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Dual Elements and the Element Wheel
Welcome back to the second part of our look at Multi-Elements. In the first article, I covered how the new dual Element cards work, and a review of the first Multi-Element legendary, Selh’teus. In Part 2, I’m going to talk about Hobby Japan’s previous attempts on Multi-Element cards, and the Element Wheel that FFTCG uses to make elemental patterns.
The Element Wheel is a pattern that FFTCG uses to organize the sets. The first 20-25 are Fire cards. The next 20-25 are Ice, then Wind, then Earth, then Lightning, then finally Water. While Light and Dark follow when organizing the set, they aren’t part of the wheel, as they are usually considered off-to-the-side when it comes to these patterns. While it may seem to be a simple way to organize cards, there is something a bit more to this pattern. The important thing to note is their placement. Fire is before Ice and after Water. Lightning is after Earth and before Water. This will be relevant later.
The first attempt has to do with Color Identity. In Magic the Gathering, Color Identity refers to all the color symbols on a card. So if a Fire card requires a payment of Water for an ability, the card has a Color Identity of Fire and Water. So do we have cards with multiple Color Identities in FFTCG? We sure do!
Cater, Krile, and Gilgamesh arrived on the scene early on in Opus 3. Cater is an interesting mix, as she is easily played in Fire/Wind or Fire/Lightning decks, with decent effects in either. While it is possible to play her in a tri-Element deck, she doesn’t particularly feel great using both effects. Her real synergy was in being Cadet, and not in her Element flexibility.
Krile has two strong effects both outside her original Element. Her abilities are very powerful. In Fire/Earth she combos very well with many damage dealing Fire spells, as well as smaller spells in Earth/Lightning. However, her abilities are lackluster when they require another copy of Krile to be useful.
Gilgamesh has a whopping FOUR abilities, three of which are outside his original Element. Here is where we see the design space really take off. For one Fire CP (Crystal Points), Gilgamesh can deal 2000 points of damage to another Forward. For 5 CP you can deal 10,000 damage to a single Forward, which is better economically than any other spell or ability in the game. Better than Bahamut! Better than Braska’s Final Aeon!
There’s only one downside; you have to have 5 Fire backups to make use of this ability. If you have only Fire backups then you will have great difficulty developing Gilgamesh. There lies the balance. His abilities are very strong, because they are outside of his Identity. His power boost ability hinges on the fact that you only have a limited number of Earth CP that can be produced efficiently before hitting diminishing returns. Outside of color fixers and combos, Gilgamesh’s strengths go hand-in-hand with his weaknesses.
Xezat and Lasswell
Opus 7 and 8 delivered more Multi-Elemental cards. Xezat is more or less the same as Gilgamesh; he’s versatile, but his effects are greatly limited by the variations in how CP is produced. Lasswell, on the other hand, is a powerhouse. He sports on curve stats, and doles out damage like there’s no tomorrow. Fire cards envy his ability. For a single Fire CP, he will deal 1,000 damage to any Forward. No need to dull, no need to discard. However, he also has an Ice side that works hand-in-hand. After Lasswell deals damage to a Forward he can simply dull and freeze it on entry and on attack. His S Ability is also part Fire part Ice. He deals 8000 damage to one Forward and dull/freezes another. He balances the Identity of both Ice and Fire. If there was ever a Dual-Element card, it’s this one.
The next attempt at Dual-Colored cards came in the form of standard units in Opus 7.
Each Element had two standard units that gained an effect when played with CP of another specific Element. This effect was closely in the Identity of the secondary Element. This effect meant that these cards had a primary and a secondary Element. As you could play these cards with only the primary Element, but were generally not strong enough to be played without the secondary Element.
My favorite of these cards is the Fire/Ice Red Mage. She has two strong effects at the cost of 2 CP. She has an action ability of discarding on entry. This is her dual-class ability that requires Ice. This is the Ice variation on a Fire card that creates the duality. It could be considered power creep on Argath, but Argath is a bit more straightforward as he doesn’t require another element to be useful.
Red Mage also boasts an action ability that will deal 1000 damage to any Forward for the cost of a dull. Dealing damage to any Forward is an effect usually seen on Fire cards, which completes the duality of this card. This is an example of creative design on a such an overlooked card.
Each Element had two “Dual-Element” cards. The secondary Element was always one ahead on the Element Wheel, or two behind. This made it so that each combination of Elements was unique, but it also left out three combinations in total (Ice/Lightning, Wind/Water, Fire/Earth).
Opus 9 and 10 introduced the color fixing Moogles.
These Moogles were similar to the standard units of Opus 7, with a primary and secondary Element. They simply generated two different Elements while they were on the field. These Moogles were quite useful in decks that very much needed both Elements, and even created a deck archetype revolving around playing the strongest cards in the game regardless of Element.
The Moogles also followed the pattern set up in the Element Wheel, with each secondary Element being one step ahead of the primary Element.
The most recent attempt at “Dual-Elements” in Opus XI was with another set of standard units. Each Element had a single standard unit that simply required CP of different Elements to gain the secondary effect. This makes these units easier to play, but slightly weaker. These units varied in power, but they each had the same cost of 4 CP
They pertain to no category and they did not have any pattern on the Wheel, as they only had a primary Element designated.
Opus XII brings us to fully-realized Dual-Colored cards. A few things have also been revealed about these cards since my previous article.
A card of Dual-Element being reduced to 1 is the same as being reduced to 2. Since both Elements have to be paid, you can’t simply only pay for 1 CP. Additionally, overpaying works differently with these cards as well. When paying for a card with only one Element, per the rules, you can overpay only by 1 and only if you are discarding do you generate CP. This is no longer the case for these new cards. Each Element requirement seems to be independent, which means you can overpay by 2, by overpaying 1 for each Element. This makes the cost of a 2 CP Earth/Lightning card 2, 3 or 4, giving it the flexibility to be played even in dire situations.
Leon and Shantotto boast powerful effects on overstated bodies. 7000 power is the new baseline for 2 CP Forwards, which is a world’s difference when it comes to 3 CP Forwards on 1 Element remaining the same. However, this power is only realized when paid for with backups, otherwise the cost of these Forwards is 3 or 4 CP. These cards aren’t bad at 3, but their full potential lies in effective payment. They both present a minor presence on the field. They both have strong effects, yet these effects are not game breaking. They are just nice. They don’t do anything unique and they don’t bundle big effects. Do you want a Lightning effect or an Earth effect from Shantotto? Same from Leon. If the Multi-Element cards are simply cards with one effect from each Element, then the design space for basic Multi-Element cards will be explored well.
That being said, effects that are “just nice” have seen competitive play. Opus 7 Time Mage was a staple in Ice/Water, but I don’t know if these effects will cut it in today’s meta.
I don’t like the way Leon is written. He is written as if he has two effects, but one of those effects has another choice within it. Leon really has three effects to choose from, and they all have the same targets — so it’s really odd that they didn’t just write “Choose one Forward. Dull it, freeze it, or deal it 3000 damage.” I understand that they are showing off that he has one Fire effect and “one” Ice effect, but it’s a bit too wordy in an unnecessary manner.
Lastly, each card spoiled so far has followed the Element Wheel pattern, with each Element pair being one step away from each other. I strongly believe that this pattern will continue and I expect great things from the Ice/Wind legend.
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