Welcome to The Break Zone’s inaugural Dancing Mad Monday blog! About a month ago, Peter Dang and Jon Whitney started what is now called “Fun Deck Friday”, where players decide on a theme to build off-meta and wacky decks around. Then, upon arriving at the casual Friday constructed tournament at Isle of Gamers, players swap decks and do not look at them until they start playing. Each deck also comes with secret “win conditions” which the player must meet before they win the game. For the last month, Isle’s tournaments have seen a wide variety of decks, and we at The Break Zone have decided to start special reporting on this unique and fun aspect of our local meta.
Check out Peter Dang’s Blog Post that takes a look back on how this deck swapping system got started.
Laurent: Who would you recommend this format to?
Peter: I recommend this to anyone who wants to try! It’s a lot of fun and can really shake up a stale meta. If you really care about prizing or winning though, you shouldn’t expect to always do well because you are at the mercy of your deckbuilder and the randomness of playing blind is quite the handicap.
Laurent: Do you have any advice for someone trying to start this program locally?
Peter: For anyone wanting to try this out at their own scene, all you need is at least one wacky friend to try it with you! It should obviously be someone that you trust enough to loan cards to for a night, but the FFTCG community is usually pretty good about that. It also helps if both parties involved have a large collection to deckbuild with, but you can also accept the challenge if you are on a budget and try to be creative with what you have! Originally, I only had myself and John deck swapping, but now we’ve grown to 5-6 crazy kids playing Dark Lords and Shuyins.
Laurent: What are the deckbuilding requirements?
The deckbuilding requirements are that you have to focus on a card or a theme that is usually not seen in the meta. You also have to build a deck good enough to win games along with achieving their alternate win conditions. So it’s not like you want to just build something unplayable, because you actually want to see your friend do well! It’s also very satisfying to see someone do well with your creation.
Laurent: How much do the deckbuilder and pilot interact with each other?
Peter: The deckbuilder and pilot do not interact that much besides trading their decks and writing down 2 alternate win conditions in the deckbox. We try to sit next to each other to see the others’ reaction and troll each other about it. Once you start playing and if you hit a searcher in your deck, you’re allowed to look through and figure out your decklist. After the first round, you can also go through it and have a more concrete plan. Sometimes you lose the first round, but you have to bounce back, because that stuff is important for big tournaments as well!
Laurent: Are there any plans to make an event out of it?
Peter: There are no plans to make a serious event out of this because you are at the mercy of your deckbuilder and the randomness of playing your first match blind can affect results way too much. Personally, I think this would be more suited to a weekly league. Players get points if the deck they build win games. They also get additional points if they fulfill their win condition, and a bonus of they do both or all conditions in a single game.
Today, we’ll be looking at an Earth/Water deck created by Phillip Marciano using mostly “Royal Family” job types (King, Queen, Prince, Princess, Knight), which was piloted by Alexander Bevier.
Phillip was kind enough to sit down and talk about building his deck:
Jennifer: Hi Phillip! Thanks for sitting down with me. Let’s start with your inspiration. We know the theme for this week’s brew was to use as many Opus 7 cards as possible. How did you interpret that prompt?
Phillip: Well, I wanted to try building a "Family" deck with Mother, Father, and Hope. But unfortunately there wasn't many characters with a "Family" job type. So then I started building around Royalty jobs. It was the first fun deck I had to build that had to involve O7. And with Noctis being the poster boy I wanted to include him. And his job being a Prince made it that much easier to build.
Jennifer: For sure! There's a lot of great royalty cards in Opus 7. Going into Friday, how did you expect it to perform? What parts of the deck did you think were really going to shine and what parts were you worried about?
Phillip: I thought the deck was gonna crumble and break and whoever played it was gonna go 0-3. The last 2 weeks that I built decks that's what happened so I was expecting more of the same this time around. I gave the deck to Alex cause I know he would appreciate the theme, but I was not expecting him to go 3-1 with it. I expected Noctis to do his thing though.
At this point, we began discussing the secret win conditions involved with the Royal Family deck. For Alex to successfully “win” games, he had to meet these conditions before actually winning:
1) In your backup line, have one member of the Royal Family in each slot (1 King, 1 Queen, 1 Prince, 1 Princess, 1 Knight)
2) Have 9 members of the “Royal Family” out on the field at once, and then increase it for each round.
3) Cast Cactuar for 16K damage.
Jennifer: Looking back on the secret win conditions you gave Alex, do you think that they were reasonable to achieve?
Phillip: Totally! One of the win conditions was to have the entire backup line as King, Queen, Prince, Princess and Knight [And that seemed reasonable.]. However I included 6 different backups specifically to make it a little harder to achieve, especially in the case of Pelinore, Segwarides and Brandelis. They are good together, but you'll never complete the challenge if you go that route
Jennifer: And you liked having that tension? That in some cases, the better route to beating your opponent would mean giving up one of the secret win conditions?
Phillip: I mainly wanted to have Alex look at the deck in a different way. Most people would get to 5 backups as quickly as possible, but for this win condition you had to pay attention to what you're playing and change how you looked at the game.
Jennifer: Interesting! Your brew was the most original deck at this particular gathering( We had 3 separate mono-wind decks, and one google deck). Did you learn anything from building it that you might take and use in more competitive formats?
Phillip: I see some synergy with certain cards, but most cards that performed well are the same cards that see competitive play anyways.
Jennifer: Cool! That makes sense. Any other comments or observations you had while building this deck?
Phillip: Nope! I’m Good! Thank you!
Before we talk to the deck’s Pilot, Alex Bevier, here’s a quick look at the deck list for reference:
Agrias, Noctis, and Halicarnassus clearly take center stage in this build, and really shine. The deck clearly depends on growing the widest possible board. Leo and Agrias both benefit from the wide board, which combined with Halicarnassus’s ability to remove abilities from your opponent’s board and Noctis’ ability to remove enemy forwards, gave Alex a lot of lines to victory.
We sat down with Alex to find out how piloting the deck went, and what he learned from the experience.
Jennifer: Thanks for sitting down with me, Alex! Did you have a fun time playing this deck last Friday?
Alex: It was a refreshing start to a new Opus. I had my share of cards that I wanted to experiment with, but the format allowed me to try things with cards other people were interested in. I don’t think I would’ve played with Agrias otherwise.
Jennifer: Glad to hear you enjoyed trying something new! What were your first impressions when you read the secret win conditions before looking at the deck?
Alex: I laughed because getting Cactuar to 16k damage was one of the conditions I had written [NOTE: Alex included Cactuar in his all-color Moogle deck). However, the Royal backup condition was a bigger signal for what the deck was actually trying to do. That provided some context for what to expect in the deck.
Jennifer: For sure. How did you enjoy playing the deck? How does this deck’s play style compare to the types of decks you typically make for yourself?
Alex: The deck played fine. The interesting dynamics of play came from my win conditions. Because I was running Brandelis, I wanted to get Segwaridus and Pellinore on the field. However, they’re both knights, bricking my “get knight, prince, princess, king, queen, backups” win state. It forced me to consider my backup development differently that I usually do.
Jennifer: What matchups did you have during the tournament? How did you do against them?
Alex: I played against two mono fire decks , water/lightning, and mono earth. I only lost against the latter. My play was largely about getting a solid blocker on the table (usually Brandelis, but Noctis effectively slowed the tempo in my favor, assuming he doesn’t die), followed by development. It was a slow style of play, with the water/lightning deck losing due to deck out. Noctis worked by allowing easy removal without too many resources on my end.
Jennifer: Overall, it sounds like the deck was successful! Is there anything you saw in this deck that you might want to use in the new season? Are there cards in deck that you might start running in your more competitive decks?
Alex: It allowed me to understand other cards, but I tend to prefer more aggressive play. As such, it’s given me a respect for Noctis that I didn’t see until he was sitting on my side of the board. I also learned that there’s a surprising amount of value in a turn-one Agrias, but only if you enjoy the uncertainty of card games.
Jennifer: Alright, that’s it! Thanks for all your insight into playing this deck. Any last comments?
Alex: That’s it, thanks!
Thanks again to both Phillip and Alex for sitting down with us. We’re really proud and excited to have this unique aspect of our community. What do you think of this deck? If any readers from across the country are thinking of starting similar Fun Deck Friday shenanigans, tell us how it goes! If you were competing during this last week, what 07 brews would you have built? Tell us in the comments!
This article features the art from “Final Fantasy VI” and “Final Fantasy Tactics” by Square-Enix