Side Deck Theory: Dimensional Barrier

Kelly Locke

11/8/2016 11:00:00 AM

I've criticized the game's overwhelming number of floodgates quite a bit in the past. I don't like mechanics that prevent you or your opponent from playing the game, and I think player interaction should be encouraged, not prevented. If you're read my articles before you're probably well aware of my disdain for floodgates and how they impact competitive play, and if so, you might be surprised to hear that I actually don't mind the newest one: Dimensional Barrier.

Dimensional Barrier from Invasion: Vengeance is a non-continuous floodgate that lasts only for a turn. At activation you'll declare either Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, or Pendulum monsters, and until the end of the turn no monsters of the declared type can be Special Summoned. Monsters of that type also have their effects negated while they're on the field. The half-floodgate, half-effect negation trap is one of the most popular cards in the OCG, and its appeal has carried over to the TCG and established it as the most-wanted card in Invasion-Vengeance.

So why don't I mind this card as much as other floodgates? Yes, it still limits your ability to play the game, but that effect is fleeting. Compare Dimensional Barrier to something like Anti-Spell Fragrance, which stops you from activating Pendulum Spells and locks down an entire mechanic. That effect exists until your opponent draws an out, and it's entirely possible they never will. Dimensional Barrier can give you an advantage for a turn, but it won't win you the game if you can't capitalize on it. Meanwhile, Anti-Spell Fragrance can win you the game on its own. The rest of your deck won't need to contribute much.

 Dimensional Barrier
Dimensional Barrier124795
Set Invasion: Vengeance
Number INOV-EN078
Type Normal Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

Declare 1 monster card type (Ritual, Fusion, Synchro, Xyz, or Pendulum); for the rest of this turn, neither player can Special Summon monsters of the declared type, also negate the effects of all monsters of that type while they are on the field. You can only activate 1 "Dimensional Barrier" per turn.

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I like the idea of temporary floodgates, I still think Dimensional Barrier's unhealthy for the game as it currently stands. The problem isn't with Barrier itself, but with the speed and pace of the current format. Games are so often decided in the first few turns of the duel that a card which robs your opponent of a turn might as well be a continuous floodgate anyways. Its effect is exaggerated because of the state of the game, though I suppose you might make the same argument of any continuous floodgate. Those cards work because so many themes and strategies double down on mechanics for the sake of synergy, and make themselves vulnerable to cards that break those mechanics.

Right now it's far too easy to win the game by flipping Dimensional Barrier. Even worse, there's really no direct answer to it if you're playing second. There are very few cards in the game that can shut your opponent out of the duel quite as effectively as Dimensional Barrier. You don't need any set-up, and it really doesn't impact you as its controller unless you're playing Yang Zings, or have monsters of the declared type on your side of the field.

Dimensional Barrier's exceedingly powerful. It's going to have a lasting impact on the game for the duration of its stay, so we'll be discussing it a lot in the future. This week I'd like to describe the card generally: where it can see play, how it interacts with other traps, and how to play around it.

The New Answer To Extra Deck Themes
I don't necessarily think Dimensional Barrier's the single-best answer to Extra Deck, Pendulum, and Ritual themes, but it certainly gives alternatives a run for their money. Only strict, anti-Special Summon floodgates like Vanity's Fiend and Vanity's Emptiness can compete with Dimensional Barrier's utility, and its effectiveness at both stopping Summons and negating monsters already on the field is excellent. Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries can't compete, and it might simply be a better option than Solemn Strike for most decks.

Blocking Summons altogether is sometimes better and sometimes worse than negating them. Emptying your opponent's Extra Deck of Pendulum monsters with Solemn Strike, or banishing their ABC-Dragon Busters with Ghost Reaper will cripple your opponent's ability to play effectively on the next turn. Delaying your opponent is only an effective strategy if you can win thanks to that delay. If they recover and Pendulum or Fusion Summon next turn you'll be wishing you had a more permanent solution.

Dimensional Barrier avoids awkward situations with Solemn Strike where you're forced to negate a Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, or some other monster that can replace itself. It's also harder to play around that turn. Banishing a key Synchro or Xyz with Ghost Reaper still gives your opponent the option of Summoning a different monster. It stops all Xyz Summons that turn and further limits your opponent's options.

 Solemn Strike
Solemn Strike122528
Set 2016 Mega-Tins Mega Pack
Number MP16-EN231
Type Trap Card
Attribute TRAP 
Rarity Secret Rare
Card Text

When a monster(s) would be Special Summoned, or a monster effect is activated: Pay 1500 LP; negate the Summon or activation, and if you do, destroy that card.

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Neither Solemn Strike nor Ghost Reaper can stop Ritual Summons, so Dimensional Barrier has a major advantage there. Considering the rest of its coverage it's not at all surprising to see Barrier as a Main Deck choice in many OCG lists, and we can probably expect the same here. There are just too many strategies that can lose a full turn to its effect. Xyz strategies like Burning Phantom Knights, Pendulum themes like Metalfoes and Majespecters, Synchro decks such as Blue-Eyes, Dark Synchro, and Yang Zing, Fusion strategies like ABCs, and Ritual decks like Star Seraphs are all vulnerable to Dimensional Barrier.

There's an entire category of decks that don't use Synchros, Pendulums, Rituals, Fusions, or Xyz. Infernoids, Mermails, and Kozmos can play effectively using just Effect Monsters. How does Dimensional Barrier fare against them? For the most part it's a weaker card overall. You can't block their Summons or end their turn prematurely. You can't expect to win the game off those cards, but you might be able to disrupt some combos and stop a play from becoming an even bigger blowout. Most of the time, however, you'd rather just have a better Side Deck card for the match-up.

So, how do you go about avoiding Dimensional Barrier? It's tough to side against directly, especially if you're going second. Instead, playing in a format where Dimensional Barrier is everywhere requires building your deck to include multiple avenues of Summoning methods. There are plenty of examples available right now.

Infernoids have Synchro and Xyz options, ABCs have Xyz and Fusions, D/D's have Pendulums and Fusions, and Blue-Eyes have Synchros and Xyz. Being able to Salvage a play when hit by Dimensional Barrier is incredibly powerful, but even so, guiding your opponent towards one set of options makes Barrier worthwhile. If you're most concerned with ABC-Dragon Buster you probably don't mind getting hit with a Rank 4. You'll have to make hard choices, and making the right call could be the difference between winning and losing.

 Forbidden Lance
Forbidden Lance81680
Set Premium Gold
Number PGLD-EN048
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Gold Rare
Card Text

Select 1 face-up monster on the field. Until the End Phase, it loses 800 ATK, but is unaffected by the effects of other Spell/Trap Cards.

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What can you do when your deck doesn't have the ability to play multiple Summoning types? There are several cards you can side to avoid losing to Dimensional Barrier outright, though most of them won't do more than keep you alive for a turn. In Game 1 it's actually in your favor to blindly hit backrow with removal before you reveal what deck you're playing. It's probably not the best strategy in the long term, and actually difficult to pull off if you're using Twin Twisters, as that discard might tell your opponent exactly what they need to call.

Otherwise, siding cards that keep you alive through the next turn can help. Maxx C, Threatening Roar, Drowning Mirror Force, and Storming Mirror Force can protect your set-ups and your Life Points. Forbidden Lance won't let you Summon new monsters, but it will bring the effects of a monster back online for the turn. That's most useful with abilities that trigger just once, like Majespecter Racoon - Bunbuku, or for monsters with floodgate effects of their own like Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon or Naturia Beast. ABC-Dragon Buster and Spirit Dragon can also dodge Dimensional Barrier's negation by tributing themselves.

Main Or Side Deck?
Running Dimensional Barrier in your Main Deck gives you a powerful Game 1 trap against the vast majority of decks being played at the Regional level. While the focus of this column is on the Side Deck, there's no denying that Barrier's an excellent Main Deck pick. On paper it's a classic Side Deck card, but given the context of this format you can absolutely run it in your Main Deck. Like many other cards including Anti-Spell Fragrance, Kaijus, and most hand traps, Side Deck cards often blur the line between match-up specific tech and universally good options.

I don't think there's any question that Dimensional Barrier is one of the best traps in the game right now, and it might be good enough to force Anti-Spell Fragrance and Solemn Strike out of Main Decks. Playing Barrier and Strike together gives you incredible control over your opponent's Summoning options with two highly versatile traps. Barrier's both reactive and proactive, and is only really hurt by being a trap rather than a Quick-Play Spell. You'll have to wait a turn to activate it if you're going second and looking to break a set-up, but it's generally a great card for negating your opponent's monsters before making an aggressive play.

I'm not at all surprised to see Dimensional Barrier at its current price. We'll find out just how popular it is over the next couple of weekends as players get their first shot at playing it at Regional and Championships.

Until next time then


Kelly Locke is a West Michigan gamer, writer, and college student. In addition to writing on TCGplayer, Kelly writes personal blog covering Yugioh, Destiny, and other hobbies. You can follow him on Twitter and check out his Youtube channel. He is currently studying marketing at Western Michigan University, and hopes to graduate before Dragon Ravine is Unlimited.

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