Hello again to all of you seasoned Casters and newcomers alike! Today, I’ll be continuing down the rabbit hole of frequently confused terminology, focusing on how to properly interpret and use the Trap trait… because if you think you fully understand the ins and outs of these pages and effects, I’d be willing to bet you’re missing a couple pieces.
I often describe MetaZoo as, “similar to Magic but with RPG elements,” and what I mean by that is that there’s a lot you will eventually need to memorize to be able to play at a competitive level such as Aura type strengths and weaknesses, status effects, traits and overall language; so keep those rulebooks handy until then. MetaZoo comes in an innocent, nostalgic package, but trust me, it’s a highly complex strategy game with modifiers and effects that you need to know. If you’re going to secure yourself one of the coveted Arch-Caster Medals; a prize which awaits our sanctioned tournament champions, giving them free entry and hotel accommodations for all state and national level tournaments, some of which are currently being teased with $100k and $250k cash prizes, you’ll need to know your stuff. If that doesn’t inspire you to be the best caster you can be, I don’t know what will.
Okay, let’s start with a trait that’s so frequently misunderstood that I have had players ask me time and time again, “why is this even a part of the game?” I am, of course, talking about the Trap trait and at first, I was inclined to agree with the dissenters – why IS this a part of the game? But after much playtesting, I can report that there are definite advantages to trap pages once you understand how they really function.
According to the rulebook, pages with the trap trait can be placed into the Arena at no aura cost, face-down underneath a beastie or artifact page you control. When that beastie or artifact is targeted with a declared attack, the trap is triggered and flips face-up. At this point, it’s up to you, the trap’s controller, to have enough aura available to pay for the contract cost of that page and as long as you do, it will be contracted. If you don’t have the aura to pay the cost of your trap when it flips, it fizzles (my favorite word) and goes to the appropriate limbo or cemetery. If you successfully pay the aura cost and the trap is a beastie, it will be automatically fatigued and be declared as a defender. If it is not a beastie, it’s probably a spell or a potion with effects and in this case the effects will resolve immediately. Let’s look at an example of each:
One of my favorite frost beasties and also an excellent trap, as long as you’ve included “Ice” as one of your fourth wall objects. Qalupalik has a contract effect (meaning an effect that will automatically occur when you pay the aura cost of the page) which states, “if there is ice within eyesight, inflict target opposing beastie with 2x Frozen counters.”
If you read a bit further on Qal, you will notice an Arena effect (Arena effects are static effects that stay active as long as Qal is in the Arena) which says, “This page cannot be damaged by beasties inflicted with [Frozen].” So, let’s put these effects together and imagine how Qalupalik operates as a trap in a tournament setting. In this scenario, you have already listed “Ice” as one of your fourth wall objects in your deck list, as will be required for sanctioned play.
- Qalupalik is placed face-down under a beastie or artifact you control in the Arena at no aura cost
- An opposing player targets that beastie or artifact with an attack, triggering Qal’s trap trait
- Qalupalik flips face-up and a contract cost of one Neutral and two Frost aura must be paid at this time. If you have no aura, Qal goes to limbo. We will assume you have this aura available.
- Now that you’ve paid the appropriate aura, Qal is contracted into the Arena, automatically fatigued as a defender and triggering its contract effect, “if there is Ice within eyesight, inflict target opposing beastie with 2 [Frozen] counters.”
- You target the opposing beastie in combat with this effect, it resolves and the attacker is now Frozen. Beasties will still deal damage during the combat in which they were frozen, so the attacker will now attack Qalupalik, the primary defender.
- Because Qalupalik has the arena effect that states it cannot be damaged by Frozen beasties, all damage to Qalupalik is reduced to zero.
- Qalupalik will now counterattack, inflicting 40 damage and 10 damage for the Frozen indicator on the attacker due to Qal’s attack effect and also an additional [x] damage for any active Terra bonuses Qal has in the Arena. Don’t forget, Indicators are not counters. Indicators represent the status effect, counters represent how many turns that effect is inflicted for. There will only be one frozen indicator on a beastie, regardless of how many counters (or number of turns) it is frozen for
Now, it’s important to note that defending beasties can only be allocated an amount of damage equal to their LP (life points), so if the opposing beastie is swinging for 100 damage, 50 of that damage will be allocated to Qalupalik and the rest would “trample over” onto the original target, aka, the beastie or artifact that was originally targeted with the attack. Like I said, there’s a lot you need to know, so keep the rulebook nearby, but you can already see the advantages to using Qalupalik as a trap. Surprising the attacker with two frozen counters and negating all damage that is allocated to Qalupalik is a tech move that can be very frustrating to deal with as an opposing player, trust me. 50 damage is no small amount.
Let’s look at one more, this time your trap is not a beastie but a potion, one which performed very well in the recent Caster Society Tournament in TX – Copy Cup.
If you have read my previous article on essential Side Deck pages or watched some of the games my brother Metacrax and I have played on CFB, you may recall two potions that are actively making a name for themselves in the meta – Lightning In a Bottle and Smokey Spirits. Nearly every Top 8 spellbook at the moment is playing one of these pages and because of this fact, Copy Cup has become increasingly relevant.
Copy Cup is a potion that, like all potions, is free to contract, only unlike most of its brethren, Copy Cup possesses the trap trait and its effects upon contract will copy the effect of any potion in an opposing player’s cemetery. So how would this play out in combat? Let’s break it down. We will assume in this scenario that the opposing player has a Smokey Spirits in their cemetery.
- You place Copy Cup at no aura cost face-down underneath a beastie or artifact you control in the Arena.
- An opposing player declares an attack, targeting the page which Copy Cup is under, triggering the trap trait.
- Copy Cup flips face-up and a contract cost of zero Aura is paid, effectively contracting Copy Cup into the Arena and its effects resolve immediately
- You may target the opposing player’s Smokey Spirits and Copy Cup will effectively become a copy of that page and resolve immediately, ending combat before Defenders are declared
As you can see in both of these scenarios, pages with the Trap trait empower you with an element of surprise and can even work to bluff your opponent out of attacking your beasties and artifacts. After all, there are a wide variety of pages that are imbued with this trait and none are very pleasant to deal with as long as you have the aura to pay their contract cost.
The only downside to playing a trap page is that they are only triggered when the page they are under is targeted directly with an attack. You may not declare a page you control with a trap under it as a defender in order to trigger the trap. It won’t trigger because the defender you declared was not the original target of the attack; they’re stepping in front of that attack and absorbing damage/counterattacking, which is an entirely different scenario.
Also, if you neglect to leave your Aura pages available to pay the contract cost of the trap, it’s a waste of a card and promptly goes to limbo/cemetery. Be sure to play your strategy out before you pass turn and ask yourself a few questions: do you have enough to pay for the trap if it’s triggered? Will the beastie/artifact that my trap is under even be able to be targeted with attacks?”
There’s no point in placing a trap underneath a beastie or artifact who is invisible or has the spirit trait, because they literally cannot be targeted with attacks. Your trap will never spring! If you should make this mistake, you are permitted at the start of your turn to move your traps once per turn as long as you move them to another legal target (aka you may move them underneath another page you control).
Well my friends, I hope this helps you in your spellbook designs and gameplay strategy. Traps are certainly a unique and powerful ally when you know how to play them. Like I said, MetaZoo is one of the most fun and complex TCGs I’ve ever played, so keep the rulebook in-hand and if you have any questions about specific cards or gameplay, feel free to come find me on Instagram @metabroz – I’m here to help! Until next time, thanks for reading!