Nael – A tepid box topper

Hey guys, we’ve got 2 Opus IX cards out in the wild now, Nael and Vincent.

I wanted to take a bit of time to talk about Nael today, especially as it’s radically different from its Chapters source card, and a massive step back on what Fire needs in a 5 Cost card after the extremely good Cloud from Opus VIII.

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Let’s get the first thing out of the way – the art is really nice. Nael’s design from FFXIV 1.0 makes her one of the more memorable villains of the FFXIV series (especially with Gaius being an equally cool follow on pseudo-villain). Unfortunately the art makes the text on the full art actually quite hard to read, something probably made a bit worse by the foiling we are presumably going to get on this card when it releases.

I’ve seen a lot of reactions around this card (as is natural for the first revealed legend for a set) – a lot of experienced players are disappointed with it (myself included), but there is an equal amount of it that are viewing the potential of what this card can do if everything goes right.

Opus IX’s Nael is the very epitome of a high roll Card. To get maximum value out of it, you want to be running a high amount of forwards in your deck so that you get a 2CP 9k (which in fire isn’t really anything special compared to better, searchable attackers like mah boi Hien). Realistically, you can probably hope to hit 1 forward off of her effect, making her a 4CP 9k, at which point I honestly think I would prefer Rubicante. If you miss with the effect (likely, you’re only looking at the top 3 cards and probably running 22-25 forwards in an average deck), you’ve sunk 6CP into something that could be a Veritas of the Dark.

I’ve seen the counterpoint to this that if you pay 6, get 2 forwards off of her etb effect, and then pitch all 5 backups to 8k 2 forwards and then haste Nael, you’re probably winning the game, but it doesn’t take a lot to disrupt that. A random Famfrit out of nowhere, or the ever-present in the meta Diabolos coming down mean that you’ve just sacrificed 5 backups to effectively lose the game. People seem to only be looking at this card at the absolute peak of what it can be, ignoring what fire actually needs from a legendary card (especially one with this big a CP investment) – consistency. I’m happy to be wrong on this card, but I don’t see myself playing it unless it gets some REALLY good support to go with it, or if it works really well in a dual-element deck. Time will tell on that. The issue with the card is it not only doesn’t do things better than cards that already exist, it doesn’t do it even as well as card that already exist.

If you want something in Fire that searches and gets you value and a body, you run Marche with Montblanc. If you want a big attacker, you have plenty of natural haste,  you run the infinitely more valuable Cloud, or the incredibly threatening Ark Angel HM. You’re probably wanting to kill your opponent way before they (or you) get fully set up, and I don’t think Nael plays into that gameplan at all. If we end up with a “Big Fire” deck like we had “Big Ice” emerge in Opus 6/7, it could potentially see some play. But at that point if you want a forward without a meaningful etb to just attack with, I can guarantee you’re looking at Xande before you look at Nael.

Anti-synergy of wanting to run both a high amount of forwards and backups is what really hurts this card. The etb wants this to see play in an “all-forwards” deck – yet to get further value out of it, it wants to you to remove backups from the game for it? That’s a big ask for a not particularly game-changing effect. If I want to spot remove my own backups, I vastly prefer Firion from Opus 6 (and he’s a potential 2 cost 9k that can access Haste, Brave and First Strike, and he doesn’t even see play – that should tell you something.)

A couple of minor tweaks would be all that would need to change to make Nael more playable. Let us look at the top 4 cards of our deck, or top 3 and let us choose characters. Change the “remove a backup from the game” to be “Remove 1 card from the top of your deck from the game” for the first effect, and “Remove 2 cards from the top of your deck from the game” for the second effect, but make them once per turn if you’re worried about the removal being abused. In its current state, for 6CP it doesn’t cut it at all. 6 CP is the same CP investment for a Dadaluma and 2 Cactuar, after all. For 6CP you want to be bringing the centerpiece of your deck online, or lining up a fantastic swing play. Not just dropping a card onto the field.

This is all opinion, and if you’re hype for Nael I hope I haven’t taken a massive shit on it, but it’s not going to be the transformative boss monster for Fire that Cloud was. If there are backups that get effects from being removed from the game, she could be something. Not holding my breath though.

tl;dr: Run Veritas instead of this

BIG POST O9 LAUNCH EDIT: Happy to say my fears were not confirmed with Nael, and she’s actually really solid in a deck that prioritizes a high number of forwards. I still maintain it was a really weird choice for a box-topper, especially being a version of a character who is literally not visible in any FF games anymore (being from the now rebooted FFXIV), and in an element that’s largely unpopular. With the reveal of Gaius, this card got a lot better!

Thanks for reading!

Esufer

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