Final Fantasy Win-a-Box Tournament - By Mike Wood

By Emily_Quinn, 2017-08-17 13:44

So two friends of mine designed a deck. They argued that they’d “completed the game”, we could all stop trying, and we should just play their creation.

They were trolling local FFTCG group chat running up to the IQ Games Win-A-Box tournament, but they were known deck builders so the other 15 members of the chat paid attention, until they noticed the title “COMPLETELY INSANE BUSTED 100% WIN RATE DECK CURRENTLY 100-0 IN GAMES NO JOKE”.

They were joking, but I thought it looked ok. So I played 3 games with it on Friday night, won all 3, made some minor tweaks to the list and sleeved it up for the win-a-box.

THE DECK – Original list designed by Xavier Saint Hilaire Knowles and Graeme Pentelow, edits by Michael Wood

Forwards Rygden 3 2-211S
Onion Knight 2 2-125R
Kain 1 2-0103H
Zidane 3 3-056H
Barbaricia 3 3-066R
Vaan 3 2-051L
Balthier 3 2-065L
Al-Cid 3 2-097H
Amon 2 2-098L
Feral Chaos 1 3-148H
Backups Black Mage 3 1-130C
Black Mage 3 2-108C
Black Mage 3 3-106C
Black Mage 3 3-107C
Gramis 2 2-106R
Sage 1 1-133C
Oracle 2 3-070C
Aerith 1 3-050L
Archer 1 1-088C
Maria 1 1-083H
Summons Asara 2 2-049H
Odin 2 1-123R
Exodus, The Ludge-Sal 2 3-112
It focuses around stacking damage and reductions in power to the opposing creatures, while developing the board through creatures and backups. This deck has an excellent late game, (mainly through utilising Vaan and 3-106C Black Mage), but also has some great ways of getting there.

Let’s talk cards:

Al-Cid + Onion Knight/Rygdea - I don’t need to say much about this combo. Usually a great CP swing in your favour while generating 2 threats. This won me games without the need of some more spicy tech.

Barbariccia + Balthier/Opus 2 Black Mage/Rygdea – Ideally bringing her down the turn after deploying Balthier in an economical fashion is the play you’d want to make. This answers almost any threat and is enough reason to have Barb in the deck. Not always the best play, and she is excellent discard fodder, but she deserves her place for the threat of this combo alone.

Balthier + Opus 2 Black Mage – Having your 2 drop backup kill an 8k is incredible value.

Zidane – The one card combo of taking the wind out of the opponents sails by removing their best plan and resources, while giving you a body to help your Onion Knight and Black Mages triggers trade for valuable forwards. Tournament MVP.

Feral Chaos – Too scared to play 2 of this so played a Kain instead. Very impressed with both cards in testing, and happy to see the deck function without needing Feral Chaos to clear my backups out.

Exodus - The cleanest answer to any forward in the game and huge blowout potential for anybody who forgets it’s a card for even a second. I dream of breaking Vayne, Laguna and Squall while my opponent it stacking their triggers to empty my hand…“I’ll empty it for you”. Went up to 2 and dropped an Odin from the original list, and won’t look back. The guys in this deck already get their value on entering. Let them choose 3 to kill your Onion Knight. It’s worth it.

Odin – Necessary evil. At best you’re going to trade even resources for a dangerous in-play threat like Cedore. Play it, but don’t be happy about it.

Aerith – If it’s too good not to play, play it. Seeing the opponent invest 5 CP into a Lulu is enough to delay your Black Mage game plan a few turns. I love it as a one of.

Black Mage – 106C – “The daddy”. The best dressed of the Black Mages is here to eat your opponents board turn after turn. Playing a 2 drop backup never felt so good when it’s killing a Vincent, or a Garnet, or a Light Cloud, or a Balthier (I’m expecting mirrors locally). The Vaan-106 hard lock is real. Vaan removes blockers at the same size or smaller than him with a backup you picked up last turn, or makes himself pseudo-unblockable to the biggest threats in the game.


Round 1 – Earth/Water/Wind knights. Still in disbelief of the power of this troll deck, I throught I was in for a tough tournament when my local opponent set up a very early Cosmos and Opus 3 Aerith followed by an Opus 3 Delita. Luckily, an already deployed Al-Cid and Onion Kinight rode past the Delita for the full 7, while Rygdea after Rygdea turned any potential block and trade for his Delita into “I’ll just take another point of damage”. Cool deck, but Al-Cid didn’t let it do it’s thing.

Round 2 – Ice/Earth. This wasn’t something I was expecting, but the deck had Shantotto to punish overextension if Kuja/Genesis was getting too, along with plenty of stacking value plays with Devouts, Squalls, Lagunas and Opus 1 Rare Delita. I navigated this mostly in part to Zidane revealing the tools the deck had and allowing me to pick apart a strategy already investing a great deal into its backups.

Round 3 – Mono Lightning. My second run in with a local. Great deck played by one of the best card game players in our area. He was very unlucky to see all his Lulus in the damage zone as I Zidaned away his Al-Cid and got great value from the Al-Cids of my own.

Round 4 – Lightning/Wind Type Zero. This one was a great match to play. mostly because of how in control I was the entire game. He’d seen my deck play by this point and knew he had to take the aggressive line for a chance. The turn 1 on the play Seven was met by my turn 1 Opus 2 Black Mage. The whole game felt like that, as all forwards baring Nine with a buffing backup out fold to “The Daddy”. I think my best matchup, my opponent agreed.

Round 5 – Mono Water. Public enemy number one. My first game against a deck I thought would be a good matchup. It was. Having since played this matchup more, it seems close when both decks have average draws. If they manage some sweet Lenna plays after setting their backups out early then you had better counter with some sweet Balthier/Vaan/Exodus action of your own. Play the match for the long game, setting up your backups early (if they let you).

QF – Ice/Earth. Saw my round 2 opponent again. Very competent with a well designed deck. Before the match he admitted I was his only loss so far, which didn’t surprise me. I was lucky again to see Zidane to help me pick apart this plan while he struggled to efficiently make backups. 2-0

SF – Fire-Ice Tempo. “I didn’t expect to get this far”. I don’t know why my opponent said that. While not a lot of staying potential into the late game, the addition of Opus 3 Kuja and Shiva makes this deck VERY capable of pushing through damage if it can deploy to the board early and quickly. He didn’t see the Shelke->Gadot->2 drop combo, and Opus 2 Black mage shone again in both games, chomping on Tifa and Gadot. A good matchup. 2-0

F – Mono Fire. This turned out to be a tough matchup. The simplicity of making 9k forwards in the face of our deck seemingly designed to efficiently deal with 8ks was enough to give me a headache on most turns of the game. Many turns in games 1 and 3 felt like complex puzzles in themselves. Archer to break Lebreau and reduce Gladiator back to 8k, and throwing away my own threats so Jecht was small enough to answer. These aren’t fun plays, but they win games. I think my worst matchup, and worse still if the Jechts were Xande. A worthy player to take the first game away from this deck, currently 114-1 according to my group chat. 2-1


  • Play 2 backups turn 1 if you can. Al-Cid/Odin turn 2 if you meet aggression, play another backup if they go slow too.

  • Amon was ok, though he was discarded a lot for better plays. I can be talked out of playing him, but for now he has his place. Great for getting Al-Cid and Co through after an attempt to stabilise.

  • -1 Maria, +1 Baralai. Maria was discard fodder all day. If you want to play a Green backup, play one which is cheap early and breaks itself late.

  • This deck is super fun. Lots of interesting plays and functions like a control deck if you want it to.

  • Take pride in the fact that you will not win a game from a well timed EX Burst. You play none. The wins are yours.