What The Fix?! Rulers Of The Ice Barrier!

Jason Grabher-Meyer

5/24/2013 2:20:00 PM
 Comments

Best. Ice Barrier Deck. Ever.

Okay, so let me give you a little background before we really get into things. I love me some Ice Barriers. I can't explain why, the deck is largely terrible. Something about having three Reinforcement of the Army (Medallion of the Ice Barrier), triple Monster Reborn on legs (Prior of the Ice Barrier), and a spectacular boss-dropping removal card (Magic Triangle of the Ice Barrier) just gets me. Never mind that the deck aims to establish a full-field lock that's impossible to maintain in a game that's as fast as Yu-Gi-Oh. And forget about the fact that while the deck has three boss monsters, none of them are spectacular. There's just something I love about this strategy, and it's always been an underdog favorite of mine, even when I go half a year without playing it.

And that's not even the weird part. You know what the really strange thing is? A ton of people feel the same way. In any given week, Ice Barrier decks are usually one of the top three most popular strategies submitted to What The Fix. Some weeks they're the most popular. People don't even care that the deck's received virtually nothing new since 2011. They loved this deck before Prior of the Ice Barrier, and they've loved the deck even more ever since, even though it's never won anything ever.

Every week I go to my inbox, and I look at a bunch of incredibly enthusiastic submissions from Ice Barrier fans, and I think, "Yeah! Right on, brother!" I give a fist pump of Solidarity, and then I close the e-mail, move onto the next one, and repeat. Because honestly, whether the enthusiasm is yours or mine - spoiler, it's both - I can't justify writing about a deck I've already covered if it's not competitive, and hasn't actually changed since we last discussed it. I might subject you guys to my esoteric tastes pretty frequently, but one thing's always true: if I'm writing about Ojamas, or Crystal Beasts, or Skull Servants, I'm doing it because there's something there - usually something new - that makes those topics worth discussing. That's my job, and anything less would be doing you guys a disservice.

So imagine my elation when this week, I checked my inbox and found a completely new take on Ice Barriers! One that isn't wildly genius with all sorts of hidden brilliance and surprises, but one that employs strong and simple execution, taking advantage of new opportunities to get results. This strategy won't be winning a YCS any time soon, but it vastly exceeds the power level of Ice Barrier decks gone by, and it's so much fun to play, and win with. Today's contributor plucked out some of the best elements of the Ice Barrier strategy and combined them with new tech to create a totally different build. I'll let him tell you all about it.


Hey Jason,

Now that Dragon Rulers are about to dominate the game, I wanted to use them in a deck that actually NEEDS the support, Ice Barriers! This is the classic Ice Barrier lock idea, but Tidal and Stream speed the deck up so much, as well as facilitating Rank 7's for Mermail Abyssgaios, Number 11: Big Eye and Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack.

High
Mid
Low
 Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls
$1.50
$0.65
$0.24
Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls
Set Lord of the Tachyon Galaxy
Number LTGY-EN039
Level 7
Type Effect Monster
Monster Dragon
Attribute WATER 
A / D 2600 / 2000
Rarity Rare
Card Text

If this card is in your hand or Graveyard: You can banish a total of 2 WATER and/or Dragon-Type monsters from your hand and/or Graveyard, except this card; Special Summon this card. During your opponent's End Phase, if this card was Special Summoned: Return it to the hand. You can discard this card and 1 WATER monster to the Graveyard; send 1 monster from your Deck to the Graveyard. If this card is banished: You can add 1 WATER Dragon-Type monster from your Deck to your hand. You can only use 1 "Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls" effect per turn, and only once that turn.


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The basic strategy is to use Tidal's second ability to set up the Graveyard for General Gantala of the Ice Barrier, often sending Gantala himself to the graveyard, or something like Dai-Sojo to avoid drawing it later. Then you use Strategist of the Ice Barrier to dig deeper into your deck, while also setting up the graveyard even more. I run three Surface since I have six targets for it: Prior of the Ice Barrier basically makes it a Monster Reborn. I also run two Call Of The Haunted.

I've been tinkering around with this deck for a good few months now and I can't quite get the balance right, especially the traps since this deck needs a bit of set-up time. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated! Thank you, and I hope to hear from you soon!

-Sam Cates ~Southampton, UK


Alright, so let's be clear: given the current price of Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack and Number 11: Big Eye, this is the most expensive Ice Barrier deck in the history of the universe. But it's also an Ice Barrier deck, so feel free to make whatever concessions you need to make. The goal here is to have fun with it. If you own Big Eyes and Dracossacks, this is an inexpensive strategy you can run when you want to play something different and have an awesome time. If you don't own those cards, consider in investing in at least a Big Eye since it's a great card to own, and then play harder into Mermail Abyssgaios. We'll probably see Big Eye reprinted before the end of the year anyways, and the upcoming Number Hunters set may bring more generic Rank 7's that can fit neatly into this idea.

Now that we're past that caveat, I want to give my take on what Sam's done here. The Ice Barrier theme has three Main Deck boss monster: General Raiho of the Ice Barrier; General Gantala of the Ice Barrier; and General Grunard of the Ice Barrier. They clock in at Level 6, Level 7, and Level 8 respectively. Thanks to Surface and Prior of the Ice Barrier, it's really easy to keep reviving these guys when they get destroyed, and the ability to load the graveyard with Strategist of the Ice Barrier means you'll probably never Tribute Summon them.

So Sam looked at Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls and probably made three observations. First, it adds more muscle to a deck that needs it. Aside from the largely-impractical Magic Triangle of the Ice Barrier, this deck's never really had the level of Special Summoned speed and impact that Tidal brings to the table. Second, Sam saw that loading the graveyard with Ice Barrier monsters to revive with Prior was obviously key, and Tidal's Foolish Burial effect could help with that. And third, he noticed Tidal is a Level 7, matching General Gantala.

That's the most important part right there. Prior is really good at putting one big monster on the field each turn, but in conjunction with Tidal, Ice Barriers can now put two big monsters on the field at the same time. That opens up simple Rank 7 plays, and that makes the deck alot more dangerous than it was before. At the same time you can also just leave Gantala on the table alone, using its End Phase effect to Special Summon a monster. While that might seem less than ideal, because you could lose those monsters before you ever got a chance to do anything with them, it's a good option here because Gantala can Special Summon those Ice Barrier lockdown monsters and control the table. On one hand, you don't want to over-invest in a fragile lockdown scenario when it can just be blown apart by something like High Priestess of Prophecy, Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos, or Dark Hole. On the other hand, if the lockdown is free and stands some reasonable chance of slowing your opponent down, it's worth exploring.

With all that in mind, here's Sam's deck:

    Rulers Of The Ice Barrier Ver 1.0 Sam Cates    
 
Main Deck
Side Deck
1 Dai-sojo of the Ice Barrier
2 Defender of the Ice Barrier
2 General Gantala of the Ice Barrier
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
3 Prior of the Ice Barrier
1 Secret Guards of the Ice Barrier
3 Strategist of the Ice Barrier
2 Stream, Dragon Ruler of Droplets
3 Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls
Monsters [18]
1 Dark Hole
2 Forbidden Lance
2 Gold Sarcophagus
1 Heavy Storm
3 Medallion of the Ice Barrier
1 Monster Reborn
2 Sacred Sword of Seven Stars
3 Surface
Spells [15]
2 Call of the Haunted
2 Fiendish Chain
1 Solemn Judgment
2 Torrential Tribute
Traps [7]
Deck Total [40]

EXTRA DECK

1 Abyss Dweller
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
2 Arcanite Magician
1 Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
1 Lavalval Chain
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
2 Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack
2 Mermail Abyssgaios
1 Mist Wurm
1 Number 11: Big Eye
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Photon Papilloperative
Extra Deck [15]
Notes:


I really like what Sam's done here, and this is going to be more of a deck tweak than a deck fix. The main challenge I ran into with Sam's build was a few mismatched cards that didn't seem to fit the pacing of the strategy, combined with a couple Ice Barrier cards that seemed overly ambitious. I want to cut a few cards and replace them with a few more that fit the direction of competition a bit better, and add some redundancy.

So first up, we need to ditch Secret Guards of the Ice Barrier and Dai-sojo of the Ice Barrier. If you're not familiar with Secret Guards, its effect is "Face-up Ice Barrier monsters you control cannot be targeted by effects of your opponent's Effect Monsters, and I get run over all the time," while Dai-sojo's ability is "While this card is face-up on the field, face-up "Ice Barrier" monsters you control cannot be destroyed by effects of Spell or Trap Cards, and I get run over all the time."

Is my concern with those cards accurately reflected?

See, while protecting your dudes from monster effects, spells, and traps is great in theory, the problem is that for every one effect like that threatening your field, there are twice the number of big guys just looking to attack your stuff. And at 1600 DEF and 2200 DEF respectively, Secret Guards and Dai-sojo just can't survive long enough to be relevant. Secret Guards only has 100 ATK, so if you draw it you have to set it - depriving yourself of its effect - and hope that it survives an attack. Dai-sojo's a bit beefier at 1600 ATK, but it's an even worse draw because it's a Level 6. Both cards either have to be discarded with Strategist or sent directly to the graveyard, and even if you Special Summon them for free with Gantala they're frequently worthless anyways because they get whomped on so quickly.

Defender of the Ice Barrier's a different story. If an opposing monster's big enough to attack over Defender, that monster can't attack when Defender's ability is switched on. Sure, your monsters are still vulnerable to effects, but the frequency with which you'll be threatened by attackers is just higher than the frequency with which you'll be threatened with either monster effects, or spells and traps. Defender's a Level 3 Tuner as well, which means it has more utility when you draw it; it opens up plays with Strategist to make Arcanite Magician. That's especially cool because Arcanite's a Level 7, so you can bring it down, pop its counters, and then overlay it for a Rank 7. Whether you're establishing a decent lock as a +1 with Gantala's free Special Summon, or using Defender as a Tuner, it's a pretty good card that fits really well here.

So that's why we're keeping Defender, but dropping Secret Guards and Dai-sojo. I'm also dropping double Forbidden Lance because I don't think it's as good as Mystical Space Typhoon in the face of Abyss-sphere and Fiendish Chain, and I'm cutting one Call Of The Haunted because it's the slowest of our graveyard revival tricks and we need the room.

In their place I'm adding a third General Gantala of the Ice Barrier, maximizing your chances of loading it to the graveyard ASAP. Yes, it's searchable with Medallion of the Ice Barrier. Yes, you can send it straight to the graveyard with Tidal's ability. But this deck needs a certain number of Water monsters to make optimal use of Tidal, and there are quite a few pieces to set in motion for the deck to perform at its peak. Your base Rank 7 plays require you to have Gantala in the graveyard; Tidal in your hand or ideally graveyard; and Prior in hand, or Prior yarded with Surface at the ready. Your lock requires largely the same cards, but also needs Defender in the graveyard. And to make all that happen, you usually want to Medallion for Strategist to ditch whichever of those cards you drew and have little use for in-hand. That makes the redundancy of a third General Gantala pretty valuable.

That leaves two more card slots, which I'll be using for a big new addition: Tour Guide From the Underworld. Yes, there's a sect of casual players who hate adding Tour Guide to heavily themed decks. I don't know what to say to those people: I think winning is fun. If you really need to feel better about it and winning more isn't enough, just picture Tour Guide riding around on Defender with a little saddle. It's adorable, and while you worry about that, she'll be bringing new combos to the deck to smash additional quantities of face.

Because one of the side effects of playing Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls is that you banish alot of stuff. Playing this deck successfully means balancing your need to keep certain cards in the graveyard for revival, with your need to cheat Tidal into play as an easy +1 by banishing spent monsters. That's tricky, because there are cards you just don't want to banish: removing Defender means you lose your lockdown play and Synchro options, while banishing your only Prior can create disastrous situations when you topdeck Surface.

Tour Guide solves those problems by turning conflicting priorities into combo opportunities: she totally turns your frown upside down. With Tour Guide in hand and a graveyard of Prior, Gantala, Tidal, and any other Water monster, you can banish Prior and the remaining Water to bring up Tidal; use Tour Guide to get to Leviair the Sea Dragon; bring back Prior; and then revive Gantala. If you overlay for a Rank 7 that's a +1, and the effect of your Rank 7 will often make it a +2. If you keep Tidal and Gantala on the field, Gantala's ability can get you another Special Summon in the End Phase and turn the play into a +3. Tour Guide can also combo with Gold Sarcophagus in a pinch, and lets you wall up with Wind-Up Zenmaines.

Speaking of Zenmaines, we should be running it! I never managed to use Gungnir, Mist Wurm, or Photon Papilloperative in testing, so instead I'm adding Wind-Up Zenmaines, Bahamut Shark, and Mermail Abysstrite. You might be surprised just how effective the Bahamut / Abysstrite wall can be, especially with Mermail Abyssgaios hanging out in your graveyard. You've got Strategist and Stream to make it happen. I'm also dropping Utopia for Temtempo the Percussion Djinn, since it's a big help in the Evilswarm matchup. That all said, here's a recap of the changes we've made:

-1 Secret Guards of the Ice Barrier
-1 Dai-sojo of the Ice Barrier
-2 Forbidden Lance
-1 Call Of The Haunted

+1 General Gantala of the Ice Barrier
+2 Tour Guide From the Underworld
+2 Mystical Space Typhoon

-1 Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
-1 Mist Wurm
-1 Photon Papilloperative
-1 Number 39: Utopia

+1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
+1 Temtempo the Percussion Djinn
+1 Bahamut Shark
+1 Mermail Abysstrite

The final build looks like this!

    Rulers Of The Ice Barrier Ver 2.0 Jason Grabher-Meyer    
 
Main Deck
Side Deck
2 Defender of the Ice Barrier
3 General Gantala of the Ice Barrier
1 Gorz the Emissary of Darkness
3 Prior of the Ice Barrier
3 Strategist of the Ice Barrier
2 Stream, Dragon Ruler of Droplets
3 Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls
2 Tour Guide From the Underworld
Monsters [19]
1 Dark Hole
2 Gold Sarcophagus
1 Heavy Storm
3 Medallion of the Ice Barrier
1 Monster Reborn
2 Mystical Space Typhoon
2 Sacred Sword of Seven Stars
3 Surface
Spells [15]
1 Call of the Haunted
2 Fiendish Chain
1 Solemn Judgment
2 Torrential Tribute
Traps [6]
Deck Total [40]

EXTRA DECK

1 Abyss Dweller
1 Ally of Justice Catastor
1 Arcanite Magician
1 Bahamut Shark
1 Lavalval Chain
1 Leviair the Sea Dragon
2 Mecha Phantom Beast Dracossack
2 Mermail Abyssgaios
1 Mermail Abysstrite
1 Number 11: Big Eye
1 Number 39: Utopia
1 Temtempo the Percussion Djinn
1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
Extra Deck [15]
Notes:


I don't know if you're an Ice Barrier fan, but I am, and I get a huge amount of joy from playing this deck. With the emphasis on easy Rank 7's it can do alot of the same tricks of a pure Dragon Ruler build, but it does them differently by using the Ice Barrier's search power and recursion cards. It's got better access to Mermail Abyssgaios; can make cool plays with Arcanite Magician; and it can lock your opponent out of their attacks with the free Defender set-up. It's everything I've ever liked about Ice Barriers, but it's more consistent ad more resilient. It's an Ice Barrier deck that actually does what I want it to do. Fancy that.

Feel free to play with it and customize it! I found a third copy of Stream was viable, and depending on your metagame you might find that different traps work better for you. Pinpoint Guard could have big potential, blocking attacks with Prior and then rolling it into combos on the following turn. If you want stuff like Black Rose Dragon, another Big-Eye, or Number 30: Acid Golem of Destruction, there's definitely wiggle room in the Extra Deck to allow that. Play with it, tweak it, and see what makes you happiest.

Join us next week, because we're going to be revamping another of my favorite decks with a little help from the Dragon Rulers!

-Jason Grabher-Meyer
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Want a deck fix from yours truly, and see your strategy featured in a "What The Fix?" here on TCGPlayer? Just send the following to fixmydeckjason (at) gmail (dot) com to be considered:

-Your Main and Extra Deck list. (No Side Deck needed, but please send a written deck list, not a screencap.) Remember, your deck should be TCG legal!

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-A paragraph or two describing your deck: what it does, why you're playing it, and its strengths and weaknesses.

And don't forget, the cooler your deck is the more I'll want to fix it, so don't be afraid to get creative! New stuff takes priority, because I'm not bored of it yet! -JDG

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