The Art of the Wind-Up Mirror: Maxx “C”
Hey everybody. I’m back this week to talk about a very important interaction regarding one of the trickiest mirror matches in recent history; Maxx “C” in the Wind-Up mirror match. Every time I watch someone play a Wind-Up mirror, I rarely see either player play Maxx “C” at the same time I would play it. In this article I’m going to tell you how I think the card should be played and give my reasons for why I think it should be played in such a particular way.
It has also come to my attention that many players, even many top players, don’t believe that Maxx “C” is warranted as a side deck card due to the fact that it doesn’t actually force them to stop. I’m going to start this article by giving why I think it is warranted as a side deck slot before moving into how to play it.
At the beginning of this format, I wrote an article titled “Hand Traps in Wind-Ups” where I gave reasons for why I thought Wind-Ups shouldn’t play hand traps. The main reason was that Wind-Ups don’t have many standalone cards. Each card was a combo piece that all fit together like a nice puzzle. As I explained, hand traps work very well when the pieces fit together; however, when you can’t seem to find the right pieces hand traps are incredibly subpar. And if the pieces were fitting together well and you were doing Wind-Up things as Wind-Up decks should be, you were likely winning. And if you weren’t doing Wind-Up things and were struggling to stay afloat, you were likely losing. Essentially hand traps are good when you are winning, but bad when you are losing. This made me see them as “win more.” I suggested running a higher number of real traps instead as they were good when you were winning as protection for your setup, but they also let you live when you didn’t have those important combo pieces. As the format has developed, I think I can say that I was right about hand traps in Wind-Ups. Most builds that enjoy success play a lot of traps and almost no hand traps. Another reason I thought hand traps in Wind-Ups were bad was because of the diverse meta and that they would surely be bad against a fair amount of the decks. When I wrote that article, I was thinking exclusively about hand traps in terms of the main deck. I still think that this is the correct way to approach hand traps in the main decks of Wind-Ups. That being said, the side deck is an entirely different thing. When creating a side-deck, you can’t really say “But X card is bad against A, B, and C.” There are actually very few cards that are good across the board and these cards see main deck play in just about every deck (cards like Solemn Warning and Dark Hole ). Obviously most side deck cards aren’t good against everything, or you’d probably main deck them. As I said above, one of my reasons for not using hand traps in Wind-Ups was that they would surely be bad against a significant portion of the meta. The thing about a side deck is you don’t have to side all 15 and if it’s not good then you don’t side it in. This just leaves us with the other reason why I considered hand traps bad in Wind-Ups; the fact that they are win more.
Well, that certainly is true in most cases, but as I said, the Wind-Up mirror is very tricky. It can essentially be broken down into 3 different types of games.
- The Blowout – Magician Shark going first or an unopposed Factory that keeps triggering are the main two things that cause a blowout in this mirror. I definitely think this is one of the best mirror matches of the format, but blowouts still happen. In this type of game, you’re going to want Maxx “C.” Playing it on a first turn Magician Shark is one of the only things that will keep you in this game. What would you rather have over Maxx “C” in this situation? Some cards you might suggest could be Fiendish Chain, Compulsory Evacuation Device, or Needle Ceiling. These cards are certainly great in this situation, but they have problems of their own that we’ll get back to in a few minutes. The other situation that creates a blowout is an unopposed Factory (implying that you don’t have an MST). Unfortunately unopposed Factories games are going to be pretty much the only unwinnable games and nothing short of MST is going to keep you in the game.
- Thunder King/Rabbit Beat – The second type of game that generally occurs in a Wind-Up mirror is a game where one person has either Thunder King or Wind-Up Rabbit and they keep the pressure on with those. Maxx “C” clearly doesn’t do anything here. Neither do the other cards that were good against the blowout scenarios (Fiendish Chain, Compulsory, and Needle Ceiling). Beginning to see why this mirror is so tricky? Cards that are good against one type of game are awful against the other. The same is true for cards like Dimensional Prison that are good against Thunder King are generally bad against most Wind-Up plays.
- The Grind Game – This is the last type of Wind-Up game and it is probably the most common type of game post sideboarding. This is the type of game that I disagree with how most people are playing their Maxx “C”’s in. These types of games are often the product of neither player being able to do very much in the early game (since Wind-Ups struggle with the early game it’s very common if neither Wind-Up player gets much going early). This results in both players having a couple of monsters, plenty of backrow, and a full hand. These types of games are an art. They are an attrition war to see who can make better use of their resources. Heavy Storm is the biggest defining card in the grind game and can singlehandedly turn the grind game into a blowout game. This is where Maxx “C” really shines. You don’t want to have nothing when your opponent draws Heavy Storm before you do.
What most people tend to argue when they argue against Maxx “C” is that it doesn’t actually force your opponent to stop. That’s certainly true, however, you can also run Effect Veiler to give yourself something to draw into once they decide they are going to go for it. Effect Veiler isn’t really the best card against Wind-Ups except for when they decide that they are going to push through the Maxx “C.” If you can stop them from winning the turn they decide to push through, you almost certainly guarantee yourself the win. Veiler and Maxx “C” are cards you don’t really want to draw together or multiples of. This means that when you are deciding on your side deck ratios, you’re going to have to keep this in mind. I suggest only 1 Effect Veiler in the side deck. As I said, the card isn’t very good against Wind-Ups and it’s especially weak in grind games outside of them pushing through Maxx “C.” Also 1 theoretically should be enough. The times that they push through Maxx “C” come from the grind games with Wind-Ups after they draw Heavy. Well a grind game implies that both players have had time to accumulate plenty of resources. It would not be uncommon for you to go 20 cards into your deck before one player attempts to go off after they draw Heavy. At this point you have a 50 50 of whether or not you have seen Effect Veiler. Then they decide to push and you play Maxx “C.” You’ll likely draw close to 10 more cards solely off the Maxx “C” meaning at this point you’ve seen about 3/4ths of your deck. A grind game doesn’t really mean that both players are doing nothing. As I said above, it’s an attrition war and one important aspect of the Wind-Up mirror is to make a monster like Zenmaines or Maestroke stick. This sets you up to be successful for your opponent’s push. You want to make sure that Veiler is actually going to do something when you draw it. If they can just still kill you through Veiler, there was no point in having Veiler. If you have a Zenmaines/Maestroke on the field and they push thinking they’ll kill it with Black Corn/Papilloperative, it’s very unlikely that they will be able to kill you if you draw the Veiler since you can protect the Zenmaines and let it eat attacks before you make a push back the following turn. If you go through 3/4ths of your deck without seeing Veiler and your opponent decides to go for it (plenty don’t) and your opponent drew Heavy Storm before you did, you just got unlucky. You can stack the odds in your favor and give yourself the best chance possible by playing Maxx “C.” Overall its good in 2/3 of the types of games that Wind-Up mirrors generally play.
I would also like to say that I think 2 copies of Maxx “C” is optimal. Again, you never want to draw multiples and it is bad in 1 of the 3 games. Playing 2 copies of Maxx “C” theoretically gives you 1 copy in your first 20 cards and 1 copy in your second 20 cards. This certainly isn’t always true, but if the game turns into the grind game, it gives you a solid chance of seeing the one copy that you want to see.
In the next part of the article, we’re going to look at how to play Maxx “C”, specifically in the grind game of the Wind-Up mirror.
Every time I see someone play a Wind-Up mirror grind game (which I will now refer to as only grind game) I see them play Maxx “C” at a place that isn’t optimal. Maxx “C” is definitely a card that you’re going to want to save until you have to play it. If your opponent goes first and opens Magician Shark, you have to play it. That’s obvious. What’s not always obvious is when to play it in the grind game. Consider the following example. Your opponent has several sets and they have just summoned a Rat. They use Rat targeting Rabbit and don’t have any other Wind-Ups in grave. You have something like Bottomless, Solemn Judgment, and Book of Moon set in your backrow. You’ve also got a facedown Sangan, facedown Magician, and 4-5 cards in hand that aren’t advancing your game state with 1 Maxx “C” in hand. This is a scenario where you should absolutely not play Maxx “C.” It does nothing. Less than nothing. It hurts you. Playing Maxx “C” here means that you won’t have one when they draw their Heavy (they could have Judgment as well). I would be extremely happy if my opponent Maxx “C”ed me in this situation. I’ll happily float Rat Rabbit behind several backrow for a turn and just do whatever I was going to do the next turn. Good luck trying to Leviair it with while I have multiple sets. Instead let them float Rat Rabbit. You’ve got traps. If they’re going to XYZ, use the traps then. Then you can have Maxx “C” later when someone draws Heavy.
You’re generally going to want to play your traps before you play Maxx “C”
Maxx “C” is a card for one of two situations; necessity and to ensure your win.
The necessity part is obvious (Magician Shark to no backrow). When it is not a situation of necessity, you’re going to want to use it when you are winning. `The above situation, neither player is winning.
I also want to note the unique role card advantage plays in grind games. It’s not particularly important. If one player has 8 cards and the other has 3, sure. It’s safe to say the guy with 8 is winning, but that’s not really a grind game. In a grind game, a game where both people have plenty of resources, card advantage doesn’t matter as much. If one player has 10 cards and the other has 9, the player with 10 isn’t necessarily winning. Both players still have plenty of options available to them.
Don’t trade Maxx “C” even for a plus 1 in a grind game.
Like a said, a plus 1 isn’t the end all be all. If your opponent wants to summon Tour Guide while Sangan is in the grave while you have Compulsory set, let them and don’t play the Maxx “C” in the grind game. If they XYZ into something threatening, just use Compulsory rather than Maxx “C” to draw 2 and then Compulsory for a 1 for 1. The game is still a grind game that is just waiting for a Heavy Storm to bust it open. You’re going to need your Maxx “C” for that, not so that you both can have 10 cards instead of you having 9 and them having 10. The only time you’re going to want to do something like Maxx “C” Tour Guide when Sangan is gone and you have Compulsory set is if you have multiple Maxx “C”s or doing so in a game that is not a grind game.
If you have multiple Maxx “C”s, use one of them as a 1 for 1.
To explain this one, I need to go a bit more in depth on how grind games work. Neither player starts particularly strong and players accumulate resources through stage 1 of the game. Stage 2 of the game involves lots of building resources and small pushes (like getting Zenmaines to stick). Stage 3 is usually only 1-3 turns where one player attempts to end the game (usually the product of Heavy Storm, but sometimes them deciding they have enough resources to push through 4 backrow). Either way, the game is a bunch of building up resources, small pushes, and only 1 big push. There aren’t really ever 2 big pushes. Generally the smaller pushes are situations where your opponent can just stop if you Maxx “C” them. An example this would be a player intends to make Zenmaines with Rat, but gets Maxx “C”ed bringing back Rabbit. He would likely stop as there is no need to continue as you can just do it the next turn. Because of this, Maxx “C” is only effective for the 1 big push. 1. As in not multiple. There is no need to save up both Maxx “C”s when there is only going to be 1 big push. What else were you saving the Maxx “C” for? If the push fails, they’re going to lose. If not, they’re going to win. Regardless, the game is going to end with a couple of turns after the big push and the opponent isn’t going to be making a second big push. I think it is much better to trade the second Maxx “C” to advance your game a card than it is to continue to hold it for something that’s not going to come. Because of this, if you draw multiple Maxx “C”s, use them as an Upstart until you get to the 1.
Early game, Maxx “C” the Tour Guide
Consider the following scenario. Your opponent is starting off game 3 and they summon Tour Guide? Do you Maxx “C”? Absolutely. Looking back at the two reasons you want to Maxx “C”, this falls under necessity. If you don’t Maxx “C” here and they have Factory in hand, but instead Maxx “C” the Tour Guide, they simply get Rabbit, search for Factory, and get another search as soon as you draw. They are now at a plus 3 and you 1 for 1ed your Maxx “C” with a Rabbit and are forced to deal with Zenmaity this turn and you better have some backrow because they just searched Magician Shark. If you do Maxx “C” the Tour Guide, sure they can get Sangan. But that’s it. You now have a chance to set your traps to deal with a push from a potential Factory/Zenmaity. You also aren’t on a one turn clock to deal with Zenamity. I’d much rather be looking down a field of Tour Guide Sangan and 2 backrow than Zenmaity Rabbit and 2 backrow. What happens when they Warning in the second scenario? You lose. If they have Warning in the first scenario, you still have a chance to set your traps to deal with any XYZs they make.
So far I’ve pretty much exclusively talked about using Maxx”C” as a necessity or avoiding using it when it’s not a necessity. The other time you should play Maxx “C” is to ensure your win.
Play Maxx “C” when you have big monsters on the field
Let’s say that up until now, you’ve played your traps before your Maxx “C”s as you are supposed to. You’ve now put yourself in a winning position and have something like Tiras, Giga-Brilliant, Rat Rabbit. Your opponent summons Magician/Rat and reveals Shark on the Magician/Rat’s summon (to play around your Veiler). If you can hold your Maxx “C”s until you get to this part of the game, you’re almost certainly going to win it. This puts them in an awful position. They now have 2 options. They can either stop or continue. Either way is win-win for you. If they stop, they’ve now invested 2 cards to the board that you can easily kill (if not outright reduce their life points to 0) when the tempo of the game was already in your favor. The other option is the have to special a bunch to clear your field and you draw a ton of cards. Either way you’re doing great. Playing Maxx “C” at a time like this essentially guarantees your win.
The main thing that you have to remember is there are really only two times to play Maxx “C”, either out of necessity or to ensure your win. Restrain yourself when you are tempted to play it in other situations. This is one of the most important aspects of being successful in the Wind-Up mirror match. Until next time everyone, play hard or go home!