Konami revealed the next Monster Card type and various other rule changes in the latest issue of V Jump. The new rules have made changes to basic Extra Deck Summoning mechanics, and represent the most extensive adjustments ever to how Yu-Gi-Oh! is played.
Link Monsters are a new mechanic that adds an extra layer of complexity to Extra Deck Summoning.
- A 6th Monster Zone has been added, called the Extra Monster Zone
- Extra Deck Monsters can only be Summoned to the Extra Monster Zone if Synchro, Xyz, or Fusion Summoned
- Pendulum Monsters Summoned from the Extra Deck also must be Summoned to the Extra Monster Zone
- Extra Deck Monsters can also be Summoned to Linked Zones
- Each player can only use 1 Extra Monster Zone at a time
Linked Zones are any Monster Zones being targeted by a Link Monster’s Link Markers: those arrows on the sides of the card art. Those Zones become available for Extra Deck Summons, and once a monster is Summoned there it doesn’t need to be “Linked” to stick around. You can destroy your Link Monster, replace it with another, or do whatever you want. Linked Zones are only important for certain card effects, and for Summoning monster from the Extra Deck.
Let’s talk about how this impacts each Summoning method, and the decks that typically use them.
It’s not terribly common to see decks spam Fusion Monsters, but we’ll be seeing quite a bit more of it now that Invoked and Fluffals have received their new support in Fusion Enforcers. If you’re playing Fusions you’ll want to prioritize cards that let you use Fusion Materials from the hand or graveyard. You’ll need your Normal Summon to fuel Link Summons. Decks that can Summon just one Fusion Monster and support it by other means won’t be hurt as much. Cards like Odd-Eyes Vortex Dragon and Invoked Mechaba can hold down the field on their own.
There’s an interesting Synergy between the new rule on Pendulum Summons and Vortex Dragon: if you can’t Pendulum Summon those monsters again, you might as well put them back in the deck to negate your opponent’s cards.
Other monsters, like Greedy Venom Fusion Dragon, can be Special Summoned back to the field in a Main Monster Zone.
Finally, single-use Fusions like Elder Entity Norden, Gem-Knight Seraphinite, and Panzer Dragon are still viable largely because they don’t stick around for long. Seraphinite might become a liability for some strategies though, as it’s not the easiest card to take off the field again. That’s especially true with Ultimaya Tzolkin’s nerf.
“Synchro spam” might not be dead, as evidenced by numerous video showing Turn 1 Quasar combos under the new rules, but they’re nowhere near as consistent as they were previously. Working within the Link framework increases combo counts, reduces the number of “broken hands” by requiring extra cards, and makes the combo more vulnerable to disruption.
The decks most impacted by this change are those that previously won games by flooding the field with Synchros. Decks that make a single Synchro, those that can bounce their Synchros off the field, or Synchros with self-removal effects are still useful. Yang Zings can transition to builds that sit on Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing and exploit early-game set-ups with Denglong, First of the Yang Zing and Nine Pillars of the Yang Zing. Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon remains among the best Synchros in the game under this rule.
PSY-Framelord Omega, Stardust Dragon, Colossal Fighter, Drill Warrior, Stardust Warrior, Ancient Sacred Wyvern, and Angel of Zera can return to the field in a Main Monster Zone. This frees up your Extra Monster Zone, letting you Summon another Extra Deck monster if necessary.
Lastly, single-use Synchros like Black Rose Dragon are just as useful as ever.
Nothing too noteworthy here. If anything, Xyz are arguably in the best possible position post-Links thanks to Rank-Up mechanics. Overlaying repeatedly on the Extra Monster Zone could be a core strategy going forward, and decks like Raidraptors with on-theme Rank-Up cards will still be able to access their best monsters.
Again, single-use Xyz remain solid under this change. Diamond Dire Wolf nukes itself instantly to free up the Extra Monster Zone, while cards like Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer can be immediately sent to the graveyard for a Link Summon following the resolution of its effect.
There are plenty of decks that can sit on a single Xyz, or only ever need one Xyz at a time. Remember the days of Diving Dragon Knight Felgrand in Sylvans? That strategy exists today with Trains and Number 81: Superdreadnought Rail Cannon Super Dora. True King/True Dracos rarely need more than a single True King V.F.D., the Beast to achieve their win condition.
Pendulum strategies were utterly annihilated under this rule change. Because Pendulum Monster cannot be used to Summon a Link Monster you’re already at a disadvantage while playing a Pendulum theme. There’s no restriction on Summoning from the hand or deck, but you’ll be losing out on so many potential Summons if you don’t prioritize Link Monsters and add more Linked Zones to your field. Those problems together cripple Pendulum strategies.
Despite that, if a Pendulum strategy can put non-Pendulums on the field for Link Summons, or simply uses Extra Deck Pendulum Summons less often, then the rule change might not be as big of a problem. Monsters that return to the hand, like Mist Valley Apex Avian and Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin, are still viable. In fact, this change might put a new emphasis on Pendulum Summoning non-Pendulum monsters.
For Pendulums this change is very reminiscent of the way Synchros were affected by the 2012 Forbidden & Limited List. The removal of the best Tuners, the best Synchro, and the best non-Tuner at the time was just too much. We stopped seeing Synchros for a long time afterwards. Could Pendulums meet the same fate?
So far I’m enjoying the theorizing and speculation on Link Monsters. I’m keeping an open mind, but I’ll talk more about my criticisms of the mechanic very soon.
Until next time then