Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion is the fourth monster in the 'ghost girl'series and one of two Secret Rare hand traps inFlames of Destruction. Ghost Belle has an impressive lineage tolive up to: Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit launched three years ago inCrossed Souls and ittotally changed player's outlook on hand traps. Its incredible utility was a significant step up from Effect Veiler, Maxx"C", D.D. Crow, and Droll & Lock Bird. Ghost Ogre was actuallyoverhyped initially and ended up seeing very little play out of the gate.However, it didn't take more than a few months for it to become one of thetop tech cards in the game.

Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries hit the TCG the following May inShining Victories and followed in the footsteps of Artifact Lanceaand Droll & Lock Bird as a floodgate-like hand trap.At the time I thought its effect was unhealthy for the gameand too punishing against strategies or themes that relied on a specificExtra Deck monster. I still believe that's true to some extent, but it'shard to feel too bad when Pendulum Magicians lose their copies ofHeavymetalfoes Electrumite on Turn 1.

Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring's release last yearushered in a hand trap era unlike anything we've seen before. Its utility is simply unmatched among hand traps and tech cards ingeneral. If you need to disrupt your opponent's search, mill, or SpecialSummon effects you'll almost always want to start by considering if you canafford to play Ash Blossom. It's an over designed card that probablycounters one too many effects, and for the last year its been aformat-defining card. Strategies with small themed engines are successfulthanks to the abundance of amazing hand traps, but it's mostly Ash Blossomthat has propelled decks like Zoodiacs, True Dracos, and Trickstars tocompetitive success.

How can any hand trap hope to live up to that legacy? Infinite Impermanencedefinitely does – it picks up where Effect Veiler left off and shuts downmore monster effects because it can activate during any Phase – but GhostBelle's a harder sell. The effects she counters are noticeably more nichethan Ash Blossom, and decks that can only choose one or the other areprobably going to opt for the latter most of the time.

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Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion's effect can be a little confusing if youmix up card costs and effects. Let's briefly discuss the difference becauseit's hugely important to how Ghost Belle functions. Card costs are actionsthat take place when an effect activation is declared and occursimultaneously with the activation. Banishing seven cards occurs at thesame time the effect of Fairy Tail - Snow is activated, for example. Keepan eye out for semicolons: anything prior to the semi-colon happens duringactivation, and that chiefly includes costs and targeting.

What happens after activation, or immediately after the semicolon, is theactual effect. This is what you're reading to determine if GhostBelle & Haunted Mansion can be activated to negate a specific card. Ifthe cost to activate a card includes banishing a card in thegraveyard but the effect doesn't then Ghost Belle can't be activated. Forexample, Ghost Belle can't negate Double Evolution Pill because it banishesDinosaurs as a cost to activate. It Special Summons a Dinosaurfrom the hand or deck when it resolves, but since the effectdoesn't recycle from the graveyard or banish a card it's outside of GhostBelle's coverage.

An Upgrade, Or Side-Grade, From D.D. Crow?
Generally I tend to view new hand traps from the point of view of: would Iplay this card over another hand trap I already have access to? Again, Ithink Infinite Impermanence makes a great argument for itself overalternatives like Effect Veiler, and given that it's a trap it offers a fewkey advantages over monsters. For example, Infinite Impermanence can't benegated by Called by the Grave, and it offers much-needed coverage againsta spell and monster-immune Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King. Canthe same argument be made for Ghost Belle?

Ghost Belle, like Ash Blossom, can negate effects that do one of threethings:

1. Effects that add a card from the graveyard to the hand, Main Deck, orExtra Deck

2. Effects that Special Summon any kind of card from the graveyard

3. Effects that banish any number of cards

Overall Ghost Belle has great utility – she has excellent coverage againstsome of the most powerful spells in the game and disrupts strategies thatheavily rely on recycling cards from the graveyard. She's also a uniquelypositioned counter side against banish effects when Artifact Lancea can'tbe activated. It's definitely in the ballpark for a competitive hand trap,but sheer utility isn't always a winning argument. Ghost Belle needs tocounter effects that make a huge difference in the duel like Ash Blossom –targeting effects that make opposing strategies more consist, or effectsthat enable the deck's best combos.

Unfortunately Ghost Belle counters very few game-changing effects. Youropponent can still search their deck, Special Summon from everywhere otherthan the graveyard, and banish cards to Summon Infernoids, Gigantes, or toactivate Double Evolution Pill. There are a lot of major gaps in GhostBelle's coverage that make all the difference depending on the match-up,and it's typically better to play another hand trap or floodgate to counterthose strategies.

There is one area where Ghost Belle shines: it's one of the best countersto Soul Charge. There's very few ways to actually stop a massive SoulCharge combo when you're playing second, and although it's a Limited spellyou're still likely to see it against World Chalice or other Link-spamstrategies. Saryuja Skull Dread makes finding Soul Charge easier than ever,and generally those strategies are also vulnerable to Ghost Belle'snegation in other ways. That's still fairly niche, but Ghost Belle is alifesaver in those situations and it's generally pretty easy to find otherplaces to activate Ghost Belle in match-ups where Soul Charge is a seriousthreat.

Ghost Belle's first effect is probably the least useful of the bunch.Players aren't adding cards from the graveyard to the hand in anymeaningful numbers, and almost no deck is doing so as an integral part ofits strategy. Recycling cards is usually a side effect of another card, oran optional part of an effect like Firewall Dragon. Ghost Belle can negateFirewall Dragon, and that's not totally useless, but there's often betterchoices if you're looking to counter some sort of Firewall Dragon turbotheme. Again, World Chalice comes to mind, but most other decks are shoringup their defenses with negation bodies and destruction Quick Effectsinstead of Firewall's return to hand effect.

If Pot of Avarice or Daigusto Emeral were legal in the TCG we'd be having atotally different discussion about Ghost Bell's coverage. Still, GhostBelle's significantly more interesting thanks to a recent Forbidden &Limited List change. Monster Reborn is a relevant competitive card that cantotally change the outcome of a duel by Special Summoning a BorreloadDragon or grabbing another combo piece to extend plays. Like Soul Chargeit's also easily countered by Ghost Belle, but you could just as easilyanswer it with D.D. Crow.

The fact that D.D. Crow can stand in for Ghost Belle in a majority ofsituations is a problem. In fact, D.D. Crow isn't just a replacement: it'soften better than Ghost Belle because it banishes a targeted card.Fairy Tail - Snow is at the top of my hit list with Ghost Belle, butbanishing it is a much better long-term play. Your opponent can loadanother seven cards into the graveyard to activate a negated Snow, but noamount of milling will let them Special Summon a banished Snow.

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Ghost Belle's ability to negate effects that banish cards from thegraveyard is a little awkward. It's perhaps best played as a way to keepcards in your own graveyard safe from removal, but there are just so manybetter options. That's especially true if you want to block banish effectseverywhere–not just those that banish from the graveyard. Artifact Lanceais the best going-second temporary floodgate against banish-heavystrategies, and Chaos Hunter is a close second. Both cards are vastlysuperior to Ghost Belle in a number of match-ups, and there are fewmatch-ups where there's any reason play Ghost Belle over either of them.

Imperial Iron Wall and Necrovalley also overlap with Ghost Belle'scoverage, and Necrovalley in particular might as well be a continuousfloodgate version of the new hand trap. There's a world of differencebetween a hand trap conscious floodgate tied to spells and traps, if you'reconsidering Ghost Belle there's plenty of time to check out Necrovalley.Imperial Iron Wall is already seeing competitive play alongside ArtifactLancea and Chaos Hunter in True Dracos and Pendulum Magicians respectively,so it's difficult to see where Ghost Belle would actually make anappearance.

For months Ghost Ogre and Ghost Reaper were underplayed and undervalueddespite their tremendous potential, so I'm hesitant to discount Ghost Bellethis early into its life cycle. There's plenty of time for Ghost Belle toshine, but I think the play environment it needs to be successful is farmore narrow than most other hand traps. I think it'll end up beingovershadowed by alternatives, including more budget picks like D.D. Crowand Artifact Lancea. Of course, it's already in a losing battle competingfor space against Ash Blossom.

It's so difficult to recommend any other hand trap this format when AshBlossom's so outrageously strong. I don't hold that against Ghost Belle,but the reality is that until Ash Blossom – and maybe even Ghost Ogre – arehit on a F&L List it'll be hard to justify other hand traps with highutility and low effectiveness. While other hand traps may very likely winyou the game outright, Ghost Belle seems to be better suited to helping youhang in there for another turn or two. That's a hard sell against handtraps that can completely cripple your opponent's ability to play theirstrategy.

Until next time then

-Kelly


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