I’m looking at getting these churned out a bit quicker this time, but after the results of the poll (thanks to all that voted) it looks like you guys want multiple reviews rather than one big article, so let’s get the ball rolling with Fire. As always, not going to bother with ratings and I won’t be talking about draft, title or sealed (you got Jeff’s articles over at the FFTCG Crystarium for that) so let’s get on with it.
Irvine – 9-001C
Unfortunately the set does not start off well, with a particularly stinky backup in the form of Irvine. Irvine has some strange caveats, and I don’t think it would be particularly unfair to just make him a 4 cost backup that just deals 7k on entry. I much prefer the Opus II Irvine over this for a consistent 6k that can be played off of one backup, and I think this card also suffers by being able to be disrupted if they end up losing a forward on stack or something. If you want a 4 cost in fire, surely you’re playing Dominion Legionary or Montblanc? For 4CP, I don’t think this card does enough.
Ifrita – 9-002H
I think Ifrita has potential. I don’t think it’s realised yet as the vast majority of Ifrits we have are pretty dang poor, and getting 5 or more to max value out of this card is a pretty big ask. If you look at it as a modal, ex-less Brynhildr though, it’s not bad at all. I certainly think this one will see play, giving Fire a way to break Deathgaze (IX) is pretty neat, and 3000 damage to all forwards opponent controls gives you a store-brand Valefor without getting all your backups back. I’d certainly grab a playset of this in case we get a few crazy Ifrits in the future, and the fact it references Card Names would open it up to synergy with any Ifrit forwards we get in the future (why isn’t Fritt Card Name Ifrit in all situations? Would be great here!) A step in the right direction, but not a step far enough imo. If it had a mode where it could Haste + Draw a card (similar to one of Mist Dragon’s modes) I would definitely give it a shot.
Ace – 9-003L
Our first Fire legend of the set! And I’ve got to say my least favourite thing about him is the art! It looks way off-brand compared to the rest of the Cadets we’ve seen so far, and I’m really not a fan. However his effects are pretty dang good. On attack or EX he can work like an uncapped Firion, allowing you to potentially score 6k-8k+ whenever you attack, which is not insignificant spot removal. Also, his entry effect allows you to go seven cards deep into your deck to grab 2 job Class Zero Cadets which has a really high chance of making him a soft 1 cost forward – going that deep means you will rarely miss, and being able to grab backups is also a huge, huge bonus. If we get a cadet that grants haste (either as a one time ability or a field ability) I think we’ll start seeing this guy in some really strong Cadets build. I’d probably stock up on this one too in case his price shoots up later.
Ace – 9-004C
Now this Ace is really nice. 2CP kill a guy effectively on backup, Ace has some real potential to get you an early advantage swing in Cadets. However, he’s called Ace, and not Cater, which makes him virtually unplayable with how good the legend is. Really disappointed he doesn’t have a different name, as this level of removal on a two cost backup could make Cadets a real contender. And the current Cater we have is really poo. It pains me to say that I don’t think we’ll be seeing this anywhere anytime soon.
King of Eblan – 9-005H & Queen of Eblan – 9-006H
I mean… why? Yeah, it’s nice that King can recruit Queen to the field upon play, which would be really nice… if they could attack directly, ever. Not being able to attack directly and having the 5k effect only when they party attack makes me see them as a budget alternative to Emperor Xande, with the downside that they’re likely not doing much damage, and both of them being 7k they’re probably not living long either. You could potentially run these in a block-bypass deck, but at that point aren’t you going to want to go for more hastey cards? Or just Xande? Really surprised that cards like this exist 9 sets into the game, and I think they could have been niche playable even with some minor tweaking (lose the attack restrictions, and make it so they deal 4k each when attacking so they at least get some relevant removal). It feels like these guys are only heroes because of the Amano art.
Gaius – 9-007H
Oooh baby. I like Gaius a lot. He’s a +1 EX (which fire needs a lot of to stay even remotely competitive), but the stuff he enables is really nice. Getting a 3k ping off when you play Rhitatyn, Hien, Lyse, Nael, Xande etc isn’t nothing, and if you’re playing multiple forwards down and have an Iroha out, or seal the deal with Firion, you’re looking at some serious ping racking up indeed. I’d rate the card a bit higher for mono if we had the option of a 4th Fire target (why can’t you search Nael), but I actually like this one quite a bit. Another one that will only get better as the game progresses, but I feel he’s already extremely playable in both Mono Fire and Fire/Lightning.
Cyan – 9-008C
I mean Fire/Ice needed more ways to enable that ironclad turn 2-3 Locke play, right? Cyan actually ticks a few different boxes for a few different decks. In aggro decks he allows you to put up some serious pressure without having to dull anything, in VI he makes Locke/Celes just that much easier to get online, and in Mono Fire he’s also a Samurai for Hien. A great 2CP backup!
What hurts Gijuk the most is he’s a blank card if you’re not playing Headhunters. However if you are playing headhunters, have the other two Headhunters down, play Ba’Gamnan and search for this, you can feasibly 10k (by doubling with the damage with Rinok) your opponent’s board providing they don’t disrupt the number of Headhunters in play. Fragile, but very swarmy and really fun-looking to do.
King – 9-010R
King’s good. When this was revealed I hoped we were gonna get a cycle of Cadets with this alternate cost, but that unfortunately was a pipe dream. Giving a targeted block bypass to Cadets, who already have and play 2 Cost Seven looks pretty strong, my only complaint is it can only be done once unlike Volker who allows you to do it repeatedly and really put a clock on the game. I think if you’re running any modern Cadets deck, you’re running this, as it allows you to un-brick a hand (ditch a light Ace for example) to get a 2CP 8k down, which is nice.
Clavat – 9-011R
I’m not sure how to feel about this? If you have a way of giving it first strike it could potentially be good at killing things bigger than it. However fire has some really good 3CP 7ks right now, and I don’t think this beats them for a deck slot. Being able to strip an Illua effect is really nice, however, but I don’t see this seeing a huge amount of play unless there’s some FFCC shenanigans I’ve missed (you can get it off Epitav, I guess?) Worthy of note is the effect is mandatory, so if Clavat attacks as the only forward on the field she has to smack herself for 1k, so be wary of this if you play her.
Shadow – 9-012C
Shadow’s pretty darn cool. Enables Locke, as previously mentioned with Cyan, but allows your chump blocks to become real threats in fire. If you combine this with Cloud from last set, you could potentially be putting some real hurt on your opponent by blocking with Cloud for a trade, bringing Cloud back and killing something else, and then using Shadow to kill another thing – Fire having access to that sort of swing seems really cool, and is probably something I should test.
Fusilier – 9-013C
I can’t see a situation where you play this. Opus 3 Vivi EX is strictly better, and if you need a burn backup and you’re already running Legend Vivi instead, I think Irvine, Black Waltz #2, and Cid (FFL) are all higher on the list than this guy.
Nael – 9-014L
Now I took a huge enthusiastic shit on Nael when it was revealed, and I still don’t think it’s the hypest box-topper (especially as this version of Nael is from a version of FFXIV you literally cannot play anymore), but I must say I’ve warmed to it as a card. The ratio I’ve found is good with Nael is 30 forwards, 3 summons and 17 backups, which gives you pretty good odds of being able to utilise the card’s effects, with Nael’s action abilities covering you at the summon’s you’ve cut to accommodate her. If the stars align, Nael will win you games. If they don’t align, you’ve probably got a 2-4 Cost 9k which isn’t that bad all things considered. After Cloud from last set it doesn’t feel as strong, but I can certainly see the merit of playing it, especially alongside stuff like Gaius.
Hume – 9-015C
This just feels really bland, I don’t have too much to say about this card. The built in haste isn’t horrible (although cranks him up to 6CP), but I think if you want haste in Fire to close out a match, you’re already using Zell, or either of the Beliases. Beliasi? Multiple Belias cards.
Bwagi – 9-016C
Another toolbox off of Ba’Gamnan card, if you’re running Headhunters you’re obviously running this. If you’re not running Headhunters, you are not running this. A pretty simple card to review, and allows you to do some pretty big attacking turns with Headhunters.
Belias – 9-017C
I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this card. It lacks the consistent haste that Opus 2 Belias does, but is half the cost. I’d need to test extensively how fire plays this set before I made a firm judgment on which of the two feels better. I’m leaning towards the Opus 2 version initially, as it’s still 0CP Haste, First Strike +1k. If you feel you need extra copies of Opus 2 Belias however, this can easily be your copies 4-6 of that card. It’s a pretty cool summon, I just wish it was a little bit more exciting. Or called Ifrit. So we can use it with Ifrita and Fritt. Missed opportunity there, Square!
Bergan – 9-018R
Bergan is the big nuts, I’m a huge fan of this card. Obviously totally unplayable early game, but mid-late game he can become a real issue for your opponent. If Estinien has super-First Strike, this guy has super-duper-First Strike. 5 Cost Estinien swings in, gets blocked by Bergan – turn player’s effect goes on stack first, so Estinien stacks first, then Bergan. Bergan at this point has a chance to do an extra ping to ensure Estinien’s death before it comes time to resolve Estinien’s effect – and because Estinien is broken by the time his effect resolves, Bergan is no longer treated as blocking and so doesn’t die to Estinien’s effect. How’s that for a slice of fried gold. Also gives fire a neat way to kill things like Ashe and Illua (as Bergan’s auto is non-targeting), I think this card is what Fire needed. The restriction sucks, but he’s Phoenixable etc, so go nuts if you can think of creative ways to get him onto the field. Definitely a Marmite card, but I really really like it.
Bomb – 9-19R
This was my spoiler card, and you can read more about it here.
Rhitahtyn – 9-020R
Rhitahtyn is pretty cool. Another card that I did not read properly before putting him in a deck (I missed the brave completely!) – 2CP 7k Brave is some good stuff. In fire we have plenty of things to play him alongside, and he’s searchable off of Gaius who also effectively grants him a 3k burn ETB. Magitek Missile seems super niche, but the fact that it resolves in the end phase means that they need to respond to it before it actually comes time to resolve it, otherwise they’re taking a boatload of damage – and it’s safe to do after he’s attacked due to his brave! Pretty big fan of this card, justifies running Gaius in mono, and his restriction isn’t really a restriction in the right build. Weird how Fire always has these restrictions, but I totally get that a 2CP 7k brave with no setup or restriction might be a tiny bit over-tuned. Weird that such a decent card got made after the punching bag boss of XIV – if you see this guy in duty roulette you know you’re in for a good 15 seconds of boss fighting.
So those are my thoughts on fire, I think it got a good mix of good stuff, and a handful of bad stuff, but I think it’s far from unplayable for sure.
Next up on the set review: Ice!
Thanks for reading!