Introduction - Understanding the Context
The Yu-Gi-Oh! is well-defined, although we are experiencing an “open” format, especially when compared to the past Metagame.
Currently, 5 decks stand out from the rest and make up what we can call tier 1, they are:
- Naturia Runick.
Despite this, something that still doesn't seem to be a consensus among players is the best approach to choosing tech cards. Some prefer handtraps, others prefer board breakers, and there are also those who use both at the same time!
Thus, in this article I will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, in addition to saying which one is the best for each of the main decks in the format.
Handtraps are cards that can be activated from the hand in response to an opponent's action. Your goal is to interrupt your opponent's combo, or at least lower the ceiling on their plans.
Known for “not letting the opponent play”, the main point of handtraps is to prevent the opponent from completing a combo, because, if they end the turn with a weaker field, you will have more chances of overcoming them using only the engine from your deck the next turn.
And since we are in a format where Kashtira can block all your zones and Despia can prevent you from performing Special Summons, handtraps become a way for you not to get an “FTK”, which means First Turn Kill. It is an acronym to refer to the act of taking the opponent's 8000 life points in the first turn of the duel. It can also refer to making a field so strong, that the opponent has no chance of breaking it.
The great advantage of handtraps is their ability to be activated from the hand, which guarantees good versatility, as they will be useful when you play first and also when you play second. In addition, being in your hand, they are less vulnerable than traditional Trap cards, which need to be on the field to be activated, which leaves them vulnerable to any removal.
Even with the reputation of "preventing the opponent from playing", the most generic handtraps are of low impact, and the ones with the greatest impact are much more specific, thus being the most common cards in side decks. Because of this, most of the time, you need multiple handtraps to really mess with the main decks, which are increasingly resilient, and often you just avoid "the greater evil", but still have to deal with the opponent's plan B.
In addition to needing multiple handtraps, you need them to be useful against the deck you're facing, so the metacall is vital. Because of this, it's the low-impact but more generic handtraps that are used in most main decks.
Although less vulnerable because they are interactions that come from the hand, there are cards to "punish" the opponent's handtraps and, despite being few, they are very strong and are being widely played in the current format.
Board breakers are cards with an effect that allows you to "break the opponent's field" by neutralizing the final field they made.
The main objective of board breakers is to "break" already established fields, either by destroying cards, negating monster effects and even disabling or removing cards from the field in other ways. Most of the time, the big point is to use a single card to deal with your opponent's multiple cards.
Another important factor that justifies the use of board breakers is the high resilience of some decks, in addition to the ability to play around handtraps. In this way, many players see board breakers as a safer form of interaction.
The biggest advantage of board breakers is that some of them are excellent against Kashtira, the main deck of the format, and practically guarantee victory against the deck. However, you need to be careful and use board breakers that work even if all your zones of spells/traps are blocked.
As already mentioned, the biggest disadvantage of using board breakers is that your opponent has the opportunity to perform their full combo with the greatest ease in the world, and if that full combo is the type that applies an “FTK”, you will lose the duel without having the opportunity to play.
Also, depending on the deck you're facing and the board your opponent made, just like with handtraps, you may also need multiple board breakers. Plus, just as you can play around handtraps, you can also play around boardbreakers. Therefore, it is necessary to be aware of ways to counter the board breakers you are using.
Another disadvantage, but less relevant than the previous ones, is if you are placed to play first when you have multiple board breakers totally oriented to play second, since they will be “dead” in your hand, because they need your field to be free of other cards to be used, for example.
What is the best approach?
In summary, the handtraps are for you to prevent your opponent from making a strong field, while the board breakers are for helping you to “dismantle” the field that your opponent has made.
Considering both the pros and cons of both approaches, finally we can say that the best approach depends on some factors, such as your deck's play style, the space available for techs and even your own personal taste.
To make it easier to understand, I'll leave my opinion on the best approach for each of the main decks in the format!
Kashtira can easily use 12 techs in most of their lists, not counting Forbidden Lance, which is used to protect their monsters.
So, I believe that the best option is to fill that space with 12 handtraps, since the deck's engine is quite aggressive and allows you to break fields through Kashtira Fenrir and Kashtira Unicorn. Also, in this deck, level 3 handtraps can be used to summon Baronne de Fleur.
Despia has even less space for techs, with about 10 cards, and the best option for the deck is a mix between handtraps and board breakers.
This is because the deck is very sensitive to Kashtira's lock, and needs to ensure that it will not have its spell/trap zones blocked with at least one interaction during the opponent's turn. Because it doesn't have as much space to open with multiple handtraps often, it needs board breakers to ensure their plays.
Spright has many variants, some with plenty of space for techs and others with little space.
The Live Twin and Melffy variants can easily use 15 techs, and with that many available, the best approach is handtraps, as you always have a good chance of opening with multiples.
The Adventure Token and Runick variants, on the other hand, have little space, so they do better using a mixture of handtraps and board breakers.
In addition to not having much space for techs, Labrynth works differently because it is a deck focused on traps.
The best approach to the deck is to use high-impact board breakers like Evenly Matched and even cards like Lava Golem and The Winged Dragon of Ra - Sphere Mode. The latter can be used even after having all zones blocked.
Naturia Runick is a deck with little space for techs, and because of that, like Labrynth, it does well with the use of high-impact board breakers like Evenly Matched.
However, it cannot use cards that prevent its normal summoning and, therefore, Kaijus are very usable in the deck. In addition, the deck has board breakers in its engine that help you break the opponent's field.
Finally, I believe that even decks focused on board breakers should use Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, which is the best handtrap in the format and trades very well with all major decks. Furthermore, I believe that the style of the deck and the player's personal taste also influence the success of the chosen approach.
What approach do you use on your deck? Tell here in the comments.
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