With the advent of the January 1st, 2024 banlist, the meta has received an ever so slight shakeup. More familiar faces will still be around, and most decks remain the same. However, the rise of Diabellstar Fire King and Labrynth means that some players are adjusting their defensive choices. Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion is a tech that's hot on everyone's radar, notably seeing a lot of play at various regionals this month! Let's talk about it.
Special thanks to both the r/yugioh and MBT Jank Tank Discords for their help in making this article!
The Mansion's Maiden
Ghost Belle is an interesting hand trap that shows up now and again due to its fairly wide array of effects it can stop, as long as it involves moving cards out of the GY. The three effects that it can stifle are quite popular right now, making it an appealing choice for duelists either in the Main or Side. Search cards that can additionally recover cards from the grave (add from Deck or GY) are prime targets for Belle to shut down.
Not only that, Belle has a fairly unique property where it can be used defensively, preventing your GY from getting disrupted by certain cards. Suppose you find yourself being bothered by the likes of D.D. Crow and Bystials, Belle can potentially bail you out of that situation. Stopping the ever-powerful Called by the Grave is nothing to scoff at either.
As a bonus, its useful traits can shine in certain decks. Vanquish Soul heavily appreciates Ghost Belle being an EARTH monster and it helps shore up some bad matchups, win-win! Kashtira can occasionally Normal Summon Ghost Belle to pressure a Baronne de Fleur should it prove not useful in the matchup.
While it will never be as omnipresent or splashable as something like Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, this card is always worth keeping in the back of your mind regarding deck building. It just so happens that this format and the next are quite good for Belle, so let's go over the strategies it can help keep at bay.
Welcome Party Crasher
Ghost Belle has proven to be an incredible asset against Labrynth decks, negating Big Welcome Labrynth's activation to deny their key plays. Considering how Furniture Labrynth initially has to give up card advantage and initially reap it back once their Trap cards resolve, this can put them behind if Belle gets in the way.
There are other targets that you can hit with Belle, but it's better to save her for Big Welcome. Multiple copies aren't bad to open either as you can continue to sabotage their access to Lovely Labrynth of the Silver Castle if needed. When paired alongside Ash Blossom, the two Hand Traps make life very difficult for Labrynth. Even as a 6th draw, it can prove useful when they flip Big Welcome going into your turn.
Once Transaction Rollback is released in Maze of Milennia, the dynamic will be shifted on its head. Even still, Ghost Belle will remain a valuable asset in dealing with the deck and should be kept in mind.
Quelling the Flames
FIRE decks are already quite prominent in the metagame and will continue to be highly represented once we get Phantom Nightmare. For Rescue-ACE, Ghost Belle isn't the most impactful but if you do know they are on R-ACE, you can 100% Belle WANTED: Seeker of Sinful Spoils and get a lot of mileage out of it. This is legal as WANTED can add a Diabellstar monster from the GY, making it vulnerable to Belle. Hitting a hard-drawn ALERT! or RESCUE! in tricky situations can also prove to be useful, especially if you don't want Rescue-ACE Preventer flipping your important monster face-down.
Against Fire Kings, Belle has a lot more relevant targets to stop and all of them can be good depending on the situation. Sacred Fire King Garunix's effect to revive itself from the GY is an appealing choice, and so is Fire King High Avatar Kirin's nasty revive and destroy effect which is difficult to play through otherwise. Should the opponent be on a Snake-Eyes package, Belle negating Snake-Eyes Flamberge Dragon's effect to revive 2 Level 1 FIRE monsters is extremely desirable.
Once PHNI releases and adds Promethean Princess, Bestower of Flames into the mix, stopping her with Belle when you draw it as a 6th card is also an option. While it may not be a turn-ender or a hard stop to their plays, Belle can pull its weight in this matchup.
Do Not Leave Belleables Unattended
January 2024's mini format is surprisingly kind to Ghost Belle, as it has plenty of use cases across various decks. Because of this, some people have even been maining the card and are seeing decent results in the current regional scene. Though it is more commonly seen in the Side Deck as of now. With that being said, how about we look at how you can use Ghost Belle against the other decks of the meta?
Unchained is still popping up across Regionals but with much lower representation, likely because the limiting of Unchained Soul of Sharvara is far more brutal than limiting Rescue-ACE Air Lifter or the banning of Agido and Kelbek for Tearlaments. In any case, Ghost Belle continues to be a great HT against the deck. Unchained Soul of Shyama's GY effect is arguably the most important since it can cut off D/D/D Wave High King Caesar from hitting the field and denies free bodies.
Should Caesar not be a concern or if you see Belle late, Unchained Soul Lord of Yama's GY effect or Unchained Soul of Rage's floating effect in an attempt to recover the limited Sharvara are also valid hits. In grind, hitting Abominable Chamber of the Unchained isn't a bad idea either.
Branded Despia is seeing a sizeable resurgence in the mini format, due to its generally good matchup into Labrynth, Fire King, and not minding Rescue-ACE's main interruptions all too much. There are a good amount of cards that you can Belle against the strategy, but do keep in mind that Branded Lost can invalidate some of these options. Nevertheless, both Albion the Branded Dragon and Albion the Sanctifire Dragon are okay to stop, potentially preventing further fusions or a possible Gimmick Puppet Nightmare lock. Lubellion the Searing Dragon is an option too.
Branded in Red can be prevented to stop a scary Guardian Chimera or another Mirrorjade the Iceblade Dragon from coming out, and Nadir Servant's extension can be cut in its tracks with a well-timed Ghost Belle. A special mention has to go to using Belle on Fusion Duplication! A good amount of Branded players will use Triple Tactics Thrust to get to this trap should their Branded Fusion get hit with Ash Blossom. They will attempt to play on the following turn with Duplication, and this effect cannot be Ashed. Luckily since it attempts to banish the Fusion Spell from the GY, Belle can stop it cold in its tracks.
Various Horus decks are a fairly common sight now, due to their impressive engine which can overwhelm even the strongest of duelists. A lot of these strategies hinge on resolving The Zombie Vampire using both Imsety, Glory of Horus and Hapi, Guidance of Horus. Ghost Belle can prevent TZV's Mill 4 effect as it can Special Summon a monster from the GY. While again it may not be a guaranteed end to their turn, this cuts them off a huge amount of resources and momentum. Let's go over some of the variants and what you can hit outside of this deadly Rank 8.
Tearlaments is still a force to be reckoned with and can be difficult to hit with Belle optimally due to their nature of trigger effects chaining together. Still on the off chance you can use Belle, here are a few promising options. Catching Tearlaments Reinoheart's GY effect to Special Summon itself and sending a Tear card from the hand to the GY denies a lot of gas, a possible fusion, and a Toadally Awesome all in one. Hitting the GY effect to fuse especially if Primeval Planet Perlereino is up can prove quite fruitful too. If your deck is heavily burdened by both Keldo and Mudora, preventing their effect to shuffle back your GY resources is a sound idea.
Horus Orcust has been a fairly popular sighting ever since Orcust Harp Horror returned to the game. Stopping Orcust Cymbal Skeleton's revive can be a nice hit that cuts off a few plays, especially if they want to bring back something like Girsu, the Orcust Mekk-Knight, Dingirsu, the Orcust of the Evening Star, or Galatea, the Orcust Automaton to make Orcust Crescendo live.
For Resonator versions, most of their lines rely on Crimson Gaia one way or another, so it is a solid option to stop. Against Bystial Resonator and Bystial Runick, hitting Bystial Magnamhut especially if searched off The Bystial Lubellion is a high-risk, high-reward play. The potential upside of preventing them access to a Level 6 body for Synchro plays, another Bystial coming into your turn, and Branded Regained can be appealing. Regarding Runick, it's usually better to deny the Fountain draw if possible unless the opponent establishes an early Dis Pater.
To wrap things up, here are a few low-impact hits Ghost Belle can do. It's not the best choice for these types of matchups, but it means that if you have it in Game 1 against these decks, it can still at least impede the opponent in some way.
Mannadium is a tricky deck to stop if you don't use blowout hand traps, but here are a few suggestions on where to Belle. You can stop Visas Samsara's summon effect from the hand, or either Scareclaw Arrival and Mannadium Trisukta from reviving their targets. Holding Belle for Cross-Sheep can pay off as it potentially prevents a second Synchro monster from hitting the field.
Kashtira Birth bringing back a Kashtira monster from the GY or banished can be prevented by Ghost Belle and so can its effect to banish 3 cards from the opponent's GY face-down.
Rock of the Vanquisher's effect to add back from the GY or Vanquish Soul - Continue? can be hit with Belle, potentially cutting them off from getting back to Razen or going for a brutal Vanquish Soul Snow Devil push.
If you have other HTs against the rarer but dangerous Horus Adventurer decks, Belle on Water Enchantress of the Temple may cut them off from accessing the Adventurer engine to protect Imsety.
Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion might just be in its best format yet and is looking to be a great choice in the future with Maze of Milennia and Phantom Nightmare over the horizon. While it will always face stiff competition from the likes of D.D. Crow, Bystials, and whatnot, its unique blend of offense and defense sets it apart from those hand traps. I hope this article has proved useful in detailing how you can use Belle to help combat the metagame! Until next time folks, Renren out!