How To Beat Evenly Matched

Doug Zeeff

11/28/2017 11:00:00 AM

Konami's done alot to make Yu-Gi-Oh! less dependent on the die roll. It's true for pretty much every game that the person who goes first has an advantage, but there's really no clean solution to that.

After all, somebody has to go first.

One big change that's worked to keep balance was with the introduction of the rule that stops the first player from drawing a sixth card. That change was made right after the 2014 North American World Championship Qualifier, and it definitely helped. Outside of that one gameplay change, though, Konami's mostly looked to card design to “fix” this issue.

Hand traps have spiked in popularity as the game has gone on, partly because the newest ones are so powerful. Gone are the days of Effect Veiler, because cards like Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, and others are just better. Ash Blossom's always a funny one to me, because if each of its three effect triggers were split into a unique hand trap, they'd all be worth playing.

But combine all those negations into one card, and you've got a staple three-of in virtually every format.

And Then Came Evenly Matched
If removing the first turn draw hindered openings, and hand traps stopped your opponent from making openings in the first place, then Evenly Matched is Konami's way of saying “if you make a good board, be prepared to lose it instantly.”

In terms of sheer removal, Evenly Matched is at the top of the food chain. If it was just a normal trap card it would likely be a lot more fair, but as it stands it might as well be a spell that adds on the restriction of “skip your Main Phase 1” if you want to activate it.

One way to play around Evenly Matched is to simply hold back from making the most insane board possible, unless that board also has several negations. Prior to the release of Tri-Gate Wizard, the first turn SPYRAL boards were definitely scary, but they didn't have any way to actually negate things. That made Evenly Matched an excellent counter, and even with Tri-Gate Wizard there's a good chance you can still resolve an Evenly Matched to win the game.

 Evenly Matched
Evenly Matched148377
Set Circuit Break
Number CIBR-EN077
Type Normal Trap
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

At the end of the Battle Phase, if your opponent controls more cards than you do: You can make your opponent banish cards from their field face-down so they control the same number of cards as you do. If you control no cards, you can activate this card from your hand.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
Dragonslayer Games Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $57.99
Shawns Card Shop 1st Edition - Lightly Played 1 $59.05
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lumina 1st Edition - Near Mint 4 $59.99
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realgoodeal 1st Edition - Near Mint 14 $62.16
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Metis Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $62.50

The issue is that a lot of decks struggle to hold back their resources, mostly because their fully powered fields are only on par with a half powered SPYRAL board. Or, perhaps the deck is literally designed to fill the field and not the hand, as is the case with every single Card of Demise deck. While Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring certainly hurts decks that rely on Card of Demise, Evenly Matched is the true counter to that card because it puts the Demise player to just one card, which usually isn't enough to survive the onslaught of your opponent's Main Phase 2.

Evenly Matched is the type of card that a lot of players asked for: it helps players who are going second, and it punishes overextension. But many feel like it's a bit of overkill, which has created a potentially imbalanced trap. Luckily, I have two solid counters to Evenly Matched to help keep from losing all your games to it!

Artifact Lancea
Perhaps the best hard counter to Evenly Matched is Artifact Lancea. During your opponent's turn, you can tribute it from your hand or your side of the field to stop any banishing effects for the entire turn. What's awesome about Artifact Lancea is you're skipping your opponent's Main Phase 1 and Battle Phase, and then they lose their Evenly Matched. That puts them on five cards going into Main Phase 2, and they're can't banish any more.

That's relevant because of things like SPYRAL Sleeper, Trickstar Reincarnation, and SPYRAL GEAR - Drone. If your opponent was planning on using any of those cards' banishing effects they'll have to wait an entire turn. That should be plenty of time for you to stabilize and possibly OTK them on your next turn.

What's even cooler about Artifact Lancea is that you can bring it out with Artifact Sanctum. Sanctum's already a sweet card in this format because Artifact Scythe is so good in the SPYRAL and Pendulum Magician matchups, but with Lancea it has even more versatility. While your opponent might try to pull some mind games on you and enter their Battle Phase without an Evenly Matched in hand, it's usually just a firmly telegraphed play.

That means you can use Artifact Sanctum to bring out Artifact Scythe if your opponent does try to make a push in their Main Phase 1, but if they just go straight to the Battle Phase you can bring out Artifact Lancea instead. Please note that if you decide to chain Artifact Sanctum to the Evenly Matched you'll still lose all your cards because the Evenly Matched resolves before you have a chance to tribute the Artifact Lancea.

If you're playing SPYRALs, Artifact Sanctum's even better because you can recycle Artifact Lancea and Artifact Scythe with SPYRAL Resort. We saw that in both the 1st and 2nd Place lists from YCS Dallas, played in both of the Khan brothers' SPYRAL decks . This is especially cool because it means you only have to play one copy of each Artifact monster, maximizing the chances to open Artifact Sanctum while minimizing the chances of drawing the Artifact monsters themselves. This Side Deck practice claimed the top two spots at Dallas, proving that it's worth a shot.

Mind Crush
The other tech card to counter Evenly Matched is more susceptible to backrow destruction, but it's way more impactful when it resolves. With Artifact Lancea you're almost always trading 1-for-1 with Evenly Matched. With Mind Crush, you're gaining a lot of knowledge in the process.

Mind Crush is a sleeper pick across the board in this format, but it's specifically great against Evenly Matched. Since it's so easy to see Evenly Matched coming, you shouldn't be worried about activating Mind Crush to hit it out of their hand when they enter the Battle Phase without playing cards. I'm sure there's a point where Mind Crush becomes so widespread that people start bluffing Evenly Matched, but I don't think the game will get there anytime soon; I really wouldn't worry about it.

Like I mentioned a second ago, Mind Crush is exceptional against commonly played decks this format. Virtually all competitive strategies have search effects - it's one of the reasons Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring is so popular. Not only is Mind Crush good at hitting single targets out of your opponent's hand, you'll occasionally get multiple cards, which almost results in a free win. Pendulum Magicians and Trickstars commonly run duplicates of cards, so where you're most likely to see that benefit there.

Evenly Matched is one of the best cards in Yu-Gi-Oh! right now, but it's not unbeatable. By playing around it, or by using cards like Artifact Lancea and Mind Crush, you can avoid losses to the crazy trap card. I don't think it's out of the question to say that Evenly Matched will wind up on the Forbidden & Limited List someday, but for now you've got to tough it out if you want to be successful in competition!

-Doug Zeeff

Doug Zeeff hails from Michigan and is currently an English major in college. When he's not found emailing Konami about why there's not a single walrus card in all of Yu-Gi-Oh! you can find him regularly posting unorthodox, unfiltered Yu-Gi-Oh! content on his Youtube channel, Dzeeff. In his spare time he enjoys eating cheese, Overwatch, and, of course, playing Yu-Gi-Oh. Click here to follow him and his adventures on Facebook!

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