Over the past couple of weeks, you may have heard some of the better duelists saying that they do not believe that hand traps are what they used to be. This week I’m back and I’m going to be giving my position on the hand trap argument for the current metagame.
Six months ago, Maxx “C” was a staple at 3 and Veiler was seeing a decrease in play. Prior to this release, we saw Plants as the definite best deck with Rescue Rabbit slowing increasing in popularity and gaining momentum as a tier 1 deck. Other tier two decks included Dark World, T.G., Karakuri, and Agents. With the exception of T.G., Maxx “C” was pretty solid across the board. Order of Chaos was released in January and this created a paradox among hand traps. The set brought Wind-Ups and Inzektors, two more tier 1 decks. This was a problem in terms of hand traps. Maxx “C” was amazing against Wind-Ups, but did almost nothing against Inzektors. Veiler was okay against Wind-Ups, but really good against Inzektors. It seemed like your pick of hand traps at any given tournament could prove to be amazing or three to five dead cards game 1. The meta continued to develop around the March ban list and brought us to YCS Long Beach. The largest YCS of all time gave us two new tier 1 decks; Dark World and Heroes. Dark World made the jump from tier two to tier 1 and Heroes reemerged on the competitive scene for the first time since early last year. Their surge in popularity can be attributed to both decks having a strong game 1 against most of the top decks. This produced a big five of Rabbit, Wind-Ups, Inzektors, Heroes, and Dark World. This furthered the paradox between hand traps. Veiler does almost nothing against either of those two decks and Maxx “C,” while it has its uses, is subpar against Dark World and nothing more than a 1 for 1 when it is too late against Heroes. Even against Rabbit where Maxx “C” is often a +1, players sometimes want more proactive cards as drawing a Maxx “C” after they have a Laggia up can be devastating. Laggia is going to be a +1 and that Maxx “C” isn’t doing anything and is essentially a -1 because of it. With Dallas rapidly approaching and different hand traps being solid against one deck and horrible against the next, what is the correct number of which hand trap to run to optimize your results against the metagame? I believe the answer to this question depends almost entirely which deck you are playing. Let me explain my position on each of the big five decks.
This should be the most obvious of the five. With three main decked Dragged Down into the Graves, this deck cannot effectively main any hand traps. This deck can side Maxx “C” against Wind-Ups so that they can avoid a first turn loop.
One of the best aspects of Heroes, is that just about every card in the deck does something by itself. Rarely does it have a useless card. I think that you should not detract from this aspect by adding hand traps when they have such a high probability of being useless. This deck does not really have too many weaknesses since all the cards work towards the deck’s end game. If you start adding cards like Maxx “C” and Effect Veiler you will find that they clump together with cards like Skill Drain or Gemini Spark. This may seem like an odd group of cards to find clumping together, but the Drain and hand traps is repetitive while Spark is one of the few cards in the deck that requires another card already. Drawing either of those cards with a dead hand trap would certainly happen several times over the course of an 11 round tournament. This goes back to the core of why the deck is good, its consistency. If you begin to take away that, the deck will slip back into mediocrity and likely fail on the competitive scene. Again, siding Maxx “C” against Wind-Ups would be solid.
I believe I hold a different stance on hand traps in Wind-Ups than pretty much everybody. If you look at some of the Wind-Up decks topping YCSes, you’ll see 3 Maxx “C” and 1 Effect Veiler being close to staple with a second Effect Veiler also being commonly played. I think that this is the wrong way to go about it. Sure these decks are topping, but there have been four premier events since the decks release and despite being considered a top deck, it has failed to take a title home at any of them. Why though? I believe that this boils down to consistency. The deck is the very definition of a combo deck. Just about every card it plays relies on another card. If you check out Billy’s article where he wraps up Long Beach, you will see that he took out some of the combo reliant cards like Wind-Up Magician and Wind-Up Factory in favor of more consistent and independent cards like Spirit Reaper. I completely agree with this, but I would like to take it one step further and get rid of hand traps altogether in this deck in favor of even more independent cards. I think that this would reduce the number of awkward hands and significantly improve the decks performance. If the deck’s goal is to win, it doesn’t stop after round 11. There are five additional rounds starting with Top 32 on the long road to victory. I don’t think that a combo reliant deck like Wind-Ups should be foregoing consistency like that when entering a YCS.
Rabbit is a bit different when it comes to hand traps for two reasons. Firstly, Rabbit isn’t a combo oriented deck. It’s most powerful plays are just one card rather than a series of cards. In a deck like Wind-Ups, for instance, the best plays come from two cards that don’t do much of anything by themselves. As I said above, I feel like in decks like that there should be more of a focus on every card being able to do something by itself. Since Rabbit isn’t like this and its best plays are already standalone cards, I don’t think that there needs to be as much emphasis on the rest of the cards in your deck having to be standalone cards as well. This is one reason I think Rabbit can support hand traps. The next reason is that Rabbit has trouble dealing with pretty much any monster bigger than a Laggia. Maxx “C” will often provide the extra card needed to deal with the Leviathan that they decided to make after you Maxx “C”ed a Tour Guide.
I don’t think that Rabbit should play Veiler at all. Veiler really only shines against Inzektors which is already a strong match up for Rabbit. That being said, I think 3 Maxx “C” and 0 Veiler is the ideal number for Rabbit heading into Dallas.
Inzektors can take advantage of hand traps better than any other deck in the format. Once Hornet is in the grave, they have 3 Hornet and 3 Centipede as self-sustaining power cards. This is more than any other deck right now. Hand traps can often force your opponent into awkward situations to avoid giving you that extra advantage. For instance, if you were playing with Rabbit and they were playing with Wind-Ups and they went normal Magician and Special Shark, but you Maxx “C”ed Shark’s effect, they would certainly be left in an awkward position. But if you were playing Inzektors and that situation happened, you’re in a great position as not only have you cut off their plays for the turn, but you just gave yourself two very easy targets for Hornet and Centipede. For this reason, I think Inzektors can take advantage of hand traps better than any other deck in the format and I think they are the only deck that should consider running more than 3 hand traps.
Thanks for reading my article this week. Let me know what you think below in the comments. I’m looking forward to Dallas next weekend and I hope to see you all there. Until next time, as always, play hard or go home!