So I’m gonna break up the set reviews this time, mainly so that I actually get them done in a reasonable timeframe. We’re gonna be starting with Fire because let’s basically get it out the way, I guess. I’ll be forgoing a rating system, but instead offering my opinion on each card.
Ark Angel HM – 8-001R
This guy is unironically really good. Swinging for two points of damage is going to make your opponent want to block him more often than not, as two points of damage in one go is pretty bad news to get hit by. This card destroyed me in pre-release, and I’ve found he’s pretty monstrous in Mono Fire constructed too, where you can take advantage of the various ways of hasting him, boosting his power even higher or making it so your opponent can’t block. Also plays really well with Volker from FFXI, which can allow you to cheat damage through. Stuff like this is what fire needed!
Red Mage – 8-002C
Two good fire cards in a row! This card would effectively be a power-crept version of Sage from Opus II if it didn’t have the ‘Fire Forward’ caveat. I think popping ‘Fire Forward’ was a really good way of making sure this card wasn’t a bit too good in things like Ice/fire. It’s just a really good 2 cost fire backup. Not terribly exciting, but very functional and keeps you up with a blocker that you probably just swung with. Good times.
Ifrit – 8-003C
I have no idea if this card is good or not. Potentially can hit for a whopping 10k off of a full row of backups including Caetuna, but once you get past a certain amount of damage (usually 9-10k in a single hit) it’s essentially meaningless. It’s nice to have another Ifrit that’s somewhat worth grabbing off of Fritt, and it’s definitely better than the Bahamut we got in this set, but I don’t think he edges out the reliability of Brynhildr, especially seeing as 7k is the sweet spot to kill the majority of stuff you’ll be wanting to kill anyway.
Iroha – 8-004R
Iroha is awesome. Iroha and Xande has been my go-to combo in Mono Fire during testing, as it effectively gives you a free 8k removal on Xande’s attack (5k+1k from Xande attack declaration, 1k+1k from Iroha tap), and it also allows you to take advantage of first strike within fire to make fire hit harder than it already does. I’d really like one of these in foil! She also plays nicely with both Volker and Hien/Gosetsu which is probably not massively relevant right now, but is a thing worth noting incase FFXI or Samurai becomes meta. Worth noting though, and I see this quoted wrong a LOT is that if you are boosting a character’s damage with Iroha, it must be under your control when the damage resolves or you don’t get the boost. Lookin’ at you, Bomb.
Edgar – 8-005C
At first glance, Edward looks like Wakka, but for VI. Upon second glance, he’s a godsend for Fire/Ice decks as he gets Locke online MUCH easier, and can also help to boost him out of that troublesome 8k so he doesn’t get oneshot by Fusoya. I’m liking this card, I definitely would play him over the other Edgar we got earlier in the game.
Cloud – 8-006L
Great card. He’s probably killing something when he enters the field, and you only really need to resolve his self-resurrection ability once to really swing the game in your favour (especially as you are likely getting another kill off of it when he comes back in.) Ignore that it costs ten to mill, fire-based decks are going to want to win way before they’re stuck into the grind game so those 10 RFG’d cards likely didn’t matter anyway. I’m running two in Mono Fire and he’s been testing really well. I wish he had a little more synergy with the newer FFVII cards we have received this set, but that’s more me being a massive fanboy than the cards working particularly well together. Plus, you get a full art just for buying a full booster box of Opus VIII! The EX is a really nice bonus as well, it’s really nice to have another viable boss option for fire. If Aerith & Yuffie from this set didn’t exist I’d be all over this like a powerful moss in Fire/Earth VII (he’s nuts at 4), but they do, so I’m not.
Black Mage – 8-007C
Fire’s already got a lot of decent 2 cost backups, and not a huge amount of summons I’d consider so important I’d want to burn 2 CP + a backup for… (outside of the obvious Phoenix). Great art but I’d probably pass putting this into a deck for now, unless fire gets something really stupid in the future.
Golem – 8-008C
Let’s be real. This guy looks like a Gen 5 Pokemon. His effect seems nice, but it seems like fire already has enough of the “gain power while attacking” buffs (especially with Lava Spider on the scene, but more on that later). With fire already being bad at gaining momentum compared to other elements, I’d probably be skipping this for something like Selphie, and even then the majority of Fire stuff is already massive when it’s attacking. I can see it’s merit in sealed, though.. I don’t have a huge amount to say about this card.
Samurai – 8-009C
I can’t really see a reason you’d want to play this right now. It doesn’t combo with any of the other Samurai available, fire isn’t known for being a good Standard Unit deck, and there’s certainly better 3 cost options available in fire. One thing it does have going for it is that it’s a Multi-card (being a Standard Unit), but it comes across as a kind of boneless Ayame.
Amarant – 8-010H
Ehhhhhhhh. I’m really in two minds on Amarant. Off of an EX burst, I can certainly see why you’d put him in a deck (especially something IX focused as there’s not a whole lot of options for the fire portion of that right now). His first ETB is basically a copy of Baugauven, and he costs two more (for 1k less attack?), and his for his cost his Monster break really shouldn’t have a limit of cost 3 or less. Actually, now I’ve typed this out, I dislike this card. Even with an 8k or 9k body I’d still rather just pay the extra cost and yeet something with Nidhogg. I’d rather go with no monster removal than feel like I have to run Amarant. For comparison, if you remove the monster break (which will be irrelevant in quite a lot of matchups anyway), and compare it to Opus 4 Cloud, you’re basically paying an extra 4 (or 5, if you consider Jessie) for virtually no reason.
Cid (FFL) – 8-011C
My current go-to ‘spicy 1 of’ backup for Mono Fire, basically lives in the slot that Irvine did previously. Not really an exciting card, but will occasionally remove something really efficiently. Obviously goes in mono decks.
Zenos – 8-012H
Honestly, Zenos disappoints me a little. I could see him being solid if he had First Strike added to his Warrior of Light conditional, but if he has +2000 vs the most commonly played Warrior of Light, at best he’s just going to trade into it when it attacks (assuming they even choose to attack with that Wol). His auto on damage is also pretty awkward, unless you are combining it with some other burn to hit a relevant number as well as a block-bypass card to get the damage through in the first place? Sounds bad on paper, feels worse when played. For how omnipresent and threatening Zenos was for the entirety of Stormblood, he deserved better than this. Hopefully we get another printing of him with a slightly more ‘big boss’ effect.
Warrior – 8-013C
I mean, this card certainly is in the set. If you have enough CP, you can bait the block/or block with this card and then pump the damage to insane levels, but I think at that point you would probably want to play something better than this anyway. If I was going to play a 2 CP standard unit in Mono Fire, I’d be running either the Warrior that buffs fire forwards by 2k on attack, or the Maurader that just kills things much larger than itself.
Duncan – 8-014L
Considering Duncan is in FFVI for about 3 minutes total, I’m shocked he got a legend. The art is great, and I can see it potentially having some use in a Sabin spam deck, but this card just has a few strange flaws. I think he could have been a real threat if the arbitrary cost restriction wasn’t on his auto-ability (really, he’s a worst Opus 1 Firion in this regard), and his Phantom Rush S ability could probably be something really worth using if he didn’t need to dull to do it – if you can find a way of giving him brave reliably I could see him being borderline useable. He’s another VI name you can throw into a Fire/Ice deck, which is nice though, and is another way to get Locke online quicker. Weird choice for a Legend.
Bahamut – 8-015H
At first I was firmly in the “this could be nice cast off of Caetuna” camp, but after testing I can safely say I have downgraded my opinion of this card to a [screams internally] out of 10.
Vivi – 8-016H
I really want to build something around Vivi, but there’s not a huge amount of really playable fire IX cards that aren’t called Vivi in the game yet. You only really need to be able to hit that second auto-ability though to get massive value off of this card, as a 7k burn for 1 that leaves you with a body is really really good value. Excited to see someone that’s better at building Fire/Water than myself build a list from this.
Brynhildr – 8-017C
Hey, it’s a reprint of probably the best non-Phoenix fire summon! Really glad to see spot removal back in the packs so that new players can get their hand on the staple cards for each elements (now if you’d just reprint the buffer cards Square, that’d be neat as heck)
Marche – 8-018R
Marche is great. We don’t have a lot of Fire cards that allow you to pick up speed in Mono Fire, which is one of the things that has made the element suffer, and I think Marche alleviates that… a little. I’m currently running Marche with Montblanc, and Dominion Legionary in a fire deck, and it certainly makes the deck set up more consistently, but it’s still hugely vulnerable to getting blown out. Really nice that we have a Marche that can enable the 2k ping from Montblanc (3k with Iroha!), though, and this card also opens up a Fire/Ice moogle build using Hurdy > Montblanc > Marche as a good search chain. You’d think with a huge pizza-cutter for a sword he’d be a bit higher than 5k attack, but you can’t really ask for more on an EX searcher forward.
Sabin – 8-019C
Punishes early forward presence from your opponent, has a pretty decent burn for his cost with Edward out, and also allows for more Rising Phoenix (Sabin L) and Phantom Rush (Duncan L) shenanigans. really nice to see alternatives for VI characters as it opens up a lot more avenues to build a good theme deck. With first strike I can see him becoming really scary, and combo’d with Iroha (like a lot of fire cards this set) he becomes a really good attacker.
Yotsuyu – 8-020R
She’s basically a cheaper Red Mage in the current (admittedly early stages of this) meta. You’re probably wanting to run her in a deck with a mix of Ninja & Red Mage, as when you make things unblockable, you’re likely going to win that turn. She also works with O7 Thancred if you’re running Fire Lightning XIV? I’m not massively thrilled on this card, but I know Lossley loves Yotsuyu so I don’t want to say bad things and make him sad.
Rain – 8-021R
I really don’t like Rain. Having to pay a 1 CP tax to get his really weenie burn off is not worth it. His main thing going for him is he can remove Illua’s protection just by entering the field or attacking. I’m really not a fan of this, Fire already has plenty of other great ping sources. He could be good in the future with more FFBE support, but right now he really isn’t.
Lava Spider – 8-022R
And the award for ‘Most Misrepresented Effect at Tournaments’ goes to this guy! Really important to note is that they only gain +3000 power while attacking, which means if a 5k attacks, gains 3k and goes to 8k, and you block with a 5k, you can chump block and it will die at the end of it’s attack (unless they were using a Minwu effect or a First Strike effect to not die). If this card was “until the end of the turn” it would be nuts, but it’s not, so it’s not. If you see anyone at a tournament mispresenting the effect, PLEASE call them out on it. I’ve seen it happen too often and we’re 2 weeks into Opus VIII. Also, it’s unique, which a lot of people miss.
Gosetsu – 8-137S
Turns Hien’s effect on from one card, EX searcher for him too. Pretty average for a fixed name searcher, although it’s a nice bonus that he has the EX. As with all searchers, will get nicer if we ever get retrains of Hien/Yugiri. You’re probably wanting to run this if you’re wanting to make Fire Samurais a thing.
Hien – 8-138S
He’s got a pretty standard body, but becomes a 4 CP 9k Brave with Gosetsu out. He’ll be the centrepiece of a Fire Samurai build, but I’m not convinced it’s a build just yet. His on-attack auto is essentially irrelevant as Fire is probably already making everything comically huge anyway. Hien was a cool dude in the game though.
Lyse – 8-139S
Speaking of making things comically huge, you can put Lyse in a Mono Fire build with Luneth, Lebreau, Warrior (+2k to all fire) and Lava Spider. I’m not sure why you would want to, but you can do it. I’ve seen a few people drawn in by her job, but I think it’s effectively totally irrelevant and not worth running 3 colours for, especially as it shuts you out from your boss forward. I’d say she’s a good starter card, but I likely wouldn’t use her in any kind of constructed play.
So that’s my review of Fire, what do you think of fire this set? Is there anything you disagree with me on? If so, let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,