**Mono Element Decks for Nationals!**

Meta Potion here, you all voted for this and we listened!

Here is the Gauntlet according to us at Meta Potion. Let us start off with the 5 Mono Element decks that are no surprise to anyone.

Expect to see these decks or variations of them at North American Nationals or your next event:

- Mono Water
- Mono Earth
- Mono Fire
- Mono Ice
- Mono Lightning

**Mono Water**

*Deck History: riru, 41 player Osaka tournament, placed 3rd*

**Forwards (25)**

**3x [2-125C]****Semblance of a Witch****3x [3-130R]****Cagnazzo****3x [3-139C]****Knight****3x [3-144L]****Lenna****2x [2-136R]****Porom****2x [3-137R]****Steiner****2x [3-142H]****Famed Mimic Gogo****2x [3-154S]****Zidane****1x [2-129L]****Cecil****1x [2-135H]****Porom****1x [3-138H]****Ceodore****1x [3-140R]****Porom****1x [3-146H]****Minerva**

**Backups (16)**

**3x [1-171H]****Minwu****3x [1-177R]****Yuna****3x [1-180R]****Wakka****2x [1-157C]****Scholar****2x [2-130C]****Astrologian****2x [3-127R]****Eiko****1x [3-122C]****Artemicion**

**Summons (9)**

**3x [1-178R]****Leviathan****3x [2-133R]****Cuchulainn, the Impure****3x [3-123R]****Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud**

Mono Water has been the most consistently performing deck of Opus 3. If you look up top 8 deck lists, there will be a minimum of 1-2 Mono Water decks in the mix.

That being said, this deck can be built in many different ways. Some like to go heavy on the Summon & Garnet route; while others like to build value off how efficient it is at going wide thanks to Lenna and Steiner.

The deck has a strong draw engine from the FF9 Package. It has some very good summons such as Leviathan, Syldra, Famfrit, Fairy, and Cuchulainn all of which can become cheaper thanks to the 2 cost Yuna backup. One of the biggest weaknesses of the deck is that its forwards in the deck are generally small in power level compared to the forwards from other elements in the format.

Here are 5 key cards you should expect when facing Mono Water;

- [3-130R] Cagnazzo
- [3-144L] Lenna
- [3-123R] Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud
- [1-157C] Scholar
- [1-178R] Leviathan

Beware of the following interactions the deck has access too:

- Reapplying pressure using Lenna after a board wipe.
- Cagnazzo multiple times in a turn to punish the opposing player.
- Leviathan into Famfrit to control the opposing board.

**Mono Earth**

*Deck History: Petit Yan, 41 player Osaka tournament, placed 5th*

**Forwards (26)**

**3x [2-077L]****Vincent****3x [2-094H]****Rydia****3x [3-073C]****Ursula****3x [3-084C]****WRO Member****3x [3-088L]****Delita****3x [3-095R]****Yang****2x [PR-002]****Vincent****2x [2-075H]****Ingus****2x [2-076R]****Vanille****1x [2-081L]****Gabranth****1x [3-086C]****WRO Commander**

**Backups (18)**

**3x [1-095R]****Enna Kros****3x [1-120C]****Monk****3x [2-089C]****Monk****3x [3-085C]****WRO Member****2x [1-107L]****Shantotto****2x [1-204S]****Jessie****2x [2-093H]****Raubahn**

**Summons (6)**

**3x [1-117R]****Hecatoncheir****3x [3-074R]****Atomos**

This element has always been a contender. Namely because it has the best board wipe in the game, Shantotto. However Earth used to lack cheap forwards, but now with Opus 3 and the release of Ursula, Yuffie, and the WRO Package Earth is seeing a lot more play.

What makes Mono Earth worth running at Nationals?

Well, this element has very strong early game backups. It plays multiple forwards that play additional forwards. These two traits make Earth incredibly efficient at managing Crystal Points. AND Earth Forwards themselves are really big beat sticks. On top of all that, they also have technical cards that are good against specific strategies and elements, with cards like Guy for the Ice Matchup and Gippal in moments of attrition. Gippal himself is great at pushing through for victory or removing problematic forwards through combat.

Here are the 5 biggest cards you should expect when facing Mono Earth;

Beware of the following interactions the deck has access too:

- Atomos: With multiple forwards in play. Keep in mind this does not target the controllers forward so if one of the forwards leaves play in response to Atomos, when it resolves it will use the next highest power forward controlled.
- Shantotto: Not much to say other than don’t overextend against earth. A good strategy is to only have 1 more forward on the field than your opponent so they feel less inclined to play shantotto.
- Vincent / Delita: Both are hard to answer and they have amazing abilities. You can play around Vincent by controlling what forwards you play so you don’t walk into losing a bunch of cards to its “Death Penalty” ability. In other words, don’t have a big range of forwards that nicely add up to a total cost of 7. Try to have a 3 cost and a 5 cost or something similar. Play around Delita by forcing Earth to block with it and you overpower it with combat tricks. Or using removal spells that don’t “choose” Forwards.
- Yang & Ursula: Not much you can do to play around this except try to use a combat trick like breaking or bouncing Yang. While they attack with ursula she will get weaker without Yang in play.

**Mono Fire**

*Deck History: Albert Deng, 23 player SoCal Championship tournament, placed 7th*

**Forwards (25)**

**3x [1-189S] Tifa****3x [2-007L] Emperor Xande****3x [3-022H] Machina****3x [3-149S] Vivi****2x [1-005R] Warrior of Light****2x [2-024R] Rosso****2x [3-004H] Garland****2x [3-008C] Cloud****2x [3-014C] Cinque****1x [1-016C] Tifa****1x [1-186L] Sephiroth**

**Backups (16)**

**3x [1-003C] Red Mage****3x [1-188S] Zangan****3x [3-015R] Black Waltz 2****2x [1-030R] Lebreau****2x [2-009R] Selphie****2x [3-007C] Bard****1x [1-011C] Evoker****1x [1-010C] Black Mage**

**Summons (9)**

**3x [2-019R] Belias, the Gigas****2x [1-018L] Bahamut****2x [1-023R] Brynhildr****2x [3-020H] Phoenix**

Is Mono Fire YOUR Desire?

As the Opus 3 Meta formed and event results started to pour in, everyone noticed decks like Ice, Earth, Lightning, and Wind archetypes perform well. Within the past few weeks, players have noticed Mono Fire seems to have a decent matchup against most of those decks. You better expect to face cards like Emperor Xande, Belias, Tifa, Cloud, Bahamut, Palom and everything else Mono Fire runs.

Here are 5 key cards you should expect when facing Mono Fire;

- [1-018L] Bahamut
- [2-009R] Selphie
- [1-003C] Red Mage
- [2-007L] Emperor Xande
- [3-149S] Vivi

Beware of the following interactions the deck has access too:

- Bahamut: On 2 forwards for them to win the game that same turn. This is not very easily to play around, but you just need to know this is a line of play they have. Count cards in their hand and backups in play to cast it.
- Selphie & Red Mage: These backups will win games.
- Emperor Xande & Vivi: These are threats and removal spells. Try to make sure to time your attacks and forwards so few forwards die to one of the many burn effects in the deck.

**Mono Ice**

*Deck History: Bob Bogart, 16 player Netherlands Championship, placed 1st*

**Forwards (29)**

**3x [1-033C]****Argath****3x [1-043H]****Snow****3x [1-059R]****Laguna****3x [1-195S]****Serah****3x [3-033L]****Genesis****3x [3-036H]****Cid Aulstyne****2x [1-041L]****Squall****2x [1-044R]****Sephiroth****2x [2-047L]****Rinoa****2x [3-045R]****White Tiger l'Cie Qun'mi****1x [1-042R]****Squall****1x [2-026L]****Vayne****1x [3-030L]****Kuja**

**Backups (15)**

**3x [1-048C]****Devout****3x [1-193S]****Jihl Nabaat****2x [1-057R]****Duke Larg****2x [1-196S]****Mog (XIII-2)****2x [2-037R]****Jihl Nabaat****2x [3-043C]****Time Mage****1x [1-053C]****Summoner**

**Summons (6)**

Ice, Ice, Ice! This element never escapes us. However, there are some differences between Mono Ice and decks that splash Ice.

Most decks that splash Ice do it for the dulling effects: Zalera or Squall/Laguna/Rinoa. However, Mono Ice decks mostly focus around a heavy discard package. With the addition of new cards such as Cid Alstyne and Zalera, Mono Ice gained some removal it's been lacking from previous sets.

Not only is pressuring your opponent with hand disruption a good strategy, but Ice also packs cheap value units at the same time. Due to this you should definitely expect Ice at Nationals.

Here are 5 key cards you should expect when facing Mono Ice;

Beware of the following interactions the deck has access too:

- Rinoa: This card hands down carries the Ice element on its back. The ability to pressure your opponent every turn, and if she dies and goes to the break zone she will dull all opposing forwards. This applies overwhelming tension during every combat step.
- Shiva (Opus 3) & Genesis: These cards can really turn the game if you are not prepared and can dull your forwards when you least expect it. When you leave 2 Forwards up thinking you can block. Don’t be caught off guard by these dull effects!
- Vayne: This forward is the savage of all 4 drops. Ice not only can dull all your forwards, but any forwards of 5+ cost or more gets dulled immediately. When Vayne enters play and does not ready on your ready step, this guy is a key to success against some of the slower decks.
- Devout: This card was the best backup in Opus 1 and 2. Now with Opus 3, it's fighting for slots but the ability to bring back any 4 drop regardless of element is a good trick; even if it can only be used on your turn.

**Mono Lightning**

Deck History: -Player Unknown-, 86 player Singapore tournament, placed 3rd

**Forwards (24)**

**3x [1-125R] Onion Knight****3x [1-207S] Gilgamesh****3x [1-211S] Rygdea****3x [2-097H] Al-Cid****3x [2-099L] Edea****2x [2-098L] Amon****2x [3-099R] Angeal Penance****2x [3-118H] Lightning****1x [1-136C] Zalbaag****1x [3-101R] Enuo****1x [3-117C] Simulacrum of a Hero**

**Backups (17)**

**3x [1-121C] Red Mage****3x [1-150R] Lulu****3x [2-108C] Black Mage****2x [1-138C] Summoner****2x [3-115C] Cannoneer****1x [1-133C] Sage****1x [1-137R] Seymour****1x [2-106R] Gramis****1x [2-116R] Fusoya**

**Summons (9)**

**3x [3-112H] Exodus, the Judge-Sal****2x [1-123R] Odin****2x [1-124R] Odin****2x [2-107C] Cyclops**

Dare I say our lord Exdeath who was shunned originally may be making an appearance at Nationals? It may not be in this specific list but you better be prepared for it! This card originally had a lot of players on the side of this being a bad card in Opus 3. However, Japan quickly proved everyone wrong with Mono L winning the 2nd tournament of Opus 3. Ever since then, Exdeath has earned his ‘respect’ and introducing cards like Enuo for graveyard manipulation along with Grand Cross Exdeath, and the infamous Al-Cid package.

You better expect to play against at least one lightning deck at Nationals! Lightning has been one of the strongest elements since Opus 1, and even though it did not receive too many tricks in Opus 3; it is still a force to be reckoned with.

Here are 5 key cards you should expect when facing Mono Lightning;

- [2-098L] Amon
- [3-112H] Exodus, the Judge-Sal
- [1-121C] Red Mage
- [2-097H] Al-Cid + [1-125R] Onion Knight
- [1-207S] Gilgamesh

Beware of the following interactions the deck has access too:

- Amon: To dull a forward + Red Mage to give Amon haste to dull another forward
- Exodus: After you overextend into a lot of the same cost card.
- Red Mage: To give haste to a forward at any point in time (Yes, this can be used on opponents turns to activate Amon).
- The infamous Al-Cid + Onion Knight combo: To kill any forward of 11k power.
- Starter Gilgamesh: Yes this card is one many people should watch out for. Not only can it not be bounced, but it can also raise its power by paying 2 Lightning CP. It also can use its special effect to break one of your forwards if they have taken 4 damage or more. Watch out for that!

Be sure to check the next article where we talk about Multi-Element Decks for Nationals! Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page if you agree/disagree and let's spark a nice discussion! Let us not forget any sneaky decks people forget to test on the way to Nationals!

*-Matt Okimoto*