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How Do I Cuff the Hands?

June 19th, 2014

Ice Hand and Fire Hand have quickly become two of the most popular cards in the game. With effects that discourage attacks and keep your opponent from activating most simple destruction cards, a string of Hands can punch away an entire field one card at a time, or give you the precise removal you need to take out one problem-card like a clutch Rivalry of Warlords, Royal Decree, or Kaiser Colosseum. You can play them right to the field and send them into an opposing monster, or you can set them to make your opponent think twice about attacking. Ice Hand and Fire Hand are flexible, powerful, and you can run them in virtually any deck that has space, so it’s not surprise that they’re topping Regionals and winning Championships in strategies like Madolches, Traptrix, Artifacts, Fire Fists, Geargia and more.

So how do you stop them? Luckily there are lots of answers. While there are plenty of specific cards that can neutralize the Hand threat, there are also certain techniques and decisions that can help you play around them – no special cards required. With the right mix of tech cards and plain old know-how you can boost your chances at surviving a Hand onslaught; today we’ll talk about the tricks and moves you can use to outplay Ice Hand and Fire Hand.

If all your monsters are in Defense Position there’s nothing for your opponent to ram their Hands into to destroy them. As long as you don’t activate any destruction effects yourself, your opponent’s going to have to leave their Hands idling on the field or overlay them for an Xyz Summon, neither of which are prime uses for these cards.

Because it’s so common to wall up against Ice Hand and Fire Hand like that, Defense Points are more important now than perhaps ever before. Geargia are doing really well in tournaments because they have Geargiarmor to search out basically every monster in the Deck, and its 1900 DEF makes Geargiarmor a great defender against the Hands – Ice Hand and Fire Hand only have 1400 and 1600 ATK respectively. Mermails can brickwall with cards like Mermail Abyssocea, Mermail Abyssmegalo, and Mermail Abyssteus, Sylvans have Sylvan Komushroomo, while Noble Knights have the new Noble Knight Brothers and Noble Knight Eachtar at 2400 DEF and 2000 DEF, along with classic monsters like Noble Knight Gwalchavad and Noble Knight Artorigus both at 1800 DEF.

The Hands are brutal because they replace each other when they’re destroyed, but to Special Summon a second Hand your opponent has to succeed in destroying a card with their first one: if there’s no monster to destroy with Fire Hand, they can’t Special Summon Ice Hand; if there’s no spell or trap to take out with Ice Hand, they don’t get a Fire Hand.

That means cards like Dark Hole, Torrential Tribute, and Artifact Moralltach can wipe away Ice Hand when you have no backrow, breaking the string of Hand Summons entirely. You can even just run over Ice Hand with a simple attack and avoid Fire Hand in the process. Simple removal combined with clever management of your backrow makes dodging the Hands a snap.

Finally, Ice Hand and Fire Hand’s effects are optional, phrased as “When…you can…” abilities. That means your opponent only gets the chance to activate their effects if they’re destroyed by an attack, or destroyed at the end of a resolving Chain. If you destroy a “Hand” monster at Chain Link 2 or higher, your opponent never gets the opportunity to try and destroy a card. That means they won’t get to Special Summon either.

For example, say your opponent Summons their “Hand” monster with a Spell or Trap Card Set. In response to the Summon, you activate Mystical Space Typhoon to target your opponent’s backrow card. Then Chain with Trap Hole. When the Chain resolves, Trap Hole will destroy your opponent’s monster, then Mystical Space Typhoon will destroy their Set card, and their Hand cannot activate. You can do the same trick with any Spell Speed 2 destruction effect: think Evilswarm Exciton Knight, Raigeki Break, or a themed card like Infernity Break.

If you know the right moves you can improve your chances against Ice Hand and Fire Hand before you even draw into specialized answers. Stay tuned though, because later we’re going to talk about the cards you can run to make it even easier!