It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of cards that have extensive lorebacking awesome artworks and effects; in college I went so far to write apaper depicting the parallels between ancient portrayals of Egyptian mythosjuxtaposed with contemporary reflections related to tombkeeping, and Ilargely cited the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime and the Gravekeeper cards to make mypoint.

…Boy, do they let you get away with a lot of stuff in college.

But we're not here for Gravekeepers today. Instead we'll be talking aboutthe Burning Abyss theme; it pulls mostly from Dante'sDivine Comedy, and more specifically just the Infernopoems, both of which I read in college and subsequently wroteanother paper on. I also wrote three papers onbees, which is much more telling than I'd like, but I digress.

Instead of talking about my years-gone-by college assignments, the briefhistorical synopsis relevant to the Burning Abyss is simple enough to takejust a few seconds. The avatar of the reader is a fictionalized version ofthe author Dante himself, going through both figurative and literal hell,or as I would have titled the collectionHaving My Desk Right Next to the Break Room.

Victor Valenzuela didn't need to teach any of that to his opponents, butthey did have to learn is that Burning Abyss isn't a dead strategy…And someof them probably learned that the hard way! No, the flames of theunderworld are still strong here, guiding Valenzuela to a Top 8 finish atthe latest Regional Qualifier in Providence Rhode Island.

Here's what he played.

DECKID=109446After what feels like a dozen Forbidden & Limited Lists slapped aroundBurning Abyss even worse than I get slapped around playing Super SmashBros. Ultimate online, part of me is shocked to see the deck rise again andagain, constantly emerging from the depths of the lake of fire andconsistently performing well at high level events.

It's been over four years since Duelist Alliance delivered BurningAbyss to the TCG as a World Premiere theme, but constant strategicadaptations combined with innovative nuances contribute year in and yearout to the deck's neverending reign. Whether it be Fiendish Rhino Warriorkeeping Malebranches alive or Sekka's Light gifting a much needed surge ofcard economy, the deck just refuses to die, and always seems to roar backwith a vengeance whenever it's finally counted as down and out.

A large part of that resiliency comes from the synergistic nature of agroup of cards that are already powerful on their own. Consider the simplepairing of Sekka's Light and Gallis the Star Beast. Sekka's Light all butforbids you from running other spells and traps in your deck, and Gallisthe Star Beast needs an all-monster build to hit the field successfully.It's either that or a lot of luck, which just isn't an option in tournamentplay.

While Gallis the Star Beast might be atypical for the "average" BurningAbyss deck – whatever that even means by now – the other cards thatsynergize with Sekka's Light should come standard. Duplicate copies ofDante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss are the most obvious choice, butOrbital Hydralander comes in close behind it on the list of necessities. Itoffers a non-targeting way to destroy opposing monsters while likewisesending cards from your deck to the graveyard.

"I wish it was more than just a common," Valenzuela remarked, fanning out afistful of high rarity cards post event and noting that the non-foilOrbital Hydralander caught no glitter in the light. But Valenzuela said itearned the spot of MVP for the day, saying "I'd play a thousand of them ifI could." Hydralander's just that good here.

Obviously you want to send a lot of monsters to your graveyard, and Sekka'sLight facilitates that goal with its own restrictions; that's ultimatelywhere the Danger! monsters shine the most. If you're using spells and trapsyou might need to set cards prematurely to maximize a Danger monster'sdiscard effect and cut off Burning Abyss summons from the hand, but Sekka'sLight takes that pressure off you. It's great in a lot of different decks,but it's so especially good here that it deserves an extra nod.

Get #DeathToSkyStrikers Trending - It Worked With Firewall Dragon
Most decks Valenzuela faced at the regional were Sky Strikers, and hegeared his deck to destroy them. Instead of using hand traps to thwart hisopponents he largely relied on seven Kaiju monsters, wielding almost thewhole Kaiju family.

"All of them are amazing," he explained. "They let you OTK, and worst-casescenario they get rid of problem cards," Valenzuela said of them against anaverage field of decks. It was rare for him to side the Kaijus out becausethey were so impactful against most of his opponents. "If you Kaiju a SkyStriker [player], you win."

Looking carefully at the deck you'll notice Valenzuela didn't play any handtraps. That was totally intentional, and to an outside observer ofYu-Gi-Oh! the waxing and waning of hand traps in a variety of decks couldseem pretty odd. A similar Burning Abyss top cut build might have three,six, or – in the case of a 60 card deck – perhaps as many as twelve handtraps!

#####CARDID= 23609 #####

But with the emphasis on sending cards to the graveyard straight from thedeck hand traps don't do as much, and hand traps are only good when youdraw them. If you play against an FTK and don't see a hand trap in youropening turn you're effectively sunk. Valenzuela used that to his advantage- not just to preserve certain counts of cards that could keep his strategyconsistent, but to psych out his opponents as well.

"Hand traps are wack," Valenzuela described his ritual when going secondevery game, an advantage not many decks can partake in. "I like to focuswithout the hand traps, and look at my opponent. It allows me to read thembetter."

Beyond that, it helped Valenzuela catch any misplays as well as potentialfoul play, even if unintentional. "For the rest of the game, you can pickup on what they do," Valenzuela admitted further, describing anotherelement in card games that is often overlooked. He believed that kind offocus had significant value, even if it just allowed him to mildlyintimidate his opponent or gain a psychological advantage.

Smothered, Scattered, And Smattered
What I think I appreciate most about this deck is the consistency itachieves, despite so many single copies of cards on top of the low numberof search effects. Even the cards that specifically field or search cardsare rather restrictive and you'regoing to use them mostly as fodder.

Take Danger!? Jackalope? You'll summon another Danger monster, but that'sproably turning into another Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss. It's notlike the additional themes are powering up Valenzuela's deck with nicheplays that remain on-target for those archetypes. They're all just aboutfielding consistent Level 3s, which is what he ultimately wants toaccomplish.

#####CARDID= 23772 #####

I did A LOT of test draws with this deck, and every time I drew a randomsmattering of six cards – Valenzuela opted to go second each duel – Iunderstood more and more why he built the deck the way he did. Go ahead,scroll up and randomly choose six cards and think about what you can dowith that hand. Outside of an absolute nightmare like five Kaijus and FairyTail - Snow, it's difficult to find an unplayable mix.

Prank-Kids falter when they don't have a way to summon a Fusion monster,and Dark Warrior decks now have fewer Armageddon Knights to kick off theirplays. Even Altergeists lean on Altergeist Multifaker to make strong plays.But Sekka's Burning Abyss starts off on the right foot on Turn 1practically every game, almost regardless of what you draw.

That being said, one diamond in the rough stands out here – Mare Mare.You'll almost never Normal Summon it, but at the end of the day it's a pathto a wide range of Link Monsters or Yazi, Evil of the Yang Zing. Destrudothe Lost Dragon's Frisson obviously helps with Link Summons as well, butmaking Yazi with Destrudo and any other monster means you'll destroy a cardyour opponent controls and finish with Mare Mare and subsequent Mini MareMare Tokens.

It's really, really good, and it's a great fit for this strategy.

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 "Marshmallows forEveryone." When he's not submitting ideas for Fabled support and aFabled Link monster, you can find him building a bonfire in hisbackyard to attract the local wildlife for an audience with hisukulele. Hailed as the only person capable of cooking Minute Rice in 56seconds, Loukas is always looking at expanding his backyard to houseevery dog in the world without a home. Well, and those with homesalready.


Do you love winning with unconventional strategies? Do you lovecreating mash-ups? Does your deck need an injection of crazy? Send thefollowing torerouting.tcgplayer@gmail.comto have your deck featured in the "Re-Routing" deck fix column!

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send awritten deck list, not a screencap; screencapped deck lists will befiled and then burned in the furnace accordingly… and your deck shouldbe TCG legal).

-Your name and city.

-Remember, please use full card names! Abbrevs and mis-sipllngs makeLoukas' life sad. Try your darndest to get the TCG name on there.

-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you'replaying it, and its strengths and weaknesses. "Winning" is not astrategy per se, and neither is "beating your opponents before theybeat you."

-Your favorite card from the build and why – make me fall in love withthe deck! The cooler your strategy the more I'll want to fix it, and ifyou throw in funny jokes, that'll surely get my attention too; bewarned, unfunny jokes will push your deck to the back of the stack.Don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'mnot bored of it yet! –LJP