"General Gantala", "General Grunard" and "General Raiho" in the artwork of "Magic Triangle of the Ice Barrier".
"Ice Barrier" (
Playing StyleMost "Ice Barrier" monsters require another of their kind present on the field in order to activate its effect(s), which often generate field advantage. For example, many "Ice Barrier" monsters have effects to protect other "Ice Barrier" monsters: "Cryomancer of the Ice Barrier" forbids all monsters of Level 4 or higher from attacking while its owner control another "Ice Barrier", and "Defender of the Ice Barrier", which stops your opponent's monsters with ATK greater than or equal to its DEF from attacking. This condition of having two "Ice Barriers" on the field can be easily fullfiled if you control "General Grunard of the Ice Barrier", since it allows an extra Normal Summon of an "Ice Barrier" monster.
Aside from sheer attack-blocking, "Ice Barriers" can also protect themselves in other areas. "Dai-sojo of the Ice Barrier," for example, protects "Ice Barrier" monsters from Spells and Trap destruction, while "General Raiho of the Ice Barrier" penalizes an opponent for relying on the activation of multiple monster effects by negating them or taxing a discard. Likewise, "Secret Guards of the Ice Barrier" protects your monsters from being targeted by monster effects. It is difficult to maintain consistency in your Deck, however, by trying to rely on all of these forms of protection. Also, "Ice Barriers" are difficult to summon in swarms, making them all the harder to protect with their defensive monsters, all of which are tailored to defending a specific kind of effect.
"Ice Barriers" can mount swarms under the direction of their "General Gantala of the Ice Barrier" if left unimpeded. It can fetch other "Ice Barrier" monsters from the Graveyard during each of its owner's End Phase. This allows for great flexibility in strategy: not only can it revive heavy-hitters with devastating live effects, but also cards like a Defense Position "Defender of the Ice Barrier" or Tuners for still more threats.
The "Ice Barrier" engine works in a circle. The idea is to start with "Strategist of the Ice Barrier", whose main objective is to discard "General Gantala" to the Graveyard all while netting you a draw every time you discard. "Gantala" then sits in the Graveyard until revived by "Prior of the Ice Barrier". Once you have "Gantala" on the field, you can begin reviving your other "Ice Barriers" that have fallen in battle or have been discarded by "Strategist", most notably "Defender of the Ice Barrier" to Synchro and block almost all attackers or even "Samurai of the Ice Barrier" to gain an extra draw during your next turn. It is recommended using a large Trap lineup in any "Ice Barrier" Deck because only "Strategist", "Gantala", "Prior", "Defender", and maybe "Samurai" should be used. The main win condition of this Deck is to summon "Gantala" to generate field advantage, then use powerhouses like itself and "Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier" to destroy your opponent's field. Utilizing "Strategist" as a draw engine and "Medallion of the Ice Barrier" to grab the right card at the right time makes this deck consistent even without the use of cards like "Pot of Duality" or "Upstart Goblin". Finally, even if "Gantala" is defeated, you can use "Surface", resurrecting "Prior" and then using it to revive "Gantala".
"Medallion of the Ice Barrier" is a Staple for "Ice Barrier" Decks. It functions exactly like "E - Emergency Call" in an "Elemental HERO" Deck, down to the wording, but serves slightly different purposes: the monster can become part of a Synchro Summon, a third monster for "Magic Triangle of the Ice Barrier", a discard cost later retrieved with "Salvage," or to fulfill the requirements for the effect of "Moray of Greed."
A large hand facilitates the effects of the archetype's Synchro trump card, "Gungnir, Dragon of the Ice Barrier". It can destroy up to two cards per turn, at the cost of a discard per target. With a stocked hand, "Gungnir" can apply pressure by whittling defenses down so it and "Gantala" can push for the win.
Another remarkable support is "Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls": by discarding it alongside with another WATER monster, send "General Gantala of The Ice Barrier" from the deck to the Graveyard; then, tribute "Prior of the Ice Barrier" in order to Special Summon "Gantala". During the End Phase, activate "Gantala"'s effect and Special Summon the discarded monster or "Prior". It can also be used to perform Rank 7 Xyz Summons (+ "Medium of the Ice Barrier", "Gungnir" or "Gantala").
"Eisbahn" can also be a good support to them, making all non-WATER monster change to Defense Position at the time it hits the Field; with this, you can slow down your opponent's moves and pave the way to attack with the huge ATK of "Gantala", "Grunard" or "Gungnir". "Soul Drain" can be used to stop Graveyard-reliant decks, such as "Dark World", "Sylvan", etc., from working, while this deck will remain untouched; this can give an "Ice Barrier" player even more control of the game.
Using a small monster lineup, keep it consistent and simple, relying on obnoxious Spell/Trap Cards to keep you in the game long enough to capitalize off of the effects of "Gantala" and "Gungnir".
The best way to outline "Ice Barriers" is to stop them from swarming the Field and using their defensive tatics, that generally work if two "Ice Barriers" are on the field at the same time; "Kaiser Colosseum" is a good suggestion. You can also simply negate their effects, which makes them virtually useless, so cards like "Skill Drain" and "Brotherhood of the Fire Fist - Lion Emperor" can work well. You can also prevent "Gantala" from swarming the Field by using Special Summon-blocking cards, such as "Vanity's Emptiness", "Archlord Kristya", "Fossil Dyna Pachycephalo" etc.