Jeremy enjoys dueling in between working as a chemical analyst and campus building manager.
Hand Traps in Competitive Yu-Gi-Oh!
You love 'em when they save you; you hate 'em when they catch ya by surprise—hand traps are now a staple in competitive play. Despite their name, most are actually monster cards, usually with effects that impede your opponent's combos.
Many double as tuners for synchro summoning, and if you go second, they're basically the only way you can stop an opponent's first-turn combo (since you haven't established a board yet). But with dozens of hand-activated effects, which reign supreme? These are the 20 best hand traps in Yu-Gi-Oh!
20. Maxx "C"
This card probably won't ever leave the ban list, and for good reason—activate it from hand on either player's turn to draw whenever your opponent special summons that turn. Against combo decks, this could mean drawing half your deck, an incredible advantage with no real activation cost.
19. Astrograph Sorcerer
Also banned as of this writing, you can use Astrograph's scale effect to destroy itself and either scale or summon Stargazer Magician from your deck. But he's also a useful monster that can summon himself from hand when your card is destroyed, then search a copy of a monster that was destroyed that turn.
Sorceror can also help fusion summon Supreme King ZARC, but even non-ZARC decks enjoy his free summon and search, especially since it can trigger off self-destruction effects. Unlike Max, I could see Astrograph coming off the ban list, so pendulum decks take note.
18. Rainbow Kuriboh
When an opponent's monster attacks, you can equip Rainbow to it, which prevents it from attacking. Odds are strong your opponent will later link, xyz, or tribute summon using their weakened card, but it's still a nice last-minute defense.
Plus, Rainbow's good to have in your graveyard, as it can special summon itself when you're directly attacked (banished when it leaves the field), basically blocking another hit. This also makes it useful discard and mill fodder.
An oldie but goldie, Tragoedia summons itself from hand when you take battle damage and has 600 ATK/DEF per card in your hand. More than that, it can send a monster from hand to graveyard to take control of an opponent's monster with the same level as the sent card.
You can also target a monster in your graveyard to match Tragoedia's level to its for the rest of the turn, useful for xyz symmons.
16. Prohibit Snake
Here's an underrated support for cyberse decks. Prohibit can toss itself from hand to bounce an opponent's monster that your cyberse link monster is battling. Notably, this neither targets nor destroys, so it circumvents the defenses on threats like Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon.
Plus, Prohibit wields a nice GY effect, banishing itself and another card when your cyberse monster destroys a monster in battle to add a level 4 or lower cyberse from GY to hand.
15. Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
If you take damage while controlling no cards, Gorz summons himself from your hand, giving a sturdy 2700 ATK beatstick. If it was battle damage, he creates a token with stats equal to the damage you took; if effect, he simply mirrors that damage onto your opponent.
Either way, don't assume things are over when you see an empty field. Plus, being a dark fiend offers synergy with cards like Allure of Darkness.
14. Battle Fader
This card offers arguably the best way to survive a board wipe. When directly attacked, you summon Battle Fader from your hand and end the battle phase, banishing it when it leaves the field. So not only have you bought yourself a turn to recover, you have a monster out for link or tribute fodder (or as a blocker on your next turn).
Great for any deck, especially Exodia stall or tribute-summon Monarchs, Battle Fader is also one of today's cheapest cards, costing just one dollar!
13. Chronograph Sorcerer
Astrograph's legal counterpart, you can destroy Chronograph in your scale to summon or scale Timegazer Magician from your deck. Or, keep him in hand, as he'll summon himself plus another monster from hand when a card you control is destroyed. This works great at getting out monsters too high level to pendulum (like Dark Magician of Chaos or Mythical Beast Master Cerberus.
Like Astrograph, Chronograph can summon ZARC by banishing its materials from your hand/field/GY, but again that's just the icing on top of an already-great card.
12. Droll & Lock Bird
Send Droll & Lock to your GY after your opponent adds a card from their deck to the hand to prevent them (and you) from doing so for the rest of the turn. Against search-heavy combo decks, this restricts them to one tutor per turn, a brutal punishment.
Droll's lessened somewhat in power since it can't stop increasingly-common deck summons, but it's still a potent card. And since it's a level one spellcaster, pendulum decks can find it with the monster ability of Magical Abductor.
11. Witchcrafter Golem Aruru
Witchcrafters need more support (especially in the extra deck) if they want to join the competitive scene, but any spellcaster deck may wish to splash Golem Aruru. When your spellcaster is targeted for an effect or attack, you can summon Aruru from hand and bounce either an opponent's card or a Witchcrafter spell from your GY back to hand.
From there, you've not only protected your unit, you have a 2800 ATK guardian. Aruru returns herself to your hand at your opponent's standby, but that's not necessarily bad, as it lets her reuse her effect.
10. Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion
The tuner Yo-kai Girls are infamous for their hand trap capabilities, discarding themselves to block various effects. Toss Ghost Belle to negate an effect that banishes, summons, or recovers a card from the graveyard.
And don't forget that being a zombie tuner gives her other potential uses, from zombie bonus effects to synchro summoning.
9. Honest/Dark Honest
These two cards are identical, except Honest works with light and Dark Honest with dark. Both can return themselves to your hand from your field (if you summon them for some reason). More than that, discard them during battle to give your light (Honest) or dark (Dark Honest) monster ATK equal to the ATK of the monster it's battling, just for that battle.
Basically, this ensures you win the fight and heaps a fair bit of damage onto your opponent. You also rarely have to worry about countereffects, as the Honests don't trigger until the start of damage calculation, too late for most opposing cards to respond.
8. Effect Veiler
As much as I like Droll, I usually prefer Veiler as my level-one spellcaster. He similarly has 0 ATK/DEF, but you can toss him on any main phase to negate an opponent's monster's effects for that turn, great for interrupting combos. As a bonus, Veiler is also a tuner and has the generally-preferable light attribute (instead of Droll's wind), which can be handy in Chaos decks.
7. PSY-Framegear Gamma
Gamma has to be summoned by a card effect like its own: when your opponent uses a monster effect while you control no monsters, you summon Gamma from hand and PSY-Frame Driver from hand, deck, or graveyard. You not only negate the effect, but also destroy the card, plus you have blockers.
You have to banish Gamma and Driver during the end phase, but this is still an upgraded Effect Veiler in most cases. True, you don't want to prematurely draw Driver, as he's a bland normal monster (a dead draw in most cases), but when the combo works, it works.
6. Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit
Toss Ghost Ogre from your hand or field to destroy a monster activating its effect, or a spell/trap that was already face-up using its (a continuous or field spell). Note that the destroyed card's effect isn't actually negated, but in the case of continuous cards, the effect only proceeds if it's still fielded, so in some cases, you do stop the ability.
Ghost is psychic instead of zombie like her brethren, making her a useful choice for Emergency Teleport. Best of all, her effect doesn't target, making it a great way to bypass target-immune cards.
5. Fantastical Dragon Phantazmay
If you're not main-decking Phantazmay, consider sideboarding him to bring out against link-heavy decks. When your opponent summons a link monster, you summon Phantazmay, draw cards equal to the number of links your opponent controls +1, then shuffle cards from your hand into the deck equal to the links they control. In short, Phantazmay draws to replace itself while also letting you adjust your hand.
From the field, Phantazmay can discard a card to negate and destroy an effect that targets your monster(s), and if nothing else, he's a respectable 2400 ATK dragon, so you can revive him with staples like Red-Eyes Darkness Metal.
4. Nibiru, the Primal Being
During your opponent's main phase, if they've summoned 5 or more monsters that turn, you can tribute all of them, summon Nibiru to your field, and give your opponent a token with ATK/DEF equal to the combined ATK/DEF of the tributed monsters.
Sure, you're handing your opponent a fierce token, but one without effects, stopping combos right in their tracks. And since the effect neither targets nor destroys, it's another great way to remove threats like Red-Eyes Dark Dragoon.
3. Evenly Matched
At the end of the battle phase, activate Matched to make your opponent banish cards (their choice) so they control the same amount as you. As a bonus, the cards are banished face-down, which can help cards like Eater of Millions, but even better, you can activate Matched from your hand if you control no cards!
This means that as long as you survive the battle phase and Matched isn't negated, you'll eliminate your opponent's entire field with no hopes of graveyard recursion.
2. Infinite Impermanence
Impermanence negates a monster's effects for the turn, and it was set before activation and still fielded at resolution, it also negates spells/traps in that monster's column, potentially shutting down your opponent's backrow.
Pretty impressive, especially since you can activate Impermanence from hand if you control no cards. Doing so only gets the initial negation, but provides a useful way to hinder an opponent going first, and the card only gets better if actually set.
1. Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring
Hard to beat the classics. Ash has tuner and zombie types, plus the ability to toss herself from hand to negate any effect that adds a card or special summons, or mills a card from the deck.
Basically, she can stop any tutor, plus anything that attempts to summon from deck. Unlike Ghost, you can't use her effect from the field, so really think before summoning her, but boy is her effect crucial against nearly any theme.
Archetype-Specific Hand Traps
Today we examined cards that fit in practically any deck, but remember to look at your archetype's own members for family-specific hand traps. Ghostricks, in particular, have several, as do Dark Magician and Red-Eyes. But for now, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next Yu-Gi-Oh! countdown!
© 2021 Jeremy Gill