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Baneful's Column
April 21, 2014

Synchro vs. XYZ, and Pendulums!

White.  Black.  A tuner and a non-tuner.  Two of the same level.  Synch.  Detach.  5D.  Zexal.  Yes, it's the two juggernauts that have rewrote and defined YGO for the past six years.  At this point, YGO has existed just as long with them as they have without them. 
 
Now, with a new type of monster (Pendulums) coming soon, this will change.  We won't have to say goodbye to them, but we will see a lessened role for them.  Sets will no longer be dedicated to XYZ's just as they have stopped being dedicated toward Synchro's.  Both will probably get a steady pulse of support, but the spotlight will be all on the Pendulums.
 
Okay, Synchro vs. XYZ.  Who wins?  For their respective times, Synchro (2008-2011) and XYZ (2011-2014), Synchro's have been the more powerful ones and XYZ's have been the (relatively) balanced ones.  You can cite the fact that XYZ's don't accept tokens as material for this fact, but that would greatly undermine the context of this game's history.
 
Synchro's were way more powerful and chaotic.  They have made a much bigger splash.  But this is because they came out earlier.  XYZ's came around when Synchro's had already been dominating the scene.  Let's say the speed of YGO (the meta, gameplay, format) was a 5/10 in early 2008.  Synchros bumped that up to an 8/10.  XYZ's and their many support cards bumped it up to a 9/10.  They're about the same in abolute terms but the former is stronger in relative terms.  If XYZ's had come out in 08' instead of Synchro's it would've been the same big jump.
 
Going back to the GX era, which Dark Maltos called "the regressive era", cards were really weak.  Fusions were main appeal, but the problem was that really specific materials made them situational and the need for Polymerization made them a -1.  Combine situational and -1 together and you get a simple fact that totally ruins a style of play that Konami/UDE has been peddling for years. 
 
Suddenly, the ability to summon a 2500 ATK beater in an instant swept away the competition.  Not only that but these beaters have powerful effects, can be splashed in the most casual of decks and you have a whole Extra Deck of different options.  Scrap Dragon for offensive control and Stardust Dragon for defensive control, for example.
 
There have been broken cards on both sides.  Draccosack was brutal during the E-Dragon era and Trishula was brutal (period).  But transcending all of the minor points, YGO has been in a constant novelty rush over the years. 
 
In my From Gargoyles article, I mention the art and themes have shifted from medieval fantasy horror to a fun kid-friendly game.  Sometimes marketing to kids is more effective.  Before Chef Boyardee was a canned food advertised for kids, it was a boxed product advertised for adults to cut meal costs down in World War II.  So, it could well happen for YGO (and it did).  But changing the theme wasn't enough.  It was the core gameplay that needed a novelty injection.
 
Fusions had intended to be that special somebody, but they fell short.  So, speeding up the game with the even more lethal Synchros did the trick.  But the game depended on constant updates on Synchros to keep that.  Still, lots of other archetypes developed (numerous ones that didn't focus too much on them).  XYZ's consumed a whole era too, and I'm not quite sure dedicating an entire game to a single game mechanic is good.  But then again what other option is there?
One thing you could say about XYZ's is that they're quite derivative of Synchro's.  They're basically like Synchro's but summoned slightly differently and their effects ignite differently.  We've gotten to a point where it's hard to think of a viable meta without both of them.  It's irreversible and we can never go back to a point where they aren't powerful.  So, the only solution left is to create a new type of monster to trump them both.
 
Synchro's were a faster extrapolation of Fusions.  XYZ's were a derivative re-hash, but Pendelums, with the ability to summon other monsters and be activated as Spells, are totally different and open up new possibilities entirely.  What kinds of possibilities?  Who knows.  All I know is that whatever they are, we will have to learn to love them for the next 3 years, until something else dethrones them.
 
---
 
(SYNCHRO VS. XYZ: Join the discussion on the Pojo forums here.)
 
Contact: banefulscolumn@gmail.com

 


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