We’ve hit a really strange time for a great set, COVID-19 is keeping us locked down while OCTGN tempts us to dive head first into Opus 11 instead of working from home or doing something more productive. Lots of new names around, a lot of fun things to try and a very ambiguous competitive season to follow.

These are the preliminary lists we’ve all been working on together or have seen around and perhaps might give you some new ideas on things to try, or what to look out for. At this early stage these lists are far from refined and most definitely aren’t the best versions of their respective parts, but they’re a great starting point for anyone looking to try some of the new engines Opus 11 has to offer.

Today we’re joined by Team Flat Earth members: Jared “Eureka” Wallace, Nathan “Nado” Cross, Robert “Tenletters” Meadows and welcoming them to FFTCG Crystarium for the first time, James “Esufer” Greaves and Sam “HeadJudge” Connor. 

Jared Wallace

Midrange Fire/Water VI

The new VI cards have carved out a good slice of the pie for what would’ve in prior sets been the worst two colors to choose when building a VI-synergy deck. However, the addition of Shadow and Celes, especially in combination, have brought a lot of life into the archetype that could only exist as a Gilgamesh Aggro deck or meme IX deck in Opus 10. Celes’ abilities provide a lot of redundancy for any version of the deck, being a bulkier albeit lower payoff version of the Legend Zidane, and giving us another way to benefit from committing to Haste effects. The deck is not quite as flexible as some of the other Elements given the lack of powerful removal-based Water Forwards, but has a very straightforward gameplan that demands the opponent to have adequate answers for your threats; something I consider to be a positive in preliminary metas. 

Kadaj is still very good in the broad metagame and is a good board-clear resilient Forward, as well as our primary method of dealing with heavy recycling decks. Our deck is also very resilient to opposing Kadaj, which was one of the things I tried to stick to while building the deck. 

Ifrit and Famfrit are very strong, relatively all-purpose removal Summons that feel necessary without a defined metagame. Failing to draw an Ifrit to deal with a Ritz going out of control, Unei targets, or opposing Celes can often lead to a game spiraling out of control very quickly. Kadaj and Famfrit have a cute interaction as well. Most of the other cards are straightforward, but if something makes sense remember you can always leave us a comment. 

Ice/Lightning Barthandelus Unei

Hot off my Twitter, this is definitely the sweetest deck that I have had success with since the set launched. While I definitely started building this as a meme and mostly because I wanted to make use of the 3 foil Barthandelus I bought for my Category XIII collection, as I was grinding games it slowly dawned on me that this is actually a pretty decent archetype and that there is a lot more to work with than I had given it credit for going in. I especially underestimated how well the deck performed when we didn’t have time to get an Unei down and weren’t clearing our opponent’s board every or generating extra draws with Sakura; the deck very much holds itself down as a very reasonable albeit situationally removal-heavy midrange archetype.

The stars of the deck are very clearly Barthandelus, Sakura, and Unei, but there are a lot of unsung heroes holding the deck together, particularly Kuja, Citra, and the Reeve/Cait Sith package. Kuja helps us deal with what could otherwise be particularly detrimental Forwards to our gameplan, namely Y’shtola and Aerith, while also being well-placed in the early meta of Locke, Celes, and Ritz. Citra is really the glue holding the entire deck together, we are heavily reliant on Summons to finish our combo clears and keep us churning through our deck.

Additionally, I think that this archetype is very reasonable in L3. Taking a brief look through the list, the only core cards we are losing are the XIII supporting cast, Rinoa, Sephiroth, and Scholar. In exchange, a lot of the tech that could come down if this deck ever became popular such as Minwu and/or various forms of Unei removal that exist in Standard are basically non-existent in L3 at the moment. From a general gameplay perspective, many L3 decks also don’t have much in the way of playing around board clears, leaving us relatively well placed in that regard as well. I hope to see more of this archetype going forward, ‘cause it really is sweet.

Water Core Summoners

Earth Core Summoners

Yuna S Summoners

Without a doubt the archetype that I have made the most iterations on since the set launched, Summoners is absolutely drowning in possible avenues of construction. The first two I’ve linked here are two approaches I have had reasonable success with. When approaching the archetype I think it is important to emphasize that the primary draw of playing this archetype is abusing Braska’s Final Aeon as much as possible; the card is absolutely disgusting when you resolve it’s discard ability even as little as once or twice against ‘normal’ decks. A lot of the construction choices I’ve made here let us survive long enough (by way of a passable +1 EX count, relatively efficient clears, and Rydia 5 cheating in the higher cost Summons) to a point where we can reasonably cycle Braska’s Final Aeons and Cu Siths comfortably.

When Yunalesca and Yuna are allowed to stick to the board, the deck really starts to pop off. Leviathan, Mist Dragon, and Cu Sith are very efficient when they hit 1 CP, Diabolos for anything less than the full 5 is nuts, and hardcasting Bahamut and Raiden for 7 or less is a very reasonable payoff for your otherwise mediocre Forwards. Adding a Garnet into the mix to help them stick to the board via Power and occasionally threaten the follow-up 1 card in hand big Summon is often enough to make opponents scoop it up.

The last build I have linked forgoes Legend Yuna for Yuna S, mostly as a one-to-one replacement. This does a few great things for us: it frees up our Backup slots to run better utility and (importantly) breakable Backups in the form of Alchemist over the Astrologians we were more-or-less forced to run to get adequate value from Yuna L’s ability. Because our Backups are now breakable, we get to play Leonora to fetch Porom, improving our early game economy by quite a bit. We’re also no longer forced to play Cosmos to get Citra down reliably, allowing us to bump up to 3 Citra to get better mid-to-late game access to our Forwards, especially Braska’s Final Aeon. Additionally, Yuna S’s ability is often just as if not more reliable than her Legend counterpart, allowing you to churn through the deck even Faster and assist in reaching the “your opponent definitely cannot win, but it’ll take a while for the game to end” mode that is the Summoner deck’s endgame.  

All of this said, I can’t help but feel that at the end of the day Summoners are just one or two support cards away from securing a seat at the tier 1 archetype table. It is probably one of the only competitive archetypes left that can unreasonably struggle with Backup development despite only running 1-2 main colors and having options for Backup-searching Backups, due to the naturally awkward color spread that we’re inclined to play. Some possible builds that have popped up, such as Water/Fire or Mono Water offer solutions to color problems, but they tend to come at the cost of a lot of the deck’s power, leaving me wondering if I played that way the deck could really hope to compete with whatever ends up being refined into the next deck-to-beat. 

Nathan Cross

Fire/Wind FFTA

So when you first look at o11 cards, Ritz pops out and says “I’m probably a really good card”, and then you see Marche and he says “put me in a list with ritz it’ll be good promise”. The challenge from there is filling the other 44 cards.

The list I have here uses a bit of a heavier summon/monster line, with Terra Diabolos taking advantage of the extra CP Ritz provides us to remove any threats, and Ifrit pretty cleanly dealing with Ritz/Locke/Celes in the earlier turns. The backup line has a bit of flexibility on what you want to play, but realistically you need to be running Montblanc/Doned as decent FFTA backups to get the Marche reduction, and some choice of the standard unit TA backups (none of them really do much so you can just colour balance). FFCC is the obvious choice for the rest of the backup slots, with Meeth and Waltril being the best ways of finding Ritz, and us wanting to reach 3 backups asap.

I’ve seen a few other directions people have taken this deck, Cid (II), Zack, Vaan, and while I think the list linked is a great way to play it, as long as you have the core package of Ritz, Marche and then some FFTA backups, there’s plenty of flexibility on directions to go.

In terms of where the archetype sits in the early metagame I have seen so far, the deck is in a really good spot right now. You can pretty easily pivot to slamming forwards early against slow decks, utilising Zidane to attack the hand, Y’Shtola to really slow down Summoner’s big turns, and Ritz to make sure you keep up on economy. Against other midrange decks, you can normally play Marche Ritz enough times to win the resource game.

Mono Lightning

Now, mono lightning got a new card this set called Nyx. and Nyx has a bunch of text on him, but what he really says is “if your opponent is on 4 damage you win the game”. Real talk, with the additions of Aranea, Glauca, Nyx and Crowe, lightning has some insane lethal turns. Playing this deck you just end up doing lethal math at 6 or 7 turns in, with Crowe/Nyx giving you dulls with access to Sheol, or Aranea really just extending your board presence without much commitment. Kuja is also a huge addition to the deck, easily removing early forwards and pushing you to the magic Damage 3 for Aranea. I could keep talking about some of the lines of play the new Kingsglaive’s give you, but honestly just try a build of mono lightning, and you will find yourself at the start of most turns asking “are they dead this turn”.

It is worth noting that Kadaj is a real issue for this deck to play against, as is a well timed Mist Dragon, but just be skilled and win before they draw these cards! (Skeleton is in the deck to try and help against Kadaj but you really need to be smarter with how you are planning your turns when 2 cards are leaving your break zone every turn).

Wind/Lightning Azul

Wind/Lightning Illua

Wind/Lightning as a colour combination has received a huge boon in opus 11, easily the biggest power spike in the deck’s history. Doned searching out the Cactuar, Kuja dealing with problematic cards like Y’shtola and Locke, and Aranea adding huge swing turns to the deck. Azul is either an amazing board controlling tool, or a waste of slots that could easily be Illua instead, and honestly after like 20 games on either version I’m still not sure.

Backups for the list are a bit of a weird spot, you can either stack as many EX as you can with Restrictor, Burmecia and Echo and then fill the rest with somewhat useful backups in Red Mage, Aldo and 2CP Penelo. Or you can try and go for 4 drop 4CP Penelo with Fran and Lousioux with Alphinaud to maximise your backup searching. Either way works fine if I’m honest, because this isn’t really an archetype where your backups are doing much work for you.

Full disclosure, the list I’m linking in this article is 100% not a perfect list, nor is it really close. It does, however, have the benefit of being one of the most interesting archetypes to build, one of the most fun to play, and one of the most rewarding to get working. Also you get to experience the expression on your opponent’s face when you Cactuar their forwards before they swing for seemingly no reason, and then hitting Ramuh on EX like a pro gamer™. If that’s not pure happiness then I’m not sure what is.

Robert Meadows

Wind/Lightning Relm

Nathan already highlighted the best parts of Wind/Lightning, but there are some other interactions I wanted to highlight in a Wind/Lightning list I’ve been messing around with since the new cards dropped. It can definitely be clunky but when it fires off, it can be a difficult one to handle without some really specific ways to disrupt what it’s doing and there are similar things to be done with other cross-element backups.

First up, we have Selkie, who will flip the top card until finding either a Fire or Water card and happens to be a friend of everyone’s favourite Wind backup Norschtalen. Now you can build into this so that you’re flipping to a very precise off-colour card. Another nice pairing with this interaction is Class Sixth Moogle and Chaos/Cosmos allowing us to pay for the off-colour card.  We already want to play Cactuar, so Relm is a natural and particularly nice fit. Right now to round out the Monster targets I’m running with Skeleton, Dragon, Ahriman and Unsaganashi, as a removal and protection package that plays nicely with Relms bounce effect. Quite honestly any 1&2CP monster is fine in this case so long as it’s neither Fire or Water.

A pet favourite of mine this set is Skeleton and it started out as a bit of a meme but has gone from strength to strength. As it turns out Aranea+Urianger in combination play particularly well with it and Kuja gets us to the healthy 3 damage breakpoint with ease, allowing us to cycle through Skeletons while simultaneously full charging one that’s already on the field. There are also an absurd amount of relevant 2CP Forwards around in this meta, so even if you’re concerned about Skeletons charges (you shouldn’t be) he’ll be picking off stray 2CPs left and right. It’s not uncommon at all with this list to have all of your removal Monsters on the field with your opponent at a loss with what to play to the field. Citra works out as a great toolbox in this list and backed by all of this removal can pick up a lot of stray damage. With all of that said, the deck isn’t without its issues, Tifa in particular and probably the only time I like the card says we can’t do anything but that’s something to work out at a later date.

Ice/Fire FFVI

Not a new list by any means, and one that will continue to thrive so long as Locke exists and gets continued support. What this set has done for it, has really set in stone what the deck wants to do. Fire got some great forwards this set and they all play well with what was already available for Ice/Fire FF6.

Sabin is a huge midgame beater that also benefits from haste (it can also lead to playing Sephiroth instead of Kadaj), but more importantly Shadow and his good best boy Interceptor really narrows down the direction to take the deck. Haste on demand for FF6 characters is an absolute boon and definitely forces the weight of some card choices, 3CP Celes with on-demand haste gets a whole lot better, leaving 4CP Celes mostly in the dust outside of some very specific meta calls. The last potential change to the list is Setzer and I don’t think it’s the correct change to be making because the backup adds a whole lot of consistency for our boy Locke, but it’s one I’m playing around with still, he is definitely a great beater, but one we can probably live without for this list.

While Cu Chaspel and Zack does give some help to the older, combo damage style, with cards like Lasswell and Cid Raines for the deck, I’m inclined to think that Interceptor pushes us far enough away from those cards in competitive play for us to be paying a premium cost to get the damage through with Cu Chaspel. I love to be proven wrong though, so please feel free to push the damage archetype and tell me otherwise!

Mono Wind

Another classic list, the first time it probably sees some significant change since Magus Sisters short stay in the meta, some great new tools that let it get away with a greedy build at a much lower backup count than normal. This allows it to consistently draw into gas once there’s some backups behind it. I’m interested to see how Mono Wind shakes out in the meta, because it definitely improved.

Pandemonium, while not quite as good as Valefor, is still a very potent card and finds a nice home in Mono Wind. Pairing very nicely with Fina, Yuri, Alhanalem and on occasion Penelo.

Hooded Man is a great addition and rounds out the FF IV package quite neatly, recursion is always welcome. Recurring Barbariccia and Edge (with a forward Edge can buff) opens up a new avenue of play for the Mono Wind we know. Magus Sisters is still a consideration here, but Cuchulainn, Ashe and now Gentiana knock it down a few pegs these days, time will tell how it fits into the meta.

Fiona is probably the perfect card for the list, Mono Wind loves to float CP whether it’s on purpose or not (like an EX Bartz/Yiazmat) and always having a good way to spend that CP into a card you need on your following turn is just fantastic. Bartz, Vata, Yiazmat and Diabolos all have their own interactions with Fiona and she’s just a great always-on resource for when Yuri isn’t available. As an aside, Fiona also plays really nicely alongside decks utilising Leyak quite a bit even if we’re not doing that here, it’s most definitely something to try in a different kind of list.

A Chelinka backup is a welcome addition and gives some new avenues to search backups, allowing us a lower count. Yeah it’s expensive, yeah we don’t get to party attack with Yuri + Chelinka and yeah we probably don’t get much use out of the on-play effect if we’re searching it early, but the tradeoff for consistency is very likely worth it and the expensive bounce and replay in late stages of the game isn’t so bad when we’re talking about Wind. Alongside Pandemonium, Diabolos and multiple Barbariccia each game, having Alhanalem always on really feels great.

If you want to get a little weird with it, I currently have a similar list fitting Bel Dat and Selkie together as a pair and it works reasonably well with a forward count this high.

James Greaves

Fire/Earth VII

FFVII’s been a bit of a pet deck for me since Opus IV, and it’s nice to see it get a lot of love this set, even if only one or two cards really contribute to the deck as archetypal support as opposed to just being universally good (looking at you, Kadaj). The biggest boost I’ve seen to the Fire/Earth version of the deck is the new legend Cloud, which really goes some way towards giving the deck a gas pedal to dictate the pace of the game in early turns. If you open Cloud, you get to choose how the first few turns of the game are going to go, either playing normally and searching for a Jessie, or if you’re feeling especially frisky, go for something like a Zangan and just go ham with Tifa for early damage if you think your opponent won’t be able to stabilise. Cloud also gives you nice neutral turns in the early-midgame, allowing you to search something like Aerith to threaten to replace him if your opponent takes him out. His unconditional break (for 3CP) can really hamper opposing decks’ ability to stabilize vs early beatdown too, especially if they go into an expensive forward to try and swing the game back, and gets the deck right past Y’shtola and Aerith, two forwards that were especially problematic for Zack variants of the build. Just use it sparingly unless you’re going to win!
Red XIII gives the deck another source of passive haste, meaning that off of an early start of Cloud + Tifa + Red XIII, you can force a really aggressive boardstate and beat your opponent down before they get a chance to do anything. Because we want to be on 3-4 damage while beating our opponent down as well, looking at the Belias feels like the way to go, where I’d previously been running the Belias, the Gigas to ensure we can land haste on Barret as reliably as possible.

Another big stealth addition to the deck that I think a lot of people have overlooked (being far he’s probably not great in many other places) is the new Ifrit. It’s not hard to force your opponent to 5 damage early on with FFVII if you apply a little pressure, and 8k for 1CP sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Add in that we can combo it at any stage of the game with Firion, Zack, Barret or even just use it to force trades, and Ifrit seems like a good honorary FFVII card. With Zack in play, playing a forward + casting Ifrit gives us either 7k, or 10k, both pretty relevant numbers when it comes to blasting things out of existence. Give it a try! Cu Chaspel also covers a good weakness of the deck, allowing us to continue playing Zack strats even when the opponent has dropped a Minwu or an Aerith to try and ruin your day. Ifrit’s been testing well enough that it finally managed to get me off of Titan, mainly because removal in other decks is good enough now that Titan is likely getting disrupted if it’s not coming off of an EX.

The new legend Tifa is great in some scenarios, and absolutely lukewarm in others. If you’re on 3 damage, she can really turn the game around, making cards like Barret immune to the omni-present Diabolos, or just giving Cloud & company the increase they need to get through, while keeping things like Red XIII active as a really potent blocker. This one was an easy card to slot, finally giving Opus 1 Tifa a break from 10 sets of service, while keeping Tifa numbers up for Final Heaven when needed.

All in all, I think the deck’s in a good place right now, and although it’s quite an ‘honest’ deck in how it plays, it can still go toe-to-toe with a lot of stuff right now, and also adapts to quite a wide variety of threats due to cards from Opus XI really helping to shore up its weaknesses. The deck is certainly lighter on EX bursts than it has been previously (I’ve been as high as 42 at some points), but it’s also fair to say it’s likely stronger than it’s ever been. One hope for the set was some new FFVII backups, but I guess it’s nice to have something to look forward to! Jessie’s still stupid btw, starter Barret and Opus XI Cloud feel overtuned when undercosted.

This is in no way the only way to build FFVII, there’s certainly many builds out there that can go really heavily into Wind, Lightning and Ice, and the new Cloud can support them all, and more importantly give FFVII a searcher that isn’t called Jessie, which is something the category has lacked for a long, long time. This set they went completely the other way, and essentially gave us Super-Kam’lanaut.

Mono Ice

This was the first list I approached this set, mainly due to the card pool I had available when my pre-release kits arrived due to the current situation I’m understandably not able to get to my local game store. Kadaj feels huge for Mono Ice, turning a lot of your weedy 7ks into 9k braves, or just getting them through by providing a dull for practically no investment. If we combine him with Gentiana, things get really interesting, allowing his dull to turn off cards like Y’shtola, Aerith, or even cards with ongoing protection effects like Ardyn. If we then throw Vayne into the mix as well, you can use Gentiana to turn off the effects of all 5 costs your opponent controls, even cards that are sometimes awkward to play around like Feolthanos, or if you’re worried about cards such as Cloud coming back and blowing up one of your comparatively small forwards. Gentiana also helps to warp quite a few choices when it comes to effects like Garland, your opponent may end up being hesitant to dull a forward and set up if they realise it’s going to lose its abilities once it goes sideways. Even though Gentiana’s ability is really niche in a few matchups, at worst case it’s just a cheaper Amon, and another source of dull to get your Locke through.

Black Waltz 3 also has the benefit of comboing with Cloud of Darkness extremely well, allowing us to secure an extra kill, pick something up or discard the opponent when it gets sacrificed to Cloud of Darkness’ entry effect. It’s really straight forward, but I’m not convinced there’s a better value 2 cost in Ice right now if you’re running CoD.

Iedolas I’m feeling I might have gone overboard on in this list? On the one hand it’s really nice to hit an EX, pick up a Locke and Mirage Dive for game while inversely Iedolas at 3 really likes to appear in my hand frequently. This can obviously be mitigated with Cloud of Darkness, so it’s not the end of the world. Typing this I feel like I want to go to 3 CoD, so I’ll probably test that when I get the chance. Black Mage is also worth a look too, it’s nice for Ice to get some more playable 2CP backups, and combos with both the summons in this list really well.

Slotting right into the “cruel and unusual things to do to your opponent” category, Umaro fills a really niche spot of being able to remove virtually any forward in the game in a way that’s extremely hard for a lot of decks to easily reverse (everyone’s got access to picking things up from Break Zone these days). He can send problematic cards that can’t be dulled back into your opponent’s deck (Black Tortoise L’Cie Gilgamesh & Dadaluma being two that spring to mind immediately), while his cost allows him to dismiss things like Feolthanos without having to worry about effects getting cancelled. The way he removes things also protects you from on-death triggers, which is pretty neat too. Past that point he fills very much a similar role to Orphan, allowing you to keep blockers sideways, which combos really well with Kadaj & Gentiana to again, get your Locke through. Upping the Setzer targets is always nice, too – and it saves us from running Ghost.

There’s plenty I’d like to try in Mono Ice this set, and this list is really really rough, but I’d fully recommend exploring what you can get Gentiana to do as she feels like she might be better than she initially reads. I’d really like to test the new Sephiroth Legend here, but Kadaj feels so much better a lot of the time – plenty of time to test if we’re all stuck indoors for this entire format!

Sam Connor


I have never been the type of person to pilot an aggressive deck – I always feel more at home slowly developing a board state and putting a chokehold on my opponent’s plays, most recently in the forms of Ea/Wi Doga and mono Water Fusoya. When I saw the new Edge and Tsukinowa, however, sparks started flying, and myself and a couple of others quickly realised an infinite loop to develop infinite shuriken counters on Edge, creating a pseudo-board wipe. Is it good? Probably not. Having four key combo pieces that are easily disrupted across three different colours is not the best way to play the game (in my opinion). However, after initial testing, it occured to me that a standard Wi/Li Ninjas deck could actually perform decently in a preliminary meta.

First, I’m going to indulge myself a little by talking about the infinite loop. The key pieces you need are:

With Edge already in play and all five backups active, you start by using Tilika to reduce the cost of all characters played by 1. After this, use your two wind backups to pay for Wind Drake. Next, use Red Mage to give Wind Drake haste. After this, pay from hand to play Tsukinowa on field. With Tsukinowa, Edge, Maina and your two other ninja backups, you can untap your entire backup line with Tsukinowa’s effect, while simultaneously generating a shuriken counter on Edge. Now, use Wind Drake to bounce both Tsukinowa and itself to hand. Play Wind Drake. Give it haste. Play Tsukinowa for 1. Untap. Shuriken counter. Rinse. Repeat. 

Now, I have not executed this in a single game yet. If your opponent has an Y’shtola, Ardyn, or Minwu-like effect, you might as well pack it up and go home. Even with Unsaganashi and your own Y’shtola, your Edge will die to a stiff breeze. What do Ninjas bring to the table if they don’t bring infinite shurikens though?

The ceiling on the new Edge is ridiculous. Cost reduction and colour fixing for the job the deck is built around is crazy strong, and it enables you to play starting hands that you might otherwise just throw in the trash. The aggression out the gate is strong – sometimes slamming down Edge and a backup turn 1 can ramp you into enough aggression with varied turn 2 plays to be able to react to your opponent’s board with Jinnai or to keep swinging in for those early damage points with the likes of Yugiri. I believe that using the Fire and Water ninjas Gekkou and Izayaoi to play out your billion other ninjas for free would be a really strong replacement for the Earth package that enables the loop, especially with Edge allowing you to avoid dedicating backup slots to play these – however, I have not tested this yet. Instead of Citra, you might as well slap a Kadaj in the light/dark slot, as I think a lot of the preliminary meta will be settled by his varied effects until people develop consistent answers to his disruption. In terms of what bases you need to cover with the rest of the deck, finding answers to forwards that don’t die through ping damage, such as the examples stated above, is essential, so looking at removal such as Ramuh and Odin is a real good place to start. Protection for your Edge is something that should be considered as a priority too, even outside of the loops.

If you catch me on OCTGN, I’ll be playing the loops until I successfully pull it off, as a real fun start to this opus. After that, though, I may just actually try to utilise Ninjas properly.

Ice/Water FF6

I’ll be the first to admit, I have more than a soft spot for Kefka and Ultros. The fact that they now find synergy as solid tech choices in a deck that could make a real impact at the start of an opus does things to my heart that I can’t even begin to describe. The abundance of new powerful category VI cards – Relm, Umaro, Celes – in elements that a) have the category VI searcher in and b) can combo really well with other power cards in those elements, make ice/water look like the most appealing version of VI to me since fire/ice emerged back in o4. 

As is usually the case with your ice/water decks, you spend the first few turns slowly ramping up those backups and making the most out of the searches and recursion you get off of Gestahlian Empire Cid and Setzer. In the fire/ice variant, you’ll likely be playing Locke turn 2 pretty consistently but that’s something that may not happen as often in this list. For those who are greedy, you can play either of the Mog (VI)’s turn 2 and start drawing into the rest of your deck quicker [for reference, I chose the tap to draw Mog (VI) over the draw 2 ETB version but at this stage, I’m not sure if one is more correct than the other]. 

Relm is an absolute powerhouse. The flexibility this card brings is just outstanding. Playing her as a turn 2 play and developing two of your monsters onto the board can put you ahead by a fair margin. My usual choice would be an ice Flan to be able to search out earth CP for Shantotto if needed – as well as sacking them to force discards, of course – and to bring out Schrodinger to develop card advantage and things to sack for Kefka. Schrodinger has also, alongside Kefka, been one of my heavily biased tech cards, and it feels really awful to hit a monster again an empty board *or* a board full of ETB’s, but the synergies with other cards makes me want to leave it in and test it more. Outside of this, there are a variety of 1- and 2-cost monsters, both inside of colour and out, that can serve as great Relm targets depending on the situation: Goblin to haste Relm into an empty board and draw; Clione for protection against summon-heavy decks; Unsaganashi for protection; Bomb for… well, bombing; etc. There’s a lot to play around with in just this one card and the possibilities that it can enable, and has quickly became one of my favourites of the set because of it.

Umaro’s unique form of “removal” makes him an amazing 5cp 9k. Do I ever want to play him for 7cp? Rarely, but sometimes the situation calls for it and still lets you press on, or lets you keep that Dadaluma that’s about to never be dull again tapped down for that little bit longer with his end of turn ability. Umaro is our main reason for wanting to force Mog (VI) into the list so badly, and with both of them generating card advantage, it makes it that little bit easier to slam them both down in one turn to guarantee that cost reduction [Note: you’ll have to haste the Mog (VI) with Goblin if that’s the one you’re running to generate that advantage immediately, but it’s still usually fine with his conditional hexproof]. Could you skip over Umaro? Possibly, but it’s that extra category consistency coupled with the unique removal that makes him feel like he’s more of a boon to the list than a hindrance.

Classic ice legend Locke makes its return, as any ice-based deck with even a splash of category VI is bound to do. I’m not sure if there’s too much to talk about here that hasn’t been said already – he’s a real good card that can put you ahead, and continue to put you ahead if left unanswered. We have a new Celes though, so I’ve been trialling that over our old Celes that usually gets paired up with Locke and while it doesn’t generate anything on enter, the pressure it can exert when it starts swinging feels amazing. Bouncing a Setzer or Cid for replay value while at the same time bouncing a forward to clear the way for her to swing through is huge or, if there’s nothing to bounce, the other two options serve just as well. A 3cp 9k isn’t too much special these days but hey, sometimes it’s enough to get the job done and still lets you dodge things like an EX for 8k.

Barthandelus (or Barth, or Bart) is an amazing ice legend that we got this set and while not category VI, it synergises really well with other cards, especially in water. Dealing damage minus 2k to two things allows for Ultros to kill two things on attack, or for you to follow up by playing a Cagnazzo outside of mono water to finish up the job. Schrodinger’s come in really handy for this little follow up, as well as the aforementioned Kefka fodder. My favourite thing about Barth, though, is how it essentially forces your opponent to play on-curve or be punished. When you’re in ice, disrupting your opponent’s hand and potentially ruining that curve, it allows you to just be able to press that advantage you have over your opponent just that little bit more.

For the light/dark considerations, I feel that Emperor Gestahl is the no-brainer first choice, since it’s removal and category support in one. With his break ability, you have the option of running a small dark engine, with Kam’lanaut and Chaos. I really like the feel of Raegen in this list, as he can be played nice off of the Emperor Gestahl and grab it back, or just recur some good VI forward, like that Kefka you’ve been saving your two Schrodinger’s for. While testing at first, I found it hard to find early game consistency with my 2cp backups, so I opted for a Chaos in the list as well. Later on, I have the option of using Raegen’s active to get it out of my hand, or chuck it down after disposing of a breakable backup. 

Ice/Water feels like a really versatile and strong combination that’s been blown open this set with the addition of Relm, moreso than all the others she has dug up. As with the Ninja deck above, maybe the answer isn’t to put a lacklustre earth engine in for the sake of making it tri-colour, but some things just can’t be helped in the face of new set hype.

In Closing

We hope you’re as excited for Opus 11 as we are, we’re having an absolute blast with it. This is by no means exhaustive of the decks in Opus 11 but hopefully covers a good jumping off point for a lot of different archetypes and gives you some new decks and ideas to try. There’s so much left to cover, there could be an entire article just as long about Relm alone. We’ll try to keep the content coming while the World’s locked down, until next time. Stay safe!