#C1/W1 Heading into the Burning Abyss: An Analysis of the Malebranche

Hello duelists! The release of Duelist Alliance is upon us. With it comes the introduction of several new archetypes, and the strengthening of the pendulum mechanic. Among the new cards, I am really looking forward to the Burning Abyss archetype, which is a series of five cards based on the western poem Dante’s Inferno.

The Demons:

The three main deck monsters are all Level 3 DARK Fiend-type monsters with similar effects. These monsters are based on the demons found in Dante’s Inferno. Their effects are:

1. If you control a monster that is not a “Burning Abyss” monster, destroy this card

2. If you control no Spell/Trap Cards: You can Special Summon this card from your hand.

3. An effect that activates when the card is sent to the graveyard.

You can only activate the second or third effect of the Malebranche once per turn. So if you special summon them using their second effect, the third effect will not trigger when they are sent to the graveyard. The third effect is how this deck will gain its advantage in duels..

ScarmMalebrancheoftheBurningAbyss-DUEA-EN-OPThe first demon that was announced was Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. During the end phase, when Scarm is sent to the graveyard, he will search out a Level 3 DARK Fiend-type monster from your deck and add it to your hand. This will be the first card you want in the graveyard, so that you will have early access to the most important target for Scarm, Tour Guide From The Underworld. I will expand on her role in the deck later. Scarm also is a good wall, sitting at 2000 defense, bigger than most normal summoned monsters, and has the highest number for either attack or defense out of the Malebranche monsters. A warning about Scarm is that you cannot move him from the graveyard before the end phase if you want to activate his effect, like XX-SaberDarksoul. So beware of D.D. Crow, and use any revival on Scarm after his effect triggers if it can be helped.

CirMalebrancheoftheBurningAbyss-DUEA-EN-OPThe next demon of the Burning Abyss is Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss. Cir’s third effect allows you to summon a Burning Abyss monster from your graveyard as soon as he is sent there. This includes their xyz monster, Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss. Cir allows for Scarm to return when there is a non-Burning Abyss monster on your field, and get a search for Tour Guide or one of theother Malebranche at the end of the turn. Cir also is the strongest of the three Malebranche monsters, sitting at 1600 attack, enough to crash with Traptrix Myrmeleo.

GraffMalebrancheoftheBurningAbyss-DUEA-EN-OPFinally, the last demon is Graff, Malebranche of the Burning AbyssGraff allow you to summon a Burning Abyss monster from your deck as soon as he is sent to the graveyard. This allows for quick deck thinning, and it will let you get out monsters to suit the situation. Graff is usually the best monster to hit the graveyard first if you do not have access to Scarm, since he is able to get Scarm to wall up or search out a Tour Guide if there is a non Burning Abyss monster on the field, or grab Cir to revive him on a later turn.

The Traveler:

DanteTraveleroftheBurningAbyss-DUEA-EN-OPThe most important monster in the Burning Abyss is Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, based on Dante from the poem. Dante is a Rank 3 LIGHT Warrior-type Xyz Monster with 1000 ATK and 2500 DEF that needs two generic Level 3 monsters to make, and has the following effect:

“Once per turn: You can detach 1 Xyz Material from this card and choose a number from 1 to 3, then, send that many cards from the top of your Deck to the Graveyard; until the end of this turn, this card gains 500 ATK for each card sent to the Graveyard this way. If this card attacks, it is changed to Defense Position at the end of the Battle Phase. If this card is sent to the Graveyard: You can target 1 “Burning Abyss” card in your Graveyard, except this card; add it to your hand.”

Dante’s effect draws a lot of parallels to Card Trooper. Both cards have the same cost, and both get effects when they go to the graveyard. However, Dante does not stay in attack mode for your opponents to take advantage of his original attack. Moving to defense also prevents him from being vulnerable to Number 101: Silent Honor ARK’s effect. Dante also only needs to go to the graveyard to grab a Burning Abyss monster from the graveyard, similar to Ghostrick Alucard. This includes being detached as an Xyz material from other monsters, being sent with Number 50: Blackship of Corn, being used as a tribute for a summon or effect, or being destroyed in battle.

When Dante goes to the graveyard, he can add any Burning Abyss card from your graveyard except himself, including the Malebranche monsters, a second Dante in the graveyard, or the Burning Abyss Trap card, The Traveler and the Burning Abyss. The Traveler and the Burning Abyss is a Normal Trap card that has this effect:
”Target any number of “Burning Abyss” monsters in your Graveyard that were sent there this turn; Special Summon them in Defense Position. You can only activate 1 “The Traveler and the Burning Abyss” per turn”.

While this trap will be either a +1 or a 1-for-1 most times you use it, when it is in the graveyard, Dante will be able to add it to hand for a later time when you have a plan for it. Since Cir will be able to revive Dante constantly, The Traveler and The Burning Abyss will always be in reach. The best way to use The Traveler and The Burning Abyss is to use it at the end of a  turn where  an opponent cleared your field of all of your monsters, so that the revived Malebranche monsters do not destroy themselves by their own effect.

Dante’s effect is very good for getting important cards in the graveyard such as Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force, Breakthrough Skill, The Traveler and the Burning Abyss, or the Malebranche monsters. Even when Skill Drain is on the field, Dante will still get his effect because the milling is a cost for the effect to gain attack. He will not gain attack, but he can still get your cards into the graveyard without issue since Skill Drain does not negate the cost of cards. Any of the Malebranche sent to the graveyard for the cost of Dante can have their effect go off, including one detached as Xyz material, which potentially could get enough monsters on field to make a second copy of Dante.

Dante can be Xyz Summoned in the first few turns by using one of the following three methods. First, you can use two of any of the Malebranche monsters, special summoning at least one of them with their second effect. The second way is reviving two Malebranche with The Traveler and the Burning Abyss, which will also put it in the graveyard to be potentially retrieved later with Dante. The third way is to use one of the two double summoners of the deck to get two monsters on field quickly.

Double Summon Monsters:

Level 3 monsters have gotten a lot of support over the years. The two cards most compatible with the Malebranche monsters are Tour Guide From The Underworld and Crane Crane. Tour Guide’s effect allows her to special summon any Malebranche monster or herself from your hand or deck when she is normal summoned. Since she is not a Burning Abyss monster, the Malebranche monsters’ first effect should destroy them. However, Tour Guide negates the effects of the monsters she summons, allowing the summoned monster to survive long enough to Xyz with. Crane Crane does the same thing as Tour Guide, except it summons any Level 3 monster from the graveyard. Both cards are vital to making Rank 3 plays without losing any card advantage.

A good first turn combo with Tour Guide is to summon her, and then use her effect to special summon Scarm or Graff. Overlay the two into Dante in defense position, and use his effect todetach the Malebranche and mill three cards. Then, if you detached Graff, summon a Scarm from your deck in defense position. Scarm will provide additional advantage if your opponent has a big first turn play, and can’t clear the field before it. During the end phase, if Scarm was the monster detached, you can search another Tour Guide from your deck, and set up for a similar play the following turn.


A big issue with Rank 3 centric decks is  that most Rank 3 monsters are a bit weak, and cannot compete with a well established field. This is why I elected to run Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force. Astral Force has seen play before in a popular variant of Ghostricks, this time, you will be using it to turn your Rank 3 toolbox into a Rank 5 one.

Popular choices for Astral Force rank-ups include:(use Astral Force’s picture here)

Grenosaurus into Number 61: Volcasaurus,

Ghostrick Alucard into Crimson Knight Vampire Bram,

Mechquipped Angineer into Tiras, Keeper of Genesis,

and new to Duelist Alliance,

Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss into Constellar Pleiades!

Pleiades has been a popular card in the recent format thanks to HAT and other decks using Artifacts. Pleiades is able to quickly interrupt the opponent’s key cards by detaching one material, and sending it back to the hand. Pleiades, like Dante, has a built in defense to Silent Honor ARK. Pleiades can use his effect to return it to the extra deck before Silent Honor ARK’s effect activates. Thanks to Dante, any Rank 3 deck is able to summon Pleiades using Astral Force. Astral Force also is able to be retrieved from the graveyard instead of conducting your normal draw for the turn, but you are not able to special summon that turn other than by activating Astral Force. With Dante’s ability to potentially mill it, and Cir’s ability to revive Dante with his effect on your opponent’s turn, it is amazingly easy to bring out Pleiades whenever he is needed even when you use Astral Force’s effect.

300px-SupplySquad-YS14-EN-C-1EDraw Power:

Another issue with this deck is that the only deck thinning comes from your monsters being sent to the graveyard, and that does not get your defenses to your hand. That is where Supply Squad comes in. Any Malebranche monster not summoned by Tour Guide dies immediately when the monsters on field are not exclusively Burning Abyss monsters. So if you detach a Cir or Graff from any Xyz except Dante, they can summon Scarm. Scarm will immediately be destroyed, not only getting a draw from Supply Squad, but also a search for either Tour Guide or another Malebranche monster during the end phase.

Other draw power options include Dragged Down into the Grave or Dark World Dealings, both are one time use, but they do allow you to trigger your Malebranche effects, and Dragged Down allows you to get information on your opponent’s deck at the same time. In order to get similar draw power more consistently, you should use Gates of the Dark World. Every turn you can banish a Fiend-Type monster from your graveyard to discard one of the Malebranche, and draw one card. This allows for you to trigger the Malebranche effects every turn, and Tour Guide never has a use in the graveyard anyway. The only thing I don’t like about Gates is that it will eventually get rid of too many targets for Cir in a long duel.

Main Deck Total: 40

Monsters: 17

Spells: 13

Traps: 10

Extra Deck: 15

  • x2 Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss
  • x2 Constellar Pleiades
  • x2 Ghostrick Alucard
  • x1 Crimson Knight Vampire Bram
  • x1 Grenosaurus
  • x1 Number 61: Volcasaurus
  • x1 Mechquipped Angineer
  • x1 Tiras, Keeper of Genesis
  • x1 Wind-Up Zenmaines
  • x1 Number 49: Fortune Tune
  • x1 Downerd Magician
  • x1 Gaia Dragon Thunder Charger

Side Deck: 15

  • x2 D.D. Crow
  • x2 Maxx “C”
  • x1 Twister
  • x2 Black Horn of Heaven
  • x2 Debunk
  • x2 Imperial Iron Wall
  • x2 Skill Drain
  • x2 Wiretap

Main Deck:

1 Black Luster Soldier- Envoy of the Beginning: With BLS as the only LIGHT monster in the Main deck, running him may seem like a bad idea. However, with Dante and Pleiades being central cards to this deck, there will always be a LIGHT and DARK ready to banish. If not, there could be soon. BLS will mainly be used as removal and a beater, since most of the main deck monsters are too small to fight on their own, and most Rank 3 monsters can not handle monsters bigger than 2500 atk.

300px-Mathematician-DRLG-EN-ScR-1E1 MathematicianMathematician and Supply Squad create a good first turn move, where you can activate Supply Squad, then summon Mathematician, sending Graff to the graveyard, which will trigger his effect, summoning Scarm from the deck. Scarm will immediately be destroyed, getting a draw off of Supply Squad. At the end of the turn, that will get a search for Tour Guide and an additional +1 if the opponent destroys Mathematician in battle.

2 Creature Swap: Similar to Spirit decks, you do not lose advantage by giving your opponent a Malebranche monster. You will get a monster of their choice, and then your Malebranche monster will die when they summon another monster or if they already have another monster out, and give you more card advantage over them.

2 Fiendish Chain: Given that the second effect of Malebranche monsters allows them to be special summoned from your hand, running continuous traps seems a bit counter intuitive. However, my logic comes from the two Constellar Pleiades in the extra deck. Pleiades is able to return Fiendish Chain to my hand if it is no longer targeting anything, or if the monster it is targeting is no longer a threat. This lets me get even more use out of Fiendish Chain, making the decision to run two of them an easy one to make.

PhoenixWingWindBlast-PGLD-EN-GUR-1E2 Phoenix Wing Wind Blast: Unlike other similar decks, Malebranche monsters do not need to be sent to the graveyard by card effect. Even if discarded as a cost, their effects will trigger in the grave. This means that you can get a Malebranche effect off on your opponent’s turn, which will allow you to use it again on your next turn. Like Pleiades, Phoenix Wing Wind Blast can be used to disrupt opponent’s plays. It can also disrupt their deck if you decide to make them draw the same monster twice, or put back a hard to summon card.

Extra Deck:

300px-GhostrickAlucard-SHSP-EN-UR-1E2 Ghostrick Alucard: Alucard is a good Rank 3 Xyz, and when he goes to the graveyard, he can put another Ghostrick monster back into the hand or extra deck. With two Alucard, they will continuously put each other back into the extra deck whenever needed.

1 Gaia Dragon The Thunder Charger: Thanks to Astral Force, this deck has access to a lot of Rank 5 monsters. Any time a Rank 5 runs out of material, it can be used to overlay into Gaia, and become a 2600 atk piercing monster.

1 Downerd Magician: Like with Gaia, Downerd is able to be put on top of used Xyzs to make them stronger and give them piercing. Unlike Gaia, the xyz under Downerd will be a Rank 3, and she will also detach her materials over time, triggering the Burning Abyss monsters’ effects.

Side Deck:

SkillDrain-TU08-EN-UR-UE2 Skill Drain: Since Dante’s milling, like Card Trooper, is a cost, Skill Drain does not interfere with it. Given his 2500 defense, Dante is not impacted by Skill Drain. Also, given that the Malebranche monsters’ most important effects activate in the graveyard, the only impact Skill Drain has to them is it will prevent their self-destruction effects from being triggered, which only allows easier field presence. The reason that Skill Drain is not in the main deck is because it greatly changes how useful Tour Guide can be.

2 Imperial Iron Wall: Since the Malebranche monsters need to be sent to the graveyard to activate their effects, Dimensional Fissure and Macro Cosmos are both cards that severely hurt this deck. Since this is a Rank 3 deck, there is also no Xyz that can easily destroy it. That is why I side Imperial Iron Wall to ensure my monsters do not get banished.

Other Ideas

Given that Burning Abyss is a new archetype, my deck list may not be the most effective in the end. While the Malebranche do have issues getting along with others, here are a few ideas to keep in mind while looking at the Burning Abyss deck.

300px-GraphaDragonLordofDarkWorld-GLD5-EN-GUR-LEDark Worlds:

Since the Burning Abyss monsters like to be sent to the graveyard by card effect, and are a series of Level 3 DARK Fiend-type monsters, they have a lot of compatibility with Dark World cards. Both decks benefit greatly from the use of Tour Guide, and both will be triggered by cards like Dragged Down into the Grave or Gates of the Dark World. Dante also could potentially mill Grapha, Dragon Lord of the Dark World, allowing him to revive himself later. These two archetypes alternatively both work well with Skill Drain.


Like with Dark World decks, Archfiends also have an affinity for sending their monster to the graveyard, using Armageddon Knight, Trance Archfiend, or Dark Grepher. Those three monsters can be used to trigger the effects of the Malebranche monsters as well. Archfiend decks also commonly use Tour Guide to summon Archfiend Heiress, and Tour Guide can be more consistently used when Scarm is able to search her every turn that he is sent to the graveyard. What Burning Abyss monsters also contribute to this deck is Dante, who can potentially add Fiend-Type monsters to the graveyard to fuel Archfiend Emperor, the First Lord of Horror.


Lightsworn monsters are based solely on sending cards from the deck to the graveyard. While that is their only shared goal with Burning Abyss decks, they can provide bigger monsters than Cir such as Lyla, Lightsworn Sorceress or Wulf, Lightsworn Beast. However, Dante can be added to the Lightsworn extra deck to allow milling before the end phase, but you will usually be milling more cards by keeping the two monsters you were going to summon him with.

805107Dark Necrofear:

Since even in my decklist there are twelve DARK Fiend-type monsters, it is easy to pay the cost to summon Dark Necrofear. The reason she is not in my Burning Abyss deck is because I didn’t find much use for her. I can already take my opponent’s monsters with Creature Swap, and BLS is a better beater.

Number30AcidGolemofDestruction-YS13-EN-C-1ENumber 30: Acid Golem of Destruction:

Acid Golem is only a suggestion for those of you who plan to run Skill Drain in your Burning Abyss deck.  While Skill Drain is on the field, most other Rank 3 monsters lose their strength, and become weak monsters. Since Acid Golem has 3000 atk, and his effects hinder him more than help him, he is a welcome addition to the extra deck when Skill Drain is being used. Otherwise, his effect weakens Burning Abyss decks too much.

300px-TannhauserGate-ABYR-EN-SR-1ETannhauser Gate:

This Abyss Rising card is most likely hiding deep in the tins of a lot of people, and this deck is the one that finally gives it real potential. For those of you who forgot, or never learned Tannhauser’s effect, it is:

“Target 2 monsters you control of the same Type with 1000 or less ATK; both monsters’ Levels become the combined Levels of those 2 monsters.”

Tour Guide, Scarm, and Graff all have 1000 or less attack, and are all Fiend-Type, meaning that with Tannhauser Gate, Burning Abyss decks can make Rank 6 monsters such as Gauntlet Launcher, Constellar Ptolemy M7, or Photon Strike Bounzer. If you further use Astral Force on Photon Strike Bounzer, you will be able to summon Divine Dragon Knight Felgrand. Also, with the release of Pilgrim Reaper in Duelist Alliance, you can use Astral Force to summon Number 22: Zombiestein.

PilgrimReaper-JF14-JP-NPRPilgrim Reaper is another good card for Burning Abyss. It gains 200 atk and def for every DARK monster in any player’s graveyard. With 9 Malebranche monsters alone, it can grow to 1800 atk, and will continue to gain attack for any DARK monsters sent to the graveyard. This attack gain is very useful when facing decks that send a lot of DARK monsters to grave, such as Shaddolls. More importantly for Burning Abyss, you can detach one material to mill 5 cards from both players’ decks. However, in the same Shaddoll example as before, activating this effect of Pilgrim Reaper can cost the entire game if the Shaddoll player gets enough good cards into the graveyard. Against Shaddolls, making this card is only good if you are either trying to summon Zombiestein, or if there are enough DARK monsters in the graveyard for Pilgrim Reaper to be the biggest monster on the field

The issue with running Tannhauser Gate is that Astral Force must rank up the highest Ranked monster on the field. So if you make any Rank 6 other than Photon Strike Bounzer or Pilgrim Reaper, you are unable to even activate Astral Force. Running Tannhauser Gate also requires you to run even more Xyz monsters than the extra deck has room for. It is for these reasons that I elected not to run both Tannhauser Gate and Astral Force.

Burning Abyss is already a good deck, and it has high potential since it is supposed to be released in a similar way to the Noble Knights, meaning that we will be seeing a lot more of this deck in the future, as it gets more support. I will be keeping track of this deck as it is released, hopefully being able to pick up the cards I need with every release. I can’t wait to see where the players take this deck.

What do you guys think about the new Archetype in Duelist Alliance? Do you feel like I missed a good card for this deck? Have any suggestions for my decklist? If you do, let me know in the comments section below! Thank you for reading, and happy dueling!

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