One of the biggest questions amongst duelists after the release of BOSH is whether or not they should be playing hand traps, and if so, which ones and how many. While the answer may not be clear, we can certainly draw some conclusions by evaluating each of them individually. Hand traps, just like any other cards, have their strengths and weaknesses. On top of that, not every deck can support certain ones. In this article, I am going to go over how I feel about each of the viable hand traps, and which decks can capitalize off of them the best.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone loves Maxx “C”. That’s partly due to the fact that Yu-Gi-Oh players love drawing cards, and anything that allows us to do so will automatically fall under scrutiny. In older formats, Maxx “C” stood in between winning the game and losing the game. If someone opened up with Wind-up Magician and Wind-up Shark, you needed to have Maxx “C” to not automatically lose the game. If someone opened with One for One and Dandylion, you needed to have Maxx “C” to not automatically lose the game. Now, however, I am not so sure if Maxx “C” will have the same effectiveness against pendulum decks.
For one thing, Konami made pendulum summons act as inherent special summons. This means that you will need to activate Maxx “C” preemptively because there is nothing to chain it to. On top of this, you would only draw one card regardless of how many monsters your opponent pendulum summons. Now that Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer is out, it is very easy to keep yourself in a good position even if your opponent drops a Maxx “C”. The only fear you would have is getting caught by Wavering Eyes, so you would pop both of your scales, search two, and pass. Alternatively, you could give your opponent a +1 by going into Traptrix Rafflesia to add a layer of defense if you don’t feel comfortable ending your turn with however many monsters you pendulum summoned. If you haven’t tested it yet, Rafflesia is incredibly difficult to out most of the time. You can use things like Mirror Conductor to make its defense 300 and then attack it with any monster. In fact, you can even normal summon Mirror Conductor instead of placing it into the pendulum zone, and then use its 400 attack to beat over Rafflesia. Either way works. You can also outright force the card to use its effect on something else before you pendulum summon, like a Castel or a Diamond Direwolf, but not every hand will permit you to have that option.
The problem with Maxx “C” comes to light when you realize what happens if your opponent has a defensive card after you use it. Let’s think about this for a second. They go first, do a ton of searching, set up scales, and now you have to use Maxx “C”. At this point, the entire game plan will change. If the opponent has something like Solemn Strike, Solemn Warning, Vanity’s Emptiness, Effect Veiler, or his own Maxx “C”, he could choose to pendulum all of his monsters to regain his card advantage and then pass with whatever trap/hand trap. Now you will have to play through whatever defense your opponent has, and he will already be set up for next turn. You will die if you can’t establish a legitimate field through his defense.
The other thing that conflicts with Maxx “C”, and probably hand traps in general, is going first. They are not combo pieces. If you draw one, you now have four cards in your hand instead of five. This means that you will need to go off with one less card, which isn’t impossible or anything, but your chances of bricking are higher. At the very least, drawing Skullcrobat Joker or Monkeyboard will complete the entire pendulum scale. If you brick with that first turn hand trap, your opponent will have no pressure to play into yours. So, let’s say you open Maxx “C” and four other cards that do not let you go off on turn one. When your opponent takes his or her turn, your Maxx “C” will be super subpar because you don’t have an established field. These are things you will want to consider going forward.
In other decks, like Kozmo, Mermails, and Burning Abyss, Maxx “C” plays a little differently. Those decks just want the opposing deck to stop so that they can OTK. They can play through defensive cards better than Pepe because their engines have specific cards to deal with them. This means that the fear of going second and playing through defense is not as relevant as it is for Pepe when going second.
I really like the idea of Maxx “C” in Kozmo because of how potent the deck can kill. If your opponent stops, you can just get in with a Farmgirl and steal the game. If he gives you too many cards, you will most likely just autowin. All of this is emphasized when the Kozmo deck has an established field. In that deck, an established field is something as simple as a pilot and a Dark Destroyer. At that point, if you continue to let him or her draw off of Maxx “C”, you risk giving them another Dark Destroyer or Sliprider to interrupt your play. You also risk giving them something like an Effect Veiler. Veiler will stop your out to Dark Destroyer, and the game will quickly fall apart when they clean up your field of irrelevant monsters on the following turn. It’s actually just the worst feeling in the world to have your Kozmo opponent drop a Maxx “C” on you when they have monsters out. The game quickly turns into kill or be killed, but it’s usually a lose-lose scenario.
I consider Effect Veiler to be the best hand trap post BOSH. It can be absolutely crippling at so many more points in the game than the other options, and you can’t see it coming. In the example I provided above, imagine if your Kozmo opponent had Dark Destroyer on the field and you went for an Ignister play. If he has a Veiler, you’re screwed.
In Pepe mirror matches, Veiler stops two of the most relevant cards in the format: Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer and Stellarknight Ptolemaeus. If you stop a Sorcerer, your opponent will be stuck with scales, leaving him open to outright losing to Wavering Eyes. Once again, this reminds me of Nekroz because you wanted to clear your field every turn to dodge Trishula. When Effect Veiler caught your Nekroz of Valkyrus, you usually lost really easily on the next turn. Something important to note is that Pendulum Sorcerer targets upon activation, so if your opponent isn’t trying to destroy their scales at all, you can wait for the Ptolemaeus.
If you let him resolve Sorcerer but then decide to wait until he summons Ptolemaeus, you can Veiler its effect and watch them lose three monsters to summon nothing. This makes it where you don’t have to deal with Cyber Dragon Infinity, and all of the pendulum monsters will end up in the grave.
In a more simplified game, a timely Effect Veiler on a Skullcrobat Joker can be an autowin. There are times where your opponent will need a search to get his scales set up, and Veiler will make him wish he drew Monkeyboard instead of Joker. Even Veiler on Ignister in the mirror match can be devastating.
Effect Veiler also shines against Kozmo players using Tincan because you can use it before they reach the end phase. This guarantees that Tincan will not search, despite its ability to dodge effect negation by banishing itself to summon a ship. For example, let’s say Tincan activates on the end phase while you have Breakthrough Skill set. Tincan is chain link 1, Breakthrough Skill is chain link 2, and Tincan’s effect to banish itself and summon a ship can be chain link 3. It will resolve backwards and dodge the Breakthrough skill, allowing him to search a Kozmo card. Effect Veiler prevents this by hitting the Tincan in the main phase. Even in the example I provided, you would just Breakthrough Skill the Tincan during the main phase to prevent that whole scenario. And since Kozmo players have opted to use cards like Call of Haunted, stopping a Tincan from going off will prevent them from having a graveyard on turn one.
If I were playing Kozmo, I would be using something like three Maxx “C” and three Effect Veilers to give Pepe a hard time. Remember, Twin Twisters is now a card, so standard trap cards are less effective. On the other hand, hand traps are nearly impossible to stop. Even before Twin Twisters, there was Denko Sekka making standard traps unreliable. You could still play Anti-Spell Fragrance for autowins, and Solemn Strike seems really good against both Pepe and the Kozmo mirror match, but playing a significant number of other traps just seems like a mistake. Furthermore, Effect Veiler stops just about every out to Anti-Spell Fragrance, so when your opponent overlays for Castel or Diamond Dire Wolf, he’s going to be really sad when you drop a Veiler and end the game.
This card is really hit or miss. I often compare it to Effect Veiler since they’re so similar, but there are many notable differences, too. For one thing, Ghost Ogre does not stop a monster’s effect from going off in most scenarios. Let’s say you have an Anti-Spell Fragrance face-up and your opponent summons Castel. Ghost Ogre will not stop your Spell Fragrance from being shuffled back into your deck. Effect Veiler will. Ghost Ogre will not stop your opponent’s Ignister from destroying one of your scales to spin one of your cards back into your deck. Effect Veiler will. But do not let these situations deter you from playing the card. It has some cool things going for it.
Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit stops Performapal Monkeyboard. I think this is huge for a couple reasons. If your opponent needs that search to complete their pendulum scale, or just to get started, Ghost Ogre is one of the only cards that can stop it on turn one. I think the only other relevant card that can do something similar is Typhoon, but they need to have another spell or trap on the field. Monkeyboard is usually solo unless a Guiturtle is involved, so you can’t count on that. The other impactful use for Ghost Ogre is against the Naturia Beast lock. You can activate a spell card on purpose, and when your opponent goes to negate it with Naturia Beast you can just chain the Ogre to destroy it. I also like that it stops Ptolemaeus completely, too. If your opponent detaches three materials to go into Nova/Infinity, you can chain Ghost Ogre to destroy the Ptolemaeus and they won’t get anything. Veiler does something similar by leaving the Ptolemaeus uselessly on the field with zero materials, but where Veiler falls short is when your opponent is going for something like Pleiades on the end phase.
Ghost Ogre does not stop Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer from destroying your opponent’s scales, whereas Veiler would, leaving him open to Wavering Eyes. It also doesn’t stop the effect of Kozmo Tincan, which is a huge first turn play for that deck to get its Call of the Haunted(s) live. Also, it may be relevant that Ghost Ogre does not stop Norden from brining back a monster (like Luster Pendulum for example), whereas Veiler would. In that scenario, if you chain Ghost Ogre to Norden’s effect, he will get destroyed and the monster will be revived (still without its effect of course). If you are in between Effect Veiler and Ghost Ogre, I would strongly take the time to analyze your list to see what it can and can’t handle. If you feel like your deck needs outs to Naturia beast, then Ghost Ogre is correct for you. If you don’t, then Effect Veiler is better in more scenarios.
This card has been around for a while and I would assume that by now, everyone knows what it does. I would say that it got slightly weaker over time thanks to two card in BOSH that can somewhat help to mitigate its crippling effect: Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer and Fiendish Rhino Warrior. If your opponent pendulum summons four or less monsters, you can activate Flying “C” to prevent Cyber Dragon Infinity from hitting the board. The way to accomplish this is to let your opponent use Ptolemaeus’s effect to bring out Cyber Dragon Nova, and then activate Flying “C”. He will be stuck with a mediocre monster and the inability to Xyz summon. You do not want to use it on the summon of Ptolemaeus because your opponent could chain its effect to Flying “C” and summon something like Pleiades.
Another important thing to note is that Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer can destroy Flying “C”, but not on the same chain. So, if he pendulum summons three monsters, including a Sorcerer, you would ask what the targets are for the Sorcerer’s effect, and then you would chain Flying “C”. He will have to wait until the next time he can pendulum summon a Sorcerer to destroy it.
In the case of Fiendish Rhino, a Burning Abyss player in games two and three could normal summon Fiendish Rhino and then start to special summon his BA monsters. This way, even if you have Flying “C”, his monsters will not self-destruct. The scary thing is that if your opponent happens to have Rubic in his hand, he could special summon it and synchro into Virgil by using the Flying “C” you just gave him. I would say that that is something to keep in the back of your mind, just in case. Also, BA players are now using three copies of Horn of Heaven since it can negate an entire pendulum summon. They now have the option of getting rid of that Flying “C” by paying for its cost. Alternatively, a BA player could summon Fiendish Rhino and special summon two BA monsters to make his Fire Lake live, which could then be used to clear the Flying “C” and two of your scales, or whatever else needs to be dealt with.
Needless to say, the main use for this card will certainly be the pendulum mirror match. It happens to ruin Instant Fusion if your opponent intended to go for a Rank 4 play with Norden, and it just locks him down for a whole turn in most scenarios. Due to how fast games come to an end, you don’t need it to stick for several turns. One is often enough to do the trick.
Of all the hand traps, I think this one is the biggest gimmick. For the last two years, players have been trying to find ways to autowin by using Droll & Lock Bird with Artifact Durendal. Now that the best deck is once again one that searches an infinite amount of times, you can be sure that people will try this. My gripe with Droll is that it sucks more than any other hand trap after turn one. Unlike drawing into Veiler, Maxx “C”, or Ghost Ogre, you are not likely to get the effect of Droll to be worthwhile once your opponent is set up. Remember, it does not stop the first search, so if your opponent already has two scales ready to go for the following turn, you’re screwed. Coincidentally, Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer essentially guarantees that he will have those two scales.
If you draw into a Maxx “C” mid-game, it can be a deterrent for whatever your opponent was about to do. Effect Veiler can stop you from losing to that Ignister that was just summoned, and Ghost Ogre can stop a follow-up Monkeyboard play. Droll will allow all of the aforementioned plays to go through mostly uninhibited. However, next to Flying “C”, Droll & Lock Bird is probably the most crippling on turn one when compared to every other hand trap. There are very few Pepe hands that can afford to search only once.
As the format progresses, I would like to see the community analyze and figure out exactly which hand traps should be played, if any, and in which decks. My question to you is: Are you using any hand traps? If so, which ones have been working for you? If not, why do you think they are unnecessary?
Until next time duelists, Remember, Play Hard or Go Home!
-The Dark Magician