Force Of Will Worlds Report - Part 1 By Henry Moore
Force of Will World Championship Report - Part One by Henry Moore
Hello Force of Will Fans! As many of you may know, recently I decided to travel to Tokyo, Japan, to compete in the World Championships for Force of Will along with Nick and Chris, two avid players and strong competitors in our little community. I thought I’d write a report on the tournament to share with you the great experience this was for me, and maybe ignite some competitive sparks in our New Zealand players to get out there any qualify for next year’s Worlds! This will be a two-part report. The first will cover our testing leading up to the event and some of the awesome things I did (and bought...oops) in Japan. The next part will cover the matches in the tournament itself, and the production that was filmed around us. Let’s get into it!
Testing began shortly after we received our official invite to worlds. We knew that the format was going to be the latest Force of Will set, The Seven Kings of the Lands, as well as the recent dual-deck product, involving Melgis and Faria, but we hadn’t seen many new cards. Then a strange thing happened: new cards began popping up all over facebook. It seemed that a promotion by the FoW company, initiated months ago, was finally bearing fruit. Members in various Force of Will community groups began posting pictures of envelopes they’d received with a few cards from the new set, and it wasn’t long before the whole set was spoiled!
As the number of cards revealed grew, Nick, Chris and I (along with some other helpful members of the community - you know who you are) began discussing what we thought looked good. Previously, the duel-deck rulers had been destroying in Grimm Block, so that’s where we looked first. Unfortunately, the format would have no dual-stones, so that deck wouldn’t be as explosive since you couldn’t play a great deck around either one of the duel-deck rulers. It also seemed like there were some other strong competitors in the form of Sacred Beasts and Machina.
The Machina ruler in particular caught our eye, because the ability to spend all of your will every turn to gain card advantage in a game like Force of Will is incredibly powerful. We began trying to figure out what colour would work best with the ruler. We started with wind, because it would allow us to accelerate our will for the flip ability on Machina, the ruler, and “combo”. For those who don’t know, the combo involves flipping Machina and putting in some combination of machine resonators, usually including the dragon and the recover resonator, then casting March of the Machines, giving all of your machine resonators swiftness and +300/+300. This should be enough to win the game on that turn. We ended up scrapping this idea, but more on that later.
Sacred beasts looked good to us as well, as each beast gave you some kind of advantage, either by affecting the board or by gaining you card advantage (or both). In addition, the regalia for the beasts ruler was very powerful, allowing you to cast all of your Sacred Beasts a turn earlier.
And then Blazer was spoiled.
Yep, this kind of ruined all of our plans. Blazer is an incredibly powerful ruler, especially in the Worlds format. Giving all of your stones the ability to rest for fire will is amazing, because if you play 20 light stones you are effectively playing 20 light/fire dual-stones. As soon as Blazer landed, we built up a light/fire Knights of the Round Table deck - which is a deck we weren’t that excited by before because of the difficult will requirements of the resonators (for example, it would otherwise be very difficult to play Lancelot and Gawain in the same deck as one costs WW and the other RR). This deck would be the only deck that would survive the entirety of our testing, but there was a lot of work between this point and our final deck for Worlds.
With Blazer came the rest of the set, and the real testing began. Nick and I proxied up the entire format and started to build decks in an attempt to find the best one. We quickly determined that Knights was the most consistent and powerful deck, so our testing became: “how do we beat this deck?” We felt that if we could find a deck that consistently beat Knights we would have the best deck for Worlds, since it seemed clear that a lot of players would end up on Knights. First came Sacred Beasts. Beasts, on paper, seemed like it would have a decent match-up against Knights. All of its resonators provided a form of advantage, and if we lived long enough to perform the ruler’s God’s Art, we felt that it would be impossible to lose from there.
Unfortunately, we never really lived long enough. Knights was just too fast. Sacred Beasts was basically required to draw Horn of Sacred Beasts to keep up with Knights, but even then sometimes that wouldn’t be enough. After a few games we decided that if this deck relied on the regalia to even have a chance of beating Knights, it wasn’t going to be a good choice for worlds so we moved on.
Next was Machina. Machina, and his army of machines, was our best hope of beating Knights. We decided that the best way to beat Knights was to play Darkness so that we had access to all of the removal spells the colour provided. Critical to this process was the discovery of Artemis’s Bow. Chris had put 1-2 in his lists, but Nick and I had mostly discounted it until a mutual friend of ours was helping us out and exclaimed how good bow seemed. We were skeptical, but at his insistence we put 4 into the Machina deck and tried it out against Knights.
It was amazing. The ability to deal to multiple resonators, or to combine with your removal spells to kill large ones, all for the incredible cost of 0 will, made bow an integral part of the deck’s strategy. We started to beat Knights, a lot. However, we realised that we hadn’t really updated our Knights list since the start of testing, and that bow was probably great in Knights too (it was). Our win-rate against Knights dropped a bit, but we were still winning more than we were losing. At this point, we thought we had our deck. It seemed very powerful, and we were starting to get into how we would build our sideboard. Before we got there, however, we wanted to make sure there weren’t any cards that we were missing from our Knights list that might help it beat Machines - the last thing you want to do is turn up thinking you can beat Knights only to lose to it over and over to a card you hadn’t considered.
I had mostly discounted Guinevere, the Jealous Queen up to this point as I thought other 1-drops were more aggressive (which I believed was important) and that her abilities weren’t that relevant. Boy, how wrong I was! At Nick’s insistence, we tried her out. As soon as we did, it couldn’t lose a game. Games that previously Machina would have won easily turned into huge grinding games where Guinevere would allow you to keep up on card advantage and find your most important cards. We did not miss the other 1-drop resonators we had previously been playing, and while we were gutted that Machina was no longer making the cut, we were glad we’d found a much better version of Knights to test against.
Now we were back to “how on earth do we beat Knights?!” We tried everything: Fire/Wind aggro decks abusing the power of Rapid Growth in combination with Lancelot, a deck with TWENTY TWO regalia which attempted to flip a fast Rezzard and start stealing resonators (when used with Laevateinn, Deathscythe and Gleipnir, you can force your opponent to block your J-ruler then gain control of it with the ability on Deathscythe), a Faria deck with regalia and even an Alice deck with various tricky water resonators and spells. Unfortunately, each of these decks had weaknesses that Knights just so happened to exploit, and as hard as we tried nothing came close to the power that Knights brought to the table.
We were a little disappointed at this point. We’d spent a lot of time trying to beat Knights, only to fail miserably. However, we’d learned a lot about the format, so not all was lost. We’d also managed to refine our Knights list over the course of our testing, to something we thought was quite good, so that was positive. We now turned our attention to beating the mirror - that is, if you’re playing Knights, how do you beat someone else playing Knights? This is the list that we settled on, and is the list that we eventually played in Japan:
Ruler: Blazer Gill Rabus
4 Percival, the Seeker of Holy Grail
4 Guinevere, the Jealous Queen
1 Clockwork Soldier
4 Lancelot, the Knight of Mad Demon
4 Gawain, the Knight of the Sun
3 Hector de Maris, the Acolyte of Mad Demon
3 Gareth, the Dauntless Knight
1 Bedivere, the Restorer of Souls
4 Gwiber, the White Dragon
4 Artemis, the God’s Bow
2 Protective Barrier
2 Order of Sacred Queen
3 Protection of the Seraph
3 Deathscythe, the Life Reaper
2 Mordred, the Traitor
2 Bedivere, Restorer of Souls
2 Blessed Holy Wolf
2 Shadow Flame
1 Protective Barrier
A lot of these cards should explain themselves, but I’ll go through some of the strange ones:
1 Clockwork Soldier: As we tuned the deck more and more, it just so happened that 9 1-drop resonators was the “right” number. We wanted certain numbers of other things, but wanted to keep the 1-drop count high for Gwiber, so 9 is what we ended up on. There are a lot of reasonable 1-drops in the format, but we felt that Clockwork Soldier was the best because with target attack it could kill a Percival that was by itself, or a Gawain if we spent some extra will to pump it.
1 Bedivere, Restorer of Souls: This card wasn’t that exciting to us in testing. In the mirror, it only really kills Gwiber, and being a 700/700 meant it could die from an attacking Lancelot trigger. However, the added utility of having it in our deck was worth it, since you see so much of your deck thanks to Percival and Guinevere. I’m still not sure if 1 was the right number, but it seemed OK.
2 Protective Barrier: This was the card that we thought represented the best chance of allowing us to win the mirror on the draw. The idea was that you would hold up 1 will with a Gawain in play, hoping that your opponent would try and kill it with a lancelot. You would cast barrier then block lancelot (hopefully with a bow in play to kill it), also resting another of their resonators. This would then allow you to go to your turn, recover and kill their creatures with the cards in your hand.
2 Order of Sacred Queen: This card was a blow-out in the mirror. You would win games out of nowhere, and this was something we definitely wanted to be doing in tight games of the mirror.
3 Protection of the Seraph: This card was for any match-ups where our opponent was playing darkness removal spells. The plan was to wait for them to rest their will to commit to something, then slam a Lancelot/Gareth/Gwiber and give it protection, meaning they could no longer remove it with their spells. This didn’t work out so well because Artemis can destroy resonator additions, but making them commit their bow counters to an addition was still strategically strong. It was also pretty easy to get your opponent to use a counter earlier in the game, meaning that your addition was safe.
2 Mordred, the Traitor: This isn’t a card that we tested, but we thought it would be good against Sacred Beasts. In that match-up, you normally end up with a bunch of useless resonators in play, while they usually only have 2-3 really big ones. We thought that Mordred would allow you to cash in your redundant men to allow you to kill off their resonators one by one, making an already good match-up a great one.
2 Blessed Holy Wolf: This card was mostly space-filler - we didn’t expect to have to use it, however we found that one of the best cards out of the Machina deck against Knights was Leginus, the Mechanical City, and if someone had made machines work we wanted this effect in our deck just in case.
2 Shadow Flame: This was another card against machines and random decks that would extend the game out. We wanted access to this spell as it could potentially kill 2 resonators - for example we believed it would be good against Machina as it trades for two of their small resonators.
As for the tournament itself, you’ll have to wait till next time! But I will leave you with some stories about the rest of our trip. The food, oh man, the food. We were very lucky in that Nick’s sister Claire lives in Japan, and was able to find some great places for us to eat (and more importantly help translate!). Every meal I had under Claire’s guidance was incredible, and really cheap too. We were even treated to Nigiri Sushi, made in person by a Sushi master, on the last day of the tournament. I hadn’t really eaten Nigiri Sushi before, so it was a new experience for me, but I’m glad I tried it out - it was delicious.
I’m quite certain that it’s no coincidence that the organisers chose a location in Akihabara for a world championship TCG tournament. Akihabara is a nerd’s dream. Chris and I walked around on the first night we got there, and we must have visited 3 separate card stores within close walking distance, all open to 10pm! There are also more Anime and other collectable figure stores than you can poke a stick at, but most incredibly is the size of the buildings. Yodobashi-Camera is a department store next to Akihabara Station, and the building has 6 floors, all the size of a Countdown. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I left New Zealand with a duffel bag as checked luggage and a backpack as carry-on, and came back with the duffel bag as carry-on and a freshly purchased 82 litre suitcase full of stuff.
Finally, I’ll leave you w
ith some photos from my most touristy outing - a walk to the imperial gardens:
Overall it was an amazing trip, but I haven’t finished telling you about it yet! Stay tuned for part two where I talk in detail about the Worlds tournament, and how it felt to make the top 8.