, Yang Zing Creation will give you an extra monster no matter what gets destroyed and you get said monster immediatly, and you are not going to run out of Yang Zings to summon due to Yang Zing Path. And their better-than-Urgent-Tuning effect makes no sense. T.G.s only get it in one monster and it is tied to their owner’s use of Accel Synchro, but Yang Zings get it on every single non-Tuner for no reason? And it is actually better than Wonder Magician’s? Why do they get that effect and buffs for the Synchro Monster? You are not meant to get the whole package. Where are the decisions you have to make?

Constellar Sombre is credited in-“lore” for the creation of the Yang Zing… and it makes too much sense.

 

One-card plays

Is a one-card Synchro Summon a crime against humanity by default?
Not necessarily.
The problem with most of them nowadays is that they are more than just a one-card Synchro Summon.

Junk Synchron is a surprisingly generic Synchro Summon enabler and facilitator, but it is perfectly fine. It Special Summons a Level 2 or lower monster from your Graveyard from your Graveyard when you Normal Summon so that you can go for a Synchro Summon, and it stops there. It can do a lot of things, but it cannot do everything at once, and the result of using it is always just one Synchro Monster. Not a Synchro Monster plus searching 2 or 3 cards from your Deck that keep on searching and let you spam more monsters and destroy cards. If you want to profit more from using Junk Synchron then you have to involve your own Deck into it, and many cards that do benefit from Junk Synchron need further Deck investment in order to be worth it.

Pilica, Descendant of Gusto’s effect revives a WIND Tuner monster from your Graveyard, and for the rest of the turn you can only Special Summon WIND monsters. The effect triggers upon Normal Summon, which is fine… and, similarily to Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, it also triggers upon Special Summon because Pilica was also designed with Emergency Teleport as the focus of its use. Which is not fine, because it lets you Synchro Summon using only 1 card besides your Normal Summon and Pilica’s WIND restriction only applies after using her effect so you can do whatever you want before that. And you can always use more generic things like Call of the Haunted with it, too.

Fire Fist – Spirit is NOT fine at all. It might be pretty much confined to a single Deck, and it might only be going to summon 2 or 3 monsters out of who-knows-how-many, but it is way too searchable, it does not need you to add anything to the Deck that you would not be using already, every single card it is used with is a high-utility card that gives you extra cards in every step of the way even if not involved in Synchro Summoning, and it claims to restrict your moves for the turn but it really does not. It only summons very specific Level 3 monsters? Those are the things I was going to summon anyway. I can only attack with Beast-Warriors that turn? Horse Prince is a Beast-Warrior and gets you any part of the combo that you might be missing. It only triggers upon Normal Summon? Tensu lets me Normal Summon twice. And even if I do not have it right now, Spirit’s shenanigans will let me search it… and then I’ll search another Spirit to repeat this next turn if I do not feel like searching something else with Rooster or Leopard.

The point I am making here is that one-card Synchro Summons are not the work of the devil just because of that, but they should not be more than that. And they should not trigger in more than one way.

Context is important.

 

Trivialization of costs

One thing is to be rewarded for taking a risk that may or may not have worked. Not having to take any risk due to floaters and field clearing and being rewarded anyway is another thing.

If you do not mind, re-read what I said about Fire Fist – Spirit again. Unless you negate its Normal Summon or its effect, you are very likely to get steamrolled in advantage pretty fast unless you can end the duel quickly enough.

Rewarding a player for spamming with more cards so that they continue to spam does not make it very enticing to, well, not spam. If they could not stop the play at first then it is all too likely that they cannot stop it at all, so they get blown up for… not having a counter right at that point, either because they did not have it to begin with or because you disposed of them. And that is not very enjoyable.

This is a complaint I have about Yu-Gi-Oh in general, not just Synchros, but it did become very glaring to me that Konami was actually encouraging you to go wild and rewarding you better for doing it than for being more reserved to the point where, even if you could survive the Battle Phase for that turn and use removal, you would still be behind in advantage when compared to the opponent.

Getting better rewards for being proactive instead of reactive is a possible idea that might or might not work to prevent a game from being what some might consider a grindfest, but there is a thing such as a middle point, you know. You were not even spending your cards to summon Synchros like the Karakuri Shoguns or Hyper Librarian or Trishula back then, nor spend them nowadays to summon whatever you want. You just do it with either 1-card enablers or at least half the investment paying for itself, get free cards as a reward for doing so, and plus on every step of the way because you can.

And while we are at it…

Ever wondered from where Clear Wing Synchro Dragon’s everything came from?

I think we all know Shooting Quasar Dragon.
It is a very powerful card and I do not like it very much.

I know what you are thinking… No, the card is fine. I dislike it by proxy, because it illustrates Konami’s design tendencies since 2011 very well. Its effects treat it as if it were borderline impossible to summon, but a Synchro Deck that can drop Synchro Tuners on the field can more-than-likely summon Shooting Quasar Dragon without bleeding their heart out. It is a “boss” card, but it is too easy to drop on the field. It has very powerful effects, but you can summon it in more than just one inexpensive way. It’s a lot like Trishula in that regard. Except Trishula did not need any help to be ridiculous, while my problems with Quasar come from Konami releasing it only after trivializing Synchro spam to the point you can summon it using only 3 cards from your hand.

 

Aaaaand that’s pretty much it. The Synchro mechanic itself is perfectly fine. It encourages particular Deck-building for both the Main Deck and Extra Deck that goes beyond just slapping 2 Level 4 monsters one above the other to deal with all of life’s problems, and you could either focus completely on Synchros or have them as backup with a few Tuners thrown into your Deck. It’s pretty cool.

Thankfully, Konami realized they were driving themselves off a cliff and saved Yu-Gi-Oh’s future by doing all the things I have commented above and came up with more summon mechanics for no rhyme and reason as well as trivialized the use of the Extra Deck and, eventually, everything in general. Because people being happy means people will not buy things anymore, which means they’ll go away, which means lost revenue, which means Konami goes bankrupt, which means no more Yu-Gi-Oh! OH NOES!

Wait, what?

Well, Part 5 is now up if you feel like reading it. It comes with a little surprise.

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