In-Depth On Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal

While Burning Abyss took four spots in the Top 32 at YCS Prague, the theme had virtually no representation at YCS Vegas two weeks later; the only Burning Abyss monsters in the Top Cut were played in the lone Phantom Knight deck that made it to the playoffs.

Burning Abyss often takes flak for perceived challenges in both the Monarch and Kozmo match-ups, but the deck’s excelled anyways since the release of the Adjusted List, in part on the strength of what’s usually a big trap line-up. With those big defensive lines protecting explosive openings that are often faster than the openings presented by more popular decks, Burning Abyss has obvious curb appeal. The ability to press through opposing Solemn Warnings and Solemn Strikes helps too, since the self-replacing nature of many Burning Abyss monsters makes it easier to roll through a single powerful backrow card.

BeatriceLadyoftheEternal-PGL3-EN-GScR-1EBut nowadays more decks are playing more trap cards week to week: Draco Performapals are starting to run triple Guiding Ariadne with five Solemn traps standard, destroying their own Ariadnes with Luster Pendulum, the Dracoslayer and Archfiend Eccentrick to create hefty two-trap backrows. Kozmojo’s fast become a staple at three for many Kozmo players, and the card’s banishing effect can make big problems for the graveyard-oriented Burning Abyss strategy. Those decks keep getting new tricks from new releases, while the Burning Abyss decks of today are largely the same as they were four or five months ago.

While Burning Abyss has done a stellar job hanging in there, and the deck’s managed to remain relevant despite mounting pressure from more current strategies, it’s direly needed something new. In that context, Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal is arriving in Premium Gold: Infinite Gold at just the right time, adding more muscle and more field control right when opposing trends are making it tougher for Burning Abyss to swarm the table.

But the timing of Beatrice’s release and its use in the pure Burning Abyss strategy is just one factor that makes it so interesting. Break it down further and Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal plays like a perfect storm, positioned to make a variety of impacts on more decks than you might first assume. Today I want to look at what Beatrice does for pure Burning Abyss, as well as variant strategies that use a Burning Abyss engine, and then we’ll discuss unrelated strategies that can Summon Beatrice as a generic Rank 6.

There’s tremendous depth to this card; the range of ways it can be played may kind of surprise you. Knowing all the possibilities is going to help you discover new strategies for yourself, and at the same time that knowledge will help you anticipate your opponent’s moves. Let’s start at the beginning.

Beatrice In Burning Abyss
Since you can Xyz Summon Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal by pitching a Burning Abyss monster from your hand and using a Dante monster as Xyz Material – usually Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss – it obviously plays a unique role in Burning Abyss strategies. Pitching a Burning Abyss monster can often be a 1-for-1 of card economy instead of a -1, triggering an effect that you would’ve wanted to activate anyways; to some degree, that act of sending a Burning Abyss monster from your hand to the graveyard is really more of a gatekeeping condition than a hard cost. It keeps Rank 3 decks that could Summon Dante, but don’t play Burning Abyss monsters to chuck to the graveyard, from having easy access to Beatrice.

That’s totally fair, too, since the card’s basically bonkers. You can’t use Beatrice’s on-field effect the turn you bring Beatrice out off a Dante, but since you can activate that effect once per turn on either player’s turn, the drawback’s not as harsh as it might seem. That effect is a lot like the now-Forbidden Lavalval Chain; it sends one card, any card of your choice, from your deck to your graveyard at the cost of a single detach. So if you’re upgrading Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss you’ll get two activations if you detached a Material for Dante’s effect along the way.

AlichMalebrancheoftheBurningAbyss-PGL3-EN-GUR-1ESince you can activate Beatrice’s effect so freely, you as a Burning Abyss player can use it for all sorts of proactive plays on your turn, and then play a more limited number of cards to the graveyard on your opponent’s turn on a reactive basis. Played proactively, Beatrice can burn your opponent with Barbar, revive a Burning Abyss monster with Cir, make Special Summons with Graff and Libic, and search cards with Scarm, or even Good & Evil in the Burning Abyss. Breakthrough Skill, and even more niche picks like Mischief of the Gnomes are fair game too.

Played reactively, you can cut your opponent off at the pass banishing a monster with Farfa, negate an effect with Alich, or bump away a freshly set backrow in the End Phase with Calcab. You can answer opposing Synchro and Xyz Summons or shut down a threatening effect, and if your opponent doesn’t pressure you into countering that sort of play you can rob them of backrow and run them over on the following turn. Beatrice creates a lot of pressure once it hits the field.

On a fundamental level, Beatrice also protects the graveyard effect of your Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss like Downerd Magician would: even if your opponent eliminates Beatrice, its Xyz Materials still go to the graveyard and trigger appropriately, including Dante’s ability. The free plus that’s almost guaranteed there helps compensate for whatever consolidation might be necessary to Summon Beatrice in the first place, and combined with the effects you trigger off your Level 3 Materials, you wind up with a card that’s almost irrationally strong on card economy. The fact that it comes packing an insurance policy if your opponent sends Beatrice to the graveyard makes it even more brutal – we’ll talk about that in a bit.

For now, let’s talk about Beatrice’s use in decks that play Burning Abyss as a partial engine. The number one point to hit here is Beatrice in Burning Phantom Knights, which is now likely to become the de facto Phantom Knight variant. Builds that rely on Speedroids and Super Quantum Blue Layer don’t have the Burning Abyss monsters to pitch for Beatrice, so they lose out on an incredible method of loading Phantom Knights to the graveyard. That would be pretty shoddy, since Phantom Knights bring so many great cards to the table in terms of graveyard activations.

PhantomKnightsFogBlade-WIRA-EN-UR-1EYard any Level 3 Phantom Knight monster and you can banish whatever you yard for a search effect: The Phantom Knights of Ancient cloak grabs you a “The Phantom Knights” card; The Phantom Knights of Silent Boots gets a “Phantom Knights” spell or trap; and The Phantom Knights of Ragged Gloves yards another “Phantom Knights” card, thinning the deck by a card if needed on the way to loading up something useful. You can toss Phantom Knights’ Fog Blade, Phantom Knights’ Sword, or Phantom Knights’ Wing to get a free Special Summon. You can pitch Infinite Gold’s The Phantom Knights of Dark Gauntlets for emergency protection, or The Phantom Knights of Tomb Shield to negate a trap card on a future turn.

Adding a half dozen or more graveyard effects to the Malebranche lineup, Phantom Knights make Beatrice’s effect even more useful as a proactive play. While the Phantom Knights are largely about pressing for an early win, Beatrice is hugely valuable to fend off your opponent with its reactive tricks, as well as its ability to replace itself when sent to the graveyard and just generally clog up the field. The utility here’s pretty obvious, and while there are lots of possibilities none of them are particularly complicated.

…But if we want to get more complicated, we can look at all the uses for Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal in a much more rogue strategy: Sky Scourge Fluffal Burning Abyss. That deck revolves around Summoning multiple copies of Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, sending Sending Sky Scourge Norleras to the graveyard every game on Turn 1, and then mimicking its effect with Phantom of Chaos to wipe everything from both player’s fields and hands. Doing so cripples your opponent, but leaves you to claim a free draw and a wealth of Burning Abyss effects that can almost guarantee wins. The deck relies on stuff like Dante’s mill, Foolish Burial, and Monster Reincarnation to get Norleras into the graveyard, as well as a powerful thinning and drawing engine fueled by Fluffal Bear, Fluffal Wings, and Toy Vendor.

300px-SkyScourgeNorleras-FOTB-EN-SR-1EAs a Burning Abyss variant that makes Dante all the time, the strategy’s well positioned to Summon Beatrice. From there it has a ton of different uses; the first and perhaps most valuable is the option to send Sky Scourge Norleras to the graveyard when you can’t mill it, draw it and discard it, or hit Foolish. The deck was pretty consistent at loading up Norleras on Turn 1 before, but now it’s a sure thing.

Beatrice is a Light Fairy for the potential Special Summon of a Norleras too – you bring it out by banishing a Light Fairy and three Dark Fiends from your graveyard. While actually Summoning Norleras isn’t really part of the plan, the ability to make it happen when you draw Norleras is a sweet bonus. Before, you had to make suboptimal plays with stuff like Mechquipped Angineer or Fluffal Wings for that to happen.

The synergies with the Fluffal draw engine are more subtle, but they’re really important. The goal with that engine is to activate Toy Vendor and get Fluffal Wings plus another Fluffal into the graveyard – ideally Fluffal Bear. If you’re not familiar with those cards, Toy Vendor’s a Continuous Spell that lets you discard to draw a card and reveal it. If the revealed card is a Fluffal, which is unlikely in this sort of strategy, you get to keep it and make an optional Special Summon of any monster from your hand. If it’s not a Fluffal, you pitch it to the graveyard – not bad when you have cards you want in your graveyard anyway.

The kicker is that if Toy Vendor’s sent to the graveyard – from anywhere – you can search your deck for an Edge Imp Sabres or a Fluffal monster. Fluffal Wings was created to make that happen: if it’s in your graveyard while you control Toy Vendor, you can banish it, and then target and banish another Fluffal from your graveyard. That draws you a card, sends the Toy Vendor from the field to your graveyard, and then draws you a second card. You also trigger Toy Vendor’s search nabbing a third card.

Fluffal Bear’s effect lets you chuck it from your hand to set Toy Vendor straight from your deck, and doing that gives you the extra Fluffal in the graveyard that you need for Fluffal Wings. So the goal is to start with Bear and Wings, pitch Bear to get Toy Vendor, then pitch Wings to get a maybe-free-draw-if-you’re-lucky, and then banish both Fluffals to send the Vendor to the graveyard for two draws and search another Fluffal. That’s potentially four cards and a Special Summon for just two cards from hand. The problem is that you won’t always draw what you need for that combo.

ToyVendor-MP15-EN-C-1EBeatrice troubleshoots all of your partial combo scenarios. If you have Toy Vendor, you can Beatrice away your second copy and search Bear or Wings as needed for a +1, then pitch the Fluffal for Toy Vendor to set up the double-draw-and-search combo. If you’d rather pitch, say, an in-hand Sky Scourge Norleras instead then you can yard Fluffal Wings or even Fluffal Bear directly, too. Whatever you need to make the Toy Vendor draw engine work, Beatrice makes it happen.

And while that strategy might sound utterly preposterous, it’s more competitive than it looks. And now it’s vastly more consistent. We might be surprised by it over the coming weeks, though a rise in opposing Burning Abyss and Phantom Knight decks could give it trouble with their own graveyard effects by comparison. It’s worth keeping an eye on.

What To Special Summon With Beatrice
Before we go any further, it’s worth addressing Beatrice’s insurance policy effect. It’s really what makes the card so insane, especially in Burning Abyss variants: if your Beatrice is in your possession, and your opponent sends it to the graveyard in any way, you can Special Summon a Burning Abyss monster from your Extra Deck, ignoring their Summoning conditions. It even works if your opponent just Solemns away Beatrice.

If you’re playing a Burning Abyss strategy then you have two very good options. You could get a Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss, but it would come out with no Xyz Materials. Not terrible given its recursive effect, but Virgil, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss is much better. If you don’t play Burning Abyss monsters Virgil’s going to be a 2500 ATK beater that awards you a draw if it hits the yard. Not bad. If you do play Burning Abyss monsters, Virgil’s a time-honored problem solver that lets you pitch a Burning Abyss card from your hand to shuffle away an opposing card from your opponent’s field or graveyard. That’s pretty stellar when it’s Summoned at the price of “free.”

In most cases though, it’s no secret that Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss is going to be the best choice. Even if you don’t play Burning Abyss monsters in your Main Deck, Pilgrim’s a 2800 ATK beater that can’t be targeted by opposing card effects, and it swats a card from your opponent’s hand when your opponent puts Pilgrim in the graveyard. If you do play Burning Abyss monsters, you can chuck a Burning Abyss card from your hand once per turn, on either player’s turn, to draw a card. That’s hand fixing, a Malebranche trigger, and an enabler for responsive effects much like we listed earlier for Beatrice, all on a 2800 ATK pair of legs that freely hates on your opponent’s hand.

DantePilgrimoftheBurningAbyss-PGL3-EN-GUR-1EThat’s an insane throw-in on Beatrice; a card that you’re already largely making for free anyways, thanks to all the Burning Abyss effects you trigger along the way. Beatrice’s self-replacing ability gives any Burning Abyss variant some incredible longevity, forcing your opponent to prioritize banishing and bounce effects or punishing them if they simply don’t have those types of effects to begin with.

That longevity balances out the one big detractor of playing this card in Burning Abyss variants; Beatrice isn’t a “Burning Abyss” monster. That means if you drop it onto a field with some spare Malebranches kicking around, they all explode due to their drawback effects. People bring that up a lot, but I don’t think it’s a big deal; just make your other Xyz Summons first and don’t play like a dolt. It’s an added layer of complexity, sure, and you have to think through your moves, but that seems like a fair ask for such a powerful card. In addition, pure Burning Abyss decks are all running triple Fiendish Rhino Warrior anyways, and even Burning Phantom Knight builds seem to be playing two copies minimum.

Granted, non-Burning Abyss decks won’t have to worry about that problem. Which leads us to an inevitable question; one that isn’t seeing quite as much discussion as it perhaps should

Where Else Can You Play Beatrice?
Here’s where we get to the cool stuff.

While Beatrice is largely keyed toward a role in Burning Abyss variants, you can Summon it as a generic Rank 6, or even Rank-Up into it with something like Minerva, the Exalted Lightsworn or Princess Cologne with Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force. And while you won’t have a litany of Malebranches kicking around to combo with Beatrice in all sorts of different ways, lots of decks can benefit from loading their graveyard. Summoning Beatrice without using Dante as its Xyz Material even lets you use that effect immediately. I’m not sure where you might want to use Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force with a Rank 4 toolbox right now, but there are plenty of rogue decks that can make Rank 6’s and benefit from Beatrice’s abilities.

Igknights top the list, since they can so easily search their Level 6 monsters to overlay for Beatrice: Igknight Gallant and Igknight Veteran. You could play a dedicated Igknight deck to accomplish that, or run a smaller group of Igknights as a support engine in something else – weeks ago we saw a Regional Top 8 Magician deck that ran Igknights to load the Extra Deck and search out Great Shogun Shien, then played the wider Magician Pendulum Scale to get it into play. There’s a precedent for at least some potential there.

BlazeFenixtheBurningBombardmentBird-PRC1-EN-SR-1EMore intriguing, there’s actually an FTK deck with Blaze Fenix, the Burning Bombardment Bird that relies on getting Vylon Cube to the graveyard, using Igknights to search Elemental HERO Blazeman and then abusing them as Xyz fodder. The deck aims to abuse Elder Entity Norden, first making a legitimate Fusion Summon to bring it out, and then recycling it with Re-Fusion. Norden revives Vylon Cube, you Tune the two together to make Ancient Fairy Dragon, and when you do you get another Re-Fusion with Cube. A string of Ancient Fairy Dragons and related Special Summons fills your opponent’s field with Rose Tokens off Black Garden, then fetches Fusion Gate, and you overlay Ancient Fairies for Number 42: Galaxy Tomahawk. Its Tokens then become Fusion Materials for a series of game-ending Blaze Fenixes, which deal more damage thanks to all the Rose Tokens.

In the past the deck played Level 4 Igknights to make Lavalval Chain, ensuring that you could get Cube to the graveyard. The deck was largely out of commission when Lavalval Chain was Forbidden, but the ability to make Beatrice with your Level 6 Igknights may put it back on the map.

Hieratics have made a career out of easy Rank 6’s courtesy of Hieratic Dragon of Su and Hieratic Dragon of Tefnuit, previously focusing on Hieratic Dragon King of Atum but now fielding Beatrice as well. Majespecter search effects make fielding double Majespecter Unicorn – Kirin pretty easy, and Chaos Dragons can overlay Chaos Sorcerer and Lightpulsar Dragon to get Beatrice onto the table. The worth of Beatrice in those types of strategies may be debatable, but it’s never going to fail to present interesting possibilities. The Chaos Dragon angle’s especially interesting to me, since Beatrice’s self-replacing ability fits the deck’s grinding playstyle and it derives so much power from the graveyard.

What do you think? Will Beatrice keep Burning Abyss in the highest levels of competition? Are there other places where it could be prime as a Generic Rank 6? The card’s got incredible potential and opens up a wealth of options that I feel like we might just be scratching the surface. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments.

-Jason Grabher-Meyer

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