It’s time for the second part of the set review, this time we’re gonna be looking at the cool new Ice cards in Opus IX! As always, I won’t be providing ratings for them, and I won’t be looking at the cards from a sealed or limited viewpoint – that content is better handled and explained elsewhere!
Varis – 9-021R
Unfortunately we’re starting Ice off with a bit of a stinker. If you’re running 3 colours, Varis could be what you want – but I’ve not seen a massive amount of players that are running Ice in a 3 colour deck, and if you are running Ice you have access to a couple of really good searchers anyway (plus a great generic searcher in Ysayle). His second effect can be used to grab back Nidhogg or Y’shtola, but there are better cards that do that that are much more flexible, even in a multi-colour deck. This card feels like a bit of a worse Miner, although being able to search literally anything can occasionally end a game – if you have a deck he naturally fits in, give him a shot. If you don’t, I couldn’t recommend building around him.
Vayne – 9-022L
I’ve talked a bit about why I don’t think Vayne is great in my article about why ETBs matter in the meta right now. My main issue with him is that he is incredibly blank when you first play him. No action ability you can use, no exit the field effect or protection, I really don’t see this getting slotted by a serious Ice player over any of the already excellent 5+ cost forwards Ice has. I’ve seen a lot of people say that they will simply use cards like Summoner, Celes, or Edward to protect him, and if you think you can make the card work, go for it. I’m personally not seeing it at all, and think this card could have been a Rare. With how removal heavy the Opus IX meta is shaping up to be, even if you’ve got protection it’s likely he’s still going to get killed pretty fast, and even then his effect is effectively optional.
Quistis – 9-023R
Oh man, we finally got an FFVIII searcher that’s not called Rinoa. I don’t think this card is quite there yet for Mono, but slap her into a Fire/Ice or Ice/Lightning VIII deck and you’re gonna hit something a large percentage of the time. Realistically the +1k buff she gives to the field is probably only hitting Squall, Zell or Seifer, so it’s still a bit of an awkward card to get the full power out of – when we have more SeeD Candidate forwards I can see this card feeling a little better, especially as if that happens Selphie will get stronger, potentially making FFVIII Ice/Fire a real threat. Her S ability is really nuts though, as even if you don’t get the breaks, you still get the card. Which is really nice.
Airborne Trooper – 9-024C
Do I have to review this one? Really?
Zalera – 9-025H
Now Zalera is damn good. Those costs hit a lot of relevant stuff in the meta right now, and you get to break for 1CP. Attack with Squall, dulling a target? Pay 1 to break. Opponent swings in? Pay 1 to break. I personally think this is the best summon Ice has gotten since Glasya Labolas, and I strongly recommend you try it out. The opponent can make the effect fizzle if they reactivate the forward, but chances are they’ve spent more CP to do that than you have attempting to break it, so all good. Not a massive amount of combos to mention with this one, but it plays great with things like Genesis, Orphan, 4CP backup Snow, and the new Squall and Rinoa to make the breaks really easy to get.
Cid Aulstyne – 9-026C
I’ve seen a couple of lines of thought on this one – one set of players seems to think this will see absolutely no play as the original Cid Aulstyne exists and does very much a similar effect but on a body. I personally think it will see a bit of play, as it works well as Kuja fodder to keep recurring him, and also still allows you to get those breaks while also having a more reliable EX burst. It sits in the awkward space of being a 3 cost Ice backup (we certainly have a lot of those these days), but also has the added benefit of a being able to break things that aren’t dull, something Ice sorely lacks. For a common, it’s REALLY good. Chance are in Ice you’re either going to be discarding your opponent down to nothing, or you’ll be against a player that’s thinking “I’m against Ice, better play my hand out” – this punishes that extremely hard. Cid Aulstyne has fallen out of recent memory since Worlds 2018, I expect to see him back in a big way (in either form) with Earth/Wind losing its Dadaluma setup and having to spend cards on removal like the rest of us mere mortals.
Squall – 9-027H
The Squalls so far have been really, really hit or miss. This one I think is pretty darn good. Being able to dull every turn he’s in play is huge, especially if combined with 4CP backup Snow. He gets stupid entry value off of 2CP Rinoa from this set, and also allows you to make sure you always have Glasya/Hades/Zalera targets live. 4CP 8k is also on curve so it’s rarely bad to just slam this guy down for 4CP. If you’ve got a Rinoa, Laguna or Quistis in play though, you’re laughing, and in Fire/Ice it’s not unthinkable to resolve him for 1CP. I think FFVIII as a playable category is almost there, it’s just lacking something really unfair to bring it up to speed with established category decks like FFVI.
Azure Dragon l’Cie Soryu – 9-028L
Now I was a little worried for Ice outside of the VIII stuff before they revealed Blue Eyes White Dragon here. I think this is a significantly better Ice Legend than Vayne, even though it also lacks an etb effect. There are a few reasons for this – The first is that it has an EX burst, giving Mono Ice a +1 card EX burst, which is something it sorely needed. The second is that it is a value machine, and much like Barret from last set, if it can get an attack off, it is going to start paying for itself and eventually go CP positive. The third is that the action abilities do not require you to wait a turn, allowing you to break or freeze something the turn it comes in, if needed. Also giving Ice access to another indiscriminate break, even if it is 6CP is pretty nice – if we look at that as being the same cost as Edea’s special, it’s not bad at all. A much faster, and better legend than Vayne.
Terra – 9-029C
Terra’s another one they can’t seem to get massively right. We’ve had an array of Terras now that all seem to have widly different effects, and arguably none of them are stand-out amazing. This Terra has some weird applications like making Phoenix in Fire/Ice hit for 10k, making Glasya hit for 9k, and making Moomba a kill-spell. I’m not convinced I’m going to actually see this anywhere though, as she’s largely just a 4 cost potato. Not a bad card by any means, but there’s better choices for FFVI, and better choices for Ice in general.
Hurdy – 9-030H
I don’t know how to feel about this one. His first effect means that the vast majority of times you play him, he’s going to be a 1CP backup. His second effect is pretty bad though, with the only really notable targets you can pick up with it being Luso, Adelle, and Illua. If we look at him solely for Ice/Lightning, his tap effect becomes “Dull Hurdy, put Hurdy into the Break Zone, Cast Sheol.” Which isn’t horrible at all.
Hundlegs – 9-031R
Hundlegs really suffers from being a part of this cycle of monsters. If he could block, I’d be all for him. Unfortunately space in an Ice deck is a premium, and monster slots are already taken up by the likes of Flan, Scale Toad, and Militesi Coeurl (if that’s your sorta thing.)
Mind Flayer – 9-032C
I was initially really excited for this! Getting a +1 EX in Ice that can also be used to dull a guy? Great! Then they revealed Soryu who is a +1 EX who can also be used as a very efficient beatstick, and my hype for this card died significantly. If you’re somehow quite dull-light in Ice or Ice/X, you may wish to give this a go. I’m not sure it beats out any of the other options though, but I do expect this one to see some play.
Class Ninth Moogle – 9-033C
I’ve always wanted to build Ice/Wind, but have never settled on a build. This could potentially make building that easier, but I don’t know. I’m half-expecting to see people use this to force wind into an Ice/X deck, potentially to force the third colour for cards like Livia and Varis, although I don’t think it’s something I could recommend anyone actually does. These dual-colour Moogles certainly have a lot of potential, but I don’t think it’ll be realised for quite a bit yet.
Class Eleventh Moogle – 9-034R
These Moogles however, are reasonably garbage. Avoid.
Yuke – 9-035R
Yuke theoretically should be “Yuke is unblockable unless your opponent has an empty hand,” right? But not doing anything at all on entry leads me to believe that this one will fall by the wayside. I’d prefer the card a bit more if it was “if this card blocks or is blocked,” making him an analogy to Bergan in fire, but that isn’t the way it is. If you can haste this guy or keep him around, he could be really nice, especially if you combine him with the 1 cost Mateus to make him really sting.
Ghost – 9-036H
Ghost is good. A constantly recurring body in basically every deck that runs any amount of VI, although do be aware that he cannot be stacked ontop of Locke to make Locke’s effect fire (with Locke being a conditional auto, there needs to be 2 other FFVI characters in play the moment he enters for the ability to even attempt to enter the stack) – but with Ghost being an absolute pain in the arse to keep off of the field, your Locke is going to be way more likely to fire even with this guy as a one-of in your deck. The S is super, super thematic, but also pretty rubbish. But does set up a Ghost revive for the next VI forward you play!
Source on Ghost ruling to avoid any confusion: https://twitter.com/FFTCG_SQEX/status/1152143870232158213
Laguna – 9-037C
Man, Ice got some good stuff this set. Laguna is an Ysayle on a body, but has the advantage of being able to fetch a Squall who is immediately 1CP cheaper, can be picked up himself off of Quistis and gets you Rinoa value when he’s played. Laguna lets you go into plenty of options at many points of the game, and I see him seeing play in a lot of Ice decks. Even doing something as fetching a second Sephiroth for a Shadow Flare special can really widen your advantage and allow you to decisively take games. Versatile, above curve (soft 3cp for 8k), and allows you toolbox your entire deck.
Rinoa – 9-038R
Square sure do like us to choose between Rinoas, right? This one is an absolute powerhouse if you’re going all-in on the VIII theme, allowing basically every FFVIII forward you play to have a modal entry effect. If you can keep this on the board, you’re probably going to take the game. Even if you can’t keep this on the board, this card is 2CP, dull or freeze something, which is incredible for a 2CP.
Locke – 9-039C
Locke is incredible. Early game, Locke can go into another backup, and as the game has consistently proved, backups searching backups is good. Late game you can use it just to get another forward in your hand to keep pressure on, and if you’re feeling particularly spicy, you can run a low summon count of monsters or summons to use Locke to guaranteed hit that one of Scale Toad you’re running for maximum spice. If you’re running Ice/Earth flans as well, Locke will get you to those flans that much quicker to get your consistency engine online.
Nu Mou – 9-040C
And do finish things off here’s Nu Mou, who is basically 3 CP to Dull and Freeze a guy. If you’re wanting to do that, aren’t you just playing Time Mage from Opus 7 instead? If this card was an on-break effect, I think it could be really playable (2CP backup with pay 1 CP and tap/break to dull and freeze), but it’s not so we instead get this which seems entirely intentioned around secondary formats.
So that’s a whistle-stop tour of Ice in Opus IX, what are your favourite cards from the elements? Am I totally wrong about Vayne? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!