Side Deck Theory: Solemn Scolding Is Suddenly Everywhere

Kelly Locke

11/29/2017 11:00:00 AM

When Pendulum Magicians took over the competitive landscape a few months ago they pushed Solemn Strike out of Main Decks. At the time Dimensional Barrier was also a risky pick due to the True Draco match-up, which ultimately led to traps trending down across the board. Players have largely stuck to low trap counts since then, but after Circuit Break they started flooding back into Side Decks. Evenly Matched became a near must-play trap almost immediately, and the Artifact engine also made a return at YCS Dallas.

Traps are popular, just not necessarily in the Main Deck.

Solemn Scolding's yet another trap making a big showing at competitive events as an extremely popular Side Deck pick. It's actually impressive to see just how quickly players picked up on Scolding's excellent positioning this format. At the beginning of the month almost no one was running it, yet within two weeks it was in numerous Top 8 Regional lists. YCS San Diego SPYRAL players in the Top 32 were running it, although it was noticeably absent from the Top 4 where each player ran Solemn Strike instead.

Over the last couple of weeks we've been looking at Evenly Matched from different angles, and this week we're tackling the subject yet again by checking out Solemn Scolding. Its spike in play is mostly a response to Evenly Matched, but there's lots of ways to play it even when Evenly Matched isn't a concern. It's an awesome card that's finally getting a to spend some quality time in the spotlight more than two years after I first wrote about it.

Protecting Turn 1 Set-Ups
It's not hard to explain Solemn Scolding's interaction with Evenly Matched: it's a simple, straightforward out to potentially the most damaging mass removal card in the game. Letting your opponent resolve Evenly Matched against a well-constructed Turn 1 field is an untenable strategy, so every deck that's planning on committing a ton of cards to the field early in the duel needs a way to avoid losing those cards to Evenly Matched.

It's not much different from siding against other mass removal cards, and earlier this year we saw Zoodiac players trying everything to negate Dark Hole and Raigeki. Unsurprisingly, decks like Pendulum Magicians and SPYRALs are particularly interested in negating Evenly Matched, and Solemn Scolding fills that role nicely.

There's insane utility rolled up into Solemn Scolding – we'll touch on that again later – but the most important part of its effect is that it can entirely replace Solemn Strike and Solemn Warning while also negating Evenly Matched. Again, that's a big deal for decks that stand to lose nearly their entire fields to a Turn 2 Evenly Matched. While Artifacts have been a solid choice for keeping your cards on the field, not everyone can run a full lineup of Artifact Sanctum and Artifact Lancea. You could play Lancea on its own, but I'm not a huge fan of it without a Sanctums and Artifact Scythe behind it–obviously that's a different story if you're in a match-up against Infernoids or another Banish-heavy strategy.

 Solemn Scolding
Solemn Scolding94601
Set The New Challengers
Number NECH-EN079
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

If this is the only Set card in your Spell & Trap Zone, when a monster would be Summoned, OR when a Spell Card, Trap Card, or monster effect is activated: Pay 3000 LP; negate the Summon or activation, and if you do, destroy that card.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
SuperGamesInc Unlimited - Heavily Played 1 $4.06
hOiGuY 1st Edition - Lightly Played 1 $4.55
Awesome Gaming Unlimited - Lightly Played 1 $5.40
MythicMTG 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $5.59
Midland Millers Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $5.60
Han Perfect Cards Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $5.60
notgonnalie Unlimited - Near Mint 1 $5.64
Vegas Premier Gaming Unlimited - Near Mint 2 $5.65
Collector's Cache 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $5.69
Apex Cards 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $5.69

Solemn Scolding takes on an import role as perhaps the best Turn 1 trap to back up your set-up in the majority of situations. Imperial Order obviously isn't cutting it, and the other two legal Solemn Counter Traps are totally powerless. When Lancea isn't enough, and cards like Trap Stun and Wiretap are too narrow, the only real option is to either play Solemn Scolding or play second. There's certainly an argument to be made that having an out to Evenly Matched isn't necessary, and that's backed up by the numerous lists in the YCS San Diego Top 32 that aren't playing a direct counter.

Depending on your opening hand it's possible to put your opponent in a position where even if they resolve Evenly Matched it won't put you out of the duel. SPYRALs are definitely capable of that, since they can load their hand with cards from search effects and Firewall Dragon. You can set up your field in such a way that it demands mass removal just to get over, but hold back just enough cards to recover from an Evenly Matched. With much of the deck's defense found in hand traps it's still possible for SPYRAL players to survive even if they lose a handful of cards, and from there they can leverage their remaining options to establish control again.

Few other decks can recover so easily from losing all but one of their cards. A Turn 2 Evenly Matched is still devastating to a huge number of strategies, and those decks can benefit tremendously from playing some kind of direct counter. Solemn Scolding's a great fit: it's an excellent choice if you're only playing a couple of other traps, and its biggest drawbacks often don't matter. 3000 Life Points is irrelevant if your opponent can't break your field, so actual cost isn't much of a concern. Drawing into multiples is much worse than seeing two Solemn Strikes, but that's not a likely outcome either.

Premium Utility At A Premium Cost
Solemn Scolding has huge cost, but it does an amazing job of shutting down cards that hand traps and popular Counter Traps can't touch. There are plenty of dangerous Turn 2 cards that Scolding answers, including Wavering Eyes, Dark Hole, Raigeki, System Down, and to a lesser extent Set Rotation and Twin Twisters. At a surface level it's useful to have a trap with coverage against these cards, but Scolding's utility really comes into focus when you consider that it supports any set-up you might have.

Your opening hand determines which Turn 1 set-ups you can pursue. Opening without key combo pieces, drawing into cards you'd rather have in your deck, or having too much redundancy will weaken your Turn 1 position and leave you vulnerable on Turn 2. Your opponent's hand traps will also reduce the effectiveness of strong openings, so you're very often left with a board that lacks defense.

Solemn Scolding fills the gaps in your defense regardless of how Turn 1 plays out, and its utility is perhaps best expressed in those terms. It fits into your early game strategy despite your opening hand and your opponent's disruption.

You can very easily swing the duel around with Solemn Scolding by negating cards that are normally safe from negation. Spell and Trap negation is often obvious: it's usually attached to monsters like Mist Valley Apex Avian that make their presence known immediately. Solemn Scolding can hide even among set cards, so long as those set spells and traps are flipped face-up before it's time to negate something.

Not every deck can use Solemn Scolding effectively, and some don't particularly need it. Decks that only play one big monster to the table on Turn 1, like True Dracos and Invoked, aren't overly concerned with Evenly Matched. Kaijus tend to be a bigger threat and unfortunately Scolding can only negate their Summon after your monster has been tributed. Those strategies are running larger trap line-ups than average anyways, so they're more likely to put cards like Dimensional Barrier and Solemn Strike into play over Scolding.

Set Fusion Enforcers
Number FUEN-EN035
Type Normal Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Fusion Summon 1 Fusion Monster from your Extra Deck, using monsters from your hand as Fusion Materials. If Summoning an "Invoked" Fusion Monster this way, you can also banish monsters from your field and/or either player's Graveyard as Fusion Materials. If this card is in your Graveyard: You can target 1 of your banished "Aleister the Invoker"; shuffle this card into the Deck, and if you do, add that card to your hand. You can only use this effect of "Invocation" once per turn.

Store Condition Qty Avail Price  
Rocketown Games 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $36.00
WeLitXD 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $36.99
Frontline Games 1st Edition - Near Mint 3 $39.75
Celestial Eatos 1st Edition - Near Mint 1 $39.99
Vegas Premier Gaming 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $41.95
Winning Card Rush 1st Edition - Near Mint 2 $42.74
Near Mint Games 1st Edition - Near Mint 6 $44.97
Yugioh Black Market 1st Edition - Near Mint 11 $45.00

Again, any deck that can successfully recover from mass removal can instead play chainable cards like Dimensional Barrier and Artifact Sanctum to stall out their opponent even after Evenly Matched resolves. There's a real chance that your opponent will snipe your only set card with a Twin Twister or Cosmic Cyclone before activating Evenly Matched, especially if they saw Scolding already in Game 2. Dimensional Barrier and Artifact Scythe will keep them from making a push in their Main Phase 2, and that's really what you're most concerned with.

There's always the chance that your opponent will play Evenly Matched as an actual set trap, or activate it from their hand if you fail to OTK through an empty field. We're not really seeing Evenly Matched played that way, but even in those situations Solemn Scolding can answer it. I'm not sure if that might become relevant at some point in the future, where some competitive decks are just too slow or too weak to deal 8000 damage in a single turn.

I really like Solemn Scolding as an addition or alternative to Mist Valley Apex Avian in Pendulum Magicians, where you'll almost never have more than a single set spell or trap on the field. In fact, most Pendulum strategies are well positioned to play it thanks to the new rule change. You're less likely to be setting face-down spells and traps with limited space, and most competitive Pendulum themes in the past have made heavy use of Continuous Spells and Traps anyways. That's especially true for Pendulum Magicians, and Solemn Scolding there pairs extremely well with Number 41: Bagooska the Terribly Tired Tapir.

Solemn Scolding is an awesome, and sometimes unexpected, Side Deck pick for decks that need the negation to keep their field from being wiped out by Evenly Matched. I think it's the solution many duelists have been asking for lately: an answer to Evenly Matched that isn't as bulky or as inconsistent as the Artifact engine. I'll be interesting to see whether it trends up heading through this year's remaining Regionals, or if it ends up being discarded and replaced by other cards.

Until next time then


Kelly​​​ ​​​Locke​​​ ​​​is​​​ ​​​a​​​ ​​​West​​​ ​​​Michigan​​​ ​​​gamer and writer. In​​​ ​​​addition​​​ ​​​to​​​ ​​​writing​​​ ​​​on TCGplayer,​​​ ​​​Kelly​​​ ​​​writes​​​ a ​​​​​​ personal​​​ ​​​blog​​​ ​​​ ​​​covering​​​ ​​​Yugioh,​​​ ​​​Destiny,​​​ ​​​and​​​ ​​​other​​​ ​​​hobbies. You​​​ ​​​can follow​​​ ​​​him​​​ ​​​on​​​ ​​​​​​ Twitter​​​ ​​​ ​​​and​​​ ​​​check​​​ ​​​out​​​ ​​​his​​​ ​​​​​​ Youtube​​​ ​​​channel​​​ . He​​​ ​​​also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.

All original content herein is Copyright 2016 Ascension Gaming Network, Inc. TCGplayer® and MaxPoint® are trademarks of Ascension Gaming Network, Inc.
No portion of this web site may be used without expressed written consent. All rights reserved.
Magic the Gathering and its respective properties are copyright Wizards of the Coast
Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service