It's week two after the meteoric drop of the new Forbidden & Limited List and I can only imagine that everyone's still reeling from it as much as I am. As I'm writing this, YCS Dallas hasn't even begun and there's no factual indicator of what the competitive landscape now looks like. Last format fell into a sort of triumvirate situation; three decks just kept toppling over each other without much room in between for anything to join in the fray. It's hard to say what this format's going to look like and I have no doubt in my mind that duelists across the globe are wracking their mind trying to come up with the next cutting edge strategy.

As for me? Well, I'm just over here having fun.

Now that's not to say that I haven't put any thought into today's strategy, because that's surely not the case. In fact, this is the start of the first two-parter in More Bang For Your Buck history! For the first time ever, moving past the border of the $100 cap will radically shift the core concepts of the deck forward while changing a lot of its functionality. This deck's crazy fun on a budget to begin with and moving past those financial limitations will, like, quadruple that fun to no end. It's a confusing ride to get to that point though, and I think the two part discussion will be necessary. So what could this deck possibly be that's warrants such a change in the way I do things around here?

Burning. Abyss. Ice Barriers.
You definitely read that correctly. This article isn't for the Ice Barrier purists amongst us. In fact, I'm taking everything you enjoy about your beloved, pure Ice Barrier deck and sending that crap straight to hell in a deck box – literally. I want something that wins, to be completely honest.

Plenty of people build Ice Barriers not as a glass cannon but more obnoxiously so as a glass shield! The Ice Barrier lock is altogether too much to try and realistically assemble in a game as fast as Yu-Gi-Oh. You won't ever establish that set-up in time and if you do, most opponents will smash it to bits quite quickly. There are too many outs to something like that and the standard Ice Barrier deck can't recover as well as other strategies. So instead, I want an Ice Barrier deck that can go toe-to-toe with my opponent and trade blows as needed. I'd rather trade punches on and off then just throw everything into one swing.

So how exactly does Burning Abyss play into something like this? Well, last summer Jason suped up an Ice Barrier Deck in his What The Fix?! column that basically attempted the same goal we're aiming for here today. There was just one big difference with his build: all of the Dragon Rulers were Unlimited. That means the deck could run triple Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls as well as double Stream, Dragon Ruler of Droplets. In conjunction with Tidal, the real clincher was Tour Guide From the Underworld for Leviair the Sea Dragon. Leviair gave the deck a ton of longevity since it could recycle Prior of the Ice Barrier. Send Prior to the graveyard to Special Summon General Gantala of the Ice Barrier, then banish Prior and another Water monster to Special Summon Tidal. At that point you could go into any Rank 7 you'd like and, with a Tour Guide in hand, essentially repeat the process next turn.

Fast forward to now and all of the deck's basic play patterns are still intact. The trouble this time around is that you've gone from five enabling Dragon Rulers to just one. That doesn't mean those kinds of plays are impossible today – they just require a little extra set-up. As a slight trade-off, you now have triple Tour Guide From the Underworld while you only had two copies before. Plus, you also have Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss this time around, and it's a tremendous help.

Whereas in the original build, you could throw down that Leviair play only once per game, now you can repeat the process consistently over several turns. And while you're pulling your pieces together, you can perform that wonderful Never-Ending-Fortune soft lock with Number 49: Fortune Tune, should that be necessary. It's easy to do and it's probably more effective than any lock Ice Barriers have had in the past. Double win!

DECKID=101215Despite the fact that you're missing so many Dragon Rulers, getting to your lone Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls isn't as tough as you might expect. Between Gold Sarcophagus, Foolish Burial, Tidal itself, and drawing free cards off of Strategist of the Ice Barrier, this deck runs a little faster than your average Ice Barrier deck.

The biggest issue with normal Ice Barrier builds and the speed issues they're usually characterized as suffering generally come down a difficulty in discerning the necessary cards from the unnecessary. Let's be realistic here: like any other Hidden Arsenal deck, Ice Barriers came loaded down with a lot of extra chaff. But sometimes, picking through the dregs is well worth the reward.

Shave That Ice!
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think that there're only four good Ice Barrier effect monsters – and that includes the entire spread of Ice Barriers in this deck. All the rest are just designed on wishful thinking. The four here though? They get things done and they don't waste time.

General Gantala of the Ice Barrier is your beef. At 2700 ATK, Gantala's nothing to scoff at and its effect is pretty good too: during your End Phase you can Special Summon one Ice Barrier monster from your graveyard. When coupled with Defender of the Ice Barrier, magic can really happen. See, Defender's the only piece of the classic Ice Barrier lock set-up that's actually good. When you control another Ice Barrier monster, your opponent can't attack with a monster that has ATK equal to or greater than Defender's 1600 DEF.


You want to romp around with Gantala for a turn and then pop Defender onto the field in defense position during the end phase; that forces your opponent to find some other means than battle if they want to get your stuff off of the field. Defender's also a Level 3 Tuner and that's crazy good news. Back when this deck was first conceptualized, the game-stealing Leo, the Keeper of the Sacred Tree didn't exist. Gantala and Defender means Leo for days and that can almost be more effective than any Rank 7 ever could be, depending on your match-up.

To fuel all of these shenanigans, you've got the support team of Strategist of the Ice Barrier and Prior of the Ice Barrier. By sending an Ice Barrier monster from your hand to the graveyard you can draw one card. With one simple effect, Strategist achieves two things: it gets Defender and Gantala where they need to be and thins your deck by that one extra card. Once Strategist does its thing, Prior of the Ice Barrier steps in to take over. By Tributing Prior, you can Special Summon an Ice Barrier monster from your graveyard.

So after you've Synchro Summoned for Leo, you can bring back Gantala and repeat the process if you wanted to. Or you can revive Gungnir to start popping stuff all anew. You aren't limited to using Prior's effect once per turn either, either. That means having Prior and Surface in hand is just as good as having double Prior on the field. That can really make for some crazy cool plays.

Alright, Buck. Where's The Bang?
This one clocks in at the top: $100. But that's because we got a little spendy and threw in a Mecha Phantom Dracossack for good measure. But this is only the beginning.

Next week I'm going to revisit this deck without a budget limit. I'm going to show you how you can expand on it with Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss as well as a few other choice cards. What does the next circle of Hell look like? Well, it's chillier than the last one! Come back next week to see.

-Zach Buckley

Team Nofatchx