The trip got a really odd start when my ticket was nowhere to be found and I was called to the security for some questions. Aparently this was not a valid ticket, but there was a Gustav Borg in the first class. Well don’t mind if I do..? I proceeded to the VIP lounge to see how that was. Enjoyed drinks there for a while and then kept moving. Couldn’t dawdle all day!
I arrived to London a few hours later and my mates who were already there as they entered into another TCG tournament in London that very same weekend. They had prepared and gave me a warm welcome when I arrived \o/
My friends Joel, Pontus and Alexander joined me and we really had an amazing time in London. Joel who is joining me on my streaming tagged along though there was no spot left in the tournament for him unfortunately. Still, he got to enter after a while as people did not turn up and we had a great time!
We finally got to the event and got a lot of interesting information about what current state of the game, the project overall, the design and future goals and ambitions. The information on the OP program was a bit lacking but we got tidbits of it. So here’s what I gathered and what we did during the Square Enix FF TCG world first official event outside of Japan.
The view from the way we arrived. Our first sight of the tall glass building with the odd non-rectangular shape – with the Square Enix office towering above most other buildings. Nothing more than proper!
Organized Play programme – OP!
- Communication starts these next few weeks
- There will be support for local gaming stores that are signing up for it.
- Certain requirements have to be met and you have to apply for it actively.
- This OP program will involve prize support. Sephiroth for starters it seems. The foil version will be kept “exclusive” but available (unclear).
- There will be a league with player rankings (Opus 2 in timing roughly it would seem)
- There will be a comprehensive set of rules soon (TM). But most questions are answered atm, with few bit unclear exceptions and advanced scenarios.
The Square Enix Headquarters are located near the center of London in beautiful glass building. We queued up and were allowed entry to the 12th floor together with authorized personnel after signing an NDA agreement. We were welcomed by the FF TCG team of 4 people and some extra personel working for the event. Everyone was really nice and I’ve never been so well greeted on a sales nor tournament event. It felt like we were part of creating something together. Uniting beneath the banner of Final Fantasy. Cheesy, but it felt really good. If they ever host an event, if you don’t sign up and attempt to participate you are missing out on something great.
The merchandise included a whole bunch of different figurines, plushies, some booster boxes and all sorts of cool stuff from the FF store and some more exclusive and rare products. I bought the amazing true silver ring, the ring of the Lucii. Those who know me will know that I always wear a necklace and always were bracers/armbands of some sort on my wrists so this one really fit me as my old necklace is a bit worn. I also picked up a Noctis figurine aswell as two of the beautiful Cloud & Sephiroth playmats for me and my twin brother as a christmas gift. Well. I didn’t come here to just look around! Money well spent \o/
There was snacks and some food available. Anything at all on the venue is great and this was much appreciated. There was some cold soft drinks aswell. Some energy inbetween matches is always great. But they were bit close to my cards! Scary. All the same. I’m happy they thought about us. If anything it got a bit hot in there but that’s not too strange considering that were were something like a hundred people in that office!
Tournament rules for this event:
- Relaxed rulings for this event, nearly no rule charges for small rule errors or mistakes.
- 50 card deck
- No side board allowed
- No deck changes at any point in the tournament
- Double-sleeves allowed, but we’re to use common sense when it comes to sleeves. Keep them identical and don’t quintuple-sleeve.
- Best of 1 for this event.
- 6 rounds swiss, no top cuts or finals at this event.
- Roll for lead player
- Lead player picks who start the game
- 30 minutes timer
- Time means you finished the the active players turn and play another 3 turns. Active is player 1 in this example. Player one finishes the active turn, then player 2 plays a turn, then player 1 again, then player 2. If not finished at that point it’s a double loss.
The tournament was really a lot of fun. While Bo1 isn’t optimal in all scenarios, it worked out alright and we finished in less than a day and we all got to face several different players. That’s fine. For a first event we had a lot of fun and it felt really solid for a young first set TCG!
The winner today was Joe. A good guy working for the community. Helping us with spreading the love for this TCG which it desperately needs as Square have not been doing the marketing and pr that well early on. The game was a stealthy release so we need work on social medias. They focused on the product instead. Perhaps that’s good, as supply was hardly enough despite that. They have promised that this will be way better for the next release and claim that the biggest problem now was that the company saw this as a big risk considering how other Japanese TCGs have entered the west world only to fall apart with a year or three and be a huge net loss. Spending more on PR would have increased demand aswell as reducing the total budget for other things – and I know Fabian atleast is working overtime to get this going and probably the rest of their team too. They are struggling to make this work and it seems like they are doing really well now – perhaps enough to increase the team size soon which would make things smoother for the future.
We are more interested in the judge & op programme coming up though but for the final information on that will have to wait I’m afraid 🙁
1st place was Joe with a solid Ultimecia-control (Earth/Water/Cloud) with Ultimecia – revolving around the Ultimecia effect of having an extra turn to deal with your opponents drops before they can even assist with defending or attacking – thus giving a long time to deal with the drops aswell as a potential mid/lategame tempo. While Cloud of Darkness or Shantotto would hurt, and Alexander on Ultimecia hurts – he seemed to do really fine today and the deck proved to be difficult to interpret and counter during a Bo1! Joe is a quick-witted player and he always smiles, so he’s a good winner in my book.
2nd place went to Daniel Birch of which I was not able to talk to, and we never played. If someone could inform me closer about his deck type, elements and similar it would be great. Daniel scored the same ammount of victories as Joe but got fewer points on the tie-breaker as the beaten opponents relative score and performance counts in on the points.
3rd place went to a Lightning & Fire deck piloted by Alexandre Nolasco. A lot of control and removal and with Garland and Jecht it felt like a midrange/control deck type. The picture below was taken after the match and shows his deck. Overall he never used Army of One but secured a victory with the Odin search from the Lightning L. Seymour was his personal favorite card that did heavy lifting in most matches and he never really played Lebreau much – but felt the use of it frequently. While Gadot wasn’t his hero, it often helped with blocking a damage while playing a tifa or warrior of light that actually perform. He won his game against Joe and remained the only one to actually do that during the entire tournament.
Overall we saw a loooooooot of 5-6 cost drops. Very high cost curves with a few cheaper units to deter early agression. A lot of ice counters and a lot of Lightning counters. I wish I kept my third alexander – it would have been used a lot!
Everyone got a Sephiroth promo-card and all attendees that scored top 20 got a foil version of this exclusive card. It (the nonfoil version) will be available for everyone soon (TM) when the OP programme starts while the foil version will be kept exclusive and rare – but still available. Maybe only to winners or rare on events. We do not know atm.
I got a few of my best cards signed today by Kageyama-san, and my Sephiroth-promo is now acompanied by another two for a full playset! It’s time for a backup annihilator deck that I will stream, play and deck profile in the coming week. They are placed on top of my friend Joel’s signed playmat, hence it’s his name there! 🙂
Question is.. I have two really great ideas for how to get the backup destruction to really work out while not dying. Spending resources in killing backups isn’t exactly fool-proof. I think this card will impact the meta somewhat – together with the anti-minwu meta I think we’ll see a few more cheap backups aswell as way more backups with great On-play effects that we really don’t want to bounce nor kill as we risk facing another copy. Seymour, Mustadio, Yuna Ex are great examples. With so many great targets, breaking backups is something that everyone might need or risk losing to for example Minwu, Maria, Aerith, Lulu (H) etc. But Sephiroth is not for everyone and there are clear counters to these tap-cost (S) effects. Shiva, Odin, Leviathan, Ultimecia+add, Freezes and other cards really help.
I spent a lot of time talking to Kageyama-san and Fabian who work and develop this card game. I heard about visions, ideas, goals and all sorts of fun things. I’ll write a bit about it here and I know Joe will post a great youtube video about this, I’ve seen some of what he recorded and there is a lot of interesting stuff coming so check him out! He’s easy enough to find in this community ^^
Opus 2 Spoilers
As the beautiful, maybe final, box art shows – figurine version Squall is making an appearance. But how is yet to unfold. We’ve had promises of VIII, IX, XII and XV incoming but here are the first spoilers of the next set containing cards marked IV, VIII, XII and XIV! Fabian told me in a short interview that Opus 2 is focused on 8, 12 and 14 as a base so we’re all exited to see what’s to come. Here are the cards that were shown live during the London event:
Raubahn is looking really great. On play for control decks or decks with something like a Delita or similar. Get a backup and kill something! Great in combination with high power forwards. Overall pretty great for earth. Golem and similar stacks with this is done at the right timing. So play and respond with using Keffka or Golem to boost power to enough power. Being an Ex is just icing on the cake. A really great card!
Porom indicates that Palom will also be released in the next set. The (S) effect is alright and proves a strong synergy inbetween her and her synergy card. Tapping that card aswell. That can be a problem but it’s 8k burn, this will be useful sometimes. Note the on-play effect which is amazing. If you bounce her in somehow from Break Zone or similar – you get a free bounce on top of the character. And as we’ll want to keep the both in play for maximum synergy we might play cards like devout to keep them in play and bounce back for a bounce aswell as getting the card back. Overall an interesting card but the synergy doesn’t seem incredible. I doubt there will be 2 different Porom and Palom in the next set anyway which will further reduce their specials potential. Still, an (S) ability that works together with another card to cast a spell! That’s a bit new. The on play NOT from hand effect is also a new type of mechanic that will create new ideas in decks. Perhaps we’ll get more of these bounce cards other than devout? It sure feels like or it’s locked primarily to ice as devout is currently the best way to trigger it, I reckon.
Moomba. This one is nice! 2cost and Ex! Preferably combined with Dancers, ifrits, valefor (2), just any first strike for a great effect. Really cool way if you want to remove big characters but don’t fancy cards like Alexander that usually doesn’t work. Ysh’tola! Firion! Terra (R), Magus, Rygdea, Cid Raines. Loads of interesting opportunities for profiting here!
Seifer is a another FF8 character with synergies. Edea is aparently included in the set. The cost 2 or less breaker spell is really kind of cool for a character who does not really need it to still have some power and potential. The (S) effect could really be helpful against a Golbez deck, but on a more serious note, Tifas, Snows, Zidanes, Yuffies, Yshtola, Red XIII, Gadot, Onion Knight and other reasonably common cards that might be in the way. Perhaps if we field Yuffie and clear the way with this card?
Basch is yet another synergy card that risks playing into a 2 for 1 odin-assisted blocker but this one packs a punch. Let’s not play Bahamut. Let’s just play with dude with synergies and go baoom suddenly go boom. This is an instant win condition but then again.. it is expensive and requires 3 red which is a little bit difficult. Would recommend a majority of red cards in the deck and 2-3 red backups. BASH IS MY FAVORITE CARD EVER. I’m dropping bahamut for this and I’ll play Serafie or sage. Let’s go! Even if Ashe is a terrible card I’d play Basch.
Fran!!! I always wanted a Fran and this one further adds to the Sky Pirates I foresee. Perhaps we’ll get more Sky Pirates and some proper synergy cards? We have a couple of them so some synergies and we could just see them turning up. Fran isn’t all that bad – A 2 cost that adds to Balthier’s power. If now just Balthier is a good card – this can be useful. Perhaps a snow-serah type of relationship where the extra 1k power really can do something. Always keep in mind that
We see that way more synergy cards are coming and mostly FF IV, VIII, XII cards at the moment! I think these will be the biggest “universes” for the next set but there will be a few of each ff game as usually I’m guessing. We will not receive 3 new starter decks for this set, that is also set in stone. Square sais themselves that they’ll keep starter decks to a minimum and keep supplying full playsets of each S-exclusive card. We’ve also heard about FFIX and XV being on the to do list though we have little information and no spoilers to go on as of yet!
I’ll check the material from the interview and the rest of the information we got on site. Most of it recorded. I’ll summarize all the key points and the interesting facts will be posted in a separate post soon! But for now. Sleep. 4h the night until the tournament and little more the night before. Have some catching up to do!
Information from the developers we received
I talked to Fabian a lot during the event and we talked about this release, the future, Opus 2, the future of the game and more.
- 4 People total at the moment but they hope to grow in the future.
- Kageyama-san – developer. Comes from Japan and he often assists the community with rules and help make the game great.
- Fabian will continue to be the face outwards in the european community. Charismatic and intelligent guy who’ll do great in his role I believe.
- The remaining two in the team I’ve less information on but I’ll come back to that at some point.
- A judge programme is promised.
- Less complex and not as long. No 5 levels of judges required to get proper ruled matches – and it’ll stay like this.
Current focus and direction:
- Focus at the moment is sorting out supply-lines and preparing for Opus 2 so we see a better release.
- OP program is high priority.
- The game is mainly localized in the EU as a base.
- USA is not forgotten. It’s just the basing that will be in EU for this game – this does not mean future releases will be delayed to the US but the popularity in the US was vastly bigger than anticipated and many problems occurred that ended up severely delaying and damaging the release. Improvement is promised and the prospects for Opus 2 looks better.
- As far as we know at the moment there will be no differences about OP programs or availabilities US vs EU in the future.
- OP program and different language cards is a bit unclear at the moment.
- It’s also unclear if we are allowed to enter other regional competitions than our own.
Release problems and future release prospects
- The company took a big risk in this release considering other Japanese TCG releases that have come to the west recently
- The game was a much bigger hit than expected. Budget is likely to increase vastly in the future which might or might not include increased budget to PR and original art I hope.
- Supply routes have been established and suppliers will receive more communication and supply. This had to be established and tested as a sort of crash-course which ended up leading to some issues.
- Establishing supply lines with import laws, administration and a lot of other things made it more difficult than expected and there were unforseen issues causing the release in the US in particular but also other countries to be more complex to keep within the time-frame than expected. They were really sorry about this and knows that a large portion of the playerbase will be located in the US. Knowing this, they promised that there will be clear improvement now that the market is better known and routines & supply lines are set up.
- Supply was too low and a huge increase in supply scale had to be applied which delayed more than could be guessed. This comes back to the risk part. You cannot produce ten or twenty times more of a product than you think you can guarantee is going to sell. And that’s what happened here. We broke the limits. Limit Breaking is thematic isn’t it? 🙂
Future Opus releases:
- Fabian promised that future releases are going to be good stuff! 😀
- They will keep adding a lot of depth over time. Opus 2 already is adding a LOT more depth and possibilities that aid deck building with synergies and more varied cross-color combinations. This is the idea to supply a large variety to keep the game interesting and matchups exciting and not so dependant on knowing what you face the moment you see the first card played.
- Future releases are likely to add new mechanics. But most likely a few at the time.
- The game doesn’t stop here. It will evolve. It will not only release new cards and cycle out the old ones to get you to buy the product.
- Card examples that Fabian exclusively have seen have caused Fabian to ask a lot of advanced ruling questions to Kageyama-san which makes me think we’ll get more new mechanics and effects that affect the base game rules? Perhaps new types of synergies or game mechanics. Note that no erratas are mentioned but advanced rulings and card-to-card interaction.
- Maybe 2 starters every other release or similar
- 3 copies of all starter exclusives in a starter so it’s no 4-of required here unlike certain other games! We love this <3
- Focus on booster sets as this sort of killed a bit of the old games releases. This is a mistake that was learnt from and will be kept thematic and to a minimum. So Opus 3 might be another 2 starters? We’ll see. No specifics there yet!
Game genre and type compared to other TCG’s:
- The game will be sort of a hybrid. It’s not to be so serious as magic for starters
- Events will take place on several different levels as to include beginners and casual players while still catering to the competitive scene
- A more clear and simple Judge programme so it’s not 5 different judge levels needed and long educations and problems to get things going with proper ruled matches.
Some poeple just really made the day a lot better. The atmosphere was great overall and I talked to so many people into this game as much as me or more.
- Michael Cheung for being a really nice person. 10/10 would trust this guy with my life if ever needed. Kind and dependable despite us being strangers.
- Mooga Wooga for being such a cheerful chap with a great laugh. Just makes you happy! Also – that beard! Check out his channel (here)
- The hosts overall – a great event honestly and not just being nice here. For a first organised event this was amazing. I’ll always want to show up in the future.
- Fabian for being an amazing guy. It was a pleasure meeting him. Charismatic and really nice. I think Fabian will be the front figure for FF TCG for a long time in Europe! 🙂
- Joe for having that smile on his face all the time. Check his channel, he posts good material. You’ll like him.
- Everyone who came up to me and said hello. Some even recognized me which was incredibly flattering! We all love Final Fantasy with our whole hearts and together we’ll make this the best community of all games there are. For with this much in common, we can’t help but succeed if we try!