Table of Contents
- Strategy & Playstyle
- Deck Building, Theory & Variations
- Cards, Options & Ratios
- Spells & Traps
- Extra Deck
- Minor Ice Barrier Cards
- Non-Archetype Cards to Consider / Honorable Mentions
- Staples : Monster Reborn, Called by the Grave, Foolish Burial
- White Howling
- Barrier Statue of the Torrent + Gizmek Uka, The Festive Fox of Recundity
- Moulinglacia, the Elemental Lord
- Water Extenders: Aqua Spirit, Silent Angler, Fenrir
- Swap Frog + Ronintoadin
- Toadally Awesome + Bahamut Shark
- Abyss Dweller
- White Aura Whale
- Crystron Quariongandrax
- Adamancipator Risen – Dragite
- Borreload Savage Dragon
- PSY-Framelord Omega
- Marincess Coral Anemone
- Crystron Halqifibrax + Crystron Quandax / Shooting Riser Dragon
- Design & Going Forward
Ice Barrier is an archetype that debuted in the Duel Terminal in the 5Ds era. It later came to Hidden Arsenal and featured some of the strongest Synchros of the time. Unfortunately, their main deck monsters weren’t exactly great, so almost everybody just played their Synchros without their main deck cards. This made a pure Ice Barrier deck practically unplayable… until now.
In 2020, the OCG had a Structure Deck “Theme” Poll where players could vote for their favorite archetype to receive a Structure Deck. In this poll, Ice Barriers would take 1st place with 19.20% of the votes and receive their Structure Deck : Ice Barrier of the Frozen Prison in November of 2020. Three months later, the TCG would receive their adaptation of the Structure Deck, renaming it to Freezing Chains.
Strategy & Playstyle
Ice Barrier is a Synchro-based archetype that also features various control elements. The newer Ice Barrier cards features ways to extend onto the board to Synchro summon while also mildly inconveniencing your opponent. Some of the control effects include lowering stats, preventing tribute summons or changing battle positions. Because of this, Ice Barrier is an archetype that can be played in a variety of ways.
Ice Barrier is an archetype that is flexible with their opening combo. Their combo usually ending with the same/similar board, can be achieved with many different card combinations. The archetype is also relatively consistent and has good recovery post-turn 1. It also goes without saying that Ice Barriers have access some of the most powerful Synchros in the game.
Ice Barrier is an archetype relies on board presence. If your starters don’t stick to the board, it might be difficult to continue play. This is because most of your Ice Barrier cards require you to control an Ice Barrier monster. The deck also can have trouble reaching it’s key cards if you don’t have medallion and there isn’t a Link 2 to tutor Ice Barrier monsters out of the deck.
Deck Building, Theory & Variations
When building Ice Barriers, you should 1st pick a playstyle for your deck. As mentioned earlier, Ice Barriers can be built as a control-oriented deck and a combo-oriented deck. Alternatively, you could mix some of the elements from each and play mid-range. With the release of the Structure Deck, the archetype received cards to speed up the deck. Therefore, I recommend you play the deck in a more mid-range to combo-oriented style to take advantage of the new cards.
Cards, Options & Ratios
Revealer of the Ice Barrier
Revealer of the Ice Barrier is a Level 4 starter that summons an Ice Barrier TUNER from your deck by discarding a card. This effect also locks you into WATER monsters for the rest of the turn. Revealer can also act as a substitute for the cost of an Ice Barrier monster effect which would discard or send a card(s) from your hand to the GY by banishing itself from the GY. While you control another Ice Barrier monster, Revealer also prevents your opponent from Tribute Summoning. Although this is just an added effect for the control aspect of the archetype, it be useful when facing True Draco or Monarchs. Revealer is great because it has everything that the archetype wants. It’s also a Level 4 which makes it useful for summoning Bahamut Shark.
3-Of : Regardless of which variant you play, Revealer is the best starter of the deck. You almost always want to open with this card as it helps you develop very quickly.
Speaker for the Ice Barriers
Speaker of the Ice Barriers is a Level 4 extender that can special summon itself from the hand if you control an Ice Barrier monster. If it’s in the GY and you control an Ice Barrier monster, you can also banish it to get a Level 1 Ice Barrier token. Speaker also prevents your opponent’s defense position monsters from changing their battle position if you control another Ice Barrier monster. Speaker’s token effect is great as it lets you easily summon Link 2s. The token can also be used as tribute for Winds Over the Ice Barrier.
3-Of : Speaker is another card that you always want to see. As one of the few non-restrictive extenders, Speaker is great for developing the board and furthering your combo. Its token effect also lets you summon both Trishulas more easily.
General Wayne of the Ice Barrier
General Wayne of the Ice Barrier is a Level 5 that can special summon itself from the hand if your opponent controls a monster and you control an Ice Barrier monster. If summoned, it also adds an Ice Barrier S/T from your deck to your hand. Wayne also has a control effect that makes your opponent’s S/T sent from the field to the GY, banished instead. This effect is useful for dealing with effects that require S/T to be sent from the field to the GY as cost. It’s also good against S/T that have effects in the GY such as Eldlich S/T.
Wayne’s main issue is that it’s difficult to see. As a Level 5, it can’t be summoned by most of your card effects and usually needs to be searched by Medallion or hard drawn.
3-Of : Wayne is a card you play at 3 because it’s a card you need to see. After getting to Wayne, it opens lines to many of your combos. The issue with playing 3 is that it doesn’t do anything alone and is dead if you don’t have another combo piece. However, this is a risk that most players are willing to take just so they can see to the card.
Hexa Spirit of the Ice Barrier
Hexa Spirit of the Ice Barrier is a Level 2 that has a mini-Foolish Burial effect. During the main phase, it can send a Level 3 or lower Ice Barrier monster from your Deck to the GY to copy its level. This makes Hexa useful for getting Prior or Zuijin to the GY. Hexa can also manipulate its level which makes it a versatile tuner. It also has a control effect that lowers the stats of your opponent’s monsters by 500 ATK/DEF while you control another Ice Barrier monster. Hexa is usually the primary candidate for Revealer’s effect as it offers the most development.
2-Of : Hexa should be played at 2 because having 3 clogs while having 1 might not be enough. The point is, in longer games, you might summon Hexa through Revealer multiple times. Playing 2 also lets you have 1 in your deck incase you draw 1.
Zuijin of the Ice Barrier
Zuijin of the Ice Barrier is a Level 2 that can tribute itself to summon a Level 5+ Ice Barrier monster from your hand. It also has a GY effect to summon itself by reducing a WATER monster you control’s Level by 2. This effect cannot be used the same turn Zuijin is sent to the GY. Zuijin is mainly used as a hand version of Prior. It can also be used as a recovery tool or extender post-turn 1.
Overall, Zuijin is a less flexible version of Prior. Although it has it’s uses, more often than not you’d setup using Prior over Zuijin. The main idea of playing it is that it has some synergies with Strategist which will be explained more in the video.
1-Of : Zuijin should be played at 1 as an option for Hexa. In hands you already have access to Prior, Zuijin is a good choice for Hexa’s effect. This lets you diversify your GY and gives you more options in the mid-game.
Prior of the Ice Barrier
Prior of the Ice Barrier is an older Ice Barrier monster that can tribute itself to summon an Ice Barrier monster from your GY. It also has an effect that special summons itself from the hand if you control another Ice Barrier monster. If you use this effect, it also prevents you from summoning Level 5+ monsters for the rest of the turn.
Prior is good because it gives you access to almost your entire GY in 1 card. This gives cards like Surface and Marincess Coral Anemone practically a Monster Reborn effect. It’s also a Level 2 AQUA which makes it useful for XYZ summoning Toadally Awesome. The effect to summon itself can also come up in combos where you don’t Synchro and commit to XYZ or Linking. This can occur in hands where you don’t see Revealer but do see Swap Frog and Surface.
2/3-Of : Prior is a card that some builds play at 2 and some play at 3. While it is one of your most flexible monsters since it can become practically anything, it’s not a card I personally like seeing in my hand very often. Therefore, I prefer playing 2 over 3 but play it based on your own preference.
Spells & Traps
Winds Over the Ice Barrier
Winds Over the Ice Barrier is a new spell that tributes your Ice Barrier monsters on field to summon Ice Barrier monsters from your deck. It’s a very powerful card but it’s also a very dangerous, as tributing is a cost. This means if you’re met with Ash Blossom and Joyous Spring, you’ll be in a terrible position. Despite that, Winds is not only a hand fixer but also offers flexibility and recovery. For flexibility, Winds can get you to the monsters that you need for your combo. For recovery, Winds can banish itself from the GY to add 1 Ice Barrier monster from your GY or banished to your hand. You cannot use this effect the same turn Winds is sent to the GY.
3-Of : Winds should be played at 3 because it’s one of the most flexible cards in the archetype. It fixes your board and also helps you play through most disruptions. The recovery post-turn 1 is also great for re-establishing a board in the mid-game.
Freezing Chains of the Ice Barrier
Freezing Chains of the Ice Barrier is a continuous spell that summons a Level 4 or lower Ice Barrier from your GY when it’s activated. It also has an aura effect which makes Ice Barrier monsters you control unaffected by the activated effects of your opponent’s monsters that were special summoned from the Extra Deck while you control 3 or more Ice Barrier monsters. Freezing Chains is mainly used an extender to get more monsters to continue your combo or play through disruptions. The continuous aura effect doesn’t come up too often but it is a continuous spell and can be recycled using Dewloren.
3-Of : Freezing Chains is played at 3 because it’s an extender that also offers some flexibility. Because you play Prior, Freezing Chains can basically revive any Ice Barrier monster while Prior is in the GY.
Terror of Trishula
Terror of Trishula is a trap that has 3 effects that activate in sequence based on how many Ice Barrier Synchros you control. If you control 1, it banishes a card your opponent controls. If you control 2, it also banishes a card from your opponent’s GY. On the rare occasion you control 3, it will additionally banish a card from your opponent’s hand. Although it’s very rare you can even activate the 2nd effect, a non-target banish is still pretty good. It also has a GY effect which negates a card or effect that targets an Ice Barrier Synchro you control.
Terror’s problem is that since it’s a trap, it might be too slow to consider playing. It’s also rather rare to have an Ice Barrier Synchro on board since there are usually better options. The instances that you do control one is usually when you are Synchro-ing into Trishula during your opponent’s turn.
0/1-Of : Terror is a decent card to play at 1 if you want a tech to surprise your opponent. The effect is powerful and can catch your opponent off-guard. It’s also not a card you have to play since it doesn’t really add to your combo and it isn’t searchable since it’s not an Ice Barrier card. Play it depending on your own preference.
Trishula, Zero Dragon of the Ice Barrier
Trishula, Zero Dragon of the Ice Barrier is the new Ice Barrier Level 11 Synchro. It’s also a modern Trishula retrain with an ironically non-modern effect. Trishula Zero’s effect is when it is Synchro summoned, you can banish up to 3 cards your opponent controls. Since this is a “when” effect, it can miss timing if used improperly. If Trishula Zero is destroyed by an opponent’s card, it’ll summon the original Trishula from your Extra Deck or GY and set its ATK to 3300. Furthermore, this effect will also halve the ATK of all monsters your opponent controls and permanently negate their effects.
Trishula Zero is a weird card because its effect seems slightly lackluster for a Level 11 retrain. The card’s utility also seems slightly misplaced as it isn’t a card your opponent would usually destroy intentionally. Since it is 2021, there are multiple ways to safely remove Trishula Zero from the field without destroying it.
1-Of : Trishula Zero is a cool card that you play at 1 as an option to summon. Although I don’t find you summoning this often, if it does hit, a non-target banish on 3 cards is devastating. It also has some amazing artwork so it gets a few points for that.
Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
Trishula, Dragon of the Ice Barrier is the original Trishula that was released in Duel Terminal 4. When it was first legal for play in the TCG, Trishula ravaged the meta and getting hit by it was usually a game ender. Now, Trishula isn’t the same powerhouse it was before, but it still packs a punch if you don’t respect it. Trishula’s effect for those who don’t know, banishes a card from your opponent’s hand, field and GY when it is Synchro summoned. Like the modern Trishula, since this is a “when” effect, it can miss timing.
1-Of : Trishula is still an incredibly strong card if you can manage to hit 2 or 3 important cards with it. You can do this relatively easily by Synchro summoning on your opponent’s turn using Crystron Halqifibrax. Just be careful to not use it in a chain so Trishula won’t miss timing.
Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier is a Level 7 Synchro that is the 2nd of the 3 Ice Barrier Dragons. Unlike Brionac and Trishula, Gungnir specifically needs a non-TUNER WATER monster to summon and therefore isn’t as popular as it’s relatives. Gungnir’s effect lets you discard up to 2 cards to the GY and then target the same number of cards your opponent controls to destroy them. This effect is a bit underwhelming as it’s not as powerful as the other Dragons and is mainly used to trigger Atlantean and Mermail effects back in the day. It does have some synergy with Revealer as you can banish Revealer from the GY instead of discard a card.
0/1-Of : Overall, Gungnir is just a bit underwhelming to devote a slot to in a tight Extra Deck. It is one of the only Level 7 options that you’d consider but it feels useless going 1st and too wishful going 2nd. You can play Gungnir if you wish but I personally wouldn’t.
Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier
Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier is a Level 6 Synchro that was very popular at the start of the Synchro era. While its effect has been errata’d since then, it’s still not a bad card. Brionac’s current effect lets you discard any number of cards to the GY to target and bounce the same number of cards your opponent controls. In older formats, Brionac was an answer to deal with strong Synchros like Stardust Dragon and Goyo Guardian. In modern, Brionac isn’t as prominent as there are other answers to stronger cards.
0/1-Of : Brionac fits a similar role to Gungnir in the Extra Deck. It has an okay effect but it’s debatable whether or not you should dedicate a slot to it. One of the advantages Brionac has over Gungnir is that it can out more cards and it’s a Level 6. This makes it slightly better in terms of utility and also slightly easier to summon.
Dewloren, Tiger King of the Ice Barrier
Dewloren, Tiger King of the Ice Barrier is a Level 6 Synchro that is infamous for being involved in FTKs. It has an effect that targets any number of other face-up cards you control and returns them to the hand. Dewloren also gains 500 ATK for every card returned to your hand by this effect. Dewloren is another alright Synchro that you’ll have to consider if you want to play it or not.
Recycling some of your cards is nice but it doesn’t seem super necessary unless you also plan on playing an abundance of floodgates. If you were to play cards like Gozen Match or Summon Limit, Dewloren is great for turning these cards on and off. If you do not, just playing it to recycle Freezing Chains seems underwhelming.
0/1-Of : Dewloren fits the trend of Ice Barrier Synchros that are decent but don’t seem good enough to play. The problem is as a Synchro archetype, there are many candidates for slots in the Extra Deck. Personally, I’d say play Dewloren if you plan on playing floodgates. If you don’t, there are probably better options for it’s slot.
Minor Ice Barrier Cards
Strategist of the Ice Barrier
Strategist of the Ice Barrier is a Level 4 that lets you send 1 Ice Barrier monster from your hand to the GY to draw 1 card. This effect is not a hard-OPT so you can use it multiple times if you manage to summon Strategist multiple times. The main point of this effect is that you can banish Revealer from the GY to draw 1 for free.
Defender of the Ice Barrier
Defender of the Ice Barrier is a Level 3 Ice Barrier TUNER. It is primarily summoned off Crystron Haliqifibrax to make it easier to Synchro to Level 8 with Wayne. It also has a control effect that prevents your opponent from attacking with monsters that have equal or more ATK to Defender’s DEF while you control another Ice Barrier monster.
Secret Guards of the Ice Barrier
Secret Guards of the Ice Barrier is a Level 2 that prevents face-up Ice Barrier monsters you control from being targeted by the effects of your opponent’s monsters. It’s an alright card since it offers a decent aura effect but it feels difficult to get onto the board in the 1st place. It also doesn’t protect you against Nibiru which is the main threat going 1st.
Spellbreaker of the Ice Barrier
Spellbreaker of the Ice Barrier is a Level 4 that lets you send 1 Ice Barrier monster from your hand to the GY to prevent both players from activating spells until the end of your next turn while it’s face-up on the field. This is a pretty strong effect but you might have trouble getting Spellbreaker on the field and then finding good ways to protect it.
General Grunard of the Ice Barrier
General Grunard of the Ice Barrier is a Level 8 that permits an extra normal summon for an Ice Barrier monster during the main phase. While this is a great effect, the problem with Grunard has always been getting it on the field. While you can summon it through both Prior and Zuijin, it feels a bit too optimistic to consistently rely on this combo going through. It also feels the risk of having to play Grunard doesn’t match the reward for summoning it.
Medallion of the Ice Barrier
Medallion of the Ice Barrier is a non-OPT spell that searches for an Ice Barrier monster. There isn’t too much to say here, play your generic search cards at 3. Especially if it isn’t once per turn.
Non-Archetype Cards to Consider / Honorable Mentions
Staples : Monster Reborn, Called by the Grave, Foolish Burial
Staples like Monster Reborn, Called by the Grave and Foolish Burial are great choices for the Ice Barrier deck. Monster Reborn is great as an extender and can also help you re-use cards like Swap Frog and Strategist. Called by the Grave is good to make sure your plays go through and hopefully stop your Winds from getting blocked by Ash. Foolish Burial helps get Wayne in the GY which is an important part in most of your combos.
Salvage is a spell that targets 2 WATER monsters with 1500 ATK or less in your GY and adds them to your hand. It’s a decent card that helps with recovery post-turn 1. It can also be used as a semi-extender if retreiving Swap Frog.
Surface is a spell that targets 1 Level 3 or lower FISH, SEA SERPENT or AQUA monster in your GY and special summons it in defense position. It’s very flexible as you can use it to summon both Swap Frog and Prior. If you summon Prior, Surface acts as a semi-Monster Reborn as Prior will give you access to the rest of your GY.
White Howling is a trap that banishes a spell from your opponent’s GY and negates all spell effects on your opponent’s field for the rest of the turn. The only activation condition is to control a WATER monster which is very easy in the Ice Barrier deck. Consider siding this against decks that heavily rely on spells like Pendulum and Sky Striker.
Barrier Statue of the Torrent + Gizmek Uka, The Festive Fox of Recundity
Barrier Statue of the Torrent and Gizmek Uka, The Festive Fox of Recundity is a side deck option against Halqifibrax combo decks. If your opponent summons Halqifibrax, you can use Gizmek Uka’s effect to tutor Torrent out of your deck. This often locks your opponent out of the turn and forcibly ends their combo. When it reaches your turn, Torrent doesn’t really affect you since your deck is primarily WATER.
Moulinglacia, the Elemental Lord
Moulinglacia, the Elemental Lord is a monster you can special summon if you have exactly 5 WATER monsters in your GY. If it is special summoned, you can discard 2 random cards from your opponent’s hand. Moulinglacia is a powerful card as discarding your opponent’s cards is usually very strong. The only problem is that since you can’t naturally search for it, it might be hard to see it when you want it.
Water Extenders: Aqua Spirit, Silent Angler, Fenrir
Water extenders such as Aqua Spirit, Silent Angler and even Fenrir are good Level 4 options to pair alongside your starters. These cards let you easily XYZ into Bahamut Shark to ensure the rest of your play goes smoothly. These are mainly used as alternative options when you don’t see Speaker.
Swap Frog + Ronintoadin
Swap Frog and Ronintoadin is part of an optional frog engine that you can play. Frogs are good because they give you alternative options in hands where you don’t see key Ice Barrier cards. They can also act as extenders and assist in summoning Toadally Awesome.
Toadally Awesome + Bahamut Shark
Toadally Awesome is a Rank 2 XYZ that is both an omni-negate and a tutor for Swap Frog. Its usually summoned through Bahamut Shark‘s effect but can also be summoned naturally through a mix of Swap Frog, Ronintoadin and Prior. This package is really strong as it helps you access negate before 5 summons which helps you play through Nibiru.
Abyss Dweller is a Rank 4 XYZ that is a semi-floodgate and a field steroid for WATER monsters. While everyone is familiar with Dweller’s effect to turn off your opponent’s GY, they often forget that it has another effect. Dweller’s other effect is that it buffs the ATK of WATER monsters you control by 500 while it has a material that was originally WATER. While this might seem insignificant, a 2700 ATK Toad is much harder to deal with than a 2200 ATK one.
White Aura Whale
White Aura Whale is a Level 8 Synchro that destroys all attack position monsters your opponent controls when it is synchro summoned. As it is a “when” effect, Whale can miss timing if used improperly. Whale also has another effect that lets it make 2 attacks on monsters during the battle phase. If Whale is destroyed by an opponent’s card, you can also banish 1 other WATER monster from your GY to special summon it. If using this effect, Whale will revive as a TUNER.
Crystron Quariongandrax is a Level 9 Synchro that requires 2 TUNERs to summon. If it is Synchro summoned, it can target monsters your opponent controls or in their GY equal to the number of materials used to summon Quariongandrax and banish them. Quariongandrax’s main selling point is that it doesn’t miss timing like Trishula or Whale and can majorly disrupt your opponent’s play. It’s also not difficult to summon as you can end with 2 TUNERs on field naturally.
Adamancipator Risen – Dragite
Adamancipator Risen – Dragite is a Level 8 Synchro that is an omni-negate if you have a WATER monster in your GY. It also has another effect meant for Adamancipators but we won’t talk about that since this is an Ice Barrier review. Other than this, it’s your standard Level 8 Synchro with good stats and a solid effect.
Borreload Savage Dragon
Borreload Savage Dragon is a Level 8 Synchro that is another omni-negate and is usually 4000 ATK. Since Savage isn’t a WATER, you’ll usually have to summon it during your opponent’s turn using Crystron Halqifibrax. Overall, Savage is just another solid Synchro for your lineup.
If omni-negates aren’t your cup or tea, PSY-Framelord Omega is another option that can rip a card out of your opponent’s hand. It’ll also give you some information as to what your opponent is playing.
Marincess Coral Anemone
Marincess Coral Anemone is a Link 2 that can revive a 1500 or less ATK WATER monster once per turn. Although 1500 might seem a little low, you can revive Prior which basically leads into almost everything. It can also be used to revive Swap Frog to set up a Toadally Awesome.
Crystron Halqifibrax + Crystron Quandax / Shooting Riser Dragon
Crystron Halqifibrax and Synchro TUNERs are great to extend and Synchro on your opponent’s turn. Since Revealer locks you into WATER, Synchro summoning on your opponent’s turn is a great way to access non-WATER Extra Deck monsters. Crystron Quandax is a good option as it lets you Synchro for 8 using another Level 4. Shooting Riser Dragon is also good as it’s very flexible acting as a Foolish Burial while also changing its level.
Design & Going Forward
While I do like and enjoy the new support that Ice Barriers have gotten, it’s not like all of the archetype’s problems have been solved. The biggest issues the archetype still faces is getting cards out of the deck. If you don’t manage to see Revealer or Wayne in your opening hand, you don’t have any way to get to them easily. For this, a Link 2 that helps tutor an Ice Barrier monster would be great. As far as the control aspect goes, having some more significant effects to motivate you to keep an Ice Barrier on board would be nice. While some of the current effects aren’t bad, they’re often niche or aren’t threatening enough to force your opponent to respond.
Overall, while Ice Barriers might not have jumped to Tier 1, this is definitely a step in the right direction. As an archetype that features some of my favorite cards, I’m glad to see it get meaningful support and hopes it’ll improve going forward. If you’re looking for a somewhat cheap deck to play at locals, I encourage you to pick up 3 structure decks and try it out. I hope you’ve found this article helpful and thanks for reading!