It’s no secret right now that one of Final Fantasy TCG’s strongest strategies at the moment is going very fast, and going very wide, but I often see people fall foul of board wipes, even if they know if one is coming. Too often I see novice to mid-tier players scream like a defeated anime villain that “the Shantotto was unavoidable,” or that “there’s no counterplay to board wipes!” Today I wanted to go through how best to deal with board wipes and maintain control of the game.
The common field wipes in the Opus XIV meta & their straight counters
Probably one of the longest-serving cards in FFTCG, Shantotto’s been seeing constant play since day 1, and doesn’t show signs of slowing down even with auto-ability cancels more easily available than ever. For those of you that have somehow managed to play the game for any period of time without seeing Shantotto, she is a Backup that comes into play for 7CP, and removes all Forwards currently on the field from the game upon resolution. Shantotto also has the upside of being able to be dulled for any element of CP once she’s in play, which means she sees play in a lot of control decks, or decks that wish to play a lot of different colours. And she’s searchable off of Star Sibyl. Yikes. Worth noting, she removes everything on the field, rather than breaking it, so if you have Forwards that ‘can’t be broken’ or ‘don’t receive damage’ she’ll still take them out of the game. You also won’t get abilities that trigger when Forwards are sent to the Break Zone, making removing cards like Porom, Cloud, and Veritas of the Dark much safer to remove.
Shantotto uses an auto ability, which means that the straight ways to dodge her field wipe boil down to Amaterasu, Y’shtola, Sin, and Jecht (and Seven I guess, if you’re in to that.) An issue with the majority of these is that they are very telegraphed, but with a Y’shtola or a Sin (with CP available) on the field, your opponent probably isn’t going to throw a Shantotto at you. Amaterasu you can “fake” having, by leaving three CP (including fire) available, but the savvy opponent may see through this and call your bluff by casting the Shantotto anyway. Ideally if you think your opponent is holding a Shantotto, and you’re building a board worth casting it on, you really want to be holding an Amaterasu to cover yourself! There’s a high chance your opponent will try to force you to cast that Amaterasu early so they can Shantotto you safely, but try to judge whether the play they are baiting you with is more dangerous than the field wipe. (editor’s note: also, be careful of the Totto player being able to cancel Amat with a Mist Dragon!)
Titan, Lord of Crags
Titan has the same cost as Shantotto, but gains the ability to attack in exchange for a few hefty drawbacks. These drawbacks are
- Titan’s dependent on the power of the Forwards on the field (including himself) at the time he resolves.
- Titan breaks Forwards.
- Titan doesn’t go on to generate you value for the rest of the game in the way a Backup would.
The first point: Titan will break all Forwards with lower power than him when he enters the field. This can be a double edged sword, if you are running a deck with a lot of very high power Forwards, and Enna Kros to push your forwards even higher. However, as the defending player against Titan, Lord of Crags, this can work to your advantage by modifying either Titan’s power down, or your Forwards’ power upwards. Just by having Sterne Leonis on board, and enough ammo in the Break Zone to use his ability to give all your Forwards +4k, can be enough to dodge a Titan entirely and save your entire board (and even blow up theirs) and really cause the investment of Titan to backfire. By default, Titan’s only breaking a field of 8k power Forwards, so if you can get your guys to 9k or higher, you’ll be fine. You can also modify Titan’s power downwards before resolution with cards like Remora, or the Bismarck Summon to severely reduce his killing range.
The second point: Titan breaks Forwards, which by extension means he sends them to the Break Zone. We have quite a lot of Forwards in the game that generate value when going to Break, and a lot of decks that like to play a lot of their game plan out of the Break Zone. It’s a lot less of a permanent solution than Shantotto, and can set you up for some really nasty plays involving Lenna, Ursula, Cu Sith, etc.
The third point: this isn’t really a drawback that needs to be spoken about, but Titan’s a very ‘one-and-done’ – if a Titan gets disrupted, it doesn’t have haste to ensure the point of damage straight away like Susano does, and it’s only a 9k, so it’s very possible it’s going to die very quickly afterwards.
Titan still uses an auto as well, so can be disrupted by any of the counters I listed for Shantotto, with the added bonus that Terra + Amaterasu will just kill him as well as cancelling the auto ability field wipe. Your opponent will generally want to play Titan off of 3 or 5 Backups (they don’t have to leave a Backup slot free like they do with Shantotto), so just keep an eye out for signs of Titan, Lord of Crags when your opponent gets a lot of Backups down quickly.
Susano, Lord of the Revel
Another primal, and one that in my opinion is better than Titan just for being able to kill 9ks out of the box, as well as more effectively wipe Sophie-based fields, Susano’s a real beast of a card. Key differences from Titan are:
- The wipe is damage based, so it can hit cards that are 9k power, and contribute to combo pinging down 10k power forwards (if needed). It also means you can maintain a board yourself by having forwards like Garland down that don’t receive damage from abilities.
- Susano has haste – you’re probably taking a damage if Susano comes down; he can be a great game closer. When you’re having it played against you, you need to be really aware of this card when you’re around damage 5.
- Susano removes cards from the game – this prevents swingbacks via Break Zone strategies, or value off of certain Forwards going to break zone (be they getting you card advantage, or just becoming more fuel to Sterne Leonis.)
Susano has a massive drawback though, and that is that at 8k power, he can be one-carded by Amaterasu. If you want to counter Susano effectively, the best thing to do is to cancel the second part of his auto-ability, which will allow Amaterasu to deal 8000 damage to Susano ensuring your opponent loses both the forward, a backup, and doesn’t get their field ability. You can ward off a Susano by projecting that you have an Amaterasu ready to go, and the resources available to play it, be aware that your opponent is probably going to try and hit you with it after you have a decent board, as well as a lack of abundancy of resources to cast Amaterasu. Susano also has trouble clearing forwards that can’t be damaged by abilities, such as Y’shtola and the aforementioned Garland, so you can often hold him at arm’s length by building to deal with ability damage anyway.
Worth noting, there are two points you can cancel using an Amaterasu: you can cancel either their decision to put a Backup into the Break Zone; or you can cancel the second auto that is triggered off of that to deny them both the field wipe and make them lose the Backup. An instance where you may wish to cancel it before they put a Backup in the Break Zone is if they have a Garland out, which would of course cause them to draw a card.
I almost forgot this one existed as it’s taken a bit of a back seat in Opus XIV to the Primal-based field wipes, but is still worth talking about. Philia’s a really simple card. And just hits everything for 10k, and doesn’t receive ability damage itself. It’s less usable than the other field wipes in the very late game due to the point of self damage, and the very steep 8 CP cost (it’s very hard to cast effectively even off of a full line of Backups), however the 10k damage and the built in protection against abilities do make it a reasonably safe Forward to cast.
Of course, being an auto you can save yourself with Amaterasu, but be aware this will make your opponent not take the point of damage, and it won’t kill Philia, even with Terra out. You’ll need to weigh up how you respond to this one as your opponent takes a point of damage and loses a minimum of 3 cards from hand (2 cards + the Philia + 4 backups for a cast), so it’s really down to whether that point of damage is worth letting the field wipe go through. You can also make them lose the Philia as well, by casting Cúchulainn, the Impure to make Philia lose its own protection from ability damage text, so it would 10k itself and get blown up with everything else.
You’ll see Philia less than the other ones, but I’d still keep an eye out for it if your opponent is playing a decent amount of fire cards.
Dealing with field wipes
These next three sections are all interdependent on each other, but I’m going to address them as three different sections as I think there’s definitely 3 stages to dealing with a field wipe if you don’t have one of the aforementioned counters available. Obviously previously, the message has been overwhelmingly “just hold Amaterasu/auto-ability cancels,” but we’ll take a look now at how to deal with these when you don’t have the hard counters available, and how you can deal with a field wipe ahead of time by just altering your lines of play.
How to spot an incoming field wipe
There’s a couple of ways where you can spot a field wipe that’s on its way, some of them involve you, some of them involve your opponent.
The first one is: track what your opponent is searching, and what they have played. If you see them pick up a Titan, Susano, or Philia off of a Gabranth, or you see them go for a Shantotto off of a Star Sibyl (these are all frequent searches off of EXs), you should then be looking to see if they have discarded that to pay for anything pretty much constantly to inform your play time. If your opponent searches a Shantotto, and you decide to play out 3 additional Forwards, you’re pretty much inviting 7CP of Tarutaru doom upon yourself. There’s no limit to how often you can check your opponent’s Break Zone, and it’s not rude to check what they’ve paid with when they pay CP for cards. If you’re running a discard strat, you can also use the search as a read on when to go for really heavy discard, or if you’re running Zidane from Opus 3 you can simply look at their hand and pluck out the field wipe before it even happens.
The second way to spot a field wipe is: simply look at how your opponent is playing. If your opponent is playing Fire or Earth and they’re letting you play down Forwards unopposed while stockpiling a lot of resources, especially in their Backup line, then you’re probably headed to get wiped. There’s rarely any point playing down such an overwhelming amount of Forwards vs an empty field, as you only need to attack 7 times to win. Assuming you did a point of damage reasonably early game, that’s generally only 2 rounds of attacks from 3 Forwards, 3 rounds of attacks from 2 Forwards, etc. If you overcommit, your opponent is going to take the opportunity when you’ve played out your entire hand to assemble a fearsome fighting force to blow all your stuff up at once. Holding back a little and playing an amount of Forwards appropriate to how they’re playing at the time not only makes the field wipe less attractive, but also means you can hold on to resources to either play through or counter the wipe. Another thing to keep an eye out for, is if your opponent makes a lot of attacks that don’t make sense, they’re probably trying to get their own forwards blocked (and therefore into the break zone) so they can field wipe you in main phase 2 – if this happens though, and you’re not running protection, it’s probably too late!
The third way, which is more of an extension of the point immediately above this, is to be mindful of how you’re playing. If you’re going super aggressive, and playing down a frankly ridiculous amount of Chocobos to overcome their lone blocker, your opponent will probably gladly sacrifice their own forward to blow up your field. A lot of decks will let you be the aggressor, remove all your Forwards with a field wipe, and then use their amassed resources they accrued while taking early damage to take control of the game for the rest of the game. If you’re finding it a little too easy to throw down a lot of Forwards and attack, take a second to think if your opponent has genuinely not had a great start, or if you’re playing straight into a field wipe. If you think it’s the latter, stop playing Forwards, make do with what you have on the field, and start amassing resources to either counter, force or play through the field wipe.
How to force a field wipe
Forcing a field wipe really comes down to committing enough things to the board that have to be dealt with, but aren’t such a loss to you that it breaks your entire game plan. This can either be 2 or 3 low-commit Forwards (such as Argath and Serah, or Aerith and Tifa), or just one big Forward that’s hard to remove, like Braska’s Final Aeon. You’ll have enough Forwards to either pressure your opponent for direct damage, or you’ll have a big attacker that threatens to remove anything that they put down – the new Cloud from Opus 14 is also fantastic at this role. You basically want to force your opponent to play their field wipe to remove the minimum amount of forwards possible, and you don’t want to force it by overcommitting yourself. Hypothetically, if your opponent is on 0 damage, but you can play out 6 forwards all with haste and hit them 6 times this turn, it’s still going to take 2 turns to kill them, so why risk committing everything you have and facing a back-breaking field wipe? Instead play down 3 forwards, attack 3 times, keep the rest back as resources, then next turn play a fourth forward and then threaten lethal – even if you run into something that stops you from going for lethal damage, you still have resources back so you can immediately generate board presence and keep going. I’ll elaborate on this in the next section, though.
To force a field wipe you really want to be playing down either something they cannot ignore (or don’t want to target like Neo Exdeath, or simply can’t target like Cloud), something that will hamstring their game if they ignore it (like Garland (IX) and Cid Randell,) or just enough Forwards that they can’t bear the pressure much longer without fieldwiping. It really comes down to pacing your game plan and putting enough power on the field that it cannot be ignored, but without overcommitting and ending up with nothing after catching a field wipe with your face.
How to play through a field wipe
So the worst has happened, and you’ve been caught by a field wipe that’s not on your terms, and you haven’t got a counter ready to go. It’ll be a race to the end, with whomever can stabilise and get a convincing board presence down probably taking the win. Being able to play through a field wipe and not just losing the game on the spot is a huge part of what makes the meta decks in Opus XIV so viable right now. Considering you only need to generate 7 points of damage (and not necessarily all via attacks thanks to Sophie), there’s rarely a good argument for having more than 4 Forwards on the field.
Personally, I will aim to have 2-4 forwards on the board at all time, unless I’m pushing to win a game out of desperation or it’s directly feeding into a game plan (like AVALANCHE Operatives or WoFF). Unless you can put forwards equal to the amount of damage that needs to be done to the opponent onto the field (and they somehow all have haste), you can generally afford to be reasonably conservative with how you play the game, as it will take you multiple turns to win the game anyway. You can still play very aggressively, but if you play down 10 unhasted Vikings in one turn, and get hit by Susano immediately upon passing turn to your opponent, you probably could have avoided losing everything by putting down a threatening amount of Vikings rather than every possible Forward you had in hand. By holding back some ‘gas in the tank’ you can keep going even after a major setback. However, it’s definitely worth keeping hold of what your opponent has access to and how much CP they will have on their next turn, it’s often still safe to extend if your opponent physically cannot cast a field wipe next turn no matter what they draw. Even then, if it is going to take multiple turns to kill your opponent, it’s probably best to play enough forwards to threaten to defeat them in a sensible amount of turns, rather than playing down 6 Forwards to deal two damage vs no blockers. Of course, I’m speaking in purely hypothetical numbers here, but I think one of the things new players miss is that committing overwhelming force in an advantage-based meta is often not the correct play unless you have a game plan to continue after getting field wiped or disrupted. Rationing your plays to make sure that you’re ahead if you get stuck in the grind game is definitely something I think people overlook.
Knowing when you can overextend
In addition to the above, there’s definitely situations you can really extend into a terrifying board that your opponent won’t be able to come back from. If your opponent is struggling for CP, then they’re already on the back foot, and their only possible hope is to field wipe you and stabilise before you. There are definitely situations where you can really put the pressure on and also cover yourself. Aside from the cancels I’ve mentioned several times in the above article, one of the major factors here is Sterne Leonis as a defensive tool. Being able to add +4000 power to all your forwards (potentially multiple times a turn) turns off a lot of field wipes. If you’re able to present a threatening board to your opponent, Sterne Leonis can really limit the options your opponent has available to them. Sterne Leonis single-handedly disables Titan, Susano, and Philia as viable board wipes, and will also go a long way to protect you from combo board wipes from lesser-seen cards like Fina. If your opponent does want to wipe through a Sterne Leonis, they will likely have to Mist Dragon to remove your break zone, forcing an ‘early’ Sterne activation, and then wait a full turn to do their field wipe – By which time you’ve realistically probably closed the game, or re-loaded the break zone to get Sterne back online. If you’re going to extend a huge field out, it’s really important that you factor in the following two things:
- You have cover in the form of Amaterasu, Y’shtola, or Sterne Leonis.
- Your opponent might have an out to your cover – basically always be mindful of the CP they have access to at any time, or if they have the ability to suddenly pull a Summon from their break zone (check their backups for things like Black Mage or be on the lookout for cards like Krile). The most common one to look for is Mist Dragon, as this can force an early Sterne Leonis activation, as well as cancel your Amaterasu. Keep an eye out for straight Summon cancels like Edward and Summoner, too.
If you do want to be able to identify when you can pressure your opponent like this, you need to make sure you’ve paid attention to what they have played in the game so far, how much CP they can feasibly access next turn, as well as what counters to your counters they may have. It’s really important to make informed choices based on what your opponent is doing as well as your own position in the game – the cards on your opponent’s field and in their Break Zone are just as important as yours. Alternatively you can just Zidane and look at their hand before deciding if you want to go nuts, I guess.
The best thing to do when it comes to knowing when you can play your hand out is to have a good read of the entire game state that you are confident is correct. You don’t want to get caught out and lose a game because you overcommitted when you didn’t need to, which is one of the more common reasons I see people throw games away. Yes, it’s fun to put a lot of forwards down on the board at once, but it’s much more fun to win the game because you made more informed choices throughout the game and put just enough pressure on to win the game at every possible juncture. Don’t throw away a victory to play your hand out – always be sure that victory is certain and you have a backup plan if it all goes south! Amaterasu and Sterne are your friends!
To go over what I’ve spoken about today, hopefully this article has given you the tools you need to spot field wipes early, make better decisions when field wipes are about, and opened your eyes to the benefits of conservative plays while still remaining aggressive. We’ve also had a good look at the 4 main field wipes in the meta, although I’m sure I’ll forget one as soon as this has been published and need to go back and amend this.
Thanks for reading!