A little different article this week about the use of the popular spell and trap destruction in competitive play, specifically Heavy Storm and Mystical Space Typhoon (MST). Some interesting theory-oh behind things like “Pro set Heavy”, fear of Heavy Storm and not running MST at all as opposed to running three or the ever popular 2.
MST has always been a staple in Yugioh competitive play. Ever since its release it has been a card that everyone knows and expects in a duel. It’s pretty much the most vanilla possible spell and trap destruction in the game and after a very long time of being limited to one we now have it 3. I bring the card up because I’ve noticed a lot of players could be better with MST(and Heavy Storm too) and in order to become better at the game I feel it’s appropriate to learn some new ways to use these cards.
A lot of players tend to look as MST and Heavy Storm as the only answers to back row, but this is obviously not true. While it is one of the answers it’s not always the most effective since in terms of MST it’s a fairly random approach. (although I like to try to think of psychological reasons to hit specific spells and traps when multiple cards are set but that’s beside the point) One very important strategy to getting rid of an opponent’s back-row is known as “baiting”. Baiting is purposefully forcing the activation of an opponent’s set spell or trap. It’s important to note that it’s not always advantageous to bait your opponent’s cards unless you have a specific plan for doing it. One example of baiting would be to get your opponent to activate their Solemn Warning so that one of your more important summons can go off without a hitch. A classic monster used for baiting is Breaker the Magical Warrior, since if he successfully gets onto the field he will destroy a spell or trap, most players will activate a spell or trap to prevent Breaker from getting on the field rather than having Breaker get summoned and destroy that card in specific.
The idea of baiting can go a long ways, some decks that are capable of either mass offense or mass defense might not even have to run MST since in the case of a mass offensive deck, it can successfully bait out multiple spells and traps per turn before they make their important play either through aggressive summoning and power cards. In the case of mass defense decks, the deck can bait spells and trap over multiple turns since they can easily defend themselves afterwards. In the current format a deck like Plants would be considered a highly offensive deck, since with the right setup the deck can forcibly push through spells and traps with the sheer amount of plays it can have if setup correctly. A deck like the new Chaos deck is highly defensive and can easily set off back rows with cards like Cauis, Spirit Reaper and Tour Guide and sit comfortably on a very large supply of monster effects that activate in the hand to defend themselves.
All in all, in order to get good at baiting you must think with foresight. First, gain knowledge of the opponent through reads. (I talked about this some in a previous article) Then, look at what play you want to do and how it would be stopped by specific cards your opponent likely has. This counts cards in the hand as well; if the opponent where to summon Cauis next turn and ruin your play, then accounting for these is also important. Then look at the plays in your hand and attempt to use the plays you have to create a situation in which you can do the play you want. I’m not sure how well I explained that, but I hope you understand. Playing in this way might require some practice.
But back to MST! That was an example of how to play without it, which is a vital skill that I suggest trying out in all kinds of decks, but now if you are running it how do you play with it? One thing I see a lot of players doing is playing MST at the first site of a spell or trap. Sometimes this is necessary, but one thing I almost always find is true in Yugioh is that not doing what you don’t have, to usually works out for you in the end. So, if you don’t have to MST the opponent’s spell and traps then you probably shouldn’t. MST is best saved for important situations when the opponent not having a defense is more important. Since it’s style is so simple MST is always usable meaning saving it wont make it go bad, so there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t keep it in your hand if you have other options. As I said, if your opponent sets up a play later in the game that gives them control of the field and then sets spells and traps to protect it, then a player having used an MST early in the game (although there was nothing wrong with activating it at the time) may lose due to not having the appropriate answers to the opponent. A player who saves their MST for the situations in which they need it has more options for when they get in a tight spot, and is also less likely to get in a tight spot since they’re saving their options.
Next we move onto setting cards like MST and Heavy Storm. Yugioh is more than just a game of card effects and monsters battling, it’s also a highly psychological battle between the players and the cards MST and Heavy Storm are both crucial pieces in this battle. The most basic and rudimentary reason for setting MST is to prevent the activation of chain-able traps. If you activate MST in the End Phase on an opponents just set cards they can’t chain them like they’d be able to if you activated MST on your turn. There’s not really anything psychological about this, but I figured it should be the first thing I mentioned. The next reason to set MSTs is for bluffing and also a lulling sense of false security. Bluffing is a very important skill in competitive Yugioh and one of the best bluffs is MST. By setting cards in general, it puts the idea in the opponent’s mind that you have a defense to stop their plays, which can cause the opponent to play differently than they normally would which can hopefully be used to some kind of advantage. Sometimes it can be beneficial to think, “if this MST was a Torrential Tribute how would I play this hand and what would it cause my opponent to do if they thought it was Torrential Tribute?” and if the situation it would give you would be helpful to you then maybe you should pretend it’s a Torrential Tribute. MST also makes a nice bluff card since it can cause the opponent to try to destroy it with their own MST, which allows you to chain your own MST and gain advantage on the opponent.
This brings me to the next thing which is “Pro set Heavy” as me and Justen now call it. This is when you set Heavy Storm as a bluff, which seems really silly but works in a specific way in unison with Heavy Storm. Whenever Heavy Storm is a legal card players tend to set less cards in fear of Heavy Storm causing them to loose massive advantage. This fear works to your advantage when setting cards like MST and Heavy Storm. This is because when you set a card, then you have to loose cards too when you activate Heavy Storm, so that means the opponent can set one additional card than normal so that when you activate Heavy Storm they will lose only the same amount of cards as you. Here’s an example: You go setting a card and summoning some monsters. Then the opponent goes and sets a monster and seeing that you have one card set they set 2 cards, since if you activate Heavy Storm on your turn both you and the opponent will be down 2 cards. (the card you set and your Heavy Storm vs. your two opponent’s set cards) Make sense right? Next turn you go, flipping your face-down card revealing it to be Heavy Storm and rather than going even with the opponent you have gained one card on the opponent. This is what I meant by “lulling the opponent into a false security”; trick the opponent into thinking they can set more cards in a situation in which it’s not safe to set a large amount of cards. This can also be done with easily activatable cards such as Reckless Greed or Gleipner, and the Fetters or Fenrir by setting multiple copies of cards like this and then allowing the opponent to set a large amount of cards then on your turn activating all these cards then playing Heavy Storm. It’s a weird concept, but really fun when it works.
Hope this was all very interesting and helped you as a player. Keep on trying things out there’s always things to learned.