Let's talk Ice Barriers.

They're like the U2 of Yu-Gi-Oh: you either love them or you hate them with an unbridled passion, and rarely do you ever encounter people anywhere in the middle. Ice Barriers are the most controversial of the Hidden Arsenal themes and for no really good reason. It's just two, very extreme sides debating two very extreme positions.

One side considers Ice Barriers to be the deck to end all decks and others think it's the scum of the planet. The truth is definitely somewhere in the middle.

To sort of help you understand where I'm coming from, I have to use an analogy. The Ice Barriers are the Performapals of the Hidden Arsenal sets. There are a lot of bad Ice Barrier cards and they've left the deck with a really bad reputation as a result. But there's a solid core of great Ice Barrier monsters that sort of do their own thing outside of the impossible lock that the rest of the cards try to achieve. The concept is simple, too. Load your graveyard up with Ice Barrier monsters and then Special Summon them from the yard. It's a solid game plan.

A Bone To Be (Ice) Picked…
There ARE some issues with the game plan. Your big gun is General Gantala of the Ice Barrier, a 2700 ATK beater that Special Summons an Ice Barrier monster from the graveyard during your End Phase. That's undeniably great. The issue's getting Gantala onto the field to begin with. Since General Gantala can't even Special Summon itself, it's obvious that it needs some help.

That problem becomes even more complicated by the fact that Gantala's a Level 7 monster. If it were Level 6, The Monarchs Stormforth or something could cheat it into play and we'd move on. Unfortunately that's just not the case. This is where the Pendulum monsters come in, but we'll discuss that later.

Prior of the Ice Barrier's one of the deck's built-in solutions to the Gantala problem. You can Tribute it to Special Summon an Ice Barrier monster from your graveyard. You can also Special Summon Prior from your hand if you control an Ice Barrier monster, but if you do so, you can't Special Summon Level 5 or higher monsters the turn you use its ability. Luckily, the build I've got for you today circumvents that problem with ease. You guessed it: the Pendulums. Just keep holding on, they're coming.

The theme's last big issue is loading the graveyard so you can go ham when Gantala or Prior hits the field. The strategy has a built in solution to that in the form of Strategist of the Ice Barrier. Its effect is incredibly simple but it's one of my favorites out of the entire deck: once per turn, you can send an Ice Barrier monster from your hand to the graveyard to draw a card. It perfectly captures what you want to see done and helps you achieve your goals. So you're great there. It's just not enough. It needs a little help and with a few select cards, it's all covered. And yes, it's the Pendulum monsters again – sort of.

Let me show you the deck and then I'll reveal how all of the Pendulums are going to kick this thing into Overdrive. I won't keep you on the edge of your seat much longer, I promise.

DECKID=104003So let's discuss what I did to streamline the Ice Barrier strategy and fill in gaps that showed up along the way. As I previously stated, the big issue with Ice Barriers is resource management, in one form or another. The deck needs help with getting cards to the graveyard and getting monsters onto the field.

The Magician Pendulum engine does all of that and more! Magicians these days seem to be the talk of TCGplayer – along with the undeniably great Brilliant Fusion – but it's because they really are just that useful.

Zamboni The Crap Out Of It!
So the first big issue the Magicians obivously take care of is getting monsters onto the field. Dragonpit and Dragonpulse Magician create a wide enough Scale that you can Pendulum Summon any monsters from Levels 2 to 7. That range is wide enough to cover the two monsters on either end of the spectrum that give this theme trouble. On the top end, General Gantala of the Ice Barrier hits the field with no issue at all. That's the obvious, front-of-the-mind use for the Scale. However, it's equally useful for Prior of the Ice Barrier. Dragonpulse Magician has the all-important Scale 1. Whether you're aware of it or not, most Pendulum monsters with a low Scale stop short at 2, leaving Little Dudes like this in the dust.

So if you've already used your Normal Summon for the turn, you can Pendulum Summon Prior of the Ice Barrier and use its effect without having to worry about what monsters you can or can't Special Summon for the turn. Just as well, having the ability to Pendulum Summon at all means that you're much more likely to have a turn where you can easily give your Normal Summon to Prior without ever feeling as if you're wasting it.

Furthermore, the Magician engine gives your graveyard the final boost of consistency you need. Pendulum Call's an incredible card and really the fulcrum of the entire engine. Without it, things wouldn't be smooth at all. Aside from restricting the effects of your Magicians for the duration of the turn, Pendulum Call's biggest perceived drawback is its discard cost. The Ice Barriers actually circumvent that by giving you a way to load your graveyard with the card you need to make Prior of General Gantala live.

For example, if your opening hand has General Gantala, Defender of the Ice Barrier, and Pendulum Call, you can end the turn with your Scale established, and a soft lock against attacks with Gantala and Defender on the field. That leaves you holding three cards in hand, plus four cards in play, and a field that forces your opponent to waste removal effects on a set-up that's easily established again. Without Pendulum Call to streamline the process, you would've needed to resolve Strategist's effect prior to that.

Get Back! Get Back! (Into My Hand)
One of the best features of this strategy that isn't so easy to see at first glance is the number of Water monsters with low ATK. Prior of the Ice Barrier, Defender of the Ice Barrier, and Dragonpit Magician all have 1000 ATK or less and that means that you can run Salvage as a no-brainer. Arguably, you could've run Salvage in your Ice Barrier deck before the Pendulum monsters arrived, but it just gets so much more mileage now.

Your big targets will always be Dragonpit Magician and Prior of the Ice Barrier. While you can obviously pull Defender of the Ice Barrier back to your hand unless you're doing so to reload for Strategist's effect, it'll almost always serve you better in the graveyard. Prior of the Ice Barrier is pretty straightforward, by having it in your hand, you can Special Summon Gantala and the rest of your Ice Barrier monsters from the graveyard to the field.

#####CARDID= 8673 #####

Dragonpit Magician's the gem, though. Salvage gives you the liberty to use Dragonpit as fodder for your discard-driven Pendulum effects, as well as Xyz Material for Rank 7's without fear of losing it indefinitely.

While Oafdragon Magician has its built-in effect to get Dragonpit and your other Magicians from your yard to your hand, you don't always have as many turns to use Oafdragon's effect as you have different uses and needs for Dragonpit. Salvage helps to alleviate that issue, and it makes the strategy better for it.

Alright, Buck! Where's The Bang!?
This one sits at the top of the scale with a $100 price tag. Every time I use the Magician engine, it calls for a certain shared set of Extra Deck cards that have kept the decks hugging the top end of my budget. The good part there is if you picked up one of my earlier Magician decks, you've got most of your Extra Deck covered already. Win-Win.

Even if you haven't though, I recommend checking this one out! It can hold its own really well and with Salvage, Medallion of the Ice Barrier, and Pendulum Call it's remarkably consist. You'll stomp people with Ice Barriers and they'll never it see it coming.

It'll take them a while to cool off after that one.

-Zach Buckley


Zach is husband to his beloved wife, Emma. He's also a composer who's studying composition and production formally in an attempt to be both happy and poor. You can follow his progress on these goals by checking out his sporadically updated blog at www.wordpress.com/zwbuckleymusic