Playing with the intent to out-resource your opponent is the aspect of the game that I talk about the most. Making sure you're managing your card presence, maintaining card advantage, and grinding effectively are the heart and soul of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG. It's basically the whole reason people even talk about "+1's" and "-1's" – if you're losing cards, you're losing options and that's the worst. Alternatively, if you're gaining cards you're gaining options. I don't think I need to explain why more options are better.

That's especially true now, when the game has so many absolutely ridiculous effects that generate cards for free. All of the +1 Shaddoll effects you can trigger in a stream when you Shaddoll Fusion are a good example. Most of the Satellarknights are inherently +1's, specifically their on-theme Elemental Hero Stratos.

I hear that's a good card.

Cards with built-in resource management are everywhere, so falling behind may be harder now than it once was. But that makes staying ahead equally difficult, and keeping your opponent in check is crucial. There aren't too many exceptions to the rule that you want to avoid losing cards, but every now and again a card that's inherently a -1 comes around and it's too good not to use, because the loss of resources is worth the power level. If it makes a bigger bang, sometimes it's the right choice in the long run. Phoenix Wing Wind Blast embodies that principle entirely, taking up the mantle right now of one of the strongest backrow cards available.

Sit right here, lemme talk with you a minute.

Divergence
Wind Blast is one of those cards that goes on and off the radar every so often, being a power card for a while and then dropping off the face of the game for a year or more at a time. When it was new, it was worthless, because of the discard cost contrasted with the availability of triple Bottomless Trap Hole. Old backrows were nutty in every sense. Wind Blast's never been so out of hand that it got Forbidden or Limited, but it'll definitely surface and cause some problems for people from time to time; old Plants ran it briefly. Spellbooks did for a little while, too. In a general sense though, it's just not worthwhile to go 2-for-1. Well, at least not until recently,.

I mentioned last week in an article on Time-Space Trap Hole that the deck's a much safer place to slip your opponent's monsters, since it's way less efficient to pull things from the deck than it is to recur from the graveyard or recycle banished cards. That's absolutely and totally the case, but there are more and vastly different positives to jamming stuff back into the deck than just that. Phoenix Wing Wind Blast is interesting in the sense that it's one of the few cards that spins something off the field back to your opponent's deck, but also virtually promises that they'll draw it on their next turn. That won't be the case if you hit a monster that goes back to the Extra Deck or if something happens that shuffles the deck afterward in the same turn, but you're practically looking your opponent dead in the eye and demanding they skip their next draw phase. Not only that, they have to immediately waste the resources to commit the same card to the field again.

#####CARDID=11414#####

If it's a backrow, that's not saying much, but even a Level 4 or lower monster would eat up another Normal Summon. While those points are pivotal, the real strength of Wind Blast is the ability to hard-stop your opponent's momentum and leave them hurting on your next turn. If they go for an Xyz or Synchro Summon, you can shoot away one of their monsters and leave the other half of their play stranded on the field where you can handle it on your next battle phase.

That said, singing the praises of Wind Blast's effect is easy; it's that discard cost that really needs to get discussed and dealt with. Burning Abyss has been flexing its muscle lately thanks to the easiest and most hyper-active card economy of any deck in the format, paired with the unmatched craziness of Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss. If you feel like brushing up on what Dante's all about, here's a throwback to an article on it that you can check out incase you missed it. For the sake of time, though, here are the sparknotes: it's a hard-hitting Card Trooper clone that swaps to a mad-bulky defense position if it battles, and when it dies, you get a Burning Abyss monster from your graveyard back to your hand, other than itself.

While that may seem pretty unrelated to Wind Blast at first glance, Dante's inherent insanity and the Burning Abyss deck's wild searchability and card economy means you consistently have the hand size to support Wind Blast if you feel like spinning away a threat or taking the momentum of the duel for yourself. What's more is that each of the Malebranche monsters triggers if they're sent to the graveyard from anywhere, including the hand. Including as a cost. In the Burning Abyss deck, Phoenix Wing Wind Blast is actually an engine to drive forward your strategy, beyond being a powerhouse backrow. Depending on which Malebranche you discard, you're either looking at an on-theme Monster Reborn, an on-theme Special Summon from your deck or a Reinforcement of the Army for a Level 3 Dark Fiend.

To clarify, you deny your opponent momentum and their next draw phase, plus field presence, plus the resources to recommit the card you knock away and put cards into your hand or onto the field. Just, you know, for your trouble. I've been careful in the past about romanticizing cards and over-hyping them beyond their actual usefulness, but this time I'm really just stating the facts. There's no over the top implications of what you hypothetically could do afterward – this is all just on the resolution of one Wind Blast discarding any Malebranche, with no regard for any future plays afterward. It makes zero sense. For the same results, you could activate Time Seal and Compulsory Evacuation Device or Spiritualism, then either Monster Reborn, Reinforcement of the Army, or a restriction-free Accellight.

Crosswinds
Another clear advantage to Wind Blast is the lack of destruction involved. It targets, which is neither here nor there for the most part, but it does entirely skip out on destruction, so things like Stardust Dragon and Stardust Spark Dragon can't do anything about it. Not to mention El Shaddoll Winda can't protect itself from it, and neither Winda nor El Shaddoll Construct get to recur Shaddoll Fusion if you hit them with Wind Blast. That effect only triggers when they hit the grave, which Wind Blast politely allows you to bypass entirely.

You won't be able to stop your opponent from sending away Shaddolls with their Fusion and triggering their effects, but most people would send Shaddoll Dragon away to destroy your backrow, and you can just chain Wind Blast to that to ignore it. If they send a Dragon and you dodge it by chaining, you didn't stop them from sending Shaddolls away, but you did get to mitigate the one they ended up sending.

Against Bujin, Wind Blast keeps Bujin Yamato in check and keeps the deck from setting up, and it does it in a way that won't load up Bujincarnation. If you go first and set it, you can toss back Yamato in the end phase and ruin your opponent's day. Going second, you can bet that they sent a Bujingi Hare to the graveyard and Wind Blast isn't obligated to care because it doesn't destroy anything. Hare has to timidly look out from its graveyard burrow like "Sorry Yamato, not today." Even then, if your opponent does set up, you can spin away Bujintei Kagutsuchi and bypass its effect to save itself from destruction, too. Without Turtle, Bujin can't do anything about Wind Blast at all, and Turtle's almost always the secondary objective to Hare.

Don't think Wind Blast only puts in work in the Burning Abyss deck, either; it puts in just as much work against it. None of the Burning Abyss effects go off when they're spun back, and that includes the otherwise herculean Dante's recursion. When Dante hits the field you can smack it away before they get to mill from the deck. You can't avoid Dante's Material from triggering, but that's pretty much unavoidable in every instance, so it'd be a hard argument against Wind Blast specifically.

#####CARDID=8322#####

Vanity's Emptiness is subject to Wind Blast's authority, too. You can't destroy it by hitting another backrow like you can with Mystical Space Typhoon or something, but you can spin Emptiness back to the top and go off with your Special Summoning right then, forcing your opponent to draw a completely dead Emptiness on the following turn. They can either re-set it and activate it later to prevent you from Summoning any more than you already have or leave it in their hand so they themselves can Special Summon, but either way it's effectively dead since you pushed onto the field already.

Dynamic Anabatic
Phoenix Wing Wind Blast isn't necessarily the card of the format right now, but it is a definite three-of in Burning Abyss, and that deck's no joke. With four making the Top cut at the Atlantic City ARGCS, five taking top spots at YCS Madrid and another nine slipping into Top 32 at YCS Toronto recently, it's safe to say Burning Abyss as a four-monster archetype are a solidly grounded facet of competitive play. It's pretty unlikely they'll be going anywhere after this Forbidden and Limited List since they're so new and have so few cards.

That means Wind Blast is going to be equally popular at least, assuming no other deck uses it, though it's not implausible to think they would. Spellbooks and Satellarknights both made Top 32 showings at YCS Madrid, and even though they didn't use Wind Blast, it could easily become tech for them in the future. Discarding a Satellarknight Deneb and bringing it right back with Satellarknight Altair is pretty strong.

Are the decks in your area picking up on Wind Blast, or is it pretty absent from your local metagame? Have you thought about it yourself? Would it even be a problem for you if you came up against an opponent using three? If you haven't thought about the answers to those questions, you probably should, because it's likely we'll be seeing Wind Blast in the tournament circuit for the foreseeable future.

-Beau