We’ve had a bit of rumbling recently around cards that could potentially be banned for ‘the Opus IX environment’ – one of the cards I’ve been disappointed (but not surprised) to see people call to get banned en masse is Veritas of the Dark from Opus VIII. Today I’m going to posit the thought that it isn’t the Veritas that comes down to remove your last blocker when you were on 6 damage that caused you to lose the game, but it is in fact a lot of early game, high impact cards that pushed you into that gamestate in the first place, by impacting the game in an extreme way for very little investment or risk. These cards you will have likely faced in the past frequently, but probably didn’t realise just how much they were impacting your game. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I am omitting Yuna 1-177R from the list on purpose, as I believe the main problem with that card is that it stifles card design for water summons, rather than it being a massive impact turn 1-3 play.
This is all opinion, of course, so don’t take any of this as a personal attack or a callout to any player that doesn’t (or does) run these cards. To get the most out of these cards takes a reasonably high skill level, they’re certainly not auto-win cards. I also don’t work for Square Enix and am not affiliated with them at all in an official capacity, so don’t interpret this article as some kind of ‘sneak peek’ at a banlist.
Zidane – 3-056H
Zidane is the absolute scourge of the game right now – if you have a deck that has the capability of running Zidane, and you are not running 3 Zidane, you have actively made a deckbuilding choice that has put you on the back foot. Zidane is one of the highest impact turn 2 plays in the game right now, arguably more so than Sephiroth due to the extra information that the enter the field auto ability gets you. If you end up seeing a Zidane come down against you on turn 2 of a match, and the pluck a backup that you were going to play the next turn from your hand, you are now massively behind, as your opponent has disrupted your curve play, and now has a body on the field to start hitting you with early. Plus they know what is in your hand, so not only know what deck you are playing in more detail than you know theirs, but they also know what plays you will be able to make in the next couple of turns, and can play around it accordingly. Zidane can also really affect the game when you decide to commit a large board, as it allows you to check for potential threats/field wipes. If you look at Zidane as a zero-risk forward that lets you take any card in the game from your opponents hand (effectively removing the card before it comes in and gets ANY value), he’s technically the best removal in the game. The fact that it can combo with cards like Phoenix in the late game only add to it’s ridiculousness – for this card to be remotely reasonable it needed to be a 4 Cost card with it’s current stat line, and even then being able to gather as much advantage as Zidane offers you is way too efficient. If you look at this card costing the same as Serah, and 1 more than the banned Thaumaturge (while giving far more than an extra 1CP’s worth of advantage), how problematically efficient this card is should become apparent.
Cactuar – 4-058C
Cactuar in and of itself is not a problematic card. What it enables can cause some serious issues. The obvious combo with it is the Dadaluma/Cactuar combo, offering extremely efficient removal for almost no buy in at all (especially as in the signature deck Dadaluma appears in, you have Urianger to set up your combo at almost any time), and Dadaluma is another card that I see people frequently calling to be banned – my personal opinion is that to attack the Dadaluma Cactuar problem effectively without completely killing the deck would be to address Cactuar. Pinging off of Semih Lafihna gives Dadaluma similar efficiency to Nacht, while still rendering it a playable strategy – addressing the free 8-12k that Dadaluma Cactuar would be otherwise doing and replacing it with a CP sink effect more in the vein of Opus VII Ice Backup Emperor or the aforementioned Nacht. Cactuar also enables much ridiculousness with Opus VII’s Noctis, which is far more of an efficient play than Dadaluma Cactuar in the Opus VIII metagame. If you notice your opponent has Noctis and Cactuar on the field, and they’re letting you race damage on them, the probability is that as soon as they hit 5 damage, you are going to lose 3 forwards – they will use Cactuar’s 10k ability to kill one forward and deal a damage to themselves, which in turn triggers Noctis’ 6 damage break ability, and his normal ‘Hecatoncheir’ ability. Cactuar may seem innocuous and ineffective upon first glance, but the chances are if it’s being used against you in an Earth/Wind combo deck, it is a large part of the reason why you might be losing.
Miounne – 5-067R
Miounne has recently started making some waves in the metagame due to allowing you to re-use basically any searcher in the game, and doing so effectively (by allowing you to draw a card when you return a character to your hand, effectively making this card pay for itself or better, depending on the followup play.) Most commonly, we see turn 1 Star Sibyl, search Semih Lafihna, followed up soon after with a Miounne to return the Star Sibyl to your hand, to draw a card, to then replay the Star Sibyl for 3CP rather than 5, which then allows the deck to effectively ‘go off’, usually searching a Kam’lanaut into a Chaos, Galdes or Veritas, depending on what need has arisen. Miounne is also extremely efficient with cards like Izana, allowing Chocobo decks to swarm extremely quickly in the early game. Miounne will also allow you to reuse effectively any enter the field auto ability in the game while developing you a backup and drawing a card – think of her in a similar way to Rinoa, but able to fit into more relevant decks without taking up a forward slot, and applicable to a much wider range of cards. If this card ever becomes searchable, it’s going to be time to panic. If your opponent uses Miounne on you around turn 3 or 4, it is likely you will not realise how far behind she has made you until it is too late into the game. Also using Miounne in tandem with the Zidane mentioned earlier in this post can put your opponent extremely behind with very little investment.
Star Sibyl – 5-091H
Star Sibyl is an extremely efficient card. One of the few 5CP+ backups you would want to play on turn one, even overpaying for it, due to it allowing you to sculpt your hand and play out of an otherwise bad opening hand. The second effect allows it to break itself which not only puts a sizable CP threat on the field for you to deal with, but allows another Star Sibyl to come down (likely for 3CP), allowing your opponent to go and fetch another threat from the deck for you to deal with, and then that Star Sibyl can later be broken to play another threat onto the field – you get the picture. Star Sibyl also having EX is also extremely powerful, as if you are applying pressure to your opponent, and flip a Star Sibyl off the top, you can bet they’re going to go and get a Shantotto to reset the play environment with. Veritas of the Dark is the card that is most commonly asked to be banned right now (at least from what I’ve seen), so being able to drop one onto the field for the literal cost of 1 backup (which has already searched you something, and you want to resolve again) is far too strong, even for 5CP (3CP under Semih Lafihna). Star Sibyl enables a lot of off-colour plays you may not otherwise see, be it via the tap and break action ability or the common search chain of Star Sibyl > Kam’lanaut > Chaos. If you have a chance to break a Star Sibyl (in your own turn), it’s usually recommended to do it, just to deny a little value from the card – even then it’s still done most of its job.
So yeah, there are some thoughts about some cards that I consider too powerful and low-risk for their CP investments. Not-coincidentally, all these card can be played alongside Veritas extremely effectively, in an Earth/Wind deck, but hopefully this article has highlighted that it’s not just the Veritas that is beating you – it is the end result of an extremely efficient deck that starts accruing advantage from as early as turn 1. While you are putting down a backup, the Earth/Wind player is setting up and putting you behind. The Veritas is just the end result that closes out the game – calling for Veritas to be banned certainly wouldn’t solve the problem of turns 1-5 being probably the most impactful turns of the game in a tournament environment.
tl;dr – If you lose to Earth/Wind and you think it’s because of a big CP investment play in the late game, you are analyzing the wrong part of the deck – it is a deck that is based around incremental advantage from the extremely early game, and that’s the part you need to tackle to win.
Thanks for reading!
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