EXP Farming: Early Backups

EXP Farming – Early Backups


Since this is my first article for Meta Potion, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Dan Nguyen. I have played card games since I was a little kid, with the Star Wars CCG from Decipher, but I got more competitive by playing Magic in Houston, Texas at the GP and PTQ level. For a hot minute I had a top 25 composite rating in Houston when Magic still cared about that. For the Final Fantasy TCG, I have multiple top 8’s in the SoCal Circuit Qualifiers; winning one of them, missing out on one at 9th, and finishing top 8 in the Championship. Recently, I placed 10th in the North American Nationals event. Outside of the FFTCG I work on a card game so I’m hoping to give FFTCG players some insights on how this particular game works, or how to level up their game.

Currently, I think there’s a huge drought of content for players to consume in our community. It’s small, it’s new, but over time it’s been slowly growing. I want to focus on providing something that could potentially be shared with new players or friends and could be referenced in the future without worry that the information is obsolete. Here we are with my first article for EXP Farming. I wanted to start this series with something that I think is the most important thing to learn as a new or intermediate player, and that is how to effectively spend your Crystal Points (CP) in the first couple turns.

At US Nationals, I noticed a lot of players making mistakes on their first few turns and how it cost them their matches or made them struggle to get that win; even on day 2. Maybe they had bad mulligans or chose to keep bad hands for whatever reason, but their first 2 turns dictated the rest of how their match went. A couple common mistakes that I noticed in the first couple turns:

  • Player pitches 2 cards on turn 1. Play a powerful 3 CP backup (like Legendary Aerith or Minwu).

Think about your CP costs - Sometimes we can really focus in on what we feel are the important cards for a given matchup that we get tunnel vision. This sample hand is something I see a lot of players making a mistake on. It’s important in the early turns that we make the most of our CP, and to do that we want to make sure not a single point goes wasted. Without a 2 CP backup, this hand is going to be a little expensive but fortunately it looks like we’re going second, so we get to draw an extra card. What we should do is pitch the 2 Bartz and play a turn 1 Maria. It’s an expensive turn 1 play, but it does 2 things. We get to effectively play an even cost card, so that on our next turn we set up an odd cost play for ourselves with either Minwu or Zidane.

Alternating between playing an even cost to odd cost in these 2 early turns is very important for setting the foundation of your economy for the rest of the game and if you. Even though Minwu might be a key card against your opponent, there’s no rush to just throw him out there by over paying with two cards. Since you can easily play the Maria turn 1 instead, and then spending only 1 card to play Minwu on turn 2. Had we played the Minwu turn 1, we would still have an awkward hand trying to spend another 2 cards to play Maria, therefore not really making use of the 1 water CP that Minwu could produce.

  • Player pitches most of their hand turn one to play two 2cp backups, and then doesn’t play a 2 or 4 drop turn two.

Have a game plan - With this hand, we are going first, and there are a few directions we can go. One that I see quite often is that a player discard most of their hand to get 2 backups into play on turn 1. Now this isn’t always incorrect, but it’s dependent on the context of your hand: what your deck’s curve looks like, what your deck’s goals are, and even if you went first or second at the start of the game. If you spend your first turn playing 2 backups, the next turn you’ll only have 4 cards after you draw. Your options on turn 2 will be pretty limited, and you’re most likely having to pass the turn and do nothing. Which means, slamming those backups on turn 1 actually hurt you. Instead, you could have just played 1 backup turn 1, and then potentially Paine turn 2, searching for your Rikku backup. Depending what you drew that turn, you could have set yourself up with a strong economy into turn 3, without almost emptying your hand. Even if this starting hand had another water card, and you try to play into a turn 2 Wakka, that’s still a huge risk since he’s very expensive for an early card and you have no support or real tricks to make the most out of him. So, then you risk more resources to get potentially blown out of the game before your first combat step. Had you taken a few turns to build up your economy, you could potentially play that Wakka later without spending any additional cards, and a Wakka in play with a full hand is way more threatening to your opponent.

So with just these two examples, I hope I was able to give some of you more insight, or maybe some affirmation on how you currently think about the game. A couple big takeaways I think are going to be: You should really think about the CP cost of your cards, and by paying attention to your even and odd costs you can maximize your CP efficiency. You should always have a game plan for your opening hand and think about how you will navigate your first two turns. These aren’t hard, and fast laws of the game, and might not apply to some crazier decks, like no backup Golbez, or decks with only 9 backups. For most decks out there, I hope you will try it out and see if it helps improve your game. Please feel free to reach out to me on the site, or on Facebook, and let me know if this helps you. If you have any suggestions or feedback, I am all ears. Like our first couple of turns, I want this article series to start off the most effective way possible.

- Dan Nguyen, 10th place US Nationals, part of Meta Potion Team