Opus XVIII is upon us, and with it will come Sephiroth, the new Ice/lightning legendary Forward.
For a brief history, I’ve been playing Lightning since I started the game in Opus 3, and switched to Ice when Lightning could not win anymore. This makes me a loser nowadays, since I’m not a Wind player =)
With Al-Cid and Zeromus reveals, we started to see some Ice/Lightning decks, but nothing really stood its ground when faced against the stronger decks in the meta. With legendary Terra in opus XV (my favorite character!), I decided to take the deck for another spin. I used a whole lot of Odins to trigger Terra, while Al-Cid, Celes, and Zeromus were putting pressure on the field. There is no great functionality with any of the Odins, but they are good at removing forwards, something this kind of deck can’t otherwise do effectively. The deck had some good matches, but it was not doing enough at this point.
Opus XVI brought the Black Waltzes (I did try them with moderate success in this “play all the FA you have” list), but more importantly Lasswell, Agrias, and Shantotto. Shantotto is basically “anything in the deck” at any point, while Lasswell and Agrias are some of the best tools to pressure an opponent early on. With the recent success of Wind (Storm, Mono, or Loop), Lasswell is almost a win condition on its own. Even though Opus XVII did not bring a lot to the table, the deck did show promise, and I refined it a lot until I was confident it could take on the highest level of play without shame.
Let’s review the current iteration of the deck before talking about Opus XVIII stuff:
This is the main frame of the list, when Jiba (Jean-Julien Zeil) piloted it to Top 8 in the Belelux Reraise. It has topped several French tournaments thanks to Totom’s effort in multiple European Reraise and national events, until it has become a meme to say I stole Totom’s list. It also has been played in Finland.
You should, if you can, really try the list for yourself. More so if you like aggressive plays and thoughtful consideration of what to discard while keeping an edge over your opponent.
There are some changes possible for this list, but I won’t discuss them much since we’ll soon focus on Opus XVIII adjustments. Just know that Man in Black and Rinoa can easily be something else, and you can adjust some counts like Ixion or Celes too. The rest of the list is basically hard to touch and I’ll briefly explain why. You can look up for more information in my deck recap in FFdecks
Lasswell is one of the primary ways to put pressure on your opponent resources, and you may want to either use it to take the initiative early on, keep it until the dull/freeze matters or prepare a combo since Agrias and Ramza will proc his effect.
Al-Cid is the actual main threat, bypassing defense while putting out a huge board. Celes is your preferred choice early on, but Shantotto will do just fine at any point.
Seymour is there to kill what needs to be killed, Zeromus is Zeromus, and your whole backline is there to put pressure on your opponent.
The usual question mark revolves around Terra and trust me, any player seeing the list or trying it for the first few times thinks the card is in a bad spot. But she is in fact the card making the whole deck work if it needs to fight past turn 6 or 7. I won’t dive into the specifics, but Terra and Odin are just too important in mid game, especially if your initial assault was walled off. She will keep the board frozen while you remove Forwards, making your opponent fight for ground even if they managed to get to clear the board once and ramp up backups.
Now, Opus XVIII.
As I’m writing this article, the obvious card we want to talk about is Sephiroth. I won’t detail what Seph does on its own, but more what he’ll do for the deck. Then we’ll go to the new Lightning, and other Opus XVIII cards.
First of all, Back Attack is really useful when you’re getting attacked, or if your opponent’s Forwards are dull (by freezing or Bismarck’s effect for instance). It can change a few things, but it’s not the selling point of the card since we’re usually the one attacking. Other aggro matchups (Avalanche, Turks, the mirror) will probably die to this. Using the Back Attack can make Sephiroth come at the end of your opponent Main Phase 2, which gives him pseudo Haste. Since the list does not run any natural Haste except for Zeromus, this should give you more openings to win the game.
Breaking a dull Forward is also an interesting capability since we play a lot of dull/freeze. It can follow up Lasswell dull/freeze or simply Al-Cid’s attack trigger.
Speaking of Al-Cid, remember that Sephiroth can proc not just one but both of his effects. When he enters the Field and plays Sephiroth, you’ll freeze 2 Forwards and break one; thus, playing Forwards is not a good defense against Ice/Lightning.
Sephiroth will add more pressure on the dulled Forwards, and help to kill the problematic Forwards we sometimes can’t remove efficiently, which are usually what made you lose. Freezing Bismarck for 3 or 4 turns is quite easy, but you will face Typhon every single turn if you can’t kill the whale.
Sephiroth will also kill the 2CP forwards that can become problematic the longer they stay in the field: Braska, Rydia, and the twins mainly. If the meta ever becomes flooded with those cards, we would normally have to add more cards to deal with them. It’s now included in our main package.
Finally, the deck controls the hand size by applying pressure, forcing bad plays, and attacking with a 5k forward most of the time. We now have an 8000 hitter that may dull on attack via Al-Cid. Sephiroth will be basically be the “remove or lose” card of the deck… but Zeromus still exists. Your opponent might hopefully run out of answers to either of the two and die within a few turns.
To add Sephiroth to the list, we’ll need three slots. This is actually quite easy for once, since we have some flexible slots.
The next big second card we want to talk about is Lightning. Another 4CP dual element Forward, Lightning uses CP, mainly from backups, to produce interesting effects. Even without any support she can bypass defenses and inflict damage to your opponent, but you can simply pay 3 to kill any Forward (so long as you let the dull resolve before using the second ability).
Since we usually play with a really aggressive gameplan, we usually don’t have the resources to pay for Lightning’s ability the turn she enters the field. But the deck usually prioritizes adding Forwards to the field over increasing its hand size. Lightning will be able to generate pressure without consuming cards in hand while still using our CP efficiently. Zeromus and Al-Cid can also dull Forwards, negating the need to pay her to dull things. I’m not sure you will often have the Backups to break multiple Forwards in the same attack phase, but it’s definitely not impossible.
Both Lightning and Sephiroth are interesting Forwards with great entry ability and huge pressure in the field, so your opponent will try to remove them as fast as possible. This leaves the fields open for Forwards like Zeromus or Lasswell.
If we take into consideration the other cards in Resurgence of Power, here are some cards to think about:
– Alhanalem: if free Forwards become rampant, we could spare one slot for this backup.
– Weiss/Nero/Restrictor package: too much deck space in my opinion, we’d have to try a much different approach, if midrange is ever a thing, they may be playable there.
– Quistis: not impactful enough.
– Teodor: maybe a 1-of could be a nice addition if we really value discarding in the midgame. A Teodor hitting the field right when your opponent is trying to get his stuff together can be lethal.
– Hein: we’re not lacking freeze right now.
– Physalis: too weak.
– Laguna: Laguna’s effects aren’t impactful enough, and he’s clearly overpriced.
This ends my deck tech. Thanks for reading this far! I might cover some match ups and gameplan at a later point, once we’re starting to see a clear meta take shape.