Hello, fellow random bystander who somehow barged into this blog. Here’s Die Frauen (you may also call me Michelle if it pleases you), yours truly, introducing its first article. No further introductions needed since my introduction is this post itself.
Today’s article will tackle a common aspect shared with most of my fellow writers, that is the wonderful (or woeful) world of Yu-Gi-Oh! Now as my fellows may have made an impression, this article will dissect one of the card game’s aspects that I feel this blog’s yet to cover. The core aspect for this first article will be strictly focused on Card Mechanics that ended up warranting a spot on each card right next to their Type. These do not really having an established name because Konami expects us to come up with one, and because they don’t really focus on their own game. Now, whether you call them Traits, Abilities, Sub-Type, or whatever, the fact is they exist. At the end of the day, though, should they?
What are Traits?
See, a Trait, or again, however you name it is a sectioned part of an individual Monster card, written in a format after the Monster’s Type or the other more specific types (Fusion/Synchro/etc). There are many that can be applied and those are: Toon, Spirit, Union, Gemini, Tuner, and (the most recent in the ascended gimmick line) Flip. Flip monsters stick out since they weren’t original a Trait and just a little bit of text on the card, like the OCG-only “Special Summon” monsters.
But let’s not drag around and let us get on with what I made you scroll down here for, who should we start first with though? before we go on about this I’ll stop for a moment to say I won’t be further discussing about Toons and Tuners, the first one because it’s essentially a label for what might as well be the first instance of an archetype seen in the game, the other being because they’re bound to another grand scheme being the Synchro mechanic, and thus, warrants discussion on said mechanic’s article. There’s also Pendulums, but one would argue whether they’re a Trait or outright an established Card Mechanic, or both, who knows.
so if we go on about in a chronological order, assuming they still count we have:
What are Flip Monsters?
Flip Monsters, as of the dawning Arc-V era became a Trait, but mechanically it has remained about the same ever since its inception, and namely, out of the first 5 Effect Monsters released, one is a Win Condition card, and the other 4 were Flip Monsters themselves.
Ah Falco, you poor overly texty little bird.
Flip Monsters are mechanically what you would call, suprise boxes, they are wrapped under in face-down Defense position, and once they are flipped face-up, hilarity ensues. It’s a pretty simple concept, and perhaps of that is why they were reintroduced to the game, there’s no complex way at them, they behave following guidelines that are natural to players.
What went wrong?
Really nothing, Flip Monsters were never sistematically flawed, they were just put to seldom use because Monster removal had evolved into a stage in which they’re not guaranteed to set their effects off, since they can well be Destroyed easily, and if they’re Destroyed, they’re not Flipped, and if they’re not flipped, well…
This issue was alleviated for a close instance in the advent of Shaddolls, who had complementary effects that set off when they were removed in the most conventional way that would prevent them from setting their Flip up, sending them through grave, namely Destruction by effect. This naturally complemented Flip’s effects, the Provisional effect was usually less powerful, but more prone to activation, and the Flip effect was powerful to give the opponent an incentive to prevent said Flip effect from activating.
What went wrong there? as Destruction became more rampant, the more conventional Flips were becoming more out of flavor as their unreliabilities surfaced over time, same case followed Dolls as non-destruction removal grudgingly became all the more common, ensuring players that the best chance at setting their effects off would be manually, which is another way to look at them, but as many things, it can be taken overboard.
From a general standpoint, Flips do not need much, what they need is to continue experimenting with the mechanic, figuring out what effects to make that are powerful enough to justify both their usage, and the risks involved with them. There’s fundamentally no issues to the mechanic as is
A Flip by another name is…
This sub-section I will use to denote certain cases in which the mechanic would’ve worked perfectly for a single instance, yet for some reason isn’t. See, Konami has done many things, Upping the powercreep levels, making arbitrary choices that are more often in detriment to the game’s quality and only make sense on a marketing standpoint, and if there’s one thing that is almost inherent to Konami, is that they like to abandon things and never speak of them for a while, if ever. While Flip was functional enough to be revisited, they were once replaced in favor of an alternative.
The example above, on very simple terms, behaves exactly like a Flip monster would, why isn’t it a Flip Monster? I wouldn’t have a right answer, I would say Konami wanted to make a strong Flip monster, one that could bypass the anti-Support that could stop Flip monsters cold, but was that really necessary? it’s not like said anti-Flip support was actually relevant in the first place (It wasn’t, or maybe it was, but that’s still not a good reason) and this card merits bypassing it (It shouldn’t really) but what can one do about it?
What are Spirit Monsters
And thus, there never was a WIND Spirit again
Spirit Monsters, while not canonically the first concept to name a Trait, was the first actual Trait, if you don’t count Toons, but we don’t like to talk about it. Spirits are basically cards that interact on the field as Monsters and then leave the field without say, making a call to their nature as non-living things as they are only corporeal when making contact, and cannot be touched by the opponent.
This translated pretty okay-ish to the game’s structure, it made sense, you were also unable to Special Summon them, which also made sense in the idea that you can’t really call them at a whim, for they’re not from this world.
What went wrong?
They just didn’t age well, cards such as Yamata Dragon and Hino-Kagu-Tsuchi were ridiculously powerful once you ignored their crucial drawbacks, but there’s the catch, they have drawbacks, and one thing about this game is that while the stretch of your powers changes from era to era, your shortcomings stop being short over time, what was once a borked effect is merely useful, then it becames okay, then it outright becomes not worth the try at all, and that’s not even mentioning cards that completely overshadow them in viability, now put a restriction in that for good measure, Good Card A Make.
Spirit Monsters above Level 4 were seldomly used because, outside 2 very closed cases, they didn’t offer any sensible reward for playing them, and the Level 7 and above were completely scrapped seeing Tribute Fodder wasn’t a realizable concept by the time. Spirit monsters such as Asura’s Priest, Tsukuyomi, Yata-Garasu, hell even Susa Soldier could see comfortable use because of their levels and the lack of crippling drawbacks, two of these got banned at some point because their effects found abusive appliance, it tells you the mechanic works, not that it’s worth a spot in your deck.
What problems Spirit had as a Mechanic is shared with many others, and is that they’re specific concept that is opted out in favor of more mundane ways, that’s a very common thing, and it happens to mechanics that are benched 1 tier above them, Fusions and Rituals, two core mechanics were seldomly used by visible flaws in their concept, even Synchro saw decline.
Now, for a more fundamental flaw of the concept as a theme is that the vast majority of the concept suffers a problem that affected another early Trait in Toons, being that they’re bound to a specific theme; Ancient Shinto Mythology, this is not on the same scale however as Spirit Monsters could, and did deviate from that concept in at least 2 instances, while Toon remained that regrettable appendix of Pegasus’ Deck, and keeps getting shoved down our throats because…
Let us not forget however how Konami spat on Spirits as a whole by making another Shinto based theme that was not only ever so slightly more playable, but as well did not ammount to anything at the end.
That’s no Tsukuyomi
We talked what is a Spirit Monster, they have two core ideas to them: They cannot be Summoned outside their specific mean, and they leave the field after you’re done using them, but can one really stray from that concept?
Yamato-No-Kami is the one only example of Spirit cards that elaborate on the concept by straying ever so slightly from the norm, it cannot be Normal Summoned or Set, but rather, unlike the rest, it can be Special Summoned, if only on its own way. So this suggest Spirit Monsters can deviate from the formula, and by how much?
We’ll now discuss whether certain card could be a Spirit or not despite their inner workings suggesting it.
Normally, they confine themselves in deepest depths of stormy mountains training themselves, but once a month each year, they cause a great storm that descends to the lands below. People recognize their power as a natural phenomenon that transcends human understanding
_Official lore, sourced from Wikia
So how are they not Spirits again?
So you’re telling me they’re Spirit-like creatures beyond human understanding, but like to take a day of the month by pissing off on the neighbor with their storms? What’s not mystical about that? What reason could they possibly have to opt out for a mechanic almost literally made with their design in mind?
See this? they’re basically Spirit Monsters that can be Special Summoned as non-Spirit Monsters, so now they can’t behave like Spirits when they’re Special Summoned, but then why make them behave like that in the first place? They got it all, the concept, the extended enhancement with this concept in mind, and the incentive towards playing them, giving them a label wouldn’t have killed anyone.
So what if they’re more live than the average Spirit, maintaining that old arbitrary idealism towards the concept kills the mechanic’s viability as a whole, Yosenju aren’t Spirits because ”Buu they cant v Spatial Salmons” therefore they can’t be spirits, therefore Spirits remain on the shelf.
No ammout of Magical Alpaca overlord will make up for this dishonor.
What are Union Monsters
Union Monsters are essentially the most pure and inadulterated take at making a Monster’s role into what usually coined to a non-Monster card, in this, it makes Union Monster the original take at Equip Monsters, but just how does it work as a concept?
There’s two ways to look into it, as far as I can make memory, one being focused around 1 Main Monster, who is equipped with their complementary Union card. Or make the single Union example be capable of assembling as part of a Monster that belongs to a single Type, or other category.
I’ll use these for reference, since there’s actually no Bird Union monster yet so… As close as it gets I say.
I’ll be talking about what went wrong with the mechanic, but I could be talking about how this idea went wrong in the first place.
Unions function following a very set, and pretty simple concept, that somehow still manage to take clutters and clutters of text.
First off, the Monster has a single activation per turn to Equip itself to the Monster while on the field, OR, unequipping itself and Special Summoning back to the field, more often than not in Attack Position despite no Unions ever having 2000 ATK or over.
And the second effect that prevents the equipped Monster to be destroyed by taking the destruction instead, more than an effect one would call a condition, because even if it’s meant to be used in a positive manner, you have no real control on whether apply the protection or not. Sounds pretty novel, doesn’t it?
Trucking Magnets, why won’t they work?
Let me ask you a question, what ever went right with Unions? they make sense as a concept once you understand them for their pretty bold design, but why don’t they see more use, if ever?
There’s a plethora of reasons why I’ll discuss further below, but to get an idea of what exactly is, Unions are as impractical as can be.
- First things first, they need to be on the field in order to equip themselves to the Monster.
- Second, they more often than not, equip to very specific targets.
- Third, they’re Equip cards, all things considered.
- Fourth, their effects almost never make up for the hassle in summoning them as well as the intended target.
- Five, their Destruction protection must not affect the Union Monster as well, as it would mean the Equip is getting destroyed twice, or some dump like that.
- Six, said destruction effect is mandatory, if you have an additional effect that protects from another spectrum of Destruction the Union doesn’t that can be taken to your opponent’s advantage.
And to top it all off, one crucial flaw that becomes all the more evident as time goes, that has made Konami completely scrap the mechanic altogether in favor of pretender alternatives; (A Monster can only be equipped with 1 Union Monster at a time), this means that if you’re assorted with a big Monster that could use as many arms as possible, it can only resort to have one up at the time, and if they can get rid of the Union, odds are, you won’t have the target Monster up to try another one in your next turn. Non-Progression at its finest.
Still, once you ignore the increasingly glaring flaws of the mechanic you can make yourself the idea that it can possibly work provided you jump over some of the above mentioned issues.
Gearframe works, because it only needs to be summoned itself, the one gunner card it searches can Summon itself in turn to get ready to assemble, this helps circumvent the fact Gearframe becomes essentially the blandest most basic Union Monster there is afterwards, but it at least gets to the point…
Except it searches Machina Fortress, a card so independent and so successful it homogenizes almost EVERY SINGLE Machine deck into being an enabler engine for itself, Gearframe only works because Fortress is dumb, it has barely any merit to itself.
Machina is not nearly an Union deck any more than Vylons are, the only thing they can say is that they’re a deck that can consistently equip 1 Union to a Monster, you want me to give them a Medal for doing something that’s not even the focus of their deck? Ok.
Like Unions, but better
I’ve suggested about the existence of cards that do all, or at most half of what an X Mechanic Monster can do, but better, but let us talk about them now, Unions suffer from this issue way more so than any other mechanic, because their design is printed on Cereal boxes, but Unions have a ridiculously arbitrary approach at them, so you take your liberties with Non-union cards, which then makes said cards all the more playable than they’d ever be if they were base Union cards.
This is where I file a chart in where I pinpoint the semblances and differences between individual, but I do not think WordPress has the capacity for that, so I’ll make a not so brief briefing on each of the examples above, let’s call these ”Onions” for amusement.
- Vylon Onions takes the Gearframe approach further by becoming an Onion equip to, more often than not, the one Synchro monster you Summoned using it as Tuner material, it can’t really dissemble on its own, but do you really have to? it’d be mad stupid if it could tho considering their lack of restrictions. Tetra itself behaves the most as an Union Monster would in virtue of reenacting the protection effect, which is now optional, to warrant ever so slightly more flexible usage.
- Obligatory reminder that Vylon does have actual Unions, but due to their glaring lack of swarming options outside degenerate, but very funny loops, you’ll be hard pressed to find a window to equip an Union Monster to a Vylon boss, and when you do, it probably won’t even count as an Union Monster. Intuitive design, Ladies and Gentlewomen.
- Inzektor Equips are plenty, even if the only ones who are actual Onions are a few, Giga Mantis has a permanent record of balance issues behind with the illicit activities involving it and certain Dragonfly, what sets Inzekt Onions from the norm, and sets a new future, is being capable of being equipped directly from the Hand, I’d like to see your Heavy Mech Support do that.
- ZW or Zexal Weapons, whatever those are were one of an endless batch of otherwise Universally unrelated support to the posterboy card of the Xyz era, the original Rank 4 himself, ZW’s were pretty horrific in theory, since a couple of them equipped to a single Utopia meant DANGER, these Onions encourage to bloat your boss Monster a Mouthful to become Invincible!® See how you equip both Y and Z to your X-Head Cannon, I dare ya.
- Gwhenwyfar, Queen of Noble Arms, what a name for a beaten-to-the-ground hard translation, like many onions, they’ll make you cry if you slice them in. Gwen takes it to a whole different level in being capable of being recurred from the hand, AND the Graveyard, which ensues perpetual usage, and between her variated effects depending on the equipped Monster’s moral compass she can get on the defensive, or the offensive. Both of her effects find plentiful usage in the Noble Knight house, she’s pretty restricted, but seeing her range of effectiveness, it’s almost more than justified.
- Super Heavy Onions, ahaha, er… These equip monsters have the curious ability of apply for equipment from both Hand and Field, seeing it a second time this shield is actually rather mediocre, I probably could’ve used a better example, but it on itself already shows more promise than any Union Monster not named fortress.bait
The issue is not that Union Monsters are a bad mechanic (They, on a scope kinda are but I digress), many mechanics have proven to be all the more viable once you find them room to circumvent their elaborated flaws, which is in retrospective a major issue at the time of designing cards in general but that’s not the point
The problem with Unions is that they’re hard set on the idea they all must behave the same way, As long as the arbitrary restrictions are held, the Union Mechanic will remain synonym with nigh-unplayable, and speaking of not nearly usable…
That’s no Normal Monster
Quite, Gemini Monsters are the next gimmick on the dish, and the last official Trait we’ll discuss, Gemini’s a mechanic with one quite novel concept, when Konami started making Effect Monsters the norm, they decided Normal Monsters had to get some outlandish support to warrant usage, that led to one or two powerful Normal-themed cards. Granted, this didn’t take Normals anywhere they weren’t before, the most efficent approach being through breaking the 1900 paradigm with certain jelly-flavored Beast hybrid Monster. But one day someone thought; Hey, why not make Normal Monsters with, say with me, Effects!
Gemini follow one mindset, they’re Monsters with untapped potential, they resemble Normal Monsters in the two most interactive places on the playfield, their zone on the Field, and the Graveyard, they however may miss out on certain things that make Normals all the more viable, but nevertheless, once they’re set into play, they’re subject to whatever Normal Support you may want to fit into your build.
Speaking of their actual star aspect, they are Normal Monsters who became Effect Monsters, how do they become Monsters, well…
The process of Normal Summoning a Gemini monster a second time (that is being treated as a Normal Monster by its effect) is just the same as performing any other Normal Summon, except that the monster is already on the field and no Tributes are necessary for Gemini monsters of Level 5 or above. Despite common unofficial usage, Normal Summoning a Gemini monster while it is already on the field is not called a “Gemini Summon”. Once a Gemini monster has been Summoned an additional time, it is then treated as an Effect Monster and it gains the effect(s) written on it.
That is not misleading in the slightest. Intuitiveness, folks!
The process behind giving Gemini their effects make use of the Only vital source that is not tangent in cards, that is your Everyturn’s Normal Summon. This means, decks need to either, spend a Turn into making it on the next one, Using an effect to outright make the Gemini Effective, or just not Normal Summoning the Gemini Monster at all other than to unleash their effect form.
Much like Flip, the effect of said monster is ought to be on a good degree of power to justify making use of what is otherwise a gimped Normal Monster.
non-functional as any Normal Monster, c ept not really
If you want to say Gemini’s concept is to be Normal monsters then yes, they accomplish that purpose almost perfectly, but saying such thing can be open to interpretations such as that Normal status, more than a boon to reward it with support, can become a total liability to the monster’s efficent usage. Gemini as a concept is a restriction to a Monster in itself, but that’s not really the reason Gemini are paltry used, there’s one fundamental issue about them
They require a specialized trigger to make them work, and this usually doesn’t come cheap, and if it does, it’s probably not going be much reliable, and if it is, Gemini still don’t have any effects that cement their usage, other than some very specific instances: Gigaplant, As well as certain Zombie fellow is/are a pretty useful Monster that is tapped under the Gemini Label, but it works almost efficiently for the sole reason it’s status as Gemini translates directly to Trade your Normal Summon for a Special one, that’s okay, at least it works, and makes use of the mechanic by playing around it to get your candy. What’s not okay, is a card with a misleading name, an odd artwork and a completely deviated effect, You’re supposed to use the mechanic to untap your monster’s Hidden Power, not use it as meager fodder for a quick removal card, that’s against the purpose entirely, way moreso than anything I’ve previously mentioned.
Gemini are much like Unions in that regard, except while their examples are not as abusive, they are, as far as I know, all hiveminded into the same structure. Flip was efficient enough not to warrant a restructure, Spirits’s issues are only parallel to their playability in some instances, and Unions are also designed with broken bones in mind, but at least they bothered spicing the formula a little, even if just a little.
All Gemini I can remember so far can only be used in one way, and there’s hardly any support that encourages their further usage.
I am (Not) Normal
This is where I mention examples about Konami taking a gold coated dump on the mechanic of the day by engineering a card that deliberately resembles said mechanic to their core, but isn’t related to it in the slightest because if my mechanic can’t function in the arbitrary way I’ve written it then it just can’t function at all, despite card effects being as flexible as they can get.
Let’s make it even more insulting by using an example of an archetype I’ve already used previously:
SPOT THE TRAITOR!
Here we have two conveniently similar monsters, they have more and more things in common the more you take your time to pick at every detail, then it becomes obvious these two function mechanically the same, except one of them has a built-in way that goes on natural accord with its Deck’s design in order to unleash its effect, almost as if it never was a Normal Monster in the first place. And then, there’s the actual Gemini Monster.
Medraut above here proves the Gemini Formula can be danced around into playableness, one just has to give it a more live approach, make their Effect release a second nature to the player, with Gemini you’re stuck with a neglected mechanic with an old-fashioned mean towards an end, end that many decks sprint towards, while this one remains on the previous lap because it just can’t quite catch up, Medraut is not even the only Normal-like Noble Monster, and none of them are Gemini Monsters because they’re pretty much 13% different in design.
Unions, all flaws considered, could blend with other mechanics such as Pendulums to warrant major usage, Flips and Spirits already made their mark on a Banlist at least two times each, Gemini is a mechanic, that is mechanically disabled from the get-go, and seriously requires jumping out of the box to make it at least faux-playable.
Other things worth trashing
I’ll make a brief mention of other neglected concepts that were pretty hip themselves, but for reasons or not, they never saw enough limelight.
First we have a mechanic that was far too innovative to become a reality: Senet, named in honor to a card who refers to a game is the mechanic that makes mechanical use of switching places between card zones, many stories go between why this never went to become a thing, from an anonnymous Konami agent stating switching between Monster zones is too risque too warrant attention as an actual mechanic, but that’s not an excuse to completely invalidate a concept you even bothered to conceive, many things were scrapped eventually, but Senet never saw anything at all for one very important reason, one that anyone who’s ever read this article could’ve figured by now; If Konami is too damn lazy to change like 2 lines from a sample that branches from an established mechanic to redesign the concept in favor of playability, how in the seven blazes would they manage to make a mechanic like this work if they have literally -46 of an idea of how to make the concept even remotely natural, Konami doesn’t understand their own game.
Another mechanic is a subcategory of Senet, but one that every once in a blue moon recieves a sample; Zone Lock:
Essentially works as the title would suggest, they target 1 unocupied card zone, and prevent any cards to become stationated there, the concept is simple enough, but there’s one very crucial flaw to it, it has no grey area between being completely inconsequential, and being a ridiculous lockdown ability, it’s not explored upon for balance reasons, but even that could be challenged, just not by Konami.
LV Monsters are a nice gimmick, however they too suffer from the fact they might as well be an Archetype at it, if they’re ever explored again, expect only the worst.
It’s no secret the formula to Konami’s unsuccess in whatever they do is their utter incompetence at making things work. I could write 5000 words long articles explaining why such a model of development doesn’t work, but I feel the 5000 words above give a pretty concise idea of the problem, a pretty acid combination of incompetence, laziness, paranoia, apathy and straight up complete disregard for it in favor of more practical and low-budget techniques with only profit in mind. I guess if you really want a card game that works, you have to stick out of the business mentality overall.
This makes your first Die Frauen article, I hope you’ve found it insightful.
I may be a Clave , but I am no conspicious flower.