Today, continuing our line of official FINAL FANTASY TRADING CARD GAME articles, we bring you an interview from eureka, the recent winner of the MASTERS2019 Yokohama tournament. We asked him not only about the Wind/Water deck he used at the event, but about the some of the differences between foreign and Japanese domestic players.
Hello! I’m the FFTCG player Taruho.
July marked the start of a new metagame, with the release of the new set Opus IX Lords & Chaos.
Not limited to the addition of new cards, the banning of the terror of Earth/Wind decks everywhere 4-085H Dadaluma was also projected to have a large impact on the tournament metagame.
In this new metagame, the winner of MASTERS2019 Yokohama was eureka, using a Wind/Water deck.
Today we interviewed eureka and asked him about his Wind/Water deck, tuned to control and aiming to win on deckout.
Player originally from America.
Plays mostly at Kamata in Tokyo.
Proficient in Japanese, even conducted today’s interview in Japanese.
Enjoys and often uses Ice, but doesn’t focus only on decks he likes, in order to be flexible at events. Favorite Final Fantasy game in the series is Final Fantasy III.
◆Prevent the opponent from winning rather than winning outright. A Wind/Water specializing in Control
――Congratulations on your victory.
eureka：Thank you very much.
――Given that it was the first large event after Opus IX release, expectations were pretty high for MASTERS Yokohama. The deck you won with was Wind/Water, opting for the strategy often referred to as “deckout.” I’d like to ask about your experience with the strategy and about building the deck.
eureka：The thing I thought about most while making the deck was “specialize in control elements”. The basic concept was not to make a situation in which ‘I win’, but rather to make one in which ‘the opponent can’t win.’ Of course, the reason you win in the end is almost always your opponent running out of cards in deck, so proactively milling your opponent’s cards is not a high priority; the opponent reaching deckout is ultimately nothing more than the result of continuously controlling the game.
――Essentially, the deck is not a “mill deck,” so to speak, but a control deck. In card games it’s often thought that aggressive decks are more powerful in early formats, but at this particular event you won with a control deck. How did you figure the tournament metagame would look after Opus IX’s release?
eureka：The first important change coming from the previous meta was the banning of 4-085H Dadaluma. The banning means that the deck primarily using Dadaluma in combination with 4-058C Cactuar as a win condition in certain matchups, Earth/Wind, needed serious reconsideration and lots of testing to see a resurgence. This meant that there would not be a lot of people using it at an event so soon after Opus IX launch, or so I thought.
With Earth/Wind losing popularity, I figured cards particularly powerful against defensive strategies such as 1-088C Archer and 3-056H Zidane would see less play overall, and aggressive elements good at removing Forwards while developing their own and maintaining a board like Fire and Lightning would be more popular. I started developing the deck thinking along the lines of taking the opposite approach, that if I could create a deck that could maintain control of the game I would have a good matchup against most of the field.
The deck originally started with an Earth/Wind base, using 5-163S Urianger to recur 5-071R Leyak and play defensively with 1-089H Rikku to close out games as previous deckout strategies had utilized. I also used 9-115R Porom and 9-113H Famfrit as Water cards for an Earth/Wind/Water styled archetype.
However, as I continued iterating on the deck, 9-115R Porom turned out to offer more than enough Summon recursion. This meant I didn’t have to rely on 6-064H Ajido Marujido as much. In addition, the inclusion of 2-049H Asura gave me another way to recur 5-071R Leyak, and I ended up dropping Earth and arrived at a Wind/Water archetype.
Wind/Water Control（「MASTERS2019」Yokohama：1st Place）
|Card No.||Card Name||Copies|
|8-136L||Veritas of the Dark||1|
|9-114C||Cuchulainn, the Impure||1|
|3-123R||Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud||3|
――Looking over the decklist with 14 Forward and 17 Summons, it looks much more highly weighted towards Summons compared to normal decks. I’m sure each Forward decision was weighted very heavily; could you tell me a bit about why you chose each one?
eureka：Following the thinking that Fire, Lightning, and Ice would be more popular going into the event, elements which have relatively strong removal, I figured that it would be advantageous to avoid playing Forwards in the first place, which is why there are so few in the list. Of course, it’s not as though I could avoid playing them entirely, so I opted to only play Forwards that didn’t incur a loss when removed.
Going into each card individually, 9-115R Porom can be thought of as one of this deck’s key cards.
The deck tries to maintain a stalemate situation with the opponent, and use 3-123R Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud and 9-113H Famfrit to gain advantage when the opponent tries to push aggression.
Simply using Porom to recur these powerful Summons and eliminate the opponent’s aggression is strong, and if the opponent opts to play slowly I can loop Porom with 2-049H Asura to buy time.
Using 9-115R Porom to block and recur Summons is one of the primary pivots of the deck, and shuts down a lot of aggression outright.
Because of that, I’m able to use most of the other slots to support this strategy or gain advantages through ways besides Summon recursion.
3-056H Zidane takes away the opponent’s possible plays , while 1-199S Paine and 2-063R Paine are used to access cards outside of Summons and setup for the rest of the game.
8-060L Fina and 8-136L Veritas of the Dark are primarily used to stop opposing development and reset the board.
8-060L Fina is primarily slotted to provide a way to deal with fast opposing Forwards which are tough or disadvantageous to remove, cards like 6-126R Leila and 4-133C Viking which come out before the deck can reliably set up a defense. The card can also be combined with 1-198S Valefor to deal 8000 damage to the opposing board while leaving a 9000 Power body that the opponent has to deal with.
8-136L Veritas of the Dark was primarily chosen as a good way of dealing with opposing 8-136L Veritas of the Dark.
Explaining that a little more fully, because I have so few Forwards in the deck, if I use 3-123R Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud to clear an opposing 8-136L Veritas of the Dark, I will almost always have to put a Backup into the Break Zone. This comes up pretty often.
As a better response to that situation, I use my own 8-136L Veritas of the Dark to clean up my opponents, and put my own 8-136L Veritas of the Dark in the Break Zone while my opponent’s second effect resolves. As a result, I’m able to take an opposing Backup while avoiding removing my own.
――In the Summon slot there are also some cards with a lower count, like 8-046R Alexander and 9-114C Cuchulainn, the Impure.
eureka：In terms of Summons, the key cards of the deck 3-123R Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud and 9-113H Famfrit and cards that are used in combo removal or too powerful to pass up like 5-062L Diabolos and 1-198S Valefor are played at the maximum number of copies. 8-046R Alexander was originally played as a one-of, but I ended up playing an extra as a way to be more prepared against discard-oriented strategies.
――Using 8-046R Alexander against strategies must mean mostly against 7-034L Sephiroth, if I’m not mistaken.
eureka：Exactly. If an opponent going first plays a Backup turn 1, and I play two going second, 8-046R Alexander is a great way to counter an opposing turn 2 7-034L Sephiroth which could otherwise put me on the back foot, and behind in development depending on draws.
The leaves the opponent on one backup and two cards in hand, while I have two backups and draw two fresh cards off the top, leaving me in a position I would consider favorable, especially going second.
Practicing before the event I felt that, given how many aggressive decks would be coming in, being able to make this sort of play more consistently would be very important. In the end I decided to put two copies in the deck. As a nice secondary point, the card can also break 1-176H Yuna, which turns off 9-115R Porom and summon recycling.
9-114C Cuchulainn, the Impure was originally a 7-119H Halicarnassus, as Water Forward with removal elements, but the low cost, EX Burst, and ability to be recycled with 9-115R Porom made it a better fit for the deck overall.
――5-071R Leyak being recurred was one of the original thoughts behind the deck, but what are the strengths of doing so?
eureka：Because the deck was designed with defense in mind, being able to play Summons on your opponent’s turn is very important.
5-071R Leyak activates your Backups when your opponent attacks, meaning that it’s usually safe to tap your Backups and play efficiently on your turn while still maintaining the ability to defend properly on your opponent’s turn. Because it has such a strong affinity with the ability to control the flow of the game, I knew that I wanted to be able to recur 5-071R Leyak in some way, this time ending up on 2-049H Asura.
――Next I’d like to ask you a bit about your Backup choices. There are a number of things about the cards you chose and number of each that stick out from standard Wind/Water lists up until this point; for example, you have three copies of 6-047C White Mage, is there something Break Zone-related that led you to this decision?
eureka：6-047C White Mage was chosen as three-of because of it’s potency against Forwards like 9-056H The Magus Sisters, 1-093H Vanille, 8-071H Undead Princess, and 9-036H Ghost, which all have a form of resistance to the deck’s primary removal. It can also prevent annoying cards like 7-129H Galdes and, in the mirror, 9-115R Porom, from being recycled.
――5-055C Thief also feels like a pretty rare card to see in standard constructed nowadays.
eureka：At the beginning I had two copies of 1-088C Archer, but given how little Wind/Water was played here (meaning fewer mirror matches) and the infrequency of opposing Backup destruction, I decided that 5-055C Thief would be a better fit for the deck given that it lent itself to the “restricting the opponent’s action” approach I had chosen and did it better than the second alternative I was debating on, 3-070C Oracle.
――Certain Water Backups such as 4-136C Summoner also seem quite refined.
eureka：4-136C Summoner is mostly in the deck as a clean way to hedge against potential copies of 9-068H Mist Dragon, which was also just released with the new set.
――To avoid having your Break Zone removed, you mean?
eureka：That’s a small part of it, but the much more important bit is to avoid having the effect of 5-062L Diabolos cancelled. 5-062L Diabolos is a powerful card and often critical, and having its ability cancelled can create a gaping hole in the strategy.
When my opponent was playing Earth and I could afford to do so, I would often leave up 4-136C Summoner to be prepared for 9-068H Mist Dragon. It’s also effective against other strong 3CP and under Summons such as 5-032H Glasya Labolas, and I think it’ll continue to rise in value going forward.
This has been an interview with your Masters2019 Yokohama Tournament champion eureka.
Whether it be about the concept of teams or card evaluation, the different ways of approaching and playing FFTCG in regions across the globe was a very interesting interview for me, as I look to head to Crystal Cups and possibly Worlds this year.
Eureka will continue playing in Japan, and it’ll be interesting to see what impact he has on the FFTCG in the future. Definitely a player to keep your eyes on.
The Opus IX tournament metagame has started off with a brand new style of deck, but who knows what the future has in store.
Let us meet again at the next article!
◆American team ideals and Japanese card evaluation. Asking about the secret to hybrid strength
――eureka, I know you’re from America originally, but when did you start playing FFTCG?
eureka：One of my friends introduced and got me hooked on FFTCG while I was still in America. I’ve been in trading card games and have played in quite a few titles over the years, but I was surprised at how much I liked FFTCG upon trying it, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that I liked the FF series beforehand as well
――I don’t really know much about the card game scene abroad myself, is it much different from the one in Japan?
eureka：In most of America the distance to a local card shop is usually pretty far, and you have to go out of your way to participate in events most of the time. At the launch of Opus I there was little product and very few players, and those who would gather are usually participating in events for other card games on their days off. I would usually participate in the weekly FFTCG at my local store on Mondays, and play online most other days.
――And so you’ve continued to play since coming to Japan.
eureka：I came to Japan for work, and originally was located in Karuizawa in the Nagano prefecture, where there is essentially nowhere to play. As such, I’ve only really been able to play since I changed jobs and moved to Tokyo. Since then I’ve mostly been playing around Kamata, which is close to where I live.
――I see here that you participated with the deck name “Team Flat Jeff”. Is this the name of the team you’re a part of?
eureka：Our team is called “Team Flat Earth”. I have a teammate named Jeff, and I decided to mash it up with the team name for this event’s deck name.
――This sort of thing isn’t limited to FFTCG, but sometimes hobby groups refer to their communities as <Area Name>-zei. Something like that?
eureka：Acting closely with one another is a similar point, but the kind of team I’m referring to is much more closely related with the game’s competition. There are seven people on our team, about half of them in Australia and the rest scattered throughout the globe. I’m the only in Japan.
――What do you mean by “the game’s competition”?
eureka：This is something I’ve come to feel since coming to Japan, but a lot of Japanese players are very reserved and hold back when talking about the game with other players. Of course, that isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that it’s much harder to get someone’s actual thoughts and opinions about anything out from them.
As a quick example, if I asked someone from my team a question like “do you think this card is strong?” or “do you think this archetype is good?” I can expect to get straight and informed answer from them. I can bounce my thoughts off of their experiences and opinions, and get feedback on my decks and playing. Of course, this leads to disagreements sometimes, but those are never born out of negative emotions and are well worth having an echo chamber so valuable. We all trust each other.
――Because you get along so well, you’re able to say everything upfront. How does this impact things like deckbuilding for you?
eureka：Everyone on the team has their strengths, like being really good at limited (tl note: love you Jeff), being particularly good at certain elements, or things like that. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can just limit ourselves to what we’re good at, as players. I played Wind/Water this event, but I’m actually much better at developing Ice. I’m able to build off of the knowledge and experience of other players and use my time more effectively; I think that’s the real “competitive game” advantage of being part of a team.
――From your point of view, what do you think the differences are between foreign and Japanese players?
eureka：I think there’s a fairly large difference in how they evaluate cards. Japanese players tend to look at things from a cost perspective while foreign players tend to look at things from a performance perspective.
Reaching way back to Opus III, 2-097H Al-Cid was a widely popular and very powerful card, and as a result a lot of Japanese players tended to play cards and decks that didn’t incur a large loss when 2-097H Al-Cid was played against them.
On the flip side of things, a lot of foreign players widely disregarded the strength of meta cards and played cards weak to it, such as 2-147L The Emperor. It wasn’t uncommon to come across decks attempting lockdown strategies with 2-3 copies of him. Of course, given the right circumstances 2-147L The Emperor was a very powerful card, but it’s glaring weakness to 2-097H Al-Cid made it a tough choice to play. That didn’t prevent it from being played abroad, though.
Of course, this is just a correlation, and there are players whose styles aren’t accurately reflected by this, but as a general principle I think it is safe to say that attention to metagame vs concentrating on your own deck’s synergies during deckbuilding is one difference between Japanese and foreign players, at least to a certain degree.
――Looking at things from that angle, the kind of Wind/Water deck you took might be considered more a Japanese-style of deck.
eureka：Yeah, I think so. I tend to relate to Japanese players’ style of thinking for the most part. One of the players I look up to the most is novel. in a previous interview he mentioned that in tournaments with more rounds it’s more favorable to narrow your deck down to 70~80% power that you can draw on consistently rather than have explosive power that you can only draw on some of the time, even if most of the time is a slight majority. I strongly agree with him, and you can see that reflected in my deck here.
Novel has moved on to working on the game’s development team at Hobby Japan so I don’t think I’ll be able to play him much, but I hope to get the chance at Gunslinger sometime.
Cid, who I played against in the finals also had a very cool deck, and I’ve historically played a lot of stuff he’s built. I also feel like my playing is very similar to Kakka in terms of lines we take and speed of play, so I would say that I’ve been pretty strongly influenced by Japanese players.
――I see. Well then, do you have any closing comments?
eureka：This time I was able to win with a deck I thought up on my own, and I’m really proud of that. I hope to be able to keep thinking creatively, practice hard, and have fun playing FFTCG while continuing to put up results!
――Thank you very much.