Welcome back everyone, for this week’s article I am bringing you an interview with one of the best, and most well-known, players around in FFTCG. Robert Phillips is an English player that frequents the Dark Sphere locals (the same locals as Jamie Faulkner, Joshua Freeman-Birch, and the World Champ himself, Alex Hancox). In the last 3 months, Robert has won both the Winter Cup in Wales and the Cardmarket-Series: Bologna. Because of busy schedules, part of this interview actually took place before he won in Bologna, and part of it was after the win. Overall, I was so pleased to get to talk to Rob and hear his insights on his victories and the game overall. I hope you all enjoy the interview!
Why did you initially start playing FFTCG? Had you played any TCG’s before?
A: The reason I started playing FFTCG because I was getting bored of the Yu-Gi-Oh scene. Me and few others were just fed up of it and wanted a new game to move on to. FFTCG was the new game coming out at the time so that’s what we picked up to play. I’ve play a few other TCGs which were Yu-Gi-Oh, Vanguard, and Buddyfight. Vanguard. Buddyfight I still play to this day.
You recently won the Winter Cup in Wales, which was very impressive considering how large an event it was. Did you feel like you could win going into the event? Who was the one player you hoped not to meet in the swiss rounds?
A: I didn’t think I could win going into the event honestly. When I went X-2 at the end of round 8 and there was at least 15 other X-2s who could also make it I didn’t think that I could have scraped it in at 16th place. Even on Day 2 there were times where I thought that was the end and I wasn’t going to beat the opponent in front of me.
There was quite a few [players that I didn't want to face]. Didn’t want to meet my friends from Darksphere and Brotherhood cause knocking them out or getting knocked out by friends is most upsetting. But the main two [players I was worried about] were Joshua Freeman-Birch and Jamie Faulkner. Those two I believe would have been such a difficult hurdle to play against and the games could go either way.
I started listening to you on The Crystal Tower podcast awhile ago, and I was psyched to see you playing on stream at the Winter Cup. How did it affect your play knowing that people were cheering for you locally and even from around the world?
A: Honestly, I didn’t realize at first how many people were watching or knew I was doing well in the tournament. Making those people happy getting to the finals and winning as well as letting them know that I didn’t let them down when I was playing gave me the most joy. Affecting my play however though not so much, I had to concentrate so hard in most of my games thinking of anything else would distract me and cause me to lose focus.
In this tournament you used a Water/Wind build, which is something we had definitely seen a lot of in the past as an element combination, however your list was fairly unique. How did you get the idea to play your version of Water/Wind?
A: The idea came from Joshua Freeman-Birch, he originally told me that wind water Yuri/Chelinka would be really good in Opus 7 and I came to believe him and worked on the deck. He gave me the skeleton of the deck which was to be a very high EX Burst count and make it along side the original Opus 1 Wind/Water build and from there the rest was easy. The next part was choosing the cards that would go into the deck, so following through with the EX Burst idea I added as many cards that had EX Burst into the deck and then added or cut cards which I saw were fit or unfit from being in there.
I gotta tell you, I respect you for not using Leila/Viking in your deck list. Was there any point where you tested the deck with Leila Viking in it? If so, what made you decide to cut it, or that it wasn’t worth playing at all. (P.S. I also loved that you didn’t use Famfrit, that card is the bane of my existence!)
A: Originally the deck had Leila/Viking in it but I cut it after sometime. I found in having them they couldn’t push damage through bigger forwards like Zidane or Dadaluma and it was really easy to clear them. The other problem was Famfrit was really hard to fit into the deck and having only a few copies of Leila/Viking it didn’t seem to do any justice keeping them especially when Earth/Wind decks are playing Vanille they would just have a Famfrit blocker making it useless to use the card.
There have been some pretty good debates on the Facebook groups of which Zidane to use (Opus 3 or 6). Can you talk a little bit about why you picked the Opus 3 Zidane in your Water/Wind deck?
A: The Opus 3 Zidane allowed me to deal with cards that I might not be able to deal with on the field. For example removing a Dadaluma from my opponent’s hand or a 4 CP Zidane or 7 CP Sephiroth. Being able to deal with cards like that made it so that I can have a delay on dealing with those threats as my opponent needs to draw the next one. It also allowed me to see their hand and have and idea of what there next 1-2 turns of play would be and respond accordingly.
After the tournament is said and done, would you make any changes to your deck?
A: Yes, the only change I would make would be to cut out the 1 of Cloud of Darkness Opus 5. Without Leila/Viking it isn’t that good and has nothing going for it outside of maybe killing one forward which it did once in the tournament. I would put in a second Vata instead as that put it in more work for me than Cloud of Darkness did.
Are you working on any other decks right now? You definitely have to tell me if you have something spicy brewing.
A: Unfortunately, at the moment there's nothing that I have come to see that could be better than the current decks that are being played but I hopefully plan to have something ready for the German Crystal Cup.
Follow up question, when are you going to make a Sazh deck work? Which version of Sazh do you think is the “best”?
A: I would love to make a Sazh deck, but they are not good enough as a collective yet. I think the best one is the one that adds a summon because it's an EX Burst and I love my EX Burst cards.
Moving on to the future, what are your plans for this competitive season? What is your goal overall for FFTCG in 2019?
A: Well there wasn't a plan originally but after winning Bologna Open I guess it would be to win all the Opens and go straight to World's.
Tell me about the local scene in London, you guys have a lot of top players that are all in the same area, locals must get pretty competitive. I know in Vancouver we have some pressure to win and get store credit, so you see less crazy decks, is it similar in London?
A: In London I go to two locals when I can which is Brotherhood and Darksphere. Both are great and pretty competitive there. Lots of people have their own styles and decks that they choose to play.
Europe recently had their competitive season revealed for 2019. It Is similar to North America with Crystal Cups happening throughout the year, but you also have a new Leaderboard system (I am very jealous!). What are your thoughts on the leaderboard? Will you be attempting to grind out events for it?
A: I think the Leaderboard is a really good system that allows people who can't travel to Grand Opens or Crystal Cups have a chance to still make it to Euros then World's just by going to their locals. I won't be able to go to locals as often as I’d like due to work but I will be grinding out the Grand Opens.
Seeing as how I am Canadian, tell me one thing you know about Canada!
A: You guys have the best maple syrup (apparently).
Alright I have to ask, since you are in England, who is your favourite Premier League club? I am a huge Arsenal supporter myself (I even have an Arsenal tattoo).
A: I don't support football, but I have a good friend who supports Arsenal as well so you're good in my books.
If I ever come to London, what is the first thing I should do?
A: You should come to Darksphere and indulge in a Darksphere locals, you won't be disappointed.
If you could ban one card in FFTCG, which card would it be, and why?
A: Dadaluma no need for a why it should just be gone.
Thanks again to Robert for being such a good sport. This was my first-time interviewing someone and I am pretty happy with how it went. In the future I would love to interview more players if possible. What did you think of the interview? Any questions I should ask players in the future? Until next time Mysidians!
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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.