Goat Format War League Report

Well, it’s over. It’s finally over. That’s right, the epic summer 2014 Goat Format War League officially ended on January 1, 2015 when Mostly Harmless took down The Academy in the final crossfire war of the tournament. As you probably know, the League pitted ten teams against each other and forced the two teams with the best records to face off in a final showdown. More details about the tournament – including the structure, participants, and rules – can be found here. In the end, I went 21-1 and there’s a lot to say about it, so here’s my report.

But first, I want to thank Jazz for taking the initiative to put this thing together and seeing to its conclusion. I know the tournament got off to a rough start and it dragged on for far too long but I still think it was one of the best YGO tournaments ever and it simply wouldn’t have happened without him so I think he deserves a lot of credit for that.


I want to say a few things about the tournament structure because I think it was integral to my success.

Matches were best of 5 instead of best of 3 because Jazz didn’t want to ban any dumb decks and this policy made it harder for them to succeed in the tournament. Aside from having less variance to worry about, I think this gave me a huge advantage over the field because 67-80% of all games played here were post-side and most people still don’t know how to side in Goat Format. That’s why I think this was the best tournament decision that Jazz made. Best of 5 just flat-out rewards good players and punishes bad ones and I think all online Goat tournaments should be done the same way.

The tournament structure did have some flaws though and my team definitely exploited them. For example, players were allowed to pick their own opponents and decline any challenges without facing any penalties. This meant my teammates were never forced to start in any of our wars and I was allowed to knock off 2 players before entrusting any of my 3 teammates to pick up a single win. This is how I was able to play the maximum amount of matches (18) and ensured no one else could threaten my lead in the Golden Goat race. That’s why I think it would have been fairer to randomly assign lineups in each war or otherwise designate times for matches to be conducted. I also think my +1 -4 point-based system was the most sensible solution to keep everyone in the running for the Golden Goat.

Another flaw in the tournament structure was the reserve system that allowed players to sign up as reserves after the draft ended and get picked up by any team who claimed them. This was done to combat inactivity despite the fact that it completely undermines the point of a draft system. It would have been better to randomly assign the free agents to teams that wanted to drop an inactive player. We could have also had a mid-season draft or something. Either way, at some point in the tournament and much to the collective chagrin of every other team, my captain realized that his 3rd round draft pick was a liability so we replaced him with my Overdose compatriot Anthony Alvarado. We never expected Anthony to play but we figured it was better to have one inactive winner than an active loser. Fun fact: Anthony’s final record in the tournament was 0-1.

Overall this tournament was a learning experience and it forced me to rethink what I want from online tournaments. For example, I don’t think online tournaments should be bogged down with teams (especially arbitrary ones). The thing is that single-day tournaments don’t scale well and no one wants to sit inside all day so if you’re going to have tournaments with more than 16 people then it doesn’t help you to put any restrictions on who can play each other. In this case, we tried pairing up 40 people from various walks of life (not to mention different time zones) without an instant communication system (e.g. Facebook) and that inevitably led to scheduling/commitment problems.

I think at some point someone should put together a free-for-all tournament with real prizes where you can play as much or as little as you want and your status in the tournament is determined by how many matches you play, your record, and the record of who you play, and maybe using those ratings to force a playoff. Imagine a webpage with leaderboards that reset periodically. Check out my rough draft courtesy of MS Paint. It just seems fairer and more fun IMO.

It’s only scalable if people can be trusted to self-post results so some checks to prevent abuse include:

  • Any two players could only play each other once for any given format.
  • The amount of games your opponents play directly affects their influence on your rating.
  • Your opponents’ ratings directly affect their influence on your rating.
  • All account histories are publicly reviewable.
  • Account histories for playoff participants are reviewed by a moderator.

I realize this is supposed to be a tournament report but I just want to float this idea while I have your attention in hopes that one of you CS majors take it on as a fun project. Anyway, back to business.


Goat Control

I figure this is probably what most of you care about so here you go.

A couple of years ago I noticed most people were using my Boston list as a baseline when constructing their own Goat lists and decided to change my deck accordingly. That was the last time I changed my deck. I didn’t change a single card in the main throughout the tournament. Back then I removed Asura Priest, D.D. Warrior Lady, Spirit Reaper, and a Scapegoat for a second Exarion Universe, two Magical Merchants, and a second Sakuretsu Armor. Let me explain why.

I was inspired by my teammate Paul Levitin’s Boston list to remove Spirit Reaper for Exarion Universe after I noticed people were using dual Airknights. Unfortunately, this trend caught on rather quickly and soon everyone started running two copies of Exarion Universe.

This forced me to drop the third Scapegoat from my main deck for a second Sakuretsu Armor. Note that I ran three Scapegoats at Boston because Jinzo and Cyber Twin Dragon existed and it’s a nonissue now since everyone plays pre-CRV.

With only two Scapegoats, three Metamorphoses proved too cloggy. Most folks agree on this point and opt to remove a Metamorphosis to solve the problem. Not me, though. I think Metamorphosis is one of the best cards in the deck and it just doesn’t make sense not to run three. If you could run three Nobleman of Crossouts, you would. If you could run two Snatch Steals, you would. So yeah, it just doesn’t make sense not to run three Metamorphoses.

That’s what led me to Magical Merchant AKA the single most important addition to the deck. It’s not a great card but it’s Level 1 and it’s a LIGHT which means it’s better than Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive in every respect I care about. Plus, it repurposes my two Tsukuyomis in the same way Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotives would.

Speaking of which, a lot of people have tried to revisit the format using hindsight cards like Gravekeeper’s Spy, Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive, and Night Assailant. These cards aren’t great but cards like D.D. Warrior Lady and Asura Priest are really weak to them because the former can generate advantage and the latter can’t do anything outside of battle. Plus, opening with a Magical Merchant is way better than opening with a D.D. Warrior Lady.

That’s just one of the many reasons I decided to drop these cards for two Magical Merchants. Again, none of these cards are great, but there aren’t many great cards to choose from and at least now I can effectively run three Metamorphoses. I always said I’d drop one of the Magical Merchants for a D.D. Warrior Lady if Nobleman of Crossouts made it harder to summon Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, but I haven’t really found that to be the case after playing hundreds of matches. The worst things to happen include not having a decent Sangan target and milling my Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning, but I mill Sinister Serpent just as often and milling to a Metamorphosis happens more than anything else (since it’s the only 3-of in the deck).

My reasons for everything else are exactly the same as they were back at Boston, but it’s probably worth mentioning some stuff here.

Aside from the format staples, my favorite card in the deck is undoubtedly Morphing Jar. This card doesn’t get the respect it deserves and it seems no one knows how to play it right. Honestly, I don’t think anyone caught me off guard in this tournament. Meanwhile, I made a lot of really good reads, set 5 at a lot of really opportune moments, and caught a lot of people with my Morphing Jar. It was always my single best answer to a first turn Delinquent Duo and opened up so many mind games that would’ve otherwise been unavailable to me. I just can’t believe so many people exclude it from their lists.

Another thing people seem to cut back on a lot is Dust Tornado. Like two Magical Merchants and no D.D. Warrior Lady, I’m pretty sure I was the first to use two Dust Tornados in Goat Format. The primary reason for dual Dust Tornados is to catch Snatch Steal on my Airknight Parshaths. The second reason is to open up shots for my Airknight Parshaths. I just don’t think there’s enough removal to play without 2 Dust Tornados but to each is own, I guess. Other folks use Jinzo to temporarily get by backrows but they’re often stymied by Scapegoats whereas I’m not, and even if I am, I run so many tramplers that I just don’t care.

Another thing I don’t like about Jinzo is that I spend the entire game playing around backrows. I mean, I attack with Exarion Universe to force the activation of Sakuretsu Armor, I summon Breaker the Magical Warrior to catch Ring of Destruction, and I summon Tsukuyomi next to Magical Merchant to force Torrential Tribute. I do all this with the explicit purpose of opening up chip shots for my Airknight Parshaths or a game shot with Black Luster Soldier – Envoy of the Beginning. But Jinzo puts the dance with Traps on pause. It doesn’t clear them and there’s no guarantee my attack will get through due to Book of Moon and Scapegoat, so Jinzo forces me to commit to the board in a way that doesn’t advance my late-game plans. It’s just a crappy mid-game chip shot that can’t generate advantage and gets pooped on by Scapegoat. Think about it: when you go for game with Heavy Storm, it’s not supposed to matter whether they have Scapegoat and the plain fact is that Jinzo doesn’t make Scapegoat not matter. Worst of all, Jinzo makes me dance with Spells (or Tribe-Infecting Virus) and it’s a lot harder to answer Snatch Steal or Thousand-Eyes Restrict on Jinzo if I can’t use Ring of Destruction or Dust Tornado.

Now let’s discuss the side deck. Aside from those pictured, here are some used I alternated in an out of my side deck throughout the course of the tournament: Big Shield Gardna, Blade Knight, Chiron the Mage, D.D. Assailant, Gravekeeper’s Guard, Gravekeeper’s Spy, Gravekeeper’s Watcher, Injection Fairy Lily, Kinetic Soldier, Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer, Mobius the Frost Monarch, Mystic Swordsman LV2, Neko Mane King, Spirit Reaper, Reinforcement of the Army, Smashing Ground, Ceasefire, Mask of Restrict, Royal Decree, Seven Tools of the Bandit, and Threatening Roar.

I tried using Blade Knight against decks with lots of flips but found myself drawing him after I already had a monster on board or otherwise vulnerable to traps. Exiled Force and Zaborg the Thunder Monarch proved more reliable.

I tried using Kycoo the Ghost Destroyer against decks with multiple Chaos Sorcerer but found myself drawing him after the fact and really, really hating it. Night Assailant seemed like a solid way to discourage the use of Card Destruction while giving me more outs to their commonly used 3 copies of Magician of Faith, but I haven’t had a chance to test it out yet.

I tried using Mask of Restrict against Monarchs but found it wasn’t worth the sacrifice of being unable to use Metamorphosis. Trap Dustshoot proved way better at combating Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch.

If I play against a good Goat player, I’ll typically side out both Dust Tornados for both Trap Dustshoots and both Exarion Universes for both Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotives when I go first. Dekoichi the Battlechanted Locomotive is a general stand-in for times when Exarion Universe isn’t good e.g. vs. Monarchs. If they run Jinzo or I notice they’re light on traps, I’ll side out a Dust Tornado or two and maybe one Sakuretsu Armor for any combination of Trap Dustshoot, Swords of Revealing Light, and Exiled Force. Note that Trap Dustshoot works really, really well with Morphing Jar.

Both Bottomless Trap Holes and the Messenger of Peaces are for Beastdown decks. Jinzo is for trap-heavy decks, or decks that run Gravekeeper’s Spy. Against flip-flop decks, sometimes I like to side out Tribe-Infecting Virus for Exiled Force. Not sure what else to say here, but I’m open to being asked questions to clear up anything I might’ve overlooked.

Extra deck is standard.

Bottom line is I don’t think my list is perfect, but it’s pretty close. Honestly, the balanced 16:16:8 ratios dissuade me from changing things up a lot. My least favorite thing about the deck is my trap lineup but I like that everything that’s not restricted is used in 2s while Metamorphosis remains at 3. I just think it looks nice although I will say that Exarion Universe, Magical Merchant, Dust Tornado, and Sakuretsu Armor are obvious starting points if you want to consider making changes. Overall I’d say the deck is a really good Game 1 deck and a much stronger post-side deck. It’s very versatile and has few weaknesses, and when I play my friends who know my list, I find that the mirror match is easily the hardest Goat match I ever have to play against.


Going 21-1 is pretty impressive in Goat Format, I think. Thought it was weird that I wasn’t the first draft pick. I’m grateful to my captain for picking me and to my team for going along with our strategy. Goat format really is the best format. Oh God, I’m probably going to have to update my deck now.

Oh, and here’s a video of my final match against Jazz. Enjoy!