Tournament Report: Going to Nguyen (Win)!

Going to Nguyen (Win)!

Throughout Opus II meta, mono lightning lists were one of the better decks in the meta.  One particular style of mono lightning that stood out was a more control-based version that revolved around the interactions of Heroic Lulu, Fusoya, and Sage while playing value forwards like Edea and Al-Cid and Onion Knight (or Rygdea ).  The control-based version tried to efficiently kill all the opposing forwards while still gaining value over time with the recursion that is built in with Sage and Fusoya.  

Pre-Opus III, Minwu and Legendary Cecil could present problems that would shut down various aspects of the deck.  However, with the addition of Opus III, the control-based mono lightning deck faced a new (and potentially bigger problem) with the wind Legendary Aerith.  This new backup pretty much shuts down any interactions with Lulu practically rendering the deck’s value plays useless. With Aerith possibly being run in a variety of different decks, the deck had to evolve.

Although untested, Matt Okimoto shared a modified “mono-lightning deck” with our friend Thomas in the Bay Area.  The modified list splashed ice initially for 2 EX Burst Ice Sephiroth in order to search for the 8 CP Dark Sephiroth.  Before Opus III meta, there were some mono-lightning lists running a single 8 CP Dark Sephiroth to deal with Minwu.  With the inclusion of the new Ice Sephiroth, finding that singleton Dark Sephiroth is a lot easier.  Ice also allows for inclusion of more control-based cards.  For example, White Tiger L`Cie Qun’mi makes it harder for the opponent to use summons to deal with your forwards while interacting well with Heroic Lulu in combat because of the first strike ability.  Vayne was added as another target for Gramis that could be searched up to deal with problematic 5 CP+ forwards (e.g. Delita).  The suite of summons were chosen to allow the deck to control the board with either free ex bursts or potentially breaking multiple forwards as the deck takes its time to build up its backups against more aggro-based decks.  Because the ice was a minor splash, the deck could operate as a mono lightning deck without much issue.

After some initial discussion on why cards were included in the deck, my friend ended up taking the deck to one of his local Win-a-Box tournaments where he ended up piloting the deck to the finals and earning a split.  After the tournament, he provided his input regarding what worked and what didn’t. Matt and I knew the deck was good; we just didn’t know how good it was.  

So with the information about the lightning-ice deck, Matt, Dan Nguyen and I also talked about all the other decks we planned on playing for the circuit and tried to call it a night.


I tend to do that often (that is being indecisive about what deck to run).  It drives Matt and Dan crazy.  Later that night, when I got home, I messaged both Matt and Dan about this no joke brew: three color Ninjas.  (I had named the deck “Three Ninja’s Kickback”  click the link to in case you’re “just curious”.. )

The two of them each relentlessly sent me face with rolling eye emoji and words of disgust.  Part of me believed in the deck; “guy’s, it’s better than Goons, I promise.”  But that was met with no love, both Matt and Dan shut me and the deck down.  At the very least this gave me an initial idea that the deck was a stinker (albeit one that smelled oh so beautifully).  I am still baffled they won’t even try the deck.   

So I send one last message to both Matt and Dan before heading off to bed.  I’m going to build this Ice/lightning deck we talked about earlier and will choose between that deck and the three Ninja’s deck in the morning.  That was my way of telling them that I was planning to run Ice/Lightning for the circuit event knowing they each had their aversion to the Ninja deck.  For some reason, our own Nguyen missed the memo and ended up playing cadets at the circuit event to a 9th place finish.  I’m proud of him for breaking his own bread, but damn it’s rough watching those cadet’s always getting beat on.

Before leaving the event I wanted to play test the Ninja deck with my wife.  I had some desire to see whether that the Ninja deck could actually do some work.  In reality the deck got destroyed in play testing multiple times in a row.  This cleared all doubt in my mind which deck to play.  Clearly the 3 Ninjas were not quite ready to Kickback.

Mind made up, I was going to play to win.  

Here is the list: Going to Nguyen (Win)!

Forwards: 22

1 Sephiroth 1-186L

2 Amon 2-098L

3 Al-Cid 2-097H

2 Rygdea 1-211S

3 Onion Knight 1-125R

1 Zalbag 1-136C

1 Vayne 2-026L

1 Edea 2-099L

3 White Tiger L`Cie Qun’mi 3-045R

2 Sephiroth 3-039R

3 Gilgamesh 1-207S

Backups: 19

3 Lulu 1-149H

2 Sage 1-133C

3 Fusoya 2-116R

1 Black Mage 1-130

3 Black Mage 2-108C

1 Mog (XIII-2) 1-196S

3 Jihl Nabaat 1-193S

1 Red Mage 1-121C

1 Gramis 2-106R

1 Seymour 1-137R

Summons: 9

3 Mateus 2-044R

3 Odin 1-124R

1 Exodus 3-112H

2 Zalera 3-037H

Round 1: Win

Vincent Angeles- Mono Earth

My man Vince, we call him Drake in our scene. Vince was able to set up some quick board presence as many Earth decks are capable of doing.  I believe his first few turns involved playing some forwards and then some bigger forwards.  We are talking Yang, Ursula bologna. I was able to backup combo kill one forward (using a combination of Black Mage2-108C with Fusoya). Then luck be my lady, I hit a Mateus to kill the other dude after taking damage.  After that Vince plays a Vincent, and I top deck the Al-Cid and Onion Knight combo. I dropped those two cards as fast as I picked them up removing his Vincent from the board.  After this it was pretty difficult for Vince to jump back in and when the tides finally started turning for him he prompted an Ex Burst Odin which solidified my victory.

Chopping up this victory to luck.

Round 2: Win

Virgil Rico- Water/Wind

Virgil is playing a hybrid Wind/Water deck Final Fantasy 10 style.  He started out with Yuna backup and planet protector Aerith. My first few turns were spent playing backups as well, Sage on 1 and Lulu on 2. The Lulu on 2 was pretty critical for following up to his plays. This was because Virgil was playing the 4 drop Rikku that becomes a beast while he has a Paine and Yuna in play.

The match teetered back and forth, Virgil was able to deal me two damage. And I managed to sneak in for fatal by playing Amon and giving it haste with Red Mage.

Round 3: Win

Kenny James- Earth/Ice

This match with Kenny might have been the most tense game of the entire day for me. Kenny starts off with Vanille, Ingus, and a Monk backup on turn 1. The reason that this start was an issue was because Vanille (being a 6 CP forward) and Ingus (being a 4 CP forward) do not die to the Zalera that was currently sitting in my hand (along with an Ice Sephiroth to pay for the summon).  On my first turn I was planning to play the Ice Sephiroth and would have been fine with offering to trade it with Kenny’s backup Monk (I kind of expected Kenny to use the monk to have one of his forwards, survive combat).  Unfortunately, I happened to draw my toolbox target dark Sephiroth.  With the dark Sephiroth in hand, I ended up choosing to pitch the ice Sephiroth and several other cards to setup my back up row to play the Sephiroth in a turn or two to come. As i built up my backups, I was able to luckily flip an Ex Burst on one of Kenny’s attack.  Kenny then played Vincent, and I followed up with my 8k first strike Sephiroth to destroy the monk and stagnate the game for awhile to hopefully draw into something to deal with Vincent. Luck on my side again I manage to draw Mateus and put myself into a position to deal with the Vincent.

Kenny get’s me to 6 damage in this game but I was able to draw the correct removal cards in hand (e.g. Odin) to make sure I was able to get in for an attack on what otherwise would be my last turn.   

Round 4: Win

Chris Neal- Fire/Ice

So if you look at my Decklist above and check out how many cards break forwards you can see that my deck is very efficient at handling small forwards.

Chris is running a different version of the same deck he ran at the last circuit Fire/Ice aggro. Now running more Kuja, more Snow and a few other changes but he didn’t really share that information with me. I think since the last article, people don’t like talking to me as much anymore, I am getting lonely guys.

Our match starts out with Chris going first. He plays a backup and a 2 CP forward.  I follow up his play on the draw with a turn 1 Seymour allowing me to break his only forward. He follows up on the next turn

Round 5: Double Loss

Luke Macneil- Mono Earth

So funny story, this round.

I knew I would have to work some amount of time during the tournament. Luckily enough for me I was undefeated going into the last round and thus secured my TOP 8.

At the circuit event’s they usually allow players a 45 minute break after Swiss to have a lunch with friends.  Being a community ran event, having this extra time to chat and get to know everyone is pretty crucial. I always enjoy the lunch time. Anyway, I knew I had about 90 minutes to commute to work, do my work and come back to finish the TOP 8. So I handed my deck to Luke, my opponent. I asked him to sort it for deck checks and  hand it to the TO and I took off with a quickness to work.

I expected Luke to take the win, but the good guy instead reported it as a double loss instead.

So I go to work, do my dance, and race back with just enough time to enjoy a cheeseburger with Robert Gasio. Pretty good day so far, and it’s about to get better.

Top 8 Final Standings

  1. Kyle Mcginty- Lightning/Ice
  2. Matthew Okimoto- Lightning/Ice
  3. Chris Neal- Fire/Ice
  4. Daiki Ochoa- Mono Earth
  5. Kenny James- Ice/Earth
  6. Joshua Prijoles- Ice/Earth
  7. Vince Angeles- Mono Earth
  8. Luke Macneil- Mono Earth

Quarter Finals- Wind 2-0

Kenny James- Earth/Ice

Kenny had some unfortunate mulligans in our games. Which meant sadly in both of our games he never could catch a footing.

In one game he was sitting on 2 Tama and no ice in hand I watched him use Tama on turn 2 to put a Snow into play. That snow was melted away by my Opus 2 Black mage. That line proved to me that he lacked ice and and had another Tama in hand so I held a Dark Sephiroth in hand until he played a Jihl Nabaat and that met the fate of my Masamune.

Both games played out in this manner for Kenny and I could see the frustration in his face. That said I am super glad to see him in the Top 8 and the one match we played in the Swiss was my toughest match of the day.

Semi Finals- Win 2-1

Chris Neal- Fire/Ice

I beat Chris Neal game 1 the same way I did earlier this time revealing that I play Zalbag and Zalera. He sighed and said I don’t think I can beat this deck. We talk a bit about the match up shuffling into game 2, this time he knows if he is able to go wide and play a card at a time I may not be able to catch up. The game Chris beat me he had something like 5 forwards in play and a Rinoa, I see the Vivi in play and concede.

This matters because with Vivi and Rinoa in play Chris can use his Vivi on his own Rinoa tapping my board and allowing him to sink the rest of his teeth into my fully exposed……

In Game three I go second and setup an early aggression with a Zalera in hand. This game I decided I was going to be the aggressor and use Zalera on him when we start trading damage back and forth. This line worked heavily in my favor and I ended up ultimately winning.

L’cie Qun`mi performed best here for me playing it on turn 2 shut off a lot of Chris’s plays, he would have needed to play a Vivi and Sac it paying 2 Fire CP which meant I get at least 6 CP worth of cards out of him. As I was pretty certain that Chris was not playing Zalera.  

Finals- Matthew Okimoto and I split.

Matthew Okimoto- Same deck….

So Matthew Okimoto and I have been playing TCG’s together for going on a decade. I think that is enough explanation for this split.

Instead of giving you details about this match here are some details about the deck.

  • This deck plays identically to Mono Lightning
  • The ice cards in the deck are high impact cards that the mono lightning deck really lacks
  • Zalera and Ice Sephiroth might be the best independent cards in the deck
    • Being able to kill several guys at once is something this deck cannot do otherwise
    • Searching for Dark Sephiroth will just win you games
  • With that said I think I would consider taking out 1 Jihl and adding a 3rd Sage
  • Ice Tiger l’Cie Qun`mi under performed for me so I would also want to cut that card to add another Seymour
    • Seymour might have been my highest performing card of the weekend

I just want to point out that 5 of the Top 8 in this last circuit will be wearing the Freya shirt at Nationals.

If you want one, find me on facebook or email me [email protected]

Stay tuned on Meta Potion.

Next time I plan to discuss the big decks to be aware of for Nationals!