Since its release, there’s been one source of contention with YuGiOh Master Duel, and that’s the existence of Hand Traps. These cards are extremely powerful cards that can be played directly from your hand, reacting to your opponent’s plays and potentially altering what would have been a losing duel.
Before I get into my case for why they’re actually balancing the game, it’s important to know what they do. Here are three of the most prominent hand traps in YuGiOh Master Duel, and their effects
Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
When a card or effect is activated that includes any of these effects (Quick Effect): You can discard this card; negate that effect.
● Add a card from the Deck to the hand.
● Special Summon from the Deck.
● Send a card from the Deck to the GY.
You can only use this effect of “Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring” once per turn.
Follow us on Twitter Follow @GamerBraves and Tweet us Tweet to @GamerBraves
Ash Blossom is one of the most prominent hand traps in the game, acting as a great way to stop your opponent early in the game. It’s simple- your opponent tries to search the cards they need for their big play, in comes Ash Blossom to negate it while still forcing them to pay any costs for the card.
During either player’s turn: You can send this card from your hand to the Graveyard; this turn, each time your opponent Special Summons a monster(s), immediately draw 1 card. You can only use 1 “Maxx “C”” per turn.
Unlike the straightforward Ash Blossom, Maxx “C” lets your opponent gauge how risky they want their play to be. Since most of YuGiOh’s high-speed plays are built around special summoning, Maxx “C” lets you incur a cost- every time they summon, you get another card.
During your opponent’s Main Phase (Quick Effect): You can send this card from your hand to the GY, then target 1 Effect Monster your opponent controls; negate the effects of that face-up monster your opponent controls, until the end of this turn.
Like Ash Blossom, Effect Veiler is a great card to turn the tides on your opponent. Before your opponent can activate their big boss monster’s effect, Veiler will essentially neuter them, buying you some time and possibly stopping their turn dead in its tracks.
The Complaints About Hand traps
One complaint about hand traps is that they’re too good- unlike many of YuGiOh’s cards which lock you to a certain playstyle, you could basically load the best hand traps into any deck.
In fact, one of the complaints is that once you hit the higher ranks, this practice is basically mandatory. YuGiOh is an incredibly fast paced, borderline busted game, and you need to stop your opponent before they can gain the momentum to finish you off in one turn.
You’ll often see the complaints about how it forces people to run the same decks- if you wanted to have 3 of every hand trap, that’s 9 out of your 40-minimum deck already devoted to just negating your opponent’s plays.
There’s also the problem with the fact that it’s simply not fun to fight against them. Every card you play, the game rolls back over to your opponent, letting them decide if they want to activate their hand traps to stop you from doing anything. If you’ve been down on a big losing streak, I can totally see the frustration- high-level decks are built around not letting you have any fun, hence the popularity of decks like the Drytrons.
Personally, I don’t think that’s the case. YuGiOh Master Duel shares a lot in common with so-called Anime Fighters in fighting games, where the game design has its own unique perspective on balance. Games like Guilty Gear allow individual characters to do far more with the rules of the game than many more “honest” fighters like Tekken or Street Fighter, such as enforcing 4-way guessing games or long, damaging combo strings.
Rather than slow things down in the name of “balance”, these games will often have what’s known as a Burst meter. While the specific rules of a Burst may change from game to game, they generally share one rule- if you use it while you’re being combo’d , you can push your opponent away and get a reset, giving you a chance to turn ther tide.
To me, hand traps in YuGiOh Master Duel are basically this game’s burst- By making sure that any deck can run them, you allow each deck to do crazier things. Just those three cards cover the core function of every deck engine- drawing cards from the deck, special summoning cards and activating monster effects. These effects are so generic that you can stop any deck with them, and likewise their costs are free enough that you can use them on any deck of your own making.
People will complain about being “forced” to take them, but I see them less like an overpowered weapon and more like a really good skill, since just activating Ash Blossom won’t win you a game.
To use another game’s analogy, think about it like an FPS where headshots were always an instant kill. The sniper rifle having a scope would give it a huge boon to headshots, yes, but that wouldn’t make it overpowered- that’s just what the gun does. Instead the skill of positioning yourself in a way to not be seen, and then be able to line up the headshot would be what gets you all those kills- the gun’s just a gun, dude.
Similarly, a well placed Hand Trap will absolutely turn a game around for you- I’ve lost entire duels because my Hero set-up failed when my opponent Ash Blossomed my Sunrise, not letting me get a second Hero on the board. It’s incredibly frustrating, but them’s the breaks- I played obviously and got countered, obviously.
On the higher levels YuGiOh heavily relies on prediction- rather than throw out Ash Blossom on the first card your game prompts you to, you’ll wanna wait for the actual lynchpins to activate before busting out your card.
Similarly, decks that use a lot of these mechanics will also start needing to bait out a hand trap- that means forming an order of operations to how you play your hand, so that if your opponent takes the bait and negates something early, they won’t be able to negate the plays that actually matter.
A Love For Busted Nonsense
In case you can’t tell, I’ve a lot of love for just how balls-to-the-wall YuGiOh Master Duel is with its card effects. A huge part of this is due to the game’s unique take on balancing- since more or less every card ever made is legal, you want a way to make sure the game is fun without having to issue a circular saying Sky Strikers are being sunsetted out of the game since they’re too much wok to balance.
Just the fact that any deck can run a counter-play is a great thing since there’s less argument for toning down card effects. After all, why couldn’t you make Chaos MAX immune to card destruction and targeting? If your opponent doesn’t like it, all they have to do is negate any of the long steps you took to stop it from hitting the field in the first place.
And remember: at the end of the day, no one’s forcing you to play hand traps. But ranked ladders exist for a reason, and if climbing the ranks is what you want, you’ll need to start playing by the same rules as everyone else.
Discussion about this post