Hello Mysidians! This morning I was minding my own business, recovering after a long travel day yesterday, when Square Enix posted a ban announcement on Facebook. I checked the link and I couldn’t believe my eyes, Rikku 1-089H will be banned effective Friday, September 13th, 2019. This coincides with the new dual starter deck “Wraith vs Knight”. You can see the official announcement here.
Why Did this Happen?
Rikku has been around for a long time, since the beginning of the game in fact! So why wait so long to ban it? If you read Square Enix’s post, you can find their reasoning. Simply put, there are just too many ways to activate Rikku for multiple instances of her mill action ability. In that past you could use CP each turn to mill, and maybe activate her with Bartz or Valefor, but the number of ways to activate Backups in Wind was limited. With the new Porom card, you can recycle Valefors and activate more Rikkus. You can also recycle summons like Diabolos and Famfrit and play more of a defensive game in order to buy the time needed to mill your opponent out.
Other cards that activate Rikku or facilitate further reactivations: Fina, Yiazmat, Aerith, Paine, Echo, Lenna (with Porom), Miounne
Implications of the Ban
I don’t play a lot of Wind/Water, so when I saw the bam, I went straight to my buddy and local Vancouver player, Phillipe Chapdelaine. He is our resident Wind/Water expert and has done very well with the deck. I asked him his thoughts to help me write the following.
Will Water/Wind Still Work?
Yep. There are 5 Rikku’s currently printed in the game, 2 Backups, and 3 Forwards. Luckily the other Backup (2-071R) also costs 2 CP and isn’t terrible. This means the Water/Wind will still be able to set up and play Rikku in the same way it has been. It will even have the added benefit of an ETB to activate that Zidane you just attacked with if you are in the early turns against Mono Ice (screw off Cid Raines!). It also gives Wind/Water another relevant EX Burst. You can still get that insane Paine value, no problem.
Is there a downside?
Also yep. As stated in the official announcement, Rikku could hypothetically create a mill win condition for any deck that it was in. With Rikku, you didn’t have to worry about drawing too many cards from Paine, searchers, Echo, etc because you were also thinning your opponent’s deck as you played. The loss of this ability will affect a lot of different matchups, but there are two that are more noteworthy.
1. Mono Water
Mono Water draws more than any other archetype. This is one of its strengths, but this also made it weak to Rikku. Because Mono Water draws its deck so quickly, it advances itself towards a mill loss, and Wind/Water players could sit back and defend while milling at every opportunity. This ban will level the playing field a bit and force Wind/Water to win earlier, or stall longer.
Now this one is a little up in the air, because Earth/Wind is on its way out of the meta (at least it appears that way). However, this controlling type of deck was susceptible to mill, as it drew a lot with the Star Sybil XI package, among other things. When I talked to Phil, he told me that often times his Wind/Earth matchup was very grindy, so he would switch to a mill game plan and win that way. This was fairly consistent for him.
Note: While I have been talked about Wind/Water mainly, Wind/Earth and Mono Wind have both played with Rikku at times as well as a tech card. While their game plans have not been to mill their opponents, the decks could pivot to try and mill in a long grindy game. There was also at one time a Urianger/Leyak Earth/Wind deck that abused the number of times you could activate Rikku to mill your opponent.
The regular Wind/Water deck will lose an alternate win condition but otherwise will continue to be a successful deck. Wind/Water Mill decks will be completely gone.
I think this ban was fine. I believe the decision was made from a competitive standpoint, with Nationals and Worlds coming up after the ban. I know this will ruffle some feathers, but I think that Rikku did too much on its own. There shouldn’t be a card that can be slotted into any deck running Wind that enables a win condition by itself. The Wind/Water Mill decks were also not fun to play against (but that is more me being salty than actual analysis). I agree with Square Enix’s argument that Rikku made the mill strategy too easy. The game has lots of cards that can mill your opponent, but none of them are ran in a Wind/Water Mill deck. Rikku was all it needed, that and a boatload of activation abilities or summons. If a mill archetype is to be viable, in my opinion it should require more commitment to mill cards, rather than an easy to play 2 CP Backup with a good special ability.
That’s it from me folks. I hoped you enjoyed reading! What are your thoughts on the ban? Should they have gone for Valefor or Fina instead? Let me know in the comments below.
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Alex is a FFTCG player from Vancouver, Canada. His favourite Final Fantasy is IV and his favourite Elements are Earth and Ice, although he has a soft spot for fire.