"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") and the three generals of the Ice Barrier ("General Raiho of the Ice Barrier", "General Gantala of the Ice Barrier" and "General Grunard 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 "Ice Barrier" monsters require another "Ice Barrier" monster—usually, but not always, on the field—in order to activate their effects, 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.
Unfortunately, the main problem with "Ice Barriers" is 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 can be a real issue. In addition to that, there is the high chance that the "Ice Barrier" deck will 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.
The aforementioned "General Gantala" is a nice pick, but due to the fact that the archetype has no in-build graveyard interaction by with most Main Deck cards neither sending cards to the graveyard efficiently nor reviving them that often, "Gantala" often struggles to find a target in the End Phase of the first turn he is on the field; which realisticly could be exactly the duration of his stay there. "Strategist of the Ice Barrier" can discard "Ice Barriers" from the hand to draw a card in return, which can speed up the process but still leaves the question of how to get both "Strategist" and "General Gantala" on the board without going minus while still having some protection for this rather fragile board. Options like "Foolish Burial" can help the revival playstyle as do additions like "Call of the Haunted" and "Back to the Front", but while those cards can help build a field, they are also slow and potentially cloggy.
Like many archetypes that spawned during the times of Duel Terminal/Hidden Arsenal, "Ice Barrier" have many cards of questionable quality both effect-wise and in card design. The prime offender is "Numbing Grub in the Ice Barrier", an Insect monster that blocks a monster zone upon Normal Summon, which is both bad and completely unrelated to anything "Ice Barriers" normally do. There are also certain cards that are outclassed by their own archetype, such as "Pilgrim of the Ice Barrier" being a slightly different but worse option of "Defender of the Ice Barrier", while others simply did not age that well like "Blizzed, Defender of the Ice Barrier" and "Caravan of the Ice Barrier". The archetype also features kind of a counter card against "Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier" in "Mirror of the Ice Barrier", which essentially inflicts double the card loss against the opponent whenever cards are banished via an opposing card effect.
More helpful is "Prior of the Ice Barrier", who is a multi-purpose card: He can be used for an easy Special Summon, putting a second monster on the board while potentially enabling another "Ice Barrier" monster's effect, and he can still be used for his effect to Special Summon any other "Ice Barrier" monster from the Graveyard. Unfortunately, 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 Special Summon effect. The usual target would normally be "Gantala" or any of the Synchro monsters, but the effect makes this easy solution to many of the "Ice Barrier" problems impossible, although 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"-focussed deck.
For the most part, "Ice Barriers" want to establish a solid field and, if possible, keep it. The article already mentioned the struggles "Ice Barriers" have with both graveyard setup as well as card advantage, but there are some more problematic areas to look at. While "Ice Barriers" are definitely capable of Synchro Summoning with their own Tuner monsters, and all of their Synchro Monsters are actually good cards, there are certain things to keep in mind when summoning them. Most of their Tuners have some sort of defensive effect that would normally be used to stall or hinder the opponent; by Synchro summoning with those monsters, you must give up on those effects, which can actually weaken the board position instead of strengthening it. Also, since "Ice Barriers" as a whole are not very good at gaining and keeping card advantage, certain Synchros are rather hard to come by with "Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier" asking for a total of three monsters minimum in an archetype that struggles to get two on the field in one turn. It is clearly visible that the archetype comes from a slower time in the game, but the game speed issue crops up everywhere when building an "Ice Barrier" deck, since they cannot keep up without extensive outside support.
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 can still be used in "Ice Barrier" to stall by reusing "Swords of Revealing Light", but there are not that many more options for an "Ice Barrier" deck to bounce and still get a bonus off from. Both "Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier" and "Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier" are also useful and, granted, they have the needed graveyard filling effect via discard, but 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.
- 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.