Howdy, folks, and welcome to this play by play of the Water Crystal Cup in Oregon where I made Top 4, earning a seat at the NA Championship! The event was run by the incomparable Epic Gaming. I had the pleasure of attending a previous event at their venue, one of the 2019 Petit Cups, and I was excited to return, as they’re perhaps the best organizers I have ever encountered in my 15+ years of competing in tournaments. This time, I chose to play Earth Wind, which is the deck I am most comfortable with, have the most experience with, and have explored the most. It’s my personal opinion that Star Sibyl is the best card in the game, I fell in love with it the moment it was spoiled, and since then I have probably resolved it more than any other card.
Moving into Opus VIII, there were two major cards I wanted to explore: Zidane, who probably has the highest ceiling of any o8 card; and Ark. I’ve explored Ajido builds in o6 and o7, and really enjoyed Phoenix toolbox with cards like Palom, Galdes, Noctis, and of course Zidane H. When I saw the Ajido/Ark build that double top 8’d Ghent I immediately fell in love. O8 Zidane just hadn’t been performing for me, as mono water doesn’t really have a build that supports it well, water/fire was too unpredictable for me, and I couldn’t find another shell that I felt was competitive, so I was ready to move on. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him, however.
I copied the list exactly and jammed it at several locals. I strongly recommend, when looking to play someone else’s decklist, playing it card-for-card until you really understand it. You don’t want to be second guessing their decisions until you have a solid grasp of the reasoning behind them. To that end, I suffered at the hands of Luminous Puma for nearly two weeks before finally cutting it. I understand its strength, the consistency it offers, and the ability to simply pass turn late game while still advancing your game plan, but I hate it and no one will change my mind. I just can’t pay 7 and get 4 and think “yes that wasn’t a crippling misplay at all.” It’s certainly put in work for lots of skilled players, but hey, Jon Smith piloted Ardyn to an incredible 7-0 record day 1 and I’ll still call it the worst card in o8. Absolutely love when people are able to take cards I despise like Puma and Ardyn and do great things with them. That’s where you get the opportunity to learn the most. While I still am nowhere near sleeving up either card, maybe I don’t hate them as much as I used to (Don’t tell Jon!) Seriously though, take a look at his deck! Since it lost one inopportune game, it didn’t make the cut to be on FFDecks’ tournament report, but a 7-0 record should speak for itself:
I really enjoyed the Ghent deck, but the Uri/Leyak package just doesn’t speak to me. It doesn’t play to the strengths of the deck that I like to abuse, and because of the way I play E/W I’m less able to take advantage of its strengths than others. Aerith didn’t do enough in the matchups she was there to win to justify how often she just randomly shut off Dadaluma. She and Ranger just felt like way too specific of silver bullets for my taste, and while this may be wrong I prefer Gnash in Ranger’s slot. The only 3cp monster that gets competitive play is the occasional Deathgaze (IX), 7k is more relevant than 4, and I value the EX probably more than I ought to. So knowing that I could find an E/W build that played to my style better, I went shopping for more options.
Quick aside: about this time I fell madly in love with Nance’s Death Machine deck. I sleeved it up precisely 12 hours before it was brutally murdered, and completely ruined everyone I played against in that brief glimpse of what paradise looked like.
RIP Death Machine, you will be missed. I decided to see what builds other people were playing, wanting to see how people were attacking the meta, and then closer to the CC I would collate my findings into a personalized deck that worked for me. I tested out JFB’s CC winning deck and really enjoyed it. His take on backups is absolutely inspired, and if I hadn’t valued Rikku moving into my own tournament I probably would have stayed on 15. When Dark Fina was good, she was incredible, but that was pretty rare. There was one game I played Chaos off Zidane H t1, saw my opp play a forward t2, then played her -> Phoenix -> Zidane on my t2 which was super satisfying. Again, didn’t love Uri/Leyak and Aerith. It also made me realize something that had been bugging me in the Ark deck as well, but wasn’t consciously aware of until then. 3 Miounne leads to way too many dead draws late game, which is where a deck like this should be at its best. Sure it leads to some great early game opens, but I think you’re just fine at 2. The 1 of DGIX is excellent and I highly recommend it.
Once I was somewhat comfortable with the list, I moved on to another, Chris Lopez’s build from NA CC Fire which I was excited to play due to how badly Sephiroth had been blowing me out. Unfortunately, the meta had shifted a bit since then, and people were teched against Veritas more, so playing a triple VotD build instead of a 1 VotD 1 Galdes caused the deck to suffer. Gumbah and Vanille and Calbrena and Zidane H and Viking are all awful things to see on the opposing side when you’re trying to drop Vtas after Vtas. It’s more ok when you have 1 since you can’t clog your hand with multiples and can just wait for an opportune moment, but with 3 sometimes you really have to just eat a Cid Raines and cry. Calbrena was great. Sherlotta was decent. Adelle was mediocre. Triple Fina felt like too much. What was most disappointing was that the Ice splash just did nothing for me. I hated every second of it. I will say though that the matches I played made me think that Wol still had a place in this meta, especially backed by Hec2, which the other decks had eschewed. This lesson proved to be one of the most valuable that I learned in testing, as Hec2 and Wol were both indispensable throughout the tournament. Wol must have stopped over a dozen potentially crippling bursts, and Hec2 is just one of the most efficient pieces of removal ever printed, doubly so with Dadaluma and with Wol’s +2k.
So at this point we were two days out from the event and I still hadn’t actually made my own decklist. I had a 1st draft that I had assembled on FFDecks, but nothing concrete. I work best intuitively, rather than methodically, so I just slammed a bunch of changes together between games and lo and behold no cards wound up getting changed from that point on. You can probably still see some holdovers from Lopez’s deck in mine, like 2 Ysh 2 Diab 1 Maria 1 Calbrena. Immediately I felt the difference. This deck was built for me. No one else. And I knew through and through how to pilot it. We tested a bunch more that night, with the deck feeling much more powerful than any previous build, and had a lot more testing the night after to really cement my synchronization, and once the tournament actually started I was super confident that my deck and I meshed well. Now onto the round by round comments!
R1 Scions – Loss
Scions is always a dangerous matchup, no matter how good you think it is for you. My opponent led with t1 Alisaie pass, so I wanted to capitalize on the CP advantage and played out my backline as efficiently as possible, knowing that it meant tanking a ton of damage before stabilizing. Once on 3 damage, I dropped Noctis planning to take Yda and fight Papa. My opponent played out two more forwards, Noctis fought Papa as planned, but both other forwards played were also bigger than Noctis, so he couldn’t fight or block them and Alisae’s haste put me at six. It was at this point I absolutely screwed up: I had been so focused on Noctis’ fight ability that I forgot his break trigger on 6, which 100% lost me the game. I think I may have waited to long to commit to the board, and I think she may have had a line of play that would have secured her victory anyways, but we’ll never know, as she saw her opportunity and smashed me good.
R2 Mono Water – Loss
Moving into the tournament, I knew this would be a terrible matchup. Water just puts out too much vapor that you can’t deal with profitably, and their ETFs get more value than yours, so outvaluing them with removal, your plan A, is out. It’s basically impossible to run them out of resources, too, with leila/viking, lenna/knight, scholar and gladiator, so plan B is out. So you have to just turtle up and hope they can’t break through. Well, a quick build and a double Cag saw him break through, and I lost in a very convincing fashion. Starting a tournament 0-2 is of course a devastating blow to anyone’s confidence, and I knew if I lost one more game I was out. Blessedly my friend Steve Yim, another excellent WA player who took a nats invite from me last year, saw I was trying to let my disappointment flow through and beyond me, Litany Against Fear style, and gave me a pep talk that reinvigorated me moving forward.
R3 Mono Fire – Win
Maybe the most one sided game I’ve ever seen. Opponent mulliganed into what must have been the worst hand of FFTCG ever drawn. first turn was raw Caetuna, no search, as I had no forwards to Bahamut. Second turn was o1 Reynn, no search, as the 1of Lann was already in hand. Being at +6cp for no reason is a pretty good way to start a game. Later, Wol stopped two bursts, and Calbrena ate both sides of a Veritas, so every opportunity for him to buy his way back into the game was completely ignored.
R4 Mono Lightning – Win
I honestly don’t remember which of the next two was 4 and which was 5, so I apologize if I got them out of order. He played Mono Lightning very aggresively, so my gameplan was the same as vs Scions. He very nearly broke through for lethal after I thought I had stabilized. To make a super complicated board simple, I failed to counter Alba’s ETF with Ysh, and now I had two forwards, both dull, she had haste, and I was at 6 with no blockers. Luckily, I was able to find a way to trigger an auto-ability and sacrificed Ysh to counter it. My opponent was clearly bewildered until he turned Alba sideways and I said “Alba doesn’t have haste, I only have one dull forward.” The look on his face was so choice, and I had lethal on the table and closed it out.
R5 Fire Water – Win
Sat down across from another Washingtonian, Jeff Taylor. Jeff and I don’t get the opportunity to play often, so I sat there thinking “boy I wish I knew what deck he was playing.” T1 I play Semih, and tank for about twenty seconds on whether to pitch Fina or Diab. I settle on Fina, as I think Diab is more useful in more matchups, and is useful earlier in the game as well. Jeff plays t1 Zidane Sage swing Leila Viking and I immediately think “oh yeah of course he’s playing the same deck he was playing on Wednesday how could I forget that?” Staring longingly at the Fina I stupidly threw away, I somehow managed to drop both Noctis and Dadaluma, ran him out of resources, and secured victory from the jaws of defeat.
R6 4c Mill – Win
He drops the cactuar summon t1 to pay for Chaos and I immediately put him on the 4c mill deck that beat Julian Lee at NSW State Champs, a match I watched with my friend Ryan Chen, to root for my boy Juniglee. Ryan, one of the best players in WA, immediately fell in love with the deck and ran it for a couple weeks. Thanks largely in part to my Rikkus and Zidane Hs, I knew I could mill the deck out, particularly since I can use Diab and Fina to get turns where I double activate, and have Miner/Minfilia/Apururu to get back Rikku after she gets Archered, barring Yuna exile, and can use the knowledge from Zidane to really scuplt the game into my favor. He’s going first, so from turn 1 I am able to craft my gameplan around countering him. I Zidane him on t3 and he reveals his hand, saying “I know, it’s a weird deck” to which I replied “don’t worry, I’m familiar with it.” I could visibly see the chills go up his spine as I ripped his best removal from him, then played around everything else I saw in his hand. He did a magnificent job piloting the deck, but it just can’t beat E/W if the E/W player knows the matchup.
R7 Scions – Win
A great way to finish the day, by beating the deck that beat you r1. This time it was piloted by Gino Gonzales, who plays at my main store, Shane’s Cards. It was rough having two Shane’s reps fighting for Day 2, but you gotta do what you gotta do. This game went according to plan, I refused to make any misplays this time, there was a turn Wol named Bursts before he flipped Cecil Cecil Odin, and I took what I think is an easy matchup. Gino played well, but again like r6 it’s tough for Scions to take the win against E/W. At 5-2 I was guaranteed Day 2. We went for some celebratory pizza, where Miles Greb and Andrew Pierce offered to help me prep for my likely opponents. They built my r1 opponent’s deck card for card, we ignored r2 as I felt reasonably confident in my chances against both potential opponents, then they built Mono Water, as I had a 50% chance of facing it r3. The two possible builds were a little different, so we settled on an amalgamation. The practice was a blessing, as it cemented the plan of turtling up and riding Rikku to victory. We ground out games straight through the night, and I showed up ready to crush everyone between me and Nats.
Top 32 Cut
R1 Earth Fire 2-1 vs Josh Cavin – Decklist
Josh and I are somewhat familiar with each other via Discord, and it was a genuine pleasure to have the opportunity to meet and play against him. Unfortunately for him, thanks to the overnight testing, I was secure in the matchup so much so that I felt it would take a minor miracle for him to win. To his credit, he played much better than my test partners. I expected as much, as it is his deck, and you can’t pick up all the nuances within three hours. G1 he saw that minor miracle, my backline was slow, he had the right cards at the right time, and he whooped my ass something proper. G2 I got him to recur a Cloud and milled him out. G3 I had a brutal Totto that wiped Tifa, Cloud, and Barret, and he never recovered from the massive CP loss. He had some very clever plays with Magic Pot that impressed me, but the I feel like it’s up to E/W to lose the matchup, rather than E/F to win it.
R2 Mono Lightning 2-0 vs Luigi Moreno – Decklist
You can watch this match on Epic Gamings Twitch. Same plan as Round 4 Day 1, except Luigi had a much more control oriented playstyle. Game 1 I risked a Kam’lanaut early, betting that he hadn’t assembled an Al-Cid combo yet since he only ran 2 of each piece. He was forced to Rygdea Ramuh it, and since I was able to pretty much ignore Rygdea, I considered that to be a +5cp play (7-2 for Kam, 6 Ramuh 4 Ryg.) The Galdes it fetched also proved to be impossible to interact with profitably. He ran out an Alba as well, and I flooded the board with forwards too big for him to swing through.
He almost had a sweet Edea on my Dadaluma, but Hec2 responded by destroying both Eddy and Alba, and I had just fetched Apururu who let me recur the Dad, as I knew Dad would stonewall him. His Veritas ate Galdes, who ate a card in response, and then DGIX set him aside, making perhaps the only trade in the game that was not CP negative for him, and even that ended up being neutral.
Game 2 he makes an early search for Al-Cid and I resolve to out-slow him. I can stall out before committing to the board longer than he can, and two turns later he’s forced to either start playing forwards or discard to hand size. He plays Estinien by dulling 1 of his 4 backups and pitching 2, uses Red Mage to give it haste, and reactivates with the 4th, for a total investment of 10cp. I DGIX it for half the cost, and the game is basically over at that point. He has to play raw Onion Knight, breaking up his Al-Cid before I’ve even played a single forward. Cecil gains so much CP breaking OK, since he also had been Red Maged, that I’m not even mad when he gets Edea’d. My VotD Zidane next turn take the last of his resources, and the rest of the game is just going through the motions.
There’s a turn I literally just do nothing but swing, since I’d rather just lose 5cp from backups than risk any of the cards in hand. When your opp feels comfortable time walking himself for nothing, you’re in deep shit. A little later he’s able to get two forwards out and Hec2 2for1s him again. Beautiful. I play out a Maria to protect Dad from EX Ramuh and he EX Odins instead. Oof. So I just play out the other Dad in my hand. I technically misplay to kill him, as I use Diab to turn Fordola into a 1k and then use Semih to deal 1k to it, forgetting that Fordola’s ongoing effect makes it a 2k. I still could have activated Semih a second time, or Hec2d it, or attacked three times though so it’s not like it changed anything.
R3 Mono Water 2-0 vs Zackary Koerper – Decklist
This was the one with Nats on the line, and the poor guy was feeling the pressure something fierce. One of the blessings of playing in tournaments for 15+ years is that you get used to being in high pressure situations, so I was able to stay calm, but he was visibly shaking. His brain was adding so much unnecessary noise to his thoughts that each of his turns took forever, and a spectator felt it prudent to ask a judge to watch for slow play. Zack must have been unpracticed with the matchup as well, as I saw him discard CoD and Cag for CP, the two cards I’m most scared of. Without them, he had no way to stop me from doing whatever I wanted to do.
Both games were an unfortunate series of misplays on his part, largely due to nerves, and at no point did I feel at risk of losing, particularly because of the extensive practice the night prior. Game 2 presented an interesting situation. So we both used the same exact sleeves, and he was playing without a mat making it so that he had no defined borders to his play area. Also, I keep my deck on my left, whereas most people keep theirs on the right, which usually puts my deck directly in front of theirs.
One turn after searching with Brahne he set his deck way off to the side because he was too nervous to pay attention to what he was doing. I thought it was weird but I didn’t want to embarrass him by pointing it out, knowing he was nervous enough as it was, so I just let it slide, resolving to keep a close eye and make sure he wasn’t trying to cheat me somehow. On his next turn, he’s looking at his hand while he draws, and since his deck is in fucking Narnia he absentmindedly reaches across and draws from the only deck in his field of vision: mine. To his credit, he realizes this and immediately calls for a judge, who gives him a warning and I am able to look at the card and put it either on top or bottom of my deck. It’s cactuar, which I felt wasn’t particularly useful, so I shipped it.
R4 Ice Wind 0-2 vs Nathan Perez – Decklist
Nathan kicked my ass proper. E/W, at least the way I play it, just autoloses to Sephiroth, and not enough people play Ice for me to have felt that it was worth putting serious practice time against, which sort of paid off, as I didn’t have to deal with it until after I won the invite. I don’t have much to say about this match, it’s on stream and it’s pretty obvious the whole time through that there just aren’t many good options for me. +2k from backups put his forwards out of reach, and his discard stopped me from building up to critical mass turns. He played it perfectly and absolutely deserved to win. And then at the end I embarrass the hell out of myself by forgetting how to count to 3. Big oof.
Card by Card Breakdown
Too many people are prepped for Veritas that I only wanted to run 1, and Galdes is still a top calibur card, which you can see in my g1 vs Luigi. Because of the discard/monster fetch, he’s essentially a 1cp 8k which is nuts. He also gives you a way to grab cactuars and DGIX that were discarded early, and threatens to trade up with 9k+ forwards. Many times, like the Luigi game, I fetch Galdy with Kam because I know it’s impossible for them to handle profitably and I can afford to wait on VotD.
The deck can suffer against aggro, and Noctis is one of the best ways to shore up your defenses. Allows for insane combos with Cactuar. His active ability is surprisingly relevant, as well. My absolute MVP for Day 1.
Ysh just does everything. Protects your value forwards from summons/ETFs, can’t be burned down, makes moving into combat vs a full hand feel safe, and is big enough to be a relevant body. I can’t say enough good things about her. Only two because I think you don’t really need her that often, just at critical junctures.
Against aggressive decks, Zidane helps you stop their momentum, and against slower decks he rips out their key pieces and gives you a ton of info on how to proceed with your gameplan. Absolutely indispensible against any deck. I kinda miss Phoenix letting me play Zidane 4+ times in a game.
Stonewalls aggro. Severely limits what removal options many decks can use. Presents a tough-to-interact-with threat against slow decks. Combos well with Hec2, Semih Lahinah, and Cactuar. Dad is the powerhouse he has been since o4. The day this deck gets a way to reliably fetch him out the deck is the day this deck becomes Broken Tier.
A lot of people feel that Wol doesn’t have a place in the meta anymore, as he doesn’t get you value immediately, and is a huge risk in a Veritas meta, but people are starting to tech against VotD and Wol solves a lot of problems that the deck needs solved. He allows you to attack freely against heavy EX decks which was clutch against my first Mono Lightning match and against Josh Cavin day 2. Against Scions round 7, Wol stopped three bursts in one turn, two Cecils and an Odin. Wol also gives you brave, allowing you to pressure the opponent without dropping your guard, which is crucial for such a defensive deck. Also, his +2k lets you go over the opponent’s big bodies, and allows you to Hec2 anything you want. As soon as I knew I wanted Hec2 in the deck adding Wol as well was a given. The 3k even is relevant occasionally.
Absolutely indispensible. Owns aggro. Is an insane EX. Puts you up a ton of value every time it kills anything. My only complaint about the card is that I never got to use Dark, which btw combos with Noctis.
The glue that holds the deck together. A searchable searcher that gets you a backup or your choice between two of the best forwards in the game. Forces mono element decks to deal with it ASAP or die, and often convinces them to go down massive amounts of CP to do it. Kam is a large part of why I think Sibyl is the best card in the game. Sucks when you have to name Earth, since you can no longer Hec2 or Wol him, but whatever.
Sometimes a 2cp 9k, sometimes lets you double activate cactuar, sometimes wipes an aggro board. Sometimes you kick her and do disgusting things. Fina’s big problem is that, except against aggro, she is almost unplayable until late game, as you just can’t recoup enough advantage, and you usually have to have planned ahead two or three turns to really get the most out of her. When she’s good though she’s great, and her floor is way better than most other late game closers.
An incredible late game closer. Sometimes you Miner/Sibyl her and just win on the spot. Needs a fair amount of set up, though, and the opponent can just not put you on 6. Great against 4c mill as they need every scrap of CP they can get, so a single “freeze your backups” is often game against them, but tbh the deck wins that MU anyways. I legit didn’t play Ulti a single time this weekend. She’s been incredible in local testing, but all she did at the CC was discard for 2cp. She’s hella spicy, which I love, but is definitely the most cuttable card in the list.
Veritas of the Dark
Best forward in the game. Lot of people are prepared for him, so I felt a 1/1 split with Galdes was important, so I could invalidate their prep work. Don’t run him out early without good reason.
The best removal in the game. Requires some set up, sure, but only costing 2cp means you can make people walk into it easily. Once someone gets blown out by one, they will always hesitate whenever you have forwards and two cards in hand. So often you are able to get away with dumb stuff like countering Diabolos’s backup activation by trading its only legal choice with another forward. In my match vs Moreno, at the end of game 2 he attacks with Hildibrand, I block with Fina, he Nashu’s Hildi, and I Hec Estinien, trading my 2cp summon with his 5cp dude. Absolutely insane with Dadaluma. The deck has lots of 9ks, Cecil Kam and Fina, and Wol goes even higher than that, making it very unlikely your Hecs can’t break anything you want. Also, with so many other Earth based decks avoiding Hec2, lots of people will walk straight into it.
Mad powerful, but can be a bit unwieldy. I respect the strength of Diab, but I think people play around it so much that you can afford to shave one.
Tops off damaged forwards, triggers Noctis, triggers Dadaluma, 10ks anything in a pinch. I love it 10000.
There are a lot of break triggers out there that you really don’t want to see, and DGIX is an excellent way to avoid them. Almost no deck runs a way to break it, either. Most forwards that it hits will gain you CP while you do it, too. A nice 1of, especially since it gives Galdes an extra on-break option. If your opponent plays a second copy of whatever DGIX has petrified, it becomes an incredible Miounne target.
Decent against Veritas and Famfrit, can chump block turn after turn, getting you a ton of time. I feel like 7k probably just isn’t relevant enough, and can definitely flex to other cards for your meta. I expected a lot of VtaS, and some 4c Mill. Calbrena is very hard for 4c Mill to interact with, and until they get Yuna H there’s nothing they can do to stop her. That matchup already feels 90-10 to me though, so not really worth adding more cards dedicated to it.
Helps fix elements, lets Kam fetch a backup, lets you run out multiple darks, absolutely necessary.
There’s just a ton of cool stuff you can do with Miounne, and every day I feel like I find some cheeky new play. Watch my match vs Moreno if you want to see Miounne go absolutely nuts, I use her to recur Sibyl both games, letting me turn dead cards from hand into live cards while thinning my deck of potential weaker draws in the late game. Cecil, Fina, Zidane, VotD, Miner, Minfilia, Cactuar also great targets. Once she’s on the table though there’s no getting rid of her, so I don’t like running 3. Sure it increases the consistency of doing cool things early, but I think the things she does late are much more valuable, and at 3 you too often have to play her out early without being able to get much value, and also create a dead draw later in the game.
Rikku is just necessary right now. Access to her was the big thing stopping me from more closely ripping off JFBs 15 backup list. She’s crucial in the mirror, against Mono Water, and against 4c Mill. She gives the deck a great fallback plan, as you can sit comfortably behind problem forwards like Dad and Noctis and just wait em out. Fina and Diabolos give you the ability to double activate her, which can help you change the math if you’re racing your opponent to the bottom. You don’t need three, since it’s OK if you don’t play her out until later, but running 1 risks not getting her until it’s too late, especially since she can cycle the extra copy at no cost.
She makes the best card in the game cheaper at no cost to you. On top of that, she lets you tweak combat math a little and threatens to piss your Dad off on command. Top notch card.
Another flex card. Helps against lots of decks, but most of the time they can just play around it by discarding the cards it hoses, and then you’re stuck with it clogging your backline.
I wasn’t too big on Maria, but Jon Smith turned me around on her after seeing how well he was able to use her to smash my earlier builds. Shockingly good against Water, really messes up a lot of the math for them.
It’s Miner. Kind of wish I had run 2 instead of the White Mage.
Best card in the game. It is absolutely insane that it has EX Burst. I really wish I had run 1 more target, Ajido, TT, or even a second Apururu. I always try to get one or two CP out of it before cracking it just to eke out every drop of advantage I can. Apururu really put Sibyl on another level. Ex-MTG players often assume the active ability works at “sorcery speed” allowing you to surprise them with dumb stuff like Ysh in response to a summon, Fina to reactivate forwards dulled by Glasya/Ramuh, Veritas to force a sacrifice, Cecil to break something dull, and Dadaluma to start raining 4k punches everywhere.
On 3 backups, it’s an evoker that lets you turn a bad card into a good card, and at 4 Apururu is the actual nuts. Being able to get monsters is a HUGE upgrade from Miner, not to mention being fetchable off Sibyl. You just want 1 since extra copies will always be dead, and it’s not as flexible as Miounne in terms of at what point in the game you can play it.
Like Miner/Apururu, you just want as much recursion as possible. Since you’re running Rikku, pulling cards back from BZ is a way better way to get CP rebates than drawing cards. Really lets you craft a long term gameplan, especially if you get to see the opponent’s hand with a Zidane. Lets you replay forwards that are impossible to deal with without losing CP, like Galdes, Vtas, and Dad, and lets you store your renewable backup CP by turning it into cards in hand so you can have huge late game turns.
I keep wondering if I can get away with not actually running Totto in the deck. Everyone plays around her all the time, whether they see her or not, so she almost never is a CP positive play. Once opp sees her in Damage or BZ though the gates slam open, so without one in the deck they’ll always have to think she’s still on her way to the party. Alternatively, play 2 so as soon as one goes away you can punish the ensuing overextend. Both options are probably too cute, though, so we’re just stuck with her.
If I were playing this at another CC this weekend, Ultimecia, Calbrena, and White Mage would probably come out. A third Diabolos would go in, probably with an Adelle and a Miner. Adelle gives you an extra axis to secure victory on, the Miner improves your consistency, and Diab is just good. I feel like I got away with shaving one pretty well, as DGIX does a decent impression of it, but I wouldn’t count on getting away with it forever. Maybe Diab Titan Ajido are the correct three to put in, so you have 7 Sibyl targets instead of 6.
Regardless, the deck is strong. Its primary gameplan is to let the opponent crush themselves against your superior defenses, and it does that admirably. You actively want to go to 5 damage so you can trigger Noctis at will with either Cactuar or Cecil’s Dark, at which point Ultimecia starts to live up to her Final Boss reputation. Build out to 5 backups ASAP, make CP positive trades as often as possible, and eventually drown them in CP. When things go right, it’s very often you have more backups, more forwards, and more cards in hand, and you feel absolutely unstoppable even though the damage is something totally lopsided like 6-0.
Try to get Kam in on a turn where they can’t interact with him if you can. Once he names an element he becomes incredibly hard for most decks to interact with. Searching Galdes is usually correct, you can save Vtas for later, Chaos is a good option for when you really need backups. Galdes is almost impossible for the opponent to deal with without losing value on the exchange. Keep the Zidanes and the Dadalumas coming. Plan your Finas out two or three turns ahead of time. Wait as long as possible to drop your Hecs, try to invalidate a summon or ETF with them at the same time as you fight.
Thanks for reading along with all my ramblings. Looking forward to CC Earth at Arizona, as I really want to do Top 32 Draft. This CC being all constructed is ok, but it just didn’t feel like a comprehensive test of skill like the later US CCs will be. Still though I think half being draft and half not is the best solution to appease everyone. Just wish I could share my love of Limited formats with everyone! For those wondering I’ll be skipping this month’s HowWL article, as this last month I’ve been too focused on constructed in preparation for this tournament to do any drafting. Big shout out to all my opponents, every game was exciting. Looking forward to all the great competition at NA Champs!