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"Ice Barrier" (
They focus on stymieing the opponent's attackers with their defensive monsters and plenty of Spell/Trap Cards to compensate for their inability to maintain hand advantage. The ace monsters of this archetype are the three dragons of the Ice Barrier (namely "Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier" "Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier", and "Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier"-including its evolution), and the generals of the Ice Barrier ("General Raiho of the Ice Barrier", "General Gantala of the Ice Barrier", "General Grunard of the Ice Barrier", and "General Wayne of the Ice Barrier").
Both "Brionac" and "Medium" appears as character in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's World Championship 2009: Stardust Accelerator, and both "Gungnir" and "Secret Guards" appears in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's World Championship 2010: Reverse of Arcadia.
Most earlier "Ice Barrier" monsters are packed with a single effect that requires another "Ice Barrier" monster—usually, but not always, on the field—in order to activate their effects or to have their effects applying continuously, which are oriented towards field advantage. For example, many "Ice Barrier" monsters have effects to protect other "Ice Barrier" monsters, be it from attacks ("Cryomancer of the Ice Barrier" forbids all monsters of Level 4 or higher from attacking while its owner controls another "Ice Barrier", while "Defender of the Ice Barrier" can stop opposing monsters from attacking if they have more ATK than "Defender" has DEF) or card effects ("Dai-sojo of the Ice Barrier" protects all of your "Ice Barriers" from being destroyed by Spell/Trap cards). These effects can overlap, making "Ice Barriers" potentially capable of creating resilient fields if several of their monsters are out. One of the three Generals of the Ice Barrier, "General Raiho of the Ice Barrier", does not need other "Ice Barrier" monsters for its effect to work, but he can stand on his own as well as complement their lockdowns by taking a toll on the opponent's hand if they rely on monster effects.
On the flipside, many of the "Ice Barrier" monsters are not that useful on their own, giving this archetype huge problems if they are not able to establish field presence. "Ice Barriers" do have some effects of their own to facilitate having several monsters out, such as "Magic Triangle of the Ice Barrier", and this is also assisted by the effects of their remaining two Generals, "General Grunard of the Ice Barrier" with his additional Normal Summon and "General Gantala of the Ice Barrier" sporting a revival effect. Speaking of "General Gantala", he is one of the archetype's trump cards, being a 2700 ATK monster that can Special Summon an "Ice Barrier" monster from its controller's Graveyard during each of their turns' End Phase. It can revive any "Ice Barrier" besides other copies of himself, be it monsters such as "Defender of the Ice Barrier" to create or rebuild a defensive field, "General Raiho of the Ice Barrier" to apply more pressure, or even their Synchro Monsters, making him a powerful and versatile option.
Prior to the release of the Structure Deck: Ice Barrier of the Frozen Prison, the main problem with "Ice Barriers" was a lack of a uniting strategy. The archetype features a number of floodgates and defensive options and while the Synchro monsters are absolutely solid, getting them on the board in decent time could be a real issue. In addition to that, there was the high chance that the "Ice Barrier" deck would struggle to keep card advantage, which is weird since "Medallion of the Ice Barrier" is an insanely good searcher (that sadly only sifts through a pool of mediocre cards), while "Magic Triangle of the Ice Barrier" is removal and swarming in one card but needs a high count of "Ice Barriers" in the hand. Even the fact that every "Ice Barrier" monster is WATER Attribute and therefore unlocks "Moray of Greed" and "Salvage" as consistency boosters, while the high count of Aqua monsters make "Surface" rather viable for additional field presence is normally not enough since most monsters one draws into cannot help netting a victory in the long run.
Fortunately, with the release of their own Structure Deck, this archetype gains more advanced strategy to catch up to the speed of current game state. They are now mostly gifted with two or more effects that may include rapid Special Summoning and GY setup. "Mirror Master of the Ice Barrier" is the staple which costs you a card in your hand to Special Summon a Level 3 or lower "Ice Barrier" Tuner straight from your Deck, thus making the Synchro Summoning of their own Dragons to be no longer a big issue. Additionally, while she is resting in the GY, you can banish her instead of discarding a card to activate an "Ice Barrier" monster effect. Not only useful for the effect of "Brionac" and "Gungnir", but combining her cost-substitution effect with "Strategist of the Ice Barrier" also gives you one free card without losing hand advantage.
The newly released Tuner, "Frost Spirit of the Ice Barrier", is a great addition to the Deck that can act as mini-"Foolish Burial" while at the same time has level versatility. It can send a Level 3 or lower "Ice Barrier" monster from your Deck to the GY to have its level becomes the sent monster's. "Frost Spirit" is really helpful to fulfill certain conditions of "Ice Barrier" monsters or other support cards that have GY-related effect. The best example is providing a target for "Prior of the Ice Barrier" or the aforementioned "General Gantala" to revive. Other use for this effect of "Frost Spirit" includes enabling the self-banishing effect of "Vessel Miko of the Ice Barrier" for a token, recycling the sent monster back to your hand via "Salvage", and reviving "Attendant of the Ice Barrier" using his own effect (note that he cannot use this effect during the turn he is sent to the GY).
Some newer "Ice Barrier" monsters are also packed with Special Summoning abilities to some extent. "Vessel Miko" can Special Summon herself from the hand if you control an "Ice Barrier" monster. "Attendant", besides the aforementioned self-revival ability, can also Tributes himself to Special Summon a Level 5 or higher "Ice Barrier" monster from your hand, which would normally be used to call forth the hard-to-summon Ice Barrier Generals, now with ease. Initially, this strategy was accessible through the revival effect of "Prior of the Ice Barrier". Indeed, "Prior" is a multi-purpose card; he can be Special Summoned in similar fashion to "Vessel Miko", but the revival effect is weakened by the fact that the player cannot Special Summon Level 5 or higher monsters during the same turn "Prior" used his self-Special Summoning effect. However, "Prior" can be really helpful in certain situation providing he was Summoned by other ways since he can revive the resting Synchro Monsters, something that "Attendant" cannot do. Even if you chose to Special Summon "Prior" using his own effect, he can still revive other monsters with Level 1 to 4 as well as Xyz and Link monsters due to the lack of a level. "Prior" himself can still be easily retrieved by the aforementioned "Salvage" and "Surface", making it possible to use a single copy of "Prior" several times and therefore making "Prior" a solid option for an "Ice Barrier"-focused deck.
Mentioning the Ice Barrier Generals, the newcomer "General Wayne" can Special Summon himself from the hand if you control an "Ice Barrier" monster and you opponent controls a monster, and to make sure you do not lose hand advantage, he can search an "Ice Barrier" Spell/trap upon being Normal or Special Summoned. This lets you add "Medallion" for further consistency, the brand-new "Clear Wall of the Ice Barrier" that can act as one-time "Monster Reborn" for a Level-4 or lower "Ice Barrier" monsters, or instead "The Calm After the Ice Barrier's Storm" to replace the presence of your current board with the new ones from your Deck. The latter also has secondary effect that opts you to banish it from the GY to return an "Ice Barrier" monster from your GY or among your banished cards back to your hand, which is good to recycle the banished "Mirror Master" or "Vessel Miko", or the monster sent to the GY via "Frost Spirit". For the most part, "Ice Barriers" want to establish a solid field and, if possible, keep it. Most of their Tuners have some sort of defensive effect that would normally be used to stall or hinder the opponent; in the past, by Synchro summoning with those Tuner monsters, you must give up on those defensive effects, which could actually weaken the board position instead of strengthening it. Nevertheless, some of these issue can now be solved by utilizing the newly obtained Special Summoning strategy as explained.
The rest of the Synchro line-up, while strong, uses so many resources that they are better in most other decks than in "Ice Barrier". "Dewloren, Tiger King of the Ice Barrier" and its ability to return face-up cards to the hand opens a window for dedicated self-bounce builds, which is what it was actually used for and the reason why "Dewloren", at the time of writing this paragraph, is still limited in the TCG. He was used in "Ice Barrier" to stall by reusing "Swords of Revealing Light", but now he can target "Clear Wall of the Ice Barrier" as another option to bounce, so that you can revive a low-level "Ice Barrier" monster each turn and have "Dewloren" to gain some power. Both "Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier" and "Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier" are also useful and, granted, they also have the needed graveyard filling effect via discard. While "Mirror Master" can cover up a single discard cost for the Dragon's effect through her substitution ability, it is still possible that they soon reach the point where they become a huge minus to the "Ice Barrier" player.
In terms of further generic support, "Ice Barriers" can benefit from using monsters such as "Barrier Statue of the Torrent", since every single member of the archetype is WATER. "Ties of the Brethren" can be used to create locks and combos such as "Cryomancer" + "Dewdark" + "Secret Guards", or a combination of "Dance Princess of the Ice Barrier", "Spellbreaker of the Ice Barrier" and "Strategist of the Ice Barrier". "Moon Mirror Shield" is a good way to protect the lower-ATK "Ice Barriers" from being destroyed in battle while also being able to fight most beatsticks without any problem.
Official Konami Decklists
The following Decklists may or may not contain copies of cards that exceed the maximum amount allowed by the current Forbidden & Limited List. These should not be changed, as these Decklists are copied verbatim at the time they were published.
|Absolute Ice Wall|
|Ice Barrier Barian's Force|
- As "Ice Barriers" thrive on having several monsters on the field, an easy way of dealing with them is to not let them have a decent board. While cards like "Dai-sojo" can protect the board, most "Ice Barrier" players will skip him in deck building or struggle to get him on the field. Also, their lockdowns are never absolute and they rely on several monsters being on the field at the same time, so disposing of one or two can already be enough to tip the field on your favor. "Raigeki", "Dark Hole", "Torrential Tribute" or even single target removal can do the trick.
- "Ice Barriers" are also weak against effect negation, since that makes them virtually useless, so cards like "Skill Drain" and "Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Tiger King" can work well.
- You can also prevent the archetype (especially "Gantala") from swarming the field by using Special Summon-blocking cards, such as "Vanity's Emptiness", "Archlord Kristya" or "Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo". They are also weak against any of the non-WATER "Barrier Statues".
- "Ice Barriers" do need quite a number of generic Spell cards to get started, which makes any option that eliminates Spells effective against the archetype; therefore, "Imperial Order" and the like can seriously dampen their potential.
- The "Ice Barrier" archetype mostly builds defense against attacks but has little to nothing against burn effects, so decks like "Chain Burn" or "Trickstars" can simply melt the player's life points while completely ignoring any defensive setup.