Traptrix were one of the defining themes of the early 2014 format and a key element of the infamous H.A.T. strategy.
They debuted at the tail end of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal era when Dragon Rulers were still the deck to beat, but in the following year they found a home inthe HAT hybrid: a mix of Artifacts and Traptrix with Ice Hand and FireHand. HAT was one of the strongest decks at the WCQ that year alongside the Geargiagear-fueled Geargia strategy and rogue contenders that includedSylvans, a twist made possible by three copies of Soul Charge.
It's been a long time since Traptrix were consistently topping events.Duelist Alliance revolutionized the game with extremely powerful new strategies like Shaddolls, Burning Abyss, and Satellarknights. Traptrix were still played as tech cards in some strategies, but their importance faded over time as increasingly better Normal Summoned monsters were printed.
But Traptrix picked up a few pieces of support since their initial decline, and the newest addition to the theme has totally swerved the deck's trajectory. Kevin Bortle's Top 8 Traptrix build from the recent Regional inLubbock Texas is easily the best example of how the theme's newest cards are giving modern decks a run for their money.
DECKID=110221 The appeal of the Traptrix theme is rooted in its ability to toolbox awealth of different 'Hole' Normal Traps. Traptrix Myrmeleo can search overa dozen different trap cards, so Traptrix builds are typically stacked witha small pool of traps complimented by a larger line-up of defensive cardsextending beyond the Trap Holes.
Surprisingly, Bortle only ran two targets for Myrmeleo and he only played one copy of each. His strategy didn't hinge on Myrmeleo's search ability as we've seen with Traptrix builds in the past, and that's really interesting given that he was playing ten Traptrix monsters in his Main Deck. He wasn't playing Traptrix as a hybrid nor as a small tech engine; he was going all-in on the Traptrix theme with exactly zero Main Deck Normal Summonsbeyond his Traptrix line-up.
Tying Together The Traptrix Engine
The classic Traptrix engine consists of Traptrix Myrmeleo – which searched both Treacherous Trap Hole and Floodgate Trap Hole in Bortle's build – andTraptrix Dionaea. Normal Summoning Dionaea let Bortle Special Summon Myrmeleo from the graveyard and trigger its backrow removal effect, and ultimately set up Link Summons and Rank 4 Xyz. Bortle was playing a handful of Rank 4s in his Extra Deck since all of his Traptrix were Level 4, but more on that later.
Dionaea's second effect was also hugely relevant: when Bortle SpecialSummoned Dionaea he could recycle a copy of Treacherous or Floodgate TrapHole in the graveyard. As a result his dependence on Myrmeleo's search effect was exclusive to the early game. Once both of his Trap Hole cards were in the graveyard he wouldn't need to Normal Summon Myrmeleo at all, which freed up his Normal Summon for Traptrix Mantis, Traptrix Atrax and Dionaea.
So how did Bortle Special Summon Traptrix Dionaea reliably? The game-changer for this strategy is in his Extra Deck: the new Link 1 Traptrix Sera ties together the Traptrix theme in a way that totally changes its competitive prospects. Sera's first activated effect SpecialSummons a Traptrix monster from the deck whenever a Normal Trap's activated, and that gave Bortle an incredibly easy method of triggering Dionaea's second effect.
It also let him grab Myrmeleo out of the deck to destroy one of his opponent's backrow cards, or simply get Atrax and Mantis to the field more quickly. Sera rapidly builds field presence by comboing off the deck's most common actions, and it can even search more traps when a Traptrix monster effect is activated. That meant Bortle could use Sera to search hisTreacherous or Floodgate Trap Hole even without Myrmeleo.
Traptrix Mantis is a few years old now, but it's the newest Main Deck addition to the Traptrix theme and its search effect makes it worth running a playset. Mantis searches any other Traptrix monster from the deck, so it's an excellent Normal Summon when Myrmeleo is nowhere to be found. Bortle could simply Link it away for Sera while searching Dionaea, butSpecial Summoning Mantis with Sera's effect is also tremendously helpful.Its second effect can bounce set spells and traps back to the hand to dodge targeted removal from Knightmare Phoenix, Twin Twisters, or Cosmic Cyclone.
Mantis forces your opponent to take a bigger loss of card economy if they're playing targeted removal, but it's not a perfect solution. Even if Bortle chose to set a card with Mantis' effect he couldn't activate it immediately, so his opponent's Twin Twisters would still accomplish the goal of clearing the way for an aggressive push.
Traptrix Atrax doesn't have an activated effect, but its continuous effects help tremendously by patching the holes in this strategy. Without anon-Normal Summon effect Atrax was hard to justify before, so the introduction of Traptrix Sera has made it viable for the first time. While Atrax is on the field Bortle could activate Treacherous and Floodgate TrapHole from his hand, which meant he could effectively dodge backrow removal with Mantis and keep his defensive options live.
Mantis also stopped Bortle's opponents from negating any of hisNormal Traps with Red Reboot or a similar card. Control strategies practically live in fear of Red Reboot and Denko Sekka, or even a well-timed Twin Twisters. Atrax and Mantis are instrumental in answering those concerns, and Sera's ability to Special Summon them from the deck is making all the difference for this theme.
Traps, Traps, and More Traps
Bortle played a single copy of the two best Trap Hole cards: TreacherousTrap Hole and Floodgate Trap Hole. Treacherous has incredible flexibility against strategies that swam the field before performing a dozen or so LinkSummons, and picking off two monsters in the middle of a combo's typically enough to keep your opponent from landing on an ideal board.
It's also the only aggressive Trap Hole, so it's practically mandatory for making comebacks against an established board. Bortle could reliably find it early in the duel to start chipping away at his opponent's set-up, and a handful of his other tech choices were also geared towards playing second.Obviously Treacherous is limited to the first couple of turns of the duel before another trap hits the graveyard, but that doesn't mean Treacherous was always the first trap he activated. Bortle could easily keep Lost Wind and The Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine out of the graveyard, which meant Treacherous could be live much longer than you might expect.
Floodgate Trap Hole's fantastic in the Link era and especially brutal against Pendulum strategies. Flipping a non-Link Monster face-down in theExtra Monster Zone can very well end your opponent's turn, and resolvingFloodgate Trap Hole against a Pendulum Summon's often just as powerful.There aren't many decks that are making multiple Summons outside ofPendulums, but even flipping a single card face-down in the wrong MainMonster Zone can be devastating. Floodgate Trap Hole not only makes monsters ineligible as Link Materials, it also takes their Continuous andQuick Effects offline. A set monster doesn't have a themed name, Type, orAttribute either, and that can play havoc with strategies that rely on having certain kinds of monsters on the field.
The Traptrix theme's synergy with 'Hole' Normal Traps is obvious enough, but there are plenty of other traps that play well with the Traptrix theme.The Phantom Knights of Shade Brigandine is a fantastic tech choice even in a deck that's loaded with trap cards. We've seen Shade Brigandine in plenty of strategies that are only playing a small handful of traps – or fewer –but it's an integral part of Bortle's early-game strategy despite his eighteen trap total.
Bortle can activate Shade Brigandine immediately on Turn 1 after LinkSummoning Traptrix Sera, and doing so will trigger Sera's first effect toSummon a Traptrix monster from the deck. From there Bortle would Summon Dionaea, Special Summon Myrmeleo or Mantis from the graveyard while setting a Trap Hole from the deck, and then Xyz Summon a Rank 4 like Time Thief Redoer, Abyss Dweller, or Tornado Dragon.
Bortle's ideal starting hand consisted of any Traptrix monster with ShadeBrigandine, and some way to reach Mystic Mine. Demise of the Land helped him activate Mystic Mine from the deck to surprise opponents and keep himin the game, and it diversified his backrow offerings so he wasn't exclusively playing trap cards for defense. Bortle used Ojama Trio andFloodgate Trap Hole to clog his opponent's field with monsters, andEvacuation Device' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Compulsory Evacuation Device">Compulsory Evacuation Device helped him dispatch destruction-resistant cards like Thunder Dragon Colossus. He also played the Utopia Double engine to secure wins against exposed Link Monsters, and it gave him another outto high-ATK monsters with targeting immunity.
Lastly, I want to highlight Bortle's two copies of Frozen Rose. I've mentioned this card in the past as it relates to the Rose Dragon engine, but at the time I never considered playing it in Traptrix. Bortle could send a Plant – Sera or Dionaea – to the graveyard to draw two cards in theEnd Phase, or send an Insect – Myrmeleo, Mantis, or Atrax – to search Dionaea. Both effects were solid, but Frozen Rose wasn't just a search or draw spell: it was also a way for Bortle to dodge cards like Effect Veiler and Infinite Impermanence.
There's a lot of utility hidden away in Frozen Rose, and Bortle's top is the first time I've seen it put to use. It's the capstone of a fascinating build and some seriously interesting tech picks in a theme that's just been waiting for its time to shine.
Until next time then