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The History of Final Fantasy TCG – A Phoenix From the Ashes

Final Fantasy TCG History

The Final Fantasy TCG is based on the hugely popular video game series that began way back in 1987. Since that first title, 93 games have followed, spawning hundreds of memorable characters. This expansive universe now offers the TCG endless amounts of inspiration for designing their cards with plenty more avenues to explore. This article will explore the history of Final Fantasy TCG.

On March 26th, the 13th Opus will arrive in stores, adding even more Multi-Element Forwards to the game, as well as introducing three Legacy Cards: Vivi, Fina, and Fusoya. Not only that, but players will also be able to embark on the very first Boss Battle against the extremely powerful ‘Boss Deck: Chaos’. In this format, up to 3 players can take on the Boss Deck player and form a strategy to take down the dreaded Chaos – the final boss from the original Final Fantasy game.

With those exciting features coming very soon, the FF TCG continues to go from strength to strength and is considered a well-polished and successful game. What many people don’t know, however, is that it is a reboot of a cancelled game that was only available in Japan.

Final Fantasy TCG History: The Chapter Series

Not many games get a second chance at life; thankfully, the Final Fantasy TCG was an exception to the rule, although the original version wasn’t exactly a failure. The variation of the game we play today began in 2016, while the original version started in 2011 and ran until 2015. Back then, each set was released in Chapters rather than the Opuses we are used to today. Although both games are similar in appearance and the way they play, there are several differences between the original and the Opus Series.

First of all, the Chapter Series was only released in Japan, meaning there were never any English cards produced. The general rules of both games are practically the same, with a few differences made to fix some of the shortcomings. Physically, the card fronts are similar in appearance, except for the “Category” attribute that was added to add synergy with other cards. Also, the original text box made it difficult to identify certain card types, something that was improved upon in the Opus Series. The backs of the cards are another difference between the two series, with the Chapter Series having a white background and the Opus series getting a revamped texture and a black colour palette.

A notable similarity between both games is some of the card art; this is mainly because on some occasions, they recycled them! It wasn’t just a case of lazy repurposing, however, as it was the entire card that was rebooted with new attributes and tweaked the text to fine-tune it to the new and improved version of the game.

Cloud Final Fantasy

Why Was the Final Fantasy TCG Chapter Series Cancelled?

Although many people have speculated about why the Chapter Series ended, some believe that it was due to a dwindling fan base and the abundance of broken cards. The truth of the matter is, the original FF TCG was purposely discontinued to reboot it for worldwide audiences. Starting from scratch gave Square Enix the rare opportunity to take player feedback and use it to perfect their game. The decision didn’t come without risk, as there was no guarantee it would find success in the wider world. Also, there was a massive chance of upsetting and alienating the fan base they had built up throughout its 4-year run. All things considered, the gamble paid off. If it wasn’t for this reboot, the game would have remained solely in Japan and wouldn’t have had a fraction of the popularity it has today.

Although the Chapter Series ended 6 years ago, it is certainly not forgotten within Final Fantasy TCG history. Square Enix holds a yearly fan fair every February to celebrate it. With all the fundamental aspects still in place, as well as the art that influenced the Opus series, the Chapter Series lives on in the current game and is merely the predecessor of the TCG we know and love.

Are People Still Collecting The Chapters Series?

Although the Opus Series took over from the Chapter Series, the original game is still highly collectable. Some of the cards are still selling for over $70 (£50) each. With the game long out of print, this makes a lot of sense. Among the rarest of these cards is the alternate art promo Yuna, Terra, and Sephiroth.

Rare Chapter Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy TCG History: Birth Of The Opus Series

Instead of giving each set its own unique name, as seen in TCGs like Pokemon, Magic, and Yu-Gi-Oh, The Final Fantasy TCG opted to call their sets ‘Opus’, with an assigned roman numeral going up in chronological order. This gives it a unique edge compared to other games and implies that the cards added are to bolster the collection rather than give them a specific theme.

Opus I (1) kicked things off on 28 October 2016 and contained 216 cards. Around the time of its release, Square Enix released three very unique 50 card decks, each themed on a specific Final Fantasy video game title. One was based on the characters of Final Fantasy VII (7) and was a fire and earth themed deck, the second was based on Final Fantasy X (10) and wielded water and wind cards, while the third deck was based on XIII (8) which allowed players to summon the forces of ice and lightning against their foes.

Starter Decks Final Fantasy

Opus II (2) and Opus III (3) followed in 2017, along with two brand new starter decks for the Wind/Lightning and Fire/Water themes.

Opus IV (4) dropped in December of 2017 and became an instant fan favourite because it included characters from the SNES classic Final Fantasy VI (6) for the first time. Opus V (5) was released in March 2018, along with three more starter decks for Wind/Water, Ice/Fire, and Earth/Lightning themes.

Later in 2018, Opus VI (6) and Opus VII (7) came out and introduced players to the very first two-deck combo, Heroes and Villains. This became a milestone for the FF TCG, as they were the first decks not centred around a specific video game and instead focused on a group of villains and heroes from the first five Opuses. This became the largest entry point for new players and saw community numbers soar.

Final Fantasy Villains Heroes

2019 saw Opus VIII (8), Opus IX (9), and Opus X (10) hit stores, adding a title to the packaging for the first time. The two most recent Opuses, XI (11) ‘Soldier’s Return’ and XII (12) ‘Crystal Awakening’, dropped last year in March and October, bringing us up to date with the Final Fantasy TCG.

What Sets Final Fantasy Apart From Other TCGs?

A very unique aspect of the Final Fantasy TCG is the fact that all Opuses are still in print. This means that market prices are mostly controlled as there is no shortage of any particular Opus. Of course, you may walk into a store and find the Opus you want isn’t stocked, but you will find it online for a reasonable price. Some early Opus boosters are going for hundreds of dollars, but these are collectable first-wave prints containing errors that were later fixed with re-prints.
It seems that the opportunity to revise the Chapter Series, for the release of Opus, was incredibly useful for keeping the new cards balanced.

The FF TCG has one of the shortest ban lists in any mainstream TCG, with only Gesper, Thaumaturge, Rikku and Dadaluma making it onto the naughty bench. Considering this game is quickly approaching its 13th booster release, only having four forbidden cards is pretty impressive.

The Future Of The Final Fantasy TCG

Now that we have gone through all the past Opuses, let’s take a look at what’s in store for players in 2021.

The next set, Opus XIII (13) ‘Crystal Radiance’, has been pushed back to 26th March 2021 because of COVID-19 restrictions but promises to provide players with plenty of fantastic new cards, including the fiery Rubicante, the beautiful Ramza, and little Delita from Final Fantasy Tactics.

Not only will players get the brand new Opus to sink their teeth into, but they will also get the chance to try out a brand new format with Boss Deck: Chaos. This Deck will be released on 5th March 2021. If you are eager to learn more about this exciting new way to play against friends, head over to our in-depth look into the ‘Boss Deck: Chaos

Stay tuned for more Final Fantasy Card TCG content via Ludkins Media on Instagram and Facebook.

Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media

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