The new April 1st Forbidden and Limited List was easily the smallest List we've seen in years. It was so small that many players not used to a List of its brevity have called it ineffective. To many degrees, their worries have some validity. To see the two most dominant strategies – Mermails and Fire Fists – lose only two cards, it would make any player nervous for the future of the game. But I, for one, am cautiously optimistic at the state of things to come.

The change that hit me the hardest was the Limiting of Rekindling. Of course I understand it: it's a card that I can safely say with all the confidence in the world is broken beyond belief. It was an extra dose of ammunition to strategies like Fire Kings and Fire Fist – powerful decks that absolutely don't need the extra oomph at all. However, for Lavals – a personal favorite of mine – Rekindling was their one lynch pin.

Today I want to ask the question: was Rekindling really the live or die card for Lavals?

I Humbly Say, "No."
People tend to follow the path of least resistance by nature. Is that a bad thing? Not always. That modus operandi can often mean people are simply being their most efficient. Often times, I think that that was the case with the Laval strategy. Can you blame the thought process? Of course not! Rekindling was totally insane and game-stealing card by nature. What really ticks me off now though, is that with two cards gone from the Main Deck, everyone is just calling Lavals dead! It begs the question, is that realism or short-sightedness? With this article, I'm hoping to open the door to that conversation.

I personally can't help but feel that a deck with gallons of potential became pigeon-holed into being nothing but the strategy that could bring out Shooting Quasar Dragon with the most consistency. Is it wise or in any way beneficial to disregard a deck like Laval as nothing more than a one trick pony? I don't think so.

Believe it or not, with the focus of the deck now pulled away from Rekindling, we can take the strategy in a new direction that would've been conflicting otherwise. Let's take a look at the build that my research so far has brought me to. Is it the be-all end-all answer? Not by a long shot. But what I do think I have here is a compelling starting point for this now-shunned strategy.

DECKID=99972With Rekindling at three, your main focus was to keep your Lavals in the graveyard so that you could make waves of Synchro Summons and overwhelm your opponent. Now however, you can load your Lavals into the graveyard as a sort of reverse toolbox: you want to yard a ton of monsters to abuse with various other cards. Instead of an all-out aggro style, you've got a strategy that's going to be more control-oriented by nature.

The set-up's largely the same as it was before: your ideal opening is always going to be either Molten Conduction Field or Summoner Monk so that you can load up your graveyard with a ton of Lavals. Conduction Field's your Foolish Burial on crack. Usually, you'll send a copy of Laval Lakeside Lady and Laval Volcano Handmaiden to the graveyard so that you can trigger Handmaiden's effect to send your other copies of her to the grave. Lastly, you'll finish off by sending Laval Magma Cannoneer to the grave.

It's important to make sure that way you have at least three differently-named Lavals yarded so you can activate Lakeside Lady's effect any time you need her. This is your ideal set-up. Usually, if you can get your grave loaded in this fashion by Turn 2 or 3, winning isn't that difficult. But how do you go about winning exactly?

Little Monsters That Turn Into Bigger Monsters!
Lavals are one of the few strategies that have equal footing in both Xyz and Synchro Summoning; a unique advantage that you can abuse to its fullest extent with the suite of cards played here. Before the new F&L List, your main goal and best-case scenario was to try and OTK your opponent before they knew what hit them, but with Rekindling Limited that sort of situation's more of a back burner goal as opposed to the norm. With that reality in mind, it's freed up a ton of room in the Extra Deck. If you look, cards that were formerly Laval mainstays such as T.G. Hyper Librarian and Shooting Quasar Dragon are eschewed in favor of a Synchro and Xyz Toolbox that focuses heavily on Rank 4s and numerous vicious Synchro Monsters.

Laval Cannon's the strongest tool at your disposal, and it's usually the gateway to your big Extra Deck bosses. When you Normal Summon it or Flip Summon it, you can target any one of your banished Laval monsters and Special Summon it to the field; consider it a backwards Tour Guide From the Underworld of sorts. This one monster holds together many of the synergies that make this strategy so powerful. If you've popped a card with Laval Lakeside Lady - or your MST in the dark as I like to call her - you can bring her back with Cannon to Synchro Summon Laval Stennon. A 2700 ATK behemoth, Stennon usually blindsides your opponent and stays on the field for as long as you want it to with its incredible resistance to most forms of removal. You can often ride a single Stennon to victory if you have the backrow for it. Fun little fact to remember: if you banish a yarded Laval Stennon for any number of your effects, Laval Cannon can bring it back into play.

If you chose to Special Summon any of your other Level 4 Lavals with Cannon you'll then have access to your powerhouse Rank 4 Xyz – including showstoppers like Number 101: Silent Honor ARK and Evilswarm Exciton Knight. You could even bring back a banished Laval Volcano Handmaiden to make Armades, Keeper of Boundaries against strategies that enjoy sneaky battle tricks, like Fire Fists. The coolest part of all that is how easy it is for Laval Cannon to keep your graveyard fully loaded even after you've thinned it out deeply to keep the pressure on your opponent.

"Are You Telling Me You Guys Don't Have The Shadow Realm In The Future?"
Everything spoken thus far probably begs the question: how are all of these monsters getting removed from the game anyway? Sure, Laval Lakeside Lady accounts for a decent portion of that removal but it can't be all of it. And you're totally right in that presumption: the Lady only accounts for a third of your banishing costs.

The other portion's split between Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos and Spirit of Flames. Since the Laval strategy's pretty much all Fire monsters, Blaster's a no brainer here. What's even greater for you now is that before this Format, Blaster hugely conflicted with all of your Rekindling shenanigans in a way that made playing him a virtually untenable balancing act. With this build, you can capitalize on Blaster without any real hesitation on your part. You can dump your lone Dragon Ruler into the graveyard with Lavalval Chain for quick and easy access and can help make some of the strongest monsters in your Extra Deck like Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack, Number 11: Big Eye, and Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree.

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Spirit of Flames is the third and final power player in this strategy. One of the biggest innovations in the Mermail deck over the past couple of Formats was the inclusion of Aqua Spirit in the Main Deck to help generate stronger fields in a more consistent fashion. Spirit of Flames works in the exact same fashion here. Like Aqua Spirit, it can't be Normal Summoned or Set. You Special Summon Spirit of Flames by banishing a Fire Monster from your graveyard. By allowing you to get another body on the field without eating up your Normal Summon, Spirit gives you access to some of your larger Synchro Monsters, like Mist Wurm, that you wouldn't necessarily be able to pull off with just Laval Cannon tricks alone. It also lets you set up Laval Cannon plays against strategies where Lakeside Lady isn't your strongest play.

A Fire Not Yet Snuffed Out
Personally, I still see boatloads of potential in this underdog strategy. Lavals have such a unique play style; one that forces your opponent to think and react in off-kilter ways. The deck demands that they play in ways they aren't necessarily used to playing. I've always considered that to be its strongest asset, not just Rekindling.

I'm still working on the necessary tweaks to making this strategy truly killer. You may be as well. Are you using any personal tech choices that others wouldn't expect to see? I chose to retain the Battle Faders despite their primary use as Formula Synchron fodder, and in turn added Creature Swap to capitalize on them, as well as giving me an out when I open witha monster-heavy hand. It's not necessarily an expected choice but it's one that's working well, giving surprising results. I can only assume that there are some of you out there who are also doing the same with your Laval builds. I can't be the only one out there who hasn't given up on this archetype. Show me some Laval love, guys! Where're you at?

-Zach Buckley
Team Nofatchx