On April 14th 37 players came to the ARG event in San Jose to try and win some sweet prizes and bragging rights in the Bay Area! At the end of the day Travis DePetris emerged victorious with his version of a Mono Ice deck that is sure to start making the rounds in local tournaments around the country. The Break Zone sat down with Travis to pick his brain about the deck he piloted to 1st place with and we are happy to share some in-depth coverage of him and his deck with you here! Following the interview you can find the decklist. Congratulations to Travis for successfully defending the Bay Area!
1. You played Mono Ice back towards the end of Opus IV as well, has that been your go-to element for deckbuilding?
Travis: Since I first started playing I always felt Ice was a great element to push for the damage you need mid-to-late game, because of the dull/freeze mechanics. I felt really good about Mono Ice in the Opus IV meta, except for my match-ups with Wind, and Earth. I think everyone knows my least favorite card in the Opus IV meta was Guy (laughs) which is surprising because Guy’s been around for a while now, but he really cost me some crucial games during that circuit.
2. How did you go about changing your deck and strategy to implement the new tools that Ice got in Opus V?
Travis: I wanted to give my deck more outs this time around for situations I had problems with in the Opus IV meta. There were a lot of situations prior where I didn’t have a single card mid-to-late game that would get me out of particular board states. So I really focused on making sure I added more tools to deal with those problematic boards states. Cards like Opus V Mateus, Orphan, Arcanist to name a few, went a long way in giving me those outs.
3. There are 9 cards in the deck that you only run one copy of, can you go through the reasons for a couple of them for their inclusion?
Travis: I was seeing a lot of Mono Ice decks using 3 copies of Thaumaturge, that was something I just didn’t agree with. I felt like anyone using Mono Ice prior wasn’t using Argath, and Thaumaturge to me is just a glorified Argath. At the end of the day, it’s just another discard forward. I couldn’t see myself running more than 1 because space is as tight as it can get in the deck for me. Arcanist I’m actually probably going to bump to 2 following the ARG event, that card against certain matchups and a good back-row can lock you opponent out from making any attacks. Its a card that let’s you slow down the pace if you need it, and I believe we will see a lot more of it in the future. Bard was a card I was holding on to from the Opus IV meta, but I must say I can’t see myself using it moving forward, I wasn’t able to utilize it once during all my matches. I still see merit in the card, but I think Orphan, Shiva, Genesis, etc handle all the dulling I need for now. Light Terra is just wonderful to me, it’s like running into a wild summon card, the ability to grab any summon <5 cost is too good not to include, especially with the Category VI synergy and S for the Ice Terra. Vayne mainly for pesky high CP drops like Kan-E-Senna and Cloud of Darkness. Opus II Mateus was there as an awkward out to certain cards and a wonderful EX burst which I realized bypasses Wol's EX burst canceling effects as well. Buccaboo is just fantastic, I think it’s my number 1 pick for a card that can put someone on tilt the fastest on turn 1 (laughs) and a turn 1 Buccaboo, backup, and Thaumaturge just feels grimy to play but sets you up for the whole match. Rinoa was tough to have at 1, however I either pitch her early, and can grab her later with scholar or I can play her from the break zone with Devout. I never felt like I wish I had another Rinoa in the deck.
4. Walk us through your ideal starting hand and how you prefer to lay out the first couple of turns to get set up.
Travis: That’s a tough question. The Thaumaturge, Buccaboo, backup hand is always fantastic way to start, but you don’t have much control for your next turn since you are top-decking. Normally I like to open with two of the 2 CP backups, preferably one of them is Harley so that any Edward coming after is like an Evoker with incredible effects. I usually try to build a little bit but how much I build depends on the matches I’m playing. If I know my opponent likes to build as well, I’ll go aggro and start dropping forwards to change their pace and make them answer things early. It’s always changing but I love Ice because it can go a lot of different ways, it doesn’t have to be the same type of win condition each game.
5. Which matchups did you find to be the most challenging in testing? What strategy do you like to employ to deal with those matchups?
Travis: Prior to Opus V, Earth and Wind were my worst matchups. However I found in testing that wasn’t really the case anymore. Water seemed to be what I was mostly worried about. However to be honest with you, I didn’t get to do a whole lot of testing at all. I only played this build of my Mono Ice once before I entered the tournament. I did spend hours creating it, I just had faith that it would perform and I’m happy I made the right calls.
6. Were there any decks you faced at ARG that surprised you?
Travis: The only deck that surprised me was my last swiss match against a Strongest Sword/Mono Lightning deck. It was just not what I was expecting, I misjudged the line of plays, and thought they had just drew into a terrible hand, but I built up for too long and I couldn’t stop the aggression soon enough. I would have loved to do a best of 3 on that one though to see how I would have adjusted.
7. Orphan is a beast of a card that punishes the opponent for letting it stay on the field and potentially punishes them for removing it due to allowing you to play another for it's enter-the-field effect. Do you prefer to play it earlier in a match or wait until a certain opportunity presents itself?
Travis: I have loved Orphan since I laid eyes on it, like a father seeing his child for the first time (laughs) I honestly feel Orphan is great to play either way, but I’ve always found it more beneficial for me to play him earlier than later. If you use him late game, I feel like you miss opportunities for your opponent to waste resources to get rid of him, and miss opportunities to use his Freeze effects while attacking. Plus if you make your opponent use resources to get rid of him early it just gives you another shot to throw him down again. So I definitely like the early use of Orphan over the late game.
8. Opus V Edward's Silent Verse Special is a very potent and (in my opinion) underappreciated ability, how often did you get to use it and did you get to cancel anything that would've had caused a huge swing in that match?
Travis: I love Edward's Special Ability so much, but I didn’t get to use it for anything big unfortunately. However I left him up a lot whether I had one in hand or not, because who wants to use a Raiden with Edward up? I often had Edward in hand just in case, and I was waiting in many games for my opponent to use a summon I could cancel but it never happened, however that doesn’t mean it isn’t an amazing card, I will not take out the Harley and Edward combo anytime soon.
9. What was the MVP of your deck throughout the tournament?
Travis: The MVP of my deck was easily Orphan with Locke in second and I’ll give it to Buccaboo in third. Orphan is just incredible, hands down one of Ice’s best cards. Locke with VI synergy is fantastic, Mirage Dive won me a couple games at 6 damage on the opponent and now that you can retrieve him from the break zone with Scholar it just makes him even more of a threat. Buccaboo basically saved me during an early round swiss game, dictated a middle round swiss game, and just really put me in good positions in other matches where he got used.
10. What was your toughest match of the day?
Travis: My toughest match of the day was against Thomas Nguyen in the Semifinals. I faced Thomas during swiss in a game that was down to the wire but I lost, then we met again in the Top 4. The first game of the set I lost pretty decisively, so the second game I knew I had to make it happen. Game 2 in particular was grueling, board state went back and forth and we each had 5 or so forwards on each side. Every attack and play was calculated on both sides, it was just incredibly difficult especially knowing it was game point. After winning Game 2, the third was pretty similar to the second, but I was ultimately able to take it thanks to the idea to target Illua with another effect before casting my O3 Shiva, similar to what Okimoto did at Boston Cup, and was able to swing in with 3 forwards to close the match.
11. After your experience with the deck at ARG, are there any cards you want to add or anything that you would cut? Were there cards you had to cut that you found yourself wishing you had access to during certain matches?
Travis: Zalera, especially with Light Terra. Some matches I had Light Terra and an opponent's board full of dull 3 costs and just thought to myself why the hell didn’t I keep a Zalera in there! So definitely at least 1 Zalera. Besides that, it would just be messing around with how many copies of each card I want to run. May eliminate Bard for another Arcanist or take a Setzer out for another forward like Zeid. I’ll just have to play around with it and see.
12. Any particular pieces of advice you would have for anyone who wants to try out this decklist?
Travis: My advice to anyone who wants to try the list, is be willing to change pace with the deck. Sometimes I have no cards in hand turn 1 or 2 and sometimes I have 5 backups and 5 cards in hand. You are playing against a person not a deck. If you set the pace and they can’t adjust that gives you an edge. Ice has some of the best top-deck potential along with Mono Lightning in my opinion. Being at no cards, but forcing your opponent to be at no cards with you usually will end up in a win for you. Ice has a wonderful tool box, so building up for long game is fantastic as well. You just have to be able to switch gears when it calls for it and the deck lets you do that, but you have to be willing to go with it. No matter the case, the deck is a lot of fun, and I’ll be sticking with ice for a long time as I test other things out in between.
Travis DePetris' Mono Ice Decklist
Thaumaturge 4-040C x1
Locke 4-048L x3
Rinoa 2-047L x1
Serah 1-195S x2
Celes 4-038L x2
Genesis 3-033L x2
Terra 1-047R x2
Terra 4-146L x1
Vayne 2-026L x1
Cid Aulstyne 3-036H x2
Setzer 4-036H x2
Orphan 5-029L x3
Mateus, the Corrupt 5-044C x2
Shiva 3-023R x3
Glasya Labolas 5-032H x2
Mateus, the Corrupt 2-044C x1
Flan 4-043C x2
Buccaboo 5-046R x1
Arcanist 5-028C x1
Bard 4-027C x1
Harley 3-044C x2
Jihl Nabaat 1-193S x3
Duke Larg 1-057R x2
Edward 5-031H x3
Gestahlian Empire Cid 4-026H x2
Devout 1-048C x2