We're less than two weeks away from the North American World Championship Qualifier, and as such I've brought my Low Key deck making to a screeching halt. Don't worry, it'll be back soon, but for now I'm dedicating all my Yu-Gi-Oh! time to testing strategies for the WCQ. It's a weird time for our beloved card game. Despite being a back row heavy format, Mystical Space Typhoon's being played at an all time low. Maybe it's the fear of accidentally hitting an Artifact Sanctum or Breakthrough Skill, or maybe it's that destroying one out of five of your opponent's defenses isn't going to help you, but either way one thing's clear: people aren't playing Typhoon.

One of the biggest reasons Typhoon's declining in play is the prevalence of Fire Hand and Ice Hand. Sure, they require destruction to actually pop anything, but in the long run destroying stuff with Ice Hand is just way more efficient than using Typhoon. Beyond that though, we're seeing an astounding rise in popularity of trap stoppers like Wiretap, Seven Tools of the Bandit, and Trap Stun. The whole "Wiretap is a better Seven Tools" argument isn't even relevant when we're seeing so many Geargia duelists maxing out copies of both. Trap Stun works in a similar fashion to the aforementioned Counter Traps, but finds itself in themes aiming to OTK their opponents - like Madolche or Sylvan.

The Holy Grail
There seems to be several angles from which you can approach the current trap hate heavy format. One happens to be just having so many trap cards that – in theory – your opponent jut won't have enough Wiretaps to stop them all. That's the most common procedure. Additionally, some people are just refusing to play any traps at all, turning opposing Wiretaps and Trap Stuns into useless blank cards. That's actually a situation where the lack of Mystical Space Typhoon really helps. While Typhoon could hit face-up spells and bluff sets, Wiretap needs to stop an actual trap card.

Today's card under the spotlight is Forbidden Chalice. Right now the most popular pieces of effect negation are Breakthrough Skill and Fiendish Chain, both trap cards. Chalice is a Quick-Play Spell, so it can act like a trap card without actually being one. That distinction was never really important before, but with so many Wiretaps running willy nilly it seems that now is the perfect time to veer away from traps.

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So what does Chalice do, exactly? It's actually super simple: one monster on the field gains 400 ATK, and then its effects are negated until the End Phase. It doesn't quite have the longevity of Fiendish Chain, but it makes up for that just by not being a trap card in the first place. The previously popular Forbidden Lance has stayed relevant over the years not only for the spell and trap protection but also for the hefty 800 ATK swing in battles. Chalice gives 400 attack points instead of taking away 800, but that slight advantage is still really good.

Chalice In Decks Without Traps
One of the more obvious places for Forbidden Chalice is actually in decks that aren't using traps, or that are at least using very few. Back in the day, decks without traps couldn't really use spells, either, because they'd be Mystical Space Typhoon magnets. Now that's not really a worry because nobody's playing Typhoon. That gives the trap-free duelist a distinct advantage because they're automatically making four to six cards in their opponent's deck dead.

Another angle to take is that decks without traps occasionally have trouble getting over stuff like Majesty's Fiend, Leo, Keeper of the Sacred Tree, and other protected monsters. While Forbidden Chalice won't grant you that 800 swing that Forbidden Lance would, it has more utility elsewhere while still giving a slight boost.

Chalice In Decks With Traps
A trap heavy deck is by far the best place for Forbidden Chalice. I've been doing a lot of testing for the WCQ and Chalice is absolutely amazing in anything with ten plus traps against other decks with similar trap counts. Think HAT, Geargia, and Madolche – all strategies boasting huge trap counts as well as a wide range of counters.

And why is that? Well, in general those themes just aren't playing any counters to Forbidden Chalice. Spell cards have always been harder to play around, but Forbidden Lance has always been around to cover that loss. Right now I'd say Book of Moon is the only real stop to Chalice, and not many competitors are even using that.

Furthermore, inexperienced players aren't succeeding at playing around Wiretap. We're pretty much at a point where you need to be prepared for Wiretap at any moment. That's difficult because if you Breakthrough Skill something and your opponent has Wiretap you can't respond with anything but another Wiretap or Seven Tools. You might have three Breakthrough Skills set but the joke's on you because they're not in the Spell Speed 3 club.

The ever elusive Spell Speed 3 club, where all the jerks reside.

That's where Chalice really shines. Lots of players will act hyper aggressively if they're sitting behind Wiretap, Seven Tools, or Trap Stun. You see Madolche pilots smugly activate Trap Stun before pooping a bunch of pastries on you, but Chalice just says "no." The common post-Trap Stun plan of action is Madolche Mewfeuille straight into Madolche Anjelly, resulting in +586 card advantage. The duelist holding Chalice forces the Madolche player to stop, leaving them a lonely Mewfeuille. Oh yeah, and now your opponent is down a copy of Trap Stun, meaning you're free to stop their next OTK attempt with your real traps.

But If We're Speaking Specifically…
…Chalice helps you win a bunch of Hand battles. Summoning Ice Hand against a field of Fire Hand, another monster, and a back row is a fairly common move. Your opponent can swing the Ice Hand into your Fire Hand, pop your back row, Special Summon their Fire Hand, crash with yours, and pop your other monster. They used one card to take out three, and while they're ending with an Ice Hand all you've got is a bucket full of shame and regret.

But if you have Chalice? Then that never happens. Your opponent attacks with Ice Hand, you boost Ice Hand to 1800 ATK, and then Fire Hand destroys Ice Hand to bring out one of your own Ice Hands. Their Ice Hand missing timing, and you don't lose all your cards. And yes, before someone in the comment section points it out, you could do that exact same play with Forbidden Lance. The difference is that Lance is kind of terrible right now, and Chalice definitely isn't.

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So what do you think of Forbidden Chalice? Does it have potential, or am I just overhyping it? I'd heavily advise giving it a try before judging it, but regardless the Theory-Oh behind it is overwhelmingly in favor of Chalice. Furthermore, do any of the other Forbidden cards have a chance of being hits at the WCQ? Let me know what you think in the Comment section below!

-Doug Zeeff