Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jigsaw Pieces - Judgment Dragon

I’m going to make a pretty bold claim, though it’s one that I think few players will disagree with. Judgment Dragon is the most powerful card in the game at the moment. I believe it’s truly the only card currently legal that can be classified as ‘broken’.


Simply put, (if you’ll pardon the awful pun) JD is an absolute monster. It has a joke of a summoning condition, and with an average hand (even one Charge of the Light Brigade) it’s entirely possible for a Lightsworn player to have a ‘live’ JD at the end of turn one.

This card really needs no introduction, nor does its extremely powerful effect, but I’ll be examining just exactly why this card is so good, as well as where it’s true place on the banlist lies.

Judgment Dragon makes a mockery of the traditional concept of card advantage – consider, a skilful player can carefully exhaust his opponents options and resources over turns of excellent play, amassing several cards over their opponent, only for the Lightsworn player to topdeck a Judgment Dragon, drop it for free, and then drastically alter the state of the game for a laughable cost of 1000 lifepoints. There are very few cards in the competitive metagame capable of stopping the Dragon’s summon (Solemn Judgment, Royal Oppression etc), and if you don’t happen to have one of these then you can do little but watch your carefully set up field burn. Even if you have a Bottomless Trap Hole or Torrential Tribute to trade off with the Dragon they do nothing to repair the damage already done, turns of precision play and excellent reads are wasted, and the game is back in the Lightsworn player’s hands.

No other single card that is currently legal is as powerful or game changing as Judgment Dragon. This then raises the question of where this beast belongs on the banlist?

Many peopled will cry out that it should be banned, but this isn’t a very realistic option, as it removes the most powerful element of the Lightsworn deck, and we’d be forced to wonder what the competitive consequences of this might be, it might even remove Lightsworn from the competitive sphere completely, which I’d imagine some might celebrate, although I can’t see all those players who invested large amounts of money in their decks being pleased with this option.

It certainly cannot remain at two, as this is far too powerful for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most simply, it’s possible to win with two Judgment Dragons, simply dropping an incredible 6000 attack on the board in a turn, and most importantly with a normal summon free to finish the job and inflict a one turn kill. Secondly, can also simply drop a single Judgment Dragon, use its effect to clear any potential obstacles then follow up with the second Judgment Dragon to win the game.

It seems then in order to satisfy the most people that the logical place for Judgment Dragon is at one, this solves most of the problems with the card. This forces Lightsworn players to be far more careful with their single copy of Judgment Dragon. As it currently stands they can shrug off a Bottomless Trap Hole, causing severe damage in the process, knowing that they have one more Judgment Dragon to rely on. It’s hard to overstate just how much the lack of that single Judgment Dragon changes.

We already have an example in recent competitive memory of this to examine: Dark Armed Dragon. Its limitation reduced its power drastically, forcing players to conserve it until it could guarantee (Gorz the Emissary of Darkness notwithstanding) game.

Thanks to Beckoning Light, Lightsworn players are still able to reuse their incredible boss monster, but no longer can they exhaust their opponents entire arsenal of defences, then set Beckoning Light, allowing them to simply drop two Judgment Dragons without difficulty the following turn.

Forcing Lightsworn players to conserve and value their Judgment Dragons introduces an extra element of skill to the deck, especially in the mirror match, and would allow skilled players to play extra mind games with the opponent, feigning a Judgment Dragon where none exists, and vice-versa.

There is no question about the power of Judgment Dragon, it is by far the most powerful card currently active in the game, and of that there can be no dispute. Konami has never yet let such a powerful monster roam free in the Advanced Format untouched for long, and come March 2010 I think we’ll be seeing Judgment Dragon take the hit it deserves.


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