Link Summoning: Yu-Gi-Oh's Biggest Update Ever
Link Summoning's Impact on Yu-Gi-Oh
Multiple generations have enjoyed Yu-Gi-Oh, eagerly buying the trading cards and watching the anime. Recently, game designer Konami shocked the world with the announcement of a new summon method—link summoning—plus some drastic rule changes and the new cyberse monster type. How have fans taken this turn of events? With decidedly mixed reactions—but we'll get to that.
First, to better understand why link summoning is such a dynamic shift, let's quickly examine the history of Yu-Gi-Oh's rule adjustments thus far.
Learn to Link Summon
Past Rule Changes
Fans likely already know of the gradual adding of new summoning methods. Besides traditional tribute and fusion summoning, the game steadily crafted synchro, xyz, and pendulum summons. All these methods added to the existing rules of the game but didn't alter old ones. The same goes for the playzone; pendulum scales were added, but nothing old has ever been removed.
All that changes with link summoning. These new blue-backgrounded cards (not be confused with similar azure-hued ritual monsters) are not just adding to the game; they're modifying it. Above is a detailed video explaining link summons, but in essence, they limit the availability of your extra deck, making it more difficult to summon multiple extra deck monsters at once.
So, is this good or bad for the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise? Let's examine the pros and cons of the change.
Advantages of Link Summoning
- New Monsters
- Better pacing
- Better balance (hopefully)
New monsters are cool. 'Nuff said there.
As pendulum monsters gave players the ability to rapidly-swarm fields and revive their creatures when destroyed, 8000 life points were suddenly being taken in one or two turns. And while we don't want too slow of a match, we don't want too fast of one either. Many cite the synchro or xyz era as the best time for Yu-Gi-Oh because battles were exciting enough to maintain attention yet slow enough to accommodate defensive strategies and comebacks.
In other words, pendulum monsters, and extra deck cards in general, were ending too many duels before either player could really enjoy the match, and hopefully the extra deck limits imposed by link summoning will mitigate this issue.
On a similar note, pendulum cards have been dominating competitive atmospheres. They aren't unbeatable, but most non-pendulum decks simply can't overcome the consistency pendulum offers. For the uninitiated, pendulum monsters go to the extra deck instead of graveyard when vanquished (and can be resummoned with appropriate pendulum zones filled), meaning the new format should regulate their unique revival ability.
As hesitant as I am about changing existing spaces, I support the decision to incorporate pendulum zones into the spell/trap zone. Now, pendulum players must sacrifice two fewer magic slots to utilize their formidable summons, a fair tradeoff for the numerous abilities of pendulum cards.
Disadvantages of Link Summoning
- Specific zones matter
Game complexity further increases
- Some will rue the reduced extra deck accessibility
- Defense position and facedown lose value
Link monsters help in ways beyond their monster effects: they enable the usage of your non-extra deck monster zones for extra deck monsters. Which zones depend on the physical position of the card; it will designate the affected areas with pointer arrows.
While I applaud a slower pacing for the game and a new summoning method, I'm not sold on the focus of specific zones mattering. In addition to deciding which monsters to use, we'll now also have to decide where to place them—a decidedly less interesting choice. Plus, link monsters' odd inability to adjust into defense position (they don't even have DEF values) removes the classic attack vs defense balancing aspect of monster cards.
That said, it's interesting how the strongest link monsters come with a price: they point towards the opponent's field, meaning your opponent receives more chances to extra deck summon.
Considering the new rules and summons, Yu-Gi-Oh has become more complex than ever. This increases our strategic options, but makes it more difficult to teach the game and accrue new players. Admittedly, this is less a fault of link summoning and more an observation on the tradeoffs of advancing an already-intricate card game. And did blue really need to be repeated as a card background? Konami, you've got plenty of colors left to access before having to double-up on hues.
What do you think of link summoning?
Yu-Gi-Oh has implemented minor rule changes before (first player no longer draws on their first turn, fluctuating ban lists, etc.), and even those were met with significant controversy. Now, it's adapting in new and often-frightening ways, and it's scary for us veterans to realize our beloved game will never be the same.
That said, Yu-Gi-Oh was becoming so fast-paced that slower game mechanics became an inevitability. While risky, this change can potentially alter our duels from their current frantic all-out offensives to more methodical strategic contests. Scary though it may be, that's the price we pay for balance alongside evolution. As we dive into a brave new world for Yu-Gi-Oh, feel free to share your thoughts on link summoning, and I'll see you at our next trading card game review!
© 2017 Jeremy Gill