What's up boys and girls, its T-Time! Its Thunder Thursday again and this week I am going to talk about how to play your power cards. This should seem pretty obvious to more experienced players, but never the less, it cannot be understated. Too often do I see a player waste their power cards and later in the game find themselves overwhelmed and in need of the cards they wasted. Use and conservation of power cards is also how a lot of pro players take advantage of their opponent. It is also the reason that it can seem like a better player drew power cards out of nowhere or just had the nuts. They had good cards all along, they just saved them for when the time was right. The other player, however, likely used them foolishly and is now left top decking his way out of the situation he is in.
For those of you wondering what power cards are, they are cards that allow you to take maximum advantage of the game, usually by destroying multiple cards at once. For the sake of this article, I am going to limit power cards to those alone. Other cards that alter the momentum of games such as Pot of Avarice, Monster Reborn, Solemn Judgment, Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness, Black Luster Soldier-Envoy of the Beginning, or any other boss monster could also be considered a power card. Most power cards tend to be limited, but some can be played in multiples. For the sake of this article, the cards I will be evaluating are Dark Hole, Torrential Tribute, Mirror Force, and Heavy Storm. Another thing to note is to never assume your opponent has Starlight Road unless they broadcasted it and you can make that read fairly accurately. Remember also to consider if your opponent has the room in their extra deck to even play Starlight Road, or the room in their deck. That usually means they are playing a lot of backrows. Even still, never assume that they have this card since it is a one of at best that is often bluffed.
Dark Hole: In my opinion, this is the weakest of the power cards. Why? It lacks the defensive ability of Torrential and Mirror Force and it doesn't have the versatility of Heavy Storm. It is the most acceptable card to use as a 1-1, so don't be afraid to use to get rid of a major threat. Dark Hole can also be used as an offensive weapon. It can clear the board for an assault on your opponent, especially when they have a defense such as Spirit Reaper or a potential Ryko or Snowman Eater. It is also harder for your opponent to play around than Torrential or Mirror Force since it is not a trap. That means they are not immediately thinking about it. However, since it isn't as reactive, you can get OTKed by conserving Dark Hole. Regardless, Dark Hole should be used for maximum advantage. Unless you are facing a major one card threat like Thunder King or a card that is stopping you from making your OTK, you should try to get at least 2-1 out of this card. That will lead to a greater win. Also, don't be too proud to use this to take a 2-1 that was created by your opponent as the advantage of another card. For example, if you attack with a monster and your opponent drops Gorz, then attacks over your monster and doesn't play any more monsters, Dark Hole is fine to play if you want to continue your aggression. Now you can assume your opponent doesn't have that card and you have eliminated one of the biggest threats with one card. One power card for another.
Torrential Tribute: This is probably only second to Heavy Storm among power cards I am reviewing today. Just the very existence of this card can have your opponent on edge. They don't want to play into this card and lose the advantage of whatever combo they are trying to pull of, or even get caught getting greedy by summoning too many monsters. You generally want to slow roll Torrential. If you have an alternative way to deal with multiple monsters, it may be okay to let your opponent summon two. Even though you could gain advantage here, it sets a trap for your opponent. If you can deal with the monsters they have on board, they will assume the face down Torrential you have is no threat and will play into it more severely later in the game. Torrential is also one of the only ways you can make your opponent pay and lose advantage over attempting the dreaded Wind-Up Magician/Shark combo. Against the average player, they will walk themselves into Torrential pretty frequently. Better players will fall for it out of desperation, but you can also use the trick I told you earlier by convincing them that it is a different card as a misread then punishing them later. Another play with this card is to set a floater like Sangan and then having your opponent summon two or more monsters into Torrential, though this is much less common these days. People tend to assume your face down monster is Sangan or a floater and won't walk themselves into a Torrential to handle it.
Mirror Force: This is arguably the most underrated power card. Some people don't even play it. Why don't they play it? Because the card is so good that just the idea that they could be playing it is fear enough for their opponent. This is the most bluffed backrow in the game, and having it is pretty powerful if you know how to use it, especially these days. Now people don't automatically assume that you play Mirror Force, so you can take advantage of their aggression, just like with Torrential. The only difference is that you get to keep your own monsters. That means you get to keep the aggression you already had on the board to continue or add to your assault in the upcoming turn. That is huge for your momentum. Mirror Force should be used for advantage as often as possible, but removing a threat is just as well. It is also good if you protect a monster that needs to stay on the field. For example, it is a card to use if you want to kill a Jurrac Guaiba attacking into your Gadget. To set your opponent up to walk into Mirror Force, you need to get aggressive. Put some pressure on the board that your opponent needs to deal with immediately and set the Mirror Force. They will try to match your aggression or reclaim momentum, likely drop a boss monster or summon aggressively without fear of Torrential and walk into the Mirror Force. However, I don't advise you set Mirror Force with multiple backrows since Mirror Force is a constant fear in an opponent's mind and when there are many backrows, they consider the card and may not attack. However, they tend to consider a sole backrow to be Torrential Tribute or something to that effect and will walk into the Mirror Force, especially with monsters on the field. They tend to read MST, Solemn Warning, or Bottomless Trap Hole.
Heavy Storm: I could write an entire article just about this card and how to play it. It is the most important power card and the most versatile. It is the only way to handle multiple backrows. Also, your opponent won't have any “floater” backrows, so when it hits for multiple cards, it is devastating. It is much easier to generate more monsters than it is to generate more backrow, so every spell or trap lost is a crushing blow. Also remember that you only have one Heavy, so if your opponent sees it played, they will probably fearlessly set their hand. Just because your opponent set 2 or 3 backrows in the first turn doesn't mean you should play Heavy right off of the bat. You want to use it to get rid of all of their spells and traps, so if they were conserving, you will want to maximize the effectiveness. Also, you want to use it as a point of aggression. Using it early if you have an early combo to get off or want to summon a devastating card like Thunder King, then playing it early isn't the worst. However, remember the repercussions down the line of playing it and how your opponent's plays will reflect seeing it.
The “pro storm” play is all but dead from its original purpose. It was done by opening with a set Heavy Storm. Your opponent would then set 2 backrows assuming that if you had Heavy, you would break even by destroying your own backrow in order to destroy theirs. When you flipped the Heavy up, they would lose advantage as a result. Now, players will either MST it off of the field, set light, or be prepared for it. You need more than just Heavy, so here is how to do it. You need to set either Solemn Warning, Torrential Tribute, or Bottomless Trap Hole with the Storm. When your opponent summons, you can play Heavy Storm. If your opponent had MST, they will set it and save it in case you set another backrow in the next turn. After all, why would you set Heavy with a Warning, right? They will also assume the other backrow is a MST, Mirror Force, or anything that isn't going to punish their summon. They will over commit to the backrow, and boom. You have an even better version of the pro storm play. However, if they just set 4 backrows, it is easier to predict the Starlight Road, and in which case that Solemn Warning is amazing.
The way you play your power cards is the way you will generate advantage and gain momentum or maintain it if it is already in your control. Though this is a basic fundamental of the game, it is one of the most important. Do not waste the valuable resources that these cards provide. Also, don't always assume your opponent has Starlight Road any more than you could assume a poker player is slow rolling a monster pocket pair. You just have to hope they don't have it in many cases, however if the obvious read is there, then you can play around it. Knowing when to use these cards and seeing the striking points can be a fine art that is hard to master, but it helps define the best players from the average players. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave them below. Until next time, play hard or go home!