Prepare for trouble!
And make it double!
Now this post is about a deck archetype that I’ve playtested the last month – but we’ll start with defining the meta which is the reason behind it all.
Meta is what we define what people play most. The strongest things we’ll see a lot of. What we think we’ll meet the next time we play so we can prepare against it now. But how does one go about defining and defeating meta? When there is a meta, there will be anti-meta to defeat it. This means that the actual meta is the anti-meta in which case there is an anti-anti-meta to defeat the anti-meta. To play around this we need anti-anti-anti-meta. But this gets too complex in the end and we can never actually KNOW for sure what we’ll face so any attempt at countering meta could just be called anti-meta and we assume that we understand the concept of trying to defeat what we think the best, most probably and most competitive cards available.
While incredibly complex to counter every popular card, we can make things easier by blanketing effects and generalize card types to make it easier to calculate what’s good against it. We don’t have to think about how to counter every single card in the entire game either but only the most annoying and meta-defining effects and picking things that don’t have too many glaring weaknesses. These different FF TCG cards/combos/archetypes are what I’d call current meta:
- Midrange [higher cost curve, some early cards survive transition to mid and late game well]
- Rush [low cost curve, haste, unblockable, tempospells]
- Removal [Bounce]
- Removal [Break]
- Minwu + ~8-9k+ bodies
- Passive control: Terra/Juja/Summoner/Time-Mage and more
These are the things every deck must clear right now because these are what mechanics I call “Meta” at the moment. With these assumptions made one must consider what anti-meta would be. The most consistent way to get around most of these while not leaving too many glaring holes in the armour.
Sephiroth is a perfect example of a card that counters many things, he has a great on-play effect and is strong overall. But Sephiroth is often a terrible choice anyway. He’s an amazing card that can really shut people down completely and end the game in your favor by just making his appearance. And killing Minwu while at it for bonus points. Great. But then the opponent could have Leviathan, Yuna Ex, Shiva, Mustadio, Odin, Alexander and all sorts of cards that just makes Sephiroth and the 8 cost investment vanish before he can even block an attack. Can’t even discard him for CP. Hence Sephiroth is usually an inconsistent play. But wow, isn’t he just amazingly powerful? Sure, as long as you can discard him if you need. Perfect if you have more backup removal as well to easily win a war of attrition! Maybe this isn’t the way to win, but for some decks it might be a great tool if this is just what’s missing. A sudden sharp edge.
But on topic, Sephiroth is a big risk with many weaknesses. Not exactly what I’m aiming for here. To more carefully define what we ARE looking for here I want cards that avoid most risks.
Defining our consistency goals is difficult but is about generalizing what a card should be in my head.
- Easy to play, shouldn’t require finding a lot of stuff to work nor too many synergies that creates weaknesses
- Low enough cost curve to have a plethora of early game options
- Good transition to mid and late game.
- Being able to make many reactive plays that messes with their attacks and defenses so they are scared. The feeling that we can do more changes in this subphase.
- Should be able to sometimes counter big plays like Omnislash & Odin, but not rely completely on it
So ~3ish costed cards, with decent/great abilities with preferably relevant powerlevels like 7k-10k range. Without big drawbacks or requirements. Sounds easy… X(
So with Meta and a few consistency goals in mind. Here are some examples of what I’d call Anti-Meta summarized as tactical or strategic choices.
|Removal (7cost Odin/Alexander/Gilgamesh/Omnislash)||Low cost or great on play effects reduce effectiveness of removal|
|Bounce/Leviathan||Low cost or great on play effects reduce effectiveness of removal|
|Loads of removal aimed at forwards||Spending more on backups that strengthens your hold of the game makes sense|
|Dull/freeze||Reactivates are amazing! But brave can help somewhat too. Multiple cards > few expensive cards|
|Minwu||To combat Minwu we need a way to deal with Backups. Preferably a way to deal with certain 3-4 cost ones aswell.|
|Rush decks||Rush decks revolve around using the big portion of start resources for attack. Stabilize by playing 2-3 cheap forwards. As rush often use dull, reactivates are key.|
|Superfriends 9k+||All decks must be able to handle 9k drops. While preferably being cheaper. Squall and many 9k+ characters aswell as sylph assists a lot with this, while freeze/dull often help us deal with what we can’t deal with.|
|Unblockable cards like Zidane/Yuffie/red mage||A bunch of 2-3 cost units and it’s normally very easy. Lann is more difficult!|
So how about we stack power on cheap units? This way we have a low cost curve for a good early game and a great midgame because of the powerspikes and synergies. Keep a near monocolor for consistency in type of cards drawn. And great cost efficience in transition to the late game! With wind as backup we also have a really great counter to both Ice decks and most big removals and several other plays as a base to found our decks on.
Putting theories into practise
- Freeze & dull is the most common meta atm
- Double buffing and then sylph adds ridiculous power to 2-4 cost creatures – they are easily 8-10k and with great effects.
- In the mid and late game your 2-4costs matches your opponents 4-6 costs.
- With low cost curve, but great mid and late game viability, cheap forwards really are flexible.
- Wind provides several great outs that each of them destroy Snow
- On a lower cost curve deck, removals are not as effective
- Most amazing (S) effects and removals can be countered by Aerith. For literally one card. And it also reactivates all forwards. It’s also free to play.
- Huge power on cheap creatures is kind of broken
- Spending resources on our backrow is great as meta usually isn’t about destroying all of our backups. Note that even if they’d do, they’d have to remove 7-8 of them to shut us down, which isn’t realistic atm unless earth/wind with dark Sephiroth. With 6x +1k boosters the opponent will be hard pressed to even remove half of those.
- Near mono-color for consistency
- Will be stronger and stronger in the future because of better more in-colour cards
So we get strong units for cheap. What’s the downside? Well it’s that Opus one doesn’t really have a whole lot of each color so we have to pick a few a bit too vanilla cards. All the same, being vanilla means power is high! And that is consistency. I mean. 3 cost for 9k? Delita is jeallous of us right now, having to kill a break a friend for that kind of power.
The interesting here is that this strategy really works with all colours, except for wind for obvious reasons. I’ve playtested it against all types of meta lists and they perform consistently. They don’t always win but just using the same concept feels powerful and it’s relatively difficult to deal with for all meta matchups. Superfriends types of decks are the most difficult to deal with, but the lost cost curve usually let’s us stay ahead. But each colour is very different. Note that we usually play out the matches like a midrange type of deck. We are strong late game, and ramp up early. The low cost curve makes sure we do not lose to agression. And all characters should be playable from any game turn if needed – so like 1-2x 5-6cost drops at the most is preferred. The midrange part comes from all cards getting their power during mid game and keep that power for the late game.
Note that these aren’t all well tried and true, but thoroughly thought through each one to give each one of them win conditions on top of a very consistent base. These are skeletons to prove as examples of what could be done. All decks have to be adapted to local meta aswell. So they aren’t final, perfect nor amazing. But I’ve playtested them all and really enjoyed playing with this archetype of deck – knowing that it’ll only become stronger once the cardpool is bigger so we don’t have to run non-top tier cards.
Imagine a deck with +2k power boost where all cards were like Firion, Squall L, Cloud (L), Gilgamesh, Terra or Kuja. That is terrifying indeed. And it’ll happen in a set or two. For now we’ll have to settle with for example 9k knight for 3cost, or 8k Leila with on-hit draw. Or why not Knight (1) with potential of being 8k with first strike? 9k with Sylph. They are just here to fill out – but still present a clear opportunity. So many hillarious possibilities if we push this to the limits.
What kind of fun deck would you make with this type of monochromatic abberation? 😀