Reading Your Opponent's Backrow - A PvP Guide

Reading Your Opponent's Backrow

If you've played a fair amount of PvP, you might have run into that guy who takes ages for each and every activation prompt. However, it's these short pauses that can reveal much about your opponent's defenses, if you know what to look for.

There are a number of ways that you can be affected by an opponent's backline, such as blindly ramming into a Wall of Disruption or playing too passive in fear of it. 

By taking into account both what you have on the field and what your opponent has, any pauses or lack thereof can allow you to make an educated guess as to what a face-down Spell / Trap might be. 

Know the Meta

As you climb the ladder, the number of oddballs will start to disappear and you'll be exposed to higher tier meta decks. 

Though some Spells / Traps are universally handy, certain decks will utilize "exclusive" support cards that have their own tells. To name a few:

  • Fur Hires: Mayhem Fur Hire
  • Amazons: Amazoness Willpower
  • Masked Heroes: Mask Change
  • Spellbooks: Spellbook of Fate 
  • Geargias: Pulse Mines

Each have their own requirements, which we will be taking into account when observing for pauses / lack of pauses. 

The Pauses, Mason - What Do They Mean?

First thing to make note of: Spells and Traps can only be activated under certain conditions.

If your opponent has a set Spell / Trap that gives no initial trouble but begins to prompt pauses as your turn progresses, this can be indicative of what that set card might be.

  1. Visualize a checklist of activation requirements. Based on when pauses occur or don't occur,
  2. Deduce what a card isn't
  3. Infer what a card could be
Card(s) Requirement
Enemy Controller, Windstorm of Etaqua, Paleozoic Canadia

You must control a face-up monster

Sphere Kuriboh, Wall of Disruption, Widespread Ruin

You must declare an attack

Super Rush Headlong

Your opponent must control a face-up monster

Treacherous Trap Hole

There must be 2 monsters on the field & your opponent must have no Traps in their GY

Mayhem Fur Hire, Amazoness Willpower, Red-Eyes Spirit, Powerful Rebirth

Your opponent must have a corresponding monster in their GY

Mask Change

Your opponent must control a face-up HERO monster

Spellbook of Fate

Your opponent must control a Spellcaster & have at least 1 "Spellbook" Spell cards in their GY

With the above list in mind, lets hop into some cases:


Example 1: Your opponent has a lone face-down Spell / Trap and no monsters.

You activate a Spell, Destiny Draw - no pauses.

You summon Vision HERO Vyon - pause...

Conclusion: You can suspect ECon or Canadia, since the pauses began only after you summoned a monster. 


Example 2: You declare an attack while your opponent has no set Spells / Traps

- pause...

Conclusion: Sphere Kuriboh. One of the only cards that can trigger an activation prompt without actually being on the field. 


Damage Step Pauses

Some cards can directly affect a monster's ATK stat, and these have specific pauses after the Battle Step.

Example: You have a live Forbidden Chalice and your opponent has Amazoness Princess and a set backrow. You decide to attack.

When you attack, you are prompted to activate Chalice. You decline - pause...

Upon reaching the Damage Step, another Chalice prompt. You decline again. Another pause...

Conclusion: This is indicative of a card that can directly influence the amount of damage involved, such as

  • Mirror Wall
  • Forbidden Chalice


Disclaimer: This process gets more complicated as the field becomes more populated. You won't always be able to deduce useful information if both sides have monsters / backrow. However the general concept can still be applied during the early game or after big plays.

Bonus Tip - Hazy Flamers

Since Hazys cannot be targeted by card effects, you should encounter very few pauses. Trouble cards are non-targeting backrow, such as Wall of Disruption or Widespread Ruin.

Activation Confirmation - Toggle Button
Settings - Toggle Button

This little button has both offensive and defensive uses, and can use your opponent's activation prompt awareness against them. 

One use of the toggle button involves Enemy Controller and switching to ON. Some players will immediately react to an attack declaration, allowing you to counter during the subsequent Battle Phase prompt.

On the flip side, switching to OFF may serve to trick your opponent into a foolish play. If the game progresses smoothly without pauses, your opponent may assume that your backline is insignificant and play more aggro.

Remember to switch back to ON during your turn!

Example: You have a Mirror Wall face-down and your Destiny HERO - Drilldark has just been ECon'd. 

Your opponent will soon attack with Dyna, Hero Fur Hire. 

By toggling to OFF, your opponent will assume that your set Spell / Trap is not dangerous, and will continue to take the offensive. 

Little does he know, your next Drilldark, although weaker than Dyna, is protected by a Mirror Wall. By switching back to Auto, he'll only realize he's been toggle baited after it's too late. 


Each backrow card has certain requirements in order to activate.

Remember when pauses occur, deduce what your opponent might have, or perhaps more importantly, what they don't have.

With enough experience and game sense, hitting King of Games is all a matter of grinding. 

Thanks for reading and happy dueling!