Spell Negation In The New Advanced

Jason Grabher-Meyer

5/5/2006
 Comments

With Nobleman of Crossout back at two per deck in the Advanced format, there's been some attention thrown in the direction of spell negation options. Because of the shape of the last year or so, many duelists don't even remember what counter traps are: I saw some guy at SJC Long Beach try to chain Royal Decree to Seven Tools of the Bandit, and it wasn't the first time I'd witnessed such a display.

Chris Pittao managed to take a single main-decked copy of Spell Shield Type-8 all the way to the finals in Shonen Jump Championship Baltimore, garnering a ton of attention for the somewhat obscure trap. But Shane Scurry, the event's champion, side decked a pair of Magic Drain too, and his quarter-finals opponent Roy St. Clair was siding Cursed Seal of the Forbidden Spell. Clearly, each of these cards deserves some recognition and comparison.

High
Mid
Low
 Spell Shield Type-8
$1.99
$0.64
$0.21
Spell Shield Type-8
Set Magician's Force
Number MFC-043
Type Counter Trap
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

Select and activate 1 of the following effects:{NL}-Negate the activation and the effect of a Spell Card that designates 1 monster on the field as a target and destroy the Spell Card.{NL}-Discard 1 Spell Card from your hand to the Graveyard to negate the activation and the effect of a Spell Card and destroy it.


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The Shield is primarily oriented towards negating Nobleman of Crossout. It's the only trap we're looking at today that has multiple negation options, offering the player activating it a choice of one of the following:

-Negate the activation and the effect of a Spell Card that targets 1 monster on the field and destroy the Spell Card.

-Send 1 Spell Card from your hand to the Graveyard to negate the activation and the effect of a Spell Card and destroy it.

The first effect will negate Nobleman of Crossout, Snatch Steal, Brain Control, Book of Moon, or Enemy Controller, costing you only the Shield itself. It won't stop Smashing Ground, because Smashing Ground does not designate a specific target at its point of activation: it just goes after whoever has the largest booty when it resolves. In general, the average duelist will be using two Nobleman of Crossout, Snatch Steal, and one of either Brain Control, Book of Moon, or Enemy Controller. Four spells isn't many, but you've always got the second negation option. Remember too that Spell Shield can block Dark World Lightning if it's targeting a monster.

Spell Shield's second effect is again a form of “hard” negation – a negation that generally cannot be disrupted by your opponent. This time you have to accept the loss of two cards to your opponent's one in order to negate their spell, but there are plenty of situations in which that can be worthwhile. Perhaps your Dark World opponent just played Graceful Charity or Card Destruction. Maybe Mystical Space Typhoon is threatening your Return from the Different Dimension, or Scapegoat is about to block your attack that would otherwise win you the game. Spell Shield Type-8 lets you turn your card advantage into game advantage very easily, rewarding your careful card management with the ability to brute-force negate anything you like.

For fringe decks, there are lots of ways to exploit Spell Shield's discard cost. If you're playing Warriors, then Divine Sword – Phoenix Blade will basically allow you to activate the Shield's second effect for free. You can always get the Phoenix Blade back later by removing two of your Warriors from the graveyard. If you're playing Spellcasters, consider using Magical Blast. While you will still lose two cards to your opponent's one, the Blast's ability to replace itself with your draw will allow you to reliably have spell fodder on hand to discard.

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 Cursed Seal of the Forbidden Spell
$4.44
$2.29
$1.49
Cursed Seal of the Forbidden Spell
Set Invasion of Chaos
Number IOC-049
Type Normal Trap
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Common
Card Text

Discard 1 Spell Card from your hand to negate the activation and the effect of a Spell Card and destroy it. Your opponent cannot activate Spell Cards of the same name (including the Spell Card that is destroyed by this card's effect) during the rest of the Duel.


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This might actually be my favorite option, for some reasons that are tied to key intricacies of the current environment. Here's what Cursed Seal of the Forbidden Spell does:

Discard 1 Spell Card from your hand to negate the activation and the effect of a Spell Card and destroy it. Your opponent cannot activate Spell Cards of the same name (including the Spell Card that is destroyed by this card's effect) during the rest of this Duel.

Visually reminiscent of Magic Jammer, Cursed Seal is very similar in its effect. The difference is that while Jammer allows you to discard any card, Cursed Seal demands a spell for its cost. In return, the opponent loses their ability to use the spell you negated for the rest of the duel (which is, for reference, one game of a best-of-three match).

Right off the bat, you can see how good this card can be against your opponent's pair of Nobleman of Crossout. Hit the first one, and if they ever draw the second copy it's a completely dead card. Nothing can undo the game condition that Cursed Seal creates, so its ability to generate useless draws for the opponent is especially strong if you're playing a slow tempo deck that intends to stretch out each duel.

What might not be obvious, and what makes me love the card, is its strength in an environment where two Magician of Faith are such a common sight. The reuse of cards like Heavy Storm and Graceful Charity can be game breaking, and it wasn't rare at SJC Baltimore to see duelists basically waiting to draw into a Magician to get back Heavy Storm and pull out a win. It happened a lot, and it's especially damaging to Lockdown variants like Camel Control, Burn, and P.A.C.M.A.N. In fact, when Andrew Bollinger (creator of P.A.C.M.A.N.) was finished with his unfortunate Day 1 showing in the SJC, the first thing he did was add Cursed Seal of the Forbidden Spell to the deck.

Hit the big cards with Seal and you can seriously injure Magician of Faith's ability to be of use. If the duel is ended quickly, or your opponent doesn't draw many spell cards, you can actually make Magician of Faith completely useless. Vanilla monsters with 300 ATK and 400 DEF? Not so hot in a battle-oriented play format.

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 Magic Drain
$1.23
$0.35
$0.21
Magic Drain
Set Tournament Pack 4
Number TP4-017
Type Counter Trap
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Common
Card Text

You can activate this card when your opponent activates a Spell Card. If your opponent cannot immediately discard 1 Spell Card from his/her hand, negate the activation of the Spell Card and destroy it.


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This is an interesting addition to the list, because it's so different from the other two spell negation options highlighted in this article. Check it out:

You can activate this card when your opponent activates a Spell Card. Your opponent can discard 1 Spell Card from his/her hand to negate the effect of this card. If your opponent does not, negate the activation of the Spell Card of your opponent and destroy it.

Short of Solemn Judgment or Seven Tools of the Bandit, nothing is going to prevent your Cursed Seal or Spell Shield from negating your opponent's spell. Like Magic Jammer, these are both “hard” negation cards.

Magic Drain is different, because the opponent can buy their way out of the negation if they decide to eat a discard. On the level of raw, core mathematical theory, Magic Drain is the negation trap of choice. Either it negates the spell it's targeting, or the opponent has to take a voluntary loss of two cards to your one.

A few factors can bring some reality to this math-oriented utopia though. First off, if the spell you're negating is Nobleman of Crossout or Smashing Ground, the opponent will gladly chuck a spell if they can: because you're losing a monster, you're not gaining the 2-for-1 that Magic Drain can sometimes net. It's just an even exchange of your monster and your trap for their two spells. The same goes for Mystical Space Typhoon or Heavy Storm – these will often just lead to a 2-for-2 exchange that sees the opponent still resolving their desired effect. While it's certainly disruptive, it's not the mathematical jackpot that it can first appear to be.

In addition, this format is one that often rewards aggression with victory, so sometimes that extra discard you're forcing upon the opponent won't matter in the long run. The discarded card just becomes one more spent on the road to over-extension, and if you were intending on spending cards to win the game on a given turn anyways, you won't flinch if you have to lose a card to do so.

On the other hand though, Magic Drain gets better as a duel progresses. At first, when an opponent has multiple cards in their hand, they'll probably have the option to discard a spell. Heck, they may very well have a choice of discards, making the cost much easier to pay. But in the late game, when the opponent has few or no cards remaining in their hand, Magic Drain becomes a Spell Shield Type-8 on steroids, providing a conditional form of hard negation for basically any spell you don't like. That's pretty awesome.

So, which one is right for your deck? If you're playing a Lockdown variant, or anything that's particularly vulnerable to Nobleman of Crossout, Cursed Seal is the way to go. It can fend off Nobleman and Heavy Storm and hose the opponent's ability to reuse them with Magician of Faith. If you're playing a fast deck that will quickly establish a fast tempo and send the duel to topdecking, run Magic Drain. Its late game power is going to be far better than either of the other options.

Anything else will probably want to use Spell Shield Type-8. Despite its naysayers, who like to rag on the fact that its first effect is only useful against a handful of cards, it's the most flexible spell negation trap in the format. Its ability to easily counter two of the biggest threats in the game, Nobleman of Crossout and Snatch Steal, makes it a superb addition to virtually any battle-oriented deck, and since spell negation is relatively rare, it's going to be a surprise that the average opponent won't see coming.

Try out some spell negation in your usual strategies, and prepare to be impressed at what just a single copy or a pair of one of these cards can do.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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