With Seven Tools of the Bandit, Wiretap and Trap Stun running around, plus Royal Decree, there's definitely no shortage of backrow hate in competition today. Mystical Space Typhoon has a three-of representation in most deck lists, be they in the Main Deck, Side Deck or a combination of the two. Ghostrick Alucard's a popular choice right now because it can hit set monsters as well as spells and traps, but make no Mistake that its usefulness in clearing away backrow is huge.

All of that said, being proactive in trap removal can be a dangerous prospect right now, with Artifacts everywhere ready to jump you in an alley if you miss that blind MST. I don't want to say that some cards make people salty more often than others, but Artifact Moralltach is basically the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG's MSG. Essentially Silver Sentinel and Toy Magician in the same card, but more frustrating and with dedicated support to back it up, Moralltach's the do-over of a previous gimmick that actually worked out. Well, Moralltach isn't the only monster in the Artifact archetype that could be said about, but it's the one that gets played at three-per-deck. Artifact Beagalltach's pretty similar, but it destroys your own set cards instead, probably to the end of triggering Moralltach anyway.

Seven Tools, Wiretap, Trap Stun and Royal Decree are hitting high on popularity for more than just trap control, though. They all share one facet; they can't trigger Artifacts. The only one of the four that actually destroys anything is Seven Tools, and that's guaranteed to be hitting only traps, not disguised monsters in the backrow. Keeping yourself from destroying Artifacts is really big right now. Or so people think, anyway; what if you actually wanted them destroyed? You'd probably have to give a glance over to Malevolent Catastrophe.

Weather Damage
I make it a point not to write about the same card twice, but in this instance I think it makes sense to shoot the spotlight back on this one. Malevolent Catastrophe has a few downsides that can be hard to overlook, and I don't want to over-romanticize anything with you, so make sure to keep in mind that it has the same activation condition as Mirror Force or Dimensional Prison-- you can't chain it to MST or anything. Also, you're losing all of your own backrow at the same time, since it hits both sides of the field indiscriminately. On the one hand, that means you probably shouldn't activate it when you have several other traps down, or important continuous spells. On the other hand, though, clearing away your own backrow can work to your advantage.

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A couple weeks ago I wrote on Ice Hand and Fire Hand (which you can go back for here, in case you missed it), and I mentioned that Ice Hand could work around Vanity's Emptiness, because it destroys a card mandatorily, and the Special Summon isn't a requirement in any sense. To that same end, if you have no backrow Ice Hand can't activate at all. Often, duelists sit on the Hands only as long as they feel like they have to. Using them aggressively in the battle phase to crash into a bigger monster and start ripping apart the field is pretty common. If an Ice Hand's looking like it has an itchy trigger finger to start things rolling, you can Malevolent Catastrophe on the attack to wipe away your own backrow at the same time as your opponents, and the Ice Hand has nothing to destroy once the attack connects.

The look on your opponent's face when you activate it should be a fifty-fifty split of confusion and exhaustion.

It might sound like everything I just said has one huge flaw if you're like I was up until recently, and haven't fully familiarized yourself with the Artifact monsters: Malevolent Catastrophe destroys Moralltach, Beagalltach and however many others might be set in your opponent's backrow. Okay, well, that's true, but all of the Artifacts demand to be destroyed on the opponent of their owner's turn. That's you. But Malevolent Catastrophe can only be activated when your opponent attacks. That's them. Any Artifacts you smash with Catastrophe get dropped into the graveyard, never to be seen again.

"Okay, that's a fair argument for Malevolent Catastrophe against Hands and Artifacts," you might have said just now, probably whimsically if you're the type to talk to yourself in the first place, "but what about other matchups? Utility, bro."

Oh, I'll feed you babybird.

The Wind is Howling
Any deck that has a fair trap lineup is prey for Catastrophe, but the ones that run the Hands are at a greater disadvantage than the others. Artifact Hands and Hand Artifact Traptrix both spring to mind as the number one offenders, as they rightfully should. The deck's not unbeatable, but it's pretty scary just the same, and carrying answers is important.

Branching out from there, it wouldn't be unwise to consider Malevolent Catastrophe against Koa'ki Meiru. I literally thought I'd never have to end a sentence with "against Koa'ki Meiru," but here we are. With Diamond Core of Koa'ki Meiru running around, Koa'ki Meiru Urknight and Koa'ki Meiru Crusader are giants among Level 4's, and come together as an incredible Xyz engine. Fire Formation - Tenki and Diamond Core give them nutty consistency, but at the end of the day the deck's not a whole lot different than any other Xyz Spam. Once their engine's burnt, they're not in a position to stomp anything anymore, and the Xyz they bring out still tend to hide behind a backrow or two. They have Tenki in the backrow to destroy, too, but you won't be preventing many Fire Fists' effects by clearing it away-- just Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Bear most of the time. It's always easier to play against everything when there aren't any backrow set, though, and knocking Tenki out might swing the outcome of a battle phase in your favor or keep Number 103: Ragnazero off your back.

Madolche are the second biggest deck that Catastrophe slaps around. Most of them run between nine and eleven traps, plus two Madolche Ticket and Madolche Chateau, so you'll likely have cards to hit at all stages of the game. Losing Ticket or Chateau's painful for Madolche. They're not requirements for Anjelly to start popping Tiaramisu out of the Extra Deck as +723's, but you'll be making all of your opponent's plays weaker, and that's never not in your favor.

Generally speaking, Malevolent Catastrophe spells bad news for any deck that packs the field with traps to play defensively, like Geargia or Evilswarm; you probably won't get much out of it against something like Frog Monarchs. More importantly than what to use it against, though, you should know what to use it in. A low-backrow deck like certain builds of Bujins is a good example of one of the better applications.

There are some variants of Bujin that push upwards of eight or nine traps, but they're also fully capable of running Royal Decree instead and forgoing the entire concept of a trap lineup. You'll probably be destroying your own Tenki, but for the added benefit of messing up Ice Hand and all the Artifacts, that's a worthwhile trade. There weren't any Royal Decree involved, but Matthias Lempa was carrying two Catastrophe in his Side Deck when he piloted Bujin all the way to a 1st place finish at the German World Championship Qualifier earlier this month. Here's a link to his decklist if you haven't seen that yet. He had a full eight traps in his deck, but still chose to Side Deck Catastrophe against problematic matchups, like Artifact Hands. It's a safe bet that he took out those Fiendish Chains and swapped in the Catastrophes, but that part's totally speculation, so take it with a grain of salt.

Norman Wilde's Top 32 Frog Monarch deck from the same event had three in the Side Deck, too, following along with the idea of having little or no backrow. With a whopping zero traps in the Main Deck, putting in Catastrophe was a low-risk choice that obviously paid off. Judging by that pair of Mobius the Mega Monarch, Norman probably wanted to be overly-prepared for Artifacts, and it seems like it worked out fine based on his strong finish. Frog Monarchs are a bit of a paradox in that Catastrophe has to go off, otherwise you're stuck with a dead card keeping Treeborn Frog in the graveyard, despite the fact that its function is to clear the field for Treeborn in the first place. Setting it blindly can be a problem, but with good reading and some strong decision making it can seal games.

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Mermails are virtually side by side Frog Monarchs in that boat, having no real traps to speak of. Abyss-sphere's something, but having it destroyed doesn't really mess up your game plan. In fact, chaining Sphere to Catastrophe leaves you with a beater after you clear away all the potentially disruptive backrow that might have kept it off the field. In the spirit of fairness, I can't very well not link Christoph Blaurock's Top 8 Mermails from that same Championship, so here's that.

Let The Storm Rage On
It's not exactly a universal answer to the format, what with the overwhelming diversity we're seeing right now, but there are definitely a couple of decks that Malevolent Catastrophe dumpsters. Whether you're running a healthy trap lineup or not, it's still a strong choice and odds are good that if you've got a lot of traps, some of them are Wiretap or Seven Tools. They actually make Catastrophe more of a threat, since they can shut down any answers your opponent might have had and force Catastrophe through.

If you really feel saucy, you can tech it in your own Artifacts; flip it when your opponent attacks and start throwing Moralltachs and Beagalltachs around like a circus act. Be honest, you were going to destroy them yourself anyway, so you might as well sweep out your opponent's entire backrow at the same time. Were you already planning on testing with Catastrophe, or maybe you started using it a while ago? What are you playing it in, and if you're not using it, how come? Either way, you should expect it to be a around as long as Artifacts are.

-Beau