The Yu-Gi-Oh! community's developed plenty of confusing unofficial language over the years to describe certain types of cards or effects.
Some terms are lifted straight from other TCG's – like bounce, spin, and everyone's favorite: pop. The phrase 'hand trap' is unique to our game despite similar mechanics in other TCG's, and it's an incredibly important aspect of competitive play. Strangely, hand traps have almost exclusively been monsters, but Evenly Matched from Circuit Break and Infinite Impermanence in Flames of Destruction are finally starting to make sense of that term.
Infinite Impermanence is currently the prize pull inFlames of Destruction and easily the best new trap this year. It's one part Effect Veiler and one part Breakthrough Skill, all wrapped up in a package that's suitably modernized for column-based gameplay. It's been heralded as a successor to Effect Veiler, and while there's still value in the now seven year-old hand trap Infinite Impermanence lives up to the hype. It's a fantastic Main Deck card that's just starting to show up in inRegional Top 8s, but I think we'll eventually see it land in the Side Deck much like the OCG.
Anyone playing in competitive events today understands the importance of building and breaking set-ups, and hand traps play a crucial role in both areas. Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring remains one of the best tech choices for breaking up your opponent's combos, halting their progress towards their key cards, and tossing a wrench into their long-term strategy.
Almost every other hand trap is played similarly: if you're going first they're excellent defensive options to protect your own set-up whileavoiding card removal, and if you're going second they're your only line of defense against insane Turn 1 combos.
Typhoon, Evenly Matched, and Infinite Impermanence share a similar design as Trap cards that can be activated without being set first. They're noticeably different from 'hand traps' in the sense that they're not actually activated in the hand, and more like Quick-Play Spells with expanded activation windows. Infinite Impermanence has an awful lot in common with Forbidden Chalice in that way, and there are a handful of situations where you'll end up playing it exactly like Chalice.
Infinite Impermanence is also a major departure from Evenly Matched – an aggressive trap that's played almost exclusively to break set-ups rather than defend them. Evenly Matched has that functionality: when you activate it at the end of your opponent's Battle Phase you can banish just as many cards as usual, but it's so rare to see it played that way. For good reason. Battle traps have struggled to find a niche for years, and any card that forces you to wait until the end of the Battle Phase is an even greater liability than Mirror Force-like traps.
As a hand trap Infinite Impermanence is nearly identical to Effect Veiler: you can activate to target a face-up monster your opponent controls and negate its effects until the end of the turn. Infinite Impermanence can be activated during either player's turn and during any Phase of the duel, but just like Evenly Matched you cannot control a card to activate it this way.That's rarely a problem on Turn 1, though cards like Grinder Golem, SetRotation, and Knightmare Corrupter Iblee can totally nullify it as a result.
Effect Veiler has always been a 'flavor of the format' tech choice that trends wildly in either direction depending on which competitive strategies are dominant. Since Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring was released it's been hard to justify Veiler–Ash Blossom is simply a vastly superior card.Infinite Impermanence, however, is a massive upgrade from Veiler and a serious consideration for hand trap space in certain match-ups. For the most part that's thanks to Infinite Impermanence's ability to shut down continuous monster effects and bait out activations from negation bodies.
There's enormous value in Infinite Impermanence's proactive play, and you can think about it in terms of the tradeoffs you typically make when running Forbidden Chalice. With Chalice you're totally powerless against your opponent's Turn 1 plays unless you draw another hand trap alongside it.
Infinite Impermanence does both: it's Turn 1 defense and an answer to specific monsters like PSY-Framelord Omega, Invoked Mechaba, and dozens of floodgate monsters. Effect Veiler is mostly powerless against those cards – it can negate them during your opponent's turn, but what use is turning off an opponent's Chaos Hunter or Vanity's Fiend before you have a chance to play your cards first?
Without the tradeoffs of Effect Veiler or Forbidden Chalice it's easy to see why Infinite Impermanence is one of the most exciting cards of the year. As we head into a new format it could either become a must-play MainDeck pick, or a rarely-sided tech choice depending on which decks rise to the top of the competitive scene. Depending on how things turn out we might even see players regularly set Infinite Impermanence to score its bonus effect.
In an era of hand-trap-or-bust with only a few exceptions it takes a lot toget players to use set traps. Is Infinite Impermanence's bonus negation, and its activation restriction, enough encouragement for it to be played asa mid or late-game trap card?
Doing More With Less
If you activate Infinite Impermanence while it's set you'll also negate other spell or trap effects in the same column as your trap for the rest ofthe turn. Infinite Impermanence has to stay on the field when it resolves for that bonus negation to kick in, but it's rare that your opponent willburn a removal effect just to save another spell or trap effect. It's definitely an option if you happen to be holding a Cosmic Cyclone and you absolutely need to resolve a card in that column, but again, I don't think it's a situation that will come up often. Keep in mind that this can negate your own spells and traps, so you'll want to be careful about where you set it.
Speaking of which, what's the optimal way to use Infinite Impermanence to negate both monsters and spells and traps? In Pendulum match-upsyou can set Infinite Impermanence on either the far right or left zone to negate Pendulum Spell effects for that turn, but what you'll find in manyPendulum strategies is that players will typically activate Pendulums long before they Summon a monster.
Without an opposing monster to target, Infinite Impermanence is worse thanDimensional Barrier, and even basic removal like Cosmic Cyclone or TwinTwisters would give you more disruption. It takes the right kind ofPendulum match-up for Infinite Impermanence to be effective as a going-first option. Most of the time you'll want to side in DimensionalBarrier instead.
Collateral damage from negating a monster makes Infinite Impermanence a high-value card even if negating spells and traps is inconsistent. Decks loaded with Continuous Spells and Traps, or those setting many cards, run the risk of losing card effects every time they present InfiniteImpermanence with a target. It's a strong counter to decks using column-based gameplay like Mekk-Knights, where Infinite Impermanence negates both the Mekk-Knight monster and a spell or trap that was set in the same column to make its Summon possible. Infinite Impermanence is already an excellent counter to the Invoked engine, so if there's one catch-up where Impermanence truly shines it's against Mekk-Knight Invoked.
You can easily play around Infinite Impermanence by simply activating your spells in traps in columns where your opponent's Spell and Trap Zones are empty. I have a feeling this will encourage a major gameplay shift like the one we saw when Gorz, the Emissary of Darkness was released. Gorz forced players to think about the order in which they attacked an opponent directly with a field full of monsters, and earlier this year Mekk-Knights punished duelists who didn't pay attention to how they were constructing their own columns. Infinite Impermanence will encourage players to start thinking carefully about where they play their spells and traps, and further promotes the heavily column-based gameplay that's been pushed sinceCode of the Duelist.
Infinite Impermanence and Evenly Matched could be the future for powercreep in trap cards: tremendously powerful effects available from the hand balanced by conditions that make them difficult to use if you're already in the lead. Infinite Impermanence is still strong going second, but there are plenty of traps you could use instead depending on the match-up.
For now I think it'll stick around as a popular Main Deck choice, and in the near future or possibly as late as next format move to the Side Deck.It's a great card to mess up Sky Striker players who aren't paying attention to their columns, and an awesome tech against Invoked engines which remain untouched by the Forbidden & Limited List.
Expect to see this card everywhere for the foreseeable future, and start practicing where you're activating your spells and traps now.
Until next time then
Kelly Locke is a West Michigangamer and writer. In addition to writing on TCGplayer, Kelly writes a personal blog covering Yu-Gi-Oh!, Destiny, andother hobbies. You can follow him onTwitter and check out his Youtube channel. He also studied marketing at Western Michigan University.