Now that Hidden Arsenal has hit the shelves, the Yu-Gi-Oh world has been graced by release of numerous format shifting cards. From the power and potential of the Evilswarm archtype, to the generic rank 4 XYZ monsters Daigusto Emeral and Laval Chain, there have been some serious releases to prepare for when considering YCS New Jersey. While Daigusto Emeral has found a home in a wide variant of extra decks, such as Fire Fist variants sporting only one set of normal monsters, who can now recycle [ccProd]Rescue Rabbit[/ccProd] twice a game - Laval Chain is in a little bit of a different spot. It is clearly an effect that may be worthwhile in virtually all decks, but the 15 card extra deck limits including it in decks like Dino-Rabbit or Mermail.
But then there is that other deck - Infernities.
Patrick Hoban wrote an article on this archtype last week, and with the release of Laval Chain - the deck is right back in the lime light. The hype machine is absolutely pumping on this one. And although I really am not sold on this archtype, I think it is worth at least discussing how to play against it. Infernities were a major facet of the Nationals 2010 format, or as I like to call it - Frog FTK format, and other than a few Canadians having sporadic success in the next format - it really has not been a major player in quite some time. And because of that, a lot of players may not have a tremendous amount of experience playing against it. Due to the lack of exposure, I want to take the time talking about a lot of the general strategies that you can employ over the course of a game to shift the match in your favor.
The first thing we need to talk about is the role [ccProd]Infernity Barrier[/ccProd] plays in the match. Now there are two different versions of Infernities floating around right now. One of which using exclusively XYX monsters in order to perform certain loops, while the second versions uses a combination of the vital XYZ monsters (ex. Laval Chain) to combo through the already existent Infernity oriented synchro monsters (ex. [ccProd]Hundred Eyes Dragon[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Void Ogre Dragon[/ccProd]). Regardless each build is, in a general sense, attempting to establish virtually unbeatable boardstates backed up by multiple [ccProd]Infernity Barrier[/ccProd]s.
[ccProd]Infernity Barrier[/ccProd] has two glaring requirements that you must try and exploit in order to break out of their locks. The easiest to achieve is manipulating the opponent's hand size due to their natural draw.
Whenever an Infernity players goes for one of their explosive plays, each non-combo centric spell or trap card is immediately set to the spell and trap card zone- if that is [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Night Beam[/ccProd]. Beyond potentially adding protection in some instances (ex. [ccProd]Solemn Warning[/ccProd]), they pose the risk of clogging down your opponent's spell and trap card zone. The more cards in their disposal, the less Infernity themed spell and trap cards they can set. If they have to set two trap cards they cannot arbitrary activate, they can only resolve a loop ending in a combination of 3 [ccProd]Infernity Break[/ccProd]/Barrier. That may sound silly to say like that, but I have seen Infernities players go off and find themselves unable to win the game because an opponent simply slammed every spell or trap card they drew to the backrow and forced the Infernity player into a couple draw phases. The Infernity player will always be able to arbitrary activate an [ccProd]Infernity Break[/ccProd], but if you just commit every card you can to the board, they may miss an actual out to the boardstate - especially because they need to activate Infernity Break during your immediate end phase. If they do not, and have their entire backrow filled, they risk drawing into a spell or trap card they cannot activate and suddenly have shut off their Breaks and Barriers.
The Infernity player could open up with the entire Hundred-Eyes/Mirage loop - ending with a full suite of Infernity Traps, but if they get sloopy with managing their backrow numbers - you can punish them.
The next real critical aspect of [ccProd]Infernity Barrier[/ccProd] that is worth discussing are the times the opponent is either trying to grind you out, or protecting their explosive play. Barrier does a lot for Infernities, but there is a lot we can do to mitigate the impact it has on the game. For example, Archfiend is the only real threat to you when they are trying to grind you out with Barriers. In a format filled with [ccProd]Gene-Warped Warwolf[/ccProd], Heliotrope, [ccProd]Sabersaurus[/ccProd] and Tenki'd Tengus - he is not in as favorable of a position as he was when the only real threat was Boggart Knight and fringe Shuras. This should go almost without saying, but clear out Archfiend before slamming down essential spell and trap cards. I have seen players activate Heavy Storm when they were just a few moves away from putting their opponent on no cards by simply dealing with Archfiend first. Oh, and pay attention to Avenger! If you intend on attacking over Archfiend, have something to follow up and deal with Avenger if he is in the graveyard. If you fail to kill both creatures, you risk allowing the best top decking deck in history to draw a live out with Barriers set.
Now, when dealing with an Infernity player who is using Barrier to protect their explosive plays, the only real advice I can give is hope they make a mistake. Sounds crazy I know. But Infernities take the cake for being one of the most difficult decks to play perfectly. Not only are the combos incredibly mind twisting, there are multiple avenues to different results with each combination of cards. Since their release, we have seen versions of the deck abuse Trishula and Brionac to performing near 100 step loops. With the release and synergies between [ccProd]Stygian Street Patrol[/ccProd], [ccProd]Leviair the Sea Dragon[/ccProd] and Laval Chain - we just have our newest crop of involved combos. There are honestly, very few people I would think can actually play this deck to near perfection (and they are probably all Canadian, with most not playing anymore). And because of that, mistakes are made. The opponent can very often become lazy in their combos and risk a step without an attack position Infernity, and that is exactly the moment you need to try and stop their combo. Or, if the opponent is adamant enough to maintain an attack position Infernity (like they should, but again, easier said than done), try and activate a card when the Infernity player has searched with Archfiend. In the moment when they have a card in hand, perhaps you can stymie their aggression with a well timed [ccProd]Effect Veiler[/ccProd], [ccProd]Book of Moon[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Fiendish Chain[/ccProd]. And by well timed I literally mean before they activate the effect of Necromancer, or whatever else they are about to activate once they set their new card. Otherwise they have no hand and I guess you know where that lands you.
One of the biggest tips I can give you when playing against this deck, is to handle it like you were playing something like Hieratics. The real backbone to the story here is, if you ever allow your opponent to perform their given decks loop - you are probably not going to win. Like I said above, there are things you can try and do - but it is just so tough. If Hieratics begin looping, chances are you are able to get OTKed - and Infernities virtually identical. That continues on to the idea that if your opponent ever has [ccProd]Heavy Storm[/ccProd]... your odds of winning are slim to none. Just set everything. All of it. Tensu? Set. You name it, set it. Unless you are fearful of clogging your own backrow, set it. This deck runs [ccProd]Night Beam[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] to try and push through their plays, so make their life as difficult as possible, by at least presenting the illusion of a well protected backrow.
The last thing I want to talk about is the best way to utilize [ccProd]Mystical Space Typhoon[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Dust Tornado[/ccProd]. Obviously, it should go without saying that you want to hold the off for [ccProd]Infernity Launcher[/ccProd], unless you see as offensive push as being too worthwhile. But since the opponent needs to set each of their trap cards individually when they use Archfiend, you will be able to paint a picture as to what is where - so pay attention! If you know they only searched one or two Barriers, and you happen to have one of those double Space Typhoon/[ccProd]Heavy Storm[/ccProd] hands... it might be your lucky day.
Anyway, hopefully if anyone has picked up the game within the last few years and have not otherwise experienced the power of Infernities - they feel a bit more comfortable with the archtype now. Unfortunately this deck can do things on the first turn eerily similar to Magician/Shark from the previous - and we just have to do our best to deal with it.... I guess if you really want you could side Needle Ceiling again and use it when they draw a card during their standby phase? Hopefully the deck never becomes good enough to where we need to fear that anyway.