Hello Gamers!

I’m Dylan Camacho, and today I’m here to do a deck tech (and a bit of a pseudo-tournament report of Zanarkand 3) about a truly fun mid-risk, high-reward Akstar deck.

Now, with all great recipes, I need to rant about how I put together this little list so first some shout-outs for techs I heartlessly hijacked to build this. I’ll add my overall thoughts on card choices and lines of play at the end in case you were wondering.

Lets start with the the backup engine package. Sam Tuell in commentary called out that my backup line (Locke and Chaos) were part of a package last seen in a RVA tournament a while back played by Nicholas Schnell who ran this package in a primarily Kirin deck (thanks for letting me see and apply this tech to this deck my dude).

If you didn’t catch it, there’s this cool little trick where you run 3 Celes and Emet-Selch as a way to tutor out Locke who will then search out Chaos. Nicholas claimed something close to 90% success rate and after personally testing this deck I’d safely agree that as long as you’re mulliganing hard for Celes/Emet-Selch/Locke you will almost always get these 2 back-ups down turn one. My personal preference was going second because if you go first, this whole combo with leave you with 0 cards in hand vs. the 1 card in hand that you hopefully would start to chain off into a killer board next turn.

OK so turn 1 backup engine down, what next? Before we get back to Akstar (we’re almost there I promise) we’ve got to cover Kirin and the 4 drops, which may or may not be a good FF pop-punk cover band (Travis if you’re reading this, lets collab on that). So since I was ripping the back-up engine I figured I might as well see about using Kirin package and see how much of that gel’s with this deck idea.

So the short version is this, you T2 play Kirin and try to roll into Rinoa (to bounce and roll again), Selh’Teus (to remove 3 or 4 forwards depending on your BZ) to then roll out a third forward, or Al-Cid to play a forward from hand. When I say it is not uncommon at all with this deck to go from no board to 3-5 forwards I mean it, especially when you consider that you can go Kirin > Rinoa/Selh’Teus > Al-Cid > Akstar > 3CP Fire or Ice Forward.

Now without further ado, here is my decklist from the tournament. I went 5-2 overall in Swiss rounds with an incredibly strong showing. My wins (to the best of my recollection) were pretty convincing. Most of what I’ve written about above was the deck doing the thing (T1 Celes or Emet-Selch into Locke > Chaos) ideally going second and keeping a Kirin, Al-Cid, or Akstar to dump forwards next turn and apply new threats every turn until opponent is dead. Simple enough, right?

OK, now that the basics are down, let me discuss some of these cards choices! Ruling out what I’ve covered to death already, here are imo the true killers of this deck. Gilgamesh and Gilgamesh (FFBE) were my personal standouts. They continued to make use of my Break Zone while the rest of the deck had zero recursion to gain value otherwise. Gilgamesh loves how many multi-elements are in this deck because there is an incredibly high chance that you will have at least 3-4 elements at most times to use as fodder to get rid of an opposing forward. Plus he has Haste, so now we’re swinging for damage? Greg slaps yo. His little brother Gilgamesh (FFBE) almost always just comes out as an 8k beater with First Strike and Haste, but to be honest that’s entirely enough to justify playing him. On rare occasions we’d get to 5 elements in Break Zone (easy way to tell with this deck is to see if Tidus was in the break zone since he is the typical 5th element) and he could dull/freeze on attack. Trust me when I say it’s the dopamine rush you’re looking for in this game.

Next in my more-important-than-they-look list are my value generators: Morrow, Lid, and Gutsco. So my idea behind these three cards were simple, how do I not run out of steam after a big forward dump turn, OR how do I recover hand value after a board wipe or fighting discard. Lid and Gutsco are 2-of’s in this deck because overall they don’t jump on the board and deal damage right away but they are 3-cost forwards so if they do stick for a turn or more and you play Akstar then you usually have cleared the way for them to deal 2 damage that turn. What’s more, these cards will almost always draw you a card regardless if they get sniped right away. Morrow is a 3-of because he has Haste, he provides value when party attacking, and in an incredibly unlikely scenario that you are damage 5 (you shouldn’t be, you’re the unga bunga) you can sneak in some damage off of his ability. Tidus also falls into this group because you play him and just hope he gets sniped for an easy draw 3, if not you usually were just dealing sweet damage. Even if you pitch him you’re helping the Gilgameshes get their value so there were often times his most valuable position was in the break zone.

The remainder of the cards in this deck were all just cards that effectively read “dull, freeze, or Haste” and happened to be 3-drops (preferably in Fire/Ice) so the deck sort of builds itself at that point. Honorable mentions to Squall and Zeromus who were often my ways of getting through stalemate boards. The only thing I didn’t cover was the Summons, which I can hit really quickly. Originally they were 2 Amaterasu but I often found that I wouldn’t have the CP to cast it if I was doing my game plan of slamming a threat every turn. I ended up switching to 1cp Zalera because I’d usually have 1 backup open and to be honest 2, 3, and 5 were really popular cost as of late so it all worked out.

Let’s start to wrap this up a bit with some of my potential changes moving forward. Kirin definitely goes to 3 moving forward because his potential on turn 2 to drop an insane board is just too good. I originally opted for 2 because there was about a 1 and 4 chance of whiffing with it even in the early turns and as the game goes on and your 4 drops get drawn/played he turns out to just be a 6cp scary counter to Ice/Lightning (which I would find out is pretty worth it for that one match-up to be honest) but otherwise is probably less valuable then the 3 drops mid-to-late game. I recall missing at least twice over the period of the day, but that’s the curse of running a 3’s and 4’s style deck.

Gilgamesh goes to 3 to both help out increasing the 4cp count but also because he just did much more work during this tournament than I gave him credit for originally. I would probably cut Basch in the future. My idea for him to be a Kirin or Akstar searcher just often did not turn out the way I wanted. The idea is if you brick on either of those then you play him, but enough times I would only have Ice/Lightning mana to pitch when I’d need an Earth CP were more than my liking.

In the future I think that this deck could be built more value-oriented with maybe the Alisaie and Alphinaud combo, or alternatively if you think that you need more speed just swap in more haste forwards, 3cp starter Kain comes to mind as a good card to try.

Overall I’m incredibly pleased with how this deck performed, I ran it exclusively all day for Zanarkand 3. At a glance I can hear the criticsms, it definitely looks like 2 decks pushed together (3’s and 4’s if you will) but I think that only served to prove my point in it’s strengths.

My 2 losses in swiss were due primarily to not getting my back-up engine up T1 (like I said, real small chance but it can happen) vs. Dragoonxix (who I would re-match and play in my top cut match). Side note, if you look at Irving’s deck, that thing is super tech’d to beat mine so the fact that I could still compete and sometimes win is all the confirmation bias I need. All 3 drops would auto-lose to Exodus, Black Waltz 3, etcetera. The 4 drop package lets me keep the stress of switching between two of his removal packages and potentially win at times.

The other was losing to a surprise Garland & Guardians deck that Flare’d me like 4x in turns 2 and 3 (vs. CtrlAltQQ). Honestly couldn’t even be mad, but I’ll tell you when you run 2 Backups and they get Flared away winning becomes pretty difficult. Purely for bragging purposes this deck was one the the very few to give FrancisFF a loss in this tournament that he ended up winning so I have that going for me.

Anyways, a very special thanks to Gregory Cole who is one of the few folks I’m privileged to play test with and allow me to rep The Light. Thanks to Rainey, Matthew, and everyone who ran an amazing smooth tournament of epic scale. Too bad it doesn’t really count because there were no repairs between rounds so we all know it isn’t really a FFTCG tournament. Much love to all the folks I played, as usual everyone was great and it was awesome getting to play folks across the world.

Lastly, thanks to Yoh for hosting this very detailed word vomit. See you guys at official tournaments this year, feel free to hit me up for any thoughts, questions, or some games and play testing. No seriously, I’m a one man Kentucky scene right now please help.


-Dylan Camacho