Burning Abyss was introduced in Duelist Alliance way back in late2014, and the strategy's never fallen entirely out of competition since.Despite key cards like Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal and Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss spending time on the Forbidden & Limited List, the net success of Burning Abyss has waivered from time to time, but never truly disappeared.

 

It's clear that Burning Abyss isn't winning every tournament under the sun, sure, but Burning Abyss strategies have made the top cut at YCS, Regional, nd other third party events year after year, consistently and without fail. The funny part about that is just how much the deck has changed overtime, while still keeping Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss dead center.

Whether they were played with with traps, with Monarchs, an assortment of boss monsters, or monster mash-esque builds capitalizing on Sekka's Light…we've seen just about everything Burning Abyss players could cobble together, all falling in and out of popularity in different eras. Gallis the Star Beast, Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning, Orbital Hydralander - the deck's evolved so much over time that it's hard to pin down when exactly the best version of a given variant existed.

Take today's example: Shaqueil Hall's Top Cut finish at the YCS inGuatemala. It has… well, a little bit of everything really, and by everything, I really mean everything. Just when I thought I'dnever have to see Vanity's Fiend and Fiend Griefing again, Hall played just those cards to crush his competition!

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Despite the changes we've seen in the past five years Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss is and always will be the lynchpin of this theme. When it hits the graveyard it gets you back Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss which revives Dante in turn when it goes down too. Barring D.D. Crow orCalled by the Grave, it's an endless loop of the same cards that creates a powerful core to build around.

Historically, Dante's also been abused to milled lots of free cards from the deck to trigger other Burning Abyss effects, but take a look at Hall's list. With only nine Burning Abyss monsters here the math is never reallyin your favor when you're hoping to blindly hit a Malebranche. And if you do, it won't always be to your advantage! With so many single copies of cards - Tour Guide From the Underworld, Imperial Order, and Foolish Burial stand out – this is a Burning Abyss deck that doesn't blindly mill on purpose. There are a surprising number of situations where it's actually better for this deck to avoid milling cards than to spin the wheel and send random cards to the yard.

Instead, the real fuel powering much of the deck is the love affair betweenDante and Cir. Fiend Griefing counters your opponent's graveyard but also gets you to Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss much faster. The same can be said of Foolish Burial, Fiendish Rhino Warrior, and Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss, all working together to get Dante onto the table as quickly as possible with Cir just around the corner. Hall even went so far as to play Phoenix Wing Wind Blast, turning the discard cost into an infrastructural advantage.

While Scarm, Cir, Graff, Barbar, and Farfa are all obvious picks for anyBurning Abyss deck, iLibic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss and Alich,Malebranche of the Burning Abyss are a bit more flexible and don't appear in a significant number of builds. But their worth goes beyond theireffects. Whether it's free tribute fodder, ammo for Fiend Griefing, or away to turn Dante into Beatrice, there's definitely a lower limit onBurning Abyss monsters to keep in the deck.

So while Hall's creation is technically a Burning Abyss deck, it's geared much more towards other things while being careful to keep enough ways to satisfy the Cir and Dante combo. Obviously in a pinch Alich negates effects or Farfa clears the board for direct damage, but the convergence of different Burning Abyss assets winds up coming together into a unique hybrid that's actually pretty interesting.

It's Like Old School Psychics But Not At All
One thing we haven't seens in Burning Abyss for a while is the push forSynchro Summons, and Hall's deck has more than just a few.

Psychic Wheeleder has several effects and the obvious bonus ofc ompatibility withEmergency Teleport. If you have another Level 3 monster, just throw down Psychic Wheeleder and spin your way to a Synchro Summon.After that you'll pop a monster on the field, making your Virgil, Rockstar of the Burning Abyss or Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier that much morepowerful.

Virgil and Brionac are surprising powerhouses that don't see much play since the investment you put into them often eclipse the impact of theireffects. Coordinating the deck to have the necessary Levels and Tuners often gets overlooked for Extra Deck space, Psychic Wheeleder has the additional advantage of working for non-Synchro purposes.

Obviously anything can turn into a Link Monster, but free Level 3s from thehand for Dante? Consider Fiendish Rhino Warrior and Psychic Wheeleder. Plop down those two cards and you'll realize just how versatile your follow-up options are. Whether it's a Knightmare Phoenix to pop backrow, Brionac to bounce a pesky monster or the aforementioned Dante, you're set for whatever comes your way.

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Fiendish Rhino Warrior's the other side of the off-theme coin for the lesser monsters. Keep in mind, Hall largely used the Burning Abyss cards tofuel the Cir and Dante loop, and supporting cards like Fiendish RhinoWarrior and Psychic Wheeleder added to the final end product. They facilitate main plays while providing ancillary support, tapping into cardsoften overlooked elsewhere.

In terms of boss monsters, Hall chose to forego all others for two copies of Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning and Vanity's Fiend.Personally I like more boss monsters, but both approaches have merit and these are two especially good options. Vanity's Fiend can shut downstrategies completely while Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginningcan end duels before they start.

Ok, so that last statement describes something that isn't really possible, but keep in mind Underclock Taker's power. Underclock combined with BlackLuster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning against a single monster nets 7000damage. It may not merit space to see the combo all the time, but it's a powerful prospect hiding in this deck and it's the kind of little adaptive move that makes this build so unpredictable.

Just remember: beat your opponents before they beat you.

-Loukas Peterson


Loukas Peterson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, hoping one day to run in5th Congressional District on the platform of "Fabled Link Monsters forEveryone." You can find him on Twitter or building a bonfire in his backyard to attract the local wildlife foran audience with his ukulele. Hailed as the only person capable of cooking Minute Rice in 56 seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding his backyard to house every dog in the world without a home.Well, and those with homes already.