Trap-less Decks

Boy do I love my traps. It's honestly one of the big reasons why you'd never see me playing Chaos Dragons, Frog Monarchs, Monster Mash, or any deck like that. Not only do you feel safe when you have a pair of traps down, you feel in control of the duel. This player interaction is something Frazier Smith touched on a little in his latest article and it's something I felt should be discussed. Player interaction is what you want as a skilled player. It's simple really, which would you rather play; A game of War or a game of Poker? Wouldn't you rather have a tense game of pushing and countering pushes via traps from both sides of the table instead of both of you just throwing down all your cards and seeing who wins with no skill involved? I've always favored decks with heavy trap lineups and looking back, every time I topped an event it was with a trap-heavy deck (Infernities, Gravekeepers, Rabbit, Wind-Ups). Chaos Dragon is the big trap-less deck right now and I really don't think it deserves all the play it's getting right now.

Wind-Ups are the overpowered deck of the format and the fact that Dragons don't play anything to stop them outside of hand traps makes the deck weak to Shock Master. The thing is the Wind-Up player would normally have to grind through a couple backrows and choose the perfect time to go off with their combos. If you're playing Dragons you're basically giving them an all day pass to combo all over you whenever they want. By playing this certain deck, you've made the strongest deck in the format even stronger. This is where hand traps would come in. Sure, Effect Veiler is a great card across the board and I'd probably play 3 in this deck myself if I were ever to run it but Maxx "C"? We all know that card is only good against Wind-Ups and there's no way you would ever want to main more than 2. You're also playing a deck based around milling so is it really smart to only be playing 4 or 5 "traps"?

Another thing I want to touch up on is something most people don't even realize. If you're playing against a trap heavy Wind-Up deck (which in all honesty is most of them), those traps weaken the effectiveness of your Effect Veilers and Maxx "C"s. Being an avid Wind-Up player myself I can't tell you how many times I've Magician Sharked into Maxx "C", just got a Rabbit and just chilled behind trap cards. What usually happens here is that they'd try to push through to clear my field before I can still combo next turn, but all they end up doing is 1 for 1'ing with my trap cards and then I get to do whatever I want next turn anyways! What's even worse is when my Tour Guide or Wind-Up Rat gets Veilered. The same thing happens and next turn I get a free level 3 to xyz with and it usually nets me a free Zenmaity. What's so important here is that they simplified the gamestate themselves after they already took the initial -1 from their own Effect Veiler. Using hand traps against that deck when you can't guarantee a way to clear their field next turn is risky and most of the times just a bad play. When is the right time to use these cards? When you already have field presence and you're already winning. So when you look at it this way, Chaos Dragons' trap cards are just win more cards, and they have nothing to actually stop your play like other decks do in the form of Solemn Warning, Torrential Tribute, etc if they don't have anything going. And if I were a Chaos Dragon player, that would scare the hell out of me.

And then there's "This deck is great because it makes your opponent's Mystical Space Typhoons and Heavy Storm dead". Many people see this as a huge advantage and sadly, this is the reason that wins players over to play these types of decks. This argument is looked at way too much. I couldn't tell you how many times an opponent has wasted their own MSTs, Heavies, Lylas, and Rykos on my dead MSTs and Heavy. If you play your cards correctly you can more often than not outplay your opponent into using their resources on your dead cards then sealing the game with your actual traps. Perhaps saying "A small pro of using Chaos Dragon is that my opponent could be stuck with awkward cards that don't help him advance his gamestate" is more accurate instead of acting like every spell or trap removal card they draw is thrown off to the side of the table. Honestly, I know people that couldn't decide between playing Wind-Ups or Chaos Dragon and they picked Dragons solely because of the whole dead card theory. And here, that small pro doesn't outweigh the huge con of not being able to play Solemn Warning, Solemn Judgment, Torrential Tribute, and more. I don't know how they do it because I couldn't play Yugioh without those cards. I would never feel in control of the game unless my hand was like Gorz, Tragoedia, Effect Veiler, Maxx "C", Black Luster Soldier, Dark Armed with a loaded grave or something ridiculous like that.

Some people argue that one of the deck's strong points is the easy rank 5/6 access. If you're playing a deck to make rank 5s then it shouldn't be Chaos Dragons. And yeah I'll give them Bounzer and Exa-Beetle, but even they are not the best monsters ever to be giving up 2 level 6s to (Outside of the limited to 1 Chaos Sorcerer). Exa-Beetle requires either 2 Pulsars or 1 and 1 Chaos Sorcerer to make it which is a hefty cost but yeah it's a good card that seals games that otherwise wouldn't have been won sometimes. Most of the time you could just win without it. Bounzer is nothing like the powerful xyz Dolkka. It can't negate Gorz, Effect Veiler or Maxx "C", and it can only be activated once per turn. That's a huge flaw in the card because you run no protection (unless you play Lance, which I want to talk about in a second) outside of having a Veiler in your hand. So you need 2 Pulsars or 1 Pulsar 1 Chaos Sorcerer + 1 Veiler to make an effective Bounzer unless your opponent was already so low on cards that Bounzer seals the game. I can't argue that Bounzer isn't a good card because it definitely is, but in both of those situations it's win-more and it's moot to argue that win-more cards are a strong point to playing a deck.

Now I want to talk about Lance and MST. Most people play 1 or the other of these cards. These cards along with Heavy Storm are meant to sit in your hand and help your plays go through, but never to set. What happens when you have to? I'm sorry to have to use you Paul but you've provided me with the perfect example! Paul posted a video of him playing vs the YCS Rhode Island Champion Chris LeBlanc. You can watch it here: His opening hand was 2 Lightpulsar Dragon, Heavy Storm, Forbidden Lance, REDMD, and Tragoedia. His opponent had nothing going for him so he passed - the correct play to do anyways when a deck like Dragons pass their first turn. Then Paul drew Effect Veiler and had to make a decision - Discard REDMD or Pulsar, or set a spell and risk it to MST/Heavy which is something you never want to do. Luckily for Paul his opponent didn't have it but I'm sure he had a VERY good read on the set card regardless. Then for the next turn Paul drew BLS and again had to make the crucial decision but this time with one of the most powerful cards in his deck. And if you watched the video, you saw him not want to take the risk of losing it against a field of 3 backrows so he Heavied into a Starlight Road. I'm sure Paul probably read that Road and I have no doubt that it was in his head as he was considering his play but in the end it was just riskier losing Heavy to s/t removal than a Starlight Road that let Chris push with Stardust Dragon and enable Paul's hand to start going off. The deck has a lot of slow starts and while that usually won't happen there's still a chance. There's a chance that you will turn some of your powerful spells into bait for your opponent's "dead" s/t removal. And over the course of a YCS it'll probably happen 1 or 2 times.

But back to traps. While I do feel like trap cards are a ton better than hand traps, I also have come to the conclusion that playing hand traps alongside them are a necessary even though they're subpar. While players have seen success this format with 0 hand traps in their deck, every time I try the strategy I always get blown out by Heavy Storm/MST followed by a huge play. While I think Maxx "C"'s days as a great hand trap are over for now, Effect Veiler isn't that bad against most of the decks. That brings up another point. If I'm recommending hand traps only as a backup plan for when your opponent has Heavy or MST for your 1 backrow, why not just play Starlight Road in Veiler's place and just be able to set everything and not lose to those cards while having an answer to Dark Hole and Torrential, too. But outside of the "saving your butt" situations, Veiler can help disrupt your opponent's power plays, like Tour Guide for example, while Starlight Road is just a luxury. You can play around Dark Hole and Torrential and albeit having to put forth a bit more effort you can still win without Starlight Road. But if you didn't have Veiler for a certain power play you can't say the same. I arrived in Rhode Island with no hand traps in my main but I didn't feel safe registering a deck without them. And that fear was pretty huge because let me tell you how much I hate hand traps. They're always the card I top deck after my opponent makes a huge push! Of course cards like Solemn Warning, Torrential Triute and Bottomless Trap Hole all share the same weakness but they're much better cards and will always be played. But as long as MST stays at 3 and Heavy stays around I think 2 Effect Veiler might have to be added to that list of needed cards.

In conclusion I don't think you should be running a deck without hand traps or real traps, but both. I don't think you should go crazy with 2 Maxx "C" 2 Effect Veiler but I think 2 hand traps as a backup plan to go along with a solid trap line-up is going to give you the best results. And if you were trying to decide between running Chaos Dragon or another deck, I hope I was able to influence your choice. Some of these points are things most people just skip over or don't even realize. I might start writing articles on the weaknesses of every tier 1 deck in this format if you liked this, let me know! Until next time though guys, play hard or go home!