Over the past 13 Opuses, we have seen some powerful FF TCG cards enter the meta, which have allowed players to create decks that can truly decimate their opponents. In this article, we will take a look at some of the best cards currently in the game, but before we do, we would like to thank Steve Dolman, one of the five founders of the Yuna Young Team, for collaborating with us and sharing his competitive expertise.
Shantotto is arguably the only card from Opus 1 that still holds any meta relevance and is one of the main arguments around FF TCG’s reprint policy as Shantotto can be detrimental to any player, regardless of their skill level. New players think the card is broken as it can clear a full board while their opponent further ramps up their resources. Some players at an intermediate level will occasionally hold back when facing Shantotto, if they are worried about losing their presence and any pressure they have created. Advanced players will recognise the implications of the card counting as every element once it’s on the field. This means that assuming there might be one lurking in their opponent’s deck is the best course of action if they don’t want to lose all of their Forwards in one fell swoop. All but the most aggressive decks based on the ‘Earth’ element are greatly improved by including Shantotto, even four years after her release.
One of FF TCG’s main selling points, from the point of view of card design, is the presence of top-down designed tribal cards and decks. Practically everyone who plays the FF TCG has a favourite Final Fantasy series or a fondness for a special character or job. Separate from a deck being limited to aggro, midrange or control, decks can be constructed as a ‘good stuff’ pile from all the different card types in a single element. Also, a combo deck can be built around a particular card pairing, or a tribal deck built religiously around a single ‘job’ or category. The unique aspect of designing cards based around FF lore allows for some interesting tribal mechanics and lets players base a deck around a favourite game title. Tribal decks can be a fantastic way to embody the spirit of a ‘locals’ environment, which gives FF TCG players a sense of comfort and sentimentality when playing. One card that is a prime example of this is Tenzen, who can allow a tribal deck to rank highly when it comes to competitive play, while still capturing the essence of the Final Fantasy spirit.
Tribal decks are incredibly fun and have existed arguably since the game’s creation, but none have ever ruled the meta until Tenzen came along. Of course, ‘Samurai’ had existed longer than Tenzen but didn’t make much of an impact, despite the main win condition of Samurai decks coming from an older card, Cyan. When it came to Cyan, however, it lacked critical mass and building opportunities, that is until Tenzen came along and fixed every problem at once.
In a relatively vanilla structured deck, Tenzen does everything that a flexible ‘engine’ card ought to. You can play aggressively without compromising card advantage, you can restrain your aggro urges and filter your deck by card quality, provide raw draw power even if the cards he generates aren’t directly played, and ultimately filter the deck towards a combo-esque finish. Whether it’s the right or wrong line of play, Tenzen encouraged an Opus of gameplay where playing Forwards on Turn 1 was at worst, expected, and at best, encouraged, Tenzen remains a card to respect (or fear) in the early stages of Opus XIII.
Tyro can take a few read-throughs to be fully understood and appreciated but is certainly a card that suits almost all situations. As a tempo-oriented TCG, Tyro helps you find the best card in your deck while fixing colours of CP and significantly buffing Forward sizes. It is probably the single largest Predecessor of multicolour decks and other decks that play odd cards of unrelated elements here and there.
Some critics of the ‘Earth’ element may complain that earth is no longer the home of under-costed large stompy Forward ‘fight’ effects and grindy value cards. The card instead finds itself in an unusual position of being a utility belt for other elements, based more around colour fixing. When it comes to overcoming this complaint, Tyro takes the seat as the patron saint. Tyro’s flexibility, level of power, and sheer game-winning EX-burst luck-out moments are all undeniable, regardless of whether you belong to the camp of players that consider Tyro the gateway to the ‘modern’ way of playing the FF TCG or think that his card design is broken in parts.
Referred to by most fans as a ‘.5 Opus’, the short period between the end of the previous and beginning of a new Opus usually sees the release of a Starter Deck that typically contains 10 or so new cards. These new cards spike in popularity as players look for something new to inject some freshness into the current meta before the next Opus arrives. Kadaj is one of the most successful of these cards, and both the character and pace of the FF TCG have been noticeably different since his introduction into the game. Dark and Light cards are supposed to be stronger than the other elements as compensation for their drawback of not being discardable for CP – Kadaj definitely delivers this more than any other monochrome card.
In the short-lived ‘Opus 10.5’ format, Kadaj single-handedly forced every deck that was popular for the previous 6 months to completely redesign itself to stay relevant, from the core cards to acceleration. Aggressive decks benefit from an endless source of ‘Dulling’ the most fearsome blockers, midrange decks appreciate the micro advantages picked up by banishing cards from the Break Zone to weaken rival recursion-heavy strategies, and control deck players will appreciate the sheer difficulty that Kadaj imposes on the opponent, who will struggle to remove him from the field.
Neo Exdeath (12-110L)
There comes a point in most ‘Top Card lists’, that cards are no longer praised for their design alone but highlighted for the way that they can be abused in play. Our next pick, despite being a great card that fits that criteria, seems to have slipped through the playtesting net.
‘Neo Exdeath’ would be a fair, if somewhat ignorable card, if his end-of-turn effect only kicked in once the opponent possessed 4 or more Characters. Because this isn’t the case, ‘Neo Exdeath’ becomes the single most warping aggressive strategy left in the FF TCG since the ‘Thaumaturge’ ban that greatly damaged the Turbo Ice deck.
Like Burn archetypes in Magic The Gathering!, ‘Neo Exdeath’ changes the game on a mathematical level, rather than an interactional level. This card will foil ambitious turn 6 plans, make resource setup worthless and shorten the lifespan of anything you commit to the field unless you get ‘Neo Exdeath’ off the field immediately. Is this even possible without wasting your hand or playing into the ‘Neo Exdeath’ player’s counterspells?
If we have missed any of your favourite FF TCG cards, keep an eye out for our future articles covering the best competitive cards as of Opus XIII: Crystal Radiance. If you would like to take a closer look at the latest FF TCG set, check out our article here.
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