It always excites me when a card which I’ve previously looked at goes through a dramatic change in a tournament format. The only other card that I’ve really talked about twice is Apprentice Magician, one of the most useful recruiter monsters in the game for his ability to get his user through the first few turns of a duel completely unscathed (and with field presence to boot). Jinzo, which I looked at back in January of this year, has gone through a similar change that warrants another look at the big Machine.
Perhaps the most shocking change to the new Advanced format list was the change to Semi-Limited for Jinzo. It has not left the Limited list since its release years ago, so why was its status altered now? What could have changed that makes Jinzo less dangerous than before? Perhaps it’s still as dangerous a monster as it always was, but maybe it doesn’t compare to the power level of many other tribute monsters in the game. What is the full reasoning behind this bizarre yet exciting change?
Jinzo has always been considered a top-tier monster. Since its release, the Machine monster has been well known for the stubborn, aggressive presence it holds over the opponent. This is because trap cards are one of the few methods of defense a player can rely on to stay alive when it isn’t his or her turn, and Jinzo makes sure that the only option a player has for defense is face-down monsters. In the early days, this gave the player who summoned it a huge advantage, since it let him or her attack with hardly any worry about tricks that could muck up the battle phase. After all, there weren’t any serious tricks like Book of Moon or Enemy Controller at the time.
Jinzo was quickly Limited, and the card saw considerable play for a long time until more powerful cards eventually caused the android to be pushed out of decks—mainly due to the rise of control-minded players who wanted access to their traps, as well as the huge surge in play from Scapegoat that also nullified the effect Jinzo had on the battle phase.
Following the Limitation of Scapegoat came the huge surge in play from the Monarchs. After a rough format in which Jinzo was busy attacking Sheep tokens, the Machine was dethroned again by tribute monsters with the same ATK and instantaneous effects when they were tribute summoned. The instant gratification that the Monarchs gave their users pushed Jinzo out of most main decks again.
However, the one major perk that Jinzo had while competing against Monarchs was that it became a deceptive and unexpected play. The lack of decks running Jinzo made the Machine monster a dangerous surprise against the sea of Monarch control decks. Since Scapegoat could no longer be expected to buy the kind of time players needed, many players resorted to running larger trap line-ups with three copies of Sakuretsu Armor. In the right deck, Jinzo could run straight through those traps with ease, giving its controller a huge swing in momentum thanks to unstoppable attacks. The only danger here was being hit by a Brain Control and then losing that monster to the opponent tributing it off for a Monarch.
In the past few months, Jinzo has seen increased play as a part of the highly proactive combos that took the last format by storm. While the card also received all the benefits from the specialized support of the Machine aggro deck (such as Cyber Phoenix), the real factor that had Jinzo seeing play was that it let combo decks like Diamond Dude Turbo continue through their turns without worrying about any game-ruining plays of Mirror Force or Torrential Tribute. Jinzo had a primary spot in the DDT deck for this reason, plus it was easy enough to find when you were blowing through your deck via Reasoning and Monster Gate. Jinzo also saw play in the Destiny Hero beatdown decks for the same reason: it let the deck go from nothing on the field to a game win by making sure no traps disrupted the victory turn.
However, this doesn’t change the fact that Jinzo has a lot of tough competition. The Monarchs—especially Mobius the Frost Monarch—are very tempting to run since they provide permanent but counter-prone removal for cards that Jinzo could negate but not permanently remove. While the effect of preventing trap activations is extremely useful during your turn, you are still vulnerable to a Smashing Ground or Brain Control that immediately makes all of the opponent’s traps active once again. Factor this in with the increased usefulness of the Apprentice engine in this new format, and you can see why Jinzo really isn’t as insane as it once was.
Nonetheless, this does not make Jinzo a bad card by any means. It’s still one of the most dangerous monsters to have on your field, since summoning it can potentially mean winning the game that turn. Your opponent has to deal with the fact that, once Jinzo hits the field, he or she probably won’t be able to do anything in response to your immediate plans. Jinzo is still very good at giving you control of certain turns, and can easily let you take advantage of your key battle phases so that they aren’t wasted.
While the introduction of Crystal Seer and the release of Magician of Faith from the Forbidden list have increased the playability of the Apprentice engine (a huge boon to Monarch-based decks), the new format did more for Jinzo’s playability than ever before. Semi-Limiting Jinzo means that there will be more turns in which the opponent won’t be able to do much of anything if he or she is unprepared. This means that relying on trap cards is far from safe and that can help decrease the playability and threat of extremely reactive cards like Sakuretsu Armor. While the Apprentice engine is powerful, it also needs its trap support to make sure that the player can maximize the use of Apprentice Magician. Nullifying those traps means that Apprentice players only get one real shot at keeping their field presence each duel.
The Semi-Limitation of Jinzo also leaves any chances of burn taking the top spots of a Shonen Jump Championship hung up to dry. Don’t get me wrong, I love myself a burn deck, but cards like Chain Strike and Accumulated Fortune sped up what was essentially a deck with little player interaction and elevated it to unsafe levels. Semi-Limiting Jinzo is the perfect way to nullify that strategy, and without access to Brain Control as a three-of in the burn deck’s side, it’s taken a huge hit in how much non-trap damage it can actually dish out.
Another important fact to be aware of is that Jinzo (which is commonly face up and in attack position) has become much harder to remove. The Limitation of Smashing Ground and Fissure, as well as the heavily played and dangerous Brain Control, has made it possible for monsters such as Jinzo to remain face up on the field for a very long time. At two copies per deck, it has become almost redundant that Jinzo can safely stay on your field for much longer than it typically used to (which was often only for one turn).
Jinzo is one of those cards that will continue to be played until we are somehow restricted from adding it to any deck. It isn’t as powerful as it was back when it was released, but it still serves an important purpose for keeping control decks (which typically need trap cards to actively postpone any action from an opponent without losing too many cards) under control so that we aren’t burdened with too many slow matches at a premier event. Jinzo will continue to shine in this format as an example of one of the best aggressive monsters in the game, and for the first time in ages, it will commonly remain in play for more than one turn. Sometimes, we may even see two on the field at the same time.
That’s certainly going to take some getting used to.