Budget Build Fridays #4 – Manikin Mayhem

Budget Build Fridays are geared around making affordable decks that are a good starting point for newer players, that you can build from bulk or are affordable. We aim to provide a deck every week with a wide range of playstyles that won’t break the bank.

So, you’ve got playsets of the new participation promo Exdeath sat around doing nothing – let’s build something weird for under $15!

This deck will focus on the virtually abandoned Manikin archetype that was released in Opus II – with Dissidia NT having been out for a while, perhaps we’ll see an eventual resurgence in this archetype? For now, all the cards are dirt cheap, which makes it ideal for a budget build.

FFDecks.com link: Manikin Mayhem


With this deck, you want to be spamming out Manikins as fast as you can, and using the pings available in the deck to get removal outside of combat. It’s quite straightforward compared to the other decks I’ve done recently. Let’s take a look at the cards.


Semblance of a Lion – I wanted to go to 3 on this guy, at first I hadn’t even considered him for the build. But combined with other parts of the deck (namely Black Mage, Ramuh and Glasya Labolas), you can condition your opponent to not block him, and get free damage through. And if they do block, you break their forward with a followup ping, a break from the Black Mage, or just Mateus them! Good times.



Thaumaturge – A tiny boi with big dreams.

Kiros – Kiros is here to play nice with Laguna – he becomes a 9k Haste First Strike just by having Laguna out, which is super nice. Definitely a flex slot, though. I could also see Hildibrand in this slot if you fancied running Nashu in the backup slots.

Simulacrum of a Hero – Good body, Manikin, can combo pings to work with other cards in the deck if attacking isn’t an option. Ticks the boxes!


Capricious Reaper – In my opinion, this is currently the best Manikin. His effect may as well read “untargetable”. If you opponent does decide to target him to deal with him, you can follow up that discard with Thaumaturge or Glasya to compound the discard and really get far ahead.


Fleeting Flash – The second best Manikin! You can Devout these guys out of the break zone and steal games no problem.


Laguna & Squall – Laguna and Squall ended up in here purely because they do a lot, they’re big beaters, and they’re very much budget cards. If you were looking at blinging out this deck, I’d probably drop the VIII package for alternatives.

Exdeath – Big Bad Boss! This guy can become a beast in this deck. For starters, he lets you play a Manikin when you bring him in for free, but also acts as a 1k field boost for them, and gets bigger for every Manikin you have out! He’s absolutely vital for this deck to work. A solid 3 of.



Mateus, the Corrupt – Basically the most fun you can have with mindgames. Leave an ice backup up, attack with something suspiciously small, watch the attack go through. After you hit them with one Mateus, they’ll likely start worrying about seeing more. Note, this doesn’t work on people that aren’t paying attention and just block because their guy is bigger, so be careful about that.

Glasya Labolas – Discards! Dulls! Damage! Freezes! Terrible card names! Use this as you see fit, you’ll find it’s useful in lots of scenarios.


Ramuh – This week’s Card of the Week found a spot for the same reason Glasya Labolas did – that reason being its versatility. A minor flex slot, I also considered Odin for this slot.

Odin – High-costed, but that EX burst can win games. Also a really cheap card unless you try to foil it out!


Black Mage, Black Mage, and Black Mage – Lightning Black Mages in general are pretty good. I’ve included these three in these ratios out of personal preference. I kept the Opus 1 Black Mage at 3 for combo potential with our ping Manikins, you may find that you want to play with the Black Mage lineup somewhat.

Harley & Edward – These two got spots because if you can get Harley down early, Edward becomes pure advantage – even if you have to pay 3 for Edward, it’s still not bad. Plus being able to cancel a summon will save you occasionally, so don’t pitch those extra copies of Edward too early!

Jihl Nabaat – Solid EX burst, will help you get a lot of damage through.

Red Mage – Absolute flex slot. I felt the Ice half of the deck needed a little haste, but it’s totally personal preference. You can put whatever cost 2 backup in here you want.

Devout – Devout can be used for a couple of things in this deck, there are two main plays with it though. The first is devouting a Fleeting Flash and saying to your opponent “surprise, you’re dead,” the second is to put Laguna or Squall’s ability on the stack, and in response to that ability entering the stack, Devout out the other half of that combo, so that it satisfies the requirement to get the enhanced effect for both forwards. If you play Laguna, target a forward, then Devout Squall out, because it resolves backwards, Squall discards 2 cards from your opponent’s hand (and one from yours), and Laguna dulls and freezes his original target. Super nice!



Upgrading this deck will start to turn it into a completely different deck – if you find you like the playstyle of Manikins though, there are a few paths you can take it:

The ‘Good Stuff’ Path – with this you would be looking at stripping out the VIII cards and fitting in an Al-Cid Package, and likely a playset of Genesis to fill the spots left by Laguna. The Al-Cid setup fits perfectly with the ping-based nature of the deck, I would have wanted to put him in the base list, but the lowest FFDecks has him listed at is $15 which isn’t exactly budget (he’s cheaper here in the UK, though!)

The XIII Path – You can easily edit this deck to make it XIII centric, and not for a huge cost. Things like Lightning, Cid Raines, Snow, and Serah would all do great in this deck. You can even look at putting in Gilgamesh and Twilight Odin if you want to.

The ‘I literally just put Estinien in’ PathEstinien‘s great. I’d drop Kiros for him.


The Full Manikins Path – If you don’t like the VIII package in there, you can comfortably replace Laguna, Squall, and Kiros with other Manikins, like Imaginary Champion, Semblance of a Gunslinger, or Arborous Simulacrum… I’d probably skip the last one, though. His effect will rarely go off, although it may stop the odd Jihl Nabaat.

That bring us to the end of this Budget Build Friday, I hope you all have a good weekend – I’m looking forward to revisiting this deck when more Manikins get released – there are a few from chapters we don’t have yet + potentially the ones from Dissidia NT so if they get released, I’ll definitely be doing an updated version of this article.

Have fun & thanks for reading!

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