OCTGN Open 4 - Top 8 report: Christopher Mattiske
Greetings all! I’m Chris Mattiske (aka Shikadi) from Australia and I just finished top 8 in the 4th OCTGN Open online worldwide tournament. Top 8 seems to be my specialty, as I also finished top 8 in the first two OCTGN Opens AND Australian Nationals 2017. My record in Swiss was X-1-1 placing me 6th. I used the same deck throughout the tournament, shown below
FFDECKS link: https://ffdecks.com/deck/5122518381756416
The list stayed mostly the same throughout the tournament. I considered playing two other decks, Mono Water and Fire/Ice, but in both cases I played some friendlies shortly before a round and lost some games to bad match-ups (aggro and Opus IV Cloud respectively) which put me off them. I felt like this deck had no bad match-ups so I stuck with it and since the FFTCG scene is mostly dead where I live, I didn’t have enough time to test new decks/lists.
Many people know I am a huge fan of Ice, I think it’s incredibly strong and that has only escalated in Opus IV. That’s almost entirely due to the FFVI engine, specifically Gestahlian Empire Cid, Setzer & Locke. We experienced a huge surge in Water during Opus III due to the consistency and reliability of Eiko, Steiner, and Zidane but this is basically the same thing and better. Setzer may not have EX and Locke does need two characters instead of one but he isn’t a Light card (meaning he can’t clog your hand and is available for party attacks) and more importantly he’s a constant threat instead of a “one and done” deal.
Side note; his Special Ability is cute in endgame situations but rarely comes up, he could be printed without it and still be just as good.
As for the Earth part, that is entirely because of one thicc boi; Dadaluma. As a stand-alone card he is incredibly strong in every way and I could write way more about that alone. However the real reason he’s in here (and the namesake of the deck) is his baby-girl Terra. Many people were keen on Dadaluma + Y’shtola from the beginning of Opus IV including my friend Vince Scanlan (Australian worlds competitor) but I wasn’t a fan of how weak Y’shtola was along with not being searchable, you wouldn’t see the combo every game. Then I was inadvertently reading Terra around that time and noticed her action ability that most people overlook and discovered the combo that would form the basis for this deck. It may require Dadaluma to be dull so he has to have been in play for a turn, but BOTH halves of the combo are searchable and fully efficient to revive with Devout, plus Terra’s enter ability gives an extra push to make up for her CP cost. I knew I could get to this combo every game if I wanted and very likely more than once if needed.
The rest of the deck is basically just “good cards”. Opus IV Delita + Opus I Vanille is a very powerful way to remove 4-costs, specifically The Emperor and also enemy Dadalumas. As a bonus, Hecatoncheir adds some nice coverage; the 3-cost removes Minwu and the 2-cost is cheap instant speed removal that Ice lacks. When I first started playing the deck I found that the games which put me in danger of losing were usually due to deck out, that’s why I added Snow & Serah to apply more damage pressure. Devout remains the most insane back-up in the game and Shantotto the most ridiculous board clear, together they create a very powerful board state, the original reason I ran Ice/Earth at Nationals during Opus III format. Flan was the last card I dropped, I’m a huge fan of the card and especially its synergy with Shantotto but I found that it was only good in games that I was already favored, it didn’t help me win games I could lose.
How did it perform during the tournament?
Honestly, about as good as I expected. During Swiss, early games I won just due to the pressure of Setzer & Locke. Dadaluma was an all-star even by himself, especially because Lightning was very popular. My loss was to my friend Likey Serv also playing an Ice/Earth deck, very similar to mine but without Terra. He drew the VI engine first so he got Setzer + Locke down first. Another round I had to play against my good friend Ryan Stolarski on mono Earth which I won due to Delita + Vanille breaking his Dadaluma. Later rounds Terra + Dada really shined and gave me the efficient removal to win any board.
Last round was a ridiculous game where I thought for sure I had lost, he was playing Wind/Earth and had 3 Cactuars at once quite early so I knew I was gone if he had Dadaluma. He did which invalidated my Setzer + Locke leaving me with not much. But my faith in his graciousness was rewarded as I drew The Emperor who was backed by a Summoner which protected it from Chaos, Walker of the Wheel. Turning off the Cactuars meant I could play forwards again and the 8k bodies of Celes and Vayne gave me the blockers and damage pressure I needed to push out a win. This game was an absolute testament to how ridiculous and game-breaking The Emperor is, no other card in the entire game could have turned that game into a win for me. It cemented my belief that it was correct to play The Emperor instead of Terra L even though she gives VI engine access to a summon toolbox.
Quick note, during Swiss I was not playing any copies of Shiva. When I found out deck-lists would be public for top 16, I made sure to add a Shiva so my opponents had to respect the threat. I do think the card is insane and most Ice decks want to run 3, but I already had a large summon count due to Vanille and felt like this deck needed Shiva less because it’s more about creating an unfair board state than cheesing damage through.
Top 16 was when the fun really began. I probably had the most fun and engaging games I’ve ever had against Brad Seagers playing his Lucky Chocobo deck which is essentially mono Lightning with splashed Chocobos for huge damage pressure on top of Lightning’s removal. Going into the round I thought Dadaluma could just carry me to victory because his deck had no efficient ways to remove it without triggering it twice. However, I soon found out that he could just brute force through it and not care about the forward he lost in the process. His deck didn’t really care about its board, only damage, so as long as he got things out of the way he could afford to lose some bodies here and there. Game 1 that exactly happened. Games 2 and 3 I was fortunate enough to get Devout down early and it turned into a chess game. I had to plan a specific set of plays multiple turns in advance that would swing the board enough in my favor in order for me to push attacks through without dying to the crack back. In both games, this involved using Devout to get multiple forwards out in the same turn including Dadaluma, with Terra ready for next turn. Once I got Dada + Terra up without dying and a couple of other forwards, I could start pinging off his forwards cheaply and prevent haste forwards from finishing me off. It was only possible due to Devout, these games proved to me how insane it really is. I won both games on 6 damage.
Top 8 was against Ice/Lightning which is the last kind of deck I want to play against because it’s the kind of deck that you simply can’t beat if it draws all the right cards. Game 1 I had early pressure from Snow (with Serah backup) and Dadaluma, neither of which he could efficiently deal with. A key point was my Dadaluma got hit by a Jihl Nabaat EX. This completely threw my damage lead and he ended up just out-racing me with a top-decked Celes into a Shiva. Game 2 I opened the worst hand in the entire tournament, in all 11 cards the only backups were 2x Masked Woman with Terra as my only efficient forward turn 1 instead of something like Vanille or Dadaluma which can be worked with. So as expected, the game was an uphill battle all the way and there really wasn’t much I could do.
Would I change anything in the deck?
One thing that was very clear to me was, for this top 16 in particular, Opus IV Delita was the wrong card. There were almost no Emperors or Dadaluma around, it was mostly Lightning based decks where the only good target is Amon. In that same vein, Masked Woman under-performed in top cut specifically even though it was great in Swiss. I’d almost certainly put more ice cards in their place, especially a 2-cost in place of Masked Woman so something like my last top 8 game doesn’t happen again. Having 5 cards wrong is quite a lot but I knew going into top 16 that I hadn’t properly prepared a new version of my deck and looking back if I had more chances to test I would have. Overall I’m still very happy with a top 8 finish and I’m very thankful to Lucas Watson for hosting these, giving those of us in obscure locations a chance to play at a competitive level!
- Chris Mattiske (Shikadi)
If you’re interested in more content, including rulings, strategy, gameplay and deck profiles, check out my Youtube channel! https://www.youtube.com/c/shikadi
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