A few weeks ago I won the Wind Crystal Cup in Milan. This is my second Crystal Cup victory including the Water Cup in Norwich, and my 3rd Top 4 appearance in a row at them due to winning the previous Crystal Cup and Top 4 at Dusseldorf. Like previous European Crystal Cups this one again was Swiss best of 1 during day 1 (7 rounds this time) into a top 32 cut day 2. Day 2’s top 32 cut did 4 rounds of draft (best of 1) into a top 8 cut from those players, playing best of 3 knockouts to determine the winner. I went 6-1 in Day 1, 4-0 in draft my only loss was during the final round of Swiss to Mono Wind. At this point it’s basically science to say that losing the final round of Swiss is a victory condition as I did the exact same thing in Norwich.
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Deck Name: No Pressure. 1st place Wind Crystal Cup
Created by: yehosera
1 Aerith (8-049)
3 Chelinka (7-054)
1 Halicarnassus (7-119)
3 Paine (1-199)
1 Paine (2-063)
1 Y'shtola (5-068)
3 Zidane (3-056)
3 Porom (5-135)
3 Yuri (7-128)
3 Bartz (1-080)
3 Fina (8-060)
3 Valefor (1-198)
3 Cuchulainn, the Impure (2-133)
3 Diabolos (5-062)
3 Miounne (5-067)
2 Rikku (1-089)
3 Yuna (1-177)
3 Aleria (7-043)
2 Echo (5-053)
2 Merlwyb (2-137)
1 Shinra (6-048)
Note: don’t write your decklist like this without rarity codes you’ll get a warning! A lot of people learnt that the hard way at Milan.
Here I want to talk a bit about my draft deck before diving into the constructed portion of the event. In drafting opus 8 there are 3 powerful colors: Ice, Fire, and Wind. Lightning is a close, but only really energizes with Fire. Beyond those three colors Lightning, Water, and Earth can all make very potent Mono decks, because they all have heavy synergy with themselves and no other colors. Water can be played as a Mono deck focusing on Astrologian if 8+ are picked up, Earth can focus on FFXV characters as they’re generally open if you’re the only person drafting Earth and Lightning relies on more Lightning cards to make their cards playable. The signs I look for before deciding if a color is open is as follows:
Ice - Celes, Umaro, Ark Angel GK, and Shiva as well naturally, but if you open a Shiva you’re playing Ice so it should never really get passed until pack 4/5
Fire - Ihora, Rain, Ark Angel HM
Wind - Deathgaze, Alexander, then for the mono decks, these cards HAVE to be included at multiples to work, so if they’re being passed they’re likely to be open.
Water - Astrologian (multiples 8+ minimum are needed for playing Mono Water), Alexander, Nichol
Earth - Gladiolus (multiples of this card and Noctis are the ONLY reason to look into playing Mono Earth and the biggest indicator that it is open)
Lightning - Only playable with either Rufus, Sakura or 2 Jake or 4 Diana+/Alba. Indicators it’s open: Jinnai, Shango
My pack 1, pick 1 was something weak like Ihora I believe, and then I was passed an Ark Angel GK, so in my mind Ice was open when coming from my left. They rapidly dried up and it appeared that only the person directly to my left was not drafting Ice or the packs weren’t very ice heavy. This didn’t help as almost every pack I opened had a plethora of Fire and Ice cards meaning that other people on the table probably thought that the colors were open, thus increasing my competition for the colors. I started to take Wind cards as well during pack 1, but by pack 3 I hadn’t seen any indicators that Wind was actually open (no Deathgaze or Alexanders) so I had to abandon the idea of using Wind as my secondary to Fire rather late into the draft. I wanted to play Mono Fire however, I only had 3 fire backups by the end of pack 4 so I was forced into playing Ice. At this point as well I only had 3 Ice forwards, my draft was a bit of a mess. Lots of backups and forwards in differently elements and a stack of 10 wind backups. In my final pack I had to pass Zenos just to take Edgar as my first pick, I was really lucky though in the final pack and not 1 but 2 Yotsoyu found their way to me along with an Umaro, Celes, and Time Mage giving me a complete deck. The 40 pictured cards were my only 40 Fire and Ice cards excluding 1 copy of the Mask. Every Ice forward in the deck is an exceptionally potent card capable of carrying games on their own (minus Time Mage), this made the Ice cards worth picking up. There are only 2 cards of H+ rarity in the deck, Vivi and Squall. The Vivi I never played so Squall was the only real H card in the deck which really does showcase how powerful Fire/Ice is in opus 8 as I basically forced the color combination and built a deck of Rares and Commons yet was still able to pull out another 4-0 finish in draft.
Round 1 – I opened an insane hand. T1 a backup, T2 Ark Angel HM, Setzer, Red Mage. T3 I had Umaro. T4 Ihora + Samurai, T5 Cocytus, T6 Samurai x2, T7 Ark Angel GK. It was basically solitaire, only another Fire/Ice deck has the flexibility to manage that kind of a draw.
Round 2 - This game was carried by Squall, it's basically a Yuri in this format. I got a really cool lethal where Umaro let me discard my last card in hand to turn the Squall effect on.
Round 3 - I took two hits from Ark Angel Hard Mode, which truly put the game on hard mode for me. However, forward simulator is one of my specialties so it wasn't too hard despite that opening.
Round 4- Stream Game - https://youtu.be/olvHcxj0SHg?t=12063
Yuna - Naturally included in the deck as she enables Valefor and Paine which are the reasons to play the deck. Some games Yuna will not be drawn and it is important to identify when that happens and transition over to playing Mono Wind. The deck is still essentially a Mono Wind deck with extra step, so you can revert into becoming a weaker than usual Mono Wind deck but this only happens if you are not drawing the Water cards so it should be a weaker than usual Mono Wind deck with some nutty draws.
Rikku - Originally Rikku was at 3, however, I cut her down to 2 to make space for a 2nd Echo on the day of the event to try and increase my early game consistency. This was a mistake and Yuna should've been cut down to 2 as I always fetch Yuna with EX Paine, so I want to have higher odds of drawing the Rikku after playing EX Paine. Rikku and Yuna are the only backups without entry abilities and this Rikku could have been the EX Rikku. EX Rikku helps the deck in the early turns deal damage without taking damage, but the deck destruction effect is too powerful vs decks like Mono Water and Earth Wind. Even though damage is always the primary win condition with this deck, having a side plan sometimes pulls through.
Miounne - Much like in Earth/Wind Urianger, the Miounne is the extra dimension the decks needs to gain an upper hand vs the competition. Miounne returning Paine is absolutely insane, not only does it put 2 essentially 0cp cards into play, it also improves your hand by letting the player filter bad cards out of it. This play essentially ends most games due to the advantage gained by it. Then naturally as everything is an entry ability (minus Y'shtola, Aerith, Yuri, Yuna, Rikku) there's always some way of utilizing the card's unique ability to get the utter hand.
Aleria - She's the only odd costed backup in the deck (Echo can be odd costed sometimes) so it is important to have 3 of her to try and help curve better. Brother can be considered, but Shinra is just better for this deck as the extra EX Bursts help out more than the smooth backup curve would help. The main reason it is okay to have so few odd costed backups is because the deck has a lot of odd costed forwards to help smooth out early turns and not waste CP.
Shinra - EX and adds Paine. I would like more Shinra in the future (probably over the 2nd Rikku or 3rd Yuna).
Merlwyb - This card is really really important. Even though it looks like a gross waste of CP as it essentially is a 2cp Evoker, by being able to filter the deck and discard early copies of Yuri the card helps the deck draw towards the next backup. During the early stages of the game it is really important to play as many draw cards as possible to help find the next backup to not skip a beat. The draw 2 effect is invaluable, Gramps and Artimecion both have flaws that Merlwyb covers for. Gramps can only draw 1 card whereas Arti is not an EX. Arti could be more useful as it can save Yuris for later on, but the added EX Bursts will help more (as EX Bursts synergies with more EX Bursts).
Echo - My 2nd favorite backup in the deck. The modifiers on the card coupled with the EX Burst really set the card above others. The fact that on turn 1 it is a 4cp card that allow you to skip a draw phase (by filtering 2 cards) to help draw towards the next backup a turn quicker and later on in the game it's untap modifier lets you ramp towards higher backup counts while still drawing towards the next useful card is why I like the card so much. It's flexibility to be good early and late basically.
Valefor - At this point I don't think I have to say anything about the card except that it's okay to discard some early with this deck as Fina is essentially 2x Valefor.
Cuchulainn, the Impure - I see a lot of players discard this card like it's not a 3CP remove a forward draw a card. It is important to try and keep this card in hand whenever possible because one Valefor on the EX coupled with this is a dead forward. Similarly another copy of Cuchu going into the EX pile = dead forward. It also has synergy with the Aerith death effect. The point is, the card is REALLY good when it costs 3CP so I try to preserve it in hand whenever possible. Naturally a 3 of as with Yuna the card is really nice.
Diabolos - Best summon in the game, probably want 3.
Aerith - While some people say she should be a 2nd Y'shtola, I don't actually want to cast Y'shtola twice. In addition, if I have Y'shtola on the field a 2nd could be useless. So I play 1 Aerith as in some spots she's nice. The idea is that Aerith and Y'shtola shouldn't really die without the opponent going out of their way to remove them, so multiples aren't really necessary. She's also an auto win vs Fire/Ice, Mono Lightning etc.
Y'shtola - While some people prefer multiples of her she can't actually die. In addition she is not a core component of the deck's game plan since she is not an entry ability forward, she does not filter my deck, and she does not deal area damage. She's just nice to have on the field so I play 1 and if I draw her nice, if not it's not actively hurting my game plan not having her.
Halicarnassus - I cast this card as a Knight a few times. It was decent. I'm currently trying with Steiner instead of Hali (as it's a water forward with EX), but I think it depends on what decks you play vs a lot which is better. Hali has very high potential, but Steiner is better most of the time, it's just when Hali is good Hali is VERY good.
Chelinka - I play 3 because I ALWAYS search her with Aleria. Don't add Yuri you'll just draw another copy immediately after and complain. She's really important vs decks with cards like Maria and Wakka to trade into their buffed up forwards and the 2k area burn is helpful with Valefor and Fina. Against Ice decks and other Wind decks they usually tend to struggle to remove Yuri from the field so the party attack effect comes up more frequently than you would expect and the game is won the moment the party attack goes through.
Zidane - Card's pretty good.
Paine - Card's pretty good.
Yuri - Card's pretty good. Don't be afraid to start Kung Fu Fighting with Yuri (playing it like a black belt and not leaving the backups up to use it's ability).
Porom - Much like the backups, Porom is to help filter the deck early towards the next backup. Porom does have some nice late game utility as most backups have action effects and by the end of the game they are looking for the action abilities to gain value over the immediate value entry abilities provide, so being able to shut off cards like Miner, Minfilia, Archer is very nice. Also the card has EX.
Fina - This deck was good last opus, but with this fancy new Fina card...it's something else. The sheer win % simply playing Fina and Valefor in the same turn must add to the deck is insane. Not only is she a Bartz type card to instantly gain initiative, she can become a 9,000 power Edea vs certain decks. Basically, don't discard Fina, play her to the field and you'll probably win, at the very least it'll bump the win % by a lot.
Bartz - The Wanderer gets cut from a lot of Water/Wind lists, but he is still an extremely potent card. Since the days of opus 1 he's been allowing Paine to both attack and block! Bartz has the hidden text, opponent has to block your Wind forwards, this is because a 1-2CP 9k is a decent card, but a 1-2CP 9k with entry ability give 1 forward brave that's still okay. The moment it starts saying give 2+ forwards brave there is a problem. Being able to freely attack knowing that if they block cards like Cuchu/Chelinka come online and if they do not block then your forwards can still defend, it's basically turning their damage zone into free real estate. Finally, sometimes you EX a Bartz with a Yuri on the field and the other player sighs very heavily.
Top 8 Matchups
Finals - https://youtu.be/olvHcxj0SHg?t=26917
Mono Water - Basically just let them tire themselves out. They get all excited to play Leila, Viking, Famfrit, and Veritas they'll discard a bunch of good cards at the start and end up playing a deck of like 1 Cagnazzo, 1 Nichol, 1 CoD, 2 Lenna vs you. Essentially their early cards cost a lot of cards in hand so end up depleting their decks overall power level quite a bit by being played. Mill is naturally a win condition, because they draw even more than you. Firstly try to Zidane a Minwu out of their hand otherwise you have to play a different style (essentially you play beaters + Yuri and it gets there if they have Minwu), without Minwu you can sit back, let them do their fancy Veritas and Famfrit stuff and just kinda kill all their forwards. It's really nice of them to play Veritas vs Water Wind as there are 0 breakable backups in the deck, so be sure to thank them the moment one touches the field. If you see a VoD + Famfrit play, just Diabolos the VoD and sac your only forwards to the VoD 2nd ability and the other 2 fizzle, just be mindful that there are a billion ways to outplay their only good plays and the match up is fine. Be sure to establish yourself as the aggressor early on as in the middle of the game their deck is actually stronger, so every attack they cannot make due to the threat of a top deck Yuri being lethal is a point of damage healed.
Mono Wind - Both decks essentially play the same forwards. This deck has Hali and Porom meanwhile they get Moogle and more copies of Y'shtola and Aerith. The main advantage Water Wind gets is access to Fina + Valefor, which generally clears everything. While it's possible to play a slow game and setup to board clear, they have a lot of tools to get in the way, Zidane can take combo pieces and Archers can remove Yuna, in addition they sometimes play Rikku so you will deck out first and Maria makes Fina + Valefor + Chelinka be needed making it harder to setup the combo while removing their forward's abilities with Yuri. So the best approach is just SMOrc them. Early forwards and pressure to try and get them to simplify the game state early on puts Water Wind in a better position due to the high EX concentration. Trading damage is one way Water Wind can beat any deck because something like a Shinra EX can just be lethal due to the advantage it provides. Just trade damage and try to win in a race or go for a super long setup plan.
Ice/Water - Funny thing really, this set they released this really cool Fina card that in combination with Valefor removes the whole deck. The don't play Aulstyne so you can just go all in on the board and they can't really do anything about it. Sit back, let them play their stuff, Fina + Valefor + some other stuff and the game ends. You can deck them out if you really want, but it's just easier to board clear them.
Why no Alhanalem?
The card is vital to Mono Wind's success, but in Water/Wind it's generally easier to board clear. This is because in Mono the only other area damage (to go with Fina) is Chelinka or multiple Yuri activation, so something to help with their board clear turns is needed. In Water/Wind Valefor exists so it's not really needed. This is because the card is only live when Chelinka or Yuri are in play, so it is still possible to scrape together a bootleg clear with Fina and Yuri, while in Mono the help is actually needed as a bootleg clear is their only option without it, in Water/Wind the bootleg clear is already the worst option whereas simply having a Valefor in hand makes the clear a lot easier. In addition the card is not an entry ability backup and would cut into the other, more necessary, backups that filter towards more helpful early game cards. As the early game is when the deck is weakest it's better to have cards that help then rather than late game cards.
I keep drawing no backups, should I add more to improve my odds of drawing some early on?
There are no cards I really want to cut, nor would suggest cutting for more backups. It might be a case of not jamming the 4CP cards that filter the deck early enough, as that's a mistake I made a lot when I first started with the deck. It is possible to swap 1 Yuna and 1 Rikku out for 2 more Shinra as Shinra is a double backup (as in he adds Paine which adds another backup), so if not drawing backups early persists I would experiment with more copies of Shinra, Merwylb, and Echo. In addition, playing Aerith/Zidane/Y'shtola on turn 2 isn't a brick those are really powerful cards that can go the distance when played early vs a lot of decks.
Why no breakable backups?
Even though those cards can be helpful, such as Archer for Minwu/Wakka, I would much rather entry abilities to help in the early game and struggle late game when I have more options and more ways to navigate the game away from situations where the cards that breakable backups would help against.
Tips for beating Ice?
Always Zidane as soon as Sephiroth is playable, without Sephiroth Ice decks are very weak against Water/Wind. In general try and think about how many cards they can discard to make Aulstyne live (if he's in the deck) and try to avoid that while playing Yuri. Yuri is the bane of Ice as he provides infinite value without requiring the player to ever have cards in hand. Naturally Ice decks tend to suck when it comes to hard removal so getting both Chelinka and Yuri onto the field and having them stick isn't too hard a situation to get, this also wins the game. Finally once the flans or their mass discard effects run out, Fina + Valefor is generally lethal, it's just a game of surviving really.
Why 3 Miounne instead of 2?
Miounne is a core backup I want to see as early as turn 1, so I would like to draw it as soon as possible. It is helpful in the early game because it draws cards to help you find additional backups and in the mid-late game it is helpful for the forwards with entry abilities. Essentially the card is always good and I want to play the card as soon as possible as with 0 breakable backups if it is not drawn on time it will not get played.
Water cards and Yuna?
Provided that some filter is drawn having a Water card for Yuna is rarely a problem. Some games, naturally, the deck will miss but in the vast majority of games some filter cards and saving a Water card go a long way.
Famfrit over Cuchulainn?
While Famfrit is undoubtedly a potent summon with Yuna in play, the deck does not have the support network needed to make the card really shine. Famfrit would help vs Ice decks as it could manage the initial forwards like Locke and Sephiroth, even vs Earth Wind the card would be helpful for managing an early Kam'lanaut. One of the downsides to Famfrit is that beyond those early turns it really trails off in power because many decks have good Famfrit blockers (Viking, Veritas, Zidane, Serah) and Cuchu is able to be used alongside other cards in the deck as a piece of combo removal (most notably with Valefor). Finally, there are no forwards the deck wants to sacrifice as they need to connect for damage due to the deck having a short lifespan and generally discarding forwards to gain CP.
Mirror matches and Ice/Earth?
In the mirror, naturally the player that sticks an Yshtola or Aerith is favored as playing before Yuri before a board clear takes a lot of time. Otherwise I wouldn't say aggression wins the mirror (due to the high EX Burst count), but dealing 1 point of damage a turn helps. This is just for the pure mirror, for vs other water wind variants, you cannot kill them your backups draw too many cards, the main advantage stems from Aerith and Bartz (simply because they are cards not played in other versions of water wind), so trying to find ways of using those cards to gain value through Yuri is one way to gain the upper hand. Other decks (water wind decks) tend to feature less entry effect backups making early forwards a way to secure the board and force an early Fina clear from the opponent a way to win. Against ice/earth, I can only suggest Zidane. Sephiroth is so dominant vs the deck, only Zidane to remove Sephiroth from their hand or Y'shtola to cancel the entry is the best advice. Other than that save cards in hand and try to preserve Fina or Valefor until after they blow their discard load. In general if Aulstyne lands the game ends so try to stockpile cards or establish early Yuri and outlive their discard. This isn't a 100% win strategy, and the match up sucks, so don't be disheartened by T2 Seph and T4 Aulstyne!
What changes would you make to the deck?
I would try out Steiner and 2 more Shinra. Other than that there isn't really much else I want to change, the deck plays smoothly and generally is unbeatable when on 5 backups. If you want to checkout those changes in action follow my stream at: www.twitch.tv/yehoserathehat
My age this year is the day of the month my favorite element gets a cool new war leader.
TL;DR Fina x3 won another Crystal Cup
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