It’s always awesome to see all the familiar faces at Australian events and catch up with everyone from interstate, or different parts of Melbourne that I don’t get to see often. It’s always a good time to catch up and have fun, especially once the competition’s done. You can catch the top 8 decklists on FFDecks

Prepare well

My biggest misplay of the day was staying up too late testing the night before for an early rise and travel, 4 hours of sleep then a long day of travel and card games is a recipe for mistakes.

Plan well, eat well, rest well. Sounds simple right? You don’t want to make it to top cut and play the worst you do all day, because the top cut wont let you get away with small mistakes. They shouldn’t and neither should you.

Also try not to finalize your deck the day of, that’s a good idea too.

Trust your first instincts

Spoiler season is weird, some cards scream obvious things to you. Sometimes blind optimism can lead you to bad ideas (here’s to you, Lava Spider). There’s online discussions and podcasts, something might seem awesome/crazy/fun but you listen too much to what other people are thinking and get distracted by other ideas when the set drops.

People were telling me I’m silly for thinking Ice/Fire Fusoya Cloud+Dark Fina would be a thing for this set and I was pretty sure it sounded awesome, but I left it too late to explore, messing with some 30 odd other decks before testing what was definitely a good deck in Ice/Fire Category VI and without much time trying to adjust it for a Fusoya build.

It almost got me where I wanted and I’m happy with that result, even if I might not have seemed like it at the time (sorry Nathan <3).

A little on the deck itself

Shout outs to Chris and Brendon for talking through their lists with me throughout the event, it’s always awesome to see the different approaches people take and figure out where you went wrong. I’m glad we can all agree that Sabin and Duncan were the wrong way to take the deck at the very least.

I dropped Fusoya from my list the morning before the event on the car ride over, and my list still would have looked a lot worse than Chris’, I was at least on the right track for something good.

Unfortunately for Brendon he had to judge last minute and to all of our surprise Ice/Fire was only taken by both Chris and myself. My only loss in Swiss was last round to Chris. 100% winrate against other decks through Swiss is promising at the very least.

It’s really uniquely positioned in how it begins with a high pressure game that limits your opponents options (draws permitting) and can often just win with a nut draw. But it also transitions into a strong grindy list with big bombs like Cloud and Dark Fina.

I wasn’t expecting a lot of Earth at the event, but swiss saw me against two Noctis+Gladio opens, which might seem scary but puts you in a comfortable position to control your opponents options and pick apart the big dudes.

In hindsight Sephiroth was a terrible take for the event and was always among my riskier games, both in testing and on the day. There’s something to be said for simplifying the game state, but the opportunity cost of Sephiroth isn’t worth it and is only good when you’re ahead. The 1-of Duncan was the worst card in my deck and if you feel the need for a colour fix, any other fire 6 is better. He was in the list as a searchable answer for Zidane Turn 1, but that’s unnecessary. Sick mane tho.

Have a goal in mind

It can matter for what you take a lot and it’s the reason I took what I did. Nationals invite was top 4, the goal was a comfortable Swiss run and a Bo3 Win in Top Cut. I made it to Top Cut and probably hit the one pairing I didn’t want for Bo3, Daniel is a proven beast on Mono Wind and it’s a matchup I didn’t practice enough, but them’s the breaks. It was a pretty stacked event all around for Australia and any pairing would have it’s issues.

Don’t get me wrong, Ice/Fire can absolutely win events, but it does have consistency issues that haven’t been quite figured out yet, with time and development it surely improves and Chris’ list looks really good. He was also playing Mono fire Fusoya in some top cut games which is way less than ideal. I’ve played plenty of Mono Ice games with my own deck both in testing and on the day with a very different build running less fire in the range of 15-18 cards. Hell I’ve seen enough Mono fire starts at those ratios too. It’s tough but not something I know how to fix truth be told.

Try to predict what will be at the event

It’s always going to matter, but it’s different by timing. In an established meta, meta targeting can do a lot of the heavy lifting, a simple example for me was taking Ranger to Sydney where the expectation was a lot of Dadacac and Lightning.

In a new set most of the room is going to be on mono decks as they’re the quicker decks to solve and define the direction for the metagame in the initial stages. You probably know what to expect from a lot of players locally already, since everyone has their preferences.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

This is probably the biggest hurdle for me, I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself to perform and really, I’m the only one creating that pressure. Fortunately I’ve played enough of these kinds of events now where the nerves just disappear. If you’re at this point, whether it’s locals, regionals or bigger events I would definitely urge you to keep going, work past the nerves and just try to have fun.

You definitely don’t want to be results-orientated if you’re working through nerves at events and I can’t speak for everyone on this but it definitely gets easier the more you attend. If you go X-2 early at a competitive event, even if you feel terrible about it. Take 5, try to turn your mindset around and go have fun with the other people that probably can’t make top cut. The pressure is off at this point and hey, if you keep pushing you might just make it through winning each game from there and just make it through to top cut on tie breakers. Bonus, right?

I want to do well and I want to prove to myself that my prior results haven’t been just luck, because there’s been some pretty lucky breaks on my part. I know this is a terrible mindset to have and I’ll shake it one day. Even though variance is a significant part of the game, it’s something we all catch both the good and bad end of. Swings and roundabouts.

New sets are tough

Melbourne always seems to be among the first for events in a new set so it’s a good thing to improve on. Those events have been my first Regionals (Opus 4), Pulse Cup Grand Open (Opus 5), Worlds (Opus 7) and State Champs (Opus 8)

Now that I’ve experienced 4 competitive events after a set drops, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned that I’m just not as quick on the development and understanding on a new set as some of the killers and innovators we all know by name, at least not yet and that’s totally fine.

To be fair, I surprised myself with how well I predicted what to expect and probably landed on the loose basis for the first break-out deck for the set, but was unable to piece it together properly, so that’s pretty cool considering my really loose grasp of the set going into Worlds by comparison.

I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, especially with the help of Nathan Cross and Jared Wallace. I had 4 decks with me, the one I took and three mono decks. Probably unsurprisingly Water, Wind and Lightning.

For most of us, the real hurdle is getting enough exposure to the new interactions and deck archetypes as they crop up. There’s good reason why mono decks make up a majority of early events in a set and it’s the basis for any sets initial metagame.

With all of that said and done, don’t forget the immortal words of best judge AU Sam Connor:

“Remember the 3 rules of FFTCG:

  • Draw good
  • Don’t draw bad
  • Hit Exbursts”