Drowning in Freyas!
Hey everyone! Matt here, are you ready for the rundown of what led me down the path to running Mono Water for our SoCal Circuit Championship!?
First lets answer the question, why Mono Water? Well to be frank this deck has been one of the most consistent archetypes my team and I have played throughout the beginning of Opus 3. Every time we created a deck the biggest question was; can it beat Mono Water?
After many play test sessions we came to the conclusion that, yes there are decks out there that can beat Mono Water; however Mono Water is just too consistent not to play vs. our local Meta and can adapt fairly well against any deck it plays against. A skilled player piloting this deck knows they has multiple lines of play based off each match up, and the deck can put itself in the position to win against almost anything.
The deck excels at "going wide" and by this I mean: getting multiple forwards out on the field at a very efficient pace; while also gaining card advantage. This can be done by simply using Lenna to get back a Water 2 drop, or playing 2 drop Viking to draw a card and then playing another 2 or 3 drop immediately after.
Not only is this deck crafted with ways to expand its army efficiently it has a lot of neat combat tricks that can throw your opponent for a loop, an example is Syldra which can bounce 2 opposing forwards!
Now what everyone has been waiting for... the decklist!
Deck Name: I’m drowning in Freyas - Mono Water
If you are interesting in a more detailed explanation and rundown of this deck be sure to check out our Deck Tech Article that should be release SOON! But for now lets get into the tournament itself!
Round 1: Win
Dan Nguyen - Fire/Lightning/Earth
Having to face a teammate in round 1 is probably one of the worst feelings to have, regardless if you win/lose the other has an uphill battle the rest of the tournament.
This matchup was pretty one-sided; due to the fact I opened up with a turn 1 Yuna into a turn 2 Eiko and then on turn 3 slammed Ashe, which is extremely good vs the burn match ups and from there controlled the pace of the game as I got to 5 back ups.
Dan kept digging for the Shantotto but could not hit it, and he never hit the right 2 drops for Phoenix to matter. This match should have been a lot closer if that was the case.
I also want to note that I was super thirsty and ran out of money to get a Water to drink on that hot day, Dan being the homie he is bought me one right before the match. That was super nice of him. Thank you man! Karma paid off because he proceeded to 4-0 after Round 1!
Round 2: Win
Chris Neal - Fire/Ice
Chris is no stranger to these tournaments as he has been consistently doing well in them ever since he started playing. He is known for his Fire/Ice deck and his very calculated plays.
In the Circuit #5 I had to play this exact same matchup in the semifinals; in which Chris beat me 2-1. Luckily, since then I have learned what cards I need to have to beat this deck and how I need to plan my game out.
This involved me getting to 3 backups as soon as possible while not dying to his turn 1 Shelke > Warrior of Light. This game started off pretty intense; where both of our game plans was to trade damage back and forth up until the we both hit 3-4 damage taken. At this point we both went so wide it was very dangerous for either of us to commit to an attack without risking losing the game the following turn. Luckily this bought me enough time to draw a Cagnazzo and play it + scholar + play it again to fully wipe 5 forwards on his board which sealed the game for me.
Chris is a great player and this was a tough match!
Round 3: Double Loss
Daiki Ochoa - Mono Earth
Daiki and I have been playing against each other at the local card shop (Card Game Coliseum) for quite some time now. Until Opus 3, he always played Wind/Water and struggled a bit placing high in these events….until...he discovered Mono Earth! Ever since he has switched to Mono Earth he has been placing in the top 8 and even Top 4 in the Circuit #6!
With a little bit of knowledge due to conversation exchanged earlier in the day, when we talked about what we were all playing I knew he was Mono Earth. This matchup is very dependant on how Mono Water draws. I need to start off with a 2 drop Yuna backup as early as possible while molding into a Steiner>Eiko play. The reason being is: cards like Famfrit and Leviathan will be very important in this matchup during combat.
In this matchup you want to get to 3 backups as early as possible, with one of them being Yuna. These summons are very important because you want them to walk into attacking with Ursula and you Leviathan their Yang, or you want them to play Vincent > Yuffie and you Leviathan their Yuffie and Famfrit their Vincent, making Yuffie a dead card in their hand until they have another Vincent. Outside of that game plan there is always plan B, which is to force them to go wide (they normally do anyways) and then Cloud of Darkness the board.
Our game started off pretty rough for me being at 5 damage taken by turn 5. He started off pretty explosive with Ursula & Yang early on dealing some good damage to me. Eventually I was able to build up board presence and was finally able to Cagnazzo his board to wipe everything but his Vincent and Feral Chaos. However, we went into time and did not have enough turns to finish the game out. Unlucky for Daiki he misplayed during our turns and used Atomos on my Lenna instead of my Cagnazzo and could not kill me on his last turn.
Round 4: Win
Albert Deng - Mono Fire
Awkwardly enough, I did not test this matchup too much prior to the event; don’t be like me guys! Practice this match up for Nationals! Luckily enough, I was able to adapt quickly and squeak out a win!
Against this deck, normally you want to look for Minwu as a backup and Wakka to compete with the opposing Lebreau. In terms of forwards, we want to have Ashe and keep up with Fire’s Tempo along the way.
This matchup really depends on how the opposing Fire player strategizes their game plan. If the Fire player is going more “Aggro” by utilizing Red Mage early on; then you want to have cards like Ashe, Mimic Gogo, and Garnet to keep up with the tempo while being pretty resilient to most Fire Spells and Abilities. If the Fire player is going more for the late game and is rushing to 5 backups, then you want to mirror that strategy while poking in as much as possible.Luckily for me, Albert decided to take the slower game route; which is better for the Mono Water player since we thrive off of having 3 to 5 backups.
This game was pretty neck and neck until I was able to setup a Lenna > viking > draw a card > Cagnazzo for -5k to his board > Leviathan my Cagnazzo > empty my hand to play Cagnazzo again and do another -5k to his board. This wiped his Emperor Xande which was at 10k because of Lebreau, Machina and Cinque. We both had no cards in hand at that point, except I had 4 forwards on the board after his Xande killed 1 of mine from being broken. After that play and Albert drew his 2 cards he conceded knowing there was no way for him to come back at that point.
Round 5: Win
Josh Prijoles - Ice/Earth
This is probably one of the most fun players you will ever get to play against if you get a chance to compete in the Circuit events. Josh is not only a good player but he is such a nice, friendly guy, and you both will have fun winning or losing while playing. Josh and I have this thing where we always find a way to play each other in every circuit event and low and behold with both of us being 3-1 going into the 5th round of swiss, we play each other!
Going into this match, it really depends on how the Ice/Earth player starts off. The ideal start up you want him to go is play a turn 1 Devout or backups turn 1 and 2 while you are also playing the Economy game the first 2 turns. What you don’t want to happen is for him to go Yang/Ursula, or Vincent/Yuffie, or even Vanille/Yang/Ursula, Vanille/Vincent/Yuffie, turn 1. That start is extremely hard for water to recover from without hitting an EXburst Leviathan or Famfrit.
Luckily for me, he starts off the slow game and we build backups the first few turns. Eventually, he starts spitting out the forward combos onto the board and gets me to 5 damage while he has only taken 1!
At this point, I am able to setup a turn where I can attack with all my dudes (to put him at 4 damage), he decides not to block knowing I have a Cagnazzo in my hand that I scholared back the previous turn. After I sneak my damage in, I Cloud of Darkness the board, he keeps vincent and I keep CoD. I then Famfrit and completely wipe the board. At this point I have 5 backups, 3 cards in hand and he has 3 backups 1 card in hand. From that point on I recover and slowly catch back up to win the game. Lesson learned, don’t always play around combat tricks!
Top 8 Final Standings
- Matt Okimoto - Mono Water
- Arvin Bernardo - Mono Lightning
- Joshua Prijoles - Ice/Earth
- Tony Hsu - Mono Fire
- Kyle Mcginty - Ice/Lightning
- Dan Nguyen - Fire/Lightning/Earth
- Albert Deng - Mono Fire
- Chris Neal - Ice/Fire
Quarter Finals - Win 2-1
Kyle McGinty - Ice/Lightning
This is a pretty crazy match if you saw it on stream. Not only are Kyle and I teammates, and friends for over a decade, he was 1 of my groomsmen for my wedding this year (2017)! That being said, we have a ton of history and practically brewed the 2 decks we played at the championship together. We both know each others decks card for card and how to play against each one.
This is probably a very enlightening match to watch if you ever wondered what the Ice/Lightning Heroic Lulu vs Mono Water matchup looked like. To keep it short and simple, as the Mono Water player you want to play around Zalera & Exodus while poking damage 1 or 2 a turn; don’t over extend into an exodus and don’t walk into an Al-Cid combo and you should be okay.
We both drew pretty poor in terms of backups, but Kyle knew to aggro me out pretty hard by just slamming forwards on the table, and eventually I was too behind to recover. He also got a nice well timed Exodus and killed my Steiner & Lenna. In return I only killed his Onboard Edea.
This was the opposite where I curved out pretty well; had Ashe in play to not get soloed by the Al-Cid combo. I forced him to have to discard Zalera to play Ice Sephiroth and knowing I hit 1 in his damage already meaning he has no more. I knew I could be way more aggressive and eventually win the game.
We both kept our opening hands. This told me we both had the exact start we want in this matchup. Me going turn 1 Yuna 2 drop into turn 2 Eiko into turn 3 Steiner / Mog IX. While he went turn 1 Sage, into turn 2 Gramis into turn 3 5 Drop lulu + 1 backup. Luckily for me, I drew a Minwu and he drew into his dark Sephiroth early on which hurt him, as it was a dead card most of the game because he couldn't save up enough cards to play it without losing tempo.
Eventually it got to a turn where he used exodus on 1 of my forwards and I followed up with a Lenna to get back a Knight. He was at 5 damage and I was at 2. He conceded knowing that I had game the following turn and his hand was full of backups.
Semi-Finals - Win 2-0
Josh Prijoles Ice/Earth
We meet again Josh! But this time in the Semi-Finals and not in Swiss.
Immediately as Josh finds out we are facing each other, he jokingly keeps saying that he is making this too easy for me. He doesn’t give himself enough credit for being a good player! I mean come on he made it to the Semi-Finals of a Championship you had to qualify for!
Anyways, getting into Game 1; I knew my Game plan versus Ice/Earth is very similar to Mono Earth, except for the fact I value Ashe very high in this matchup. Luckily for me, Ice/Earth tends to play a bit slower than Mono Earth which gives me time to build backups, and Game1 gets to a point where I have to force him to Shantotto and immediately after that I Lenna and proceed to out tempo him and win.
This game starts out in my favor very heavily as I get to 3 backups with a Steiner in play early; while he just has a 2 drop yang in play with no monk backup.
This game goes my way for the most part until he Shantotto’s 3 of my dudes. Luckily, I decided to get back Viking with my Lenna instead of Knight, knowing I could be walking myself into a Shantotto. Immediately after he Shantotto’s my board I follow up with a Lenna into a Knight.
On the following turn, he plays Vincent into Yuffie to match me with 2 forwards in play.
On my next turn I Syldra both of his guys and attack for 2 damage and pass.
He proceeded to re-play Vincent and Yuffie on his next turn, but this time he also plays Yang Ursula and completely dumps his hand.
On my turn, I count the cards in my hand and Water cards in play and completely give away I have a Cagnazzo in my hand, haha. Note to self: don’t do that guys; but it was a long day and I was tired. After checking my math 3 times I realized I was one card off from Cagnazzo comboing to kill his entire board. However, since I showed I had a Cagnazzo I attacked with all my forwards expecting him to not block; however, this time he did! Luckily I attacked with my Zidane first and did 7k damage to Vincent who he blocked with. I followed up with a Cagnazzo to kill his Vincent and passed.
The following turn I let him get 1 attack through with Yang and EXburst a Leviathan which then bounced Yang back to his hand. After replaying Yang he passes the turn.
On my turn, I draw my 3rd Leviathan and proceed to Leviathan his Yang and turn my forwards sideways and he concedes.
Finals - Win 2-0
Arvin Bernardo - Mono Lightning
This is a rematch from our finals match in Circuit #4 where we both played each other in finals. At that time, we each played the same Mono Lightning deck. However, this time around I won!
Instead of explaining this match out in extreme detail, you should enjoy watching it on the Card Game Coliseum Facebook page. Spoiler! He is really good at hitting EXburst. https://www.facebook.com/cgcoliseum/videos/1994490917495848/
Overall, I am extremely happy with how the entire SoCal Circuit Season went. I am proud of all my team members who also placed in the Top 8 of the Championship, and each won a Circuit event along the way as well. Great job guys! I am also very thankful for the community we have started in California. The group currently is at 400 people and growing even larger! A BIG thanks to Ultra Pro, Square Enix, Card Game Coliseum, Tier 1 Games, and Magic and Monsters for making this all be a success.
Until next time! If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below. Tell me what you liked/disliked about this article so I can further improve for you guys! Thank you for taking the time to read all of this!
- Matt Okimoto