The Great Design of Famfrit the Darkening Cloud

Waves of the Water Bearer

Today I’d like to talk about one of my favorite cards in the game. Famfrit the Darkening Cloud is not only one of my favorite summons, he’s also my astrological representation. All the Zodiac summons are representative of one of the 12 Zodiac signs in Astrology. I am an Aquarius, the Water Bearer. So Famfrit is my summon as he is also the Water Bearer. So, why do I like this summon so much? Well, his name is just awesome and recalls great imagery. His artwork is nice as well and there is a deep air of mystery to his design which is made more intriguing when you know the lore of the character. But most important of all is this…

Famfrit the Darkening Cloud is a card that is fun for both players.

Did that sound weird? It may have depending on how you evaluate cards. I imagine players often think about cards that are fun for them to play. They probably don’t care much about what it’s like for the opponent to play against it. Not surprising, since you are trying to win, you want to use every advantage and strong card you have. I also don’t want a game that feels arbitrary in nature. One in which whoever draws X card first wins. Okay, so let’s get into Famfrit and his many situations.

What Famfrit the Darkening Cloud Actually Does

Both players select 1 Forward they control and put it into the Break Zone. This text gives this card so much variety. First, this is a Selection effect, not a Choose effect. Why does this matter? It is something that must be done upon resolution of the card, not while the effect is on the stack. It also gets around cards that have built in protection from being chosen by summons. Let’s look at this situation.

The above cards have an effect that states they cannot be chose by summons or abilities.You would not be able to target these cards with your typical “Choose a Forward” summon. However, Famfrit isn’t choosing anything.  The player selects their own forward and places it in the Break Zone. There is no choosing on either the player or opponents’ side of the board. This is also great against cards that have effects when being chosen such as Opus III’s Legend Delita. Normally choosing that card with a summon would cause you to take damage, but Famfrit happily circumvents that. Even if you make your entire board immune to choosing via Unsaganashi’s Damage 5 effect, you will still have to place one of your forwards in the Break Zone.

Remember how I said this effect occurred at resolution? Well the benefit of that is your opponent cannot avoid this effect regardless of their shenanigans. Look at Time Mage and Unei above. Both cards grant you a “Blink” effect, where you remove a forward from the game and return it. Normally this would fizzle any effects targeting that card. If your opponent tries to cast a Ramuh summon on your target and you Blink them, Ramuh fizzles because his target is no longer in play. The card returning is considered a brand-new target entirely. However, Famfrit cannot be avoided this way. Even if your opponent does that on the stack they will still be required to place a forward in the Break Zone. The resolution effect here makes our Darkening Cloud not so easily ignored.

Deluge of Despair

As I’m sure you noticed, there are no restrictions on Famfrit. No “X cost or less”, no “X000 power and above”, no “Must be certain type”, etc. They can have something with as much protection as Hein or as unbreakable as Ardyn, and it still doesn’t matter. Famfrit can put anything into the Break Zone. Currently only one card exists in the game that can avoid Famfrit’s effect and that is Black Tortoise L’Cie Gilgamesh. BTLG can be chosen as the Famfrit target and then his unique effect will keep him from being moved.

Controlling the Board

So here is where Famfrit gets really interesting. His effect varies wildly in power depending on the number of forwards on the board. Famfrit is at his most powerful when the player has more forwards then their opponent.  He is at his weakest when the player has less forwards than the opponent. If I have a Leila, Viking, and Ultros out, and my opponent has a Shadow and Sabin out, then Famfrit will still leave me ahead. I’ll lose my Viking or Leila, but my opponent will be down on of their larger forwards. This effect gets even stronger with a single opposing forward. Same scenario but take away the Shadow. Now my opponent loses Sabin and I get to sack off one of my weaker forwards.

Now what if you and your opponent have the same number of forwards? Those can be interesting turns because you are both going to maintain the same number of forwards, so you will really have to determine the value of the forwards on the board. In this situation it becomes trickier to invoke Famfrit because your opponent gets to select what they will get rid of. What if the board looks like this?

 

VS

Suddenly, playing Famfrit takes some real thought. Chances are your opponent is just going to send their Vivi away. Is getting rid of your Zidane now worth that trade? You really want to clear that Xande out but your opponent isn’t going to do that willingly. I love situations like these because they can create a strategic battle in your brain. If you both have valuable forwards out it can be enjoyable to try to guess what your opponent will choose to get rid of.

SAVE ME FROM DROWNING!

Here is a great example of turning the tables on your opponent. This happened to me in a real match at locals and it was a great way of making your opponent get more than they bargained for from the Darkening Cloud. My opponent cast a Famfrit hoping to choose his own Porom while clearing one of my forwards. He gets a summon back and I lose a good body. Pretty favorable for him, right? And remember, I can’t mess with Famfrit’s resolution, I’m losing someone no matter what. But that is also true of him. So, I used my Opus X Geomancer’s action ability to deal 2000 damage to Porom on the stack of Famfrit. Now, Porom dies before Famfrit resolves.  At this point, still needing a Famfrit target, my opponent is forced to send his Zidane to the Break Zone while I give up my Iroha. My opponent expected a 1-1 board and a summon draw, but now he’s staring at a 1-0 deficit.  Interactions like this can really make an opponent give up way more than they were planning to.

Another great example of Famfrit’s board state is when your opponent outnumbers you. I have had many matches where I am on defense. I have a single forward out protecting me, and I’ve taken 4 damage to my opponents 1. My opponent has 3 forwards out. They attack and I let it go through for damage. EX BURST!! Wouldn’t you know it, my pal Famfrit just hit the damage zone and is ready to help me out! Except….er…oh dear, if I invoke that EX Burst, I’m going down to ZERO forwards, while my opponent will still have two left. Maybe they choose the one they already attacked with since it got its value. Or maybe they have another forward that gives them some benefit of losing it, or maybe they just outright choose the one that will hurt them the least. Point is, it is NOT worth it for me to use Famfrit. I’m only going to be helping my opponent. This shows just how different Famfrit can be in a situation depending on when he appears.

DARKENING CLOUD WHO BLOTS OUT THE HEAVENS

Last, and certainly not least, one of the most powerful board states for Famfrit the Darkening Cloud is when your opponent has one forward and you have zero.  I’ve heard from newer players that when they read the card they believe they must put a forward in the Break Zone in order to cast the summon. But that is not true. If you have a blank board and your opponent has one forward out, then get ready to reap full rewards with none of the drawback. Your opponent can put their forward away and you can move on with your turn. With no other forward option, your opponent has no choice in what they remove. This is a great time to summon Famfrit.

Closing Thoughts on Famfrit the Darkening Cloud

Famfrit the Darkening Cloud is a great card because it creates situations which are fun for both the user and the opponent. To me, this is the key part of why this card is so well designed. It can be played around to make it more or less effective for both players. I’ve heard plenty of complaints about Famfrit the Darkening Cloud because of how strong it is. And while it’s undeniably a great card, I don’t think it’s too strong at all.

Unlike some cards (cough *Kadaj* cough) that leave your opponent with little chance to interact with them, Famfrit is well designed because it gives BOTH players a chance to work around it. Yes, I’ve been on the receiving end of Famfrit at its best and its punishing. I’ve also reveled in the joy of making Famfrit hurt my opponent more than me. It makes the card exciting and fun to see, regardless of which side of the board I’m on.


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