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

But 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. 

This knowledge will help you form a game plan, either acting as a stop sign or a green light to play aggressive. Being able to predict your opponent's backrow will give you a solid edge during your climb to King of Games.

Know Your Enemy

As you climb the ladder, the number of oddball decks 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:

  • Harpies: Order to Charge
  • Relinquished: Sphere Kuriboh
  • Mako: Fish Depth Charge, Michizure
  • Red-Eyes: Red-Eyes Spirit
  • Naturia: Super Rush Headlong

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

You must control a face-up monster

Sphere Kuriboh, Security Orb

You must declare an attack

Michizure, Regretful Rebirth

You must destroy an opposing monster

The Golden Apples

You must inflict direct damage to your opponent's LP

Wild Tornado

There must be a face-up Spell / Trap on the field

Order to Charge

You must control a monster & your opponent must control a face-up Normal monster

Fish Depth Charge

You must have a card on the field & your opponent must control a Fish-type monster

Super Rush Headlong

Your opponent must control a face-up monster

Red-Eyes Spirit

Your opponent must have a Red-Eyes monster in their Graveyard

Champion's Vigilance

Your opponent must control a 7+ star Normal Monster

Regarding monster summons: If you summon a monster that would be boosted by a Field Spell, CV will pause before the monster's stats are increased; this is true for any Spell / Trap that can negate summons

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, Double Summon - no pauses.

You summon Gravekeeper's Recruiter - pause...

Conclusion: Right away, you can suspect Enemy Controller or Windstorm, since the pauses began only after you summoned a monster. Even if he doesn't activate it this turn, you can be conscious of what it probably is and act accordingly.


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

- pause...

Conclusion: Sphere Kuriboh. The only card that can trigger an activation prompt without actually being on the field. Again, even if it's not used this turn, you are now aware that your opponent has SK at their disposal and can plan for the future.


Mirror Waggio

A common oddball is the omnipotent Mirror Wall, which leads to prompts during most phases or actions. By checking to see if the above conditions have been met or not, you can make an educated guess.

Note, if your opponent intentionally summons a weaker monster + a face-down, it's healthy to assume Mirror Wall unless a lack of pauses tells you otherwise. That being said...


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 Enemy Controller and decide to attack your opponent's DEF mode Blazing Inpachi, which is protected by a face-down.

(Toggle - ON, more on this below) When you attack, you are prompted to activate E-Con during the Battle Step. You decline.

However, upon reaching the Damage Step, another pause, this time from your opponent.

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

  • Mirror Wall
  • Metalmorph
  • Half Shut

Your opponent declines, and your attack goes through. But you now have the knowledge that you're going up against Mirror Wall / Metalmorph and won't be caught unaware.


Note: 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.

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, which Dkayed explains here

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.


Example: You have a Mirror Wall face-down and your Great Angus has just been Windstorm'd. 

Your opponent will soon attack with a Red-Eyes B. Dragon. 

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 Great Angus, although weaker than REBD, 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. 


Taking into account what cards you and your opponent control, go through a mental checklist of when pauses occur. From there, you can deduce what your opponent has, or perhaps more importantly, what they don't have.

By making educated guesses, you can figure out when it's appropriate to play passive and when to push through. 

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

Thanks for reading and happy dueling!