Over the last couple of months the focus of this column has been Pendulum match-ups. Pendulums are defining the format right now, and Breakers of Shadow is set to really solidify Pendulum variants as the best deck in the game. The entire format's changing in this post-BOSH environment, but there's one more card I want to cover before we start talking about the latest Side Deck tech from the new set. It's another card that's seeing play as a direct result of Pendulum themes: Psi-Blocker.

The Prohibition-on-legs has made its way back into competition as a counter-side to various floodgates. Namely – and predictably – it's being played to answer Anti-Spell Fragrance. Surprised? Probably not. As long as Pendulums continue to shape competition we'll keep seeing Anti-Spell Fragrance, Naturia Beast, Wavering Eyes, and Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer deciding match-ups and winning games.

Psi-Blocker stops all of those cards from being used, making it more than just an out to Anti-Spell Fragrance; it's a counter to any card that threatens Pendulum themes.

What Does 'Use' Mean Anyways?
Psi-Blocker and Prohibition prevent the declared card from being used in a number of ways. It's not a perfect term and doesn't include all actions, but the short of it is this: if a card can't be used, it can't be Summoned, set, activated, or apply its continuous effect. The last action's important, and marks the major difference between Psi-Blocker and Prohibition. While Prohibition specifically states that its effect does not apply to cards already on the field, Psi-Blocker works differently. As a result you can Summon Psi-Blocker, declare the name of a face-up card, and disable its continuous effect until the end of your opponent's next turn.

Psi-Blocker has incredible utility – you can play it to counter virtually every card in the game. Any declared monster can't be Summoned, and any declared card can't activate or apply its effects. Psi-Blocker's always relevant in any match-up, against any strategy. The one exception that comes to mind is Exodia the Forbidden One's win condition, though there are probably at least a few more cards that effectively bypass Psi-Blocker's effect.

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The versatility of Psi-Blocker and Prohibition – and their absolute effectiveness against a single card – comes at a cost: they can only counter one card at a time. Psi-Blocker has an advantage over Prohibition because you can declare a different card each time it activates, but that still leaves you vulnerable to every other card at your opponent's disposal. Knowing which cards they have, which ones they'll play, and what their other options are is crucial in order to play Psi-Blocker effectively. Calling a card your opponent can't even use that turn anyways is the easiest way to waste Psi-Blocker's effect.

Most of the time your opponent will be telegraphing their plays long in advance. Deck searching is so prevalent amongst the top strategies that you'll almost always know the contents of your opponent's hand. Pendulum themes make that even easier: you already know which cards are face-up in your opponent's Extra Deck. On the other hand there's no need to predict plays ahead of time if you're using Psi-Blocker to specifically deal with cards that are already on the field.

How you play Psi-Blocker depends entirely on why you're playing it. If it's to defend yourself against key cards or combos, you'll need to expect and predict which cards your opponent will use. If you're running it to proactively disable cards on the field you'll need to put Psi-Blocker into play reliably, while also making an offensive push.

The biggest problem with Psi-Blocker is that it eats your Normal Summon for the turn. But that's not an issue for Pendulum strategies, which is where Psi-Blocker's seeing the most play. The only cost to those decks is exchanging a potential combo piece for a disruption effect. That said, at Level 4 it's perfectly suited for Rank 4 strategies. You don't need to keep Psi-Blocker on the field after its effect has resolved, so you're free to use it as an Xyz material. In short: Psi-Blocker's outstanding in Magician Pendulums, but it also has potential in future Pendulum decks.

Thriving In Pendulums, And Against Everything Else
Psi-Blocker's utility against Anti-Spell Fragrance is the biggest reason for its popularity in Pendulums. Those decks lose to Fragrance unless they have an immediate answer, so cards like Royal Decree, Mystical Space Typhoon, and Typhoon have to be played in multiples. But playing too much spell and trap removal can Backfire, leaving duelists at risk of losing to their own redundancy. The trade-off between availability and redundancy is the difference between always having a Turn 1 answer to a floodgate, and drawing multiple removal cards with no targets in sight. Luckily, Psi-Blocker's such a versatile card that it bypasses the trade-off entirely.

When played proactively Psi-Blocker removes the threat of specific counters to Pendulum Scales and Summons. Calling Wavering Eyes keeps your own Pendulum Spells safe for two turns by freezing copies on the field and preventing your opponent from playing or setting a copy on the turn following. Psi-Blocker's a great way to avoid losing outright to Wavering Eyes if you don't have a copy of the card yourself, or another way to negate (like Performapal Damage Juggler or Starlight Road). Calling Wavering Eyes outside of the Magician Pendulum mirror match can simply slow your opponent down, leaving them with dead combo pieces. Still, unless you're playing a Pendulum strategy yourself you're probably better off calling Performage Plushfire, Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer, or Performapal Pendulum Sorcerer.

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Wavering Eyes isn't the only set spell or trap that can break your momentum. Solemn Warning and Solemn Strike are equally dangerous. Psi-Blocker's a little less useful here since you won't know which card to call. The choice is easy if your opponent's already played Warning, but what if they haven't? In that case you're gambling with limited information. How many Strikes do they run? Did they side any out last game? Does your opponent even own Solemn Strike? Generally speaking you're only going to be calling those cards if your opponent has had ample time to destroy your Pendulum scales, and as a result they've telegraphed that they don't have Wavering Eyes at the moment.

As I mentioned earlier: Psi-Blocker's an excellent counter to cards like Kozmo Dark Destroyer and Naturia Beast. Just Psi-Blocker and Performage Hat Tricker are enough to spin either monster back into the deck with Castel, the Skyblaster Musketeer. Dark Destroyer loses its "cannot be targeted" effect when declared by Psi-Blocker, and you can freely activate spells after calling Naturia Beast. Psi-Blocker reliably handles nearly any monster in the game, although something like Majesty's Fiend would have to be negated using a spell or trap first.

Speaking of Kozmos, siding Psi-Blocker gives you an edge in the mirror match by shutting down your opponent's spaceships. The downside is that you'll have to use different ships to make plays that turn and the following, which can lead to awkward field positions for both players. It may take an entirely different build of Kozmos to successfully integrate Psi-Blocker, but the pieces are all there right now: a new ship that can crash with an unusable Dark Destroyer, Reasoning to Special Summon Psi-Blocker without using your Normal Summon, and Emergency Teleport to put your Kozmos on the field when you do use your Normal Summon.

In the match-up against Pendulum Magicians you can play Psi-Blocker to keep Ignister Prominence, the Blasting Dracoslayer off the field. For Kozmos that puts your opponent at a distinct advantage as it locks out the deck's best answer to Kozmo Forerunner and Dark Destroyer. Other Pendulum strategies, when paired up against Magician Pendulums, will also call Ignister to keep their cards safe. You never want Ignister resolving against you, especially if you're playing Pendulums yourself. The surest way to keep it out of the game is to declare Ignister itself, but you can also call Luster Pendulum instead. It's not a guarantee that your opponent won't Synchro Summon Ignister with another card, but it'll also lock your opponent out of Luster's excellent effect at the same time.

Psi-Blocker's an intensely skill-based card. Although its floodgate effect's versatile and perfectly effective, it's also as narrow as it gets by affecting just one card. So how does it stack up against other floodgates? Pretty well, actually. Backrow's becoming riskier with more and more removal being added to the game. Twisters' rel="https://yugioh.tcgplayer.com/db/WP-CH.asp?CN=Twin Twisters">Twin Twisters will probably start pushing most continuous floodgates out of the game besides Anti-Spell Fragrance, although there are only a few of them left anyways. Royal Decree's the only major holdout.

The biggest obstacle to Psi-Blocker's continued play in a post-BOSH format may be Solemn Strike. At best, Psi-Blocker can bait out Strike and force your opponent to negate its effect. At worst they'll wait for you to declare a card and negate Psi-Blocker if you declare something important. Otherwise, they'll simply hold honto their trap and play it later. Still, Psi-Blocker's just so good right now that even the threat of Strike shouldn't deter you from trying it.

Until next time then

-Kelly


Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student with too much free time on his hands. Besides playing Yugioh, Kelly posts Let's Play videos of Minecraft on his Youtube channel and plays a possibly unhealthy amount of Destiny. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.