AU Nationals Top 8 Report – Jonathan Tjahjono
Wind/Water posted on behalf of Jonathan Tjahjono
To be frank, I started FFTCG for the beautiful art. Did not expect to get into the game at all, knowing that it’s not exactly a cheap hobby for a student. I bought one booster from a PAX demo booth for the fun of it and cracked it open. There it was – a legendary Shantotto. I knew it was meant to be. Being a massive fan of Final Fantasy, I decided to give this game a shot. Entered as a beginner in the TCG scene and now here I am, in the top 3/4 of Australia. Never would I have imagined that I’d make it this far.
FFX series has always been my favorite and I’ve always been trying to make mill work since Opus I. When The Emperor (more like EMP, am I right?) was released in Opus II, I was shattered – I gave up on mill and spent most of Opus III exploring new elements. I challenged myself to play a new deck for every Regional event. In the end, I was still not able to find a suitable combination. I chose to pick up the pieces and make the mill dream come true. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
During the weeks leading up to AUS/NZ Nationals, I spent a majority of my time testing decks from all around the world and my own homebrew concoctions. Shout-out to everyone who practiced with me both at locals and online (OCTGN: a very good practice tool). Speaking honestly here, there is no “perfect deck”. I spent too much time trying to craft that perfect deck and to no avail. Decided the night before the event to stick true to my colors and, most of all, have fun.
4th Place Jonathan Tjahjono – Water/Wind
At first look, this Water/Wind isn’t anything special but, my dudes, this isn’t your normal Water/Wind list – this is a deck dedicated to stalling and controlling board states while milling their valuable deck in the process. There are two win conditions in FFTCG: first, by dealing 7 damage to your opponent, and secondly, if your opponent is unable to draw from the deck due to the lack of cards. I made this deck focusing on the second win condition while still being able to hold a board. The old prototype of the deck ran 12 copies of Rikku, believe it or not. It somehow works until your opponent drops The Emperor. The only option there is to curl up in the corner and cry with your 4 Rikkus in hand. Fortunately, Opus III blessed Water/Wind with a bunch of removal to deal with The Emperor. Now let’s break it down, shall we?
(3-142H) Famed Mimic Gogo
Solid 1 drop with 7000 power, helps to stall against aggro deck.
(3-125C) Ephemeral Summoner
Synergies with Famfrit and Leviathan in the deck – it punishes your opponent for going aggressive. In the case your opponent doesn’t swing for damage, treat the card as a tutor for the Water Summons.
The ability to remove threats such as Golbez, Vincent, Delita and etc. at the cost of removing himself is too good to pass up. It bypasses a lot of annoying abilities and, worst case scenario, he becomes a magnet for your opponent’s removal.
(1-158H) Cloud of Darkness
Key removal card. Water’s pseudo board wipe. When your opponent overextends and swarms the board, that’s your cue. Optimal timing is when your opponent controls 3+ Forwards and you own less than them. In most scenarios, this deck shouldn’t have more units than your opponent as you focus on building Backups and removal rather than playing units, thus why it’s an auto include in the deck.
Initially I had Zidane-S in the deck but found that having knowledge of what your opponent has in hand is much more valuable. Even better is when your opponent has 2 or less cards in hand as he becomes a 7000 power Forward. In terms of knowing what to discard from your opponent, look for their key/win-con cards or Forwards. Treat it as a card that destroys a Forward/Backup or negates a Summon before it is even played.
The Value/Free Units
(2-069C) Fallacious Wanderer
Pseudo 1 drop with 6000 power, assuming you have two Wind Backups already on field. It’s use is not only limited to activating Backups or milling twice with Rikku-H, but also activating any Wind CHARACTERS. Very useful in the Ice matchup.
Part of the Holy Gullwings Trinity. When you have both Yuna and Rikku on the field, this card is just bonkers. It activates three Backups (essentially a free play) and draws you a card. It’s even better if your opponent uses removal or trades with another Forward as you are able to replay the card for even more value (I wish Centrelink gave me this much free value).
Part of the Holy Gullwings Trinity. Although it’s a 3 cost unit with a lower than average power, this card allows you to search for Yuna or Rikku from your deck and, to make up for it, is also an EX Burst. Assuming you already have Yuna and Rikku out on the field, use it as CP fodder or search for another copy of Rikku to use her ability.
Unfortunately he does not have all the jobs, but he does come with a lot of value and freebies. Let’s say X is the number of Wind Backups you control. Bartz is a 5-XCP Forward that activates all your Wind CHARACTERS. FUN FACT: it bypasses Ultimecia’s field ability as he comes in dull and activates himself. Allows you to mill consecutively with Rikku’s ability within a turn.
‘Nuff said. Just kidding. Your next lines will be, “why is it Mill Unit, not Units? Why only Thief? What about Cid Highwind?”. I’ll summarise the answers here: Thief is the only reliable Forward that ensures the mill effect upon entry (no one is going to use a Seven ability on this card, and if they do, count it as a discard a card ability). Compare this to Cid Highwind, who has to deal damage to a Forward and ensuring that Forward gets placed into the Break Zone in order to mill. Only then will you get value out of Cid Highwind. This deck does not rely on combat or combat tricks enough to utilise Cid Highwind appropriately, whereas Thief is a 2 drop that guarantees a mill effect and you have no qualms about it being removed, chumping or even trading with.
He’s just there to ruin your opponent’s fun (to be honest, mostly mono Light decks that I didn’t end up going against). Depriving your opponent of key Backups like Cosmos/Chaos, field buff Backups and potentially the other Rikkus (because there can only be one).
MOAR MULLIGANS! But seriously though, this card has insane value in this deck. Got no Rikku in your starting hand? No worries! Artemiccion’s here to give you another chance of drawing her. It’s not too bad having it mid-game either. Play Artemiccion to replace your dud hand and go for a lucky dip.
One of the key cards when fighting against a Forward dulling or freezing deck. Baralai activates any of your two Forwards at the cost of only breaking himself. If ever this deck get the chance to attack, you can reactivate them with Baralai if you need extra blockers.
Very underrated card in my opinion. Most Water/Wind deck use the Eiko searcher over this, but this is not most Water/Wind decks. If you have 4+ Summons in your Break Zone,Eiko’s ability refunds you a Summon that you need, depending on the scenario. There have been games where I have used 4 Valefor-L in one game. This card can make or break certain games.
Activates ALL CHARACTERS you control. This is your mill wombo combos or counter to dull and freeze effects.
Part of the Holy Gullwings Trinity. The heart of the deck. Without this card, the deck barely functions. There’s a lot I have to say about this card but I’ll try to keep it short. Firstly, MILL – pretty self explanatory. Secondly, her Mug ability not only makes your opponent mill two cards from their deck, it also gives you a card draw. Lastly, YRP (Yuna Rikku Paine). If you play Paine-S when Rikku is on board, Paine will activate three of your Backups, allowing you to play additional cards or mill again. Played her in all my Wind decks and intend to continue in the future. Mulligan for this card at all times. 10/10 card.
I chose this Thief over Opus I Thief because it is a breakable Backup and mills an additional card. It’s part of the important mill combos in the deck. Aim to have at least one on field accompanied by Rikku.
Another very under-rated card. It single-handedly shuts down a lot of bad matchups and, if anything, I would add another copy to the deck. This card makes your Forwards untargetable by your opponent’s Backups. Some examples from each element are Fire’s Red Mage and Tellah, Ice’s Jihl Nabaat and Cannoneer, Wind’s Deuce, Earth’s Masked Woman and Raubahn, Lightning’s Lulu and Black Mage, and Water’s Yuna and Mog IX.
Part of the Holy Gullwings Trinity. I ran Yuna-H over the Rare version due to its bounce ability, its ability to remove cards from the game and the fact that it’s an EX Burst. Most importantly is its ability to remove a Character when it is put from the field to the Break Zone. Notable cards include Emperor Xande, Fusoya-R, Golbez, Machina, Cid Raines, Cid Highwind, Rygdea and more. FUN FACT: during my match vs. Vince (Champion) in the semi-finals, I removed the Forward he used his Al-Cid/Rygdea combo on to protect another Forward being dulled by Rygdea’s ability. Don’t focus only on your opponent’s characters. Sometimes there are benefits to removing your own Characters.
Very versatile card. Use each ability accordingly. Leaving open Wind Backups allows you to do a bunch of shenanigans. The return a 2 cost Character card is usually targeted to refund a Rikku, Forward Thieves and Ephemeral Summoner.
I have to give a shout-out for this card selection. Jason Li, if it wasn’t for our practice session the night before, this card would not have been in the deck. Three main functions of this card: it allows you trade up with the weaker Forwards you control, it reactivates all Backups with Yuna on field and, lastly, potential 9000 board wipe as shown in the clip below. Shout-out to Collin Harris who piloted a scary mono Lightning deck all the way to Top 8.
(3-071H) Chaos, Walker of the Wheel
Wind’s only reliable removal. Pick a Forward and break it. The only downfall is that if the Forward is put into the Break Zone, your opponent is able to play another Forward from their hand for free. HOWEVER, if you have Yuna-H on the field, you can remove said Forward, thus making it a safe removal card.
(3-123R) Famfrit, the Darkening Cloud
Both players select a Forward they control and PUTS them into the Break Zone. It bypasses Delita-L and Vincent-L as it targets the player rather than the Forward. Even better played when your opponent controls a Forward and you don’t. CoD + Famfrit = full board wipe. Ephemeral Summoner ability target.
Good ol’ Leviathan. Bounces a Forward on the field into its owner’s hand. The reason for having only one Leviathan is due to the 3 Yuna-H in the deck AND since there are better removal Summons in the deck. Can be used to return your Forward if necessary. Ephemeral Summoner ability target.
Here’s the other key card in the deck. Having the ability to bounce all Forwards on the field back to the owner’s hand (except for Starter Gilgamesh) at instant speed is crazy good in this deck. Punishes your opponent if they overextend. Allows you to replay your free/value units and Thieves onto the field. FUN FACT: in a game vs an Earth deck (vs-ed too many Earth decks to remember who it happened to), he had an empty field to my three Forwards. Plays a Shantotto to board wipe, to which I responded with Valefor to protect my Forwards. She protec, she attac, but most importantly, your Forwards come bac.
Mulligan Priorities: Rikku, Yuna, any 2 cost Wind Backup, Leviathan/Famfrit, Cloud of Darkness/Valefor-L and Artemiccion. The mulligan covers most openers that your opponent will do. Early game, focus on ramping your Backups to at least 3 while not taking too much damage, the reason being that the deck runs a lot of odd cost cards. Ideally, your end game Backups should be something like Rikku, Yuna, 2-3 Wind Backups and maybe Eiko or Artemiccion. The more Wind Backups the better, as it has synergies with Bartz and Fallacious Wanderer. Paine and Rikku’s Mug ability is your source of card draws. Use Rikku’s mill ability as much as possible, especially when your opponent is about to end their turn or when you’re about to take damage as you may get EX Burst Bartz or Valefor. An empty board is a safe board (except when your opponent plays haste units). There’s no need to play Forwards when you can ramp Backups instead. Once you have 3+ Backups, that’s when a lot of options open up.
Against slower control decks, focus on ramping and deck them out. Against fast/swarm decks, keep a Valefor-L or/and Cloud of Darkness to punish them when they overextend. Play your units as soon as you get 2-3 Backups as you have a lot of free play units and Valefor-S helps you trade up if necessary. Against midrange/tempo decks, you’ll have to find the balance between the above matchups and play it to match their pace.
If the opponent runs The Emperor in their deck, save Chaos and Famfrit (if the scenario is right) to remove him immediately as The Emperor hurts this deck very badly.
When your opponents gets to less than 10 cards in deck, that’s when you need to start doing some calculations and work out when you can potentially setup the mill lethal. It is ok to ask your opponent for a deck count from time to time.
TL;DR – Ramp and control, play stuff for free and watch your opponent cry as their favorite cards gets milled to the Break Zone.
Jasmyn White – Mono Lightning
When your opponent plays Lightning-R first turn to get damage in, you can’t help but cry on the inside a little. I was afraid to be vsing a hyper aggressive deck right off the bat. Luckily, it was mono Lightning. After taking a hefty amount of damage from Lightning and her fellow buddies, I was able to recover, since I set up most of my Backups and flooded the board. Unfortunately for Jasmyn, she was not prepared for the tempo swarm. I had enough removal to control the board and swung for lethal.
Won by damage.
Adam Harmsworth – Mono Earth:WoLEdition
Oh boy, this was a toughie. He opened with Ingus into WRO Soldier Forward which put a ton of pressure on me. He also played Warrior of Light, which is very difficult for my Forwards to deal with. Luckily, out of 6 damage, I hit two EX Bursts to help swing the tempo around. He committed to playing no Backups and the only Backup he played was blown up by an Archer ability, thus making Cloud of Darkness and Valefor-L bounces very punishing for him. Having a bunch of Backups at the ready, I then proceeded to play Bartz > Paine > Fallacious Wanderer to turn the tides back on to him. Drained from resources, Adam was not able to recover from the all-in strategy and was not able to defend himself.
Won by damage.
Jason Zhe – Water/Wind Double Trinity
Mirror matches are definitely not fun for this deck, as they have value Forwards which bring out cards that help swarm the field. Valefor-L results in both of us replaying our units, but to my disadvantage, as Jason controlled a Maria. There were a couple of misplays where I thought some of my units would trade during combat, forgetting Maria existed. There was also a turn where I had open Backups and decided not to play a Forward, which would’ve allowed me to stall for an additional turn. It was a very close game as, during my last turn, I would’ve been able to reduce his deck size to 3, which means I was 2 cards off from mill/deck out lethal. Well played buddy.
Lost to damage.
Alfred Yang – Water/Wind Control
Seeing another mirror match after my previous loss really put me on edge. I was very scared at this point, as another loss would mean that I would be knocked out of the tournament. I had to be on my A-game. As soon as I figured out that it was another Water/Wind deck, I copied the same strategy as the previous match and made sure I didn’t make any errors. Alfred’s variation contained a rather defensive Backup line, including Minwu, rendering my trade-up combos with Valefor-S useless. This is where Archers came in handy. There were two cases where I used Archers during the match: first Archer was used to snipe his Rikku (there can only be one). Second Archer was used to break Minwu when I blocked an incoming attack and then playing Valefor-S, enabling the trade-up play I was looking for. I proceeded to mill a lot of Alfred’s Backups, leaving him stranded on 3 Backups (without Rikku), allowing me to swarm the board faster.
Won by damage.
Bryce Herbert – Mono Earth: Dark Knight Edition
Although an underplayed version of Mono Earth, I was somewhat prepared to fight this deck as I ran this deck in one of the Regionals I attended. Essentially, the more damage the deck takes, the stronger the Forwards become, especially with Gabranth-L, whose cost is reduced and gives all your Earth Forwards brave. He played a fairly slow game – by that I mean we both decided to play the Backup game early. Earth, although having very resilient Forwards and power-pumping ability, is not impervious to bounce and direct removal. I believe I also milled a high amount of his strong Forwards like Delita-L, Vincent-L and all three Ursulas, which could only mean that Bryce wouldn’t be able to swarm Forwards any time soon (or at all for that matter).I then proceeded to slowly, but surely, mill him out while safely building board. With a majority of his Forwards in the Break Zone, I attempted to swarm the board with the free/value Forwards. Bryce was prepared for a big board and played Shantotto to reset the board state. However, I had a Valefor-L in hand ready and was able to protect my Forwards before Shantotto’s ability resolved. With my opponent’s resources depleted and not many Forwards left in his deck, I knew…
Won by Mill/deckout.
Adam Mitchell Harris – Mono Fire Big Red
Finally, a deck that I hadn’t faced yet. It was refreshing – a slightly unfavorable matchup, however, due to my lack of Minwus in the deck. I wouldn’t be able to protect my Forwards from the upcoming chip burn damage. Coincidentally, Dimitris plays a lot of mono Fire and I was able to learn that matchup. Aerith-L was the go-to card for this matchup. I managed to draw her during the mulligan phase and was confident in how the match would go. We both went fairly slow in the beginning and set up our Backups. Having Aerith on the board protected my Forwards from the Backup line that Adam played. If I recall correctly he had Red Mage, Tellah and Black Mage, who would’ve been a major threat to my Forwards. Regardless of it, Adam played scary Forwards such as Emperor Xande, Vivi-L, Machina, Palom-H, etc. There was a misplay during that game where I forgot Yuna-H was on the field and forgot to declare the removal of Emperor Xande from the game, costing me a 2-for-1 trade in Adam’s favour. From then on, I managed to remove and trade up with the majority of Adam’s Forwards. We both removed each other’s forwards constantly. Knowing that, I resorted to the other win condition and focused on milling him out. Adam was unable to apply pressure and maintain board state while I continued to use Rikku’s and Thief’s ability to reach for victory.
Won by Mill/deckout.
Karl Fletcher – Golbez(aka. Karlbez)
Not like this… one of my good mates and sparring partner leading up to the event. Out of all the people in the tournament, Karl was one of the players I wished I didn’t face until Top 8. He built his own Golbez list and it is fearsome. He won and topped in many of the Regional events with it. I couldn’t help feeling scared yet excited to settle the score (we faced off multiple times during Regional events).
In the case of facing a hyper aggro deck, I always mulligan for at least a Valefor-L or Cloud of Darkness and a Rikku/Yuna. Luckily I drew them both, giving me flexibility on the upcoming turns. I attempted to setup as quickly as possible to cheapen the cost of my removals ASAP. Karl – knowing that I ran Yuna-H, uncommon to see in most Water/Wind decks in the current meta –abandoned the traditional Golbez player and instead went a different route, the Gilgamesh-C (or Strongest Sword Gilgamesh) route. None of the Forwards I played would be safe, regardless of how big they were. I was not able to draw an immediate solution to Gilgamesh and focused on building the YRP combo. After a bunch of removals to clear off the incoming threats, I was put onto 6 damage by the Gilgamesh and Co. onslaught. Any wrong decisions here would’ve costed me the match, tournament and, most of all, my pride. Throughout the match, I gathered all 3 Valefor-L in my hand and was able to ration it out as an emergency escape when needed. I had a Paine-S on the board, open Backups and passed turn. Karl had a pesky Zidane-L on the board and was attempting to set up for lethal. I noticed he stockpiled a bunch of cards in his hand which could only mean one thing –Zodiark was coming. He proceeded to Combat/Attack Phase and I waited for his play. Karl took the gamble and went all in. He swung with Zidane and played the Zodiark before blocks, pitching his whole hand. In turn, I responded with a Valefor to return all Forwards back to the owner’s hand. His face turning sour, he knew that it could only go downhill for him now. Having the ability to play Paine over and over again allows me to regain board state and card advantage over him. I was able to setup fully and took the aggression. I returned the favour and dealt him a considerable amount of damage and milled him constantly with Rikku and Thieves. It was a very tight game as it went back and forth. I tried to squeeze in as much damage to improve my tiebreakers as I could see his deck was running thin. Ended the game with both players at 6 damage. Always enjoyable to play a friend of yours, regardless of winning or losing. Nevertheless, I’ll be taking this win friend.
Won by Mill/deckout.
Benjamin Cole – Earth/Wind Archfiend Mill
How I wished that both of us made it into the Top 8. Before we started the match, we made a promise that the winner had to carry on the mill legacy and make the other proud. I believe Ben won the Ballarat Regionals with the same if not similar deck. Both decks have similar game strategy but, if anything, I would say my deck was at a disadvantage as there’s card draws in it and Ben ran 2 Emperor in his deck.
Funnily enough, we both opened with a Rikku opener and we decided to play the ramp game. I was very worried when he dropped The Emperor onto the field, which meant I wasn’t able to use Rikku’s ability as long as he was on the field. I managed to use Famfrit to remove The Emperor after putting pressure in with party attacks, leaving it as the only Forward on his field. Fortunately, I managed to mill a good portion of Ben’s mill cards and his final copy of The Emperor. After all that, we proceeded to thin our decks out accordingly until his deck size hit single digit, in which I proceeded to deck him out with Rikku and Thief combo. Definitely one of the most entertaining matches throughout the whole tournament.
Won by Mill/deckout.
Colin Harris – MLC (Mono Lightning Control)
With both of us playing a somewhat slower control deck, I had a slight advantage as I was able to ramp Backups safely while avoiding getting damaged. Aerith-L played a very large factor in this matchup as Ninja, Black Mage, Fusoya and Lulu were not able to target my Forwards. Aerith really slowed down Colin’s deck that round and I proceeded to swarm the deck with my free/value Forwards. I also milled a Sephiroth-L in that match, which alerted me to not rely on Aerith too much as I only ran the one copy.
Won by damage.
Knowing his Backup and high-cost Forward lineup, I knew that it was very safe for me to play the Backup game until late. Colin also did the same and we both ended up reaching end game very quickly. No Forwards were safe as they were continuously being broken or blown up by abilities. It reached the stage where it was becoming difficult to deal damage to each other (including a Minerva out of nowhere). I resorted to win the game by deck out. I’ll share my proudest moment of the tournament here – THE VALEFOR WOMBO COMBO. Throughout game 2 I kept drawing Valefor-S, but couldn’t find the correct timing to use it. When I drew the third copy into my hand, I was prepared to board wipe whatever Colin played and kept patient for the right moment. In the clip, when I asked for a deck count and he revealed he had less than 10 cards in his deck, I knew that if I did that play right there and then, he wouldn’t have been able to deal me lethal damage. Colin realised it as well and conceded the game. Definitely a fearsome deck to play against. Some of the Top 8 matches were played on stream. Check out NewGamePlusTV on Twitch to see the VOD.
Won by Mill/deckout.
Vince Scanlan – Shake it ’til you make it Golbez
This was the one deck I did not prepare for and did not know what to expect from it. Mad props to Vince for coming up with this crazy deck. During the first game, Vince didn’t draw an aggressive opener which allowed me to play a few Backups and gain the advantage – Aerith-L protected my Forwards from Fusoya-H and helped to slow the game down a fair bit. Later on, I swarmed the board and swung for lethal.
Won by damage.
Here’s where things started to go downhill for me. I mulliganed for a Cloud of Darkness and Valefor-L and was not able to find either one. Vince played an insane opener, Ghis > Shelke > Mime to which I was not able to respond to. He steamrolled me that round and I was not able to recover.
Lost by damage.
Vince adapted quickly to my deck and realized I was only running the one Aerith. This round I was extremely unlucky with both card draws and EX Bursts. Didn’t draw Rikku until I was on about 5 damage and all 6 damage were non EX Burst cards. I was not able to redeem the situation at all –I tried stalling with Valefor-L but it was for naught. In the end, I conceded and congratulated Vince on making it to the Grand Finals.
Lost by damage.
It was a very exciting and nerve-wrecking experience for a new player in the competitive TCG scene. Although I got knocked out of the tournament, I was glad that I lost to the Champion. Vince and Jason definitely earned their spot in the World’s championship. Despite that, reaching Top 4 with a mill-oriented deck was definitely one of my dreams. If I were to summarize my afterthoughts, here it is: play what you enjoy and always strive to make improvements. Regardless of if you win or lose, remember it is a game, and that you should have fun. Lastly,don’t let your memes be dreams.
Sometime in the near future, I will be collaborating with fellow Australian players to release more FFTCG content from Down Under. Keep an eye out for it. If you have any questions or comments about the deck, feel free to add me on Facebook. Also looking for more players to play with on OCTGN.
See you again in Opus IV and onwards,
Hokuto no Ken – Omae wa mou shindeiru picture
Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure – To be continued picture and deck name
NewGamePlusTV Twitch channel