Last week I discussed Blaze Accelerator Reload, a brand new trap card out of Secrets of Eternity. I'd heavily advise checking that out before reading this one so that we're both on the same page in terms of Volcanic knowledge. For a quick reminder: Volcanics are a Pyro-type deck from many years ago. Your main combos revolve around loading up the graveyard with Volcanic Shells using Blaze Accelerator and Blaze Accelerator Reload. Doing so scores you free plusses of card economy, destruction effects, and major deck thinning. Blaze Accelerator Reload makes Volcanic Scattershot into a Raigeki on your opponent's turn, and Royal Firestorm Guards is your Pot of Avarice that lets you repeat all the plays I just mentioned. Finally, Volcanic Rocket searches for your Blaze Accelerator cards (including Reload).

In short, your goal is to slowly whittle down your opponent with individual swings in card economy and then eventually just overwhelm them. Is the Volcanic strategy going to break competitive metagames? Probably not, although it might've if we'd seen Reload released last summer during the Geargia and HAT format. For now though, Volcanics seem tailored specifically towards local metagames and possibly Regional Qualifiers. They're definitely promising.

Everything Changed When The Fire Nation Attacked
Ideally you're going to open up most your games with some combination of Blaze Accelerator Reload plus Volcanic Shell or Volcanic Scattershot. It's important to take into account the multitude of ways you can achieve that first turn set-up, too. Summoner Monk and any spell card turns into Lavalval Chain, Volcanic Shell, and Blaze Accelerator Reload. As a Shaddoll player in competitive metagames I've grown accustomed to going second every Game 1 but it's definitely the right choice to go first with Volcanics. Yes, you'll see fewer combo pieces, but setting up your Reload with at least one draw before it gets hit by Fire Lake of the Burning Abyss is crucial.

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It's important to break down all of your plusses on an individual basis, though, just so we have a good picture of what's really happening. Summoner Monk and any spell puts you at a +1 and gets you four cards deeper into your deck (the Volcanic Rocket you Special Summon; the Blaze Accelerator Reload you search; the first Volcanic Shell; and the second Shell you add to your hand). On your opponent's turn you'll discard Shell for a 1-for-1 with Reload, and on your next turn you can get your last Shell and discard it for Reload again. By turn two you're going to be seven cards deeper into your deck – a level of acceleration that's rare for a rogue strategy.

But what does that mean? All that drawing and search power has to get you somewhere otherwise it's wasted. In short, all that digging just gets you closer to the cards you can't search out, like Royal Firestorm Guards, Summoner Monk, Raigeki, Volcanic Doomfire, and - maybe most importantly - more traps. I like to think of Blaze Accelerator Reload as an Infernity Randomizer, granting you free cards so you can throw 1-for-1's at your opponent and come out on top. Card advantage as a whole isn't nearly as good as it used to be but if your metagame isn't blighted with Burning Abyss, Qliphorts, and Shaddolls then there's a huge chance that your opponents won't be able to thin toward their best cards nearly as quickly as you.

So how do you even begin to build a Volcanic deck? Obviously games where you open with Summoner Monk are going to be good, but it's those times when you don't draw the perfect cards that I wanted to focus on improving. Many people - including myself - have expressed concerns with Volcanics because there aren't many good Pyro monsters, so it's difficult to avoid playing potentially dead cards like the lower Level Volcanics. Blaze Accelerator Reload helps this issue by leaps and bounds but you won't always open with it. Let's take a look at what I arrived at after a couple weeks of testing:

DECKID=101656I feel like there are a couple ways to add more support to Volcanics. Bobby Kenny and I mulled over the idea of Fire Hand and Ice Hand and I can't say that that's a bad idea. You'll see I opted to run Mathematician, but the Hands are worth exploring. Royal Firestorm Guards can shuffle back Fire Hands, and that's decent, but I just felt Mathematician was a better choice because it improves your hand when you draw Reload with no discard fodder. Additionally, Mathematician opens up Call Of The Haunted plays with Volcanic Rocket and Summon Monk.

Basically, Mathematician's better when you open up a semi-playable hand, and Fire and Ice Hand are better when you brick. It's completely up to the pilot which way you'd like to go, and I'm still on the fence about it myself.

It'll Be Fun Watching Your Opponent Read Every Card You PlayI've been running rogue decks almost exclusively for the last two years, and my favorite thing about them is that your opponents always have no idea what to expect. Think about it: how do you prepare for battle when you don't even know what you're fighting? You ever bring a sword to a gunfight? Despite what samurai movies might show you I promise you will in fact be killed within seconds. This is the beauty of rogue decks, and specifically Volcanics.

Case in point, discarding Volcanic Scattershot for Blaze Accelerator Reload on your opponent's turn is ridiculous all the time, but just plain stupid the first time it happens. Even better is when you banish a fallen Reload from your graveyard during your opponent's turn to send Scattershot to the graveyard and blow up everything. I've had people read Reload multiple times in the same match and then give a blank stare when I banish it during their turn and decimate their set-up.

There are a few things worth noting. First of all, make sure you let your opponent know that it's important for them to declare their phases. In a perfect world run by Joe Frankino we'd all declare our phase changes all the time but the reality is that it doesn't happen, and I totally get annoyed when my opponent does it.

"Draw Phase, anything?"

"No."

"I draw a card, anything?"

"No."

"Standby Phase, anything?"

"No."

"Ending Standby Phase, any-"

"NO!"

Anyway, since Blaze Accelerator Reload can only be used in each player's Main Phase I'm sure some awkward rulings will occur if neither player declares phase changes. The other point I wanted to make was that Reload's discard is surprisingly an effect, not a cost. As someone who's dealt with Madolche Hootcake for two years now I can't stress how important it is to tell your opponent that. Just say something like "activating Reload's effect, okay? The discard isn't a cost so now's your chance to activate stuff" and everything will turn out alright. I suppose you could rule shark someone on that if you really wanted to win that badly, but if you really wanted to win that much you probably wouldn't be playing Volcanics in the first place.

Are Volcanics game-breaking? Not necessarily, but you can score some wins against top decks if you try hard enough. I've been siding a play set of Barrier Statue of the Infernos, a monster that while weak, often shuts out decks like Nekroz and Shaddolls entirely if you can protect it. There's room for improvement in my build I'm sure, and I'd love to hear your thoughts about it. Personally I'll enjoy crushing some local competition with these fiery monsters, but maybe you've got bigger plans for them. Let me know in the comments!

-Doug Zeeff