Rice’s Interview with recent Winners

Rice's Interview with recent Winners

Hey guys, Rice here. For my article this time I really wanted to give some lesser known names a place to speak. I even have some more well known people with me! Just a little interview with them all about how it all went, how this season of FFTCG has been for them, and what they might look forward to. I met some pretty nice people doing this, I hope you enjoy the read!

First off, one of my closest FFTCG friends and fellow fan of red cards. Nicholas Schnell!

Sadly I know the answer to this, but who are you and where are you from? How long have you been playing?

  • The name is Nick Schnell, and I'm from Newark, Delaware. I have been playing Final Fantasy since the middle of Opus 2, and I played Pokemon TCG for 2 years before that.

Where and how was your LQ?

  • The LQ was at an awesome little store called Game Zone in Hillsdale, NJ. There were 33 players. The store actually rented out a local church hall so that we'd have more room and it was fantastic. Definitely executed very professionally. The TO of the event ran pairings and it went off without any issues at all.

What deck did you decide on playing? How was it?

  • So, originally my group/team were all playing an identical Wind/Water list.  Exactly what you'd think. I had placed 2nd with it at the LQ in New York the week prior. We were prepared for the event, and obviously that deck just runs like butter. But being at work all day the Friday before this event, I was trying to think of all the decks that would be there and what's the strongest possible counter to those decks. Turns out ALL of those cards were Ice or Dark. I also was itching to play Sephiroth because the card is very strong and I hadn't used him so far in all of Opus VIII. Basically, I threw together a Mono Ice list, bounced the idea/counts off my teammates and they agreed it looked very strong. The morning of the tournament, I filled out two deck lists, and I just took a deep breath and handed the TO the ice list.  I had tested the deck zero times, and just hoped I could coast off playing all these anti meta cards.

How do you like the Opus VIII meta?

  • I think the meta is honestly very stale. The best players are always playing the most consistent decks, which is expected, but I think the card combos that are Tier S+ powerful (Zidane, Star/Semih engine, YRP, Flans, Leila/Viking, Veritas) just completely take over the meta. If you aren't playing a deck around one of these engines, then you can't ever reach the value that all these decks are achieving.  They actually create a meta where 75% of the card pool isn't even viable because they aren't on that power level.

Any specific things you’d like to see in Opus IX?

  • I'll get the obvious comment "Good Fire Cards" out of the way.  But, honestly I'd like to either see cards printed that directly punish these strong engines, or just stronger engines that somehow can't be combined with the already tier 1 engines.  I've said it a hundred times already, but Control in general is way too strong in this game.  Basically every single deck right now just sets up, and waits until they one-sided board wipe their opponent, and then they start attacking (or milling).   Also, let me play Cadets.

What’s one tip you'd give for anyone looking to get into competitive FFTCG?

  • Don't get discouraged. I see a lot of players that are on the cusp of competing get upset when they lose even 1 game. They think they'll never get there. It's very important to keep pushing and putting the time in.  Be a sponge - absorb everything you can from players better than you, and soon you'll be a strong as them. If someone tells you a play you made isn't good, or a card choice might be "fun" but not strong enough, they're probably right, and they just want to help you be better.

One last thing, how excited are you for the Dadaluma ban?!

  • So, I'll start by saying I don't think this card should’ve been banned. My thought process is that a card should only be banned if it shouldn't have been printed in the first place (doesn't follow a certain value trend), like Gesper. I am VERY happy to not have to play against Dadaluma ever again, so don't get me wrong. One last thing I'll say is if I had to pick one card to ban and take Dadaluma back, it would be Y'shtola. Your Opponent pays 3cp and they get a forward on curve who is almost immortal, and they invalidate every play you have that is more than 3cp in return. That is way over the top in my opinion.

Next up we’ve got Laurence Oliva of Team Tantalus!

Give me a little intro on yourself. Where are you from? How long have you been playing?

  • Started August 2 years ago, during Opus 3 in Atlanta, GA. Found it randomly on FF wiki and did the research/found a store 10 minutes from the house and bought 2 boxes. Things started rough for me. Plenty of 0-4 and 0-5 results. I just couldn’t get the hang of deck building. It was unlike any other card game for me. I was borderline ready to quit the game. I eventually got the hang of it, and now here I am. On my way to Nationals!

Where and how was your LQ?

  • Played at Galactic Quest in Buford. We have a pretty good size group for big tourneys/prerelease, usually about 24-30 show. Unfortunately, was too short notice for some, so we had 7 come out, but definitely had some killers. Sam Tuell, Joe Basil, and Ken Bailey which are all multiple CC top cuts were present.

What deck did you decide on playing? How was it?

  • I played Water/Wind Veritas. It played very well. I actually had a lot of luck pulling off the 5cp Yuna/ Chaos combo.

How do you like the Opus VIII meta?

  • Opus VIII meta has been very intriguing to me, because I haven't seen such a diverse meta since I've been playing the game. I'm really happy with the health of the game.

Any specific things you’d like to see in Opus IX?

  • More interesting mechanics, like the newly spoiled Ice Moogle that dulls for wind. I'd love to see Terra, need a good Terra  in my life (I don't play ice generally).

What’s one tip you'd give for anyone looking to get into competitive FFTCG?

  • Message me. Seriously. I'm on messenger to an unhealthy level. Check out the breadth of content creators, many of them are very approachable. And join our community-run OCTGN Open, it's invaluable tournament experience for no charge, it's literally free.

How do you feel about the Dadaluma ban?

  • It's not about being broken, OP or unfair. Because it wasn't. It's about changing a very highly played meta deck so it can reach new potentials. I can appreciate their decision to ban it and I like my newer version better anyway.

Anything you’d like to say Laurence?

  • Just a shout out to my man Jordan Denk, we've theory crafted and built decks through 3 Opus metas now and I couldn't ask for a better teammate or friend. Shoutouts to the #Empire and #Tantalus - love you guys. I look forward to seeing all of you in Cali this fall! Come up and say hey! Anyone who beats me in Swiss during nats I'm buying a beer that night...so let's go! Oh, And thanks to Matthew Rice for everything he does. 😘

NorCals own, Bryan Lue!

Give me a little intro on yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been playing?

  • I'm a player based in Northern California, and I've been playing since Opus 3. I've played Magic since high school, and played Force of Will competitively for about two years, and I've qualified for Worlds at FoW. I also have a background in Yu-Gi-Oh and Hearthstone as well, so I have a pretty well rounded background in card games, and a lot of my TCG experience is relevant here.

Where and how was your LQ?

  • My LQ was at Isle of Gamers in Santa Clara, and it was ok. I think this was just after Portland, and I was still hungry after missing queuing for Nats/Worlds. I felt that I had a leg up since I did so much prep for Portland, so it was actually a pretty easy event. I knew the meta, and a bunch of regulars couldn't make it or were out of practice.

How do you like the Opus VIII meta?

  • I actually really enjoy it. I think that most players actually don't have a good handle on what the best decks in the format are, and it really rewards players for understanding matchups. To be fair, I love Veritas. When I was testing for Portland, I got my face pounded in on Untap by that card, and found that I had to respect it. It's such a format defining card and I think that most players are just splashing it as opposed to building around it, which I think isn't the most optimal. I like that the format is also slower and a bit more of a grind, but random resilient aggressive decks can punish decks that get too greedy.

Any specific things you’d like to see in Opus IX?

  • There isn't something super particular I want, but I would like to see more balance between the colors for constructed, like giving more love to Fire. I like that they're providing more support for mono forward decks, and I'd like to see more of that. Mono forwards seems to be something our region really likes, so cards that reward taking that deck building risk is cool.

What’s one tip you'd give for anyone looking to get into competitive FFTCG?

  • To be competitive, the best way to go about it is to understand yourself, and the best way that you learn. The goal is to always try to be better than your previous self, and that involves growth. Growth only happens when you recognize your shortcomings, and are honest with about those shortcomings, then improving on those.

One last thing, your thoughts on the Dadaluma ban?!

  • So, here's the thing about Dadaluma: I don't think that they're being honest about the real reason why they're banning it. Just to get it out of the way, I don't think it's too powerful, and I think it's actually bad in this meta. It's effective at keeping bad decks out, and also makes the fire ice matchups super easy, but in the context of the meta, it's actually not that good. In a sense, it does keep things stale because it keeps out rogue decks, but it's not that oppressive just in terms of power level. But the real reason I think that they banned it is because they didn't design Dadaluma to be abused with Cactuar and other ping like effects, and this is their way of fixing it while saving face. It's a card that's on the power level of Ls, but isn't an L. I've never played a Final Fantasy game before, but it's my understanding that Dada is a minor character that gets crushed in the first 5 minutes in VI. Why does such a minor character get such a major effect, when the game tends to trend powerful effects to key characters?

Half Squall cosplayer, half Air Force. Brandon Harding!

Give me a little intro on yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? How long have you been playing?

  • My name is Brandon Harding. I’m from Oklahoma, but I’m in the Air Force and am currently in Colorado. I started playing last summer when I was at tech school in Texas.

What deck did you decide on playing? How was it?

  • I played Ice/Earth for my LQ anticipating a lot of Mono Water. Which I did end up playing three times. It was fine. There was some confusion with the store about the distribution of prizes and how to run the event since they’d never held an FFTCG event before. I didn’t drop a single game though and it was on my birthday so it was quite the present!

How do you like the Opus VIII meta?

  • I’m a pretty big fan of it to be honest, I think it is a pretty diverse meta. Although I do find there to be an abundance of water players, which makes streams a little less enjoyable to watch. I am definitely looking forward to a meta shift next month with the release of Opus IX.

Any specific things you’d like to see in Opus IX?

  • I think like a lot of other people I’d like to see Mono Fire get some good support. I was really hoping specifically for a new Squall L. Which we didn’t get. Seeing the VIII cast getting some love is awesome though.

What’s one tip you'd give for anyone looking to get into competitive FFTCG?

  • My biggest tip would be to play often and watch tournament streams. Back when I was in Tech School and first started playing my friend Anthony and I would play all during lunch and watch streams during the evening. Then we both went and won LQs after about a month or so of play time and went to nationals. You can learn a lot from the streams.

One last thing, your thoughts on the Dadaluma ban?!

  • As an avid Ice player I’m ecstatic about it. From an objectionable standpoint however I am not sure exactly how warranted it was. He definitely limited creativity within Earth/Wind and has been a powerful force for a long time. I’ll be excited to see what Earth/Wind players do next. I think a couple other bans to shake things up would have been great, but I respect the decision and appreciate the thought Square put into it.

That’s it! Thanks for reading guys, and thank you to the ones I interviewed this time. Hope you all enjoyed it. I may do this more often! Maybe even next week...

- Rice


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