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This intro isn't meant to be 100% definitive, and I am sure I am missing some things. I do not claim to be a master of the format or anything, but I feel like I had enough insight to write this up and provide some solid information. I look forward to what else people have to say, and hopefully build Goat Control into something more than just online casual play. Also, I don't know how to do spoilers / shortcuts, so if a mod wants to clean it up for me, go ahead. Intro "Goat Control" refers to the most successful and possibly the best deck of the April 2005 format. It is possible that other decks such as DMoC launch, Ben Kai, and Empty Jar were stronger, or that current knowledge of Giant Trunade and Trap Dustshoot may have changed the format - however, it is generally accepted that those decks could not last eight or more rounds against Goat Control in an SJC. Instead of using combo decks, most of the best players relied on their skills and personal tech to achieve consistent success. Goat Control's card pool includes The Lost Millenium and the 2005 tins (Blade Knight and Exarion Universe, notably), but excludes Cybernetic Revolution. Although CRV was legal during the last 6-8 weeks of the format, Cyber Dragon drastically and negatively changed the format. Normal summons were a key resource in Goat Control, and Cyber Dragon effectively allowed the user to perform two normal summons. Additionally, 2100 attack dominated the field, specifically Airknight Parshath, Exarion Universe, Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, and many of the other format's interesting card choices. Cyber Dragon was also one of the best Light monsters printed at the time, which narrowed down individual choices (end rant). The best aspect of Goat Control was the fact that games almost never ended before four turns, and commonly lasted over ten turns. Over the course of these long, drawn out games, players were forced to make multiple decisions - and simply put, the more decisions a game involves, the more room for error there is. A misplay on turn three can come back and haunt you ten turns later. Because games lasted so long, it gave players the chance to draw "come back" cards such as Pot of Greed, but also, it allowed time for players to draw their unique tech choices. Although many lists use the same 35+ cards, one card differences can change everything. Players could chose to promote more controlling or aggressive end games. They could also "identify" with their region - certain regions of the world were known for being more aggressive than others. Many players grew close to their individual choices, such as Big Shield Gardna, Mystic Swordsman LV2, Ceasefire, and Greenkappa. Basic Theory Matches of Goat Control last long periods of time for two reasons: first, special summoning was not common, nor was it safe - and second, players respected power cards such as Snatch Steal and Mirror Force. Special summoning was rare in Yugioh, and only occured in cards like BLS, Chaos Sorceror, Gigantes, Call of the Haunted, and Premature Burial. Chaos Sorceror was rarely used, because Light and Dark counts in Goat Control were often stressed. Gigantes was only used in budget Earth decks. Many times, it is possible to end games with BLS + Ring of Destruction, or Premature Burial. There are ways to put more damage on the board. However, if the opponent has a reponse, such as Scapegoat, the aggressive player is then subjected to the opponent's own power cards. Over extending, and not being able to kill an opponent, is the easiest way to lose at Goat Control. Because games cannot end quickly, matches of Goat Control are often attrition wars: 1. Card advantage is everything. The more cards you have, the more options you have. You typically want to make the most impactful play, with the least cards possible. This forces the opponent to answer in some way, or they will gradually lose the game. What begins as 1000 damage from a Sangan is a precursor to when a player must use a power card out of desperation. 2. On the surface, Goat Control may seem to be all about one for one advantages, waiting until one player "blinks / misplays" or runs out of cards. Under the surface, Goat Control is about making the correct one for one exchanges (Exarion Universe may trade with DD Assailant, but it is really worth it? Is that a good use of my trampler?). After trading five cards with an opponent, the more skilled player may end up with a plus one. With that one extra option, that player can start making less risky plays, and force an opponent into a corner that they cannot get out of (or, force them to overextend before it is safe to). 3. There are certain times when it is too risky to add any additional cards to the board, for fear of Heavy Storm or Torrential Tribute. At those times, it can be appropriate to "draw go" until both players have six cards in hand. The player who is would have to discard first, without Sinister Serpent, is forced to take action. Losing a card becomes mandatory. So they must set or play a card, and play into their opponent's full hand. Heavy Storm + Tribe Infecting Virus are particularly good to make aggressive pushes through this scenario - but again, that is such a big commitment that the aggressor must end the game on that turn, or have a very controlling board state backed by cards like Jinzo, Balter, TER, and / or Book of Moon. Simply put, patience and well timed aggression. One over looked part of Goat Control is how to use life points as a resource, particularly in games where multiple Pot of Greeds or Delinquent Duos are involved. When attrition wars cannot be won, a player may decide it is time to go for the most destructive and damaging plays possible. Cards like Snatch Steal, Ring of Destruction, and BLS are notorious for stealing games. Incrimental damage from Delinquent Duo, Premature Burial, re-uses from Magician of Faith, Dark Balter / Ryu Senshi, and the threat of both players' Ring of Destructions are all very relevant factors. It is the role of the player with the most card advantage to play safely and securely - their life must remain as high as possible, yet their field must remain conservative enough to not get blown out by Heavy Storm. They must also be able to assess the risks and rewards of trying to end the game before their opponent draws their outs, such as BLS. This cat-and-mouse game is part of what makes Goat Control so exciting. Pot of Greed, Graceful Charity, and Delinquent Duo are considered the "trinity" of card advantage. I personally view these cards as healthy for Goat Control - they give one player a distinct advantage over the other, a "gift", given at any random time. Such free card advantage can change the course of a game - a player can draw Graceful Charity into Pot of Greed, and suddenly find themselves no longer the underdog in the match. Reversal of roles, and the ability to assign the roles, is another skilled part of Goat Control (Who's The Beatdown?). Many cards such as Book of Moon and Metamorphosis have different implications throughout the game. Using Book of Moon aggressively, when the player is clearly supposed to be the control player, can lead to a wasted resource and a loss of potential tempo. After the trinity, other cards that can cause swings in card advantage include Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, and Heavy Storm. These cards do not explictly say "+1", because the opposing player must play into them first. But through mind games and pressure, a player may be forced into playing into something like Torrential Tribute, because the alternative of not summoning a monster is worse. Because of the "invisible law" of using Torrential as a +1, some players may also force their opponents to use Torrential pre-emptively, and proceed to play BLS / Premature / Call of the Haunted (or set up later plays without fear of Torrential). A player must also be able to recognize when trading away Mirror Force, Torrential Tribute, or Heavy Storm for a one-for-one is appropriate. For example, if my opponent summons a monster and I use Torrential, they may be tempted to make an aggressive push without fear of Torrential. But if I can stop that push with something like Scapegoat or Book of Moon, then I just forced my opponent to play their best cards - to which, I can respond with my own. In a similar category as Mirror Force, etc, are power cards such as Premature Burial, Call of the Haunted, Snatch Steal, and Ring of Destruction. Each of these cards has the unique ability to change board states, set up larger plays, and inflict significant amounts of damage. These card are not often used in the early game, and if they are, they typically do not have much impact. But regardless of that, some cards must be used over time in attrition wars. As games go on longer and more cards are played, you can assess situations like, "My opponent has 15 cards left in their deck, with Airknight Parshath in grave. They have not used either Call of the Haunted or Premature Burial. I am at 3500 life. Setting Scapegoat will not necessarily protect me - I need a better play". Mystical Space Typhoon, Book of Moon, and Dust Tornado are all exceptionally good in breaking up these scenarios. A player who wastes their MST or Book of Moons will find themselves losing in the late game very often. Aside from trinity and power cards are the support cards - none of them are particularly flashy, but in the hands of a skilled player, these cards can generate incrimental advantage. Examples include Metamorphosis, Scapegoat, Book of Moon, and most monsters, such as Spirit Reaper, Magician of Faith, Tsukuyomi, and Asura Priest. None of these cards can end the game alone, so they are played one by one to build up tempo, advantage, and damage. In proper contexts, these cards can become more powerful than trinity or power cards. It is up to each player to create game states where that statement can become true. To a skilled Goat Control player, every card has the chance to "become" Pot of Greed. Whether it is through bluffs, reads, or setting up board states, the art of extracting advantage in any situation is one of the most difficult and beautiful aspects of Goat Control. Because Goat Control is played almost entirely online, and there is no real life competitive scene for it, Goat Control lost one of it's most important aspects - tech choices based on region. As I stated previously, many Goat Control lists share the same 35+ cards, and the last few slots are saved for "player preference" or appropriate techs based on the meta. Whether it was Texas, New York, Flordia, Southern or Northern California, each region had their own view on how Goat Control should be played. Traveling out of state to other tournaments often caused a "culture shock". Traveling players could sweep tournaments with unheard of tech and play styles, and likewise, discover that their ideas were outdated, predicted, or simply not as effective. These regional differences led to many different forms of Goat Control. Players were constantly looking for new Light and Dark monsters to use without hurting their ability to play BLS. This led to popular choices such as Gravekeeper Spy, Blade Knight, and Newdoria, but also more obscure choices, such as Greenkapa and Roulette Barrel. Although this level of competition does not exist any more, many of these tech choices were "lost in time", waiting to be rediscovered. The future of Goat Control may lie deeper than just what is posted in the Metagame archives. Inividual Cards For the next part of my introduction, I want to individually discuss each staple or popular card, and some pieces of knowledge about each. Note that this list may not go into 100% detail on each card, I am sure I will miss a few things, but it does provide insight to players who are new, inexperienced, or need to get back into the swing of things. Monsters: BLS BLS is the most dangerous card in all of Goat Control. It is capable of dealing 5000+ damage in a turn, and yet, able to respect Sakuretsu Armor by simply removing one monster per turn, while other monsters attack. However, a player that leaves BLS on the field must be able to either end the game immediately, or face reprocussions - Snatch Steal, an opposing BLS, Enemy Controller, Creature Swap, TER, Ring of Destruction, this list goes on and on of all the possible things that can go wrong. Save BLS for only when you exactly need it, but also recognize when you can back your opponent into a corner with it. Staple Dark Monsters Sangan Sangan is one of the best monsters in all of Goat Control. It forces opponents to make plays that they otherwise may not want to, because they may not want a search to resolve - instant access to powerful cards like Sinister Serpent. In this sense, Sangan is an enabler to other enablers. Sangan's only enemies are DD Warrior Lady and Nobleman of Crossout. It is safer to play Sangan face up to prevent Nobleman of Crossout, however, it also allows an opponent to make plays they otherwise might not have considered - such as summoning DD Warrior Lady. Regardless of this paradox, taking 1000 per turn is a hard pill to swallow, and an opponent must act in some way to prevent Sangan attacks from getting out of control. Note Sangan's favorable interactions with Call of the Haunted and Torrential Tribute. Spirit Reaper Spirit Reaper is only used as a one-of because of it's liability that it cannot be destroyed by battle - making it a damage sink for tramplers. Spirit Reaper is also the perfect example of card advantage vs damage - while making your opponent discard a card may be very valuable, the 1500+ damage that they do back to you on a following attack may be just as valuable. All of this being said, protecting Spirit Reaper while keeping your opponent's board under control, is an easy way to close out games - just don't expect it to happen very often. Also, it is because of Spirit Reaper that it is not safe to leave your board completely empty. Bluffing a spell or trap usually makes an opponent respect a card like Scapegoat or Sakuretsu Armor - and there is little harm in bluffing, because Spirit Reaper would steal a card anyways. Note than searching Spirit Reaper off of Sangan may force an opponent to commit to the board differently, playing into a potential Heavy Storm. Breaker the Magical Warrior Breaker is similar to Sangan in some ways - it is costless aggression. However, Breaker's upside happens when it comes into play, and not when it dies. Many times it is appropriate to summon Breaker, destroy a backrow, and press for damage. But it is also important to understand that between Breaker, MST, and Heavy Storm, those are the only three commonly played forms of spell and trap removal. Because of this, some players to prefer to use Breaker to test the waters before making a bigger play, or wait until the late game, to deal with cards such as Swords of Revealing Light and Snatch Steal. How a player chooses to use their Breaker is very reflective of their personality and play style. Note that leaving Breaker with a counter on it and passing the turn is typically a bad play, because of Snatch Steal. Tsukuyomi Tsukuyomi is extremely versatile - it is able to re-use cards such as Magician of Faith, TER, and Dekoichi. You are able to Snatch Steal a monster, flip it with Tsukuyomi, and keep it permanently without an opponent gaining life. Tsukuyomi can also defeat monsters such as Monarchs, Breaker, TER, Blade Knight, and Tribe Infecting Virus in battle. Tsukuyomi can flip monsters face down to be Nobleman of Crossout'ed. Tsukuyomi can turn off Jinzo. Tsukuyomi can be searched by Sangan. It is because of all of these reasons that Tsukuyomi is important to protect - game states are constantly changing, and Tsukuyomi can prey on many situations to create different advantages. Attacking with Tsukuyomi to get 1100 damage is not always correct, because of Sakurestu Armor and Mirror Force. At times, it is appropriate to get Tsukuyomi's effect, do what you will with it, and then pass the turn. The advantage you gain each turn may be worth more than 1100 damage. Tsukuyomi's greatest draw back is that you use your normal summon, but do not advance your board position, leaving you wide open to cards like Spirit Reaper. Jinzo Probably the most common tribute monster in all of Goat Control. Jinzo is able to push through many plays without fear of traps, however, you must still be aware of quick play spells such as Enemy Controller, Book of Moon, and Scapegoat. Summoning Jinzo does not protect you from everything. But in late game scenarios where push-comes-to-shove, Jinzo can help secure odds and win games. Note that chaining Call of the Haunted to get back Jinzo is one of the strongest plays Jinzo can do, in order to negate traps in response. Commonly played Dark Monsters: Gravekeeper Spy / Gravekeeper Guard The Gravekeeper engine is an excellent way to establish board presence. 2000 defense is enough to brick wall any non-tribute monster, forcing an opponent to make a "bigger" play if they want to push through damage. With the extra Spy or Guard, additional options become available, such as being able to summon a tribute monster "for free". Also, 1200+1200=2400, which is the same power and clock as Jinzo. Nobleman of Crossout does break this engine apart, so players relying too heavily on them may find themselves with a much weaker deck post-Crossout. Whether it is beating down for 1200, 2400, stalling to draw cards, or forcing an opponent to commit to a board, the Gravekeeper engine is a favorite of many players. Knowledge of how to handle multiple brick walls is an esseential skill of Goat Control. Mystic Tomato Mystic Tomato was an interesting alternative to Gravekeeper Spy, in being able to keep board presence. Searching out key monsters such as Sangan for faster access to Sinister Serpent, Spirit Reaper to stall or go for hand control, or more tech choices such as Newdoria and Dark Jeroid, were all very respectable plays. Exarion Universe: Although only present in the last few weeks of the format, Exarion Universe's presence was immediately recognized and respected. Players looking for tramplers previously could only use Airknight Parshath and Enraged Battle Ox. Exarion has the amazing abilities to trample through Scapegoat, Spirit Reaper, and Sinister Serpent board stalls, use it's 1800 attack to beat over most non-tribute monsters, have 1900 defense to stall (specifically against Airknight), and be Dark for BLS. Such versatility and strength was rarely seen in monsters in 2005. Players that had "gone deep" with cards like Skilled Dark Magician suddenly had an amazing alternative. Don Zaloog Although Warrior Toolbox fell apart as an archetype, some Goat Control players continued to use Don Zaloog in their deck lists as a "second" Spirit Reaper. Don Zaloog had the benefit of attacking over smaller monsters such as Sangan, but also of being an excellent bluff. Players who attacked with Sangan, Dekoichi, Tsukuyomi, etc, expecting to see a smaller monster, find themselves in a world of hurt - not only do they lose a card from the battle damage of Don's 1500 defense, but they are also subject to Don's follow up attack. Being a warrior, a player could use Reinforcement of the Army for a more "on demand" Spirit Reaper. Having that extra searchablility allowed for a player to snipe card advantage out of seemingly safe situations, without ever having Sangan telegraph what was coming. Cannon Soldier Cannon Soldier may seem harmless or even underpowered, but proved itself as one of the format's more dangerous cards. Simple combinations of end-of-turn-Scapegoat, lauch for 2000, Scapegoat, launch for 2000, launch Soldier, could generate 4500 points of damage out of thin air. By using Cannon Soldier in your deck, you start to analyze the cost and value of each point of incrimental burn, such as 800 from Premature Burial. Cannon Soldier opens up a wide variety of plays with your own TER, Snatch Steal, Enemy Controller, Sangan, Sinister Serpent (for looping damage), and extra reach in ending games with BLS (if your opponent left a Magician face up, BLS + Cannon Soldier = 2700+3000+1400+500+500=8100). Cannon Soldier becomes significantly more powerful in games 2 and 3, after an opponent had seen you use it. It may adjust their playstyle, or have them risk being burned out of a game they otherwise would not have lost. Apprentice Magician Although Apprentice saw more play in the beginning of the format in conjunction with Hand of Nepthys and Old Vindictive Magician, Apprentice was still a respectable card. Being able to search out Magician of Faith cannot be underestimated, because of the threat of double-Delinquent Duo or Tsukuyomi locks. Note that Apprentice can also be normal summoned to put a counter on Breaker. Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer Kycoo was commonly seen in the side deck, but occassionally made it into main decks. Kycoo prevented BLS from being played, but also attacked cards that liked to be in the graveyard, such as Sinister Serpent, Sangan, Airknight Parshath, and Jinzo. 1800 attack was also very respectable. Kycoo did get hurt with the printing of Exarion Universe, because some players valued trample higher than graveyard control. Staple Light monsters Magician of Faith Magician of Faith is a win more and come back card, rolled into one. Being able to re-use spells is extremely powerful, particularly the trinity or Heavy Storm. Many of Goat Control's bluffs and reads revolve around Magician of Faith, in terms of when it is appropriate to use Nobleman of Crossout or TER. One of the most damaging plays is setting a Magician with no particularly powerful spells in the grave, so that an opponent thinks it is safe to pass back - and then next turn, using something like Delinquent Duo twice in one turn. One particular play that I like doing is after my opponent has used a powerful spell, I like setting my own Magician in hopes that it gets Crossed Out - cutting my opponent off from re-using their spells, and preventing me from falling further behind in the game. Note that because Magician of Faith commonly gets removed from the game, players look to other Light monsters to reliably get in the graveyard for BLS. DD Warrior Lady DDWL is another extremely versatile monster. Along with Nobleman of Crossout, it is one of the few answers to Sangan, Spirit Reaper, and Sinister Serpent. DD Warrior Lady can also be used to remove any monster, whether by normal battle or by suicide. All of these are one-for-one exchanges, however, it is important to recognize which one-for-one is the most advantageous - trading DDWL with a monster like Exarion Universe is typically not a good use of it. Again, DDWL commonly gets removed from the game, so at times it is not considered a "true" Light monster for BLS. Airknight Parshath The most common Light tribute monster. Airknight is able to push damage through cards like Scapegoat, Spirit Reaper, and Magician of Faith, all while drawing one extra card at a time. 1900 is also strong enough to fight anything besides Gravekeeper Spy, Exarion Universe, Jinzo, BLS, and higher level fusions. Airknight is often discarded to Graceful Charity and Tribe Infecting Virus, so that it can be Prematured or Called back into play, without wasting a normal summon. Recklessly tributing for Airknight is an easy way to get punished by Sakuretsu Armor. Because Airknight excels at dealing damage and drawing cards, opponents are forced to get Airknight off the board as soon as possible, which can create desperate situations, which can turn into game winning scenarios. Asura Priest Asura Priest is not necessarily a staple, but is very commonly played. Asura is able to handle opposing Scapegoats more efficiently than any other card. 1700 attack is also enough to beat over most monsters, as well as provide a decent clock. Because Asura is immune to things such as Snatch Steal or battle, it can become problematic to deal with. But like Tsukuyomi, Asura costs you a normal summon per turn, and does not advance your board state. Commonly played Light Monsters: In 2005, there were very few playable Light Monsters outside of 2 Magician, 1 DDWL, Airknight, and Asura Priest. Some players used a second Asura Priest or a second Airknight. More adventurous players could use cards like Magical Merchant, Zaborg the Thunder Monarch, or Skilled White Magician. But for the most part, there was no need for other light Monsters - as long as you could manage your graveyard well. Staple Non-Chaos Monsters Sinister Serpent Like Tsukuyomi, Sinister is a resource that if used properly, rewards the controller very well. Sinster makes cards like Tribe Infecting Virus, Graceful Charity, and Metamorphosis significantly better. Sinister is also the equalizer to Delinquent Duo. Although risky, Sinister can also be used as an infinite blocker against a single monster. Agressively, Sinister can destroy opposing Scapegoats and a face down TER. Also, attacking for 300 a turn without fear of Sakurestu Armor can add up over turns. Sinister can also be used in board locks to be discarded as the 7th card, which if timed correctly, can force an opponent to "blink first". Tribe Infecting Virus TIV is an extremely powerful card that can be used aggressively and as a come back card. It is a discard outlet to ditch tribute monsters and set up BLS. It can also get rid of problematic cards such as TER, Scapegoat, BLS, Spirit Reaper, Gravekeepers, and so on. Without Sinister Serpent or favorable discards, discarding cards can become very expensive - each card becomes guaranteed to be a one-for-one trade, instead of something better. It is important to understand the reprocussions of simplifying a board state. Note that calling priority with TIV is not always correct, especially when you do not have Sinister Serpent to discard. You may call priority, discard a card, and your opponent could use Torrential or Book of Moon. Commonly played non-Chaos Monsters Morphing Jar Morphing Jar was not very popular in 2005 mostly because of how rare it was - an ultra in TP2 and a super in TP4. Availablity was very limited. Properly setting up Morphing Jar can turn the tides of entire games - it destroys and recreates card advantage that was fought over during the game. Giving both players access to five new cards can be very dangerous and chaotic, because many power cards can be added to equations. But through this chaos, skilled players are able to pin point weaknesses, and find sweet spots to win through. Not everyone likes using Morphing Jar, but everyone respects it. DD Assailant DDA was a worse DDWL, because of it's inability to handle Sangan, Sinister Serpent, Spirit Reaper, etc things that DDWL could hit. DDA did still see play because 1700 attack was a respectable attack power, and anything that was stronger than it would have to trade. The main reason DDA saw play was because of cards like Vampire Lord and Sacred Phoenix - some players did cling to those cards, and DDA answered them very efficiently. In current times, DDA is not necessarily worth playing. Enraged Battle Ox / Berserk Gorilla These cards were adapted from "Beastdown" decks as a way to fight Scapegoat very aggressively. Although Exarion Universe did make these cards almost obsolete, some players may still find value in Berserk Gorilla's 2000 attack. Exiled Force Like Don Zaloog, Exiled Force was a relic of Warrior Toolbox. But searchable removal was always worth something, especially with priority. Just be careful when using it against face downs - hitting a Sangan and having an opponent search Spirit Reaper is a nightmare. Big Shield Gardna Like Des Koala, Big Shield was another way to generate incrimental damage. In combination with Book of Moon and Tsukuyomi, Big Shield could become a very awkward card to play around. The occassional blow out of an opponent using Nobleman of Crossout on Big Shield was also very real - it changed how aggressively you could set up Magician of Faith plays. Fusion Monsters: Thousand Eyes Restrict This card barely needs an introduction or explanation. Just remember it's effects - monsters cannot change battle positions, and you can suicide TER into a bigger monster, lose the equipped monster, than equip the bigger monster to TER. Level 3s: Dragoness, the Wicked Knight The best level 3 fusion to bring out. Sometimes you just need to get a Sangan search immediately, and Dragoness accomodates you reasonably well. Flame Ghost Almost strictly worse than Dragoness, however, being Dark is relevant. Sometimes the Dark count in your graveyard is low, and you do not want to remove Sangan or Jinzo for BLS. Level 4: Darkfire Dragon The only level 4 that matters, because Karbonala Warrior being Earth / Warrior does not matter. Darkfire is useful for upgrading a monster such as Big Shield Gardna. Sometimes you need Tsukuyomi or Asura to stay on the field, so Darkfire is also useful there. Unlike other fusions, when using Snatch Steal, keeping your opponent's level 4 monster is usually not as valuable as keeping something like Airknight or Jinzo - your opponent gaining 1000 life per turn is very relevant. Again, Darkfire is very useful in this situation. Level 5s: Dark Balter the Terrible Made from Airknight, Vampire Lord, and Zaborg. Balter is able to protect you from many threats such as Heavy Storm and Metamorphosis, but also prevents your opponent from coming back via Pot of Greed and Graceful Charity. Balter's enemies include trap cards, Book of Moon, Enemy Controller, Snatch Steal, and Premature Burial - so summon Balter according to these risks. Note that if Balter destroys Sinister Serpent, it cannot be returned to the hand. Reaper on the Nightmare A rare alternative to Balter. It is possible to ignore an opponent's field and attack directly for 800 per turn, ending games in an unexpected yet powerful way. Fiend Skull Dragon: Sometimes Balter cannot kill all the face down monsters, so Fiend Skull may be appropriate to bring out. Granted I think I have summoned Fiend Skull twice in 8 years, but the option is always there. This is more of a real life choice than a Dueling Network choice - I don't think Fiend Skull is good enough to make the cut of 15 on DN. Level 6s: Ryu Senshi Made via Jinzo or Mobius the Frost Monarch. Senshi is almost the polar opposite from Balter - it is able to fight traps that aren't Call of the Haunted, and it's built in protection saves it from cards like Snatch Steal and Book of Moon. Like Balter, be aware of the game state and risks, and summon Ryu Senshi accordingly. Although Jinzo is stronger with 2400 defense, sometimes having a semi - Jinzo that can't be Snatch Steal'ed is better. Ojama King A rare alternative to Ryu Senshi (like, reallllllly rare). Ojama King can lock an opponent out of playing Scapegoat. 3000 defense is also impossible to get over in battle. Ojama King is also a Light for BLS. 1 in 100 games, any of these effects may become relevant - and fighting over extra percentages is what seperates good players from great players. Dark Blade the Dragon Knight Kycoo on demand. Dark Flare Knight I've seen people try to get cute with using a single Mirage Knight, but it's bad. Like Fiend Skull, Dark Flare only makes the cut in real life, no limit fusion decks. Level 7s: The Last Warrior from Another Planet / King Dragun are able to be brought out via Fusilier, the Dual Mode Beast. Again, only real life applications. Level 8: Gatling Dragon Gatling Dragon is brought out via BLS. Gatling Dragon is never a promise or a guarantee, however, it is a way to steal games in a very unique way. You can do plays like Meta BLS into Gatling, clear some monsters, then Premature / Call BLS back when it is safe. Gatling is also a way to not leave BLS on the field, because in some situations, having your Gatling Snatch Steal'ed is less dangerous than your BLS. Staple Spells: Metamorphosis I will start with Meta because I just listed out the fusion monsters. Meta is a high risk, high reward card - it is often a dead card and upfront, it is always a -1 without Sinister or Scapegoat. But as you can see from the fusion monsters and my brief list of their applications, fusions are able to impact the game in a way that many cards in the main deck cannot do. Because of this, Meta can represent cards like Snatch Steal, Nobleman of Crossout, Jinzo, Imperial Order, Kycoo, and more. With the balance of Meta usually being a -1 and giving you access to a "utility belt", the best Goat Control players are able to set up board states to maximize many different kinds of advantages, such as damage, card advantage, tempo, and soft locks. Note that Meta is useful in many situations when you need a monster to go away, for Snatch Steal, Premature Burial, Call of the Haunted, BLS, or avoiding your own TIV's effect. Pot of Greed I personally believe it is 98% appropriate to play Pot of Greed the turn that you draw it - note, not necssarily at the beginning. You may not want your opponent to know that you have a free +1, and they may play their back row differently. But it may also be correct to just take the +1 and draw a better option. Either way, you cannot keep Pot of Greed in your hand and risk it being hit by Delinquent Duo or Spirit Reaper. The only exception is if you have 5-6 cards in hand during a board stall and you would not want to discard, or, you are trying to bluff a Magician of Faith, to use Pot twice in one turn. Graceful Charity Unlike Pot, Graceful can wait to be played until an appropriate time. You want to get value out of what you discard, specifically, Sinister, Jinzo, or Airknight. At times it is difficult to get a Light monster in the grave, because of DDWL removing stuff from play or Magicians getting Nobleman'ed. Graceful is a great way to force a Light into the grave. Although you do want value, also be aware of the times it is appropriate to sift through your deck to upgrade the card quality in your hand. Balance the risks and rewards of keeping a dead / poor hand, with the need for "value". Delinquent Duo I personally believe is is correct to use Delinquent Duo until my opponent has shown me that they have Sinister Serpent. One easy way to tell whether an opponent has Sinister is what they search off of Sangan, because Sinister is usually the highest priority search. That being said, at times it is still ok to use Duo when you know your opponent has Sinister. If you cannot beat Heavy Storm, BLS, etc, and you have a read on it, it is better to take a chance to try to hit the card out of their hand. Note that you should use Duo at the appropriate time - the actions you take during the course of your turn affect what your opponent chooses to discard. If you use Delinquent too early, your opponent may be more willing to use their back row or let certain cards die. Snatch Steal The biggest reason why leaving Breaker with a counter or BLS unprotected is a dangerous play. Snatch Steal has many applications, but is only as good as the monster you take with it. Killing Spirit Reaper is a one-for-one, but stealing Airknight may push through Scapegoat for 1900 damage and gain you a card. In this sense, Snatch Steal is much like Metamorphosis. The most powerful play you can make with Snatch is to force your opponent to over extend, and then steal their best monster, without having to play your own. Although you can get a lot of mileage out of Snatch Steal, sometimes it is ok to just steal a monster for a one-for-one or +1 (much like how sometimes it is ok to use Graceful without having good discards). Note that you may be stuck with the monster you stole, giving your opponent +1000 life per turn. If you steal a monster, but cannot get around Scapegoat, you probably should not steal the monster. Heavy Storm Although BLS and Ring of Destruction are the strongest cards in Goat Control, I believe Heavy Storm is the most important. How a player uses their Heavy Storm determines EVERYTHING. I am sure that textbooks can be written about Heavy Storm, and almost everything said about it is up for interpretation, so I will try to keep this short and to the point. As I stated eariler, Breaker, MST, and Storm are the only staple spell and trap removal spells. Dust Tornado is periodically used, and Mobius is used even less. Spell and trap removal is an extremely valuable resource, and must be used accordingly. You cannot use Storm as a one-for-one and expect to get it back with Magician of Faith - Magicians don't always resolve. It is a night and day difference between a game of Goat Control in which Storm has not been played, and in which both players have used their Storms and Magicians. There is always a balance between setting one backrow to play around Storm, or two backrow to play around Breaker / MST. There are legitimate debates to be had here. I believe Storm should only be used to break up board locks or go for game (without fear of Scapegoat or a Call'ed Jinzo). In terms of breaking up board locks, you must assert your control over the game and dominate the board. In this case, the power of Storm isn't necessarily in the cards you destroy - it is the fact that you can advance your board state unanswered by your opponent. Mystical Space Typhoon MST is just as important of a resource as Storm, if not more so. Unlike Dust Tornado, MST can be used the turn you draw it, and get under Jinzo. From there, MST can break up Snatch Steal, Call of the Haunted, and Premature Burial. If your opponent is trying to revive a BLS, then the MST you use becomes extremely valuable. Many skilled players know this, and know how foolish it is to waste MST as a one-for-one or a cute end-of-turn trick. That being said, there are still times that you need to force through plays, and if you can't get your Storm in time, MST can work. Good players are able to analyze a board state, destroy the proper backrow via reads, then read what the rest of the backrows are, and play accordingly. In this scenario, MST can be just as strong as Heavy Storm. Nobleman of Crossout Another card that many players disagree on, whether to use it aggressively or wait until the right time. That being said, Nobleman is the best card to deal with Magician, Sangan, and Sinister Serpent, and used in conjuction with Tsukuyomi, can handle any monster. Nobleman's power is the reason why Sangan is played face up 90% of the time, and why you should never set your Sinister. But Nobleman also creates many mind games - you can trick your opponent into making them think you set a Magician after using Pot of Greed, and they may be more inclined to use their Nobleman to prevent you from pulling ahead too far. But if you did a bait-and-switch, your opponent is now forced to use their Metamorphosis too soon. Or, you may have never had Magician at all! Like Heavy Storm, the way a player uses their Noblemans determines everything. What may seem like a one-for-one trade is actually one of the most important tools in the war for tempo and knowledge. Premature Burial Similar to Snatch Steal, you only want to use Premature when you can get the most value out of it - but don't be afraid to use it when you must. Premature is different from Call because your opponent will not see it coming as easily, because it is a spell. You can use this to your advantage to create a powerful board out of thin air. Book of Moon An extremely versatile card, Book is a staple at 1, common to see at 2, and can also be played at 3. Book does a bit of everything: protect monsters from Snatch / Ring / TIV, cut off TER's effect, strand Tsukuyomi / Asura on the field, turn Jinzo face down, two-for-one with Nobleman, re-set Magician of Faith, or simply be a combat trick. The most important of these is stopping Ring of Destruction - an opponent may try to go for game by Ringing a monster, but you can protect it in reponse. Like Meta and many other cards, Book is a -1, but Book can be used to generate advantage and tempo, based on how skilled a player is. Scapegoat The card for which the whole format is named after. Like other cards I have talked about, Scapegoat is a -1, but what you do with the four tokens you create can generate any amount of things. Blocking attacks, summoning TERs, Creature Swap, Enemy Controller, etc, are all good things. Scapegoat is also the biggest reason that using spell and trap destruction blindly is bad. Many cards in Goat Control have been teched and adapted to beating through the wall that Scapegoat creates, but nothing has changed how powerful this card is. Note it is not always correct to use 3 in every deck - sometimes 2 is good enough. Commonly played or notable Spells Enemy Controller A useful way to push through damage and get out of sticky situations. Quick play spells always have some value because they get under Jinzo. Some players prefer using Enemy Controller instead of a third Book of Moon. DD Designator A way to fight Sinister Serpent, Tsukuyomi, Asura Priest, Magician of Faith, and cut off Sangan searches. Wave Motion Cannon A popular, but cheap, way to win in 2005. Since spell and trap destruction is rare, it is possible to launch WMC for 4000+ damage - or just force an opponent to use their destruction early. It is a dirty way to win, because it elminates almost all the skill in Goat Control - the match becomes a sub game of, "How soon can I draw X" vs "How much damage should I do, until my opponent draws X and I lose it all?". Some players may do whatever they can to win, which was fair in 2005. But in 2013, you will likely be shunned by the community for winning in a cheap way. Swords of Revealing Light One of the best cards flavor wise in Goat Control - after all, who doesn't want Yugi to come back and beat Kaiba? Swords can give you time to draw cards, and put your opponent in the situation of, "This card will go away in three turns, it is really worth using destruction on?". Some players hate Swords, and some swear by it. At times, the -1 which allows you to survive to see three more cards is enough to come back and win, and sometimes it is not. Note some players chose to use Messenger of Peace instead. Smashing Ground Simple one for one removal. I don't think there is anything too deep here, unless I am not thinking of something. Lightning Vortex Some players used this card as an answer to Scapegoat + TER. Outside of this scenario, it was rare to destroy more than two monsters, because most players are conservative enough not to play into Mirror Force / Torrential. Creature Swap Best used in combination by turning your own Scapegoat token to attack, or shipping over Sinister Serpent, Sangan, Tsukuyomi, Asura Priest, or Mystic Tomato. Note that you must play around your opponent potentially having Scapegoat - because of this risk, many players do not like Swap. Giant Trunade Although not as good as Heavy Storm, Trunade did have favorable interactions with Snatch Steal, Premature Burial, and Call of the Haunted. Sometimes going -1 to force through a tempo / damage play is worth it, but most players are patient enough to wait to draw Storm or chip away at cards one by one. Brain Control Rarely seen outside of Monarch decks. Brain Control can be powerful, but there are a lack of profitable ways to get rid of the monster you stole. My Body as a Shield Although 1500 life points is a steep cost, My Body is able to answer cards in a similar way that Call + Jinzo can. My Body notably negates Ring of Destruction, Sakuretsu Armor, Mirror Force, Call of the Haunted, Nobleman of Crossout, and Tribe Infecting Virus. Staple Trap Cards Call of the Haunted Best used with Jinzo and Sangan. It can be more predictable than Premature, but being able to chain it on top of something can be very powerful (especially bring back Jinzo to negate a trap). Again, putting a monster on the board out of thin air makes Call a respectable card (just not the most powerful in the format). Mirror Force Much like Heavy Storm, players must respect the power of Mirror Force until it is finally played. I think we all have experience over the years with Mirror Force, so I don't need to go into too much detail. But I will say it is sometimes correct to take some damage while your opponent attacks with one monster at a time, and leaves the others in defense. Your opponent may be inclined to put more monsters in attack mode to try to kill you sooner. Torrential Tribute Again, we have played with this card for years. Just remember to treat this card with more caution than you currently do - it is a one and only resource. Once it is gone, your opponent will change their playstyle accordingly. Ring of Destruction Along with BLS, the strongest card in all of Goat Control. Costless, targeted removal is extremely powerful in Yugioh. Tacking on any amount of damage, from 1500 to 3000, makes it even more dangerous. But perhaps the most dangerous part about Ring is that it is VERY hard to make a read on it, until it is already too late. Ring can sit face down for many turns like a Torrential just waiting to be sprung. Ring can be answered with Book of Moon or Call of the Haunted + Jinzo, so it is not always safe so immediately play Ring to go for game - your opponent may Book it, then attack over it. In this sense, Ring will reward the patient and intelligent player. Note you can abuse Ring to draw a game that you otherwise might not win. Sakuretsu Armor Like Book of Moon, Sakuretsu can be used at 1-3 copies. It is simple, clean removal, particularly good at killing Tsukuyomi and Asura Priest. However, you should be conservative with what you use Sakuretsu on - sometimes it is better to take damage and try to kill a monster through battle. This may also give your opponent a different read on Sakuretsu, so they may fall into it later on. Commonly played and notable Traps Ceasefire Ceasefire is at it's best when boards are locked in a stalemate, and bot players have multiple set monsters. You are able to flip all your opponent's monsters, negate their effects, and deal +1500 damage (off of a good activation). Based on what your opponent set, you can make reads as to what they have planned next turn, as well as reasons for why they were stalling so long. Granted this is the best case for Ceasefire - most of the time, it is a ghetto Nobleman of Crossout. Magic Cylinder Another source of incrimental burn, but I dislike this card. I don't feel like you get good mileage out of it unless you are doing it for more than 1700 - and note that few monsters cross that line. Airknight, BLS, and Exarion are the three most commonly played monsters with that attack power, because Jinzo negates Cylinder. So would you really main deck a card that is only "good" against 3-4 cards? With that in mind, I really don't see how Cylinder is playable outside of burn. Dust Tornado Mostly used as a one-of in the main deck, and commonly seen in side decks as an out to Wave Motion Cannon. Additional spell and trap removal is always welcome. Note that you can use Dust Tornado to protect a card from Delinquent Duo. Bottomless Traphole Since Sacred Phoenix, Vampire Lord, and Warrior Toolbox saw less play, Bottomless became less effective. It still has a good amount of targets to hit, but I think too many things slip under it. In Goat Control, you want all of your cards to be as versatile as possible. Bottomless can't do anything to too many cards, which is why I don't like it at all. Trap Dustshoot This card was not used too much in 2005, but is starting to see more play in recent times. Being able to see your opponent's hand for perfect information is very powerful. It is also common for opponents to have 4+ cards in hand. What I do not like about Dustshoot is that because the format can be slow, you may not have time to adequately capitalize on the information you gain - after 2-3 turns, everything can change. The monster you put back can also be drawn again, because games can last so long. Regardless of all of this, I think Dustshoot is worth testing more. Side Decking I actually do not have too much to say about this. Goat Control lists were often made to beat each other, and ignore all other decks, such as Burn. Most Goat Control side decks are 15 narrow hate cards, like Des Wombat. Because of this, it was common for a match of Goats to have little side decking at all. Modern side decks would likely be full of tech choices and extra monsters that were cut out of the main deck for being too situational. Conclusion There is so much more to be said about Goat Control then what I have outlined. It is an incredibly deep format - many cards have unique contexts and relationships with each other, based on different board states, card advantage, and life points. Making reads in Goat Control is an art in itself - but if it could be summarized in one brief statement: There are many "laws" of Goat Control. Certain things that are considered safe and correct, and too risky to do any other way. But within that gray area, you can create mind games, and get away with things that normally should not happen. Setting Heavy Storm alone, and baiting your opponent to set two cards, is a perfect example. After all, why would you risk losing Storm to Breaker? There are thousands of possible scenarios that many players have not yet discovered. Even experienced players still have debates over correct lines of play. But most losses can be tracked down by rewinding time, and seeing how a single card being played a single way can change an entire game. This pursuit of knowledge and perfection is what makes Goat Control one of Yugioh's best format in history.