AU Nationals Top 8 Report – Vince Scanlan
Water/Lightning Golbez posted on behalf of Vince Scanlan
Re-imagining Golbez – 1st place Australian Nationals Report
3+ color decks have been my favorite experiment since I started playing this game. Drawing twice a turn and turning any card you don’t want into a resource is consistency that isn’t offered in other games, which lead me to wonder, how far can we push it? The advantages of squeezing in extra elements is easily exemplified by mono earth players playing 3 Atomos and wishing they could use Odin. Whatever backup you’re playing, it’s probably not as good as Devout, and almost every card is worse than Leviathan. Golbez is notoriously one of the hardest hitting cards in the game but forces us to play multiple colors. I was keen to do that anyway.
1st Place Vince Scanlan – Golbez
It started with the combo: Golbez, Famfrit, Ephemeral Summoner and Fusoya.
When I first made this deck it was a little bit of a joke. I expected it to be too hard to refine and just be an absolute mess. I even included a Gestalt Drive Lightning to put Odins on top of my deck.I took it to my locals and even thought it was clunky, every play it made was so high power that it didn’t matter. I refined it, added Shelke Devout and Ghis for consistency, and made space for Cyclops, Rinoa, and Amon which would be my tools to make sure I could break through any wall and not get locked out of games.
With a regional win already in hand, I thought this deck would be ‘good enough’ to play at the second regional. It was something else. I played 6 games against Mono Water on that day and won all of them, making the most notorious deck at the time look tier 3. There was another regional the next day, so I dropped 1 Famfrit for 1 L_Bartz to have a bit of fun. My way’s to play him were very limited but he kicked ass in the finals. This deck had now won me 2 regionals and I knew I had to play it at Nats.
There were a lot of trends to notice which are important to how this deck plays. Having such a diversity in colors, I really wanted high-value backups, since having backups out to constantly provide elements would be important. Another thing to note is Fusoyas synergy with the deck. Removal is important for decks with little minions. The easiest way to block off a hoard of 5k minions is cheaps 6k or 7k minions. Anything larger than that is an excellent target for Leviathan, Famfrit, or trading up with Fusoya. Fusoya removes the minions that my opponent would happily sacrifice to Famfrit, and leaves them with the forwards, they’re not so happy to lose. It forces my opponent to lose their cards for free, or play expensive Forwards that get easily punished by Al-cid, Leviathan, Famfrit, or Amon. My Golbez targets, Bard, Mime, Edge, and Warrior of Light, are all strong against the kind of Forwards that Fusoya can’t reach, and not as strong against the ones he can. Fusoya’s effect covers most of the weaknesses of the rest of the deck.
My decision to play a lot of one ofs was important. Al-Cid is often searched by Grammis and thrown away to be Devouted back in later. It’s a very low commitment way to include on of the strongest combos in the game in my deck. I also refused to play multiple copies of unique backups. I had taken so many liberties with consistency already, that drawing a Merlwyb when I already had one in play would be really frustrating.
As for individual card choices:
-Edge is better than Zidane because the reset is absurdly strong, and Zidane’s protection seemed undesirable.
-Cyclops over Chuchulain was a really hard choice. Chuchulain has so much synergy but I felt that the ability to let through whole waves of attacks was more important, and if Cyclops is used as a battle trick, and puts another large forward in range of Fusoya, the value is ridiculous.
-Bard is a one of because, as much as I like Ice cards, I prefer forwards that Shelke can play. I highly recommend Bard for Golbez decks running Ice.
-Mime is busted and every Golbez deck should play it. It can carry entire games on it’s back. A turn 1 Shelke into Mime is hard to punish and will probably just win you the game.
Round 1 – Bye
Byes were awarded to players who won Regionals. I spent this time practicing rollouts and trying to memorize which players were playing Earth so I wouldn’t drop Golbez into a turn 1 Shantoto.
Round 2 – Water/Wind
The first game of the day made me nervous. The first taste of the National community and playing people from outside my state. The idea of finding I’m not as good as I think i am and just falling flat on my face was very clear in my mind. My roll out was; Cosmos, pass, Grammis and Yuna, pass, Ghis into Shelke into Rygdea. I applied a lot of forward pressure and used Amon to dull through huge Minwu walls. He landed a L_Cecil on the board towards the end. I used Ephemeral to load a Leviathan on top of my deck and Fusoya’d my opponents, Cecil. He was confused and reminded me that it would take no damage. I revealed the Leviathan to end the game. My opponent was admittedly impressed having not seen that combo before.
2 damage taken.
Round 3 – Standard Units by Vincent Ma
This deck relied on having Arc, Wakka, and Maria out on board to make huge walls cheaply. The game started too fast for that to matter. I played Shelke into Mime on turn one and the Mime survived to the last turn of the game. I drew a lot of cards. I could have ended this game much faster than I did with 2 turn lethal setups but instead spent another 4 minutes slow grinding and making sure I don’t take any unnecessary damage for tiebreakers.
1 damage taken.
Round 4 – Mono Earth
This matchup was mindlessly easy. I remember very little of it other than it being over quickly. Turn 3 Al-Cid put him on the backfoot. I made a misplay early on because I was rushing, that extended the game by about 5 turns.
3 damage taken
Round 5 – Mono Ice
This game had me concerned because Zalera hits almost every forward in my deck.I played Ghis, Shelke, and Mime on turn 1. My Zalera fears quickly disappeared because the game reached a state where even a good Zalera would leave me way ahead. I made a smart decision this game that I thought was noteworthy. My opponent had L_Kuja and Weiss and my Golbez was dulled. I had Famfrit in hand. He attacked with Kuja and I knew that with the current game state he would want to sacrifice Kuja to Famfrit, but I decided to take the damage to bait Weiss into attacking. He did, my opponent sacrificed Kuja and Weiss ran into my freshly spawned Warrior of Light.
4 damage taken.
Round 6 – FFVII by Daniel Soldat
Daniel was a really respectable player and one of my favorite people to have met that day. He played a consistent Earth Fire build with about 8 Clouds in it. I used Famfrit to kill Light Cloud and break Golbez, he used Bahamut Fury to clear my Warrior of Light but I took this opportunity to use Famfrit to break him Guy, his last blocker. I offered him one decent Shantoto opportunity but he didn’t have it at the time. After the Golbez break, he mentally conceded, swinging for damage with cards that should be blocking if he wanted a chance to win. He was trying to better his tiebreaker points which was very smart, and very annoying.
5 damage taken.
Round 7 – Mono Lightning Control by Colin Harris
This was one of the most intense games I’ve played. I didn’t know what he was playing so I kept a hand with 4 backups including Merlwyb. Finding a faster hand would have been Ideal as I eventually lost to deck out. We both built 4 backups and after his Lulu hit the board he started dominating early tempo. Everything that touched the board died for free and I was very much behind until I resolved the perfect combo. Fusoya broke his Onion Knight and the Famfrit I loaded with Ephemeral summoner broke his Kain and my Golbez. I was back in it. After 2 Lulu triggers, a Blackmage and a R_Fusoya, Colin passed the turn back to me and I was back to only 1 forward. I slowly grinded him out and pressuring his life total forced him to sacrifice his backups. On the turn I had 4 cards in deck I realised I would be fine if he played a forward, but not if he played another removal option. A Thundaga from Lulu revealed checkmate and I stared at the board for a full 3 minutes trying to figure out if this is it. It was, I lost by deck-out. An incredible game.
Colin and I both let out the same sigh of relief.
5 damage dealt.
6 damage received.
Round 8 – Earth Lightning by Jason Li
Jason was playing a deck full of hard hitting forwards and a heap of singleton spells to use Rydia as a toolbox. It was a strong and unique build. My opening hand begged me to slam Golbez. It got a hit on Jason’s face before Shantoto came down. I quickly resumed a dominant position but Jason’s L_Emperor turned off my Amon, Bard, Devout and Fusoya. From this position it was a waiting game. I found the Leviathan and enough tools to clear through the board but failed a Lethal puzzle which ultimately lost the game. I stormed off from my seat, annoyed with myself. Jason was a very respectable dude and took this well, understanding that I’m passionate about the game. There was a single turn in the game where I made 4 dumb mistakes and avoiding any one of them would have meant victory. I fully believe this happened because I was so rattled from my game with Colin. I lost by deck-out because my 2 forwards had 4000 power, and his last blocker had 5k. Another close and stressful game.
6 damage dealt.
4 damage received.
Top 8 was declared and I sailed in at eighth spot. I thought Fusoya would give me bad tiebreakers but having only lost to mill, my damage dealt was fairly strong. We were given a half hour break and I used it well. Realising that my deck had offered me the tools to potentially win every game so far, my biggest problem was playing emotionally. I came into the next game with the perspective of a man who shouldn’t even be here, but was just going to have fun and do his best. It made me play 10 times better.
“Old Emperors New Groove” by Jye O’Toole
Jye’s Wind&Water build went undefeated in swiss. A shoutout to UK nat’s winner Praveen Anilal for making the Water&Wind build I used to practice on. The open hand games I played before the tournament made me very intimate with this matchup. I played aggressively and kept the game simplified so that Fusoya’s impact could be fully felt. Between Amon and Leviathan, the Emperor was certainly a roadblock, but not unmanageable. He cancelled one of my Leviathans with a Famfrit to break his emperor, and that impressed me, but I closed out game 1 anyway.
In the second game Emperor made a huge appearance again but I was slowly pulling ahead. I Fusoya’d his Pain and hit a Leviathan exburst that cleared his Emperor for free and there was no option for him to recover after that.
“Jono’s Bizzare Adventure – Mill Tendency” by Jonathan Tjahjono
I noticed this deck early in the day and was so glad to see it get this far through the competition. He had 2-0’d Colin in the last round, which I was thankful for, because without a mill deck to counter Colin I think he would have won the whole thing. There’s a lot of interesting things in Jono’s deck so I recommend just looking at his deck list rather than have me explain it here. His wind&water pure mill build smashed me in the first game, but now I knew most of his deck list. I knew I could find more value than him so all I needed was tempo.
In game 2 I saw a Ghis, Shelke and Mime hand and kept it. Jono’s deck had no punishment for it. It wasn’t close.
Game 3 I was even more aware that Jono couldn’t punish small minions. I discarded Amon to play Rydgea to an empty board and it was the right play. Playing a lot faster than I normally would and letting Fusoya run the value game for me was a winning strategy. I played edge when Jono was at 5 damage. “Not like this”. I knew I was going to Japan when he used legendary Valefore to only bounce my Edge. Very GG.
Grand Final – “Double Trinity” Wind&Water by GrandJason Zhe
This was a final I predicted months ago and since I regarded Jason as the other best player in Australia it was oddly perfect to meet him here. He was my number 1 opponent in mind when preparing to come to Melbourne. The games were livestreamed and I would recommend checking them out. I played Ghis and Rinoa early and used Fusoya to fix a trade with his Wakka. The most brilliant turn was Shelke, into Ephemeral Summoner, into Fusoya to kill Garnet, into Famfrit to kill Pain, into Golbez breaking, during Jason’s end step, so that when I started my turn he had 1 blocker to my 7 attackers. I played an Amon that didn’t fit on my play mat. “I just threw up in my mouth a bit” one of the spectators tells me. We go to game 2.
Game 2 was a smooth roll out for me. I ended my turn 3 with Ghis, Shelke and Rygdea, 3 backups and a Fusoya ready to kick. I resolved a cyclops as a battle trick that killed a 9k, let me Fusoya an 8k, and forced him to trade an 8k for my Shelke. The game was downhill for Jason. I was so keen to end the game that I overlooked Maria and Fusoya’d 8k’s twice. The number of misplays I made this game was ridiculous, I wasn’t thinking at all, but my early pressure made it not matter. The end of the final Game has to be seen to be appreciated so here’s the clip. I’ve just loaded a Leviathan on top of my deck and attempted to Fusoya his 8k Zidane.
It was an excellent end to a really good day.