As the name would suggest, here at TCGplayer we like to focus on the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG (North America and Europe), not the OCG (Japan). There are huge differences in Forbidden and Limited Lists, set release dates, exclusive cards, and play styles. Because of this I personally avoid trying to predict too far ahead in terms of what's going to happen in the TCG. For the most part this is a great idea (just ask Jason about his experience making a Wind-Up Inzektor hybrid before Wind-Up Shark was announced). But I'm not entirely against talking about cards that are just days away from hitting shelves officially.

The Secrets of Eternity Sneak Peeks happened just this past weekend, and it's legal for play on Friday the 16th. While most players were scrambling over the new Qliphort or Burning Abyss cards I was only looking for a playset of Blaze Accelerator Reload, a piece of legacy support for one of my favorite archetypes: Volcanics!

Right before I had my blaze of glory with Spirits last year I focused on Volcanics, a deck that was really cool but not super competitive. Between the lack of good Rank 4's at the time - this was before Number 101: Silent Honor ARK and Evilswarm Exciton Knight - and my lower overall skill level then, it seemed like my dream of competitive Volcanics just wasn't realistic.

Times Have Changed
Yu-Gi-Oh! is a dynamic game and it's definitely changed a lot over the past year. Just noting that the build I played pre-dated Number 101: Silent Honor ARK demonstrates that the deck was built in a very different format from what we're now accustomed to. I'm sure most of you haven't ever seen a Volcanic deck in action, so let's go over the basics.

My original version I ran three Volcanic cards: Volcanic Rocket, Volcanic Shell, and Blaze Accelerator. The idea is to use Rocket to search Blaze Accelerator, and then discard Shell to pop a monster. That was good when I was playing it because you could destroy face-down Geargiarmors. Butt the real trick is using Summoner Monk to discard Blaze Accelerator and Special Summon a Rocket from your deck. That allowed you to get back the same Blaze Accelerator you discarded, and from there you could overlay for Lavalval Chain to send Volcanic Shell to the grave. That combo loaded you up with two Blaze Accelerator destructions and two Shells, a decently powerful opening back in that era of competition.

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To me, the problem with Volcanics was that there just weren't any good Pyro monsters, and that's still kind of true. The only other worthwhile Pyro-type is Royal Firestorm Guards, but ironically it's only good if you play other Pyros. I thought that the solution was adding another Level 4 Pyro to the game to make Firestorm Guards better, but in actuality we're getting a really, really freaking good trap card instead. Yu-Gi-Oh! might be a totally different beast nowadays but the new Blaze Accelerator Reload pushes them in directions that I never thought possible. Check it out:

Blaze Accelerator Reload
Continuous Trap Card
This card's name becomes "Tri-Blaze Accelerator" while it is face-up in the Spell & Trap Zone. During either player's Main Phase: You can send 1 "Volcanic" card from your hand to the Graveyard (except "Volcanic Eruption"), and if you do, draw 1 card. You can only use this effect of "Blaze Accelerator Reload" once per turn. During either player's Main Phase: You can banish this card from your Graveyard; send 1 "Volcanic" card from your Deck to the Graveyard, except "Volcanic Eruption".

Wow. Blaze Accelerator Reload carries three stellar effects that solve a ton of issues for Volcanics. This card's a godsend. The second effect is the most important one by far, allowing you to discard a Volcanic card during either player's Main Phase to draw a card. Just looking at Shell this effect is obviously extremely powerful, digging you several cards deeper into your deck by Turn 2. During your opponent's turn you can discard Shell as a 1-for-1, and then on your next turn you can add one to your hand for free and then get another draw. Then you can activate that last Shell to get another plus.

In reality though, it's so much more than that. Blaze Accelerator Reload puts you ridiculously far ahead into your deck. Between Shell and Reload you're looking at four cards of deck thinning by your second turn. It also means that your grave fills up at an unprecedented rate for Royal Firestorm Guards, allowing you to safely run three copies. All of that was only taking into account an opening of just Reload and Shell. You can put even more pressure on your opponent if you land Summoner Monk and a spell, since that lets you go for a Lavalval Chain and Reload first turn. To be clear, Rocket says it searches a "Blaze Accelerator" card; that means you can search Reload with it, just in case you missed that tidbit.

Getting Steamy
When I first started testing Blaze Accelerator Reload I tried just throwing it in my old Volcanic build, but I quickly found I wasn't playing enough Volcanics as discard fodder. Opening with an ideal set of cards usually means you'll burn through your Shells by your second turn, which is a major bummer if you don't draw Royal Firestorm Guards early. Discarding Rockets was lackluster at best, so I dug through the Volcanic archive for some Inspiration.

The first thing I discovered was Volcanic Scattershot, a monster that was never really worth running before. Whenever you discard it with a Blaze Accelerator card you can dump the other two copies from anywhere to blow up all monsters your opponent controls. That sounds good, but when regular Blaze Accelerator is the only discard outlet it means your opponent would have to control more than two monsters to get full value out of Scattershot. However, for Scattershot be better than Shell it meant your opponent would have to have more than three monsters on board because that's the maximum you could destroy with Shell and Blaze Accelerator.

It was subpar to say the least.

Now though, Blaze Accelerator Reload demands a higher Volcanic count if you really want to keep the ball rolling. Scattershot's a natural pick not only because it's another Volcanic, but also because Reload turns it into a Raigeki on your opponent's turn! Whether or not you think cards like Raigeki and Dark Hole are relevant right now you've gotta admit that a field-wipe on the other player's turn that also gives you a draw is pretty spectacular. Couple that with the fact that you can just loop it with Royal Firestorm Guards and you've got yourself a deadly combo ready to fire at the drop of a hat.

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Scattershot's great at protecting floodgate monsters, too. Stuff like Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo and Barrier Statue of the Inferno are extremely tempting when you can just Raigeki anything your opponent Summons to try and wrest away your control. Even stuff like Thunder King Rai-Oh and Denko Sekka are a lot scarier when you can loop destruction effects. Are these for sure the way to take Volcanics? Not necessarily, but it's something to keep in mind depending on how the format shapes up.

I've also been playing around with the idea of Volcanic Counter, a monster that was way too slow before Blaze Accelerator Reload entered the picture. Most of your monsters are fairly week and your combo strings aren't putting massive damage on board, so Counter's useful for stealing games. I especially like Counter as a backup plan, because if you have a couple in grave and your opponent is lower on Life Points they're forced to just not attack directly. For a long time duelists have claimed that life points don't really matter – myself included – but I think we're finally in a format where they do. Counter might be the least useful of the Volcanics I'd play, but it still has its place.

Other Applications
I haven't even touched on the two of Reload's three effects, but that doesn't mean they're not helpful. The fact that Reload is treated as Tri-Blaze Accelerator is neat. Tri-Blaze Accelerator was absolutely horrid and it wasn't worth playing in place of a second Blaze Accelerator. With Reload though, I'd totally play a lone copy of Volcanic Doomfire. You're deck thinning like crazy and your Tri-Blaze Accelerator Copycat does a ton of other things, so running one Volcanic Doomfire is within reason. Doomfire's useful even just as a 3000 ATK beater but its effect is helpful for plowing through gigantic set-ups.

The final effect of Blaze Accelerator Reload is that you can banish it to send a Volcanic card from your deck to your graveyard. We haven't had official confirmation but as I understand you can send a Scattershot to the grave and still get its effect. That's awesome for a couple reasons, most notably that your opponent won't anticipate it. If you get down to a grind gameyou're your opponent makes a push, you can simply banish Reload from your graveyard and really get them heated.

Next week I'm going to take you through my own Volcanic build, and hopefully you'll see a lot of the strategies I've been mentioning reflected in that deck. It's really hard to play rogue themes right now but I'd say Volcanics have a lot promise; I've really been enjoying testing them. I'm not a huge fan of the new themes coming out in February, nor am I a supporter of Burning Abyss getting another five cards before the WCQ, but Secrets of Eternity has breathed new life into a variety of underdog strategies. Hopefully the final Forbidden and Limited List before WCQ season shuffles things up so we can have a free-for-all tournament like this past year.

Only time can tell. For now, let me know what you think of Blaze Accelerator Reload and Volcanics in general. I'd love to read your ideas!

-Doug Zeeff