The Japanese name of the archetype is the word for a Japanese Buddhist concept literally known as "the other bank" of the Sanzu River, in other words, the boundary of the world of the dead. Once a soul leaves "this bank" (此岸 (shigan)), the very outer edge of the world of the living, and crosses the river to "that bank" (彼岸 (higan)), they can never come back.
The "Malebranche of the Burning Abyss" are named after the Malebranche, the demons who guard the fifth Bolgia of Malebolge (the Eighth Circle of Hell), known for their ruthless cruelty and responsible for the punishment of corrupt politicians by holding them under a boiling lake of pitch. Their English names are truncations of the original Italian names of the Malebranche. Most of their Japanese names are the English names of the Malebranche used in Dorothy L. Sayers' translation of Inferno, although "Alich", "Barbar", and "Libic" use their original Italian names instead. They are all Level 3 DARK Fiend Effect Monsters.
"Malacoda, Netherlord of the Burning Abyss", as the leader of the "Malebranche", instead uses the title "Netherlord of the Burning Abyss" (he is still a member of the "Malebranche" in the source material). In English, unlike the "Malebranche of the Burning Abyss", "Malacoda's" name exactly matches its original Italian name. In Japanese, its name is Sayers' English name for the Malebranche as a whole, "Hellraker" (Sayers translates "Malacoda" as "Belzecue", which is not used in the card's name). It is a Level 6 DARK Fiend Ritual Monster.
|Burning Abyss||Origin||Unique effect|
|Alich||Alichino||Alichino, the "Harlequin"||Negates the effects of a targeted face-up monster on the field until the end of the turn.|
|Barbar||Barbariccia||Barbariccia, the "Curly Beard"||Banishes up to 3 targeted "Burning Abyss" cards in the controller's Graveyard, except "Barbar", then inflicts 300 damage to the opponent for each banished card.|
|Cagna||Harrowhound||Cagnazzo, the "Nasty Dog"||Sends a "Burning Abyss" Spell/Trap Card from the controller's Deck to the Graveyard.|
|Calcab||Hacklespur||Calcabrina, the "Grace Stomper"||Returns a targeted Set Spell/Trap Card on the field to the hand.|
|Cir||Guttlehog||Ciriatto, the "Wild Hog"||Special Summons a targeted "Burning Abyss" monster in the controller's Graveyard, except "Cir".|
|Draghig||Dragonel||Draghignazzo, the "Big Nasty Dragon"||The controller chooses and places a "Burning Abyss" card from their Deck on top of the Deck.|
|Farfa||Farfarel||Farfarello, the "Goblin"||Banishes a targeted monster on the field until the End Phase.|
|Graff||Grabbersnitch||Graffiacane, the "Dog-Scratcher"||Special Summons a "Burning Abyss" monster from the controller's Deck, except "Graff".|
|Libic||Libbiocco||Libicocco, the "Libyan Hothead"||The controller Special Summons 1 Level 3 DARK Fiend monster from their hand with its effects negated.|
|Malacoda||Hellraker||Malacoda, the "Evil Tail"||Sends 1 "Burning Abyss" monster from your hand to the Graveyard to decrease the ATK and DEF of an opponent's monster by that sent monster's. If sent from the field to the Graveyard, sends 1 card on the field to the Graveyard.|
|Rubic||Rubicant||Rubicante, the "Red-Faced Terror"||Tuner monster|
|Scarm||Scaramallion||Scarmiglione, the "Troublemaker"||The controller adds a Level 3 DARK Fiend monster from their Deck to their hand during the End Phase of the turn "Scarm" was sent to the Graveyard.|
All Main Deck "Burning Abyss" monsters, with the exception of the Level 6 Ritual Monster "Malacoda", are Level 3 DARK Fiend monsters, and share three effects: they are destroyed if the player controls a monster other than a "Burning Abyss" monster, can be Special Summoned from the hand if the player controls no Spell/Trap Cards, and have a unique effect that is activated when it is sent to the Graveyard (except "Rubic, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss", which instead is a Tuner monster).
The deck is probably one of the most powerful and resilient Decks in Yu-Gi-Oh!'s history, being competitively viable for nearly its entire existence, a staggering 4 and a half years of near-continuous use at top events. It was one of the best Decks of the "Duelist Alliance" format, famous for the power of its floating effects. The combination of "Dante, Traveler of the Burning Abyss" and "Cir, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss" meant few Decks could hope to breach the defences of such a Deck. It soon evolved into a Trap-focussed control strategy, using cards with discard effects like "Phoenix Wing Wind Blast" and "Karma Cut" to get extra value out of the "Burning Abyss" monsters in the player's hand. As time went on, more offensive and disruptive monsters like "Virgil, Rock Star of the Burning Abyss" and "Farfa, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss" were added to the Deck's arsenal. With such power and rapid-fire attacking force, "Tour Guide from the Underworld" was soon Limited, the first of many attempts to break the Deck's power.
At the end of 2015, with the "Nekroz" format drawing to a close, the top decks of the last year were all banned into obscurity on the November 2015 Lists. This included several hits for Burning Abyss, with "Mathematician" and "Graff, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss" being Limited and "Cir" being Semi-Limited. But as so often happened throughout this Deck's existence, "Burning Abyss" simply adapted and evolved to be one of the top Decks of 2016. The Deck grew even stronger with the inclusion of "Twin Twisters" to bust backrow and "Fiendish Rhino Warrior" to allow "Burning Abyss" monsters to coexist with other monsters while giving a free "Foolish Burial". Most importantly, the extremely powerful "Beatrice, Lady of the Eternal" provided a mighty boss monster that could send "Burning Abyss" monsters to the GY during either player's turn. Once "Downerd Magician" was used to make sure "Dante"'s floating effect triggered, now the Deck had an on-archetype version that floated into "Dante, Pilgrim of the Burning Abyss". This turned "Burning Abyss" into a much more aggressive, explosive strategy, seeking to shut down combos if playing first with "Farfa" and similar cards, while OTKing with terrifying speed and consistency. This was helped even further by the introduction of "Speedroid Terrortop" and "The Phantom Knights", making the Deck's Rank 3 plays even faster and more varied. Eventually, the August 2016 Lists Limited "Cir" and "Beatrice". This did not stop the Deck topping, but hurt its consistency further.
The Deck flew under the radar in 2017, though by this Deck's standards, relatively speaking. It still topped, but the "Zoodiac" decks ruling the format were too strong on the whole for the Deck, and Burning Abyss had little synergy with the "Zoo" engine. By the time the format ended, "Terrortop" was Limited, and Link Summoning was introduced. Many thought this would finally be the end of the Deck, due their incompatibility effect and the lack of a "Burning Abyss" Link Monster. (In the TCG at least). Instead, the Deck simply adapted and evolved yet again. One "Dante" and one "Beatrice" was all the Deck needed to execute its strategy. Minimal early Link Monsters like "Decode Talker" in combination with "Rhino Warrior" allowed the Deck to land finishing blows with lethal consistency. The Deck became more and more aggressive, with fewer and fewer of the Deck's classic Trap lineups being played, and even Spell cards being cut back for heavier monster lineups.
The current incarnation of the Deck came about from the release of "Sekka's Light", a better "Pot of Greed" that locked the player out of their other Spell/Trap cards. This allowed the Deck's heavy monster lineups to be taken to their logical conclusion, with 37-40 monsters and 3 "Sekka's Light" becoming the norm for most Decks. The release of the "Knightmare" and "Borrel" Link Monsters provided powerful discard effects and extra OTK force to allow this Deck to wipe its opponents out with explosive consistency. The inclusion of "Orbital Hydralander", a large beatstick with powerful self-summoning and mill/removal if the player has no monsters in your GY with the same name pushed the Deck into a heavy toolbox style, with minimal 3-ofs and mostly 2- and 1-ofs, with cards like "Fairy Tail - Snow", "Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning" and "Barbar, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss" to control the GY. "Rhino Warrior", "Scarm, Malebranche of the Burning Abyss", "Farfa" and handtraps are viewed as the most acceptable 3-of monsters (besides "Hydralander" itself). "Fabled Soulkius" and "Destiny HERO - Malicious" can be used to Xyz Summon Beatrice with its "Foolish Burial" effect ready that turn. Despite yet more hits to "Malicious" and "Snow", the Deck has continued to evolve, and remains a solid choice at any event at any level, its now legendary resilience and explosive firepower continuing to claim wins against all comers.
- Being an archetype of primarily DARK monsters, they are susceptible to "Shadow-Imprisoning Mirror".
- Since they all have effects that activate in the Graveyard, cards like "Macro Cosmos", "Abyss Dweller", "Dimensional Fissure", "Soul Drain", "Masked HERO Dark Law" and "Debunk" are potential threats.
- The Level 3 "Burning Abyss" monsters destroy themselves if their controller controls a non-"Burning Abyss" monster, so the opponent might disrupt the player with cards/effects that give them monsters, such as "Ojama Trio", "Santa Claws", "Creature Swap", "Flying "C"", etc., although "Libic" and "Farfa" can help maneuver around such strategies.
- Since face-down monsters are not treated as "Burning Abyss" monsters, "Quaking Mirror Force" can make it very difficult for "Burning Abyss" Decks, since any "Malebranche of the Burning Abyss" Summoned while there is a face-down monster will destroy itself.
- Like all decks that function as rapid-fire Summon engines, the deck can be very specific in terms of content. As such, the archetype can have a steep learning curve. It is advisable to limit the number of non-archetype Monsters in the traditional forms of the deck to the barest minimum - "Fiendish Rhino Warrior" and "Tour Guide From the Underworld" are generally regarded as the most acceptable options.