Now would you consider calling traps on Turn 1 using Number 16: Shock Master? (Assuming we can still get to play it in the future.)
Introducing the quite literal new Hand Trap – Struggling Battle.
Kikkou Shoubu (Struggling Battle)
Black Rose Dragon and Judgment Dragon are the predecessors in ‘Field Nukes’ – the devastating effect of destroying the entire field. Struggling Battle takes it to the next level, by allowing players to bypass immunity and resolve it at virtually no cost. Except for the cost of not performing anything significant during the Battle Phase in order to gain maximum utility off from this card.
In Chain Burn/Stall decks, combining its effect with Swift Scarecrow forces your opponent to end the Battle Phase without dealing any damage. On top of it all, he loses almost his entire board with just two cards played, making it a very worthwhile trade-off.
In decks with a usual blank field, such as Yosenju and PSY-Frame, Struggling Battle helps level the playing field at the potential cost of ‘skipping’ your Battle Phase.
Common meta threats would be powerless against Struggling Battle too. Being a trap, True King of All Calmities is unable to stop it from resolving, and not being a Continous Trap means Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King destruction effect would not mean much either.
Struggling Battle can potentially bulldoze your opponent’s well-established field.
Going second, one can simply pass Main Phase 1, proceed into the Battle Phase and activate Struggling Battle. This would force your opponent to clear all but one card they control on the field.
(Many players misunderstood that Struggling Battle would clear the opponent’s entire field. However, the way the card text is worded, words before the colon ‘:’ is the Activation Condition. Hence, Struggling Battle can only be activated during the end of a Battle Phase. Upon which, it will resolve while Struggling Battle is on the field, leaving your opponent to banish all but one card.)
Going first, however, does not make Struggling Battle any less potent.
It empowers your field by making a single card opening on the board a much more threatening sight. While many will be quick to point out that it would make as good Yosenju/PSY-Frame support, I would argue that it is equally good for plenty of other decks, such as control-based decks.
- Decks that have weaker opening fields, not involving swarm and combos, such as Tellarknight and Bujin, which usually ends the turn with a Normal Summon, will find their field more disruptive with a single Normal Summon and Struggling Battle in the backrow. Struggling Battle can simply be activated from the hand after the monster has been destroyed too.
- Stun decks that like Normal Summoning Thunder King Rai-Oh, Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo will enjoy Struggling Battle too. After the opponent clears the monsters, he may get punished by Struggling Battle (during the following turn) if he gets over complacent and starts investing heavily onto the board during his Main Phase 2.
You are of course free to do nothing except set Struggling Battle, should you be confident that you can survive the Battle Phase next turn.
The implications of Struggling Battle are vast.
Previously, players would rely on Kaiju monsters, Santa Claws or Lava Golem to demolish set ups. These cards do not start a chain and leave no window for your opponent to react, hence making them effective. However, it requires players to provide their opponent with a monster, raising a different set of problems. Lava Golem even requires players to forgo their Normal Summon/Set.
Struggling Battle might not be able to clear your opponent’s entire board, but it can replace these options as it is capable of removing backrow threats as well. For a single card, Struggling Battle provides quite an exceptional effect, punishing your opponent for overextending. With only one card left on the field by Main Phase 2, it leaves players less to worry about when building their own board.
The fact that cards would be banished face-down is also a powerful effect as it prevents card effects from being triggered and makes recovery of the banished card much harder. On top of it all, Struggling Battle doesn’t target. It affects the player, and the player has to make a choice on which cards to send. This means that normally-immune cards such as Master Peace, the True Dracoslaying King and Apoqliphort Towers can be affected by Struggling Battle.
Perhaps the most interesting implication is the possible mind games that Struggling Battle can cause. Perhaps a Normal Summon and Set 1 isn’t that weak of an opening anymore. Some would argue that Struggling Battle is miles ahead of being a scarier trap card than Mirror Force. Similarly to how Gorz the Emissary of Darkness changed the attacking habits of players, there is lesser reason now for players to set Spells/Traps during their Main Phase 1 unless they are prepared to lose it to Struggling Battle.
Struggling Battle discourages large field presence. Taking that into consideration, it would not be surprising to see the metagame populated with Hand Traps, rather than Spell/Trap(s), as a more reliable form of disruption. During the Zoodiac’s prime, the metagame was very ‘Hand Trap’-centric. I would imagine that this scenerio would remain in the next few months.
Struggling Battle is not without its own set of weaknesses. Plenty of players were quick to lament about how broken this card is without first analysing it properly.
Since Struggling Battle banishes cards, obvious counters to this card include Artifact Lancea and Imperial Iron Wall. It is worth noting that the former can only be used during the opponent’s turn.
Being a Trap Card, it can still be negated by Solemn Judgment, Wiretap and Seven Tools of the Bandits. Of course, there are much more other options I can list. However, most of them are Trap cards themselves, and will likely be powerless in stopping Struggling Battle when it is activated on the second turn of the Duel.
Anti-Magic Arrows can also prevent Struggling Battle from activating.
Playing around it
As mentioned, Struggling Battle will leave the opponent with at least one card. Hence it will not completely empty the board.
Since you can only activate it at the END of a Battle Phase, you won’t be able to activate it earlier in the Main Phase or in the middle of a Battle Phase to discourage your opponent from making plays. This means that Struggling Battle would be powerless by itself in an OTK-centric format. Since it will only resolve at the end of the Battle Phase, the user will still have to take Battle Damage before the ensuing board-wiping effect.
Struggling Battle has also been frequently compared to Evilswarm Exciton Knight in the short period since it has been released. However, it is less accessible than the Rank 4 Xyz Monster. (Reminder: Evilswarm Exciton Knight is not on the OCG Forbidden and Limited List.)
Evilswarm Exciton Knight can simply be accessed when two Level 4s are on the field, making it easier to bring out in any decks focused on Level 4s. However, Struggling Battle is an unsearchable Trap Card in the Main Deck.
To play around it, one can simply skip a Battle Phase if one suspects that the opponent has Struggling Battle. Delaying Struggling Battle‘s activation to another turn gives you more chances to negate it. Additionally, another way around Struggling Battle is to not commit too many cards onto the board before the Battle Phase, instead choosing to set up the field during Main Phase 2.
Many would argue that Struggling Battle is still powerful in its own right when it is used going second, which I would agree. However, do note that Struggling Battle can still be negated by some cards, such as Toadally Awesome and D/D/D Cursed King Siegfried.
Just because a trap is splashable does not necessarily mean that it will be meta-breaking. When Trickstar Reincarnation was first revealed, everyone had high hopes for it. However, it has yet to receive a higher calling.
Struggling Battle is an interestingly designed card. It evens the odds of going second and can potentially punish your opponent for overextending. It is the type of card that I wouldn’t expect Yu-Gi-Oh to have a decade over. However, powerful as it may be, I would not necessarily consider it to be broken. It still has its fair share of weaknesses that can be exploited. The simple knowledge that this card exists in the game may be enough for it to be ineffective in
later stages of the game. For now, Struggling Battle looks to be an effective answer to escaping vicious lockdowns.
While it is purely my personal opinion, I think Struggling Battle will find its home in the Side Deck.
Who knows, maybe Eater of Millions will see more play? As a trap card, Paleozoic players are going to love it.
Struggling Battle was revealed on June 21st, which is the same date as the historical Honnō-ji incident, which was similarly depicted as a struggling battle.
The events depicted in the card artwork seems to be a continuation from Face-Off and Stand-Off.